Friday, April 8, 2016

Maximizing Those Freebie Offers! ~ Friday 4/8/16

The kids didn't have school today so Greg told me last night that I should sleep in and he would cook his own breakfast. Only I'm a good wife so I got up with him anyway and cooked him breakfast and packed his lunch.  I didn't brew him tea once again because he's going to get gas this morning and redeem an app Rewards coupon for a free 32 oz soda.  I think this streak of coupons is going to make a freebie believer out of my husband, lol.

Once again the weather is quite cool this morning so I opened the sliding door for the kitties and as a bonus we get to hear all the birdies calling to one another. Ahh, I feel like we're on vacation!  I also turned the AC up to 76 so it would give me more time before it started kicking on and I would have to close the window.

My 14-year-old needs me to time him running 1 mile for his HOPE class and it's due today so we decided that we would drive to the trail this morning and that  would measure 1/2 mile with the car (the trail runs along the road) and then he could run the round-trip.  So he's planning on getting up earlier (mid-morning) so we can do that by lunchtime, before it gets hotter.  Then we plan on stopping by RaceTrac to use my freebies and also buy him some Chicken Monterey rolls since I saw them at the RaceTrac in Clermont yesterday. I have a BOGO coupon to it'll be $1.25 and he really likes them.

My middle son came at about 11 a.m. last night and I was still awake so we got to visit a tiny bit... only a tiny bit because he went to visit with his sister in her room first and then his GF called him while he and I were catching up and he ended up going to bed right after that. So the only thing that I really learned is that he quit his busser job at Olive Garden in Daytona because he really hated it and is picking up more shifts at Islands of Adventure.  It's a much longer commute but he doesn't have college classes Thursdays through Sundays so he has full availability on those days and they've been scheduling him.  He's doing what he had planned to do last year, which is spending those nights at his dad's or mine so I'm guessing the underlying story is that he's going to ask if he can come spend the night once or twice a week but we didn't get to spelling this out before the GF called and I'm not sure if I'll see him this morning as he is sleeping in and will probably leave while I'm at the trail with his brother.  I left his mail on the bed so I hope he remembers to bring it with him as his new ATM card is in there. Not sure why he still hasn't changed his address but that's kids for you. It took his older brother 4 years to change his mailing address on his bank account, i.e. 4 years of me nagging him to do it.  I have enough to do here, I don't need to have to keep track of their mail and worry about getting it to them when the post office gets paid to do it!  I also have a RaceTrac gift card to give him. My daughter had gotten it for Christmas from some family members but we pay for her gas so I had bought the gc from her.  So I might as well give it to him, especially now that his commute to work is so much longer (an hour each way, on insanely busy I-4, I was enjoying not having to stress over every horrible accident being reported on the news but now I'm going to have to avoid the local news altogether or I'll imagine that my kid is dead like twice a day!).

My daughter will be spending the day studying for the A.C.T. since she's taking the test tomorrow.  She should be getting her S.A.T. results soon, I think.  I can't wait to see how well she scored.  Hopefully I didn't just jinx her. She felt she had done very well. However, she also felt that she had done very well at her college trig test last week and she got a 78... she's never gotten anything less than a high B before so she was disappointed and perplexed, but she still has an A in the class overall.

Greg brought home the 4 Universal Studios tickets last night.  Each ticket came with a $20 gift card that the kids will be able to use for their meals and snacks and merchandise and we also got a prepaid parking voucher.  This year there is no company-sponsored catered meal at a CityWalk restaurant, no free booze, and the tickets are for 1 park only, not the park-hopper kind.  So we're giving the kids all 4 tickets and they can park-hop that way.  The tickets will be used and he and I don't have to go.  My daughter will come back here after her ACT test to pick up her little brother and they'll spend the rest of the day at the park.

I mentioned the Winter Garden Spring Fever in the Garden event to Greg and gave him puppy eyes and, as predicted, he demurred and said that he had to build the baffles he had meant to build and do other manly things... but then he started thinking that if it was in Winter Garden, we could go to lunch at Four Rivers so I almost had him... but had to ruin it by reminiscing that I hadn't really cared for it all that much when he took me there last Fall. Arrgh, so close!  I'll talk about it to him again tonight and see what he says. I think we should park in Oakland and walk to downtown Winter Garden on the trail and visit the event (just off the trail that runs through downtown Winter Garden), and then we could justify driving to Four Rivers (although Downtown Winter Garden has lots of little mom and pop restaurants that are all good) afterwards.  Then we'd have to go home because I'd have to get ready to drive to UCF for my oldest son's senior recital in the late afternoon.

For dinner I decided to make the Salisbury Steak Supreme, Zesty Stir-Fried Brussel Sprouts and Rice that I had planned to cook anyway. I had to fight the freezer as it couldn't close well after I got the ground beef out of it.  Arrgh.  In the middle of my fight, my middle son's GF texted me to ask if he was still there because he wasn't answering his phone and they had planned on meeting at 9 a.m.  It was 9:09 a.m.  So I went to roust him.  He is so inconsiderate, I don't know where he gets it from and it's driving me nuts.  I love his GF so much so I texted her back and begged her not to dump him and she said that if they ever broke up, she would still talk to me, lol.

I fed the cats because New Kitty was meowing and meowing and driving me up the wall.  That's another living creature who's inconsiderate!  The other 2 cats just know to wait patiently but she's just a whiner.

There was a very large (200+ acres) fire in the northern part of our county yesterday and firefighters rescued a black bear cub.  I'm totally borrowing this picture from the Lake Sentinel because wook at this wittle bear! Poor little guy. I couldn't read the article because I've hit my "10 free articles a month" limit for April so I need to clear my cookies/cache but I don't feel like doing that today.  So I don't know what they're going to do with the cub or what happened to the mom or his twin since I believe that most bear moms have twins :(

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He looks like a stuffed bear, doesn't he?  He'll grow to be a big bear though.
I brewed myself a whole teapot of Green Peach tea. When you open the bag, it smells like Peach Rings. I love peach rings!  I love peaches and I wish we could grow them here. Bless has peaches growing in her Southern California garden, did you see?  They're the cutest little things now.  So jealous! She also has gorgeous flowers so you should check out her post if you love looking at photos of other people's gardens. I know I do!  Anyhoo, I brewed a whole pot of tea because I have found that even steeping it for 3 whole days doesn't make it bitter, hahaha.  I might just have to drive back to Mount Dora sooner than later to get more (or get tempted by other flavors) despite all the packages of other teas that I still have.  Sigh. I really should try to drink those first.

I uploaded a new Reward offer to my Chili's Reward card, although it's for take-out so I'll definitely not use it.  This reminds me that we did sign up for a Four Rivers loyalty card back in the Fall, I think, so if we end up going, I should get it punched or whatever it is you do with it.  I'll have to look for it.

I emailed my mom and siblings with a picture of one of my pineapple flowers last night since I had forgotten to share the excitement with them (and we're not on Facebook) and I had an email from my mom in my inbox this morning. She wishes she had been born in Florida, hahaha. She says all the rain they have gotten has already wilted the few flowers that had bloomed without her being able to enjoy them.  She has been doing Weight Watchers on her own and has lost 20 lbs!  Go mom!  It's easier when you cook just for yourself, I think.  My stepdad is diabetic so he cooks his own food most of the time. She also mentions that she got a postcard from my great aunt who is barely mobile nowadays and depressed. Arrgh, I had had "write to great aunt" on my to do list at the beginning of the year and I never got around to it and then I completely forgot about it and I feel terrible. I have got to write to her this weekend or today.

I kept on getting distracted and forgetting to get breakfast.  No easy muffin to eat this morning so I fixed myself a bowl of generic cheerios. I went to add strawberries to it but one of them had rotted (not the one featured in my Food Waste Friday post, another one!) so I had to compost it. I piled strawberries in the bowl but I still have a few left for tomorrow's breakfast. I love strawberries or bananas sliced in my cereal. Do you?

Once in a while I hear a flurry of bird and squirrel calls from the backyard, so I run to the sliding door armed with my camera, hoping to catch birds feeding at my bird feeder or taking a bath in my new bird bath but no... nothing. However, I think this last outburst was caused by the 2 ospreys (or hawks?) I saw flying overhead, hunting.  They were too fast and there were too many trees in my way so I wasn't able to photograph them :( The creatures definitely pipped down once they were gone.  Funny. I guess they were warning each other!

My middle son did finally get up so we got a chance to chat over breakfast. He finished the pizza from last night. I keep on thinking he works at Islands of Adventure but he actually works at Universal Studios. This whole "Harry Potter land is in both parks" confuses me. He's working tomorrow so I guess he'll see his siblings.  School is going well, he's going to take summer classes.  He had been helping a friend who had a small film crew and does low budget independent movies and since he's actually been helping more and more, they asked him to become part of the official crew. Apparently they are now working on developing an idea that he submitted so he's very committed to seeing it through. How exciting!  Apparently the crew submitted another one of their shorts to some big wig movie blogger who has millions of subscribers and reviews short films and their film was featured and reviewed quite favorably, which earned them a lot of gained subscribers on their own channel, so they're chugging along. I'll have to go see if I can find their channel on Youtube and subscribe myself :)  Then my son had to go to work and won't be sleeping here tonight so I'm not sure when I'll see him again. I wanted to attend Portfolio Night at his college but he doesn't want to attend himself so I'm not sure if I'll do the trek?  I need to figure out when it is, he didn't tell me.

My 14 y/o and I are off to the trail now and we'll run a couple of "errands" too while we're at it.  I'm taking my bike so I can ride alongside him while he runs :)

Wait... he needs a few minutes to get his stuff... so I grabbed the outdoor broom and swept the dead leaves off the front porch and also in front of the front porch!  I should have been doing that all along because we always track the darn leaves inside the house. I just pushed half of them in the front planter where they can act as mulch and the other half is in a big pile waiting for Greg to scoop it up this weekend. Technically that sort of stuff is his domain.  Tiny leaves, manly work, right?

We're back! We drove by the trail first and measured 0.5 mile on my odometer from the starting point and noted where he would have to turn around.  Then we drove to Panera's to get my free bagel.  I was almost tempted to turn around and forego the freebies because there was some road construction going on and traffic was a little backed up, but  it actually went pretty fast so I'm glad we were patient.  I was thinking that Panera would be packed since it was 11:30 a.m. but no, we were the only ones in lines and the restaurant was quiet...go figure! They had plenty of bagels today so I picked an Asiago Cheese bagel to eat with my leftover Red Lentil Stew at lunch time.  Freebie #1, woohoo. (yes, I spent more in gas to go get it but... well I really can't rationalize it, I just love their bagels).

Then we went to RaceTrac where I picked up some cash since I'll be out and about tomorrow (their ATMs are Fifth Third Bank ATMS and don't charge ATM fees) and redeemed the following freebie offers:

  • a 32 oz caffeine free Diet Coke with my Rewards app offers (the cashier gave me receipt for it so I'll get another freebie with it!)

  • a free Monterey Chicken roll item with a Rewards app coupon.  It was a BOGO coupon so I spent $ $1.34 after tax for the other one but also got another receipt so I'll get another freebie.

  • a free glazed lemon coffeecake with a survey reward code from a previous receipt and... guess what?  The cashier gave me a 3rd receipt with which I will get a freebie. So: I spent $1.34, got 3 freebies and I will get 3 more and they thanked me for my visit and they're my favorite RaceTrac station :)

My son was eyeing the Monterey Chicken rolls but I reminded him that it probably wasn't a good idea to eat right before his 1-mile run and he agreed so he was patient.  We drove to the Lake Hiawatha Preserve and parked. I rode my bike slightly behind him (so he wouldn't be tempted to race with me and then not being able to finish the mile) and timed him on my phone. He ended up sprinting at the finish, which put him at 7 min 2 seconds, which is apparently between the 50th and 75th percentile for 14 year-old boys so that's good, I think.

We headed home but first we stopped by the RaceTrac closest to our house so I could redeem a 2nd survey reward code for a free bakery item for my son.  He picked a doughnut.  The cashier was the woman who had scrutinized my receipts back on Wednesday and she wasn't unpleasant but also not too happy to see me come back, at least that's the vibe she gave.  Ugh.  I should mention that in a survey actually.  What a contrast with the other RaceTrac station!  Also at this one they never EVER offer me receipts for the freebies so I can get more freebies. I don't ask for them ever, but the other station has been awesome at giving me receipts for the past few weeks and I can't help making the comparison.

Then we came home. I was tempted to sit outside on my back patio to eat lunch, like I did yesterday, but my arms are really pink so I decided to be safe and just stay indoors.  I have an episode of "Tiny House Builders" queued up on Netflix so I'll watch that while I eat my leftover Red Lentil Stew and Asiago Cheese bagel.  I can't wait!

I checked my email and saw that SavingStar had issued a new freebie offer in my absence. Arrgh, I could have picked it up today!  However, it is for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and we don't like those muffins. However... free food.  I should be able to do something with it anyway (mix it with my regular corn bread recipe, perhaps?) so if I'm able to stop at Publix tomorrow, I might grab it.

While we were driving around, I called my oldest son to ask if he would be free to have dinner with me tomorrow after his recital but he probably was in class because I got his voicemail. I left him a message and hopefully he will hear it and respond.

My 14-year-old borrowed my bike to go on a bike ride through our neighborhood. Once again I suggested, this morning, getting him his own bike so we could go on bike rides together and he said "maybe". I think I'll have him look at the Walmart website with me to see if there's one that he likes. (although that doesn't solve our storage problem).

My daughter wanted a hot dog so she drove to RaceTrac and redeemed her own app Rewards to get herself BOGO hot dogs. I told her I'd pay for them ($1.34) so she charged them to my Discover card and brought me back yet another receipt with which we'll get a freebie.   I could get a whole pack of hot dogs for $1 at Aldi, but those are Nathan's hot dogs, which are really good. And already cooked :) And they come with the buns.  Buying the buns at Aldi would be another $0.85.

This reminded me that I hadn't checked to see if RaceTrac Customer Service had ever credited my Rewards account with the points for gassing up Greg's truck last weekend so I did and they hadn't.  I replied to their email that had told me they would take care of it and asked them to do it since the points weren't in my account.

So about that "Tiny House Builders" show... what B.S.!  Episode 1 showed a crew of "misfit builders" build what amounted to be a tiny cabin in the woods that some Massachusetts family asked for so they could spend 1 night there once a while.  The glib, very full of himself host/builder announces to his compadre that "tiny houses can be built anywhere!" which is completely untrue, of course.  I kind of zoned out after that because the host was annoying and I wasn't very interested... until the reveal.  Obviously designed by a guy who won't be doing the cleaning, or living in it at all. All those windows will mean stifling heat in the summer (yes, it gets pretty warm even in MA!), the "pretty" glass floor entrance to look at the muddy brook that goes under the house will get all scratched and filthy, as will the glass panels on the roof since they're under trees that will be shedding a whole bunch of pollen and tree branches and crap (want your kids to die impaled by a huge glass shard as they sleep in the cool loft? well, okay then!).  We all know that those HGTV shows are faked anyway but wow, this was really a loaf of crap.

So I switched to "Tiny House Hunters"... a little better although I wonder how many of those people will still live in their tiny homes in a couple of years. Or even after the first winter without insulation.  Also, I'm gonna be a little judgmental here but all of those people are weirdos.  Moving on...

I worked on my Bing Rewards credits while watching the show. They gave me 15 extra credits for my 1 year anniversary.

I looked up next week's ads for Walgreens and CVS to see if there was anything that I would add to my shopping list next week, but all I added was milk from CVS, on sale @ $2.79 a gallon (but it'll be free to me with my gift card).

Kellogg's Family Rewards emailed me another 200 pt KFR bonus code to "get me there" and for the 2nd week in a row, their code is unredeemable. Why? Because between the moment they add all my points and the day that I actually get the email, my ExtraCare card reports my purchases so I actually end up having more points than they expected... at least that's my guess. So I emailed them again to explain the situation with supporting screenshots.

I took a break from watching the Tiny House Hunters episodes to do some chores. I know!  What came over me?!  Probably that it was 4 p.m. on Friday and I still hadn't swept the bathroom (that really needed it) or vacuumed the living room.  So I did just that, and also swept and vacuumed the exercise room, a hallway, the breezeway, the entry room and the kitchen.  After that I put some laundry away. I also cleaned the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom because mildew had started to bloom there again. Arrgh.  We've got to get that shower leak fixed.

I laid the pumpkin seeds out to dry on a silicone baking mat.

I love my bike but that bike seat is very uncomfortable and after riding it 3 days in a row... my tender parts were very tender indeed!  So I went on Amazon and researched a new seat. I got one meant for a Schwinn cruiser (mine is a hybrid) but a commenter said he had put it on a hybrid and loved it so I hope it'll work. Amazon automatically applied the $2 courtesy credit that they had issued me but told me was only for e-books (?!) and then also applied my $5 gc from Bing Rewards so the seat cost me $14.22 and then I chose the No Rush Shipping option to get another $1 digital credit. The seat will get there Friday instead of Tuesday so it's not a huge deal.  Plus, it'll be brown to replace my current brown seat!

Greg got home a little early and I was exhausted and didn't feel like cooking what I had planned.. so we had the cheeseburgers and chips that I had planned for Sunday and I'll have to force myself to cook something more elaborate this weekend!

I watched several episodes of House Hunters International Renovation.  I wanted the house that the couple bought in Flavigny, France. It's only 90 minutes from my mom's house!

My daughter treated her brother to ice cream at RaceTrac tonight. Such a nice big sister!

I'm not feeling like reading tonight so I put "Arrested Development" on. Love that series and it's been a couple of years since I last watched it so it's brand new to me all over again, ha.


  1. Oh poor you there is nothing worse than worrying every time your child has to go to work. Liam walks to work but if he is coming back when its dark I will go and pick him up. Have I told you about my dream of him sitting on a bus chatting to a serial killer? I woke up freaking out, he thinks I am mad! Kids I think you worry about them more when they are older.

    If your son does want to stay a couple of nights a week at least you know last time he stayed he was really considerate.

    I did laugh at your text with his girlfriend, I bet he wasn't amused lol

    You seem to get so many free bakery items at the moment. Yum!

    Fingers crossed for your daughters exam. I'm sure she will do great. She seems very bright and focused Nathalie.

    I hope your kids have a great time at Universal this weekend and that you manage to drag Greg to the Winter Garden Spring Fever, just have dinner with him at least then you wont have to cook. Win Win!

    Have a nice weekend xxx

    1. Tara, I'll be getting free bakery items at least through the end of May so I understand if you have to stop reading for the sake of your diet. See you in June? LOL.

      You're right, I do think I worry more about my kids who are now out of the house because I can no longer control what they're doing and where they're going and also I don't know what is going on since they barely communicate. Plus I'm a natural worrier anyway. Up until my ex moved much closer to his work (just last year), I'd still text him once in a while if I heard that there was an accident on his way to work or back from work because I know that he doesn't listen to the traffic report. I'm a natural worrier and I worry that if I don't worry enough then bad things will happen.

      The dream that seemed so real you were very upset when you woke up? LOL. I do that all the time but usually it's about Greg and him having an affair and then I'm really mad and he laughs and says I'm crazy, lol. I dream about serial killers quite often as well, it's probably because of the type of books we like to read, Tara!

      My son didn't mind the text to his GF that I know of. I had told him the previous night that if they ever broke up, I wanted her to date my other kids so I could keep her in the family a little bit longer and he had told her that. She said "it's a plan!". He tries to act nonchalant about it but he's very pleased that I really like her because I just don't like many people. Actually I dislike most people. As he does. It does bother me that he's not more considerate of her. He's the type of person who has a good heart but pulls stupid stunts like this and shrugs if I warn him that he's not doing himself any favors. He doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes because he's always been like this, although he has learned to call me prior to just showing up and does follow through on things (but doesn't communicate that he has!) when I ask him to so maybe there is hope.

      My daughter is taking her exam right now, I hope it goes well. It'll be several weeks/months before we get the results. I asked her yesterday when she would get the results of the previous test that she took (S.A.T.) in early March and she said it would be May at least. Arrgh. She is slotted to retake the S.A.T. in June to try to improve her score if she ends up getting a lower score than she wants as the universities will take the best results of the 2. Then she and my youngest will be off to Universal and I hope they have a great time. They're going with the full $80 in credit cards and instructions to use it all up (which, in a theme park, is going to be very easy!) so they're thrilled. They'll probably stay until closing time, which is 9 or 10 p.m. today depending on the park.

    2. Damn it Blogger, you should let me leave long comments on my own blog if I want to!
      Part 2 of my reply to Tara (this whole comment might end up being my blog post for the day, I reckon!)

      Greg agreed to come to the Garden event with me provided that we eat out at the BBQ place that he lives (Four Rivers) so, Bless, if you're reading this, I'm being forced to eat out just because I want to spend time with my husband, lol.

      I had hoped to have dinner with my oldest son after his recital tonight but he called me late last night and said he thought that his dad and extended family might have planned a big dinner for them. To be honest, even if I was invited I wouldn't go because I don't care about socializing with them, I just wanted 1:1 time with my oldest. He has a birthday coming up next week and then his graduation that I'm not attending and he lives with his dad and sees the family all the time so I'm annoyed but so is life. I won't be able to see him prior to the performance either as he is playing as an accompanist for the 2 student recitals right before his. I'm thinking he'll probably have more time for me after his classes end later this month and he doesn't have a full-time job. I worry about that and would like to hear what his plans are!

      Have a great weekend, Tara. Put down your dusting feathers, your iron and your vacuum cleaner and have some fun this weekend! Are you having good weather?

  2. Last summer when I was making pitchers of iced tea, I was using up my packets of herbal teas that I'd had in the cupboards for some time. I don't drink a lot of herbal tea, but somehow had amassed quite a pile of them. I much preferred them as iced tea. Maybe that is a way for you to use up your supply?

    1. Yes, I was drinking mine as iced tea last summer and the previous one too, plus I was just telling Greg just an hour ago that I have boxes of tea bags made specifically for iced tea that I should remember to brew (I had sweet tea at lunchtime and was reminded of how much I like it but it was $2.29 for a "medium" cup! I got 3 refills just to get my money's worth, lol I'm gonna have to pee so badly during the drive to UCF and my son's recital, it was a big mistake!).

  3. First of all, thank you so much for posting a link to my blog! That was very sweet of you.

    I am in awe of all the freebies you are getting! That is so great!

    Your son's girl-friend sounds very sweet and patient! Definitely a keeper! So lovely that you have a good relationship with her.

    Best wishes to your daughter on her SATs. I am sure she'll do well. How nice that you gave the Universal Studio tickets to her and your son to enjoy after the test! They'll have a lovely time! My daughter and her friends want to go to see the newly opened Harry Potter feature at the Universal Studios here. Probably later in the summer, after she graduates.

    LOL, definitely go out to eat with your husband! Consider it a planned expense and build it into the eating out budget. And enjoy! :)

    1. Thank you very much! I hope your daughter enjoys Harry Potter at Universal :) They really did a great job with it here. Tell her to be ready for very long lines, though. It's easily the most visited part of the parks here, even after them being opened for a few years now.

      Greg and I ended up eating for lunch as he had "blackmailed" me into (!) and then we also ordered dinner in because I came home later than I thought I would from the rehearsal and he had been mowing the backyard (after we went on a pretty long walk this morning) so he was exhausted and didn't want to cook dinner. I'm too tired to blog tonight so I'll have to do that in the morning!


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