Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Relaxing Morning and Frenzied Afternoon ~ Tuesday 4/26/16

Tuesday morning finds me set up on my back patio at 8:00 a.m. with my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and my morning coffee.  I wasn't planning on lounging around quite so early this morning but I was lured by the bright yellow zucchini flowers, and once in my garden, heard the call of the birds, the bellow of the bullfrog next door, squirrels running on the fenceline in the back of the garden and I decided to enjoy a couple of hours of pure relaxation before having to close the window again... and go grocery shopping.

A couple of woodpeckers were having an early morning meeting on top of the wooden power pole: "Good mornin' Fred! What's on your calendar for today?", "Not much, Myrtle, wanna meet back here for lunch later on?", and then they were off.

I think the lizards are having a sleep-in as I don't see any of them scurrying about.  I wonder where lizards sleep... do they bury themselves?

A couple of large white birds just flew over, probably herons of some kind.  I would love to take a walk or bike ride today and lots of nature pictures, but, as I mentioned, I have to go grocery shopping.  I don't want this to be the huge trip I undertook last week (15 stops!) but I do have several stops I need to make:
  1. RaceTrac #1 (bakery freebie)
  2. Save A Lot
  3. Vet's (pick up the cat food I ordered last week)
  4. RaceTrac #2 (gas up, free soda, bakery freebie)
  5. Panera (free bagel)
  6. CVS
  7. Kohl's (free Kohl's cash to redeem. Hoping to find a pair of shorts for me that won't cost me much above the $20 free bucks that I have to spend)
  8. Walmart (Aunt Annie's free pretzel!)
  9. Aldi (of course!)
  10. Publix (only if I can't find the Ortega taco seasoning at CVS) and drop off recycling
  11. Walgreens (pick up my free 8 x 10)
It seems like a lot, but I'm only getting one thing from many of those places so it shouldn't be too bad.  I wasn't going to go to Walmart at all, but I started seeing stories on Feedly about National Pretzel Day today so I checked my Auntie Anne's app and I have a coupon for a free pretzel.  Woohoo! Everyone is conspiring for me NOT to go on a diet, I think.

My laptop battery has degraded a lot, suddenly.  Now it will hold a full charge for less than an hour.   It's my fault, as I have been horrible at remembering to not leave the laptop plugged in at all times and it's not a huge inconvenience since I'm only using it when I'm at home anyway.  But I keep getting caught in the mornings when I do use it during breakfast and don't bother bringing the charging cable from the living room, and then it suddenly shuts down with nary a warning because it goes from "30% charged" to suddenly dead. So I might spring for yet another new battery.  I got this off-brand battery last time because the real HP was too expensive and the reviews were promising, but it's been off-putting to have it only charge when the laptop cover is closed.

I didn't sleep great last night: warm, so I turned on the pedestal fan, but then I was cold but I couldn't turn it off otherwise I'd be too hot again.  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep, my mind racing about many unpleasant things that haven't even happened yet (I'm a worrier).  So I tossed and turned for a long time and then finally fell asleep right before it was time to get up. Arrgh.

I cooked Greg's breakfast and set the breakfast table for the kids, packed Greg's lunch. The kids packed their lunches for school today.  I need to finish my shopping list. I created a menu yesterday but never looked up or wrote down what I need to get for it.

Oops, my apologies for all the typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in my post from yesterday!  I try to catch them as I type, but a lot of times I won't even see an error until the post is published, usually while I sleep.  I went ahead and corrected what I hope it all of them.  Sorry!  I was re-reading it to see what my menu entailed for the week because I had already forgotten.

I worked on my shopping list. The smell of the jasmine, brought over by a slight breeze, was intoxicating. I'm so grateful I get to experience those moments on my back patio :)

At 9:15 a.m., I detected some movement at the bird feeder from the corner of my eye and spotted this little guy.  It looked like it had some a blue hue, so I thought it was some kind of jay, and I was excited because I rarely see them in my own yard.  But I just looked it up and it is a tufted titmouse.

Tufted titmouse

Apparently they like the black sunflower seeds.
However, a few minutes later I spotted a couple of male cardinals so I figured maybe it was the female that had come to eat breakfast first.  The one male ate but, since it had spotted that I had spilled some seeds on our bench yesterday, as I refilled the feeder, it was content in just eating what was on the bench. I HAVE FRUGAL CARDINALS, YA'LL!

Then it flew off to the fence and stayed there, uncharacteristically, so I looked at the feeder area again, and there was another make cardinal eating the seeds from the bench!  One of the first one's youngs, no doubt, as it stayed on the fence while the 2nd cardinal was eating.

The white herons flew overhead again but I wasn't fast enough with my camera, darn it! Right as I typed this, I saw two more coming in the distance so I managed to snap a shot of them passing but the zoom wasn't on. However, when I zoomed on the already taken picture, I realized that there were far more than just two herons flying in that area!  Indeed, my backyard's aerial space is being criss-crossed by a variety of birds right now. I just wish they would stop by for a bite at Chez Nathalie!

OK, so you didn't think I was some kind of horrible slacker (well, most of you already know that I am!), I went inside to powder my nose and turned on the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom and set a timer so I don't forget to turn it off.

The bad thing about shopping on a Tuesday is that Aldi will be out of their meat specials for the week and possibly out of some of the produce specials.  The good thing about shopping there on a Tuesday is that they usually already have the weekly specials (non-food ones) set out for the upcoming week. So I'm hoping to find some lady pajama sets for $9.99.  Also, I hope they haven't run out of the 40 oz jars of crunchy peanut butter because I need to stock up on that for Greg.

I didn't water the fruit trees last night, nor did I fold the laundry while watching Arrested Development, nor did I sort my coupons.  I do need to find the two $0.55/1 DairyPure milk coupons for today's trip but I don't anticipate using any other coupons today.

I ran out of hazelnut coffee yesterday so I thought I'd have to mix some cinnamon into a package of Maxwell House coffee since that's what I had in my pantry, and then while I was scrounging for some crackers to eat with my Stilton cheese, I found a bag of Eight O'Clock French Vanilla coffee that had been stuck in the very back of the pantry. Yay!  IHeartPublix also reported that Eight O'Clock Coffee will be on BOGO at Publix starting tomorrow and I have $1.50/1 coupons for it so I should be able to get a few bags for something like $1.80 a bag or so.  The frugal part of me is thinking that I should forego the sale and just use up all the unflavored coffee that I do have (mixing cinnamon in it), so we'll see if I end up buying that next week or not.  I really should just use up what I do have.  I have a canister of Walmart coffee that I bought several years ago!

By 10:00 a.m. the sun was hitting the veggie bins and the lizards had started to come out.  How come I never see birds trying to catch the lizards? This year, I have yet to see the long with the really long blue-striped tails.  They usually come out in the summer.

I earned my 28 Bing Rewards credits and my 3 SB by answering the Daily Poll and taking the NOSO Path.

I was hungry and remembered that Hardees had sent me a BOGO coupon for a pretzel bun breakfast sandwich, good only for today.  Arrgh. No.must.resist! Besides, it's past 10 a.m. so they probably don't serve breakfast anymore. And I should be getting ready for my shopping expedition. Sigh.  Another 30 minutes?  It'll be too hot out here soon enough, might as well enjoy the shade while it lasts. Besides, I haven't caught up with Feedly yet. Ah, there it is!  10:13 a.m. and the sun has finally peeked over the roof of my house, catching me in his warm rays... I could move my chair a bit to the right since I have opened up the patio umbrella and there is shade that way. But I'm comfy and it would mean mostly turning my back to my garden, not that there's much going on there right now. I think the birds are taking their morning nap?  Some of them are calling to one another, but it's mostly squirrel squeaks that I'm hearing right now. Oh, and a mosquito just buzzed in my ear. Really?! Shoo.

I was able to order 10 free samples from SampleSource today!  I was eligible for 12, but I decided not to get the Breathe Right bands because I have several of those and they don't work, or the vaginal moisturizer because I don't have anyone to give it to.  I'm excited about the Colgate samples, Herbal Essence (I think?) shampoo, and Nature's Path granola (I got to pick coconut chia seeds today and not the dreadful pumpkin flax seed). I'll also get several "all natural" vitamin samples. We don't use vitamins but if they're free, I'll try them.

It wasn't the sun but yet another barking dog that sent me back inside.  I turned the AC back on, got dressed and collected the trash throughout the house, and then took it down to the curb.  I collected my bag of recyclables to drop off at my Publix (plastic and paper bags, foam items such as RaceTrac cups and egg cartons), collected the couple of coupons that I expected to use today. I also unplugged the battery charger for my camera since the battery I had put in to recharge this morning was ready.  Those no longer hold all their charges either but my camera is old so I don't want to buy new rechargeable batteries only to have the camera crap out on me.

Well, I'm off, Can you hear the enthusiasm in my voice?  I wish I could be taking a bike ride instead.  Maybe tomorrow?

I had water in the car, and since I was going to get several freebies, I didn't bother bringing a snack along. However, I neglected to realize that since I didn't leave my house until 11: a.m., I would be out and about through lunch.

Stop #1: RaceTrac, where I redeemed a survey reward code for a free giant chocolate chip cookie that I saved for my son's afternoon snack.  I also purchased a gas card to give to my oldest son when I see him.

Stop #2: Save A Lot.  I was planning on buying several gallons of white vinegar since I use it to make all-natural weed killer according to Susan's recipe.  There were only 3 gallons left so I grabbed them all. I wanted some canned turnip greens to make my meatloaf tomorrow (instead of spinach) but they had mustard greens today and I realized that those had even less sodium than the turnip greens for the same price so I bought those instead.  Lastly, remember how I had been tempted to go to Save A Lot yesterday just to see if they had put their 5-lb chubs of ground beef on clearance?  Well, the 5-lbs weren't on clearance (I guess they sold them all), but when I turned the 3-lb chub closest to me to check the expiration date, I saw the 50% off clearance orange sticker so I got excited... I turned several more around and they all were on clearance!  So I bought 15 lbs of ground beef for $1.33 a lb. Woohoo!  I'm putting cheeseburgers on the menu every Sunday for the next few months :)  At the register they had some baked good on 50% off clearance so I bought a peach pie for $1.65 and a set of 2 mini baguettes for $0.99.  I will use those for the meatball subs that are on my dinner menu for later on in the week. My OOP was $31.44 and I charged it to my Amazon Visa card. I will earn 1% back in Rewards.

Stop #3 was a bust. I was picking up the cat food that I had ordered last week but my bag apparently didn't make it on to the truck so I need to go back on Thursday.

Stop #4 was RaceTrac #2.  I gassed up my SUV for $2.16/gallon.  However, the pump wouldn't take my phone number for my Rewards account so once again I didn't earn any points.  I asked the manager about it and he confirmed that once again their Rewards system was down for the whole network and he was annoyed about it too because their customer satisfaction rate has dropped because of the Rewards program since it was implemented!  I was trying to redeem my last coupon for a free 32 oz soda so he just let me have it for free since he couldn't scan the coupon anyway.  I also redeemed another survey reward code for a free glazed lemon coffeecake, that I had for my afternoon snack later on.

Stop #5 was Panera.  I was only going to get my free bagel (asiago cheese, today!) but it was lunch time and I figured I should eat something so I wouldn't buy too many snacks at Aldi. I ordered a half Napa chicken salad sandwich, which came with chips and since it was my 3rd visit, I earned a free half salad reward, which I then donated to my daughter because you can donate your rewards to your friends/family, which I love.  I ate my sandwich and chips in the car.  My OOP was $5.77 and I charged it to my Discover card because I will earn 5% in bonus rewards.

Stop #6 was CVS.  My son had told me we needed floss and I didn't want to make a special stop at Dollar Tree just for that so I decided to get it at CVS.  Their brand of floss was $1.7 on the shelf but it rang for $1.25 for me so I'm glad I didn't go to Dollar Tree since it would have cost me more than $0.25 in gas.  I paid for it with the Visa gift card that I had received from Staples as a rebate.

I also bought 2 gallons of milk (on sale at $2.79 each) and 2 bottles of Ocean Spray PACt flavored water, on sale @ 2 for $3 and I received $3.00 back in ExtraCare Bucks.  My OOP was $7.69 but it was free to me since I paid with the gift card that I earned via our American Express Rewards program.

Stop #7 was Kohl's.  I wanted to spend the $20 in Kohl's cash that I had received courtesy of our Discover cards. I also had a 20% discount. I looked for shorts but I guess no matter how fat I get, my size always seems to be the size that everybody else if buying because I couldn't find anything that I liked in size (gulp) 18.  There was a cute pair of shorts that I might have bought in size 20 (I'm pessimistic!) but I'm glad I looked at it closely because the "cargo" pockets that I find indispensible when I buy shorts were FAKE.  It was just stitching to make it look like pockets. I was pissed. Those shorts were $46 full price.  For $46 freaking dollars they couldn't have real pockets?!?  So I left them there. I decided to check out the PJs since my 2 favorite pair of PJ pants have holes that can't necessarily be mended.  They had a clearance rack and I found a pair of Vera Wang PJs on 50% off clearance.  I tried them on and the print makes my cellulite-packed thighs and butt look even huger, but it's to wear at home and they're very comfy so I bought them anyway.  After the Kohl's cash and my 20% off discount, I paid $7.70 for the set.  Woohoo!

Stop #8 was Aunt Annie's at Walmart, where I redeemed my free National Pretzel Day coupon for a free cinnamon pretzel that I gave to my daughter for her afternoon snack. I also told her to sign up for the app since the coupon that you receive is good until May 1st.  She said she would.

Stop #9 was Walmart. I had planned on getting them to price match the Save A Lot ad for the $0.99/lb chicken breasts (SAL had been out) but I realized in time that the SAL offer was for fresh on-the-bone chicken breast family packs, while Walmart only seemed to have boneless skinless chicken breast family packs.  So no chicken for me.  I did get a few items for free with my Swagbucks gift card: a loaf of French bread on 50% off clearance, some bananas, a box of Swiss rolls, a bag of McCain beer batter waffle fries (I used a $1.00 coupon) and a box of Banquet maple turkey breakfast sausages.  My OOP was $6.46 but it was all free to me. Yippee!  I used the self check-out and I didn't have any problems at all.

Stop #10 was Aldi.  So remember how I bought lunch so I wouldn't shop hungry and buy too many snacks?  That didn't work.  First, my daughter asked me for chocolate-covered pretzels so I got her those.  Then I found to-go hazelnut spread and cookies kits and I bought one for my son to give him as a surprise after his award ceremony tomorrow.  They had the bags of churros that my son had loved last week so I got him a couple more of those.  Then I saw they had maple bacon flavored potato chips and they sounded good to me so I bought a bag... plus all the regular snacks that I usually buy, and at the register I had to wait while the Spanish speaking guests in front of me were trying to find the exact change for their purchases and I spotted some hazelnut milk chocolate so i grabbed that too.  It would be OK if that's all I bought but I also stocked up on crunchy peanut butter for Greg (5 jars!), bought a pair of shoes for my daughter, another pair of PJs for me since the fabric seemed OK, and a multi-tiered planter because I want to try to grow strawberries in those once mine throw suckers. So all of this to explain why my OOP ended up being a whooping $99.27!  I charged it to Amex so I will get 3% back in Rewards.

Stop #11 was Publix.  I dropped off the plastic and paper bags as well as all the foam egg cartons and cups in their recycling bins and only bought the packet of Ortega taco seasoning that will be free after SavingStar rebate.  I paid cash for the $0.89 OOP.  I checked to see if my lottery ticket had earned me anything. It hadn't and I decided NOT to buy another one.  We'll see how long I last, lol.

Stop #12 was my last one: Walgreens.  I picked up my free 8 x 10 reprint (shoot, I forgot that I had meant to buy frames at Dollar Tree!  I'll have to go next week), and bought 2 boxes of Special K Red Berries. The ad said they were on BOGO at $3.79 and I had a $3.00 Register Reward (which is a manufacturer coupons so you cannot use any additional manufacturer coupons on the cereal) so I expected to pay $0.79. However, my store's shelf showed that the price was $3.49 so I was pretty excited that my OOP would be $0.49.  HOWEVER at checkout, my cereal rang up for $3.00! It ended up being completely free to me after the $3.00 RR from last week's purchase of Snickers Crisper and I earned an additional 30 Balance Rewards points.  I'm thinking about going back to buy 4 more boxes because I can use a $1.00/2 coupon and then redeem my 5,000 Balance Rewards points to get the 4 boxes for free.

Instant Win: NOTHING. Again.
When I got home, my daughter helped me unload the car.  I photographed everything for my Shopping Trip post and put everything away.  Then I submitted my receipts for the paltry rebates that I'm claiming this week ($0.25 on milk from Ibotta, $0.25 on bananas from MobiSave, $0.89 from SavingStar for the Ortega taco seasoning, and I submitted my Walmart receipt to SavingsCatcher and my Walgreens receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards).  I had trouble getting the SavingStar app to submit my receipt as I kept on getting error alerts. I think I tried submitting it 5 or 6 times. Finally, it went through.

I tried calling RaceTrac Customer Service (since my emails have yet to be replied to!) to ask them to credit me for the points I missed when I gassed up my car but I was on hold for 5 minutes which felt forever and I don't have any patience for this so I hung up. I'll try emailing again. It's the 3rd time that I fail to get any points for my gas purchases and Greg and my daughter have never gotten the points for theirs either.

I received a new book of coupons from Burger King in the mail.

Entering our latest receipts into my spreadsheets, I realized that gas had shot up 20 cents a gallon since last night!  My daughter paid $1.939/gallon yesterday at the same station where I paid $2.159 a gallon today for the same grade of gas (unleaded).

For dinner I grilled a package of mild italian chicken sausages from Aldi ($2.49) on the barbecue outside. While I did that, I watered the in-ground and potted plants. I really need to water the fruit trees tomorrow!

A Guess what?! I finally have a zucchini growing!  After 5 or 6 years of trying!  It's growing great in the self-watering bin so I'm guessing that, as always, my problem is how much water my in-ground veggies have been getting.
A couple of new, bright green leaves on one of my roselles.

The "pole" beans aren't climbing but I have little beans growing, already!

A new rose bud
I made a large salad to go with the grilled sausages (Boston lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado) and sliced some of the French bread I bought on clearance at Walmart today.

After dinner, the kids worked on projects on their computers while Greg and I watched a few episodes of Arrested Development. After the 2nd episode, Greg went to fix us a piece of peach pie and topped mine with lots of whipped cream. Yum!

I am so excited: I received an email that Sodapalooza is back at RaceTrac for the summer, although they have increased the price to $11.99. I'm pretty sure it was $7.99 last year but I haven't checked.  You can get $2.00 off with your Rewards app, apparently. I think I'll get only 2 cups again this year: one for Greg and one for my son, and I'll share it with him. My daughter will be gone most of the summer so it makes no sense to get one for her.  However, once again the app doesn't seem to be working so maybe I won't get any!

However, I received an email from SavingStar stating that my receipt wasn't going to be processed because I had already submitted it. I sent them a not very diplomatic email with the screenshot of their error message, suggesting that they fix their freaking app that has stopped working properly after the latest update.


  1. You got a great deal on the ground beef! And the peach pie, too!

    Ooh, look at the baby zucchini! And the baby beans! How exciting! You are sure to have a lovely harvest!

    I am in awe of all the wildlife in your garden! You take very nice pictures of them, too.

    How are you feeling? Have you recovered from all the congestion?

    1. I am incredibly excited about the zucchini because I've never been able to grow even one although it's supposed to be the easiest crop to grow. I hope it gets large enough that I can harvest and use it!

      As for the wildlife, I'm very lucky that, while I live downtown, my town is pretty small and in a rural area (there are pastures about than 1/4 miles away) and we have lots of trees, plus two lakes nearby, so there is a lot of bird and other critters, although I seem to only see squirrels and lizards. But I'll take lizards over alligators any day, lol.

      I'm feeling much better, thanks for asking, although I just came back from taking the recycling out and my nose is back to running and I'm coughing from the post nasal drip. But this time it's allergies, clearly. This year's pollen levels have been much higher than in the past.

  2. You got some great deals- nice find on the ground beef! I'm loving all the freebies you have been getting lately- the bagels always make me jealous! lol.
    You make me laugh, Nathalie. I didn't know you are fluent in 'Woodpecker' language. And what dandy names they have: Fred and Myrtle! haha. :)
    I like the pj's you got! They look soft and comfy.
    So happy for you that you are getting zucchini- I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get some too!
    By the way, I saw that the chicken sausages are on sale here at Aldi starting today- did you like those? I was curious how they are and if I should give them a try.
    Hope your feeling better and I hope tonight you have a better nights sleep. I am a worrier too and there have been several times I've woken up during the night on a full blown anxiety attack, which is really horrible to deal with.

    1. I hope you get zucchini too! I'm jealous of your yellow narcissus or daffodils!

      Yes, we do like the chicken sausages from Aldi. I grilled them on the BBQ and they were terrific. They didn't taste like "mild italian" sausages the way regular mild italian sausage tastes though. Give them a try!

      Have a great day, Dawn :) I'll have a thought for you when I munch on my probably last free bagel tomorrow!

  3. Rebecca KetchersideApril 27, 2016 at 3:30 PM

    It looks like you had a very productive day!! I love all your animal pictures...I cannot believe the size of those lizards! I love seeing cardinals - the males are always so gorgeous and red! I also love the saying that says when a cardinal appears in your yard, it is a visitor from Heaven.

    Oh and I had the iced lemon cake from Race Trac this morning for breakfast! I love them! How many more days until your daughter travels to CA for her immersion program? Is she excited or is she one of those who doesn't get excited until days before?

    Hope things are well for you in FL! Blessings from Texas! Becky

    1. Hi Becky! The angle of my lizard pictures does make them look like they're Texas-sized lizards, doesn't it? They're not so big in reality, which is good, because I can handle small lizards but I would freak out if I found an iguana in my yard. They have them in South Florida, we saw some when we went to Sanibel Island. Brrr.

      I can't get enough cardinals in my backyard! I wish I would see some other birds too, maybe I'll take a birdwatching class one of these days. There are birdwatching hikes we can take with park rangers but I'd want to know what I'm doing before venturing on one of those.

      I love, love, love RaceTrac in general. Did you redeem a survey reward code for your lemon cake too? We got our Sodapalooza cups today. Greg already went to get a free refill, ha.

      My daughter will be traveling to CA around June 10th, I guess. Her dad is booking her travel. We have classes through June 9th, here. She is really excited but she still has her end of year exams and one more SAT to take beforehand so she's fairly busy. That's good or the wait would be too long for her, ha. It's really nice to know she'll be staying with family, much less worry for everybody.

      I hope things are well for you in Texas! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Oh I don't know whether I'm going to be repeating myself Nathalie as I started typing you a message and then it disappeared and I don't know whether I hit publish by mistake or not. Argh I hate it when that happens!

    Anyhow what a delightful morning you had waking up and having breakfast with Fred and Myrtle. I want to retire to Florida and have breakfast with the squirrels and birds and lunch with the lizards. I think I would feel like Cinderella.

    I wouldn't want to do fifteen shops in a year let alone a day, bless you, the stress you put on yourself.

    Argh my dear friend you still went to far far far too many shops, oh by the way I love the pj's they are so pretty.

    I feel much better now that I know I'm not the only one who spent a fortune in Aldi.

    I hope you get a good nights sleep and don't suffer too much with your allergies tonight xxx

    1. Tara, it's not you it's stupid Blogger because the exact same thing just happened to me when I was responding to Becky and I had to retype the whole thing.

      Wouldn't it be nice to have breakfast together on my back patio when it's not too hot and humid? Maybe you'll come back here one day and we can make that happen :)

      I hope you had nicer weather today. It's about time that Spring makes an appearance in your neck of the woods!


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