Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Riding my New Bike: Wednesday 4/6/16

I'm very late getting started on this blog post because it's already 11:30 a.m. yikes!  I'd like to say it's because I was busy cleaning my house and being an awesome housewife but, no.  I have been catching up on my email and blog comments and I spent a bit of time drafting my March Food Expenses Recap as well.

Greg decided to work from home today so it means that we could sleep in until about 7:30 a.m. but of course my bladder decided to wake me up at 6:45 anyway!  Then New Kitty jumped on me as I was experiencing a hot flash. Who doesn't want a furry creature still warm from her own sleep laying her whole length of her when she's going through a menopausal hot flash?  It's kinda like being in a furry sauna!Thankfully she didn't stay long.

So we saved money in gas and tolls by Greg working from home, although we did drive to RaceTrac as soon as he got up (it's 5 minutes from the house) to redeem our coupons for freebies. We each got a 32 oz soda with our apps' Rewards and a free bakery item with our survey reward codes. I had him pick a chocolate donut for our son's breakfast (who was really surprised and excited to find that in his cereal bowl!) and I picked a blueberry muffin for my own breakfast.  We checked out one after the other at the same cash register and the cashier really scrutinize the receipts we were turning in with the survey reward codes because the codes were very similar and in the same handwriting so she thought we were trying to scam her?  WTF?!  I imagine they lose quite a bit of money to food stamp fraud and other thefts so scrutinizing a survey reward code like this when they know me very well because I'm there quite a lot struck me as being very petty.  It's not like I force them to give me a survey to take every time we spend money there!  Anyhoo.

I have the sliding door open for the cats again although it's 76F in the kitchen right now, which means the AC will be coming on soon and then I'll close the door. The neighbors that we didn't talk to moved out a couple of weeks ago, little by little, and the house has been sitting empty.  I didn't realize just how much I enjoyed that until just now when I heard them and some little kids talking.  I guess they came back to do some cleaning or something. Their house is right on our property line (they have like maybe 3-4 feet of "backyard" before it becomes our property but to the side of us (so they sit with their back wall facing our backyard and they have full view of our backyard and the back of our house) so there is no privacy and I resent that very much. I like my peace and quiet and have always dreamed that one day we'd win the lottery and buy the darn house in order to prevent anyone else from moving in, lol. So I was going to go in my garden but with them there, I'm not.  I know, I know, I'm not a nice person. I really am not, especially when I read Bless' s stories about how her and her neighbors all get along so well, lol. I just want people to leave me alone. And not make any noise.

The kids packed their lunches for school today and (skip to the next paragraph if you're against killing squirrels) Greg bagged a squirrel in our backyard today so he's having that for lunch.  I'll be having delicious chicken and turnip greens lasagna leftovers. I haven't told him about the cookbook with the squirrel pot pie recipe in it because then he'll want me to cook it. And I don't want to.

So since he's working from home (i.e. the living room), I'm confining myself to the kitchen.  But I have loads of laundry to fold so I may migrate back there this afternoon and watch Law & Order on over the air TV, a show that he loathes, lol.

So far this morning I've cooked him breakfast, analyzed my March food expenses, replied to blog comments, read the news online, emailed my kids to let them know that they (were strongly suggested to) could watch their uncle's concert online since Ustream keeps it online even after it's done transmitting.  I hope that they take a moment to watch it since he's always supportive of their efforts as well.  I also contacted a local franchise of "Painting With A Twist" to ask some questions. My daughter mentioned that she would like to go there with me but she thought it was a BYOB place. Apparently you actually don't BYOB but they sell wine and other alcoholic beverages and that's the twist. Honestly, I don't drink all that much and am not interesting in learning to paint with a bunch of boozy women so I asked whether I would be required to purchase beverages there, how large the classes were and if it got very rowdy. We'll see what they say. A 2-hour class would be $35 for me and $25 for my daughter, I think so it's not cheap but not too expensive either and you go home with a painting each. The classes all have different themes so I'd have to check with my daughter for a theme that would interest her (I would hope they offer watercolor because that's what she's really into nowadays but she wants to learn more about it).  So we might do that in the next couple of months.  I might turn into an artist myself, who knows?  Perish the thought, the dishes would never ever get done!

It's noon now and I'm thinking that I'm going to try and ride my bike to the library to go pick up the 2 books that are waiting for me.

I did it!  I rode my bike!  I love it!  My old bike was more like a mountain bike and it made me feel like I had never learned to ride a bike because I was always so wobbly. With this one, I felt like my skinny French gal alter ego again, riding through the countryside with the wind in her hair again!

And yes, it was windy, which is probably why I made it to the library in 5 minutes. It was amazingly fast, faster than it would have taken me by car since I didn't have to stop at the 2 traffic lights (I ride on the sidewalk against traffic alongside the main highway, but if you go the same way by car, you have to cross 2 very busy intersections with traffic lights) so another plus. On the way home, I realized that it had been windy so it took me longer and also required some cardio, hahaha. But I stopped to take pictures for Susan too.

At the library I picked up the 2 books that were waiting for me (wow, that was fast!) and chatted with the branch manager.

She mentioned that she had been nagging my son to enter the county-wide poetry contest because his entry last year had been "the best" (although he didn't win) and she thought he had an excellent chance to win because she was appalled at how bad other kids' spelling, grammar and sentence structure was.  He never told me about the contest so I'm guessing he really doesn't want to do it, but I grabbed another entry form and plopped it on his desk. I think he'll get the message, hahaha.  The first prize is a $50 Books a Million gift card, the 2nd prize is a $25 BAM gift card and the third prize is a $15 BAM gift card. If I tell him that I'd buy the GC from him so he can have the cash, he'd probably be swayed, ha.

Back home (at 1 p.m. or so), I had leftover Ground Chicken and Turnips Greens Lasagna (so good as leftovers and I have enough for 1 or 2 more lunches) and a couple of clementines, I had bought them for my daughter last week but they don't taste great so she's not eating them... so I have to. Sigh. Maybe I should make a fruit salad with the rest. OR...

I could make that Mandarin Ginger Cream Tart recipe that I clipped years ago and never made... found it!  Oh, I don't have any of the other ingredients on hand (how it this possible?!) POOP.

I never showered this morning so I'll go take a bath with one of my books in a little bit while Greg is on a conference call.  I was tempted to drive to Clermont to redeem my Panera reward and stop by Save A Lot to get some tuna that Greg had requested but that I forgot to buy and also then the ingredients that I'm missing for that tart, but I shouldn't...  my daughter is going to her college class pretty much next door to Panera tonight so she can stop by and use my reward if they even still have bagels available at that time.

Speaking of Save A Lot, they have eggs on sale for 99 cents a dozen this week so I'll need to go shopping earlier in the week next week so I can take advantage of that (the sale ends on Tuesday). Aldi has the navel oranges on sale for $1.99 a 4-lb bag again so I want to stock up on some more. Same thing, the ad ends on Tuesday and who knows if they'll still have some then?  So I might just go to Clermont tomorrow.

Nothing much else is happening. right now so I'm off to take my bath.

Took my bath, loved the book (Waste Free Kitchen) so much that I'm going to write a review post about it, and scooped a bucketful of water from the bathtub before draining it to use it to flush the toilet later on.

Then went downstairs to use the toilet (!) and reused water collected in that bathroom's drippy shower to flush the toilet.  Oh yeah.

Asked Greg if he had plans to reuse the black tea bag that had been on the kitchen table since yesterday's breakfast (we all ate out last night, remember? so the table never got cleared out for dinner) and he asked me to brew him some water so I made him a new cup of tea by reusing the tea bag.  As for me, I realized that there was a mugful of Green Peach tea left in the tea kettle that I had brewed on Sunday (wow!) so I strained it and reheated it. I'm enjoying it with my Lemon Glazed Coffee Cake that I got for free from RaceTrac on Monday. The sweetness of the cake is hiding whatever bitter taste the tea might have (although I don't think it's bitter at all). No waste on the tea front, yay! Plus: I composted the green tea leaves and the tea bag from last night's cup of mint tea that Greg enjoyed.

So now it's almost 3 p.m. and I haven't started folding the laundry yet.  I'm taking a break from the arduous task of having taking a bath, lol.

I started thinking about the time at which I should start cooking the Red Lentil Stew that I had planned for dinner last night and pulled up the recipe. It reminded me that, while I had planned on using the frozen rutabaga that I have on hand instead of the butternut squash that I don't have on hand, I had also been thinking that maybe it was a mistake and I should use something like canned pumpkin purée instead.  Then I realized that I still had a whole pumpkin from last October (can you believe it?!) and thought I'd cook that instead but then I also thought "well, it's lasted that long, maybe it'll last a little longer..." so I took a picture of my dilemma for the blog.

Oh but when I grabbed the pumpkin to put it back in its place, I realized that actually a small soft spot had developed near its stem so then I knew that I had to try cooking it. After all, I had just finished reading the Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, hadn't I?  So I cut off the bad part, saved the seeds to roast them for Greg (note to self: do not let them sit there for weeks this time!) and set about cooking the pumpkin in my microwave for 20 min per half pumpkin.  I'll use half the pumpkin in the stew and puree the other half to make a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread or something.

The painting studio owners replied to my email:  they also sell non alcoholic beverages and buying beverages isn't a requirement anyway.  The clients don't get rowdy much although they do like to sing along to the songs that I playing. OK, I think we could handle that so we'll sign up for a class. Yay!

Swagbucks confirmed that I would earn SB with my bike purchase at although it'll only be 477 SB because the offer was for "up to 5 SB per dollar spent" but bikes didn't qualify for 5 SB just 3 SB. Darn it and also, I don't care all that much anymore.  I'm just happy they recognized that I had placed the purchase because once again my Staples purchase didn't register and neither did my Amazon purchase (which did qualify at the time of the purchase) so I'm beyond annoyed with them.

I remembered to complete my Bing Rewards activities.  I'm at 99% of my goal now, yay!

Greg got a call from his boss and they gave him a new title... again! Lol. He got a new title last week but it was a mouthful so now he has a better title with all the keywords he wanted in there and it's easier to remember. He told his boss that the all the titles he had gotten since he had started working there (save for the first one!) were too hard for his wife to remember so this time she asked if he thought I'd be able to remember this one, hahaha.  He's gone though probably 10 titles in the past 8-9 years so I never know what to call him.  We're not sure if it comes with more money or not. He just had his performance review, which was excellent, but compensation and bonuses don't come out until May or June.  So we'll see.

Not Greg, not his title :)
My son came back from school and we discussed the poetry contest. As I suspected, the appeal of possibly getting cash wore his resistance down and he will "try" to write a poem. Yes!  He wanted to go to the library to borrow a book to read (awww. the first time he borrows a book on his own, I usually put them on hold for him and pick them up!) so I offered for him to borrow my bike, which counts as his 2nd physical activity that he has to do for his HOPE class. He has to complete 3 different activities per week.  The first one is walking since he walks to school anyway. He asked me what I thought he should do for the 3rd one and I suggested rope jumping or push-ups/sit-ups so he'll do that.

My daughter texted me a picture of the plain bagel she got for herself at Panera's.  I had told her that if they didn't have any bagels that she liked, she should get any bagel for me so I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be getting a bagel but happy that she was able to use it.

OK, now it's 4:15 p.m. and I'm going to fold the laundry, darn it! Update: I folded all the clean laundry while watching Law & Order, yay!

My son took my bike to the library and loved it! He borrowed a manga book, came home to have a snack and decided to go on another bike ride because he liked the bike so much :) I'm grateful that he doesn't mind riding a mint green woman's bike, lol. I offered to buy him a new bike but once again he declined!  I think I might just buy him one and not ask for his opinion. He really does enjoy riding.

Dinner was the Curried Red Lentil Chicken Stew that I had put on the menu for last night.  As planned, I substituted the steamed pumpkin for  butternut squash. I also only had 1 cup of organic red lentils left so I added 1/2 cup of brown lentils.  I'm glad the chicken thighs were still OK since I had originally bought them on clearance and then had defrosted them last week. But I kept them at the bottom of the fridge so they were semi-frozen when I cut them up.  When it was time to bake the crescent rolls that I had decided to bake, I just left the dough unrolled and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese. Then I served the triangles of croissant dough just like that. It was all very delicious!  Greg had 3 bowls of the stew. I was able to pack him a big bowl for tomorrow and I still have a very full 32 oz container of it in the fridge so it'll be lunch for a few days.

It tasted much better than it looks, I promise!
I'm glad Ibotta sent an email to explain their new look because I had thought they didn't have CVS and Walgreens in their line-up anymore but they actually tucked them into the new "Pharmacy" category. Phew!  So I unloaded a bunch of new Ibotta rebates.

I took a RaceTrac survey and earned a survey reward code for a free bakery item.


  1. LOL, I have VERY noisy neighbors to the left of me. So noisy, in fact, that other neighbors have called the cops on them! They tend to have outdoor parties with DJs and live musicians/Mariachi bands quite frequently (like every other weekend!) with music playing loudly till 2:00 a.m. It can be a bit annoying, but, at least, it's a happy noise.

    1. Happy music? you ARE practicing gratitude, aren't you?! I'm the one who calls the cops here. I've called the cops on people because their dogs were outside barking at 2 a.m., because of loud music, because they kept roosters even though the city ordinance specifies no farm animals (I wouldn't have cared if the damn thing didn't decide to cockadoodle-doo at 5 a.m. every morning!), because teens rang my doorbell and threatened us, because my neighbor (a city cop at the time) left her dog locked into her house for 3 days while she was out of town and the dog never stopped barking. We try very hard to not disturb others (my son had a special impediment for his trumpet that let him rehearse without making any sound that people could hear) so I cannot stand it when people just don't seem to care if they're preventing others from sleeping or just enjoying life. I feel for you, Bless, because the anxiety of knowing that it's going to happen every other weekend would give me high blood pressure. But as always you seem to be able to take things in stride and I admire you for it. Do you have ear plugs or something? For me, the worst are the vibrations and the pounding. A loud fan might drown the noise of the barking dog, but loud thumping music can't be masked or ignored as easily (our house is on a crawl space so it makes it worse).

  2. How is it possible you still had a pumpkin from October? Unbelievable. I bet it tasted very good with the chicken lentil stew.

    I think your son would love to have a bike, and hasn't Greg already told you that you could buy one for him? Maybe he wouldn't mind going on bike trips with you.

    Looking forward to seeing what paintings you come up with. I should take a water colour class. I could learn a lot.

    Cannot really make a comment about neighbours because I have always kind of ignored them. I am polite, but I don't encourage friendships. My friends are not my neighbours. They are people I've met through school, work, clubs.

    1. I could see us being neighbors and not talking to each other IRL but commenting on each other's blogs, LOL.

      My son insists that he doesn't want a bike. I'm not sure what his deal is, maybe he just doesn't want to be responsible for it or something. We'll see how often he uses mine, he might change his tune. I'd buy him one now but we're having a problem figuring out where to store them. We don't have a garage and Greg's shed is full of his stuff. The little shed where I was planning on possibly storing mine is full of my gardening stuff and I don't have another place to put it. I don't want to leave the bike on our front porch because it'll rust pretty fast with all the humidity (that's what happened to the other bikes we had) so right now I have it inside the house in the entry room. One bike is OK but two would be too messy. I'm going to have to clear out the little shed anyway, see if the bike would even fit in there (it's long so I'm not sure it would) and then try to be creative with my gardening stuff.

  3. I don't like neighbors either. Right now there is one close-ish neighbor. There's a large yard in front of the house, back and one side is woods, and then the neighbors. I like my privacy too.

    I recently decided I don't care for them. They have a dog chained up at their barn which is right beside my fence. They moved him a while ago from the front to the back where my fence isn't finished, so he stays in my yard. I didn't care at first because he lays in my pine needles, which is shady, soft, and warm. He has none of that in his yard, just a very tiny dog house (they block the barn so he can't get in), and they don't take care of that dog anyway. I recently seen him try to attack one of my cats that walked near him and he keeps pooping in my yard. I told the husband I want that fence finished NOW. If we get too mad we might throw all the dog crap back on their yard first. They also made a fire pit right next to my fence, right under pine tree limbs. Now why the heck would you put it there when you have 2 acres, most open field? They burn a lot, including plastic and trash that blows in my yard.

    Sorry, just had to rant. Anyways, I need my privacy. I'm not a people person.

    1. Oh that's horrible! Can you call Code Enforcement? They shouldn't be able to burn things so close to your house or under the trees! I'm not a dog person at all (as in, I really don't like dogs) so I would be very upset to have the dog in my yard and if he went after your cat, I'd be worried about it attacking my kid.

      The neighbors with whom we do get along (we got New Kitty from them) have several dogs and our yards aren't fenced in so they sometimes wander on our property but their owners are always there with them and call them back right away and apologize if we're outside too. They're really good neighbors and the dogs are small so they bark and come running towards us but it's all for show.

      I'm not a people person either, which is funny because all the jobs that I had required me to be dealing with the public and then I went to work for HR. If you don't catch me in a really good mood, you can be waving "hello" all you want at me and I won't reciprocate. I was in a really good mood when I went on my bike ride today though, so I talked to people and waved back, but as I sat on a bench reading my book some old guy walking his dog walked by and didn't think anything of letting his dog climb on the bench next to me and sniff me over. I think he expected me to comment on his dog but I didn't give him the time of day so he eventually left in a huff. Sometimes I want to smack people. I don't go rubbing my cats into people's faces!

  4. That soup sounds delicious! I love the sweetness that squash adds to soups and stews. Your lasagna also looks really tasty. I may have to try out that recipe.

    It's so nice that you live close enough to your library that it is only a five minute bike ride. We live in the southern part of Jacksonville and it really is much more of a suburb than a city neighborhood. We are not far from anything, but even biking would take a bit of time. I do love biking, though, and keep meaning to make it a more regular activity.

    We are somewhere in the middle regarding neighbors. We're both super introverted, although oriented toward people...if that makes sense. I like people, I just don't want to be around them all the time. However, we have a little bit of a feud going on with one neighbor (well, my husband does regarding some grass/sod of ours that the neighbor killed...). And while we are pleasant to people, we tend to not put ourselves in their path very often so we don't really know any of our neighbors well. Like someone else said, my neighbors are not my friends.

    1. When we first moved into our house, the library was just down the street, a 5 minute walk. It was part of the reason why I wanted this house. I could do without a grocery store (back then we didn't have one) but not without a library, lol. Then about a month later (if that), the library moved to its current location :( So it's further away but still a very manageable distance to bike or even walk to from our house, about a mile. My 14 year old walks there all the time, although I think that from now on he'll be borrowing my bike!

      "Introverted but oriented toward people", yep that does make sense. I'm reading that "Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Won't Stop Talking" right now and they explain it very well. I think you said you read the book?

      I'm sorry you're feuding with your neighbors, it can be very stressful! When you get home, you just want to relax, not have to worry about whose dog is going to be barking or pooping in your yard or which neighbor is going to kill your grass!

      The lasagna is super good, you should try it! That just reminded me, though, that I need to post the recipe of my modification.

  5. I haven't read "Quiet.." but have read several reviews and also articles/essays that refer to that book, so feel like I know the content fairly well? It's on my TBR list, at any rate. Also...I was in teh kind of job for a while that involved lots of personality testing and communication workshops and getting along with other people (or...helping your staff get along with other people), so to some extent I feel well-acquainted with the topic of introverts! :)

    Please do post the recipe -- I was intrigued to see that it uses a white sauce. I mostly use a red sauce when making lasagna.

    1. I love that the book is making the point (backed up by research) that teamwork is overrated and doesn't really work (unless it's online teamwork) because I absolutely hate teamwork and so do Greg and all my kids, lol. So the author is preaching to the choir. I'm only on page 114/271 but I'm looking forward to reading the rest. My goal in reading it is to see how I can help my 14 year-old function in the world and capitalize on his strengths. I'm a grumpy middle-age woman who very introverted but also can fake being extroverted very well, but he's a very introverted teen and while there's nothing wrong with that, I'm worried that he is isolating himself too much for his own good and development, which is why I'm mandating him volunteering and joining NHS, participating in contests, etc.

      Yes, I will post the recipe either tonight or tomorrow, I promise!


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