Thursday, April 7, 2016

Showers in the Early Morning, Sunshine the Rest of the Day ~ Thursday 4/7/16

I was so tired last night that when my son went to bed at 10 p.m., I was thinking HE must be tired because he's allowed to go to bed at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.  Yep, I thought it was Friday night!  Then I decided to read a little before going to sleep so I picked up my "Quiet, the Power of Introverts" book that I hadn't read in quite a few weeks and I fell asleep in less than 10 minutes.  At this rate, I'll never finish the book!

I had turned off my daily alarm yesterday since Greg was working from home, and had forgotten to turn it back on so this morning I was awakened by... the sound of the rain falling on the A/C unit?! Wait a minute, we didn't have any rain in the forecast this week!  But sure enough, it had been raining overnight, Greg said thunder woke him up at 4 a.m.  I completely slept through that.  Hooray for 10 minute bike rides, right?  So I don't know if i'll be able to ride my bike today as they call for showers, off an on, during the day.  It poured right after my daughter left for school at about 8 a.m. but thankfully it stopped before my son had to walk to his. I got dressed, in case I needed to drive him, though.

So the garden will be happy today and it saves me the chore and cost of watering the in-ground and potted plants. Yay!

Greg was also enjoying sleeping in, he hit the snooze button 3 times this morning!  But I went to get him up so he wouldn't be late.  I cooked his breakfast and packed his lunch but in trying to do too many times at once, I packed the fresh eggs in his lunchbox and almost tried frying the hard boiled eggs before I realized what I had done, LOL. Last time I packed fresh eggs in his lunchbox I didn't realize it (I guess I didn't cook him eggs that morning after all) and when he went to crack an egg on the edge of his desk at work, the whole egg came spilling out on his desk, LOL!  Good thing it didn't fall on his keyboard or anything. He texted me a picture as everyone in his office was laughing at him. I chuckled as well. It was an accident!  I didn't mean to do it!

Speaking of Greg, I had bought 3 loaves of bread this week since he had started bringing honey sandwiches to work on top of the stuff I regularly pack for lunch. This morning I asked if I could put the honey away (because he makes his own sandwich and I pack the rest) but he informed me that he had stopped making them (thanks for telling me before I bought extra bread!) because he realized that there was a large platter of fresh fruit (apples, bananas) for the taking in the lobby of his office every morning. Now, Greg hates fruit so he really never eats it, but with his new diet he needs to eat a certain amount of carbs so he decided to eat free fruit.  Oh and he demanded that I mentioned it here.

Since it was rainy and cool, I opened the sliding door for the kitties to enjoy the action as soon as I woke up.  It's airing out the house at the same time.  Our high today should be 82F so I'll have to close it in a couple of hours, probably.

Speaking of kitties... one of them decided to hog all the cat toys today.

Before going to work, Greg brought me the paper that was waiting in the driveway but they didn't double bag it so it was pretty soaked. No matter, I don't read it anyway. Well, I skim it since I feel guilty wasting all that paper.  I did use some old newspaper to scrape congealed grease off the bottom of a frying pan last week so it doesn't ALL go to waste.  Considering that it's pretty much the only time that I use Bounty paper towels (and to pick up cat vomit and dead roaches), maybe I can just keep the old newspapers and not buy Bounty paper towels ever again? I'll end up like one of those hoarders with the huge piles of newspapers, so I probably shouldn't attempt that but it's bothering me to be wasting so much. The subscription came with the Thursday and Sunday paper, not just the Sunday paper. That's because the coupons and most of the store ads come out in the Sunday paper but the Food Section and other store ads come out in the Thursday paper.  I think they should just have 1 edition a week, it's not like they're not reprinting the exact same news that are available online for free from many sources anyway.

Speaking of reading the news online, which I do every morning, I clicked on an overlay ad by mistake this morning on our local TV station's website as I was trying to read a specific news story. At first I was annoyed but actually it ended up being good as the ad was for Winter Garden's Spring Fever in the Garden event this weekend!  Winter Garden is about 15-20 minutes away from here but in a different county so I hadn't seen notice of this festival in our local papers. My former boss from Walt Disney Feature Animation used to be on the organizing committee since she lives (lived?) there but we haven't kept in touch in several years. She is elderly now, in her 70s or even 80s perhaps, so I'm not sure if she's still there or involved in it. Anyway, she used to tell me about it but I never got the chance to go. The Downtown Winter Garden Partnership really did a bang up job fixing that once decrepit downtown. They transformed the railroad that ran through the town into part of the West Orange  Trail, that is linked to the South Lake Trail (the one that I go on) so I could even bike all the way there if I wanted, but that's 20 miles from my house so... not today!  LOL.  They have lots of little stores that are truly mom and pop stores and a market, and it's just lovely.  I used to live in Winter Garden after my ex and I separated and the kids and I enjoyed the downtown and the parks and library.  Anyhoo, I've been thinking that maybe I'll go visit the Spring Fever In the Garden show on Saturday morning.  It's free and they have free parking and a free shuttle. I was even thinking about parking further away and biking there but walking around with my bike at an event that will probably be very crowded would be challenging and I'm not sure if it would be easy to find a place to lock it up safely.  So we'll see. Maybe I can entice Greg to come with me if I don't tell him it'll be crowded? LOL.

Interesting article from Lifehacker this morning: You Really Don't Need to Shower as Often As You Think. Yeah, you really don't. I started showering every other day several months ago, unless I do things that get me very sweaty like exercising (not very often recently!) or gardening in the heat.

I'm trying to decide whether I want to go to Clermont and bring my bike to ride on the trail today. I could claim my free bagel, visit Goodwill and other thrift stores, get some exercise... see if the mud guards work well... but I also should vacuum the living room and clean that darn bathroom since I haven't done it yet.  Hmm, I also need to get some tuna for Greg.  Maybe I'll go.  I'm also quite enjoying sitting in my kitchen now that the sun is shining and I have smooth jazz playing through my Iphone on my bluetooth speaker.  Ahhh, so relaxing!

Alison posted about Swagbucks on her blog today and detailed the research she did into how she earns the most Swagbucks. As I commented, I'm competitive so that almost got me all fired up to do Swagbucks activities again myself, but I'm really enjoying the freedom that comes with not having to be tied down to it and not having a very slow computer due to all their videos, etc, so I'm still not getting back on the wagon. However, it made me curious to see how I had earned all my SB so far so here are the results:

Yep, my main sources of SB have been severely restricted as the surveys always give me problems even if I do qualify, which is rarely, and the Juno Group videos aren't available anymore most of the time and even Ngage is no longer in my daily line-up.  But I still use the Search engine and their shopping portal. I suppose I could use SBTV on the phone again but I deleted the other apps to free up space and because they kept on crashing, SBTV is limited to 10 SB a day now so it's hardly worth the effort, especially since they were running a lot of political ads and I can't abide them, even if I don't have the sound turned on!

It must be the day for reports, because CVS emailed me the following report. It's based on my purchases from 2/5/15 to 2/5/16.  I sent the coupon to my ExtraCare card. It expires on Sunday so I might not use it.

Since most of my CVS purchases have been free to me this past year thanks to the gift cards that I earn through a couple of credit card rewards programs, it makes this report even sweeter!
We finished a couple of boxes of cereal this morning so I clipped a Boxtop for Education label and saved it to donate to a school, recycled the boxes, and put the bags aside to rinse and dry them. Since I froze 10 lbs of ground beef and several chicken breasts last week, I had ran out of cereal bags!  I should keep the bread bags for that too, I suppose.  I'll have to try and remember. I like the cereal bags since they're clear so it's easier to see what I froze and whatever I wrote on the bag.

Greg had left a little bit of Apple Jacks at the bottom of the bag, and I happened to have a little bit of milk left from my bowl of generic cheerios that I had for breakfast, so I dumped the Apple Jacks bits and dust in the milk.  I don't like plain milk very much so I made myself a treat while avoiding some food waste, yay!

Are you still getting Kohl's discount coupons in the mail?  The last 2 mailers that I got stated "no coupons but we've lowered our prices!" and I've noticed that they're offering double Yes2You Rewards on purchases through July.  JC Penney tried that and failed miserably so I wonder if 1) it's a national thing or they're just testing that in my market and 2) if they actually lowered their prices...  I so have that $20 in Kohl's Cash to use up so if I go to Clermont today, I'll try to check it out. Not that I have their prices memorized or anything and I usually only shop there when I have Kohl's Cash or a 30% off code.

So I packed myself a string bag with my "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" book, a bottle of tap water, my camera and my Panera Rewards card, and I put my bike on the back of my SUV.  Off I went to run a couple of errands and take a bike ride.

I went to Panera's first since I wanted to try and beat the lunch crowd. I got there right before 11 a.m. and my gamble worked as there were only 2 parties in line in front of me and we got to chatting about how we all liked Panera's and how it was always crowded, no matter how many new restaurants opened in town. They were nice, social people, and I enjoyed our brief interaction. I had wanted to try a new variety of bagel every day but I really liked those Asiago Cheese bagels and also the Cinnamon Crunch ones (and there's more bread since they don't have a hole in the middle so technically I get more for my "money"!) so I got a Cinnamon Crunch (thought for Alison!) to go. Freebie!  I shall miss this next month, I tell you. Part of me was tempted to buy lunch with my $10 voucher to eat on the lakeshore, but it would have been messy to carry on my bike.  I have a basket but the part that attaches to the bike was too rusty for me to take it off my old bike so I discarded the bike with it. I need to see if I can jerry-rig the basket on my new bike.  So anyway, I skipped ordering lunch.

Since I passed RaceTrac, I stopped to get my free 32 oz drink with an app Reward coupon and a free bakery item with a survey reward code.  Today I chose another lemon glazed coffee cake and the cashier gave me a receipt for my Rewards freebie so I'll get to take another survey and earn another freebie, yay!  The lady behind me didn't know they had an app (that station doesn't have all the signage that the one near me does) so I explained to her how it worked and she was very excited to download it.

On my way to the trail, I stopped by Save A Lot because Greg has started eating tuna as a snack once in a while and ate all my packets of seasoned tuna that I had accumulated mostly for free or close to free and was starting to eat my cans... oh no!  I always have 4 cans of light tuna on hand for those nights when I'm not motivated to cook because my whole family loves tuna patties and they're easy to make.  Also SAL has them on sale for $0.59 a can right now, which is 9 cents cheaper than Aldi, I believe.  So I grabbed 10 cans (why not?) and also a dozen eggs at $0.99.  Then I noticed that they had 2 deli cheese pizzas (30 oz each) on 50% clearance at $2.99 so I grabbed both. I couldn't remember what I needed for the mandarin ginger tart but I knew that I needed vanilla pudding mix for it so I grabbed 2 boxes at 50 cents each.  We'll have those for dinner since I forgot to defrost meat this morning anyway.  I paid for my $13.xx OOP with my Amazon Visa so I will earn 2% back in Rewards.

It's a very short drive to Lake Hiawatha Preserve from there, just a couple of minutes, and that's where I parked to start on my bike ride. I really didn't take any interesting pictures today as it was the same circuit as we took on our walk this past weekend. I see spot a couple of things that I hadn't seen on my walk but I didn't want to stop my bike to take pictures, hahaha.  The ride from the parking lot to the boardwalk area with the benches in the shade only took me 8 minutes (30 minute walk).  I settled on a bench and enjoyed my bagel while reading my book. There was a lovely breeze and few people around. Fishermen on the lake, both from the dock and in boats, a few people running and biking, some walkers, a guy rollerblading while throwing a football high up in the air and catching it.  Odd.  The benches are just a few hundred feet from Lilly's on the Lake, the restaurant that Greg and I like a lot and they had started serving lunch... the smells!  Oh the smells!  Even though I had just had my bagel, I was quite hungry and was again tempted to just go sit on their wrap around porch with my book and enjoy a solitary and leisurely lunch. But... I remembered that I had lovely leftovers at home and that I had just moaned yesterday about how much money we were spending "eating out" so I restrained myself and kept on reading my book. I'm happy to report that it was much more engrossing today than it's been so far, probably because I wasn't reading it at 10 or 11 p.m. in a dark living room!  So I read for about an hour.  At noon, the Catholic Church plays a carillon for a minute or two and even though it's located about half a mile from where I was, you could hear it and it was lovely.  I stayed until about 12:22 p.m., hopped back on my bike and made my way back to my SUV.  What a lovely day!  My bike seat is really hard, though, and kind of tilted towards the back so it hurts.  I'm going to buy a different seat. I'm mad at myself for having gotten rid of a wide seat in the past year, that had been bought for me and hadn't been used for several years so I donated it.  Proof that I should never get rid of anything, hahaha.

Back home, the kitties enjoyed my opening the windows for another 30 minutes and then it got too warm and the AC kicked on so they're back being prisoners inside. As for me, I'm on my back patio with the laptop, the book, and my leftovers lunch (lasagna, banana) because I've decided that since it's hot and humid 80% of the year, I'm going to enjoy every minute of the lovely weather we're having right now and the chores will get done... when they get done!  We're having pizza tonight so paper plates it will be and the dishes can wait another day.

And to think it was pouring this morning!
Oh, I forgot to mention that my middle son called me right as I was parking the SUV at the Preserve. He was driving to Orlando for a shift at Universal Studios (he lives near Daytona Beach) and was coming to Clermont to visit his GF tonight after his shift so he wanted to know if he could sleep over at our house. But of course, my dear, just call me if you want your mind and decide not to come so I don't panic. He promised he would but we shall see. I'm not sure how long he'll stay in the morning as I forgot to ask what his plans were for tomorrow but it would be nice to visit with him for a little bit. I'm probably going to be asleep by the time he makes it here tonight.

The library sent me an email that they have the "Blue Ribbon Baking for a Redneck Kitchen" cookbook waiting for me to pick up so I'll ride my bike there tomorrow to get it.

I've been thinking about Alison's suggestion that I join Blogging for Books in order to get free books, but as Susan said about her not wanting an Etsy store for her cards, "I don't want it to turn into a job!" so I don't think that I will.  It's hard enough for me to finish the books that I have borrowed from the library these days and I'm stressing about that even though it's of no consequence to anyone whether or I do read them or not, so I don't need anymore deadlines.

The Orlando Sentinel's Frugal Force blog details how to quickly reach the Gold Level with the new Starbucks Rewards program, to wit "Free upgrade to Gold status: From April 12 through May 2, current Green members will automatically get a year of Gold status by making one transaction using the Starbucks app or a registered Starbucks Card. Current Gold members will get an extra year." so I need to remember to make a purchase during that time frame. I can't even remember what the Gold Level entitles us to but if I can get it, I want it, LOL. I purchased a $10 gc for just $5 on Groupon a couple of weeks ago anyway and I still had a small balance from those free gift cards from Ting, received a few months ago.

A Slickdeals poster shared that some Discover members have a special bonus rewards offer to activate in their accounts for 2% off groceries through September. I checked our account and both our Discover cards had the offer so I activated them. It has lots of exclusions (no superstores, no discount stores...) and I use Amex anyway (3%) or Amazon Visa (2%) so I doubt I will use it but it's nice to have it to fall back on in case we get confused and use Discover instead of the other cards, I suppose.

...aaaand while I was there I realized that I had completely forgotten to check my cheat-sheet prior to paying our restaurant bills in Mount Dora and at Chili's this past week, so instead of earning 5% with Discover (bonus rewards on restaurant purchases this quarter, dum-dum!), I'm only earning 2% with Amazon Visa. Aargh. I make the cheat-sheets but then I don't use mine!  Big failure!

Just a reminder that if, like me, you are grandfathered into a $7.99/month Netflix plan, apparently those are going up to $10/month starting next month.  What? Netflix didn't email you to let you know?  Me neither.  Make a note on your budget.

I didn't know that your eye doctor is obligated to give you your prescription after your visit even if you didn't ask for it. Does your eye doctor do that?  Mine doesn't.  I have been buying my glasses from him and probably will continue to do so anyway although he doesn't seem to have a lot of different choices. However, one thing that he didn't offer as of last year was prescription sunglasses (I don't want glasses that turn dark when I go outside, I want separate sunglasses) so if my vision is still the same this year, I might use my vision insurance to order a pair of sunglasses from somewhere else...

My daughter came back from school and sat with me outside for a bit so we could catch up. We looked at the schedule for the Painting With A Twist sessions and decided that we liked the Van Gogh Koi event (I like impressionists and she likes painting fish under water) so I registered us for that class, later on this month. She has a college class right before it so she suggested I come with her and ride my bike for 2 hours while she goes to class.  Hmm, nope.  I told her I'd come with her and wait for her at the library since it's right next door to the state college.  We agreed that would be a smart thing to do because it would avoid us taking 2 cars. Then we'll grab something to eat (probably Crispers or Panera) before the class.  It's $35 pp which isn't cheap but it includes the supplies, canvas and the instructor for 2 hours so it's actually not bad, I think.  Mine will not turn out like this at all, I predict. I have trouble making circles.

New Kitty had herself a field trip too today! My daughter had gone back inside for a minute and a vulture flew over my backyard just above my patio and then went to perch himself on the back neighbor's pool enclosure. I was trying to take a picture of it when my daughter opened the door to ask me what I was doing and I was in the process of replying "something must be dead over there, there's a vulture perched on the pool enclosure and I hope it's not the neighbor!" when I heard my daughter exclaim New Kitty's name and there was New Kitty trotting in the backyard, not coming back as we were calling her.  The rascal!  She went behind Greg's shed and was hiding under the woodpile when I grabbed her (by the neck, that's the only part that I could reach!) and brought her back inside telling her she was a bad girl!  Just yesterday I had been telling her that she was a good girl because she hadn't tried escaping in quite a long time... as I told Greg, I think she was lulling us into a false sense of security before making her move.  I'm glad it wasn't the hawk that also circles over our backyard a lot, that was perched on that pool enclosure! Now I'm covered in cat hair, bleh.

I completed my Bing Rewards activities and earned a $5 Amazon gift card, woohoo!

My arms are very pink and my face feels hot... I forgot to put sunscreen on. I was sitting in the shade the whole afternoon but forgot we have white pavers and with the sun's reflection... I think I'll look like a lobster tomorrow!

I took a couple of RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 more survey reward codes for free bakery items.

Dinner was the pizzas that I picked up on clearance at Save A Lot today. I hope they're good, we've never tried theirs. (update: they were excellent!). I usually buy the Extra Large 5 Cheese pizza from Aldi ($4.99) because it's cheap and so delicious. Tonight, Greg and I will be enjoying pepperoni (Dollar Tree with coupon), Black Forest ham (Aldi) and black olives (Publix several years ago!) on our slices, our son will be having ham only and my daughter will have one plain slice and one slice with pepperoni. I love buying cheese pizza and then personalizing the slices since we can't agree on what toppings we should have! Greg reminded me to put a beer for him in the fridge while he was commuting home. Typically when we have pizza we don't sit down as a family (well, we did last year when we did Family Movie Night every week but that has fallen by the wayside, I'm thinking about starting it again this summer but I need to put a list of movies together first). So the kids will probably eat theirs while surfing the net on their devices and Greg and I will watch something on Netflix or OTA TV.  Otherwise, we try to have family dinners most nights.  Do you eat dinner as a family?

Well, my daughter suggested we watch a movie together but we couldn't find anything that we all agreed on so she changed her mind.  Greg and I watched "The Hudsucker Proxy" on Netflix, as per his suggestion. I had never seen it. It was... different.  I liked the first part but then I grew bored with it.


  1. Your day sounded so lovely. I have a bike too but I haven't used mine for ages. I am thinking about cycling to and from school in the summer because I would get home quicker.
    You were very good not to succumb to buying yourself lunch, I think I would have got carried away with the atmosphere and given in.

    I always buy pizza with whatever toppings everyone wants, its a good idea to top them yourself. My eight year old doesn't eat cheese so I could buy him a garlic bread and top that with whatever he fancies. I normally end up doing him burgers when we have pizza.

    I struggle to watch a whole movie because I get bored, thats why I normally watch a series, they normally seem more eventful so I can completely understand you getting bored. Do you do anything else while your watching? Xx

    1. I'm trying to get the biking in before it gets too hot. Do you have bike lanes so you can bike safely to work? Here motorists are very bad with people on bikes so it's quite a dangerous proposition to ride a bike on a road, even with a bike lane sometimes.

      Yes, I do other things while I watch movies or shows, unfortunately. I usually hop on my phone to check out IMDB so I can look up the actors' names, the trivia about the movie/show. Greg says that I do that constantly and he's right. If I'm really not interested in what we're watching , I'll be on the laptop or my phone checking out blogs. That's what I did last night :)

  2. Wouldn't it be nice if rain showers came while we slept, and sunny skies greeted us every day?

    Wow Nathalie! You saved over $828 at CVS in one year, and didn't even spend cash out of pocket for those purchases. Dang, you ARE good.

    What a lovely day you had. I hope there are a lot more in store for you. You got your work done this morning, picked up free food and drink, picked up some grocery items you needed, got some exercise and some down time, took photos for me, prepared dinner for the family and the dishes are getting done. Perfect day. Nice visit with daughter, Hope you get some visiting with your middle son tomorrow.

    1. Thanks Susan! Those reports make me laugh, though, because their full prices are so ridiculous that I don't think anyone actually pays them. I mean, they might as well say "Wow, because we charge $100 per box of Special K if it's not on sale, you saved $12,000 on Special K last year!". But still, it's nice for them to tabulate how much I earned in ECBs for me.

      And yes, I wish it would rain in the early morning so the plants are watered but then be sunny during the day. Is a place where this happens all the time? LOL.

      I did have a great day yesterday and a very lazy day today. I did visit with my middle son for a little bit this morning before he had to leave, which was very nice :)

  3. Sounds like you had a lovely day: some much needed rain for the garden, a visit with your middle son, another bike ride and some reading, personalized pizzas for dinner. Sounds great.

    Glad you registered for the painting class with your daughter. Now, if you really want to cut down on eating out, you might consider packing a picnic dinner to take with you! Some wraps, maybe, with grilled chicken strips and salad; or bread and cheese; some fresh fruits; a bottle of fruit juice and/or water. Maybe a cookie for dessert. Find a spot on the grounds to sit and eat before the class. Ha,ha, I'm ducking the wadded up newspaper you are throwing at me for saying that! :D

    1. Ah, you're no fun! Seriously, though, thanks for the reminder. You are right, I could absolutely pack us a dinner of some kind and maybe I will. She likes Spinach Strawberry salads or mandarin chicken salads so maybe I'll make that and then snacks since we can bring snacks along to the painting class.


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