Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day ~ Monday, May 30, 2016

Today we honor fallen soldiers from past wars... with barbecues and lots of sales everywhere?! It's kind of the unofficial kick-off of the summer, truth be told.

However, I'd like to take a moment and think of all of those who gave their lives so we can continue to enjoy our very indulgent and democratic way of life, in all past conflicts. And I wish that no more soldiers would ever need to lose their lives, but that's not the way the world goes.

I got up early today since I had forgotten to turn off my daily wake-up alarm. Doh. But it's supposed to rain later on today and I so enjoy starting my day early on the patio with the birds and the squirrels and the bull frogs! It's lovely before the sun rays reach the patio and this morning, particularly, there is a nice cool breeze going on.  It's 9 a.m. and the cicadas just woke up, apparently.

Late last night I decided to go take a walk.  I walked through my neighborhood for about 45 minutes.  The temperature was much cooler, there was a breeze as well, and as I walked by the lake I could see fireflies!  I heard several kinds of frogs that I had never heard before, it really was lovely.  The benefit of walking when it is dark out, aside from the fact that it's not so darn hot, is that it's harder to judge distances so I actually walked for longer than I might have during the day.  I went around the same blocks a few times. We live in a small town that was ranked one of the top safest cities in the state and I did see the police patrol the area so I felt safe. I was pretty much the only one out and about anyway and I stuck to areas that were lit, mostly. My daughter knew I had gone out and offered to come with me but I needed the time alone. If I walk with someone else, I feel like I have to talk.  She was getting worried by the time I got home and called me right as I was getting in the door. I felt bad that she had gotten scared. It was good exercise, although I realized this morning that I had worn my sneakers without my plantar fasciitis insoles and hadn't even realized it!  Oops. My foot doesn't seem to hurt this morning and it wasn't hurting as I was walking around.

Then I took a very long shower. It was very wasteful as I have never taken such a long shower, but it was also very relaxing and that, with the walk, helped me clear my head.  I needed it. I had been in such a dark place.  So I feel much better today, pretty much back to normal, I think. On with frugal successes and failures of the day!

I don't think I'll work on many chores today but you never know. If I do, I'll relist my to-do list here so I can keep track of them.  End of day update: nope, I didn't do anything "chory" today.

I texted my BFF to ask if she wanted to get together this week so she could fill me in on her job situation and we agreed to meet on Friday night. I'll probably take her out to dinner to cheer her up. Coincidentally she was actually feeling like I was feeling yesterday: horribly bad and she couldn't stand being at home anymore so she grabbed one of her kids and headed to the Magic Kingdom (her husband works at Disney so she gets in for free). I told her I completely understood where she was "at" since I had gone through very similar emotions just yesterday.  I wish that her stress would just magically disappear as mine did... right now I can listen to her and try to support her the best I can.  Unfortunately I don't know anybody that she could network with.  The only person I might have known is working in France for a year and in the process of moving her family there so it's not a good time.


  • I researched how to keep ants from my hummingbird feeder and found this site that lists good ideas. I think I'll try the Vaseline first, and if it doesn't work, I'll do the moat. Someone in one of the comments listed a good reason why the moat isn't my first choice: I'd have to remember to refill it every day since it's so hot here and the water would evaporate very fast. Plus... it's more work to make it :)

  • I defrosted turkey franks (for me) and Jumbo franks (for everybody else) for dinner tonight.

  • I checked MobiSave for new offers and got a ton of generic ones, yay! .... but they're all for just 10 cents off.  Booh!  Still, as usual, better than nothing, right?  I'll be buying several of those items anyway.

  • I also uploaded new offers to Ibotta. Those can't be used unless I shop at Walmart, Target, Publix, Walgreens or CVS and I don't buy things just because there is an Ibotta offer on them anymore, so I haven't really been earning anything with that app recently.

  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks. Inching my way to 2,200 SB although I'm only at 1,723 as of right now!

  • The local paper is reporting that our county's home valuations went up by 7%. I checked and our house is valued at $174K right now.  Hmmm, the last time our property valued went up like this, it was right before the 2007-2008 real estate crash.  There is NO reason why our home should be valued that high.  Our town hasn't increased the amenities for residents, it's grown in size but really nothing much has changed.  This isn't a good sign, I don't think. I think it shows that once again homes are being over-valued and I think we're headed for another real estate crash.  There is a beautiful home just a block over valued at $287K that has been on the market for 228 days. If the market was really so hot right now, it would have sold.  You know what really burns me, every time? The lousy house next to us (the one that belongs to the neighbors we don't talk to) is valued at a higher price than ours. It has no yard at all, what little property they have isn't maintained too well.  They have a screened-in porch with the screens ripped and hanging out of their frame (and it has been like this for several months) but that house is valued at $182K. I just saw that they bought it on 4/22 for $150K, though.  The sale was never advertised so it must have been sold in the same family. They're been pretty quiet, so far, so good :)  Speaking of houses, I read an article about 19 homes that had to be "rezoned" from being in SC to being in NC because of the new and much more accurate techniques for assessing the borders using GPS now.  Can you imagine buying in a house in a low tax state only to realize one day that you're now part of a higher tax state? And you're on a fixed income?  That would stink.  Years ago my grandmother, while driving us to Belgium for the weekend's shopping (she lived just a couple of miles away from where France, Belgium and Luxembourg all come together), used to point out a house that used to belong to someone in our family and said that after the borders between France and Belgium were redrawn, at some point, our relatives found themselves living in a house that was divided in half between Belgium and France. So the living room was in France, and the kitchen was in Belgium, or something like that.  I don't remember anything else about the story, just thinking that it was lucky for them that French is the official language in both Belgium (well, that part of Belgium at least) and France or our relatives would have had to learn Flemish!  I was very young, back then. Still, I wonder how they handled whatever taxes they had, back in the day... and I wonder if that house still sits on the border nowadays, not that there is a border anymore because of the Schengen Zone and the United States of Europe.

  • I saw that there is a free "Herp Hike" organized by our county's Parks & Trails office in mid-June at a nearby preserve and I'm thinking about signing up... I put a reminder on my calendar so I can think about it some more.  Greg doesn't want to go, he doesn't like snakes. I don't either but I think it might be interesting. Plus I'd like to be able to learn to spot frogs!

  • Right after I typed up the previous paragraph, Greg asked if I wanted to go fishing so off we went. I haven't fished since I was little and he's tried a couple of times without any luck. Basically neither of us really know what we're doing, although he and our son attended a free fishing clinic for kids & dads several years ago for which I had signed them up.  They had come back with a free fishing pole and we also had another one but both were for kids.  Once we were fishing and realized that the poles weren't really large enough for us to be able to cast very far, I reminded Greg that he had brought back his grandfather's fishing poles and tackle box from his parents' a couple of years back so he will bring those next time.

  • We stopped by RaceTrac on the way to the fishing area and got free refills of sodas with our Sodapalooza cups. Since we were going to be gone for a few hours and I noticed we were low on bread (and forgot all about the extra hamburger buns that I had!), I brought along 2 RaceTrac coupons that had come with the Sodapalooza cups which allowed us to get a free "fresh" sandwich with the purchase of a 20 oz Coke product.  Since there was no RaceTrac where we were going, I figured the Coke bottles would be our extra drink (it was hot out there) to hold us off until we came back in town.  So we paid a little less than $4 total and got two 20-ounce Coke products and two free sandwiches.  We ate half of our sandwiches on the way and half while we were fishing. Next time, though, I hope to have a little more head time so I can pack us a proper picnic in a cooler so the drinks remain cold.  Let's cut to the chase: we didn't catch any fish. But we had a good time. The kids wanted to stay home. My daughter had studying to do and she cleaned her room and did her laundry while our son played on his computer and did some studying as well.
  • Greg found a fishing bobber in the water so he retrieved it: freebie!  We needed one anyway :)

Source: Yahoo! Images
  • There was no fee to fish (aside from having to have a fishing license).

  • On the way home, we stopped at RaceTrac once again to get another free soda refill with our Sodapalooza cups.

  • I collected the 2 caps from the Coke bottles we had bought and saved the codes to enter in MyCokeRewards.

  • My youngest son and I really wanted to see Zootopia when it came out but neither of us wanted to spend the money to go see it in a theater but neither of us actually enjoys watching movies at the theater. I just looked it up and not only will Redbox have it on June 7th (that's soon!) but also it should be on Netflix (which just announced an exclusive partnership with Disney) on July 5th.  My daughter really wants us to rent it on June 7th even if we have to pay for it, because she wants to see it with us (she's already seen it and loved it but she'll be in CA starting on June 11th), so I might splurge for it then if I can get it.  I used to work with the director, Byron Howard, back when he was a story artist.  It's great to see him so successful, that movie made almost a billion dollars!

  • For dinner I grilled Jumbo Dogs and zucchini and baked a whole bag of Aldi's Fit & Active Healthy Fries.  I grilled two turkey dogs for myself.  We didn't have yellow mustard in the pantry and Greg likes it on his hot dogs so I found some free packets of yellow mustard that I had gotten from RaceTrac back when the freebie with the survey reward codes was a free roller grill item.  I also served the last 2 ears of corn from last night. Greg ate one and I packed the other with the last hamburger patty and a hot dog for his lunch tomorrow.

  • My daughter wanted me to buy her more face wash but she wasn't sure which brand because she'd been using an expensive brand from Target (my oldest son had gotten her some free samples back when he worked at Target) and then I had bought her a bottle back when we were in France.  I told her to go to Walgreens tomorrow and find the one she wanted but not buy it.... I'll look for a coupon for it and then go buy it for her.

  • Walgreens released another code for a free 8 x 10 reprint with store pick-up. The code expires on June 1st and is FREEPIC4U.

  • Gas to drive to the fishing ponds and a little less than $4.00 for lunch altogether.

  • $17 for a 1-year fresh fishing license for Greg.  I wanted to get one as well but he said probably no one would be out checking licenses today so we didn't bother.  I hope that doesn't mean that he doesn't want to bring me along anymore because I had a really good time, actually, even though I did all of 30 seconds of fishing.

  • One of our fishing reels failed so only 1 pole was functional. We don't think it can be fixed.

  • I dropped by Rubbermaid "pitcher" that I was using to make my refrigerator tea and it fell on one of its corners that broke.  I was able to save about 3/4 of the tea that I was rebrewing for the 2nd time with the peach tea bags, but the pitcher itself is a loss. I'll look for a new one at the thriftstore. I am keeping the lid since it's perfectly fine. You never know... I might find the same pitcher without a lid.

  • Not much of anything today. It's a holiday, after all.


  • For breakfast, I had my 1 cup of generic honey nut cheerios with 0.5 cup of ~2% milk and a few sliced strawberries in it. My appetite is coming back so I ate at 9 a.m.

  • For lunch I had an Italian sandwich from RaceTrac. I should have looked at the sell-by date because today was the last day on the shelf so it wasn't very fresh. The bread was stale.

  • When we came back from fishing, I had a cup of fresh pineapple and then a rice cake.

  • I entered all my food intake into MyFitness Pal.

  • My foot isn't hurting at all today, despite my late night walk (without insoles!). I think that perhaps losing the extra weight did the trick?  I hope so.  I still have a long way to go, though.

Our Backyard
I couldn't find my camera this morning and I thought I had left it upstairs but our stairs make a lot of creaking noises so I went outside without it. Of course, I saw 2 male cardinals taking turns at the bird feeder, while a Carolina wren was enjoying the bird bath, a dove flew in and landed in the grass not too far away, the squirrels were jumping from branch to branch in the nearby trees, the Red Bellied woodpecker mama was surveying the neighbor's yard from the top of the power pole before deciding which tree to go peck on today... all familiar sights but that I enjoy capturing in photographs. Well, not today. My phone's zoom isn't good enough.

I posted this picture in the Day Book earlier today but here it is again: a snake skin shed in the grass overnight, just off the patio.  We have an Eastern Indigo snake living nearby, I saw it a couple of years ago during the summer and followed it around the corner of the house when it suddenly came out of the bushes in front of the house and was hissing and rattling at me!  It was the darndest sight and it really startled me!  Our neighbor was out at the same time with his new chihuahua puppy so I was worried the snake would get it. I'm glad we didn't kill it, though, because come to find out it is a threatened species in Florida due to the loss of habitat.  I told you too many damn people were moving here!  They eat other snakes, notably one of the venomous ones, so they're good snakes to keep around even though they can be frightening.  The snake skin's diameter is pretty large, compared to the last one I found a couple of weeks ago near my roses, so it's grown a lot (if it's the same one!). I wonder if they eat squirrels.

Fishing "Expedition"
Greg had done some reconnaissance and found 2 areas where we could fish.  Both were in the Withlacoochee State Forest, off SR 471 in Sumter County, about 20 minutes away from home.

The first area we went to was the Revels Pond Day Use Recreation Area.  It was kind of secluded, at the end of a short dirt road that had very large potholes that a smaller car would have had a hard time avoiding.  Luckily the road was dry because we don't have 4-wheel drive so that would have been a problem.  At the end of the short road, there is a picnic area with a couple of tables under a pavilion, and a short dock.  The pond is very large but it's also just off SR 471 so you hear all the traffic.  The setting was beautiful and no one was there, but there was also very little wildlife. I saw maybe 2 birds, total, which was puzzling after seeing all the birds at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive yesterday.  We tried two spots.

Picnic area and the small dock on the pond

First Spot:

We walked the small trail on the edge of the pond and found a spot favored by other fishermen, in the shade.

Looking back at the picnic area/parking area.

The view was lovely but you could hear the traffic from the nearby road and the water was murky and filled with decaying grass.  So you couldn't see if there were any fishes, and if there were, they couldn't see our hooks, I'll bet!

Our "juvenile" equipment. We had bought it for the kids several years ago.  I had suggested to Greg that we bring a cooler, in case we actually caught a fish,but he's not that self-delusional and just laughed at my suggestion.

Great Blue Skimmer. They're so pretty.

Don't you hate it when your camera doesn't focus but the display seems to show that the picture will be good?  And then you go home and upload it to your laptop and it looks like... THIS?!?  Arrrgh. I had quite a few of those today. So I don't know what this is. Some yellow flower that was growing in the pond. No leaves that I could see.

We didn't stay there long because within 5 minutes, I entangled my line in a tree, and then, as Greg was working on freeing it, he handed me his fishing pole and I don't know what happened but the reel on that one stopped working and we couldn't figure out how to make it work again.  It was a little frustrating but we weren't taking ourselves very seriously anyway so we made the best of it. Greg used the fishing pole that still worked and I just sat in the shade, observed nature, and took a walk around. Here is a wild blueberry bush that we passed on the way back to the picnic area. Another unfocused picture, sigh.

Scrub Palmetto. Those are ONLY found in Florida, apparently. They're everywhere, here. I even have a couple of them growing in our front yard.

Water Hyacinth. So pretty but a bad nuisance, apparently!

Second Spot:

Not a bird in sight!  You'd think there'd be a heron, an egret... an osprey?! Nothing.

Clear on the other side, though, someone had installed a bird nesting box over the pond so obviously
there are birds there at some point. Just none today!

Greg caught a couple of tiny fishes with the net and used them as bait. I texted the picture
to our son telling him that was the catch of the day. He wasn't surprised!

It's hard to see but I asked Greg if I could try catching small fishes with the net too and he told me OK but they're fast so it's hard to catch them... I caught 6 of them on my first try, LOL. I felt bad about them flopping there so I put the net back into the water and most of them escaped. And then I released the rest.

Eastern Milkpea

This might be Pipewort.

Not sure what this is...

Long-Stalked Seedbox

More Water Hyacinth

Its peculiar leaves.

I think this is Buttonbush.

Uh... yellow flower.  I'm getting tired of flipping through my Audubon guide!

I can't find those in my guide right now. I'll have to come back at another time and update the caption if I ever find them listed! I think this is lance-leaved arrowhead.

Pale Meadow Beauty


I took a picture of this tree trunk but left really fast because I didn't want some critter coming out at me... you never know what nests into those things!

I kept on seeing those red trumpet-like blooms on the decaying floor of the swampy forest but there was no clue as to where the blooms had come from...

I kept on looking up but this was all I could see!

Then suddenly, I spied one... a Trumpet Vine.

My hubby, hooking a tiny fish that he just caught on his line to bait a larger fish... that never materialized.

You can't tell from the picture but the dragonfly was green, so I'm calling this a Great Pondhawk... or an Eastern Pondhawk.

Black Swallowtail on a Buttonbush.

The beginning of life. This will grow into an awesomely tall tree.

This tree looked like it had a bushy moustache but it was an Air Plant.

Air Plant Flower

I love the different colors of the bottom of this large puddle of water in the middle of the forest. The ripples were made by bugs skimming the top of the water. Those pieces of wood sticking out are cypress knees.

Another Trumpet Vine. I love those!  Why can't we have those in our trees? Maybe that's the red object I saw in a neighboring tree a couple of weeks ago, through my camera's zoom...

After more than an hour there, we drove to the Florida Bass Conservation Center & Richloam State Fish Hatchery.  There was a much smaller pond right there at the entrance, that they stock with bass and where fishing is allowed.  They had a couple of benches there and trashcans.  We did see fish, and even a large one as soon as we parked the truck, but had no luck catching any.  We just didn't have the right poles or lures.

This pond was much smaller but full of fish... that were laughing at us!  The grasses grew thick at the edge of the water so it was hard to cast the line very far.

They provided a bench or two but they were in the full sun. I took this picture from a shady spot where I had set up my chair.

Small bass and a slightly larger bass, Not sure what type of bass.

More toddler basses. We tried catching a few with our net but they were too skittish. I even went into the pond up to my knees but the bottom was very "gooey" and I didn't want to completely fall into it.

We walked to the other side and went as far as we could before the vegetation got too dense but the horseflies were out and biting!

Southern Fleabane

Pale Meadow Beauties

Common Tickseed.

I don't know what they are... they're not spurs.  They were soft and looked like round teddy bear ears.

Common Primrose Willow

I can't find this lizard in my guide either. I have never seen one with a white stripe on its back like this!

Will have to come back and update this caption because I'm tired :)

Florida Bellflower

This tree trunk was riddled with holes left by woodpeckers.  But it was at the level of my waist,
which was unusual, I thought. I'm used to seeing our woodpeckers much higher up in the trees around
our yard.


  1. It sounds like you had a nice relaxing day Natalie. I'm sorry to hear that you are still feeling a bit down. I hope you feel better soon and your friend also.

    I can't believe your house prices, you can only just buy a flat in the part of England that I live for £175,000. The house prices are so over inflated here now that a three bedroom house costs about £300,000.

    The youngsters here really have no chance of getting on the housing ladder and if they do manage to they are tied with such a high debt.

    Have a nice day xx

    1. I don't think my kids will be able to buy a house for a long time. My ex and I bought our 1st house back in 1994 for $74,900 new construction. I think new construction for the same size home nowadays is probably upwards from $140,000, probably even higher. Our area isn't that expensive compared to other states. California is much, MUCH more expensive. Even apartment rents are pricey, compared to what people earn over there.

    2. Its quite scary isn't it Nathalie. I'm all for my kids living with me as long as possible but that's from a selfish point of view.
      That's part of the reason that Liam is looking to move away, the average teacher here earns £25000 but the average three bedroom house costs £300,000 and you just couldn't get a mortgage on that sort of salary.
      There is a lot in our news at the moment about a housing crash if we exit the EU.
      Liam looked at San Francisco and California and it is much more expensive there isn't it.
      I'm sure where you live has its downfalls but eff I ever had the opportunity to move to America it is certainly a state that I would consider. X

    3. Tara, when you quote your salaries, is that brut or net? I don't think new teachers earn much more than this here either, at least in our county which is famous for underpaying its teachers. Orange County (where Orlando is) pays more. So a lot of people live in our county and commute to Orange or Seminole counties.

      I'm not sure if it's still true but a few years back there were a TON of Brits who had bought 2nd homes down near WDW, in the SR 192/US 27 area. The Publix down there used to stock a ton of British foods.

      Whatever happened with that opportunity Ben had to go work in Atlanta? (was it Atlanta?)

  2. What a wonderful way to spend your holiday Monday. Boy, that brought back a lot of great childhood memories, because I haven't fished since I was a child. I was raised in Northern Ontario, so fishing was like a rite of passage. We would be so excited to be getting up early in the morning to go for a day of fishing, that it was impossible to fall asleep (just like Christmas), and even harder to wake up. Mom would have a big picnic lunch made up and off we would go. I could watch that little bobber dancing on top of the water for hours. I don't ever remember catching a fish, but the anticipation of catching one was very exciting. It was always so peaceful on the lake and the picnic tasted so-o-o good. Funny that I never went again once I was all "growed up". I don't think my hubby ever fished, and of course now you have to buy a license.

    I like how your fishing expedition turned into a photo opportunity. I guess with only one working fishing line, it's a good thing you brought your camera with you. To our good fortune, you found a lot of interesting subjects to capture....such pretty wildflowers and aquatic life. Thank you for taking me along for the fishing trip. I really enjoyed that.

    1. Oh I love reading about your childhood memories in Ontario! How funny and sweet that you were so excited about going fishing that you couldn't sleep! I'll bet the views up there are splendid. Sigh, I want to go to Canada!

      I remember going fishing with my grandmother, but she would take us to a fish hatchery where they would stock small ponds like the 2nd one with visited with trouts. You'd rent the fishing pole, which came with worms and a stick to kill the fish with once you fished it. It would take all but one minute to catch a trout, they were so eager to bite and the water was teaming with them, but for little kids it was exhilarating. Back home, I would try making fishing poles with a stick and a length of wool to which I would attach a safety pin and I would try going fishing for trout in a small stream where everyone was washing their cars on the weekend... I don't think trouts live in polluted streams in flat Northern Burgundy, so needless to say I never caught anything, LOL.

      I hope we go back fishing. I used to think it was kind of boring but I can bring my Kindle and my camera, my Nature guidebooks and time flies! We should go out really early, though, not wait until 11 a.m. I want to bring a picnic too (in a cooler because, darn it, it's HOT here) but Greg wants to rough it up. I don't see the point of starving or drinking hot soda, though!

  3. I will almost guarantee that if you pack a lunch and cold drinks in a cooler, he will LOVE it.


Anything you'd like to add? Share away!