Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grocery Shopping This Week: First July Shopping Trip

And I'm back blogging about my grocery trips after taking June off.

My official 2016 weekly grocery budget is $100/wk for 4 people (2 adults, 2 teens) but I really aim to spend $50 or less.  This month I'll only be feeding 3 people total (2 adults and 1 teen) since my daughter is in California.

Greg and our son have been away for 2 weeks but are coming home tonight so I needed to make sure there was fresh fruit, milk and bread in the house.  Also, this means I'll have to start cooking again.  Ugh, I really didn't miss that at all. I haven't prepped a menu but it's on my list of to-do's.  We are fully stocked with meats and the pantry is pretty stocked too.  The garden is producing tomatoes and peppers, and I still have lettuce in the fridge. I also have quite a bit of frozen vegetables.

Let's see how I did!

Budget for the week: $100.00
Total OOP: $37.43
Rebates expected: $0.18
Total spent after rebates: $37.25
Money left in budget: $62.75

Baking Supplies: $3.58 OOP

  • 2 bags mini chocolate chips (Aldi) @ $1.79 each = $3.58

Beverages: $0.00 OOP

  • None needed

Breads/Baked Goods: $3.92 OOP
  1. The French bread was a complete splurge!  I could have baked my own for much cheaper, but I didn't feel like firing up the oven today and I really wanted some yummy bread. It doesn't have a real crust, but I prefer my crusts pretty soft usually so that works for me.
  2. It's July 4th weekend so I bought hamburger AND hot dog buns because that's a traditional thing to cook this weekend: hot dogs and hamburgers!
  • 1 loaf French bread (Aldi) @ $1.69
  • 1 bag 8 hot dog buns (Aldi) @ $0.69
  • 1 bag 8 hamburger buns (Aldi) @ $0.69
  • 1 loaf white bread (Aldi) @ $0.85

 Cereals: $0.00 OOP
  1. The price wasn't great and I wasn't able to order $1.00/1 coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards this morning since their site was down, but I had a $10 ECB that I needed to redeem so I decided to stock up on Special K.  Two boxes will be for my daughter (the Red Berries kind) and the Vanilla Almond will be for me.  Each box had a chance to win a Fitbit, but I never seem to win anything with Kellogg's in-box prizes.  I wouldn't use a Fitbit anyway :)
  • 4 boxes Special K (CVS), on sale @ $2.50 each, minus (2) $1.00/2 printable coupons from Kellogg's weekly email and $1.00/3 digital store coupon uploaded to my CVS app = $7.00 but FREE after redemption of ECBs and CVS gift card earned from American Express Rewards, and I will earn 320 KFR points too.

Dairy: $11.47 OOP
  1. I used up the UHT milk that we had while Greg was gone so I wanted to get some more, both for hurricane supplies and also for regular back-up situations. It doesn't expire until May 2017.
  2. The Brie and Specialty cheese were complete splurges for me. I love cheese!  I have to avert my eyes when I walk by the Publix imported cheese case and it's a darn good thing we don't have a Trader Joe's in my neck of the woods because my grocery expenses would be much higher!
  • 1 gallon whole milk (CVS), on sale @ $2.79 but FREE with CVS gift card earned from American Express Rewards.
  • 4 one-liter bricks of 2% UHT milk (Dollar Tree) @ $1.00 each = $4.00
  • 1 package American cheese slices (Aldi), on sale @ $1.49
  • 1 round Brie (Aldi) @ $2.99
  • 1 half round Roasted Garlic with Tomato and Basil cheese (Aldi) @ $2.99

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $-1.75 OOP 
  1. The rice wasn't on sale any more but at $0.29 a box after coupon and rebate, I felt it was a good use of my Publix gift card.
  2. I didn't need the mustard but hey, it was free.  It won't go bad so I bought it.
  • 1 box Minute Multi-Grain Medley instant rice (Publix) @ $2.29, minus $1.00 blinkie coupon = $1.29 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG, and redeemed a $1.00 rebate on Checkout 51 so MONEY MAKER.
  • 1 jar Colman's mustard (Publix), on sale @ $1.50, minus $0.75/1 printable manufacturer coupon = $0.75 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG and redeemed a $0.75 rebate on Ibotta so MONEY MAKER.
Produce/Juice: $10.71

  1. I really went crazy with fruit this week. This is my favorite time of the year when all this fruit is available: berries, cherries, melons, pears, peaches, plums (I didn't buy any plums but I really wanted some). Somehow I forgot that I also have eight pineapples that should be ready to be harvested pretty darn soon!  And I also had a 3-lb bag of apples in the fridge!
  2. The minced garlic isn't always in stock at Dollar Tree so when I see it, I buy a couple of jars. It might be cheaper to buy it in a large jar at Walmart, but I don't have room in my fridge for a large jar!

  • 3 ears sweet corn (Publix), on sale @ $0.20 each = $0.60 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG, and redeemed a $0.25 rebate from Ibotta so MONEY MAKER.
  • 2.41 lbs red grapes (Publix), on sale @ $1.49/lb = $3.59 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG
  • 2.33 lbs cherries (Publix), on sale @ $1.99/lb = $4.64 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG
  • 1.49 lbs bananas (Publix) @ $0.59/lb = $0.88 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG, and submitted for the 20% Healthy Offer discount on SavingStar, which will net me $0.18 so MONEY MAKER.
  • 1 cantaloupe (Aldi), on sale @ $1.29
  • 2 lbs Anjou pears (Aldi), @ $2.49
  • 2 lbs peaches (Aldi) @ $1.99
  • 2 lbs strawberries (Aldi), on sale @ $1.19/lb = $2.38
  • 8 oz blueberries (Aldi), on sale @ $0.99
  • 2 jars minced garlic (Dollar Tree), @ $1.00 each = $2.00

Proteins: $2.77 OOP
  1. My son is coming home and I thought that he would like corn dogs for his lunches. He can microwave them on his own and it'll be a nice change from sandwiches.
  2. I couldn't pass up $0.02 a package hot dogs!
  3. All the eggs were free and I was down to my last half dozen.
  4. I like to stock up on Butterball smoked turkey sausage when Save A Lot has it in stock and I have coupons for it because I can never get it cheaper than there. Also, those are pretty easy to cram in the freezer even when I think I'm completely out of space!
  • 2 boxes State Fair corn dogs (Publix), on BOGO sale @ $3.49 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG
  • 2 packages Bar S franks (Publix), on BOGO sale @ $1.59, minus $0.55/2 printable manufacturer coupon, minus $1.00/2 store coupon = $0.04 but FREE with Publix gift card won with the NCAA 2017 IWG
  • 2 dozens large eggs (CVS), on sale @ $1.49 each but FREE after redemption of ECBs and CVS gift card earned from American Express Rewards
  • 1 dozen large eggs (Save A Lot), @ $1.29 but redeemed a store coupon for a free dozen eggs and store manager refunded me $0.11 too much so MONEY MAKER
  • 2 packages Butterball Smoked Turkey Sausage (Save A Lot), @ $1.99 each, minus (2) $0.55/1 printable manufacturer coupons = $2.88

Snacks: $6.55 OOP

  1. My son is back so I got the regular snacks that I stock for him.
  2. But I also got chocolate for me :)
  3. I thought that the B&J mini ice cream tub might be free after digital coupon again, but I should have double-checked the wording on the coupon since there was a size requirement. Oh well, it'll be a nice surprise for my son this weekend.
  4. Aldi didn't have any of the regular $1.99 Millville protein bars and there wasn't a spot for them on the shelf either. I really hope they didn't discontinue them as Greg really likes them for a daily snack.  If I see them again, I think I'll stock up in advance because it's not the only time that we've had to do without. They sell other kinds of protein bars, but they're more expensive.
  • 1 Ben & Jerry's mini ice cream tub (Publix), on sale @ $1.00 each
  • 2 packages peanut butter crackers (Aldi), @ $0.89 each = $1.78
  • 1 bag wavy potato chips (Aldi) @ $1.49
  • 1 box Swiss rolls (Aldi) @ $1.29
  • 1 white coconut chocolate bar (Aldi) @ $1.99
Did you get any great deals at the grocery store this week?  Please link up or share your finds in the comments :)

A Day of Splurges ~ Thursday 6/30/16

I fell asleep on the couch at some point last night with the TV on, without filing away the recipes that I had planned on filing.  I dragged myself to bed at 1:30 a.m. and then slept until 7 a.m.  I really wanted to sleep in, but I got to thinking that I probably should do my grocery shopping before going out to lunch with my friend instead of after so I got up.

No, I still haven't done the dishes but I still have tonight and tomorrow morning :)  Update: Uh no... Greg and Son are coming home tonight after all so I have to do them before midnight.

Monster To-Do List:
  • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
  • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
  • Scan more old pictures
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew - this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!
  • Get new potted flowers for the patio - Done
  • Enter some Coke codes into MCR (next week)
  • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
  • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns
  • Fertilize the raspberries
  • Add more mulch to berm
  • Download all May and June photos to my external drive
  • Replace roach traps
  • Inventory supplies for master bedroom painting project
  • Research extension cords for generator
  • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
  • Find the cats' rabies licenses
  • Exercise! 
  • Sweep the main stairs
  • Mop kitchen 
  • Dust
  • Look into getting new connecting hose for the propane tankWeber Customer Service will be sending me a new one for FREE. Woohoo!
  • Study dSLR camera manual
  • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
  • Prep master bedroom with painter's tape
  • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
  • Declutter linen closet
  • Clean kitchen cabinets
  • Investigate new paint shade for cabinets
  • Process dried basil in coffee grinder
  • Take items to the dump
  • Inventory seeds for Fall plantings
  • Recalculate Greg's W-4 with new paycheck info and bonus
  • Look at what's in the large bin on front porch and declutter
  • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
  • Declutter the top of the fridge
  • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
  • Purge filing cabinet
  • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
  • Send email to my French BFF
  • Add new genealogical information to Rootsmagic
  • Do the dishes - Done
To be done when Greg and our son get back:
  • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
  • Declutter coat closet/son's closet (shared closet)

  • I made sure that I had all my coupons for today's shopping trip.

  • I grabbed a slice of stale banana bread on my way out the door so I wouldn't be starving while visiting my first two stores.

  • Errands/Grocery Shopping. I will detail my shopping trip further in a separate post.
    • Publix: 
      • I purchased several items there because the prices were just a little higher than Aldi but I could get them for free with my Publix gift card: cherries, grapes, corn, bananas. 
      • I got some cash from their ATM. There is a $2.50 ATM fee but my credit union refunds us up to $15 a month in ATM fees.  I rarely use cash so this should last me a while.
      • I really wanted to buy the Armour meatballs that were on BOGO but I had to put them back because I was already buying corn dogs for my son and I knew that my freezer space was extremely limited. I'm glad I did!
      • I thought that I had a $1 digital coupon for Ben & Jerry's ice cream so I bought a mini container of it on sale for $1.  However, no coupon came off. Oh well.  Looking at my digital wallet at home (I should have looked it up in store!), I realized that it was $1 off 2 pints.
      • I grabbed 2 more $1.00/1 blinkies for Minute Rice because Checkout 51 seems to keep on having a $1.00 rebate for it and the full price of the box of Medley Rice is $2.29.
      • My OOP was $16.35 but I paid with my Publix gift card that I won in the NCAA 2017 IWG so it was all FREE to me and I claimed $1.00 from Ibotta, $0.18 from SavingStar and $1.00 from Checkout 51 so I made $2.18 :)

    • Save A Lot: 
      • I was disappointed not to find Gold Potatoes as they had advertised. They did have one bag but they were rotten. Also, $2.50, their "sale price" seems to be their regular price, so I'll get them next week if they get a new shipment.
      • I saw that they had the Butterball smoked turkey sausages back in stock at $1.99 so I bought 2 since I had (2) $0.55/1 printable coupons from Swagbucks that were about to expire.  We like those, they make for a quick and versatile dinner.
      • I bought 3 gallons of vinegar to make more of Susan's Super Duper Monster Weed Killer (shoot, I forgot to buy salt!).
      • I resisted buying Sno-Balls on 50% clearance at $0.35 a pack of 2.  I looooove those so I need some major kudos. (however, then I splurged at Aldi so I should have just bought the sarn Sno-Balls)
      • Since my OOP was over $10, I redeemed one of the coupons that I received last week for a free dozen of eggs.
      • However, I thought my OOP was high so when I got to my car, I recalculated everything: the register charged me again for the dozen of eggs prior to deducting the amount so I ended up paying for the eggs anyway!  So I went back inside and spoke to the cashier. The manager told her that from now on, she shouldn't scan the eggs. I pointed out that most people gave the coupons after everything had been scanned, so that she wouldn't know not to scan the eggs. Anyhoo, the manager went to refund me. The dozen of eggs cost $1.29.  She did a manual adjustment and entered $1.39.  I didn't say anything because it's not my place to teach those people math and I was steamed up about having to go back in the first place.  Then she handed me $1.40.  So I made $0.11.
Plus 3 gallons of vinegar that I had already put away
    • RaceTrac:
      • I gassed up my SUV @ $2.14/gallon. I didn't need much gas so I paid $8.74 with my Amex (2% back in Rewards) and obtained a new receipt for a freebie. I also earned 4 loyalty points on my app.
      • I had intended to purchase 2 breakfast sandwiches with a BOGO coupon from the Sodapalooza promotions, but while looking for it I found a survey reward code that I hadn't redeemed yet so I got a free blueberry muffin instead, and I ate it in the car for my breakfast/snack.
      • I got 2 Sodapalooza refills (free, at this point!) with my cups. That station doesn't offer CF Diet Coke, I'm going to ask them to get it on my survey.
Sorry, blurry photos!
    • Staples: 
      • Well, I meant to go to drop off a toner cartridge and an ink cartridge and buy the ream of paper for 1 cent after coupon and rebate. But I'm glad I double checked the coupon before going because the coupon had expired on 6/25. So I skipped it.

    • Lowe's:
      • The 1-pint small vincas were on sale for $1.15 each. However, the hanging baskets that contained 5 large vincas each were on sale at $10 for 2 baskets.  So I purchased 2 beautiful baskets.
      • The cone flowers weren't as gorgeous as Live & Learn's but, at $3.33 each, they provide flowers for my garden that I hope will come back every year?  I need to look up whether they do come back or not. At the very least, I hope to collect seeds from them.  Anyhoo, I bought 3 of them.
      • My OOP was $21.39 and I paid with one of the Visa gift cards that my daughter had won and that I had bought from her so the money was deducted from my bank account months ago :)
      • The cashier was a middle-age lady with gorgeous dark brown hair and a very striking bright purple streak. It looked very good on her and I complimented her. I also asked which salon she had used so she told me the one and the name of her stylist. I will pass it on to my daughter for when she gets back :)
Cone flowers. This was the only kind/color they had available

    • CVS:
      • I had wanted to order and print $1.00/1 coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards this morning but their site was down for maintenance. Grrr. So I had to use the $1.00/2 coupons that they had emailed me instead. I stocked up on 4 boxes of Special K, on sale @ $2.50 each. I was also able to use a $1.00/3 store coupon that  had uploaded to my card. I will earn KFR points automatically via my ExtraCare card.
      • I got a gallon of milk since the men will be back soon
      • And I bought 2 dozens of eggs. They were on sale for $1.49 each.
      • I redeemed $10 in ExtraCare Bucks that I had earned by doing a CVS Consumer Advisory Panel survey, so my OOP was $2.77 and I charged it to the CVS gift card I had earned with our American Express Rewards program so it was all FREE to me :)

    • Aldi:
      • Someone not familiar with Aldi had abandoned a cart in the parking lot and it still had its quarter in it so I made money before even entering the store. Sweet!
      • I was disappointed (but not as much as Greg!) to find that they didn't have any of the $1.99 Millville protein bars that I usually buy for him.  I asked the cashier about it and he said the warehouse must be out but that he hadn't seen any notice stating that they were not carrying them anymore. So next time they have them, I think I'll stock up quite a bit.
      • I didn't have much to buy there but I stocked up on more fruit (peaches, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, pears).
      • I also splurged on a few items: French bread (I considered baking my own but didn't want to fire up the oven), brie, some other kind of cheese, white chocolate.
      • And then I bought some of the usual snacks for my son (Swiss rolls, peanut butter crackers) and necessities (bread, cheese slices, buns, chocolate chips).
      • My OOP was $30.66 and I charged it to Amex (3% back in Rewards).

    • Dollar Tree:
      • I wasn't planning on going there actually. I meant to go to Bath & Body Works, a few doors down, but my SUV found its way to a parking space in front of Dollar Tree, somehow!  I must have been on auto pilot:)
      • So I decided to check on a few items. They didn't have any of the canned cherry pie filling (but they had the apple kind) or the mint herbal tea (haven't seen it in a while), but they did have my favorite jars of minced garlic so I bought two and 4 bricks of 2% UHT milk that doesn't expire until May 2017 (for emergency/hurricane supplies).  My OOP was $6.00 and I charged it to American Express (1% in Rewards)

    • Bath & Body Works:
      • I walked in the store hoping to find 5 candles that I liked in the $10 sale section.  They didn't have the scents that I had hoped to find, but I did find 5 candles that I was willing to try: Seaside Gardenia. Black Sands, Provence Garden,Sparkling Waves, and Lilac Blossoms.  They were $10 each and I redeemed a $20 off $50 coupon that they had emailed me so each candle cost me $6 plus tax. Wohoo. A total indulgence but it's not all that often that I do splurge on things like these and both Greg and I enjoy the candles.
      • I had to insist a couple of times that I wanted them to use my CVS reusable bag and not bag them in their useless paper bags.  Grr.
      • The cashier gave me a free box of matches and also a coupon for a free full-size Signature product with a $10 purchase that will be valid starting on Monday.
      • She asked me for my email address even though she knew I was already getting the emails. They always annoy me, insisting that I give it to them as well as my phone number and I always refuse. Today she explained that when you "update" your email address like this, you really "upgrade" it because various people get various coupons and the more you "upgrade" your email address, the better the coupons are.  I gave it to her but I think it's bullshit.  Does anyone who reads this work for B&BW?  I think I might email corporate and ask whether that is true.

    • RaceTrac: I stopped at the station closest to my house so I could top off my Sodapalooza cup with Diet Mountain Dew since I had almost drank everything.

  • I drove home and still had 2 hours to put everything away and relax a little before it was time to meet my friend for lunch, just down the street from my house.  It was nice to not have to rush and not to have shopping after lunch!

  • I refilled two of the hummingbird feeders with homemade hummingbird nectar.

  • I submitted my Publix receipt to Checkout 51, SavingStar, and Ibotta.  Ibotta and Checkout 51 credited my accounts immediately. SavingStar will take a couple of days.

  • I could have walked or biked to the restaurant from my house, but I didn't think they had a bike rack (I didn't see one) and my feet have been hurting with that plantar fasciitis problem, so I drove the Focus the half-mile or so to the restaurant, which barely used any gas and made it much easier to fit in a small parking space :)

  • My friend and I used to take turns to buy lunch every month but we missed a couple of months and couldn't remember whose turn it was so we decided to just ask for separate checks.  I drank water, we got complimentary chips and salsa, and I ordered 2 appetizers: stuffed jalapeños and cheese quesadilla.  My lunch cost me $12.50, including tip, and we chatted for a couple of hours.  She works for herself as a real estate agent and keeps talking about using me as an administrative assistant on a need basis, although she hasn't asked me to do anything specifically so far. I told her I'd be interested, but she was talking about certain situations going on right now that sound like way too much stress for me so I told her I'd be happy to stuff envelopes or do tasks like that, but not deal with brokers and bankers and clients who desperately want to sell their homes :)  We'll see if anything ever comes out of it. In a weird turn of events, she realized that she was wearing a royal blue top and white pants and I was wearing a solid red t-shirt so, next to one another, we looked very patriotic on the eve of July 4th (or thereabouts) :)

  • Greg texted me that he and our son got to Chattanooga, TN, where they planned on camping tonight, but it was very hot and they wanted to avoid the heavy traffic that is predicted tomorrow for the holiday weekend, and just wanted to be home, so they're driving straight through and will be home at about 1:30 a.m.tonight. WOOHOO! And also: crap, now I HAVE to do the dishes tonight!  LOL.  I'm really excited they're coming back.

  • He and our son had just passed their first RaceTrac station in two weeks so they got their free soda refills. Woohoo! I hope they got gas too so we have another receipt with which we will earn a freebie.

  • I printed a $1.50 Gold'n Plump coupon that they had emailed me. You used to be able to print two copies of the coupon (each of them with their own bar code) but now you can only print 1 coupon. You have got to wonder about the motivation behind restricting the coupon that they send to you as a consumer who is subscribing to their newsletter.  Coupons are meant to encourage sales.  The more coupons I can print, the more Gold'n Plump chicken I buy!  So, one coupon means I'll buy only 1 package.

  • I received a reply from Weber's customer service.  I had asked for help in diagnosing the trouble with my Weber grill and whether I needed to replace the connection hose to the propane tank (a new connection hose is priced at $24.99 at Amazon or, or if it might be the regulator since none of the tricks that people had mentioned online seemed to make my grill work when it is connected to the 20 lb propane tank. Mike from Customer Service said it definitely sounded like a problem with the hose, but that if I registered my grill and sent him my Customer Number, he would send me a new hose under the warranty program (Weber grills are guaranteed for life, I just discovered).  So I did that and sent him my number. Woohoo!  I hope this fixes the problem.  Come to think of it, we had the same grill before, inherited from my FIL and had had problems with it not igniting but we hadn't tried the same bottles. So I ordered a new one from Amazon back in 2012 (the one we're using now) and now I'm wondering if maybe it hadn't been the same problem... although I think the hose came with my FIL's grill so I guess it wouldn't have worked with this one...

  • I printed a $1.00 off Cheerios coupon that Betty Crocker emailed me.

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits and reached 100% of my goal so I was able to order a $5 Amazon gift card.

  • I also earned a few Swagbucks.

  • I reused some rain water to water the flowers that I bought today.

  • UPS keeps on wowing me. They've added a new feature to their already free UPS My Choice program.

  • I found a sheet of Hardee's coupons in today's paper (my 1-cent, 1-year subscription to the Orlando Sentinel includes Thursday and Sunday delivery).

  • We had a HUGE thunderstorm starting at about 7:40 p.m. that sent Male Cat scrambling under the futon.  Lightning, thunder, tons of rain.  I guess I didn't need to water my new flowers!  Also... hopefully the storm won't destroy them!  Free veggie garden watering, though, woohoo! That storm lasted over an hour. The gutters in the back weren't enough to keep the water diverted... it just went over the gutters!  I'll bet I could have filled up at least 10 or 20 rain barrels with all the water that fell on our roof. Easily.

  • Dinner was ridiculous: French bread with brie, dill pickles, and some white chocolate as dessert.  Also, I ate about a pound of cherries this afternoon.  They were delicious. I might need to go buy more this weekend.  $1.99/lb is a very good price for Publix.

  • Gas: I had to drive the SUV for my errands in order to have enough room for the flowers that I had buying and all the groceries. I also drove to the restaurant for lunch.

  • Food: chocolate, cheeses and bread at Aldi. A mini tub of ice cream at Publix. Lunch with my friend.

  • Electricity: since Greg will be home tonight, I turned the AC back down to 74F in the living room so the master bedroom will be cool enough for him tonight.  There is the end of my AC experiment!

  • I should have checked my digital coupons while I was in the store. I would have realized that the mini tub of ice cream wasn't going to be free.

  • I was so ticked off that once again the Kellogg's Family Rewards site was "down for regular maintenance" without any prior warning that I emailed Customer Service to complain and suggested that since they required us to register for a KFR account, then certainly they could have the courtesy of warning us in advance of any regular maintenance downtimes!  They emailed me back with an apology and a link to print a $1.25 coupon. However, the link was invalid so I had to email them again. Grrr.

  • AT&T launched their "BOGO Movie Tickets on Tuesdays" promotion for their post-paid plan members and I'm eligible... however, our local movie theater is NOT eligible.  I'd have to drive to Leesburg, which is a 30 minute drive, or drive to Disney (45 min to 1 hour drive) or Ocoee (30 minutes away, in a mall that used to be nice but that I would never visit at night these days) or even farther away. So I guess no Tuesday movies for us. I don't like going to the movies anyway but I was wanting to see "Finding Dory", darn it! I guess I'll wait until it's on Netflix.

  • I should have waited to go to Lowe's tomorrow since Discover starts offering a special 5% bonus rewards at Home Improvements Stores (and also Amazon!) tomorrow.

  • I had more food waste: a navel orange that had fossilized on my kitchen table (yuck!) and the rest of a container of Hot & Sour Soup from the last time we got Chinese for dinner. It had been hiding at the back of my fridge. I did save the container though, as it is great to freeze chicken stock or soup.

  • Ah DANG IT.  I completely forgot to buy cat litter at Aldi even though it was on my list. But I separate groceries from non-groceries and I didn't scroll far down enough on my phone. And I really need it too... Guess where I'll be going tomorrow?  Arrgh.

  • For a friend to be willing to spend a couple of hours having lunch with me and always thinking of me when she thinks she's going to be able to afford an assistant at some point.
  • For Greg to still have a job: my friend's husband got laid off again (twice in a couple of years now and he works in IT!).
  • For Greg and our son coming home a whole day early!
  • For Even Better Than Excellent customer service from Weber

  • Fed the cats
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Spoke with Greg on the phone
  • Put everything away
  • Refilled the hummingbird feeders
  • Submitted receipts for various rebates
  • Went to a late lunch with a friend
  • Spoke with Greg on the phone
  • Entered all my receipts into appropriate spreadsheets
  • Watered the flowers I bought today
  • Spoke with Greg on the phone
  • Scanned a newspaper article and emailed it to my daughter
  • Caught up on blogs
  • Did one load of dishes


Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper on the screen of our front porch. That thing was huge. My guide says 2.5 inches but it was definitely larger than that. I put it on Instagram to tease my daughter who hates those things.

The roses had all opened this morning. They're probably all shredded to pieces by the storm tonight :(
Did you splurge on anything today?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Marinating in Florida ~ Wednesday 6/29/16

It's been hot and humid but not to the point when my glasses fog up automatically and as soon as I go outside.  Still, we're getting there.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch while watching TV quite early, it was before 10:30 p.m.  I woke up at 12:30 p.m. and dragged myself upstairs... and then tossed and turned for 2 hours.  I was warmish.  I had 2 fans going on but the noise was keeping me up and they weren't cooling me off anyway.  So at 2:30 a.m., I admitted defeat, went back to the couch AND turned down the AC to 77F too. Then I slept until 8:00 a.m.  I felt guilty, thinking about our son and Greg in their tent, but oh well! Update: he texted me just a few minutes after I typed this and he said that it had been cool at night so they were comfortable.  Yay for them :)

This morning I'm on the back patio again because the pull of the garden in the shade is strong. But it's not very enjoyable.  The humidity level is at 80%, according to my app, but it might as well be higher.  It's hard to breathe, sweat is slowly dripping off of me, and I'm thinking, right at 9 a.m., that I might not stay outside until noon as I have been doing most mornings so far!  Of course, as soon as I type this, a nice cool breeze starts blowing as if to entice me to change my mind and stay longer. Oh, OK, then.

Also, my lower back hurts.  Just lifting those two heavy recycling bins to get them out of my laundry room and onto the hand cart did it. Ouch.

So, plans for today... well, I still have the darn dishes to do but I've made progress because they're piled up neatly and by category now, waiting for me to unload the dishwasher and then reload it. However, since my back hurts this morning, I might wait until later on tonight.

I typically go grocery shopping on Wednesdays but I don't really feel like going today.  I'm meeting a friend for lunch tomorrow so maybe I'll go grocery shopping afterwards.

A few things to ponder: why do stores wait until a month into hurricane season to hold their "Storm Season Stock-Up" sale (Publix) but start the "Back to School!" craze when it's not even July yet (Aldi)?!? That makes me cranky.

10:05 a.m. It's either become much cooler since I first came out at 8:30 a.m. OR my body has adjusted to the heat and humidity, but right now it's quite enjoyable being out on the patio!  Of course a slight breeze always helps!

On to the big scary To-Do List:

  • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
  • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
  • Scan more old pictures
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew - this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!
  • Get new potted flowers for the patio - still thinking about going to buy vincas from Lowe's. I did check and the sale runs through today.
  • Enter some Coke codes into MCR - Done!
  • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
  • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns
  • Fertilize the raspberries
  • Add more mulch to berm
  • Download all May photos to my external drive
  • Replace roach traps
  • Inventory supplies for master bedroom painting project
  • Research extension cords for generator
  • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
  • Find the cats' rabies licenses
  • Exercise! 
  • Sweep the main stairs
  • Mop kitchen 
  • Dust
  • Look into getting new connecting hose for the propane tank - waiting to get an answer to my email from Weber
  • Study dSLR camera manual
  • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
  • Prep master bedroom with painter's tape
  • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
  • Declutter linen closet
  • Take donations to thrift store. Done
  • Clean kitchen cabinets
  • Investigate new paint shade for cabinets
  • Harvest and dry old basil plants. Harvested some basil, will microwave it to dry it later on.
  • Collect lettuce seeds. Done
  • Take items to the dump
  • Inventory seeds for Fall plantings
  • Recalculate Greg's W-4 with new paycheck info and bonus
  • Look at what's in the large bin on front porch and declutter
  • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
  • Declutter the top of the fridge
  • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
  • Purge filing cabinet
  • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
  • Send email to my French BFF
  • Add new genealogical information to Rootsmagic
  • Do the dishes 
To be done when Greg and our son get back:
  • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
  • Declutter coat closet/son's closet (shared closet)
Well it's past noon and I'm still in my night gown!  I'm off to take a shower, wash my hair, and probably run a couple of errands: RaceTrac (of course!), probably dropping off donations at Habitat for Humanity ReStore thrift store since I have 2 large bags in my entry room that I want to get rid of. I need to put my thinking cap on to see if there are any other local errands that I could run while I'm out.

  • Breakfast was a mug of the free hazelnut coffee from Wawa and a chunk of the stale chocolate chip banana bread mini loaf that I baked a week ago.

  • I never feels like going grocery shopping... until I look up the new weekly ads for Aldi and Save A Lot! So many good deals on produce and I'm almost out of it.  I might just need to go to Aldi.  And if I go to Aldi, I might as well go to Target, Walmart, CVS, Dollar Tree.... darn it.  Well I looked at the Publix deals too on IHeartPublix and there are a few things that I could get from the ad that start tomorrow. So tomorrow will be my shopping day. The sweet corn might actually be cheaper at Publix (if I get the same prices as that blogger who is in TN), the cherries won't be that much more expensive (and probably better quality than Aldi's, let's be honest), and I have that Publix gift card to make it all free to me so I'll definitely be stopping by.

Save A Lot

  • I reused rain water from the rain barrel to water the Peace Lily.

  • I emptied a jug of cat litter when replenishing the cats' litterbox and later on I refilled it with rain water at the rain barrel and stored it for a dry day.

  • I reused water collected in the shower to flush the toilet.

  • I remembered to turn off the water while I was showering.

  • I let my hair air dry.  I rarely, if ever use a hair dryer and it's usually only on my bangs before going out to meet someone.  Which is useless with the humidity here anyway :)

  • Remembered that I had pledged to take my coupons everywhere with me, even if I wasn't planning on going shopping. So I took a few minutes to file the coupons that I had clipped!

  • Took a RaceTrac survey and earned a survey reward code for a freebie.

  • Making errands count:
    • I drove the Focus (better gas mileage than the SUV!)
    • RaceTrac:
      • Topped off the tank @ $2.21/gallon. AAA states gas prices were dropping but I guess not in my neck of the woods, where they've been holding steady. Still, I only needed about 1/4 tank so that cost me $5 and some cents, and I obtained a new receipt with which to earn a freebie.
      • Got my 2 Sodapalooza refills (pretty much free to me that this point, I've gone so many times!) and put one of the cups in the fridge when I got home, for dinner tonight.
      • Redeemed a survey reward code for a free corn dog.
Uh, that thing in the foreground is the corn dog.
    • Habitat for Humanity ReStore:
      • Dropped off all the donations from when I decluttered the cabinets in the freezeway: a box of frame, 2 full large trash bags of miscellaneous donations, 2 bags of party supplies and greeting cards
      • Resisted going inside to buy more stuff to bring home!

    • Decided to drive to Lake Louisa State Park. I decided to go to the back entrance of the park, because the way there is a little more scenic.  The entry fee was $4 on the website, but only $3 according to the sign at the entrance. I paid it in cash.
I wonder if I could have just paid $2... I mean, what is the difference between a bicyclist
leaving its bike in the parking lot or me leaving my car? Oh well.

  • I ate the corn dog from RaceTrac on my way to Lake Louisa State Park, for my lunch.

  • Back home, I was still hungry so I made myself 2 egg and bacon burritos with 2 flour tortillas that I had bought with coupons at Dollar Tree a couple of months ago. I had 4 tomatoes from the garden too. They're good enough to eat plain :)

  • I ate while I watched an episode of Seinfeld on Crackle via the Roku (free channel).

  • I harvested the garden: tomatoes, jalapeños, serrano peppers, 2 small green peppers (but one had started to show yellow spots so I thought I should harvest them before they rotted on the plant), a few green peppers.  Woohoo!  Now, what to do with all those jalapeños and serranos?  LOL. I guess I'll have having jalapeño soup for lunch every day for a few weeks?

  • I also harvested some basil, rosemary, and thyme. I reused Chinese take-out containers to hold them until I decided how to process them. I'll dry the basil in the microwave, but I might let the thyme and rosemary air dry.

  • I watched more episodes of Seinfeld on Crackle while harvesting Bibb lettuce seeds from their pods that I had been drying for a few weeks.

  • Then I went in the garden and harvested more lettuce flower heads and set them out to dry.

  • Thanks so much to Rosie who send me a couple of Coke Rewards codes that she and her wife had collected and weren't using!  You are awesome :)  I also input more codes that I had been saving, up to my weekly limit. I need to remember to do this every week so I enter them all because I have quite a few saved up.

  • I think I'll pay Lowe's a visit tomorrow: they have cone flowers on sale for $3.33 and also 3-quart vinca planters for $5 and 1 pint annuals for just $1.15 each.  I need to remember to bring the SUV then and not the Focus!

  • I used rain water to water the indoor zombie plants.

  • I dried the basil in the microwave. I will process it in the coffee grinder tomorrow.

  • My dinner was the 2nd steak and the rest of the tomatoes that I grilled yesterday. I ate them cold, with a side of whole grain mustard for the steak. Yum!  Oh, and I had the 2nd CF Diet Coke from RaceTrac. 

  • I ate my dinner while watching episodes of the Jeff Foxworthy Show on Crackle.

  • Greg and our son went on 2 cavern tours at Mammoth Caverns
  • Gas and $3 for admission to Lake Louisa State Park

  • The small non-stick baking loaf pan that I used to bake the banana bread mini loaf last week is losing its coating. I can't remember if I had bought it from Dollar Tree, but I think I'll just throw it away because I don't want that stuff mixed in with my food. Today I was able to scrape it off the bottom of the loaf.

  • I wanted to listen to some classical music but IheartRadio doesn't seem to be working today... Amazon Music to the rescue!  Well, no, somehow now I can't seem to play anything else than what's in "My Library" on the Roku app and none of the Amazon Prime music that I download actually shows up in the Amazon Music app and now I can't seem to be able to play the music on my laptop either because it requires me to have Flash. I have Flash, as a matter of fact, I just updated it this week. But it won't let me play the music.  Arrgh. Kindle Fire?  Finally, yes.  

  • I had some food waste: a cucumber that I bought and never used and a few serrano peppers from the garden that went from ripe to rotting.  I composted all of that.

  • Fed the cats
  • Organized the dirty dishes so they're ready to be put in the dishwasher
  • Watered the Peace Lily
  • Swept the laundry room
  • Cleaned the two litter boxes
  • Filtered water for the cats
  • Worked on my shopping list
  • Caught up on blogs and commenting
  • Made my bed
  • Put laundry away
  • Took a customer satisfaction survey
  • Put clipped coupons away in my organizer
  • Confirmed lunch plans for tomorrow
  • Ran errands
  • Cooked my lunch
  • Harvested the garden
  • Deadheaded roses
  • Pulled weeds
  • Harvested lettuce seeds
  • Harvested more lettuce seed heads
  • Pulled more weeds
  • Propped up tomato plants
  • Pulled dead branches off tomato plants
  • Watered indoor zombie plants
  • Texted my daughter
  • Texted Youngest Son and Greg
  • Scanned daughter's final report card and emailed it to her and my ex
  • Dried basil in microwave
  • Picked up hairballs (yuck!)
  • Fed the cats
  • Prepped my dinner
  • Texted with Greg

  • Air conditioning!
  • When all else was failing, my Kindle Fire and Bluetooth speaker came to the rescue and I was able to listen to classical music.
  • Being able to harvest seeds and cuttings from my own plants and regrow vegetables and plants from them

When I first came out on the patio to wipe out the furniture, a dove and a squirrel were in the bird bath, but I didn't have my camera.  Then, as I sat down, a female cardinal showed up and used the new blue bird feeder, finally!  Later on, the male also showed up, first landing on the electric cable running over my backyard and squeaking his little song, and then he went to the cardinal feeder.  My birds don't like their picture taken, I think.  They always either present me their backside or go hide on the far side of the feeder where I can't get a good shot :(

I haven't seen the red bellied woodpeckers in over a week.  They're not supposed to be migratory birds but I wonder if they've moved?!  I miss them.

This morning, there were lots of blooms on my roses (well, lots for me!) and on my hibiscus.  I love to see flowers in my own backyard!  I'm not a good flower gardener.

Also: the grass needs to be mowed. It's time for Greg to get home!

I saw a picture of my verbena in Birds & Blooms and they call it "Babylon Neon Rose Verbena".  I've had it in large pots on my patio ever since Greg built it for me over two years ago, and they have never stopped flowering, although this year they're noticeably less showy than in years past.  I never knew what they were!  So Bless first told me they were verbena and now I know the official name too, which makes me happy.  I'll need to find some more next Spring (I had bought them in April 2014, I believe).

There's a white ibis that flies all by itself over my garden every morning.  It's actually a lovely sight, almost like the signal that it's time to start a new day :)

It's supposed to be partly cloudy with 60% chance of thunderstorms today, but at 9:15 a.m. the sky is blue!

And you can still see the moon...

And a small place flew by. It looks like a toy plane, doesn't it?  I saw that the nearby airport is for sale.  My brother who flies his own plane would die if Greg and I bought an airport, lol.

It's now 10 a.m. and I've had cardinals flying to the feeder all morning!  I'd like to think that the cardinal population has increased since I've started putting seeds in the feeder again :)

I haven't seen any hummingbirds today. Not sure if I'm missing them as I'm typing on the laptop or if they just didn't show up today.

Well, I think it's time for me to go back inside as the neighbor is driving its ride-on mower next door and finally mowing their grass.  It's hard to enjoy the great outdoors when they get so noisy and I'm guessing the birds will stay away for a while. That's a shame because one of them had just started serenating me from the top of a nearby tree. Hey, the neighbor is mowing on my side of the property line.  Grrr. I'm very territorial.  We really need to put up a fence.  I'm going to talk to Greg about it.  It's time!

Later on this afternoon, I took a tour of the garden:

Remember the tadpoles? There are fewer of them and the ones that remain are still tiny, but they look more like frogs now.

Mutant jalapeño!

I was going to weed this planter and spotted this baby basil plant right in time!

It's much better all by itself, now!

Hey, I've got a strawberry that's ripening!

And more are forming.  They're loving that multi-level planter from Aldi. I should have bought more.
Although, the semi-shade location is probably the best factor since my other ones are pretty much in full shade.


My timing was off... I decided to go there after I ran my errands but we all know that we get thunderstorms in the afternoons and I had barely spent 20 minutes there when the clouds got dark and I heard thunder and then saw lightning in the distance... I was able to get on the Nature Trail but I thought that maybe being under trees in the middle of a thunderstorm wasn't very smart, so I doubled back to my car and left.  I'll have to go back one morning!

I went to the back entrance. It's closer to my house and reminded me of field trips taken with the kids when they were little since I used to bring them to the beach there to go swimming and playing in the water.  Ah, memories!

The short paved road soon becomes a short unpaved road that's pretty well maintained, and a small unmanned parking lot. The entrance is unmanned too and I guess you could tempt fate and not pay the $3 entrance fee by leaving your cash in the envelope and the special slot, but I'm honest. I'm cheap but a ticket would cost me more than the $3.

The boardwalk to the left leads to the lake and a path to the beach.  The boardwalk on the right is new, I think and it leads to...

A port-a-potty!  It's nice to have, but there are nice bathrooms and showers at the beach, which really is pretty close-by.

Meadow Beauty

Short boardwalk to Lake Louisa

Lots of beautiful pine trees all around!

Approaching the lake...

Lake Louisa is very large and part of the Chain of Lakes.

Pine tree. I'm too lazy to look up which one!

But its bark reminded me of brownies. I think we should call it the Brownie Pine Tree!
(What? I only had a small corn dog for lunch!)

White Milk Pea

Florida Tasselflower

I don't know what plant this is. but I thought it was interesting because the fruit were giving it fur-like stems.

That looks like an oak tree straight out of the scene when Snow White is trying to run away from the hunter (the Disney animated movie version)

I guess there aren't any gators in that swamp... the algae is completely covering the surface of the water.

I love the colors of that red and yellow leaf against the greenery!

Approaching the beach, there are a few barbecue stations and picnic tables.

Ohh, this is new. They didn't have a playground when my kids were little... dang it.

There were kids swimming at the beach.

I sat on a large bench right outside the bathrooms/showers, facing the beach.  Last time we were there, the lake level was much lower and the beach extended all the way to about the edges of those grass patches over there, where the sign in the water is.  Maybe even past that sign! . My boys used to boogie board in the shallow water and we caught tadpoles in our water bottles.

Lake Louisa is the 3rd lake from the top.  My former in-laws used to live on Lake Minneola (the top lake) so we would take their boat all the way through the chain of lakes, to Lake Louisa and would come waterski on this lake and also look at the "ritzy" homes.

This is the "tea colored" water. It's pretty clear when it's very shallow but gets much darker as the depth changes. This is why Jaycee Beach, on Lake Minneola, was closed for many years.  The city feared that it was too dark, in case of an emergency.

Memorial to a WWII serviceman who crashed his place in the lake in 1944. The plane wasn't
discovered until 2001, the year when the kids and I started visiting this beach.

Since the walk to the beach was very short (less than 10 minutes) and there wasn't much else to see, I decided to explore the edges of the main parking lot because I remembered seeing some trails there before...

I think these are Elderberries.

Elderberry flowers

Pond Cypress


The fruit of the Beautyberry turns purple when ripe.

I wasn't planning on walking the whole trail, just maybe half a mile, and then turn around...

Entrance to the Nature Trail

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Close-up of the Trumpet Honeysuckle flowers

OK, let's go... uh oh, what's that I hear?  Thunder?

Turning around, I see this... and hear loud thunder and suddenly lightning... well, time to hike it back the 10 minutes or so to my car!  Under the trees. near the water. Great.  A wonderful location for me to get struck by lightning!  But it didn't happen and I made it back to the car before the rain started.

But it when I was about a mile away from the park!
And yet... it never rained at my house!  Poop.  So I will need to get back to Lake Louisa State Park and try to hike that Nature Trail. Maybe Greg will come with me.