I love the internet, I really do. I'm online probably 17 hours a day, at least. I get my socialization, some shopping, banking, entertainment and news fix from there. As stoic as I'd like to imagine I would be if the internet went down, we all know that I would be a wreck.
However: today I wish we didn't have the internet. I'm sick and tired of waking up to news of some catastrophe or news that more catastrophes are in the works. No, it wouldn't prevent anything but it would prevent me from feeling... whatever I'm feeling right now.
I came down the stairs this morning after sleeping in a little, and Greg asked if I had read the news yet, which is never good news in itself, and proceeded to tell me about the 2-year old who was snatched by a gator at the Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort last night. This is horrible. And on the heels of other traumatic events that happened in Orlando this weekend, my stomach was rolling and I felt like I was going to explode.
After reading a few articles about the situation, I offered to drive to RaceTrac to get Greg a drink. When I came back, I sat down to read my email... and I was greeting by a video of a French news report that my Paris brother had sent me describing the warning from Belgian police that a number of terrorists had snuck into Europe, within the past week and a half, from Syria through Greece and Turkey, by boat, without any passports and had split into 2 groups, one headed for Belgium and one headed for France, where they intend to hit large public and symbolic targets in groups of 2. Apparently they already have the weapons that they need. Of course, the police in many countries receive many such threats all the time but I also know from my Marseille brother who works in the police department that there are many planned attacks that are thwarted every day but never reported in the news so as not to worry people too much.
So not reading the news wouldn't stop any of this, but it's tempting all the same. I always said that having my family on another continent allowed me to stay away from the drama, but right now I wish they lived here. Not that it would keep them any safer, as witnessed the horrific attack that happened in Orlando this weekend, but I think it's normal in times of crisis to want to be closer to your family.
Sorry to be gloomy in this space. I know that you don't come to my blog to be reminded of all the horrors happening everywhere. But that's what's on my mind this morning. I've got to get busy so I think of something else.
Plans for the day: I have several chores (folding laundry, do the dishes...) that need to be done urgently, I told Greg I'd take his truck to the oil change place since he needs an oil change before driving to Ohio next week but has conference calls all day, I have several financial-related tasks that I'd like to do today, and I said I would post the details of my grocery shopping trip. I might go to Kohl's to get undies for Greg since I have $20 to spend (see below) and he wants undies. They're terribly overpriced at Kohl's but that's all he wants...
- Late last night, I finally catched up on Feedly and saw that there was a Slickdeals post about the $10 off $30 Discover Deals offer at Kohl's. I had printed my code back at the beginning of the month but Greg hadn't gotten it in his account. Also, I wasn't able to scan it or enter it manually because I kept getting error messages. It was very frustrating. In the Slickdeals thread, someone explained how to get those codes accepted: just add 2084 at the beginning, as it seems they had messed up the codes. I did it and, woohoo, received $10 in Kohl's cash in my Kohl's app. Then I checked Greg's Discover account and he now had the offer as well, only his wasn't messed up, so I entered his in my app as well and I now have $20 in Kohl's cash. I really could have used it last week when my daughter got her cardigan for camp, darn it! Now I need to think of what to get at Kohl's with this. I need to put my thinking cap on...
- Greg worked from home, saving us money on tolls and gas.
- I collected water in the shower and reused it to flush the toilet.
- SavingStar credited my account with the $1.00 rebate for the Lucky Charms I bought yesterday.
- I drove the Focus to RaceTrac and got Greg and myself free diet soda refills with our Sodapalooza cups.
- I went through Swagbucks to place my Kohl's order (see "failures") so I'll earn 12 SB (big money!). Also, I spent the $20 in free Kohl's cash. I guess that could be construed as being frugal but it really wasn't, actually (again, see "failures"). I have a love/hate relationship with Kohl's.
- I printed some coupons that Kellogg's had emailed me.
- I looked at the Aldi and Save A Lot flyers that came out today (online, of course!) and took notes of the following sales:
|Save A Lot|
- I printed some coupons for the Valvoline Oil Change place before I left. They're not the cheapest, but they're the fastest, usually.
- The RaceTrac survey site worked this morning so I took 2 surveys and earned 2 more freebies :)
- Then I left to take Greg's truck to get an oil change. I couldn't stand the thought of going into town for just one thing, so I made a list of things to do while I was out:
- RaceTrac: I gassed up Greg's truck at the Clermont station since it's 6 cents per gallon cheaper than the one in town. I received the loyalty points (9 points) and a new receipt with which I will earn a new freebie. I also redeemed a survey reward code for a free Monterey Chicken Hot Roller Grill item for my son's lunch.
- Valvoline: that's it, folks. This is the 3rd vehicle that I take to Valvoline for an oil change and I feel that I have found my "forever" oil change place! I used to go to Mobil 1 until they closed down a couple of years back and ever since I have been dissatisfied with the service or amount of time spent waiting for oil changes to be performed. But... at Valvoline, I haven't had to wait in line, I wait in my car while the oil change is performed, it only takes 15 minutes tops, I can print coupons from their website (I used a $10 off coupon today), the staff is always cheerful and pleasant... it's just been a great experience all around. Their computer system went down at the exact same moment as I pulled into the bay, but they got started on Greg's truck while they were rebooting the computers and modem so it didn't inconvenience me at all. I contacted Greg to see if he wanted full synthetic or synthetic blend and he opted for the blend, which costs about $20 less. I had told them that I only wanted an oil change so when I asked how my air filter was, they said they hadn't checked it since I had said "all" I wanted was an oil change. You know what? I actually like that. I did ask them to check the air filter, and decided to get it replaced since it was dirty and Greg's going to be driving to Ohio. So all in all, it was about $98 after coupon because it's a large pick-up truck so it requires extra oil and we went with the synthetic blend. I charged it to Amex, so we'll get 1% back in Rewards. When I got home, I filled out a Customer Satisfaction survey and was able to print more coupons although the coupons that I found on their website are of higher value.
- From there I drove a couple of blocks to Petco to redeem the coupon for a free bag of cat treats that I had received for New Kitty's "birthday" (I put it in quotation marks because since she was found in a field, we don't really know when she was born, but I had to assign her a birthday when I registered her in my Petco PetPals account). The coupon only said "a bag of cat treats up to $4" so I asked an employee if I could pick any brand or if there was a store brand I was supposed to use. She didn't know and her supervisor didn't know either. He said to just pick any bag of cat treats under $4 and if the coupon didn't work, he would manually push it. In the meantime, he conferred with his manager who had never seen the coupon either and thought that it might be for a bag of "bulb" cat treats and they showed me a display... however, those treats were all for dogs. So finally they went back to the original plan which was for me to pick a bag of any brand as long as it was $4 or less and they would push it through if it didn't work. I picked a bag of Whiskas Temptations Salmon treats priced at $3.79... and their carrot and stick trick worked because I let myself be tempted into buying yet another toy for the darn cats... this one a wand with a feather and crinkly ball attachment (our cats love the feathered toys) that also came with 2 replacement heads so I thought the $6.99 price tag wasn't too bad. The coupon did work at the register, hooray! I charged the $7.49 after tax OOP to Amex for the 1% in Rewards.
- I was going to go to Ace Hardware and stop by the library next before hitting RaceTrac for drink refills for everyone but that would have meant for me to get home after my son had already left for the library, so I changed my itinerary: I went to RaceTrac near our home, got 3 free refills with our Sodapalooza cups, redeemed another survey reward code for a free blueberry muffin, and drove home to give my son his free lunch and Greg his free soda.
- Then I went back to Ace Hardware. I had a $7 off any $20+ purchase as long as the items were NOT on sale and I was planning on getting a pole for my extra hummingbird feeders that I hadn't been able to set up. I felt vaguely guilty that I hadn't inventoried my painting supplies because I probably needed some for my painting project next week (ugh) but when I got to Ace Hardware, I saw in their brochure that there was a 3-pack of roller covers on sale for just $2.99 with Ace Rewards so I grabbed that. They also had a Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale on AC filters so I got those too. Lastly, I found a pole with 2 "branches" from which to hang my feeders. It was priced at $27.99 and not on sale, so I paid $20.99 for it after coupon. My OOP was $36.63, I earned points towards a $5 certificate and I paid with my Discover Card for 1% in Rewards (I think? Maybe not, I have barely used Discover this year). At the register, I was finding it hard to juggle the filters and the pole without hitting someone on the head with it, so a very nice older man offered to hold the pole for me while I was completing my project. There are indeed very nice people in the world, let's remember that for a moment.
- On my way home, I stopped by the library to tell them that I didn't want to check out the book that they were holding for me, after all. My son had gotten there at the same time, on my bike. He wasn't volunteering today, just enjoying the Teen Scene program. I stopped by the children's section to chat with my friend the children's librarian. She always gives me such nice feedback about my son (she's in charge of the Jr. Friends of the Library Volunteering Program) and today was no exception. How very nice to hear, although that wasn't why I had stopped by, LOL. She reported that their Summer Program was going very well and was very well attended so far, which is great to hear. Our library manager managed to get a $500 grant for the Summer Program so they are providing free food to all the events (snacks and drinks) and we don't need to bring any baked goods or anything. I told her that she could contact me if she needed extra help, especially during the weeks when my son wasn't gone to be in town to volunteer. We also discussed the middle's school free summer camp provided by the YMCA this year, since 2 of her kids have started attending it. They really enjoy it. It's such a great FREE resource to families in our area! And, starting next week, they will also provide free breakfast and lunch every day. The kids can pick 2 activities every day (they have things like karate, archery, crafts, sports, drama, robotics and more...). They do one in the morning, come together for lunch, and do another activity in the afternoon. They can change their activities every day if they want. I like this very much. I kind of wish my son would attend because he's been wanting to do archery again, but he's very busy with his volunteering and other library activities and programs and his schoolwork so he doesn't want to go.
|The very cool poster they created to advertise my son's D&D Club!|
- Back home, I went to plant my feeder pole in the spot where my dead plump tree was, in the back of the garden. Then, of course, I had to hang my 2 hummingbird feeders that I had bought at Aldi from it. The hooks were too small so I just hung them from the plastic ties that had been placed for the label. I filled them with hummingbird nectar that I had made a couple of weekends ago and slathered the pole with Vaseline to keep the ants away. It's worked great on my first hummingbird feeder.
- Walking back to the house, I noticed that I had tomatoes that had ripened. I hadn't set foot in the garden this past week so I had no idea! So I grabbed a hat, my camera, and a bowl and I went to harvest my veggies. I got so much stuff, compared to usual! Details in the Gardening section of this post. Sorry Susan, I didn't have the energy to go get the Farmer's Market Stand for the picture, it was so hot, I just wanted to get out of there!
- The hummingbird feeders each had a packet of hummingbird nectar mix, that I saved for my next batch.
- When I went back inside, Greg was off his conference call and hopefully looking in the freezer in case I had bought ice cream. Yeah, like he wouldn't have eaten it already! My husband is an ice cream fiend. But ice cream actually settles his stomach when he's not feeling well. I offered to drive to Publix to get him some but he didn't want me to go all the way there. I confessed that I was offering because while I was driving to run errands, I didn't have to do the dishes, lol. So he laughed and said he'd better send me to get ice cream, then. However, he wanted soft-serve so we agreed I would go to McDonald's to get him a McFlurry. I grabbed his Sodapalooza cup to get him yet another free Diet Dr. Pepper refill at RaceTrac first, and topped off my cup at the same time.
- I was going to get a mcFlurry for my son as well but then I got to think that the librarian had told me that the teens were being given lots of snacks so I figured he didn't ice cream on top of it. So I saved $2.66. Only when he got home, he told me that the only snack he had gotten was a muffin that the branch manager had brought for the employees. Oh well. He ate almost the whole box of cinnamon rolls this morning so he can have fruit this afternoon if he's hungry! I charged it to Discover for 5% back in Rewards.
- Back home, I downloaded McDonald's app on my phone so I could start receiving coupons. We rarely go to McDonald's and it's usually to get my men a shake. I immediately received a BOGO McCafé drink coupon (that includes the shakes!), along with other coupons and a punch card with which I can earn a free McCafé drink if I purchase 5 of them. Unfortunately, the punch card expires on 6/30. Oh well.
- I received an email from Fancy Feast offering me a free sample of Medley's cat food so I requested it. I'll give it to my neighbor as my cats are on prescription dry food. I did joke with Greg that I was going to serve it as appetizer because the picture of it (I forgot to get a screenshot of it) actually looked like a very good paté, lol!
- Last September, I had signed up for the Plenti Rewards program through my American Express card, I think, because I could earn points via AT&T. Most people use the Plenti program at Rite Aid, but we don't have Rite Aid here so I completely forgot about it. I didn't realize that I had been earning points via our AT&T Wireless plan every month. Today I received an email letting me know that AT&T was going to change how many points we earned starting in September (as in fewer points) and that details would come out later on. So I checked my Plenti account and realized that I have over 1,000 points, which entitles me to a $10 discount at Mobil or Exxon (I don't shop at Macy's or Rite Aid). I'll have to remember that next time I'm in Clermont, I can redeem them for free food!
- I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks. A quick check of the team challenge revealed that my team is still in the lead. The top earner on our team has accumulated 32,000 points. I have 335, lol.
- I took the survey from my McAlister's receipt from last weekend and earned a code for a free cookie next time we eat there. Then I signed up for their e-newsletter and they sent me a message that I can print to get another free cookie!
- I took the survey from my Dick's Sporting Goods receipt from last weekend and earned a $10 off $50 coupon for my next purchase.
- McFlurry for Greg ($2.66)
- I didn't feel like cooking so we decided to go to Red Lobster for dinner. My coupons had expired but I did have $1.59 left on a gift card. Woo. We spent a lot of money on dinner but we called it Greg's Father's Day dinner so we (I) don't feel so guilty about it. LOL. I charged it to Discover so we'll get 5% back in Rewards.
- I was in a hurry to publish my post last night, so I wrote that I had taken 2 RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 more freebies, but in reality I was going to take the surveys right after I published the post. Only the RaceTrac survey site started acting up in the middle of the first survey and I wasn't able to complete it so I actually did NOT get the freebie codes last night. Poop. That's teach me to count my chickens before they hatch! But I was able to take the surveys today.
- I just can't see this as a frugal success... I didn't want to go to Kohl's and wander through the aisle looking for things to buy with the $20 in free Kohl's cash that I had in my account. I asked Greg if he needed anything and he asked for undies. I always refuse to buy them there because they are so overpriced. But today I thought "well, there's really nothing else I want from Kohl's so I'll just get him undies". Plus today was the last day for free MVP shipping on their site and I had seen the code for 30% off. So surely, I thought I'd get free undies. A 7-pack of Hanes undies was priced at $34. Seriously? This would cost less than $10 at Walmart. See why I always end up refusing to buy undies at Kohl's?! I persevered and found a 6-pack of their Craft and Barrows brand priced down to $24. It looked like I might only spend a few cents because I had forgotten that they deduct the Kohl's cash first and THEN take off the 30% off... arrgh. So I ended up paying $3 for the undies. Which, I feel, was a TERRIBLE use of my $20 in Kohl's cash, despite the fact that he needed undies and I didn't have to drive anywhere to get them. Also it's going to take a couple of weeks to get them. Ugh. Yes, I am complaining about getting something "almost for free".
|I "saved" $36.15?! For 6 pairs of plain cotton men's underwear?|
Kohl's please. You're drunk.
- I don't think I'm going to qualify for the MVC status at Kohl's next year. I'd need to spend another $500 in that store by the end of November, I think and, honestly, I don't see doing that.
- Drove to RaceTrac to get drink refills
- Ordered underwear for Greg
- Got oil changed in Greg's truck
- Ran errands
- Harvested my garden
- Installed hummingbird bird feeders
- Ran more errands
- And that's pretty much it for today. No, I didn't do the dishes nor did I fold the laundry. There's tomorrow for all that :)
I took a tour of the garden in the blistering heat this afternoon and took some pictures so I remember what was happening in the garden at this time of year.
|The jasmine cutting is surviving in its pot and is actually flowering! Its parent plant, in ground, flowered weeks ago and is now done for the year.|
|It's been so hot this week that I only have one rose currently on all three bushes. I deadheaded the other ones that had died.|
|The hibiscus cutting is growing well and is very dependable for having at least one blossom every day. I have lots of buds on the plant too!|
|The verbena looks done in... it was so gorgeous just a week ago! Also, the weeds have set in. Ugh.|
|The sweet potato vine is creeping everywhere... and this is just from one potato slip!|
|The okra isn't very impressive and growing pretty slowly. The blossom that was on the largest plant a while back has disappeared and there isn't an okra pod in sight :(|
|Green pepper growing|
|Jalapeños. I harvested so many of them! And they're so large I think I could try making jalapeño poppers!|
|The Supersweet 100 tomatoes are the size of clementines this year! The result, though, is that the plants have completely collapsed (the winds of the storms didn't help!) and fell on top of my bush beans bin!|
|So I moved my metallic lattice panel and it is now supporting the tomatoes... because the tomato cages have been useless.|
|Thankfully the bean plants weren't damaged! I might have waited a tad too long to harvest the beans, though.|
|Same as I'm probably going to do with this lettuce that is starting to bolt.|
|Pretty jalapeño and serrano peppers harvested today|
|To which I added 3 pretty purple Ichiban eggplants|
|This one is past its prime so I'm letting it decompose in its own bin. Maybe it will produce more plants. It worked with the tomatoes and the serrano peppers!|
|The bush beans that were planted in ground look horrible and pretty much dead. Will not be planting those in ground again! Also, I never did take down the pole because I'll try growing actual pole beans in the fall.|
|Roselle plant #1 looks great.|
|Roselle plant #2 is still noticeably smaller, despite being in part sun all day.|
|Roselle plant #3 looks OK.|
|The other Supersweet 100 tomato plants look fried.|
|My Roma tomato plant(s) still have several tomatoes ripening.|
|The Supersweet 100 tomatoes are on steroids, I swear! I did fertilize the plants but, good grief, they're 10 times as large as the ones I planted last year!|
|These look a little different because they are Black Cherry tomatoes. I'm not quite sure when I should harvest them. I guess I'll wait until they're actually black.|
|Those are the more "normally sized" Supersweet 100 tomatoes from last year's plants. There were tons of them on the plant and, in the space of 1 week, they went from being green to being ripe and attached by birds or bugs or I don't know what...|
|So I left lots of them in the bins so they can reseed themselves.|
|This is my largest pineapple. They won't be ready for another 3 weeks at least, but most of the other 8 are actually even smaller.|
|Under their tent, the peanut plants are beautiful and vibrant. My neighbor's brother told me that the peanuts were ready once the flowers fell off and my plants don't have any more flowers so I checked...|
|Here is a peanut that is still forming so I will wait a few more weeks.|
|The self-seeded vincas are looking good. I wish that I had more of them!|
|The strawberry plants that I had moved into the multi-tiered planter are doing very well.|
|And the ones in the self-watering bins in the shade on the side of the house are flowering as well. I'd love to get great crops of strawberries but they haven't given me much fruit at all :(|
|My latest pineapple top that was planted in soil is doing great!|
|The rosemary bush has grown as well.|
|And the thyme looks wonderful. I have a plant that I bought and replanted and also seedlings that I had planted. The pot also had a lot of weeds, which I did pull today.|
|This guest basil plant is doing well but the thyme that I had planted in this pot is almost dead :(|
|All my basil plants are flowering again so I pinched back all the flowers.|
|Not on this plant, though, it's the oldest one and I probably should harvest all the leaves and dry them. It looks like I'll be collecting even more basil seeds, though.|
|This is what happened to my black raspberries. Black, indeed. Not sure it this is a fungus (mildew?) or if the berries just got fried by the sun...|
|Both my nectarine treelets now have several leaves! I hope they keep growing. It would be nice to finally have a tree that grows.|
|I have very few oranges growing and this one has weird protrusions on the surface of it. Not sure if it's a bug or if they were pecked by birds or what... but my tree is definitely dying.|
|My little lemon has disappeared. No doubt the result of not enough rain. I'm thinking that I might move the tree closer to my house, where I would be more likely to water it.|
|The bugs have even left my tiny blueberry sticks alone this year. Usually grasshoppers eat all the leaves.|
|I still have one clump of milkweed that has been blooming for a while now, Again, it's usually overcome by aphids but this year they disappeared after I crushed them once. Huh.|