Sunday, July 31, 2016

Last Day of Sodapalooza! ~ Sunday 7/31/16



Well, it has finally come... the last day of RaceTrac's 2016 Sodapalooza!  Also known as Greg's Day of Mourning.  You'd think he would have been there at the crack of dawn, trying to get as many free refills as he could today, but even though he got up at 8 a.m., he didn't make his way there until about 10:30 a.m.

As for me, I stayed up doing I don't even know what on the laptop and halfway watching I don't remember what on the TV, until 1:30 a.m.  Then I headed up to bed, tried to read on my Kindle a little but found that I was actually tired, so I went to sleep, thinking I was going to have a very short night since I probably would be up early and go spend the morning on my back patio.

Well... no!  I slept like a rock until the sun woke me up (note to self: I need to hang another layer of curtains on the east-facing window!) and my bladder nagged me, and when I got back into bed, I started thinking that, even though I was tired, I ought to get up, brew coffee, and go enjoy it on the patio with the birdies. And then I thought "don't think about coffee! don't think about coffee!" and it worked and I went back to sleep until 10 a.m.  Well, that's what Sundays are for, isn't it?

So I got up, Greg went to get the soda refills for the 3 of us (after bringing me the paper from the driveway as I was still in my PJs, thanks honey!), I brewed coffee and sat on the patio. Yes, most of the birds had already come and gone but I thought that if I could even enjoy just one hour outdoors this morning, it would be a lovely start to my day.  And then some inconsiderate neighbor started playing country music quite loudly through their open windows and I muttered something under my breath and the music stopped.  And then it started again so I muttered something under my breath and the music stopped again. Wow.  I'm a witch!

So I enjoyed about an hour outdoors before the sun was high enough to bathe the entire patio in his very bright and very hot rays so I headed back indoors at 11:30 a.m.  But before that, I observed a couple of birds, took some pictures, chatted with my BFF via texts, and read the news on my Kindle Fire.

I have chores that need to be done today, despite it being Sunday, because I was lazy yesterday. So I need to pretend today is Saturday, actually.  I have tons of dishes to be done, I need to refill the hummingbird feeders and water the potted plants.  I should work on a menu for the upcoming week. I wanted to try to bake a new bread recipe from my new-to-be bread machine recipe book.  It's almost noon already!  I'm still in my PJs. I'd better get to it.

Greg called his parents this afternoon. His dad is getting stronger every day but gets out of breath very fast.  The current plan is for him to remain at the Rehab Clinic for another week.  It's very close to their house so it makes it easier for my MIL.

To Do List :
  • Crafty/Creative:
    • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
    • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
    • Melt down old candles and make into one or two new candles
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the entry room, breezeway, bedrooms
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Iron - partly done
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter exercise room (including storage bench)
    • Vacuum the Expedition and the Focus
    • Do the dishes - Washed one load
    • Clean coupon organizer of expired coupons
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Check on the pineapples to see if they're ready to be cut up and dehydrated - I smelled them today and the smallest ones are starting to get that lovely pineapple aroma. Yay! I'll process them this week
    • Cut up the cantaloupe - Done
    • Bake a loaf of bread in the bread maker - Done
    • Write a menu for this week
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
    • Pick up acne soap from dermatologist (on Wednesday)
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere - Transplanted them in larger pot.
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Fertilize the raspberries
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden
    • Pull unwanted plants from center "planter" in the backyard, add soil, plant flowers, add edging around it (watch out for large roots that would be in the way). Make planter with other materials if edging doesn't work. (this will have to wait until Fall when it's not so hot and when I can plant wildflower seeds).
    • Divide and repot the aloe plant
    • Plant more okra
    • Trim grass behind the hedge
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Refill hummingbird feeders - Done
    • Water the potted plants - Done
    • Check on my seed nursery - Done
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
    • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
    • Get back on the recumbent bike! - I walked for an hour in the heat today!
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises
  • Maintenance:
    • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
    • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
    • Test the batteries in all 3 smoke detectors and replace as needed
    • Vacuum fridge coils
    • Greg to call plumber
  • Technology/Paperwork:
    • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
    • Scan more old pictures
    • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns - Started but need to do more research.
    • Figure out if we should contribute to regular  or Roth IRAs for 2016 and fund them - I guess I need to wait until tax time next year, actually. I'll have until April 15, 2017 to fund 2016 IRAs so I need to work on taxes way sooner than I did this year so I'd have time to fund the IRAs and THEN file my taxes.
    • Download all May-July photos to my external drive
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • Find the cats' rabies licenses (might not need to since I'm taking them to get their new ones in a  couple of weeks)
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Write July Food Expenses Recap post
    • Input receipts into spreadsheets
    • Leave Amazon feedback
    • Reply to my mom's email
    • Print coupons - Done
    • Clip coupons - Done
    • Sort coupons
    • Take Parks department survey and mention the sad state of the access road to the Gal Van Fleet Trailhead
    • Redo the kitchen wall calendar for August

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • Heated up the cup of coffee brewed yesterday morning that remained in the coffee pot. I enjoyed it with 2 slices of the banana nut creme cake that I bought on 50% clearance at Save A Lot last week. I've really enjoyed it for breakfast.

  • Brewed a new pot of free coffee from Wawa.

  • Greg drove to RaceTrac and got us 4 free Sodapalooza refills. The end of Sodapalooza means that I probably won't do much driving this week. It'll save me the little bit of gas spent on driving the 1 mile and back in the Focus that I was doing almost every morning.

  • We had 3 coupon inserts in today's paper

  • And also a sheet of McDonald's coupons that match the ones from my app.

  • I uploaded new offers from SavingStar.

  • I earned a few Swagbucks. I'm over the 1,900 threshold and it'd be nice to hit 2,200 SB soon so I can order a new $25 gift card so I'm running the Ngage videos while I'm on the laptop.

  • I put the latest book by Harlan Coben, "Home", on hold at my library via their website. It won't be published until September 20th, but 84 people had already put it on hold ahead of me. Since he's a popular author, my library system will get several copies of the book and it'll be available to borrow for only 7 days for a while so I'm hoping it won't take too long to get it.  At the same time, I have not liked his latest books (which was very disappointing because he used to be a favorite author of mine) so I'm not in a rush to get it, lol.

  • Out of the blue, Greg asked me if I wanted to go walk on the trail and was surprised when I enthusiastically said "Yep!".  Well, walking on the trail with my husband or doing the dishes, it's not a hard choice, lol.  So I got dressed and we both had a quick sandwich and we left. We asked our son if he wanted to come along but, as usual, he turned us down.  So we walked for a little more than an hour (free cardio!) and sweated quite a bit.

  • While we were out, my son texted me that he was taking his own walk down to the park to get some swinging done. A nice thing about walking from the SR50 trailhead is that we did have cell phone reception, whereas we don't when we walk from the trail stop located at the mid point of the trail. So I was able to keep in touch with our son the whole time.

  • On the way home we stopped by RaceTrac and got 3 more free Sodapalooza refills and Greg gassed up his truck so he earned loyalty points on his app and I have a new receipt with which I will earn a freebie for taking a survey.  We will also get 2% back in Rewards on our Amex.

  • Back home, I refilled the hummingbird feeders with homemade nectar and decided to move the feeder that was by my vinca hanging baskets to the holder that already has a hummingbird feeder because the ants had found a way to jump from the vincas to the feeder.  I need another pole.  I have a $5 off coupon for Ace that is good starting tomorrow so I might treat myself and the birds to yet another feeder pole.


  • I also harvested some jalapeƱos and a couple of strawberries.



  • Then I sat down with a bowl of baby carrots that I had bought at Aldi several weeks ago ($0.29 a bag, I think) and some of the Ranch Veggie Dip bought on 50% clearance at Save A Lot this past week (50 cents for the whole container!) and my Sodapalooza cup. It was very nice and refreshing.

  • Instead of making pizza tonight as I had planned, I'm going to make cheeseburgers with the ground beef that I had defrosted yesterday for the Hamburger Helper that I didn't cook, and grilled corn on the cob (3 ears for $1.00 at Save A Lot this past week).  I'll put pizza on the menu for another day this coming week.

  • I uploaded new digital coupons to my CVS app and my Publix and Walgreens digital wallets.


  • I printed some coupons via Swagbucks.

  • Then I clipped the coupons that I had printed and from the inserts from today's paper and those that I picked up at Publix last night.

  • Pixel Peeper has a new post up!  Do you visit her blog?  She takes awesome pictures, you should check it out.  The one from the dry cleaner is hilarious.  I love that I can visit Lakeland, FL through her blog, it saves me the 2 hour round-trip, lol.  

  • I reused rainwater to water my zombie celery.

  • I baked a loaf of Raisin-Rum Loaf in the breadmaker. It will be ready late tonight so we (as in "I") can have it for breakfast tomorrow.

  • I grilled dinner on the barbecue to avoid heating up the kitchen.


  • After dinner, Greg and I watched "American Funniest Videos" on OTA.  We had some good laughs.

  • I ordered my free 8 x 10 reprint from Walgreens Photos with code FREEDEAL731. I didn't have a great family photo to print so I ordered a reprint of the mimosa photo from yesterday. I'll look nice in my bedroom in a cheap frame from Dollar Tree :)


  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits.


SPLURGES
  • Gas to drive to RaceTrac and to the General Van Fleet Trail.

FAILURES
  • GGGRRRRR!! Google Calendar must have been "updated" and now they've done it and made it dumber, which results in more time for me to set tasks that used to be quick and easy to do.  Once again, Dumb and Dumber decided to play with something that worked perfectly before but now sets us back several years. I'm quite sure there are several more problems with this latest "update" but for me, immediately, it means that:
    • When I create an event, I need to already have the appropriate calendar selected in my main view as the drop-down menu in the event creation screen itself now ONLY shows the calendars that you have pre-selected to view, not ALL the calendars that you own or are allowed to access.  This is retarded. Yes, I'm using the R-word.  It just is.  I own over 10 calendars, that's what keeps me organized and helps me keep my main calendar clutter-free.  Most times I create an event, and then halfway through, decide that it should really go on my "Gardening" calendar or "Organizing" calendar.  Before, I could quickly change that with the drop-down menu without interrupting my task. Now, I have to cancel what I was doing, go back to the previous screen, select the calendar that I meant the event for, and then create my event.  Whaaaaat?! More steps for the same result.  Why?
    • Google Calendar allows you to set reminders either by "notifications" on your laptop or by email. I set email reminders for almost all events that I create and since Google Calendar is my main organizational tool, I create lots of events.  Until today, there was an option in "Settings" to default your reminders to email reminders so when you clicked to create a reminder, "email" popped up automatically.  Now they've taken that away so every time I create a reminder, I have to change the setting to "email". It's freaking annoying, is what it is!  Again, they've dumbed down the whole program!  Why take away something that made life easier for users?!  
    • I sent a scathing feedback form. I really hope they rollback those changes but since they never tell you when or what changes are made, I'll just have to keep on checking "Settings" to see if that got changed again. What a PITA and what a waste of time.  I know it sounds like minor things, but minor things add up.  Updates should actually be progress, not regress!

  • At dinnertime, I went to cut up the cantaloupe that I had bought from Aldi this past week because the rind was starting to get soft. Only when I cut it, the flesh was pale green like a honeydew while the seeds were just starting to get orange.  I tried it. in case it was a variety that I didn't know and that had pale green flesh and it just tasted unripe. So I composted the whole thing. I'll have to remember to bring a picture and my receipt back to Aldi to ask for a refund.


  • I was all excited to cut up my tiniest homegrown pineapple because it was all yellow on the outside and smelled like pineapple so I figured it was ripe.  But no, it wasn't :(  So I'm going to have to compost that one too :(  I'll try to regrow the top in water but I don't know if it's ready.




CHORES
  • Got some exercise!
  • Texted with my BFF
  • Refilled the hummingbird feeders
  • Harvested the garden
  • Went for a walk with Greg
  • Printed and clipped coupons
  • Did a load of dishes
  • Baked some bread
  • Watered the garden
  • Blasted aphids away with a water
  • Cooked dinner

GRATITUDE
  • For my BFF and the fact that her new job is going well.
  • For the fact that there are critters willing to hunt and eat cockroaches!
  • For Greg driving to RaceTrac to get us free soda refills
  • For someone making the neighbor(s) turn down their music or close their window!
  • For a fun time on the trail with my hubby who had eagle eyes today and spotted a ton of interesting things.

NATURE
My Backyard

You know that very intense feeling of satisfaction you get when a bad driver gets pulled over right in front of you?  Well, I got that this morning when I went to get my patio furniture cushions out of the deck box where I store them and 2 small cockroaches fell off them. Ewww!  First time it's happened. They scrambled to hide under the deck box but a small lizard came running out of nowhere and grabbed the larger one of the two and ate it. Dang it, I wish I had had my camera with me at the time, it was so satisfying!  

Here are some pictures that I did take, though.


The bees do like the basil in my garden!  It grows so easily in the summer, I think I'm going to grow tons of it next year.

Red canna flowers are blooming one by one.

What happened to my zucchini plant in the past couple of days?!?

These two did.

Another green pepper is growing. I read that they like a little sulfur and to plant a matchstick next
to them helps. I think I'm going to try it.

The pink rose has opened up.

And a red one will open soon :)

A hibiscus flower, ready to open

And one that had already opened.



This little butterfly was in imminent danger of being gulped down by a small lizard that was approaching slowly (off camera).
But then a six-lined race runner came out of nowhere and attacked the small lizard, that ran away.  The butterfly was completely clueless.


A lone white ibis landed in the yard.

The mourning dove stopped by for a mid-morning snack

A squirrel AND a white ibis in the same shot!  BOGO!

Love the color on this juvenile six-lined race runner :)


General Van Fleet Trail, Mabel, Sumter County, FL


We decided to go on the General Van Fleet trail in Sumter County since it's bordered by trees on both sides so we figured we'd be in the shade most of the time. Well, yeah but when it's 1 p.m. and the sun is straight above, there isn't that much shade!  We parked at the trailhead right off SR 50 since we hadn't walked that way (South) before.



Gopher tortoise!



Another one for Bless!

It was very dry, but at some point there was some water just off the trail and Greg heard a splash.  On the other side of the trail, we spied a couple of baby gators getting in the water, and a few feet away, I spied this.

Uh, yeah. An alligator egg.  So, let's recap: us alone on a trail, splashing noises, baby alligators and an egg... so where was the mom?!  We started walking a little faster!


Wild boars dug out the side of the trail from time to time. Greg is pointing out hoof tracks.

We took advantage of this bench to catch a rest. It was shady and a light breeze was blowing, it was so relaxing.

And right across from the bench that wavy tree caught my eye. He looks like he's having a good time next to the other ones that are standing up so straight!

A hawk or falcon of some kind.  Greg spotted it later much closer to us but  I didn't have time to take a picture, darn it. It was fairly large.


Saw Palmetto


Trumpet Vine
Have you taken any nice walks recently?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Backyard Beekeeping ~ Saturday 7/30/16


It's almost 8 a.m. and I'm not in the garden. Why? Because I have to drive to Mount Dora in an hour and I know that if I sit in the garden, I won't go.  I'm trying to psych myself up to go as it is!  I want to attend the program but I'm such a homebody, and a 45 minute drive doesn't hold the appeal it once did (and then back again).

I slept very well for the most part, fell asleep on the couch while reading my book before my son even went to bed and evidently Greg remembered to just leave me there and not even attempt to turn off the TV,which was playing classical music, because it would have woken me up.  My bladder did wake me up at 1:30 a.m. so I turned off the TV and went to bed.  I slept like a rock but a nightmare woke me up at about 7 a.m. and, even though it wasn't based no anything in reality, it left me anxious so I couldn't go back to sleep.

I read emails and caught up on the news on my Kindle in bed while hearing Greg get ready to go fishing.  He sounded dejected, yesterday, when I said that I was going to the backyard beekeeping program and said "So you're not coming fishing with me again?!" so I told him I'd go tomorrow morning.  Confession?  I don't want to go tomorrow morning, I want to sit in my garden! But I'll go. Maybe. I did talk to him mid-morning and he said the water level is about 3-6 ft lower than it was last weekend!  So he didn't catch anything and might not go tomorrow morning. I'm worried about the water level being so low.

I had an email from my mom this morning. She was up very early because the neighbors next door were loading their car to go on vacation in the middle of the night and behaving as if it was daytime and making lots of noise. I don't know why she doesn't call the police.  My sister and family are driving to the Pays Basque today (South of France, on the border with Spain) for their 2-week camping vacation, along with millions of other French people so they also left in the middle of the night. My mom is keeping their cat, who is terrified and hiding in the garden.  They had to find a dogsitter at the very last minute for their bulldog because their usual one bailed out on them, but gave my mom's info as back-up. I just she doesn't end up with that dog too, it's way too big for my mom to handle. Anyhoo, I could sense the anxiety in my mom's tone and that added to my anxiety.  I need to reply to her today. Maybe I'll call her while I'm driving. I should try and set up that bluetooth thing that I got for my SUV and drive that.

Today is National Cheesecake Day.  We all had a piece of cheesecake for snack this afternoon to celebrate that momentous occasion!  It was the last of the cheesecake from Aldi, though :(


My daughter called me!  Happy dance!  She's doing great, working her little butt off. She only has 1 more week of coding camp.  Last week they broke down in small teams of 4 and each team had to come up with a project to work on.  My daughter's team chose her idea, a game. So they're coding a game, something about a girl traveling through time.  She's had to work on it a lot after camp ends at night so this weekend she's working on catching up on her online college classes, that she had to set aside for a week.  Her graduation from camp is on Thursday night. Her aunt and uncle will attend and my daughter asked her teachers if they could arrange for it to be livestreamed so we could watch it too (she's the only camp attendee from out of state). They said they would look into it.  My daughter loved camp but she's really looking forward to come home and have her own room again.  I've been feeling paranoid since the kerfuffle with Oldest Son, thinking that maybe her lack of communication with me meant that she didn't want to come home, so it was really nice to hear that she was looking forward to coming home :)

To Do List :
  • Crafty/Creative:
    • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
    • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
    • Melt down old candles and make into one or two new candles
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the entry room, breezeway, bedrooms
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Iron - partly done
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter exercise room (including storage bench)
    • Vacuum the Expedition and the Focus
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Check on the pineapples to see if they're ready to be cut up and dehydrated - I smelled them earlier this week and they don't smell ripe at all. So I guess I still need to wait?
    • Cut up the cantaloupe
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
    • Pick up acne soap from dermatologist (on Friday) - Will go next week
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere - Transplanted them in larger pot.
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Fertilize the raspberries
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden
    • Pull unwanted plants from center "planter" in the backyard, add soil, plant flowers, add edging around it (watch out for large roots that would be in the way). Make planter with other materials if edging doesn't work. (this will have to wait until Fall when it's not so hot and when I can plant wildflower seeds).
    • Divide and repot the aloe plant
    • Plant more okra
    • Trim grass behind the hedge
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Refill hummingbird feeders (on Saturday)
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
    • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
    • Get back on the recumbent bike!
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises
  • Maintenance:
    • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
    • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
    • Test the batteries in all 3 smoke detectors and replace as needed
    • Vacuum fridge coils
    • Greg to call plumber
  • Technology/Paperwork:
    • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
    • Scan more old pictures
    • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns - Started but need to do more research.
    • Figure out if we should contribute to regular  or Roth IRAs for 2016 and fund them - I guess I need to wait until tax time next year, actually. I'll have until April 15, 2017 to fund 2016 IRAs so I need to work on taxes way sooner than I did this year so I'd have time to fund the IRAs and THEN file my taxes.
    • Download all May-July photos to my external drive
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • Find the cats' rabies licenses (might not need to since I'm taking them to get their new ones in a  couple of weeks)
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Write July Food Expenses Recap post
    • Input receipts into spreadsheets
    • Leave Amazon feedback
    • Reply to my mom's email

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • Brewed a pot of free coffee for Wawa and had 2 slices of banana nut creme cake (50% off) for breakfast.

  • Greg refilled his Sodapalooza cups on the way to fishing.

  • Swagbucks confirmed that I will be receiving 78 SB for my latest Ace Hardware order.

  • I drove to Mount Dora to attend the Backyard Beekeeping program. I had noted it on my calendar to be from 10 to 11 a.m.  As I drove past Lake Idamere Park in Tavares, my GPS indicated that I would be 30 minutes early, so I decided to stop and go look at the fishing pier there. My recap and pictures are in the Nature section.  I thought the park might be full of Pokemon Go fans but there was only 1 other person there, who was walking to get exercise. So it was lovely to have the park to myself :)

  • When I got to Mount Dora, I found out that the program was actually from 10:30 to noon!  I saw a sign indicating that there was a butterfly garden around the corner, which I had never noticed before, so I decided to go visit it after the program.  Since I had time to kill before the meeting room was open, I visited the Friends of the Library room. I really love the Mount Dora library, they're well appointed and they always have interesting programming.  The fact that their Friends of the Library program has its own room where they have a permanent bookstore is awesome!  It's just a small rack at my local library, which is really tiny.

  • I'm so glad I attended the program. The speaker was excellent. It was a lady who is part of the Lake County Beekeepers' Club and has only been keeping bees for the past 3 years.  She said she's in it to save the bees, not for the honey.  She did a year's worth of reading and research before getting her own hives. She was very articulate and funny and inspirational!  I learned a lot. I picked up some brochures.  We had a honey tasting. I decided to taste the saw palmetto honey because I had never heard of it. Honestly, it tasted like the generic honey that you get at the store.  Then were was a giveaway with lots of prizes, but I didn't win anything :(  Prizes were bee-friendly plants, beeswax candles made by various people, and local honey.  I went into the presentation thinking that I didn't want to have a hive, just attract bees to my garden, but now I've changed my mind and I'd love to have a hive... but I need to do lots of research to make sure that's a commitment I want to take on for sure, and also I'd like to establish a backyard with a lot of bee food in it first. So it may take a few years.

  • After the program was over, I visited the library's butterfly garden. It was so impressive (so many different kinds of flowers and bushes!) that I started regretting buying the Leu Botanical Gardens annual pass when I could just come to the butterfly garden in Mount Dora, which is free, lol.  I didn't see tons of butterflies, but there were tons of bees and some bumblebees too. I saw a blue jay but wasn't quick enough to take a picture.  My pictures are also in the "Nature" section at the end of this post.  I will make a point to visit each time I go to the Mount Dora library, now!

  • On my way home, I stopped by RaceTrac to get a free Sodapalooza refill.  I also redeemed a survey reward code for a free Monterey Chicken roll, which I gave to my son for his lunch.

  • Greg and I had the rest of the lasagna for lunch.  So I didn't freeze any but that's OK.  I also had a navel orange.

  • Our son walked to the park to get his free exercise. The sky, meanwhile, has grown a little dark and I just heard thunder so we might get some rain?  Please?  Our son just got back safely aaaand it didn't rain. Of course not.

  • Call me stupid but I realized, while at the library, that I had forgotten to check whether they had "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" on DVD. So I resolved to check the catalog once I was home.  Call me stupid #2: I knew that the Mount Dora Library is actually the library that has all the TV shows on DVD and it didn't occur to me to check the shelves while I was there.  Sometimes, I think I'm missing some brain cells!  So I checked the catalog when I got home, and sure enough, the library system has the series (and the 1st season was available at the Mount Dora library!).  I put the first 2 seasons on hold.

  • Walgreens is offering a free 8 x 10 reprint with code FREEDEAL731.  Woohoo... I need to find a good picture to reprint!  The code is good through 8/1.


  • Greg and I went to get free Sodapalooza refills at RaceTrac.

  • We enjoyed episode 5 of "The Great British Baking Show" on PBS via our Roku while eating our dinner.


  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks.


SPLURGES
  • Gas to drive to fishing spot and to Mount Dora library. I drove the SUV instead of the Focus because I decided that I wanted to call my mom during my drive to Mount Dora and to try to use that Bluetooth device that plugs into my auxiliary port (the Focus doesn't have an auxiliary port).

  • Pixel Peeper shared with me that she had purchased a DVR device from Channel Master that works with OTA TV.  It's on sale right now for $199, which is steep still, so I'm mulling it over.  Thanks, Pixel, you saved me lots of research!  I am reading the reviews on Amazon to make sure I have the whole picture of how it works and the potential pitfalls (expensive button batteries in the remote seem to be a common complaint) and I might ask for it for Christmas. So this might become a big splurge.  The only show I can really think of taping for now is "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" because I'm always in the garden when it's on (10 a.m. to noon) so $199 might be too expensive for that purpose only. (Update: and I have since discovered that my library system carries that series on DVD - doh, Nathalie! - so I might not need the DVR+ now)

  • I spent $13 at the Mount Dora Library's Friends of the Library bookstore.  I purchased:
    • A 4-DVD set of Inspector Linley mysteries for $5.00. I've read the books and I enjoy the actress who plays Barbara Havers so I decided to treat myself. On a side note, though, I know remember watching a different season of that series and I don't think I really cared for it... but that was several years ago. We'll see.

    • A book from Better Homes & Gardens entitled "Best Bread Machine Recipes". I flipped through it and there were many that aren't in the bread machine book that I already have.  It was $2.00. (I have since flipped through the book and... oh my.  I want to bake everything that's in there!  I guess my diet isn't going to start on Monday!)

    • 3 "Chronicles of the Year" books for years 1994, 1996 and 1998.  Those are the years when my 3 oldest kids were born.  I'm nostalgic for the past and will enjoy reminiscing what was happening at the time when my kids were born.  I plan on putting the books aside for them because one day they might also be interested in learning what was happening that specific year.  Each book was $2.00.


  • I had defrosted ground beef and was planning on cooking a box of Hamburger Helper for a quick and easy dinner, but when I told Greg that's what I was making, he wasn't interested. So we drove to Publix, got sushi for us (2 Chef Samplers so it was pricey) and a loaf of French bread so I could make my son a slightly gourmet ham and cheese sandwich. He had asked for a sub, but a ham and cheese sub from the deli is $5 or more and we had ham and cheese at home.

  • I spent $2 on a Powerball ticket for tonight's drawing because... why not?  LOL.


FAILURES
  • I didn't think to bring the items to drop off at the county landfill with me... and it's right next door to Lake Idamere Park.  Arrgh.

  • A lot of my pictures today didn't turn out and I was disappointed since I was using my new lens.  However, I realized later on that I had been taking those pictures just after noon, when the sun was high up in the sky. I have read that, in order to take better pictures, you should have the sun to your side so it casts some shadows, and also that it's better to take pictures in the early morning or at dusk because the light quality is better. So maybe it wasn't just me...

  • Greg noticed, at out the same time as our internet connection dropped suddenly, that our living room's AC thermostat screen keeps on flashing on and off.  Usually, the display is not lit and only lights up when we change the temperature.  I thought maybe I needed to change the back-up batteries so I did, but the unit keeps on blinking non stop.  I looked for a manual online and found one that mentioned that if the thermostat is behaving erratically, we needed to remove the battery for 2 minutes and also disconnect some wires.  We didn't want to mess with the wires so we just removed the batteries for 2 minutes, but now it's flashing non-stop. The AC is working fine, though, so far.  There is an 1-800 number for "homeowner help" but since it's Saturday evening, they're probably not staffing it. I will try to call on Monday. If they can't help, I'll have to call the repair people because I don't want it to cause the AC unit to stop working in this heat!

CHORES
  • Changed batteries in the AC thermostat
  • Rebooted modem and router when we lost internet connection
  • Went to pick up dinner

GRATITUDE
  • For caring readers who share their tips and experiences with me!
  • For passionate volunteers who share their experiences with the rest of us.
  • For getting a call from my lovely daughter. I miss her, but she's coming home in a little more than a week! Woohoo!
  • For laughs shared with Greg today.
  • For the kisses that my youngest son plants on my head every time he comes back from the park :)

NATURE

Lake Idamere Park (Tavares, FL)
Note: I took a lot of pictures of flowers today but not every flower was identified and I'm too tired to look them up. Sorry!




I hadn't been to Lake Idamere Park in a year and a half. this baseball facility was new!  There used to be a dog park there, but they moved it beyond the baseball field, under the trees.


This used to be one of my son's favorite playgrounds

It's a park that's accessible for kids of different abilities so they have special swings for them too.


I went on the short boardwalk to the lakeside, which is a fishing pier, although the water level seemed quite low. The lake is used for seaplanes, hence the warning. I didn't see any planes land this morning, though, since I was only there for a short time.

View from the fishing pier


Going back to the park


Blanket flower

Light purple crepe myrtle

Pink crepe myrtle

There was a wildflower site.  Unfortunately, my pictures didn't turn out.

Squirrels knew I was coming and posed quite obligingly.

This one was very relaxed!  This can't be too comfortable, though, I was thinking.

"What are you looking at?!"  Time to go!

Backyard Beekeeping (W.T. Bland Library, Mount Dora, FL)



Those bees started buzzing quite loudly a couple of times during the presentation and I think most of us felt a little nervous when they did that, lol.

These were the prizes for the giveaway.  I would have loved any of the prizes, but it wasn't meant to me.  The small bee-shaped candles were very cute!


Isn't that interesting?!  1 bee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey during this short lifetime.  I'm doubly glad that I turned that honey jar upside down a couple of days ago to catch every single last drop of honey from it!

Other bee facts:

  • Bees were brought to the American continent by European settlers:  European honey bees are a (very good) invasive species! 
  • You can have up to 70,000 bees in a hive.  There are 3 kinds of bees in a hive:
    • The Queen.  Her only job is to mate and lay eggs. She lays up to 2,000 eggs a day.  She is fed royal jelly. There is only 1 queen per hive. When she is born, she goes and kills all the other queen larvae so she doesn't have any competition.
    • Drones. There are about 100 drones per hive. All they do is mate with the queens.  They don't forage, they don't even have a stinger.  They die after they mate.  In the winter, the worker bees get rid of the drones by throwing them out of the hive.
    • Worker bees.  Up to 70,000 per hive. They are all females and are all half-sisters since the queen mates with 6 or 7 drones.  They have specific roles that change with their age:
      • 1-2 days old: they clean cells and keep the brood warm
      • 3-5 days old: they feed older larvae
      • 6-11 days old: they feed younger larvae
      • 12-17 days old: they produce wax, build combs, transport food within the hive
      • 18-21 days old: they guard the entrance to the hive
      • 22-34 days old: they visit flowers, pollinate, collect pollen, nectar, propolis and water
      • 34-35 days old: end of life. Bees go in the field to die. They do not die in the hive so they don't create more work for their sisters.
  • The hive should be located in full sun. Bees like to keep their hive at a temperature of 90 to 95F on the inside.  Shade promotes the growth of mildew and other fungus.
  • You need to provide food for the bees!  You can have the most beautifully manicured yard with gorgeous flowers but if the bees won't feed from the flowers, they will starve.  Some of the bee-friendly plants are: basil, thyme, parsley, dill, fennel, lavender, mint (so you can grow your own herbs and feed the bees at the same time!), Spanish needle, aster, bottle brush, crepe myrtle, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, salvia, nasturniums, impatiens, marigolds, and more!
  • You need to provide lots of water for the bees. If they do not have water nearby, they might go to a neighbor's pool or birdbath and then it will be very hard to get them to another water source later on, which might cause trouble with the neighbors.
  • Reasons to be a beekeeper:
    • You will notice many more blooms on your plants
    • Your vegetables will be larger
    • They will taste better
    • Since a bee's range is 2 to 3 miles, you will help your neighbors too!
    • Bees help pollinate up to 30% of the world's food supply
    • Nearly 80% of the world's flowering plants need to be pollinated by insects, and most of these are bees.
    • Due to pesticides, diseases, mites, and a mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (first reported in the USA in 2006), the bee population is in grave danger, which has serious repercussions on our food supply.
    • Farmers used to grow alfalfa or clover crops to help the bees, and keep their fields bordered with wildflowers.  In today's economy, this has pretty much stopped as the pressure is on to monetize all the crops.
    • Keeping European honeybees help dilute the Africanized bees' gene pool as the European honeybee drones go out to mate with the Africanized queens. 
  • Africanized bees are extremely aggressive. European honeybees were bred throughout the centuries to be very docile. They will only attack if threatened.  They lose their stinger and die after they sting so they do everything they can to avoid stinging.
  • Homeowners use 10 more times the amount of pesticides per acre than farmers do!  Pesticides will kill bad bugs but also pollinators.  Bees leave the hive at about 7:30 a.m. and return at dusk so if you have to spray pesticide, try to do it when the bees are back in the hive.
  • Smokers aren't used to put bees to sleep, as I thought.  Bees have an extremely good sense of smell. Each hive has its own scent, a pheromone produced by the queen.  Guard bees can also produce an attack pheromone when they sense a threat and if they do, all the bees will respond by attacking the threat.  If you use smoke, it will mask the scent of the pheromone and the bees won't be agitated when you open the hive to inspect it or remove the honey.
  • There are hives being kept on top of high rises in many large cities, including NYC and Orlando!
  • National Honeybee Day is  August 20, 2016!
Beekeeping in Florida:
  • Florida is the 3rd honey producing state in the U.S.
  • There are over 300 species of bees in Florida.
  • There are 2 very important statutes in Florida relating to bees:
    • 586.10 which states that anyone can keep bees anywhere in Florida. The only exception would be in deed-restricted communities if the HOA decides to outlaw them. However, this has been successfully contested in the past, as bees aren't pets or livestock.  If you get sued for having bees on your property, your attorney will automatically be the Florida State Attorney General.
    • 500.80 which states that individuals can manufacture, sell, and store certain "cottage foods" (including honey) in an unlicensed kitchen.  You don't need a license or permit and there aren't any inspections by any state entity.
  • However, if you want to keep a beehive on your property, you need to be registered with the state. They will come to inspect your hive(s) once a year and you have the authority of the state behind you.  They inspect the hives because of American Foul Brood, which is very contagious. If they find it in one of your hives, they will burn ALL of your hives to stop the contagion.  There are about 3,500 registered Florida beekeepers and 400,000 honey-producing colonies in Florida.
  • Keeping bees in Florida is hard work because you have to work with the hive when the bees are gone, during the day, which is very hot, especially if you wear a protective suit.
  • Other resources:

Honey tasting

 W.T. Bland Library Butterfly Garden (Mount Dora, FL)


Here a lizard was waiting for me!


Look at this very cool bench!  I didn't try it because I was afraid it would break, lol.


Bumble bee in flight




Zebra Longwing (Florida state butterfly)








Red Penta

Passionvine flower way up high in a tree!

Bee







Blue Ginger

Firecracker

Shrimp Plant (I think?)


Bee butt

Mimosa

Small butterfly in the Blue Porterweeds




Black Swallowtail

Hibiscus




Driving over the bridge over the Harris chain of lakes, on my way to Howey-in-the-Hills. I love this bridge, but soon it's going to come down as a new bridge will be built that will be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Have you ever wanted to keep bees?