Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday 8/31/16

My morning started with rain and the feeding of kittens. It all sounds very cozy, doesn't it?  lol.

I slept on the couch with the kittens in their cardboard box lined with a fluffy bath towel and covered with another one on the other couch. I had planned on feeding them every 3 hours since they don't seem to be very eager feeders anyway but then somehow my alarm rang at 3 a.m. instead of  2 a.m. so that made it a 4 hour wait but still, only one of them ate very well, the largest one. Throughout the night, I kept on hearing the other cats slinking into the living room so I would hiss at them and I could hear them run away, lol.

It was raining at 3 a.m., it stopped long enough for my son and Greg to leave for their respective destinations, and now at 8 a.m. it's raining again.

Tropical Depression 9 still hasn't been named as a storm and it now looks like it's moving a little northward so we might only get the rain without the storminess.  They still expect it to become a Tropical Storm some time this morning.

We're about where the "L": in FL is located
Due to the new kitten duty, my schedule for today has changed: I won't go grocery shopping this morning.  Instead I'll go in the afternoon, leaving my daughter to do kitten duty while I'm gone. I was going to go to several stores, but I think I might only go to Aldi and perhaps Publix, after all.  We'll see. Oh, and I have to stop by Walgreens to pick up my picture reprint. And the library to drop fof the DVDs that are due and pick up the new ones. Maybe I'll run that errand this morning. I can leave the kittens in the bathroom with the door closed and they'll be OK.

I'm a little tired but it's mostly due to the fact that the rainy weather makes for a dark morning!

My mom, brother and SIL made it to Corsica and are relaxing on a sandy white beach right now.  They haven't sent me any pictures of just the landscape so I have nothing to share for now.


On to my To Do List! I'm adding a "Kittens" section :)

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 - No, I've decided to just pitch them. I know it's not the frugal thing to do but I have a ton of candles to use up, still, and I really need to declutter the house. Update: I had second thoughts last night so for now they're sitting on top of my washing machine until I decide what to do with them!
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat) - MONDAY
    • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
    • Declutter storage bench 
    • Declutter coffee table - Done
    • Dust fan in exercise room
    • Clean the fridge
    • Declutter gardening supplies chest
    • Defrost the freezer
    • Sweep breezeway
    • Vacuum living room
    • Vacuum exercise room
    • Sweep/vacuum downstairs bathroom
    • Vacuum master bedroom
    • Vacuum upstairs hallway
    • Vacuum main stairs
    • Do the dishes (Wednesday) - Done
    • Take the recycling to the curb  - Done
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Need to preserve the eggplants
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
    • Sign up for ranger hikes in local parks
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
  • 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 - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
    • 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
    • Trim weeds alongside the berm
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Pull the rest of the dead tomato plants 
    • Plant passion flower vine seeds
    • Add water to pepper bins
    • Refill green bird feeder
    • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
    • Harvest the peanuts
    • Refill the hummingbird feeders
    • Secure all outside loose objects and patio furniture in preparation for the storm (Thursday) - Might not need to do
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment - I'll do that once I'm more comfortable with my weight because I know they'll be nagging me about it anyway.
    • Use recumbent bike  
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises  
    • Log food into My Fitness Pal  - Done
    • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards (in September)
    • Weigh myself (Wednesdays) - Done
  • Kittens
    • Feed them every 2-3 hours. Give supplemental goop to those who won't eat. - Done
    • Weigh them (5 p.m.)  - Done
    • Wash and sterilize bottles and eye dropper  - Done
    • Don't forget to wash hands before and after handling them to prevent transmitting diseases to the other cats  - Done
    • Stop by vet's to get a smaller eye dropper - Done
  • 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
    • Wash the bathroom ceiling with bleached water
    • Remind Greg to re-secure chicken wire to AC unit and also to block off opening under front of the house
    • Scrub mildew off front of the house (porch, behind bushes, front stairs)
    • Install white beadboard in laundry room (will need to measure and purchase)
    • Install new stick-on tiles in laundry room (will need to remove ancient ones first)
    • Paint laundry room cabinets
    • Get Greg to fix/remove rotten wood on front porch
    • Make a list of which outlets need to be replaced and call Duke Energy Homewire Protection to schedule appointment
    • Ask electrician for estimate on installing outlet on front porch
    • Ask Greg to make me new tiled table for electric roaster on front porch
    • Get on flat roof, sweep it, and clean out the front gutter
    • Ask Greg to install gutter screens on the front gutter
    • Have Greg block the opening in the back fence
  • 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 - in progress
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet upstairs
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
    • Complete August Food Expenses post -  in progress
    • Go through the genealogical material crate
    • Shred what needs to be shredded
    • Scan what needs to be scanned (if anything)
    • Work on shopping list - Done
    • Work on photo album for daughter's birthday (or graduation!)
    • Return DVDs at library and pick up new ones - Done
    • Check on solar lights again tonight. Contact Amazon about batteries that aren't working.
    • Input receipts into spreadsheets -  - Done
    • Submit rebates  - Done
    • Write Grocery Shopping Trip post - Done
    • Put Greg's passport away - Done

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • My son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • He rode the school bus.

  • I brewed a pot of half caf, half decaf coffee again, the decaf being free from Wawa (won in a sweepstakes).

  • I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.

  • The kitten bottles don't seem to work so well, the kittens won't suck. So I found a dropper that I still had kicking around. It works a little better but it's too big.  See "Failures". However, it's easier to see how much each kitten is eating since the dropper is gradated in 1/4 tsp increments, up to 1 tsp.

  • When my son and I were at Petco yesterday, the person who helped us (and knew about newborn kitten care) showed us where the replacement milk formula was.  The KMR, the recommended brand, was $7.00 for expensive than the brand we ended up buying. The attendant said there was no difference.

  • In the kitten section, the only bottle came in a pack with other accessories (bottle brush, several other nippes) and was priced at $4.99. I had grabbed two of them but he told me that there was just a single bottle priced at $2.99 in the puppy section and went to get it for me. It's the exact same bottle as the kitten bottle but without all the other stuff.  Yay for attendant who aren't trying to oversell me!  So when he suggested the high calorie nutritional gel for kittens, I also grabbed it.  I did read an article this morning giving the recipe for "kitten gloop" so I guess that  is a thing.  I'll try feeding some to whatever kitten refuses to drink the formula at the next feeding time. It is intended to be supplemental food for finicky kittens.

  • After I fed the kittens mid-morning, I decided to go grocery shopping and run some errands but just as close to my home as possible since I only had 2-3 hours in between kitten feedings.
    • Save A Lot: I bought most of what I had wanted to buy from Aldi there. There weren't any clearances on anything today but that's fine as I still have 2 cherry pies and I don't need meat!  Their ad said the papaya was $0.69 each but they had disclaimers everywhere that it was an error and the papaya was $0.69/lb. That's fine, it's still a good price!  I bought 2.  I was able to use the $1.00 off milk coupon that I had printed last week, and use a $0.75 coupon off Black Forest Ham too. The blueberries were pricey at $2.50 for just 6 oz, but I figured they would be more expensive at Publix and my daughter and I like them.  I left the $2.00 Dole strawberries, though, as they didn't look good. I just noticed that my cashier gave me a discount on the bananas at just $0.29/lb, which is awesome!  They weren't brown at all so I thought I'd pay $0.54/lb.   My OOP was $25.71 and I paid with my USAA Visa for 10% back in Rewards.

    • I stopped by the vet's to ask for a small eye dropper and they gave me a small pipette for free.  I should bring the kittens in at 4 weeks of age for a check-up and deworming, and then 4 weeks after that again and so on and so forth. Yeah, pricey.
I used it to give them mineral oil tonight.

    • At Publix, I was able to score 4 more packages of StoneFire naan bread for free after BOGO sale and BOGO coupons (although the cashier wanted to ask a manager because she didn't think I could use a BOGO coupon with a BOGO sale. She was told that I indeed could. Then the coupons beeped but she pushed them through manually, which I appreciated!).  I bought strawberries for $3.00, pricey but they're beautiful (not Driscoll's though), Bigelow herbal mint tea on BOGO @ $2.99 (since Dollar Tree hasn't had any in months). I splurged on Biscoff cookie butter for my daughter's crepes on her birthday as a surprise.  I also got 2 Renuzit cones for free after coupon. I was going to buy Makato ginger dressing that was on BOGO @ $3.99, but after making the rounds of the aisles, I decided that I didn't need it and put it back. My OOP was $12.84.  I still had $10.55 on the gift card that I had won in a sweepstakes so I applied it to my total and paid the $2.29 difference with my USAA Visa card for 10% back in Rewards.

    • I stopped by Walgreens to pick up the free 8 x 10 reprint that I had ordered last weekend.  I also grabbed a bottle of Oxyclean HD laundry detergent for $0.99 after coupon. My OOP was $1.27, charged to USAA Visa for 10% back in Rewards, and I earned 30 Balance Rewards points.


    • Lastly, I returned the L&O:CI DVDs at the library and picked up the new season that was waiting for me.  I warned the teen librarian that I probably would ask my son to cancel his Dungeons & Dragons club meeting tomorrow, if the weather is stormy.  She was fine with it.



  • My daughter was home when I got back at about 11:20 and she helped me unload the car. It's always nice to have a child volunteer to do this!



  • For my lunch, I had the last of the Chicken Broccoli Tetrazzini and the very last navel orange that I had bought over a month ago!


  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits.



  • I put Season 8 of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on hold at the library.



  • I submitted a rebate to MobiSave. I'm not sure I'll get it back because I uploaded the offer after I had done the shopping. I heard that you needed to upload the offers first.  We'll see.



  • I unlocked new offers on Ibotta.



  • I noticed that a $5.00 off $25 coupon had printed on my Petco receipt yesterday. I might actually have to redeem it this time!



  • Kellogg's emailed a 25-pt KFR code that I input in my Kellogg's Family Rewards account.  However, I kept getting an error message when I tried to input it. I had to do a chat with a Customer Service Rep. First, the chat hung up on me when I was #2 in line.  I "redialed" it right away with the reference number that had been given to me and a new rep told me she would credit my account.


  • Oh hey, MobiSave did refund me the $0.10 for the laundry detergent,even though I had uploaded the offer AFTER I went shopping. Good to know!



  • CVS emailed me the $2.00 ECB reward that was a consolation prize for not being able to qualify for their $15 ECB survey :)


  • The American Cancer Society Volunteer Coordinator emailed me back this morning and was very gracious about my having to bow out until I'm off kitten duty. She said I could recontact her at any time. I do plan on doing that!


  • Checkout 51 refunded me the $0.25 for the blueberries.


    • The rest of the afternoon was a blurr... I fed kittens. tried to get kittens to poop, went to get mineral oil for the kittens, administered the mineral oil... then fed them again, tried to get them to poop...  arrgh. I'm really tired and nothing has been done, really.

    • I received some Ace Hardware coupons in the mail. Yesterday I received Dunkin' Donuts coupons.


    • Walmart also sent me a code for $10 off my first online grocery order. I might check it out.

    • I read that the kittens should be kept at a temperature of 95F for now since they can't regulate their body temp right now. Well, I'm not turning off the AC!  This afternoon, while looking for mineral oil, I found one of those long wraps that you heat up in the microwave. It's the exact same one as the one I bought Greg recently to replace the "hot socks" that he had burned in the microwave.  I had forgotten that I had given him that one for Christmas last year or the year prior and he had never used it. So I'm using it for the kittens. I warm it up in the microwave for 1 minute so it's warm but not too hot, and I put it on one side of the box, under the towel. They're warm and toasty for a couple of hours.

    • Dinner was the Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff and some naan bread.

    SPLURGES
    • Biscoff cookie butter for my daughter's birthday celebration.

    FAILURES
    • Arrgh. I should NEVER declutter!  Remember when I did all that decluttering on Friday and Saturday?  I decluttered my printer stand that had been so messy for months. Part of what I decluttered were eye droppers, still in their package, that the vet had given me for some reason that I can't remember. Well, I think it was the vet, back when we got New Kitty and she was sick.  Anyhoo I'd have those for 9 months.  I usually put things like these in the donation box, thinking someone else can use them. But that day I was really tired of decluttering and the donation box was allllll the way at the other end of the house. So I dropped them into the trashcan at my feet.  So guess what I needed last night?  Yep, an eye dropper the size of the ones I "decluttered" because the one that I do have is too big for the kittens.  Arrgh.  So I have to stop by the vet's to see if they'll give me or sell me another one.

    • Swagbucks videos were making my laptop sound like a jet again this morning and everything was slowing down to a crawl so I'm not going to worry about Swagbucks today. I've reached the 21 day streak and that'll have to do this month. My 1st goal is 120 SB anyway and I doubt I'd reach it.

    • The solar rechargeable batteries ordered via Amazon came in yesterday afternoon.  I replaced the old ones. 2 of them made the lights come on right away, which was odd at is was only 4:30 p.m. but there was a big storm coming in and the sky was getting very dark.  The other 4 weren't on.  At night, 2 of the ones that hadn't come on during the day did come on but the last 2 didn't. I will observe again tonight, possibly replace the ones not working with some new ones (I had ordered 12) but if not all 6 work tonight, I will be contacting Amazon. Update: only 2 of them came on tonight. I left negative feedback for the seller and applied for a refund.  I was able to print a label so I won't have to pay for shipping, but I have to drop off the package at the UPS store by the end of September.

    CHORES
    • Took out the recycling late last night for collection early this morning
    • Fed the kittens at 3 a.m.
    • Fed the kittens at 6:30 a.m.
    • Cooked breakfast for Greg
    • Packed his lunch
    • Worked on my shopping list
    • Fed the kittens at 9 a.m.
    • Went to run errands and grocery shopping
    • Documented my trip and put everything away
    • Fed the kittens at 12 p.m.
    • Submitted rebates
    • Unlocked new offers in rebate apps
    • Input receipts into my spreadsheets
    • Took Customer Satisfaction surveys
    • Printed a few coupons
    • Fed the kittens
    • Did research on kittens
    • Went to buy mineral oil
    • Administered mineral oil to kittens
    • Did a load of dishes
    • Cooked dinner
    • Fed kittens
    • Applied for Amazon refund


    HEALTH
    • I weighed myself this morning and I lost 2.2 lbs this past week. Woohoo! 

    • I didn't exercise today. I was distracted by several things and, to be honest, I felt very tired so I didn't really feel like getting on the bike. It's 8:34 p.m. and I have an hour before the next feeding so I might get on it for a little bit after I wrap up this post. Update: Nope, I didn't. I'm really too tired.

    GRATITUDE
    • That the kittens survived the night!
    • That the potential storm seems to be veering North of us. Although now I'm worried about Middle Son's Darling Girlfriend up in Tallahassee!
    • That my mom, brother and SIL seem to be having a good time in Corsica.
    • That Greg told me he was proud of me for having lost 6.6 lbs :)

    KITTEN UPDATE






    video

    They're eating with the eye dropper pretty well, although I don't think they're eating enough.  They're peeing well but they have yet to poop. I've tried everything, massaging their buttholes, rubbing it and then patting it with a paper towel dipped in warm water... I even gave them a couple of drops of mineral oil each late this afternoon but at the last feeding, even though I stimulated them both before AND after feeding, they still didn't poop.  If they don't poop by tomorrow morning, I'm going to take them to the vet's anyway. There's got to be a tech there who knows what they're doing and can try to see if she can make them poop!  This is very stressful.  Kittens that age should poop once a day and if they don't, it's a sign that something could be seriously wrong with them, according to the internet.

    The striped kitten, that's already the largest, put on 0.2 oz since yesterday, but the other two didn't put on any weight at all.  Starting now I'm going to wake them up every 2 hours to feed, even if they cry and cry and fight me.  They are feisty little things!  In all the YouTube videos that we've watched, the kittens cry but don't seem to move so much. Ours cry like toddlers having full temper tantrums in the middle of Publix AND try to get away from us. And they're strong! And since they're so fragile, we don't want to squeeze them too hard so it's... interesting, lol.

    Today, the dark grey kitten almost escaped from the box!  It was a display box from Save A Lot so one side was cut halfway down.  I had draped a towel over the box so they would remain warm and sleep and the box was caddy corner from me, on the other couch.  I was on the laptop and just happened to glance at the box when I saw a tiny paw emerging from under the blanket that was draped over the box, and then its little head!  Its eyes are still closed but the kitten had climbed up on top of the towel at the bottom of the box that's bunched up a little on the sides, and was crawling over it!  LOL.  That was really funny so I yelled to my daughter to come quick and we had a good laugh. I used a Walgreens Photo envelope to block the opening.  It's a good thing I was there!  They really keep on your toes, even though you think they're pretty helpless, still. I shudder at the thought of the headaches they're going to give me (if they ever poop and they survive!) when they're just a few weeks older.

    The Escape Artist
    Sorry I didn't list my freebies in a separate post today, Susan!  I need to get used to this new routine. 

    Grocery Shopping This Week



    Wednesday is my main shopping day. 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 week was very easier because:
    • I did not need a lot of things: we still had almost 2 loaves of bread (how did that happen?!), yogurt, apples, lots of meat, etc.
    • I didn't want to be gone for a long time because of the kittens,  so I just shopped at 2 stores.
    • I remembered that I had some money left on the Publix gift card that I had won in a sweepstakes earlier this year.
    This shopping trip counts as part of the September food budget since most of this will be consumed in September.

    Let's see how I did!

    Budget for the week: $100.00
    Total OOP: $25.34
    Rebates expected: $0.00
    Total spent after rebates: $25.34
    Money left in budget: $74.66


    Baking Supplies: $3.08 OOP


    1. These 2 items are for my daughter's 18th birthday celebration. She asked me for chocolate-filled Hershey cupcakes. I already have the cake mix.

    • 1 can chocolate frosting (Save A Lot) @ $1.49
    • 1 large Hershey bar (Save A Lot) @ $1.59

    Beverages: $0.00 OOP

    1. Not a great price but not a bad one either. I had hoped to find a coupon but there weren't any.  I would have bought more but those were the last 2 boxes and I forgot to stop by Customer Service and ask for a raincheck. Grrr.
    • 2 20-ct boxes Bigelow Mint Medley Herbal Tea (Publix), on BOGO sale @ $2.99 but FREE after Publix gift card won in a sweepstake.

    Breads/Baked Goods: $0.00 OOP
    1. The (experienced) cashier looked and looked at the coupons and then told me she had to ask a manager because she didn't think I could use BOGO coupons with a BOGO sale. WTH? She's worked at Publix for several years! Of course Customer Service told her that yes, she was to accept the coupons. To her credit, she wasn't unpleasant and actually pushed the coupons through manually when they beeped by saying that they didn't match a sale in the register.
    • 4 packages of StoneFire naan bread (Publix), on BOGO sale @ $2.99, minus (2) BOGO coupons = FREE


     Cereals: $0.00 OOP
    • None needed

    Dairy: $7.15 OOP
    1. Save A Lot accepted my milk coupon without any problems, woohoo! I'm not sure if 1 gallon, even stretched with milk, will be enough now that Greg is back and eating cereal for snack, but I have the UHT milk from Dollar Tree in my pantry too.
    2. I needed some cheese dip for a recipe that I'm making later on this week. I was going to buy one of those huge bricks of generic Velveeta cheese, but I only needed half of one and it was $4.99!  I spotted those jars nearby and that's all I needed  and was half price too!
    3. I should have left the American cheese slices at the store as we ended up having a whole unopened package in the fridge.  I should have checked before I left the house instead of just assuming that we were almost out.
    • 1 gallon whole milk (Save A Lot) @ $2.99, minus $1.00 manufacturer coupon = $1.99
    • 1 jar Salsa Con Queso (Save A Lot) @ $2.45
    • 1 package American cheese singles (Save A Lot) @ $1.79
    • 2 cups light yogurt (Save A Lot) @ $0.44 each = $0.88

    Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $0.00 OOP 
    • None needed
    Produce/Juice: $9.88
    1. The Save A Lot weekly ad advertises the papaya for $0.69 EACH but there were disclaimers everywhere in the store stating that it was an error and it was $0.69/lb. Still a good price so I still bought 2 of them.
    2. The cashier rang up the bananas as if they had been on clearance, which they weren't. Awesome, thank you!
    3. I missed Aldi,though, as I paid $1.99 for only 2 Romaine hearts. I get 3 hearts at Aldi for the same price!
    4. The Save A Lot strawberries were on sale for $2.00 but they didn't look very good (bruised) so I spent a dollar more to buy them at Publix where they looked stupendous. However, they weren't Driscoll's so I couldn't use a coupon.
    5. I didn't buy more vegetables because I have some in the fridge and plenty in the freezer and canned ones too.
    • 2 Romaine hearts (Save A Lot) @ $1.99
    • 6 oz blueberries (Save A Lot) @ $2.50 and got $0.25 back from Checkout 51 = $2.25
    • 2.28 lbs bananas (Save A Lot), on clearance @ $0.29/lb = $0.66
    • 4.16 lbs papaya (Save A Lot), on sale @ $0.69/lb = $2.87
    • 2.15 lbs grapes (Save A Lot), on sale @ $0.98/lb = $2.11
    • 1 lb strawberries (Publix), on sale @ $3.00  but FREE after Publix gift card won in a sweepstake.


    Proteins: $3.24 OOP

    1. I successfully resisted buying meat!  I did catch myself looking at the meat section at Save A Lot to see if I could spot clearance stickers, from afar, but I mentally slapped myself almost immediately.  I have absolutely NO room in the freezers!
    • 1 lb Buddig Black Forest Ham (Save A Lot) @ $3.99 minus $0.75/1 manufacturer coupon from insert = $3.24

    Snacks: $1.99 OOP
    1. I bought the hazelnut spread at Save A Lot before I remembered that I had meant to redeem $2.00 off Nutella coupons at Publix!  At Publix the Nutella would have been only $1.59 after coupon... however, once there, I couldn't find my coupons so I couldn't even stock up!  I found them once I was at Walgreens, but I didn't want to go back to Publix today. They expire on 9/4 so if I have to go out again, I might stop by and get a couple of jars.
    2. The Biscoff is for my daughter's 18th birthday celebration. She asked for crepes. When we were in France last year, her favorites were the Spekuloos crepes, which is what Biscoff cookie butter is. I'm going to surprise her with it :) She's on a diet but you only turn 18 once in your life.
    • 1 13 oz jar hazelnut chocolate spread (Save A Lot) @ $1.99
    • 1 14 oz jar Biscoff cookie butter (Publix), on sale @ $3.99 but FREE after Publix gift card won in a sweepstake.

    Did you get any great deals at the grocery store this week?  Please link up or share your finds in the comments :)

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016

    Local Elections and Several Frustrations ~ Tuesday 8/30/16



    You know how sometimes something that happens first thing in the morning sets the tone for the whole day?  Well, today I refuse to let that happen because right now, at 8:00 a.m., I feel frustrated and annoyed and this is NOT how I want to feel the rest of the day!

    I didn't sleep well. I was exhausted, truly, and I went to bed at 10:45 p.m. Not bad, eh?  I woke up at least 4 times for various reasons. This morning, I'm exhausted.  I got up, put the half decaf/half caf to brew because I was too tired to even try to reach the can of fully caffeinated coffee up in the pantry, packed Greg's lunch, set out the items necessary to cook his breakfast, and then went back to sit in the dark in the living room, waiting for him to get up so I could cook his breakfast... a treat for him to have a hot breakfast since, when I was driving my son to school at the very beginning of the school year, I'd cook before leaving so his breakfast could be cold by the time he came down.

    It occurred to me, while I was waiting, that yesterday I had unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while my coffee was brewing, and that it had worked so well for me (not having that chore hanging over my head all morning), that I had decided to keep on doing the same thing every day. Only, I was too tired to get up again!  However, once Greg got in the shower, I went to cook his breakfast and then I did unload the dishwasher and did the dishes as he ate, a small victory over fatigue.  Yay me!

    I reminded him that today was Local Election Day. He left for work, I went to sit down to start earning Swagbucks... then I heard him come back inside.  He went to vote but couldn't find his driver's license!  The last time he took it out of his wallet was at the TSA check at Columbus airport on Sunday morning so either they didn't give it back to him or he lost it at the airport. Great. He couldn't spare the time to go to the DL office to get a replacement today so I'm really hoping he doesn't get stopped by the police for whatever reason today!



    I went online to check on the documents necessary for the replacement, made myself a list. I'll pull them for him later on today.  I also printed the application and filled most of it out for him, and emailed him the information about the office so he can call to make an appointment for tomorrow since he wanted to do it himself.  Renewing the DL online would take up to 10 business days. 

    Meanwhile, I had earned an 11 SB search award on my laptop, which promptly froze, so the CAPCHA code expired and I wasn't able to cash in the SB.  I could feel my blood pressure rise with all those annoyances and, being a pessimist by nature, I started telling myself that this was going to be a crappy day.

    But NO.  I'm not going to let it.  Greg will get his replacement driver's license tomorrow and once my computer unfroze, I took screenshots and contacted Swagbucks Customer Service to ask them to credit me anyway.

    Today is going to be a splendid and productive day and I will have a great night tonight. So there!

    Today is Local Election Day here in Lake County, Florida.  If you are having local elections today as well (I'm not sure if this is a national day of voting or not), make sure you DO vote in your local elections!  Sheriffs, school board members, judges, local amendments, all of those positions and issues have a direct impact on how you live YOUR life. Take a few minutes and do yourself a favor and express your opinions and concerns by voting.

    So that storm? It's strengthening and coming pretty much straight at us, for now.  I'll be securing outdoor furniture and odds and ends come Thursday. Or maybe even tomorrow. Heck, I should get started today!



    On to my To Do List!

    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 - No, I've decided to just pitch them. I know it's not the frugal thing to do but I have a ton of candles to use up, still, and I really need to declutter the house. Update: I had second thoughts last night so for now they're sitting on top of my washing machine until I decide what to do with them!
      • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
    • Cleaning/Decluttering:
      • Dust the bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
      • Declutter linen closet
      • Clean kitchen cabinets
      • Declutter the top of the fridge
      • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat) - MONDAY
      • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
      • Declutter storage bench 
      • Declutter coffee table - in progress
      • Dust fan in exercise room
      • Clean the fridge
      • Declutter gardening supplies chest
      • Defrost the freezer
      • Sweep kitchen  - Done
      • Sweep entry room  - Done
      • Sweep breezeway
      • Vacuum living room
      • Vacuum exercise room
      • Sweep/vacuum downstairs bathroom
      • Vacuum master bedroom
      • Vacuum upstairs hallway
      • Vacuum main stairs
      • Do the dishes (Tuesday) - Done
      • Fold the laundry  - Done
      • Put the laundry away  - Done
      • Take the trash to the curb  - Done
    • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
      • Make new menu for the week - Done
    • Entertainment
      • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
      • Sign up for ranger hikes in local parks
    • Errands:
      • Take items to the dump
    • 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 - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
      • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
      • 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
      • Trim weeds alongside the berm
      • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
      • Pull the rest of the dead tomato plants 
      • Plant passion flower vine seeds
      • Add water to pepper bins
      • Refill green bird feeder
      • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
      • Harvest the peanuts
      • Refill the hummingbird feeders
      • Replace batteries in solar lights in front of the house (need special batteries) - ordered the batteries, waiting for them to come in
      • Secure all outside loose objects and patio furniture in preparation for the storm (Thursday)
    • Health:
      • Call gyneco to make annual appointment - I'll do that once I'm more comfortable with my weight because I know they'll be nagging me about it anyway.
      • Use recumbent bike  - Done
      • Do 5 min of strength exercises  
      • Log food into My Fitness Pal  -Done
      • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards (in September)
      • Weigh myself (Wednesdays)
    • 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
      • Wash the bathroom ceiling with bleached water
      • Remind Greg to re-secure chicken wire to AC unit and also to block off opening under front of the house
      • Scrub mildew off front of the house (porch, behind bushes, front stairs)
      • Install white beadboard in laundry room (will need to measure and purchase)
      • Install new stick-on tiles in laundry room (will need to remove ancient ones first)
      • Paint laundry room cabinets
      • Get Greg to fix/remove rotten wood on front porch
      • Make a list of which outlets need to be replaced and call Duke Energy Homewire Protection to schedule appointment
      • Ask electrician for estimate on installing outlet on front porch
      • Ask Greg to make me new tiled table for electric roaster on front porch
      • Get on flat roof, sweep it, and clean out the front gutter
      • Ask Greg to install gutter screens on the front gutter
      • Have Greg block the opening in the back fence
    • 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 - in progress
      • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
      • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
      • Purge filing cabinet upstairs
      • File paperwork
      • Write new letter to great grand aunt
      • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
      • Complete August Food Expenses post -  in progress
      • Go through the genealogical material crate
      • Shred what needs to be shredded
      • Scan what needs to be scanned (if anything)
      • Work on shopping list - in progress
      • Work on photo album for daughter's birthday
      • Collect necessary documents for Greg's DL replacement  - Done

    FRUGAL SUCCESSES
    • The coffee pot I brewed this morning was half free since I mixed a bag of free decaf coffee from Wawa (won in a sweepstake) with a bag of regular coffee.

    • My son packed a lunch for school.

    • As usual, he rode the school bus today.

    • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

    • I unlocked the Healthy Offer of the Week in SavingStar (20% off loose tomatoes).

    • For breakfast, I sliced a brown banana into my bowl of Rice Crispers from Aldi. I also used some whole milk that I had stretched with water.

    • I walked to the voting precinct instead of driving.  Free exercise! It was about a mile all in all.

    • I noticed that my McDonald's app has 2 new coupons, one expiring today: a free large drink with any purchase and a free medium fries with any purchase. I won't use them. I wish they were valid tomorrow, I'd pick up a $1 cheeseburger for my son and get him some fries too when I got run my errands!

    • My daughter had trouble printing to our Wifi printer to I helped her by telling her to delete the printer from her devices and reinstall it. It worked. We don't know why her laptop keeps on having that problem every time she wants to print something, although I suspect that this time it was because I changed the router. I didn't have to reinstall the printer on my own laptop though, so I don't know why has to. But, it worked, that's the most important thing!

    • I used my son's PC to print 2 more BOGO coupons for the naan bread. It's still on BOGO through tomorrow at Publix so I hope to get 4 more packages for free tomorrow. I also printed another $1.50/1 coupon from Gold'n Plump. What? It's just in case I happen to have room in the freezer later on this month :)

    • Then I printed a couple of coupons from my own computer, via Firefox (and Swagbucks).

    • My lunch was the last of the Two-Bean Turkey Chili (made with 50% clearance turkey) from last week, with a mini naan (free from Publix), and half the papaya that I had bought last week ($0.99/lb at Save A Lot).

    • Swagbucks Customer Service credited me with the 80SB for the survey (see "Failures"), which propelled me beyond my 1st daily goal. Woo!

    • I put together a menu for the rest of the week using recipes that I had clipped recently, that will allow me to use up what I have in my fridge and pantry for the most part.

    • I found a jar of grape jelly in the recycling bin that someone had left them without washing it.  I was able to rescue a whole tablespoon of jelly from it!



    • Swagbucks Customer Service credited me with the 11SB Search Award that I had been unable to redeem.   I had just reached my 2nd Daily Goal but this helped anyway.  I also noticed that I had earned the 21-day Winning Streak, woohoo!




  • While I was working on my menu and catching up on some stuff online, I watched several episodes from the last DVD of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Season 6 that I had borrowed from the library. The 7th season is waiting for me at the library so I will return Season 6 tomorrow when I run my errands and pick up the new one.

    • The American Cancer Society volunteer coordinator sent me the 45-minute orientation video this morning, so I will be watching that on my Kindle Fire while I use the recumbent bike. I have to confess that I really don't feel like exercising today, I'm tired.  I might not pedal very fast :)


    • I exercised anyway. However, the video link they had sent me wasn't for the 45 minute video, just for testimonials on YouTube. I watched a few of those. I was all set to sign up as a volunteer tonight when... this happened.

    • We had a storm and it poured. My garden will definitely be happier!
    Sky at about 4:30 p.m. By the time it was 4:50 (when we found the kittens), the whole sky was black.

    • I ate leftovers for dinner.

    SPLURGES
    • Gas for my daughter to drive to her college classes today.

    • Gas to drive to Petco (in the storm!) $40 in kitten care supplies: milk replacement formula, some nutritional gel that the guy at Petco who fostered kittens before "highly recommended" (in case they don't eat) and a couple of kitten feeding bottles.  I should have bought 3 though, so my daughter will go back tomorrow and get a 3rd one.

    • With the new kittens needing attention, I didn't get to cook dinner before Greg got home. So he stopped by Publix and got a fried chicken family combo meal for himself and our son, and a sub for my daughter. (I ate leftovers)
    FAILURES
    • Greg lost his Driver's License so now he needs to go get a replacement.  The cost will be $31.25 plus the time spent doing that. Hopefully he can make an appointment and not have to stand in line too long. Update: he just ordered a replacement online.  It was $27 but now we have to wait about 10 business days to get it. I really hope he doesn't get stopped by the cops before then!

    • I don't think he's going to be able to vote since he was delayed this morning with the discovery of the missing driver's license and he had to leave for work immediately. I think the polls might be closed by the time he drives home tonight.  Update: he didn't get to vote :)

    • My computer froze at a very inopportune time, causing me to lose 11 SB that had been "won" in a Search on Swagbucks. I emailed Customer Service, asking for help.

    • Later on, and for the 3rd time in as many days, a Swagbucks survey that I completed wasn't credited to my account. GRRR. So I emailed Customer Service again.

    • I was unable to print coupons via Swagbucks from my son's printer. Coupons.com uses JAVA, which Chrome and Edge are blocking and I didn't want to dowload Firefox to his computer just for that. It's annoying because I was hoping to print more Activia BOGO coupons. I filled out feedback on their "help" page that doesn't help at all to ask them to work with the Chrome team and stop using JAVA since Chrome won't allow it anymore.

    • Well, we got 3 kittens. If they survive, this would bring us up to 6 cats... just like Laura.  Our pet budget will have to double.  This is scary, very scary. But when you look at those wittle kittens, you melt. However, I told my neighbor that next time he finds kittens, he needs to NOT knock on my door :)
    CHORES
    • Cooked Greg's breakfast
    • Packed his lunch
    • Researched necessary documents and fees for DL replacement
    • Emailed Greg with DL office info
    • Printed application for replacement and filled it out
    • Contacted SB Customer Service
    • Made my bed
    • Chased after New Kitty!
    • Took the large trash bin and the 3 yard waste bins down to the curb
    • Went to vote
    • Contacted SB Customer Service again
    • Helped my daughter with the printer issue
    • Collected the rest of the laundry that has finished drying
    • Printed some coupons
    • Folded the laundry
    • Put away the laundry
    • Made Greg's bed
    • Collected necessary documents for Greg's DL replacement
    • Exercised
    • Adopted new cats
    • Went to Petco to get kitten supplies
    • Tried to get the kittens to eat, pee and poop
    • Repeat

    HEALTH
    • I walked to my voting precinct instead of driving.

    • I biked for 45 minutes (8.01 miles).

    • I input my food into MyFitnessPal and I am under my calorie goal at 9 p.m.

    GRATITUDE
    • For the logs that distracted New Kitty.
    • For efficient Customer Service at Swagbucks, even though their survey process really stinks.
    • For the pictures that my brother sent me of his GF and my mom on the ferry to Corsica!
    • Not sure if I should be grateful for kittens or not. Probably not. They're cute, though :)

    NATURE
    So this is how it happened... I replied to a comment stating that I had done a lot yesterday and in my reply I bemoaned that I was still in my PJs at about 10 a.m.  So I decided to go get dressed. While I was upstairs, I looked out the landing window into the backyard and spotted a huge hawk perched on the back fence.


    So I went downstairs and grabbed my DSLR camera since my phone won't zoom that far. Also most of the windows are screened so you can't really take pictures out of them.

    I opened the sliding door just a little to fit the lens and take photos. The lens kept on getting fogged up and wouldn't zoom as far as my point and shoot so I went to get the point and shoot.New Kitty had been circling near the sliding door so I reopened it only a little bit and fit my lower leg in the opening so she wouldn't escape. I didn't want to go out on the patio so as not to scare the hawk away. I was taking pictures when I felt New Kitty jump over my lower leg and squeeze herself in the opening and then... it was off to the races!

    Unlike our other 2 cats who have been indoor cats all their life (well, Mean Kitty lived outside for the first couple of months of her life but now she's just lazy and afraid of everything), New Kitty was a feral cat for the first 6 months or so of her life. She wants to be outside. She's used to being outside. She RAN for the back of the yard. So I took off behind her, in my bare feet, running as fast as my sorry out-of-shape bottom would let me and yet trying not to scare her away because she was definitely running away from me.  I'm glad I had changed into my clothes because if I had worn my very loose PJs, I would have ended bare-bottomed in the back yard!

    The whole time I was chasing her (a few seconds), I was freaking out about what my son would say should I not be able to catch her or should the hawk get her!

    She could have gone left and into the yard where the huge dogs are or she could have turned right towards the hawk and the opening cut into the back fence for the roots of an ancient oak tree that has since them been taken down and which roots have rotten away. Note to self: we need to plug that hole, even though the fence isn't ours.  Our yard isn't fenced on the 3 other sides so she could have pretty much run forever.

    But she didn't. She was distracted by the logs on the ground behind the shed, just a couple of feet away from the back fence, and I was able to grab her then. You should have heard me... all sugar and sweets until I grabbed her, and then, I was MAD.  LOL. 10 minutes later, as I was texting Greg, my teeth were still clenched.  She is SO grounded.

    She is grounded. Can't you tell?!

    The whole time the hawk just sat there. I was able to grab my camera and sit on the patio and shoot away. Too bad he was so far that I had to use the digital zoom and it was humid so the lens is somewhat fogged up.  He flew off as I was typing a text to Greg so I missed him after that. Not 2 seconds after I noticed he was gone, a squirrel scampered into the yard. Dumb hawk. You missed a plump cat, a more than plump and out of breath housewife and a squirrel!





    KITTEN UPDATE
    We watched several videos on how to take care of newborn kittens and how to feed them.  It's harder than it looks and I feel like a brand new mom who doesn't know what she is doing. It is scary because I don't want them to die!  If I don't get a hang of it overnight, I might drive them to the closest shelter tomorrow to ask a volunteer to show me in person how to do it properly.

    There is a dark grey kitten, a light grey kitten, and a striped grey and black kitten.  The first two are 4.7 and 4.8 ounces. The last one is 5.5 oz!  I made them a nest in a box with towels to keep them warm and comfy and they've been sleeping nonstop since we collected them, 4.5 hours ago, apart from the two times when we tried feeding them without much success.  I know for a fact that one of them peed when I prodded them too because I saw it, but I'm not sure that the other two did.

    At about 7 p.m. the kids alerted me that the mother cat was at the tree and they had seen her climb into the tree.  So I took the box with the kittens and left it at the base of the tree because I figured that they probably would be better off with her.  However, my neighbor came out with his dogs at the same time (on his back patio, he didn't know the mother cat was there) and she ran off.  I was explaining to him that we felt that she should be given a chance to get her kittens back, but he pointed out that then there would be 3 more cats out there that weren't neutered or spayed.  Well OK then, but I'm not seeing you taking them in, lol!

    After seeing the hawk so close earlier today, and then the dogs and we do have loose dogs in the neighborhood from time to time as well, I was feeling really bad about leaving the newborn kittens all alone out there. So I brought them back inside.

    I have an alarm set to ring every 3 hours and I'll plan on sleeping on the couch so I don't wake up everyone by going up and down the stairs all night long.

    They ate a tiny bit at 8 p.m., although none of them actually seem to know to suck on the nipple so I'm not sure how much they ate. I need to keep a closer eye on the dosage. They should eat about 1 tsp per feeding, apparently.  They are feisty!  Even though their eyes are still closed, they protested loudly when we tried to feed them. Like little lions!

    Tomorrow I will not go shopping in the morning. I will stay home with the kittens and then go shopping once my daughter comes home at about noon.  Then she'll be on kitten duty while I go shopping.  Both kids offered to get up at night to feed the kittens, which I appreciated, but they have classes to attend and homework to do while... I don't.


    What would you have done if you had found newborn kittens outside your door and a huge storm was about to hit?

    On "Diaper" and Feeding Duty... Be Back Soon!

    So,,,  I might not be very active here for a few days until I can wrap my head around what I'm doing... short version: our neighbor discovered 2 new kittens in between our driveway. A storm was about to start, the mother was nowhere to be seen, the neighbor wanted to know if I knew of a no-kill shelter. The kids and I took a look at them, went "awwww!" and took them in.  My son and I drove to Petco while mm daughter stayed with them and researched what we needed; the neighbor called me: he had found a 3rd one.  It was in the tree above where he had found the other two.  The other two must have fallen or the mother was about to go put them in the tree or something... so I told him to bring it to my daughter.

    So we have 3 more cats.  They're about a week old at the most. Their eyes are closed. I'm trying to feed them but for now it's not working too well. We're watching YouTube videos from experts to see what we might be doing wrong.

    I'm going to have to feed them every 1-2 hours for 4 weeks, including at night, of course. If I thought I was tired before... plus you have to burp them and stimulate them to pee and poop like the mom would.  Lots to learn!  I hope they survive.  The vet's office said not to bring them in until they're at least 2 weeks old so I'll call them again next week.

    What a day!

    So I don't know when I'll be back in this space. Might be tonight, might be in 4 weeks.

    Talk to you all soon!



    Dinner Plans This Week


    Each week I peek in my fridge, freezer, and garden, to see what needs to be used up and I take a couple of minutes to think of ways to use up those ingredients in the next few days...


    MONDAY: Roasted Seasoned Chicken Breasts, Mashed Potatoes and Herbed Steamed Broccoli

    TUESDAY:  Cumin Cornmeal-Crusted Pork Chops with Rice and Corn on the Cob
    • From the freezer: pork loin chops
    • From the pantry: white rice, kosher salt, pepper, panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, cumin, EVOO
    • From the fridge: butter, egg, Dijon mustard, ears of corn
    • Need to harvest: nothing
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: nothing

    WEDNESDAY: Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff and Side Salad
    • From the freezer: nothing
    • From the pantry: onion, AP flour, egg noodles
    • From the fridge: butter, baby portobello mushrooms, Better Than Bouillon, light sour cream, lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers
    • Need to harvest: parsley
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: nothing

    THURSDAY: Classic Chicken Parmesan with Thin Spaghetti and Side Salad
    • From the freezer: AP flour
    • From the pantry:  thin spaghetti, seasoned bread crumbs, seasoning (pick one), canola oil, pasta sauce
    • From the fridge: chicken breasts, mozzarella,  eggs, grape tomatoes, cucumber
    • Need to harvest: basil
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: Romaine lettuce

    FRIDAY: Cabbage and Smoked Turkey Sausage
    • From the freezer: smoked turkey sausage
    • From the pantry: sugar, onion, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt, caraway seeds, cabbage
    • From the fridge: bacon, minced garlic
    • Need to harvest: nothing
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: nothing

    SATURDAY:  Southwestern Turkey Meat Loaf and Sweet Mashed Potatoes
    • From the freezer: 2 lbs ground turkey
    • From the pantry:  sweet potatoes, onion, vegetable oil, rice, beef broth, can of NSA corn, picante sauce, tortilla chips, taco seasoning
    • From the fridge: butter, milk, minced garlic, shredded cheese
    • Need to harvest: nothing
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: nothing

    SUNDAY:  Grilled Taco Burger and Potato Foil Packs
    • From the freezer: 1 lb ground beef
    • From the pantry: taco seasoning mix, potatoes, onion
    • From the fridge: bread crumbs, milk
    • Need to harvest: nothing
    • Need to make in advance: nothing
    • Need to buy: Velveeta-type cheese

    What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

    Monday, August 29, 2016

    Oh Dear, It's Domestic Monday! ~ August 29, 2016


    And another week begins... what a cycle!

    This morning I feel tired. I went to bed late on purpose, hoping that between biking for an hour yesterday and going to bed at midnight I would have a solid 6 hours of good, deep sleep but it didn't work: I found myself tossing and turning again. This time the fan was bothering me, but not having the fan on was making me hot.  Arrgh. I turned on a small fan on my night stand that was blowing directly on my face, thought that the noise (it's much noisier than the other fan!) would keep me up, and then fell asleep. However I felt very tired when I woke up and the half caf/half decaf coffee blend this morning isn't helping waking me up, I'm afraid. Maybe I should have breakfast now. It is 8:30 a.m. after all.

    Greg went to the office today. I'm glad of this, actually, as I enjoy being home by myself during the week.  However, I need to remember that I am not alone in reality. My daughter doesn't have any classes at the state college today so she is at home and will be working on her online classes.

    Despite being tired, Domestic Monday is off to a good start: last night, when I realized that I would have to do the dishes and not my daughter (she had reached the $30 earned towards her share of the car insurance for September), I had piled them up in a way that makes loading the dishwasher much easier.  This morning, as my coffee was brewing, I thought that I might as well be doing something, so I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I'm so glad that I did that, now I don't have that dreaded chore hanging over my head the whole day :)

    My mom is on her way to Marseille to meet my brother and his girlfriend. Tomorrow all three will head out to Corsica, a beautiful French island in the Mediterranean, where they will be spending 2 weeks on vacation.  I hope all goes well!



    On to my To Do List. It's even longer than usual because I added a lot of things to it yesterday. Perhaps too many.

    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 - No, I've decided to just pitch them. I know it's not the frugal thing to do but I have a ton of candles to use up, still, and I really need to declutter the house. Update: I had second thoughts last night so for now they're sitting on top of my washing machine until I decide what to do with them!
      • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
    • Cleaning/Decluttering:
      • Dust the bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
      • Declutter linen closet
      • Clean kitchen cabinets
      • Declutter the top of the fridge
      • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat) - MONDAY
      • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
      • Declutter storage bench 
      • Declutter coffee table - in progress
      • Dust fan in exercise room
      • Clean the fridge
      • Declutter gardening supplies chest
      • Clean the oven - Done
      • Defrost the freezer
      • Do the dishes (Monday) - Done
      • Do the laundry- Done
      • Empty the trash cans throughout the house- Done
    • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
      • Dehydrate pineapples - Done
      • Make new menu for next week
    • Entertainment
      • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
      • Sign up for ranger hikes in local parks
    • Errands:
      • Take items to the dump
    • 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 - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
      • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
      • 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
      • Trim weeds alongside the berm
      • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
      • Pull the rest of the dead tomato plants 
      • Plant passion flower vine seeds
      • Add water to pepper bins
      • Refill green bird feeder
      • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
      • Harvest the peanuts
      • Make hummingbird nectar - Done
      • Refill the hummingbird feeders
      • Replace batteries in solar lights in front of the house (need special batteries) - ordered the batteries today
    • Health:
      • Call gyneco to make annual appointment - I'll do that once I'm more comfortable with my weight because I know they'll be nagging me about it anyway.
      • Use recumbent bike  - Done
      • Do 5 min of strength exercises  
      • Log food into My Fitness Pal - Done
      • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards (in September)
      • Weigh myself (Wednesdays)
    • 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
      • Wash the bathroom ceiling with bleached water
      • Remind Greg to re-secure chicken wire to AC unit and also to block off opening under front of the house
      • Scrub mildew off front of the house (porch, behind bushes, front stairs)
      • Install white beadboard in laundry room (will need to measure and purchase)
      • Install new stick-on tiles in laundry room (will need to remove ancient ones first)
      • Paint laundry room cabinets
      • Get Greg to fix/remove rotten wood on front porch
      • Make a list of which outlets need to be replaced and call Duke Energy Homewire Protection to schedule appointment
      • Ask electrician for estimate on installing outlet on front porch
      • Ask Greg to make me new tiled table for electric roaster on front porch
      • Get on flat roof, sweep it, and clean out the front gutter
      • Ask Greg to install gutter screens on the front gutter
    • 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 - in progress
      • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
      • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
      • Purge filing cabinet upstairs
      • File paperwork
      • Write new letter to great grand aunt
      • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
      • Prep August Food Expenses post - Done
      • Sort new coupons - Done
      • Fill out ACS Volunteer Application form - Done
      • Go through the genealogical material crate
      • Shred what needs to be shredded
      • Scan what needs to be scanned (if anything)
      • Work on shopping list - in progress
      • Work on photo album for daughter's birthday

    FRUGAL SUCCESSES
    • My coffee pot is morning was only half free since I mixed a free bag of Wawa decaf coffee with a bag of Maxwell House coffee. But half free is still better than not free at all :)  The Maxwell House coffee had been bought at Publix when it was on BOGO and I had coupons for it so I think the bag had cost me less than $2.00, many months ago.

    • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

    • Our son packed himself a lunch to take to school.

    • He rode the school bus once again, although I think he might have had to run to catch it today as he left the house a little too close to the pick-up time.

    • It looks like we'll be getting some rain later on in the week. Let's just hope this thing doesn't decide to become a hurricane and doesn't spawn tornadoes either.

    • I printed a coupon that Kellogg's emailed me.

    • A Slickdeals poster shared a 20 KFR code last night (KFRS-HARE-THAN-KS20so I input it into my Kellogg's Family Rewards account.

    • I did one super load of laundry on cold/cold (I don't separate anything, everything gets washed at the same time) and used vinegar as softener.  My clothes and all the undies/socks/exercise clothes/washing cloths/cloth napkins will be dried outdoors on my racks from IKEA.  The bath towels will be run through the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting with Greg's T-shirts. I will pull the towels before they're dry and hang them outside to finish drying. It worked last week to keep them relatively soft.  Greg hates it when I dry his clothes outside.  So I put his Tshirts and shirts in the dryer but I still dry everything else outside.

    • I was smarter today than yesterday by setting up the electric roaster oven outdoors in the morning BEFORE the threat of any showers and I roasted one of the 2 packages of chicken breasts that were in my fridge. I bought those last Wednesday at $0.99/lb.  I sprinkled them with Ten Things Farm Seasoning.  Today I decided to set the roaster oven on my patio table.  It should be impervious to the heat because the top is concrete, and it's closer to the sliding door.   The chicken is cooking while my laundry is being washed, so it will be all done before I start hanging my laundry outside, next to the oven.  So Greg and I won't smell like chicken this week. Btw, I can't remember if I shared this before or not. I thought it was a hoax but it was a real thing, apparently.  I wish I had gotten it for our son, who loves KFC, lol.


    • I inventoried my fridge to decide what I was going to cook this week.  I remembered that I had potatoes that had started to get wrinkly and that I had set aside to make into hashbrowns this weekend. Only, I forgot to make the hash browns!  So I will make mashed potatoes for tonight to serve with the chicken and I will steam the rest of the broccoli crown.  I will serve some naan bread with that too. I got it for free at Publix last week.

    • Well shoot, I had actually gotten up to go fix myself breakfast... 30 minutes later and I realized that I had never done that!  I'm really liking the Aldi Crispy Rice cereal in the mornings. A big box is only $1.39.  I might be able to get the Rice Krispies cheaper with coupons (or free at CVS) so I need to remember this before blindly buying at Aldi. I usually either slice a banana in it or add some berries. Today will be banana-flavored since I have a few bananas turning brown.  I always try to remember to mix water in with the whole milk to stretch it and also to lower the calories.  I only ever bought skim milk for years so I've been kicking myself for not doing this sooner!  I would have saved tons of money.  Oh well.

    • The chicken took longer to cook than the last time, maybe because the oven hadn't preheated completely when I put it in (?) or maybe because it wasn't as hot outside as the last time I used it on the patio.  Still, it didn't heat up my house so I'm happy about this. Now if only it were completely solar so I wouldn't have to pay for the electricity!  I really need to try to build a solar oven.

    • I finally processed the pineapples that I had harvested in July.  I'm planning on writing a post about the whole growing process soon.  As for this crop, it was a failure. Oh, I did regrow 8 pineapples from tops of pineapples I had bought in the store so that was great. But I harvested them too soon (in my defense, a couple of them had started to burn in the sun because it didn't rain and I didn't water them enough apparently) and they were inedible at first. So I left them to ripen in front of a southern facing window but as they ripened, they also pretty much collapsed onto themselves. Well, as if they were dehydrating themselves, really. It was interesting because I would have thought that they would rot, like the ones that we buy in the store when they're past their prime. But they didn't, at least not on the outside. So, all said and done, I cut off maybe 2 orange-size pieces of pineapple flesh between all 7 pineapples. That's another thing, they looked pretty big in the garden but they were actually quite small.  Maybe adding manure or compost to the soil would have been a good idea?  I just planted them in the sand.  Also, they really didn't get enough water.  I sliced the flesh that was salvageable and am dehydrating it.  It's sweet but has started taking on that slightly chemical taste of the pineapple that's past its prime.  I'm hoping that it won't be as noticeable once it's dehydrated.

    • As for the tops, well, I'm going to try to get new pineapples out of them, of course!  This is Nathalie's version of the Amish bread, lol.  So I reused 7 glass jars (spaghetti jars and an olive jar), filled them with tap water, moved the pineapples that had been rooting since March and May down on the breezeway countertop, and installed the new ones on the South facing windowsill.  If everything goes well, they should start rooting in a couple of weeks. The first homegrown pineapple top that I put in water on August 9th already has roots :)  It's going to be interesting next Spring when I have to expend my garden to fit in 14 more pineapple plants. I already have, what? 19 of them in the garden, I think?  I need to stop buying pineapples at the store!  Did I mention that I'm the only one here who actually eats pineapple?!  I'm a pineapple hoarder.

    • I hung the laundry outside.  That laundry rack from Aldi that had broken and that I had tried to fix with duct tape all those weeks ago?  It's been outside on the patio this whole time. Yes, it kind of looks white trash but I couldn't throw it away if I could still kind of use it, could I?!  I was thinking about using it as a kind of a trellis to grow the jasmine that's in a pot next to it, but then the jasmine never grew all that much.  Mind you I now have the 2 large racks from IKEA, my old sturdy stand-by from Target from years ago, and 3 more racks from Aldi!  I don't even do that much laundry anymore...  Well, that rack came in handy today as I ran out of room on the one IKEA rack that I had set up next to it and I needed another one. Why go back inside and carry one of the "good" ones out when this ones, even crooked, still does the trick for light cloth napkins?!  Sigh, I'm never going to declutter this, am I?

    • Well, after I typed this up, I remembered that I had bath towels and Greg's T-shirts that I had loaded in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing "Less Drying" setting.  I went to check on them and they were still humid, as planned, so I got the 2nd IKEA rack, set it up on the patio and hung everything to finish drying outside.  We'll see if Greg notices.

    • I can't believe it's noon already!  Where did the morning go?!  Still no answer from Swagbucks Customer Service about the survey that hasn't credited and I still need to earn 68 SB to meet my first goal so I'm going to try nGage and JunGroup videos again and hope that Chrome is going crashing. Uh oh, just launched JunGroup and my laptop is starting to sound like a jet about to take off and it's getting laggy when I type these words.  Darn it.  Update at 12:36 p.m.: they just credited my account so I have met my 1st goal, yay!  I will now try to reach my 2nd goal but that might be problematic.

    • Also, I feel extremely tired. That half caf mixture in the morning is NOT working for me!  Maybe I should do I scoop of that and one scoop of full caffeinated grounds.  Ugh.

    • I earned the maximum of daily Bing Rewards credits today again. I'm at 69% of my goal.

    • I uploaded a few offers to our American Express cards. We probably won't use them but since those businesses are actually located in our area, and we have used them in the past, I figured I might as well load them.

    • At 12:30 I noticed that black clouds were rolling in so I rushed outside right as some raindrops had started sprinkling and brought the racks back indoors. As soon as I was done, the sprinkling stopped, but of course.  The laundry will now provide entertainment for the cats as they love hiding themselves in between my clean but humid and cat hair-free clothes!

    • My lunch was Two-Bean Turkey Chili leftovers that had been made with 50% off clearance ground turkey (there's still more for tomorrow!), the last chunk of Italian bread bought on clearance and for free after SB gift card from Walmart last week, and a cup of yogurt from Aldi ($0.29 this past week).

    • I signed up as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. It was just a matter of giving them my contact information. Now I need to wait until they email me with the next steps. Oh wait, they just sent me an email asking me for some more information.  Now they will email me within 5 business days with the next steps. I was very honest in my email and explained that until I knew what it all entailed and whether my son was going to join in after-school activities from which he might need a ride, I could only commit to one shift a week, even though I knew the need was great.  We'll see what they say!

    • I started putting my August Food Expenses Recap post together. I'll wait until after 9/1 to publish it to make sure that I cover all the eating out/ordering in. I also need to consult our credit cards to see what Greg might have charged without giving me an actual receipt.

    • 2:13 p.m. It's started raining. Pretty strongly, but I doubt it will last, but it's something. I'm glad I had gotten some advance warning so I had brought my laundry back inside! 2:17 p.m. Well, it's over already! This is NOT going to replenish my rain barrel, lol.

    • I exercised for free at home with my recumbent bike.  I put on a L&O:CI episode from a DVD borrowed from the library.  

    • I brewed a new pitcher of herbal tea in my thrifted Takeya Flash Chill pitcher. Today I picked Dark Cherry Berry. I got the tea bags for free after coupons several years ago.

    • I reached my 2nd Daily Goal in Swagbucks thanks to two 15 SB offers in my inbox.  I decided to keep running nGage videos anyway.  The JunGroup ones made Chrome crash so I had to stop those :(

    • The library sent me an email to tell me that the next season of L&O:CI is waiting for me there.  I won't pick it up until I  return the one I'm currently watching since I can only keep them for 7 days.

    • OverDrive also notified me that I am finally able to borrow a book by Lisa Gardner that I put on hold a very long time ago.  So I'm going to need to find time to read (and not snack!) and I also have to watch 2.5 DVDs' worth of L&O:CI by Thursday. Yikes!

    • I reloaded "new" offers to MobiSave (same as last week's).

    • I received the $25 Walmart gift card from Swagbucks.

    • My son borrowed my bike to go to the library for his volunteer shift. I asked him to check the donation pile for any coupon inserts. However, when he got there, there weren't any books to shelf and there weren't any coupons either. So he came home. I'm glad it worked out that way because there's a storm approaching so this saved me a trip in the rain to pick him and my bike up!

    • I made more hummingbird nectar.

    • I had to empty out the countertop composting bin again so while I was in the garden I harvested what needed to be harvested: some jalapeños (small from the lack of rain!) and the 4 eggplants that were hanging on.  I'll have to bake them just for me, I suppose.

    • I was asked to participate in a CVS Pharmacy survey. Had I qualified, I would have received $15 in ECBs.I didn't qualify but they will send me a $ECB for my time anyway. Woohoo!
    • Despite the website telling me that I didn't qualify for the offer when I tried ordering samples of Truvia Nectar, I received them today anyway!

    • It started raining at 6:35 p.m. again, free water for my plants. Update: and it's still raining at 8 p.m. so this is the real thing, finally!
    • My daughter went to visit her BFF this afternoon and they decided that for her 18th birthday, they want to have a Harry Potter movie marathon.  Since the BFF has all the movies, this won't cost a thing. And since the BFF has a medical condition that prevents her from eating most foods, I can't even provide snacks or drinks (my daughter said she doesn't want to eat too much in front of her friend). The BFF turns 18 the following week so this will be a joint celebration.  I'll make the Hershey cupcakes that my daughter has requested, though.

    • An awesome reader, Rosie, shared a My Coke Rewards code with me so I was able to earn another 3 MCR points!  Thanks so much, Rosie!


    • I had enough leftovers after dinner to pack a lunch for Greg tomorrow and there'll be a small portion of broccoli and chicken for a lunch another day too.

    • Upromise sent me a statement. I kept on meaning to cash the account in but would always forget.  The money that's in there is actually from SavingStar.  Earlier this year I had transferred the money from SavingStar to Upromise because the companies are sisters and Upromise allows you to get a check whereas SavingStar doesn't (or didn't, I'm not sure nowadays, I need to check). The money took a few weeks to be transferred and then I forgot about it! But tonight I completed the request. I should get a little over $51.  Since it was money that I already deducted from my grocery totals I'm going to just deposit the check into our checking account.

    • After dinner I was going to watch another episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent but Greg was sighing about it because he doesn't like those shows.  So I decided to put in the episode of "Community" that was filmed as a Law & Order episode only. We own Community on DVD so it was just a matter of locating the episode (Season 3, episode 17).  We laughed a lot. And then we watched another episode because we really love "Community" :)

    SPLURGES
    • Gas for my daughter to drive back to the high school to turn in her senior dues. When she went there last week the person who was supposed to collect them wasn't there and she wasn't able to leave them with someone else, apparently.

    FAILURES
    • I completed a Swagbucks survey for 80 SB this morning but it never was credited to my account. I emailed Customer Service and then closed down JunGroup and nGage videos because something was making Chrome use up a ton of memory and my laptop was laboring, the bottom of it getting very hot and I was afraid it would crash. Chrome did crash, actually, again.  If they credit me for the 80 SB, I'll have met (or be close to meeting) my first daily goal. If not, I'll have to run nGage and JunGroup again this afternoon.

    • I'm very irked at L'Occitane.  They sent me a "by invitation only" email this morning with the promise of rewards. Those end up being promotional codes to get free items when I buy something.  Their stuff is so overpriced, but that's not even what's irking me: the offer I selected stated "get this FREE with ANY purchase" with an asterisk. So of course the fine print is alllll the way at the bottom of the page, in tiny letters, and spells out a bunch of exclusions. That hardly constitutes "any", right?  Similarly, the top of their website promises free shipping with ANY purchase.  Well, again, you find out later on that you need to by $49+ worth of merchandise to receive the free shipping.  I'm halfway minded to alert the Florida Department of Consumer Affairs about this.  Then, I find a bar of soap (an expensive bar of soap!) to order for one of my sons' girlfriends for Christmas. I decide to order it because even though it's $7.00, shipping is only going to be $4.95 and I'll get a 3-piece gift set for free with the promotion email, free gift wrap supplies, and a couple of free samples.  Only the promotional code won't work even though the item that I have picked meets all the requirements.  Arrgh. So I emailed their Customer Service and told them that I was mad even before placing my first order with them and that I felt that theirs was a bait and switch operation. So I doubt that I will be winning that trip to Provence any time soon.

    • I'm so mad at Greg, I can't even find anything positive to say about this.  He went and got a haircut at SportsClip in Columbus on Saturday.  He paid $22 plus tip (so probably $25+ total).  He came home on Sunday morning. I had been nagging him for a long time to get his haircut. He wasn't getting it up because he was being "frugal".  We have:
      • a prepaid card from Great Clips that allows us to get haircuts for $9.99. Since it's prepaid, the only thing we need to pay OOP these days is the $2 tip.
      • a coupon for getting said Great Clips haircut for just $7.99.  That's what I would have used had he waited, as the prepaid card doesn't expire but the coupons aren't all that common.
      • a coupon for a FREE SportsClip haircut in Clermont, had he insisted on going to SportsClip.

    • I had to compost 4 more small potatoes that had started to rot. 

    CHORES
    • Made my bed
    • Unloaded the dishwasher
    • Did the dishes
    • Cooked Greg's breakfast
    • Packed his lunch
    • Made Greg's bed
    • Collected the trash throughout the house
    • Did a load of laundry
    • Cooked chicken for dinner
    • Hung the laundry
    • Processed the pineapples
    • Dehydrated some pineapple
    • Started new zombie pineapples
    • Made hummingbird nectar
    • Brought the laundry and roaster oven indoors
    • Put together the August Food Expenses post
    • Exercised
    • Brewed some more tea
    • Took down most of the dry laundry
    • I sorted the coupons that I clipped yesterday and put them away in my coupon organizer
    • Sprayed oven with cleaner
    • Cooked dinner
    • Emptied composting bin
    • Harvested garden
    • Organized the dishes for tomorrow morning
    • Put leftovers away
    • Cleaned the oven
    • Requested a check from Upromise

    HEALTH
    • I used my recumbent bike for 1 hour (11.08 miles).

    • I logged my food and exercise into My Fitness Pal.  

    GRATITUDE
    • That my mom made it first to Paris (where she had breakfast with the youngest of my brothers) and then to Marseille (where she met the oldest of my brothers and his GF) without any difficulties.
    • That my daughter is not making a huge deal about her birthday!  She arranged to have a movie marathon with her best friend (at the friend's house, on top of that!) and asked me for either Hershey cupcakes OR crêpes.  I'll probably make both.
    • That we finally got a measurable amount of rain tonight!

    COOL STUFF
    I don't have any nature pictures to show you today so I'm going to show you something that I saw thanks to Bing Rewards this morning; It might be old news to those of you on Pinterest  (I haven't been on Pinterest since a few years ago when they started allowing sponsored pins), but people now make fancy bread like those Christmas cookies with characters already embedded in the dough.  My daughter loves Tortoro so I was tickled pink to see this one specifically.  I wish I had the gumption to try and make this for her birthday but I know that I would fail miserably because I just don't have the patience.


    Oh and I lied: I took a picture of those Roma tomatoes that have started growing this week, completely out of the blue!


    Is anything growing in your garden?