Friday, August 26, 2016

Bloggers and Readers Inspire Me ~ Friday 8/26/16

I'm sick of the weather being muggy!  I want to go back to spending the mornings on my patio with the birdies and take lots of pictures of them!  Arrgh.

My daughter and I were chatting in the entry room/breezeway yesterday afternoon when she mentioned to me that there was a hummingbird at the feeders so we were able to observe it from behind the windows for a little while. I was so happy!  I hadn't seen a bird at the feeders in quite a while since I'm never outside anymore, and when I walk down the breezeway (many times a day!) and look outside, there's never anything going on :(

So that made me itch to go back outside and observe nature and I proposed to my daughter that we go hike at Lake Louisa Park this weekend. She agreed so we'll see if we go... we still have that tropical wave that's supposed to hit Florida over the weekend so it could be quite wet.

And, oh crap, I just checked the National Hurricane Center and it looks like it could be headed straight for the Louisiana/Mississippi area.  Those poor Baton Rouge people don't need anymore rain!

Greg is meeting with his sister tonight so they can coordinate what is going to happen over the next month. She's not on bedrest so he needs her to accompany the parents to all the doctor appointments as he said they are exhausted and confused and when they recap the visits, they only get about 60% of what was actually discussed correctly.  The primary care doctor referred his dad to a Wound Specialist because of his bedsores and now it seems that he has developed trench foot too!  The socks that Greg bought for him actually seem to have made things worse as his legs are swollen and leaking and so he shouldn't be wearing any socks at all. Greg had to get their space heater and place it near his dad since he's freezing most of the time. They already don't have the AC on. I don't know how his mom is going to be able to stand the temperature.  The bad news, IMO, is that the earliest the Wound Specialist can see Greg's dad is in 2 weeks!    Greg said he would definitely go back to help his parents at the end so it sounds like he'll be home for a couple of weeks, go on his Canada business trip, go back to his parents' to be there for the scan in a month and then possibly stay there a while if it looks like his dad is taking a turn for the worse.  His sister will probably give birth in the middle of all that.  Goodness.

So on a lighter note, I joked that it was time for him to come home so he could mow the grass otherwise squatters would move in the next time I left the house.  My friend with whom I had lunch yesterday was telling me that she and another real estate agent were teaming up to convince a lady to sell her house in Fruitland Park.  The house is unoccupied. It belonged to the lady's mother who passed away in the house but wasn't found for a whole week (that's sad. I suspect that it would take my kids several months to find me if that happens to me and Greg isn't with us anymore, based on how often they communicate with me these days and projecting that it'll be the same with the younger two!). Anyhoo, the lady feels a lot of guilt over the circumstances of her mother's death so she's having a very hard time letting go of the house (she thought she'd have to disclose that someone died in the house) and yet she doesn't want to keep the house. So my friend and her colleague have been talking to her about it. The colleague drove by the house recently and noticed that someone was living in it.  So she and my friend went over and the girl who answered the door told them that she was taking possession of the house via this unfair but legal process that states that if you think a house is abandoned, you can claim it as your own ("Adverse Possession").  So they contacted the owner, who was out of state and didn't have a clue, and they called the police and luckily the police was able to get the girl out of the home by explaining that it was a 6-step process and that she had only completed the 1st step (so hopefully they will sell the house right away because you know that the scam artist is going through the other steps right now, probably!).  Isn't that nuts?!  So I was joking with Greg that the grass was getting so long (it's not!) that squatters would be moving in soon.  Seriously, though, if he wasn't coming back this weekend, I'd have to mow it and I wasn't looking forward to it. The self-propelling mechanism is completely dead now but Greg refuses to buy a new mower. I love his frugality, but it makes things harder for me when he's gone and I can barely maneuver the thing.  

On to my To Do List, since I don't have anything exciting planned for today. Well, watch my Law & Order: Criminal Intent DVDs, woohoo!

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 bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders -Done
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter exercise room (including storage bench) - in progress
    • Declutter coffee table
    • Spray bleach in shower stall -Done
    • Dust fan in exercise room
    • Clean the fridge
    • Sweep laundry room
    • Sweep front porch
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Dehydrate pineapples 
    • Bake a batch of Grape Nuts (Saturday)
    • Make Chicken Tetrazzini with chicken meat from fridge (Saturday)
  • 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
    • Check on the seedlings and water as needed 
    • Add water to pepper bins
    • Refill green bird feeder
    • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
    • 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
    • Vacuum AC vent in kitchen
    • 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)
  • 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
    • Look at sample ballot and research local candidates - in progress
    • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
    • Shred the shredding pile -Done
    • Prep August Food Expenses post
    • Sort new coupons

  • Brewed a pot of free coffee from Wawa.

  • My son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • He took the school bus.

  • My daughter will be packing a lunch as well. She has a long day with a lab today and somehow the college didn't schedule a break between the chemistry class and the chemistry lab, both scheduled from 9 to 3:30 p.m. So the teacher is going to have to request that the lab be moved back for 30 minutes, which makes her day longer, but they have to eat!  On a side note, I'm a bad mother because I don't even know what classes she's taking and I had completely forgotten that she was taking 2 classes online on top of her 2 classes at the actual state college. So she's much busier than I had assumed she was and she told me that she didn't think we might be able to do the outings we had discussed doing on Mondays when she doesn't have actual classes, because she has so much classwork to do.  Well, poop. She got me all excited for nothing!

  • After several tries, I was able to complete a 80 SB survey this morning, which allowed me to have enough Swagbucks to order a $25 Walmart gift card. Woohoo!  My 1st Daily Goal is 122 SB and I'm up to 108 SB at 8:30 a.m., helped by the 50 Swag-Up award that credited when I ordered the gift card. So I should be free to do chores after I reach my 1st goal, sigh.

  • SavingStar credited my account with the 50 cents for the Annie's cereal that I bought on Wednesday (still no news from Ibotta, though) and also credited me with the full price purchase of 2 bottles of Kens' dressing toward the "Buy $12 worth of Ken's and get $3 back!" award. I wish I had known this on Wednesday when it was still on BOGO so I would have asked my daughter to buy another 2 bottles to get the $3!  Oh well.

  • Greg is going to be bringing the socks that he had bought for his dad back home since he can't wear them after all.  Not a freebie and he ended up spending $35 on them (aaaargh!) but at least he'll get to use them, I guess. His sock drawer is already so full!

  • I dried the potatoes that I had rinsed and left to drain yesterday morning (was it?  or the day before?!) and found about 5 or 6 of them about to go bad. So I need to cook them. I might make hash browns for my son's breakfast tomorrow, I think that'll be the quickest way of using them up.

  • I told Susan in reply to a comment yesterday that maybe I'd just go to Publix next week so I save time and I'm not tempted to buy any meat on clearance/sale... however, I just checked the CVS weekly ad for next week and there'll be quite a few freebies to be had plus I have a gift card, and then I have the Walmart gift cards from Swagbucks... so I'm going shopping at usual, Susan. You were right, I have learned nothing from this week's trip :) I shall try to avoid the meat section, though.

  • So right after I complained about Walgreens in my "Failures" section, I noticed something new about their ad that I like a lot: they've stopped including the Register Rewards in the final price for a product! I like that because I think it's always been very misleading to advertise something as "free" when in fact you're just issued a coupon to use on another purchase.  Well, much like some of the CVS "freebies" that I'm about to post in my "Daily Freebies" post tonight, lol.  The difference, for ME, is that anything food-related that I buy at CVS is indeed free to me since I use a CVS gift card earned via one of my credit cards rewards programs (so those are money makers for me) and that any ECBs earned on anything else (beauty, health...) get used to get more grocery freebies. But I wish CVS did what Walgreens just instituted in their app, I think it's much more honest. Plus some people won't use the Register Rewards anyway.

  • I was going to exercise at 11:15 a.m., had my exercise clothes on and everything and then...  I got inspired.  The best thing about bloggers and blog readers is that many times they can be very inspiring. So this morning, I drew my inspiration from Susan at Retirement Fun(ds) (who is decluttering and reorganizing her craft room this week and told me to rest since I had done some cleaning - what can I say? I'm contrary!) and Live & Learn from Live & Learn - Toss & Turn (who is decluttering her whole house because they're in the process of buying a new home and downsizing somewhat) and I decluttered and reorganized stuff for close to 3 hours!  
    • In the end, it didn't feel like I had done much of anything during those 3 hours, but I was indeed able to let go of those old candles that I will probably never melt down to make new candles, which freed a couple of shelves which are now housing the DVDs that were spread throughout the living room. 
    • In the exercise room, I consolidated shelves, which freed up 2 of them that now house all the extra boxes of cereal that had been in bags on the floor for a long time. I reorganized the corner that holds the school supplies a bit (I can't purge it yet since I still have kids in school!), did all the shredding that needed to be done.
    • I moved a filing cabinet to the space where the cereal had been. In its place (next to New Kitty's litter box), I put the bucket that holds the pooper scooper and also the small brush and pan to clean up all that litter that she kicks out all the time.
    • I had emptied the file cabinet this summer so now it houses some odds and ends that I'm not ready to get rid of yet, but that had been sitting on overcrowded shelves or on the printer stand.
    • I decluttered the printer stand. A few things were moved to other rooms but most of it was thrown away. 
    • I also started a new donation box and it's already full.
    • I vacuumed the room while I was at it.  There are still several shelves that need to be decluttered but it's progress!
  • So I had lunch at about 2 p.m.  There were leftovers and I was too tired to make a sandwich so I had a leftovers.  Dang it, I still have to exercise!

  • Walgreens Photo is offering a new code for a free 8" x 10" reprint this weekend (FREESTUFF), so I went ahead and ordered a reprint of a wildflower picture that I had taken. I put those in black frames from the Dollar Tree and I'm decorating my bedroom with them, bit by bit. 

  • Whoa, what?!  I checked my Swagbucks total after entering a Swagcode this afternoon and I had shot past my 2nd Daily Goal!  How in the heck?!  Well, I had emailed Customer Service this morning to tell them that the survey that I had taken for 80 SB hadn't credited. But then 10 minutes later, the survey credited. So I emailed them back again and said "never mind!". But this afternoon they credited me with 80 SB anyway.  Well, alright, then!

  • I took a customer satisfaction survey regarding my oil change at Valvoline on Wednesday and they gave me a coupon for my next oil change.  I have a coupon worth more than double that one anyway, but I was happy to provide positive feedback on the personnel with whom I interacted.

  • I exercised for free at home with my recumbent bike.

  • I completed the daily Bing Rewards credits.

  • I brewed a new pitcher of herbal tea (Country Peach Passion today) with some Celestial tea bags that I had gotten for free a couple of years ago.

  • The used book that I ordered recently from a third-party Amazon for free with some of my rewards came in today. As usual, it's in much better shape than the description mentioned :)  As a bonus, I found a pamphlet entitled "Florida's Venomous Spiders & Snakes" in the middle of the book, probably left there by the previous owner. This whole "Florida's Fabulous" series was recommended by the Lake County Park Ranger who conducted the "Wildflowers & Butterflies" hike that I participated in earlier this month at P.E.A.R. Park.  I plan on buying all of them, little by little. This one is particularly interesting to me as it has many close-up pictures of each butterfly found in Florida, along with close-up pictures of the caterpillars and many other details.

It's going to be super useful to identify butterflies and their caterpillars!
  • For dinner I heated up the turkey chili from last night for my son and myself. My daughter went to spend the afternoon at her BFF's after class and they're going to attend the high school football game tonight. This leaves me with more turkey chili that I had hoped would have been finished tonight!  We also split the leftover salad from 2 nights ago.

  • None today.


  • All of the shorts or capris that still fit me have some kind of a problem: too ripped to be worn in public, zipper doesn't stay up, etc. I don't want to have to buy new or even new-to-me bottoms since I'm losing weight and I have an assortment of pants/capris/shorts in smaller sizes!  So it looks like I'm going to have to wear skirts for a while. I hate wearing skirts!  No pockets and my thighs rub against one another, which is very uncomfortable in humid weather when you run errands.  

  • Food Waste Friday: I'm trying to remember what I had to dispose off this week and I can't remember but it wasn't much: a couple of potatoes, that cantaloupe (ugh, still mad about that), a large piece of naan bread that had molded.  I think that might have been it?! I should go back to documenting it in its own post and add to it as it occurs.  That really helped me when I was doing that the first year.

  • Arrgh, this is really MY failure because I should have noticed, but I really dislike Walgreens despite my very friendly cashier and their frequent photo freebies: my $1.50 Register Reward from last week has already expired!  It expired on Wednesday and I had decided not to go to Walgreens since I hadn't seen anything in the ad that inspired me!  I thought I had another week to spend it since they're usually good for 2 weeks.  Darn it.  CVS gives you ONE MONTH to use the ECBs.  I'm so mad at myself.

  • I didn't see the "free fries with any purchase" offer in my McDonald's app. It was promised by McDonald's in their email from yesterday as happening "this" Friday. Well, for me that means today.  Not for them. Looking at the tiny print at the bottom of the email, it states: "*Free Med. Fries on Friday  w/any purchase valid 5/16/16 - 7/24/16 & 8/29/16 - 9/25/16.  McD App download and registration is required for participation. Valid only at participating U.S. McDonald's. Must be 13 years or older."  So maybe next week.

  • Made my bed
  • Replied to blog comments
  • Updated my calendar with details of Greg's trip to Canada
  • Worked on my shopping list for next week
  • Sprayed bleach in shower stall (for mildew)
  • Reorganized DVDs in living room
  • Decluttered exercise room
  • Vacuumed exercise room carpet
  • Decluttered printer stand
  • Did the shredding
  • Started new donation box
  • Commented on blogs
  • Ordered a reprint from Walgreens
  • Took a customer satisfaction survey
  • Exercised!
  • Brewed a new pitcher of herbal tea
  • Decluttered some school paperwork
  • Did some more shredding
  • Heated up dinner 

  • I biked on my recumbent bike for 45 minutes (9.23 miles), and as of 5:30 p.m. My Fitness Pal is giving me a 250 calorie adjustment for walking over 6,000 steps. Maybe I shouldn't wear my phone while I'm biking, eh?  Lol.

  • I recorded my food intake and exercise into My Fitness Pal.  I was dreading having to do this, but it's been going pretty well, actually.  I usually do it while I'm on the bike so it's not like it's taking anymore time.
  • It looks like that tropical wave won't be hitting Central Florida directly. I want rain but I don't want bad storms, especially since Greg is flying in this weekend and I have to drive to the airport to pick him up.
  • The Swagbucks survey that I took was actually kind of interesting (food).
  • For the readers and bloggers who inspire me with their decluttering efforts (Bless, Susan, Live & Learn), saving prowesses at the grocery store (Alison!), who earn Swagbucks day in and day out (Alison and Mia), who are going through tough times but still find the strength to be grateful and positive (Bless, Dawn, Tara), who are wonderful moms (Dawn, Bless, Jess, Tara, among many others!) who are working AND going back to school (Laura), who find beauty all around them (Pixel Peeper and Live & Learn) and countless others whom I'm not mentioning here because my memory is a little foggy.  Thanks, ladies, for sharing your lives via your blogs and/or comments.


  1. You are a source of inspiration to many of us, too, Nathalie. Especially with all your free grocery purchases. :)

    I'm sorry to hear Greg's dad has developed additional complications. It does sound like Greg will have to go back again. This is such a stressful time for your family. Will your son be able to help with mowing the lawn?

    You did well with the decluttering! Wow!

    Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Bless.

      At this point Greg thinks that when he goes back, it might be the end. Who knows, though? His dad has managed to hang on longer than anyone expected. We're hoping that the scan next month will reveal that the tumors have shrunk. At the very least, he would like to be there to see his newest grandchild being born.

      Yes, my son could help with the lawn if needed but it's not like I'm unable to mow it, it's just that I really don't want to HAVE to do it, lol. He already volunteers during the week and has homework to do this weekend, whereas I really don't have an excuse beyond being lazy. But Greg is coming back tomorrow anyway and is rearing to mow it (he loves it!) so I won't disappoint him by doing it today (wink). I have more decluttering to do but now it comes down to getting rid of things that could come in handy at some point so I'm more reluctant to part with them. Still, trying to achieve a more streamlined look in the exercise room would create a more peaceful living environment so I need to work on it. Overall, I'm very pleased with the amount of stuff that I've been able to let go. I probably should do the kitchen next, I have way too many baking pans, etc. I'm addicted to kitchen supplies and yet I don't like cooking all that much. I don't dislike it, but I don't cook as much as I needed to back when we had all the kids at home so I really don't need that oversized enchilada pan, for instance. But it's hard to let go of kitchen stuff. I like having "tools" at my disposal and, in many instances, several iterations of them so if they're dirty or being used, I'm not stymied.

    2. Wow you got so much done today well done.

      Thank you for the kind words, you are very often an inspiration to me especially when it comes to saving money you have taught me so much.

      I'm so sorry to hear that Greg's dad is so poorly it must be so hard for the whole family to see him struggling so much. Its so annoying how long you have to wait for appointments isn't it. I hope they sort out his foot for him. Xx

  2. You have certainly been an inspiration to me Nathalie, as I have told you many times. More than that, you and the other ladies here have challenged me. I have tried new recipes and new ways of doing things. I am constantly impressed by how much can be achieved here. Nathalie, you will always be the Queen of obtaining free merchandise.

    What a long and newsy post today. You did so much decluttering yourself today. It really does feel good to let things go, as long as I can get it out of the house in a timely manner. Otherwise, I am tempted to fall in love with something again and remove it from the donations box. Ha.

    What an incredible story you told us of "Adverse Possession" That is some scary stuff.

    Congrats on winning another $25 gift card for buying groceries with. I also am in love with your idea of decorating your room with 8 x 10 nature photos that you took yourself, all in matching frames. What a cool idea! And you are buying up all the recommended books on Florida's flora and fauna with your rewards on Amazon. They look like they are wonderful books. You told us how impressed you were with the Park ranger who conducted that tour.

    It makes sense to me that Florida would produce a lot of tomatoes since YOU have such phenomenal good fortune growing them. They seem to grow on their own without much effort. I hope that your tomatoes don't fall prey to the white fly. That would be a shame.

    1. I hear your about "falling back in love" with items that you had meant to get rid of. I try not to look in the donation box once I put items in it so I'm not tempted. However, I can't seem to get rid of those candles! For one, it ticks me off that I didn't get to use up ALL of the candle. And two, I keep on thinking that those big glass jars with nice lids, once cleaned up, would be useful to store...something? Or I could fill them with chocolates and give them as Christmas presents or something... So I still haven't thrown them away. They're in the laundry room, on top of the washing machine. Maybe I'll do something with them this week, lol.

      The Adverse Possession situation is very scary indeed. As a matter of fact, there was another story about it in the news just yesterday morning as I was typing that story. The new one is happening in Orlando. I had to delete my paragraph about it because I was getting so angry, and I didn't want people to think that I was some kind of nutcase, lol. I get that homeless people need places to stay, but you shouldn't be able to claim a house that belongs to someone else just by moving in and declaring that the house is now yours, that is just wrong, no matter what your circumstances are.

      I hope you have a safe trip to Toronto tomorrow, Susan. I guess your husband won't let you do any of the driving, will he? How is his shoulder doing these days?

  3. Ha-ha. You know my husband. No. When the two of us are in the car together, he is the driver. That is just the way of things. His appointment with the orthopedic surgeon is one week from today. He apparently only has one tendon left holding the joint together. I hope they can do something for him quickly.

    I agree that those containers could easily be repurposed (love that they could be used as a little Christmas gift of sorts)

    1. Oh no, his shoulder sounds much worse than I had imagined. I hope there is a solution. It sounds like surgery and a long recovery might be in the cards then, eh?

      I always have so much trouble recycling containers that could be reused for something else. But this time, I went ahead and recycled them precisely because I know I have a problem with that. I have tons of containers so I didn't need to add more to my stockpile!

  4. I agree with the other comments - YOU are a great inspiration, too! I'm in awe of your decluttering/reorganizing for three hours. I need to do that again. A few years ago, I had read about a "40 bags in 40 days" challenge during lent, where people would declutter 40 bags/boxes/things. I didn't get to 40, but I donated quite a bit. I need to do that again! People would post photos of stuff they gave away/donated/ was quite interesting.

    1. I love that you donated a bunch of stuff! So many people just throw things away because they're too lazy or uncaring to see that others could benefit from their cast-offs, including the charities running the thrift stores! Now I say that as someone who ended up throwing away a couple of things on that day because I was too tired to walk them to the donation box on the other side of the house, and then today I realized that I actually needed them! But it was too late because the trash collection truck came yesterday morning. Arrgh!

      Good luck if you decide to declutter again! It can be daunting thinking about it, but once you start, it's very liberating.


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