Monday, October 31, 2016

Night Book: Halloween 2016 Edition



I completely forgot to do a Day Book today so I figured that since it's Halloween, I should do a Night Book!

Outside my window... it's dark since it's 9:30 p.m.  Everything is quiet, I don't think any trick or treaters walked down our street at all.

I am thinking... that I'm going to pick up my Kindle and read a little before falling asleep.

I am thankful for... not having to celebrate Halloween. I didn't grow up with it and only did it for the kids when they were little. And I did go all out and made sure we celebrated with loads of Halloween-related activities leading to the day, going Trick or Treating, handing out candy that had to include bloody eye-ball gumballs, gummy body parts and all that good stuff.  But now that the kids are grown (and my 14-year old lost interest years ago!), I have told everyone that I wasn't going to celebrate anymore and everyone is OK with it.  What a relief!

From the learning rooms... my daughter didn't have class today so she stayed at her dad's.  She is skipping class tomorrow to attend her Grand Floridian Resort training. Apparently they only provide it on Tuesdays so she talked to her college instructor about it. Youngest son is working on a school project that involves posterboard. I'm glad that I had some in stock!  I think he has a Future Business Leaders of America club meeting later on this week. Middle Son came to visit and shared that he will be moving in back with his dad when his lease ends at the end of December, at least for a semester, so he can save money.  He still hasn't decided if he will continue his studies past his 2-year degree. He has a photographer assistant gig on Wednesday in Volusia County for the New York-based photographer for whom he is a retouching intern.  By the way, that photographer has started paying him a little for his work. Only $10/hr but it's better than nothing. He said he was working about 10 hours a week for him right now.  He's talking about possibly going to spend a month in NYC next year at some point to see if he can make some contacts.

From the kitchen... I made Zuppa toscana and homemade rolls for dinner tonight. I also made Coriander Carrot soup for my lunch (and the rest of the week), Grape Nuts for Greg, and baked some Halloween-ish sugar cookies for my sons.

I am wearing... my PJs!

I am creating... a plan for new themes for my days... I realized today that I'm much more likely to get something accomplished, whether I feel like it or not, if I have declared that today was "X Day". For instance, I'm much more likely to clean and do housewife-like things on Mondays because for me Monday = Domestic Monday.  So I'm going to assign themes for each of the other days to see if it helps me weed through some projects that I really need to work on.  Stay tuned...

I am going... to read a library book on my Kindle as soon as I'm done typing this.  But first, I'll corral the kittens and take them upstairs to my their bedroom :)

I am reading... "Zero World" by Jason M. Hough

I am hoping... that I can get my son in to the dermatologist's office soon. Greg noticed that he has renewed acne on his back and he is right!

I am hearing... The Sorcerer's Apprentice playing on KUSC and the kittens charging through the living room, chasing one another...

Around the house... the kittens are busy chasing each other through my laundry baskets, on the bookshelves... trying to climb the drapes.  They're a little crazed right now.

One of my favorite things... the cat tunnel I bought the kittens and cats has been a source of much entertainment for them, and for us!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Greg is working from home tomorrow. I want to try to work in the garden some and I might do some grocery shopping too we'll see.  Errands on Wednesday. Nothing else planned on my calendar for the rest of the week so we'll see what happens.

Here is the picture I am sharing... I didn't decorate for Halloween but Nature did its own thing!



This Week's Dinner Plans


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:  Zuppa Toscana and Homemade Rolls
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry: potatoes, red pepper flakes, condensed milk
  • From the fridge: turkey breakfast sausage roll, Better Than Bouillon, homemade bread dough
  • Need to harvest: kale
  • Need to make in advance:  bake rolls
  • Need to buy: nothing

TUESDAY:  Zucchini cakes, White Rice, Balsamic Pork Scaloppini
  • From the freezer: pork chops
  • From the pantry: vegetable oil, white rice, balsamic vinegar, diced pimentos
  • From the fridge: zucchini, eggs, homemade bread crumbs
  • Need to harvest: nothing 
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing

WEDNESDAY: Lentils with Smoked Sausage and Carrots
  • From the freezer: turkey smoked sausage
  • From the pantry:  EVOO, onion, lentils, salt, bay leaf, thyme
  • From the fridge: minced garlic, carrots, Better Than Bouillon Beef
  • Need to harvest: parsley
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing

THURSDAY: Green Chile Pork Stew with Roasted Acorn Squash and Corn Bread
  • From the freezer: pork loin roast, spinach, corn bread
  • From the pantry: can of white beans, diced green chiles, EVOO, ground cumin, acorn squash
  • From the fridge: carrots, 
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy:  nothing

FRIDAY: Tuna Patties, Salad
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry: cans of tuna, vegetable oil, bread crumbs
  • From the fridge: eggs, shredded cheese, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, black olives
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy:  cucumber

SATURDAY:  Southwestern Chicken Stew, Homemade Bread
  • From the freezer: chicken breasts
  • From the pantry:  can of corn, 2 cans black beans
  • From the fridge: homemade bread dough
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  bake rolls, **crockpot recipe**
  • Need to buy:  salsa

SUNDAY: Cheeseburgers and Roasted Potatoes
  • From the freezer: ground beef
  • From the pantry:  hamburger buns, potatoes, vegetable oil
  • From the fridge: cheese slices, condiments
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  peel and cut potatoes
  • Need to buy: nothing

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Back to Weeky Updates for Now!


I'm in a little bit of  "I don't feel like doing much" phase these days so I'm going to switch to the weekly update format that will be published on Saturday evenings. It'll give me some more time to work on my posts, figure out which pictures to include, and hopefully allow me to weed some of the stuff that probably doesn't need to appear every day. I don't know... I've been re-reading some old weekly updates and, even though the posts were long, I also felt that they were a little more succinct?

So at least for this week I'll go back to the Weekly Recap format.  I'll still try to post the Day Book, Menu, Grocery Shopping, Food Waste Friday and maybe even go back to the daily Freebie post because that's a fun one for me (and I know Susan likes it too!).

I've noticed that quite a few other bloggers haven't been updating their blogs either lately, I keep refreshing Feedly without finding any new posts to read... so maybe I'm not the only one in the slump?

 Today I plan on reading my book and listening to quiet music.  I feel relaxed already :)  Have a great Sunday and rest of your week!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday at Home ~ 10/29/16

Credit: Pinterest via Google Images

The futon mattress had completely dried up by the time I wanted to go to sleep (I had saturated it with Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer) so I threw the comforter that had just dried outside on it, without even turning it over.  I took the kittens upstairs at 10  p.m., bid them goodnight, and then was able to relax with my book.  I'm really not into it so I read only one or two chapters before giving up and letting Morpheus take me away.

I woke up at 8 a.m. and got the kittens who were busy playing right away. Greg had talked about going fishing (I had told him I didn't want to go. I've been resting my feet for several days and I'm finally at the point where my heel doesn't hurt anymore) but he slept in and when he got up, he didn't feel like doing anything but read. So we spent the morning with the windows open and classical music playing, each of us reading our library books, with the kittens jumping around and sometimes taking naps on us. It was lovely.




He decided to go fishing after all and left after eating lunch. I did a lot of dishes and then went back to reading my book until 2:30 p.m.  The temperature is up to 80F in the living room but I don't care, it actually feel nice with a soft breeze blowing from time to time.  I finished my John Sandford book and it wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be.

I'm torn between wanting to be outside since the weather is gorgeous and wanting to remain indoors with my funny and cuddly kittens. I picked the kittens since, soon enough, they'll become full-grown cats who will ignore me and won't be as funny to observe.  Having the windows open is almost the same thing as being outdoors, right?!

I ended up staying indoors with 2 kittens taking a nap on me and got started on my other library book, "The Trespasser" by Tana French.  Greg got home without a fish but with a nice haircut and did some reading and kitten cuddling and nap supporting himself, while our son was cuddling with the older cats and playing video games. We all had a very relaxing day, which was very nice!



FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • Brewed a pot of half caf coffee with the free decaf won from Wawa (I think I'll finish it tomorrow so you won't have to be reading that again!)

  • My daughter went to her 2nd day of training at Walt Disney World today and is going to her dad's for a few days, from there. She won't be back until Tuesday and he'll be feeding her this weekend. He'll also refund me for the gas and tolls for her to get there.

  • Lunch was the leftover angel hair pasta from last night. I had left the  "empty" jar of marinara sauce upside down overnight so I dumped the rest of the content into the leftovers before heating them up. I also got 5 frozen meatballs from the freezer and heated them up too.  

  • I ran a very full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  I have another load that will need to be run tonight.

  • The pharmacy called to see if I needed any refills for my son's acne medication so I ordered 2 refills. I will pay the co-pays with our Health FSA card (the money was already set aside, tax free)

  • I finished reading my library book that's due on Tuesday. It ended up being better than I expected from the first couple of chapters, although it's far from being a favorite. It was also very predictable.
Tabby Kitty helped me read for a while

  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks. I qualified for a SB survey for 60 SB so I met my 1st Daily Goal.

  • Greg got a haircut at Great Clips (finally!) and paid with the prepaid card that allow us to spend only $9.99 per haircut (vs. $14 full price) and since the card was bought last year, it cost us anything out of pocket this year :)

  • I had an offer in my Swagbucks inbox for 30 SB on 11/11 if I printed 30 coupons through their link so I did.  There were only 18 coupons that semi-interested me, so I printed another 20 pet coupons that I'll pass on to the South Lake Animal League thrift store. If they get used, they'll earn me 10 SB per coupon so it's win-win!
  • My daughter was provided with a free pair of shoes for her job at Walt Disney World. I can't wait to see her costume when she gets it!


  • I received the latest issue of Kiplinger's Magazine (I have a free subscription).

  • Even though we picked up dinner from Burger King (a splurge), I made sure to order the 2 Whopper Meals for $10 and a chicken sandwich meal for our son. When the cashier announced the total was $23 and some change, I questioned her because it should have been just $17 and change plus tax.  So then she charged me $15 and change. But when I looked at my receipt, she had charged me for 2 Whopper Meals at full cost and there was no sign of the chicken sandwich meal.  She called the manager over who said they had already charged my credit card (USAA Visa for 10% back in Rewards) so she would just give me the chicken sandwich meal since they had already cooked it, and call it even.  So that's how I ended up saving about $2 and change.


  • Greg and I enjoyed more episodes of "That 70's Show" on Netflix after dinner.


SPLURGES
  • My daughter charged her cafeteria lunch to my credit card. I have already told her that, moving forward, she'll need to pack a lunch or pay for her own lunches as each time it's $9.00.

  • $2 for the tip to the hairdresser

  • Greg bought more fishing hooks and also ammunition for hunting season

  • Gas for Greg to go fishing(he didn't catch anything)

  • Dinner!  We went to pick up food from Burger King. 

FAILURES
  • The dinner splurge is actually a dinner failure since we've already spent a horrendous amount of money eating out this month.  Oh well!

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
  • Fed the kittens
  • Read a book
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom
  • Did a load of dishes
  • Defrosted meat for tonight and tomorrow
  • Refilled son's prescriptions
  • Earned reward points
  • Provided nap support for kitten
  • Read a book
  • Provided more nap support for kittens
  • Went to pick up dinner
  • Watched a show with Greg
  • Cleaned the kitten's litter boxes

HEALTH
  • Right now my foot doesn't hurt, my elbow doesn't hurt and my palm doesn't hurt either so I'm happy with that!
GRATITUDE
  • That I'm pain-free today
  • That I got to spend a very relaxing day at home with my family and kittens
  • That I didn't have to cook today, woohoo!

Friday, October 28, 2016

I've Got The Kitten Blues ~ Friday 10/28/16



I didn't have a great night at first, last night. I fell asleep easily enough but woke up whimpering at half past midnight: the center of left palm really hurt and the ibuprofen that I had taken didn't help at all.  I'm wondering if it might not be carpal tunnel after all.  I did have it in my right wrist back when I was pregnant with one of my older kids and had to have an injection that burned and hurt more than anything I had experienced so far.  Today's pain (it still hurts this morning) is only in the center of my palm and it's almost like a ghost pain: I can't tell if it's bone related, muscle related, tendon related... so I'm thinking nerve pain.  Anyhoo, when I woke up last night, I went to unearth whatever braces I had and I was very chagrined to realize that it was for my right wrist. I have another brace but I couldn't even figure out how to put that one on, either on the left or the right!

So in the end I tried to prop my wrist in a position so it wouldn't get folded under my chin as I slept, which I think created the problem.  And then I fell back asleep until my alarm rang so I guess that worked. But my palm is still hurting this morning, and somewhat more, too.

The kittens are very active and bite-y this morning, as in they're biting me.  Tabby Kitty is trying to get my attention by burying himself between my legs and "digging" until he's under my laptop and then comes out the side and chews on the corner of it.  He's cute and very annoying at the same time :)

I opened the windows again, and the older cats went to sniff the outdoors through the screens right away. I hope that I can keep them open for several hours again.

Plans for the day?  Well, I did absolutely nothing yesterday so I ought to try and be productive today.  Here is my revised To Do List for Friday:

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 new ones - in progress
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two) - I think I'm also going to add "and don't leave your literature either, I'll vote for the other party if you do!"
  • 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)
    • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
    • Declutter storage bench 
    • Declutter printer stand
    • Declutter gardening supplies chest
    • Defrost the freezer - scrapped off the top of the ice layer. Will need to defrost the whole thing.
    • Vacuum living room
    • Clean entry room front windows
    • Put up pictures on Art Room's walls
    • Fold the laundry - in progress
    • Put away the laundry
    • Iron
    • Mix a bottle of window cleaner for the kitchen
    • Sweep litter from upstairs  - Not needed
    • Clean all three kitten litter boxes - Done
    • Wash second big cat litterbox 
    • Do the dishes 
    • Put the futon cover back on
    • Turn futon mattress over again
    • Vacuum fridge's coils
    • Vacuum living room
    • Mix liquid hand soap  - Done
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Post menu for next week (Monday)
    • Defrost meat for tonight - not needed
    • Make roselle jelly
    • Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola bars
    • Make crepes for the kids' snacks
    • Make Halloween cookies for kids (Monster Brownies?)
    • Bake bread bowls for tonight or rolls - Done
  • Education
    • Start watching Photography lectures online (see email)
    • Read new dSLR Photography e-book
    • Write post about Colt Creek State Park visit
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
    • Go for a walk with my camera - little lake near Downtown Clermont
    • Return library e-books 
    • Read "Escape Clause" (due on Tuesday) - Started
    • Finish watching Season 14 of Law & Order - Done
  • Errands:
    • Go to Ace to get new broom handle for rubber broom and solar rechargeable batteries for the front yard solar lights -need to see which handle would fit.
    • Buy Greg a bike
    • Buy a litter box at Family Dollar - Remembered that I had bought a "big cat litterbox" at the thrift store and that I was keeping it for when they were bigger and I'm thinking that they might be big enough for it now...
    • Go get floss 
    • Go buy a left wrist splint
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Pull the raspberries and add roses in pots in their place
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden 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).
    • Turn the composting bin
    • Plant wildflower seeds
    • Plant seedlings outside
    • Measure diameter of feeder "tray" and get new bowl from thrift store
    • Water potted plants
    • Refill self-watering bins
    • Pull weeds from pots and bins
  • 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 
    • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards
    • Weigh myself (Wednesdays) 
  • Kittens/Cats
  • 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
    • Greg to call plumber
    • 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
    • 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
    • Strengthen BlueTooth transmitter's cord with electric tape (in SUV) 
  • 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 blog photos from September to my external drive 
    • 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 - in progress!
    • Scan what needs to be scanned (if anything)
    • Work on photo album for daughter's graduation
    • Reply to my French BFF's email
    • Start proceedings for deleting Yahoo Mail account
    • Replace music on my phone
    • Take RaceTrac surveys 
    • Update Net Worth document
    • Install Photoshop Elements 10 on son's PC
    • Recap October's groceries and eating out
    • Review 2016 goals and assess progress and what I ought to try to do before the end of the year
    • Turn on printer to print backlog of documents I sent to printer! - Done
    • Print Greg's paystub
    • Record it in tax spreadsheet
    • Transfer money to savings

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • Our son packed a lunch and rode the school bus.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.

  • I brewed a pot of half decaf coffee, using the free decaf won from Wawa.

  • Last night, I was reading a blog post that recommended a dSLR Photography e-book that was "free". When I checked on it, it wasn't free but deeply discounted at $2.99.  I had to use the "one click" button to buy it, which annoys me because it doesn't let me pick with card to use (it defaults to my Amazon Visa card) so it looked like I would be charged $2.99 and get 3% back in Rewards.  This morning, the Amazon invoice was in my inbox and I noticed that it ended up being free since they deducted the amount from the $10 in gift cards (from Bing Rewards) that I had sitting in my account.

  • My Coke Rewards announced a triple points promotion for Fanta green caps only on 10/31 only.  Here is the list of participating products.  I need to see if I have any Fanta green caps.

  • It was cool enough that I turned off the AC and left the windows open until 1 p.m.

  • I want to go buy a splint for my left wrist and remembered seeing an email from Walgreens about a Friends and Family 20% off coupon so I checked my inbox and sure enough, it's valid today only.  So I'll need to go run an errand today. We also need floss and I'll go to RaceTrac to get a freebie and make the trip count a little more. If I'm inspired, I'll look at the Publix deals for the week on IHeartPublix and see if I should stop by Publix.  I might also go to Save A Lot since the onions and grapes are on sale (I was mistaken, they're not part of the weekend sale so I could have stopped on Wednesday after all, grrr.)

  • A Slickdeals poster shared the upcoming 30% off code for Kohls (TURKEY30, valid starting on 11/9) so I made a note of it. I will use it in conjunction with the $10 in Kohl's cash that we received yesterday via mailer.  I need to start thinking about what I might want/need to buy so I'm not stressing at the last minute! Hopefully there'll be a free shipping code too.

  • It's naptime for the kittens after their first 2 hours of non-stop romping. The twins crawled on me but they're over 2 lbs each now so it's not as easy for them to sleep on me as it used to be. I just convinced Explorer to curl up on the pillow next to me instead and put Princess in the empty (gasp!  Tabby Kitty has elected to sleep on another pillow on the other futon!) cat tree basket.... but since I've started typing this bullet point, she's crawled back on my chest. I love it and I dread it too because now I'm stuck on the couch (she is so cute and she will protest loudly if I move, or move her, or speak, or make any noise other than type on my keyboard!).  Of course, I've been drinking my coffee so I have to pee now and there's also the matter of that To Do List that's waiting for me to slash through it!  Ah, my daughter saved me by texting me to ask if I could print something for her.  I tried to turn on the printer without waking up the cats but the wake-up noise of the printer was very intriguing to them, apparently, so now they're wide awake!  I was able to print, go to the bathroom, refill my coffee, grab my breakfast cereal... and sit back on the couch to watch "Law & Order" (library DVD). If I finish it, I can return it to the library today and pick up "Homeland"!

  • I asked my daughter to stop by Panera to get me the daily free bagel with her reward if she wasn't going to use it for herself and could find it in her heart to treat her little ol' mom again. And I did the puppy eyes too.  Hey, her reward ends in a couple of days and she'll be gone this weekend so I'm doing my part to make sure that reward was actually well-used!

  • I printed some Publix store coupons from the Best Meals at Home e-newsletter.

  • I went to take a shower upstairs while the 3 kittens had fallen asleep on the next futon after my daughter left for school. I always take very quick showers. I prefer to spend time taking baths instead. Despite the fact that I prefer soap to shower gel, I didn't want to waste the last of the bottle of Dial shower gel that I still had, so I've been using it with the soap sleeve that I had picked up from a soap maker at the Mount Dora Art Show a couple of years ago. It's falling apart now but I recently read a blog post where the blogger crochets (or knits?!) hers and sells them on Etsy. I wish I were crafty enough.  I did have on my list to learn how to knit this year and I noticed that the Cooper Memorial Library has a crochet/knitting group on Thursday afternoons.  I should stop by and ask if beginners can join.  Anyhoo, as I finished taking my shower, I noticed a purry kitten had sneaked into the bathroom and was watching me dry off.  Goodness, can't I get privacy anywhere in the house anymore?!  Then I walked into my bedroom to get dressed an another purry kitten was waiting for me on top of the clothes I had laid out, warming them up, I'm guessing :)  As I was ready to head downstairs, the third kitten was climbing up the stairs to rejoin his siblings, purring, as well.  We cuddled for a minute and then he did what the other two were doing at that moment: chewed on the broom that's sitting outside my bedroom.  Weirdos.

  • For lunch I had the leftover mashed potatoes from several days ago (I put a little bit of cheese on it), a couple of pieces of toast with blue cheese, and a cup of Pedialyte with a packet of FiberPlus (that last one?  Pretty gross but since I downed it right after eating the blue cheese toast I could barely taste anything!).  My lunch was pretty pathetic.

  • Ugh, I got sucked into reading a blog and have been feeling very lazy...  Eventually I felt guilty so I put the laundry basket on the couch so I wouldn't be able to ignore it anymore and decided to go brew myself a cup of instant coffee. Once in the kitchen, I decided to get the dough out of the fridge to make rolls for tonight's dinner (instead of bread bowls because, somehow, my dough ended up being very dry) and then to bake a Spiced Apple Cake with Orange Glaze to use up some of the apple butter that's been in my fridge too long.  I also used a stick of margarine instead of butter and reused the wrapper to grease my loaf pan.  I made buttermilk with some of the sour milk that we have in the fridge and some vinegar.
It doesn't look great but it tastes pretty good!
  • Then (see "failures"), I had to wash the comforter that's been on the futon for the past 2 days and a cushion. I used cold/cold and will be drying those outdoors.

  • My son had set aside an empty jug of cat litter for me so I added it to the line of empty cat litter jugs waiting for some rain to refill my rain barrel...
 


  • I mixed a bottle of liquid hand soap with ingredients that I had on hand.  I put some jasmine essential oil in it. It doesn't smell like jasmine, really, but it's a good way for me to use up all those essential oils that I had bought a few years back when I thought I'd be making a lot of my own products.  I've been disappointed in their performance for the most part so as soon as I use up the supplies, I'll be going back to a commercial product.


  • I filtered a pitcher of tap water with our Brita filter. It will be used for the cats. I used some to make the liquid hand soap too instead of distilled water.

  • My daughter brought me a free asiago cheese bagel from Panera :)

  • Time to practice the "positive thoughts" tactique that I posted yesterday because not only did a kitten pee on the couch again, but Greg texted me at the same time that he has to go back to Vancouver in November.  I hate it when he's gone.  However, it will be a week when we can have breakfast for dinner every night if we want to, and he will be fed for free.

  • Redbox emailed me 2 codes for a free movie rental that expire on 10/30. I offered them to my daughter but she's not sure if there's anything she wants to see tonight (she'll be at her dad's tomorrow).  I find myself not wanting to sit through a whole movie anymore so they'll probably go unused.

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

  • I watched a couple of shows on Netflix while cuddling with the kittens once they were out of time-out.

  • For dinner, I cooked a box of angel hair pasta and meatballs and I served it with my homemade rolls.

  • I ended up not running my errands today so no money was spent.

  • Greg and I watched several episodes of "That 70s Show" on Netflix after dinner.

SPLURGES
  • Nothing

FAILURES
  • I went to bake while the kittens were asleep.  There IS a clean litter box in the living room. They KNOW where it is. When I got back, I could tell someone had peed somewhere they weren't supposed to and, once again, there was a puddle of kitten pee where I sit and on the cushion that I put behind my lower back.  A few observations:
    1. We need a couch cam so I can catch whichever kitten is doing this. Right now I don't know who to be mad at and it's disconcerting.
    2. Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer doesn't seem to work as a deterrent.
    3. As much as I love the kittens, I'm truly annoyed at the behavior.  It can't be a urinary problem since it's very intermittent and only happens when I'm not in the room. They're with me most of the time.  I make sure there are litter boxes everywhere and they are kept clean.  I physically put the kittens in the litter box when I see that they're playing rough but I haven't seen them use the litter box in a while.  I shouldn't have to potty train a cat at 2 months of age!  Since he/she has peed in that particular spot on repeated occasions, I'm really afraid that he/she won't stop now unless I ban them from the room. We don't have doors (and no way to install one because of the arched plaster walls that we have in the living room) so it's not going to be easy. I pretty much involves me being tough and chasing any cat out of the living room as soon as I see them here.  It wasn't easy doing it one cat at a time with the older ones, it's going to be hell doing it with 3 of them when they're so cute and loving. I honestly don't think I'm going to be able to do it.
    4. As soon as I finished typing this, I spotted 2 kittens on the bookshelf, climbing the books.  And then under the TV stand, chewing on a cable.  Let's say that in 30 short seconds they have heard the sound of my voice yelling "OUT!" several times.  Tabby Kitty went to hide and was looking at me so reproachfully that I started to cry.  I feel like a terrible per owner. I need a cat whisperer.  I can't reach my tissues because the damn kittens knocked the box off the shelf were it was and it's stuck behind the printer stand.  Arrgh.
    5. I took them to the Cat Room, where there are other distractions and told them to stay there. I guess I'll need to just keep on doing that.  They're going to drive my son batty when he tries to do his homework, but then maybe he'll decide to clean up the desk in his room and do his homework there instead of on the couch in the Cat Room :)
    6. Princess came back 4 times, purring and wanting to cuddle and each time I took her back to the Cat Room. It broke my heart. But I don't know that she's not the one who peed, darn it.  Arrrgh.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
  • Fed kittens
  • Packed Greg's lunch (he made a PBJ for breakfast)
  • Printed documents
  • Printed coupons
  • Typed an "errands" list for today on my phone so I can organize them in an order that makes sense and maximizes my mileage
  • Finished watching Law & Order DVD
  • Replied to an email from my younger brother
  • Cleaned out the upstairs litterbox
  • Read some blogs
  • Gave Male Cat and Mean Kitty their supplement
  • Filtered water for the cats
  • Mixed a batch of liquid hand soap
  • Baked a cake and rolls
  • Did a load of laundry (grrr)
  • Disciplined the kittens
  • Texted my son to warn him the kittens were grounded in the Cat Room
  • Updated my calendar with Greg's travel information
  • Sent an email to the high school principal, requested an excused absence for the 2 storm make-up days that my son will have to miss to attend his grandfather's funeral service
  • Earned reward points
  • Cuddled with kittens
  • Cooked dinner

HEALTH
  • I think I might have a touch of carpal tunnel problem in my left wrist/hand. I was planning on getting a wrist splint today but ended up not running errands. My wrist felt better in the afternoon and as of 8:45 p.m., doesn't hurt... Must be because I really didn't do much at all today!
GRATITUDE
  • For the free bagel my lovely daughter brought me back from Panera

CATS & KITTENS


This morning Tabby Kitty decided to tunnel under my laptop... while it was on my lap! (yep, it's pretty dirty)

He likes chewing on the corner of it like an evil little troll!

Later on, the twins, taking a nap on me

Yet later on, the three kittens taking a nap on the other futon

Male Cat enjoying his joint supplement

After grounding the kittens for a couple of hours and banishing them to the Cat Room, I  went to get them back so we could cuddle :)

My new vantage point from the futon that wasn't peed on.

The little beasts, enjoying mad climbing adventures on the tall cat tower.

Princess was enjoying sniffing out the open window this morning...

... When a breeze started blowing

And it really freaked her out! LOL
 I hope your Friday was more productive and enjoyable than mine!

Food Waste Friday!


I have been very complacent in many area this year, and one of them is my food waste.  This is ridiculous, posting about my food waste is one of the ways that I learned to be more frugal as I started blogging!  So I'm going back to it. I'm hoping that I won't have anything to blog about, but I do know that I will this week, a result of having been lazy with my cooking recently. I can't promise that I'll always have pictures, but who wants to see moldy strawberries anyway?!


  • 1.5 container of Driscoll's strawberries.  Arrgh. They looked fine when I bought them but I realized when I got home that they were much too soft to be fine. However, instead of trying to preserve them by freezing or drying them, or even instead of trying to use them all up by making a strawberry summer cake or scones, inertia happened and I just watched them get softer and then moldy and then moldier... without doing anything about it. OK I'm lying as I actually had 4 containers so I used up 2.5 containers.  But not using them all up was a huge frugal failure :( I did compost them, though.

  • I cleaned the fridge on Monday and found a chunk of tomato basil flavored hard cheese from Aldi that I had bought this summer. Oh course, it had spoiled. It went into the trash.

  • On Tuesday I composted 1/2 a cucumber that had gone bad in the fridge, and I dropped an egg on the ground by accident. Ugh.

  • On Wednesday I had to compost a navel orange that had been in the fruit bowl way too long, and 3 tomatoes on the vine that looked OK on the outside, but that had indeed rotted.  Arrgh.

  • On Thursday, I composted a whole cucumber and 3/4 of another because they had gotten very soft in the fridge (I cleaned the fridge on Monday but not the veggie shelf so I've been finding new things to compost all week).








    • I used up a bag of spinach that had been in my fridge for 2 weeks, in Monday night's dinner recipe.

    • On Thursday night, I was able to rescue 1/4 of a cucumber and slice it into a salad.

    I'd love to hear how YOU did this week! Feel free to post links back to your own Food Waste Friday posts in the comments.


    This post was inspired by Kristen at The Frugal Girlwho started blogging about her food waste back in 2008.

    Thursday, October 27, 2016

    The Terrible Twos ~ Thursday 10/27/16

    Source: Pinterest via Google Images

    The Terrible Twos are here... the Terrible Two Months, that is.

    I'd had enough of the kittens last night: after the peeing incident, they were chewing on everything again and I found Tabby Kitty chewing enthusiastically on the radio antenna cable of my stereo system (he chewed through half of it).  Yelling and clapping and removing them doesn't help!  They're not scared of me (and I'm dreading that one day they will be because they're my babies!), and removing them just results in them coming back and doing the same thing right away.  Oh and at dinnertime, they were all trying to eat the older cats' food too. Same thing, removing them. and they'd come back right away.  It's exhausting. I don't recall that we ever had those problems with the older cats but we only had one kitten-aged cat at a time so that's probably why. In our case, I think they egg each other on.  So I'm going to have to be tougher.  Common sense would dictate to get a water-spraying bottle (and I have one) but I can't spray when they're near electronics, which is almost all the time. Also, I'm afraid that scaring them might result in them randomly peeing.


    Oh, and they leap now, from piece of furniture to piece of furniture.  Explorer was dangerously close to leaping onto my bookshelf that's near Greg's recliner, last night, the one that houses the few precious-to-me knick knacks: the cups from my grandmother, the Limoges pot that my great aunt passed down to me last year, Greg's old books... some things I can relocate or store until they calm down, others (books!) that will have to remain. Again, I cannot spray water towards the books!

    Plus, we have tile and wooden floors throughout the house so spraying water could lead to someone slipping and falling.  So I'm going to have to find another solution.

    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 new ones - in progress
      • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two) - I think I'm also going to add "and don't leave your literature either, I'll vote for the other party if you do!"
    • 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)
      • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
      • Declutter storage bench 
      • Declutter printer stand
      • Declutter gardening supplies chest
      • Defrost the freezer - scrapped off the top of the ice layer. Will need to defrost the whole thing.
      • Vacuum living room
      • Clean entry room front windows
      • Put up pictures on Art Room's walls
      • Fold the laundry
      • Put away the laundry
      • Iron
      • Mix a bottle of window cleaner for the kitchen
      • Sweep litter from upstairs - not needed today
      • Clean all three kitten litter boxes - cleaned the upstairs litter box as of right now (I'll clean the other two after we're done watching our show)
      • Wash big cat litterboxes -washed one of them today
      • Do the dishes 
      • Put the futon cover back on
    • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
      • Post menu for next week (Monday)
      • Defrost meat for tonight - Done
      • Bake rolls
      • Make roselle jelly
      • Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola bars
      • Make crepes for the kids' snacks
      • Make Halloween cookies for kids (Monster Brownies?)
      • Marinade chicken for tonight - Done
    • Education
      • Start watching Photography lectures online (see email)
      • Write post about Colt Creek State Park visit
    • Entertainment
      • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
      • Go for a walk with my camera - little lake near Downtown Clermont
      • Finish reading my library book (Mind Prey) - Done
      • Read "Escape Clause" (due on Tuesday) - Started
      • Finish watching Season 14 of Law & Order
    • Errands:
      • Go to Ace to get new broom handle for rubber broom and solar rechargeable batteries for the front yard solar lights -need to see which handle would fit.
      • Buy Greg a bike
      • Buy a litter box at Family Dollar - Remembered that I had bought a "big cat litterbox" at the thrift store and that I was keeping it for when they were bigger and I'm thinking that they might be big enough for it now...
      • Go get floss 
    • Gardening/outdoors:
      • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
      • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
      • Pull the raspberries and add roses in pots in their place
      • Add mulch to the vegetable garden 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).
      • Turn the composting bin
      • Plant wildflower seeds
      • Plant seedlings outside
      • Measure diameter of feeder "tray" and get new bowl from thrift store
      • Water potted plants
      • Refill self-watering bins
      • Pull weeds from pots and bins
    • 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 
      • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards
      • Weigh myself (Wednesdays) 
    • Kittens/Cats
    • 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
      • Greg to call plumber
      • 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
      • 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
      • Strengthen BlueTooth transmitter's cord with electric tape (in SUV) 
      • Put together four-tier shelf - Done
    • 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 blog photos from September to my external drive 
      • 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 - in progress!
      • Scan what needs to be scanned (if anything)
      • Work on photo album for daughter's graduation
      • Reply to my French BFF's email
      • Start proceedings for deleting Yahoo Mail account
      • Replace music on my phone
      • Take RaceTrac surveys 
      • Update Net Worth document
      • Install Photoshop Elements 10 on son's PC
      • Track groceries in spreadsheet - Done
      • Post this week's shopping trip details - Done
      • Recap October's groceries and eating out
      • Input receipts in spreadsheets - Done

    FRUGAL SUCCESSES
    • Our son packed a lunch and rode the school bus.

    • I brewed a pot of half decaf coffee using the free decaf that I had won from Wawa.

    • I aired out the house and turned off the AC. It is 66F at 7:45 a.m. and our high is supposed to be 83F, much like yesterday.  Update: I was able to leave the windows open until 12:30 p.m. but by then it was 77F in the house, which is slightly too warm for us. We're wimps!

    • After telling me he was definitely going to the office today (and my prepping his breakfast so all I would have to do was cooking it), Greg decided to work from home today. I have mixed feelings about it, as usual: he saves us about $20 in gas and tolls and I get to have him at home at all. Those are pluses.  But he usually has about 4-5 conference calls a day, so I have to turn off the music or the TV if they are on (I usually am listening to classical music or jazz) and he speaks very loudly so using earphones doesn't work.  Also I'm never as productive when he works from home than when I'm alone.  No matter, for today all I had planned to do was sit with my new library book. Maybe I'll go sit on the patio and let him deal with the kittens. Oops, too late, one just settled herself on my chest.  So much for that, lol!


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

    • I was selected to participate in an at-home product test via Swagbucks and if all goes well, I think I should get 700 SB. I said "I think" because I forgot to take a screenshot of the offer!  In the meantime, qualifying for the test earned me 75 SB, which allowed me to meet my first daily goal.  Then I took a couple of double point Peanut Lab surveys which carried me beyond my 2nd daily goal, woohoo!
    • I uploaded a 30% off CVS store coupon to my ExtraCare card.

    • I downloaded and printed a short Betty Crocker cookbook that they had emailed me.  I actually liked every recipes in it.  Sigh, more recipes to file.

    • Greg and I had leftovers for lunch.

    • The first season of "Homeland" is waiting for me at the library. Since I haven't finished the 14th season of Law & Order yet and I have to read the latest John Sandford book by Monday (and I'm having a hard time liking it so far...), I'll wait a few days before checking out "Homeland".

    • I was able to order a free 8 x 10 reprint with store pick-up from Walgreens with code MYSTERY (exp 10/29) thanks to a Slickdeals poster!  I picked the Fake-Viagra-Commercial photo of Greg fishing that I took back on 10/9 because I liked it, actually :)

    • I put together the four-tier wire shelf that I bought at Aldi this week ($8.99). It's a little flimsy but on the plus side, I didn't need any tools to put it together and now that corner near the sliding door doesn't look as messy.

    • While I was reorganizing it, I finally took a look at our son's hiking boots.  They're size 7.5 and the last time I bought him sneakers we got size 9 so the boots went into the donation box. Greg said "we should sell them on eBay!", which means "you should sell them on eBay", which means I'm donating them.

    • My daughter texted me that she was elected "most artistic" of her class for the yearbook. Woo!

    • She also picked me up a free asiago cheese bagel from Panera's with her "Free Bagel A Day" reward for the month!
    Source: Panera.com
    • I contacted Walgreens and Publix to compliment an employee at each of their store for their excellent customer service.

    • I reused rainwater for the indoor seedlings (that I still haven't transplanted) and the outdoor potted plants.

    • We received a check for $27 as a refund for overpayment on our Homeowner's Insurance Policy.

    • Discover sent a mailing in Greg's name with the same offer as the $10 off $30 at Kohl's that's been on Discover Deals but that he didn't get this month... I tried scanning it into my app and inputting the PIN code and, sure enough, it gave me $10 in Kohl's cash!  Woohoo! It expires 11/20.

    • For dinner, I decided to serve the cooked marinated chicken strips on tortillas as soft tacos instead of quesadillas. I made a big salad to go with it.  We have enough leftovers for Greg to have a big salad with chicken strips for lunch tomorrow.

    • Greg and I watched several episodes of "That 70's Show" on Netflix after dinner :)  I' m thinking that  at this point, it might make more sense to just buy all our favorite shows such as this one on DVDs because we rarely seem to watch anything else on Netflix anymore, and as Netflix is putting out more and more "original" content, I find myself watching it less and less often.  I like the convenience of having it, but I don't think we get out money's worth anymore.  I go through this every year and then I start watching it more just to get our money's worth.

    SPLURGES
    • Nothing today!

    FAILURES
    • I had to compost 1 and 3/4 of cucumbers that had gone way too soft in the fridge.

    ACCOMPLISHMENTS
    • Fed the kittens
    • Cooked Greg's my breakfast!
    • Aired out the house
    • Provided nap support for a kitten
    • Earned reward points
    • Cut up and marinated chicken for tonight's dinner
    • Cleaned upstairs litterbox
    • Cleaned upstairs sink and cabinet and toilet bowl
    • Provided nap support for a kitten
    • Took Swagbucks surveys
    • Texted with my BFF about her stove's coil replacement dilemma (offered her my camping stove but she didn't want it)
    • Recorded receipts in my spreadsheets
    • Wrote my weekly grocery shopping post
    • Cuddled with kittens
    • Chatted with son about graduation options
    • Gave Male Cat and Mean Kitty their dose of feline joint gel
    • Provided nap support for a kitten
    • Cooked dinner

    HEALTH
    • It's the weirdest thing but this afternoon a pain started in the middle of my left palm and has been throbbing ever since. It feels like a rheumatism. Or could it be arthritis?  I don't know but it's annoying because it's not going away.  I might need to take ibuprofen.
    GRATITUDE
    • For a beautiful day that allowed me to keep the windows open until 12:30 p.m.
    • For bantering with Greg and the kids at dinnertime.

    NATURE

    Greg was looking out the windows into our backyard tonight at about 5:45 p.m. and exclaimed that there were lots of birds in our backyard so I went to see and sure enough, there were a lot of small brownish birds on the ground, under the oak tree between our house and the neighbors' house.  There were also 2 birds on the electric wire that looked blue and red from where we were so I got excited thinking they were maybe Painted Buntings, but I couldn't take any pictures because of the screens. So I went outside (and all the little brown birds flew away!) but the sun was behind the birds so it was hard to see the colors. So I changed the camera's setting to "Super Vivid" so the colors in all the following pictures have been intensified.

    I think it's an Eastern Bluebird, after all.

    A cone flower has regrown!





    Tomato flowers. I have GOT to refill the self-watering bins. I've been a terrible gardener ever since the kittens have appeared.

    The volunteer vincas are beautiful.  The potted vincas are almost dead :(

    Our crotons. I love their Fall colors!

    CATS AND KITTENS

    Greg used his back scratcher to grab the kittens that had gotten on the bookshelf next to his chair during his conference calls today!

    Princess and Explorer spent a couple of naps on the pillows instead of me, but later on Explorer took a very long nap on me...

    While Princess and Tabby Kitty were enjoying the comfort of the cat tree basket!