Saturday, November 19, 2016

Weekly Recap: Sunday 11/13 through 11/19/16


Note on 12/25/16: I went through several weeks of depression in November/December which led me to withdraw from blogging every day and continues to make me feel very antisocial.  I actually wrote posts because I felt that it kept me busy and also I knew that I would want to re-read them at some point, but I never published them until today.  So this is why you might be seeing those old posts in your email or RSS Feed in late December...
Sunday 11/13/16

Genealogy held no interest for me on Sunday morning. I had told Greg the previous night that I had 2 goals for Sunday:
  1. Do the dishes (that hadn't been done in... 3 or 4 days!)
  2. Read the Lee Child book that was due at the library the following day

When I got up, I didn't feel like doing either or those things.  I did the usual online news reading, printing coupons, uploading digital coupons to apps.  The kittens cuddled for a time, and then Greg got up and they went to cuddle with him too. Princess loves his beard and was having a fantastic time rubbing herself all over it.  She smelled like him the rest of the day, hahaha.

So we spent a couple of hours listening to classical music in the living room, with the kittens, each of us doing our morning online activities.  The windows were opened and we could hear lots of birdies chirping but in the next block over, it seems. Still no birds in our backyard, it's just so very strange and makes me so very sad.  I haven't spend any time in the backyard at all because it feels so pointless... as many other things do right now.

So I knew I had to fend off this incoming depressive wave with Nature and I asked Greg if we could go take a walk. He readily agreed and I amended my request by mentioning that I'd probably bike instead of walk because my foot was already painful, for some reason. Also, I wanted to do the dishes before we left.  So I went to do just that and, even though they had been piling up for several days, it ended up not being that many dishes and I did them all (one full load in the dishwasher and quite a few pots and pans by hand but nothing that had to be left soaking or anything, yay!).

Then we took showers and left.  Since I was bringing my bike, I chose to drive my SUV so I could use the bike rack. I was afraid my bike would become scratched if we just threw it in the back of Greg's truck.  Greg picked to go on the General Van Fleet Trail, which is our favorite because we usually see wildlife and also because we usually see very few people there.  We parked at what is considering the main trailhead, about 10 miles South of SR 50. The parking lot actually contained quite a few cars and indeed, we shared the trail with quite a few bike riders that day.

The temperature was lovely, there was a gentle breeze, and Greg was uncumbered with bad feet so he was walking briskly and I biked next to him.  We did that for almost 2 hours. My foot was fine, but my wrists and elbows were hurting because of the weight being put on them for so long. I need to look into raising my handlebars so I'm sitting more upright.

I did take a few pictures. I was nice to have the basket so I could have my water bottle in there and my camera at the ready.  Next time, I might bring the dSLR (if I ever learn how to use it!).

Wildlife that we saw; actually quite a few gopher tortoises (including two of them attempting to have sex right there on the side of the trail!), another one of those weird, large, red and black ant-looking insects, a coyote! That one was far away in a pasture near cows and we thought we'd see it attack the cows but it didn't. There was too much vegetation between it and us so the camera didn't focus properly and I only managed a blurry shot. As Greg said, it looks like we saw Big Foot or something!

We also saw a egret in the forest bordering the trail, that had been on the ground and that was startled by us walking by, tried to fly into the trees, kept getting tangled in the branches and was screaming pathetically! It was the strangest encounter!  But finally it got itself on a branch and tried to hide behind the other branches as I snapped some pictures and then flew off.  What an odd bird.

The flowers were actually far and few between today and even though I managed to take some pictures which came out pretty good since the light was so much better than on other days when we've walked there, but it was nothing that I hadn't photographed before .  I took my obligatory shot of beautyberries because I like them and Greg always makes fun of me for always taking a picture of the same flowers :)

















After our "mixed walk", I decided that I wanted to drive down the dirt road to the hunters' camping area to see if we might be able to spot more wildlife. We had seen turkeys there earlier in the year.  Again, it's usually a very quiet spot with nary another human, but as soon as I turned onto the dirt road, 2 large 4x4 pick up trucks fell in behind us. I spotted 2 Powerade bottles discarded on the side of the road, that I wanted to pick up for the MCR points but I couldn't stop.  The camping area was full of hunters camping.  The only wildlife we did spot was, weirdly enough, a black cat that seemed to have been abandoned in the woods, but that ran away when it saw us, and a squirrel or two.

On the way back, I had hoped to stop and get those two Powerade bottles, only a Hummer appeared out of nowhere in my rearview mirror and Greg was telling me NOT to stop to get the bottles so I didn't. I'm still pissed about it, though!

On a lark, I decided to take Lake Erie Road instead of the regular roads we take, because I knew that it took us back to SR 33 and we'd never driven down that road before. I termed it "an adventure!" and Greg groaned... however, we soon spotted what looked like a public restroom station at the entrance of a pasture, that was odd... and I decided to investigate. Well, come to find out, it's a nature preserve, right there!  Called "Pasture Preserve", it's a passive preserve that is still being implemented. Right now fishing is forbidden but at some point catch and release fishing will be permitted.  I would have liked to have gone exploring a little right away, as my foot was not hurting that bad (biking doesn't hurt it at all) but Greg suggested we go next weekend instead.





We had discussed having lunch somewhere and decided to go to the local sushi restaurant.  It was OK, not great, especially not for Greg who had just had much better sushi in Vancouver, but it's been nice going out to eat and spending time together on the weekends.

After our meal we stopped by Walgreens to get Greg a new pair of earbuds since he once again neglected to put his away and the kittens chewed through the cords again. It's getting old.  He needed the type with a microphone, for his conference calls, so we paid $14.99 for such a pair.  I declined to use a $5 in Rewards that I have available, to Greg's amazement, because:
  1. I wouldn't have been able to earn any rewards for this trip
  2. I'm very close to earning a $10 Reward so I didn't want to spend half of it already
  3. I use the Rewards for groceries, typically.
  4. It was one of the last days when we get 10% back in Rewards on our USAA Visa card so I wanted to maximize that.

We had been checking our RaceTrac app repeatedly to see if a new 32 oz free drink coupon appeared, but it didn't :( So we got home where our son was happy to see us, only because we had told him not to leave the house while we were gone and he wanted to go get some swinging down at the park, lol.

My daughter was leaving for work as we got home, as she had a late shift.  We spent the rest of the afternoon listening to classical music and reading while cuddling with the kittens too.  I did read "Night School" entirely before going to bed. It wasn't very good and, in parts, was very disgusting.

For dinner, I had defrosted 2 lbs of hamburger meat but I ended up using only one of them.  I cooked the burgers in the cast iron pan on the stove, which produced crunchy and pretty burned burgers (arrgh), and I baked Aldi French Fries. Since the oven was at the correct temperature for baking bread, I had gotten the rest of the bread dough that was in the fridge and I baked 2 loaves of homemade "boule" dough after the fries were done.

Greg watched a couple of episodes of "That 70s Show" and I half watched them, half read my book when a kitten wasn't trying to sit on it! They were pretty wild then up until 10:30 p.m.  I was falling asleep on the couch and had hoped they might do the same, but they were jumping everywhere, like overtired toddlers.  So I walked upstairs to change into my PJs and, as I had hoped, they followed me there into my bedroom, so I left them there for the night.  I never hear them once I close the door, they know that being in that bedroom means "night time"!

Monday 11/14/16

On Monday morning I woke up to bid my son a good day at school and tried to go back to sleep for a few minutes but Greg got up right away.  I went to get the kittens, who followed me into the kitchen as I made Greg's breakfast and made a nuisance out of themselves. Tabby Kitty likes to try to jump on the furniture, now, and he attempted to jump on the large white trashcan, but only succeeded in getting it to crash to the ground and he scared himself pretty good.  I'm afraid that he'll try jumping on the stove when it's hot at some point.

I didn't want to pack the last tiny and burnt burger for Greg and I didn't have anything to pack with a sandwich (that he would like), so I asked him to buy lunch. He gasped.  Oh well.

I opened the windows again.  The birds are chirping from afar again.  The kittens have been driving me crazy, Tabby Kitty in particular is chewing on everything. Corner of wooden furniture, books, he managed to chew through the antenna cable of my stereo. So today I swatted some kitten butts and the result was that they elected to take their first morning nap away from me.  


Right now, they're visiting the older cats.  I found Explorer on the kitchen table.  Arrgh.


My daughter has another late shift tonight. Youngest Son rode the school bus.


Still no free drink coupon on the RaceTrac app, but a coupon for a 50c frozen yogurt cone.  Well, our station doesn't offer those so it's useless to me.



Tasks to accomplish today, which is the dedicated Domestic Monday, as per my usual pattern:

  1. Do the laundry - done
  2. Cook protein for dinner in crockpot - done
  3. Examine and sign up for 2017 benefits - done
  4. Wash all the litter boxes
  5. Return book to the library -  I asked my son to return it for me tonight.
  6. Make sure get reply from Middle Son re: website charge - We FaceTimed this afternoon and came to an agreeement.
  7. Schedule credit card payments
  8. Need to redo cheat-sheet for credit cards
A Slickdeals poster shared that Great Clips is once again selling their prepaid cards but that this year the haircuts' price has been raised to $10.99, up from $9.99.  I need to check my wallet to see if I should get a new one already and ask Greg how much money is left on his. He almost never goes and my son goes but not all that often.  I usually load 10 cuts on each card.

I ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom. Less humidity, less mildew for me to clean up. But then my daughter took a late shower so this was all for nothing. I'm going to have to start running it in the mid-afternoon, dang it!

I baked a loaf of bread.



I put away the phone charging cable that, once again, Greg had left out, because we have chewing kittens. Arrgh. 

Explorer thinks he's a bunny. He's been hopping all over the living room this morning!  He just settled on my shoulder and is purring. His brother and sister once again decided to sleep on a pillow on the other futon because they know I'm mad at them for the destruction they've caused this morning.

I wanted to turn on IHeartRadio and listen to classical music, but the birds are still chirping loudly outside and it's lovely, I think, so the kittens and I are enjoying that instead.


My daughter got up and came to chat a little, which was very nice. I feel like I haven't seen her in ages!  She liked her late shift last night. Partly because she's not a morning person, partly because she was being trained in counting the servers' tips and reconciling their accounts (for lack of a better explanation) and she actually really enjoying doing this. Her trainer was very impressed with her and made it known. Also, she made $1.00 more an hour for that part of the job. And also, apparently a lot of people don't like that shift either because you never really know when you'll get off, depending on how busy it was, but also because they don't want to deal with the money part of it.  So she's thinking she might asked to be scheduled for that shift all the time.  I'm hoping (and we discussed) that maybe she'll go for a business degree and/or get into accounting since she said what she did last night really appealed to her.  Anyhow, I'm happy that she's happy :)

I went outside to take a picture of my Christmas cactus that's flowering since it's so overcast and consequently so dark in the house.



So I inspected my garden. There are a few surprises.  Which reminds me, I saw an article yesterday about La Niña. I don't know about you but when people talk about "El Niño" and "La Niña", I know they're weather patterns but that's it. I never know what they actually refer to.  Well, yesterday's article about La Niña had a helpful graphic.

In short, this is the weather that we have to expect to last through February.  For us in Florida, it's going to be drier than normal. Since, in my little corner of the woods, it's already been freaking drier than normal for a year, it's not good news.  I'm glad I didn't plan a large winter garden.  At least, it should be good news as to Zika containment. I don't imagine we'll get many mosquitoes.




The sweet potato vines have been flowering.

The pole beans are growing.

The roselles are flowering again.

Tomatoes!

A new Japanese Ichiban eggplant and...

Another eggplant flower

More tomato flowers (blurry).

Juicy roselle fruit. These I left on the plants.

I decided to ask my son to return my book for me at the library tonight, I just don't feel like going anywhere.  I also just realized that the book is due tomorrow, not today.

I stuffed all the wet laundry into the dryer. It's so overcast outside, it would have taken forever to dry and it's already 1 p.m.

I remembered last night that I never did cut the large pork loin that I bought a couple of weeks ago. It was still in my fridge, in the meat drawer. I cut it into 4 sections of about 1.5 to 2 lbs each. I reused 3 cereal bags to freeze 3 portions and used the 4th one in the crockpot to make Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin. I'll cook rice and broccoli in the microwave tonight to go with it and serve homemade bread too.

I'm worried about Greg and our son driving to OH and then back home again next week. Greg's daughter lives about 1 hour away from all those fires in NC and East TN. She's apparently in TX right now so we can't assess from her what the driving conditions are. Greg is planning on going to spend the night there on his way up (it's a 14-hour drive otherwise). But even if he doesn't go there, the fires are pretty much on his way to Columbus.


This morning I spent time unfollowing blogs on Feedly.  A lot of the bloggers had stopped blogging a long time ago and I had never unsubscribed and I just felt that they were cluttering my screen.  A few others I don't find any affinity for anymore for one reason or another and I rarely read their posts anyway.

I finally came to a conclusion about the immediate future of the blog.  I'm going to continue blogging but disable comments for the time being.

I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits.


Chili's emailed me with an offer to link my Plenti card to my Chili's Rewards. Might as well, given that I'm earning Plenti points via AT&T right now but now using them for anything.



My face is red: I emailed the people responsible for the class that my son needs to take (Alcohol and Drugs) prior to taking his learner's permit exam, to make sure the class had enough students signed up to proceed, since they never sent any information. I had written the class down for Wednesday.  They replied to confirm the class would proceed but then told me the class was tomorrow. I sent a mildly snarky reply thanking them but saying, basically, that it would have been nice to know it had been changed to tomorrow and worrying that other parents might not know.  They were nice and apologized "for the confusion". And then.... I realized that the class has ALWAYS been scheduled for tomorrow, I was the one who had entered it on the wrong date on my calendar.  Doh!!! So I sent an abject apology email.  What a dweeb.


Middle Son and I Facetimed this afternoon. He initiated it and it worked out great. I never think to use FaceTime!  Anyhoo, I needed to discuss a charge that appeared on one my of credit cards this morning, from SquareSpace, that is the provider for his professional website. Last year, I had paid for 1 year of website hosting for him as part of his Christmas present.  He was sitting next to me when we did it so he created an account and I input my credit card information, which was stupid, in hindsight, because obviously I don't have access to his SquareSpace account. We did select that it would not be auto-renewed because he wasn't sure he'd want to keep the site and also I wasn't sure I'd want to continue paying for it. Anyhoo.  We discussed whether he wanted to keep it (he does) and whether he agreed this would be part of his Christmas present (he does) and also that I wanted him to take my credit card off his account and put his instead and then I'd give him a check for the amount of the yearly subscription.  So he deleted the credit card information from his account and I was able to verify that he did via FaceTime.  We still didn't know why I'd been charged $20 since the account did show that it was NOT on Auto Renew, but upon investigation the charge was for the annual domain name registration.  So we agreed that I would pay for it as part of his Christmas present. Since my credit card info has been removed from the site, he'll get charged for it next year.  I'm glad this is taken care of and that my son was very diligent about it. I think it shows maturity.  Also, he asked if he could come by tomorrow to visit me (but really, visit the kittens!) so yay!


I finally created an account to pull up the documentation pertaining to the benefits being offered via Greg's employer in 2017.  We are extremely lucky to have excellent benefits through them and to be able to continue covering our children until they're 26 thanks to legislation passed under President Obama.  As many people are facing either huge increases for their policies under Obamacare or the possible termination of any policy under the new president, I am also very very thankful that our cost is only going up by a few dollars each pay period, in 2017.  We don't like going to doctors, but it now feels like a luxury to be able to say that, sadly.  Were I smarter, I suppose that I should start taking advantage of those benefits before they disappear. Should Greg lose his job... oh, I don't even want to think about it.  I emailed my 3 older kids with explanations about the benefits they could enjoy, should they elect to use them, and sending them the documentation that outlines what is covered, their costs for co-pays etc. I suspect the older boys won't read them, though :(


I also elected to only contribute $200 to our Health FSA account in 2017.  We spent about $400 of the $600 we put aside this year so $200 will rollover (barring any further expenses this year) and unless we have an unpredictable emergency, I don't anticipate that we'll be spending more than that next year. So I decided to keep the cash in our own pocket.  I wouldn't mind putting more aside if we didn't run the risk to lose it all if we don't use it!


I earned some Swagbucks, and qualified for a survey. This put be beyond my 2nd Daily Goal as my Kohls.com Shop & Earn award was credited today. Woo!

I entered 2 new codes in Kellogg's Family Rewards:

  • A bonus code for 100 KFR points (SUMMERPTSBARGAIN)
  • A personalized code for 50 KFR points (found in the email they sent me today)

I had to throw away the last slice of breadmaker corn bread that I had made over a week ago as it had become mildewed in the past 24 hours. I'm grateful it lasted that long. However, it was yet another breadmaker recipe that was completely unremarkable. I will continue to make the regular Grandmother's Buttermilk Corn Bread next time we need corn bread!

I printed some new coupons via Swagbucks.

I noticed that if I use my "new" (gotten this summer) bifocals when I'm on the laptop, the only way I can see clearly is if I push up the glasses hard against my face so I can only look through the bottom part of my bifocals. I measured that the screen is at 27 inches away from my face at that point  (which is arm length) so I plan on calling my eye doctor's office tomorrow to find out what my bottom prescription is and to buy some cheap readers in that strength to use when I'm on the laptop, because my old glasses aren't strong enough and it's getting harder to see with them, but the newer ones don't do anything for that middle field vision.  Looking at my benefits sheet, I see that I can get trifocals with lines (pay more for transition lenses) and that I can go as early as 1/1. So I'm going to look into trifocals as well.  Well I did.  My eye doctor mentioned trifocals before, but since I'm prone to motion sickness, he thought it might not be a good fit for me.  I think I'm going to ask to try them, though, because I'm just not comfortable wearing either pair of bifocals, at this point.

The 2-lb pork roast only yielded enough meat for the 3 of us for dinner and Greg's lunch tomorrow. Yikes!  So much for thinking I'd have tons of leftovers!

After dinner, I put on "That 70's Show" on Netflix. Greg watched it but I couldn't focus so I went online and was checking out blogs from the profile of a blogger who listed probably 100 blogs that he used to read.  I say "used to" because many are blogs that have been abandoned. But that distracted me for a while and the kittens came to cuddle for a little bit too. They've been leery of me today because I was upset and low on patience for most of the day.

I'm back to feeling blah in full force.  Gonna do some genealogical inputting so my thought process gets busy with something else.

Tuesday 11/15/16

Today is the last day of the 10% Rewards on our USAA Visa Card. Waaaa.  Greg and I aren't mourning just for the loss of the 10%, but because we're going to have to go back to figuring out which credit card to use where, lol.  Yep, it's time for me to make a new cheat-sheet for our wallets.  I should work on that today.

Our son packed a lunch and rode the school bus but I will need to go pick him up as he is staying at school until 7 p.m. for this Drugs and Alcohol class. It's going to be a long day for him and he packed a snack. My daughter has a class to attend later in the afternoon so she'll be driving.

I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.  CVS has the Dr Pepper on sale this week at 3 for $8 so hopefully they'll have Diet Dr. Pepper in stock so I can get him some more.  It's annoying to me that we're wasting money on sodas but again we're wasting money on chocolate when I buy it for me :)

I brewed my coffee using most of a Starbucks K-cup that I had received as a free sample and I mixed some of the Peppermint Mocha Latte powder that came with it too. Just a little bit, this is going to last me a while. I think they meant for me to add ALL of it to one cup, which is crazy. I added a bit of milk and sweetener to make it palatable because I really dislike Starbucks coffee, lol.

The windows are opened again and I expect that I'll keep them open all day!  That is a really good thing that is happening right now and I expect our electric bill to get quite a bit lower next month. Plus we get to listen to the birds chirping first thing in the morning and the cats are enjoying this. I've noticed that Princess likes to sit in the window and listen, while the boys are wrestling on the side, hahaha.

I asked Greg to take the large trashcan down to the curb for me this morning because I had forgotten to do it last night.  I do have to try and do some chores today:
  1. Wash all the litter boxes - Completely washed one, cleaned out the other 2 kitten litter boxes.
  2. Water the potted plants - Done
  3. Schedule credit card payments - Done although still waiting on 2 statements
  4. Need to redo cheat-sheet for credit cards - Done
  5. Work on my shopping list
Just remembered that Middle Son might come visit today. I gotta get dressed!


The kittens cuddled on me for 40 minutes this morning and it was lovely. They're following me everywhere, though, which is getting on my nerves, quite honestly.



Well, well, well... speaking of following me everywhere.  I went upstairs to take a shower. Both of the boys followed me to my bedroom. I went into the bathroom and closed the door and took my shower. I kept hearing them launching themselves at the door.  As I stepped out of the shower, they were both in the bathroom with me, having succeeded in opening the door. Arrgh!  Then I couldn't dry myself because they kept on batting at my towel, lol.


I scheduled several credit card payments via their websites and my bank and reconciled my accounts.


Next quarter's Discover Bonus Rewards will be 5% back on gas, ground transportation, and warehouse club purchases.  Only the gas will apply to us and I signed up both my and Greg's card for it.



I also uploaded new offers to our American Express accounts, including one for Petco.



I transferred money to the savings account for a new car, corresponding to the raise Greg received in June and the FICA amount that he isn't paying through the end of the year.


E*Trade already is sending us Tax Season reminders. Ugh.  I read this weekend that the bond market crashed so I'm glad that I procrastinated and didn't divert some of our retirement funds into bonds, even though that's what Vanguard and everyone else was advising.  I really need to look into our Net Worth again, I'm afraid to even look at the accounts.

I emailed Greg the airport parking receipt that I had to pull from his transponder's account so he can expense it ($85!).

Kellogg's sent me a code for a free metallic Christmas ornament from Shutterfly. As usual, I'd have to pay shipping, but I might get this one if only I could get a good picture of my kids.

At noon, it's 68F in the living room with the windows open. My hands are getting cold, ya'll!  Yay!  The kittens must be liking the cold air, they are running, chasing each other, and hopping and jumping everywhere.

I used the hoses to water my potted plants outdoors, filled the bird bath, and I also refilled the cardinal feeder with fresh seeds. I'm hoping this will attract the birds again.

Love the shape of the unfurled roselle flower

Found this weird caterpillar outside, I think it had gotten a drink from that bin.

Lots of sweet potato flowers

Middle Son called to ask if he could come this afternoon. Woohoo!

I still have the extra pound of ground beef that I had defrosted this weekend, so I decided that I'll make tacos for dinner,with a side salad if my salad stuff hasn't gone bad. I haven't checked.

I redid the cheat-sheets for Greg and myself so we know which credit card to use for what when we gas up, eat out, and shop, depending on the maximum amount of rewards offered in each situation. I laminated them (I had kept unused remnants of past laminating sheets so there wasn't any waste!) and I will place one in Greg's wallet tonight and the other in mine.  Now to remember NOT to use USAA Visa past today....

I earned the daily Bing Rewards and some Swagbucks.  I took a SB survey for 75 SB, completed it and then was told, after 20 minutes and after having answered the final classification questions, that I didn't qualify!  I contacted their Customer Service.  They did reply and credited my account!

Middle Son showed up mid afternoon and ended up staying for dinner.  My daughter, Middle Son and I went to pick up Youngest Son from the high school after his school, and then we went to Publix to pick up a fried chicken family dinner, a sub, and sushi, our regular Publix dinner fare :)  I was able to get a 2L bottle of Diet Coke for free with a store coupon.

After dinner, I showed Greg and Youngest Son a couple of YouTube videos that I had watched with the other kids this afternoon:

The first one is very dramatic and the second one really cracked me up :)

We also watched some Maru videos earlier in the day (Maru is an awesome Japanese cat, if you don't know, and he has a large YouTube following) and Tabby Kitty went ab-so-lu-te-ly crazy!  He was mesmerized by the TV and trying to get to Maru on the screen. So funny!

I stayed up late tracking some more genealogy information about Greg's ancestors. I might have found a lost branch of his family, but I need to do more detective work, which can be frustrating when all you have is a hunch!

Wednesday 11/16/16

It got cold last night, I had to wrap myself in the comforter that I use as a couch cover right now.  I was worried that the kittens might be cold upstairs, but I suppose they have fur and they could bury themselves under the duvet that's on my bed.  I didn't worry about the kids or Greg, lol.

I slept on my left wrist and I woke up as the bones were crunching and it was throbbing. Ouch. I really thought I might have hurt myself badly but after another 20 minutes of sleep in the proper position, my wrist felt fine. Phew!

It was 50F this morning so I didn't open the windows.  The kittens have been driving me crazy again. They're wild and have now discovered the wall cut-out that's next to the mantelpiece. I've been yelling at them to get down and swatting them down because I don't want them on the mantelpiece. So they're leery of me again.  Also they've managed to turn off the power strip to the TV and Soundbar because they keep on "playing" behind the TV stand, which is another no-no.  Add to that eating the older cats' food... argh. It's been frustrating.

As usual now, I woke up thinking "I don't wanna go shopping!  That's it! I'm only going to Aldi today!" and then I remembered that CVS is supposed to have the Diet Dr. Pepper on sale this week and then I looked up the sales ads and Save A Lot has better sales on butter and gravy and also has the fresh cranberries for $0.99.  So I'll be going to RaceTrac, SAL, CVS, Aldi, and Publix. A regular shopping trip, after all!

I haven't put my coupons away (I did clip them yesterday) and then I printed some more because of deals heads-up posts from IHeartPublix and also I ordered two $1.00/1 Kellogg's cereal coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards since I needed to buy Special K for my daughter.

I noticed last night, as I was unlocking new Ibotta offers, that the $3.00 off Castello cheese rebate is back, and I was able to print 2 more $3.00 coupons from my son's PC, which will let me print Brick coupons but not the regular Coupons.com coupons, even via Firefox.  So I'll be getting Greg another pack of those expensive blue cheese slices that he likes.

It'll be mostly me at home next week so I really don't need to buy much.  Aldi has the Blueberry Vanilla goat cheese for $3.99 or $2.00 cheaper than Publix, imagine that!  I'll be buying some more as it was delicious.

I have a lot of dirty dishes to wash too.  A benefit of not posting my groceries is that I should have time to do the dishes. Groan.

I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work (fried chicken, potato salad, yogurt) and our son packed a lunch and rode the school bus.  My daughter will either eat lunch at home or buy herself lunch now that she gets a paycheck :)

I noticed yesterday that the acorn squash that I had left on my counter is starting to go bad.  Arrgh.

I took 2 RaceTrac surveys and earned codes for 2 more freebies.


Things to do today when I get back from running errands:

  1. Do the dishes - Done
  2. Input receipts in spreadsheets - in progress
  3. Schedule payment for the last 2 credit cards
  4. Figure out dinner (probably the tacos I meant to cook last night)
  5. Cook the acorn squash
  6. Make more homemade bread dough - bought bread so I'll hold off on making dough

Errands Run:

  • RaceTrac: I redeemed a survey reward code for a free apple fritter for my son's snack.  Their outside trashcans were overflowing and there was trash all over the floor. When I mentioned it to the attendants (who had been chatting), they said that they knew and that their trash picking company had missed its pick-up.  Well, OK but I have seen RaceTrac employees emptying the trashcans before you'd think they would be concerned about the area and at least put the trash bags in a heap in the dumpsters.  I can't take a survey on this because I didn't buy anything so I didn't get a receipt. I might email their customer service department. It really was gross and the employees just didn't seem to care.

  • Save A Lot: they didn't have any papaya and nothing was on clearance. However, they did have the butter on sale for $1.99 with a limit of 6 per person. I only bought 4 lbs because I was concerned about finding room in the freezer. I still have a little bit of room so I may got get 2 more lbs. I also bought 2 bags of fresh cranberries for 99 cents each (I froze them) and 3 jars of turkey gravy at 79 cents each. I got 1 jar of beef gravy, thinking it was on sale too but it wasn't and I didn't realize it until after I had left. Oh well. I was 99 cents.  I paid with my Amazon Visa card for 1% back.

  • RaceTrac: The Clermont station was undergoing some test so none of the pumps worked and I couldn't get gas. Oh well, I still have 3/4 of a tank.  I did redeem a survey reward code for a chocolate glazed long john donut for my son's snack tomorrow.

  • At CVS, I did find 3 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper for $8.00  and bought a gallon of milk (on sale @ $2.79) and 3 cans of Progresso chicken noodle soup.  They were on sale at 3 for $4.00 and I redeemed a $1.00/3 coupon and got $2.00 back in ECB. Lastly, I bought 2 boxes of Special K Red Berries. The sales price ($2.49) wasn't great, but I thought we were out and I used (2) $1.00/1 coupons from KFR.  Well, we still had boxes at home so I could have waited for a better sale. Everything was free to me since I paid with my CVS gift card, earned via one of our Rewards programs.  I'll also get $1.00 back from SavingStar, credit toward the Kellogg's One or Many offer and $0.50 back from Ibotta so MONEYMAKER.

  • I stopped by Murphy USA to redeem the Tropicana OJ freebie coupon that I had, but my station doesn't carry that brand. Grrr. The young lady staffing it, though, was very apologetic, which I appreciated.

  • At Aldi, I went crazy. I'm depressed AND they're selling all the German Christmas cookies at the same time. It's so unfair. Or maybe not!  Anyhoo, I bought more chocolate, loads of cookies, cheapy Advent calendars and chocolates for the kids at St. Nicolas, 2 poinsettias, and a paper shredder on clearance ($6) that I'll give to my daughter for college.  I also found 2 family packs of chicken breasts with $3.00 off coupons on each pack, more chipotle chicken sausages (bought 2 packs), my new favorite cranberry almond chicken salad (bought 2 containers), 2 of the blueberry vanilla goat cheese, some brie, some French bread.  My OOP was over $100 but nothing came out of my pocket today since I used the gift card that my son had won in a video contest and that I had bought from him.  Once I got home, however, I realized that I completely forgot to use the other $5.00/$30 coupon that I had in my wallet. UGH.  I'm so angry at myself! I will get $0.10 back from MobiSave.

  • Publix: I had wanted to purchase Celentano meatballs since there was a very great deal on them after BOGO, store and manufacturer coupons, but I was really nervous about finding room for them in my fridge. Well, my store was out of them and it didn't seem that there was a BOGO sale in my area anyway.  Phew. I bought the pack of Castellano blue cheese slices for Greg and redeemed the $3.00 coupon and then submitted for the $3.00 rebate so they were a MONEYMAKER for me.  I also bought a nice birthday card for my great aunt, which cost $2.00. I paid with Amex because I forgot to use the same gift card as the one I had used at Aldi.  I'll get 3% back in Rewards, though.

  • Great Clips. I had decided to buy 2 cards with 5 haircuts each since Greg still has a couple of haircuts on his card and I have 4 on the card that I use for Youngest Son.  I decided not to get cards for my Oldest Sons this year.  They both work and they're both over the age of 20 so I'm scaling back what I spend on them.  Anyhoo, the Slickdeals poster had mentioned that the price had gone up to $10.99 per haircut, but they were still $9.99 at my salon. Yay!  I charged the cards to yet another gift card that I had bought from my daughter earlier this year so there was no cost out of pocket this month.

Even though I stopped at more places than I would have liked to, I was home by noon.

My daughter was washing the Focus when I got home. I appreciate that she takes good care of it.  She mentioned that she thinks she's due for an oil change, I'm going to have to make sure it's indeed true and not just what Valvoline thinks we ought to do :)

In the mail, I received new coupons for Bath & Body Works, and a $6.99 rebate check.

After I put everything away, I submitted my rebates.  MobiSave and Ibotta credited my accounts right away.



RaceTrac replied to an email I had sent them several days ago, complaining about their computers deducting the wrong coupons on the app, and they apologized, said they would discuss it with their programmers, and would send me drink coupons if I sent them my mailing address. So I did!

I earned the Bing Rewards credits for the day and a few Swagbucks.

My daughter baked cupcakes with a mix that I had bought on clearance.

I've started watching "One Mississippi" on Amazon Prime. I thought it was supposed to be a comedy but I haven't stopped crying since I've started watching it.

I started not feeling well again and decided to skip dinner. I did cook tacos for the family and then they ate cupcakes.  I had some snacks later on.  Greg and I watched several episodes of "That 70s Show" and then of "3rd Rock from The Sun, although for part of it he was playing videogames and I was inputting genealogical information in my database.  I fell asleep during an episode but after I led the kittens up to "their" bedroom at 10 p.m.

Here are kitten pictures from earlier today:




Helping with the groceries

Thursday 11/17/16

I woke up during the night twice because of an ongoing nightmare. I don't think I've ever felt such terror before, the 2nd time I woke up I was exhausted but so terrified to go back to sleep and have the nightmare start again that I forced myself to read emails and the news on my phone so it would distract me.  It was 1:30 p.m. and my eyes hurt because I was so tired and even the lowest display setting was burning my retinas.  I finally fell back asleep and didn't dream again.

I got up to wish my son a good day as he was leaving for school, and went back to "bed".  Well, 5 minutes later a kitten put its cold nose on my nose. It was Tabby Kitty and since I didn't hear Greg move upstairs, I realized that he had manage to get out of the bedroom by himself. Uh Oh. There goes the little bit of peace that I had!  And then the other two came down.  You'd think they'd want to cuddle but no. They started hopping around and chasing each other right off the bat. It's been like that all morning so far, except for about 20 minutes when they all came to sleep on me, purring. Awww.

My mom emailed me last night. She was very sweet, more affectionate than usual.  I think she's still fishing to see if my Marseille brother told me anything about their vacation together which ended up not going well at all. They're not speaking.  I need to reply to her but I just don't feel like dealing with anyone.

So this morning when a friend emailed me to ask if we could get together Monday or Tuesday, I begged off until January.  I did text my BFF to see if she'd gotten any more subbing assignments.

The teen librarian emailed me last night to remind me of the flower arranging class tonight.  Honestly, I only said I'd go because they put me on the spot and it sounded kinda of fun (and free!) but right now I don't want to go. I don't feel well and being around people right now is definitely NOT what I need.  So I emailed her back to warn her I might not go.

I cooked Greg's breakfast by using up 3 egg yolks that my daughter had left in the fridge. I'm not sure why/when she used egg whites.

I also packed him leftovers for lunch. I had defrosted a container of "Pasta with White Beans and Spinach" that I had saved a couple of weeks ago and topped it with taco meat from last night.  It'll be weird but he'll survive.

I opened the windows at 9:15 a.m. today because it was a little chilly (in the 50s) earlier this morning.

I used up most of the rest of the free Starbucks K-cup samples for my morning coffee and mixed it with a little bit of the peppermint mocha latte powder that had come with it.  I've been using that powder in my regular coffee for the past 4 days, I think, and I still have more.  Aldi had peppermint mocha flavored coffee yesterday ($4.99) but I resisted it since I have loads of coffee in the pantry and Greg will be (unbeknownst to him!) giving me some for my birthday too!

I need to figure out what to cook. I have 2 packs of chicken breasts in the fridge that I need to cook since I don't have room in the freezer for them. So it's going to be chicken for every dinner between now and Sunday, I think.  I might just grill the breasts and make chicken sandwiches. My daughter isn't going to be here for dinner tonight as her BFF is taking her out and then they're going to see "Fantastic Beasts" at the theater.

CVS sent me a $6 off $30 coupon.  Unlikely that I will use it, but I've said that before and then ended up getting a good surprise when an unexpected coupon was deducted from my bill, so I uploaded it to my account.

McAllister's Deli sent me a $5 voucher in honor of my upcoming birthday. I might be able to buy a drink and a cookie.

While the kittens were asleep on me earlier, I earned some Bing Rewards credits.  Now I have one kitten who's asleep on me so I'm going to earn the rest and then some Swagbucks.

I now have two kittens sleeping on me at 10:16 am.  Two, ha ha ha!

Things to do today:
  1. Schedule credit card payments - not done but I did schedule the water bill payment
  2. Write and go mail birthday card for great aunt
  3. Reply to my mom - done
  4. Make sure chicken is defrosted  - done
  5. Cook acorn squash
I totaled my groceries for yesterday and I spent a few cents over $90.  This past month has been horrible for food expenses, which goes hand in hand with my not feeling great, mentally.

I spent the rest of the day doing mindless genealogy inputting while having the really really bad series "Paranoid" on (Netflix, I finally quit it in episode 4, I think, it was so ridiculously horrible) and cuddling with the kittens.

I skipped going to the Flower Arrangement Class and skipped dinner again (I'd been eating cookies in the afternoon so I'm not starving). I baked chicken breasts in the oven and made chicken sandwiches for Greg and our son and served them with some potato salad leftover from the Publix family dinner I had bought on Monday night.  We have chicken leftover for lunch and another dinner.

After dinner, more genealogy research.  I felt like a detective when I was researching one of Greg's great-aunts and her husband and pieced together, thanks to old student newspapers that were put online, that they had both been bacteriologists and assistants to Dr. Duggar when he discovered an antibiotic that is now used to treat  conjunctivitis in cats!  I joked that, between all the molds growing in our bathroom and our 6 cats, it was no big surprise that his great aunt and uncle did what they did, hahaha.  Anyhoo, it was nice to find this information on my own and not just copy it from someone else's research :)  Meanwhile, we had our regular "That 70s Show" and "3rd Rock from the Sun" series on.


Friday 11/18/16

I had an OK night but I'm not feeling OK.  I have a fever blister on my lip and some on my gums so I took some acidophilus last night and I'll take another pill later on today.  Mentally, I feel like I'm in a fog. I have no motivation for anything, I don't want to see anyone or talk with anyone.  My BFF replied to my text this morning and said she didn't get any more subbing gigs and is insisting on having our traditional Christmas Baking Day.  I had already told her I didn't want to do it (because I was still on a diet back then).  I texted her back explaining my frame of mind right now and saying that all I want to do it stay home with my cats and buy cookies from Aldi.  I know she's going through a rough patch herself and she's looking forward to the baking thing every year (and usually so I am) but I just can't be there for others right now when I'm barely here for myself, if that makes any sense.

My mom replied to my reply.  When I wrote back to her yesterday, I had written a whole paragraph explaining how I felt but I had deleted it, thinking it was way too dark for my mom and just wrote a sentence that I was depressed and didn't really want to discuss it.  So I was surprised when her reply to me about how she felt herself was almost, word for word, what I had typed.  My mom and I are radically on opposite ends of the spectrum on a lot of things, so it was a big surprise.  But as much as I agree with her on that, the email just depressed me even more.  I know she's not talking to my brother from Marseille but she doesn't mention it why, just that she hasn't felt well since her Corsica trip so I know it's a big issue for her.  But I can't ask about it or I'll get suckered into having to side with one or the other.  Family stuff drains me.  We're both going to try and stream my brother from Paris's concert this afternoon. I hope it works and it's good!

Greg brought the kittens down this morning.  They didn't start cuddling until about 8:15 a.m. but then I had all three of them on me for a while, purring and licking me.  It helped :)

I packed him leftovers for his lunch. Our son, as usual, had packed a lunch and taken the school bus.

I opened the windows again. Might as well take advantage of it since the temps are supposed to dip into the 40s at night on Sunday, I think.

It's 9:45 a.m. and I have Antiques RoadShow on PBS running on the Roku.  I should do the following today but who knows if I'll do anything. Right now it doesn't look likely.  Maybe I should go sit outside and soak up some rays to cheer myself up. It would be nice if birds would show up too.

  1. Schedule the 2 credit card payments
  2. Write the birthday card for my great aunt and go to the post office to mail it
  3. Do the dishes
  4. Vacuum the living room
  5. Dehydrate the apple that is starting to spoil
  6. Cook the acorn squash that is starting to spoil

SavingStar credited my account with the $1.00 for the Progresso soups.  They also credited my Special K purchases towards my "One or Many" offer, although this time they only credited me for the actual sales price, not the full price, as they had in the past. I still need to spend a little over $5 in Kellogg's products to get $5 back.



I spent the rest of the morning doing more genealogical research.

The kittens tried to steal my car, I think. Well, at least my car keys.



I checked the mail since I hadn't checked it in a couple of days, and found the $25 Publix gift card that I had ordered from USAA Visa and also a $10 promotional gift from Kohl's for Black Friday. I'm definitely NOT going shopping on Black Friday so I texted my BFF to see if she wanted it. She did so I mailed it to her.

I don't remember what I did in the afternoon, probably genealogy research while I listened to my brother's blues concert in Paris, which he streamed live.

Tabby Kitty likes the blues sang in a French accent!

I made pasta for dinner. My son and I had chicken nuggets, Greg had leftover chicken, and my daughter had meatballs.

I was able to request some new samples from Kotex.



Saturday 11/19/16

The kittens escaped from the bedroom, They've figured out how to pull the heavy draft stopper away from the door. Arrgh.  They came down at 6:45 a.m. and proceeded to jump all over the living room, including me, when I was trying to sleep in. Then they went upstairs to bug Greg, as they also managed to pull the draft stopper from under his door.

I wasn't feeling great in the morning. Greg read for a while and then proposed that we go walking on the trail, eat lunch at Lilly's on the Lake again (because we enjoy eating on their lakefront porch when the weather is lovely) and then go to Kohl's to get him a black tie because he didn't realize until then that he needed a black tie for his dad's service.  Argh. I wasn't in the mood to go anyway so I turned him down, but while he was taking a shower I started regretting my moodiness since he and our son are going to be gone for a week and he was being very sweet to me, so I went to tell him I had changed my mind and he was delighted.

As usual, our son didn't want to come along (I swear that we ask him every single time!) and decided to stay home with the cats.  My daughter had a morning shift at the Grand Floridian on that day.

Greg wanted to get his truck washed while we were in Clermont, so taking my bike was out of the question since I didn't want it to be thrown in the truck bed (there's a cover so it would have been fine while the truck was being washed) because I'm still babying it, so I decided to walk. It was a lovely day.  There was a high school rowing competition going on at the lake. I didn't take any pictures at all, for once, and we walked at a slow pace to accommodate my foot. In the end, it hurt, but not so bad.

I didn't think that we'd get a table that we would like at Lilly's because it was busy, and I have already told Greg that if we can't eat out on the porch, then I'd rather eat somewhere else and he agreed. But we lucked out and got a table at the corner of the porch that had a great view.  It was lovely until the last 5 minutes when a dad started pushing his 3 kids on the tire swing on the beach right off our table and the kids were shrieking. I can't stand it. I'm entitled to say that, I raised 6 kids. Shrieking kids, when you're trying to relax and enjoy the day, the lake, the sailboats on the horizon... well, that does NOT make me happy. So I'm glad that wasn't happening the whole meal.

The food was good and I produced our loyalty card to get the $10 discount that we had earned.  When the server (who was new) came back, he didn't have my card so I asked for it (it's merely a printout from the internet with my name and the phone number I used to register) and he couldn't find it anywhere. At that point, he said that their computer system wasn't working so the manager had given me the $10 off manually but that the good thing was that I'd still have the $10 credit on my account for the next time. So woohoo, but I have a feeling that the manager kept my card to deduct the credit from it at a later time.  No matter, we got the discount, which helped. Greg limited himself to just 1 beer, which also helped :)

Then we walked all the way back to Lake Hiawatha Preserve, where we had parked.  We walked hand in hand for most of the way to the restaurant and back, which was lovely. It's usually too hot for us to do that!

From there, we went to RaceTrac in Clermont to get gas for Greg's trip ($1.99/gallon, woohoo and Greg earned reward points on his app and got me another receipt with which I will earn a freebie) and then to Goodwill to see if we could find a black tie, but they didn't have any ties that were only black. Poop.  So we trudged to Kohl's.  I checked my app and they had loaded a 20% discount on it, which made me happy since I hadn't brought my coupon organizer with me,  Greg found himself a tie and I also bought 2 Henley shirts for our son since it's supposed to be in the 40s in Ohio and I wasn't sure that he had appropriate warm clothing.  He doesn't have a heavy jacket but Greg said his dad had left a down jacket that either my son could use or that Greg would use (and lend his jacket to our son) if our son felt weird about it.

After that, we got the truck washed.  A Corvette was stuck on the rails a few cars ahead of us and finally had to give up on going through the car wash.  He was able to maneuver backwards as all the cars ahead of us had to back up to try and let him go (thankfully there was a turnaround spot).  I have to admit that Greg and I smirked.  That guy got himself a Corvette as a mid-life crisis gift because he wanted to show off and have people look at him and well, we were ALL looking at him at that point, LOL.  Anyhoo, Greg surprised me by picking the "cheap" car wash which was $6 (we remember when it was only $3 just a few years ago!).  I had told him to charge it to Amex since, at some point, I had uploaded an offer for it on his card, but it was for a more expensive car wash so we didn't use it.

After those few errands, we went home and cuddled with the kittens.  I think I did more genealogy research.  My daughter had forgotten to bring along the lunch that she had packed (!) when she went to work, so she ate her lunch at 4 p.m. and Greg was still full from our lunch. I cooked macaroni and cheese for my son and myself, along with more chicken nuggets (easy!) and Greg made himself a PBJ.  We watched several episodes of "That 70s Show" and "3rd Rock from the Sun" and I tried not to stress too much over the loud thumping music coming from a house up the hill from us.  After a couple of hours, it was turned off so either someone finally got reasonable or the cops showed up.

I was the pied piper of kittens at 10 p.m., as I called them by name and led them to my bedroom. However, the twins had already found out how to get out of it by 10:15 as they showed up in my son's bedroom!  We took them back upstairs (Princess was pissed!) and I added the draft stopper from Greg's room to the gap under my bedroom's door so it would be harder for them to get out.  Then I fell asleep on the couch, but was awakened by the level of noise made by Greg and our son as they packed up for their trip. Men!  They were leaving at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning and waited until 11 p.m. on Saturday to pack their bags.  Ugh.

Kittens pictures from today:

My daughter played Maru videos for Tabby Kitty on her laptop while she watched a show on Netflix on her phone, LOL!
After a while, I think he fell asleep.

My son found two of the kittens playing in my reusable shopping bags while Greg and I were out walking.

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