Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TopsyTurvy ~ Tuesday 12/13/16


As I mentioned before, I don't like change and I especially don't like changing my plans and routine too much, but sometimes one has to be flexible, it makes life so much easier, right?

When I opened the curtains this morning as my son was getting ready for school, it was very foggy and I warned him that the school bus would probably be late again, what with the fog and possibly still having a substitute driver.  So this morning I was a little more proactive in getting dressed "just in case" and keeping an eye on the clock. My son was still late to class yesterday (although his teacher let his slide) and the kids who had waited for the bus missed half of the first period altogether!

At 7:03, the bus still hadn't come by (it's supposed to stop at 6:55 a.m.) so I jumped in my SUV and drove to the corner of the street, told my son to hop in. He was relieved because he is like me and absolutely hates being late anywhere.

This time, we did stop to ask the kids waiting at the other stop if they wanted a ride because my son did know one of them. Wait, let me back up because I don't think I mentioned that yesterday: so yesterday we were driving down the road, and approached another bus stop with kids waiting there so I asked my son if he knew any of the kids and if we should offer them a ride. He said "I don't know anyone, just drive on!" because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and he's pretty much as asocial as I am au naturel. So I didn't stop but I felt bad about it.  Honestly, I would hope the kids wouldn't hop into a car with a stranger so I consoled myself with that thought. But it did bug me for a while that I didn't at least offer.

So last night my son said "well, I got in trouble because one of the kids at the stop recognized me and asked why I hadn't stopped!"  He was joking about being in trouble but the fact is that one of the kids waiting there used to attend the same teen library program as my son and did rile him up a little about leaving him in the cold.

So today we did stop by.  There was the kid my son knows and another girl that he doesn't know but that knows my son's acquaintance.  We offered the kid a ride and he gratefully accepted and also offered one to the girl.  She hesitated because she doesn't know us from Adam, but I assured her I wasn't a serial killer and was going straight to the high school. So she decided to come along.  I told them I'd probably end up giving them rides the rest of the week if the regular driver was still sick and that they'd probably should mention that to their parents and get their permission moving forward.  The kids were very nice and appreciative. We talked about their classes (they are sophomores and both want to do the Dual Enrollment program next year) and we were at the high school in no time and everyone was relieved that they wouldn't miss anything.  The first bell had rang about 1 minute before I dropped them off  so I don't think they'll get tardies today.  Hopefully the parents won't be pissed at the kids or at me for doing that.



Then Greg didn't go to work as planned because he wanted to call the garage at 8 a.m., when they opened, to ask if they could work on his truck leak today. We think it's the transmission that is leaking, yikes.  They said they might not be able to work on it today but to bring it by so he and I left to do that.  He needed to go in to work so he borrowed my SUV and I told him that if his truck was ready today, my daughter and I would go pick it up since she's home all day.   He was relieved not to have to juggle all that and work.

So now it's just past 9 a.m. and I'm waiting for my daughter to wake up. Originally she and I were going to go to Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando today, but when Greg said he'd take the truck in today, I had warned her that we might have to postpone our trip since I might need to be on hand to drive him there and back and then back to pick up the truck.  But since the garage closes at 5 p.m. I just need to make sure I'm back in town before then.  So we might still be able to go to the Gardens today and if not, I'll do my grocery shopping today with the Focus and we'll go to the Gardens tomorrow.    I hope the truck repair doesn't cost us an arm and a leg.  

So I'm not sure how much of my To Do's will get done today...

  • Reply to my mom's email
  • Make butternut squash soup and freeze (make sure I have proper containers)
  • Write Xmas cards
  • Mail Xmas cards
  • Sweep/mop kitchen
  • Dust the Cat Room
  • Sweep or vacuum the Cat Room
  • Clean the windows in the Cat Room
  • Fold the laundry
  • Put away the laundry
  • Clean the downstairs bathroom toilet bowl
  • Wrap some presents
  • Unload and reload dishwasher
  • Refill pineapple jars and water indoor seedlings
  • Make Dr appointment for son's annual check-up
  • Make dermatologist appointment for my son
  • Take batteries out of fans and store them until next hurricane season
  • Make appointment for son to take permit test
  • Replace solar rechargeable batteries in lights in front planter
  • Take out battery of the 3rd solar light on berm to see if it'll "fix" it
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Declutter the printer stand
  • Bake cookies for library staff (some time this week)
  • Go through receipt bucket and archive what needs to be archived, file what needs to be filed
  • Take RaceTrac surveys
  • Post November grocery totals
  • Make chocolate-covered pretzel sticks
  • Bake Christmas cookies for us
  • Work on shopping list
  • Make menu for the week - I defrosted a bunch of stuff yesterday so I'll use that for the next couple of days and then regroup.
  • Sort coupons in the organizer
  • Cook dinner in crockpot



  • My son packed a lunch to take to school today.

  • I dropped him and the other kids at school in time for them not to miss anything.

  • I mixed 1/4 gallon of water with 1/4 gallon of whole milk to stretch it.

  • Dinner tonight will be some beef stew in the crockpot with some bottom roast that I found at the bottom (ha!  Is this why it's called bottom roast?) of my freezer (bought on 50% clearance) and veggies from the fridge: some mushrooms that were threatening to go bad, a couple of carrots, 5 small red potatoes, some celery that I had frozen, minced garlic (from Dollar Tree), beef broth (Better Than Bouillon, bought for free with Swagbucks gift cards), and spices. I'll serve the rest of the corn bread that I baked last night with it.

  • I had 3 large mushrooms left over so I decided to dehydrate them, along with 2 medium zucchinis that were starting to go slimy. I think those will be better dehydrated (to thrown in the crockpot with a stew at a later date) than frozen.

  • I made a new batch of chocolate covered pretzel rods for the kids.

  • For a mid morning snack I ate some of the very old (as in 3+ years old!) gluten free  Chia Chocolate Chip cookies that I had bought and frozen back when we thought Greg might need to be off gluten.  They're actually pretty good in coffee :)

  • My daughter got up and we decided to go to Leu Botanical Gardens today after all. I have the annual pass that I had bought in April (and only used on that initial day!) and a guest pass for her so admission will be free to us.

  • My daughter had picked Cracker Barrel to have lunch before we go to Leu Botanicals gardens. so I looked for coupons online but their F.A.Q's state that they don't issue coupons or discounts. So I asked her if we could just go to Panera's.  I have a gift card that I had purchased a couple of months ago.  She agreed. Yay!  Driving to Clermont to have lunch will save us money on turnpike tolls to get to Orlando, too.  Also, I'm hoping that if we're done in time, we might be able to do the grocery shopping on the way home so I don't have to go out tomorrow at all. We'll see.

  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards points.

  • I'm trying to reach my 1st goal in Swagbucks (40 SB). I'm running nGage and JunGroup videos and played the Swagasaurus game to earn 10 free SB. I'm at 38 SB at 11:10 a.m. so I should be able to make it.

  • For the first time ever, PinchMe granted early access to claim samples (they sent me an email) and I was able to claim 4 samples/coupons.

  • I took two RaceTrac surveys so my daughter and I can pick up drinks for free for our drive in to Orlando. Then I have 2 more survey reward codes so we can pick up 2 more on the way home if we want too (or snacks).

  • I ordered a free Cinnamon Crunch bagel from Panera via my app, using my Free Bagel a Day in December reward.

  • CVS sent me a coupon for $2 off dental care items so I uploaded it to my ExtraCare card.

  • I reached my 1st SB Daily Goal. I won't bother with the 2nd Daily Goal.

  • My daughter and I drove the Focus this afternoon. We didn't have a choice since Greg had my SUV, but it was definitely cheaper than driving the SUV!

  • We stopped by RaceTrac and redeemed 2 survey reward codes for 2 free 32 oz fountain drinks.

  • Then we drove to Panera's and ordered our food to go so we could sit outside on the patio and not feel bad about drinking our RaceTrac sodas, lol.  I used the gift card to pay for the bill, so not money out of pocket for that, and I gave the card with the remaining $4.99 on it to my daughter so she can use it.  I did buy a $50 GC to get the free $10 bonus GC. I figured a free 25% was a good deal. I charged it to my Amazon Visa for (hopefully) 2% in Rewards since it's a restaurant.
The sun was shining in my eyes!
  • My daughter drove us very safely to Leu Botanical Gardens. We hit stop and go traffic on I-4 and she drove like a champ. I was very proud of her!   On the way, we talked about her plans and right now she's thinking about just going to live with her dad to save money and also because the dorm situation sounds "too complicated" for her.  He lives less than 5 minutes away from campus, she could pretty easily ride a bike or a motorized scooter to school.

  • As I mentioned, admission to the gardens was free to us with our passes. We spent a very enjoyable time there, each of us taking pictures of flowers and plants.  We did take the free 30-minute tour of the Leu House Museum, given by a docent. It was very interesting and I wish we had had more time to explore it on our own. It was all decorated for Christmas and very pretty. (pictures at the end of the post)

  • I kept checking with Greg whether he had heard from the garage or not and finally in mid-afternoon, they called him with an estimate ($416) but it won't be done until tomorrow so there was no reason for us to rush home. So we decided to stop by CVS and Aldi on our way home to do the grocery shopping so I don't have to go back out tomorrow.

  • We took some back roads through College Park instead of getting back on I-4 to go home because we didn't want to deal with the construction traffic and rush hour at the same time.  That saved us time and gas, for sure!

  •  At CVS, we picked up some cereal and milk. I had planned on getting the Kellogg's cereals that gave $2.00 back in ECB if you bought 3, but then I realized that if I bought 3, the 3rd one wouldn't be on sale (you had to buy 2 to get each at $2.50) so I bought Special K instead (on sale at $2.49 each but that didn't give back any ECBs.  I redeemed (3) $1.00/1 coupons from KFR. I also bought a gallon of milk and a bar of chocolate for my daughter. I paid for that with my CVS gift card earned via our USAA Visa Rewards.

  • I also bought a Disney gift card for my Oldest Son and his GF for Christmas and a 2-pack of CVS dental floss priced at $2.59 and redeemed the $2.00 coupon that I had uploaded earlier today.  $0.59 for 2 containers of floss, that beats Dollar Tree!  I charged all of that to my Amazon Visa card for 2% back in Rewards.

  • From there we went to Aldi where, as usual, I bought way too many snacks and paid more than the $50 which is my wishful weekly budget. Oh well.  They were out of chicken nuggets (my daughter and I gasped and grabbed each other's hand in horror!) so we got 2 packages of popcorn chicken instead.

  • Then we went home.  My son had gone to the library, on my bike, to volunteer.  I hadn't installed the light on the bike yet so we had agreed he would come home at 5:30 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m. so it wasn't dark yet.

  • My daughter helped me carry everything in and put things away.  The crockpot smells very good!  I'm so glad I put it on, I don't think I would have wanted to cook tonight.  I'm tired.

  • In the mail, I found a coupon for a free Totino's product.  I think it was from the Pillsbury or Betty Crocker newsletter, I don't remember.

  • Roku emailed me a code for a free $5 credit on Vudu so we can rent one movie for free.


  • Gas to drive my son to school.

  • Gas to go to the garage and back.

  • I didn't pack a lunch for Greg, thinking he'd work from home today, so he decided to just buy lunch today.

  • Gas and tolls to drive to Orlando and back

  • A $50 GC to Panera's for my daughter and my future outings


  • Greg keeps on closing the bathroom door after he's done with his shower, to keep the kittens out. The problem is that the bathroom doesn't have any ventilation so I get mildew everywhere. I asked him not to do that anymore (I just need him to keep the toilet seat closed so they don't fall in) but he did it twice this morning so I had to run the dehumidifier twice.

  • I tried participating in the Kellogg's Family Rewards Spin to Win instant win game but it told me I had already used my spin today.  I had logged in earlier but the game wasn't enabled yet.  So I emailed Customer Service, although I'm quite sure nothing will be done about this. Grrr.


  • Drove my son and acquaintances to school
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom
  • Accompanied Greg to the garage
  • Worked on my shopping list
  • Cuddled with a kitten
  • Put dinner to cook in crockpot
  • Dehydrated veggies about to go bad
  • Made chocolate covered pretzels
  • Earned reward points
  • Took Customer Satisfaction surveys
  • Went out to lunch and Leu Botanical Gardens with my daughter
  • Went grocery shopping with my daughter
  • Put the groceries away
  • Fed the kittens


  • For having more than one vehicle so everyone was able to get where they needed to go despite buses running late and trucks having leaks!
  • For a lovely afternoon with my daughter
  • For whoever invented the crockpot!


Here are some pictures I took at Leu Botanical Gardens today. I don't have a lot of names for the flowers because not everything was labeled.



Dombeya burgessiae
"Seminole" 
Cuphea schumannii
"Orange Cuphea"


Look at those fearsome spikes!



Very pretty geraniums

Camelia (Leu Botanicals Gardens has over 250 different varieties of camelias!)

Welcome to my vegetable garden. Yes, yes, it's all mine!



My daughter wants me to have some of those in the backyard. It's true that they're cool.  They used chicken wire at the bottom of the blocks to hold the soil and the plants.

Sigh. I have vegetable garden envy!

Alibizia julibrissin
"Summer Chocolate" Silk Tree





The rose gardens were majestic and sadly none of my pictures convey it :(

I think this is called "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". It was absolutely gorgeous.

A close-up.

Rose

So pretty!

Very fragrant, too!

Lovely

I have no idea that this tree was but the fruit had other flowers and leaves growing out of them...

... and the trunk had these weird spikes on them.

Another camera, but it came out blurry.
Camellia japonica
"Lady Clare"


Ficus cyathistipulaAfrican Fig Tree


Medinillar multiflora



The Leu Museum House

We weren't allowed to use flash photography so I used my phone and the pictures mostly didn't turn out.  Here is the main parlor.

The mantelpiece
That's it for today!