Monday, August 21, 2017

Domestic Monday ~ Eclipse Edition ~ 8/21/17



I just felt like throwing the eclipse into the title but I don't expect my Domestic Monday to be much different from the others...

SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

  • I was upset about last night's Game of Thrones episode, not because of the plot per se but because the writers suck and that show has gone downhill fast. Greg and I were thoroughly disgusted by many things that happened that made no sense whatsoever given the history of the show.  So I had a really hard time falling asleep and then Explorer came and went and that didn't help.  So I'll probably be exhausted this afternoon.

  • I got up extra early too, well at 6 a.m., because I needed to shower and wash my hair. And shave. I looked like the yeti!

  • Youngest Son packed a lunch and rode the bus to school. I wonder how many kids are actually attending today since the district said they wouldn't be penalized if they stayed home. Youngest Son wanted to go to school. He'd rather do the work there than have to catch up. However I don't think they're going to do much of anything, but we'll see.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • I organized my dirty dishes so it's a little less overwhelming.  I have got to wash them today!

  • I heated up the half mug of decaf that was left in the pot from last night and also brewed a pot of regular coffee. Still drinking that Walmart coffee with the sell-by date of 2007 (I think?).  It's greasy, though, so I got nauseous since I wasn't eating anything and I fell on the last pretzel bun that I bought this weekend like a hawk on a mouse.  I ate 4 pretzel rolls between Saturday and today and no, I'm not proud of myself. I have GOT to get back on my diet!

  • I started earning Swagbucks by playing automatic Ncraves and doing a couple of activities. I left my laptop running while I was out to breakfast so I could keep earning.

  • I also earned my double mobile Microsoft Rewards credits for the day. I earned the double laptop credits later on this morning.

  • I threw a load of laundry in the wash (cold/cold) before I left to go meet my friend for breakfast.

  • We met at the breakfast place just 5 minutes down from my house and she was telling me about this 10-day detox she wants to do that's geared toward diabetic and prediabetic patients so I shared my information about the diabetic exchange program with her and we inspired each other to be somewhat healthy at breakfast!  I can't remember what she had but I had a veggie omelet made with Egg Beaters and a small cup of fruit, with dry 12-grain toast.  I ate 1 slice of toast (shouldn't have since I'd had the pretzel bun at home!) but asked for a box to bring the 2nd slice home, along with a to go cup to bring the rest of my coffee home. However, the waitress brought me a to go cup already pre-filled with fresh coffee.  Great and also grrr because I was just trying not to waste the coffee that was left in my mug, lol.  I was going to pick up the check for the both of us but my friend insisted on paying since I paid for the both of us the last time we met.  Woohoo!


  • We made plans to get together again in the future but since she works an hour away, it's going to be challenging. I offered to go walk together on the trail one weekend and was up for that. Woohoo!

  • After we separated, I drove to Publix just about a short distance away.  I wanted to get a Powerball ticket or two and also do my grocery shopping so I can skip it on Wednesday. But knucklehead me, once again, didn't clip the coupons that I printed last week so I couldn't shop since the coupons I needed were on the coffee table at home. Arrgh.  However, I thought the Powerball tickets were $5 each for some reason and they are "only" $2 each. So I spent the $10 I was planning on spending on 5 tickets instead of 2, for this Wednesday's drawing.  I checked my regular Florida Lotto ticket but I hadn't won anything.

  • Then I drove to Walgreens, right across the street, because I did have the coupons I needed for that shop and my Register Rewards expired today. I bought: a 6-ct box of Foster Farms corn dogs, a can of Chicken of the Sea light tuna, and a mini highlighter and redeemed a Walgreens coupon for the tuna and 2 RR.  My OOP was just 30 cents, woohoo!  And yes, I charged it to my Amazon Visa because it's 2% back in Rewards (LOL) and also their machine is ultra fast and it would have taken longer to find the 30 cents in change in my wallet and for the cashier to put it away in his register, lol.


  • Back home, I straightened out the front porch.

  • The 1st load of laundry was ready to be dried and I was really tempted to use the dryer but I felt guilty about my non-frugal ways so I resolved to hang it.  However, it was far too humid outside (it rained last night) so I set up the racks in the Cat Room.  The kittens were very very curious so I fully expect to find all the clothes on the floor when I walk in the room next. Which should be any minute now as I have to go throw the 2nd load in the dryer (Greg's shirts and bath towels, I dry them on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting).
The older cats?  They couldn't have cared less.

I sorted my laundry by categories before hanging it. My inspectors made sure all the cloth napkins
were kept separate from the socks!

  •  As I went into the small shed to get the laundry racks, I also checked on the garden and tucked some sweet potato vines back where I don't mind having them.  They're overtaking everything!  The papaya seedlings that I left in the pot are fine. I didn't take any pictures today.


  • My BFF texted me so we chatted about our kids' first day of college classes. Her son is taking Astronomy this year (my daughter took it last year) so it's really cool that he gets to experience the eclipse while also taking that class.

  • At 10 a.m. I turned on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" on ION TV.  I'm typing this while it's playing and I can update my To Do List as well.

  • I went to put the 2nd load of laundry in the dryer but it was still soggy so I ran the spin cycle again.  The kittens have been bad... socks are on the floor...


  • And also they have reached a new level of awareness as they sniffed the to-go container with bread in it, chewed on it, managed to get it open and had themselves (honestly, I think it's Princess, she looooves baked goods!) a little snack.  Arrgh.


  • Woohoo!  CVS is offering a free 8x10 collage print through 8/22 with promo code SUMMERCOLLAGE.  You have to order on their website, not the app, and select in-store pick-up for it to be completely free. I made a collage of kitten photos (of course!) and will pick mine up on Wednesday.

  • I sent an email to my 3 friends, Middle Son and Daughter to let them know about it too!

  • Kellogg's Family Rewards is offering a Shutterfly freebie. Of course those are never completely free since they charge so much for shipping, but if anyone wants a personalized deck of card, send me an email and I'll send you my code since I won't be using it.

  • And yes, a driver plowed into a bus stop in Marseille. No, I didn't even contact my brother there because every time I freak out about an incident near where either of them live, they're telling me not to worry and that they're fine.  I think many more of those attacks will be occurring everywhere. It's so easy for those lunatics and pretty much undetectable and unpreventable :( My brother posted about something else (a mountain goat, of all things!) on Instagram later on and didn't mention that attack at all.

  • A new season of Endeavor started on PBS last night so I think I'll watch the first episode while folding the laundry, later on. Or maybe while doing the dishes.  Actually, there's no time like the present and I just checked that I did have the PBS app on my Kindle Fire so I'm going to go do the dishes and bake some cookies for Youngest Son :)

  • I did the dishes while watching the 1st 20 minutes of the show but I couldn't use the  close caption feature because there was a huge delay on the Kindle and the main actor tends to mumble so it was hard to comprehend with the water running. And then my Bluetooth speaker ran out of power. So I made my lunch and came back to the living room to watch the rest on the TV and to charge the speaker.  I'll bake the cookies later on.

  • Lunch was half the defrosted rice and green curry sauce leftovers and the leftover chicken breast meat that I had picked from the bones last week. I had the rest of the toasts from this morning's breakfast (well however much Princess left me!) and  I also made myself a fruit salad with blueberries, strawberries and half of the latest homegrown pineapple.
The rice and chicken was actually kind of dry (not enough sauce) but the fruit salad was delicious! 

  • And I drank the coffee from this morning's breakfast :)

  • I saved the pineapple top, of course, and put it to root in an upcycled pickle jar.


  • I had to be mean to my kittens (how I hate this!) and yell and push Explorer off the table yet again because they don't listen and today I'm not in the mood for their shenanigans.  I'm sure he'll come back to cuddle at some point.
And Princess kept on thinking that the countertop in the breezeway was her new napping spot and
I had to tell her to get down on at least 4 different occasions!
  • I met my 1st SB goal of 96 SB.  I'm hoping to keep the videos running all afternoon so I can reach my 2nd one but I might have to attempt some surveys. Blah.

  • It's 2:20 p.m. and it's cloudy outside but the sun is still out. I glanced at it a couple of times for only a portion of a second each time and boy, it did burn my eyes pretty fast so I won't be looking at it at all moving forward, lol.  Youngest Son should be getting on the bus right about now and home in about 20-25 minutes.

  • I haven't been very good with chores today.  I need to get my butt off the couch once "Endeavor" is over (I've paused it several times to read stuff online!) and get stuff done. Also, I always want to love "Endeavor" but generally, I find it to be tedious and boring, lol.  

  • I hate it when TV shows or movies are shot in the dark. I can't see anything.  I usually have to close the curtains but even so, I can barely see anything going on.  The fast action scenes are the same, which is why I get bored with the battle scenes in shows like GoT or video games. I can't see what's going on and I count the seconds/minutes until it's over.

  • 2:32 p.m.  Thunder just rang out. The weather app was predicting 40% chance of rain between noonish and 3 p.m.  It's probably going to rain at the apex of the eclipse for us (I'm thinking the apex is an appropriate term for it but maybe not?) and I wonder if that will affect how we experience it? Maybe it'll be too cloudy for it altogether. I checked the weather app again and now they predict 85% rain at 3 p.m. So we're definitely skipping the library.

  • Youngest Son came home at about 2:40 p.m. and it was sunny in the front yard but there were black clouds in the distance. At about 2:50 p.m. a thick cover of grey clouds threatened to cover up the sun anyway.  We might experience full obscurity yet, lol.
Very safe for the eyes!

  • 3:02 p.m.: well , not full obscurity but the cloud cover is total and it started pouring exactly at 2:59 p.m.  The kittens (well the two boys) were wild at about 2;50 p.m.  Tabby Kitten bit me (not hard) when I tried to pet him and Explorer attacked my camera as I was trying to take a picture of him!

Tabby Kitten bringing me yet ANOTHER sock this morning!

Explorer being all wild during our "eclipse"

And here he is, whacking my camera with his right paw.  Sucker punch!

  • I feel bad for our awesome librarians who went through the trouble of setting up a special event for the eclipse viewing event and now it's pouring and there's nothing to see. Maybe they're relieved, though. I'll have to ask them tomorrow.  Middle Son told me he had been able to watch it through his camera lenses' ND filter. Apparently "ND" stands for natural density. I had to look it up.

  • And so: free watering for the garden again today. Yay!

  • Ibotta confirmed I have a $0.12 credit for an Amazon purchase that I did through their portal but I've been shopping on Amazon so much recently (I have something like 4 or 5 orders coming in just today!) that I can't even remember what it is that I bought?!  Still, woohoo for 12 free cents!

  • Well, it's 3:26 p.m. and it stopped raining. The eclipse for us ended up being a total non-event and so I'm glad I didn't obsess over it. And didn't waste my money on special glasses, for sure!

  • I made crêpes for Youngest Son's snack (and mine... I need to go back on my diet for real, I've been bad these past few days!) after all, instead of baking cookies.

  • I tried reading more of the "Nickel and Dimed" book, but I just can't. I seriously dislike the author.  I had typed a whole rant about her and the ridiculous things she said, but then I deleted it because... well, life is too short to get all worked up about an author or a book written back in 2001.  I'm already all worked up about last night's Game of Thrones episode and what the showrunners are doing to the show!  I gotta pick my battles.  I guess her focus and style wasn't what I expected and not my cup of tea. I'll be returning it to the library.

  •  My daughter called me! She actually went outside her apartment to call me and the call quality was so much better, I could understand everything she said very clearly!  We chatted about her first day of classes and other stuff. She hasn't watched the GoT episode from last night yet because she was busy skyping with her BFF last night so she's going to watch it now and then we'll probably talk about it. I miss her!

  • She was a little stressed and sad about some personal stuff so after we hung up, she said "I think now it a good time for me to go get some macaroons to eat while I watched GoT" to which I replied "ITA!" and at the same time I was opening my mail and found the $25 Panera gift card that I had ordered from Amazon. So I texted her the gc info so she could add it to her app. It was meant for her Christmas stocking but my sweetie pie needs comfort, stat!  Plus I told her to use my free Bagel a Day reward for today since I didn't redeem it. She was very grateful :)

  • I had gotten a free 16 oz bag of trail mix free with the gift card so I gave that to Youngest Son.  At this rate, I'll never accumulate any Christmas gifts in my Christmas closet!

  • I got my other 4 Amazon orders, all in one box, and the boy kittens wasted no time playing hide and seek with and in the box, lol.


  • Another thing that I got in the mail is our Notice of Proposed Property Taxes and Proposed or Adopted Non-Ad Valorem Assessments. It's basically a notice that we receive every fall with the detail if what our taxable value was for several components of our property taxes for the past year, as well as how much we ended up paying for all of that back in 2016 and the 2017 current taxable value for all those components, what our taxes are going to be this year if no change is made to the budget and how much they'll be if the proposed budget change is made.  We paid $1,286.82 back in 2016.  This year, we'll pay $1,235.26 if they don't make any changes or $1,304.17 if the budget does change. So in the "worst case scenario", our taxes will go up by less than $20.  It's good news for us as taxpayers who don't like to pay taxes (lol, although I do love my library system and even our school system where my kids have mostly flourished, but I'm cheap and would rather pay fewer taxes than more!) and great info to have to plan how much I'll have to pay from our checking account when we get the bill since this year and for the first time, the mortgage company won't be taking care of that for us.  

  • Since there was a phone number to call with questions on the accompanying letter, I called to ask whether they had heard from the mortgage company about having satisfied the mortgage and sending me the bill directly, and the lady said that once I get the notice of what the actual bill will be (the one that says "Don't pay, the bill has been sent to your mortgage company"), I need to actually PAY it and then next year they'll know to bill me directly. So I'm glad I called and didn't waste a trip to their office :)

  • Suddenly this weekend I remembered that I had potatoes in my pantry so I checked on them... and had to compost a couple that had started getting really soft (but not stinky yet). So for dinner I used up half the remaining potatoes to make mashed potatoes and I'll bake some breaded chicken breasts that I had bought for youngest son that he never ate. I'll serve them on whole wheat buns like chicken sandwiches. I peeled the potatoes while watching Seinfeld since the water had to heat up and the kittens came running as soon as they heard the noise of me peeling the potatoes, as usual. Weirdos!

  • But then, walking back to the kitchen, I noticed that some kitten (for sure) had peed on the carpet in front of the printer stand. Not just piddling either, full on peeing!  There's a litter box just 2 feet away! It doesn't even look bad and Youngest Son added litter to it yesterday. Arrgh!  So I used a good amount of Bounty paper towels to soak up as much as possible and then saturated it the area with the Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer that I had bought back when they were little, on Laura's advice. I'm glad I still had some! I guess they were playing too hard as they've been chasing each other all over the place this afternoon?  Arrgh.

  • My laundry is taking forever to dry indoors on the racks, but then again it would have taken long outside too because it was so humid.

  • I took a Wawa survey and earned a new coupon for a free drink that I'll redeem on Wednesday.

  • Woohoo, I surpassed my 2nd daily goal in SB without having to take a survey and the videos are still running. I should be able to order a new gift card tomorrow at the latest :)

  • Dinner was good, we have a lot of mashed potato leftovers.  I didn't have a cover for the container so I dug out a shower cap that I had grabbed from one of our hotel rooms this summer, just for this very purpose.

  • After dinner, I texted with my daughter about our impressions of the GoT episode from last night, and Greg continued watching "WestWorld", episode 5.

  • I might not publish a blog post tomorrow. Looking at my To Do List, I have a lot of things to do and if I start blogging about my day, I'm just going to be on the laptop all day because it's really my avoidance tactic, I think!  So I might do one of those several days at a time recap later on this week. I'm not sure. Just don't worry if you don't hear anything from me for a few days!

To Do List
  • Errands
    • Buy a couple of Powerball tickets! DONE
    • Do Walgreens shopping DONE
    • Meet friend for breakfast DONE
    • Take Youngest Son to Library for eclipse?! NOPE
    • Pick up new library book (Tuesday)
  • Health
    • Exercise
    • Tape the Strength Training videos and put on dedicated SD card 
  • Cleaning (i.e. domestic chores)
    • Empty dishwasher DONE
    • Do the dishes DONE
    • Sweep the kitchen DONE
    • Clean fridge
    • Do the laundry DONE
    • Fold the laundry
    • Put the laundry away
    • Wash litter boxes
    • Wash window over kitchen sink
    • Wash the front of the kitchen cabinets
    • Iron Greg's clothes
    • Sweep upstairs bathroom
    • Vacuum living room
    • Dust Greg's bedroom
    • Dust my bedroom
    • Clean Daughter's room
    • Mend some items from the mending basket, especially Greg's shorts
    • Vacuum fridge's coils
    • Scrub the WHOLE shower (including ceiling)
    • Clean exercise room vent
    • Wash bathroom and hall ceiling, door jamb  (wear old clothes)
  • Food
    • Defrost meat for dinner NO NEED TONIGHT
    • Bake a snack for Youngest Son DONE
    • Make mashed potatoes DONE
    • Make vanilla extract
    • Try to make beef jerky
    • Plan today's food intake 
    • Keep track of liquid intake!
    • Record today's food intake into MFP 
    • Inventory fridge
    • Inventory pantry
    • Inventory small freezer
  • Outdoors
    • Plant 2nd passion fruit vine seeds
    • Plant lantana berry (with gloves, remove flesh first)
    • Make hummingbird nectar
    • Trim bushes in front of the house 
    • Transplant ferns from bin into front yard 
    • Transplant all basil seedlings from berm and patio to the empty garden beds 
    • Pull weeds from garden area 
    • Pull weeds from rose planter 
    • Pull weeds from raspberry planter 
    • Pull weeds from gravel path IN PROGRESS
    • Pull weeds from patio 
    • Lay down more cardboard on top of mulch
    • Mulch the berm again
    • Make more self watering bins
    • Plant tomatoes and lettuce (when it's cooler)
    • Add Osmocote plant food to hibiscus and roses
    • Check on beans and papaya seedlings (daily) and water as needed  IT RAINED
    • Check on pineapples rooting in jars DONE
    • Harvest pineapple?  NOT YET
    • Read up on growing papaya trees again 
    • Water the potted plants IT RAINED LAST NIGHT
    • Order rain barrel from Home Depot
    • Figure out where to plant the salvia, lantana 
  • Pets
    • Give Male Cat and Mean Kitty their medicine  DONE
    • Trim all cats' nails
    • Brush cats
  • Financial/Legal
    • Take Wawa survey DONE
    • Read "Nickel and Dimed" library book TRIED TO, GIVING UP
    • Track Greg's new pay stub in my spreadsheets
    • Explore Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services webpage and get started on process 
    • Create Greg's online Social Security Account (with him) and update my documents
    • Explore Will and Power of Attorney forms on LegalZoom and discuss with Greg
    • Call SunTrust and Chase re: bonds
    • Reconcile FSA records to make sure we're not missing money in the account
  • Family & Friends
    • Take Youngest Son driving  
    • Write a letter to my great aunt
    • Post trip pictures on French blog - STARTED 
    • Finish the 2014 Powerpoint document for Daughter
    • Add clip art to all 2012, 2013 and 2014 pages that I created and print them
  • Organization/Decluttering
    • Type up freezer inventory
    • Make menu for upcoming week
    • Plan meal ideas ahead (beyond this week) with freezer and fridge contents 
    • Clip coupons
    • Put coupons away in coupon organizer
    • Help Youngest Son move his military miniatures to Daughter's bedroom? 
    • Review emails I had sent to Youngest Son on 7/23 about college with him
    • Get him started on Coalition For Access application (add reminders on calendar for each summer too)
    • File paperwork
    • Declutter the printer stand
    • Declutter the breezeway counters
    • Declutter the gardening supplies area
    • Declutter the old coffee table ONGOING

Day Book: Monday 8/21/17



Outside my window...  the windows are foggy but the sun is rising. It's 7:27 a.m.

I am thinking... that I can't wait for this "Total Eclipse" madness to be over.

I am thankful for... caring and comforting dental office staff!

From the learning rooms... my daughter starts her classes at UF today! Youngest Son went to school even though the district said that kids who wanted to stay home "to experience the eclipse" would not be penalized and would only have to catch up on the work. I expect a lot of kids will decide to stay home and nothing will get done at school today. He had tons of work this weekend even though most teachers had said they don't believe in homework. But this is high school, not 2nd grade, and assignments are still given and notes are to be taken, etc.

From the kitchen... I'm going to spend the eclipse doing my dirty dishes today. I also have to make a menu for the week since I didn't do it yesterday. Lastly, I think I'll bake something for Youngest Son's after school snack. Maybe cookies.

I am wearing... I'm meeting a friend for breakfast so I "dressed up": tan shorts, my Star Wars Stitch Tshirt and my new walking shoes.

I am creating... I'm trying to "create" papaya trees and passion fruit vines by planting seeds and transplanting seedlings :)

I am going... to meet my friend for breakfast in about 20 minutes. And then to Walgreens to use up my Register Rewards, and then to buy a couple of Powerball tickets.  After that, I'll need to work on my chores. I think we'll skip going to the library this afternoon. It'll probably be crowded, they'll run out of glasses, and I'm worried about the morons on the road quite honestly.

I am reading... I have started "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich who really rubs me the wrong way.  I'm trying to ignore my personal annoyance with her but that and the fact that the book was written in 2001 and not more recently, is helping my enthusiasm level for reading the book.

I am hoping... that my daughter's first day of classes go well, that my son's school bus driver doesn't get into an accident driving the kids home during the eclipse, that my kitties are smart enough not to look at the sun during it.

I am hearing... Greg getting ready to go to work.

Around the house... I'm about to be alone with the kitties!  Today is Domestic Monday so I have to be productive... right after that breakfast with my friend, though.

One of my favorite things... my Roku 2. I've been streaming a lot of shows recently.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I have nothing planned this week at all save for that breakfast this morning and my usual grocery shopping trip. I'd like to go to the thrift store on Friday with Youngest Son to see about getting a new-to-me over-the-range microwave. But that's about it.

Here's the picture I'm sharing... I don't have one, sorry!


Have a good week!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A New Visit to P.E.A.R. Park ~ Sunday 8/20/17



How did it get to be August 20th already?! And yet, 3+ more years until Election Day 2020.  Sigh.

I can't wait for the Eclipse Madness to be over.  I was thinking about driving to the library with Youngest Son tomorrow to watch it with their glasses but now I'm thinking that I'll have to drive during the eclipse and I'm worried about the moronic drivers on the road and then thinking that we might not even get to borrow any glasses if the library is packed.  So we'll see. Youngest Son really doesn't want to go, I just feel guilty that I wouldn't find an opportunity for him to see something he might not see again in his lifetime. Although, it's not like it'll be a full eclipse for us at all so...  Are you planning on watching it?  Did you get the glasses?

Once again my boys were still hard at work when I went to bed last night.  This time I turned on Forensic Files on my Kindle Fire but I turned off the screen and just let the narrator lull me to sleep.  Since the episodes auto advance when you play them on Amazon Instant Video, the narration continued until about 2:30 a.m, when my Kindle's battery finally ran out!

The rest of my night was a bit restless as, alternatively, I woke up feeling parched and then having to use the bathroom.  Finally I got up at 8 a.m. but sans kittens.

I went to brush my teeth and the door flew open and Explorer strolled in, LOL.  When we got out of the bathroom, the other two kittens were waiting for us behind the door so we all went downstairs and I fed them along with the older cats.

Once again Greg had stomach problems last night (we met in the hall at 2:30 a.m.!) so he slept in this morning and skipped fishing. He got up at 9 a.m. and went straight to work on his laptop.  It's going to be another long day for him.

As for me, I have no motivation. I was thinking, yesterday, that I'd do some gardening, but then it poured last night so it's very humid this morning, yuck. Similarly, I thought that maybe I'd take a bike ride by myself but again: humid!  So I'll probably spend my day on the couch.  There is a Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon on ION TV, after all. Plus I would like to pick up my library book again. I never did read any of it yesterday.

SUCCESSES AND FAILURES


  • The cats this morning were chill:
Mean Kitty wanted to prove that yes, she could also fit in that tiny box, OK?!

Tabby Kitten was amusing himself with the hawk feather we brought back from our walk a couple of weeks ago

Male Cat looks like he was pouting about something

New Kitty was looking out the window

And the twins were like "Didn't you say you were going to clean our litter boxes this weekend?!  Here is the litter, WOMAN!"  Calm down, kitties, it ain't Domestic Monday yet!

  • So the routine tasks start: running Swagbucks videos to try to earn some more SB. This morning again the automatic nCraves are available in my line-up, woohoo, so I'm hoping to reach my 1st goal of 79 SB pretty easily. Plus, I scored a Search Award worth 26 SB pretty early on so I'm definitely in a good spot!



  • Microsoft Rewards is offering double PC and Mobile Search points for Level 2 members through the end of the month!  Woohoo!  Greg complains that it actually means double the work since it's the maximum daily limit that's been raised to 2x the usual limit, but with my tricks, we only click on pictures, so it really goes fast (well, not too fast for me as I do catch up on the news while I click on the pictures when I do it on my PC).



  • I checked my usual sites for the news (depressing and uplifting at the same time, the now usual weird dichotomy) and headed to Feedly to catch up on the blogs and feeds that I follow.  A few Slickdeals posters got excited about a discount on some gift cards on Staples.com so I head over to the site and order a $50 Darden Restaurants email gift card for just $40.  We do enjoy eating out so I might as well try to save a few bucks.  I did check the Swagbucks and Ebate portals, and while they offer rewards for shopping on Staples.com, it doesn't apply to gift cards. I also checked Discover Deals and American Express deals but there aren't any Staples offers. So I order the card directly from the Staples website and charge it to my Amex for 1% back in Rewards.  I was tempted to order more than one card, but Black Friday  and Christmas will be upon us soon enough so a lot of restaurants will be offering, once again, bonus amounts for buying gift cards so I'll probably stock up then.



  • While checking the deals available in our Amex accounts, I noticed that both Greg and I have an offer for a $20 statement credit if we spend $100 on Walmart Online Groceries so I uploaded the deal to both our cards.  I checked the website to make sure it's available at our store and it is. I can designate an alternate pick-up person so it might be a good way for me to help Youngest Son with groceries when he first moves in to his apartment in a couple of weeks, especially since his apartment is very close to our Super Walmart.



  • Sunday is when the new manufacturer coupons are issued so I head over to my regular sites to see if there's anything worth printing and uploading: I printed coupons via Swagbucks (and emailed Alison P. to let her know there was a $1.00/1 printable for the Very Berry Cheerios cereal since her family enjoys them too). I should get 10 SB per redeemed coupon but that rarely happens.



  • I also checked the Butterball website and was able to print 2 new coupons for $0.75 off a smoked turkey sausage dinner.  I like stocking up on those because it makes for a quick-cooking and pretty cheap dinner (that's the sausage that I added to the lentil soup last night).



  • I also uploaded new coupons to my CVS and Publix apps.  Publix might publish more coupons later on so I'll check again tomorrow. I rarely shop there but uploading the coupons doesn't cost me anything so I do it every week!



  • A friend and I had planned to meet for breakfast tomorrow morning so I texted her to ask if we were still on.  Good thing I did because I think she had forgotten about it, lol.  But we're on, woohoo! Our sons were BFFs in middle school, I hope it continues in high school, although they don't have any classes together, different after school activities (her son is in band) and the school is much larger now so it might be more challenging.



  • Then I texted my daughter to wish her a good "last day before your classes start" and good luck for tomorrow.  We might talk before then but also she's probably going to be busy/stressed so I don't want to pressure her to call/text me.



  • I put a reminder on my calendar to go to the ReStore thrift store on Friday with Youngest Son to see if there's an over-the-range microwave that I can buy to replace the one I bought last year that stopped heating up.  I really like having a more powerful microwave than the countertop one and also to have two of them. It's very useful, especially when your dinner consists of a lot of leftovers!



  • I checked the Plenti website and unlocked a Chili's offer. I probably won't use it but again... just in case!



  • No one won the Powerball last night. You know why? Because I'm obviously destined to be the winner but I forgot to buy a ticket.  So... if I go out today, I'm going to treat myself to a couple of tickets. What?  Yes, a tax on stupid but also entertainment we can afford. It's fun to dream of what you would do if you did win!



  • I unlocked a couple of new Ibotta rebates on my app.




  • I backed up my blog.  I have a reminder to do that every Sunday and since it only takes a couple of minutes, I am diligent about doing it.  I back it up to my hard drive as well to my external drive (even though the file itself should automatically be synced to the external drive but I have come to not trust technology so blindly!



  • I entered my weight into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 20 BR points.



  • I feel like going walking, despite the humidity, but Greg is working so I think I might go to P.E.A.R. Park to see if there are any plants and birds to photograph and get some walking done too.  Update: Yep, I went all by myself!  I asked Youngest Son if he wanted to come but he didn't. Oh well.  I'm posting pictures after my To Do List :)

  • It's only 20 minutes to P.E.A.R. Park and there aren't any tolls. 

  • I was the only one there visiting. Everyone else was a ranger or maintenance worker. It was very peaceful and I enjoyed my walk very much, even though it was super hot, I was there for an hour but only walked 1.44 miles because I stopped so often to take pictures!

  • I wanted to walk longer but I hadn't had lunch (and hadn't planned properly by packing a picnic!) and I didn't have enough water with me either so I just went home after an hour there.

  • On my way home, I called Greg to see if he and Youngest Son wanted me to pick them up lunch from McDonald's. However, they had already eaten. I asked him not to tell Youngest Son anything as I was still planning on stopping to get him a milkshake but wouldn't if the line was super long.

  • But when I got to McDonald's, there was no line AND their shake machine was indeed working today!  I knew I had leftovers in the fridge so I resisted buying myself a sandwich and used a "Get a free medium shake with any purchase" app coupon to buy myself a large Diet Coke ($1.00) and get a free chocolate shake for Youngest Son. I charged the $1.07 to Discover for 5% back in Rewards.

  • When I got home at a 1:15 p.m., Greg was mowing the lawn!  He said he had fixed the 2nd bag bug so he was "rewarding" himself by mowing the lawn, LOL. I'm very grateful that he actually enjoys doing this. He gets exercise and we save money by not having to hire a yard crew.

  • For lunch, I heated up the last of the 3-Bean Turkey Chili with some reduced fat Cheddar cheese on it, and had the last of the naan bread too.  Then I made myself a large fruit salad.  I cut up the latest pineapple that I had harvested over a week ago, I think. It was very small so I ate the whole thing! It was delicious, so so sweet.

Explorer was playing with my apron ties while I was making my fruit salad. He's a mommy's boy :)

  • I saved the pineapple top and put it to root in an upcycled plastic jelly jar.

  • I took it outside and took several pictures of my backyard.
The Belleza Compact Light Pink Gaura is flowering again!  Arrgh, my picture turned out blurry.

A berry on my milkweed lantana. Darn it, I forgot it was lantana not milkweed, doh. I'm hoping I can bury it like a seed? I need to research.  Update: ah yes, it is a fruit that contains one seed. I need to bury it but it's toxic so I should wear gloves.

My mini pineapple empire (for now)

My "old" empire... that will keep on producing new pineapples :)

That sweet potato vine is growing out of control and invading everything!  I hope that at least we get some sweet potatoes out of it!

Another view of the same vine.

This butterfly was all over this bush but it wasn't feeding (since there aren't any flowers)
I think it was trying to lay eggs!
  • I finally thinned the papaya seedlings. I felt sad about pulling most of them out. I left 2 of them and will pull whichever ends up being the weakest of the two (if they survive!).  I stuck the ones that I had pulled, at random, in a self-watering bin. I'm sure they won't survive but I just didn't want to throw them away!

    Look at how tall they had gotten!

    After thinning them.

    But I didn't want to throw them away! Think of all the delicious papaya I could be eating for free!

    They probably won't survive but I couldn't just throw them away!


    • One of the two remaining pineapples looked ready to be harvested so I did!

    Yum, yum, yum! They say homegrown tomatoes taste much better (and it's true) but homegrown
    pineapples are like 100 times better than store bought :)
    • While I ate my lunch, I realized that I had forgotten to stop by RaceTrac to buy my Powerball ticket(s). Damn it.

    • I collected 2 passion fruits that had fallen to the ground at P.E.A.R. Park, because I want to grow them in my own backyard.  I found this illustrated WikiHow article that explains how to grow it from seeds. Woo!  But then I got impatient about planting some of the seeds since I had already cut the fruit, so I just rubbed them between 2 paper towels, which didn't really do anything to get rid of the pulp around each seed. Oh well, because, you know, I'm thinking that at P.E.A.R. Park, they reseed themselves without anyone's help!  Similarly, I planted them in a self-watering bin for now, but one that had a lot of weeds and I pulled all the largest ones but there are still a bunch of smaller ones. The Wiki article said to make sure there aren't any weeds around them, but again, at P.E.A.R. Park, they only pull non-native species (and again, most of the property is allowed to grow wild) and passionfruit vines are everywhere.  So I'm hoping it'll be OK. I only planted the seeds from 1 fruit in the bin.  I'm thinking I might plant the seeds from the other fruit straight into the ground, but I have to think of the best place for them first and make sure to tell Greg not to mow there.  I'm thinking about using our old wooden swingset (that Greg had converted to a hanging plant stand for me) so train the vines to grow on it if they actually germinate.


    • Youngest Son walked to the park near our house to get some swinging done, so he got his own physical activity today. 

    • I passed my 2nd Daily Goal in Swagbucks mid-afternoon and then the NCrave videos stopped. Oh but wait, other automatic nCraves became available so I'm playing them. I'm at 1,920 SB right now so pretty close to earning another $25 SB gift card.  This time, I think I'll pick a Walmart gift card again but send it to my daughter.

    • Jerry Lewis died today :( I know that most of you think that French people loooooove Jerry Lewis. I think it's a misconception. He was well-known in France, for sure, but nobody I know back there ever thought that he was anything special, to be honest. However, he was justifiably revered for his efforts on behalf of muscular dystrophy research and fundraising. Anyhoo I felt that the headline that I saw today, calling him "The King of Low Brow Comedy" was very insulting. When I asked Greg was he thought, he agreed and said that many comedies made nowadays are much much MORE low brow that any of the comedies made in the 50s and 60s. Hear hear! Personally, I don't think any of the movies that I saw with him were low brow at all.  What a send-off, poor guy.


    • AAAARRGH! I spent a loooong time reviewing my pictures from P.E.A.R. Park, cropping some, changing the color balance in others, etc. And then, when I went to upload them, suddenly they all disappeared from my folder. We're talking 200+ pictures. I looked in my Recycling bin... nothing!  I still had the originals on my SD card so I captured one of the file names and searched my hard drive for it. Nothing. It's as if I had never copied them to my hard drive and had never worked on them at all.  It's maddening!  So I have to start from scratch again and I'm not sure that I have the energy for it.  Ugh. More than anything else, I'd really like to know what happened and where they could have gone!  Update: and then, when I copied them back from my SD card to my hard drive, suddenly all the cropped pictures (that didn't exist as such on the SD card) reappeared!  Whaaaat?!  You might think that perhaps I edited the pictures directly on the SD card instead of first copying them to my hard drive, but it's impossible because I had already removed the SD card from my laptop and my editing software points to my hard drive anyway.  So I still don't understand wtf happened and it's really disturbing me. I don't like not understanding things.

    • On a good note, though, I just realized that tonight is: GAME OF THRONES NIGHT!  Only 2 more episodes this season!

    • And Greg pre-ordered his Xbox One S: Scorpio Edition on the Microsoft website.  Price: $499. Arrrgh. But hey he works hard and makes a good living and gaming (and whiskey) are his only vices so... I really can't complain. I had him go through the Discover Deals website to try to get 5% back but it probably won't work since the purchase has to be completed within 3 hours. Honestly, I hope that Amazon will have it on pre-order soon too so we can definitely get the 5% back on our Amazon Visa. I signed up to get an email alerting me when it's available and then we would cancel the Microsoft order.

    • For dinner, I cooked the Beef and Bleu Cheese sausages from Aldi in my toaster oven and served them on the last whole wheat hot dog buns that I had in the fridge. Greg topped his with homemade zesty refrigerator pickles.  I served pretzel sticks on the side (gourmet!) and also made a spinach strawberry salad.    Greg really liked the sausage so I'll probably buy more when I go to Aldi on Wednesday (if they still have them). Speaking of Aldi, they DID have the whole wheat hamburger buns this week, although it still states that they're a seasonal item. Color me confused.


    To Do List
    • Errands
      • Buy a couple of Powerball tickets!
    • Health
      • Exercise
      • Tape the Strength Training videos and put on dedicated SD card 
    • Cleaning (i.e. domestic chores)
      • Empty dishwasher 
      • Do the dishes 
      • Sweep the kitchen 
      • Clean fridge
      • Wash window over kitchen sink
      • Wash the front of the kitchen cabinets
      • Iron Greg's clothes
      • Sweep upstairs bathroom
      • Vacuum living room
      • Dust Greg's bedroom
      • Dust my bedroom
      • Clean Daughter's room
      • Mend some items from the mending basket, especially Greg's shorts
      • Vacuum fridge's coils
      • Scrub the WHOLE shower (including ceiling)
      • Clean exercise room vent
      • Wash bathroom and hall ceiling, door jamb  (wear old clothes)
    • Food
      • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
      • Make vanilla extract
      • Try to make beef jerky
      • Plan today's food intake 
      • Keep track of liquid intake!
      • Record today's food intake into MFP 
      • Inventory fridge
      • Inventory pantry
      • Inventory small freezer
    • Outdoors
      • Plant 2nd passion fruit vine seeds
      • Plant lantana berry (with gloves, remove flesh first)
      • Make hummingbird nectar
      • Trim bushes in front of the house 
      • Transplant ferns from bin into front yard 
      • Transplant all basil seedlings from berm and patio to the empty garden beds 
      • Pull weeds from garden area 
      • Pull weeds from rose planter 
      • Pull weeds from raspberry planter 
      • Pull weeds from gravel path IN PROGRESS
      • Pull weeds from patio 
      • Lay down more cardboard on top of mulch
      • Mulch the berm again
      • Make more self watering bins
      • Plant tomatoes and lettuce (when it's cooler)
      • Add Osmocote plant food to hibiscus and roses
      • Check on beans and papaya seeds (daily) and water as needed  IT RAINED
      • Check on pineapples rooting in jars DONE
      • Harvest pineapples?  HARVESTED ONE
      • Read up on growing papaya trees again and thin the seedlings
      • Water the potted plants IT RAINED LAST NIGHT
      • Order rain barrel from Home Depot
      • Figure out where to plant the salvia, lantana 
    • Pets
      • Give Male Cat and Mean Kitty their medicine  DONE
      • Trim all cats' nails
      • Brush cats
    • Financial/Legal
      • Take Wawa survey 
      • Read "Nickel and Dimed" library book ONGOING
      • Track Greg's new pay stub in my spreadsheets
      • Explore Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services webpage and get started on process 
      • Create Greg's online Social Security Account (with him) and update my documents
      • Explore Will and Power of Attorney forms on LegalZoom and discuss with Greg
      • Call SunTrust and Chase re: bonds
      • Reconcile FSA records to make sure we're not missing money in the account
    • Family & Friends
      • Take Youngest Son driving  
      • Write a letter to my great aunt
      • Post trip pictures on French blog - STARTED 
      • Finish the 2014 Powerpoint document for Daughter
      • Add clip art to all 2012, 2013 and 2014 pages that I created and print them
    • Organization/Decluttering
      • Type up freezer inventory
      • Make menu for upcoming week
      • Plan meal ideas ahead (beyond this week) with freezer and fridge contents 
      • Help Youngest Son move his military miniatures to Daughter's bedroom? 
      • Review emails I had sent to Youngest Son on 7/23 about college with him
      • Get him started on Coalition For Access application (add reminders on calendar for each summer too)
      • File paperwork
      • Declutter the printer stand
      • Declutter the breezeway counters
      • Declutter the gardening supplies area
      • Declutter the old coffee table ONGOING
    FIELD TRIP: P.E.A.R. PARK

    I've visited P.E.A.R. Park on several occasions in the past (among others, here and here), and always resolve to go there once a month because I enjoy it so much, but I usually ignore my calendar reminder that pops up. I'm glad I went today, despite the heat. I saw beautiful flowers, a few birds (although I wasn't lucky enough to be able to photograph them) and butterflies! It was very peaceful and every time I thought "Darn it, it's HOT!", a cool breeze would start blowing as if to say "Don't go yet!  Stay..."  I took many of the same pictures before, but I really enjoyed those flowers and took pictures anyway so as to better remember my enjoyable walk!

    However, once again I was walking right at noon, and the light is really terrible for taking good pictures because the sun was right above me (and the plants!) and there wasn't any good angle to correct the harsh light. So I ended up saturating a few of the pictures to highlight the colors of the plants a little more, just so that you know, because a lot of the pictures looked washed out.  I really need to get up early and get going before 9 a.m. when I go walking!

    I hadn't noticed the Heritage Grape Arbor before...

    There were no birds on the lake... probably because the lake was overgrown with grasses!


    I didn't see any gators or snakes. I was wearing my hiking boots, though, just in case!

    The trail stretched ahead of me in the hot sun. I had my baseball cap on but I really need to get myself a hat like Greg, that protects my nape.  I should have just borrowed his today but I forgot.  I did, though, put on sunscreen.

    Goldenrod





    I thought that caterpillar was cute!

    Eastern Prickly Pear... and a bonus snail.

    This picture is very fuzzy because this small white butterfly was very hard to photograph and then I had to blow
    up the corner of the picture where I finally captured it.



    Lantana... looks just like the one at my house!  This was in the butterfly garden. Once again, I didn't see butterflies in the butterfly garden, but I did see them everywhere else!

    Ah no, I lied. I did see this sulfur butterfly on an Indian Blanket flower :)

    Spotted Bee Balm



    A HUGE Beautyberry bush!  And it was all purple!  YAY!  

    Beautyberries make me giddy I love their purple berries.  Note, on the right, the various shades of the berries as they ripen from green to pale pink to deep purple.


    But what is this?!  It was another bush but that one was WHITE!  I have never seen a white Beauty Berry!  Those berries turned from green to white.  Maybe they'll become purple later on?! But the whole bush was white. Nary a pink or purple berry at all on it. Upon doing some research, it looks like it might be "white beautyberry albifructus" and it grows from seed. Darn it, next time I need to harvest some berries and plant them!

    Speaking of planting... this is one of the passion flower fruit that I found on the ground and took home to plant.

    Passion vine flower. So gorgeous!


    There were tons of passion fruit everywhere!

    Coral Honeysuckle

    A fritillary caterpillar on a passion flower vine, its host plant.

    I think this is Blazing Star.  I love it, it's gorgeous.


    Those were so cool too! Look at those twisted branches!


    Ah, so that's what those black cones were!  Doh.

    Approaching the small forest bordering the Palatlakaha River...

    This tree had a bad case of... fungus?  

    Is that a pomegranate?

    The plumper version of the fruit. It kind of looks like a plum

    A caterpillar just had lunch...

    Or maybe breakfast...

    In any case, it's going back to bed!

    Nighty night!  You do know it's noon, right?

    Alright, I now had to decide whether to turn left and take the river trail that's in the forest, or turn right and continue in the hot sun...
     
    To my right...

    To my left. Alright, left it is because it's dang HOT.

    I see beautyberries as soon as I enter the woods. Woo!


    There was no water here last year... but it's still far from being the small pond that once was here, I guess (since they built that elaborate bridge).


    By the time I get to the Palatlakaha River, the mosquitoes have found me and are buzzing in my ears.  Silly me, I left my
    spray at home.

    Another look at the forest (so shallow, still, despite all the rain we've been having!), and I decide to
    head back out into the sun because I don't need to risk getting Zika or Equine Encephalitis or Chiggers.

    Ouch!  The sun is brutal, though! Thankfully, every 5 steps, when I think "it's so hot!", a cool breeze starts blowing.  Like by magic.



    Yeah the landscape isn't the mountains of North Carolina, but it's so peaceful and quiet... you can't help but love it. Trust me.

    Hercules Club

    Nasty spikes all over!

    Blue Mistflower

    At this point, I could continue on straight to try to make a loop around the whole park, or turn right and take a shortcut to get back to my SUV. Regretfully, I decide to turn right because I didn't bring enough water and also I didn't pack a picnic and I'm getting hungry.  I'll come back when it's cooler and walk around the whole park again, as I did back in April.


    A cocoon

    A beetle with humongous thighs.  That guy must be hitting the rowing machine at the gym!

    Suddenly a loud noise came out of that little tree that was on my left.  I got my camera ready, but too late...

    And the only picture I managed to take was when this owl was already too far away. I blew this up a lot and it's really blurry.

    The butterflies are obviously loving all the native plants as there were lots of caterpillars everywhere. Well done, P.E.A.R. Park and volunteers!