Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Recap: January Goals Vs. Accomplishments

I'm checking in to see how I did on my January Goals.

Personal Goals
  1. Read 2 fiction books:  I gave up on this goal. I didn't have much interest in
    "Fantastic Beasts" after all, and I've been busy during the day so when I relax in the evening, I like to catch up on blogs.  I'll have to try again in February.
    1. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" by JK Rowling (library book)
    2. "Mercer Girls" by  Libbie Hawker (ebook on loan from Amazon Prime Reading)
  2. Go on 2 walks with Greg - Done! Went on 1 walk on 1/1 (Lake Idamere Park) and on 1/8 (General Van Fleet Trail)
  3. Exercise every weekday for at least 30 minutes - Did it for the first 3 weeks but not when I wasn't feeling well.
  4. Practice strength exercises one day a week - Didn't do at all
  5. Do foot stretches 3 x a day DONE! and it's really helped!
  6. Log all my food in MyFitnessPal Did it for the first 3 weeks but not when I wasn't feeling well.
  7. Fill up XL RaceTrac cup in the morning with water and drink one of those every day. Start drinking before I drink coffee. Did it for the first 3 weeks but not when I wasn't feeling well.
  8. Lose 5 lbs in January (check with Bonnie how she is doing) Done
  9. Most of our dinners at home should be at the dinner table. Done!
  10. If/when we go out to eat, drink only water and order salads and other low-calorie meals. Half success. I did well on 2 meals out but ordered a Reuben on the 3rd:)  Then I was sick the following week so that was my punishment :)
  11. Write to my aunt (letter or postcard) - Done
  12. Send an email to my French BFF - Done
  13. Post at least 2 pictures on Instagram to share with my siblings 1 picture posted and 1 video as well! And I commented on my brother's photo.
  14. Call my mom - Sent her a very long email and pictures on 1/7
  15. Mail her the 8 x 10 picture of Oldest Son - Done
  16. Start French blog and post pictures that I think my mom would enjoy (outings, cats, kids)
  17. Schedule a lunch with Middle Son this month  Done
  18. Schedule an outing/activity with Youngest Son this month - Done
  19. Schedule an outing/activity with Daughter this month Done
  20. Schedule lunch or coffee with each of my two IRL friends - Done
  21. Reopen blog comments and start engaging with other bloggers again - Done
  22. Go on field trips on my own: P.E.A.R. park, Leu Botanical Gardens, local museums and attractions, county and state parks... we bought a state parks pass and Greg and I went walking most weekends so I didn't go on to any trips on my own... I was pretty busy trying to accomplish my other January goals!
  23. Limit my mindless TV watching DONE
  24. Limit my mindless internet surfing or at least do it while I'm exercising. No screens after 10:30 p.m. (Oh this is going to be hard!) - Since I exercise at 9 p.m., I extended my no screen time to 11 p.m. Mostly done, I only watched TV late one night. It wasn't that hard at all, I was really tired all month!
  25. Make Dr appointment for son's annual check-up - Done
  26. Make dermatologist appointment for my son? Check his back. Checked his back. Need to make an appointment.
  27. Practice using my lightbox to take photos of objects: at least once this month. Didn't do. I need to wait until the kittens are more sedate and stop jumping everywhere.
  28. Start watching Photography lectures online Didn't do. Too busy with other tasks and hobbies (such as web surfing!  Hey, "surfing" counts as exercise, doesn't it?!)
  29. Join the Friends of the Library - Didn't do.  My bravado about joining group has waned.  I'm not a group joiner.

Financial Goals
  1. Continue to track all expenses in my spreadsheets DONE!
  2. Report all expenses on the blog, daily (for accountability and a kick in the pants to perhaps spend less!) DONE
  3. Keep to a $50 a week grocery budget (avoid stocking up on items until I have actually ran out of them). Avoid impulse buys and buy fewer snacks. Definitely did buy fewer snacks and mostly avoided impulse buys. I did stock up on a few things, though, since I had the room in my budget for them.  Ahem, whiskey!
  4. Continue reporting on Food Waste every Friday. No excuses. DONE!
  5. Read through last month's issue of Kiplinger's Read the Annual Forecast Issue and actually used some of the articles to help me select the mutual funds for my IRAs.
  6. Reset my worksheets for 2017 - Done
  7. Have Greg transfer "money sitting around" into IRAs for 2016 and 2017 - Done
  8. Continue to try to purchase as many items from the thrift store as possible - added several things to my thrift store wish list that I keep on my phone and bought drinking glasses from a thrift store, along with an over-the-range microwave for my BFF, cat toys, crafts for daughter and myself, and a container for cat food.
  9. Calculate our bare bone budget and see if we do have 12 months' worth. - Done
  10. Then separate it from our other savings, maybe put it in a CD that is FDIC insured. Considering Discover Bank online savings account, need to research their terms and current APY.
  11. Calculate our Net Worth - Done
  12. Create spreadsheet to calculate our Personal Savings Rate in 2017 - Done
  13. Set up an automatic transfer of Greg's raise equivalent to Savings each time he gets paid - Done
  14. Make a budget for US Road trip to France and stick to it. Not done. We still have time. However decided that we probably won't buy the National Parks annual pass.
  15. Remove Greg's line from our AT&T plan  Done
  16. Car insurance: see if should drop collision on SUV and truck and the consequences of this (i.e. can we keep road assistance coverage?) Cancelled collision on the SUV only (Greg wanted to keep it on the truck, which makes no sense since his truck isn't technically worth the coverage anymore). The family car already didn't have collision coverage.  Now considering lowering the liability since I'd have to raise it to be able to shuttle high school kids to their activities. Kept Road Assistance and rental reimbursement (that last one since we'll be traveling through the US this summer and my car is 10 years old!)
  17. Put money aside corresponding to our son's chore earnings since the last time I calculated his total (in his savings account)-  I transferred $100 to his Savings account and opened a 529 Savings account with his 2016 chores earnings.
  18. Check into NonOwner Insurance policy for daughter once she moves out and take her off our policy? She can only have that kind of policy if not living at anyone's house and supporting herself entirely. If she lives at her dad's, she'd have to be on HIS insurance (as long as she officially changes her address to his).  If she decides to live in an apartment, she'd have to call (with me) to get a quote for a non-owner policy.
  19. Open the latest statements (put reminder on calendar to do this every quarter). Ahem...
  20. Update the big picture matrix and share it with Greg - Did that but we still have to dwell into the detail of our investments and review whether those funds/stocks are appropriate.
  21. Make note of when stock options are vesting in 2017 and put detailed alerts in the calendar - Done
  22. Start gathering the 2016 tax paperwork in one folder (print them as they come in) DONE
  23. Check my passport's expiration date and set a reminder to renew it if necessary (calendar and budget) - Done
  24. Create one more year of budget in my Excel checkbook- Done
  25. Take Driscoll's surveys for 8 days to reach Gold Level this month - DONE
  26. Keep on top of RaceTrac surveys. Took several but then a clerk gave me 12 extra receipts!
  27. Identify one charity I want to contribute to in 2017 - I have put some thought into this.  While many charities are a benefit to society at large, I have people much closer to me who I am watching struggle a bit and who will, in most likeliness, need some support this year. I have decided that I would rather support them in 2017. I'm waiting to see how things shape up for them to determine how, exactly, I will go about it.

  1. Inventory what I have/still need to make new self watering bins
  2. Harvest all the lettuce, tomatoes and peppers that are growing and use or preserve them Ongoing
  3. Water the garden at least every Tuesday morning. It has rained a bit this month so I haven't had to water every week. But I failed at monitoring the garden.
  4. Scrub patio pavers with bleach on an overcast (but not rainy!) day - wear OLD clothes and gloves
  5. Turn the compost bin at least once - done
  6. Inventory my seeds and seed what I need for Spring/Summer if anything - Done
  7. Prune back the roses Done
  8. Buy 2 hose reels with Home Depot gift card - Done but only ordered one to evaluate it first.

  1. Inventory freezer and pantry - save inventories in Google Drive - Didn't do, but I reorganized the freezer and part of the pantry so I pretty much know what I have and what I'm missing.
  2. Write new menu every Sunday - set reminder. Use up at least 1 item from the side-by-side freezer DONE
  3. Unload the dishwasher every morning and reload it during the day done, every day except for the last week when I wasn't feeling well :(
  4. Do the dishes every night done, every day except for the last week when I wasn't feeling well :(
  5. Alternating mopping/fakemopping the kitchen every week - Mopped on Fri 1/6, fake mopped on Wed 1/18
  6. Vacuum or sweep the rest of the house once a week - Done on 1/4, 1/13 and 1/27
  7. Declutter the exercise room (including cabinets under windows and all shelves) -Mostly done
  8. Wash Cat Room windows - Done
  9. Identify faulty electrical outlets need to be replaced 
  10. Take batteries out of fans and store them until next hurricane season - Done
  11. Vacuum fridge coils DONE
  12. Move my music library to the new laptop and try to syncing my phone via iTunes in progress, all files moved to external drive and need to be copied to laptop.
  13. Make sure all programs I need have been moved to my new laptop. Made a list and moved them to the external drive. Haven't reinstalled yet.
  14. Wipe old laptop of all confidential information not done.
  15. Mend at least one item from the mending basket
  16. Mix a bottle of glass cleaner to keep in the kitchen Mixed two!
  17. Set reminder to clean upstairs litter box every morning - Done
  18. Put futon cover back on the futon - Done
  19. Clear out a USB stick and give it to Teen Librarian for photos of Youngest Son well, I thought I had done it but I cleared an SD card instead, which was the wrong thing!

Last Day of January ~ Tuesday 1/31/17

This morning, sunrise on the lake near our house...
Brrr, it was a little cold this morning and I suggested to my son that we bring a blanket to cover him in the car while I drove him to school, which he accepted.  My SUV is large and it takes forever for the cabin to warm up.  We're usually almost at the school before any significant heat is felt coming from the vent (because the school isn't that far, about 4 miles).  It was 41F/5C, which is cold for us!

Luckily, though, it allowed me to take this very pretty picture of the sunrise on the lake near our house when I drove home :)

Greg left super early this morning, as a matter of fact, he was already gone when I came downstairs. Since his VPN connection isn't working (and come to find out, whatever the problem is that they can't figure out only affects HIM, not anyone else!) and he has tons of work to do and can't do it from home via VPN, he figured he should head in early.   So he packed his own lunch (I had put the leftovers in a container but he assembled his lunchbox) and I pretty much had nothing to do but feed the kittens and drive my son to school... I am not complaining but I like seeing my husband in the morning and give him a kiss!  I'm going to have to start getting up even earlier if that goes on, which will make the kittens happy since they're now trying to get me to get up at 4:30 a.m.

Ugh, I don't feel motivated again although I'm wearing my walking capris again, both for comfort and inspiration, but right now all I'm inspired to do is sit on the futon, drinking my coffee while Explorer is purring on my chest, listening to the Rossini station on Pandora, and surfing the web!

Alright, this is my last day to try to meet some of my January goals. I've actually done a HUGE dent in them (report coming later on today in a separate post) so I don't feel too much urgency, but it'd be nice to be able to put some of these things to bed, like "finish putting away the Christmas decorations", jeez, Nathalie.

  • Mop or fake mop the kitchen
  • Fold the laundry - DONE
  • Put the laundry away
  • Check my son's back and decide whether to make a dermatologist appointment or not - Checked it. I need to make an appointment.
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program 
  • Do my foot exercises DONE
  • Exercise went on a walk with my daughter
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • Read e-library book in progress
  • Make sure Greg assigns specific funds to his IRA account 
  • Move missing Music files from External Drive to my Laptop 
  • Move/reinstall missing software on new laptop in progress, moved all the files to the External Drive
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Iron Greg's clothes - ironed one outfit for him.
  • Take RaceTrac surveys
  • Sort coupons - DONE
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Read the 2 library travel books
  • Read the e-magazines I borrowed from Amazon Gave up
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital?
  • Email my French BFF DONE
  • Start French blog for my mom and sister?
  • Inventory what I need to make new self-watering bins
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Mend at least one item from mending basket (Youngest Son's bag)
  • Open savings account with Discover Bank or other online bank
  • Check if Greg's W-2 is available PRINTED
  • Figure out how many other tax forms I'm waiting on and when they'll be coming in
  • Finalize list of goals for February 
  • Give Princess her medicine (twice) 1X
  • Try to hit my 1st Daily Goal on Swagbucks  in progress
  • Research which state park to go visit this weekend - DONE
  • Research Florida Prepaid College Fund to see if can increase the contribution DONE
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Send my feedback to all my elected officials (city, county, state, Congress) in progress

  • Youngest Son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • Greg packed leftovers to take to work.

  • I stopped by RaceTrac on my way home from the school and redeemed a survey reward code for a free apple crumb muffin for my son's after-school snack.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.  My 1st daily goal for Swagbucks is 80 SB.

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

  • I decided to open a 529 Florida Savings account for Youngest Son in which to deposit the chores money he earned in 2016 by taking care of the cats.  Hopefully the account will generate some growth and, if so, the earnings would be tax-free, although the contributions aren't.  Still, hopefully better than the close to 0% he would earn in his bank savings account or that we earn in ours!

  • I turned off the heat at 11:30 a.m. and opened the windows to calm the kittens a little as they were being hyper. The open windows give them something to do :)  Plus, it's 63F right now and beautiful outside!

  • My daughter paid her share of the car insurance for February (we only charge her a little less than 1/3 of the cost, though, i.e. $30)

  • I texted my BFF to invite her to a Starbucks date to use up the $10 they sent me (she loves Starbucks). She and I made a date for Thursday morning :)
  • I started the SB videos again, gingerly, but didn't get the fake virus message again and was able to reach my 1st Daily Goal.  Now it's jumping to 190 SB so I'm not even trying for the 2nd goal. 

  • Gas:
    • to drive my son to school
    • and tolls for Greg's commute
    • to drive to the General Van Fleet Trail and back
    • for my daughter and BFF to drive to their college classes

  • I was researching contact information for my elected officials when suddenly a fake "Zeus Virus Warning" pop-up appeared and I had to restart my PC and run Malwarebytes and Windows Defender to make sure I didn't have, in fact, a virus. Grrr. Not sure if the page that  triggered the warning was indeed the .gov page that I was visiting, or due to the Swagbucks videos I was running. Now I'm leary to go back to that .gov page to finish my research or to run Swagbucks again, even though both MalwareBytes and Windows Defender told me I didn't have any viruses...

  • I made a calculation mistake when figuring out the amount to contribute to my son's 529 savings account, resulting in crediting him too much money. Oh well, he will earn this in 2017 so I will just contribute less at the end of 2017.

  • I got so involved with the research on what to do with our son's chore earnings that I forgot to turn off the heat at 9 a.m., as I had planned to do! I turned it off at 11:30 a.m.

  • I gave up on trying to read magazines on my Kindle Fire. The text is way too small and I have to constantly zoom in and out, causing me to only see a tiny portion of the page at once. I might try to redownload the Kindle app on my laptop to read them there, but I might just limit myself to the ones I can read via my library.

  • So I checked, again, the magazines that are available on Zinio via my library system, but they don't have either Birds & Blooms or any hiking magazines :(

  • When it was time to cook, I STILL didn't feel like cooking. I had started coughing again and suddenly I started to feel like I felt last week (like I was coming down with something, completely out of the blue!). Greg suggested soup and grilled cheese but I really didn't feel like standing at the stove.  Funny how I didn't mind driving to Publix to pick us up dinner though.... $43 later... arrgh!  I got a fried chicken dinner that only our son ate because Greg's been watching his weight and wanted sushi.  But I'll pack him fried chicken and potato salad for lunch tomorrow anyway.  Then my daughter got a sub, and I bought 3 trays of sushi, which was the most expensive component. I had already published the January numbers so I'll count that as a February expense.
  • Allocated $2,436 to our son's new 529 Savings Account
  • Tolls: $25 (Greg's Sunpass account replenished itself)
  • Dinner: $43.95 (Publix)


  • A 2L bottle of Diet Coke at Publix, with a "free with purchase of a family dinner" store coupon

  • Fed the kittens
  • Drove son to school
  • Went to RaceTrac to get him an after-school snack
  • Reviewed and published January Food Expenses Report
  • Earned rewards on my Rewards programs
  • Gave Princess her medicine
  • Researched which state park or trail to visit this weekend
  • Texted my daughter to ask for car insurance payment
  • Tried researching my elected officials' contact info
  • Ran Malwarebytes
  • Ran Windows Defender
  • Researched and opened 529 savings account for our son
  • Transferred money into our checking account and wrote check for 529 savings account
  • Updated all my spreadsheets
  • Wrote an email to my French BFF
  • Texted my BFF and invited her to a Starbucks date
  • Researched what new e-magazines might be available via my library system
  • Chatted with daughter
  • Went on a walk with daughter
  • Folded the laundry
  • Went to pick up dinner
  • Gave Princess her medicine
  • Cuddled with kitten
  • Sorted coupons into organizer

  • Sleep was OK although my fitness tracker shows I had more light sleep than deep?!

  • Breakfast was a cup of Rice Krispies, a banana and a cup of ~2% milk.
  • Lunch was a cup of butternut squash soup, 1.5 cup of ziti, a small wedge of focaccia bread
  • Afternoon snack was Hershey kisses and a large pretzel stick
  • Dinner was sushi and a Hawaiian roll
  • Water consumption didn't happen. I need to limit myself to just 1 Diet Coke a day, I have no willpower!
  • Exercise was walking on the trail for 30 minutes (1.65 miles)

  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • For witnessing a beautiful sunrise on the lake this morning
  • For a short but very interesting walk with my daughter on a beautiful day
  • For not having to cook tonight

NATURE: A Short Walk on the General Van Fleet Trail

I was telling my daughter that I was thinking about getting on my recumbent bike this afternoon while I still had some energy because I've been bad at feeling like biking at night this past week or so, but then I thought "the weather is so nice, I should go for a walk!". So I asked her if she wanted to go walking with me and she agreed. I was thinking we'd walk in the neighborhood, by the lake, and she was thinking we'd go walking on the General Van Fleet Trail since Greg and I always go there and she's never been.  So we decided to go there, even though it was going to have to be a short walk since she had an evening class and it takes about 15 minutes to get to the trailhead and then 15 minutes to come back.

No one right now but we actually saw quite a few people!
It  has rained quite a bit since we last walked there, Greg and myself, and now the ditches are full of water again. But we didn't spot any alligators.
For a weekday afternoon, there were quite a few people there, notably a couple of groups of bikers and an older couple who was walking behind us and passed us as I was trying to photograph some birds.

And boy, were there birds!  Tons of small birds, of all different sorts, that I wasn't able to photograph because they moved so much and my camera just isn't good for that!  But we also spotted a blue heron flying away from the forest ahead of us on the trail, and then landing in the marsh and playing peekaboo with me from behind the trees.

See his blue butt?!

And his reddish beak just above the arrow?!  I had to zoom in on the picture to actually show you the heron because he
was so well camouflaged between the trees!

I also spotted a Downy Woodpecker, which I had never seen in the wild.  Unfortunately, the sun was behind it and there were lots of branches between him and us and my camera took forever to decide to take the darn picture so he had moved by the time the shutter clicked :(

But I swear it was a Downy Woodpecker!
And then a couple of Red Shouldered Hawks hunting together, that we had a hard time photographing at first, but then one indulged us by landing on a branch not too far.

My daughter caught his one with her phone

And one picture of flowers :)

The temperature was perfect (70F), we talked about our trip and her plan to try to take Calculus this summer now that she wants, once again, to major in Computer Science.  We only walked 30 minutes and for 1.65 miles, but it was lovely :)

Here is another flower picture: one of the azalea bushes across the street :)

So lovely :)


This afternoon, they were still quite interested in their cat grass. They always pull it out of its pot and roll it around on the carpet, though.

Tabby Kitty is enjoying it a whole lot!

Yum :)

They were a little chilly this morning so Explorer and Princess huddled together in the "basket" of their cat tree.

So I took pity on them and put a nice warm towel on top of them, which kind of startled them :)

Explorer: "Whatcha doooooin?!"

Tabby Kitty took this pair of underwear from the laundry basket and I swear he was trying to fold it all by himself. It kind of
looks like when Greg tries to "fold" his underwear, come to think of it. Must be a guy thing.

If you trying to figure out if a purchase is worth it, you might want to use this calculator that will tell you how many hours you will need to work in order to afford it. It's a little more involved than just dividing the cost by how much you make per hour.

Food Expenses: January 2017

My official 2017 weekly grocery budget is $100/wk for 4 people (2 adults, 2 teens) but I would really like to spend $50 or less.  This ONLY includes food and drinks, nothing else.  My weeks go from Wednesday-Tuesday so my monthly budget isn't always the same, month to month.

Eating out/Ordering In food expenses are separate and ideally would be either none or would amount, together with what I spent on groceries to what my monthly food budget is. It's been suggested to me that I actually budget for eating out/ordering in separately, but even though I am tracking each penny that we spend, we don't have to count each penny that we spend. I just like to.  So I don't feel necessarily compelled to make sure we never eat out. There will be times when I don't feel like cooking, or months when we have a lot of celebrations or socialization to conduct.  **shrug**  I'm not going to completely obsess about it. However, I do want to keep track of where it all goes so that we can never say "I don't know what happens..." or blame it on someone/something else.


My budget for January was $400.
  • We spent $292.05 out of pocket, including all rebates, on groceries alone. 
  • We spent $238.50 in eating out/ordering in expenses.
  • So altogether we spent $530.55 on feeding ourselves (and others at times), far more than the $400 I would have liked to stay under. Still, according to the USDA's website, our family of 4 should be spending $684.40 on the "thrifty plan" so I think we're doing quite well despite our splurges!
Detail of grocery expenses ($292.05)
  • Baking supplies: $2.00
    • (2) cans peach pie filling
  • Beverages: $137.90
    • (12) 750 ml whiskey
    • (9) 12-ct packs Diet Dr. Pepper
    • (1) bag hazelnut coffee
    • (1) box peppermint herbal tea
  • Breads: $15.41
    • (7) loaves white bread
    • (4) packages whole wheat naan bread
    • (4) packages Sandwich Thins
    • (2) 8-ct hamburger buns
    • (2) packages Fold It flatbreads
  • Cereals: $1.50
    • (4) boxes Special K Red Berries
    • (4) boxes Lucky Charms
    • (3) boxes Rice Krispies
  • Dairy: $14.52
    • (3) gallons whole milk
    • (1) gallon 2% milk (donated to BFF)
    • (22) yogurt cups
    • (1) 32-oz container plain yogurt
    • (2) packages string cheese
    • (2) packages American cheese slices
    • (1) 16-oz container light sour cream
  • Dry/Pantry/Frozen: $8.95
    • (8) cans soup
    • (2) can mini raviolis
    • (2) 40-ct boxes Truvia sweetener
    • (1) 2-oz bottle ground pepper
    • (1) 40-oz jar creamy peanut butter
    • (2) bags frozen cheese ravioli
    • (1) bag oyster crackers
    • (4) 8-oz cans No Salt Added tomato sauce
    • (4) jars salsa verde
  • Produce/Juice: $46.34
    • Vegetables
      • 4 pints grape tomatoes
      • 20 oz zucchini
      • 3 cucumbers
      • 2 lbs carrots
      • 0.32 lbs tomatoes on the vine
      • 1 head cauliflower
      • 4 ears sweet corn
      • 3 bags spinach
      • 8 oz mushrooms
      • 4 cans no salt added corn
      • 5 lbs gold potatoes
      • 1 lb Brussel sprouts
      • 2 cans chick peas
      • 4 cans Great Northern beans
      • 4 cans black beans
      • 1 lb dry lentils
      • 1 lb dry split peas 
      • 1 lb parsnips
    • Fruit
      • 1 package Dole Fruit Mixations
      • 9.96 lbs bananas
      • 6 lbs Fuji apples
      • 6 lbs Red Delicious apples
      • 3 pints blueberries
      • 1 cantaloupe
      • 5.25 lbs papaya
      • 1 lb strawberries
    • Juice
      • 64 oz 100% apple juice
  • Proteins: $58.78
    • 3 dozens large eggs
    • 3 lbs bologna
    • 1 bag chicken nuggets
    • 1 bag chicken tenders
    • 4 bags meatballs
    • 5 lbs ground beef (73%)
    • 2 lbs Black Forest ham
    • 11.17 lbs chicken breasts on the bone
    • 3.05 lbs ham steaks
    • 10.27 lbs whole fryers
    • 8 oz smoked salmon
    • 1 Butterball smoked turkey sausage dinner
  • Snacks: $6.65
    • 4 boxes Special K Red Berries cereal bars
    • 1 box protein bars
    • 1 bag pretzel sticks
    • 1 bag sour worms
    • 2 bags bagel chips (donated to BFF)
    • 1 box saltines
    • 2 boxes Swiss rolls

Eating Out/Ordering In Expenses ($238.50) categorized by:
  • Laziness/Cook's Night Off: $33.97
  • Dates/Socialization/Celebrations: $196.20
  • Treats: $8.33
  • Travel: $0.00
  • Groceries: 
    • I was able to use some gift cards at CVS (earned via our American Express Rewards program) and at Walmart (earned via Swagbucks) to lower my OOP this month.
    • I stocked up on whiskey for the year, which was a huge part of my spending.  Without it, I would have spent only $155.15 on groceries!!! This is like Alison territory, we're talking!
    • This is the smallest amount I have ever spent on "snacks".  I guess it helps that Greg and I are both on a diet :)
    • We also bought less milk and cheese this month.
    • Even though I did buy meat to stock up, I have been using up what we have in the freezer.
  • Eating Out/Ordering In:  
    • We celebrated 2 birthdays this month and we typically include a meal out in the celebration.
    • Both Greg and myself ate out with a friend, once each.
    • I took my daughter out to a nice lunch during a "Mom-Daughter Day".
    • I bought lunch for Youngest Son as a treat since we didn't go out to lunch on our "Mom-Son Day".
    • Greg took his daughter and her family out to breakfast when she came down for a short visit.
    • I didn't want to cook the night the kittens came back from the vet's because I needed to monitor them, and no one stepped in to do it for me, so we ordered out.
    • Greg and I didn't go on any dates at restaurants. Instead, we packed picnics when we went walking :)
  • Goals for February: My budget will be $400.  My freezers are still full so as long as I don't go overboard on snacks and keep earning those Swagbucks gift cards, I should be able to keep expenses down:)  There is Valentine's Day and I go out to lunch with a friend once a month, but those are the only times that I know for sure will include a meal out.
How did you do in January? What is your budget for February?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Domestic Monday ~ 1/30/17

I didn't want to do the dishes last night so I didn't, thinking "well, it's Domestic Monday tomorrow so I'll just do them then!". I'm falling back into my old patterns so I need to nip that in the bud!

I'm not excited about Domestic Monday, I feel the pressure of all the tasks I have to do plus it's the end of January so I want to make sure I've accomplished as many of my goals for the month as possible and I need to put a plan together for next month. Arrgh.

We had the heat on last night and I'm about to turn it off in the house at 8:00 a.m. Our high today is only supposed to be 62F/16.6C, though, but by the middle of the week we'll be back in the 70s.  A kitten just settled herself on my chest to take her morning nap.  Dang it, they always do that either right before I have to go cook dinner or right before I have to do another chore!

My Daughter is coming home at some point today from her dad's house. Yay! It's weird not having her here. I catch myself trying not to make any noise in the kitchen in the mornings so I don't wake her up, and then I remember that she's not even here!

Alright, To Do List for today. It's more of a wishlist, really, because there is no way I can accomplish all of this, even factoring in tomorrow. But I'll try to make a dent. If the kittens cooperate and take their naps somewhere else than on me :)

  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Post the menu for the upcoming week DONE
  • Mop or fake mop the kitchen
  • Do the dishes DONE
  • Do the laundry DONE
  • Fold the laundry
  • Put the laundry away
  • Check my son's back and decide whether to make a dermatologist appointment or not
  • Transfer money from son's chores to his savings account  DONE
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program 
  • Do my foot exercisesDONE
  • Exercise
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • Read e-library book in progress
  • Make sure Greg assigns specific funds to his IRA account 
  • Move missing Music files from External Drive to my Laptop 
  • Move/reinstall missing software on new laptop in progress, moved all the files to the External Drive
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Iron Greg's clothes
  • Take RaceTrac surveys
  • Clip Publix store coupons DONE
  • Sort coupons
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Read the 2 library travel books
  • Read the e-magazines I borrowed from Amazon
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital?
  • Email my French BFF
  • Start French blog for my mom and sister?
  • Inventory what I need to make new self-watering bins
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Mend at least one item from mending basket (Youngest Son's bag)
  • Open savings account with Discover Bank or other online bank
  • Update January Food Expenses post DONE
  • Check if Greg's W-2 is available not yet
  • Print tax forms DONE... until the next ones come in
  • Schedule credit card payment DONE
  • Create list of goals for February DONE
  • Give Princess her medicine (twice) DONE
  • Try to hit my 1st Daily Goal on Swagbucks DONE
  • Research which state park to go visit this weekend
  • Schedule transfer to Emergency Funds account for tomorrow DONE
  • Mix a batch of Montreal Steak Seasoning DONE
  • Make butternut squash soup for lunch DONE
  • Research Florida Prepaid College Fund to see if can increase the contribution
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Send my feedback to all my elected officials (city, county, state, Congress)

  • My son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • He decided, last night, that I didn't need to iron his clothes for today, because after an hour's commute, they would look the same as if I didn't iron them anyway. But, inexplicably, he still expects me to iron the rest of them. Sigh :)

  • School drop off went very well, yay!  I hadn't put in a new CD in the car, but this morning the radio stations were playing songs instead of the regular DJ chatter and commercials so we listened to the radio instead.  I still called people "idiots" when they did idiotic things like not letting the person who was trying to pull into the parking lot from the other direction in, although some of us had stopped for her to do just that.  I wish I were an undercover traffic cop, at times.

  • I stopped by RaceTrac on my way home and redeemed a survey reward code for a free apple crumb muffin for Youngest Son's after-school snack.

  • I received our Amex statement last night and finally we're making progress on our Rewards since we've gone back to using that card for most of our purchases unless I've indicated otherwise on our cheat-sheet.  Next month, I should be able to get a new $100 CVS gift card with my Rewards :)

  • My 1st Daily Goal in Swagbucks is 95 SB.  I got a search award for 14 SB early on so that helped. I'm hoping nCraves come back so I can start earning faster, though, especially since I'll be doing chores today so I can't be babysitting the laptop too much. I want to hit that 3-week streak,  I think today is my last day for qualifying.

  • I reused a plastic bag to clean the upstairs litter box of cat poop.

  • I emptied out a cat litter jug and I'm saving the jug to refill it with rainwater, for the garden.

  • I did 2 "super" loads of laundry (everything mixed in, I never separate) on cold/cold.  Since it's rather cold out today, I'll use the dryer again but on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting.

  • I had meant to turn off the heat at 8:00 a.m. but I got distracted by a sleepy kitten so I turned it off at 9:30 a.m. instead.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

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

  • I started a batch of butternut squash soup for lunch, using a small squash I had bought at Publix several months ago. I used 2 cups of homemade chicken stock and scrapped the rest of a container of light sour cream instead of using heavy cream. It only made 2 servings but that's fine.

  • I scheduled an automatic transfer to our emergency fund account for tomorrow.  My goal is to add $2,000 to it this year, which comes to $166.66 per month.  It's kind of enforced savings for our summer trip since the funds will have to come from there (we keep 12 months worth of bare bone emergency savings in that account and anything over that is for other "emergencies" like an unexpected repair or whatever we can't cover from our checking account's cash flow).

  • I scheduled a credit card payment on its due date.

  • I balanced my checkbook.

  • I noticed that the check I had mailed to Middle Son to cover his PhotoShop conference hadn't been cashed in yet so I texted him to make sure he had gotten it. He had and expressed much thankfulness and excitement, which is always nice to hear.

  • I printed the tax forms that were available to us and the tax form schedules from various institutions so I can see when I might be able to complete our tax return.

  • When I went to empty the composting containers, I noticed that I had a lot of baby squash plants growing in my large composting bin!  It's too cold this week to transplant them so I'll have to see if they survive in there past the really cold days.

  • I was curious to see just how much rainwater my rain barrel had collected since Saturday night and was surprised to find it almost full!  I filled the cat litter jug that I had emptied this morning and set it aside. No need to water the garden right now since it rained much more than I thought!

  • Lunch was a bowl of butternut squash soup, the rest of the salad from last night, a big wedge of burned focaccia bread, a string cheese stick and the last Dole Mixations fruit cup.  I drank a Diet Coke with Lime.  I turned "The Rockford Files" on over the air TV so I could enjoy that while I ate.

  • So, last night, I got an email from Starbucks with this, prefaced by the title "Pardon My French, but..."

So I sent a tongue-in-cheek comment to their Customer Service department, as follows:
"I received the promotional email (Ref: 2017?Winter?NL3) titled "Pardon Our French..." followed by delicious looking pictures of croissants and inviting me to visit a Starbucks to celebrate National Croissant Day tomorrow. Well, I DON'T pardon you. 1) I'm on a diet and 2) I'm a French person living in the USA. So I'm craving croissants more than the average person. What you are doing is evil. So I will, very regretfully, have to forego celebrating National Croissant Day.Merci beaucoup for reminding me of this. Have a croissant for me, won't you?  
Today, I received an apologetic answer from them, assuring me that they knew I was disappointed that I couldn't participate and that even though they also knew that's not why I wrote to them, they were adding $10 to my Starbucks account!  Woohoo!  I replied again to thank them very much :) Wow, that was excellent!  Plus their CEO announced that he would employ 10,000 refugees throughout the world. Hugs to them.
  • Chili's emailed me a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree over the next few days.  I probably won't use it, but I appreciate it :)

  • I finally met my 1st SB goal :)  Not trying for the 2nd one today.

  • And I got confirmation that I reached the 21-day streak, woohoo!

  • I clipped the Publix store coupons that I wanted from the brochures that I picked up this weekend.

  • I received the $10 Walmart gift card from Ebates and the free Kellogg's product coupon for the snafu with their free milk promotion.

  • Even though I wrote up a menu for the week and defrosted meat, I didn't feel like cooking what I had put down for tonight, so I'm making a box of ziti and heating up a bag of Tyson chicken tenders. Oh yeah, gourmet!

  • Gas:
    • to drive my son to school
    • and tolls for Greg to commute
    • and tolls for my daughter to drive back from her dad's
  • We had the heat on last night because we're wimps! I'm blaming my weight loss.

  • I used the dryer for the laundry today as it's cold outside (but sunny... ok, maybe this is a failure?) and the kittens would just wreck havoc with the laundry racks indoors.

  • We have a frost advisory for tonight so I'm turning the heat back on at 7:00 p.m.

  • I had been entering a daily PBS sweepstakes in hopes to win a trip to England this summer but with the current administration's inane and irrational decisions regarding which to consider a "terrorist" country and who can or not be readmitted into the country even though they might have already been vetted and have legal American documents, I have decided to just give up. As I mentioned to Bless in a comment yesterday, at this point I'm thinking that even if there was a family emergency, I probably wouldn't attempt to go to France.  Because I remember the stupid "Freedom Fries" movement of the early 2000s and those people are one step away from deciding that France is a terrorist country as well (don't kid yourself, no one is safe from the madness!) and then I might run the risk of not being able to rejoin the life that I have led here for 30 years. And if the far right wins over there too (more likely than you think), then where do I have to go?

  • Greg's IT folks still don't seem to be able to fix his VPN access so he worked extra long at the office tonight so he could do what he needed to get done for his project :( It's a good thing this problem didn't happen when he was working from his parents' place during his dad's illness!

  • No Spent Day!
  • an apple crumb muffin from RaceTrac
  • $10 from Starbucks!
  • A coupon for a free appetizer at Chili's
  • Received the $10 Walmart gift card from Ebates (introductory offer)
  • Received the free item coupon from Kellogg's (up to $5.00)

  • Fed the kittens
  • Prepped Greg's breakfast
  • Packed his lunch
  • Drove my son to school
  • Picked him up a snack
  • Posted my Day Book post
  • Cuddled with a kitten
  • Defrosted meat for dinner and for later on in the week
  • Did the laundry
  • Cleaned the upstairs litter box
  • Filled up a litter jug with rainwater
  • Rebalanced the 2 recycling bins (one of overflowing but no one but me ever switching them around!)
  • Added toilet paper to the bathrooms
  • Worked on my Rewards programs
  • Scheduled a credit card payment
  • Scheduled a fund transfer
  • Balanced the checkbook
  • Made butternut squash soup
  • Printed and downloaded several tax forms, instructions and schedules
  • Emptied countertop composting containers into the large one
  • Unloaded the dishwasher,
  • Organized the dirty dishes :)
  • Fended off the kittens while trying to eat my lunch. Sigh. It's getting old.
  • Posted my menu for the week
  • Collected the trash throughout the house
  • Chatted with my daughter
  • Checked the mail
  • Recorded receipts into my spreadsheets
  • Cooked dinner
  • Reloaded the dishwasher and started it
  • Washed the pots and pans by hand
  • Took the trash cans down to the curb for collection tomorrow

  • Sleep was pretty good, although my fitness tracker doesn't seem to agree?!
  • Breakfast was a cup of Rice Krispies with a banana and 1 cup of ~2% milk
  • Mid morning snack was a wedge of focaccia bread because I was craving bread and no one else will eat it anyway. Healthier than cake?
  • Lunch was a bowl of butternut squash soup, a small salad, a wedge of focaccia, a piece of string cheese, a fruit cup. I drank Diet Coke.
  • Afternoon snack was a pretzel rod, too many taffy candy.
  • Dinner was ziti and chicken tenders.
  • Water consumption was... let's not mention it.
  • Exercise was skipped tonight again, but I supposedly walked 9,330 steps by 8:46 p.m.  I'm thinking I'm swinging my non-dominant hand a lot more than I thought...
  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • for my daughter making it safely back home this afternoon
  • for a Starbucks Customer Rep with a sense of humor :)


The sky, this morning, was matching my mood as to what's going on in our country.  Later on, I drove under a murder of crows against the same background and I thought "exactly!".

"As of midday Monday, the following companies whose top executives sit on either of Trump’s private-sector advisory boards had not made statements on the travel ban: 3M, Arconic, Boeing, Campbell Soup, Caterpillar, Cisco, Corning, Dana, Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Harris, IHS Markit, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Merk, Newell Brand, Nucor, PepsiCo, Timken Company, Under Armour, United Technologies, U.S. Steel, Wal-Mart Stores, Walt Disney Company and Whirlpool."  Source

Dinner Plans This Week: Monday 1/30 through Sunday 2/5

Each week I peek in my fridge, freezer, and garden, to see what needs to be used up and I take a couple of minutes to think of ways to use up those ingredients in the next few days...

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

TUESDAY: Whipped Carrots and Parsnips and Tuna Patties
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry:  tuna cans, breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, nutmeg, salt & pepper
  • From the fridge: carrots, parsnips, eggs, block of cheese, butter
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: shred the cheese
  • Need to buy:  nothing

WEDNESDAY: Scalloped Potatoes & Ham in Crockpot with Naan
Recipe from Crockpot Classics, p 43
  • From the freezer:  wedges of naan bread
  • From the pantry: potatoes, can of mushroom soup
  • From the fridge: Ham steak, shredded cheese
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: **crockpot recipe**
  • Need to buy: nothing

THURSDAY: Barilla Pronto Spaghetti with Pesto, Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes, and Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • From the freezer: chicken breasts, green beans
  • From the pantry: Barilla Pronto Spaghetti
  • From the fridge: grape tomatoes, Barilla pesto sauce
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy:  Shredded Parmesan cheese

FRIDAY:   Hearty Brown Lentil Soup with Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
  • From the freezer: diced celery, cilantro
  • From the pantry: brown lentils, sea salt, potatoes, bay leaf, dried thyme, onion, EVOO, cumin, lemon juice, pepper, bread
  • From the fridge: minced garlic, chicken stock, ham, American cheese slices
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: **needs to cook for over an hour** ** Rub the ribs with the spice mix and let rest overnight in fridge**
  • Need to buy: carrots

SATURDAY: Spice-Rubbed Ribs in Crockpot and Baked Beans
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry: can of baked beans, bottle of beer, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, dehydrated onion, chili powder, brown sugar, Kosher salt, Cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, vegetable oil
  • From the fridge: spare ribs
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: **crockpot recipe**
  • Need to buy: nothing

SUNDAY: Turkey Burgers and Chips, Side Salad
  • From the freezer: ground turkey
  • From the pantry:  nothing, homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • From the fridge: hamburger buns, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese slices, condiments
  • Need to harvest: lettuce
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: potato chips
What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

Day Book: Monday 1/30/17

Outside my window... the sun is rising above the tree line and roofs and I can see squirrels coming down the trunks of the oak across the street. It's 7:40 a.m.  At 7:00 a.m., when I dropped off my son at school, is was 50F/10C, warmer than I expected.

I am thinking... that it's Domestic Monday and I don't feel like doing.one.darn.thing. Ugh.

I am thankful for... the fact that we're one month closer to the next elections. I never thought I'd say that.

From the learning rooms... my son has to finalized his AP Human Geography project because it's due shortly and he still has quite a bit of work to do on it. One of the pictures he needs to take is of a live, wild fish, and he needs to be in the picture for it to count.  So one day this week we will drive to the Florida Bass Conservation Center to see if we can take a picture that would qualify there (seeing that Greg isn't a very prolific fisherman!). There is a pond nearby where they release some of the basses and where people can fish so I'm hoping I can take a picture of my son near the shore where, usually, tiny basses hang out.  The teacher never said the fish had to be big...

From the kitchen... I was lazy and didn't do the dishes last night and now I have to deal with it and it's stressing me!  I need to finalize my menu for the week and post it.  And I also need to mop the kitchen because it's gross again. Maybe I'll fake mop it, it depends on how much energy I'll have.

I am wearing... I wanted to be comfy today so I'm wearing my stretchy cotton walking capris (so comfy!  they're black and turquoise), a dark gray T-Shirt and a nice fluffy blue cardigan on top. And I have my walking shoes on.

I am creating... a goal list for February, in my mind.

I am going... nowhere today!

I am reading... I started the current issue of Birds and Blooms on my Kindle so I need to finish that. Despite my declaration that I was going to read this past weekend, I only read the news and blogs.

I am hoping... that my daughter drives back safely from her dad's tonight.

I am hearing... the heat kicking in and some dogs barking in the distance.

Around the house... all the cats are quiet, I think they're all asleep or observing squirrels outside. Greg just left for work, our son is at school, my daughter doesn't have in-person classes today so she's still at her dad's.

One of my favorite things... my walking capris but in researching my past order from Kohl's to find a picture of them, I found out they're yoga pants and they're on clearance BUT they only have small and extra small anymore and I'm crushed because I wanted to buy some in a smaller size for when I've lost more weight :(

A few plans for the rest of the week... Let's see... I can't think of much at all!  Finalize all the end of month reports and draft a list of goals and priorities for February, grocery shopping of course, take my son to the Florida Bass Conservation Center, go visit at least one new state park this weekend and then also attend the Civil War Battle Reenactment at Renninger's with Greg and our son although I really don't feel like it this year but our son enjoys it so we're going... And for the first time in many years we won't be watching the SuperBowl (or so Greg claims, his beloved and the more than hated by me Tom Brady is playing so I think he will cave in and watch anyway) because we haven't watched any NFL games this season at all.

Here's the picture I'm sharing... I can't embed this very short video but you have to watch it. As Greg said, I can't believe we never thought of this!  Cats Aren't As Useless As Everyone Says.

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rainy and Chilly Start to the Day but then Sun and a Walk ~ Sunday ~ 1/29/17

I stayed up late again last night, just puttering around the web, aghast at reading the news to be quite honest.  It was raining when I went to bed, but not a hard rain, more like a steady drizzle, so I don't expect my rain barrel's level to have increased all that much.

However, it continued to drizzle all night and at 8:45 a.m. this morning, it's still drizzling. I turned off the heat at 7:30 a.m. because I had to open the windows to air out the kitchen a little: I had left a couple of pans soaking for a couple of days and I guess turning on the heat last night helped gross stuff grow but the kitchen stunk this morning. So I did the dishes right away and aired out that part of the house for a while.  And then I figured I'd keep the heat off.

Our high today will only be 58F and it's supposed to rain for a while.  I don't think we'll go walking today.

I stepped on the scale this morning and, to my surprise, I had lost 0.4 lbs!  It's definitely a much smaller loss than the previous weeks, but keep in mind that I haven't really been dieting, logging my food, drinking lots of water or exercising for a week.  So I'll take the 0.4 lbs!  I thought the scale would tell me I had put on a couple of lbs.

So no plans for today. I really want to get off the laptop and do some reading. I have the magazines that I downloaded yesterday, the travel books for our trip and that fiction e-book from the library.  Oh, the pressure!

Still, I'm posting my To Do List in hopes I'll get the motivation to accomplish something.

  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Make a menu for the upcoming week
  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program 
  • Do my foot exercises 2X
  • Exercise - we took a walk!
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • Read e-library book in progress
  • Make sure Greg assigns specific funds to his IRA account reminded him this morning
  • Move missing Music files from External Drive to my Laptop 
  • Move/reinstall missing software on new laptop in progress, moved all the files to the External Drive
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Iron Greg's clothes
  • Take RaceTrac surveys  
  • Print coupons DONE
  • Upload coupons DONE
  • Clip coupons DONE
  • Sort coupons
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Move fonts from old laptop and reinstall on new laptop
  • Read the 2 library travel books
  • Read the e-magazines I borrowed from Amazon
  • Take my measurements
  • Sign up for Personal Capital?
  • Email my French BFF
  • Start French blog for my mom and sister?
  • Inventory what I need to make new self-watering bins
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Mend at least one item from mending basket (Youngest Son's bag)
  • Open savings account with Discover Bank or other online bank
  • Update January Food Expenses post 
  • Research Florida Prepaid College Fund to see if can increase the contribution
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Send my feedback to all my elected officials (city, county, state, Congress)

  • I lost weight!

  • I turned off the heat at 7:30 a.m. and will try to keep it off for most of the day.

  • The paper was in the driveway and was double bagged because of the rain, which means I have 2 more bags to reuse for cat poop collection. Hooray!

  • And it contained 4 coupon inserts, yay! I didn't keep the Publix coupon inserts because I had already picked up 2 copies of each at Publix yesterday (forgot to mention it!).

  • I heated up some frozen pancakes for my son's breakfast this morning. I had made them with sour milk a few weeks ago. I think I'll just always do that from now on!

  • I defrosted some ground beef for dinner tonight as we'll be having cheeseburgers. Instead of making mashed potatoes, as I had planned, I'll steam the corn on the cob I bought yesterday.

  • I spotted 2 tiny birds eating seeds at my cardinal feeder, in the rain. Hooray!  I had to go out on the rainy patio, in my PJs, to snap from pictures because of the darn screens on the windows.  I used the digital zoom and didn't have a tripod, plus it was gloomy and rainy, so the pictures are a little blurry.

I'm pretty terrible at recognizing birds... I think these might be Pine Warblers, but I'm not positive.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards.

  • I worked on Swagbucks by playing videos and attempted to take some surveys since my 1st goal is 107 SB today. As usual, I filled out a whole survey for 100 SB only to be told at the end that they were over quota. So I fired up an email request to Customer Service. However, it's the weekend, so I doubt I'll be credited today, which would make me miss my 21-day streak :(

  • Greg left for his breakfast date and said he would gas up his truck in Clermont since I had warned him it was 12 cents cheaper there than in our corner of the woods! 

  • I fired up the old laptop and printed coupons from both.

  • I uploaded digital and store coupons to my CVS and Publix apps.

  • Since we hadn't eaten lunch out yesterday, I offered to pick up lunch from Hardee's for Youngest Son, who accepted gratefully. I checked my coupon organizer but I didn't have any Hardee's coupons.  However, in the drive-through line, I "checked in" with my Hardee's app, so I earned 100 points that I can redeem for a free small item "with purchase" or keep on accruing. I charged his lunch to our Amazon Visa card, which will earn us 2% back in Rewards.

  • I had planned to pick up something from Hardee's for myself as well, but then I remembered there was one portion of meatball soup left over so I decided to eat lunch at home instead. I heated up the soup, made myself a cheese quesadilla to use up a tortilla that I had defrosted and that was crumbling and some shredded cheese a little past its prime.  But then I also added a wedge of focaccia bread (because it's burnt so no one else will eat it!), a piece of string cheese and one Dole Mixations fruit cup because I need to finish them before they all fizzle again.

  • I keep my jars of gravy in a cardboard tray in my pantry but the tray was falling apart (I've used it for years!) and it made moving the jars to reach the cans underneath very treacherous.  I noticed, when I walked into the house, that the cardboard box used to hold the donations for the thrift store was the right size and that I needed a larger one for the donations anyway. I had a larger one waiting to be used on the porch, so I swapped boxes and now everything is housed in the proper box and secure where they are... and I'm reusing 2 cardboard boxes that I got for free, yippee :)

  • My new AT&T bill came in, and despite what the guy at the AT&T store had said, it does already include our price reduction for dropping Greg's line, woohoo!  Our bill is now $116.68 (used to be about $149 on a regular month) and we were able to roll over 1.98 G of data, giving my son and I almost 4 G to use up this month.  We have a 2G plan and we never go over the plan or even close to it!

  • Thanks to a tip from CouponPro, I was able to order a pack of CoverGirl make-up applicators for free after applying a digital coupon and picking store pick-up. Those will go in my daughter's stocking for Christmas :)

  • As I was clipping the coupons that I had printed, Tabby Kitty came into the living room and looked bored, so I threw the paper clippings on the floor for him and he had a great time dancing, jumping and attacking the paper.  I asked Greg to take this picture from the other side of the room as he had a better angle.  Free entertainment both for the kitten and for us!And then the other 2 came to join him and I ended up on the floor making the paper bits rain on them and having them catch and chase them. It was a lot of fun :)
Gotta catch'em all!
  • Greg did gas up the truck at RaceTrac in Clermont where he paid $2.19 a gallon.  Thus, I have another receipt that will get us a new freebie.  He charged the gas to his Discover card, which will earn us 5% back in Rewards.

  • As expected, he picked up the tab for everyone's breakfast, but he charged it to our Amazon Visa, which will earn us 2% in Rewards.

  • I uploaded a couple of new offers to my SavingStar app.

  • At about 2:20 p.m. it was sunny and Greg suggested we go for a walk.  So we suited up and drove to Lake Hiawatha Preserve in Clermont, where we left the truck, and we walked on the Lake Minneola Trail.  Details and pictures at the end of this post.  We walked for 4 miles on a paved trail and my foot doesn't hurt at all!  I'm soooo happy :)

  • We smelled delicious smells coming out of Lily's on the Lake, our favorite on-the-water restaurant, as we were walking back towards the truck, but we resisted the temptation go in and buy a drink and a snack :)

  • I wrote my menu for next week in the car in fewer than 5 minutes, as Greg was driving. I knew what I had in the fridge so it was pretty easy :)  It'll be posted tomorrow.

  • For dinner I cooked cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, and I made a spinach, tomato and cucumber salad. Greg topped his cheeseburger with a slice of blue cheese that I had gotten for free, and we both used homemade zesty pickles that I made last July.  Yum. 

  • After dinner, Greg and I watched a couple of episodes of "Bob's Burgers" on Netflix. Still love it!

  • Somehow I was able to reach my 1st Daily Goal without getting credited for that survey. Yay! My streak goes on :)

  • And I guess SB does have people working on the weekends after all because they did credit me with the 100 SB for that survey after all so I exceeded my 2nd Daily Goal after all.

  • I watched a show on PBS about Alzheimer's and specifically the impact of this disease on Florida. As a very forgetful person, I'm terrified of ever getting Alzheimer's or dementia so I'm obsessed with watching shows about this.

  • I entered my weight for yesterday and today into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned another 40 BR points.

  • Gas for Greg to drive to breakfast with his daughter
  • Breakfast with the daughter and family
  • Lunch for Youngest Son
  • Gas to drive to Lake Hiawatha Preserve and back
  • We turned the heat back on at 7 p.m. as it is going down to 45F/7.2C tonight. The kittens were cold so I had to cover them up with a blanket!
These is the cat-themed blanket that Oldest Son and his GF made for me at Christmas 2015 :)

  • Youngest Son broke New Kitty's ceramic food bowl :(

  • Swagbucks enraged me with their surveys again by telling me they were over quota when they had already gotten all the details they needed.  The fact that their Customer Service team doesn't work on weekends will cost me a 200 SB because if they credit me, it won't be today and I won't meet my 1st goal.

  • The Swagasaurus Run game continues to not let me earn any SB, despite trying all the tricks that other users have suggested. Grrr.

  • Greg transposed the last 2 digits of his phone number when he tried to put in his Customer Loyalty number into the RaceTrac pump to earn loyalty points, and therefore he didn't earn any points for his purchase at all :(

  • Greg and his daughter and family's breakfast: $33.85 (Bob Evans)
  • Gas for truck: $45.63 (RaceTrac)
  • Youngest Son's Lunch: $8.33 (Hardee's)

  • 3-ct pack of Cover Girl Eye Make-Up applicators from Walgreens

  • Scrubbed the upstairs toilet
  • Weighed myself
  • Fed the cats
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and started it
  • Retrieved the newspaper from the driveway
  • Worked on Rewards programs
  • Emailed SB Customer Service
  • Heated up pancakes for Youngest Son
  • Took pictures of birds at the feeder!
  • Printed coupons from 2 laptops
  • Uploaded digital coupons
  • Moved files needed from old laptop to External Drive
  • Administered medicine to the kittens
  • Picked up lunch for Youngest Son
  • Reorganized one area of the pantry
  • Cleaned up the upstairs cat litter box
  • Took a walk with Greg
  • Continued earning SB
  • Cooked dinner
  • Packed leftovers
  • Watched a couple of episodes with Greg
  • Administered medicine to a kitten
  • Watched a show on PBS
  • Published and replied to blog comments
  • Commented on other blogs

  • Sleep was good!
  • I lost 0.4 lbs for a total of 8.8 lbs his month. Woo!
  • Breakfast was a bowl of Rice Krispies with a banana and 1/2 cup of ~2% milk. I drank coffee.
  • Morning snack was a few taffy candies :(
  • Lunch was a bowl of leftover meatball soup, a wedge of focaccia, a cheese quesadilla, a piece of string cheese, and a Dole Mixations cup.  I drank Diet Coke with Lime.
  • Afternoon snack was an apple.
  • Dinner was a burger, an ear of corn, and a small side spinach salad.
  • Water consumption was sub-par again.
  • Exercise was a 4-mile walk.
  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • For having lost weight this past week!
  • For a lovely walk with Greg this afternoon
  • For being able to see quite a few birds!


Greg suggested we go walk and I was happy that his suggestion included the Lake Minneola Trail because I didn't feel like traipsing through the sandy trails of a state park today :)  So I put on my walking shoes and a light jacket (it was about 59F when we left) and we were off. From the dismal grey and rainy morning that we experienced, we went to a very nice and sunny, albeit cool, afternoon.

We usually park at the Lake Hiawatha Preserve and walk toward Jaycee Beach, along Lake Minneola.  Since the weather was cool but sunny, I expected to see a lot of birds by the lake but at first we didn't see anything, really, just a few small brown birds here and there. I was very disappointed!

The Citrus Tower in the background...

I think this might be an immature Prairie Warbler.
But as we approached the first bend in the trail, we spotted seagulls and crows.  They were flying over a picnic area by a small playground, and as we approached the jetée to see them better, we realized that they had been attracted by the remnants of a picnic that someone seemed to have scattered on the little beach (not so cool), or perhaps they just picked the trashcan and made a mess.

These are actually Ring-Billed Gulls.

Crow eating food detritus on the shore.

A bunch of gulls! 

As we continued walking towards the beach, we saw more and more people walking, a lot of them with dogs, a couple of them with small kids riding their training wheels.

There was a sailing competition wrapping up at the Sailing Club, but later on we did see one of the sailboats on the lake.  It was quite windy so the sailor was having a nice time :)

We ended up seeing quite a few birds, actually:

I think this is a Snowy Egret.

A blackbird (its call was very high-pitched and piercing, not at all like the caws of crows.

A Little Blue Heron

A Great Egret.

American Coot

White Muscovy Duck

Mottled Duck

Another Little Blue Heron and  a couple of American Coots.

No Purple Martins at the hotel...

But they'll start arriving soon!

Clermont is considering changing a lot of the waterfront at that point, and turning what is now the main boat launch area into a large retention pond that will be designed as a "wetland park".  We saw a map of it and it seems that there will need to be a lot of construction as they will need to move the boat launch somewhere else in order to turn the whole parking lot into a large water retention area. But across from it is a small undeveloped area that we've never really paid attention to.  Today, as we walked by, we heard the tock tock tock of a woodpecker so we stopped and scrutinized the tree in front of us and right there were not just one but two Pileated Woodpeckers, happily pecking away, as other birds were flying around the tree and beyond, and then we became aware of a lot of bird calls indeed. It was lovely and I wish we had been able to see more of the birds.

Pileated Woodpeckers

Funny how we never paid attention to this patch of land, but today, it was teeming with birds. You just can't see them in the

Further down, we spotted a water plane practicing its landing and take-off again on Lake Minneola. Unfortunately, I had just put my camera away so by the time I got it out and it started, the plane had just landed on water.  Rats!

We didn't see a lot of flowers, but I took pictures of these:

I don't know what they are, but there were a couple of patches of those tiny light purple trumpet flowers in a field of grass...

In somebody's yard, a cactus was flowering...

It was the largest one that we'd seen, growing up into the tree to the left!
How was your Sunday? Were you able to spend any time outside at all?