Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Relaxing Day ~ Thursday 2/16/17

7:30 a.m. this morning

It's 7:30 a.m., 56F/13C and I'm sitting on the patio, wearing a sweater.  My little robin/flycatcher friend isn't greeting the rising sun, but I just spotted a little squirrel doing yoga atop the power pole... and now he's running across the electric cable. I guess that's its morning commute :)

It's supposed to be 71F today, a drop of 11 degrees since yesterday but I'll take it!  I turned off the AC, opened the windows and lied to Greg about doing the taxes today. Only I didn't know I was lying then.

Now that I'm comfy on the patio, I'm thinking that maybe today will be too nice to bury myself in financial papers and scream in frustration!

What others things could I be doing today? Well, it's not like my To Do List is anemic or anything...

  • Sweep Cat Room
  • Sweep breezeway
  • Sweep exercise room
  • Make my bed 
  • Sort coupons
  • Turn bread heels into bread crumbs
  • Earn Microsoft Rewards credits  DONE
  • Input weight into WHBRHC   DONE
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time  
  • Do the dishes by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER)  DONE
  • Fold the laundry (probably on Friday as I watch "Spy in the Wild")
  • Put the laundry away (Thursday or Friday)
  • Clean fridge - cleaned the bottom shelf, cleaned the "main" shelf
  • Sweep the downstairs bathroom
  • Vacuum the upstairs bedrooms
  • Sweep/vacuum the main stairwell
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son (after pediatrician apt)
  • Download all January pictures from my phone and camera to external drive
  • Back up external drive to its own external drive!
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Do my foot exercises  DONE
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only)
  • Find USB drive (NOT an SD card!) and clear it so Teen librarian to put photos of Youngest Son on it
  • 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
  • Back-up my phone
  • Reset phone to factory settings
  • Upgrade to newer iOS
  • Clean upstairs litter box
  • Wash Cat Room litter box   DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Read new issue of Kiplinger's in progress
  • Wash kitchen windows
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Reorganize the gardening supplies area in breezeway
  • Purge file cabinet in progress (through "credit cards")
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Move fonts from external drive and reinstall on new laptop
  • Take my measurements
  • Look into transplanting hyacinths in garden - Moved them outside since Explorer has started to jump on mantelpiece :(
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Try to hit my 1st Daily Goal on Swagbucks  DONE
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Sit down with my daughter and show her how to file her taxes
  • Start on our tax return
  • Schedule an outing to P.E.A.R. Park and ask them about the trees from my backyard

  • My son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • School drop off went very well. We listened to Strauss this morning.

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

  • I got to chat with Greg for a few minutes before he went to work. He's playing squash today at the health club, thus finally making this month's membership fee expense count :) He's played 3 times this month (but didn't go at all in January).

  • I washed the Cat Room litter box because it's heavily used and it stunk even though my son cleans it every night.  I emptied a cat litter jug so I set it aside to refill it with rain water. I'm starting to wonder why, because at this point, I have no plans to grow anything in the garden this summer. I'm "gardened out". Of course once Spring is here full blast and Greg is out mowing the lawn, the bug will probably bite.  Also, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the 10+ pineapple plants that I have growing on my countertop in the breezeway. I already have many pineapple plants in ground and I'm the only one eating pineapples.  I don't know anyone to give them to. Maybe I should ask the South Lake Animal League thrift store if they would like them as donations to sell?  I have bought some plants from them before, I think donated by the Clermont Garden Club. Hmm, I'll have to ask them.

  • Swagbucks is telling me 101 SB is my first goal.  I'm hoping surveys will cooperate today.  I'm a little less than 300 SB away from being able to order a gift card, although if I wait until 3/1 then I'll have enough without doing anything else.

  • Our electric bill came in for the period of  1/16 to 2/15 and it's $122.30. Higher than I had hoped but I think we did run the heat a few times during that period. We used 864 kwh. In comparison, last year during the same period, we had used almost double that amount at 1,576 kwh.  Those would deny climate change are idiots.  Related to this, Greg told me that our neighbor Jeff's brother is worried because they invested in growing blackberries and this year there haven't been enough days under 50F for the blackberries to have a plentiful crop this year. They did very well last year, I think, but then again we had our regular cold snap in February.  We haven't had one this year and this late in February, I'm doubting that we'll get one.  Since it's their livelihood, I feel for them.  Two years ago we had used 815 kwh but it HAD been cold and we'd been badasses, refusing to turn the heat on!

  • So since I still use my budget numbers from years ago when we had more people living at home, using incandescent bulbs, and had older units that consumed more energy, so far this year we have spent $535.40 less than I had budgeted for electricity. I'm rolling it over to next month.  I like having this cushion in our checking account (I do this for a couple more things), and at the end of the year I can usually set it aside for a big expense. Two years ago it helped pay for our trip to France, last year it subsidized our expensive "free" kittens :)

  • 8:31 a.m. Oh my hands are so cold, I'm thinking about going back indoors! The sun is several hours away from hitting the patio... my fingers are like ice!  There's a breeze blowing so it's making it feel colder than it is. The birds are staying nice and warm in their nests, I don't hear or see any. Only the squirrels are squeaking and it might just be the sounds of their teeth chattering, actually. LOL.

  • In order to warm myself up, I walked around the garden to take some pictures (see at the end of the post).  Successes?  the orange tree is budding again, I harvested a couple of tomatoes and a small handful of beans, and several of my pineapple plants are blooming! Wow, I didn't expect that so soon, although I guess perhaps last year they did as well?  I need to go check last year's posts! Those are my pineapple plants that have been in ground for several years, thus answering my question whether they would regrow pineapples after the initial one or not...  The older plants probably need to be pulled though, they're not thriving. That'd give me some room for some of those growing in my breezeway right now!

  • Going inside the house, even with the windows open, felt like the heat was on! Luckily the sun is rising faster than I expected it to, which means that the sun rays will reach the patio soon. Instead of hiding from them as I usually do, today I'll move my chair into the sun, lol. Oh, hey! I'm hearing the first birds of the morning chirping nearby.  Anyhoo, I decided to make myself some oatmeal for breakfast to warm myself up and I also nuked my 2nd cup of coffee since the pot had grown cold.  I used my homemade maple brown sugar mix and some quick oats that I had gotten for free from Walmart with a Swagbucks gift card, last year, and I sliced several strawberries on top. I used milk instead of water, because I had forgotten that the maple brown sugar mix is actually made with powdered milk. Doh. Oh well, I need the calcium and vitamins :)

  • I was able to complete a Peanut Labs survey and earn 65SB, thus meeting my 1st goal.

  • At 10 .m. the sun has finally reached a corner of the patio so I moved my chair there, put on my hat, and took off my sweater. My hands are still so cold! But from now on, it'll be much nicer :) The only problem is that it makes seeing what's on my screen much harder, even at full brightness.

  • My daughter got up, came to say hi and to ask if she could borrow a USB drive for a presentation she needs to do today.  I wasn't optimistic since I thought that I had already checked mine for the librarian (I'm supposed to give her one for her to copy the library photos of my son and it's been on my to-do list for months!) and I didn't have one that was free, but the 1st one that I checked ended up being empty. Whaaaat?! All those months I could have given the USB drive to the librarian?!  LOL. So I lent it to my daughter and told her I wanted it back. It saved my daughter from having to buy one and hopefully I can get that task off my To Do List shortly :)

  • I perused the preview for next week's CVS ad and noted that I'll be getting milk ($2.79 a gallon) and eggs ($0.99 a dozen) there next week. I have a $1 ECB that I can use on the eggs and I'll pay for the balance with my CVS gift card from USAA Visa.  I won't bother looking at the Walgreens ad since I don't need anything from there anyway.

  • As I do every day, I entered my weight into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 20 BR points.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

  • Even though I still haven't made one move to talk to a financial planner, I still follow the blog of the firm that I had "found" last year while listening to one of their radio shows and sometimes they have interesting articles. This one doesn't have anything to do with financial planning, but with what your priorities should be in life. "If you add the sand in first, you won't have any room for the golf balls." Intrigued?  Read on...

  • At 11 a.m., it's finally warm enough that I can open the patio umbrella, providing shade so I can see my screen better, without freezing out of the sunlight!  I'm not being super productive but I feel good about what I accomplished yesterday so I think I can relax a little today :)

  • My brother keeps emailing me about other properties they're considering, lol. I'm quite enjoying this renewed contact with him. I just hope that they're smart enough to keep the emotions out of the buying process enough not to get bamboozled. He's in his mid-40s but he's never owned his own place before.

  • Cool, Amazon emailed me that the cat scratchers that weren't supposed to get here until mid-March, will be here next week!

  • Today is the perfect day for reading a book outside!  I don't have anything pressing to do (*cough, taxes!) and it's nice and warm. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the Wifi on my Kindle Fire so my e-library book has already been deleted since it expired a couple of days ago. That's OK, I wasn't really into it.  So I'm going to start reading the book I borrowed from Kindle Prime Reading: Mercer Girls, by Libbie Hawker.  

  • Hmm, also apparently today is "Day Without an Immigrant" and immigrants are supposed to be striking. Well, I'm a citizen but I'm an immigrant. So I guess I'm supposed to be on strike to show solidarity. I guess I'm definitely not doing the taxes, not folding the laundry and might suggest to Greg he heats up his own leftovers for dinner... Yeah, I don't think that me being on strike will help anything. Have you ever been on strike?  I was as a high school and college student in France (against college entrance exams, our baccalaureat, which is the high school diploma, was at the time very difficult to obtain so we didn't see why we should have to qualify for college on top of that) and when I worked in Guest Relations at Walt Disney World but they took forever to process the paperwork that would allow me to earn 10 cents more an hour because I spoke Spanish so I could help Spanish-speaking guests, I told my bosses that I was on Spanish-speaking strike and refused to speak Spanish until they paid me the 10 cents. When they pointed out that the increase, when passed, would be retroactive, I told them that I'd speak Spanish retroactively as well. Back then it was only me and a lady from Puerto Rico working there, on different shifts, who could actually speak Spanish.  Other than that, I haven't been on strike since.  French people go on strike all.the.damn.time.  It's really annoying. But sometimes that's what you have to do to bring needed attention to a big problem.  In this case, it's not going to accomplish anything. One day is nothing. Go on strike for weeks and months and then it'll be something. But who can afford to be without an income for that long? Probably none of the immigrants so there you go, a pointless strike, IMO.

  • For lunch I'm having a bowl of leftover Mock Zuppa Toscana, an egg salad sandwich and a 1/4 cantaloupe from last week. And a Diet Coke. I'm almost done with those and then it's back to water... or iced herbal tea if I can remember to make some.

  • I didn't like my e-book so I looked for a new book to download from our library system, only to be frustrated because none of the books I was interested in reading are available as e-books, still. Arrgh.  However, I realized, when going over that list again, that I had suggested they purchase the biography of John Le CarrĂ© so I checked to see if they had and yes, they had, and it was available at my branch since it's the one that bought it. Woohoo!  So I decided to drive to the library right away instead of waiting until later tonight when I need to drop off my son there, because I wanted to read this afternoon!  I ended up borrowing 3 books, because I'm always too ambitious when I go to a library: John Le CarrĂ©'s biography (which is a huge book by itself) and one of his books that I don't think I've ever read and another spy novel from my list of books to read. Woohoo. I hope at least one of them is a good read :)

  • My son successfully drove us to the library and I left him there for his Teen Program.  Greg will pick him up on his way home, as always.

  • I received a letter from my great aunt in the mail today!  Her handwriting is back to normal and she sounds of a clear mind. She's received the visit of several friends (and gifts too, she's worried that, at the age of 89, they're expecting her to keel over any day, hence the gifts, lol) and her grandchildren.  Like a lot of French people, it seems, she is followed by a G.P. who prescribes her various drugs for her ailments, and also an osteopath, who prescribes her homeopathic remedies. She seems to be taking a lot of homeopathic remedies but the practitioner came to visit her at home (something that apparently he never does) and even went to the pharmacy to get her the homeopathic remedies that he wanted her to take, as she cannot go herself.  She hasn't left her apartment since January 3rd because of the ice and snow where she lives, and she already has knee problems. So anyone visiting her is a welcome break from the monotony of staying home and not being able to move around much.  I need to write her a letter with lots of pictures.

  • I saved a cereal bag to reuse as a freezer bag.

  • And I clipped another Boxtops label that I will mail to our former elementary school in the Spring.

  • Gas: 
    • to take my son to school
    • and tolls for Greg's commute
    • for my daughter to go to her college class
    • to drive to the library to get my books
    • to take my son to the library later on

  • Explorer wanted to play this morning... at 4:09 a.m.!  He was crying  and biting me and bugging me.  I had to yell at him and then Princess showed up and she calmed him down. Also, I turned off the white noise machine because it was still on and maybe that's what was bugging him?  Anyhoo, after that they both went back to sleep so I did too. He needs his little butt kicked because I'm not going to suffer through that every morning! I need my beauty sleep :)

  • The house my brother was hoping to buy and that I really really liked was under contract after all :(  Poop. He's looking at others but I don't like them as much.

  • I really didn't like the writing style of "Mercer Girls" so I gave up on that pretty fast. Ugh.

  • I keep on forgetting that the bike in the shed?  Yeah, it's mine.  I could have biked to the library, thus getting exercise at the same time as getting there pretty quickly, but I completely forgot about the bike in the shed and I hopped in my car.  Arrgh.

  • Three students from my son's high school were arrested yesterday because they skipped classes, broke into a home, stole weapons, and stored them on an abandoned property.  I was telling my son about it on our way to school this morning and asking if he'd heard anything about it and he said he hadn't.  This afternoon, I received a recorded message from the high school principal, stating that just before dismissal today, a message threatening violence at our high school tomorrow had been discovered in a bathroom.  The principal assures us that there will be added police presence tomorrow.  Just a couple of weeks ago 2 kids from a high school about 45 minutes away from here were arrested because they planned a mass shooting.  Since then, several same threats as the one discovered today at our high school were discovered at Leesburg and other Orlando area high schools.  I believe that this is a copycat and I plan on sending my son to school anyway, but good grief... and now Trump and his cronies want to make it even easier again for unhinged people to have weapons?!   If anything, it's way too easy to get a weapon here and I'm someone who is not against the right to bear arms. But not everyone should have that right!  Just like not everyone should be able to drive or have a driver's license.

  • RaceTrac: $53.05 (gas for Greg's truck)

  • an apple crumb muffin from RaceTrac, with survey reward code
  • 3 library books (yes, I count those as freebies)

  • Fed the kittens
  • Refilled the cat food bin for upstairs
  • Packed Greg's lunch
  • Prepped his breakfast
  • Replied to an email from my brother
  • Drove my son to school
  • Got him a snack
  • Washed the Cat Room litter box
  • Sat on the patio
  • Drove to the library to pick up books
  • Read a library book
  • Spoke to my son about the threat of violence at school tomorrow
  • Had my son drive to the library
  • Chatted with my daughter
  • Read some more
  • Cuddled with a couple of kittens
  • Cooked dinner
  • Did the dishes by hand

  • For a lovely day and the opportunity to spend it at home, relaxing
  • For my son driving us safely to the library
  • For several books that I wanted being available at my local library!
  • For a delightful letter from my great aunt


It wasn't a robin or a flycatcher atop the tree this morning... I think this is a wren.

Our backyard is covered in those. Greg will probably want to mow them down soon, but I like them and so do the bees!

Little blue "weeds" near Greg's shed

I still haven't picked the oranges from 2016 and the tree is already budding anew!

This little moth was asleep in one of my lemon tree leaves.

Some ferns have replanted themselves. I ought to relocate them to the front yard like I had said I would do last year!

Oh hey! I have beans that grew!

And there are new bean flowers even though the camera didn't focus on that one.

Surprise! My pineapples are flowering again!

I have about 6 or 7 of them who look like they're developing flowers.  They should be ready
to be harvested in August.

And I laughed when I saw this. Guess what, Bless?!  It's my sweet potato vine!  Yep. It's coming
back, just like I predicted.  Here and in two other spots too!

Flowering basil

The flower is turning into a strawberry.

I love the shade of vinca flowers

And I love the pinkness of my verbena plants in the sunshine!

Sweet potato vine #2

Sweet potato vine #3

This dove was sitting in the backyard without moving for so long, I had to zoom in on it to make sure I wasn't thinking it was a dove when  in fact it was a leaf or a piece of wood....

But no, it was a dove alright!


Vegetarian Kitten Struck Again!  Dead Green Bean Found in Woman's Kitchen. Details on p6.

The more than likely culprit, who didn't want me to go anywhere when it was time for me to go cook dinner...

Well, I'm off to continue reading.  I know I should reply to some blog comments and comment on other people's blogs, but tonight, I feel like reading my book so I'm going to take advantage of this and procrastinate on the other things until tomorrow, alright?  


  1. Your backyard looks so nice! I love the view from your patio. Thank you for the close up of the squirrel doing sentry duty on top of the telephone pole but I just loved the picture of him marching across the wire, on patrol! "No intruders here, Ma'am!" :D Ooh, more pineapple flowers and sweet potato vines! I have a sweet potato in the fridge - wonder if it will grow if I plant it?

    1. I hope you do and report back to us on how it's doing! Just beware that it tends to take over and spread out A LOT.

  2. Your To-Do list looks a lot like mine. If I don't get to everything, it just rolls over to the next day. Since I have three days off a week, I pack it full of stuff to do, from the major to the mundane. It today it mostly looks like chores, making homemade pie crusts to freeze, and getting some stitching and reading in. (:

    1. I guess it's sad that my memory had gotten so bad that if I don't jot it down on my blog's To Do List, it might never get done! I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one :)

  3. I am very interested in your pineapple plants. I have had a top growing for about a year now. How long did you have yours before they bloomed? I would imagine that yours grow faster than mine because you have more warm weather. My grew a lot last summer when they were outside, but had slowed down this winter inside. I would be thrilled to get an actual pineapple from this plant.

    1. They bloomed for the first time last year. I had planted them in ground in August 2015 ( but they had been in pots for about a year before, if I remember correctly and before that in jars of water for several months. The Dole site has a Youtube video of the growth cycle of a pineapple here: They say 58 weeks to produce a fruit ready for harvest, with flowers appeared at 42 weeks after planting.

      My gardening post from March 12, 2016 recorded that I had 8 pineapples flowering so I guess they're a month early this year, probably due to the warm winter we've had

      I harvested them in July, which was too soon, although some of them were suffering of some affliction (either too much heat or not enough water). There are pictures of the plants with the fruit in this July 2016 post

      I hope you can harvest a pineapple too!

  4. Your comment about speaking Spanish retroactively made me laugh out loud!

    I agree, a one-day strike doesn't really accomplish anything concrete, but it get people talking and thinking about it and drew attention to the subject. And I think that's the main thing they wanted to accomplish.

    1. Ha, no! I work for a small company and I love my job, my bosses, and my co-workers. And we were really busy last week.


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