Monday, February 20, 2017

An Eventful Monday ~ 2/20/17

I got to sleep in a little this morning since Greg and the kids are off and the kittens didn't insist on my getting up, lol.  As a matter of fact, by the time I was ready to go downstairs and have my coffee, all three kittens are crawled in bed with me, the boys being under the blankets and my Princess purring by my head, with her little paws on my face, lol.

Right after I got up this morning :)
So I got up at 7:30 a.m., opened the windows, fed the cats, enjoyed my coffee. There was a cardinal at the feeder!  I should be out there but I didn't want to scare the cardinal away.  I'm waiting for Greg to wake up so we can go walk, as we had decided last night.  I think we might go to the General Van Fleet Trail. He does need to take several work calls this afternoon as he and his manager are trying to convince HR to retain one of his team members by at least matching an offer that the team member has received from another company.  It includes a huge salary increase, apparently, so it's going to be hard. Losing that specific team member would be a big blow to Greg's team in light of the deliverables they are committed to, so I hope both for his sake and that of the team member who would like to remain with Greg's company but can't refuse such a large increase from the other company, that HR comes through.

My son got up at 8:30 a.m. and came to cuddle for a minute on the couch with me. I love this, especially since, the rest of the day, he likes to be left alone and isn't a touchy-feely person.  But there is still this glimpse of the little boy in him and I treasure these moments.

There are a lot of things I should be doing today, especially since it's usually Domestic Monday AND it's so close to the end of the short month. I looked at my February goals yesterday to see if I had done any progress and yikes. I need to put my butt in gear!

  • Record bird sightings for Great Backyard Bird Count didn't get to do, after all.
  • Cut up the pork loin into roasts and freeze
  • Text Middle Son to see if he can do lunch this week DONE
  • Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift (Greg on Monday)
  • Update French blog
  • Sweep Cat Room
  • Sweep breezeway
  • Sweep exercise room
  • Make my bed  
  • 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)  
  • Fold the laundry (as I watch "Spy in the Wild")
  • Put the laundry away 
  • 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  2X
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only) Went on a hike
  • Give USB drive to 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  
  • 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
  • Inventory the freezers
  • 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
  • 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 or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared.
  • Write letter to my great aunt, with pictures

  • It's nice and cool this morning so I opened the windows and turned off the AC.  Right now it's sunny but the forecast calls for an overcast day with a high of 81F/27C.

  • Greg and the kids are home from work and school today so no long commute with toll expenses.

  • I used stretched milk in my coffee and cereal this morning, and a free packet of sweetener from Wawa.

  • My 1st Daily Swagbucks Goal is 118 SB.  I don't think I'll reach it but I'm running automatic videos until they run out and then we'll see how motivated I am to try to earn more.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

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

  • Greg got up and we decided to go walk at about 10 a.m.  I suggested packing a picnic but he just wanted to bring snacks and suggested we eat lunch once we got home. I did pack snacks.

  • Instead of going on a trail, we decided to go back to Lake Louisa State Park. I asked not to walk the Equestrian trail this time :)  It's a short 20 minute drive to the back entrance from our house. We used our annual pass for entrance by noting the number on the envelope stub.

  • I had brought the map from our last visit from home so we reused it.  I think it's a frugal win to reuse the maps :)

  • We walked for 5.75 miles!  We were so tired at the end.  The trail we took was very nice but sandy in parts and we just got a good workout.  Our hips hurt, we're getting old :)
The pace is wrong because I was stopped when I took the screen shot.

  • Halfway through our walk, I texted a picture to Middle Son and asked if he was free for lunch any time this week.  He replied that he actually was wondering if he could come for dinner tonight as he needed to take a picture of one of Greg's tattoos for a photography class. Hooray!

  • At the restaurant (see "Splurges"), I ordered a an Ahi Tuna Salad and water, while Greg had an Angus burger and fries and a beer. He'll still lose weight faster than me!

  • Middle Son showed up at our house as soon as we got home from our walk so we spent the afternoon visiting and catching up. It was lovely to be spending several hours with him and talking about photography, movies, his life, our summer trip, etc.  He spent a long time advising me on the kind of camera that I should buy next (I think I'm hopeless for dSLR as it seems way too much work for me!) and researching features and prices online and comparing between models. I really appreciate his advice and attention to details when it came to what I needed.  We settled on a "bridge camera", which is a camera with a fixed lens but with the option to use manual settings too. This one has great specs.  It's a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300K.

  • We had dinner at home. I cooked the 2 boxes of Barber Chicken Parmigiana that I had bought on BOGO and with coupons at Publix last week and a box of penne pasta.  Greg had the 2nd drumstick from the turkey that I had cooked last week so I would have enough Chicken Parmigiana for everyone else.  The kids had chocolate cake for dessert.

  • Gas:
    • for Greg and I to drive to Lake Louisa State Park
    • for my daughter and Youngest Son to drive to Subway
    • for myself and Middle Son to drive to Publix

  • Lunch at Redwing Restaurant.  At some point during our walk Greg started talking about stopping for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants on the way home and I did my best to discourage the idea but in the end, it sounded pretty good, lol. 

  •  So I texted the kids that they should go get themselves lunch somewhere and they decided to go get Subway.

  • Later on, I felt bad that we didn't have any "snack" to offer to Middle Son, so he and I drove to Publix and picked up a chocolate creme cake and some whipped cream.

  • I woke up with a bad creak in my neck this morning and for the nth time wished I had a better pillow or mattress.  Greg loves his temperature-regulating memory foam pillow that I got him at Target for Christmas, and I had tried it and liked it a lot, so I decided to treat myself to a new pillow and ordered the same one on the Target website. I went through Swagbucks and should earn about 60 SB.  I did get free shipping with my RedCard Mastercard, a 10% discount with the promotional code "PRESIDENT" and an additional 5% discount for being a RedCard member.   I can't wait to get the pillow (it wasn't available in store).

  • And then I decided to go ahead and order the camera and 2 extra batteries. I told Greg it could be our 16th anniversary present and he said "whatever you'd like, honey!". I love him :)

  • I didn't meet my 1st Daily Goal in Swagbucks, far from! I didn't think I would anyway!
  • Aside from cooking dinner, I accomplished absolutely NO chores today. Oh well.

  • Redwing: $37.32 (lunch Greg and myself)
  • Subway: $12.30 (lunch for Daughter and Youngest Son)
  • Publix: $9.58 (snack)
  • $32 (pillow)
  •" $553 (new camera and extra batteries)

  • Nothing today

  • Cuddled with kittens
  • Fed the cats
  • Cuddled with my son :)
  • Worked on Rewards programs
  • Went on a hike with Greg
  • Went out to lunch with Greg
  • Had a long visit with Middle Son :)
  • Cooked dinner
  • Visited with Middle Son some more!

  • Sleep was good
  • Breakfast was a bowl of Rice Krispies with fresh strawberries and ~2% stretched milk
  • Lunch was an ahi tuna salad
  • Afternoon snack was a piece of chocolate creme cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream
  • Dinner was a piece of Barber Chicken Parmigiano and some penne pasta with a pat of butter.
  • Water consumption was pretty good today.
  • Exercise was a 5.75 mile walk.
  • Foot exercises were performed.
  • For a beautiful day
  • For an early morning cuddle with Youngest Son
  • For another great hike with Greg and the beautiful flowers and wildlife we saw
  • For a long and great visit with Middle Son and his help with picking a camera

FIELD TRIP: Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont, Lake County

Lake Louisa is in Clermont so it's the closest state park to our house.  We've been there several times already but the trail system is extensive and we haven't walked all of them yet.  Today's circuit was my favorite so far!

We walked 5.75 miles and it was tiring, but none of it was too arduous.  We walked in a forest where the trail was covered in pine needles, and in other parts the trail was sandy and in the sun, and then in other parts it was covered in grass.  We walked up a small hill, alongside several ponds, saw hawks and other birds, butterflies and lizards, wild boar and deer tracks, an alligator, a couple of turtles (that were too shy for my camera), and several flowers. Spring is definitely on its way to being fully here and it felt great!

I'm really tired and it's already 9:40 pm. so I'm going to post the pictures with only a few captions, and a lot of the flowers and birds will remain unnamed, but it was a wonderful walk and I'm so glad we went!

Lake Louisa

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I don't know what bird this is but this picture cracks me up. He's so cute!

Some kind of Goldenrod

Tread Softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus)

The famous cliffs of Clermont, LOL. It's not often that we see rocks here, as it's usually sand,
so I get a kick of seeing those each time we come :)

It's Spring for sure!  The ferns are growing from the dry and prescribed-burnt forest floor.

I like the markers on the trails!

This part was easy to walk on.

Coastal Plain Chaffhead? Not sure.

These are my least favorite parts... deep sand is much harder to navigate!

But it's fine when it's covered in pine needles!

The primitive campsite was actually really nice... although I don't see myself lugging all the camping equipment, food AND water all the way there...

We were just talking about Saw Palmetto berries last week at Fort Cooper State Park and today I spotted a flowering Saw Palmetto!

Arrasa Con Todo

Red Shouldered Hawk?  I suppose it could be a Red-Tailed Hawk but I can't tale without seeing its tail (ha!)

Lantana and its berries

Beautyberries!  Greg spotted those today.

The trees covered in those flowers both smelled really good (when you walked past) and terrible (when you smelled the flowers from up close). It was the oddest thing...

The same poisonous seeds we always see at Lake Louisa State Park. But they're so colorful. I can't help myself from taking a picture!

The passionflower vines are getting ready to start flowering soon!

So  much promise in a flower bud about to burst open!

A lizard reminding us of which trail to follow

Hmm. I should know what those are...

They were too large to be passionflower vine fruit, but I can't think of what they are right now.
They were the size of small mangoes.

Still easy to walk on and I appreciate the occasional shade and breeze!

I love trails like these, I feel like I'm walking on a small country road.

Another pond. We walked alongside several of them but aside from the one alligator and hearing some frogs, we didn't see any other wildlife. Not even an egret or heron!

We did spot a couple more bat houses, although none of the caliber of the one we saw at
Fort Cooper State Park!

This one was also built by an Eagle Scout. It was empty, though.

Getting closer to the truck, although we were still about a mile to a mile away at this point. My feet and my hips hurt!

Wooly Pawpaw

A gopher tortoise's nest and a pretty scary-looking cacti guarding the entrance!

This Common Buckeye was a male getting minerals from the sand. When I took the Butterfly Walk at P.E.A.R. Park last year, the Ranger explained that the males do this to get the minerals they need for successful mating with the females.

This is one of the reasons why I needed a new camera: mine is painfully slow to take picture. When I started taking the picture, there as a Gopher Tortoise sitting at the entrance of its nest right by the "Wildlife Crossing" sign. We've been to Lake
Louisa State Park several times and each time failed to spot any wildlife so it had become a joke that we probably wouldn't see a Gopher Tortoise there.  Well, by the time the picture was taken, the tortoise had retreated into its nest :( It was the last thing we saw before reaching our truck so we felt pretty happy to have finally spotted a turtle in that park :)

So I didn't do any domestic chores but I feel that I had a productive day:  a long hike, a lunch date, a dinner date and a long visit with Middle Son and I got to treat myself to a new comfy pillow and a camera that should fit my needs much better than my current point and shoot without being as complicated to use as a full dSLR!

I hope your Monday was as good as mine.


  1. Sounds like you have had a lovely day! Cuddles with kittens and youngest son, a visit with middle son, a walk with Greg and lunch out, now that's how to observe a holiday! Your salad looked delicious. That was a very long hike, but enjoyed all the pictures. Thank you for sharing them. My Monday wasn't too good. I think I am coming down with a sinus infection. :(

    1. It was a wonderful day indeed! I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well. Good thing you weren't planning on doing any chores on your holiday. Are you feeling better this morning?

  2. So nice that you got to spend time with your middle son today. I'm always happy when my son comes for a visit. Also, you got a lot of really good pictures on your walk today.

    1. I did manage to take a couple of good pictures today, I especially like that one of the little bird on the branch, looking at me! I hope my new camera will greatly improve my bird pictures as most birds aren't as cooperative as that one was!

      Visiting with Middle Son was exhausting because I was so tired physically and then he chats very very fast, but it was so interesting and we had fun, that time flew by! He might be moving back to my little town in a few months if his roommate situation pans out, so maybe I'll get to see more of him. I know one of your sons lives with you, does the other one live far away?

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, it was wonderful! And we had cake too, lol :)

  4. What a nice long walk! And your pictures show it to be a beautiful place -- love that gator!

    1. I really liked that portion of the park! Of course, everything is more interesting and looks prettier when flowers are blooming and we can observe some wildlife :)

  5. You guys go for some long, long walks! I'm wondering if we, instead of having that contest about the egret on the cow, should have a contest about who would "walk to Nashville" first (the distance of 697 miles that I set as my goal for 2017). Hahahaha. Maybe just giving you ideas for next year.

    I'm so excited for you and your new camera! If I can't get a new camera right now, at least you get one. Now I can't wait for you to post pictures from it. With a 600 mm equivalent zoom, you should get some fantastic bird pictures!

    1. It didn't even occur to me to challenge you with the "Walk to Nashville" goal that you set for yourself and rest assured that I won't. I enjoy the walks as they are and I don't want to turn them into a push to walk longer just so that I can best you, hahaha. I was already disappointed to feel really tired after only walking 4.75 miles today because we walked farther last week :)

      We saw lots of egrets near cows today but none ON a cow. Greg wouldn't have stopped for me to take a picture anyway, he said he was relieved that he didn't need to obsess about that anymore.

      I do love my new camera and I got cool bird pictures on Friday but today I don't know what happened and a lot of my pictures didn't really turn out at all. I mostly use the all automatic mode or the "P" mode with the auto focus (for macro pictures) or the "P" mode with manual focus for focusing on animals or flowers through a tree's branches for instance. Those are probably the only way I'll take pictures for a while, hahaha.

      I hope you can get a new camera soon. What's wrong with yours? You take amazing pictures!

    2. Hahaha on your obsession with the egret being done with. :-)

      Absolutely nothing is wrong with my camera, nothing with any of them (the three that I use regularly, not counting my phone and not counting the four others that are just sitting there, retired). I'm just a little obsessed, that's all. I'm always researching the next camera or next lens, even though I may not buy it for years or not at all. I just get excited when someone gets a new camera, whether it's me or someone else.

      And thanks for the compliment...I'm just a hobbyist. I'm amazed by some of the pictures that others your blogging friend catandturtle. Those are amazing!

    3. She's really good, isn't she? She's not my friend though, just a blog I follow. I've left her a couple of gushing fangirl comments, it's kind of embarrassing, actually, lol. She lives in my neck of the woods, though, which makes it even worse for me as she goes to a lot of the same spots where I go so then I can "compare" our bird pictures or even just what she does see that I don't even notice (like all those tiny brown birds!).

      I didn't know you were such a photography enthusiast! Yes, I would say you have a lot of equipment. I'm starting to get there too, only because I don't throw my stuff away. I still have old digital cameras somewhere, my Canon Powershot, the old Canon dSLR that I had given to my son (his first one) and that he gifted me back and now the Panasonic bridge camera. And my phone. When it's time to download pictures for the blog (as it is now), it's becoming something of a chore as I have to check 3 cameras to see if I took pictures with them that day!


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