Tuesday, July 4, 2017

INDEPENDENCE! ~ July 4th, 2017

I'm putting this To Do List first today so I don't forget to try and cross some things off of it!
  • Plan my food intake for the day DONE
  • Exercise DONE - Walked for 1 hr and 6 minutes
  • Record today's food intake into MFP DONE
  • Do the dishes 
  • Make peanut butter pie DONE
  • Go to Friends of Library book sale DONE
  • Explore Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services webpage and get started on process 
  • Create Greg's online Social Security Account (with him) and update my documents
  • Schedule credit card payments
  • Post trip pictures on French blog
  • Finish backing up all pictures to my external drive (later on this week when Greg is away and the kids are still in bed so I can hog all the bandwidth!)
  • Figure out where I was in the process of backing up my external drive!
  • Make hummingbird nectar
  • Cut up Greg's old sheet for rags
  • Fold the laundry
  • Put the laundry away
  • Iron Greg's business clothes for his trip DONE
  • Give Greg his passport - DONE
  • Finish clipping coupons
  • Put new coupons away
  • Back up my blog
  • Sweep or vacuum my bedroom (when my bed gets delivered on Wednesday)
  • Sweep and mop kitchen
  • Clean upstairs litterbox DONE
  • Mend some items from the mending basket
  • Take Youngest Son driving
  • Vacuum fridge's coils
  • Request new mortgage pay-off statement after the July payment clears DONE
  • Transfer money from savings to checking DONE
  • Express mail a check to the mortgage company to pay off the mortgage 
  • Explore Will and Power of Attorney forms on LegalZoom and discuss with Greg
  • Find a good picture of our cats and order bag from Shutterfly for Daughter with freebie code
  • Clean out the battery drawer, inventory what batteries we need and buy them on Sales Tax Day (hurricane season, need to research when that will be)
  • Finish the 2014 Powerpoint document for Daughter
  • Add clip art to all 2012, 2013 and 2014 pages that I created and print them
  • Declutter this past year's school files and prep new files for this coming year
  • Check if there is any money in Daughter's school lunch account and if so, request that it'd be transferred to Youngest Son's
  • Tape the Strength Training videos and put on dedicated SD card

I thought I heard Greg get up at 6 a.m. to go fishing, but when I got up at 8 a.m., he was still in bed.

I brewed coffee, fed the cats, cooked my breakfast, and settled down to catch up on the news and emails. It's my youngest brother's 2nd wedding anniversary today so I had emailed him and his wife last night to wish them a happy anniversary and he had replied to me. I can't believe it was 2 years ago that we spent July 4th at their wedding in Paris!  Boy, was it hot that day... like Florida but without the air conditioning.

It was too quiet and since it's the 4th of July, I decided to be patriotic and to listen to Aaron Copland's beautiful music. Pandora annoyed me because they'd play one Aaron Copland number but then would move on to other composers so I decided to see if I could play it via the Amazon Music app on the Roku but it still won't let me play Amazon Music Prime or the Amazon Music Unlimited membership that we just paid for!

So then I contacted Amazon via chat. The rep had to research the issue but ended up telling me that the Roku isn't compatible with either Amazon Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited. So you know me, I ended up leaving feedback in 3 different places about how unhappy I was that I was paying for a membership but that contrarily to what they call it, there is nothing "unlimited" about this service if they won't let me use it on the Roku, (for which they have developed an app!) and in direct contradiction to their FAQ that states that I can play it on "all (my) devices"!  Anyhoo, I had to go back to Pandora and all of this took me up to almost 10 a.m.!

Greg got up at 10 a.m. and I went to make the peanut butter pie that I had promised.

From the Jif website. Mine didn't look quite as neat but everyone
loved it just the same...

It didn't take long to make the first part of it, which then had to be refrigerated for a while. My daughter had woken up so I offered her the spatula to lick. I might have taken a few licks myself, but I won't count those towards my exchanges or on MFP :)

Then Greg and I walked to the Friends of the Library Book sale. Oh, it was so humid this morning!   First we saw our favorite neighbor Jeff in his driveway and we chatted with him for a little bit. He's such a nice guy.

We were kind of disappointed to find that the preparations for the July 4th festivities had just begun!  In past years, there were concerts and activities all day long, by the lake, starting at 9 a.m  Unfortunately, it also got very loud, especially as the noise traveled over water and was very much amplified before it reached our house. So we were also relieved that it wouldn't be noisy during the day as the festivities won't start until 4 or 5 p.m.!  But I thought there'd be a lot of vendors to visit and only 2 stands have been set up by the time we got there :( Oh well.

We browsed the book sale and ended up buying 7 books for $6 total: 4 books for Greg and we found 3 books that we thought our son might enjoy.  We also entered the raffle (bought 6 tickets for $5), the prize being a $45 Darden Restaurant gift card. They have the drawing at 4:00 p.m, I think and they'll call if we win.  Since the ladies were from The Friends of the Library and one of my resolution this year was to join them, I asked them how often they meet and also if there were opportunities to volunteer that didn't involve selling or soliciting so they asked me if I knew how to write grants, but alas, I don't. So we all came to the conclusion that I wasn't a good candidate to volunteer with them, but they'll keep me in mind if something else comes up. I'm a little disappointed but relieved that I didn't join out of guilt and end up doing things which I very much dislike.

For Greg

For our son
So we walked home, and ran into a neighbor walking his dogs. He lives with his wife just a couple of doors down but we never run into him so we exchanged pleasantries for a couple of minutes. Actually, now that I think of it, I asked about his wife, his kids and if they were grand-parents yet (their kids were teens when we first moved in 15 years ago), but he never asked anything about our own kids or ourselves.

Before we reached our house, I asked Greg whether he felt up to going walking on the General Van Fleet trail in the afternoon. He was very surprised since we were complaining about how hot and humid it was and here I was, asking him to go walk even longer, but agreed as long as we went as soon as we got home.  So we got home, I changed into another walking outfit.  This time I wore the yoga shorts that I bought at Kohl's last year, and I'm glad I did because even if they're just about 6 inches shorter than my yoga capris, it made a big difference to keep my legs cool! And I also put on a an exercise tank top. We grabbed the Sodapalooza cups, some water, and my fanny pack, warned the kids that we'd be on the Van Fleet Trail for a little bit (there is no cell phone reception there), and were on our way,

We first stopped by RaceTrac to get Sodapalooza refills for Greg and myself and then drove the 15 minutes or so to the trail.  On the way to RaceTrac, we passed Jeff's wife who was walking one of their dogs and had a plastic bag to carry the poop and we thanked her to doing this because other dog walkers haven't been that considerate and we keep on finding dog poop left where we put our trash bins and recycling bins for collection. She said she was having the same problem.  Arrgh.  We need security cameras to catch the culprit(s).  On the trail, we saw several cyclists today but no one else was walking.

Due to all the rain we've had, the ditches are once again flooded. We saw plenty of mosquitoes, but no gators!  What happened to the 12 gators we had spotted just a couple of months ago?! We don't know.  Greg thought he saw a fox cross the trail ahead of us (but I missed it) and I saw a snake cross it that he didn't spot.  Here are some pictures from our walk. My Runmeter app wouldn't run without the cell phone connection, so i just used the timer on my phone and it took us 1 hour and 6 minutes total but probably only a couple of miles since I stopped frequently to take pictures.  A lot of my pictures didn't turn out since, once again, it was noon and the sun was high above us. I have got to remember to go walking early in the morning or at sundown!  Note: a better blogger would have researched the names of the plants before posting the pictures, but I'm too tired. I'll have to come back to this post and do that later :)

A small emerald fly was flitting from yellow flower to yellow flower. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of it!

This was a very diaphanous spiderweb, stretched between a couple of pine saplings, and there was a light breeze blowing, making it balloon a little. Very graceful.

I had just told Greg "You know, I don't remember seeing Beautyberries on this trail" but of course, I was wrong! I usually see Beautyberries everywhere we go.  Today was no exception.

I can't wait until those little green berries turn purple and look like jewels!  I love this plant!

Downy Woodpecker

Wild Muscadine grapes!

Turtle Yoga :)

We came home right at about 1 p.m. and I told the kids I was going to cook the hot dogs. However, my daughter said they had driven to McDonald's and gotten lunch there while we were gone. Honestly, I was very annoyed since I had told them yesterday about my plans to cook the hot dogs, mac'n cheese, that we had potato salad and that I was making the peanut butter pie!  My son said he thought I had meant that for dinner, which I guess is fair since I usually don't cook lunch. So I didn't bother with mac'n cheese, Greg had 2 hot dogs and my daughter decided to have one anyway, probably as a kind of apology.  As for me, I decided to just eat my regular lunch. I like it very much and it's much healthier.

As we started eating, Greg and I watched "1776" from a DVD that we own. It's our July 4th tradition. I don't like musicals usually but I really enjoy this one.  The kids declined to join us. Youngest Son did some French class work (and I got to help him a little!).  My daughter decided not to attend her BFF's family's cookout. I made sure that she wasn't going because of me, but she assured me that she just didn't feel very social today. As a matter of fact, she remained in her (hot) room and we barely saw her.

This movie has historical flaws, but we really
enjoy it nonetheless.
Earlier today I earned the Microsoft Rewards credits for the day and I'm trying to earn a few Swagbucks with automatic nCrave videos but my 1st goal is 100 SB and I'm only at 60 SB at 3:40 p.m. so I'm not sure I'll make it.

Oh, I just remembered that I'm supposed to be ironing Greg's clothes for his trip so I'd better get off the laptop for now...

I finally finished planning my food intake for the day. I had been tempted to have a hot dog tonight but I decided instead to make a taco with leftover taco meat from last night. It'll be healthier and I can reduce the leftovers in my fridge at the same time.  However, I still plan on indulging in a homemade tropical lemonade during the fireworks and I won't count it at all. I did walk for an hour and 6 minutes plus the 20 minutes or so to walk to the Book Sale and back :)

Our bank sent us an email heads-up that our mortgage payment had cleared our checking account so I checked the mortgage company's website and requested a new pay-off amount... as I suspected, the one that was generated a few days ago didn't account for the July 1 payment so our new pay-off amount is actually $2,200 less than I expected to have  to send... and our escrow refund will be larger :)  I immediately transferred the amount from our "New Car" Savings account and wrote the check. I'll be mailing it tomorrow.  So it's truly INDEPENDENCE DAY for us as this was our last debt on the books! Next goal:  to continue investing and growing our investments wisely. Speaking of which, I didn't get around to doing the Vanguard stuff after all.  I'll do it this weekend.

I had a security scare in the middle of all this. I had been running Swagbucks videos all day and was logged in to our bank account, and the screen was maximized so I couldn't see any of the other screens. At some point I realized that and minimized it some so I could keep an eye on the other stuff running in the background, when I saw a full-size window behind that window that was all blue and was warning me that I had downloaded a virus and that my files would be wiped out in 5 minutes for "safety" (this message pretended to be from Google Chrome) and it had a countdown with a phone number to call. Well, I'm not a complete idiot and I knew this wasn't a real thing, but also I wasn't able to close any of my Chrome windows at all!  So I powered down my laptop and when I restarted it, I went straight to Chrome, declined to reopen the tabs that had just been closed and proceeded to clear all my cookies and browsing history.  Meanwhile, I signed in to my Google account again but since I have 2-step authentication enabled, it wanted me to input a code that they were texting to my phone. No problem, I've done this before without any trouble. Only this time, I never received the text they supposedly had sent me. I tried to resend it. Never got it. I asked Greg to text me, I got his text just fine.  I do have back-up codes that I had generated when I went to France so I found those and used one of them to verify my identity and then I was into my account.  I checked my security settings and my cell phone number is correct in there!  They also suggested either downloading the Google Authenticator app (but it has TERRIBLE reviews so I decided not to) or setting up your phone to receive a Google Prompt on their Google app, that allows you to just say "Yes" to verify that you're trying to sign in to a different computer too.  So I tried the Prompt thing but it just wouldn't work. I ran the set-up process three different times, to no avail. So I sent them feedback.  After dinner, I tried again, it didn't work the first time, but then it did work. Phew!  I'd still would like to know why I couldn't get the security codes text messages...

The cats continue to love the new couch in the Cat Room witness...

Earlier today, the three older cats had commandeered it...

But later on....

There was only one hold-out. He's always followed the beat of his own drum, that one...

Synchronized sleeping!!!

Later on, Princess came to cuddle with her brother Explorer and fell asleep in that position...

with her butt half off the couch, LOL!

The sky is all dark at 7:00 a.m. and we're been under a severe thunderstorm warning for about 30 minutes already. I wonder if the fireworks will still be going on.

After that security scare with Swagbucks videos, I hadn't reached my 1st daily goal. I was about 25 SB away. I didn't want to run the videos again so I tried taking a couple of surveys and after the 2nd one, I was able to earn 50 SB that allowed me to meet and surpass my 1st goal.

Several neighbors are having fireworks, but so far the cats don't seem to care too much.

We moved the couch and mattress to the curb at 9 p.m. while there was still a little bit of light. Our street is dark so I figured we shouldn't try to move the couch in the dark.  Greg and our son set up the patio chairs in the front lawn, I made us tropical lemonades.  They weren't good. Well, Greg loved them, I didn't. It wasn't sweet enough, they must have added sugar at Lily's on the Lake or something. Well, at least this means I won't be getting drunk at home, LOL.

I had to drench myself in Deep Woods Off because the mosquitoes, which don't come out during the day at all, were all trying to eat me. After the fireworks show, I had to go take a shower!  The show was fine, it's always nice not to have to drive anywhere on the 4th to see fireworks :)

We have to get up super early tomorrow because Greg has to be on the road by 5:30 a.m. so I probably will be going to bed pretty soon. Hopefully the neighbors' fireworks will die down soon.

I hope you all had a great 4th of July!


  1. Happy 4th! We stayed at home and just watched what we could of the fireworks being set off in neighborhoods around us. Neither of us enjoy fighting traffic after the show is over, so for the last couple of years we've done this.

    I think your pictures from the trail still look quite nice! And I had to laugh at the cats -- we have a lot of synchronized sleeping going on around here, too.

    I just read your page and post about the Exchange diet you are following. It's very interesting to me -- my grandfather had diabetes and I'm pretty sure followed this diet. Actually many of his siblings have had problems related to blood sugar, but my father does not despite an avid sweet tooth. As I mentioned I've had issues with low blood sugar; combined with low iron this had made me maybe more cognizant of how I combine foods than I might have otherwise been. Anyway, I've always been very interested in plant based diets and those are the ones I am most familiar with in terms of preventing or treating diabetes; they are also correlated with helping to prevent or reverse heart disease something that is prevalent in my family. And then when I was working out so much and really focusing on strength training and building muscle, I found it interesting that those trainers also recommended the same books (like Fit For Life), but suggested adding additional lean protein. Which made me laugh because that is kind of antithetical to the whole point of those diets! :D Anyway. I'm not sure what I'm really getting at here, but your posts have me thinking!

    1. Food is complicated, isn't it?! So many people have so many different approaches and it gets hard to figure out what you should do/not do, what to eat/not to eat... and sometimes it changes from "Don't eat any chocolate!" to "Chocolate is good for you!", etc. I think that it's great that you are so aware of what food combinations work or not for your health. Personally, I believe that our bodies need animal protein but in moderation. We, in general, eat way too much protein in this country. But, as with everything, moderation is key. The "moderation" part of it has always been my biggest problem!

      I hope that you find a good balance between what you love, what's healthy for you and what you can cook at home considering your husband's health issues as well!

  2. Guess it's back to the ole' routine today. I have a tree guy coming either today or tomorrow but of course, no time given so I'm homebound for a bit. If no one is here by 4 and no calls, I'm leaving LOL!I hate to pay to have them cut down, but the rain has 'forced' some of those awful sand pines out of the ground and they need to go. When I moved here, I had 20 trees cut down and I've had to have a few more cut at least 3 different times. It's $$. My lot isn't that big- 1/2 to 3/4 acre but lots of trees. Sis and I had a nice time- she cooked brats and we had mac/cheese and potato salad. I brought the coconut cupcakes for dessert but didn't have any. Your PB pie looks good. My daughter makes one and SIL really likes it. Son will be here this weekend. We haven't seen him since my November birthday! He calls/texts but spends most of his vacations in England with his GF. It will be a short visit (just the weekend- he flies in Saturday and back Monday)but sometimes that's good hahaha. We get along but if he lived closer, he'd probably drive me nuts. He left home after college and has never lived closer than when he was in NC and that was probably 9 hours away. OK to work now. I'm going to work an hour, rest 15 minutes, and then back to work.

    1. 20 trees at once! That must have cost you a pretty penny?! We also had several trees taken down, ours were all full-grown. Each tree cost us at least $1,000. That included the stump grinding in most cases. The only time we didn't get the stumps ground were when we had to take down two HUGE oaks and we had to pay $1,500 a piece cash. We couldn't swing the stump grinding too.
      Enjoy your son's visit, even if it's short! I know what you mean, I'm always very happy to see Middle Son when he visits, but after 3-4 hours, we're both ready to be on our way, lol.

      I hope you have a good rest of your week. It should fly since you have something exciting to look forward to this weekend!

  3. Great pictures today. I enjoyed seeing what you saw on your walk and the cats hanging out on the new couch.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

  4. You had something that truly made Independence Day spectacular. Congratulations for your new found freedom. July 4th will always be the anniversary of this special day.

    I understood your need to bathe in the mosquito repellent and then showering again afterwards. Terrible stuff, but it works. Mosquitoes love me to death. I must have sweet blood. What a lovely set up you have for watching fireworks from the comfort of home. I actually missed out on the fireworks this year because I left the Island early to come home. I had been away from home since before 4 o'clock and I figured if I had stayed and caught the ferry afterwards, it would be too long to leave my dog.

    Loved seeing your photos as usual. With or without identification, they are always wonderful to see. I appreciate them. It is like watching a travelogue from some distant place.

    1. Oh that's too bad that you missed the fireworks, but better than finding dog piddle in the house, that's for sure!

  5. Loved, LOVED, all the cats on the couch pictures! Too cute for words!

    Glad you got to enjoy the day spending time with the family. I didn't do anything special to celebrate the day. I did have an urge for a hot dog, but I didn't have any on hand and was too lazy to go and buy one! Lunchtime Bless

    1. That's one aspect of laziness that we forget to praise... sometimes it allows us to be healthier because we can't be bothered to go buy the very unhealthy food that we crave! Let's hear it for laziness!

  6. I love those book sales at the library!

    And the peanut butter pie looks absolutely delicious, but 600 calories for 1/10th of the pie? Who can eat 1/10th of this beautiful pie? Of course, it's all in the balance...if you are 200 calories below your allowance for three days, you can eat it without guilt. I think I just talked myself into it.

    1. Ha! I love your reasoning! But still, as you said "600 calories for 1/10th of the pie?" Indeed.


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