Friday, October 31, 2014

Farmers Market Thursday


The weekly farmers market held near my office on Thursdays is a fun place to visit during my lunch break.  I don't find it to be a cheaper alternative to the grocery stores I go  to (although a friend pointed out that the farmers market probably sells organic produce, in which case, if I compare with organic produce in the grocery store, then, the farmers market is cheaper).  But I treat myself to something or the other, almost every week.
Often, it is a pastry or a crusty baguette from the French bakery stall.  Occasionally, however, it is some vegetables or fruit.

Today, it was persimmons.  The regular persimmons, not Fuyu persimmons.  They were selling for $2.00/lb.  Which is a little pricey.  I know the grocery store will have them for $.79/lb., later in the season (Fuyu persimmons are selling for $.49/lb., this week).  I love persimmons, so I will be buying more later, when they go on sale.  But for now, I bought 3 persimmons for $2.00. They are ripening in the fruit bowl, right now.

Do you go to a farmers market, regularly?  Do you like persimmons?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hidden Four Patch Scrap Quilt

Hidden Four Patch

This is a quilt I made earlier this summer, as a 21st birthday gift for a friend's daughter.  It's my version of a pattern known as Hidden Four Patch.  I made it with fabric I had in my stash.  I love making scrap quilts - they are the only type of quilts I ever make!  I tied it, rather than quilting it.  It's not perfect (that wrinkled border!), but the recipient was happy with it and her sister informed me that she would like a quilt for her 21st birthday, too!

Does anyone else enjoy making scrap quilts?  Have you made a Hidden Four Patch? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Paperwork and Filing

I have spent the weekend getting caught up on a huge backlog of paperwork and filing.  I have a love/hate relationship with filing.  There's nothing I like better than a well-organized file cabinet, with clearly labeled file folders and papers neatly organized in chronological order within its file.  It is so easy to find what you are looking for when it is where it should be!  And that is the main function of files - making it easy find the exact piece of paper you are looking for,  making it easy to access information.

And yet, so often, I tend to procrastinate on the actual filing.  I set things aside to file later.  And then, before I know it, there's a growing pile of papers needing my attention.  It stacks up on the desk, or the coffee table, or the dining table.  It gets moved to the top of the filing cabinet.  One stack becomes two stacks.  And then, finally, it gets to the point that I take an entire weekend, or at least, several hours, to sort through and file.

I have two 2-drawer letter sized file cabinets at home, stacked one on top of the other; each is 18 inches deep.  One would think that that was plenty of file space.  And yet, all four drawers are full!  Especially around this time of the year, when they are holding almost a full year's worth of papers.

So, I am going to quote my friend who sent me such helpful comments and suggestions in her email in response to my complaint about a lack of storage space: 

"For example...If the file cabinet is full you clearly have too much paper. What paperwork has experience taught you need and use - regularly? Do you have papers in your active file system, excluding legal documents, formal credentials, tax related receipts and active warranties that have not been looked at or required since 1/1/2014? Is the information available on-line from a vendor? Does your electronic bank data identify date, vendor, payment? Can it easily be printed?

What are you willing to release to archive [tax, house maintenance/repair] records, items with potential for dispute? What are you willing to purge? Do you have info on a car you no longer own? Items no longer on warranty? Items no longer active? Promos for flooring now installed and enjoyed?"

I admit I keep too much paper!  I am afraid to toss anything away!  What if I need it later?

We are urged to toss (recycle) the obvious junk mail as soon as we collect the mail from the mail box, but I admit to not doing that;  I bring everything inside the house.  We are urged to have a designated spot for incoming mail, but I tend to just dump it on the nearest available surface - desk, dining table, coffee table, sofa, etc.  We are supposed to have a designated day to process paperwork, but I struggle with implementing routines.  And so, the mail tends to sit, until later in the day, or week, or couple of weeks!  I am usually pretty good about tossing the grocery ads, etc., and I pull out the bills to be paid.  But going through other mail and filing tends to be put off.  It's kind of low priority.  And then it stacks up and gets overwhelming.

So, this past weekend was when I sat down to sort through a box of papers.  About half of it got tossed (recycled).  The rest was filed.  In order to file them, I had to make room in the file cabinets.  Which meant going through some of the file folders and purging them.  I took my friend's questions about what was in the file cabinet and decided I didn't need to keep the file pertaining to a former pet (adoption papers, vet records, etc.); ditto the maintenance records for the old car; and some installation manuals for items such as kitchen cabinets and sink and ceiling fan.

I've more files to clean out, but I made enough room for what needed to be filed and am caught up on the backlog, for now.  It is my intention to go through one or two file folders, each week, and eliminate what is not needed from them.

Anyone else struggling with keeping up with paperwork and filing?  Do you retain too much paper? 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Diagnosis: Over Abundance!

I am truly blessed when it comes to friends.   Helpful, caring friends, who go out of their way to be there for me, in person or in spirit.  When I host a gathering at my house, they come and help with the cooking and cleaning, as needed.  When I need companionship, they are available for a visit or a chat.  And when I complain about various problems, they offer helpful suggestions and possible  solutions.

One of my friends, who often shares tips about getting organized, read my post about the lack of storage and sent me a very thoughtful and thought provoking  email.  I have her consent to refer to her email and post portions of it here, as I wish to share some of her ideas and suggestions and what I am doing in response.

My friend offers me a diagnosis as result of reading my blog post:  " suffer from [dare I say it]...overabundance."  She goes on to say that, if I don't have a place for everything, then, I clearly have too much for the space available.  She asks, "How much is enough?"  And what do I have in my storage spaces.  She gives me several pointers about dealing with paperwork (she knows I've been struggling to get caught up with my filing - but that's another post!), clothes, etc.  She says, "Our most successful 'protocol' was to implement the 'new item in, old item of similar size out'."

Over abundance!  I agree!  I do have a lot!  Too much!  Some of it is useful.  A lot of it is of sentimental value.  Too much of it is decorative.  But, I do tend to hold on to stuff, whether they are useful or not, whether they have sentimental value or not.  Often, it is the "might come in handy, one day" line of thinking that keeps the stuff in storage, rather than given away, recycled, or, even, just tossed.  I know the conventional wisdom is to get rid of the "might come in useful someday" items and buy new if and when needed, but that goes against my frugal nature.  So I hold on to stuff. 

One of the questions my friend asked was:  "Does an inventory of the linen cabinet reveal more than 3 sets for each bed [now considered adequate]?"  And since I did laundry, yesterday, including some bed sheets, I decided to take inventory of my bed sheets!

I've 4 beds in the house: 1 queen sized and 3 twin (1 in the guest room and daughter's bed which pulls out to make 2 twin beds).  So, going by the 3 sets per bed guideline, I should be able to have 12 sets of sheets.

I've 4 complete sets of queen size sheets - 1cotton flannel for winter, 3 cotton blends.  Of the cotton blends, right now, 1 set is on the bed, 1 set is in the linen closet, and 1 set is doing double duty as family room sofa dust/cat fur covers. In addition, I've 3 spare flat sheets (the fitted sheets seem to wear out more quickly than the flat sheets) which I use as dust/cat fur covers on the sofas and/or my bed (over the quilt, to protect the quilt since sheets are easier to wash and dry than handmade quilts).

4 complete sets of twin sheets (one of which is cotton flannel for winter); plus 2 fitted sheets being used as mattress covers, 2 additional fitted sheets for spares, and 2 flat sheets, one of which has a floral border hand-embroidered by my grandmother. 

So, 8 complete sets, and, if I pair some of the spare flat sheets with the 4 twin fitted sheets, another 4 mismatched sets, for a total of 12 sets for the 4 beds, with one extra flat sheet!

And then...I run into trouble.  Because I have 5 other items: a king-size flat sheet, which until recently (August), was used as a bed skirt for my bed, a canopy bed cover from when daughter had a canopy bed as a little girl, 2 bed skirts (twin size), and another twin flat sheet.   Why are these extras being kept?  Well, they are all solid white and they are used, at least once a year, occasionally twice, when I use them as sofa and chair covers during a religious ceremony called an almsgiving at my house.  I can't use the other flat sheets because they are patterned and not plain, solid white.   I also use them as sofa covers at other times, too (when I am not using the spare queen size flat sheets), but the white sheets and bed skirts are needed at the almsgivings).

I guess I should get rid of the 3 spare queen size flat sheets and one of the twin size flat sheets (not the grandmother hand embroidered one).   On the other hand...they can be used for quilt making as foundation pieces or backings (frugal because I won't have to buy fabric for the purpose).  Oh, did I forget to mention the solid purple twin flat sheet that's stored with the fabric stash?  It's being kept for a quilt backing... 

My friend suggests giving myself a deadline for projects and getting rid of stuff if I don't complete the projects by the given deadline.  I had better get busy sewing!

So, does anyone else suffer from over abundance?  Does your linen closet overflow with extra sheets?  How do you keep your storage spaces from getting too full?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday: Laundry, House Cleaning, and Renewing Pillows

Started the day with video chatting with daughter and doing laundry.

I did two loads of laundry, including my bed sheets.  Both loads were hung up to dry - it's both environment-friendly and frugal since I don't use any electricity or natural gas to air dry laundry.  My bed sheets (queen sized) are folded in half and clipped onto two clothes hangers (the type used for pants) and hung from the door frame.

Later in the afternoon, I did some house cleaning.  The house was relatively clean from all the cleaning I did in preparation for last week's prayer gathering.  Today, I dusted the living room/dining area, family room, hallway, and my bedroom.  Vacuumed the whole house.   It's true what they say - it doesn't take a lot of time to clean an already clean house!  I was able to complete everything in under 2 hours. 

One other thing I did, when remaking my bed, was renew two of my pillows.  What I mean by renewing them is, I cut open the pillow cover, transferred the inner pillow stuffing to an old pillowcase, and sewed the pillowcase closed.  Then I tossed the old pillow cover.  This is something I remember my mother doing, when I was a child.

My mother used to renew the pillows once a year, usually when she was home during the school holidays.  Those days, when I was a child, all our pillows used to be home-made, with covers made from a fabric known as "ticking" (cream and black striped fabric) and filled with kapok fiber.  The kapok fibers were harvested from the pods of the kapok tree.  The pods are filled with the soft white fiber and when the pods are ripe, they crack open and the fibers carry the seeds off in the wind.  People used to pick the pods as soon as they started to get ripe and opened, before the fibers started to float away.  The fibers used to be spread on mats in the sun to dry, the seeds would be hand picked, and the fiber would be sold to be used for stuffing pillows.  My mother would sometimes buy new kapok, and sometimes sun and reuse the old kapok. 

The pillows I renewed today didn't contain any kapok, of course.  They were filled with man-made fibers.  And, as I mentioned, I used old pillowcases for the covers.  But, maybe, the next time I get a 50% off coupon for fabric, I might see if I can buy some ticking for pillowcovers, just for the nostalgia of it.

Do you renew your pillows?  If not, how do you refresh them?

Friday, October 24, 2014

When Storage Is Full

Last weekend, I tried to get the house ready for company.  One of the difficulties I face when I try to clear and organize a room is the lack of available storage. It seems that all my storage spaces are already full!

It is difficult to clear the table tops when there is no place to put away the stuff that's sitting on top of the tables!

It is difficult to file that stack of papers when the file cabinet is crammed full of papers, already!

As a result, I find myself putting things away anywhere there is space and not necessarily where items should go.

The counters and tables were cleared, but the cabinets and drawers are crowded and crammed full.  A few boxes got shoved under a bed, a pile of paper was swept into a grocery bag and stored under a desk, a few more things got dumped into a laundry basket and hidden in the closet!  It was a temporary solution, but not a good way to deal with the stuff.
Ideally, one should have a space for everything and keep everything in its place.  Not easy when one tends to be a collector of stuff (sounds better than a packrat, doesn't it?)   I truly do enjoy having everything nicely organized.

But, how does one organize when storage is full? Do you declutter the storage to make more room? Do you add more storage space? What would you do?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


It's been a busy few days.  I had family and friends over for a prayer gathering and lunch, on Sunday and I spent most of the weekend preparing for it.  I had planned my menu and made my grocery shopping lists ahead of time; even so, the actual grocery shopping and cooking took up a good amount of time. 
But, what took the most time and energy was cleaning the house.  One of the things I struggle with on a constant basis is housework.  I like a clean and tidy house just as much as everyone else, but I have a hard time keeping to a regular cleaning routine.  As a result, the house tends to get cluttered and messy in between cleaning sprees.
Monday was busy, putting things away, cleaning the kitchen, and doing laundry.  I washed 4 loads of laundry, including table covers, and hung everything up to dry, overnight.  I also watered the front garden.
Tuesday,  I went to the office in the morning, to the library at noon (to pick up a book I had requested, which had come in and was being held for me), and to a doctor's appointment in the afternoon.  After I came home, I started reading the new library book.  Later, I did another load of laundry (bath mats and kitchen rugs).
Today, I was at the office for the whole day.  Came home and watered the back garden and did another load of laundry (a bed quilt).  I did a little bit of paperwork, as well, but there's more to be done.  On the bright side, I have enough leftovers from the Sunday prayer meeting lunch for several meals, both in the fridge and in the freezer.
How was your weekend and the first part of this week?  Have you been busy, too? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Today is the anniversary of my mother's birthday.  What better day to reminisce about her?

My mother was born the 6th child in a family of 9 children, the 3rd of 4 daughters; she was a stepmother, a mother, and a grandmother.

My mother was a student who attended a Catholic convent school taught by nuns; she was a teacher, who taught for 40 years.  Even when she couldn't remember a lot of other details about her life, she never forgot the fact that she had been a teacher. 

At a time and in a place where most women married young and didn't have careers, she married at 32 and continued with her teaching career.

Mother married twice.  The first time, to a widower with 5 children, who was 12 years older.  The second time, to a bachelor who was 8 years younger.  She never addressed either husband by his name.  She'd refer to them by their names, but she never addressed them by name.  When she spoke to them, she'd begin with, "You heard?"; it's a wonder I didn't think my father's name was "You heard" when I was a child!   

Mother was widowed twice.  The first time, she was 42.  I think people expected her to remain a widow.  She caused quite a few raised eyebrows and a deep rift in the family when she began dating again, especially since he was a younger man and from a different ethnicity.  She was 67 when she was widowed for the 2nd time.   

Mother was born into a Roman Catholic family and baptized.  She converted to Buddhism sometime before she married her first husband (my father).  Her second husband was Catholic and they married in church, but she remained a Buddhist.  Albeit one who'd pray to the Catholic saints, if needed.   

At the age of 52, she left what had been a fairly comfortable life and emigrated, with my stepfather and me, to follow a dream.  A new life beckoned and she was enthusiastic to embrace it.  "Change is good", was her motto.  She condensed the contents of 3 homes into the two suitcases each of us was allowed to take on the plane with us and sold or gave away everything else.  Like most dreams, it didn't unfold quite the way we would have liked it to have done, but she remained steadfast and committed to it.

My mother was a strong woman, but hers was the strength of water that flowed around the rocks in the way and wore them down, drop by drop.  The strength of a bamboo that would bend in the wind in order not to break.  It was the strength of surviving to fight another day.  I didn't always appreciate her type of strength. 

Mother was talented; she could sew, crochet and knit, play the piano, sing and dance; she grew a lovely garden, kept a well-maintained home, was outgoing and loved to dress well.  She wasn't quite sure what to make of her shy and introverted daughter who didn't much care about clothes and make up, who preferred to stay home and read rather than go to a movie or a dance; she was proud of my academic achievements, but she would have liked it if I had been a bit more social, stylish and slim.     

And, yet, she was fiercely loyal to me.   At a time when my world began to fall apart, she stood by me and supported me and staunchly defended me and my decisions to those who would criticize.  So much so that people accused her of being the cause of my troubles!  Little did they know.

Eventually, however, a fall and a fractured hip, a brain hemorrhage and transient ischemic attacks, arrhythmia and a pace maker, and several more falls, took their toll.  She suffered memory loss, became confused and lost at times, walking around the house at evening saying the house has been turned around, occasionally not recognizing me.  That was a painful time.

My mother was 85 when she died, peacefully, at home.  She would have been 94, today, had she lived.  

Love is a Wild Goose Chase Quilt

Love is a Wild Goose Chase Quilt

This is a quilt I made for my daughter.  Like the majority of my quilts, it's a scrap quilt designed to use up some of the stash.  In fact, the majority of the fabric pieces had been cut years ago, just so I could reduce the stash into something a little more manageable.

This quilt sort of evolved as I sewed it.  First the inner section of hearts, representing love, of course.  Surrounded by a row of small bricks, which represents a wall.  Surrounded by a moat (green border).  Love is kept safely protected by a wall and a moat.  Maybe it is a castle. 

The triangles are, of course, geese, flying.  When flying geese are sewn going around, end to end, it's a quilt pattern known as a "wild goose chase".  The geese start out on the upper right corner, against a background of pale blue and pale pink "sky" triangles, representing early morning sunrise.  The background triangles change to brighter blue, representing day time and then, to grey - the geese have flown into a storm!  Most of the geese continue to fly through the storm into the sunset (pink background triangles) and night (dark blue triangles), which gives way to dawn, again.

But I still had more geese with a grey background leftover.  So, I sewed them flying in the opposite direction - they are the geese who lost their direction due to the storm.  Maybe if they follow the yellow flower bordered brick path, they might find their way to the rest of the flock.  Maybe the geese will find their way to the love held safely inside the castle.

I do hope that when my daughter does find love, she won't find it to be a wild goose chase!

For me, the part I like the best is the piecing, so I chose to tie this quilt instead of quilting it.  I backed it with some cotton flannel I had in my stash. 

I rather like the story I built into the quilt, don't you?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recycled Jars

I have always saved and reused jars, especially glass jars.  Once the original contents of the jars (coffee, jam, fruit, etc.) have been used, the jars are washed, the labels are soaked off, and the jars are recycled and reused to store other items, such as bulk bought spices, cookies, and homemade chutney.  

Recycled Jars

I prefer glass jars because they are easy to wash clean and can be sterilized if necessary.  But I'll reuse some plastic jars, too. 

I am recycling, and since I don't need to buy storage containers, I am saving money at the same time.

Anyone else reuse glass jars and bottles?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday: To Do Lists and Ant Spray Furniture Polish

Back to work, today - the hardest part about long weekends is returning to work.  Doesn't matter how long the weekend was; it never seems long enough.  I always wish I could have taken another day off.

I went to the bank during my lunch break and put gas to the car on the way home.  Two errands crossed off my to do list.  Home and put away the load of laundry I did yesterday, which had been hanging up to dry - another "to do" item crossed off the list.

Much later, after tea and dinner, an email to a friend, phone calls with a cousin and an aunt, and sorting through the day's mail, it was time to get to the "dust family room furniture" item on the to do list.  Book case was dusted using the furniture polish spray, the side table was dusted, too, and the TV cart.  Then, I stopped to water the indoor plants.  Put the spray polish down and reach for the watering can.

Once the plants were watered, I started on the entertainment center.  My, but that furniture polish spray was a bit strong smelling!  And it wasn't as foamy as usual - must be coming to the end of the container.

I had finished dusting the entertainment center before I realized that I had picked up a container of ant spray and I had used that as furniture polish spray on the entertainment center!   Oops!

Well, I guess I won't have to worry about ants for awhile!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday: Back Home and More Pomegranates

I came back home from my visit to my daughter, today.  I got a bit teary-eyed, saying goodbye to her, this morning.  We said our morning devotions together, then, I put gas to the car, dropped daughter off on campus, and set off on the drive home.  It was a good drive.  I was home by early afternoon.

I unpacked what I had brought home, did a load of laundry, aired the house, checked the mail, paid a bill, made a couple of phone calls, watered the front garden, and picked the rest of the pomegranates.  This year, I was able to pick about 14 pomegranates from the tree.  Some of the fruits were rather small (less than 3 inches in diameter), but the others were 3-4 inches in diameter.  Pomegranates are selling for $2 each at one supermarket and at $.79/lb. at another, this week.  But there's more satisfaction picking and eating fruit from one's trees, isn't there?

Did you have a good day, today?

Monday: Bulk Cooking

Today, I did some bulk cooking for daughter, while she was on campus.

Daughter had bought a package of frozen shrimp on sale for $5/12 oz. package  (comes out to be $6.67/lb, which is not bad for shrimp).  I cooked the shrimp and we had some of it for lunch, with rice, broccoli, lentils and cucumber salad.  Afterwards, I kept half of the leftover shrimp in a container in the fridge for her to eat later in the week and froze the remaining half.

I also cut up and cooked a whole chicken she had in the freezer.  I made a chicken curry, and we had some of it for dinner.  I packaged and froze the rest.

I also made a spicy onion relish for her (onions are sliced and sauted with spices and a little sugar).

Daughter has 3 upcoming exams, next week - she won't have to cook when she's busy with her studying.   I have filled her fridge and freezer with several cooked dishes.  All daughter has to do, when she wants a mom-cooked meal, is reheat something from the fridge or freezer.  

 I like bulk cooking, as it means each dish can yield several future meals.

Tomorrow, my visit to daughter will come to an end and I will leave to go back home, again.   

Does anyone else do bulk cooking?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday: Sleeping In, French Toast, and Reading

Daughter and I were up till past 2:00 a.m., talking and just enjoying being together.  So, this morning, we slept in and didn't wake up until almost 10:00 a.m.  That's the nice thing about Sundays - getting to sleep in.

French Toast

Another weekend/Sunday tradition is a cooked breakfast.  Usually, on weekdays, I don't cook breakfasts.  Instead, I take something like cereal or a sandwich and fruit to the office to eat later in the morning and daughter does the same, taking a cereal bar and fruit to campus with her. But on the weekends, I will make something for breakfast.

Today, I made us French toast, which is a favorite of ours.   It's an added bonus that it is also a very frugal breakfast, 4 slices of bread ($.99/loaf), 1 egg ($.99/doz.), about 1 cup of milk ($2.79/half gallon), a little butter or margarine (I used margarine, $.99/1 lb.; butter is more expensive at just over $3/lb.) for frying. 

After breakfast, daughter worked on her homework assignment and I read the library book I had brought with me: it's about the British discoverers of Buddhism in India, in the late 1700s and early 1800s. 

Later, I prepared lunch: rice, chicken curry, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and a cucumber salad.

In the evening, we went for a walk and stopped at the dollar store on the way back.  I bought 2 boxes of cereal and a packet of cookies and spent a total of $3.00.

It has been a very relaxed day, today, for me (not quite so relaxed for daughter as she had to finish writing her research paper and still has to review for a quiz).

Hope you've had a pleasant Sunday.  What would you make for a frugal Sunday breakfast?

Saturday: A Long Drive and Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cake with Tomato Chutney

Today, I made the long, 400 mile drive to visit daughter for the weekend.

I packed the car with various items I was bringing for her - the quilt I had bought on sale a few weeks ago (as part of the bed in a bag), some household items such as toilet paper and paper towels, and pantry stock up staples such as rice and sugar.

I packed a breakfast for me to eat on the way, when I stopped at a rest stop - a bottled nutritional drink and an apple sliced.  I also packed a bottle of water and a small container of some of the amaretti cookies I had bought earlier, for a snack, should I want one.  Packing a picnic breakfast meant I didn't need to buy any food on my drive.

Daughter and I did, however, buy lunch from a sandwich shop - we used a coupon to get a second sandwich free with the purchase of one sandwich and a drink; we bought a large drink and shared it.   Lunch for 2 for $7.35.  It was an affordable treat.

Later, daughter made a pan of brownies, using a mix she had bought on sale for $.99.

Dinner tonight was quick and frugal.  There was some mashed potatoes in daughter's fridge that needed to be finished.  I mixed in a can of salmon ($.99) from the pantry cabinet, some spices,and an egg to bind the whole thing, formed slightly flattened rounds and sauted them to make a version of salmon cakes.  I know most recipes call for breadcrumbs, but I wanted to use the mashed potatoes.  We ate them with some of the tomato chutney I had made.  Daughter liked the salmon cakes so much that she said she'll be making them again.

Do you pack a picnic meal with you to eat on the way when you drive long distances?  What is your idea of an affordable treat?  What are your suggestions for using up mashed potatoes?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday: Pantry Inventory

I'm always happy when I get to Friday because it means another work week is over and the weekend is about to begin.  :) 

While I was at the office, today, the gardener mowed the back garden, planted the Dusty Miller plants I had bought and did some weeding for me. My gardener is my neighbor's nephew and has been tending to my garden for over 21 years.

I put gas to the car on my way home: I've a full tank of gas for my weekend driving. 

Watered the indoor plants, did the litter box, washed the dishes,  and did a load of laundry.  Everything was hung up to dry; I'll put them away before I go to sleep.

After that, I did a pantry inventory.   Living in earthquake country, I like to have sufficient supplies on hand, in the pantry, to enable me to feed myself and daughter for longer than the minimum 3 days that's recommended, if not more.  Actually, I like to have enough in the pantry for at least a couple of weeks.

An earthquake can damage grocery stores and roads and disrupt regular food deliveries.  Therefore, my pantry includes emergency supplies: canned meat and fish, fruit, milk, etc., as well as staples such as rice, lentils, oil, flour, cornmeal, and sugar.

Pantry supplies are bought when items go on sale to keep costs down and incorporated into my meal planning on a regular basis to make sure that things are used up and not allowed to expire and go to waste.

My pantry inventory showed that I am now down to 1 can of condensed milk - I'll be buying some the next time they go on sale.  I'd like to build it up to 6 cans.

Anyone else have a pantry?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday: A Swollen Eye and Weeding

Today, I woke up with my left eyelid swollen - I assume as a result of allergies or perhaps some dust got in when I was weeding, yesterday, or maybe even an insect bite (although I didn't feel any bites).  Whatever the cause, the swelling went down once I was up and about.

I had a quiet day at the office and once I got home, I spent 15 minutes weeding in the back garden and then, put the sprinklers on for a bit. 

Made myself a scrambled egg and toast for dinner, with grapes for dessert.  Spent some time in the evening video chatting with daughter.  She has a mid-term exam tomorrow, so she was studying for it.

There's so much I should or could be doing, but I only cleaned the cat's litter box.  Some evenings, I don't have a lot of energy to be doing things.  I guess I'll just have to be doubly productive some other evening.

How was your day?  Did you have a good Thursday?  

Wednesday: Dehumidifiers and Windfall Oranges

Today, daughter received the dehumidifier I had ordered for her!  It has been so humid in her apartment and she's been fighting mold in her bathroom; we are hoping that the dehumidifier will help reduce the humidity and prevent the mold from growing again. 

It's been another quiet day for me.  I went to the office, did a bit of house cleaning before and after work, and spent half an hour weeding in the back garden.  I have 6 circular flower beds that are being over-run by weeds!  I've finished weeding one of the circular beds and started on the second one this evening. 

I had just finished weeding when I found the 3 barely ripe oranges that had fallen from the tree.  Windfall oranges?  I wonder why these oranges fell from the tree when they weren't ripe.  I wonder if it is a sign of not enough water?  We are in the 3rd year of drought and I've cut back on watering and the recent heat wave (100+F) probably stressed the orange tree.

So what does one do with 3 just starting to ripen oranges?  They'd be sour as they were, but oranges don't ripen off the tree, so there was no point in keeping them to get riper and sweeter.  At the same time, I was reluctant to just throw them away, even on the compost heap.  So, I peeled two of them, cut them into chunks and sprinkled them with sugar.  They tasted a little like grapefruit.  I will have the last one, tomorrow.  In the meantime, I got my recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and garden-fresh organic fruit. 

I tossed a bit of the cut off orange peel down the garbage disposal to freshen that - works just as well as lemon peel, in my opinion. 

How was your Wednesday?  What would you have done with barely ripe windfall oranges?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Everyday Doings

I had a phone call, yesterday, from one of my cousins who lives overseas.  It's always lovely when family and friends call to keep in touch.  I always enjoy reading those holiday newsletters that some people send with their holiday greetings, too.  I like finding out what they have been doing and what's going on in their lives.  But then, they ask me, "What have you been doing?" and I tend to answer, "Oh, nothing much.  Going to work, coming home, doing stuff around the house."   Because, truly, that's what I do on a daily basis!  I generally don't have a lot of things going on.  I did, however, tell my cousin that daughter has moved away to go to university and I have been going to visit her on a regular basis and that I've started a blog.  Those are the highlights of my life, recently.  But the vast majority of my daily life revolves around going to work, taking care of the house and garden, being there for my daughter, etc.  It's a relatively tranquil life and one I enjoy. 

So here's what I've been doing the past couple of days:

Yesterday (Monday), I had to drag myself to the office, in the morning; I really would have liked to have called in and taken the day off! Once I was at the office, however, I was fine.  On the way home in the evening, I stopped and put gas to the car.  Then, came home and took the trash cans to the curb for trash collection in the morning.  Later, one of my neighbors came over to install a new faucet in the bathroom - the old one stopped working a week ago (no water would come out when it was opened).  I had to run to the store to buy 2 faucet hoses, but now I have a working faucet in the 2nd bathroom.  Useful things, working faucets.   Later, I cooked dinner (rice and chicken curry), made a cucumber salad, ate dinner, and watched some TV.  Then, I stayed up too late, as usual, playing computer games!

Today, I went to work without any problems.  Came home and did a little more weeding in the back garden and then, when it got too dark to see what I was weeding, I put water to the front garden.   Later, I made some phone calls to family and friends to invite them to the prayer meeting I'm hosting, called another neighbor to thank her for bringing in my trash cans for me (she and her husband do this almost every week!), scheduled a doctor's appointment, wrote an e-mail to a friend, and video chatted with daughter.  In a bit, I will pack my lunch, do the dishes, clean the litter box and get ready for bed.  

And there you have it - an account of what I've done in the past two days, yesterday and today.

How have your days been?  What have you been doing?

Monday, October 6, 2014

October Grocery Shopping: Week 1

I went to Costco on Saturday to do my quarterly stocking, except it was more of a semi-annual stock up, since I hadn't been to Costco in over 6 months (my membership expired in March!)  I renewed my membership and bought household supplies, pet food and groceries.  Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the receipt. Must have dropped it when I was loading the car. Anyway, going by what I can recall of the prices (and rounding up to next dollar where I forget the cents), I spent about $110 on groceries:

25 lb. rice: $10
10 lb. rice: $5
10 lb. sugar: $4.19
6 cans corned beef: $20
2 bottles Worcestershire sauce: $7
4 bottles apple cider: $8.49
30 cans Ensure: $33
4 lb. smoked sausages: $10
4 lb. butter: $12.49

Some of what I bought, like the smaller bag of rice and one of the bottles of Worcestershire sauce, are for daughter.  The apple cider and smoked sausages are for the upcoming luncheon; my grocery budget for this month has been augmented from the entertainment budget  and the unspent summer stock up funds.

Apart from all that, I also did the regular grocery shopping on Sunday. Went to the ethnic grocery store and bought:

2+ lbs. (5 pieces) chicken drumsticks, $.79/lb = $1.75
5 lbs. lentils, $1.29/lb = $6.45
1 cucumber, $.25
1 papaya, $.79/lb = $1.26
2 lb. bananas, $.49/lb = $.99
apples, $.49/lb = $.63
grapes, $.99/lb = $1.54
1 loaf of Italian bread, $2.39
1 packet amaretti cookies, $2.19
1 packet chilli powder = $1.99

Spent $19.44

Some of the lentils are for the upcoming luncheon and some will be given to daughter.

I made a curry with the chicken drumsticks.

Today's meal plan:
Breakfast:  bread & butter with a banana
Lunch:  corned beef sandwich, diced papaya and amaretti cookies
Dinner: rice, chicken curry, and cucumber salad; chocolate pudding for dessert.

Tomorrow's meal plan will be more or less the same as today's, minus the chocolate pudding.

Anyone else do quarterly stocking up?

A Missing Blog Post and a Busy Weekend

I had written a post about lists, in general, and my weekend "to do" list, in particular, which I thought I published on Saturday, but, apparently, it never got posted, after all!  Instead, I seem to have deleted it!  Oops!

I'm a list maker - to do lists, shopping lists, holiday gift lists, freezer/pantry inventory lists, crafts project lists, etc.  I generally make a daily to do list with everything I hope to accomplish on a given day.  Sometimes, I manage to complete my list.  Often, I only accomplish some of it and things get carried over.  Well, on Saturday, I made a weekend to do list, which was the subject of my missing blog post. 

But since the weekend is over (and I didn't quite accomplish my entire to do list), I will simply blog about what I managed to do over the weekend. 

I've had a busy weekend, running errands, for the most part. 

On Saturday, I did a load of laundry (sofa dust sheets) and put new dust covers on the sofas, picked some herbs from the garden and dropped it off at a friend's house for her, and did a bunch of shopping! Went to Costco to stock up on household items and cleaning supplies (paper towels, toilet paper, bleach, disinfectant wipes, toilet bowl cleaners, etc.), pet food, and some grocery items (25 lbs. of rice, 10 lbs. sugar, etc.), went to the pet supply store for kitty litter, went shopping for a dehumidifier for daughter (I was hoping to buy from the store so I could actually see what I am buying, but none of the stores I went to had any in stock at the store, so had to order on-line), looked around the crafts supplies store to see if they had any good sale on yarn (they didn't and I didn't buy anything), went to the home improvement store and bought a new faucet to replace the one in the guest bathroom (which broke, last week) and some plants (Dusty miller). 

On Sunday, I did 2 more loads of laundry, placed the order for the dehumidifier, did my weekly grocery shopping, sewed cushion covers, did some house cleaning, and watered and weeded the back garden. 

In between, I managed to chat with my sister and a couple of friends, video chatted with daughter and did a bit of reading and TV watching. 

I got a lot done, but yet, I didn't do all what I would have liked to have accomplished.  There's more tidying and cleaning and weeding to be done.

How was your weekend? 

Saturday, October 4, 2014


I've had a productive day, today.  Went to the office and completed phase 1 of a project.  In addition, I also paid some bills, did some filing, made a batch of chocolate pudding (and sampled some of it!), called and chatted with a friend, washed some dishes, video chatted with daughter, and wrote out my weekend "to do" list.

That list is too long, as always!  I've shopping (multiple stores for multiple items, ranging from fresh produce and rice to cat litter to a dehumidifier); house cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, laundry, etc.); gardening (weeding); sewing and cooking!  It would be nice if I could clone myself so that there will be multiples of me to do all what needs to be done! 

How was your Friday?  Did you have a nice day?  Do you, too, have a mile-long weekend to do list?  If so, how do you manage to get it all done? 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Grocery Budget

I did well with my September grocery budget, spending $56 on items for myself and the remaining $19 on groceries for daughter. 

The October grocery budget is another $75.  This will be augmented from my entertainment budget because I will be hosting a prayer luncheon later this month.

As always, I will be buying items that are on sale to get the most for my money, and using coupons when I can.  

I made a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup, last night, and had some for dinner.  There are several more portions of soup for future meals.  I think I will freeze some, as well.

Went to the farmers market, this morning, and bought a loaf of French bread: $2.50

Lunch tomorrow will be egg salad sandwich; dinner will be soup and French bread.

Do you have a grocery budget?  If so, how did you do with keeping to your budget in September?  Are you keeping to the same budgeted amount for October?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Goals

My October goals are very similar to the September goals.   This is quite normal for me because my goals don't change all that much from month to month.

Spiritual: Continue with daily devotions/meditations; host the monthly prayer meeting; attend special seasonal ceremonies at the temple

Environment: Outside: continue to spruce up the garden. Inside: Continue to clean and declutter

DD: Continue to be supportive with in-person visits and on-line visits

Family: Get together with family once

Friends: Visit 2 friends; e-mails & phone calls

Career: Work on assignments in a timely manner

Finances: Continue to save for next semester's tuition & fees!

Health: Start walking for 30 mins. 3 times a week.

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies: Reward myself with 30 mins. crafting time for each 30 mins. of walking; finish knitting the blouse for DD, sew cushion covers, start planting a fall garden

Time Management: Multi-task!

Let's see how well I do with my goals this month!

How about you?  Anyone making any goals for October?

September Goals - Review

Spiritual: Daily devotions/meditations and the monthly prayer meeting - DONE

Environment: Outside: continue to spruce up the garden. Inside: Continue to clean and declutter (rooms of the month: family room and DD's room) - Outside: Pruned 2 of the trees and a hedge; Inside: Cleaned most of the house.

DD: Continue to spend as much time with her as possible (in-person visits and on-line visits) to help her adjust to being away from home - spent almost every evening video chatting with her and visited her in person, this past weekend.

Family: Get together with family once or twice - Did so at the prayer meeting; had an aunt and cousin over to tea, afterwards.
Friends: Keep in touch through letters, e-mails, phone calls and also get together with them once or twice - DONE; video chatted a couple of times with one friend who is overseas; phone calls and e-mails with other friends; had a couple of friends over to tea.
Career: Work on assignments in a timely manner - ON-GOING

Finances: Start saving for the next semester's tuition & fees! STARTED

Health: Be mindful of diet and exercise; adequate sleep; call to schedule dr's appt. for later this month - NOT DONE

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies: Sew, knit, garden; finish knitting the blouse for DD, sew 2 more cushion covers for her, start planting a fall garden - NOT DONE

Time Management: Be realistic but also, efficient! - TRIED

I'd say I did fair-to-midling with my goals in September.

Did you make any goals in September?  If so, how did you do on them?  Were you able to attain most of them?