Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday's Happenings

Today, I was woken up at 8:00 a.m. by a phone call, an anonymous woman's voice informing me that they have been trying to contact me, this was the last call, before the IRS files a lawsuit against me, and call the following number for further information!  Fortunately, I had been hearing about scam calls pretending to be the IRS and I've seen notices by the IRS stating they never call and would always contact by writing.  I know this to be true, because I've had the IRS contact me with questions, before, and it has always been in writing.  So, I just hung up the phone and went back to sleep!  They called again, with the same recorded message, later in the morning, too!

Daughter and I had a quiet morning.  She returned to Berkeley this afternoon, so she cleaned the litter boxes and put gas to the car ($2.59/gal.) before I took her to the airport.  She will return in 10 days' time, to accompany me to my last chemo session.  She arrived in Berkeley without incident, and we've been video chatting all evening.  She starts her new job, tomorrow.  Although her job is at the same place where she has been working part time since last year, she is both excited and nervous about it! 

I've had a fairly productive day.  I worked on office work in the morning, before I took daughter to the airport, and in the afternoon, after I came back from dropping daughter off at the airport.   Later in the evening, I put away laundry, vacuumed the family room sofas and brushed the cushions with a sticky roller to remove cat fur and covered them with freshly laundered sheets I use as dust covers to keep the cat fur off them, dusted the chest of drawers in my bedroom, and did a bit of paperwork.  I was upset when I found an old CVS receipt with $5 Extra Bucks which had expired.  :(  If I had been a bit more on top of my paperwork, I could have given the receipt to my daughter to redeem. 

Today's mail included this week's grocery ads.  There are some good deals, most with the purchase of 5 participating items (smoked sausages for $1.99 each, 100% apple juice, 64 oz., for $.99, cereal for $1.49, etc.).  But I am not planning to buy any groceries this week, so I put all the grocery ads in the recycling bin.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter had a safe flight back to Berkeley.
- Not falling for a scam IRS phone call.
- Being able to send daughter back with several meals worth of frozen food.
- A relatively well-balanced life this month and doing well on the month's goals.
- Having a productive day.

I hope you have all had a good day today and a fine ending to the month of May.  What are your plans for June?

May Balanced Life and Monthly Goals Review

The first gladioli blooming in the garden

Seems like May just went by in the blink of an eye!  Time to review the monthly goals and see how I did in achieving balance in my life.

-  Focus even more on prayers and meditations; on gratitude and being thankful; on appreciating the blessings; on the positives.  Let go of the negatives.  I think I did quite well with this goal.  Daily prayers and meditations, lots of gratitude, thankfulness, and blessings. 

- Maintain for the most part; do a little decluttering and organizing, but be kind to myself and make allowances for the fact that I am not feeling 100%.  I acknowledged that I am not in the best of health, right now, and took it easy for the most part.  Daughter helped with some of the maintaining when she visited.
- Celebrate her achievements as she graduates with her Master's Degree in Public Health this month!  Enjoy her company as she comes home for 3 weeks in May, between her finals at the end of next week and starting her job on June 1.  I have received the OK from my doctors to travel up north to attend her graduation - we plan to drive there and back.  It was a wonderful month where daughter was concerned!  I was blessed to attend her graduation and enjoy her company.  I just saw her off at the airport and look forward to her next visit in June.

- Most contacts will be on the phone or on-line, again, and I need to accept and be OK with that.  However, the month is off to a good start because two cousins dropped in for a quick visit this morning (one brought me a plate of food and the other brought me an adult coloring book!) and  another cousin and aunt have said they'll visit this evening!   There were visits from my half sister, cousins and aunts, as well as phone calls and emails.  So, it was a good month for family contacts.
-  Contacts will be mostly on the phone and on-line, which will be OK.    Again, mostly phone and on-line contact, but there was a visit from one friend, as well, which was nice. 
-  Will continue to work from home.  I am continuing to be able to work from home.  A couple of potential issues came up, but my supervisor and I were able to resolve them without a problem.  

- I will continue to budget and manage my finances.  Through careful budgeting and fiscal management, I was able to attain my goal of putting my daughter through college and grad school without incurring any loans.  This, to me, is a big achievement. 

- Once again, the main focus will be on health.  I've 5 more chemo treatments to go!  Plus, I've an appointment with the podiatrist, this week.  I had the appointment with the podiatrist - everything is OK with my feet (except for the discoloration of my nails due to the chemo treatments; it is supposed to be temporary and will go away after the chemo ends and the nails grow out).  The important thing is that my feet are not showing any nerve end damage from the chemo.  I have also completed 3 more chemo sessions!  However, unlike my feet, my hands are showing signs of nerve end damage due to the chemo (fingers are tingly and numb).

Time Management:
- As long as the important things, like work assignments, bills being paid, etc., are being done on time, I will not fret too much about managing my time.  The important things got done.  I was able to take time off to attend daughter's graduation.  Weekly work assignments were completed in a timely manner. 

- Continue to knit and sew; start coloring! I did some coloring, but I didn't knit or sew.

All in all, May was a good month.  I had a relatively balanced life and managed to attain most of my goals. 

I will post my June goals, tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sunday Happenings and May Grocery Shopping Part 4

A picture of the roses I picked from the garden, yesterday.  I am happy to see that Dancer didn't try to eat them, overnight!

There were a couple of fortune cookies from our last Chinese take-out and I had one, last night.  This was the "fortune" I found inside my cookie:

My "Fortune"

Not sure how much of a fortune it is, but I do like the idea that I create enthusiasm around me!  :)

It was another night of not falling asleep until 4:00 a.m., and I woke up once around 7:00 a.m., but I went back to sleep and slept till almost 11:00 a.m.!  I was still having my morning cup of tea when my nextdoor neighbor called at 11:30 a.m. for our weekly Sunday morning phone chat.  :)

While I was on the phone with her, there was a knock on the front door.  It was the lady in the house behind me.  She keeps chickens in her backyard and she said that a raccoon or something had managed to open the chicken coop, last night.  At least two chickens were dead, but she was hoping the rest might have flown over the wall into my garden.  I hadn't seen any signs of chickens when I opened the vertical blinds in the family room this morning, but I invited her in to take a look, herself.  Unfortunately, she didn't find any of her chickens in my backyard.  :(   

After she left, I did the load of laundry I didn't get around to doing, last night.  And made French toast for our brunch. 

Later in the afternoon, daughter did a bit more grocery shopping for me.  Once she returns to Berkeley on Tuesday, May 31, she won't be coming back until Friday, June 10.  So, today's grocery shopping was to keep me supplied with enough groceries for the first week in June. 

This Weekend's Groceries
She bought:

Bananas, 2.59 lb @ $.49/lb = $1.27
2 pork chops @ $1.49/lb = $1.10
Top sirloin steak, almost 2 lbs. @ $3.99/lb = $7.72
Onions, 1.18 lb @ $.39/lb = $.46
Cucumbers, 2 @ 3/$1 = $.68
Lettuce = $.69
Mango @ $.50 = $1.00

Total = $12.92

I debated whether to charge today's grocery shopping to June's grocery budget, as most of what was bought today will be consumed in June and I have less than $1.00 left in my May grocery budget.  But then, I remembered that I still had $83 carried over from the April budget (I had budgeted $150 for April but spent only $66.61).

In hindsight, I should have simply charged the $51.51 for the first May grocery spending to April's budget, since those groceries were bought on April 30.  I had decided it should come from the May budget since they were to be consumed in May.  Even if I had charged it to April, I still would have had $31.88 carried over from the April budget. 

So, I have decided to go ahead and include today's $12.92 in the May grocery budget and not worry too much about it. 

May grocery spending to date:  $51.51 + $17.08 + $36.11 + $1.59 + $42.92 + $12.92 = $162.13

I cooked the two pork chops for tonight's dinner.  I breaded them with my own version of seasoned bread crumbs and baked them.  Served them with a baked potato and boiled frozen green peas.  We shared one of the mangoes for dessert. 

I am planning to cook a stir-fry with the sirloin steak and freeze half to send with daughter.  The other half will be frozen in individual servings for me.

Daughter did some other shopping for me, as well (I needed new vacuum cleaner bags and some skirt/pants hangers).  She also stopped at the pet supplies store and bought cat litter and the furball prevention cat food that was recommended.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to sleep in when I can't fall asleep until 4:00 a.m.
- Weekly phone calls from my nextdoor neighbor.
- Phone calls from two of my aunts.
- Daughter going shopping for me.
- A relaxed day.

How was your Sunday?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Saturday's Happenings

Once again, I couldn't fall asleep until after 4:00 a.m., but slept in till almost 10:00 a.m., so that was good.  I did wake up once, around 6:00 a.m. when Dancer meowed (he was asking for his breakfast), but I went back to sleep. 

Daughter tidied the house for me, last night, so all I had to do this morning was dust and vacuum.  I did that and picked some roses for the living room.  I also picked some fresh lemons for the fruit bowl on the dining table and extra to give my sister.

Sister and her husband arrived at 1:00 p.m. and they brought Indian food for our lunch: rice, lamb curry, tandoori chicken, garlic naan, mint chutney, and carrot and green chili relish.  I served sparkling apple cider to drink with our meal and the flan I made last night for dessert.   After lunch, we lingered at the table, talking.  It is such a blessing to have my sister living near enough for regular visits.  I have two half brothers, too, but one lives in another country and the other lives in a different state.  Two other half brothers have already passed away.

After sister left, I washed the dishes while daughter put away the leftovers.  There are enough leftovers for a couple of meals for us.

I spent a quiet evening, just relaxing, and the time just got away from me.  I was planning to do a load of laundry, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  It's already almost 1:00 a.m.!  Way too late to do laundry!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Sister's visit/family time
- Indian food for lunch and leftovers
- Daughter tidying the house for me and a clean house
- Fresh roses and lemons from the garden, enough to share with sister
- A relaxed evening

How was your Saturday? 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday: Chemo Treatment #10 of 12 and May Grocery Shopping Part 3

Today I went for my chemo #10!  Just 2 more to go!  Woo hoo! 

There was a bit of a delay in being seen and treated, today, because one of the doctors was out and the others were running a bit behind schedule as they had to absorb the absent doctor's patients, as well as their own patients.  My appointment was for 9:30 a.m., I was there by 9:15 a.m. and I wasn't actually seen by my doctor until 10:45 a.m. and it was past 11:15 a.m. before I was hooked up to the IV.  As a result, I didn't finish with the treatment until after 1:30 p.m.  On the other hand, I had lost the 1 pound I had gained last week (weight was 160 lbs.), blood pressure was good, and my temperature was normal.  Plus my blood test results were good and I don't need immune booster injections this week, either!

While I was waiting to be seen and attended to, I read my prayer book and I started compiling a list of blessings.  Things for which to be grateful, on this day when I was receiving number 10 of 12 treatments.  It helped to alleviate any irritation I was starting to feel at the long delay to be seen by the doctor.  Poor me, having to wait more than an hour after waking up early (with very little sleep, too, since I couldn't fall asleep until after 4:00 a.m., last night!) and fighting traffic to get there on time, etc.  Poor daughter, having to wake up early on one of the last days of her holiday to accompany me to the clinic.  Poor us, we both could have slept another hour!  These doctors' offices are always late!  Sigh.  It is so easy to dwell on the negatives in life, isn't it?

But that leaves me feeling discontent and in a bad mood.  So, focus on the positives, instead.  Thus my list of things for which I am grateful:
-  I made it on time and the delay wasn't due to me being late.
-  The commute was accident-free.
-  There were no car malfunctionings, no dead batteries, no flat tires, no warning lights, etc.
-  I live in a country where I am able to drive myself or have my daughter or any female relative or friend drive me to a medical appointment (or anywhere else) without being forbidden to drive because we are female.
-  I didn't have anywhere else to be this day and I didn't have anything else planned so I had all the time to wait.
- My weight was good.
-  My blood pressure was good.
-  The blood test results were good.
- I had my prayer book to read and I had a book of crossword puzzles to do while I waited.
-  I got to spend time with my daughter while I waited.
- The waiting room was comfortable with climate control, upholstered chairs, and free water to drink.
-  If that wasn't enough reasons to be grateful for, I was alive!  Yes I have cancer and several other chronic illnesses, but they are being treated and I am still alive!
-  I have reached chemo number 10 of 12!  I've made it this far!
-  And with fairly manageable side effects.
- The end of chemo treatments is just two short weeks away!
-  I have treatments available to me.
-  I have insurance which, while it might not be the best, is at least there and is covering all my treatments, minus the co-pay.
-  It is insurance paid for by my employer, so I am grateful I have employment which provides me with paid insurance.
-  I am grateful to have some paid sick leave - maybe not as much as I would like, but I do have some.
- I am grateful my employer has allowed me to work from home to minimize the amount of time I'd have to go on unpaid leave.
- I am grateful to have a job which pays an adequate salary and a living wage so I can support myself and my daughter until she's able to support herself.
- I have caring, responsive doctors and nurses.
- I am able to walk into the clinic on my own two feet without any aids.
- I am able to see - my daughter's face, the colors of my garden flowers, check the status of the IV drip
- I am able to hear - my daughter's voice, the bird songs in the garden, the doctor and the nurses' questions.

Just like that, I was able to come up with 25 positives for which to be grateful.  There's a lot for which to be grateful, when you think about it.  Some are things we take for granted on a daily basis.  :)

The treatment was over shortly after 1:30 p.m. and we were home by 2:30 p.m.  There was quite a bit of traffic on the commute home because it was a Friday before a holiday weekend.  Daughter drove us home and we ate some hamburgers for a late brunch!

I took pictures of the purple four-o-clocks that I mentioned, yesterday.  I guess they are more of a magenta color than purple:

Purple/Magenta Four-O-Clocks

Later in the afternoon, daughter went grocery shopping for me and went to the pharmacy to pick up the antibiotics that were prescribed for a rash I have on my cheek.

Groceries; not pictured is the pack of bottled water

She bought two bags of cat food (@ $9.99 + tax) which are not included in the grocery budget.  This week's groceries:

1 loaf bread = $1.29
Half & half (milk and creamer) = $2.59
1 gal. whole milk = $2.49
1 pack of 32/16.9 oz. bottles of drinking water @ $2.99 + $1.60 redemption value = $4.59
3 cans condensed milk, @ $1.79 = $5.37
1 lb. store brand butter = $3.49
2 6-packs of soda (@ $2.49 + $.30 redemption value) = $5.58
1 doz. eggs = $1.99
1.49 lb. bananas @ $.69/lb = $1.03
Ham slices = $2.00
Deli barbecue ribs (14 oz.) = $10.99

Total (after deducting cat food and tax) = $42.92     

May grocery spending total to date:  $51.51 + $17.08 + $36.11 + $1.59 + $42.92 = $149.21

Amount left in May grocery budget:  $150 - $149.21  = $0.79

Some of what she bought is for consumption during June.  The bottled water is to replenish earthquake/emergency supplies.  The butter cost more than what I normally pay, and daughter called me from the grocery store to notify me of the price before she bought it, but I had her buy it anyway for the convenience of having it in the freezer if needed.  The eggs were a good price, though.

The deli barbecue ribs were for our dinner, tonight, with corn on the cob and a cucumber salad:

My Dinner

There is still a serving of ribs leftover for one person's lunch or dinner.  Neither daughter, nor I, could finish a ear of corn each, so our corn is leftover, too, and a bit of the cucumber salad! 

My half sister is bringing lunch and visiting us, tomorrow.  So I need to make a flan for dessert, wash the dishes piled in the sink, and tidy up the house a little bit!

How was your Friday?  What have you planned for the long Memorial Day weekend?

Thursday Update

Well, guess who woke me up at 4:15 a.m., coughing up a furball on my bed?!  He never used to cough up furballs on the bed, always on the floor, until now.  And within the space of a week, he's done it twice!  Once on daughter's bed and now on mine.  I guess he didn't want me to feel left out?

The Culprit
So, I had to clean it up and strip the bed.  Fortunately, the mattress cover did its job and protected the mattress.  My mattress is pretty old and I probably should replace it, but until I do, I like to keep it free of cat spit-up, thank you!  I remade the bed with the first sheet that came to hand and went back to sleep.

Woke up at 8:00 a.m. and checked my work emails.  There was one from my supervisor offering to help me with something, which was very sweet of her.  Then it was time to go for my weekly blood test.  When I came back, I put the mattress cover and sheet to wash, with a little bleach to disinfect everything.

Then, I did office related work for most of the rest of the day.  But, I did take a stroll in the garden again, and took more pictures.  These four-o-clocks are thriving under one of the lemon trees:

I like their yellow and yellow/pink coloring.  I am planning to collect and sow some of their seeds to try and grow more plants with their colors.  Elsewhere in the garden, I have solid purple colored four-o-clocks, but their flowers weren't open yet to photograph.

Four-O-Clocks Close Up

California Poppy

At one time, I had a whole bunch of California poppies, but this year, only one plant came up, but it is full of flowers.  I am hoping that the seeds will scatter themselves and I'll have more plants next year.

Close Up

I had both blue and white agapanthus growing in my garden at one time, but the blue ones, which I planted in the front garden, died out.  The white ones, however, which I planted in the back garden, are growing well:

White Agapanthus About to Bloom

One of the first plants we planted when we moved to this house was the pomegranate tree in the front.  According to our folklore, it is supposed to be lucky to have a pomegranate tree near the entrance.   I've never had a lot of pomegranates, but there has always been a few fruits, each year.  This year's fruits are just forming:

Pomegranate Fruit

I have a hedge of lantana and plumbago growing along the side wall behind the garage and the shed:

Lantana and Plumbago Hedge
The butterflies love the lantana and plumbago flowers; there were several flying around and I tried to take a picture of one white butterfly on the blue plumbago flowers (the ones just under the dark pink lantana flower), but it's not very clear.  I guess I need a proper camera to do that, not just my phone camera.

Close Up with Butterfly

There is a 5-ft. wide side yard between my house and the wall I share with my neighbors.   The cherry guava tree and one of the pineapple guava (feijoa) trees are located in this side yard area:

Cherry Guavas Forming
Pineapple Guavas (Feijoa) Forming
In the evening, I watered the front garden.  As I mentioned to one of my friends, with summer coming and my low rate water allocation lowered, I will focus on keeping the bed of roses alive and plant succulents in the rest of the garden.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Mattress covers!
- Washing machines.
- A caring supervisor.
- The garden.
- Water for the garden.

How was your Thursday?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wednesday's Happenings

Today, both daughter and I woke up early so I could drive her to the subway station by 7:00 a.m. to take the subway to downtown so she could report for jury duty by 7:30 a.m.  After I dropped her off, I came home and started a load of laundry.  Then I took a stroll around the garden to see what was happening. 

There were roses blooming in unweeded beds:

Roses Blooming
Peaches forming on the little peach tree:

Peaches Forming
And oranges in the making:

Oranges Forming
There were a couple of pomegranates forming, too, but I didn't take pictures of them.

Daughter called around 8:45 a.m. to say she had been excused from jury duty and was returning home.  I picked her up from the subway station around 9:30 a.m., picked up some breakfast (I wanted another bagel) and we came home.  I spent most of the rest of the day doing office work.

But, in the afternoon, I took a nap!  I am getting too used to these afternoon naps!  It will be hard to give them up when I return to work at the office!

Yesterday's mail brought the weekly grocery ads and today, I made a grocery list for daughter to pick up for me.  When she goes back to Berkeley next week, she will not be coming back down for almost two weeks.  So, I tried to anticipate what I might need during that time.  Coconut water is on sale for $.69/can this week, so that went on the grocery list, along with bread, bananas, eggs, milk, and cat food.  I have almost come to the end of the butter I had bought from Costco before I started my chemo treatments, just opened a new stick today and there's one more stick in the freezer, so I put down butter on the list although I have no idea what the price might be for supermarket butter.  I believe I paid a little over $2/lb. for Costco butter.  I wrote down $2.50-$2.99 for a pound of butter as a price guide for daughter.  Store brand canned vegetables are on sale for $.50/can and I debated getting some as emergency supplies, but the last time I bought canned vegetables, I really didn't use them, so I decided not to get any.  One store was advertising personal size seedless watermelon for $1.99 each; another store was advertising seedless watermelon for $.20/lb. (but didn't say if they were the personal size ones or not).  Daughter loves seedless watermelon, so I added that to the grocery list, as well.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter being excused from jury duty.
- Not having to worry if she'll be able to start her new job on time.
- Daughter being able to take the subway to downtown and back.
- The garden is growing well.
- More afternoon naps!

How was your Wednesday?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quiet Tuesday, Too!

Yes, it's been yet another quiet day, today.  The morning was overcast and gloomy.  It looked like it could rain, but it didn't rain, and the afternoon was sunny.

I spent a quiet morning doing office work.  Being able to work from home during this time is such a blessing!  I was able to take an afternoon nap, as well.

I didn't feel nauseated today, but I didn't have much of an appetite, either.  I had a scrambled egg and a piece of toast for brunch.  Later in the evening, daughter bought me a bagel from the doughnut shop at the top of the road and I had that for my tea.  Still later, I cooked a smoked sausage for dinner and had a few slices, along with a tangerine and coconut water. 

I wasn't very productive when it came to house cleaning, today, but I put away the load of laundry from last night and did the dishes.  My neighbor brought in my trash cans for me, so I didn't have to do that.

Daughter called into jury duty and was told to report in person, tomorrow.  She has to be at the courthouse in downtown at 7:30 a.m.  So, tomorrow morning, I will drive her to the subway station and she'll go downtown and report for jury duty.  Hopefully, once she explains that she has to start a new job 400 miles away in Berkeley on June 1, they will excuse her.  If not, we don't know what she can do!  I guess she will have to email her supervisors at the new job and explain she has to serve jury duty and ask if she will be able to start her new job after she serves!  If they will keep it open for her and disregard the contract she signed which states she starts on June 1.  So many complications!  I do hope she will be excused.

I received my utility bill, today.  It covers electricity, water, solid waste, and sewer charges for the two months between 3/21/16 and 5/19/16.  Both electricity and water rates per unit went up on April 15, 2016 and the amount of water I am allowed at the lower Tier 1 rate went down from 24 HCF (hundred cubic feet = 748 gallons) to 16 HCF.  So, the current bill is as follows:

Electricity, 536 kWh used (I am allowed 1,000 kWh at Tier 1 rates) = $81.69
Water, 11 HCF used (I am allowed 16 HCF at Tier 1 rates) = $56.91
Solid waste (trash collection) = $69.26
Sewer = $57.80
Total bill = $265.66

In comparison, my previous bill was $245.10 (lower rates and I used less water due to the rains).  It is going to be a battle to water the garden this summer, with a lower water allocation and higher rates, and still keep my water bill to a reasonable amount.

To Do List for tomorrow include:
- dropping daughter off at the subway station,
- doing office work,
- clearing the dining table and kitchen counters,
- making a grocery list,
- doing another load of laundry,
- watering the front garden,
- picking up daughter from the subway station

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to work from home.
- An afternoon nap.
- No nausea today.
- Neighbor bringing in my trash cans for me.
- A quiet day.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Quiet Monday, Too

I have had another quiet day, today.  I woke up feeling well enough, but felt nauseated as the day wore on.  Finally had to take some of the anti-nausea medication, in the evening.

There was an email from my supervisor in the morning, so I responded to it and did some office work.   Then, took a nap in the afternoon.    
Today, I put away the laundry that had hung to dry overnight, emptied the dishwasher, took the trash cans to the curb, watered the back garden, and did another load of laundry.

Daughter called the jury service and was told she didn't have to come in tomorrow.  So, tomorrow, she will call sometime during the day to explain her situation (starting a new job, out of town, next week) and see if she can be excused from having to serve this time around.  If, for whatever reason, she needs to go in on Friday, one of my cousins has volunteered to take me for my chemo.

I watched Dancing with the Stars and spoke with my cousin who called.  Will have an early night, tonight, I think.  Hope I'll feel more energetic, tomorrow.
Today, I am grateful for:
- Anti-nausea medication
- Afternoon naps
- Being able to work from home
- Daughter's company
- Cousin volunteering to take me to chemo on Friday, if needed.

How was your Monday?

Quiet Sunday

Daughter was woken up around 4:00 a.m. this morning when the cat spat up a furball on her bed!  The sounds of her cleaning it up woke me, but I went right back to sleep and slept till quite late.  I didn't wake up until my neighbor phoned me for our regular Sunday morning chat.

The first thing I did after I had my morning cup of tea was wash daughter's bedding, including the mattress cover.  Fortunately, the mattress cover had done its job and had protected the mattress!   Later, I finally unpacked my bags from the trip to Berkeley, did another load of laundry, and ran the dishwasher.

One of my friends called around noon and we had a nice chat.

I had a banana and a raisin bun for breakfast.  I cooked the remaining two hamburger patties from the gift of meats my supervisor had sent me for our lunch.  Daughter had a frozen pot pie for dinner, but I had the last raisin bun because I was feeling a bit nauseated in the evening.  

In the afternoon, daughter worked on a craft project while I took a nap!  I've been taking it easy in the evening, because I've felt nauseated.  The house is a bit of a mess, but apart from the laundry and the dishes, I haven't done anything.  I really need to vacuum, tomorrow.   

Today, I am grateful for:

- A quiet Sunday.
- Phone calls from my neighbor and my friend.
- Afternoon naps.
- Washing machines and dishwashers.
- Frozen meals and microwave ovens.

Did you have a good weekend? 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday Miscellany

Tea Cup Pin Cushion
I saw the pattern for a patchwork tea cup shaped pin cushion in a Japanese quilting magazine (Quilts Japan, I believe) I had borrowed from the library.  All the instructions were in Japanese and I don't know to read Japanese, however, there was a diagram of the pieces with measurements which were easy enough to read and I figured it out from there.

 I used scrap pieces of fabric I had, without any particular color combination or design in mind.  I was just trying out the pattern.  The pieces were rather small and it was a bit fiddly to make, but didn't take a long time to do. 

When my daughter saw it, she liked it, and asked if she could have it as her pin cushion.  Of course I said yes, and she took it to Berkeley with her.  I took a picture of it when I went up there this time, so I could show it!


On Thursday night, when my aunt and cousin visited, cousin brought me another bag of groceries!

More Groceries!
A loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, a jar of peanut butter and strawberry jam, two boxes of fruit cups (no added sugar diced peaches).  Such abundance!  My cupboards are over-flowing!


My "Dr. Seuss Plant", which used to have two new branches sprouting and looked like this:

Dr. Seuss Plant: How it used to be

 Suffered a bit of a mishap when it was being moved into the 3rd bedroom before our trip to Berkeley and back to the living room on our return home:

How it Looks Now
The smaller new branch broke off!  Only the strong survive!

Another Look from a Different Angle

I needed a card to send to a friend's daughter who is getting married next weekend.  I was invited to the wedding, but I can't make it because I don't want to risk getting exposed again so soon after the graduation (it's another evening outdoor reception).  Rather than buying a card, I decided to make one, using card stock and scrapbooking paper I had on hand:

Homemade Card
I enclosed a gift inside and handed it to the letter carrier, this morning.


Daughter went to a Renaissance Fair with 3 of her friends, this morning.  One of her friends bought a special costume to wear to the Fair.  Daughter put an outfit together from items she had in her closet and saved herself the expense of a special costume.  This is just one example of how she has learned to be frugal.  She had the option of buying herself a costume, but she didn't see the need for it.  The money she saved more than made up for any lack of authenticity in her outfit.


Last night, I couldn't fall asleep until 3:30 a.m. (the last time I checked the clock).  I was up at 5:30 a.m. this morning, even though I stayed in bed until almost 7:00 a.m., trying to see if I could fall asleep again.  At 7:00 a.m., I got up, said my morning devotions, fed the cats (Dancer and outdoor strays) and made myself a cup of tea.  I made myself a list of things to do today, but don't feel very energetic after just 2 hours of sleep, last night.  Maybe I'll take a nap this afternoon.

Had a banana and a raisin bun for breakfast and, later, a ground beef filled bread roll from the freezer for my lunch.  A snickerdoodle cookie for dessert!  Leftover roast chicken, mashed potatoes with freshly steamed carrots for dinner, I think.

My aunt called and we had a long chat about this and that.  :)  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Cousin's gift of more groceries.
- Daughter is having a fun day with friends.
- She was able to put together a frugal outfit.
- I was able to make a card using what I had.
- A phone call from aunt.

Hope you are having a lovely day, today.

Mountain Climbing: Three Quarters of the Way!

I am three-quarters of the way through the second half of the chemo!  There are 12 treatments in total in the second half.  As of today, I've completed nine and have just three more to go!  I think I will make it!  I really think I will make it all the way to the very top.  I am being helped up this mountain by everyone's kind thoughts, support, and prayers.  I can feel it.

For once, the waiting room was empty when I got to the clinic, this morning!  I was actually called in on time!  I was weighed.  I've gained a pound since the last visit; my appetite is improving even if I can't taste everything.  I know I am eating a lot more than I did when I was taking the other chemo.  My blood pressure was good, too.  My blood test results were good; the white blood cell count was good; I didn't need more injections this time.

I had a new nurse attend to me in the chemo room.  She was Japanese and I told her that my daughter speaks Japanese (that was her minor at UCLA).  So she and my daughter spoke in Japanese and the nurse was so surprised and happy!  She kept telling me my daughter had the perfect accent! 

Today, I felt very sleepy during chemo and napped.  I napped in the car on the way home, too (daughter was driving).  Came home and fell asleep on the sofa!  Woke up when I heard the gardener working the front garden.  Then, I finished reviewing my work chapters for this week and sent them in.  Sent my supervisor my weekly status update so she knows what work I completed this week.  I also received a new project, yesterday, and I downloaded those files to work on them, next.

Daughter went to Japan Town with one of her friends in the afternoon, to have lunch out, walk around and do some shopping.  But she didn't buy anything, except for a bag of my favorite raisin rolls.  I was able to taste them just fine and ate two of them!  She is now making some snickerdoodle cookies from a mix I had in the cupboard; wonder if I'll have a taste for cookies?

Cookies Ready to go in the Oven

For dinner, we had leftovers from last night's dinner; we finished the baked beans and broccoli, but there's still some chicken, rice, and mash potatoes.  Enough for one more dinner, I think, with some vegetables.  For dessert, we had freshly baked cookies that daughter made!  I do have a taste for cookies!

Fresh Out of the Oven!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Making it this far up the mountain!
- Blood test results were good.
- Didn't need injections this week.
- Daughter brought me my favorite raisin rolls (a gift from her).
- Freshly baked cookies!

Weekend Plans/To Do List:

- Make a wedding card for my friend's daughter.
- Do laundry
- Paperwork/file
- Do dishes
- Tidy/clean the kitchen
- Water the back garden
- Start decluttering and tidying my bedroom

How was your Friday?  What have you planned for the weekend?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May Groceries - Part 2

This Week's Groceries

Daughter went grocery shopping this afternoon.  She bought:

2 packages of coffee @ $5.99 = 11.98
1 can baked beans = $1.99
1 - 8 ct. hamburger buns = $.87
1 Half & Half = $2.59
3 corn on the cob @ $.33 = $.99
2+ lb. bananas @ $.69/lb = $1.48
1 cucumber = $.50
1 8oz. package ham cold cuts = $2.00
2 14oz. smoked sausages @ $2.50 = $5.00
1 deli roast chicken = $7.99 (+ $.72 tax)

She also bought a bag of cat food for $9.99 + $.90 tax, but I don't include it in the grocery budget.

Today's grocery total came to  $36.11.  There was also $1.59 for a loaf of French bread that we bought last week.

This Week's Receipt

The deli roast chicken isn't really a very frugal choice, as it is a very small chicken (under 2 lb.!) and whole roasting chickens are on sale for $.99/lb. this week.  However, one of my aunts called this afternoon, wanting to visit on Saturday, but since daughter has planned to go out with friends on Saturday, I asked aunt and cousin to come tonight, instead.  So I told daughter to buy an already roasted chicken for dinner, since I don't have time to thaw something and cook.  I'll make some rice (daughter's preference), mashed potatoes (my preference),  broccoli, and open the can of baked beans and that will be a nice dinner, I think.  Fresh fruit for dessert.

May grocery spending total to date:  $51.51 + $17.08 + $36.11 + $1.59 = $106.29

Amount left in May grocery budget:  $150 - $106.29 = $43.71

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Road Trip: Part 2 - Returning Home

Rest Area
Today, daughter and I set out on the second part of our road trip - the return trip home.

 First, I had daughter run down to the bakery around the corner to buy some croissants.  I made sandwiches with them, with slices of roast chicken breast, to take with us for our lunch.  The rest of the roast chicken was frozen for daughter to have when she goes back at the end of the month. 

Then, we packed the car with all the things we needed to bring back, closed up her apartment, and set off on our return trip home.  Just before we got on the freeway, we stopped to put gas to the car ($2.75/gal.); it takes 3/4 tank of gas each way.  I would have preferred to have left a bit earlier, but things took time and it was 10:30 a.m. when we left.  We encountered the tail end of the morning rush hour traffic, but the traffic eased up once we left the more built up areas.

Around 12:30 p.m. we pulled into one of the rest areas to have our lunch of croissant sandwiches and fruit and to use the rest rooms.  Once again, it was our only rest stop. 

View From Picnic Area
It was a warm day, with temperatures in the 90s for the most part.  At one point in the afternoon, the temperature reached 100F and I asked daughter to try and take a picture, but she really couldn't focus the camera from the passenger seat.  One of the reasons why I prefer to start out very early in the morning is to avoid having to travel in the heat of the afternoon, especially in the summer.  It's quite common to see cars overheating and pulling off to the side.

But we made good time and got home, without incident, by 4:30 p.m.  My neighbor had collected my mail for me and brought it over; I still have to look through it, though.  Daughter unpacked her stuff right away, but I rested a bit (I did all the driving, again) and haven't unpacked, yet.  Later, daughter got me the fast food hamburger I had been craving since a couple of weeks ago!  I had that for my dinner and the craving has been satisfied!  One of my cousins called to check if I had reached home safely and we chatted a bit.  I am off to unpack, now.

Tomorrow's To Do list:

- Go for blood test in the morning
- Put gas to the car
- Do office work
- Do a load of laundry
- Clean out the fridge
- Have daughter clean the litter boxes
- Water the garden
- Go through the mail

Today, I am grateful for:

- A safe, incident-free return trip home.
- A good road trip!
- Pleasant rest areas in which to stop and have a picnic lunch
- My neighbor collecting my mail for me
- Being home, again!

Have you been on a road trip, lately? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Graduation Day!

Yesterday was the big day!  We had a fairly quiet morning.  Daughter's best friend from undergrad days at UCLA flew in from Hawaii to be present at her graduation; she took the subway from the airport to Berkeley and daughter picked her up from the subway station and brought her back to the apartment.  They picked up doughnuts for breakfast and I cooked a roast chicken and savory rice for a late lunch.  I couldn't taste the savory rice, but the roast chicken was OK.  Weird taste buds!

After lunch, in the late afternoon, we got dressed.  Then, drove to the Hearst Greek Theatre where the event was to take place.  It's named after William Randolph Hearst, who paid for the construction.  The first graduation at the Greek Theatre took place in May 1903 while it was still under construction, with an address by President Theodore Roosevelt (we were told all this by the Dean of the School of Public Health, at last night's event).

The Greek Theater

Daughter dropped me off at one of the entrances and then, she and her friend went to park the car.  Afterwards, they joined me and there was a bit of a confusion as to exactly where to go, but we eventually found the gate through which I was supposed to enter. Then, she had to go and collect the replacement tickets we had ordered and come back, because I needed a ticket in order to go in!  After which, she had to go back to the entrance she was supposed to use as a graduating student!  Poor thing had a lot of walking (and going up and down stairs as it is a very hilly campus!) to do and she was wearing heels!

All Decorated for the Ceremony!

Initially, the weather was very pleasant and warm!  In the high 70s!  And it remained pleasant until the sun went down.  After that, it became chilly, and I was glad I had brought a sweater, a scarf, a winter coat, gloves, a blanket for my lap, etc.  I used them all and remained nice and warm.  I had also brought a knitted shawl, but I gave that to daughter's friend, as she hadn't brought as many warm things as I had and was feeling cold.

We were entertained with music by a live band and then, at 7 o'clock, they played "Pomp and Circumstance" and the processional started with the faculty entering the stage first and the graduating students entering the arena, below.  First the doctoral students, followed by the masters students and then, the undergraduates.

My Daughter in the Processional (2nd person to the left of the person in red shirt)

I don't have a digital camera, only my phone camera.  And I didn't remember to try to zoom in!  My daughter's friend had daughter's digital camera and took some pictures with it, until it ran out of battery power!  Still, I managed to get a picture of my daughter as she filed into place (she's the 3rd person from the right, wearing a gold stole:

Masters Students at Their Places

 Of course, there were a lot of speeches and presentations of awards!  The welcome address was by the Dean of the School of Public Health, who led us all in the campus cheer of "Go Bears!"  :D  The commencement address was by the President of the American Public Health Association.  There were 32 students who received their doctorate.  161 students who received their masters.  And 220 students who received their bachelors.

I tried to take a picture of daughter as she received her diploma, but she walked so quickly, all I got was a blur!

Daughter "Walking"

Daughter didn't want to wait for the reception, afterwards.  I think she was pretty tired and she said her feet were sore in their high heels.  So, we gave the reception a miss and came home to toast her achievement with sparkling apple cider and to have a late dinner of leftover pizza!

Finally, a picture of daughter in her sari (sorry, I cropped her head off as she didn't want her face shown).

The Purple Sari
Yesterday, I was grateful for:

- Being alive to see my daughter receive her Masters degree.
- Being able to attend the ceremony in person.
- All obstacles (forgotten tickets, etc.) were small ones, easily overcome.
- Being able to share in my daughter's achievements.
- Being able to give my daughter the gift of higher education, free of debt!

Yes, daughter has no student loans to burden her!  That is my gift to her.  I am blessed to have been able to achieve that!  I am not rich, my sole income is my salary; and furthermore, I am a single parent who has never received (nor asked for) a cent of child support (and I am proud of that, too!).  But, through careful and frugal management of my money, I paid for her tuition and other expenses through undergraduate and graduate school (and, concurrently, paid off my house, too!)  I am feeling rather proud of my achievement.   And, yes, my daughter is very grateful for all what I have done for her.  She knows that she is blessed, too.  :)

Monday, May 16, 2016

More Road Trip Photos

I told my daughter to take lots of pictures to post on my blog!  She laughed at me, but obliged.  I selected a few more to publish.  Keep in mind that this is not the scenic route.  The scenic route is US Route 101, which hugs the coastline.  It is a longer route as the road winds along the coastline and takes longer to drive.  I have always chosen the alternate, U.S. Interstate 5, which takes one through mostly farmland.  Not much scenery, but the road is mostly straight and I can usually drive it in 6 hours or under.

The first part of the drive takes us through some mountains as we climb up to Tejon Pass at an elevation of 4,144 feet.  There are some mountains towards the end of the drive, as well, as we approach Berkeley.

A View of the Mountains

 The road winds through the mountains.

Another View of the Mountains

The route takes us through the Central Valley, which produces much of the State's agriculture.  We pass miles and miles of vegetables, alfalfa, fruit orchards, etc.

Farmland on Either Side

We passed several signs protesting the water rationing due to the drought:

Sign Protesting Water Restrictions
 And the results of those water restrictions:

Dead Orchards
Life-Sustaining Irrigation

Irrigated Orchards

 And some cattle ranches:

Grazing Cattle
Hope you enjoyed the pictures. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Road Trip: Part 1

Somebody Needs to Wash her Windshield!

 I couldn't fall asleep until almost 3:00 a.m., last night and didn't want to wake up when my alarm went off at 8:00 a.m.  In fact, I didn't get up until 8:30 a.m.  So, my day got off to a later start than I had planned.  By the time I did all the things I needed to do, including a couple of things I should have done last night but didn't, it was just after 11:00 a.m.!  I was a bit exasperated with myself, but as my daughter pointed out, there really was no rush as we didn't have to get to Berkeley by a specific time.  So, we left the house a bit after 11:00 a.m., filled the tank with gas ($2.69/gal) and started on our road trip!

We'd been driving for less than an hour when we encountered a delay.  There had been an accident and only 1 lane of the freeway was open and traffic was backed up for miles!  It must have been a very serious accident because we watched several ambulances rush by and the medivac helicopter fly in and fly out again.  I hope whoever was injured survived and will recover from their injuries.  I am very grateful that we were not involved in an accident, but the delay added an hour to the drive time!

The rest of the drive was without incident.  Around 2:00 p.m., I stopped at one of the rest areas.

Rest Area

We used the facilities and sat in the picnic area and had the lunch I had packed: ham sandwiches, cantaloupe slices, and apple juice.  I had packed some cookies and peanuts, too, but we didn't want them, then; we might have them on the return trip home.  We spent 30 minutes at the rest area and then, continued with the drive.  That was the only rest break we took.

View of the Road with a Windmill Farm in the Distance

Another Photo of the Windmill Farm

I drove the whole way as I felt fine, driving.  But, by the time we reached Berkeley a little after 6:30 p.m., I had been driving for almost 7 hours and I was a bit tired.  So I rested while daughter brought everything up from the car, unpacked her stuff, and made me a cup of tea.  Then she went across the street and got us a pizza for dinner, but I found that I can't taste pizza!  There's no fun eating pizza if I can't taste it!  

Once we reached Berkeley, daughter realized that she had left the tickets to tomorrow's event at home!  Oh, no!  So, tomorrow, she will go to the university campus and buy replacement tickets!  She  was angry at herself for forgetting them, but these things happen, don't they?  After all, I forgot to turn off the heater until she asked me if I had.  Fortunately, we can buy replacement tickets.

Today, I am grateful for:

- A safe drive.
- No car troubles.
- Pleasant rest areas.
- Good weather in which to drive.
- A pleasant, relaxed drive.

How was your Sunday?