Saturday, October 21, 2017

At the Temple: Kathina Ceremony

In the morning, I got up early and made the cashew curry I wanted to take to the temple.  Today, they were holding what is known as the Kathina ceremony, which marks the end of the Rainy Season Retreat.  The tradition is for the monks to remain at their respective temples during the rainy season (or, at least, what was the traditional rainy season in India); any travel during this season is highly restricted and alms are generally brought to the temple by the devotees.  The monks observe this Rainy Season Retreat during the same time of the year, and have kept the tradition even when they moved to other countries, even if the rainy season in those countries differed from the rainy season in India (something my daughter questioned when she was a child and was most dissatisfied with the answer she received from the monk she questioned, that it was the custom!  She has a very logical mind and this answer made no sense to her.  :D)

Buddha Statue in the Courtyard

Tradition is to have chantings of blessing the night before, followed by a processional around the neighborhood in the morning and the offering of alms, a special robe, and lunch to the monks and all the devotees and participants in attendance.  I didn't wait for the whole ceremony, which will go on until afternoon, but I went in time to see the processional.

Some of the Sunday School students who have learned to play the traditional drums

The drummers leading the processional

The temple relics being carried on the head of one of the devotees

The umbrellas are known as "Pearl Umbrellas" or "muthu kuda" as they are traditionally decorated with pearls and one of the special features of this type of processional.

The flags are Buddhist flags, featuring what are known as the Buddhist colors; each color has a significance.

The Principal Monk of the Temple leading the monks

Procession of Monks with devotees following
The procession is supposed to bless the neighborhood. 

The monks were very happy to see me and even though I didn't stay for the rest of the ceremony, they tied a strand of blessed thread on my right wrist (usually tied on the right wrist, not the left).  The blessed thread is formed of three strands of thread (to represent the three "jewels" of the Buddha, the Dhamma or Doctrine, and the Sangha or the disciples/monks) which are interwoven at intervals, which is held by everyone while blessings are chanted; the soundwaves of the chanting is supposed to be absorbed by the thread, and it becomes a visual reminder of the blessings that protect us.  The monks gave me another piece of the blessed thread to keep and give to my daughter on her next visit home.

The Blessed Thread on my right wrist
I feel very blessed to have been able to participate in today's Kathina ceremony at the temple, even in a very limited way, today.  It was more than what I was able to do last year.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask; I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Friday: Preparing for the Prayer Gathering

I am so glad I took the day off today to prepare for the prayer gathering!  Had I left it all for tomorrow, it would have been too much!

Once again, even though I went to bed at a fairly reasonable (for me) time, last night, I couldn't fall asleep until after 3:00 a.m.  When my alarm went off at 8:00 a.m., I could have got up, but I decided to sleep!  I slept for my full 8 hours, but that meant I woke up after 11:00 a.m.!  By the time I had a cup of coffee, checked e-mails, watched some news, etc., it was after 12 noon.  I spent a little time making my To Do list and feeling slightly panicked at all what I had to do!

Eventually, in the afternoon, I made my shopping list and went to one shopping mall where there were two grocery stores and a dollar store, because I had things I needed to buy from all three stores! 

Prayer Gathering Shopping (10/20)

First, I went to the dollar store to buy a packet of paper plates, a new broom (not pictured), and a disposable foil pan (for the cashew curry I am planning to take to the temple).  While I was there, I saw that they had the thin asparagus stalks I wanted, so, I bought 2 bundles. Spent $5.39 at the dollar store.

If I had thought a little more clearly, I could have bought the soda from there, but I didn't think about it - I had it written down on the list for the other store!

Dollar Store Receipt

Then, I went to a grocery store called Smart & Final - they are a bit like Costco, but there is no annual membership fee (I let my Costco membership lapse).

I bought the majority of the rest of the items on my list from there:

3 bottles of sparkling apple cider, @$2.99 + $.10 deposit = $9.27
(poor planning on my part because, sometimes, the dollar stores carry them, but I am not going to fret about it, now)
2 2-liter bottles Pepsi, @ $1.89 + $.10 deposit = $3.98
(again, if I had thought a little more clearly, I could have bought the soda from there, but I didn't think about it - I had it written down on the list for the other store!)

2 2-liter bottles Shasta @$.99 + $.10 deposit = $2.18
1 bag potato chips = $2.99
2 bags beef meatballs, @$8.99 = $17.98
1 box (40 count) mini cream puffs assortment = $5.99
1 gal. milk = $2.99
Drinks and Food Subtotal =  $45.38
2 potted plants, @ $14.99 =  $29.98 + tax ($3.43) = $33.41
Total = $78.79

I decided to buy the frozen meatballs, instead of beef, because it is easier to cook them than cutting the beef for a beef curry.  

The two red anthurium plants are for the mantle piece, to place on either side of the altar, because, in addition to roses, anthuriums were my mother's favorite flower. 

Smart & Final Store Receipt

I didn't see any dip for the potato chips at this store, so I went to the other grocery store to buy some dip ($1.89) and I bought another container of the passion fruit cocktail ($2.39), as well (since I drank some of the other one I bought, earlier!).  Spent a total of $4.28.

Grocery Store Receipt

Altogether, I spent $86.18 on items for the prayer meeting, not including the $1 for the pan for the temple and $1 for the broom, the taxes on them and the $.10 I paid for one reusable plastic grocery bag at the dollar store.  I estimate that tomorrow's groceries will come to less than $20.

After I came home, I had a late lunch - tuna sandwich with a handful of the chips!  Then, a cup of tea. 

My friend M came to do the garden and he broke the cobwebs in the family room and washed the sliding glass door for me, before tidying up the front garden.  After he left, I started cleaning the house.

Living room - dusted and vacuumed
Dining room - dusted and vacuumed
Family room - dusted and vacuumed
Hall way - vacuumed
Visitor's bathroom - cleaned again, including washing the walls! (Yes, I went overboard with the cleaning, there!)
Kitchen - vacuumed, counters have been cleared; will do final cleaning after cooking, tomorrow
Laundry - bath mats washed

Saturday's Must Do List:
- Warm up the cashew curry to take to temple
- Make the flan
- Hard boil the eggs
- Pick up friend
- Finish grocery shopping (fresh produce and yogurt)
- Set up altar (friend will do)
- Put the table cloth on the big dining table
- Family room - clear table
- My bathroom - clean
- Clean the litter box

Other Items to do:
- My bedroom - tidy
- Daughter's bedroom - tidy; make up bed for friend who is staying the night
- Spare/visitor's bedroom - CLOSE THE DOOR!  It's a dump!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friend M cleaning the cobwebs and the sliding glass door for me
- My cousin calling and offering to help with any cleaning I need done, tomorrow
- Getting most of the grocery shopping done
- Getting most of the house cleaned
- Feeling well enough to do what I did today

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.  I am expecting approximately 15 people to attend the prayer gathering.   They will get here between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.  Prayers will be said around 9:00 p.m., once everyone has arrived.  Dinner will be served afterwards, around 9:30 p.m.  I want to finish most of the cooking by 7:00 p.m., although the chicken can roast until 8:00 or 8:30 p.m.

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Thursday: Feeling Better and Another Song

Today, I woke up feeling more or less back to normal.  I didn't have more sleep than in the past several days, but, perhaps, the quality of sleep was better, although I still woke up at least a couple of times in the night.   I still would have liked to have slept a little longer, but I was able to get up and go to work without any problem.

Yesterday, I froze in the office and had to wrap myself with the crocheted blanket I keep in my desk drawer!  Today, I wore a scarf and it kept me warmer.  I think I will take a spare scarf and keep that at the office, in addition to my blanket.

We had our annual earthquake preparedness drill ("Duck, Cover, and Hold" - the building alarm sounds, we are told to pretend there is an earthquake and we practice ducking under the desks and holding on for the duration!)  I have been in the office during several earthquakes, so, I've experienced the real thing.

I had a very productive day at the office and accomplished all what I had wanted to accomplish this week, and more.  Which was good because I had planned to take tomorrow off and I don't feel guilty about taking time off when I've completed my work for the week.

This whole week, I have been eating from what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, augmented by some of the yogurt and apples that were at the office.  But, I have been wanting a Big Mac for a couple of days and, today, I gave in to the craving and bought myself one for dinner:

Uh Oh!

After having a piece of cake at the office, too!  (We were celebrating a colleague's birthday, which will be tomorrow.)  There goes my reputation for eating healthy!  Oh, well, I believe the last time I ate a Big Mac was in early April.  Once every 6 months isn't too bad, though, is it?  Once again, I didn't get any fries, only the burger!  It came to $5.01 with tax.   

I had planned to get a little more cleaning done, this evening, but I didn't do any of it!  Instead, I played the piano, sang (more songs my mother taught me), watched some TV (a program about the planets on the science channel), had a phone call from a friend, and video chatted with my daughter.  I will do my cleaning, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Feeling better
- Scarves
- Productive day at the office
- Safe commutes to the office and back
- Songs my mother taught me

Here's today's song my mother taught me: there's a bit of a story that goes with it - almost every weekend, we used to drive the three hour journey to my step-father's hometown, where he had a second dental clinic.  Our car didn't have a radio and so, we sang during the drives there and back.  One day, my step-father sang "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" and my mother sang this song in response.  Of course, I learned both songs!

When Our Dreams Grow Old

When our dreams grow old, our love will always be young
While we can still remember the melodies we have sung
As we go through the years with all their laughter and tears
The songs we've sung will make our hearts young
When our dreams grow old

I did a search and found several versions, sung by Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields, and others.  I hope you are able to find and listen to one of them. 

What are some of the songs you learned when you were growing up?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mother

Today was the anniversary of my mother's birthday. 


She was born in 1920, the 6th child in a family of 9 children; the 3rd of 4 daughters.  She was step-mother to five, mother to one, grandmother to one, and teacher to several hundred during her 40 years of teaching.  I wrote more about her, here.

I was full of memories of her, today.  She was the most influential person in my life and I miss her.  All day long, I have been humming her favorite song: Whispering Hope.

"Soft as the voice of an angel, breathing a lesson unheard
Hope with a gentle persuasion, whispers her comforting word,
Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is done
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, after the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight, dim be the region afar
Wilt not the deepening darkness, brighten the glimmering star,
Then when the night is upon us, why should the heart sink away
When the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rest on Tuesday

I woke up feeling very tired, this morning, and called in to take a sick day off.  Then, I slept most of the day!  They were jackhammering the garage floor, next door, but I slept through the noise!  I guess I was really tired.

I did get up once to bring the trash cans in and collect the mail.  The next door construction crew were blocking my drive way, again;  I asked them to move their equipment and they did.  They could have parked their equipment on the other side of the street, but they prefer to park as close to the work site as possible.  I wasn't planning to go anywhere, but I don't like having my drive way blocked.

The mail included someone else's bank statement!  It had been delivered to the wrong address!  Same house number but a different street!  I put it back in the mail box, with the address circled, saying it was delivered to the wrong address.  I hope they deliver it to the correct address.

Later in the evening, I called my sister and spoke with her for a bit; then, watered the front garden and did a little more cleaning and housework.

It was another hot day, today, but it is supposed to cool off on Friday, with even a chance of rain!

Today, I am grateful for:
- I am able to take time off from work as needed
- I was able to sleep through the noise of jack hammering, next door
- Getting a few things done around the house
- A nice chat with my sister
- Video chatting with my daughter  

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DIDN"T; Took the day off
- Call insurance about the doctor's bill
- Call oncologist's office to schedule a port flush
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Put away today's laundry - DONE
- Water the front garden - DONE
- Start tidying the family room: STARTED
  - clear pass through counter between family room and kitchen - DONE
  - dust the bookshelves - DONE
  - clear the coffee table - DONE
- Clean the Litter Box - DONE
- Tidy the spare bedroom

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Call insurance about the doctor's bill
- Call oncologist's office to schedule a port flush 
- Clear the computer table
- Clear the small dining table

How was your Tuesday? 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday: Surgeon's Visit and Grocery Shopping Week 3

It was 68F in the morning, today, and 100F in the afternoon!  All quite normal for the middle of October.

I tried to go to bed at a decent hour, but, even so, I didn't fall asleep until well after 1:00 a.m.  Then, I kept waking up, every hour or so.  I did fall back asleep, each time, but didn't want to wake up when the alarm went off and I had to wake up.  

Today, I put gas to the car in the morning on my way to the office.  I had a productive morning at the office.  In the afternoon, I went to my appointment with my surgeon.  I don't think they remembered to note down my appointment, because they looked very confused when I showed up and one of the front office staff asked me who made the appointment for me!  I showed them the appointment card I had been given, in response to their query.  It seemed to satisfy them and they asked me to have a seat.  I am glad I had the appointment card with me!  I have felt that the cysts have gone down a bit and the surgeon seems to think the same.  I asked him if I should have a biopsy and he didn't think it was needed.  He was also afraid that further surgery might not heal too well due to all the radiation I have had.  I asked him about the port catheter and he thought it was time to remove it, but said to check with the oncologist on my next visit (in November) and call him to schedule it, if the oncologist agreed it could be removed. 

I didn't return to the office after the appointment with the surgeon.  I came home, instead.  On the way home, I stopped at the small ethnic grocery store and bought a loaf of bread and more raspberries:

October 16 Groceries

 The bread was $1.50 and the double pack (12 oz) of raspberries was $1.99, for a total of $3.49.

October 16 Receipt

October regular grocery budget = $53.
So far, I have spent $4.13 + $1.98 + $.61 + $5.94 + $12.04 + $3.85 + $6.56 + $3.49 = $38.60
Balance left in the budget = $53 - $38.60 = $14.40

I really don't know what else I will want to buy for household groceries, this week.  I seem to have plenty of everything, and next week, I know there will be leftovers from the prayer gathering dinner.  I also seem to be the only one eating the yogurt and apples at the office!  Someone had brought doughnuts, today, but I had a yogurt and an apple. 

When I came home, my next door neighbors' construction crew had parked their equipment blocking my driveway, again!  I don't know why they can't block the neighbor's driveway, instead!  I had to wait while they attached something to their trailer before they could move it.

I was thinking I would be able to get going on my to do list since I was home early.  But first, I had some of the bread with butter and golden syrup.  Then, I lay down on the sofa and took a nap for almost 1 1/2 hours!  I woke up only when my daughter called to say she was home.  Even then, it took me a little time to wake up and have a cup of tea.  But, I am sure I really needed that nap!  I did most of the items on my to do list after I woke up from the nap.

Cleared Dining Table

I probably should have taken a "before" picture of the dining table, but I didn't, because I was too ashamed to do so!  It was pretty messy!  I had my sewing machine, self-healing cutting board, basket of fabric scraps, and box of thread and sewing notions, as well as a small pile of mail spread out on it.  The sewing machine and all the sewing related items have been moved to the spare bedroom and the mail moved to the family room to be sorted, later.  I dusted the table and the china cabinet, but I'll need to dust again, before the prayer gathering.

Monday To Do List:
- Put gas to the car - DONE
- Go to the office - DONE
- Surgeon's appointment - DONE
- Put away washed dishes - DONE
- Do a load of laundry (sofa dust sheets) - DONE
- Tidy the spare bedroom
- Clear the dining table/put away sewing machine - DONE
- Empty the trash cans/waste baskets - DONE
- Take the big trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Water the garden - DID THE BACK GARDEN

Today, I am grateful for:
- A good visit with the surgeon
- Yogurt and apples from the office
- Freshly baked bread
- A cleared dining table
- An afternoon nap

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Call insurance about the doctor's bill
- Call oncologist's office to schedule a port flush
- Bring the trash cans in
- Put away today's laundry
- Water the front garden
- Start tidying the family room:
  - clear pass through counter between family room and kitchen
  - dust the bookshelves
  - clear the coffee table
- Tidy the spare bedroom

How was your Monday?  How is your grocery shopping coming along?  Are you staying under budget so far this month?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekend Wrap Up

We've had some lovely weather, this weekend.  Sunny and warm (highs in the 90s).  But, my house tends to be on the cool side, so it's 68F inside, when I wake up, and I open the windows to let the warm air in to warm up the house.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling tired and achy.  I had felt achy on Friday, too, and eventually took a Tylenol to help.  It wasn't bad enough for Tylenol, on Saturday, but I didn't have the energy I needed to do all the things I had planned to do.  So...I decided to take it easy.  I did a load of laundry to help me feel like I did something, went for a short walk, took some pastries over to my cousin P, called cousin V, called another friend to remind her about the prayer gathering, read some blogs and commented on them, cleaned the litter box, cooked spicy "devilled" beef, exchanged emails with a friend, and video chatted with my daughter.

Dinner was some of the spicy beef with pita bread:

"Devilled" Beef and Pita

Later in the night, I decided to bake some cornbread.  Even though the daytime temperature is high, the evenings are cool and I have been doing a bit of baking to make up for a summer of not turning on the oven, if you haven't noticed. 


Breakfast on Sunday morning was a piece of cornbread:

Piece of Cornbread
Later in the morning, my neighbor T called for our weekly Sunday morning chat.  After that, I responded to an email one of my long-time friends had sent me.  We've been friends since 5th grade, I believe; the only friend from childhood with whom I've kept in touch on a regular basis.  

In the afternoon, I put away the dried laundry from yesterday and did the dishes.  I had been collecting them from Friday, in order to have enough to run the dish washer.  I still didn't have enough for a full load, but the dish washer needed to be run, because I haven't used it in about two weeks (I usually just wash each day's dishes by hand).

Then, I started to clean the kitchen: I cleared and wiped down the kitchen counters and the stove top; put all the empty jars I had washed and dried in a box to store in the garage until needed; cleaned the microwave; tidied up the cabinet where I store the Tupperware-type containers and wiped the shelf; refilled the bottle of dishwashing liquid; swept the kitchen; and took out the kitchen trash. Really need to tidy the rest of the kitchen cabinets, too, but that is not urgent.  I might do that after the prayer gathering is over. Need to mop the kitchen floor, too, but I didn't do it, today.

Later, I cleaned daughter's bathroom, which is also the visitor's bathroom.  It will need to be wiped down again, just before the prayer gathering, but it is cleaned. 

Finally, I watered the houseplants and changed the dust sheets on the family room sofas. 

Considering the fact that I wasn't feeling very motivated to clean, I think I did OK.  What happens is, I write a list of everything that needs to be done and then, it becomes overwhelming!  So much to do!  So little energy!  But then, when I tell myself, just do one baby step - just do the dishes, just wipe the small counter area, just the stove top, etc., I manage to get something done. 

Daughter's cell phone started to give her trouble, yesterday.  It wouldn't turn on at times.  When it did the same thing, this morning, too, I told her to go ahead and buy a new phone, I'll pay for it.   Her old phone is something she bought about 7 years go; she said the phone store offered her $5 for it for a trade-in! 

I wasn't hungry for any lunch, today.  So, I had a meal replacement drink.  But I had an appetite for dinner: rice, spicy beef, cabbage, and lentils.  I served the same for my lunch to take to the office, tomorrow.


I am afraid I opened one of the passion fruit drinks I bought for the prayer gathering!  It's one of my favorite drinks and I knew I wouldn't be able to resist! 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A pleasant weekend
- Warm weather
- But cool enough to bake
- An email from my long-time friend
- A clean and tidy kitchen

I am going to post my do to lists, again, to help motivate me.

Monday To Do List:
- Put gas to the car
- Go to the office
- Put away washed dishes
- Do a load of laundry (sofa dust sheets)
- Tidy the spare bedroom
- Clear the dining table/put away sewing machine
- Empty the trash cans/waste baskets
- Take the big trash cans to the curb
- Water the garden

How was your weekend?  Did you accomplish most of what you wanted to do?  How do you motivate yourself to do cleaning and housework when you don't feel up to doing it?  What are your plans for Monday?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shelftober - Week 2

I was able to continue with eating from the pantry and freezer in the second week of October, as well. (Shelftober Week 1 is here.)  But I had a hard time with a lack of appetite and not feeling like eating what I made. 

Sunday, 10/8:

Breakfast was half a bagel with butter and freshly picked feijoa from the garden.
Lunch was rice, fish curry, and sauted cabbage:

Rice, Fish Curry, Sauted Cabbage
Dinner was the other half of the bagel with peanut butter for protein.

Monday, 10/9:
Brunch: A banana, followed by half a bagel spread with peanut butter.
Dinner: I am not vegetarian, but I felt like having a vegetarian meal, so cooked some lentils to have with the cabbage I cooked the other day:

10/9 Dinner: Rice, Cabbage, Lentil Curry

Tuesday 10/10:
Breakfast - banana
Lunch - Fish curry, pita, grapes
Dinner - Egg and bacon rolls

Egg & Bacon Rolls

Wednesday, 10/11:
Breakfast - yogurt (brought in by former supervisor)
Lunch - Egg & Bacon rolls, grapes
Dinner - Fish pie - last of the fish, flaked, mixed with a few frozen green peas and a white sauce,  topped with mashed potato and baked for a few minutes.
Dessert:  Pistachio pudding using up a box of mix I had in the pantry.
Snacks: Puff pastry cheese twists

Thursday, 10/12
Breakfast - yogurt (more of what my former supervisor had brought in)
Lunch - Egg & Bacon rolls
Dinner - Fish pie, pistachio pudding
Snacks - apple slices, puff pastry cheese twists

Friday, 10/13
Brunch: tuna sandwich, apple
Dinner: pasta with manwich and meat sauce (from the freezer); grapes
Snacks: Wafer cookies with chocolate cream filling
Late night snack: Homemade potato chips!  I had a craving for potato chips, so, sliced the second of the two potatoes I had bought (had used one to make the mashed potato for the fish pies), and fried it.

Saturday, 10/14
Brunch: Half a bagel with butter
Dinner:  Spicy "devilled" beef:  marinated beef from the freezer, cut into strips, sauted with onions and green chilies, curry leaves, etc. 

Devilled Beef
That used up the last package of beef I had in the freezer.  I had it with a pita bread:

Pita Bread and Devilled Beef
Some pistachio pudding for dessert.
Snacks: Grapes, calamondin from the garden.

Calamondin on the tree
Calamondin Fruit
Calamondin are like miniature tangerines.  They are about the size of a kumquat, but round, not elongated.  They are very acidic.

Peeled Calamondin
I will continue with Shelftober, next week, as well.  At the end of the 2nd week of Shelftober, this is what I have left of the freezer inventory:

6 4 king fish steaks
 3 pieces of salted dried fish
2 packages (approx. 1/2 lb. each) of cooked ground beef
1 package bacon
1 package mini sausages ("Lil Smokies")
3 packages of marinated beef steak (uncooked)
1 package sausage meat
1 package sausages
1 chicken breast
2 quart bags, each with 1/4 roast chicken 
5 turkey pot pies
5 3 packages of frozen puff pastry squares
1 1/3 package of something called "ulundu vadai" which is an Indian/Sri Lankan savory snack
3 1/2 lb. butter
1 bag (5 lbs.) flour
1 package (2 lb) red rice
1 package grated coconut
1 banana bread
3 1/2 packages of sliced strawberries (for eventual jam making)
3 large bags of cooked cashews (for making curry)
1 bag of frozen green peas (new)
- several  one baggy of frozen tomato, sliced onions, some green chilies, etc.
1 container manwich sauce
2 4 bananas
4 quart size zipper bags of bread slices
1 package smoked sausage and 2 whole chickens (for prayer gathering dinner)

Friday the 13th!

On Friday, I called the Sears billing services to inquire about the statement I received.  According to their customer service, payment hadn't been received.  They suggested I called the bank to see if the check cleared.  So, I called the bank and, yes, the check cleared two days after it was issued.  I got some additional information and called the billing services, again.  This time, I got a really nice person who looked up my account information and asked me if I had another account with them.  Yes, I do; I have a regular store account and their credit card.  The purchase had been made on the credit card.  Well, guess what?  The payment had been applied to the other account!  Why?  I didn't have an outstanding balance on the store account.  Human error, I guess.  I don't know.  I have to admit that I didn't verify that the payment was applied to the correct account when I went to pay the bill - I just assumed the cashier would apply the payment to the account specified in the statement!  Next time, if there is a next time, I will ask them to verify the payment was applied to the proper account!  Anyway, I was transferred to customer service and the person I spoke to assured me that the correction is being made and they will waive any late fees, etc.  Yes, please.

I have one other bill I need to call about, from one of the doctors' offices, but I am waiting till Monday, on that.  I can only handle one bill at a time.

On Friday, I was grateful for:
- Managed to get the bill and payment straightened out
- Helpful customer service people
- Tylenol for aches and pains
- My gardener friend tidying up the back garden for me
- Chatting with my daughter

Plans for Saturday include some housework, laundry, grocery shopping, and some cooking.

How was your Friday?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday's Review

This week is going by very quickly, for me.  On Monday, I had a holiday and spent some time tying my quilt.  I had help, of course:

Dancer Helps to Tie the Quilt
There are, I think, at least two balls of yarn under my bed, thanks to my helper!

I ran into a bit of a problem with the tying of the quilt.  I am tying it in the corners of the blocks and while the yarn goes through the quilt (comforter) part without any difficulty, the quilt top has several thicknesses of fabric at the corners because of all the seams and it is hard to pull the eye of the needle with two strands of yarn through the 3 or 4 thicknesses of fabric.  I managed to tie all around the borders, but I am struggling with the rest.  The comforter is prequilted, so the tying is not that necessary.  I am wondering whether to "tie" with buttons sewn on with thread, instead.  Or just sew a stitch or two in each corner and leave it at that, without trying to tie with the yarn.  I got frustrated and put the quilt away because my fingers were cramping, I was pricking myself with the needle, and my hand was hurting from the effort! 

Tuesday, I did the grocery shopping and some baking - the egg and bacon rolls:

Egg & Bacon Rolls

Wednesday, I went to the office; my former supervisor had been in the office on Tuesday and brought apples and yogurt cups for everyone and there were enough leftover for me to have an apple and a yogurt for breakfast.  In the evening, I made fish pies for dinner:

Fish Pie
Made with the last of the cooked fish, some green peas, a white sauce, and mashed potatoes.  There was enough filling and mashed potatoes to make two small individual pies.

On Thursday, I went to the office and had a productive day.  I met with my new supervisor and updated her about my current projects so she knows what I am working on.  I think we had a good meeting.  

When I came home, I found a bill from Sears for the refrigerator/freezer I had bought in September.  I had purchased it using my Sears store credit card in order to get the discount (I wanted to pay it with a check, but was told I wouldn't get the discount if I did that).  When I received the bill, payment due at the beginning of October, I went to the store and paid it off in full before the end of September..  I have the cancelled check and the receipt, both stapled to the bill by the cashier who processed my payment.  So, why am I getting another bill now?  Stating that my payment is overdue?  And charging me a late payment fee?  This is why I hate charging anything on a credit card, even if I pay it off in full when I get the statement.  And why I always insist on paying in person, rather than mailing in a payment (and having that go astray).  Sigh.  So now, I will have to call the billing services and ask what is going on.  I am not too worried because I know I have proof of payment; but I still find it stressful to have to deal with this double billing.  I had intended to purchase a new washer and dryer from them, this past weekend, but now, I am glad I waited.  I don't know if I want to buy anything else from them, if they can't credit a payment to the proper account without double billing me!

I had the second fish pie for dinner and some pistachio pudding for dessert.  An apple for a snack.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A good meeting with my new supervisor
- Yogurt and apples from my former supervisor
- I have the cancelled check and receipt to show as proof of payment of the fridge/freezer
- Video chatting with my daughter
- Safe commutes to work and back

How has your week progressed?  Have you been billed twice for something you've already paid in full?  What would you do with this second bill I've received? 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Egg and Bacon Rolls

Yesterday, I made some egg and bacon rolls.

I had pre-cooked bacon in the freezer and the frozen puff pastry.  I hard boiled 3 eggs and cut them in quarters (one quarter was bigger and I cut that in half, again).  Cut the bacon into pieces and cut the squares of thawed puff pastry in halves.

Then, it was a matter of placing a piece of egg and bacon in the middle of a piece of puff pastry:

Place piece of egg and bacon on puff pastry

The first time I made these, I used raw bacon which I wrapped around the piece of egg.  I found that made the pastry too oily as the bacon fat rendered.  Since then, I've always cooked the bacon, first.

 Wet the edges of the pastry with water and roll up:

Roll up the pastry to enclose the egg and bacon

Then, press the ends closed with the tines of a fork to seal them:

Seal the ends

I brushed the pastry with some milk; an egg wash would have given a shinier glaze, but I didn't make enough rolls to use up a whole egg, so used a bit of milk, instead.  Then, baked at 375F for about 20 minutes or so, until they puffed up and browned.

Baked Egg and Bacon Rolls

I made 13 rolls, altogether, and was left with one and a half puff pastry squares.  I brushed the top with a bit of the milk, then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and chili powder, cut into strips and twisted them:

Cheese Twists Ready for Baking

They were baked for about 15 minutes:

Baked Cheese Twists
They make a nice snack.

I had some of the egg and bacon rolls for dinner, last night, and took some to the office for lunch, today.  The rest are in the fridge for lunches during the rest of the week.

Have you made eggs and bacon rolls, before?  If not, is this something you might consider making?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October Grocery Shopping: Week 2-Part 2

Silk FlossTree(Ceiba speciosa) in Bloom at the Grocery Store Parking Lot

Isn't it pretty?  There are thorns all over the trunk and branches, but the flowers are lovely, and later, they form pods that are filled with fluffy white fibers that help disperse the seeds.  It is related to the kapok trees which are very common in Sri Lanka (we use the fibers of the kapok as stuffing in pillows and cushions). 

Close Up of the Flowers

I didn't go grocery shopping on Sunday, as planned.  Instead, I went shopping today (Tuesday).  I went to two stores, the Armenian store (Store 1) and Ralphs, which is a Kroger affiliate chain of supermarkets (Store 2).  At each store, I bought some things for my personal consumption and some items for the prayer gathering.

10/10 Regular Groceries

Store 1:
Mostly for the prayer gathering:
10 lb. bag of basmati rice = $9.49*
3 27 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, $1.69@ =  $5.07**
2.81 lb. brown onions, @$.20/lb.  = $.56
Subtotal = $15.12

Regular groceries:
1 celery @3/$1.00 = $.34
1 lb. bag carrots @2/$.79  = $.40
1 lb. potatoes @3lb/$1.00 = $.33
2.29 lb. red grapes @$.99/lb = $2. 27
Green beans @$1.69/lb = $.51
Subtotal = $3.85

Store 1 total = $18.97

Store 1 receipt:

10/10 Store 1 Receipt
* The bag of rice is for personal consumption, as well, and for the year end almsgiving, as well.  I might use all of 1 lb. for the prayer gathering, and I could allocate $1 of the cost to the prayer gathering and another $1 to the almsgiving budget and the remaining $7.49 to the regular budget.  But, then again, I am planning to use a package of the cashews I have in the freezer (about 1 lb. @$.799/lb) and 2 of the packets of flan mix ($1.09@) I have in the cabinets, and curry powder and spices I already have.  I think it all evens out.  In previous years, I would just add the prayer gathering budget to the regular grocery budget and not keep the accounts separate, the way I am doing now, partly for this very reason.

**I could have bought a bag of dried garbanzo beans, as well, and it would have been cheaper ($1.85/lb).  But dried garbanzo require soaking overnight and boiling and I know, from previous years, that no matter how much I plan ahead, I tend to get a bit rushed on the day of the event.  Especially since the temple is also having a religious festival on the same day as the prayer gathering and I have planned to make a cashew curry to take to that as my contribution to the temple lunch.  So, the canned garbanzo beans will be a convenience food and time saver.  All I will have to do is saute the onions and other spices and add the canned garbanzo. 

10/10 Prayer Gathering Items

Store 2:

Mostly for the prayer gathering:
2 containers passion fruit juice cocktail, $2.39@ less $.80 coupon on purchase of 2 = $3.98
3 air fresheners, $.99@ less $.60 coupon on purchase of 3 = $2.37 + $.28 sales tax = $2.65
Subtotal =  $6.63

Regular groceries:
1 12 oz. bag frozen green peas @$1.00 less $1.00 off coupon = $0
1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
4 ct. fruit cups = $1.99***
2 cans condensed milk, $1.79@ less $1.00 off coupon on purchase of 2 = $2.58
Subtotal = $6.56

*** I had a coupon for $.40 off, which I handed to the cashier, but she was distracted because the customer before me had forgotten and left part of her purchases behind and she was telling the bagger about it and wondering what to do; apparently she forgot to deduct it and although I checked my receipt at the store, I didn't notice it until just now.  Oh, well.

Store 2 receipt:

10/10 Store 2 Receipt

I bought 2 bags of cat food, as well, at $8.99 @, plus sales tax ($1.71) = $19.69

Store 2 total = $32.88 - $19.69 (for cat food) =  $13.19

October Prayer gathering budget = $300
Spent to date:
9/18:  $4.49 for smoked sausage
9/27: $1.29 for 2 cans of mixed nuts
10/4: $10.97 for 2 whole chickens
10/7: $2.06 for 1 dozen eggs and 2 boxes of mint chocolates
10/10:   $15.12 + $6.63 = $21.75
Spent to date:  $40.56

October regular grocery budget = $53
So far, I have spent $4.13 + $1.98 + $.61 + $5.94 + $12.04 + $3.85 + $6.56 = $35.11
Balance left in the budget = $53 - $35.11 = $17.89

How is your October grocery shopping coming along?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dancer Kitty Sleeps on the Job!

I am trying to tie my quilt and Dancer, as usual, came to "help" me.  His helping means I can't spread the quilt all the way on the bed! 

 But, I caught him sleeping on the job!

Caught Napping!
 I suppose I should be thankful he's sleeping and not pouncing on the yarn!

"If I cover my eyes, Mummy can't see me!"

(Actually, he's shielding his eyes from the glare, as he's facing the window).

A few minutes later:

"Oh, did you want me off the bed, Mummy?  OK, I'll sleep on the quilt; it's more comfortable"

Thank you for helping, Dancer.  :)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

October Grocery Shopping: Week 2-Part 1

October 7 Grocery Shopping
I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some bananas ($.59/lb = $.70), eggs ($.88) for the prayer meeting dinner, and bagels ($1.99).

Oh, but what's that on the left of the picture?  No, not the cat, who is playing "Spot the Dancer" with all of you.  But all those bags of chocolate chips and boxes of chocolate mints? 

 They were all in the clearance shelves:

Clearance Chocolate

I couldn't resist those prices!  $.59 for bags of chocolate chips ($3.49 regular price), $.59 for mint chocolates ($2.29 regular price), and $.89 for the Ghirardelli chocolate chips ($4.99 regular price).  The Ghirardelli chips and 2 bags of the chocolate chips are for daughter, who asked me to get them for her (I called her from the grocery store, when I saw the sale); the other two bags of chocolate chips are for me to use for holiday baking.  The mint chocolate will be for the prayer gathering - it will be one of the items I'll serve for dessert. 

October 7 Grocery Receipt
My total came to $8, of which, the eggs ($.88) and the mint chocolates  ($1.18) are from the rosary budget.

In addition to the above, I also bought a 6-pack of meal replacement drinks from the pharmacy (I had gone to pick up some medication refills):

Meal Replacement Drink
I have one of these, once or twice a week, often on days like today when I don't have an appetite and don't want to eat much.  I had finished what I had in the pantry, last month, and bought these today.  They weren't on sale and I paid the regular price of $11.99, but I used my $1 coupon on them:

Receipt for Meal Replacement Drink
My total came to $12.03 with tax.
I guess the chocolate chips and the meal replacement drinks don't belong in any of the categories I allowed myself ("dairy, bread, produce") to spend on this month, but that's OK.  I am still going to try to keep the rest of this month's spending limited to those three categories.   
October Prayer gathering budget = $300
Spent to date:
9/18:  $4.49 for smoked sausage
9/27: $1.29 for 2 cans of mixed nuts
10/4: $10.97 for 2 whole chickens
10/7: $2.06 for 1 dozen eggs and 2 boxes of mint chocolates
October regular grocery budget = $53
So far, I have spent $4.13 + $1.98 + $.61 + $5.94 + $12.04 = $24.70
Balance left in the budget = $53 - $24.70 = $28.30

I plan to go grocery shopping for fresh produce on Sunday.  Stay tuned for Week 2 Part 2!