Saturday, December 16, 2017

Productive Saturday

It has been a productive day.  I woke up around 9:30 a.m. and spent a quiet hour or so, having a cup of coffee and responding to blog comments.  Then, I started on my list of things to do.  The most important things got done - I did the grocery shopping and most of the cooking.  I stopped for the day around 8:00 p.m. because I was getting tired.  Although I took several breaks, my legs are hurting from being on my feet so much.

I went to the Armenian grocery store, first, to buy the fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, etc.  Although I had a list, I made a few changes as I shopped, buying honeydew melon instead of the papaya on my list (the papaya they had weren't ripe enough), blackberries instead of apples, etc.  Tomatoes were $2.49/lb.  Normally, I would have skipped buying them, but I need them for the salad I'll make.  Strawberries were $2.99/lb. and, again, while I wouldn't buy them at that price, regularly, the almsgiving is one of the few times when I buy what I want, no matter the price.

This store also had drinking glasses!  They weren't the small (6 or 8 oz.) glasses I was looking for, but, rather, they were 16 oz., glasses, but a set of 4 were priced at $2.99!  Even the cashier was surprised.  I bought two sets.  I will serve water in these glasses and the juice in the gold striped glasses. 

New Drinking Glasses
I spent $31.74 at the Armenian store.

Then, I went to the "no frills" Kroger affiliate store.  I went there to buy another bag of cat food, bananas (the bananas at the other store didn't look good), milk, tomatoes (I was hoping they'd be cheaper there than at the other store, but they were the same price) and juice.  While I was at the store, I decided to buy two pumpkin pies ($2.99 each) instead of making the flan as I had planned (I was already starting to get tired).  When I checked out, the pies scanned at $3.99!  Fortunately, this time, I checked the receipt while I was still at the check out stand, before I bagged the groceries and pointed it out to the cashier who refunded me the difference without any comment!   

I spent $17.79 for groceries at this store (doesn't include the price of cat food $9.99 and the tax on it).

Today's Groceries (didn't include the milk, juice, and yogurt in the picture)

I took a break after I came home and had brunch (the leftovers from the Mexican take out food from earlier in the week and grapes).  Then, I put away some dishes, washed some other dishes and the new glasses I bought.  After that, I started cooking - cooked the lentils and the cashew curry.  Hard boiled the eggs (I was going to make an omelette curry, but decided to just hard boil the eggs and add to the salad because I was too tired to make omelettes and make the curry gravy).  And baked the brownies. 

In between, I watered the front garden, put away the dried laundry, took out the chair covers and table cloths.  I covered the two coffee tables and Dancer came to help:

Dancer "helping"!


 Saturday's To Do List:
✓- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc. - DONE
- cover chairs, tables (DO ON SUNDAY)
- Buy flowers/pick from garden (if picking from garden, do on Sunday)
✓- Grocery shop - fruits, vegetables, milk, juice, yogurt, etc. - DONE
✓- Buy a set of small drinking glasses! - DONE
✓- COOK!  Cashew curry, lentils, eggs curry, fry lentil wafers (pappadum) (decided to skip the lentil wafers - too tired)

- Clean the kitchen/clear the counters
✓- Bake brownies, cookies, make flan - DONE (decided against making cookies and flan)
✓- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc. - DONE
✓- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests - DONE

✓- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins - DONE
✓- Any other  undone items leftover from Friday - DONE
✓- Put away laundry - DONE
✓- Water the garden - DONE
- REST! - IN PROGRESS!

Sunday, Dec. 17 (Day of Almsgiving):
- Cover chairs and tables/Keep Dancer away!
- Take out the dishes and plates in the dishwasher
- Fry the lentil wafers if time permits
- Clean the kitchen/clear the counters
- Pick and arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets (candy, cake, brownies, etc.) in saucers; cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Cut up pie, arrange on saucers, cover
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salad
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses
- Sweep my bathroom and put down new bathmats
- Remove family room sofa covers

One of my cousins called to say she and her mother will not be able to attend the almsgiving.  Hopefully, my other cousins will be able to make it. 

My friend has promised to come as early as she can in the morning to help me.  If she can't come, I will simply do what I have to do.

Today, I am grateful for:
- All what I was able to accomplish, today
- No cramps, so far!  *knock on wood*!
- No major mishaps (just dropped one of the boxes of blackberries and stepped on some of them and got sprayed with water when I started to water the garden because the spray head at the end of the hose had come loose!)
- Everything has gone smoothly, so far.
- Dancer's help!  *smile*

How was your day?  Did you have a productive day, too?


Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Update

I was up until 4:00 a.m. last night, then, when the alarm went off at 9:00 a.m. (I had taken the day off from work, so I had set the alarm for later than usual), I turned it off and slept till 10:00 a.m.  By the time I had fed the cats, had a cup of coffee, checked my emails, etc. it was already past 11:00 a.m. and half the day was gone! 

In the next couple of hours, I tidied the family room, dusted the tables, put away the 10 bags of sugar and 5 cans of condensed milk I bought, put away the washed dishes and washed more dishes, and made several phone calls. 

My gardener friend M came over in the afternoon and I had him help me with housework!  He took down the almsgiving dishes, dusted the upper areas I can't reach easily, replaced the dead battery in my wall clock (he's tall enough to reach it without any difficulty whereas I need to climb up the 2-tier step stool), vacuumed the main rooms, and moved the furniture.  He reminisced about helping my mother with almsgiving preparations and left after admonishing me not to overdo things!

He also brought me a combination belated birthday/early Christmas gift of a coir door mat painted with a cat's face!  He said, the minute he saw it, it shouted my name to him! 
 
My New Door Mat
 
I washed the almsgiving dishes in the dishwasher, this time (last year, it was while I was washing them by hand that my hands started cramping).  The only things I hand washed were the gold striped drinking glasses I use for serving water during the almsgiving.
 
That's when I discovered that I have exactly 3 (one of them mismatched) small drinking glasses for juice!  That's not going to work, with 5 monks!  I had M take down my stem glasses, but there are only 4 matching!  It's OK to use mismatched glasses, but I am not sure about using stem glasses (aren't they usually for wine?) to serve juice to the monks, who, like most practicing Buddhists, make a daily commitment to avoid intoxicating substances!  I ran the idea by my daughter who said it would be weird to use the stem glasses for juice!
 
Either, I must buy a set of 6 small glasses, tomorrow, or, serve the juice in the gold striped glasses and serve the water in my holiday glasses (they have reindeer and snowflakes on them and say Happy Holidays).   
 
Choice of Glasses
I have 6 of the holiday glasses (bought on a clearance sale for $.25 a glass, I believe), 5 of the gold striped ones (from a set given to me as a gift from my sister), and 4 each of the two different types of stem glasses.  I know that the monks won't mind which glasses I use, but daughter says the holiday glasses are too Christmas-y to use during an almsgiving.  I guess I had better buy some smaller drinking glasses, tomorrow!
 
I managed to get most of the items crossed off my to do list.  Friend M vacuumed the living room, dining room, and family room.  I vacuumed the hallway, kitchen, bathrooms, and the bedrooms.  I have a load of laundry washing while I type this and I need to do the litter box before I go to bed.  But that is all I am going to do, today. 
 
The rest of the items that were on the list for today and didn't get done are being postponed for tomorrow.  Some of them, such as taking out the serving dishes, I didn't want to do too early, because a certain kitty cat (who shall remain unnamed), likes to jump up on the table to see what I've put there and I really don't want kitty nose prints all over my serving dishes!  The rest, I didn't do because I was getting tired and I don't want to get too tired.

Friday, Dec. 15:
✓- Rearrange furniture - sofas, coffee tables, tall round side table (for reliquary), trolley (for plates of offerings), remove blue & white vases near fireplace (so I can set the small sofa in front of the fireplace)* - DONE
✓- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them* - DONE
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests
✓- Final cleaning - dust, vacuum, etc. - living room, dining room, family room*, bedrooms - DONE
- Kitchen - counters
✓- Clean bathrooms/set out guest towels, etc. - DONE
✓- Put cashews and garbanzo beans to thaw - DONE
✓- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water - DONE
✓- Candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches - DONE
✓- New bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out- DONE
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins

* My gardener friend helped with these tasks

 Saturday's To Do List:
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Buy flowers/pick from garden (if picking from garden, do on Sunday)
- Grocery shop - fruits, vegetables, milk, juice, yogurt, etc.
- Buy a set of small drinking glasses!
- COOK!  Cashew curry, lentils, egg curry, fry lentil wafers (pappadum)
- Clean the kitchen/clear the counters
- Bake brownies, cookies, make flan
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests

- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins
- Any other  undone items leftover from Friday
- Put away laundry
- REST!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friend M helping me and the cute door mat he gave me
- Lists and schedules
- Being able to accomplishing all what I did today
- Video chatting with my daughter
- Being able to take the day off from work

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


Almsgiving Preparations - Schedule

I have an almsgiving preparations schedule/to do list that I put together several years ago.  Every year, I print out a copy of it, make any adjustments, and check things off as I go along.  I first posted it here

This is the schedule for this year:

2017 Almsgiving Checklist & Schedule:

Week 1 (Dec. 1-7):
- Set date/invite monks/invite participants - DONE
- Decide on donations/get them ready - DONE
- Make menu/check supplies/make grocery list - DONE
- Check supplies (non-grocery)/make shopping list - DONE
- Check table linen, chair covers, etc., wash if needed, iron, etc. - DONE
- Shop for non-perishables - DONE

Week 2 (Dec. 8-14):
- Cook ahead and freeze: cashews, garbanzos - DONE
- Confirm date with monks - DONE
- Remind invitees; share menu/assign dishes - DONE
- Start cleaning the house (Dust/vacuum/tidy living room, dining area, family room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) - STARTED

Friday, Dec. 15:
- Rearrange furniture - sofas, coffee tables, tall round side table (for reliquary), trolley (for plates of offerings), remove blue & white vases near fireplace (so I can set the small sofa in front of the fireplace)*
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them*
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests
- Final cleaning - dust, vacuum, etc. - living room, dining room, family room*
- Kitchen - counters
- Clean bathrooms/set out guest towels, etc.
- Put cashews and garbanzo beans to thaw
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water
- Candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches
- New bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins

* My gardener friend will help with these tasks

Saturday's To Do List:
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Buy flowers/pick from garden
- Grocery shop - fruits, vegetables, yogurt, etc.
- COOK!  Cashew curry, lentils, egg curry, fry lentil wafers (pappadum)
- Clean the kitchen
- Bake brownies, cookies, make flan
- Any undone items leftover from Friday
- REST!

Sunday, Dec. 17 (Day of Almsgiving):
- Arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets (candy, cookies, brownies, etc.) in saucers; cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Dish out flan/pudding, cover
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salad
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water and keep in thermos for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses

10:30 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready; guests arrive and their contributions added to offerings to the Buddha and the Order of Monks

11:00 a.m. - Monks arrive; Offerings to Buddha, Order of Monks, etc. take place and service begins with devotions being recited.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch is served to the monks

12:00 noon - Monks finish their lunch, plates are cleared, a sermon is said, blessings are chanted, merit gained from almsgiving is transferred to departed loved ones, donations are offered to the monks.

1:00 p.m. - the monks leave, the religious ceremonies are concluded, lunch is served to all those who participated.

Followed by washing up and cleaning and putting things away until the next time!   My family and friends usually help me with the washing up and putting away the food and putting the furniture back in place.


It's a lot of work, I know, but I will try to pace myself.  I will have help on Sunday morning, with the almsgiving, itself.  I have taken Monday off from work, in addition to Friday, so I have a day in which to rest before going to the office, next week.

Busy Days

On Wednesday, I woke up feeling very tired.  Fatigued, like how I used to get when I was undergoing treatments.  I wanted to take the day off from work and stay home, but I knew I was taking Friday off, so I didn't want to take Wednesday off, too.  Anyway, I made myself go to the office and, guess what?  Once I was at the office, I was fine!  Didn't feel tired, at all, and I had a productive day!

We had the office gift exchange on Wednesday, after our staff meeting.  There were 15 of us participating, so 15 gifts.  We each drew a number and that number indicated our turn to choose a gift.  There was an interesting assortment of gifts and lots of laughter as each gift was opened and people "stole" some of the gifts (each gift could be stolen twice).  I had contributed a glass candle holder which had a silver painted design on it and the colleague who picked it liked it a lot (we gave the gifts anonymously, so no one knew who gave what).  I received an assortment of gifts:

Office Gift Exchange Gifts
A mug (I had, actually, been hoping to get a new mug), a $5 Starbucks gift card (which I will give to my daughter since she loves their coffees), and a bacon-flavored chocolate!  I am most curious about that - I like chocolate and I like bacon, so, I guess I'll like bacon chocolate?  It is chocolate with bits of bacon in it, according to the label.  I am waiting until daughter comes home to try it!

Wednesday evening, after I came home, I took it easy and didn't do any cleaning or almsgiving preparations.  I had some leftover angel hair pasta with meatball curry for dinner, exchanged emails with a friend, and video chatted with my daughter.

Today, Thursday, I woke up feeling well.  I went to the office and had a fairly productive day.  My new supervisor took me and one other colleague who is also under her supervision out to lunch, today, as her holiday gift to us.  We went to a Japanese fusion restaurant near the office.  I had been there once before with my previous supervisor.  I had one of their bento lunches, which included miso soup, green salad, chicken skewers, edamame, potato salad, rice, and cut up fruit.  I couldn't finish it all, so brought home half of it for my dinner.  I enjoyed their food and want to take daughter there one day, when she's down for the holidays. 

Again, after I came home, I spent the evening relaxing.  My sister had called and left a message saying she won't be able to attend the almsgiving; I'm glad she let me know (now I won't have to rush to get her gift ready by Sunday!)  One of my friends called, too, and we chatted for a bit.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

I have taken the day off from work, tomorrow, to prepare for the almsgiving.  I am a bit behind with my schedule of cleaning, but I think I will be able to catch up, tomorrow.  If not, I still have most of Saturday, as well, although I need to grocery shop on Saturday.  The important thing, I am telling myself, is not to get too tired, or dehydrated, or stressed.  We do NOT want a repeat of what happened last year!

I shall post my To Do list as a separate post.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being treated to lunch by my supervisor
- A nice walk to the restaurant and back
- A productive day at the office
- A relaxed evening at home
- Phone calls, emails, and video chatting

How is your week going?  Are you having busy days, too?  




Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December Grocery Shopping - Week 2

December Groceries: 12/9/17

On Sunday, I went grocery shopping to buy a few items for the week and some stock up items since they were on sale for $.99 each if one bought 5 participating items.

I also bought some things that were needed for the almsgiving:
 

Almsgiving Supplies

And some other items that were needed for the house, because this is one of those times of the year when I stock up on household supplies, such as facial tissues. I like to buy about 6 months' supplies and keep them on hand.



Stock Up Items
I went to the Kroger-affiliated regular supermarket and the dollar store for my purchases (both are located in the same mall).

The grocery store was having a sale where some items were $.99 each, provided one bought 5 participating items.  I tried to take advantage of this sale to stock up on sugar (at $.25/lb, this is well below my usual price point of $.50/lb. and an excellent stock up price) and later (on Monday) on more sugar and cans of condensed milk (not pictured) at the discount store which is also Kroger affiliated (the "no frills" one where one has to bag ones own groceries).

On Sunday, at the grocery store, I bought:
5 4-lb. packets of sugar, on sale for $.99* per packet = $4.95
2 doz. large eggs @ $.99 = $1.98
1 8-oz package cream cheese = $.99*
1 1-lb jar peanut butter = $.99
1 brownie mix = $.99*
1 package bagels (to go with the cream cheese) = $1.99
1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
Bananas @$.59/lb = $.93
Beef steak (top round) = $3.39

1 package gallon sized storage bags = $.87

4 6-pack bottles of soda @$1.99+$.30 deposit = $9.16
tax on non-food items = $.95

Total (after refund adjustments) = $29.18

Receipt with Overcharged Items Highlighted


Some of the items with the asterisk (*), that should have been on sale, rang up at full price and I didn't discover that until I came home and was looking at my receipt to write this post!  However, I was able to go back to the store and point this price discrepancy to them and was allowed a refund of the difference, after I took the items back and the manager had checked to verify that, yes, indeed, I had purchased the sale priced items.  I had taken the items with me, just in case they wouldn't refund the difference - if so, I was just going to return them!  

Receipt for Refund

The one item I hadn't taken back with me was the cream cheese, because I had already opened it; so the cashier rang it up as a bag of sugar, but with the cream cheese price of $1.59 and adjusted it that way.

At the dollar store, I bought:

1 package paper napkins, 2 packs paper plates, 2 boxes aluminum foil, and 3 boxes facial tissues
2+ lb. red grapes
1 package refrigerated cookie dough (for almsgiving)
3 cups instant noodles (for me to take to the office to keep in my desk)

My total came to $13.11
 

Most of the paper goods and foil are for use during the almsgiving and will be included in the almsgiving+grocery budget.  The facial tissues are from the household supplies budget and not included in the spending totals below.
 
Dollar Store Receipt



On Monday, at the "no frills" Kroger-affiliated store, I bought:
5 4-lb packages of sugar @$.99 (without any overcharging problems!) = $4.95
5 cans condensed milk @$.99 = $4.95

(Plus 1 bag cat food for $6.99 + tax)

12/11/17 Grocery Receipt

My grocery total at this store came to $9.90.

By the way, all of this sugar and milk are not for my own consumption.  I will share some with my daughter and some will be donated to the temple, along with tea and coffee, for their use. 

Week 2 grocery/supplies spending came to $52.19

December Grocery/Almsgiving Budget = $300
Spent to date = $28.82 + $52.19 = $81.01
Balance remaining = $300 - $81.01 =  $218.99

This week's grocery ads came out, yesterday.  Canned vegetables are on sale for $.50 each.  I just opened my last can of corn (I had bought 2 cans when they went on sale at that price, earlier), so I might buy two more cans to replenish my stock.  I prefer frozen corn, but canned corn is good to have on hand, too.

I will do this week's grocery shopping on Saturday.  I need to buy fresh fruits (five kinds) and vegetables for the almsgiving, and a container of yogurt, among other items.

How is your grocery shopping budget coming along?  Are you finding stock up prices for things you need?

Refunds onTuesday

This morning, I woke up earlier than usual although not as early as I wanted to and did a little bit of work from home before I went to the office.  I had a productive day at the office, too, until I had to leave for my doctor's appointment in the late afternoon.  The visit with the doctor went well and I am to go back in three months' time.

Then, I drove home.  The freeway I take from this clinic to come home is one of the more congested ones.  At times I thought it would have been faster to have walked (except I couldn't walk that distance!).
 
I drove straight to the grocery store, because, yesterday, when I was writing a blog post about my grocery shopping (still not completed), I noticed that the store hadn't given me the discount on some of the sale items and had charged me the full price.  So, today, I went back and pointed it out.
 
I am glad I had the foresight to take the items with me, because when I showed the receipt to the manager, she insisted on seeing them, saying it might not be the items that were on sale!  Except, they were the items that were on sale.  Then, she tried to say that maybe I didn't buy the required number of items (had to buy five mix and match items); I pointed out that I had highlighted the 5 items on the receipt.  In fact, I had grouped them together, when I put them on the conveyor belt, so it would be easy to scan them.  Finally, she told me to go through the check out line again, at any of the check out stands, to get the refund.  

When I went to one of the check out stands and explained the situation to the cashier, he didn't know what to do, even after I told him I had spoken with the manager.  He had to take the receipt to another cashier to ask her what to do.  Then, he had to scan all the items again, but eventually, I received my refund of $4.25.  It was almost not worth the hassle, but it was the principle of the whole thing - this particular chain of stores (Kroger affiliate) had been fined by the courts for overcharging customers, in the past.  This is yet another reminder to me that I really need to review my receipts before I leave the store!  I don't always do it because it means I have to find my reading glasses and stand there blocking traffic while I check my receipts.    

Then, I went to the drug store to see if they had a replacement battery for my garage door opener, but they didn't.  I'll try the one near my office, tomorrow.

It was after 7:30 p.m. when I finally got home and I was tired!  So, I took it easy and  no housework was done.
 
I need to wrap up the gift I will be taking to the office gift exchange, tomorrow, and clean the litter box before I go to bed.
 
 Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring trash cans in - DONE
- Go to the office - DONE
- Buy a new battery for the garage door opener/remote - TRIED; store didn't have the required battery
- Doctor's appointment - DONE
- Go to the grocery store for refund - DONE
- Finish cleaning the bathroom
- Vacuum
- Wrap gift for office gift exchange
- Clean litter box
 
Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Shop for the garage door opener battery
- Finish cleaning the bathroom
- Vacuum
- Do a load of laundry
 
Today, I am grateful for:
- Another good doctor's visit
- A safe drive home
- The grocery store gave me my refund
- Video chatting with my daughter
- What I managed to accomplish

How was your Tuesday?  Have you discovered you've been overcharged on groceries?  If so, what do you do?  Do you go back to the store to inquire about it and ask for a refund? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday's Accomplishments

Today, I woke up to find some unwanted gifts from Dancer, in the bathroom and in the family room!  Not quite how I like to start my day, Dancer!

I went to the office in the morning and met with my supervisor to update her on the status of my projects and to inform her of my upcoming doctor's appointments, vacation time off, etc.

Later in the afternoon, I went to my appointment with the radiation oncologist for a routine check up.  He reviewed the reports, examined me, and pronounced he was satisfied with my progress; he wants to see me again in four months' time, so I made an appointment to be seen in April before I left his office. 

On the way home, I picked up some Mexican fast food - a bowl with rice, red beans, grilled chicken, tortillas and a drink for $5.00 plus tax ($.43).  Yes, I've food in the fridge that I could have eaten, but I was in the mood for something different.  I had some for my lunch and some for my dinner and there's still another portion for tomorrow's lunch or dinner!

After my lunch, I ran a few errands.  I had revised my Monday's To Do List while I was waiting at the doctor's office to include putting gas to the car, buying a bag of cat food, and cleaning the bathrooms.  So, after lunch, I put gas to the car and then, went to the grocery store across the street from the gas station to buy the cat food.

I suppose I could have bought a bag of cat food at the grocery store I went to yesterday, but their cat food costs more ($10.99) for the same brand and amount.  But, when I went to this store, today, I found that their bags of cat food had gone up from $8.99 to $9.99 for the 13 lb. bag.  However, they had a different brand which was priced at $9.99 for a 16 lb. bag, so I decided to buy that, instead (this is for the stray/feral cats I feed).  The store only had one bag of it on the shelf and that bag had been torn and taped up.  I asked the store manager if he had any more in the store room at the back because I didn't know if any cat food had spilled from the bag before being taped and if it still weighed 16 lbs.,  but he said no, he didn't have any more.  Then, he asked if I would buy the torn bag for $6.99, instead.   I thought that was a good bargain, so that's what I did!  Then, I bought the bathmats I needed from another store, looked around that store to see if they had any white blouses for me (they didn't), and came home. 

After I came home, I had a cup of tea, had a snack, watched the news on TV, spoke on the phone with daughter, replied to my friend's email, and started cleaning the bathrooms.  Daughter's/visitor's bathroom is done; my bathroom will be finished tomorrow.

It was a lovely, sunny day, today, with an afternoon high of 84F!  The forecast says it'll be 84F tomorrow, too!  But it will be cooling down a bit towards the end of the week, with a high of 78F on Sunday (almsgiving day).  Some years, it's been cold and rainy on the day of the almsgiving and I include soup on my menu.  I think it will be safe to say I won't serve soup this year.

Revised Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Dr's appt. in afternoon - DONE
- Put gas to the car - DONE
- Buy cat food - DONE
- Shop for bath mats - DONE
- Take trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Clean the bathrooms - STARTED
- Vacuum - Living room and dining area

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring trash cans in
- Go to the office
- Buy a new battery for the garage door opener/remote
- Doctor's appointment
- Finish cleaning the bathroom
- Vacuum

Today, I am grateful for:
- Dancer, even if he leaves me unwanted gifts from time to time!
- The sunny warm day.
- A good visit with the doctor.
- Validated parking (this is one of the few doctors who still validates parking).
- Accomplishing all what I did, today.

How was your Monday?  Did you have a good start to your week?


Productive Sunday

Today, I woke up to a phone call from my neighbor T - saying there was something for me on the front porch!  When I opened my front door, I found a lovely poinsettia plant and a card from her!  I was very touched.  Her husband of over 50 years died two days before Christmas, last year, so I'm sure it is a very emotional time of the year for her, yet she was selfless enough to think of her neighbor.

While I was preparing my brunch (scrambled egg on toast), one of my aunts, Aunt C, called to ask how I was.  She said she was reading a magazine she had received and there was a recipe for a pound cake in it and she thought of me because she knows I like to bake.  She even read out the list of ingredients to me and said she will bring me the magazine when she comes to the almsgiving so I can see the recipe!  It sounded to me like aunt would like me to make this cake for her!  LOL.  It calls for amaretto and bitters, which I don't have.  But, I guess I could substitute almond essence and maybe some lemon juice or lemon zest.  Oh, I had better buy a box of powdered sugar to have on hand, because she mentioned something about a glaze. 

Today, I cleaned the living room, which means I dusted the furniture, including all the shelves, washed the inside of my front door, and taped up the holiday greetings cards that I've received so far on the inside of the front door.  I call them holiday greetings cards because not all of them are Christmas cards.  Some of my family and friends send me New Year greetings.

Then, I did another baby step in the preparations for the almsgiving and diced two large onions to freeze until needed.  Past experiences have taught me that my hands cramp up when I do a lot of cutting and chopping at a time (or washing dishes by hand!) .  So, I am doing as much as I can to prepare ahead - this way, when I go to make up the cashew curry (cashews are already boiled and frozen), all I have to do is add the frozen diced onions, cut up a green chili or two, and add the rest of the spices and milk.  And I'll have the onions ready when I go to cook the lentil curry, too.  I want to cut at least one more onion, later, for the egg curry I am planning to make.

In the afternoon, I went grocery shopping.  I did the major portion of shopping at the regular grocery store and bought a few additional items at the dollar store.  I will post the grocery shopping in a separate post, maybe tomorrow.  But I was able to get almost everything I needed for the almsgiving, except the fresh vegetables and fruits and yogurt; I'll get those items next weekend.


I also cleaned my kitchen in the evening, which involved accidentally breaking a glass while I was cooking dinner and led to wiping the counters and the stove (shards of glass everywhere!), sweeping the floor, taking the trash out, putting away dried dishes, and washing more dishes! It wasn't even on my list of things to do, but that was OK.

Last thing I need to do tonight, before I go to bed, is clean the litter box.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A gift from my neighbor
- A phone call from Aunt C (and a possible new pound cake recipe!)
- Bargains at the grocery store
- A productive day
- Video chatting with my daughter (who spent an hour and a half meal prepping and cooking, she said, and made all her lunches and dinners for the week; now how can I get her to come down and do that for me?)

I am going to post my to do lists, again, to keep me focused:

Monday To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Dr's appt. in afternoon
- Shop for bath mats
- Take trash cans to the curb
- Vacuum - Living room and dining area

How was your Sunday?  Hope you had a pleasant day.  What are your plans for Monday?

Sharing the Light (Pause in Advent #2)

Angela at Tracing Rainbows has posted her second Pause in Advent post in which she speaks about light (and scented candles).

As I read her post, I thought that it was interesting how light plays such a significant role in so many religions.  In almost every religion, there is some ceremonial use of light, and the lighting of a flame, whether it is a candle or an oil lamp, has a symbolic meaning.

The flame might represent life, itself, as well as being a source of light which dispels darkness.  And that darkness can be many things, besides being a lack of light.  It can be the darkness of despair or ignorance.  The flame can symbolize the light of hope, of knowledge, and understanding. 

While oil lamps are traditional in my culture and candles have become more common, these days, it is an electric light in the shape of a candle that I switch on at the altar when it starts to get dark.  I keep it lit all night and turn it off only in the morning.

I like to think that no matter where we light our candles or when or how, the symbolic meaning of the act is universal - a bit of light which dispels the darkness.  If we can share that light with one another, what a bright world it would be!







Sunday, December 10, 2017

Saturday

Today, I woke up a little after 7:00 a.m. (after having gone to sleep around 2:00 a.m.), wondered if I should get up, decided against it, went back to sleep, and woke up much later, around 10:30 a.m.   I got the recommended 8 hours of sleep, but I woke up with a bit of a headache, which I didn't have when I woke up earlier, at 7:00 a.m. after only 5 hours of sleep! 
 
I spent a relaxed rest of the morning, replying to blog comments, commenting on other blogs, and just taking it easy.  I ate a slice of cold pizza for brunch.  The headache wore off sometime in the afternoon.  Maybe I was dehydrated - I keep forgetting to drink enough water.
 
Later in the afternoon, I checked on the table linen and napkins I will be using for the almsgiving to make sure everything was still fine.  They had been washed and put away after the previous almsgiving which was held two years ago, since I wasn't able to have the almsgiving last year.  Although they've been sitting in the cupboard since then, they looked fine to me and didn't need to be rewashed prior to being used this year.  
 
Neighbor E came over in the afternoon to take a look at the garage door.  He tried to fix it, but apparently one of the side brackets is bent and that is why the door doesn't slide open smoothly.  He spent over an hour taking it apart and putting it back together, but it still doesn't open and close properly.  He said one of his cousins might be able to help; said he'll call him and see if he is free, one day.  He declined to accept any payments from me for the work he did today.  I do have him and his wife listed on my holiday gift list, so I'll thank him with some homemade baked goods at Christmas.
 
While he was working on the garage door, I watered some of the plants in the back garden and took some pictures:
 
The roses are still blooming
 
 
I'm amazed they withstood the winds!
 
The very confused lone zucchini plant is still flowering!
The oranges are coming along

In the evening, I called the temple and confirmed the day of the almsgiving with the monks.  After that, I called one of my friends to remind her of the almsgiving and, when she asked what she is to make for the almsgiving, asked her if she can make two dishes - one made with kale, shredded and cooked with coconut, and a green beans curry.  Then, I called one of my cousins to remind her of the almsgiving.  After that, I called another friend to just chat with her (it was the anniversary of her mother's death and I knew she'd be feeling sad). 

Apart from that, I did a little dusting, replaced burnt out light bulbs in the bedroom and the garage, washed the pile of dishes that had accumulated in the kitchen, and knitted another hat.  I've made six hats, so far.
 
Today, I am grateful for:
- Helpful neighbors
- Roses in December
- The headache went away
- Good friends
- Chatting with my daughter
 
I don't feel I was all that productive today, but I know I got a lot of little things done that I had wanted done (like replacing the burnt out bulbs).    How was your Saturday?  Did you accomplish what you wanted to do?  



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Finally Friday

Seems to me that I am either saying, "Friday, at last!" or "Friday, already?" - either it seems forever until Friday (and the weekend) or, it's here before I know it!  
 
Today, I had a fairly productive day at the office.   In the afternoon, I went to the bank and withdrew some money to spend on the almsgiving, for donations, etc.  I will get the envelopes with the donations ready, tonight, and keep until needed.  One more step in the preparations for the almsgiving.  Sometime tomorrow or on Sunday, I will call the temple and confirm the date with the monks.  I don't expect them to forget, but once or twice, there have been some confusion about the dates, with the monks at one of the temples writing down the wrong dates on their calendars!

On the way home, I stopped to buy a pizza for my dinner.  They have a special - a large one topping (pepperoni) pizza for $4.99 (plus tax).  I ordered one, waited the 10 minutes or so for it to be done, then, brought it home, only to discover, when I went to eat it, that they had made a mistake and given  me a large two-topping pizza (ham and pepperoni) instead!  For a minute, I debated whether to take it back - obviously, it was someone else's order!  But, by then, I had already changed out of my work  clothes and into my more comfortable sweats and I didn't feel like getting dressed again (I will not go anywhere dressed in my sweats).  So, instead, I enjoyed a slice of my two-topping pizza, for dinner!
 
I watched the evening news, finished knitting another red hat, spoke with my aunt who called to check on me, exchanged emails with a friend,  and video chatted with daughter, at least until her internet connection stopped working!

Today, I was grateful for:
- A safe commute to the office and back
- A two-topping pizza for the price of a one-topping pizza!
- The friendly teller who helped me at the bank
- My gardener friend tidying up the garden for me
- Holiday greeting cards from family and friends

How was your Friday?  What would you have done if you had paid for a one topping pizza and received a two topping pizza, instead?  Would you have taken it back?

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Visit to the Library on Thursday

Today, I went to the office and during my lunch break, I went to the library.  The morning had been a little cool, but by lunch time, it was warm!  Mid to upper 70s, I'd say.  I had a nice walk to the library and back.  This particular branch of the library is only two blocks away from my office building, so it is a short, ten minutes walk each way, which gives me another 10 minutes or so to browse the bookshelves and pick a book to read. On the way back to the office, I walked through the weekly farmers' market, but I didn't buy anything.  

I have always enjoyed trips to the library, ever since I was a child.  I don't remember going to a public library as a child, but I used to enjoy the weekly visit to the school library as a class.  We needed to get our teacher's approval of any book we checked out, but my teacher always approved any book I chose to read.  The other library of my childhood was the library in the school where my mother taught.  Whenever I went to her school, I was allowed to borrow books from that library, too, or, sometimes, my mother would check out books for me.  Later, I lived close to the British Council and the United States Information Services, which both had libraries.  When I was at university, I worked at the library and shelving books often led me to find interesting books that I'd often borrow.  These days, there's a library about one and a half miles from my house, as well as the one near my office.  I make use of both!

My upset tummy had resolved itself, today.  I had taken some sandwiches from home along with a banana and tangerines for my breakfast and lunch.  But, I was hungry on the way back home and I had been wanting some Chinese food for a couple of days, so I drove to one of the Chinese restaurants and picked up some food to go.  Came home, ate my dinner, and watched news.

One of my friends had called me in the morning to inform me that this month's prayer gathering will be held at her home, as my cousin is unable to host it.   In the evening, I called my cousin to check on her; she didn't answer her phone, so I left a message.  Then, I called her sister and she said her sister was not feeling well and, also, she was having some problems with the sewer system, which needs replacing.

Still later, another friend called and we chatted for a little bit.  Another friend sent an email with several photos of historical buildings in her town, expanding my cultural knowledge a little bit, in the process!  And then, I video chatted with my daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A sunny, warm day
- A safe drive to the office and back
- Libraries
- Keeping in touch with friends and family
- A friend sharing some lovely photos of some historical buildings in her town

How was your Thursday?  What are your earliest memories of going to a library?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Still More Fires on Wednesday

There was another new fire, today, near the Skirball Center and Getty Museum.  They closed the freeway I used to take to drive daughter to UCLA and back when she was doing her undergraduate studies.  My aunt called me early in the morning to tell me that the freeway was closed as her son-in-law takes that freeway and couldn't get to work; she was calling me to see if I was going to work today and I assured her that I no longer take that freeway.  The freeway I take to work and back was not closed.

I had a fairly productive day at the office, today.  We had a holiday lunch in the office, just for our unit, today.  It was a catered lunch and I enjoyed the food, but I think I ate something that didn't agree with me because I've been having an upset tummy since I came home!  There was another, department-wide holiday party in the evening, but it was after office hours and I didn't attend.

I've been taking it easy, since I came home from work, and watching the coverage of the fires on TV.  The winds had died down, earlier, but they've picked up, again and there are strong gusts of winds.  They are going to make the fires even more challenging to bring under control.

Today, I am grateful for:
- There are no fires in my neighborhood (so far!)
- Office holiday lunch
- The freeway I take to work and back remained open
- A safe drive to the office and back
- Video chatting with daughter

My colleagues in the office were talking about having a White Elephant Gift Exchange, next week, after our monthly staff meeting.  They have suggested a spending limit of $10, although someone was saying $15, on the gift and it can be a gag gift or not.  I am drawing an absolute blank on an appropriate gift.  In all my years of working, this is the first time I've participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange at the office and I have no idea what to get!  Have you participated in such a gift exchange?  Do you have any suggestions?  What would you get for an office gift exchange?

Fires on Tuesday

Smoke from the Fire
 
Yesterday, I mentioned the Santa Ana winds.  One of the dangers of the Santa Ana winds is the threat of wildfires.   There is a major wildfire not too far from where I live (but not close enough to threaten me), which started overnight or very early this morning.  I could see the billowing smoke from my house, this morning, and I took a couple of pictures on my way to the office.
 
Today, I called the hospital (since that was the number that was on the authorization form) to schedule the surgery.  Of course they had no idea what I was calling about and I was told to call the surgeon's office!  So, I called the surgeon's office and they had no clue, either!  In this day of supposedly having everything online, they couldn't find anything!  Eventually, I had to make a photocopy of the form and drive over to the surgeon's office to hand it to them.  Apparently, the US Postal Service is faster than the internet!

The drive home after work took practically forever, since there were some freeway and other road closures due to the fire.  There were several contingents of police cars and fire trucks speeding on their way to the fire, too, with sirens blaring, so traffic was quite bad.  But I was grateful that the freeway I take was still open and I was able to get home without any detours, etc.  
 
I could smell the smoke from the fire when I came home and it started to affect me in the short time I was outside, collecting the mail, bringing the trash cans in, and looking for the garden cats' water dish which had blown off to the side yard!  I took my emergency "rescue" inhaler and feel OK, now. 

This fire is very close to where one of my friends lives (she's the friend who invited us to Thanksgiving).  In fact, the area to the south of her is under mandatory evacuations orders.  When I saw the evacuation map online, I called her to check on her.  She said she is not under evacuation orders, but they are prepared to evacuate if needed.  I offered her my house as a place to evacuate to.   Another friend of mine called, too, to say that they had to close the school where she works early due to the smoke and ash; they'll be closed tomorrow, as well.  I told her that if she needed to leave, to let me know, I can come for her.  She said she's OK.  But she said they closed the road to traffic, earlier in the day.  
 
Ash
 
This is a picture of my bathroom window sill - the black dust is soot and ash that have blown in from tiny gaps in the caulking!

More Ash

I can only imagine how much worse it must be closer to the fire.

Today, I am grateful for:
- The fire is not close enough to threaten my house
- My friends are safe and not under mandatory evacuation orders
- The winds seem to have slowed down and hopefully, that will help the firefighters
- The freeway I take home was open so I could get home without much difficulty
- Rescue inhalers

I didn't do anything much after I came home, other than check on my friends, exchange emails with another friend, and video chat with daughter.

I also checked the weekly grocery specials as the sales ads came in today's mail.  The Kroger affiliate stores in my area are having a "Mix and Match" sale,  One must buy 5 participating items but the items include peanut butter, 4 lb. bags of sugar, cream cheese, eggs, cake and brownie mixes and they are $.99 each.  I have been waiting for peanut butter to go on sale (I am almost at the end of my last jar) and I need to buy eggs for the almsgiving.  I can buy cake mixes at that price from the dollar stores, but I might get a brownie mix and bake it for one of the almsgiving desserts.  And sugar at $.25/lb?  It doesn't specify cane sugar (I've checked the ingredients list on these bags of sugar and all it says is, "sugar"!), but sugar is sugar, right?  

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Windy Monday

Today, the winds known as the Santa Ana winds are blowing - strong gusts of winds which remind me that I haven't done anything about the eucalyptus tree!  
 
I had the day off from work, today.  I had thought of running a few errands, but decided to stay home and get to a few things around the house, instead.
 
In the morning, I boiled the garbanzo beans that had been soaking overnight and then, sauted them with diced onions, mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilies, etc.
 
Sauted Garbanzo Beans
 
I filled two quart sized bags and froze them until needed for the almsgiving. 

I also did a little tidying in my daughter's room and cleaned the kitchen a bit as white cabinets and appliances tend to show every drip and splatter!  Then, I took out the trash cans. 

One of my neighbors came over and fixed the leaky toilet and replaced the faulty thermostat for me.  He needed to get one additional item, a metal hose, for the toilet because the connector, which is plastic, on the old hose broke when he tightened it!  But I now have a toilet that is not constantly running (I had turned off the water to it, so it wasn't wasting water while I was waiting to have it repaired) and a thermostat that actually works!

I also received the referral authorization for the surgery to remove the port, in today's mail.  I will call the hospital tomorrow and see when it can be scheduled.  Most probably, it will be after the holidays, as there are pre-op screenings, etc., that will need to be done.
 
Also, today, I received my first greeting card of the season from one of my nieces and her family.  She sends me New Year's greetings for good health and happiness.  It is a reminder that I need to get my greeting cards written, addressed, and mailed!  Especially the ones going to family and friends who are overseas.
 
Today, I am grateful for:
- Good neighbors who are willing and able to help
- A properly working thermostat
- A non-leaky toilet
- Video chatting with daughter
- The referral for the surgery has been authorized

How was your day?  Are you managing to keep warm as the weather turns cold? 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday: December Grocery Shopping Week 1

December 3 Groceries
I went grocery shopping, today, and bought my groceries for the week, plus a few household items, cat food, and what I could buy now for the almsgiving: rice, lentils, dried garbanzo beans, onions, green chilies, coconut milk, oil, and candy coated almonds.  I had written out my grocery shopping list, yesterday, but had to rely on my memory when I was at the grocery store because I had left the list at home!  I had kept it on the table, next to my purse, but had forgotten to pick it up when I took the purse!  I should have put it in the purse!  But I bought most of what I had listed and a couple of other things I had forgotten to list, such as a new bottle of oil, another container of salt, and dish washing liquid.  I went to two stores, today.
At store 1, I bought:
2+ lb onions @ $.20/lb = $.42
1.6 lb red lentils @$1.29/lb from the bulk bin = $2.10
1.5 lb dry garbanzo beans @1.29/lb from the bulk bin = $1.94
1 package (.5 lb) candy coated almonds @$6.99/lb = $3.60
4 lb. bag jasmine rice = $2.99
0.16 lb. Serrano chilies @$.79/lb = $.13
4 cans coconut milk @$.99 = $3.96
1.5 lb bananas @$.49/lb = $.75
1 container iodized salt = $.89
Total =  $16.78

I also bought one non-grocery item from the household supplies budget:
1 container (90 fl. oz) dish washing detergent = $6.99 + $.66 tax = $7.65

(This container will probably last me all of next year, if not longer; I think I will write the date on the container when I first start to use it, to see how long it will last.)

12/3 Store 1 Receipt


At store 2, I bought:
1 container oil = $1.99
1 box crackers = $1.99
1 container flavored creamer = $2.49
1 loaf sliced bread = $.89
1 jar hazelnut spread = $1.99
1 box mac and cheese = $1.00
1 quart milk = $1.69
Total = $12.04

I also bought:
2 boxes (@20 count) quart sized zippered storage bags, @$1.69 (+ $.32tax) = $3.70
1 bag cat food (13 lbs.) = $8.99 (+ $.85tax) = $9.84

The coffee creamer has gone up in price; it was $1.99 when I last bought it!
 
12/3 Store 2 Receipt
Total spent on groceries = $16.78 + $12.04 = $28.82

December Grocery/Almsgiving Budget = $300
Spent to date = $28.82
Balance remaining = $300 - $28.82 =  $271.18
After I came home, I put the dried garbanzo beans to soak.  I will soak them overnight (I hear them popping, already!) and boil them tomorrow.  Then, saute them with onions, curry leaves, etc., and freeze them in smaller packets.  I want to cook and freeze as much as possible ahead of time, so that it won't be too overwhelming on the weekend of the almsgiving.  That way, if my hands cramp (they cramped tonight when I was doing the dishes), I won't have to worry too much - the majority of the food will be cooked!  Only to thaw and reheat.  This will be especially helpful since my friend who was planning to come and help the day before the almsgiving called me today to inform me that she won't be able to do so, after all; she'll only be able to come on the morning of the almsgiving.  So, the more I can get done ahead of time, the better it will be.

Have you gone grocery shopping yet, in December?  Are you planning to host Christmas dinner?  Have you made a menu for that, yet?  How about holiday baking?  Have you started?

Words to Ponder (Pause in Advent)

Angela, at Tracing Rainbows, is hosting her annual Pause in Advent series where she writes something to pause and think about, every Sunday, during this period of preparations for Christmas.   Her first Pause in Advent post is here.

While I am not a Christian, I enjoy reading her Pause in Advent posts.  Her post, today, is about eight words: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All.  In her post, she explains more about those words and a link to the source of those words. 

I think those are good words to live by, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year, and, not only by Christians, but by all of us, who might be of other religions, or have chosen not to belong to a formal religion, as well.  We could all live according to the tenets of our religions or beliefs, every day.  We could all spend in a thoughtful manner in ways that make a difference.  We could all give more to others by being considerate, courteous, and polite in our daily interactions with one another.  And we could all love all others by being kind, compassionate, empathic, and understanding.



What do you think?


   


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saturday - Starting the Almsgiving Countdown

Today, I slept in and took it easy in the morning, relaxing over a cup of tea and reading blogs.  Brunch was fried rice made with some leftover rice, ham, an egg, and some peanuts. 

The afternoon, however, was a little more productive.  I went to the pet supply store to buy flea prevention medication for Dancer, another bucket of kitty litter, and a bag of cat food.  Dancer wasn't very happy when I applied the flea medication and kept trying to lick it off, but he's sleeping now, and, hopefully, by the time he wakes up from his nap, he'd have forgotten all about it! 

Later, I did a load of laundry, washing the old sheets and towels I use to cover the family room sofas (in an attempt to keep Dancer's fur off the cream colored upholstery - the sheets over the seating and the towels over the arms) and covering the sofas with the other set of sheets and towels I keep for the purpose. 

I also started on my preparations for the almsgiving, which is scheduled for Sunday, December 17.  I basically have this weekend and next to prepare for it.  Over the years, I have put together an almsgiving preparations list, which is helpful.  Today, I checked supplies, made a tentative menu, and made a shopping list for what can be bought ahead of time.  Tomorrow, I want to go shopping for those items.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to spend a relaxed morning, catching up on blogs, etc.
- A sunny, warm day
- Flea prevention medication
- Chatting with my daughter
- My various lists!

How was your Saturday?  Are you getting ready for all the festivities of December?


Friday, December 1, 2017

December Balanced Life Goals

December tends to be a busy month with a lot going on.  These are my goals to maintain a balanced life during this busy month:

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Hold my year-end almsgiving  (scheduled for Sunday, December 17) - I was unable to hold it last year as I fainted in the bathroom the night before the almsgiving and knocked my head on the side of the bathtub (I still have an indentation on my forehead where I hit the railing for the shower door).
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude
- Take time for meditation
- Cultivate non-attachment through giving to others
- Attend the monthly prayer gathering, if possible

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
House
- Clean the house for the almsgiving 
- Maybe decorate for the winter holidays  
Garden:
- Maintain
 
Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her. 
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails , and video chatting
- Enjoy her next trip home (for the holidays)

Family & Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.
- This is probably the best month for keeping in touch with family and friends as we send greeting cards and well wishes and visit over the holiday season.  I will be seeing several friends and family members throughout the month at the monthly prayer gathering, at my almsgiving, at Christmas, and, most probably, on New Year's Day.
- Call, email, and send greeting cards to family and friends
- Invite family and friends to participate in the almsgiving
- Will be seeing several members of the family and friends at the monthly prayer gathering
- Celebrate Christmas and New Year with family and friends
 
Career:  The goal is to continue to do work which I enjoy (for the most part) and which enables me to support myself.
- Continue to do my assignments in a timely manner

Finances:  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose

Health & Well Being:  The goal is good health. 
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors - 3 scheduled, so far, in December: the primary care physician assistant, the radiation oncologist, and the podiatrist. All are for routine care and follow-up.
- Continue to go for additional screening tests, as needed
- Continue to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight 
- Continue to focus on a healthier diet (more vegetables!), drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
- Almsgiving and holiday preparations

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Knit more hats for the AHA
- Knit my grey sweater
- Make some holiday gifts!
 
So those are my goals for December. What are your goals for the month? 


November Balanced Life Goals - Review


November is over and December has begun!  It is time to review my November balanced life goals and focus on December's goals. As I have mentioned earlier, the goal is to achieve a better sense of balance in my life, to attend to each of the areas I've identified as being important to me, so that no one area is being neglected.

These were my November goals:

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude, especially during this month of Thanksgiving -  
On going; daily prayers are part of my routine and I have had many things for which to be grateful throughout the month
- Continue to focus on blessings, joy, and abundance - On going; I was able to do many of the joyful activities I had listed for the Fall season. 
- Take time for meditation - I've been taking a few minutes every morning and evening to meditate, as part of my daily devotions.
- Cultivate non-attachment - Have been trying; sometimes, it is hard to let go of certain things and emotions
- Attend the monthly prayer gathering (being held at my late friend's home, by her daughter, to commemorate the 1st anniversary of her death) - Attended the memorial mass.
- Call the monks at the temple to reserve a date in December for the almsgivings - Called and the almsgiving is scheduled for Sunday, December 17.

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
House:
- Continue to tidy and clean the house - maintain the rooms already done and concentrate on the bedrooms - Work in progress!  The living room and dining area are being maintained.  The family room looks "lived in"!  Things like books, mail, containers, etc. have a way of sprouting like mushrooms on my tables and counters!  .
Garden:
- Attend to the eucalyptus tree - get an arborist's opinion; trim or cut down the tree -  Didn't do!
- Plant some new plants in the front garden for a little fall color -  Placed some potted plants (geraniums) near the front door 
Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her. 
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails , and video chatting - Have been chatting with her every day.
- Enjoy her next trip home (2 visits planned for November!) - Enjoyed both visits.  Went out to lunch and did some shopping, both times; spent some time just talking and relaxing together. Daughter also spent some time visiting with her friends. 


Family & Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.

- A visit from aunt and cousin - Aunt and cousin visited me for my birthday, the weekend before my birthday, and we had dinner, together.  They gave me a gift of a new handbag.
- Phone calls from family and friends - There were several phone calls from various family members and friends throughout the month, especially for my birthday and at Thanksgiving, including a couple of overseas calls from cousins in Sri Lanka and Australia.  
- Video chatting with a friend - Enjoyed video chatting with one of my good friends. 
- Will be seeing several members of the family and friends at the monthly prayer gathering - I met with several family members and friends at both the prayer gathering and at the funeral of a family friend.   
- Celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends - Daughter and I had been invited to two Thanksgiving dinners!  One at a friend's home (it was the first Thanksgiving in her new home) and one at an aunt's house.  We went to both!   
- Maybe go out to lunch with sister - Didn't go out to lunch with sister, but did see her at our friend's funeral.
Career:  The goal is to continue to do work which I enjoy (for the most part) and which enables me to support myself.
- Continue to do my assignments on time - On-going.  I am getting used to my new supervisor's ways of doing things and, so far, things have been going OK.
- Work from the office each work day this month - Was able to work from office each work day, except on the days I took vacation time off.  This is the first time since I started my treatments that I've worked from the office, all month.  No wonder I've been so tired! 

Finances:  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose - Might buy two more appliances this month (washer and dryer); it has been budgeted for and money set aside - On-going.  I didn't buy the washer and dryer, however (might do so in December). 
- Meet with financial planner - Had a good meeting with the FP.  All those years of budgeting and being mindful of my spending are paying off.

Health & Well Being:  The goal is good health.  This will continue to be the focus, this month, as well.
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors - 2 scheduled in November - Attended the doctors' appointments.  I am continuing to recover and so far, all the test results seem to be good with everything being within the normal ranges. 
- Continue to go for additional screening tests, as needed - One scheduled - Did so; the test results were all good.
- Continue to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight - On-going;  all the readings have been good, so far, although I have gained a little more weight
- Continue to focus on a healthier diet (more vegetables!), drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep - Work in progress!

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
- Organize myself so that the important things get accomplished on time - Another work in progress!

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Finish the two quilts in progress - I didn't quite finish them, although one quilt is being used already!  I bought a new sewing machine to replace my broken machine, so I'll consider that as making progress towards finishing the other one! 
- Do a few more things on the Fall Joy List -  I did a few more things on my list and did a more complete review of it here.  I am content with what I was able to do.  I didn't want the Joy list to be yet another To Do list, so I am not going to fret over the fact that I didn't get to doing every activity I had listed. 
Those were my goals for November. I didn't achieve all my goals but I made good progress on most of them and I am content.  Did you make any monthly goals for November?  If so, how did you do?  Are you happy with what you were able to achieve?