Friday, March 31, 2017

March Balanced Life Goals - Review

Time to review my goals for a more balanced life in March.  The goal was to achieve something in each area so that I felt each area of my life was being attended to and not neglected while recognizing that I was still striving to regain my health and acknowledging that I needed to continue to focus more on this particular area of my life than on others, and therefore, it was OK if I didn’t achieve a lot in any given area (how’s that for a run-on sentence?). 

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.

- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude – Have been doing so. Every morning, I say a quick prayer of gratitude for a safe night and for being alive through the night to wake up to another day; I usually recite my morning prayers after I have my morning tea if I am working from home, or on my drive to work on the days I go to the office.  I also pray for a safe drive for myself and a prayer that my daughter and I be safe during the day.  I recite my prayers again, in the evening, on my drive home, and, when I get home, I turn on the altar light and say a quick prayer of gratitude for a safe drive home.  Finally,  I say additional prayers at night, before I go to sleep and pray that my daughter and I will be safe as we sleep at night.  I also bless the house at night by sprinkling blessed water as I walk from room to room. 

- Continue to re-read the Dhammapada (a collection of Buddhist verses based on sayings attributed to the Buddha) with the intention of applying the wisdom contained in them to daily life – Have done so.

- Continue to focus on joy, gratitude, abundance, and blessings – Have tried; I made a new joy list for spring, I have been listing five things for which I am grateful on a more or less daily basis, etc.  Occasionally, however, I have grumbled!   

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.

- Do only what is needed to maintain the house – Or less!  The papers breed over night!  But I have tidied the living room, I have kept up with the dishes and battled with the kitchen counter clutter, and I have kept the litter box cleaned. 

- Weed and mulch the flower beds – The flower beds are being weeded – it’s an on-going thing!  A new planting bed was dug and prepared (I’ve covered it with plastic to keep the weeds down and the cats off until I am ready to plant some vegetables!)   My gardener friend shared some vegetable seeds with me (zucchini and patty pan squash) and mentioned some spare strawberry plants!  My supervisor shared some plants from her garden and the first lot has been planted (she gave me more, earlier this week and another bag of cuttings, today!)

Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her.  

- Celebrate her birthday! – She came down for an extended weekend and we celebrated with take out food from our favorite Italian restaurant followed by ice cream cake!  Plus, she enjoyed some time with her friends, too.  We also communicate daily.  She had got accustomed to calling me as soon as she got home from work to discuss her day with me and, just the other day, she said she really missed not being able to call me as soon as she got home on the days I go to the office, as I am just leaving the office or am on my commute home around that time.  She comes home, she said and it feels a bit flat as she can’t call me!    

Family:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members.

- Sister's birthday - make and send card; call and wish – Called and wished her.  I promised to call her to arrange for a lunch date when I felt more up to it.

- 2 cousins' birthdays - make and send cards; call and wish – Called and wished both.

Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with friends.

- Call and/or email friends on a regular basis – Did so. 

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 work from home as needed due to health – Did so, but have also started going in more regularly, towards the end of the month.  Still go in later in the morning than my regular starting time (but leave at my regular time), but I make up the time by working from home either in the evenings or over the weekend. 

Finances:  The goal is financial security.

- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully – Have been doing so.

- Get the taxes done, if possible – Taxes have been filed!

Health:  The goal is good health.  This is going to continue to be the focus, this month.

- Attend the appointments with my various doctors - 1 scheduled, so far, in March; no doubt there will be at least one more – there were actually two additional doctor’s appointments, because I came down with a bad cold and cough and a resultant asthma attack which caused my doctor to be concerned that it might be the beginnings of pneumonia (it wasn’t, but I got scolded for not coming in sooner to have it checked!).

- Continue to monitor blood pressure and sugar levels as requested by primary care – Have done so; readings have been good and there is a follow-up appointment scheduled for April.

- Continue to focus on a healthier diet (more vegetables!), drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep – A lot more effort is needed in this area, although I am drinking more water.  Getting in more vegetables, exercise, and sleep is a work in progress!  And that’s all I am willing to say about that! 

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!

-  Organize myself and put routines into place so I have a more regular schedule!  - Nope; didn’t happen!  I am still disorganized, my routines are practically non-existent, and my schedule is all over the place!

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.

- Read a book (or more) – I have been reading the book I borrowed from the library (Prague Winter) and am almost near the end of it.  I have borrowed two more books (and started on them both!).  Another book has been requested and put on hold (but there are several others ahead of me on the waiting list).

- Make some cards – didn’t happen

- Take naps! – Done!  Have been requiring fewer naps, recently, though, which is a good, I think.

So that has been my review and update of the March balanced life goals.  I think I did well in many areas for the most part.  A few goals need a lot more work, though!  

Did you make any March goals?  If so, how did you do on attaining them?

Windy Thursday

Today has been a windy day!  I can hear the windows rattling as I type this.

I spent a fairly quiet day, today.  I went to the office and had a productive work day.  The drive home, however, took two hours as there were lots of traffic delays due to accidents.  I had intended to put gas to the car on the way home; however, due to the delays, I was tired and getting hungry.  So, I decided to come home directly and put gas in the morning (there is, actually, just over quarter tank of gas, which would be more than enough to go to work and come home, tomorrow, too, but I like to fill up before I get to quarter tank).

Home and a cup of tea with some of the pastries from yesterday were just what I needed.   Breakfast had been an egg salad sandwich, lunch had been another egg salad sandwich and a banana.  I had some crackers, too, as a snack.  Later, I cooked a pot of rice and had some of it with the rest of the green beans I had cooked earlier, mixed with some of the ground beef, with tomato chutney and a cucumber salad (just half a cucumber chopped and dressed with lemon juice, a little salt, and pepper).  I am also having a cup of hot cocoa as I type this, as I wanted a hot drink. 

Today, I called one of my friends to check on her (she had called me earlier in the week and had been sad about an accidental death in her extended family) and and texted one of my cousins to check on her (she had a sore throat and was on antibiotics for it, earlier this week).   Friend was doing OK; cousin didn't reply to my text.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Safe commutes to the office and back
- A CD player in the car (this is the first car I've had with a CD player, and although the car is now 3 years old, I still haven't got used to the novelty!)
- Being able to listen to some of my favorite music while I drive
- Pastries!
- My appetite and taste buds are returning!

Late last night, after I had published my blog post, I felt bad about not tidying up the house and so, I did a quick tidy of the living room!  So that item on the to do list has been started on!

Thursday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Put gas to the car - Friday
- Daily tasks - DONE (dishes, litter box, etc.)
- Tidy the house - STARTED (tidied the living room on Wednesday night, tidied the kitchen, today)

Friday's To Do List:
- Leave a note to the gardener
- Put gas to the car
- Go to the office
- Daily tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.)
- Pharmacy to pick up medication refill

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?  Are you ready for the end of March?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Warm Wednesday

Pastries: Meat Pies and (Sweet) Cream Cheese Rolls

It was a warm day, today, with an afternoon high of 85F.  But it was cooler in the morning - in the mid-60s - when I drove to the office.

There was a fund raiser bake sale at the office, to support the March of Dimes.  They were selling pastries from a Cuban bakery that is very popular here.  We could pre-order them, as well, which is what I chose to do.  I ordered 12 meat pies (six shown in the picture, at the bottom of the plate) and 6 cream cheese rolls (which are sweet; four of them are shown at the top of the plate).  Each pastry was $2, but it was for a good cause.  I shared some of them with my supervisor and one of my colleagues, ate some for breakfast, and will keep the rest to have with my tea or for snacks, tomorrow.

Lunch was an egg salad sandwich and a banana; dinner was pasta with meat sauce, salad, and an orange.

My supervisor brought me two more bags of succulents from her garden, today!  More aeoniums!  I am going to plant them in the flower bed under the living room window, I think.

I had planned to do a few things (tidying up) after I came home from work, but I felt too tired, so I took it easy and read.  As a result, very little got done (other than the dishes and the litter box!)

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Tidy the house
- Daily tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.) - DONE 

Thursday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Put gas to the car
- Daily tasks
- Tidy the house

Today, I am grateful for:
- Pleasant weather
- More plants from my supervisor
- Coffee tasting better with the new creamer
- Pastries to indulge in (and share, too)
- Safe commutes to the office and back

How was your Wednesday?  Is it warming up where you live?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March Grocery Shopping: Week 4

March 28 Groceries
 had a text from the pharmacy, this morning, saying that one of my prescription refills was ready for pick up.  So, in the afternoon, I went to the pharmacy to get my medication.  The dollar store is next to the pharmacy, so I picked up some bananas from them, since bananas are $.49/lb. there and $.69/lb. at the grocery store in the same mall.   I bought a bunch of 4 bananas - 1.63 lbs. - and paid $.80.

Receipt for Bananas
 After that, I went to the regular grocery store and bought:

1 container creamer = $2.59
1 loaf bread = $1.00
1 bag frozen corn = $1.00
1 can pasta sauce = $1.00
1 lettuce = $.99
1 cucumber = $.50
Total =  $7.08

(I also bought a packet of canning jar lids, 12 lids for $2.59, which is a taxable item).

March 28 Grocery Receipt

Total spent on groceries today = $.80 + $7.08 = $7.88

March grocery budget = $75
Spent to date = $5.50 + $21.90 + $15.84 + $15.81 + $7.88 = $66.93
Balance left in the budget = $8.07

I will add the $8 to the April grocery budget and use it for stocking up or a splurge!

I boiled three eggs this morning, added the last piece of bacon crumbled up, and made some egg salad.  I had an egg salad sandwich and an orange for brunch.  There is more egg salad for sandwiches for lunch for the next couple of days, as well.  What I was craving was a Big Mac, though!  LOL.

For dinner, I cooked some pasta with spaghetti sauce, made with the half a can of pasta sauce I had in the freezer and some of the ground beef I browned the other day.  There's enough pasta for tomorrow's dinner (and enough sauce for at least one more meal; will just have to boil more pasta).  Had a banana for dessert.

I also went to the library, this afternoon and borrowed two books.  Later in the evening, I called my cousin who lives across the street from me and went over to give her a piece of cake.  We met on the sidewalk outside her house because she can't invite me to her house since her husband is angry with me (and has been angry with me for years).  Remember what I said about family dynamics?  LOL.

One of my friends called and we had a nice chat while I watered the front garden.  Later, one of my aunts called.  

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Put away washed dishes - DONE
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Water the garden, front and back - DONE
- Pharmacy to pick up medication refill - DONE
- Grocery shop - DONE
- Library - DONE
- Return my friend's containers - Will do another day
- Tidy the house a bit

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Tidy the house
- Daily tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.)

Today, I am grateful for:
- Medications being available
- Insurance to help pay for the medications
- Water for the garden
- Sunny, warm weather (it was 77F today)
- Family and friends calling to check on me

How was your Tuesday?  How did you do with your March grocery budget?  Did you stay under?  Did you go over?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Windy Monday

Spring Flowers

My arm feels much better, today.  Almost back to normal.  But I still rested and took it easy, today.  I had been up until 4:30 a.m., so I couldn't wake up when my alarm went off at 9:30 a.m. and slept till 10:30 a.m., instead.  It didn't matter, though, because I have the day off from work (due to Cesar Chavez Day; daughter's work place will observe it on Friday).

I spent a quiet morning.  Then, in the afternoon, I called my next-door neighbor and took her several pieces of the cake I baked last night.  She invited me in to have a cup of coffee and we sat and visited for about half an hour over a cup of coffee.  I was happy to see that she had the sunflower wreath I had given her last year for her birthday, on her front door.  When I was leaving, she said she really enjoyed the visit and told me we needed to do it more often.  Later in the evening, she called me again, to say she enjoyed the cake and the visit.  I shall try to visit her, again, next week.

It was a sunny but windy day, today.  Some oranges had fallen from the tree, so I picked them up and picked a few more off the tree, as well.  Then, I picked a few African daisies and some grass seeds from the garden to bring in (#10 on my spring joy list).

I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch and some crackers with peanut butter in the evening.  Dinner was some of the frozen honey glazed chicken wings I had bought, corn, and a salad, followed by an apple and a slice of cake even though it still tasted bitter. 

I had wanted to water the garden today, but it was too windy to do so.  I did do the dishes and cleaned the litter box and took the trash cans to the curb.  I also renewed my library book, on line, and put a hold request on another book (I'm #19 on the waiting list, but there are several copies available).

 Monday's To Do List:
- Do the dishes - DONE
- Clean the litter box - DONE
- Water the indoor plants - DONE
- Empty the trash cans - DONE
- Take the big trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Water the garden, front (by hand) and back (sprinklers)

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Put away washed dishes
- Bring the trash cans in
- Water the garden, front and back
- Return my friend's containers
- Tidy the house a bit

Today, I am grateful for:
- Visiting with my neighbor
- The eucalyptus tree withstood the strong gusts of wind!
- More oranges from my tree
- Another restful day
- Easy meals

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

Feeling Better

Thank you for all your comments and concerns about my post, yesterday.  My arm is feeling much better, today.  There is still a little soreness, especially when I extend my arm, but not the pain I felt, yesterday.  I feel that I made the right decision yesterday, to rest my arm.

I spent the day relaxing and resting, today, too.

It has been a day of phone calls!  First, my daughter called to say she was going with a co-worker to a stable attached to a race tract to feed the cats there.  Apparently, some of the stable hands have pet cats that they leave behind when they go to other places and there are also some stray cats who hang around the stables; daughter's co-worker volunteers there and feeds the cats.  Daughter has gone with her a couple of times before, too.  Afterwards, they were going grocery shopping together.

After that, one of my aunts (not the one I was to give a ride to the prayer meeting) called to check on me and I told her about my arm.  She was concerned enough to call me back in the evening, too, to ask how I was.  I told her I was feeling much better.  On Friday, her daughter had called to say she and aunt were planning to visit me tomorrow (Monday), but today, aunt said that my cousin was having a cold and they will visit when she's feeling better. 

Then, I called my half-sister to wish her for her birthday.  After that, I called my neighbor for our weekly Sunday morning chat. 

In the afternoon, my cousin (whose daughter drove them to the prayer gathering last night) called to check on me.  I said my arm was feeling better today and apologized again for not being able to drive them.  She said not to worry about it.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading my library book.  I am almost at the end of it, which is good, because it is due on Tuesday!   Daughter called me when she came back to her apartment to tell me about the good deals she got at the grocery store and what she bought, etc. 

In the evening, the aunt I was to give a ride to the prayer gathering called to check on me.  As I said, it was a day of phone calls!

Later in the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.  She said her office friend had remarked on the close relationship we have.

Today, while I was chatting with my daughter, I had an urge to bake a cake!  So, at 10:30 p.m., I took out a box of yellow cake mix I had in the cupboard and half an hour later, I had a freshly baked cake:

Plain, Yellow Cake

I had to cut myself a slice:

Slice of Yellow Cake
I tried it and it tasted slightly bitter, but not too bad.  Tomorrow, I might make a glaze for it and see if that improves the taste.  It's not that the cake itself is bitter.  It's just that it tastes bitter to me. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- My arm feels better
- Everyone's care and concern
- Another restful day
- Phone calls with daughter, family, neighbor, etc.
- Freshly baked cake, still warm from the oven.

I have the day off from work, tomorrow.  I have made myself a very small to do list of mostly essential things I need to do.

Monday's To Do List:
- Do the dishes
- Clean the litter box
- Water the indoor plants
- Empty the trash cans
- Take the big trash cans to the curb
- Water the garden, front (by hand) and back (sprinklers)

There's a ton of other things that ought to be done, but it all depends on how my arm feels and how well I feel.  They include dusting, vacuuming, laundry, changing my bed sheets, tidying, etc.

How was your Sunday?  Did you have a day of rest?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Painful Arm

I have hurt my left arm and I don't know how.

I am aware that a pain in the left arm can be a symptom of a heart attack, but this pain is not in my upper arm and there is no accompanying tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, etc.  I checked my blood pressure in the morning and it was good, pulse was good, too.  So, I don't think this is due to a heart attack or anything serious.

The pain is near the elbow, but on the outside.  It started on Thursday night.  I am wondering if I strained a muscle or pulled a tendon when I carried the groceries in on Wednesday (unlikely) or when I went to open the jar of Miracle Whip on Thursday (more likely - I recall I struggled a bit to open it).  The pain wasn't too bad on Thursday night; I checked to see if there was any redness or bruising and I didn't see anything, so I just sort of ignored it.

On Friday, the pain was still there, but it wasn't too bad.  I went to the office and did my work and drove home without any problems.  In the night, before I went to sleep, I rubbed some heating balm on it (called Tiger Balm) and put some blessed water (Buddhist equivalent of Christian holy water)  and some holy water (from Lourdes) as well, for good measure!  *smile*  But the arm felt sore and painful, although there was no swelling or redness, etc.

This morning, the pain woke me up at 6:30 a.m.!  I could barely move my arm!  I rubbed more balm and went back to sleep again.  I am icing it now, hoping that will help.  I suppose I should take a Tylenol, too, but I haven't done so, yet (Update: took two Tylenols).

What bothers me most is that I had agreed to drive one of my aunts, two cousins, and a friend to this evening's prayer gathering at another aunt's house, some 40 miles away.  It is a 45 minutes to 1 hour drive (depending on traffic) and I am not sure if I am up to it if my arm is hurting.  In fact, to be quite honest, I would have preferred if someone else had offered to drive in the first place (and given me a ride!), but, apparently there was no one else willing or able to drive that distance on the freeway at night.  Aunt is in her 90s and isn't allowed to drive due to her age, cousins and friend won't drive on the freeway or at night, cousins' children aren't free on a Saturday night, etc.  So now, I am stressing about driving that distance with a painful arm and possibly over-exerting my arm instead of resting it.  If it was a shorter distance, I might not have stressed about it so much.

The problem is, as one of my friends has pointed out, my family is accustomed to me chauffeuring them around!  As she says, they managed to find their way to the prayer gatherings, etc., just fine, when I was too ill to attend them, but now that I am better, it's back to normal!  LOL.

For the most part, I don't mind.  If I can be of help, then, I am happy to do so...usually.  Occasionally, however, I grumble, because, after all, I am human.  There is much I don't say about our family dynamics, here, on the blog!  I try to focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative.  So, for example, I will write that a cousin visited me, but I won't say that it was after 6 months into my treatment, even though she had been to visit my other cousin who lives practically across the street from me, several times, or how that made me feel.  Or, I will write that my cousin brought me dinner, but I won't complain about the time she forgot to buy me the bread I had asked for (back when I was told not to go grocery shopping due to increased risk of infection). 

Anyway, I spoke with my daughter, who begged me not to over-do things.  Then, I called my cousin to tell her about my arm and that I was not sure if I could drive them tonight.  Cousin told me not to stress about it, that she will ask her daughter if she can drive them, instead.  (Earlier, she had told me that her daughter had plans to go out with friends.)  She asked me not to say anything to our aunt until she has checked with her daughter.  So, I will call her back, later (if I haven't heard from her before) to ask if her daughter can drive them.  In which case, I won't be going, since there won't be any room in the car for me - but that's OK.

Update:  Cousin just called to check on how I was feeling.  She said she spoke with her daughter but doesn't know yet if her daughter can drive them (daughter is out with friends who are visiting from San Diego).  I told my cousin, if her daughter can't drive them, to get one of those rides like Uber, if possible, and that I will pay for it.  Cousin said it was OK to call our aunt and tell her what was happening.  So, I called my aunt and told her I wasn't able to drive them and said that cousin is trying to get her daughter to drive.  I also asked aunt if her granddaughter can drive them, but aunt said her granddaughter was busy.  So, again, I told her, too, that if they can get a ride from Uber, I will pay for it, since I can't drive them, this time.  I feel bad about not driving them.  I feel like I'm being selfish, especially since I feel better after taking the Tylenol.  But, I don't want to over-do things, either.  I need to rest my arm and be well enough to do what I have to do.  I owe it to myself to limit my activities until I am fully recovered.  

I really haven't done anything, today, as I've tried to rest my arm.  I slept in, after I woke up at 6:30 a.m., till almost noon!  My daughter calling to check on me woke me up!  Then, I cleaned the litter box, since I didn't do it last night.  I had a cup of tea and a banana for brunch, then, three Ritz crackers just before I took the Tylenol.  I haven't felt hungry, but I'll have a cup of tea in a bit and there is leftover rice, green beans, and chicken curry for dinner.  It was sunny, earlier, but later, a few clouds moved in.  We were supposed to have a 20% chance of rain, today - I hope it does rain, because the garden could do with more rain.  But, I doubt very much if it will rain.  The clouds have moved away and it is sunny, again.

Today, I am grateful for:
- The pain in my arm appears to be due to a sprain or something, rather than a heart attack.
- Cousin said she'll try to get her daughter to drive them to the prayer gathering.
- The balm, Tylenol, and the icing helped; there is still some pain, but not too bad.
- A good cup of tea.
- A quiet, restful day.

Thank you for reading through all that!  This post is a bit all over the place, isn't it?  How was your Saturday?  


Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Grocery Shopping: Week 3 Part 2

March 22 Groceries

I did some grocery shopping, yesterday. I am going to consider it as March Week 3 Part 2, because there is another week left in March and I might go grocery shopping again before the month is over.

First, I went to the dollar store (I wanted to look for some hair bands and see if they had any vegetable plants or seed packets; they didn't) and bought:

3 cans table cream, @ $1 = $3.00
1 box cheese crackers = $1.00
1.49 lb. bananas @ $.49/lb = $.73
3- 5 oz. jars Miracle Whip @ 3/$1.00 = $1.00
Total:  $5.73

I thought the little jars of Miracle Whip were the cutest things ever!  I am one of those people who prefer Miracle Whip to mayonnaise, but I admit I bought these more for the jars than the contents!  I would have loved it if they had been glass jars, but they are plastic.   No matter; I  know I will be reusing those jars for storing various things.  I see myself making a lot of egg salads and tuna salads in the near future!  LOL.  In fact, lunch today, was an egg salad sandwich! 

Then, I went to the regular grocery store, also in the same shopping mall and bought:

2-6 packs of soda (only one is pictured, above), @$2.50 + $.30 deposit = $5.60
2 lb. pack ground beef = $3.99
Tax on soda = $.49
Total =  $10.08

The ground beef was on sale because the sell-by date was March 23 (today).  There were two packages and I debated getting both, but that's a lot of ground beef for me, so I bought only one package.  I want to brown it and freeze most of it for future meals. 

Total spent = $5.73 + $10.08 = $15.81

March grocery budget = $75
Spent to date = $5.50 + $21.90 + $15.84 + $15.81 = $59.05
Balance left in the budget = $15.95

That's plenty for more bread, some milk, and fresh produce, next week. 

How is your March grocery budget coming along? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Joy List

Spring is here!  It is definitely a season with plenty of joy as the days become longer and warmer, the trees leaf out and the flowers start to bloom.  Even when one lives in a climate where winters are relatively mild, spring is a season of renewal and awakening.  I have prepared a Spring Joy List, to cover the period between now and the start of summer in June.

New Leaves on the Jasmin Vine

1.  Daily prayer and contemplation: take time to appreciate this time of renewal
2.  Continue to drink my tea in my favorite cups
3.  Continue to chat daily with my daughter
4.  My daughter's next visit home (in April or May)
5.  Savor my last jar of homemade apple and pomegranate jam!

6.  Visit the temple
7.  Do a craft project: make a birthday card for my sister
8.  Do more gardening: plant a vegetable garden, scatter some flower seeds
9.  Celebrate Sri Lankan New Year (April 13)
10. Bring in more fresh flowers and greenery

Hibiscus after the rain

11. Play with fabric
12. Visit the farmers' market
13. Visit the library
14. Read a book or two (or more)
15. Do more sketching
16. Naps on the sofa!
17. Take in the sunsets
18. Music - listening and singing
19. Arrange to video chat with a friend
20. Indulge in strawberries! 

Biscuit with some of my apple & pomegranate jam

What brings you joy?   

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Year Joy List Update

This is my New Year Joy List, meant to cover the period from the New Year till the end of March, when it becomes officially Spring.  Since today is the first day of Spring, I thought I'll do the update today. 

New Year Joy List:

1.  Greet the New Year with my daughter - Done!  We watched the count down on TV, toasted the New Year with sparkling apple cider, and I made the traditional milkrice. 
2.  Prayer and contemplation - Daily prayers and some contemplating and studying, as well.
3.  Continue to enjoy using the special china - I have continued to enjoy drinking my morning and evening tea in my special cups.
4.  Continue to chat daily with my daughter - Definitely one of the highlights of my day.
5.  Visit my neighbors for the New Year - Visited two of them.
6.  Do a craft project - I started some but didn't finish!  Seems like I am very good at starting projects but not at finishing them!
7.  Attend the monthly prayer gatherings - I attended some, but had to miss others due to health issues.
8.  Spend a little more time in the garden - Have been doing more gardening.  Planted new plants in the front garden.

The Newly Planted Aeoniums
9.  Continue to enjoy some candle light in the evenings - Not as often as I wanted to.
10. Continue to listen to music - Have been listening to a variety of music.
11. Play the piano more often - Not as often as I wanted to.
12. Sing more often - Not as often as I wanted to; my voice is still rather hoarse from my cough. 
13. Daughter's next visit home for her birthday (early March) - Had a lovely visit with her.
14. Go out to lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant with daughter to celebrate her birthday - We ordered take out from our favorite Italian restaurant and ate at home.  Daughter did go out several days for brunch and dinner with friends, though.
15. Invite a friend out to lunch or dinner - Invited my friend, but she was unable to make it.  Was invited out to friends' homes to meals, instead, and other friends brought me meals! 

I didn't do some of the items as often as I wanted to, but I engaged in some joyful activities during this time.  I will be back with a new list for Spring. Did you, too, make a joy list?  If so, were you able to do some of the activities you planned to do?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quiet Sunday


I have had a quiet Sunday.  I had planned to run some errands and do more grocery shopping, today, but, last night, I had another asthma attack and so, I thought it would be prudent to stay home and take it easy, today.  Any excuse to stay home in my pyjamas!  LOL.

I baked one of the cans of biscuits I bought yesterday.  I used the toaster oven to bake them, instead of heating up the big oven.  I had two of the biscuits, sandwiched with some of the beef steak I had cooked earlier, for brunch.  They tasted very good.  Later, I had another spread with a little butter and some of my homemade strawberry jam and that was very good, too, if not better!

In the morning, I had my usual Sunday morning chat with my neighbor.  In the afternoon, I did some reading and then, took a nap!  My aunt's phone call woke me up from my nap, but that was OK.  I didn't want to sleep for a long time, anyway (yesterday, I slept for about 3 hours in the afternoon!). 

In the early evening,  my late friend's older daughter returned the dish in which I took a dessert to the memorial rosary dinner, last month.  She also brought me a plate of food for my dinner:

Dinner from my Friend's Daughter

It is our custom not to return an empty dish; always return it with something.  It's something I've made sure my daughter knows, too.  Of course, this was way too much food for me for one meal; I ate some and kept the rest in the fridge for another day.

Later in the evening, I tidied the kitchen and did a load of dishes. This is actually the "after" picture!  I've way too much stuff on my counters, but it's all used often enough to be out.  I took a "before" picture, too, but I am not brave enough to share it with anyone other than one of my very good friends!  The green plastic bag hanging from one of the cabinet knobs is for recyclables - plastic bottles, cans, etc.  Once it is full, I empty it into the big recycling bin, outside.

The "Tidied" Kitchen! 

Then, I cooked the green beans I had been planning to cook for the past several days!

Sauted (Curried) Green Beans
I cut them diagonally into pieces and sauted them in a little oil with some dark roasted curry powder, onions, a handful of curry leaves, salt, and a sprinkle of Maldive fish pieces (a type of dried fish used as a seasoning).  It's my favorite way to prepare beans.  The cutting takes longer than the actual cooking!  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Rescue inhalers for when the asthma acts up
- My friend's daughter bringing me dinner
- Phone calls from neighbor and aunt; emails from friends
- An afternoon nap
- Chatting with my daughter

This is a picture of a desk organizer my daughter made this weekend, from two empty cereal boxes, following instructions and templates she found on-line:

Hogwarts Desk Organizer

Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office/office work
- Clean out fridge
- Empty waste baskets
- Take trash cans to curb
- Daily Tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.)

Not sure how much more I'll be able to do, so I'll leave it at that.

How was your Sunday?  What are your plans for next week?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March Grocery Shopping: Week 3

March 18 Groceries

Stopped at the regular grocery store on my way home from the tax preparer's office, this morning, to buy a few things I needed, mostly bread and milk, and a few things I wanted, such as the crackers, frozen chicken wings, and boxed mac and cheese.

Does anyone else debate with herself when buying convenience foods?  Like the frozen chicken wings, for example.  I've been wanting to buy frozen chicken wings for several weeks, now, thinking they'd be a quick dinner on days when I don't feel like cooking or a convenient snack at tea time, especially on those evenings when I come home from work feeling hungry.  I could toss a few in the microwave while the tea brewed and have them with my tea.  But I know I can make my own chicken wings for less and it really doesn't take a lot more effort to bake up a batch and freeze.  As a result, I haven't bought the frozen chicken wings (until today).  Except, I really haven't felt well enough to make the effort to make them from scratch, either.  So, I've been coming home from work and thinking, "Oh, if I had some frozen chicken wings, I could have microwaved them; I really should buy a bag; oh, but I could make some myself and it'll be cheaper" and so on and so forth, round and around!

So, there I was, standing in front of the frozen foods section, trying to do mental arithmetic (never my strong point, but I forgot I had a calculator function on my cell phone!  I am a bit slow that way!  LOL!).  The 28 oz. (1.75 lbs.) bag of frozen chicken wings has a regular price of $6.99, but was on sale for $5.99 this week (with the purchase of five participating items to get the $1 discount).   Chicken wings are usually priced $2.99/lb. at this particular store, but, they are on sale for $2.69/lb. at the ethnic store this week.  I always round up the amounts to whole numbers when I do mental arithmetic, so, figured 1.75 lbs. of chicken wings at $3/lb. from that store would come to $5.25; the difference between that and the bag of frozen wings (rounded to $6) was $.75 and that would be the cost of the glaze plus baking it and felt it was a good buy for the convenience.  Of course, the difference would have been bigger if I bought the chicken wings at the ethnic store for $2.70/lb., but not a lot.  When I came home, I calculated the difference had I bought the wings at $2.69/lb. and it came to $1.29 (1.75 lb. x $2.69/lb = $.70;  $5.99 - $4.70 = $1.29).   Yes, making them from scratch would have been cheaper, and I would be in control of what was used for the glaze (real honey, etc.), but, for right now, until I feel well enough to make my own, this convenience food was worth it, to me.  Whew!  I'm glad I got that all figured out!  LOL.

I also checked the refrigerated biscuits section to see if they had any on sale and saw that the 5-count cans of biscuit dough were on sale for $.50 each (regular price: $2.29; sell by date of April 15, 2017).  I wouldn't pay full price for a can of biscuit dough, but, these come out to $.10 per biscuit, and I thought that was a good price.  I bought three cans.  The cashier charged me full price for one of them and I didn't realize it when he initially scanned it, but I remembered to check the receipt before I left the store and noticed the error.  I pointed it out to him and he refunded me the difference.  Not quite sure what I will do with 3 cans of biscuit dough - bake a can a week over the next three weeks or bake them all and freeze some? 

What I bought:

Frozen chicken wings (28 oz. bag) = $5.99
Crackers = $1.49
Mac and Cheese = $1.00
1 loaf bread = $1.29
2 cans condensed milk, @$1.69 =   $3.38
1 pink milk = $1.19
3 cans biscuit dough, @ $.50 = $1.50
Total = $15.84

Receipts from March 18 (2nd receipt shows the price adjustment for the biscuit dough)
I bought three bags of cat food, as well, on sale for $9.99 per 16 lb. bag (regular price: $10.99), but that doesn't come from my grocery budget.  I have deducted the amount for the cat food and the tax on it from the grocery totals.

March grocery budget = $75
Spent to date = $5.50 + $21.90 + $15.84 = $43.24
Balance left in the budget = $31.76

I am planning a trip to the ethnic store, as well, tomorrow.  The frozen puff pastry squares I have been waiting to go on sale are on sale this week for $1.99/package (regular price $2.50) and ground beef is on sale for $1.99/lb.  I might buy some fresh produce, as well.  Papaya is on sale for $.49/lb., red grapes for $.79/lb., celery for 3/$1, etc.

How is your March grocery budget coming along?  Would you have bought the frozen chicken wings and the refrigerated biscuit dough?   

Friday, March 17, 2017


I had a quiet day, today.  Spent the major part of the day doing office work.

I took a break in the late afternoon when my gardener friend came over to do the garden.  He added the soil amendment to the planting bed and then, planted the aeonium cuttings for me.  I forgot to take a picture, but will do so over the weekend.

Brunch was another godamba roti from the freezer with some of the chicken curry I had cooked earlier in the week.

Dinner was two of the frozen battered fish fillets, baked, with a side salad of lettuce, carrot, and some halved green grapes with a bottled honey-mustard dressing; a piece of apple for dessert.


Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to work from home
- A warm, sunny day
- Gardener friend helping me with the garden
- Chatting with my daughter
- Fresh oranges from the tree

Friday's To Do List:
- Work from home - DONE
- Have gardener friend finish making the planting bed/plant the aeonium cuttings - DONE
- Water the indoor plants - DONE
- Cook the green beans
- Daily Tasks

 Saturday's To Do List:
- Appointment with tax preparer in the morning
- Change bed sheets
- Do laundry?
- Cook the green beans!
- Grocery shop?
- Do  the dishes
- Clean the litter box

I am not sure how much of that list I'll be able to accomplish tomorrow.  The grocery shopping, for example, can be done on Sunday, too.  

How was your Friday?  Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Another sunny and warm day, although it was still relatively cool (64F) when I left to go to the office, in the morning.  It was 78F when I drove home, in the evening. 

I had taken two turkey cold cuts sandwiches to the office today - one for my breakfast and one for my lunch, along with a banana and an orange. I also had a chewy granola bar from a box someone had brought to share at the office (there were cookies, too, and chocolates, but I didn't eat those).  Even so, I was rather hungry by the time I came home at 6:45 p.m.  So, I had another turkey cold cuts sandwich along with my evening cup of tea.   I guess my appetite is returning!  LOL.

Sauted Beef and Vegetables

I had bought two beef shoulder steaks when I went grocery shopping on Monday; I cut them into pieces and marinated them with Worcestershire sauce, ground black pepper, etc. and stir-fried them with onions on Tuesday night.  I also boiled the potatoes.  Then, I put the cooked beef and the potatoes in the fridge for later.  Today, I cut up the potatoes and sauted them, along with a thinly sliced carrot.  I added about half of the beef and a handful of frozen green peas, too.  One could add any vegetables to it.  I had a portion of it for my dinner; the rest is in the fridge for another meal (or two).  I will probably freeze the rest of the cooked beef and have it next week or the week after.  It's not exactly bulk cooking, but cooking enough for a couple of meals means I don't have to cook every day if I choose not to.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Another sunny and warm day
- A safe commute to the office and back
- A drive through the park on the way to the office
- Seeing a hawk fly
- My daughter sharing her day's happenings with me

Thursday's To Do List:
- Go to the office - DONE
- Pick out spots to plant the aeonium cuttings - DONE
- Water the indoor plants - FRIDAY
- Daily Tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.) - DONE

Friday's To Do List:
- Work from home
- Have gardener friend finish making the planting bed/plant the aeonium cuttings
- Water the indoor plants
- Cook the green beans
- Daily Tasks

How was your Thursday?  Do you regularly cook extra so you can have leftovers for another meal later in the week? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The First Roses, Orange Blossoms, and Aeonium Cuttings

Spring is here!  The first roses are blooming in the garden! 

In the Front Garden

In the Back Garden

 There were three fallen oranges and a lot of white stuff under the orange tree!  No, not snow!

A Fallen Orange and White Stuff

Closer up, you can see what they are:  orange flowers and buds!

Fallen Orange Flowers and Buds

The orange blossoms are scenting the whole garden!


Orange Blossoms

Hope enough flowers will remain on the tree and get fertilized to give me another crop of oranges!  I picked up the three oranges that had fallen and brought them into the house.  I think it is a sign that the rest of the oranges are ready to be picked!

I went to the office, today.  My supervisor was glad to see me!  She had brought me two bags of aeonium cuttings from her garden!  She said she was cleaning up her garden and thought I might like to have them, because she knows I like to garden, as well.  These succulents are selling for upwards of $10 at the garden center!

Aeonium Cuttings: Two Bags Full!

 I will pick a spot or two for them and ask my gardener friend to plant them for me. 


Aeonium Cuttings: Close Up

I took the leftover manioc to the office for my breakfast.  I took chicken curry, rice, and tomato chutney for my lunch.  Grapes for my dessert (took a banana, too, but didn't eat it).  Dinner was the last two slices of pizza I had bought on Saturday.

I know a lot of people make their own pizzas.  I have tried and it never tastes quite right to me.  So, I buy my favorite $5 pizza, instead.  They cut it into 8 slices and 2 slices make a meal for me.  One pizza provides me with 4 meals. 

On the way home from work, I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription refill and another bottle of cough syrup!  There was a $1 off coupon printed on the inside of the box of cough syrup and the cashier allowed me to apply it to this purchase!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being well enough to go to the office
- Free plants from my supervisor!
- Oranges from my tree.
- Being able to apply the coupon to today's purchase of cough syrup
- A phone call from one of my half-brothers.

I didn't make a to do list for today, but I went to the office, went to the pharmacy, and I need to do the litter box before I go to sleep.

Thursday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Pick out spots to plant the aeonium cuttings
- Water the indoor plants
- Daily Tasks (dishes, litter box, etc.)

Can you believe we are already half-way into March?  How was your day? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Manioc/Cassava/Yuca for Breakfast

Today, I cooked the tuber known as manioc or cassava or yuca.  It's known by several names, but I grew up calling it manioc.  Back then, almost every house had some manioc growing in the back yard.  It was grown from stem cuttings; I don't know if it is possible to grow them from a tuber, at all.  Tapioca, which is used as a thickener and for puddings, is made from the starch of the manioc tuber.

Over here, it is available already pre-cut, cleaned, and frozen in some of the ethnic stores.  One of my friends buys them that way because she says she can't be bothered to clean them.  But they cost twice as much.  But, some ethnic stores also sell the tubers, themselves.  They come coated in wax to help preserve them, as the outer skin is paper thin.  My mother always told me to choose tubers that were undamaged and whole, as exposure to air causes the inside to spoil.


Manioc/Cassava/Yuca Tuber

The first thing I did was cut off the top and the bottom and cut the tuber crosswise into pieces.  I cut this particular manioc into four pieces:

Cut Pieces of Manioc

The next thing to do is remove the outer peel.  The brown outermost peel is paper thin (although it looks a bit thicker in the picture below because of the wax coating).  Just inside this brown paper thin layer is a pinky layer, which is poisonous (contains cyanide), and must be removed completely prior to cooking and eating!  Fortunately, it is very easy to remove it - I just cut down into the tuber and pry the layer off with my knife.  It comes off without any trouble.  If any of it remains, it can easily be cut off. 

Piece of Manioc Showing Outer Papery Skin and Pink, Poisonous Layer Beneath

 Below are two pieces of the completely peeled manioc:


Manioc: Peeled

These are the peels I removed.  As I mentioned, the whole thing comes off in one layer:

The Peels with the Poisonous Layer Attached

Once peeled, I cut each piece in half to reduce the boiling time and washed them well in a couple of rinses of water.  Then, I put them to boil with enough water to cover them and added some salt and a little turmeric powder (didn't measure how much).  I don't really know the significance of the turmeric powder, but this is how we've always cooked them!  

Manioc Being Boiled in Salted Water with Turmeric

I let it boil for about 15 minutes; the manioc is done when they can be pricked easily with a fork.  If there is extra water remaining after they are boiled, the water can be drained off.  In this particular instance, all the water got absorbed.

I plated half of the cooked manioc and ate it with a different kind of onion sambol, known as "katta sambol" - it is made with onions ground together with chili powder, salt, lime juice, and flakes of a dried fish known as Maldive fish.   It can be eaten with grated coconut, too.

Boiled Manioc and Katta Sambol

I think I could have added a little less turmeric!  It's supposed to be a light yellow, in color; mine turned out almost orange!  But that's OK.  Turmeric is supposed to be good for you!  I packed the rest of the manioc into a container to take to the office for breakfast, tomorrow.

Don't you wonder how people first figured out that removing the outer layer makes it safe to eat something like manioc?  Have you had manioc/cassava/yuca, other than as tapioca?  Is it something you might be willing to try?

March Grocery Shopping: Week 2

March 13 Groceries: Fresh Produce,  Meat, etc.

I went grocery shopping today and bought meat (chicken and beef), eggs, turkey cold cuts, a package of chili powder, and fresh produce.   I also stocked up on cans of coconut water and coconut milk.

March 13 Groceries: Canned Items

I bought:

Chicken drumsticks, $.59/lb = $1.50
Beef shoulder steak, $2.99/lb = $2.60
Turkey breast cold cuts, 9 oz. package = $1.19
1 doz. large eggs = $1.29

Gala apples, $.39/lb = $.60
Bananas, $.49/lb = $.52
Green grapes, $.99/lb. = $1.29
D'anjou pears, $.49/lb = $.49

Red potatoes, $.33/lb = $.29
Green beans, $1.29/lb = $.52
Yuca/cassava, $.79/lb = $.51
Yams, $.33/lb = $.16
Carrots, 1 lb. bag = $.45
Chili Powder, 6 oz. = $2.49
4 cans coconut milk, $.89/can =  $3.56
6 cans coconut water, $.69 + $.05 deposit/can = $4.44

Total = $21.90

March 13 Receipt

I am learning to buy small quantities of everything - just enough for about a week to 10 days for myself.  So, just a little over 2 lbs. of chicken and just under 1 lb. of beef, 3 bananas, 3 apples, 2 pears, the smallest bag of grapes, less than 1 lb. of green beans, etc.   I still have half a bag of spinach, half a head of lettuce, some beets, and a carrot in the fridge, as well as an onion and oranges from the tree.

I went ahead and bought the eggs for $1.29; of course, now that I've bought them, they'll probably go on sale for $.99 next week!  :D

Earlier, on March 6, I had bought bananas ($.85), grapes ($1.66), butter ($2.99) and spent a total of $5.50.

March grocery budget = $75
Spent to date = $5.50 + $21.90 = $27.40
Balance left in the budget = $47.60


It was another warm (88F), sunny day, today.  One of my cousins called me in the morning and we had a nice chat.  Then, I did some office work.  I did the grocery shopping in the late afternoon.  I think, if I had done only the grocery shopping, it would have been fine.  I already felt a little tired after I came back from the store, but I pushed myself to go to the garden center, as well, since I had been postponing that for several days, and it might have been a little too much.

I walked around the garden center, looking at all the plants they had for sale, including the vegetable seedlings, but only bought two bags of soil amendment.  Each bag was 2 cubic feet and I could barely move them, they felt so heavy to me!  I managed to tip one into the cart and I was tugging at the second one when another shopper, a young man, asked me if I'd like some help with it.  I said, "Yes, please" and he lifted it quite easily and put it into my cart.  At the check out, the cashier asked if I needed help loading them into my car and I said, yes, please, again.  So she called for help loading and I waited maybe 10 minutes or so for someone to arrive, but no one did!  I got tired of waiting and so, managed to load the bags into the trunk of my car and came home.  It took some effort, but I managed to unload them from the car as well, but I left them in the garage.  They were too heavy for me to carry to the back yard!

Then, I took the trash can and the yardwaste bin to the curb for pick up in the morning.

By then, I was hungry (I had eaten a slice of pizza for lunch, but that had been several hours ago)  and exhausted!  I couldn't even take the time to make a cup of tea!  I ate some of the chocolate pudding I had made earlier and fell asleep sitting up in my arm chair!  LOL!  I woke up after about an hour and made my way to the sofa and lay down for another hour or so, but didn't fall asleep.  Eventually, I got up and made myself some scrambled eggs on toast for dinner and that cup of tea I didn't have, earlier.  Later, I had some grapes.

Then, cleaned the fridge, emptied the waste baskets, and took the kitchen trash, etc., to the big trash bin at the curb.  Rinsed out the kitchen trash can, too. 

I had planned to cook the chicken and the beef, but it will wait until tomorrow.  I had planned to  water the back garden, but that, too, will have to wait until tomorrow.   As for the planting bed, I think I'll wait until Friday when my gardener friend comes to do the garden and have him finish it for me. 

Monday's To Do List:
- Grocery shop! - DONE
- Menu plan lunches for the week (to take to the office) - DONE (turkey cold cuts sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches)
- Garden center for soil amendments and maybe chicken wire/mesh - DONE (changed my mind about the chicken wire)
- Finish the planting bed - Have gardener finish it
- Water the back garden - Tuesday
- Clean out the fridge - DONE
- Empty waste baskets - DONE
- Take trash cans to curb - DONE
 - Daily tasks (put away dishes/wash dishes/clean litter box, etc.)

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Office work
- Water the back garden
- Bring the trash cans in
- Cook the chicken and the beef
- Water the indoor plants
- Daily tasks

Today, I am grateful for:
- Another sunny, warm day
- Getting the grocery shopping done
- Managing to wrestle the bags of soil amendment in and out of the car!
- Chatting on the phone with my cousin, video chatting with my daughter, exchanging emails with my friend
- Being OK, even if I overdid things a bit!

How was your Monday?