Thursday, December 2, 2021

Starting December


Purple Japanese Mustard Leaves

They are more bronze than purple, aren't they?  I picked 11 leaves from the 8 plants that we have.  This is the 3rd harvest we've had from them as I pick just one or two outer leaves from each plant, each time.

Today, being the first of the month, I cooked kiri bath (milk rice) and seeni sambol (spicy onion relish) for brunch and picked flowers (roses and chrysanthemums) from the garden to offer at the altar.  It is considered to be an auspicious way to start the month!  We had a beautiful, sunny and warm (85F) day to start off December!

M was here in the morning to tend to the garden; he watered the garden and pruned the peach tree.  We decided to toss the passionfruit cuttings we had kept to root because they had become moldy!  Instead, we will buy a passionfruit vine and try growing that!  I will have to find a spot for it and put up some kind of a trellis for it to grow on.

In the afternoon, I called the Sri Lankan store to see if my order of groceries was ready to be picked up, but, they were still waiting for one item to arrive from their warehouse.  They said they will call me when the order is ready.

I spent most of the afternoon responding to comments and reading and commenting on other blogs.  It's one of my favorite activities of the day!

Later in the evening, I called one of my friends that I hadn't spoken with for some time!  I had misplaced her phone number and I found it, the other day.  She used to work at the pharmacy that I used to go to when I was working in downtown and over the years, she became a friend.  She said I made her day because I called her!  Wasn't that a very kind thing to say?

Aunt C called me and I called friend R, later.  Plenty of family and friends interactions, today!  

I also sewed a few more Christmas gifts.  Still sewing from The Stash!  It's not showing any signs of going down, yet!  

Dinner was rice, turkey curry, curried green beans, lentils (dhal), and zucchini chutney.   

Today, I am grateful for:

- The start of a new month
- Flowers from the garden
- M tending to the garden
- Reconnecting with a friend after a few years; chatting with family and friends
- The Stash!

Today's joyful activity was sewing.

Plans for tomorrow include taking my daughter for her booster dose and picking up the Sri Lankan groceries if they are ready.

How was your Wednesday?  What are your plans for tomorrow?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Balanced Life Monthly Goals - November Review and December Goals

My monthly balanced life goals are similar to the spokes of a wheel, with the length of each spoke representing my satisfaction in that area of my life, from 1 to 10, with 1 being most dissatisfied and 10 being most satisfied.  Ideally, all the spokes are of equal length and the wheel will roll along smoothly.  If the spokes are of unequal lengths, then, the resulting wheel will be lop-sided and wobbly.  My ratings for each segment are shown within the parentheses, with the beginning of the month ratings in black and the end of the month ratings being shown in blue.

Monthly goals:

Spiritual (10)(10):   The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life:
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able

I continued with my daily prayers, meditation, being grateful; I have tried to be positive, generous, giving, and joyful in November.   I feel that I do live a spiritually meaningful life and I am very pleased with this area of my life!

I will continue to keep the rating at 10.

December Spiritual  goals will be the same as above.

House (8.5)(8.5):  The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming:
- Clean - Clean the house as needed 
- Organize - Continue to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place
- Well maintained - Keep "erasing the evidence"; implement daily and weekly cleaning schedules
- Decluttered - Continue with the decluttering process
I was able to keep up with my cleaning routines in November.  I also kept up with the decluttering during the month, exceeding my goal of decluttering 30 items this month.  One big improvement made in getting my house organized, this month, is the new sideboard my daughter assembled and set up for me.  It is providing a lot of covered storage space which has done a lot to reduce the visual clutter in the family room!  

I am keeping my rating at 8.5.  

December House goals will be the same as above, with the addition of decorating the house for the holidays.  I am planning to continue with the decluttering in December, too; the goal is at least 31 items!  I have also scheduled a donations pick up for December 22, so that will make sure that the decluttered things will be leaving the house rather than being piled up in the corner of the spare bedroom! 

Garden (9.5)(9.5):  The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed); M will continue to visit twice a week
- Focus on the vegetable and fruit plants
- Schedule tree trimmers to trim the eucalyptus tree

The garden was well tended to in November.  We have already harvested some leaves from the Japanese purple mustard greens and purple mizuna that we planted and the pea plants have their first flowers!  The fruit trees are continuing to be pruned and sprayed in readiness for winter dormancy, although the recent warm summer-like temperatures are probably going to cause the peach tree and the plum tree to bloom early!  Which won't be helpful because we often get a cold snap in spring and that will damage the flowers!  The eucalyptus tree was trimmed, as scheduled, on November 11.  Unhappily, some unknown person seems to have decided that the yucca plant stems in the front garden that were just sprouting new growth needed to be trimmed, too, because several plantlets had been removed!  There are two stems that were planted, a taller stem and a shorter one.  Each had about 5 or 6 new plantlets sprouting along the top part of the branch, from the former leaf nodes:

Shorter Stem: Still has several plantlets

Taller Stem: Only one plantlet left 
Where a plantlet was removed

Another missing plantlet

I don't mind sharing plants from my garden; but, I do mind people helping themselves to the plants without asking!  This is not the first time; on previous occasions, they've dug up plants!  Oh, well; at least they are not breaking into my house! 

I am keeping the rating at 9.5, because the garden has been doing quite well.    

December Garden goals will include:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed); M will continue to visit twice a week
- Focus on the winter vegetable and fruit plants

Daughter (10)(10) The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her:
- Continue to enjoy the rest of the time together before she has to go back
- Do more fun (safe) activities together (some craft projects, painting, etc.)

I am continuing to enjoy having my daughter home with me and am especially thankful she was here when I needed help getting up after my fall.  Fun (safe) activities have included making some tea cup candles for gift giving and celebrating Thanksgiving together.
I am keeping the rating at 10!

December Daughter goals will include:
- Continue to enjoy the rest of the time together before she has to go back
- Take her to get her booster dose
- Do more fun (safe) activities together (some craft projects, painting, etc.)
- Celebrate the holidays (Christmas and New Year) together

Family & Friends (10)(10):  The goal is to have a close connection with family and friends:
- Regular phone calls and emails to check on them

I interacted with family and friends, mostly through phone calls, emails, texts, etc.  Several of my cousins and friends called, emailed, or texted to wish me for my birthday, which was really nice.  I got to video chat with another friend, although there was more chat than video as I couldn't get my camera to work (hadn't known that there was a button on the laptop to allow the camera to be switched on!) and her camera was automatically turned off to save bandwidth, according to the message we received; even so, it was a lot of fun.  One of my cousins had invited us to a family Thanksgiving she was hosting, but, we declined, preferring to stay at home.  There was, also, the exchange of food with friends from time to time!    
I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Family and Friends goals will be the same as above.  I will be attending a memorial service for my late aunt (can't believe it has been one year, already!) and I will probably see quite a few family members and friends then, but, I will not be attending the reception which will be held at a venue, afterwards.  I will probably visit my cousin at her house, later in the week.  I hope to see her daughter and grandsons who will be coming down from New York for the memorial and I will be able to give them their holiday gifts, then.

Community (10)(10):  The goal is to be involved in my community:
- Continue to participate in the various community groups to the extent possible in the following ways:
  - Participate in the blogging community
  - Participate in the online organizing group
  - Weekly phone calls with neighbor T
  - Participate in temple events when safe to do so

I participated in the blogging community and interacted with my neighbors; we still have a steady sharing of food among us!  I am counting unknowingly supplying garden plants as part of my community participation!  LOL.  I'm keeping the rating at 10.

December Community goals will be the same as above!

Finances (10)(10):  The goal is financial security:
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose; the big expenses this month will be paying the property taxes and for the tree trimming. 

I continued to budget and spend as mindfully as possible in November.  I paid the property taxes and for the tree trimming.  I came under budget for groceries and gas for the car; I used my grocery budget savings to stock up on some specialty items and to get some holiday treats for gift giving. 
I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Financial goals:
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose; the big expenses this month will be paying the homeowner's and earthquake insurance for next year (due at the end of the month) and holiday gifts, although I budget for that, year round.  

Health & Well Being (8.0)(8.0):  The goal is good health:
- Focus on continuing to improve my health
- Focus on diet and hydration

My health goals are on-going.  The focus on the diet lasted only for the first 10 days of the month!  Then came my birthday and all good intentions flew out the window when there were scones and cakes and other goodies to be enjoyed!  Followed soon after by Thanksgiving feasts!  However, I have not gained any weight, even with all the feasting, so, I shall count that as a good thing!  I received my flu vaccine earlier in the month and the Covid booster dose mid-month and had relatively minor side effects for both vaccines.  There was the fall, at the end of the month, but, again, I wasn't badly hurt.  On the whole, things have been OK.
I am keeping the satisfaction rating at 8.0.

December Health and Well Being goals
- Focus on continuing improve my health
- Focus on diet and hydration
- Go for a blood test towards the end of the month

Time Management (7)(7): The goal is to spend my time in a mindful manner:
Spend time purposefully, mindfully
- Continue to focus on making my schedule work for me
- Procrastinate less

I have felt better about my time management, this month!  I've become more accepting of my current schedule!  Things are still getting done, even if it takes more time to do them.  However, I am still procrastinating on some things and I know that I can manage my time a bit better!   There is much room for improvement!  Therefore, I will keep the rating at 7.  

December Time Management goals are the same as above.  

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Self-Care (10)(10):  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Engage in daily joyful activities

I engaged in daily joyful activities in November.  They've included celebrating my birthday, doing a facial with my daughter, making holiday gifts, chatting with family and friends, and spending time in the garden when NOT falling!  LOL.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Self-Care goal remains the same as above, with the focus on getting the holiday gifts done!

November has been another good month, overall.  My ratings remained the same as nothing improved or got worse that dramatically.  Health/Well Being and Time Management will continue to be the focus areas in December, too.      

Anyone else making monthly goals for a more balanced life?  If not, how do you try to maintain balance in all the different areas of your life?  

Monthly Photo Challenge - November: "Starts with F"

The theme for the November Monthly Photo Challenge, hosted by Eileen at A Bracelet of Days, is "Starts with F" and these are my selections:


Flowers: Hibiscus
Flowers: Cosmos
Flowers: Lantana


Feijoa (Pineapple Guava)

Fire-Breathing Dragon Furnace:

Fiery Flames of Frustration (Thanks Lady Ella for the title!)

Furry Feline:

Furry Feline Furniture Assembly Supervisor


Fabric From The Stash

I told my daughter we should have taken a photo of me after I fell in the garden, but, we weren't thinking of the monthly photo challenge at the time!  Ah, a missed opportunity!  

Thank you, Eileen, for hosting the monthly photo challenge.  

November Decluttering Week 4

With November ending today, this is what I was able to declutter this week:

11/22 - 4 egg cartons (saved as potential seed starters, but, not needed; recycled)

11/23 - 2 text books (daughter's; recycled)

11/24 - 1 fabric carol singer print (turned into a hot pad and will be gifted)

11/25 - 1 Tupperware pastry sheet (tossed; replaced by a new one!)

11/26 - 1 CD (donated)

11/27 - 16 cassette tapes (13 donated; 3 tossed)
            1 cassette tape holder 

11/28 - 2 brochures
            1 food container (given with cookies to friends)

11/29 - 20 knitted infants' hats (knitted for the American Heart Association's Red Hat program, but, they cancelled the program before I could send them the hats; donated)

11/30 - 1 crochet pattern booklet; missing the first few pages (recycled)

Here are the posts for the first, second, and third weeks of November:

November Decluttering Week 1 

November Decluttering Week 2

 November Decluttering Week 3

My goal for November was at least 30 items decluttered.  I decluttered over 30 items in the first week, 11 items in the second week, another 8 items in the third week, and 50 items this final week.   Some of the items were small items, but, they seem to contribute more to the clutter than the bigger items, I feel!  I am quite pleased with what I have been able to declutter this month.

I have a donations pick up scheduled for December 22.  I am going to try and add more items to the donations pile in December!

December's decluttering goal will be at least 31 items!

Did you do any decluttering in November?  Will you be decluttering in December, too?

Please Help Me, I'm Falling

Does anyone remember the song by that title, sung by Hank Locklin?  Country and Western (which is what we called it) songs were very popular when I was growing up and that was one of my favorite songs!  The song is about falling in love, but, that's not what brought the song to my mind, today!  I had to change the lyrics, slightly:  "Please help me, I've fallen, in the garden again"!

I was out watering the garden, this morning.  I did the front garden first and that went well.  Then, I moved to the back garden and that's when I fell again!  I was straightening out the garden hose and I am not sure if I tripped on the hose or the crack in the paved path, but, the next thing I knew, I was falling forward and there was nothing to grab onto to stop the fall!  I did put out my right hand, palm down, to try and break the fall, which helped.  I scraped both knees, but the right knee took the brunt of it.

The good thing was, I didn't break anything (I have osteopenia, which is the beginning of osteoporosis) or knock my head on the cemented path.  The bad thing was, I seem to be unable to get back up by myself after a fall!  I need to have something to hold on to in order to get up!  The good thing was I had my cell phone with me and my daughter was inside the house (she was working and didn't hear me call out for her), so I could call her on her cell phone: "Please help me, I've fallen, in the garden again!"  She immediately rushed out and helped me up!  Such a blessing to have her home!  

Apparently, I don't need to chase any bunny rabbits to fall in the garden!

Daughter insisted that I rested for awhile after that.  But, later in the evening, I went back out and finished watering the back yard.  It needed to be watered because M took the Friday after Thanksgiving off and the garden didn't get the regular Friday watering.  We've been having 80F weather and very dry Santa Ana winds, recently, so the garden was very dry.  

After I finished watering, I took a few pictures of the Kent Mango Family:

Clark Kent Supermango

Clark seems to have finally got over his sulk about being transplanted and has begun to grow a new set of leaves!  

Lois Lane Kent Mango

Lois, on the other hand, sprouted directly in the soil and, although she sprouted after Clark did, has grown taller than Clark!

Conner Kent (SuperBoy) Mango

Conner was transplanted shortly after he sprouted and has taken well to growing in the soil.  He still hasn't grown a second set of leaves, but, his first set looks very healthy.    He will soon be joined by Tommy (Tommy Atkins mango, sprouted from seed) which is still in a jar of water inside the house.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- I didn't hurt myself badly when I fell
- My daughter was home to help me up
- I had my phone with me to call her
- I was still able to finish watering the garden
- Mango seedlings!

Today's joyful activity was ordering some Christmas gifts for my cousin's grandsons, aged 2 and just turned 5!

Plans for tomorrow include going to the Sri Lankan store to pick up an order of groceries and treats we put in, today!  

How was your Monday?  What were some of your favorite songs when you were growing up?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

November Groceries - Part 3

I picked up an order of groceries,  this afternoon.  This particular order included some non-grocery household supplies (aluminum foil) and toiletry items (shampoo and toothpaste).  I know that some people include all their household supplies, toiletry, and pet food, etc. in their grocery budget, but, I like to keep things in separate categories because I like to be able to say exactly how much I am spending on food, versus cleaning products, toiletries, etc.

I tend to stock up on household and toiletry items, more or less quarterly, buying enough, each time, to last at least until the next quarterly stock up, if not longer, depending on sales.  For example, I was down to two tubes of toothpaste and I wanted to stock up on toothpaste when it went on sale.  The last time I ordered groceries, toothpaste was selling at the regular price of $1.59 and I held off on buying any.  This week, it is on sale for $.88 each and I stocked up!  The other toiletry item I stocked up on, today, was shampoo.  3 bottles of the brand my daughter uses (she has extremely dry hair and this is the one shampoo that seems to help, plus there was a store coupon for $5 off on the purchase of 3) and 2 bottles of the brand I use, which was the same price at the grocery store as at the dollar store!  

One household supply item I bought today was definitely not the same price as at the dollar store and that was aluminum foil!  But, I had finished all my aluminum wrap and was already using my last emergency roll!  I ordered two rolls of regular aluminum foil, cringing at the price, and the store sent me a text this morning saying they were out of regular aluminum foil and would I like the heavy duty rolls, instead.  I accepted the substitute; the price was the same but the amount of foil per roll was less.

So, what are the groceries you bought, Bless?

I bought:

1 x 5 lbs. bag all purpose flour = $1.99 (Holiday baking ahead!)
5 x 4 lb. bags sugar; reg. price $2.17, on sale with digital coupon at $.97 @ = $4.85 (Great stock up price!)
1 loaf white bread, 20 oz. (used to be 24 oz!) = $1.50

1/2 gal. milk = $2.19
1/2 gal. half and half = $3.99

2+ lb. bananas (6 bananas) @ $.64/lb = $1.72
1 x 4lb. bag oranges = $1.97
0.9 lb. green beans $.99/lb. = $.89

1 bag (13 oz.) potato chips! (reg. price $5.09) =  $2.77

Total = $21.87

We didn't need a lot of groceries, this week; mostly needed the half and half and milk, and some bananas.  But, the sugar was on sale for a very good price and I wanted to stock up for holiday baking, etc.  The potato chips are something I had been craving for a long time!  I finally gave in!  LOL.

My November grocery spending has amounted to:

$74.98 (on 11/2) + $68.89 (on 11/16) and $21.87 (on 11/28; today) =  $165.74.  

Once again, I managed to stay well under my monthly grocery budget of $250 for two people.  I have been wondering if I should reduce my monthly budget to $200 in January or whether to wait until my daughter goes back to Berkeley and then, reduce the budget to $125 for just myself.  Prior to the pandemic, my monthly grocery budget was $75 for one person.  But, that budget was based on being able to go grocery shopping in person at the ethnic stores, etc., and taking full advantage of clearance items, which I am not doing at present.  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes monthly reports estimating the costs of a healthy, balanced diet based on four levels of spending: Thrifty Food Plan (used to determine the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits eligible individuals receive), Low, Moderate, and Liberal Food Plans.  According to the latest monthly report (for October 2021), the Thrifty Food Plan for a household of two females, one of whom is aged 20-50 (daughter) and one of whom is aged 50-70 (me!) comes to a little over $400.  Compared to that, I think I am doing very well, keeping my food budget to $250 and under! 

Meanwhile, "turkey week" as a friend of mine has been calling it, is going well!  I made turkey fried rice, yesterday, with leftover rice, some leftover turkey, a few mustard greens from the garden, a handful of coleslaw mix from a bag in the fridge, an egg, plus what was leftover from the egg used to glace the apple pie and the white from the egg daughter used to make the cookies (she only needed the yolk), a little soy sauce, and a handful of peanuts. Daughter had leftover turkey fried rice for her lunch today.  For dinner, I made a turkey curry with the rest of the roast turkey and served it with biriyani rice.  There is more turkey curry leftover for at least another couple of meals for us!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online
- Free curb side pick up
- The availability of groceries
- Being blessed with the means with which to pay for the groceries
- Leftovers turned into made-overs!  

Today's joyful activity was chatting online with a friend, even though I was unable to figure out how to switch on my computer camera until much later!

How was your grocery spending for the month?  Were you able to keep to your budget?

Feasting Continues!

Almond Cookies

Today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my daughter decided to bake some cookies!  We are calling them almond cookies because they have ground almonds in the dough.  She found the recipe online, but, then, proceeded to modify it, substituting all purpose flour for cake flour, half and half for skim milk, vanilla essence for vanilla beans, salted butter for unsalted butter (and omitting the salt called for in the recipe) because that's what we had!  Plus she shortened the chilling time for the dough and decreased the oven temperature!  LOL.  She left a few cookies plain, but, topped the rest with melted chocolate chips, melted chocolate and almonds, cranberry sauce, cranberry frosting (powdered sugar mixed with cranberry sauce), and Nutella!  She packed up a dozen or so of the cookies in a container to give to a friend of hers who had texted her, earlier in the morning, to ask if she'd like some Vietnamese spring rolls.

At first, her friend had said that there were spring rolls leftover from their Thanksgiving dinner, which they had yesterday, and would we like to have some?  Daughter replied, yes, please. Her friend was going to drop off the spring rolls in the early afternoon.  Then, her friend texted her to say that his aunt had been upset that he had offered leftovers to us and was now insisting on making a fresh batch of spring rolls to give us, so, he will bring them over a bit later!  A couple of hours later, he dropped off this feast:

Vietnamese Meat Pies, Rice Paper Spring Rolls, Peanut Sauce, and Fruits

Freshly made spring rolls (rice noodles, slices of cooked pork, lettuce, fresh mint leaves, and shrimp, wrapped in rice paper) with peanut sauce for dipping, meat pies still warm from the oven (the friend's mother and aunt had remembered that I really liked them and made some!), plus guavas and lemons from their garden!  I called the friend's mother and thanked her for the feast they had sent us!  They have been such wonderful friends to us over the years (we've known each other since my daughter was in 4th grade).

While my daughter was busy making cookies, I busied myself making more holiday gifts:

Snowman Coasters

A set of four snowman coasters.  I had just enough black embroidery thread in my stash to finish this set!  I made a similar set back in 2019, too.  

Later in the evening, my daughter and I gave ourselves facials as a mother-daughter activity!    

Today, I am grateful for:

- Good friends of many years
- The delicious meal from my daughter's friend and his family
- The yummy cookies my daughter baked
- Being able to make gifts from The Stash!
- Being able to order groceries online

Today's joyful activities included enjoying some really delicious food and facials. 

Plans for tomorrow include video chatting with a friend, picking up the groceries, and making more gifts to give.

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday?