Thursday, August 5, 2021


Pale Blue Agapanthus

My daughter's health care provider called her in the morning to ask if she'd prefer to have a phone consultation with the nurse practitioner instead of going for an in person visit and my daughter decided to have the phone consultation, in order to minimize exposure to the Covid virus (today's Los Angeles County new Covid cases amounted to 3,734).  She submitted photos of her hives online and the nurse practitioner asked her several questions including when she first started having them, does she have any food allergies (none that we know of), have there been any changes in diet, laundry detergent, etc.  At the end of the phone consultation, she prescribed a steroid cream to be applied to the hives twice a day and an over the counter antihistamine to be taken once a day in the morning.  If there is no improvement in two weeks (or if things get worse) daughter is to call for a referral to a dermatologist or allergist.  We picked up the medications in the afternoon and she applied the cream soon after that.  But, she is waiting until tomorrow morning to take the antihistamine (since she was told to take it in the morning).

In the meantime, I combed Dancer to make sure he didn't have fleas, just in case these are flea bites (he didn't have any fleas) and gave him his monthly flea prevention medication, as well.  Then, I washed daughter's bedding, including her quilt, in hot water and she remade her bed with the freshly washed sheets and pillowcases.

M stopped by in the late morning to tend to the garden.  He watered both front and back and put a screen around the serrano chili pepper plant to keep the rabbits from eating it!  Bun Bun, the big white rabbit, is a frequent visitor in my garden.  I have a feeling he belonged to the neighbors two doors down from me (the same people who were trying to round up a rabbit in my front garden several weeks ago).  The problem is, they rented that house and left at the end of July (and left the house in a very bad condition, according to the owners, who have been clearing rubbish from the house, this week).  If Bun Bun was their rabbit, they left it behind to fend for itself!   Which it seems to do very well in my back garden!  LOL!    

M sowed a packet of chili pepper seeds in the bed where the green beans had been growing.  They were some old seeds that I had, but, I hope they will germinate and grow!  M will be off on a couple of weeks of vacation, so I will be watering the garden until he returns.  

Daughter and I had leftovers for brunch - I had the last of the milkrice and mackerel curry; she finished the pasta.  We had more leftovers for dinner - the pork bulgogi, rice, and vegetables.  Strawberries for dessert.

In the evening, I chatted on the phone with friend R and with aunt C.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Health insurance
- Daughter was able to have a phone consultation with the nurse practitioner
- Prescriptions and the availability of medications
- Hives are a relatively minor medical issue
- M tending to the garden for me

Today's joyful activity was treating myself to a chocolate croissant and daughter to an iced coffee drink on the way home from the pharmacy!  

Plans for tomorrow include tidying up the family room.


August Decluttering Challenge: I've been keeping track of the items I'm decluttering in a separate draft post, but, I like how Eileen keeps a running tab on her daily posts, so I am copying her!

8/1 - 1 pair gardening gloves

8/2 - non-working heating pad

8/3 - old purse/handbag

8/4 - 1 computer CD containing a report 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021



Dinner: Pork Bulgogi, Rice, Vegetables

Another warm summer day, today.   I brought in the trash cans, shared some of the tomatoes with neighbor S, watered the indoor watched some of the Olympics on TV, and checked this week's grocery ads that came in today's mail.  I'm not planning to buy anything in particular, but checking to see if there was any good sales on beef; $4.99/lb. seemed to be the best price (for tri-tip roast or family pack of steaks).  

My daughter had milkrice with seeni sambol (onion relish) for brunch; I had potato salad!  Later, I made us smoothies using frozen bananas, peaches, and some apple juice.  

In the afternoon, our new laptops and the package with the printer ink arrived!  Daughter set up my new laptop for me and I am using it to do this post!  

In the evening, daughter did the prep work for the pork bulgogi, cutting the meat and making the marinade.  She kept it to marinate for 30 minutes and I cooked it and the rice while she had her piano lesson.   We had some of the pickled and marinated vegetables she had made earlier (for the Japanese meal to celebrate the Olympics Opening Ceremony) with the bulgogi and rice.  There are enough leftovers for another dinner.  After dinner, I ran the dishwasher (and washed the pans by hand).

We also called to make an appointment for my daughter at a medical clinic down here (her regular clinic is up in Berkeley), because she has been breaking out in hives!  They first appeared in mid-May, when I was experiencing my sciatica pains and she took over watering the garden for me.  At the time, she thought they were bug bites that were red and itchy.  But, she has not been out watering the garden recently and she's still getting new hives and they seem to be coming in clusters, now.  Of course, it could have been due to stress because I was in pain and she was tending to me, working, and trying to keep up with the housework.  But, I've been OK for several weeks, now and have been doing most of the housework other than vacuuming.  She shouldn't still be getting new hives due to that!  We realized that the hives first broke out about 3 weeks after she had her second dose of the Covid vaccination.  If my sciatica inflammation was a stress response to my vaccine (according to my doctor) then, could her hives be a similar response?  She was able to make an appointment to be seen by a nurse practitioner at the clinic, tomorrow.  I hope she can get a diagnosis and a prescription for something to take care of the itching.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter was able to get an appointment to be seen at the clinic, tomorrow
- The hives are not painful, just itchy
- She was able to get time off from work to go to the clinic
- The new laptops arrived
- Online ordering and free delivery

Today's joyful activity was trying out my new laptop!

Today's decluttering was an old purse/handbag that should have been tossed a couple of years ago!  Yesterday's decluttering was a microwavable heating pad that malfunctioned!  It had pockets filled with a type of gel and one of the pockets burst when daughter microwaved it!  The instructions say not to use the heating pad if the gel pockets burst.  In that case, there is no point in keeping it.

Plans for tomorrow include taking daughter to the clinic and having M tend to the garden before he takes a couple of weeks off on vacation.

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

August Grocery Shopping Part 1: Monday

Date Filled Pastries from Neighbor S

I picked up more groceries today!  Partly because I forgot to order a few items in the previous grocery order (some of which will be shipped as the gallon size store brand vinegar is not available for pick up, apparently!) and partly because I wanted to take advantage of this week's advertised specials.  I've been reading some articles about food prices rising due to various reasons including inclement weather, new regulations, and Covid-related issues.  I no longer have a price book like I did several years ago, but, I've learned to recognize a good deal when I see one.  I suppose I could have bought more when I grocery shopped, last week, but, I didn't want to go over the July budget by too much!  We are in a new month, now, and I have all of August's budget to spend!

Speaking of grocery budgets, remember when my budget for myself was $75 a month?  Oh, weren't those the "good old days"?!  Going by that budget, my monthly budget for two people should be $150!  But, it isn't!  I raised my grocery budget to $100 during the first Covid lockdown because I started ordering groceries from one of the regular supermarkets.  The supermarket prices were often higher than the ethnic store prices, but, they offered free curbside pickup.  Later, I increased it to $125 because I started to stock up on things as the pandemic continued.  Then, when my daughter came home, I increased my budget, again, by doubling it to $250.  Some months, I managed to keep to the budget; other months, I went over.  More recently, when I was sidelined by the sciatica, I didn't even bother to keep tabs!  I want to keep close track of my grocery spending this month.

My current grocery budget is set at $250 for the month for my daughter and myself (human food only; does not include cat food, household supplies, health and beauty items, etc.).  Keeping to this budget should not be too difficult because I am fairly well stocked, right now.  It is the stocking up of things that put me over budget!  

Today, I bought:

1 tray (6 lbs; 4 pieces) chicken half breasts @ $.99/lb = $6.05
1 tray (4.6 lbs; 12 pieces) chicken thighs @ $.99/lb = $4.56
2 packs (3 lbs, total) pork loin @ $2.99/lb = $9.00
1 lb. ground beef = $3.99

1+lb bananas (4 bananas) @ $.65/lb = $.90
1 mini watermelon = $1.99
1 x 2 lb. container strawberries = $2.99
1 iceberg lettuce = $1.49

2 x 10 fl. oz. soy sauce bottles @$1.99 = $3.98
3 x 2 lb. white rice @$1.49 = $4.47
1 x 1 lb. potato salad = $2.50*
1 pk. (10 ct; 1 lb) tortillas = $1.00

2 x 1 gallon white vinegar @ $2.80 = $5.60 (will be shipped)

Total = $48.52

* I ordered the 1 lb. tub of potato salad, but, they didn't have that size and they substituted the 2 lb. container for the same price!  Since I love this type of potato salad, I have no complaints!  I offered some of it to friend R, but, she declined.  I had a big helping of it with my dinner, tonight!

In addition to groceries, I ordered some disinfectant spray and wipes, and some Health & Beauty items (shampoo, etc.), but, they are not part of my grocery totals.  

I froze 3/4 of each tray of chicken, the pack of ground beef and one of the packs of pork.  I cooked one of the chicken breasts and four of the chicken thighs (pan sauteed with onions and tomatoes).  Daughter and I had some of the chicken breast, sliced, in a salad for brunch, today, and two of the chicken thighs for dinner, with corn on the cob and potato salad.  My daughter has said she will make bulgogi with the second pack of pork, tomorrow.  

This week's very informal meal plan will include sauteed chicken (Monday and Wednesday), pork bulgogi (Tuesday and Thursday?), leftover ground beef (Friday), and perhaps stir-fry with smoked sausage over the weekend.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online
- Free (with minimum purchase amount) curbside pick up
- Water for the garden
- Neighbor S bringing us some delicious date filled pastries
- Her husband taking out the trash cans for me

Today's joyful activity was enjoying the pastries neighbor S brought over!  

Have you gone grocery shopping in August, yet?  Have you had to made adjustments to your grocery budget or shopping habits since the pandemic began?

Monday, August 2, 2021

Sunday: Starting August


August has started out sunny and warm (88F).  In the morning, I picked some roses - a red rose to place near my mother's picture and the double colored ones for the altars.  Then, I cooked milkrice.  Except, I burned the first pot of rice because I forgot that I had kept it to boil!  Making milkrice on the first of the month is supposed to be auspicious; I'm not sure what burning the pot of rice means!  I hope it's not a bad omen!  I set my timer on to check on the rice every five minutes for the second pot of milkrice and didn't allow it to burn!

In the afternoon, daughter and I did a little online shopping!  Daughter needs a new laptop as hers has giving her trouble (yesterday, for example, she couldn't even log on to her laptop, and it has been giving her error codes, etc.) and I have been wanting a new laptop for some time, myself.  Today, we put in the order for them.  We also ordered more printer ink, printing paper, and photo printing paper!  Never let it be said that we don't do our part to keep the economy going!  LOL!

I also put in another grocery order!  I had forgotten to buy a couple of items, such as more vinegar for the additional batches of zucchini chutney I have planned to make, during my earlier grocery order and  I wanted to take advantage of this week's sale priced items (chicken at $.99/lb., for example), before the sale prices change on Tuesday.  Plus, there were a few items that daughter will be needing since her stay has been extended.  In addition, with new Covid cases rising, once again (3,045 new cases reported in Los Angeles County, today), we decided to stock up on disinfectant spray and wipes while they were still available (there was already a limit of 2 sprays per order).

In the evening, I watered the back yard.  I've at least three watermelons that seem to be coming along nicely:

Baby Watermelon 1

Watermelon 2

Watermelon 3

These are about 2 inches in diameter.  I hope they will grow big enough to harvest them!

In the meantime, daughter and I picked some tomatoes, today:

Today's Tomato Harvest

We picked 50 tomatoes, today!  A mixture of Early Girl (at the back) and Roma (in the front).  A few green ones broke off when we were trying to reach the ripe tomatoes in the middle of the plant, but, I will use them in my cooking.   

Today, I spoke on the phone with neighbor T, friend R, aunt C, and cousin P.  That's my family and friends spoke of the Balanced Life wheel nicely plumped!  

Today was the first day of the August decluttering challenge!  On Day 1, I tossed my old pair of garden gloves because I had bought a new pair which I had already started using back in May.  

August Decluttering - Day 1: Old Pair of Garden Gloves

Today, I am grateful for:
- The start of a new month
- Being able to shop online
- Garden produce
- Water for the garden
- Phone calls with family, friends, and neighbors

Today's joyful activity was picking the tomatoes.

I am going back to making daily to do lists, now that I feel I am more able to actually do things!

Monday's To Do List:
- Pick up grocery order (between noon and 1:00 p.m.)
- Clean the fridge
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Make zucchini chutney
- Do the dishes
- Clean the litter box

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

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Monthly Photo Challenge - July: Many

The theme for the monthly photo challenge, hosted by Eileen, for July was "Many".  

Here are my selection of photos:

I have many tomatoes growing on my two tomato plants and I've taken many photos to try and capture the abundance:

Many Tomatoes

More Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Red Tomatoes

Of course nothing compared to the zucchini crop!

Many Zucchini

More Zucchini

Which resulted in many, many jars of zucchini chutney, some of which are shown:

Some of the Many Jars of Chutney!

Of course, I couldn't do a post on the theme of many without showing at least some of my many books!  

Many Books

Too Many Craft Books!

Finally, flowers in my garden:

Many Flowers on the Squill Flower Stalk

Many Flowers on the Oleander Bush

Pink Oleander

I had a lot of fun taking the photos and getting suggestions from my daughter!

The theme for August is "beginning with E".  I am off to compile a list of items to photograph!

Anyone else thinking of joining in the monthly photo challenge? 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Monthly Balanced Life Goals: July Review and August Goals

As I've explained before, 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 attend Temple prayer/blessing services online
- 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, and I have tried to be positive, giving, and joyful in July.  I didn't attend any Temple services online (none were available, as far as I know), but, I have been watching blessing videos that have already been posted online and I feel that I do live a spiritually meaningful life!  I will continue to keep the rating at 10.

August 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 do more housework in July, although vacuuming my bedroom caused my leg to twinge a bit the next day and daughter had to vacuum the family room for me later in the week.  Between the two of us, all the essential cleaning was done and the house was maintained.  Very little decluttering was done, but, I am OK with that because there is a decluttering challenge to look forward to in August!  I am keeping my rating to 8.5 because the house has been maintained.

August House goals will be the same as above; I am hoping to be able to go back to my weekly cleaning routines and to declutter 31 items!  

Garden (9.5)(9.5):  The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed), with the bulk of it being done by M and my daughter.

The garden was well tended to in July.  M continued to tend to the garden twice a week and I was able to take over the additional day of watering from my daughter!  The garden has been doing well with all the watering, etc., but, my water bill caused me to wince!  I went over my allocated amount of Tier 1 water (lowest rate per unit of water, measured in hundred cubit feet), exceeded the allocated amount of Tier 2 water (next higher rate per unit of water), and went all the way up to Tier 3, which is the highest rate per unit!  Sigh.  Growing our own vegetables and fruit is lovely, but, a lush, productive garden requires a lot of water in our dry climate!  We pulled out almost all the zucchini plants, after harvesting a total of 130 zucchini!  The majority of the green bean plants have also been pulled out; they didn't produce that well, but, we are grateful for the almost 2 lbs. of beans that we did harvest.  I am keeping the rating at 9.5, because the garden has been doing quite well.    

August Garden goals will include:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed); M will continue to visit twice a week in August, as well.
- Focus on the vegetable and fruit plants
- Schedule tree trimmers to trim the eucalyptus tree

Daughter (10)(10) The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her:
- Enjoying the rest of the time together before she has to go back

My daughter's return to Berkeley, earlier scheduled for July 24, was postponed as renovations at the building her office is relocating to have not been completed yet!  As of now, she will probably stay down here until at least mid-October!  We are both pleased to have her stay here and continue to work from home!  She has also been required to report for Jury Duty, down here, in August, so the delay to return to Berkeley works out well for her.  I am keeping the rating at 10!

August Daughter goals will include:
- Continue to enjoy the rest of the time together before she has to go back
- Plan to do some fun (safe) activities 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., but, there were also a few in-person visits!  We were able to celebrate friend R's birthday in mid July with lunch we bought from the Sri Lankan restaurant and brought home to enjoy; that was a planned visit.  There were a couple of unplanned visits, too.  Once to support cousin N and aunt C when their cat died and aunt called to ask me if we could come.  Once when cousin V's daughter's flight was delayed and they spent the additional wait time visiting us and joining us for dinner.  There was also a steady exchange of plates of food, treats, zucchini, etc., between myself and several friends and neighbors and a few family members throughout the month as well!  July was a good month for keeping in touch with family and friends. I am keeping the rating at 10.  

August Family and Friends goals will be the same as above. 

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

I participated in the blogging community, interacted with my neighbors, etc.  I didn't participate as much in the online organizing group as I didn't do a lot of organizing in July (since I was still in recovery mode) and I didn't participate in any temple events as there were no online services held this month.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

August Community goals will be the same as above.

Finances (10)(10):  The goal is financial security:
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose

I continued to spend as mindfully as possible in July.  I went over some budget categories, but, didn't spend as much as budgeted in other areas, so, overall, I stayed within the monthly budget.  I need to review and revise my budget, though.  I usually do a mid-year review at the end of June, but, wasn't able to do so this year.  I will redo the budget in August.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

August Financial goals:
- Review and revise budget as needed
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose

Health & Well Being (6)(7.5):  The goal is good health:
- Focus on continuing to recover and regain strength
- Follow up blood tests
- Doctor's appointment (oncology follow up)
- Monitor weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.  

The good news is, I continue to recover from the sciatica inflammation.  The lab tests I did for the oncology visit came out well, for the most part and I have received my bone density booster injection  after some back and forth with the insurance company about the timing.  My blood pressure and blood sugar readings have been good and my weight has remained stable, which was the best I could have hoped for, considering I have not been able to be very active.   I'm raising the rating to 7.5 based on how well I feel and the good blood test results.

August Health and Wellbeing goals
- Focus on continuing to recover and regain strength
- Follow up blood tests
- Doctor's appointment (primary physician follow up; August 24)
- Monitor weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.

Time Management (6)(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 been spending my time a little more mindfully, although I am not so sure about the "purposefully" part!  I still seem to spend an awful lot of time staring at a screen, especially with the Olympics games to watch!  I was still resting and taking it easy in July, so, I will not be too critical about how my time was spent and managed.  Time sensitive things like paying bills and renewing the car registration were accomplished.  I  am raising my satisfaction rating to 7.   

August 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 have been engaging in daily joyful activities in July; they've included painting with my daughter, celebrating my friend's birthday, having some special celebratory meals, etc.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

August Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Self-Care goal remains the same as above.  

July turned out to be a good month!  My health improved as the sciatica pain faded and as a result, I was able to do more and my overall sense of wellbeing improved!  I felt better about a lot of things, there was more social contact during a brief window of time when I felt physically better and Covid numbers were down!  My Health and Wellbeing area and Time Management area went up and the others remained at a high rating.  I feel that it was a well balanced month.  I am looking forward to seeing how well August turns out to be.  

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?  

An Item A Day Keeps The Clutter Away: August Decluttering Challenge!

 It's the first day of August, tomorrow, and I am joining with Eileen in a month-long decluttering challenge!  The goal is to declutter at least one item a day, every day, for a total of 31 items decluttered in August.  Anyone else interested in joining us?  You can declutter at your pace - one item a day or 31 items in one day.  You can even declutter more than 31 items, if you like!  

As many of you know, I've been on a decluttering journey for longer than I'd like to admit!  I'm a "collector" of various items, although some may say I'm a packrat!  I don't consider myself to be a hoarder, but, I do like to hold onto things, often due to sentimental reasons, or under the impression that it might come in useful someday/I might need it, or with the intention of making something crafty with it.

In the past, I've decluttered 10 items a day, I've decluttered as many items per day as the date (that was easy to do at the very beginning of the month, but became increasingly more difficult towards the end of the month), and I've decluttered with a set goal of X number of items that month.  That's what this month's challenge is - 31 items for the month of August.  

This is a very informal challenge.  There is no decluttering police coming at the end of the month to check if we've decluttered!  What you declutter and how you declutter is entirely up to you.  

I like to keep track of what I decluttered by posting about it on my blog - either simply mentioning what I decluttered or posting a picture, either on a daily blog post or doing a month-end post about it.  I also choose not to count what I would normally recycle, like paper, bottles, and cans, unless it is something I had been collecting for reuse (like empty jars) which I've decided I don't need to keep anymore.  

Is anyone else thinking of joining the August decluttering challenge?