Friday, December 4, 2020

Friday

Narcissus/Paperwhites

Hard to believe that we are already in December!  This past week I've been busy posting my end of the  month updates, etc., and planning ahead for December. 

I have been busy learning new Christmas carols on the piano and making jam to give as gifts:

Apple and Feijoa Jam with Cloves

I didn't have a big crop of feijoa (pineapple guava) this year, in comparison to last year, but, I had enough to get 3 lbs. of fruit, after peeling.  I added another 1 lb. of peeled and chopped apples to it and made 12 half-pint (8 oz.) jars of jam (a note to my British readers - the U.S. pint is 16 oz., not 20; so, our half pint is 8 oz.).  It took me a lot longer than I had anticipated to make the jam, this time, but, they make good gifts.

In the meantime, my daughter has been busy transforming her apartment into a snowy pine forest! 
Painted Cardboard Pine Forest

She cut out the trees from some of the cardboard boxes and painted them.  When she ran out of green paint, she mixed up some blue and yellow paint to make more green paint, she said.  She plans to decorate the biggest tree, over the next few days.

This morning, I received a call from my cousin V.  Her mother, my aunt T, passed away early this morning.  She had been in declining physical health since a fall and fracture, early last year.  She was 92 and would have turned 93 in January, had she lived.  She was the widow of my mother's younger brother and the last of my mother's siblings-in-law.  The last time I spoke with her was on Thanksgiving Day.  Rest in peace, Aunty Thelma.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Cousin V calling me to notify me
- Being able to speak with cousin R (aunt T's younger daughter) to condole with her
- Memories  
- My daughter's concern for my well being
- Garden fruit for making jam

Today's joyful activity has been reminiscing about my aunt.

Hope everyone has a blessed day.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt

Guess what?  It's time for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt!   Eileen has posted the list of prompts (and three alternatives) which I have copied and posted, below.  It runs from December 1 to March 31, with the first link up in the first week of January.  Everyone is welcome to join in, she says, and the only requirements are that the photos must be our own work and taken between the specified dates (December 1 to March 31).  The most important thing is to have fun, she says!

List of prompts:  

  1. A set of three
  2. Round and round
  3. Peek inside
  4. Glass
  5. A treasured item
  6. Horizontal
  7. An opening
  8. A sign of the times
  9. Weather conditions
  10. Work in progress
  11. Measures
  12. In the distance
  13. Something beginning with C
  14. One of many
  15. Something with legs
  16. A face
  17. Comfort food
  18. Something you do every day
  19. Something yellow
  20. Marking time

Alt A. In pieces

Alt B. Textured

Alt C. Black and white

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December Joys

Time to post a list of Joys for December - some of them are activities, but, a few are also simply things that bring joy to me:

1.  A warm house
2.  Cozy knitted blankets and throws
3.  Homemade soup
4.  December Monthly Photo Mini Challenge
5.  Winter decorations
6.  Look forward to my daughter's planned visit home for the holidays
7.  Make/send some holiday greeting cards
8.  The Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt
9.   Knitting
10. Hot cocoa
11. Bake a pie
12. Make a special cake with daughter when she comes down for the holidays
13. Winter gardening
14. Enjoy some candle light in the evenings
15. Make a list (of holiday gifts to give); check it twice!
16. Make holiday gifts to give
17. Drop off gifts (since we will not be visiting in person)
18. Bake cookies
19. Watch holiday specials on TV
20. Listen to holiday music  
21. Play the piano (carols) 
22. Sing some carols
23. Play a board game
24. Watch Midnight Mass from the Vatican
25. Spend Christmas with my daughter
26. Winter flower arrangement
27. Make some candies
28. Bake some bread
29. Learn to bake scones
30. Annual year end almsgiving (done a little differently, this year, since donations will be sent to the Temple in lieu of holding it at home)
31. Celebrate New Year's Eve

I am listing 31 joys for the month.  Not sure if I'll do them all, but, I am looking for a joyful December!

How about you?  Will you be joining me in engaging in joyful activities this month?  

December Meal Plans - Week 1

I have decided that I will continue to post meal plan options in December, too.  If only to make sure that I remember to put things out to thaw in a timely manner!   I plan to do a grocery order, sometime this month, but, probably closer to Christmas.  This week's meal plan  options are based on what I have on hand, in the fridge and freezer.

December Week 1 Meal Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Milk rice and seeni sambol, fruit, scrambled egg and toast, French toast, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches

Dinner:  Chicken "pie", smoked sausage stir fry, cheese burgers, leftovers.

Snacks/Desserts: Fruit, candied yam muffins, nuts  

Since I'm posting this after the week has already started, here's how it is turning out to be:


Monday (November 30)
Brunch:  Stuffing waffle
Dinner: Chicken "pot pie", made with the last of the roast chicken, gravy, cream of celery soup, vegetables, and mashed potato topping 

Chicken "Pie"

Snacks/Dessert:  Tangerine, candied yam muffins

The chicken pie makes four servings for me; unless I decide to freeze some of it, I will be having it for several meals, this week!

Tuesday (December 1)
Brunch:  Milk rice and seeni sambol, pomegranate
Dinner: Chicken pie leftovers
Snacks/Dessert - Tangerine, candied yam muffins, cashews

Wednesday
Brunch: Milk rice and seeni sambol leftovers (there's enough leftover for one more serving!)  
Dinner: Chicken pie leftovers or smoked sausage stir-fry!
Snacks/Dessert:  

Thursday
Brunch:  
Dinner
Snacks/Dessert: 

Friday
Brunch:  
Dinner
Snacks/Dessert: 

Saturday
Brunch:  
Dinner
Snacks/Dessert

Sunday
Brunch
Dinner
Snacks/Dessert

 
What are you planning to have for meals, this week?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Monthly Photo Challenge: November - Tools

Time to post my photos for the monthly photo challenge that Eileen has been organizing.  The theme for November was Tools. These are some of the tools I use for my hobbies and cooking:

Flower Arranging - especially for Japanese-style arrangements:

Kenzan, Shears, Floral Tape, and Container


Knitting and Crochet:

Knitting Needls, Crochet Hooks, and Stitch Holders





Knitting Tools in Use






Sewing Tools: Including my mother's tracing wheel.

Sewing Tools

Kitchen/Cooking Tools - Just a few of the specialized tools found in my kitchen:

String Hopper Mold and Trays

String Hopper Mold and Trays

Once the dough is made, it is put into the hollow mold and pressed down with the top of the mold and pushed out in long strands or "strings" through the openings in the bottom of the mold onto the woven trays and steamed.  Once steamed, the resulting mound of dough strings are removed from the trays onto a plate.

String Hopper Mold


Coconut Scraper:

Coconut Scraper - Table Top/Rotary Version


Coconut Scraper, Ready for Use


One holds half of the opened coconut against the round head and the teeth will scrape the coconut when the handle is turned.  When I was a child, the coconut scraper we had in our kitchen was a bench model - a low bench with a stationary, flat metal circle with teeth attached to one end; you sat on the bench and scraped the coconut by moving it against the teeth of the metal circle with your hands.  Since we used fresh coconuts and coconut milk was used in all our curries, scraping the coconuts was one of the first tasks of the day and one of the first sounds one heard after waking up!

And finally, a specialized, grooved bowl for washing rice, that we call "nambiliya" (I don't think there is an English name for it):


Nambiliya

In my childhood home, we had an earthenware version of it, but this is a metal one that we brought with us.  The raw rice to be cooked is placed in the bowl with water, swirled around with ones hand, and then, the water is poured out, using a rocking motion, into another container, along with the top layer of rice.  More water is added to the bowl and one repeats the swirling and draining the water and rice, as many times as needed to remove all the rice from the bowl into the other container.  The whole purpose of the exercise is to remove any small stones and grains of sand that might be in the rice - back in the days when rice was threshed on the ground, one always found some tiny stones and grains of sand in the rice and, if the rice had not been properly washed before being cooked, one would bite into the stones when eating the cooked rice!  The swirling of the rice helped to cause the stones to fall down to the bottom of the bowl and the grooves helped to catch the stones while the top layers of rice would be washed into the other container.  One usually had to wash the rice three times before all the stones could be removed.  In addition to rice, lentils (especially the small red lentils), used to be washed in this same manner to remove any stones.  These days, however, all the rice and lentils I buy seem to be clean enough not to need being washed in a nambiliya.  Even so, I keep my nambiliya, just in case!

Those are my photos for Tools!  Thank you, Eileen, for posting this monthly challenge.


In December, the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt begins.  Eileen has posted the list of prompts - there are 20 prompts and 3 alternatives.

Monday, November 30, 2020

November Balanced Life Goals Review and December Goals

November is coming to an end; time to review my November balanced life goals and list what I intend to do to strive for balance in December. 

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 in blue.

Balanced Life Goals: 

November 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 and joyful, although I had a bit of a wobble with that when I was so disappointed that my daughter would not be able to come home for Thanksgiving.  However, I managed to do an attitude adjustment, eventually.  I have tried to be generous and giving; I was also blessed by the generosity of others, as well.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Spiritual (10)
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to attend Temple prayer/blessing services online
- Make the almsgiving donation to the Temple in lieu of having an almsgiving at home
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able 

November House (8.5)(8): The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming.
- Clean - Clean 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 to declutter (goal = 30 items)

The house is being maintained although I haven't always kept to my cleaning routines and it shows!  I also did some decluttering, although I didn't meet my goal of 30 items.  The house is not in a bad shape, nothing that some clearing of surfaces and vacuuming can't fix, but, I am lowering the rating to 8 because I don't feel like I did enough in terms of keeping up with the housework, this month.     

December House (8):  
- Clean - Clean 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 to declutter (goal = 31 items)
- Decorate - Decorate to bring some holiday cheer!

November Garden (9)(9): The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant.
- Maintain (water frequently as needed, weed, fertilize)
Continue with landscaping the side yard

The garden is being maintained and I've harvested feijoa and pomegranates.  The peach tree has been pruned,  M planted some yucca cuttings, and there are some seedlings coming up in the mini victory garden.  I put down more flattened cardboard boxes in the side yard, too, and noticed that some bulbs are starting to come up.  I am keeping the rating at 9.  

December Garden (9):
- Maintain(water frequently as needed, weed, fertilize)

November Daughter (10)(10): The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her.
- Daily texts, phone calls, and video chatting, etc., to keep in close touch with her
- Be supportive of her and continue to be there for her
- Look forward to the possibility of her coming down for Thanksgiving!

Daughter and I continue to keep in contact daily.  Unfortunately, she was not able to come down for Thanksgiving and that was a big disappointment to us both.  But, we managed to share our Thanksgiving meal by visiting with each other online while we ate!  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Daughter (10):
- Daily texts, phone calls, and video chatting, etc., to keep in close touch with her
- Be supportive of her and continue to be there for her
- Look forward to the possibility of her coming down for Christmas!

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

This month, I interacted with family and friends through phone calls, emails, texts, etc., and shared food with some of them.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Family and Friends (10):
- Regular phone calls and emails to check on family and friends
- Try to get holiday gifts to them, if possible (contactless deliveries/shipped direct, etc.)

November Community (10)(10):  The goals is to be involved in my community
- Continue to participate in the various community groups to the extent possible

I participated in the blogging community and at least one other online community; I was also able to share my pomegranates with several of my neighbors, this month.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Community (10):
- Continue to participate in the various community groups to the extent possible.

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

I continued to spend mindfully in November.  I stayed within budget and paid my bills in a timely manner.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Finances (10):
- Continue spending mindfully, with purpose

November Health & Well Being (8)(8): The goal is good health

- Attend all of this month's medical appointments (2 scheduled - dentist and podiatrist)
- Continue to work on the same life style changes as before to the extent possible
- Continue to strive to attain a healthier weight 

I went to the dentist's twice and actually had a third appointment scheduled for November 30, but, when I called to find out if my partial would be ready today, I found out that the technician had been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid and they were rescheduling appointments.  I also cancelled my podiatrist appointment because of the rise in Covid case numbers and the need to limit my exposure.  I am continuing to work on my life style changes (sleep patterns, exercise, better diet, etc.).  I have lost a little bit of weight, as well, although that keeps fluctuating.  I'm keeping the rating at 8!

December Health & Well Being (8):
- Attend all of this month's medical appointments 
Continue to work on the same life style changes as before to the extent possible
- Continue to strive to attain a healthier weight 

November Time Management (8)(8): The goal is to spend my time in a mindful manner.
- Continue to focus on making my schedule work for me
- Procrastinate less
- Spend time purposefully, mindfully

On going.  I continue to struggle with this area of my life.  I feel I have slowed down a lot since retirement and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not!  I am keeping my satisfaction rating to 8.   

December Time Management (8):
- Continue to focus on making my schedule work for me
- Procrastinate less
- Spend time purposefully, mindfully

November Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (10)(10): The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Engage in daily joyful activities
- Daily piano practicing
- Do the crafts project I have in mind

I have been engaging in daily joyful activities and did several f the activities listed in my November Joys list.  I have been practicing the piano, too, and knitting.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (10):
Engage in daily joyful activities
- Daily piano practicing
- Do some holiday crafts/making gifts

November was a pretty good month, I think, and I was able to find sufficient balance.  Yes, some areas could have been better, but, over all, it was a balanced month.

How was your November in terms of maintaining balance among the different areas of your life?  How do you plan to achieve or maintain balance in your life in December?

November Meal Planning - Week 4 Review

November Week 4 included Thanksgiving Day.  I made a Thanksgiving meal using what I had on hand.  I had debated ordering a pumpkin pie and whipped cream for dessert, but, chose not to.  I'd have to order a minimum of $35 worth of groceries to qualify for free pick up and I really didn't need anything - I tried putting together a list of groceries, but, it only came to $20!  I didn't feel like paying the $7 pick up fee for just the pie ($5) and whipped cream ($3)!  As it turned out, I was blessed with another Thanksgiving meal by friend S and more Thanksgiving food by neighbor S, and both included pieces of pumpkin cheesecake!  I end the month of November and Week 4 with plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers and a stuffed freezer!


November Week 4 Meal Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Fruit, scrambled egg and toast✓, grilled cheese sandwich✓, French toast, pancakes, waffles✓

Dinner:  Spaghetti with meat sauce✓, pork chops✓, Thanksgiving dinner (roast chicken, mashed potatoes, corn bread, green beans or broccoli, cranberry sauce)✓, leftovers✓.

Snacks/Desserts: Fruit✓, nuts. Sri Lankan "cocktail mix" (a spicy snack mixture with pieces of murukku that is made with a type of lentil flour, nuts, chick peas, raisins, etc.)✓ pumpkin pie cheesecake✓  

Here is how it all turned out:

Sunday:
Brunch:  Grilled cheese sandwich
Tea: Almond Danish
Dinner:  Spaghetti and sauce 
Snacks/Dessert: crackers

Monday
Brunch:  Scrambled egg and toast
Dinner: Spaghetti and sauce
Snacks/Dessert: Jalebi, tangerine

Tuesday
Brunch:  Tuna salad sandwich
Dinner: Pork chop with stir fried vegetables; Spanish rice mix (from a box)

Tuesday Dinner

Snacks/Dessert - Tangerines, corn bread

Wednesday
Brunch:  Tuna salad sandwich
Dinner: Leftover pork chop, vegetables, and Spanish rice
Snacks/Dessert: Corn bread

Thursday
Brunch:  Skipped brunch!
Dinner: Thanksgiving Dinner (Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, corn bread)
Supper:  Ham sandwiches made from ham and biscuits given by friend S
Snacks/Dessert: Pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry sauce (I ate the cranberry sauce that friend S had given me, which had pineapple bits and walnuts in it, as if it was dessert, as it was so delicious).

Friday
Brunch:  Ham sandwich
Dinner: Leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner (roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole)
Snacks/Dessert: Pumpkin cheesecake

Saturday
Brunch:  Sandwich made with the last of the tuna salad 
Dinner: More Thanksgiving dinner leftovers
Snacks/Dessert: Candied yam muffins, cheese and crackers

Candied Yam Muffins


Sunday
Brunch: Stuffing Waffles

Stuffing Waffles

Dinner: Leftover Spanish rice, shredded roast chicken, and leftover corn mixed together to make a fried rice of sorts; vegetables given by neighbor S (a mixture of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus)
Snacks/Dessert: candied yam muffin; Sri Lankan cocktail mix, tangerine

Monday (November 30)
Brunch:  Stuffing waffle
Dinner: Chicken "pot pie", made with the last of the roast chicken, gravy, vegetables, and mashed potato topping (that is the plan, anyway; haven't made it, yet; might turn out to be a deconstructed pot pie!  LOL).
Snacks/Dessert:  Tangerine and muffins, probably

I have either frozen or used up most of the leftovers (or, will have, once I have tonight's dinner), except for half a can of cream of celery leftover from the green bean casserole.  That can be used to make a soup or another casserole, later in the week.

Well, that ends my November meal plans!  I didn't always make what I had listed even as options (this week's dinners, however, worked according to plans), but, it worked out well enough for me.  I didn't go hungry, that's for sure!

Tomorrow is the start of December and I am debating whether to continue with meal planning or just "wing it" and make it up as I go.  Stay tuned!