Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Goals - Review

This month's goal was to celebrate my 59th birthday by doing 59 good things for myself!

They were to be anything that made me happy, from an hour of crafting time to a vase of fresh roses from the garden; from sleeping in on a Sunday morning to a well-organized clothes closet.   Anything that pleased me. 

I didn't keep an exact list, but there were vases of roses, visits with my daughter, vacation days off from work, freshly baked muffins and brownies, visits to the library and hours of reading, computer games and crossword puzzles,  sleeping in, afternoon naps, and evenings spent relaxing instead of doing housework and filing!  I think I met my goal, this month. 

How about you?  Did you attain your goals for November?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Daily/Weekend To Do List: Saturday, Nov. 29 & Sunday, Nov. 30

I didn't complete my to do list from yesterday.  I dusted and vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, got together with friends in the evening and started cutting out the nightdress.  But I discovered I didn't have enough fabric to finish cutting it out, so went to the fabric store and put gas to the car on the way to the fabric store and went grocery shopping on my way home from the fabric store.  So, I didn't have time to water the back garden in the evening, as planned, and I didn't repair daughter's quilt.  Will carry those two items forward to today.

Today's to do list:

- Prepare lunch for daughter and her friend who is visiting
- Repair daughter's quilt
- Cut out rest of the nightdress (probably won't have time to sew it today)
- Water the back garden
- Get together with more friends in the evening
- Bake corn bread for daughter
- Pack the car

Daily to do list for tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 30):

- Drive daughter back to Berkeley
- Take her grocery shopping
- Rest

What have you planned to do this weekend?

Balance Wheel

Several years ago, I was feeling particularly stretched thin between working full time, being a single parent, taking care of a parent in declining health, looking after the house and garden, being active in my daughter's school and my temple, etc., etc., etc.  I felt my life was unbalanced, that I was spending enormous amounts of time and energy on certain aspects while neglecting other areas.  During this time, I was fortunate enough to find out about something called a balance wheel. 

The concept is very simple.  Draw a circle and divide it into 10 or 12 segments.  Each segment represents an area of  your life:  Spirituality, Environment, Spouse/Significant Other, Children/Family, Friends/Community, Career, Finances, Health/Self Care, Education/Self Improvement, Time Management, Fun/Hobbies/Leisure, Goals, etc. 

Then, evaluate each one on a scale of 1 to 10 or low-medium-high to determine how satisfied you are with each area.  The center of the circle is the worst point, the outer rim of the circle represents the best.  The closer you are to the outside rim, the more satisfied and happier you are with how things are.  The closer you are to the center of the circle, the less satisfied you are with how things are.

The purpose of this exercise is that  when the wheel has been completed, you can see which segments or spokes are low  A fuller wheel will roll along more smoothly.  A wheel with many dips or dents will be wobbly.  The goal is to improve those areas that are not doing as well as you'd like.

When I first drew my balance wheel, it was very wobbly, indeed!  I used a scale of 1-10, with 1 being worst and 10 being best.  So many of my segments were 3 or 4; a few were 5 or 6 and only one or two were 8 and above.  Definitely out of balance.  Over the years, however, I've made great improvements.

One of my problems was, I expected too much, given the demands on my time.  I learned to scale back.  Interaction with friends didn't have to mean having them over to dinner (although that would be nice); it could mean a phone call or an email.   Being an active member in the temple didn't have to mean volunteering my time at each and every function; it could be supporting the activities by donating goods or making a monetary contribution.  Leisure/fun didn't have to mean a whole afternoon of reading or knitting; it could be 30 minutes in the car while waiting for daughter during piano or dance classes.

I made myself a new balance wheel every month, and evaluated it almost daily at the very beginning, then weekly, then 3 times a month - at the beginning, middle and the end.  These days, I tend to evaluate it twice a month, at the middle and at the end, with the end of the month evaluation becoming the basis for the next month's starting balance.   I used to do this exercise on the organizing forum I'd been a member of for almost 10 years; since that forum is closing, I will continue with my balance wheel evaluations here, on my blog. 

So, having said all that, here is my month-end balance for November:

Spirituality: 10; Well plumped; attended the monthly prayer meeting last weekend; planning for my December prayer gathering.

Environment: 7; Needs plumping! Will continue with decluttering and cleaning.

DD: 10; Nicely plumped! She's home for Thanksgiving!

Family: 9;  Also well plumped. Spoke with one aunt on the phone, on Thanksgiving day; received an e-card from a cousin; had Thanksgiving dinner with another aunt, several cousins, and their families.

Friends: 9; Again, well plumped, since I celebrated Thanksgiving with some friends and spoke on the phone with others.

Career: 9; Had been rather stressful, but I've taken a week off over the Thanksgiving holidays and I've received a very nice email from my supervisor telling me how much she appreciates my work and telling me not to get stressed, she's never had any issues with my work, productivity, etc. Nicely plumped, I'm thinking.

Finances: 8; It's being maintained; continuing to budget and managing to meet expenses.

Health: 5; Definitely a spoke that needs improvement. I need to have a healthier life style and take better care of myself.

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies: 7; Managing to keep it balanced; if I take computer time as "leisure", then, well plumped! Also, started a new sewing project and I'm almost finished reading one of my library books and there's another waiting to be read.

Time Management: 6; I am doing OK, but could improve this spoke.

And there we have it! My end of November Balance Wheel.

Anyone else tried something similar?  How balanced would you say your life is?  

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Battle Fought and Lost

I lost my battle with resisting the Black Friday fabric sale!

I did put up a valiant fight, though.  I decided I would fight the lure of the sale with fabric already in my stash.  I took out a length of flannel from the stash and started cutting out a nightdress for me, but there wasn't enough fabric!  The pattern called for 4.75 yards and I had 4 yds.  I even cut one sleeve a bit smaller than the pattern, in an attempt to make do.  I had enough remnants to cut the facings.  But I didn't have enough for the yoke.  And no coordinating fabric to substitute.

It was a good excuse to justify a trip to the fabric store and the sale!  I bought a yard of the same print as the flannel I had started cutting out, for $1.74 (regular price: $6.99/yd.), and 1 yd. of solid blue flannel ($1.49/yd.; regular price: $5.99/yd.) to coordinate with the blue print flannel I had in the stash (the fabric store didn't have that same print in blue; they only had the purple and the pink of that print).  Now, I have enough fabric for the two nightdresses I was going to sew for myself.

And then, I succumbed to temptation and bought  almost a yard of a pink print flannel for $1.52, and 5 yds. (at $1.74/yd.; regular price: $6.99/yd) of another blue print flannel!

BUT, I resisted the baby yarn on sale for 50% off and the Christmas/holiday print fabric on sale for 75% off!   I even have the battle scars from that resistance in the form of a bump on my head from the bolt of fabric that attacked me from the upper shelf!  Apparently, the pole on the shopping cart knocked off a bolt of fabric - I heard someone shout, "Watch out!" just as the bolt of fabric hit my head!  Fortunately, I am OK.  As I told the concerned saleslady, it helps to have a hard head!  :D

I spent a total of $14.66 with sales tax.  I'm OK with spending that.  According to the receipt, I saved $40.60 by buying at 75% off regular price.

Did you go shopping today?  Did you get a good bargain?

"Black Friday" Daily To Do List

It was lovely, yesterday, to spend Thanksgiving day with my daughter, some of our friends and several family members.   It was a sunny, warm day, too.

Yesterday, before we went to Thanksgiving dinner with friends, I called and wished one of my aunts and another good friend, put away the laundry that had been hung up to dry overnight, washed one of daughter's quilts,and helped daughter assemble fruit platters to take with us as our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner.

Several members of my family were planning to go shopping to get "Black Friday" deals.  I don't usually go "Black Friday" shopping.  However, the fabric store has advertised a 70% off on certain select fabrics and  50% off baby yarn, which is very tempting.  Except, I still have some of the fabric I bought after Christmas, last year, on a similar sale!  I have resolved not to buy anymore fabric or yarn until I've finished my stash, so I will resist the lure of a 50-70% off sale!  It will be good for the budget, as well.

Today's Daily To Do List:

- Repair daughter's quilt
- Dust living room and dining area
- Vacuum
- Cut out and start sewing a nightdress
- Clean the bathroom
- Water the back garden
- Get together with friends in the evening

What are your plans for "Black Friday"?  Do you go shopping?  Or do you avoid the shops on this particular day?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving (and Daily To Do List)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today, I am especially thankful for being able to spend this day with my daughter, with extended family, and with friends.  Daughter and I have been invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with both friends and family!  So, that's what we'll do.  We'll go to our friends' in the early afternoon and to our family later in the evening.

I was able to do most of yesterday's to do list.  I finished putting away things, did two loads of laundry, grocery shopped, paid 2 bills, and watered the front garden. 

Today's to do list:

- Help daughter assemble fruit platter
- Put away laundry which was hung up to dry overnight
- Do another load or two of laundry
- Tidy up family room
- Put gas to the car
- Visit friends
- Visit family

What are your plans for today?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Daily To Do List - Wednesday, Nov. 26

I was able to accomplish most of the tasks on my list, yesterday: we tidied up daughter's apartment, took the trash and recycling out, handed in the temporary parking permit, packed the car, put gas, drove home, unpacked, cleaned the litter box, went over to the neighbors' to collect my mail, called a friend, emailed another, and started putting things away.  I didn't finish putting away everything, but that can be moved over to today.

Today's to do list:

- Finish putting away things
- Do a load or two of laundry
- Grocery shop
- Go downtown with daughter?
- Paperwork/bills
- Water the front garden

What have you planned to do today?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Daily To Do List - Tuesday, Nov. 25

I am on vacation this week, it being a holiday week, so the daily to do's are a little different.  Today's main item to do is drive daughter home for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Today's to do list:

- Tidy up the apartment
- Pack the car
- Put gas to the car
- Have daughter take out the trash & recycling
- Drive home (400 miles)
- Unpack the car
- Clean the litter box
- Put away items
- Enjoy being home and having daughter home

What is everyone else planning to do today?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Daily To Do List - Monday, Nov. 24

I am someone who loves to make lists and 'to do' lists are one of my favorites.  Practically every day, I make a daily to do list.  Sometimes, it's a weekend to do list or, occasionally, a weekly to do list.  My to do lists keep me focused.  Some days, all of the tasks on the list get accomplished.  Some days, however, some items go undone for whatever reason - a lack of time, a lack of energy or motivation, etc.  But that's OK.  What doesn't get done usually get carried over to another day.  However, I've learned that it is important to keep a daily to do list to a reasonable, "do-able" list of tasks.  Otherwise, I just end up feeling overwhelmed.

I used to post my daily to do lists on the forum that will be closing.  So, I've decided to post my daily lists here, on my blog, instead.  This week's to do lists will be a little different because I am on vacation for Thanksgiving.

So, today's Daily To Do List:

- Blog Posts
- Vacuum daughter's apartment for her
- Post Office - go with daughter to mail some letters and cards
- Pay rent check and inquire about parking permit
- Help daughter pack
- Read my library book

Do you make daily(weekly) to do lists?    If so, please feel free to share your lists.

My Mother's Cookbooks

I am a bit weird in that I enjoy reading cookbooks, as if they were novels. There's nothing I like better than to curl up with a cookbook or two and read through the recipes.  The other night, I re-read some of my mother's cookbooks and I was transported to Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s!

Mother's cookbooks are actually 4 booklets featuring about 100 recipes, each. "Book of Poultry", printed in 1958; "Cooking for Two", printed in 1959; "Good Fare", printed in 1962; and "Cold Cookery" that is undated, but most probably printed before 1962, judging from the price. The 1962 booklet was priced 2 shillings and 6 pence; the other 3 booklets all were priced 2 shillings each; so I got to play detective, as well as armchair/time traveller!

I can picture my mother as a young wife, buying these cookbooks, looking through the recipes, and perhaps trying a few of them. She gave me these booklets when I first became interested in cooking, in my teens, and I've made a few of the recipes.

But mostly, I like to read through them.  Just reading them is a treat!  Trifles and fruit cakes! Buttered eggs and crumpets! Sponge cakes and cheese straws! The recipes call for butter and cream and lard. Nothing low fat or low calorie about these recipes.

Some of the dishes are not for the faint of heart - pigeon pie, for example, the directions for which start with "Clean and prepare the pigeon, removing the head, neck and feet" and end with "The pigeon's feet may be stuck through the hole in the pastry for decoration."!!! Nowhere in the recipe does it mention if the feet should first be cooked or not.  Nor am I quite sure if I'd consider a bird's feet sticking up through the pie pastry to be "decoration"! LOL.

Most of the recipes give specific quantities of ingredients, but a few leave it up to the cook. Irish Potato Cakes, for example, state, "bake or boil some potatoes in their skins, remove the inside and beat with a little milk, plenty of salt and a little beaten egg, if liked" before being cut into rounds or triangles and baked "on a hot griddle or in a hot oven" (no temp. given for a hot oven) until brown; serve warm, they urge, "with plenty of butter."  My kind of cooking! LOL.

I've gone through and culled my cookbook collection considerably, but I'll continue to hold on to these 50+ year old cookbooks. Together, the 4 booklets take up less than 1 inch of space on the shelf, but they have a certain power to transport me to a special time and place!

In addition to the above booklets, I also have a handwritten blue cardboard bound school notes book (used to be called a Monitor's Exercise Book) of recipes Mother had copied down from various sources.  Written in faded blue ink on yellowed pages, it is something else of my mother's that I treasure. 

Does anyone else have old family cookbooks?

Sunday, November 23, 2014


All things are subject to change; it's one of those universal truths that one finds across all cultures.  But many of us don't like change.  I know that I don't like change now, I never did.

My mother, however, used to always say that change was good.  She welcomed change.  She saw it as an opportunity, a chance for something new and different, perhaps improved and better.  She chose to look for possibilities.  I think my mother was a wise woman.  And as her daughter, I feel that I, too, ought to search out the possibilities and see the good when changes take place.

For the past  10 years (!), I've participated in a forum that is going to close in a few days.  For 10 years, this forum was a constant in my life, checking in on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day!  As I went from being first a lurker on the forum, to a posting member, and finally, a moderator, I found a group of people who were kind, generous with their time and advice, supportive, funny, non-judgmental, and compassionate.  For  10 years, we shared our organizing challenges, whether it was dealing with clutter, that pile of papers stacked on our table, keeping up with laundry, putting together a weekly meal plan, or finding balance in our lives. 

Over the years, we shared bits of ourselves and our lives.  We shared both good news and bad, joys and frustrations, accomplishments and failures.  We rejoiced over graduations, weddings, births, and job promotions; we prayed over ill health, difficulties with relationships, and job losses; we sorrowed when loved ones passed away.   We cheered when we completed our daily to do lists, competed to see who could get rid of the most clutter, conferred honorary titles on each other, had friendly rivalries, and indulged in the occasional whine.  I received my nickname of "Bless" through the forum.

Friendships were formed, even though most of us haven't actually met each other.  Some of the ladies I met through the forum probably know more about me than some of my personal friends and family.  They know how hard I paddle under the water in order to appear to be gliding effortlessly on the surface.

In a couple of days, the forum will close and we won't have that venue for interaction.   We will definitely miss it and feel the change.  It feels like we are saying goodbye to some of our good friends.  Some of us will keep in touch through emails and social media.  But it probably won't be the same as before.

Change is difficult.  But, I am hearing my mother's voice, saying change is good.  So, I will look forward, with hope, to the change and the new opportunities it might bring.

How about you?  Do you like change?  Do you see it as an opportunity for something new?  Or do you tend to wish things could remain the same?


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Plans

This was a rather stressful work week, so I am really looking forward to the weekend.  Tomorrow, I've plans to do some housework, run a few errands, do a bit of household shopping, and attend a prayer gathering in the evening.  It'll be a bit of a busy start to the weekend, and I don't know if I'll have the energy to do it all, but those are the plans.  On Sunday, I'll be driving to visit daughter, again.  As I said, I'm really looking forward to this weekend. 

What about you?  Do you have plans for the weekend?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Redoing the Budget

Today, the university system my daughter attends voted to increase tuition by at least 5%, starting next year.  I suppose there were valid reasons for the tuition increase; after all, costs are increasing on an almost daily basis and additional revenue is needed to meet the rising costs.

Unfortunately, my salary doesn't increase and there is no easy way for me to increase my revenue to meet my rising costs.  The tuition increase will mean an additional $200 per month.    Time to redo my budget, I guess. 

Belt tightening, anyone? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Day's Blessings

Today was one of those crazy, hectic days at the office, which left me feeling quite depleted and longing for retirement.  As I drove home, I recited my devotions as usual, and, at the end of the devotions, I asked for a grateful heart with which to receive this day's blessings. 

Several years ago, I got into the habit of writing down at least 5 things to be grateful for each day, in my diary.  I have discovered that actively looking will reveal an abundance of blessings in each day.

Today, my blessings included having a job, which enables me to provide for myself and my daughter, which I usually enjoy, not withstanding the occasional crazy, hectic days like today.

I will have another rather hectic day at the office, tomorrow, too, as I strive to meet a schedule deadline for a project.  No doubt I'll be stressed by the end of the day.  But I will look for each day's blessings and know myself to be blessed.

Do you make it a point to look for each day's blessings?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Post No. 101: Organizing Craft Projects

I didn't realize until I had posted that yesterday's post was my 100th post!  So this is post no. 101 for me!  I must say that I'm enjoying having a blog.

I have always enjoyed crafting.  But it seems like for every craft project I complete, I have another half dozen or so patiently waiting their turn!

I finished making a quilt this summer, but there are 2 more quilts waiting to be worked on! One is a new quilt that is in progress and the other is an old quilt needing repairs.

I finished knitting a sweater, earlier, but waiting patiently for their turn are two other partially knitted tops.  And daughter has sent me a photo of another sweater that she'd like me to knit for her!

I recently finished mending a pair of pyjama pants, but there are more sewing projects waiting.

And there are all the holiday gifts I have been meaning to make...

How do you organize your craft projects so that they get done in a timely manner instead of languishing in the closets and bins?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday - More Grocery Shopping

I went to the other grocery store, today.  I don't often go to two different stores unless one is on the way to the other or on my way home or are located close to each other, in which case, I go to both stores in one trip.  I like to combine trips to save on gas.  But today's grocery store is located just over a mile from my home and the savings were worth the extra trip, I thought.

The two stores I went to this weekend are both owned by the same company; but the store I went to yesterday is the full service one, where they bag your groceries for you, and the one I went to today is the no-frills one where you have to bag your own groceries.  The prices reflect this.  The full service store has green beans for $1.99/lb., store brand peanut butter is on sale for $2/16 oz. jar; cans of condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup for $.79 each (provided you bought 10 participating items), and apple juice was $2.49 or higher.  The no frills store had green beans for $1.49/lb., the same store brand peanut butter (since both stores are owned by the same company) is on sale for $1.49/16 oz. jar; condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup for $.59 each (limit of 12), and apple juice for $1.49. 

Today's grocery shopping was to stock up on some items that were on sale - peanut butter, canned soups, and apple juice.  I also bought a couple of other items:

4 bolillo rolls, $.25@ = $1.00
1 doz. eggs = $1.99
.42 lbs. green beans @$1.49/lb. = $.63
3 cup of noodle soup, 3/$1.00 = $1.00
2 apple juice, $1.49@ = $2.98
2 jars peanut butter, $1.49@ = $2.98
8 cans condensed soup, $.59@ = $4.72
Total spent = $15.30
(No tax on food.)

(I also bought a package of paper plates for the December prayer gathering that I will be hosting, but I don't include that in my grocery total; it's budgeted for separately.  Including the paper plates ($1.50 + $.14 tax), my total came to $16.94.)

I will be sharing the cans of condensed soup with my daughter; four cans for her, four cans for me.  The cup of noodle soups are for me to take to the office for lunch on those days when I don't have any leftovers to take or I haven't got my act together sufficiently to pack a lunch (happens, every so often!)  The apple juice is intended for the December prayer gathering.

Would you shop at different stores if you can save some money by doing so?  Or would the time and effort involved make it not worth your while? 

Saturday: Weekly Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

I've been eating from the fridge, freezer, and cupboards, this week.

On Wednesday night, I took some leftover rice, added some vermicelli and vegetable soup powder and made a homemade version of rice-a-roni and had that with half of a 2-egg omelette and some of the sauted leeks and potato I had made and brought back with me from Berkeley.

On Thursday night, it was homemade chicken soup from the freezer with French bread I had bought from the farmers market that morning.

Friday night, it was leftover homemade rice-a-roni with the rest of the omelette and some of the sauted leeks and potato.

Today, I took out another container of the chicken and vegetable soup from the freezer and had that for both lunch (as it was, with French bread) and for tonight's dinner (with the addition of some leftover smoked sausage and baked potato).  There's enough soup left over for tomorrow's lunch or dinner, as well).

I took out a package of ham slices, too, to thaw. Not quite sure what I'll make with the ham, yet. I should also take out a package of the frozen eggplant, as well.

I did my grocery shopping this afternoon.  Bought 1 gal. milk ($3.29), bread ($1.29), 2 yogurt cups ($.50@), 2 whole chickens ($.89/lb; $3.23 & $3.37), 2 pkg. cocktail sausages ($2.50@), 2-lb. bacon ends ($4.99; regular packages of sliced bacon are much more expensive; $5.49/12 oz., etc.), 1 can cream of celery soup ($.49 on clearance - dented can), 2 boxed wild rice mix ($1@), 1 bottle oil ($1.99), 2 lb. bananas ($.69/lb), 2 bars chocolate ($.99@).  Spend a total of $30.02.

I put one of the chickens in the freezer, but kept the other one in the fridge to cut up and make a chicken curry for the week.  Froze both packages of cocktail sausages, too.  I will divide the bacon into portions and freeze most of it, as well.

A different store is having a sale on canned cream soups and peanut butter, among other things. I might make a stock-up trip there, tomorrow.

In addition to all the groceries I bought, I picked an orange from the garden.  It was the only one that was ripe enough to pick. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I had a fairly quiet day, today.  I put gas to the car on my way to the office, in the morning, marveling at the fact that gas was $2.97 a gallon.  I can hardly remember the last time when gas was under $3.

Had a productive day at the office.  I'm always happy when I can meet my project deadlines.

Today, I instructed my gardener to cut down the sugarcane bushes in the front garden.  They were more dead than alive due to the heat during the summer and a lack of water.  They will be replaced with some cuttings I have taken from a succulent plant in the back garden.  I was trying to do edible landscaping, but it's hard to do drought-tolerant edible landscaping.  

I had a relaxed evening.  I find that I don't have a lot of energy on a Friday evening.  So, some TV and video chatting with daughter for a restful evening. 

How was your Friday?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday: Flu Vaccinations and French Bread

Today has been a busy day.  The first day back at work, after being away for a few days, always tend to be a bit crazy.  On top of that, everyone wants his or her projects done yesterday, especially with the holidays approaching.

I got my flu vaccination, today; I will count that as one of my 59 self-care things for this month.  I also went to the farmers market and bought myself a loaf of my favorite French bread.  Crusty bread and homemade chicken soup for dinner.  There's more soup in the freezer for another day.

Once I got home from work, I put away the laundry from yesterday, watched a TV program, called and spoke with my half-sister and video chatted with my daughter.  And just like that, the evening passed in a flash and here it is, midnight, already!

How was your day, today?     

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday and Home Again

I've enjoyed a nice, relaxed, extended weekend/mini vacation visiting my daughter.  But, today, I returned home, again.

I had a pleasant drive home; I guess I am getting used to the 6+ hour drives by myself.  Still a bit nervous about driving alone, but I'm a firm believer in the power of prayers.

I reached home in the early afternoon, unpacked, cleaned the cat's litter box, picked up my mail from my neighbor, returned some phone calls, watered the front garden, and did two loads of laundry.  Both loads have been hung up to dry overnight.

Tomorrow, I will return to the office.  I think I can deal with a two-day work week.

How was your Wednesday?   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

That's the Way the Money Goes

"A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes."

We are all familiar with the nursery rhyme, aren't we?   Things cost a lot more than a penny, these days, but how the money goes is still the same.

Today, I took $20 with me and went to the stores.  I wanted to buy a couple of items for an upcoming prayer gathering, a few grocery items for daughter, and a couple of treats for us to celebrate my birthday.

First, we went to the dollar store.  I bought a white plastic table covering, a package of small paper plates, a dozen eggs, a bottle of soda, a package of granola bars, and some chocolate candy (all, $1.00, each).  Spent $6.38.

Next, we went to the Indian store to buy 4 samosas ($1.00 each) and a package of tea (ginger chai; $5.00).  Our total came to $9.00.

And finally, we stopped by the neighborhood convenience store to buy a container of hazelnut flavored coffee creamer ($3.00).

We had the samosas for tea; there's one leftover which I will have tomorrow.  1 egg was used (with the last egg left in the old package) to make a pan of brownies; 5 more were hard-boiled and 3 of them were made into egg salad for tomorrow's lunches and the other 2 will be kept for lunches later in the week; the granola bars will be for snacks during the week and the chocolate candy are a treat for daughter.  The white plastic table cover and paper plates are for next month's prayer gathering. 

I had $1.62 left from my $20 and daughter shook her head in disbelief at how quickly the money was spent.  And I was reminded of the nursery rhyme I quoted above.  Although, we might have to revise and update it for the present days:

"A dollar for a dozen eggs
Five dollars for the chai tea
That's the way twenty dollars go."

How does your money go?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making a Box

Daughter needed to mail something and needed a small box for the purpose.  Unfortunately, she didn't have a suitable box on hand.  I guess we could have bought one from the post office.  But where's the fun in that?

Instead, we emptied out a box of facial tissues (put the tissues into a zippered bag).  And we cut the box down to size.

Box Making 1
 Fold in the ends and glue in place.

Box Making 2

Box Making 3
 The lower half of the box:
Box Making 4

We did the same to make the lid, using the top portion of the tissue box, using some pieces of the cut off sides to cover the opening which had a piece of cellophane.

Box and Lid
We used some saved up bubblewrap to cushion the item she was mailing and closed the box.  We cut up a brown grocery bag to use to wrap the box for posting.  Then, we walked to the post office in the evening and mailed it.

Would you have bought a box to mail something small?  Or would you have made a box out of something you had on hand? 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Food Waste

One of the things I hate to do is waste food.  Usually, I am very good about using up the food I buy (buying just enough for a week or two) or preserving it in some way (usually by freezing it).  However, occasionally, (usually when I have a family gathering or party at home and have 15-25 people to lunch or dinner), I tend to buy a bit too much, don't use everything I buy, and end up tossing it. 

So, on Friday evening, when I cleaned out the fridge, I saw that a cucumber I had bought for the prayer meeting luncheon, but hadn't got around to using, was well on its way to becoming a science experiment!  Much as it pained me to do so, it had to go.  I put it on the compost pile, where it will eventually decompose into fertilizer for the garden.  Even when I have to toss something, I try to salvage as much as I can!

In addition to the cucumber, there was a beyond-its-prime tomato, a red onion, and the remains of a bunch of celery.  I cut up everything and froze for use in soup.  Now my freezer is full of all sorts of odds and ends to be made into soup, this winter.  

What about you?  How do you manage to keep food waste to a minimum?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Finally, Friday

Had a busy day at the office, today, and a very productive one, too.   I managed to complete all my projects for the week.  Now I can look forward to the weekend without worrying about unfinished work at the office.

It was another warm day, with highs of 89F downtown.  I went to the pharmacy during my lunch break to pick up some medications.  I now have a $5 "bonus" coupon that I can use towards a future purchase.  Sometimes I use these bonus coupons to buy toiletry items.  Other times, I use them to buy holiday gifts. 

In the evening, after I came home, I cleaned the fridge and did the dishes.  Picked two oranges from the tree in my garden and ate one, right away.  Freshly picked oranges!  Such a treat!  A friend called and I had a brief chat with her.  Later, I wrote to another friend.  And video chatted with my daughter.  And just like that, Friday came and went!

How was your Friday?  Did you look forward to Friday all week?  And then, when it arrived, did it sort of fast-forward and end too quickly?  Well, we can all look forward to the weekend now, can't we?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Quiet Thursday

It's been a quiet day, today.  A warm day, with the temperature going up to 90F.  But I was in the air conditioned office, where it was cold enough that a sweater was needed.  I didn't go outside at all, today.  Even during my lunch break, I just stayed in the office and read a book.

I didn't go to the weekly Farmers Market, either, today.  I still have the three persimmons I bought last week - still waiting for them to get ripe enough to eat them.  Persimmons have to be ripe to the point of being almost over-ripe to be sweet enough to eat them. 

After I came home, in the evening, my neighbor phoned me and I had a brief chat with her.  I had visited her, yesterday, after work, and given her some of the muffins I had baked.  She was calling me to say she enjoyed them. 

In the evening, I video chatted with my daughter, wished a friend for her birthday, watched a program on TV, paid a bill, and booked daughter's flight home for winter break. 

And that was how the day was spent.  Doing quiet, ordinary, everyday things.

How was your Thursday?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Holiday Gifts Planning

50 days till Christmas!  57 days till New Year's Day.  I updated my holiday card & gift lists today.  I say holiday, because only some of the cards and gifts are for Christmas; the rest are for New Year's, because I have family and friends who, like me, are not Christian.  I've just over 30 recipients on the card list, of which approximately half are overseas and the rest domestic; and just under 40 recipients on the gift list.  And a budget of $120 for everything from cards and postage to gifts and bows. 

Time to start making those gifts I've been planning to make!  I make most of the gifts I give, rather than buy them.  I will leave the discussion about how commercial all the holiday preparations have become, to others.  For me, the holiday season is a time of celebration and gift-giving is very much a part of it.  My gifts tend to be homemade with love and it gives me great pleasure to make them and to present them to others.  I allocate $10 per month in my budget for holiday gifts and that is an amount that is reasonable for me. 

Every year, I make jam to give as gifts.  Making jam with fruit from the garden keeps the costs down, since all I need to buy are sugar, pectin, and the jars.  The canning jars tend to be the most expensive item for me.
This year, I'm also planning to make quite a few items from fabric I have in my stash.  My challenge is to avoid duplicating gifts that I have crafted.  I try not to give the same type of gifts two years in a row.  The jam, however, is the exception to that rule.  I've friends who look forward to my jams every year.   

Now that I've updated my gift list, it is time to decide what I'll be making for each recipient and start making them.

Anyone else started planning holiday gifts?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


It's been a somewhat busy day, today.  Went to the office in the morning; went to the post office during my lunch break to post my property tax payment and buy another book of stamps; voted on my way home from the office in the evening; brought the trash cans in; went through the grocery ads that came in the mail; and then, settled down to watch election results, video chat with daughter, and write to a friend.  Later, did the dishes and cleaned the litter box.

I didn't get around to doing anything that would count towards my 59 good things, today.

How was your day?    

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, Again

Mondays come too quickly, I say!  Weekends should last longer than just two days.

Had a busy day at the office.  Came home, took the trash cans to the curb for tomorrow's trash collection, had a cup of coffee and took a nap on the sofa.  Spent the rest of the evening relaxing, watching a favorite program on the TV and video chatting with daughter.  I'll consider the nap and the relaxed evening as two of my 59 self-care things for this month. 

Anyone else feel that Mondays come too quickly?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Back Sunday

Craisin, Preserved Ginger and Walnut Muffins

Today, we ended Daylight Savings Time and went back on Standard Time.  The clocks were put back an hour and we gained an hour.  I chose to sleep-in for that extra hour (doing something good for me; part of my November goal), getting a full 8 hours of sleep for a change (I usually sleep 5-6 hours a night). 

Once I was up, I reset the clocks (I like to reset the clocks on Sunday morning rather than Saturday night), changed the batteries on one of the clocks, started a load of laundry and tried to video chat with a friend.  On-line visiting with my friend was going to be another one of my 59 good things, but, unfortunately, we couldn't get a connection.  So, we only messaged each other instead of video chatting.

Later in the afternoon, I video chatted with my daughter, did another load of laundry, mended the waist band of a pair of pyjama bottoms, and began another sewing project.  I want to sew myself a flannel nightdress, but I'll be doing that in baby steps.  Today's baby steps were washing the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces.

 In the evening, I baked another batch of muffins - craisins, preserved ginger and walnut muffins.  Now I've plenty of muffins to take to the office during the week for my breakfasts or snacks and there will be some for the freezer for another day, as well.  I usually take my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to the office with me and my work week goes well when I have everything prepared ahead of time.  Mornings are busy enough without having to wonder what I should pack for my breakfasts, lunches and snacks. 

I still need to put away the laundry from earlier in the day, which I had hung up to dry, do the litter box, pack my lunch, etc.  But, all in all, it's been a lovely day.

How was your 'fall back' Sunday?


Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Goals

Roses for the Mantle

I've been repeating the same goals each month, for several months now. But this month, I've different goals.  This month's goal:

- Celebrate my 59th birthday by doing 59 good things for myself!

What kinds of good things?  I am thinking anything that makes me happy, from an hour of crafting time to a vase of fresh roses from the garden brightening up my dresser; from sleeping in on a Sunday morning to a well-organized clothes closet.   Anything that pleases me.  It will be like giving myself 59 gifts.

So, this morning, I gave myself the gift of fresh flowers - pink and yellow roses from my garden.  Some for the altar, some for the living room mantle, next to a photograph of my mother, and some for my dresser.

Roses from the Garden

Do you have any special goals for November?

October Goals - Review

Spiritual: Continue with daily devotions/meditations; host the monthly prayer meeting; attend special seasonal ceremonies at the temple - Prayer meeting hosted; didn't attend temple ceremonies.

Environment: Outside: continue to spruce up the garden. Inside: Continue to clean and declutter - Done; side yard was weeded and trees trimmed; house was cleaned and some decluttering was done.

DD: Continue to be supportive with in-person visits and on-line visits - Visited her in person one weekend and we've had daily on-line video chats.

Family: Get together with family once - Did so at the prayer meeting.

Friends: Visit 2 friends; e-mails & phone calls - Got together with some friends at the prayer meeting, visited one friend, exchanged e-mails and phone calls with others.

Career: Work on assignments in a timely manner - Doing my best.

Finances: Continue to save for next semester's tuition & fees! - On-going.

Health: Start walking for 30 mins. 3 times a week.  - Had the dr's appt. that I couldn't do in September; walks are proving to be more elusive.

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies: Reward myself with 30 mins. crafting time for each 30 mins. of walking; finish knitting the blouse for DD, sew cushion covers, start planting a fall garden - Did some planting, but didn't do the rest.

Time Management: Multi-task!  - Yes!