Friday, July 31, 2015

End of July

Can you believe that today is the last day of July, already?  Seems like this month, too, just flew by!  Time to do my month end evaluations.

Spiritual: Continue with daily devotions/meditations.  Continue to focus on gratitude and abundance - I have been doing extra devotions and meditations this month, especially after I received the X-ray results!  I attended the monthly prayer meeting and also attended a special blessing ceremony at the temple.  I am also reading "A Purpose Driven Life", which a friend lent to me.  I have a feeling spiritual

- Outside: Mulch and maintain - Mulching is on-going; two small trees were pruned
- Inside: Continue to clean and declutter: call for a donations pick up - Can I claim the cleaning I did in daughter's apartments towards this?  :D  I didn't call for a donations pick up, yet.

Daughter:  Go up to help her move apartments, later in the month - DONE!

Family:  Continue to keep in touch with family members: phone calls, letters, emails, etc. - Done.

Friends:  Continue to keep in touch with friends through email/phone calls/video chat, etc.  Get together with two friends for their birthdays - Got together with one friend to celebrate her birthday; (will be meeting the other friend this weekend); supported another friend at her father's funeral; gave a ride to another friend and her husband to the monthly prayer meeting and met other friends at the prayer meeting.  This month was a good month for friends.

Career:  Celebrate 32 years of working at my place of employment (on July 5)!  Long term goal is to retire in 3 years, with 35 years of service - Completed 32 years of service. :)

Finances:  Current goal is to manage my budget in order to continue supporting daughter in her 2nd year of graduate studies; long range goals include retirement planning - Managing the budget; continuing with retirement planning.

Health:  Big goal is better health!   I have an eye appointment scheduled for next week and in the process of scheduling a mammogram.  Long range goal is to lose 20 lbs. by the end of the year, for health reasons - I didn't realize just what a big aspect Health was going to be, when I made this month's goals!  I had the eye appointment and everything was fine.  I had a mammogram and there is some reason for concern.  This spoke will take on added importance in August as I follow-up with the mammogram results.   

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies:  Continue to sew down the fabric stash and read.  I'd like to sew at least 2 items from the fabric stash this month; I should be receiving a book I had requested from the library in the next few days (it's in transit, I've been told) and I put another book on hold, today (I'm #28 on the list, for this book and the library has ordered only 1 copy, so it'll be awhile before I receive it) - I didn't do any sewing, but I received and read the 1st library book, and I've moved up to #27 on the waiting list for the 2nd book!  :) And I completed the one year anniversary of my blog!  :D  I can't believe that I've been blogging for a whole year!  Thank you for reading my blog and for your supportive comments.  I am truly enjoying this new hobby.

Productivity and Time Management:  Continue to make efficient use of my time and procrastinate less.   Make full use of routines, bulk cooking, etc. - I did OK, I think.  I might not have managed to do everything I would have liked to have done, but I did the important stuff.

And that is a brief overview of the month of July. 

In other news:  There was a notice from the post office in my mail box, today, stating they tried to deliver a certified letter but no one was home to receive it (of course not; I was at work)  and the letter will be available at the post office for pick up, tomorrow.  It is from the X-ray lab, so I will definitely go to the post office when it opens in the morning to collect it.  Maybe they are sending the report directly to me?  If it is the report, then, I will call the dr's office and let them know.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Doctor's Visit Update

I had my doctor's appointment today and it turned out to be a non-event!
The X-Ray lab hadn't sent the X-ray results to the clinic, even though, in their letter to me, they said they have sent it to my doctor and stating her name, etc.  Or, the clinic didn't receive it. So, the doctor didn't have the results to consult.  Then the clinic called the lab for the results, but they claimed I had to sign a release authorization form, even though I signed one when I went for the X-ray.  Anyway, I signed a new form at the dr's office and they will fax it and hopefully, receive the results.  Until then, the doctor can't go over them with me. 

However, she examined me and filled out another referral request for additional diagnostic testing.  So, now, we will wait until that gets processed (and hopefully, approved) and mailed to me; and then, I'll call for an appointment and take it from there.
I am feeling remarkably calm and almost serene.  I feel that this is a sort of a test for me and it is important for me to handle it with grace.  It is a weird feeling.  But I am going to accept it and not question it.
Perhaps this is a sort of "wake up call" and a reminder to live life to the fullest, not merely exist, but actively live, to be present in the moment.  At least, that is what I am hoping to do.  To appreciate each day's blessings.
Today, I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to re-examine my life and make improvements.  
How was your day?  Did you have a good day? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday's Blessings

Today, I went to the office - and fully enjoyed the blessing of air conditioning!  Had a productive day, too.  During my lunch break, I went to the bank to transfer funds to daughter's account for her August rent.  She went to her bank, later in the day and got the cashiers check and paid the rent.

In the evening, I went to the temple for a blessing.  I know I mentioned in one of my posts, last year, that I was not a Christian, but I don't know if I mentioned that I am a Buddhist.  So the temple I go to is a Buddhist temple.

In preparation for the blessing, I maintained a vegetarian diet, today (not vegan, because I had milk, cheese and butter).  It is traditional to wear white to temple, since white represents purity.  I picked flowers from the garden to take with me - there weren't a lot to pick, though.  Some roses, a couple of stems of blue agapanthus.  It is so hot that the roses become dessicated on the bushes!  In addition to the flowers, I took fresh fruits, juice, candles and incense sticks to make an offering at the altar.  After the offerings were made, the monks chanted the blessings for my good health.

I've had a quiet, relaxed evening at home, afterwards, video chatting with daughter.

Today, I have felt blessed in many ways - the sunshine on my face and the wind in my hair as I walked to and from the bank during my lunch break; the fact that I had the funds available for daughter's rent; the fragrance of flowers and incense; being able to enjoy the coolness of air conditioning in the office; the ability to video chat with my daughter; and, of course, the blessings the monks chanted.  I don't know what tomorrow might bring, but today, I have been blessed with a lovely day.  

Tomorrow, I will go to the doctor's appointment in the morning and we shall see what she has to say.  Afterwards, I am planning to go to the office for the rest of the day.

I hope your day has been full of blessings, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday's Productivity

Today has been a good day.  I called the clinic in the morning and made an appointment to see my doctor to go over my mammogram results.  Appointment is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Later in the morning, I went to my friend's father's funeral.  It was at the same cemetery where my mother's grave site is located, and as I was there early, I visited my mother's grave, first. 

It was the first time I had attended an Armenian funeral; I found it quite similar to other Christian funerals I have attended.  Although everything was said in Armenian, I could guess at what was being said:  "dust to dust, ashes to ashes", etc.  There was an incense burner set up by the grave, and, as the people filed past, they each took a pinch of incense and added it to the burner. 

The only thing that was bad was the heat!  The funeral started at 11:30 a.m. and lasted an hour.  It was 90F and the hot, burning sun was directly overhead.  They had set up a canopy-like tent with some chairs, but it was only big enough for immediate family and friends. 

Afterwards, we all went to my friend's house for lunch.  I didn't stay for the entire duration of the lunch.  I left before dessert was served, came home and took a nap!  The heat and the sun wore me out!

In the evening, I put gas to the car and went to the grocery store to buy fruits and juice to take to the blessing ceremony at the temple, tomorrow.  Afterwards, I watered some of the front garden with the shower water I had collected.  Still later, I talked on the phone with a friend and a cousin, and, of course, video chatted with my daughter.

It's back to work, tomorrow.  I'm actually looking forward to it as I'll be in a nice, cool, air conditioned office!  :D

I hope everyone had a lovely day, today. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday - Home Again

Today, in the morning, I dropped daughter off at her internship job, put gas to the car, and drove home, again.  I got on the freeway at 9:00 a.m. and made one 15 minutes stop at a rest area at 10:00 a.m. Then, drove the rest of the way, straight through.  Reached home at 2:30 p.m.  I am grateful to have had a safe, uneventful drive home.

Once I got home, I called my office and requested tomorrow off, too, to attend my friend's father's funeral.  I am grateful to be able to get time off, as needed.  Called my friend to tell her I'll be there, tomorrow.  

Made myself some fried rice with the last bit of the ground beef/veggie mixture, leftover rice, and an egg beaten in, for a late lunch.  Then, took a long nap on the sofa, as I was tired!

Woke up a little after 5:30 p.m., when my neighbor knocked on the door to hand me my mail.  She apologized for waking me up, but I told her it was quite OK; I am grateful she collects my mail for me when I am away for a couple of days.   Although, this time, the mail included a bill (for my utilities) and the results from my mammogram, last week.  Apparently they detected an abnormality and I am to contact my doctor for follow up consultation.  I had a similar experience some 11 years ago, when I had to have a needle biopsy.  It was a benign cyst, then, and I am hoping, with all my might, that it will be something similar this time, too.  

Later in the evening, I cleaned the litter boxes (I had set up two for Dancer's convenience during my absence), took the trash cans to the curb, and watered the garden, both front and back.

I called one of my cousins and gave her the news that my friend's father had passed (cousin knows my friend) and most probably, cousin will attend the funeral with me; she said she'll call and confirm in the morning.  

I also called another of my friends; we had planned to go out earlier, to celebrate her birthday, but had to reschedule due to inclement weather (it rained that weekend!) and because she wasn't feeling well, so we made new plans for next weekend. 

And, of course, I've been video chatting with daughter, all evening!

My to do list for tomorrow include:

- Unpack and put stuff away
- Call for a dr's appt.
- Attend the funeral
- Do a load of laundry
- Tidy the family room
 - Call veterinary clinic to schedule Dancer's annual check up

How was your Moday?  Have you had a good start to your week?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday - More Moving and Cleaning

We slept in the new apartment, last night.  We were both so tired that we had no problem falling asleep in a new place. 

This morning, I made waffles for breakfast while daughter packed up the last of her things in the old apartment.  After breakfast, I went down to the old apartment with her and we cleaned the whole place: wiped down appliances, vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, etc.  Left the place spick and span, even though they are going to paint and redo the flooring, etc.  It took us most of the morning into early afternoon to finish, but daughter can hand in the keys, tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon, we went to Ikea to buy a small area rug.  The renovations include replacing the carpets in the living room area with laminate flooring (the sleeping areas will have new carpeting).  But daughter wanted the warmth of a carpet or rug under her feet in the living area, too.  So, she bought herself an area rug ($19.99).  She also bought 2 new mugs ($.84 each) and a set of 6 drinking glasses (12-oz size; $3.69 for the set).  We were hungry by then, and had a late lunch at the cafeteria, there.

In the evening, we finished putting away the stuff in the kitchen and organizing the kitchen cabinets.  Then, I cooked dinner while daughter did a load of laundry.  Finally, we took down the trash and recycling.

I have a box of stuff to take back home with me - mostly empty containers in which I sent food with daughter on her last visit home.  I will take it down to the car in the morning.

Tomorrow morning, I will drop daughter off at her work place, put gas to the car and drive myself home.  Please wish me a safe journey.

How was your Sunday?  Did you have a good day?

Saturday - Moving Day

It's been a long day, today. Today, we spent the day moving daughter into her new apartment.  All the furniture and most of her stuff. She and I did all the moving by ourselves, and things went fine, except for when we got the sofa stuck in the elevator! We managed to get it in OK, but couldn't get it out! Fortunately, one of the workmen renovating the apartments saw us (he was waiting to get into the elevator) and he helped us (earlier, we had been told by the rental office that the workmen couldn't help us move the furniture, but he volunteered.)

The sofa and the bed were the 2 big items. After that, the rest of the furniture - coffee table, 3 chests of drawers, the TV table, bookcase, desk, etc. weren't too difficult, but a lot of pushing and pulling, even with the sliders to help the items move over carpeting in the corridors. And all the boxes! We emptied most of the cabinets, but there's a bit more to be done tomorrow.

After we move the rest of the items, we will need to put stuff away!  We did a little unpacking and putting away, but not all.  And, of course, daughter can't put away her clothes till the closet rods are installed.  So, things are still a bit of a mess in the new apartment.  Hopefully, we can get everything done, tomorrow.

And then...we get to do it all over again, in approximately 2 months' time, when daughter former apartment is renovated!  Yes, she will move back into her old apartment again, and we will move everything back!

How was your Saturday?  Done any moving-in, lately?  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Friday - Trip to Berkeley

View of Bay Bridge in Distance
Today, I drove to Berkeley to visit daughter and help her move into her new apartment.  I didn't start my drive as early as I had wanted to, but I set out a little after 8:30 a.m.  I had a good drive and got to Berkeley by early afternoon.

Daughter had picked up the keys to the new apartment at noon, but when she went up, the workers doing the renovations were still not quite finished.  

After we unpacked the car and had a late lunch, we went up to see the apartment (we had rented it sight unseen).  We met one of the workmen in the elevator and he said that there were still a few things that needed doing, but they'll do them on Monday.

Daughter had the move-in checklist with her and we went over the apartment and made note of all the things that still needed to be done (towel rail in bathroom not installed; closet rods in both closets not installed; a non-working light in the kitchen), and all the little flaws (dings in the washer/dryer; a small tear in the newly installed carpet in one of the bedrooms; nail holes in the walls although the leases states no nails maybe used, etc.) so that the rental office will be aware of them and won't deduct anything from the $1,000 security deposit.

After a cup of coffee, we started cleaning the apartment.  Even though they had just renovated the apartment, the renovations consisted of redoing the floors and painting the walls.  Daughter and I scrubbed the bathroom (I still need to clean the tub/shower) and wiped down the kitchen cabinets and vacuumed.

Tomorrow, we will start moving the boxes and furniture.  We were both too tired to do any moving, today. Hopefully, we can have the closet rods installed tomorrow, so she can hang up her clothes!  Also, she found out that there was no internet connection in the new apartment, although that was supposed to have been done.  So, we will need to notify the rental office about that, too.

The picture, above, is the view from her bedroom window of the new apartment.  The Bay Bridge is visible (just barely) in the distance.

How was your Friday?  Did you have a good day?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Busy Day Thursday

I've had a busy day, today.

Went to the office, in the morning and had a fairly productive day.

During my lunch break, I strolled through the weekly farmers market and stopped to buy a crusty French bread roll - smaller than a baguette, but just right for a sandwich roll.  I had taken some butter and slices of pan-roasted chicken breast with me for the sandwich filling.  I ate half for lunch and half for dinner.

Put gas to the car on my way home; $3.92/gallon for the cheapest, unleaded.  $46.51 to fill the tank (I had about 1/4 tank left when I put the gas).  But now, I've a full tank of gas for my 400 mile drive to visit daughter, tomorrow.  :)

Came home and called my neighbor to condole with her as her father passed away earlier this week.  Neighbor wasn't home, but I spoke with her daughter.  I will call my neighbor again, over the weekend.

Then, put water to the front garden (had watered the back garden, yesterday).  Temperatures will be in the mid 90s over the weekend, so the garden needed to be watered before I left on my weekend visit.  After that, I watered the houseplants.

I baked another batch of eight curry puffs, to take with me.  One or two will be for my brunch which I will eat at a rest area on my drive; the rest, I will share with daughter.

Then, I packed my weekend bag and the two boxes of stuff I am taking to my daughter.  I put the two boxes in the car, but not the weekend bag as I have a few final items to pack in the morning - toiletries, etc.  I will have another box of food stuff to take, as well - again, to be packed into the cooler, in the morning.  

I wrote out my to do list for tomorrow morning:

- Leave a note of instructions for the gardener
- Clean Dancer cat's litter box and set up an extra litter box for him
- Set out extra food and water for him
- Take out the kitchen trash
- Pack up the rest of the food items
- Pack my laptop and charger

I had been planning to leave very early in the morning, in order to avoid driving in the 100F heat in the afternoon.  But it is already 12:30 a.m. now, and I won't get to bed before 1:00 a.m. at the earliest.  So, I don't think I'll be able to leave at 5:30 a.m. as originally planned!  A 7:30 a.m. start seems more realistic!  Oh, well.

Wish me a safe drive, please. 

How was your day?  Was it a busy day for you, too?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kohlrabi and Potato Curry

Ingredients: Clockwise From Top: Kohlrabi Pieces, Sliced Onions (in Middle), Sliced Green Chili, Potato Pieces, Curry Leaves

I still had half of the kohlrabi I bought earlier; I had made a salad with one half, but the other half was still in the fridge.  So, today, I decided I should cook the remaining half, before it spoiled.  But, because it was such a small amount of it, I decided to add a small potato to it, to make it worth my while cooking it!  I sliced both the kohlrabi and the potato into small, thin pieces, sliced a quarter of an onion and a green chili.   

With Curry Powder and Turmeric
 Put the pieces of kohlrabi, potato, slices of onion and green chili and curry leaves into a saucepan with a little water, added a spoonful of curry powder and a little turmeric and salt and brought it to a boil:

Kohlrabi & Potato Cooking

Once the pieces of kohlrabi were cooked, I added a little milk and a bit of lemon juice and simmered it for a few minutes:

Kohlrabi and Potato Curry
 This type of curry, cooked with green chili but without the addition of chili powder, is called a white curry (although the color is actually yellow due to the turmeric).  However, due to the amount of green chili I added, this curry is actually more spicy hot than the chicken curry I cooked yesterday!

Dinner: Rice, Chicken Curry, and Kohlrabi & Potato Curry
The cooked kohlrabi was softer than the raw kohlrabi, of course, but had a different texture than the more floury potato.  I think the cooking intensified the taste of the kohlrabi, but it wasn't an unpleasant taste.  It tasted a bit like cabbage, I think and the texture was like that of a cabbage or broccoli stem.

This concludes my kohlrabi experiment.  I liked it both raw in a salad and cooked in a curry, but I don't know if I liked it well enough to buy it again.  Mostly because there are other vegetables I like better, for the same price or less.  But, at least I now know that I will eat kohlrabi.

Have you been able to try kohlrabi, yet?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry
I took one of the whole chickens I bought on Friday and made a chicken curry with most of it on Monday (I pan-roasted the breast portion).

Chicken curry is something that vary a little from cook to cook.  Some saute the pieces of chicken first and then cook it; others skip the sauteing, altogether.  Some add tomato, others add vinegar, still others might add soy sauce.  But this is how I learned to make it when I was still a teenager helping my mother in the kitchen.  This chicken curry is a staple in my home and it is the taste of home for my daughter.

First, I cut it up and removed the skin.  Then, added curry powder, chili powder, a little salt, lemon juice, and curry leaves and kept it to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Marinating Chicken

Later, I cut up the rest of the ingredients: an onion, some ginger and garlic, a green chili, (shown below), plus a tomato (not pictured), stripped the curry leaves from the stem and removed the shell from the tamarind.  I added a piece of lemon grass, too, but I hadn't gone to the garden to pick it before I took the picture (I am still not used to getting everything assembled before hand to take pictures; usually, I am still gathering ingredients and cutting things up while I am sauteing the chicken!)

Ingredients:  Clockwise from the top - sprig of curry leaves, diced yellow onions, cardamom pods, cloves, sliced green chili, diced ginger and garlic, a piece of pandan leaf, and a whole tamarind, still in its shell

Then, I heated up a little oil in a pan and added the chicken and sauted it for a few minutes.  Then, added the rest of the ingredients and sauted everything.  After a few minutes, I added a little water, covered the pan and let the chicken cook for about 15 minutes.  Then, I added a can of coconut milk:

Coconut Milk Added

And allowed it to cook a little longer, until the flavors blended.  Ideally, no one flavor should dominate and the curry is spicy and flavorful without being uncomfortably hot.

If anyone wants to make a similar chicken curry but doesn't have some of the ingredients that might be unfamiliar such as curry leaves and pandan leaves, they may be omitted.  Or, a few bay leaves may be substituted for the curry leaves.   And, regular milk can be substituted for coconut milk.  However, the taste will not be quite the same.  

I had rice, chicken curry, cucumber salad and a little tomato chutney for my dinner on Monday and packed the same to take to the office for my lunch, today (Tuesday).  The rest of the chicken curry is in the fridge to be eaten over the rest of the week. 

It's not bulk cooking, exactly, (I'm not preparing a month's worth of meals, for example), but cooking a couple of main dishes a week like this (ground beef and chicken curry, this week) enables me to cook once or twice and eat for the rest of the week.  In addition to the ground beef and chicken curry, I also prepared the pan-roasted chicken breast (to be sliced and eaten with vegetables or for roast chicken sandwiches, or added to a green salad, etc.), and some tuna salad for variety.  All I need to cook during the rest of the week are rice and some vegetables, as side dishes. 

Do you do this type of "once a week cooking"?  Have you made chicken curry?  Is it something you might try making?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Stretching the Ground Beef

An Assortment of Vegetables
On Thursday, I bought a package of ground beef.  It weighed a little over 1 lb. and was priced at $3.99 per pound; I paid $4.71 for it.  On Saturday, I cooked it.

But first, I gathered a few vegetables to add to the ground beef.  A couple of ribs of celery, a few carrots, a red onion (I used only half of it), and a few cloves of garlic, all what I had in my fridge, and a tomato my gardener brought me from his garden.

I grated the carrots and a potato, which I forgot to include in the picture.  The other vegetables were finely diced:  

All Diced or Grated
 And sauted in a little vegetable oil, until softened:

Sauted Vegetables and Potato
 Halfway through the sauteing, I decided that a little green chili was needed:

Minced Green Chili
Then, I removed the sauted vegetables from the pan and browned the ground beef.  Then, I added the vegetables to the ground beef and seasoned it all with a little salt, ground black pepper, a little lemon juice and Worchestershire sauce:

Ground Beef Added

I add the vegetables to the ground beef for two reasons: they bulk up and almost double the ground beef, stretching it to make it less costly, and it is a good way to add more vegetables to my diet.

Ground beef cooked this way can be used in a variety of ways:  it can be added to pasta sauce and served with spaghetti; it can be topped with mashed potatoes and made into a cottage pie; it can be used as a filling in savory meat pies like Curry Puffs; or, it can be added to leftover rice for a quick fried rice.

I froze half of the mixture - I will be taking it with me when I go to visit daughter (I will be taking my toasted sandwich maker and we will use some of the ground beef mixture as a sandwich filling for some toasted sandwiches).  I kept the rest of the ground beef mixture in the fridge for me to eat during the week.

For lunch on Saturday, and again for dinner on Sunday, I had a serving of the ground beef mixture with a microwave-baked potato and some green peas (I always keep a bag of frozen peas and frozen corn on hand).  I suppose a salad would have been better, healthier for me, but I was in the mood for green peas.

Do you add vegetables to your ground beef to stretch it?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Flowers from a Friend

Fragrant Flowers

On Saturday, a friend brought me some flowers from his garden:

The most fragrant of flowers - gardenias, jasmine, and plumeria (also known as frangipani).  What a lovely gift!


 I immediately put them in vases or, in the case of the plumeria, in a bowl of water where they floated:

 I was careful to place them high up on shelves, away from the reach of a curious cat who thinks flowers are good to eat!

The whole house smells lovely.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

More Birthday Cards

Birthday Cards

I made two more birthday cards, using supplies I had on hand. 

Purple Lace and Rhinestones

Cream card stock, overlaid with lilac card stock and a bit of beige card stock, polka dotted border around, a bit of the Happy Birthday printed paper matted with a different shade of purple card stock and, because it looked too plain, a bit of purple lace laid over the lilac and beige strips at the top. I felt it needed a little more embellishing, so, I took three stick-on rhinestones (leftover from when daughter took dance classes and we embellished her costumes for performances) and added them to the card for a bit of "bling".

White Lace and Buttons

The second card also started out with cream card stock; I overlaid it with a piece of thin paper which had tiny bits of wildflowers embedded in it.  It's barely visible in the picture, above, but more visible on the card and it provides a little texture, as well.  I used a piece of white embroidered lace to embellish this card and, because the purple strips looked too plain, I added some white buttons from my collection.

I think, without the Happy Birthday paper, these two cards can be adapted for any occasion.   What do you think?

July Grocery Shopping Part 2 Continued!

Friday evening, I made a slight detour on my way home from work to stop at a different grocery store than the one I went to yesterday, as they were having a sale on whole chicken for $.89/lb. (regular price $1.39/lb; the price for whole chicken at the store I went to yesterday was $1.89/lb).

I bought 4 chickens.  They each weighed over 5 lbs., and cost $5.24, $5.01, $5.17, and $4.96.  I spent a total of $20.38 for the 4 chickens. 

I had only had $7.86 left in my July grocery budget after yesterday's grocery shopping.  So, with today's shopping, I obviously went over budget by $12.52.

However, I intend to keep two of the chickens I bought today for a dinner I'll be hosting in October (part of the reason why I bought 4 chickens) and I have a separate budget for that.  If I keep the 2 bigger chickens for that occasion, then, $5.24 + $5.17 = $10.41 can come from that budget, instead of my regular grocery budget.  Deducting that $10.41 from the amount I am over budget ($12.52) reduces the amount I am over budget to $2.11.  ($12.52 - $10.41= $2.11)  That makes it better, I think (I don't like going over budget).

I put 3 of the chickens in the freezer and kept one out to cook over the weekend.

Do you have separate budgets for different things or do you just have one consolidated budget?

Friday, July 17, 2015

July Grocery Shopping: Part 2

This Week's Groceries

 I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work, today, and bought:

1 gal. milk, $2.69
1 loaf bread, $1.99
1 box pancake mix, $1.99
2 cans tuna, @ $.89
1 package (12 oz.) frozen fish fillets (pollock), $2.49
1 doz. eggs, $3.49
1.78 lb. bananas, @ $.69/lb = $1.23
1+ lb. ground beef (sirloin), 90% lean, $3.99/lb = $4.71  (73% lean was the same price per lb., so I chose the leaner meat)
Total = $20.37

I also bought a bag of cat food (9.99) and a personal care item ($3.99), both of which were also taxed ($.79) which I don't include in my grocery total.

I also had a "valued customer" coupon from the grocery store, which entitled me to a 15% off total bill; the discount came to $5.15!  With the discount and tax, the total bill came to $29.99.  I figured the groceries-only portion of my bill (with 15% discount) came to $17.31.



I had $25.17 left in my July grocery budget after last week's grocery shopping.  So, with today's shopping, I have: $25.17 - $17.31 = $7.86.

That will still allow me to buy a couple of whole chickens, which are on sale for $.89/lb. at a different store (whole chickens at the store I went to today were $1.89/lb).

I also have a second 15% off coupon valid for later this month - I might have to borrow from the August budget to take advantage of the coupon.  

I haven't quite decided what to make with the ground beef, but I will cook it tomorrow, with onion, carrots and celery added to it.  Then, it can be portioned and frozen for future meals, too.

I didn't buy any additional fruits, other than the bananas, because I still have apples, mangoes, and an orange in the fridge.  And I didn't need to buy any vegetables because I have cabbage, beets, carrots, 1/3 cucumber in the fridge and frozen corn and peas and tomato in the freezer.

How is your July grocery budget coming along?  Are you managing to keep to your budget?  


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday: Quiet Day

Wednesday has been a quiet day.  I went to the office, during the day.  Came home and watered the garden, both front and back.  I've been trying to keep the watering to a minimum, but the orange tree was showing signs of stress due to a lack of water, with leaves curling up, etc.  And, another rose bush has died.  So, I watered everything and took the succulents cuttings I had been wanting.  Later, I video chatted with daughter and checked this week's grocery ads.  I need to go grocery shopping this weekend; I am out of milk, eggs, bread, and meat/fish.  Whole chicken is on sale for $.89/lb., this week, so, I'll stock up, this weekend.

How was your Wednesday?  Did you have a good day?

Tuesday's Productivity

Zucchini Bread

 I went to the office, in the morning, and had another rather productive day.  Came home in the evening and brought in the empty trash cans, checked the mail, video chatted with daughter (she went to an office picnic, today!), called a friend to wish her for her birthday, and baked three loaves of zucchini bread.  I had bought three small zucchinis last week, which came to just over 1 lb.; two of them gave me 3 cups of grated zucchini, so I baked three loaves.  I only had 3 eggs left in the carton, which was just enough to make three loaves.  I will share them with daughter when I next visit her, and there'll be some for when my friend visits next weekend and to share with my neighbor.

With the 3rd zucchini - I sliced and sauted it and had with salmon, rice, and tomato chutney for my dinner: 

Dinner: Sauted zucchini, salmon, rice, tomato chutney

 Focus on abundance: 3 loaves of zucchini bread to share with others.

How was your Tuesday?  Do you like zucchini bread? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday's To Do List

I didn't complete the weekend to do list, and Monday had its own to do list!  I hate it when I start off the week feeling already behind!

Monday's to do list:

- Go to the office - done
- Respond to the car insurance renewal questionnaire - done (required going on-line and making a follow-up phone call)
- Follow-up email re. daughter's renters' insurance - done
- Make mammogram appointment - done - called  the clinic's referral desk, spoke to person in charge, explained that the mammogram center hadn't received authorization forms faxed to them, gave them the new/correct fax number, called back the mammogram center and, yes! they've received the authorizations, appointment made!
- Make follow-up dr's appointment - called the clinic, dr.'s calendar not available for appointments, yet; will need to call back next week.
- Call financial planner to discuss retirement planning - done; not planning to retire, yet - not for at least another 3 years, but good to know where things stand and make long term goals.
- Put gas to the car - done; gas has gone up; paid $3.89/gal. at the "cheap" gas station; over $4 at other places
- Take trash cans to the curb - done
- Go through the day's mail - done
- Do the cat's litterbox - not done yet; will do as soon as I post this

I was tired when I came home from work, so took a short nap.  Then, spent the rest of the evening video chatting with daughter.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a less busy day and I can get to some of the items I've yet to do from the weekend list!

How was your Monday?  Did you accomplish what you planned to do?

Sunday Baking

Sunday evening, I decided to do some baking, using items I had on hand: frozen puff pastry, eggs, bacon, and cocktail sausages.  Egg & Bacon rolls and a type of sausage roll.

First, I hard boiled two eggs, removed the shells and cut them in quarters.  Next, I partially cooked the bacon; doing so renders out some of the fat and prevents the egg & bacon rolls from being too oily:

Ingredients for Egg & Bacon Rolls

I cut the puff pastry squares in half, wrapped each piece of quartered egg with a piece of bacon, and placed the bacon wrapped egg quarters on each piece of pastry:

Bacon Wrapped Piece of Egg on Puff Pastry

Next, I dampened the edges of the puff pastry with a bit of water, rolled it up and flattened the edges with the tines of a fork to seal them.  I placed them on foil covered baking trays - the foil makes it easier to clean up, afterwards.  I don't grease the foil.

Egg & Bacon Rolls Ready for Baking

I made eight egg & bacon rolls because I had boiled only two eggs.  They were brushed with a little milk, before baking in a 350F oven.

But each package of the frozen puff pastry contains eight squares.  The egg & bacon rolls used up four squares, and I decided to make a type of sausage rolls with the remaining puff pastry squares, using some cocktail sausages I had in the freezer.  I thawed the sausages in the microwave for a couple of minutes, first.  Then, cut the puff pastry squares into quarters, placed a sausage in each quarter of pastry and rolled it up:

Cocktail Sausages Ready to be Rolled up in Puff Pastry

They, too, were placed on a foil-covered baking tray and brushed with a little milk:

Sausage Rolls Ready for the Oven

I put the egg & bacon rolls in the oven first, and then, made the sausage rolls and put them to bake, too.  So, the egg & bacon rolls baked for about 30 minutes and the sausage rolls baked for about 15-20 minutes (I turned the oven off when I took the egg & bacon rolls out and left the sausage rolls in the still-warm oven for another 5 minutes, or so; I didn't use a timer).

Egg & Bacon Rolls
 They stayed nicely sealed.  Can't say the same about the sausage rolls!

Sausage Rolls
 Oops!  Some of them opened up!  Oh, well, they still taste good.  These egg & bacon rolls and sausage rolls will be for my lunches and snacks, this week, along with some fruit and salad.

I didn't use all the bacon I cooked, so, I put the leftovers in a container, in the fridge.  And the bacon grease was saved, too - I have a small jar in which I keep the bacon grease in the fridge.  I use a little of it, sometimes, when I fry potatoes, etc., to give them a little extra flavor.

Jar of Bacon Grease
Have you made egg & bacon rolls?  Or the little sausage rolls?  Do you save bacon grease to use in your cooking, later?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tomato Chutney

Tomatoes, 8 lbs. in all

Chutney is a spicy, sweet condiment and can be made with any variety of fruit.  One of my favorites is tomato chutney.  It's something I make almost every year, as both daughter and I enjoy it so much.

I use a recipe I copied down from my mother's cook book when I was 17 years old:

Hand-copied Recipes: the tomato chutney recipe starts on the lower left page and continues on the upper right page

I have 3 or 4 note books like this one (they used to be called Monitor's Exercise Books), with recipes I copied from various sources.   Written in ink with a fountain pen, the page is smudged and there are notations made where I tried to calculate how much vinegar to add (converting British/Imperial measures to American/US equivalents).  The recipe calls for "1/2 bottle of vinegar" for 1 lb. tomatoes.  And from what I remember, it was 5 bottles to 1 Imperial gallon.

My mother gave away her cook book, but later, she said that if she had known I was interested in those recipes, she would have kept the book or given it to me.  Years later, she bought me another copy of the book, but it was a revised edition and some of the recipes, including the tomato chutney recipe, had changed!  I prefer to use the original recipe.

Here's the original recipe as I copied it:

"Grind 1 oz. dry chillies, 1 oz. mustard seeds, 1/2 oz. garlic and 1/2 oz. green ginger with some vinegar from 1/2 bottle vinegar; scald 1 lb. ripe tomatoes and peel and slice.  Add the remainder of the vinegar and boil until the fruit is soft.  Add 3/4 lb. sugar, the ground ingredients and salt and boil gently till of a good consistency for chutney."

The revised recipe in the newer edition of the cook book omits the mustard seeds, calls for 1 lb. sugar and 1/4 bottle vinegar. 

First, I prepared the tomatoes to be scalded and peeled by cutting an X at the bottom of each one:

The Prepared Tomatoes and other Ingredients

 The tomatoes were scalded by dipping in boiling water briefly and then taking them out:

Scalding the Tomatoes

Scalding makes it easy to peel; the skin splits from where the X was cut and curls back:

Scalded Tomatoes

 The peeled tomatoes:

Peeled Tomatoes

And then, I peeled and cut the ginger and garlic:

Ginger (at the back) and Garlic (in front)
The chopped ginger and garlic were ground in a blender, with mustard seeds and vinegar; cutting the ginger and garlic into small pieces help in the grinding process.  I used chilli powder, instead of the whole dry chillies called for in the recipe, because it's easier.  After that, the peeled tomatoes were diced:

Peeled Diced Tomatoes (the ground garlic/ginger/mustard seed mixture in small bowl)

The diced tomatoes are added to a big pan with the rest of the vinegar:

Tomato and Vinegar Mixture
This was boiled for about an hour, and then, the other ingredients added and boiled longer.

After All Ingredients Added
Chutney is cooked until it reduces and the thickens.  This process can take quite some time; today, with 8 lbs. of tomato, it took over 3 hours.  It needs to be stirred to make sure it doesn't scorch.

Just About Ready (it looks brown, but the actual color is a deep red)
In the meantime, I washed and sterilized the jars I was going to use to bottle up the chutney.  I used an assortment of recycled jars:

Jars of Chutney

16 assorted jars of chutney cooling on the counter.  Some will be given as gifts.  The rest will be for daughter and me.  The chutney is spicy, sweet, and slightly acidic.  

I've made chutney with other fruits, but tomato chutney remains a favorite with both daughter and me. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Weekend Plans

Saturday morning and time to make plans for the weekend!  Otherwise, I am likely to just sit here, watching craft shows and tennis on TV and not do anything!

Weekend To Do List:

- Laundry (sofa dust sheets)
- Paperwork/filing
- Tidy family room


- Water the garden (front and back) and indoor plants

- Take plant cuttings
- Buy more mulch if there's a sale

- Make tomato chutney
- Bake zucchini bread
- Do something with apples
- Cut up and freeze celery

- Continue to read library book
- Make a birthday card
- Reply to a letter
- Sew
- Watch crafts & tennis (Wimbledon!) on TV
- Video chat with daughter (of course)
- Call a friend

That seems like a nice, well-balanced weekend - some housework and gardening, some cooking, some relaxing. 

What have you planned for the weekend? 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Kohlrabi Salad

Kohlrabi/Apple/Carrot Salad with Dried Cranberries

I made my kohlrabi salad, today!


I had bought a small kohlrabi, the smallest I could find, because I wasn't sure if I would like it.  It's a vegetable I had eaten and not cared for much, as a child.  I have always eaten it cooked, but my friend had suggested eating it raw, so I was going to try it.

First, I cut it in half:
Halved Kohlrabi

I decided to try the salad with only one of the halves; I kept the other half in the fridge for another time.  Then, I peeled the half I was going to use and cut into small pieces:

Julienned Kohlrabi

I tried a small piece of the kohlrabi by itself, without any salt or anything, and it tasted OK.  It reminded me a bit of radish, but without the peppery-ness of radish.  It also tasted a bit like broccoli stems.

I cut two pieces from a Granny Smith apple and added that to the kohlrabi:

Pieces of Apple
I cut the apple slices into small pieces and did the same with a carrot.  Then, added dried cranberries, a little salt and lemon juice.  And it made a pretty good salad.  The lemon juice improves the taste of the kohlrabi - the pieces that were at the bottom of the bowl which marinated in the lemon juice-salt mixture the longest tasted quite mild.  If I make this salad another time, I will leave it to marinate for 20-30 minutes before eating it.  I didn't add any nuts to it, but they would be a good addition to the salad.    

I am wondering whether to cook the other half of the kohlrabi or make another salad.  I'm thinking I will cook it to see if I like it that way.

Today's dinner was kohlrabi salad, bread, and beef curry.  

Have you had kohlrabi?  Have you eaten it raw?  Or do you usually cook it?  If you haven't eaten it, do you think you might try it?