Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Goals and Balance Wheel Review

-   Focus on prayers and meditations; on gratitude and being thankful; appreciate the blessings:  I think I did well with this; I noted the blessings and listed 5 things I was grateful for each day.  

- Undecorate from Christmas and start cleaning and decluttering and organizing!  Loads to be done!:  Again, I think I did well in this area;  I undecorated and started cleaning; I cleared the living room and dining area, family room and did part of my bedroom and started on the kitchen.
- She still has 2 weeks of Winter break left, so she'll be home for a bit longer.  Then, she returns to Berkeley to begin her last semester of Grad. school:  As always, the biggest blessing in my life!  We enjoyed her stay over winter break and she's been back this weekend to be with me for the 3rd chemo session. 

- Most, if not all, contacts will be on the phone or on-line, this month.  I need to call and wish one cousin and one aunt on their birthdays: Called and wished aunt and cousin; another cousin and her daughter took me to one of my medical appointments so we visited in person as well; another cousin and aunt will be visiting me this afternoon.
-  Again, contacts will be mostly on the phone and on-line: Phone calls and emails, for the most part; but other friends also brought food and showed they cared in many ways.     
-  I plan to continue to work from home on the good days: Did all my assignments and was thanked by my supervisor.

- I will continue to budget and manage my finances to the best of my abilities.  The big bill due this month is daughter's tuition and fees:  January was an expensive month, with higher than usual heating and utility bills; but all bills were paid and finances are in a good way.

- Once again, the main focus will be on health.  I've a hydration session scheduled for Monday, January 4, a blood test on Tuesday, January 5, and the second chemo therapy session on Friday, January 8.  It will be followed by another blood test the following week and a hydration session on the Friday of that week.  And depending on the blood test results, more immunity booster injections, and "lather, rinse, repeat" :  I had both my 2nd and 3rd chemo sessions in January, along with all the hydrations, blood tests, immune booster injections, etc.

Time Management:
- Procrastinate less!  Go back to making daily to do lists and actually do them! I am doing better in this area.  At least, some things are getting done!

- I plan to finish knitting the scarf I am making and start on the Mountain Climbing quilt: Finished the scarf, last night!  Will start on the quilt today!

I think, on the whole, I did well with achieving my goals and a balanced life in January.  I will do a new Goals/Balance Wheel for February, tomorrow.

Did anyone else try to do a goals/balance wheel for January?  Anyone wants to try one for February?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday: More Kitchen Tidying

Today is a cloudy, overcast day.  Rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

I am feeling fine after yesterday's chemo session.  No nausea.  The only side effect seems to be a dry mouth.  As side effects go, it's very minor.

Today, I have been continuing with kitchen tidying.  This time, I was brave enough to take some "before" pictures, as well!  LOL!

I took a picture of the upper cabinets on either side of and above the stove:

Cabinets Above the Stove

At just under 5-feet in height, I am vertically challenged!  I can barely reach the cabinet above the stove even on tippy toes.  As a result, I tend to store the less used baking pans, the larger juicer, some empty glass jars (used for chutney and jam making, storing spices, etc.), as well as a jar of tiny, dried shrimp (used as a flavoring condiment in some curries).  The stove hood vent takes up the middle of the cabinet.

The cabinet to the left is where I keep the tea/coffee/sugar, etc., which I tidied the other day.  The cabinet to the right is were I keep my jams, chutneys, cooking sauces, corn meal, rolled oats, instant soup noodles, etc.  I cleaned the shelves and tidied it, today.   The picture above was taken before I tidied it.

Immediately to the right of the single upper cabinet shown above (with the chutneys and cooking sauces, etc.), is a double cabinet which is a sort of storage/pantry cabinet:

Storage/Pantry Cabinet

These cabinets take up one of the shorter walls of my kitchen, which measures 8 feet by 10 1/2 feet.

Back to the upper cabinet to the right of the stove:

Upper Right Cabinet: Before

Again, I took everything off each shelf, washed the shelf and replaced the items.   I was able to fit in all the jars of chutney on one shelf; I left the last jar of jam on the uppermost shelf.  I believe I have 2 jars of lemon marmalade in another cabinet, that can go on that shelf with the jar of jam (will retrieve them when I get to that cabinet).  Then, I washed the cabinet door.

Here is the upper cabinet after being sorted through:

Upper Cabinet: After

I am able to reach the items on the lower two shelves; getting a jar of chutney or jam requires the aid of the two-tier step stool.

To the right of the stove (again, my right when standing facing the stove), below this upper cabinet, is another drawer and lower cabinet:

Drawer and Lower Cabinet

The drawer is where I keep mostly baking utensils - spatulas, mixer beaters, measuring cups and spoons, whisks, pastry brush, plus other less used items such as the pizza cutter, ice cream scoop, a melon baller, nut cracker, bottle openers, cork screw, candle stubs, etc.

Drawer: Before

I removed everything from the drawer, damp wiped the inside, washed the drawer organizers (a cutlery tray and a divided tray from a packet of cookies!  I like to reuse whatever is available and on hand.  It's frugal and environmentally friendly.  Then, placed the trays back.


Clean Drawer and Organizers

Then, I sorted through and replaced all the utensils back.  I didn't find anything to toss, at this time, although the green spout was a close candidate.  I did put back two cookie cutters in the container where I store the cookie cutters (in another cabinet).

Drawer: After

Not much of a difference between the before and after - it's hard to keep the utensils drawers neat and tidy, and I probably have too many items in there.  I have three sets of measuring spoons, for example, which might be too many, but when both daughter and I are both in the kitchen, making different things, we find it convenient to have duplicates and triplicates.

The cabinet underneath is where I keep the majority of my small appliances: the waffle maker, blender, hand mixer, juicer, pastry sheet and rolling pin, an electric frying pan at the very back, an electric grill that was a gift which is still in the box, etc.  This is the before picture, but I decided not to rearrange it at this time.  I know what's in there and there really isn't a better way to organize it, so it is OK as is.

Small Appliances Cabinet: Current

I washed the drawer front and the door of the small appliances cabinet.

Back to the last upper cabinet - just the pantry shelves, only:

The Pantry Shelves - Current

This includes my earthquake/emergency supplies, as well.  So, it includes some ready-to-eat kits and boxed mixes, as well.  I didn't take out the items off and wash these shelves at this time.  I might do that another time, when the kitchen area comes around on my cleaning cycle.  This cabinet is tidy enough for my needs, at this time.  Again, I can reach the items on the two lower shelves, but the upper shelves require the use of the two-tier step stool (the top most shelf means climbing on the counter!)

Just below this pantry cabinet, and to the right of the small appliances cabinet, is the corner cabinet:

The Corner Cabinet

There is a two tiered turn-table installed in this corner cabinet to make things more accessible.  I store my cooking pots and pans on the upper tier and my baking supplies and kitchen scales, etc. in the bottom tier.  This cabinet is in dire need of being sorted and the shelves relined, but here is the before picture:

Two-Tiered Turn Table

I washed the corner cabinet doors, today, but I didn't sort through and clean the inside of it.  That will be left for another day - maybe next week, or maybe when the kitchen comes up on my cleaning cycle.  This will be a big deep cleaning job.  Best left for another day when it will be my first job of the day to tackle, when I have more energy, etc.

In other kitchen news, my old 4-slice toaster died on me, yesterday, when I tried to toast my last bagel.  I unplugged it and wiped out the crumbs, etc., and tried it again, but it wasn't working.  Oh, well, I've had it for over 20 years, so it gave me good service.  I had daughter get me a new, 2-slice toaster to replace it.  This new one has adjustable slots to accommodate bagels, unlike my old toaster.

Daughter also bought herself a coffee maker as she has got accustomed to brewed coffee and no longer likes instant coffee.  So, she's been missing her morning coffee when she visits me.   It was OK when she visited less than once a month, but now, she's coming home more often and has been dragging in the mornings!  I need to clear up my counter space to accommodate the coffee maker. 

In the morning, my daughter ran some errands for me and I picked some lemons and curry leaves for her to give to one of my friends when she was out and about.

So that was my productivity for today.  The rest of the evening will be spent reading and/or knitting.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Feeling fine after yesterday's chemo treatment
- Minimal side effects
- Getting more kitchen cleaning and organizing done
- Daughter running more errands for me
- Being able to bless a friend with lemons and curry leaves from my garden

How was your Saturday? 

Friday: 3rd Chemo Session

Friday's chemo session went very well.  The new anti-nausea medication had been delivered to the clinic in time, my white blood cell count was good, and the chemo was administered without any problems.  I knitted on my scarf while I had the treatment.  At one point, I got hungry and daughter went to the nearby hamburger place and bought me a breakfast sandwich!  We were done around 12:30 p.m. and home by 1:30 p.m.  The only side effect, so far, was feeling sleepy on the drive home.  Since daughter was driving, I dozed on and off and took a short nap when I got home.

My gardener friend came over around 2:30 p.m.  He agreed to doing the litter boxes every Friday, so that is taken care of.  We just need to schedule one of daughter's friends or the mother of one friend to come on a Monday or a Tuesday so that the litter boxes will get done at least twice a week.  Normally, he only has one litter box which gets cleaned every other day; but because it won't get cleaned as often, now, I set up a spare litter box for him as I used to do when I'd visit daughter for extended weekend visits.  I have them set up side by side and he uses both!

My neighbor across the street called me later in the evening and brought over a container of lentil soup and 3 homemade burritos for daughter.  My neighbor is a proficient pianist and teaches piano at home (she taught my daughter at one time, until daughter got too busy with school work); she said she'll come over one evening and play the piano for me - a private concert, so to speak.  I am looking forward to that.

I didn't do any housework today, but I am OK with that.  Today was a day of rest after the chemo.  I will see how I feel tomorrow.

While I relaxed and rested, daughter did some grocery shopping, etc., for me in the afternoon.  She went to the pharmacy too, to pick up my medications.  Apparently my vitamin D count was very low and I have been put on two doses of vitamin D - a prescription strength dose to be taken once a week and an over-the-counter strength dose for everyday!  I am also to start taking calcium pills and stop taking the vitamin C pills that the primary care doctor had told me to take!  Earlier, we had asked the oncologist if it was OK to take the vitamin C tablets and he had said it was fine, there will be no drug interactions, etc.  However, vitamin C is an antioxidant, and while antioxidants are considered to be good for normal cells, a study done in Oct. of 2015 had claimed that antioxidants seem to boost cancer cells and cause them to grow and spread faster!  So, the nurse practitioner wants me off the vitamin C supplements.  I will still eat the oranges from the garden and other fresh fruits, but I will not take the vitamin C supplements.  I do have an appointment with my primary care physician scheduled for early February, so I will notify her of the changes in dietary supplements and see what she has to say.  She mainly prescribed the vitamin C as a precaution during the flu season.  Since I don't go out in public places (other than the clinic and the lab) if it can be avoided, and I wear a mask when I do go out, I feel I am taking sufficient precautions against infections.

Plans for tomorrow will depend on how I feel; if I feel energetic, I will continue with tidying the kitchen; if not, it will be sewing, knitting, and taking it easy.
Today, I am grateful for:
- The new anti-nausea drug was shipped to the clinic in time for my treatment
- The 3rd chemo therapy session is done; I've just one more session of this particular chemo combination (after that, there will be 3 months of weekly session with a different chemo)
- No side effects yet, other than feeling sleepy on the drive home
- Gardener friend agreed do the litter boxes once a week
- Neighbor blessed us with soup and burritos

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday's Progress

Today, in the morning, I went to have my blood work done.  I had to make two trips because, silly me took the wrong paperwork with me on the first trip!  But the phlebotomists who work at the lab were all very good humored about it.  I promised them that I'll bring a bag of lemons for them to share the next time I come for a blood test (probably next week or the week after).

I also received a phone call from the pharmacy saying that they will try to ship my newest anti-nausea medication directly to the clinic in time for my 3rd chemo treatment, tomorrow.  They had called me yesterday, saying that insurance has approved it and they were trying to ship it to me in time for me to receive it today, but, for some reason, they had a problem doing so.  After this, they will ship it to me, directly, about a week prior to the next chemo treatment.     

In the afternoon, I worked on office-related work.  I completed this week's assignment and sent it all back with a request for additional assignments.  I also called my supervisor and left her a message about tomorrow's chemo treatment.  I informed her that I might have to take sick leave next week, depending on how I feel.  Later in the evening, I received the additional assignments.  I will work on them next week, if possible, and/or the week after, as the case might be.

While I waited for my bagel to toast for a late brunch, I decided to clean one of the kitchen drawers.  I have a set of three kitchen drawers to the left of the stove (well, my left when I stand in front of the stove).

Kitchen Drawers

The shallower top drawer is where I keep my knives, can opener, vegetable peeler, strainers, etc., plus a couple of teaspoons used exclusively for making tea and coffee, etc.  (The tea, instant coffee, sugar, etc. are kept in the upper cabinet directly over the drawers).

I took everything out and wiped the drawer with a disinfectant wipe.

Wiped Clean

I have lined the drawers with contact paper I had bought from the dollar stores, as they are washable, protect the drawers, and can be peeled off and replaced as needed.

Then, I washed the cutlery organizer tray I keep in the drawer (by which time my bagel was toasted). 

Blurry but Clean Cutlery Tray

After I had eaten, I replaced everything neatly back in the drawer.  I didn't find anything to declutter from the drawer, except for two old cough drops, although, I suppose I could cut down on the number of knives!

Organized Drawer

The two deeper, lower drawers are where I store my spices, herbs, and a few groceries such as pulses (lentil, garbanzo beans, mung beans, etc.).  Later, in the evening,  I decided to clean out these two drawers, too.  Again, I removed everything, wiped the drawer insides and fronts clean, and put everything back.  There was nothing to toss.

I am aware that some people have matching storage jars for their spices and herbs, but I just reuse whatever empty jars and bottles that I have.  So, everything is mis-matched and it looks messy, but it's frugal, environmentally friendly, and I don't mind.  Besides, I buy some of my spices such as curry powder in bulk (1 lb. containers), while others are bought in smaller quantities.  So, different sized containers work for me.

Upper Spice Drawer

A few of the jars and bottles have the contents labeled on the sides, but most have the contents written on the top, so it's easy to see what's what when I open the drawer.  I should redo the labels, however, as some are starting to peel off!

Lower Drawer

I store some pulses, such as mung beans and garbanzo beans, as well as extra herbs and spices in this lower drawer.  I like to buy things in bulk or multiples of certain items as it reduces the number of trips I need to make to the ethnic stores where I buy my spices.

And for those who inquiring minds who want to know, the upper cabinet directly over the drawers, where the tea, instant coffee, sugar, hot cocoa, etc. are kept:

Upper Tea/Coffee/Sugar Cabinet

Everyday tea and sugar kept right in front; daughter's specialty teas towards the back of the lowest shelf; extra tea, coffee, sugar, etc., stored on higher shelves.  Again, I like to buy things such as multiple bags of sugar when they go on sale and since I live in earthquake country, they become part of my emergency supplies. 

Later today, my daughter will come home to be with me when I have my 3rd chemo therapy session, tomorrow morning.  I will go to the airport to pick her up.

This evening, one of my friends called and asked if daughter could bring her some curry leaves and lemons from my garden this weekend.  I told her I will ask daughter to do so.  I have such an abundance of both in my garden right now.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- My new medication was approved and they will do their best to make sure I receive it on time
- The really nice staff at the lab where I go to get the bloodwork done
- A sunny and warmer day
- Getting more of the kitchen cleaned
- My daughter is coming home tonight!

How was your Thursday?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday's Productivity

Went in for my immune booster injection, again, this morning.

After I came home, I worked on office-related work.  I had sent an email, last night, requesting additional information pertaining to my assignment and one of my colleagues had sent it to me this morning.  There was another email inquiring about the status of Project A and I had to email them back explaining that I had been pulled off Project A to work on Project B, which is higher priority and is the project I'm currently working on.  I copied my immediate supervisor on the email, so she's aware of all communications.  I have finished about 80% of this week's assignment - should have it completed by tomorrow.  I will send the completed assignment back to the office before I go for my next chemo treatment on Friday.

In between, I started tidying my kitchen.  I went through some of the upper cabinets, took things out and wiped the shelves and put things back.  I also washed four of the upper cabinet doors and the stove vent hood.   Some of the other cabinets are tidy and don't need going through.  But I still have to sort out the large, floor to ceiling cabinet.  Once the cabinets are tidied, I can clear the counters.  I am doing this in baby steps, 15 minutes at a time.  I am hoping to get the kitchen done tomorrow.

I also sewed a little on the hexagon quilt.  I had hoped to have finished it, last summer, but I didn't.  I am hoping to have it completed by the end of this summer.  But, it will be OK even if it takes longer.  I find the hand-sewing to be very meditative and soothing.

Today, I paid two bills - the cable/internet bill ($130) and the natural gas (heating, cooking, etc.) bill, which came to a whopping $349.00!  That is the highest it has ever been!  We used the heater a lot in December, for one reason or another.  I allocate $100/month for the gas bill throughout the year - in the summer, my bills is usually less than $20, as I don't use the heater then.  The extra money goes towards the higher winter bills.

 I also received the utilities (combined water, electricity, trash collection and sewer service) bill for the two months period between mid-November to mid-January in today's mail: $295.37.  It breaks down to $109.28 for 678 kilo Watt hours of electricity (I am allowed up to 1,000 kWh at the lower Tier 1 rate), $45.88 for 10 hundred cubic feet of water (I am allowed 24 hcf at the lower Tier 1 rate), $63.79 for sewer service charges (based on the amount of water used), and $76.42 for Solid Waste (trash, yard waste, recycling) collection.  I allocate $150/month (= $300 per billing cycle) in the budget for the utilities bill, and I came just under the budgeted amount.  I don't like the amounts of either the gas bill or the utilities bill, but they are what they are.

Today, I am grateful for:

- A safe drive to the clinic and back
- A sunny day
- Being able to pay my bills
- Being able to work from home
- Time to sew

How was your Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday's This and That

Stack of Hot Pads

I finished making the hot pads for my cousin, the other evening, but took the pictures of the finished hot pads this morning.  There are 5 hot pads:

Crocheted Hot Pads

I crocheted a cord with some of the leftover yarn after knitting the phone sleeve to use as a tie for the stack of hot pads.

They were meant to be part of her holiday gift, along with the Log Cabin Cross wall hanging (by the way, the fabric used in the hot pads is leftover from one of the fabrics used in the wall hanging).  But this cousin and her mother have been ill since before the holidays, so they haven't been around to see me and their gifts are still here.  It gave me enough time to finish up this part of the gift  (I can post about it, here, because they don't read my blog.)

Today, I've worked on office-related work.  I've made good progress with this week's assignment, but I need a bit more information before I can proceed with one section.  I sent off an email requesting additional info., but so far, I've not received it.  So, I'll continue to do what I can while I wait for it.  I'll give the person I emailed another day or so to get back to me, if not, I'll send another email.

In the afternoon, the mother of one of my daughter's friends came over to do the cat's litter box for me.  Not only did she bless me with cleaning the litter box, she wouldn't accept any payment, either.  I really need to make another batch of jam to have on hand as thank you gifts.  I shall ask daughter to pick up another dozen of pint-sized canning jars for me, when she comes home this weekend.

Last night, as I was video chatting with daughter, I felt like "Little Miss Muffet", when a spider suddenly dropped onto the laptop keyboard!  Luckily, I am not spooked by spiders.  I was able to catch it with a facial tissue and take it outside.  Today, as I was walking past the dining area, I suddenly noticed this:

Dangling Spider
It was actually hanging down from the ceiling, at the end of a long thread of web!

Spider Close Up
It was scurrying up and down the its thread of web, so the picture is blurry.  Well, it, too was removed.  I am fairly tolerant of spiders (I've lots of them in the garage and garden), but I don't particularly want them inside my house.

I put away last night's laundry and did a small load of laundry (bathroom mats).   Watered the indoor plants and watered some of the outside potted plants (I used water I saved while waiting for the shower water to warm up; I just keep a bucket under the faucet and collect the water that runs until the warmer water comes out.  I am able to collect about half a bucket, each time.)

Today, I am grateful for:

- More kind and generous friends
- Clean litter boxes!  (Dancer is grateful, too!)
- Another sunny day
- Coupons for my favorite Japanese take out place in today's mail
- A glass of mango nectar with sparkling water

How is your Tuesday coming along?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday's Doings

I had an early start to the day, today.  Up at 6:30 a.m., out of the house by 7:15 a.m., and at the clinic in time for my 8:30 a.m. appointment.  I had the injection and I met with the nurse practitioner, as well.  She looked at my throat and listened to my heart and lungs and we agreed that my recent cough and nasal drip were probably due to allergies and asthma. 

I emailed the office once I got home and received this week's assignments.

One of my friends called again, around 10:30 a.m. to tell me that he was bringing me lunch again and not to cook.  This time, he brought me 2 containers of rice and curries, so I'd have enough lunch for another day!  Considering he packed enough food to last me for at least 2 meals in each container, there's enough food for the rest of this week!  I froze some of it for daughter, as she's coming down at the end of the week.  Had some for my lunch and put the rest in the fridge for later.  I am overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone.   

I spent the afternoon doing office-related stuff.  Later, instead of going for a walk, I decided to vacuum as my exercise for the day.  I did all but the bedrooms, today, so that worked out well.  Still later, I took the trash cans to the curb and dealt with today's mail.  

I felt like having mashed potatoes for dinner, so I made some and had it with some of the sauted beef I had cooked and kept in the freezer, some green peas and carrot sticks.  I'll have an orange, later, for dessert.  

Tonight, I've experienced some bone ache from the injection, so, took a Tylenol after dinner.  Waiting for it to take effect.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Yet more generosity and kindness from a friend
- The cough and nasal drip are not due to a cold.
- A safe drive to and from the clinic.
- A productive day.
- Video chatting with daughter.

How was your Monday?  What did you do today?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday: Orange Cleaner and More Greenery

Orange Cleaner Ingredients

Since I picked some oranges from my garden, the other day, I've been eating one a day.  As my oranges are organically grown, I can use the peel to flavor baked goods, etc.  I have several zippered bags of grated orange rind in the freezer, so I don't need anymore.

One of the other things I do when I have an abundance of orange peels is make orange cleaner.  All one needs is some distilled white vinegar, orange peels, and an empty jar.

Peels from Yesterday's Orange

I put the peels from my orange into a clean, empty jar (old mayonnaise jar in this case) and covered them with vinegar:

Orange Peels in Vinegar

I store the jar in the cabinet under the sink and add more orange peels as they become available.  After about 2 weeks, the vinegar becomes infused with the oils from the peels and turns orange in color.  I then strain the liquid into a spray bottle and toss the peels.

Last Year's Orange Cleaner

I still have some of the orange cleaner I made last year.  It stores without any problems.  The smell of vinegar evaporates after use.  I don't claim that this cleaner is better at cutting grease, etc., than the commercially available products.  Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.  However, one of the benefits of homemade cleaners is you know what is in it - in this case, vinegar and orange oil.  I believe it is environmentally friendly.  I won't claim it is all natural, either, because I didn't make the vinegar from scratch.  It's commercially made vinegar which I purchased, and while one hopes it's all natural (it's food grade vinegar, after all) I don't know for sure.  But that is the only item I had to buy and vinegar is relatively inexpensive.

I should make a new, prettier label for the bottle of orange cleaner.  Previously, I had a solution of water and vinegar in this bottle and when I made the orange cleaner, I just stuck a masking tape label over it! I will be on the lookout for a picture of some oranges in one of my magazines to make a new label.

Meanwhile, I did a little house cleaning, too, today.  I dusted the living room and dining room.  I tidied the family room, cleared the coffee table and small dining table, and dusted the furniture.  I now have two piles of papers to go through, but that's for another day.  I also cleaned the 2nd bathroom.   I cooked a fish curry for my lunch and several additional meals throughout the week (I did another post about that).  I am feeling a lot better about the state of the house!  I am finally back on track with my house cleaning cycle!  This week (Jan 24-30) is the Whole House Cleaning week.  It is actually a sort of "catch up" week, and works out well for me.

I also picked a few more stems of paperwhites from the garden to bring indoors, today, and fresh greenery for the mantel. I might have to put the arrangement in the spare bedroom for the night and close the door, as I am not sure how Dancer might interact with it when I am not awake to keep an eye on him!

This Week's Arrangement

Today, my pharmacist friend brought me the box of disposable masks I had asked her to buy for me.  Not only did she bring it to me to my doorstep, she wouldn't accept payment for it, either.  But I had already suspected she wouldn't and so, was prepared with the jar of jam in exchange.  She was so happy to receive the jam; she always tells me that they fight over my jam in her house!

Today, I am grateful for:

- A bright, sunny day
- Still more caring friends
- Getting my house cleaning done
- Fresh flowers from the garden
- Email from a long-time friend

Do you make your own household cleaners?  Have you made your own orange cleaner?  What else would you do with orange peels?

Fish Curry

Today, I made myself a fish curry, using frozen fish fillets.  *Warning* - there is a picture of the raw fish fillets!

The frozen fish is skinless and boneless and comes individually wrapped in a resealable bag, which makes it convenient if you want to cook only one or two pieces at a time and keep the rest for another day.  Each package contains 12 oz. of fish and usually that translates to 3 individual pieces (of varying sizes).  I paid $2.49 for the package (back in July 17; this is quite common - I'll buy something on sale and keep in the freezer and use it several months later).  I will estimate that the rest of the ingredients cost about $1.00 or $1.50 at the most.  I decided to cook the entire package in one go, so I'll have "planned-overs" for another couple of meals over the coming week.

Since I decided to take some pictures for the blog, I took the time to set out all the ingredients at one time: the bag of fish, an onion, garlic, a green Serrano chilli, yellow curry powder, red chilli powder, a lemon, and a sprig or two of fresh curry leaves from my garden (optional or can use a couple of sage leaves instead).  If I had a tomato or two, I would have added that, too, but I didn't have any tomato, so omitted it.

Fish Curry Ingredients

First, I sliced the onion.  As usual, I sliced the entire onion and then, put what I didn't need in a zippered bag and put it in the freezer.  This way, I always have sliced (or diced, as the case maybe) onion in the freezer.

Onion Cutting Tip:  I used to cry every time I cut onions, practically with the very first cut.  I have since learned that if I store the onions in the fridge for at least a couple of days before I need them, I don't tear.  The longer they are stored in the fridge, the better.  So, now, I put the onions in the fridge as soon as I buy them.

I also sliced the green chilli and removed a few cloves of garlic from the bulb, as I didn't need a whole bulb of garlic.  The garlic, too, is stored in the fridge.

The Prepared Ingredients

 I used the fish fillets while they were still frozen.  I just removed from the individual wrapping and put in a pan.

Frozen, Raw Fish Fillets
 I then added some water to the pan, put it on medium heat, and added the rest of the ingredients - the sliced onions, sliced green chilli (omit if you want it less spicy, or add whole, or deseeded), cleaned cloves of garlic, a handful of the curry leaves, 2 heaping teaspoons of curry powder, 2 heaping teaspoons of chilli powder (reduce the amount of chilli powder if you want it less spicy), the juice of the lemon (I added half of the peeled lemon, as well, for increased flavor). 

With Water and Ingredients

I stirred in all the ingredients and left it to cook for a few minutes:

 Then, added a splash of milk and some salt to season:

After Adding Milk
A few minutes more of simmering and the curry was ready for eating.  It took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Finished Fish Curry

I ate it with some rice flour noodles for my lunch. There's enough curry remaining for another 2 or maybe even 3 meals.

Do you eat fish?  How do you prepare it?  Have you ever tried fish curry?  Do you think you might try making fish curry?  If so, you can always lessen the amount of chilli or omit it altogether.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday: Bagels and Jam!

Bagel, Cream Cheese, Strawberry Jam

I had a craving for bagels, on Thursday.  Bagels spread with cream cheese!  Hot toasted bagels oozing with melted butter!  Yum!  I don't normally get a lot of food cravings, but when I do, I can practically taste the food!  Often, I am able to wait out the craving, but sometimes, even after a few days, I still crave it and then, I give in to the craving.  Other times, I just go ahead and get whatever it is that I crave.  I have been known to bake cakes and cookies, etc., or make desserts in the middle of the night because I had a craving for it!

Well, getting something I crave isn't all that easy when I have been told to keep away from public places such as the grocery store and cafes.  I can't simply drive there, go in, and purchase what I want.  The loss of this ability is another "side effect" of the chemo treatment that I dislike.  It was not too bad when daughter was home on winter break - I only had to tell her, "I want" or "I feel like having" and she'll be out the door in a flash to buy me whatever it was that I wanted or felt like. 

So, on Thursday, when I so craved bagels, I wondered what to do.  I do have a recipe for bagels in one of my cookbooks, but I've never tried making it and I didn't know if I wanted to try it now (it involves making the dough, letting it rise, boiling the bagels first before baking them, etc.)

Instead, I called my cousin who lives across the street from me (how convenient!) to ask her if she was planning to go to the grocery store in the next day or so, and if so, would she mind picking up some bagels for me.  But cousin was not feeling too well with a sore throat and I didn't want to bother her. 

Next, I wondered if I should call my nextdoor neighbor and ask her if she could go up the street to the doughnut shop (they sell bagels, too) and get me a bagel with cream cheese from there.  Sometimes, when I used to be OK, she and I used to walk the three blocks to the doughnut shop for a doughnut and a chat.  And, this neighbor has told me to let her know if I needed anything, etc.  But, she, too, has her health issues and I decided that a craving for a bagel wasn't something with which I would disturb her. 

So, instead, I ate a couple of crackers and contented myself, although it was nothing like a bagel with cream cheese or butter.

Then, on Friday, my friend who does the garden came by and as I was chatting with him, he asked me if I was OK for food, if there was anything I wanted, etc.  Well, I told him about my craving for bagels and, later that evening, he stopped by with a bag of bagels and a package of cream cheese for me!  Actually, he blessed me with them, because he wouldn't accept payment.  I enjoyed two of the bagels, last night, for my dinner, including one half spread with honey for dessert!  :D

And, this morning, I had half a bagel with cream cheese only and the other half with cream cheese and my homemade strawberry jam, for brunch!  I tell you, there's nothing more satisfying that eating something for which you had a craving!

I think I have mentioned before just how blessed I am to have such caring people in my life.  One of the things this cancer has taught me is, there are lots of kind, considerate, caring people, who perform acts of kindness and service, every day.  It's just that it doesn't make national news headlines and so goes unnoticed.  But I am being cossetted by just such acts of caring, every day.  And I feel so blessed and grateful for the blessing. 

Maybe someday, I'll undertake making my own bagels.  It'll be a nice skill to have, I think.

When I went to take down a jar of strawberry jam for my bagel, this morning, I noticed that it was my very last jar of strawberry jam.  I also had two other jars of apple-pomegranate jam left.  I took down one jar to give as a gift to my pharmacist friend, when she brings me my box of masks sometime this weekend or next week.  That jar has been wrapped and kept on top of the piano in readiness for her visit.  It looks like I'll need to make more jam in the near future.

Today, in addition to eating bagels and taking down jars of jam, I also updated my phone sleeve, knitted a few more rows on my scarf as I watched Saturday morning crafts shows on TV, cleared and tidied my dining table, put away yesterday's laundry, and chatted on the phone with one of my other cousins and with my daughter.  I am planning to spend the rest of the afternoon sewing on my quilt and just relaxing.  Later, I'll go for a walk around the block and video chat with daughter in the evening.  It's a lovely way to spend a Saturday, I think.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Caring and kind friends
- Being able to satisfy my craving for bagels and cream cheese
- Jam in the cupboard
- Time to do crafts and relax
- A sunny, warm day

How is your Saturday coming along?  Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Updated Phone Sleeve!

Updated Phone Sleeve

This just goes to prove that it's dangerous to make suggestions to a crafty person!  Lol.

I was telling one of my cousins that I will be tattooed when it comes time for the radiation treatment (they do it at the hospital so that the radiation can be focused on the exact spot each time).  My cousin's daughter was teasing me about becoming a tattooed lady and joked that I'll have to get some  leather accessories to go with the tattoos, and I said I should get a motorcycle to go with it, etc.

She saw the picture of my phone sleeve and said it needed some leather trim, kind of as a joke, referring to our earlier conversation, and I joked back that I'd need to find some leather, first.  But then, I started thinking (a dangerous thing, I assure you!  :D)  I had an old purse in faux leather, which needed to be tossed but I was reluctant to actually toss because I was planning to see if I could make a similar one using fabric and the old purse as my pattern pieces.

Well... I decided to cut a tiny piece of the faux leather to make two flowers and used one of the zipper pulls and updated my phone cover!  I do rather like it - I think it looks a little more "finished" than just the button.

Here's how it used to look:


What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday's Productivity

This morning, it was a bit overcast and cooler (mid 50s), but the afternoon has hazy sunshine and warmer temperatures.  No rain yet, but there is some in the forecast for the weekend.   I am glad we had that bright sunshine, yesterday and the day before.  Daughter texted saying it was raining up north, where she is. 

I went for my immune booster shot and a hydration session, this morning.  I took my knitting along (I am making a scarf) and worked on that while being hydrated.  An older lady who was also having treatment, commented on it (in Spanish) and asked me if I had made the hat I was wearing.  I don't know enough Spanish to carry on a conversation, but I got the gist of what she was saying and was able to nod and smile, and say, "Si".  Several of the nurses, too, admired the scarf that I am knitting.

I am making it with leftover yarn from the stash - taupe and bone in color.  An open-work pattern based on a similar scarf that someone gave as a gift to my daughter a couple of years ago.  I am using a pair of knitting needles I've owned since I was 9 years old!  That's how old I was in 4th grade when I had to choose between learning knitting and crochet for the weekly "handiwork/crafts" class.  I don't quite know what made me choose knitting rather than crochet.  My grandmother crocheted, two of my aunts knitted.  My mother knew to knit, too, and later, she learned to crochet.  For some reason, knitting appealed to me more than crochet and that's what I chose (since then, I've learned the basics of crochet).

I was required to buy two sets of straight needles, size 10 and 12 (British sizes; the size of the needle decreases as the numbers increase; in the US sizes, the needle size increases along with the numbers) and two balls of wool.  I chose a ball of green and a ball of yellow wool as they were my House colors (our schools in Sri Lanka were based on the British system and we had what were known as Houses to which students belonged, with each House having a name and its identifying colors).  I was going to knit a scarf.  And if anyone is wondering why someone living in a tropical country needed a wool scarf, we often went on holidays in the mountainous areas in the middle of the country where it got cold enough to have frost and even the occasional flurries of snow.  But what this means is that my #10 and #12 knitting needles are over 50 years old and still being used!  Bet my mother never dreamed of that when she paid however much it cost to buy two sets of knitting needles for her 9 year old!

British Size 10 and US Size 10 Needles

I wasn't quite able to get through yesterday's to do list:

- 3 more work-related assignments - Done
- Submit my time sheets for this pay period (showing days/hrs. I took sick leave and days/hrs. I worked) - Done
- Put away yesterday's laundry - Done
- Send emails to friends - Did 2
- Mail gift cards
- Clean my bathroom - Done
- Clear/tidy/dust bedside table/nightstand - Done
- Clear/tidy/dust top of chest of drawers - Done
- Clear/tidy/dust family room coffee table
- Do dishes  - Done

Whatever didn't get done will be moved to today's to do list:

- Hydration and injection - Done 
- Email office - Done
- Email 2 other friends
- Mail gift cards
- Family room coffee table (clear/tidy/dust)
- Dressing table top (clear/tidy/dust)
- Discuss garden plans and litter box cleaning with gardener - Done

My daughter's friend was unable to come to clean the litter box as planned yesterday, due to illness.  So, I asked my gardener friend if he can clean it for me and he did it without a complaint.  The mother of one of daughter's other friends has offered to clean the box next week Tuesday and daughter will be home on Thursday night.  It's the little things like not being able to clean the litter box that drive me up the wall.

I hadn't listed another load of laundry, in my to do list, yesterday, but I went ahead and did one, anyway.  The quilt I laundered last night was one I had posted about earlier.  I still haven't quite finished repairing it, but it is in use in the meantime and, with each washing, needs to have more patches repaired! 

Roman Stripe Quilt on the Drying Rack

When I had turned it over for the other side to dry, I saw something I had done to the backing and thought I should show you.  I had put a new cotton flannel backing to replace the old torn backing, but, in the process managed to cut into the fabric by accident!  I darned the cut and then, to cover it up, I appliqued a pink heart over it!  This one was machine appliqued, using a zig zag stitch (and then, the fabric cut away from the sewing).  I explained to daughter that it was to cover up the darning, but she thought it was cute, anyway.  :)


Appliqued Heart

Brunch was a fried potato, a scrambled egg, the last slice of turkey cold cuts, which I also fried along with the potato,  a tangerine and something called "soft baked granola bites" that daughter bought for me.  I might eat some rice and chicken for dinner, or have soup, again (had soup last night, too and the night before!)

I went out in the garden, this afternoon, and picked a few oranges from my tree:


Today, I am grateful for:

- A good drive to and from hydration
- Sunshine in the afternoon
- Oranges from the garden
- Help with the litter box cleaning
- Getting things done, little by little

Hope all is well with you and you are having a lovely day.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Crinoline Ladies Quilt

Crinoline Ladies Quilt

This is a quilt I made back in 1982!

I call it Crinoline Ladies, but it is a pattern generally known as Colonial Ladies.  I found the pattern in a book and photocopied the templates.  It consists of six ladies dressed in crinoline dresses and bonnets, appliqued (by hand, using buttonhole stitch) with embroidered details.

Lady with Parasol
The fabrics used in the dresses all came from leftovers from my mother's sewing and scraps of batik contributed by an aunt (I took the project to work on while on a holiday in Sri Lanka and all the background fabrics were purchased while there.

Lady with Fan

Looking back, I should have appliqued the fan, I think.  It would have been more prominent.


I reversed the template so that the ladies could face each other on the quilt.  But each lady is made using the same template.

Lady with Book

Again, an appliqued book would have been better, now that I think of it, but I was following the pattern given in the book and they had embroidered these details.

Lady with Flowers

I have her facing a lady with an empty basket...

Lady with Basket

Wonder where she's going with her empty basket.  Maybe to collect some flowers from her friend?

The individual ladies are appliqued on a brownish/purplish background fabric and outline quilted.  The blocks were joined with strips of red fabric in between, and then the whole central panel bordered with flowered fabric with a narrower navy blue binding.  The back is of the same navy blue and actually, the binding is formed by the back being brought to the top and folded over.  My mother kindly machine stitched the panels together and attached the flowered fabric.  I hand stitched the binding, all around.  Then, to incorporate the flowered fabric into the panels, I appliqued little hears at each end of the red strips:


The close up of the heart shows how I did the applique - the outline of the template was traced on the right side of the fabric, the piece of fabric cut out roughly in the shape of the template and then, attached with a buttonhole stitch sewn on the outline, itself.  Once fully sewn, the rest of the fabric outside the outline was then snipped away as close to the sewing as possible (without cutting into the sewing).  Sharp embroidery scissors are a must for this type of applique.  It is not as tidy as turning the edge under and then sewing, but this is how I was taught to applique.  Each heart measures 1 1/2 inches across at the widest point and 2 inches from the top to the tip.  :)

And, of course, I can't lay a quilt on the sofa to take pictures without someone getting on it, can I?

"Nice Quilt, Mummy; Dancer likes"

"Nice, soft quilt!"

"Maybe this end is better?"
He is now, curled up on it, fast asleep!


I made this quilt because I liked the crinoline ladies design.  And it seemed like a fun project to do.  After I made it, however, my mother said to keep it for my daughter should I have one!  LOL.  I wasn't even married then and my daughter wasn't born for another 11 years after I finished making the quilt, but my mother wouldn't let me use the quilt!  So it was kept for a daughter!  Later, when my daughter was born, I made a pillowcase to coordinate:


The back of the pillowcase is the same fabric as the dress.  All in shades of pink for a girl, of course!  We are using the quilt, but the pillowcase is being kept - should she have a daughter of her own!  LOL.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my quilt.  I sent a picture of it some time ago to a friend and she said I really had to do a blog post about it.  :)