Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Balanced Life Goals - Month End Review

As I have mentioned earlier, the goal is to achieve a sense of balance in my life.  To that end, I identified several areas of importance to me to attend to, so that my life feels more balanced. This is a review of my goals for a more balanced life in September:

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.

- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude - On going; daily prayers are part of my routine and I have had many things for which to be grateful.
- Continue to focus on blessings, joy, and abundance - Have been doing so - I know I have been abundantly blessed and there were many joyful things which happened this month; and having completed a month of eating mostly from what was in the pantry, I know there is an abundance of food in this house!
- Take time for meditation(doesn't have to be an extended period of time;  even 5 minutes of intentional, mindful meditation is good) - This has been hit and miss, I am afraid, and more miss than hit.
- Cultivate non-attachment and patience! - Have been trying; neither is easy to do.
- Attend the monthly prayer gathering if possible - Attended the monthly prayer gathering and gave a ride to a cousin, as well. Will be hosting the October prayer gathering.
- Visit the temple; hold a prayer service in thanksgiving for answered prayers - I discussed the thanksgiving service with the monks and we decided it would be better to wait until I have had the surgery to remove the port catheter, whenever that takes place (maybe in November?)

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
- Do some regular house cleaning - implement cleaning routines to the extent possible - Did this in fits and starts, I'm afraid.
- Declutter -  Cultivate non-attachment to things by decluttering at least one item a day during the month of September - I started out quite well for the first week, tossing an equal number of items as the date, and 13 items on the 8th.  Added together, that totaled 41 items, which is more than what I would have decluttered if I tossed one item each day.  After that, I tossed a few items here and there, but I couldn't maintain the same number of items as the date.  I had forgotten that the goal was one a day and felt bad about not being able to keep it up.  Last week, when I spent several hours doing paperwork, I tossed about 12 assorted magazines and catalogs, so I'll add that to the total for 53 items tossed.  I didn't count things like empty pill bottles, cans, and bottles that are regularly recycled, because replacement items are coming in at the same time.  I am counting only items I had in closets and cabinets that were being tossed.
- Do some organizing - didn't do much of that. 
- Attend to the eucalyptus tree - get an arborist's opinion; trim or cut down the tree - Didn't do
- Water and try to keep the plants alive as we continue with our hottest time of the year - Have been watering
- Continue to weed and mulch - Have been weeding and pruning, but not mulching, yet.

Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her. 
- Enjoy her current visit over the long weekend - We had a lovely visit; really enjoyed having her home.
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails , and video chatting! - Didn't miss a day!
Family & Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.
- Communicate regularly - phone calls, texts, and emails - Did so, although, apparently, not as well as I would have liked as some things didn't get communicated as they should have been!
- Go out to lunch with sister (scheduled for 1st Sunday of September) - Did so; we went to an Ethiopian restaurant of her choice; daughter and I enjoyed it; sister not as much!
- Go to lunch at a friend's house (scheduled for 1st Saturday of September) - Did so; it was our first visit to her new house and she had prepared a lovely lunch for us.
- Invite aunt and cousin to dinner - I invited them but they were unable to come.  I think, going by one or two things that were said, Dancer having fleas scared them away!  :) 
 - However, one of my friends came to tea, one day, and that was nice.
Career:  The goal is to continue to do work which I enjoy (for the most part) and which enables me to support myself.
- Continue to do my assignments on time - Did so.
- Work from the office each day this month - There were a couple of days when I worked from home, but I went to the office for the most part.

Finances:  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose - I am intending to make some major purchases, this month, but everything is an anticipated expense and has been budgeted for, so the spending will be done mindfully and with purpose - I purchased the new fridge/freezer.  I had budgeted $1,200 for that and the total came to $1,204 and a few cents, with the $25 for removal of the old appliance and taxes.  I am fine with that.  The next items to be purchased will be a new washer and dryer, I think.
Health & Well Being:  The goal is good health.  This will continue to be the focus, this month, as well, even though the mammogram results read "Normal".  The recovery continues!
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors and dentists - 3 scheduled, so far, in September: the primary care physician assistant (routine follow-up), the ophthalmologist (annual check-up), and the dentist (for an extraction) - the routine follow-up with the primary care physician was rescheduled for October, but the other two appointments were kept. 
- Continue to go for additional screening tests, as needed -  Didn't have any, this month.
- Continue to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight (now that my taste buds and appetite have returned!) - Oops!  Weight went up!  My doctor is going to lecture me!  It was easier to keep the weight down when I didn't have an appetite, sugar tasted bitter, and I didn't like chocolate!
- Continue to focus on a healthier diet (more vegetables!), drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep - Let's just say that there is a LOT of room for improvement in this area!

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
- Organize myself and put routines into place so I have a more regular schedule - Continues to be another work in progress!

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Do a few additional things from the Summer Joy list - I did quite a few things from the list and I was happy with what I was able to do.  I went ahead and made a new list for Fall, as well.
- Finish the two quilts in progress - I made progress but didn't quite finish it.

So those were my goals for September.  I didn't achieve all my goals but I made good progress on most of them and I am content.  After all, a goal is something to strive for, isn't it?  Did you make any monthly goals in September?  If so, how did you do?  Are you happy with what you were able to do achieve? 

Shelftember - Week 4 and Beyond

Shelftember was intended to encourage meal planning based on what we have in the freezer and pantry while keeping additional grocery shopping to a minimum.  Since I had overspent my August grocery budget by almost $71 and wanted to try and make up some of that by saving on September grocery spending, I decided to observe Shelftember with some others.

I decided to limit my September grocery shopping to fresh produce (vegetables and fruit), dairy (milk and yogurt), and bread.   I started September with a pretty full freezer, fridge, and pantry, partly because I live in earthquake country and I try to have more than the recommended three-days' worth of food and water on hand and partly because I did a big stock up in August.  There was a lot of leftovers in the fridge, as well, so I started out September with quite a bit of food on hand.

Week 1 of Shelftember is here,

Week 2 of Shelftember is here.

Week 3 of Shelftember is here.

Week 4 would have ended on September 28, but I'm taking it to the end of the month.

Friday 9/22:  Lunch: Pasta with Manwich meat sauce:

Pasta with Manwich Sauce

I had a can of manwich sauce in my pantry cabinet, bought after daughter had eaten some at the neighbor's house and really, really liked it.  Manwich sauce is not something I usually buy.  But, daughter liked it so much and asked why we never had any, etc., that I bought a can and it has sat, unused, in my cabinet, until today!  (As I said, it's not something I normally eat.)  It had past its "best by" date and needed to be used up or tossed.  I opened the can, tasted it, and it tasted fine to me.  So, I thawed a packet of pre-browned ground beef in the microwave, reheated it in a saute pan, added the can of sauce, and heated it through.  It made enough meat sauce for at least 4, probably 5 or even 6 meals for me!  I can see myself eating pasta for the rest of this week, unless I freeze it, in portions, for the future!   In the meantime, I boiled a handful of pasta (enough for 2 servings) and sliced one of the Mediterranean cucumber  for a "salad" (no dressing, just a sprinkling of ground black pepper):

Sliced Cucumber

I had some grated Parmesan cheese (from a jar) that I sprinkled on my serving of pasta and sauce.  I packed the rest of the cooked pasta with some of the sauce into a container to keep in the fridge for the next day's lunch.

Dinner: Three more ulundu vadai with green coconut sambol (from freezer).

Ulundu Vadai (old picture)
There are three more ulundu vadai left in the box in the freezer.

Saturday 9/23: Lunch was the rest of the pasta with manwich sauce.  Dinner: the barbecued chicken breast leftover from the restaurant lunch I enjoyed when daughter visited during the Labor Day weekend; I had frozen it; I had it with corn on the cob and a salad (Romaine lettuce, cucumber, grapes, bottled Catalina salad dressing):

Barbecued Chicken Breast, Corn, Salad
Yogurt with palm treacle for dessert.

Sunday, 9/24: Indian style cream of wheat with lentils for brunch:

Cream of Wheat

Half an apple for a snack.

Dinner was curry puffs:

Curry Puffs
Dessert was an apple pastry:

Apple Pastry

Monday, 9/25:  Curry puffs for both brunch and dinner!  Apple pastry for dessert; apples and grapes for snacks.

Tuesday, 9/26: Last of the curry puffs for brunch with sliced cucumber and grapes; pancakes for tea; pasta with manwich and ground beef sauce (from freezer) for dinner; ice cream with roasted cashew nuts for dessert.


I cooked enough pasta for my lunch for the following day.

Snacks included spiced corn nuts:

Spiced Corn Nuts

Wednesday, 9/27: Lunch was pasta with manwich and meat sauce;  dinner was a tuna salad sandwich. Banana and grapes for snacks/dessert.

There's one more container of manwich and meat sauce in the freezer for two more meals in the future.

Thursday, 9/28:  Lunch was a tuna salad sandwich; I had some buttered "mystery" bread for tea.

Mystery Bread

For dinner, I took out a package of the rotisserie chicken I had in the freezer and shredded some of it to make chicken fried rice with the last of the leftover rice I had in the fridge.  Another serving of ice cream for dessert and more grapes for a snack.

Friday, 9/29:  Tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, with a sliced nectarine.  For dinner, I sauted more of the rotisserie chicken with onions and had it with green peas (from the freezer) and two pieces of the mystery bread, toasted and buttered.

Rotisserie Chicken and Onions, with Green Peas and Toast

For dessert, I had a lychee flavored gelatin cup:

Lychee Gelatin
Saturday, 9/30:  Brunch was leftover Indian style cream of wheat (from last Sunday).  I haven't decided what I will have for dinner, but, I do have the last of the thawed rotisserie chicken to be finished and a little bit of the cooked green peas, so I might saute the chicken and have a repeat of yesterday's dinner.  There's another ear of corn that needs to be used up, too (although I need to check if it is still good!)  Or, I can make a stir-fry with the chicken, green peas, carrots, and onions.  I also put two pieces of fish to thaw to cook some fish curry; I could have some of that, with rice, instead.   I don't meal plan, as such, but I like knowing what I have on hand and what I could make with them.  I like having options!

Update:  Yogurt and treacle for a snack:

Yogurt and Treacle

And chicken "stir-fry" of sorts, with the last of the rotisserie chicken, green peas, carrots, and onions, sprinkled with peanuts, served with rice, for dinner: 

Rice with Chicken Stir-fry

After one month of preparing meals from what was on hand with only bread, milk, and produce being bought (along with coffee creamer and ice cream!), this is what I have left of the freezer inventory:

6 4 king fish steaks (2 were taken out this morning to thaw)
3 pieces of salted dried fish
2 packages (approx. 1/2 lb. each) of cooked ground beef
1 package bacon
1 package mini sausages ("Lil Smokies")
3 1 packages of marinated beef steak (uncooked)
1 package sausage meat
1 package sausages
1 chicken breast
2 quart bags, each with 1/4 roast chicken 
5 turkey pot pies
5 4 packages of frozen puff pastry squares
1 1/3 package of something called "ulundu vadai" which is an Indian/Sri Lankan savory snack
3 1/2 1/4 lb. butter
1 bag (5 lbs.) flour
1 package (2 lb) red rice
1 package grated coconut
1 banana bread
3 1/2 packages of sliced strawberries (for eventual jam making)
3 large bags of cooked cashews (for making curry)
1/2 1/4 bag of frozen green peas
- several  one baggy each of frozen tomato, sliced onions, some green chilies, etc.
1 container manwich sauce
2 bananas
4 quart size zipper bags of bread slices
1 package smoked sausage (for prayer gathering dinner)

From my pantry cabinet, I have used up:
1 can of manwich sauce
1 can of condensed milk

I was able to keep my grocery bill for the month to $26.09, although I budget $75 per month, and made up  $48.91 of the almost $71 I overspent in August. 

I am thinking I will continue this grocery challenge in October, too, as I have another $26 to make up for the August over-spend.  However, I do so with the caveat that I will be hosting a dinner for approximately 22 people, which has been budgeted for separately, so I will be buying items for that and those purchases are not subject to the October challenge.

Did you participate in Shelftember?  If so, how did you do?  Is anyone planning to do a Shelftober in October? 


Friday was a fairly quiet day.  I went to the office and had a fairly productive day.  I had planned to go to the coffee shop in our building to buy some pastries (they have a half-price sale, every Friday afternoon), but I forgot to do so!  Oh, well, I don't need pastries, after all, do I?

My gardener friend finished tidying up the front garden.  My plan is to buy some flowering plants like chrysanthemums or kalanchoe and plant them to fill in the empty spots and to add some color to the garden.

In the evening, I called my sister-in-law and apologized for not attending the memorial, telling her that I had not known the date.  She was very apologetic that I hadn't been told.  I don't know her that well, I've only met her twice, but she has been very nice on the phone.  Apparently, she's planning to take my brother's ashes to Sri Lanka to scatter off the coast, there.  I told her that I had taken my step-father's ashes back to be interred in his family's grave site and fully support her decision (she and my brother had been planning a visit to Sri Lanka next February; I think she's carrying out that visit, the only way she can).  She thanked me for being supportive of her decision, saying a lot of people have discouraged her from doing so.

The more I think about missing the memorial service, the more I think that not knowing about it was a blessing in disguise.  If I had known, then, I would have had to decide whether to attend it or not.  Going would have been stressful, not going would have made me feel guilty.  By being unaware of the date, I was spared that decision and the associated stress.  I was initially disappointed that I didn't know and couldn't go, but now, I think, it was for the best.

I made a few other phone calls this evening to inform two of my cousins and a friend about the October prayer gathering.  They weren't at the September prayer gathering and wouldn't have known I was hosting it and when.  I will call a few other participants, tomorrow. 

Oh, I almost forgot!  Today, the porcelain crown on one of my teeth broke off when I was eating some fruit!  It is the tooth that was next to the tooth that was last extracted.  I am wondering if the extraction loosened the crown.  Anyway, I called the dental clinic and made an appointment for Monday afternoon.  And I thought I was done with my dental woes for a while!  It lasted all of two weeks!  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Blessings in disguise
- I was able to be supportive of my sister-in-law in her decision
- The crown-less tooth doesn't hurt
- Telephones (faulty answering machines and all!)
- Video chatting with my daughter

Weekend To Do List:
- Grocery shop 
- Put gas to the car
- Cook
- Finish sewing my quilt
- Paperwork/filing
- Laundry
- Dust
- Vacuum
- Give Dancer his flea meds.

How was your day?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mystery Bread

Loaf of Mystery Bread

I had an appointment with the ophthalmologist, today (Thursday), for my annual eye exam.  Since I was going to have my eyes dilated, I had been advised to have someone drive me back from the appointment.  One of my cousins had said she could drive me, but she wasn't feeling well and couldn't drive me.  My other cousins weren't available to drive me, either.  Finally, I called the temple and one of the monks at the temple said he could drive me, but he wasn't free on the date of the appointment.  However, I was able to reschedule the appointment for today.  Such a blessing to be given a ride by the monk.

When he came to pick me up, he brought me a gift of a loaf of bread (he said that sometimes, the nearby grocery store gives them free loaves of bread).  I probably should have photographed it without the bag.  There was no label on the bread bag and I didn't ask the monk what kind of bread it was (that would have been similar to looking a gift horse in the mouth!); but it was one loaf with a line down the middle, making it look like two thinner loaves.  There was a slightly sticky, cinnamon sugar type glaze on the top, so I thought it might be a type of cinnamon bread.

Slices of Mystery Bread
But the bread wasn't sweet.  It had little flecks of something reddish and the bread itself was slightly pinkish:

Close Up of one of the Red Flecks

Tomato, maybe?  I tried it with some butter and it tasted very good.  I cut the bread in half, lengthwise and sliced it.  I froze most of it in smaller packages, with a quarter of the loaf in each package.  I kept one package out for me to eat during the week. 

The eye appointment went well, too.  Doctor said everything seemed fine, my eyes were good, no glaucoma or retinal damage due to diabetes; I do have cataracts, but they are small and haven't grown since my last visit.  I was told to come back, next year, for another check up.

After I came home, I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch and took a long nap.  I think I slept for about two hours and woke up only when daughter called to say she was home from work.  I had a cup of tea and responded to blog comments, etc.  Then, watered the back garden.

My aunt called to check on me and my cousin spoke, too, saying she was sorry she couldn't take me to the doctor's today.  I told her not to worry about it.

My sister called, too.  I had called her a few days ago, on Friday, September 15, actually, to ask her if she knew what the plans were for our brother's memorial service.  I left a message as she wasn't there.  Apparently, the reason why she wasn't home when I called was because she was attending the memorial service!  Yes, it was held on the same day I called her, Friday, September 15, in the afternoon.

She said she assumed I had been told.  Nope.  Nobody told me.  I hadn't decided if I would attend the memorial service or not, but, daughter had offered to go with me if I was going, and it would have been nice to have had the option to do so.  Oh, well.  I told my sister that I was glad she was able to represent brother's side of the family at the memorial service.

We spoke for awhile as sister seemed to need to talk.  She said something about how positive I am about things and I told her about my daily gratitude lists, that I count at least five things for which I am thankful, every day, and that I look for the positive in everything.  Just before she rang off, she told me that she was thankful for me.  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:
- I was able to get a ride to my doctor's appointment
- My eyes are apparently in good condition
- The gift of a loaf of mystery bread
- Afternoon naps
- My sister was able to represent brother's side of the family at his memorial service

How was your day?  Have you any guesses as to what my mystery bread might be? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bargain of the Week and a Tentative Menu

Cans of Mixed Nuts

I had received a $5 Extra Care Bucks coupon that would have expired on September 30.   So, today, I went to the pharmacy to redeem it.  I wasn't sure on what to spend it.  Did I want to buy a box of cotton swabs ($1), a couple of lint rollers ($1 each; I use them to remove cat fur from the upholstery), and a box of cereal ($1.99 for cornflakes)?  Did I want some transparent Pears soap ($1), a crossword puzzle book ($1), some socks ($1 per pair) or a bag of Lindt chocolate truffles ($4.99)?  They are all items I will use or consume, but I didn't really need any of them (except, perhaps, the lint rollers).

I settled on these two cans of lightly mixed nuts, instead.  A 10.3 oz. can for $6.29; on sale this week for buy one, get one free.  So, two cans of mixed nuts for $6.29, minus the $5 coupon; I paid a total of $1.29 for both cans.  I know that some of you manage your coupons and rebates to get free groceries, but I think two cans of nuts for $1.29 is a good bargain, don't you?

They will be set aside for the October prayer gathering, to be served as one of the snacks prior to the prayers being said and dinner is served.

I have made a tentative menu for the prayer gathering dinner:
Snacks: Mixed nuts; spicy garbanzo beans; and maybe one or two other items  

Roast chicken
Beef curry
Smoked sausage sauted with onion leaves
Cashew curry (from freezer)
Salad (cucumber/tomato/red onions/boiled eggs)
Green beans or asparagus
Tomato chutney
Bread rolls

Fresh fruit platter
Flan (2 boxes in cupboard)
Maybe a pie or a cake
Or yogurt and treacle

Assorted drinks

There's chicken for those who don't eat beef, there's cashew and vegetables for anyone who is vegetarian, there's fresh fruit for those who need to avoid puddings and cakes.  

I have a separate budget for the prayer gathering dinner.  So far, I have spent $4.49 for the smoked sausage and $1.29 for 2 cans of mixed nut.  Since I want to use up some items I have in my freezer and pantry, I will use a package of the cashew curry I have in the freezer (cooked for the almsgiving I didn't hold, last year) and 2 packages of flan mix (again, bought for the almsgiving and not used).  

I am hoping to find some beef and whole chicken on sale between now and October 21.  Everything else, other than the drinks, will be bought on the day before or on the day of the prayer gathering dinner.  I am also planning to cook the beef curry earlier in the month and freeze it, so I don't have as much to cook on the day of the prayer gathering.  There will be around 20 people, if everyone comes (but, quite often, all don't come). 

Do you have any other suggestions for the menu?  I debated whether to have some fish, as well; either a curry or something like baked salmon.  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September Grocery Shopping - Weeks 3 & 4

September 26 Groceries

I did a small grocery shopping, today, for bread, bananas, coffee creamer, and ice cream.  I actually didn't need any of it, especially the ice cream, as I still have pita bread, regular milk, and other fruits (and two over-ripe bananas).    But, I like the flavored creamer when I have coffee, I don't like over-ripe bananas, I was thinking some French toast will be nice but can't make them with pita bread, and I've been craving ice cream, so I decided to go ahead and buy these items.  I bought just two bananas because when I buy more, they ripen too much before I can eat them all.

I spent:

Creamer = $2.59
1 loaf regular sandwich bread = $1
1 pint ice cream = $1.99
2 bananas @$.59/lb. = $.36
Total = $5.94

September 26 Receipt

Since I didn't do any grocery shopping over the weekend, I guess this counts for both Weeks 3 and 4?  I don't see myself doing any grocery shopping between now and the end of the month on Friday.   

Total spent so far in September = $8.49 + $11.66 + $5.94 = $26.09

Since I had gone over the budget in August by over $70, I had wanted to keep my spending to under $40 for groceries in September.  It looks like I will keep my spending to under $30.  I have made up more than $45 of the $70+ I overspent in August.  I just have to keep my grocery spending to $50, in October to make up the total amount.  More than possible, because I have budgeted separately for the prayer gathering dinner.

How are you doing in your September grocery shopping?

Pancakes for Tea

Today, I had a craving for pancakes in the early evening.  Not the fluffy pancakes most often served for breakfast in this country, but the thinner pancakes from my childhood.  When I was a child, we were unfamiliar with the fluffy pancakes.  Pancakes, for us, meant the thin pancakes, sprinkled with sugar and lemon (or lime) juice and rolled up.  Or spread with jam and folded in quarters.  Occasionally, they'd be filled with grated coconut cooked with palm treacle, before being rolled up and that was a special treat.  Very often, pancakes were eaten in the afternoon or early evening, with tea.  They were the first thing my mother made for me when I came back home after completing my grad studies.  I had been on a diet at the time, but I couldn't refuse to eat the pancakes my mother had made so lovingly and disappoint her. 

So, today, when I began to crave pancakes for tea, I went ahead and made myself some.  I am sure there are proper recipes with measurements for these types of pancakes.  I just beat an egg, added some milk (didn't measure, maybe about a cup) and enough flour to make a batter that was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and a little salt for taste.  That's the kind of recipe that used to drive my daughter crazy, whenever she asked me how to make something.  Lol. 

Then, I heated up a saute pan, added a pat of butter, poured a spoonful of batter and swirled it around.  Cook one side, flip over and cook the other side:

Cooking the Pancake
Then, put it on a plate:

Got a bit too brown while I was trying to take a picture!

 Sprinkle a spoon of sugar and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice:

Sugar and Lemon Juice

 Then, roll it up:

Rolled-up Pancakes
All that's left to do is gobble them up!

The coconut and palm treacle filling is probably my favorite, but the sugar and lemon juice is easier and quicker.   My daughter likes them best with Nutella and sliced bananas.

Everything I used to make the pancakes came from my fridge (egg, milk, butter), pantry (flour, salt, sugar), or the garden (lemon).

Do you make this type of pancakes?  Do you call them pancakes or crepes?  Have you eaten them with sugar and lemon juice?  What is your favorite filling for them?


Monday, September 25, 2017

Baking Season!

Curry Puffs

I generally don't do any baking during the summer because it gets so hot, especially since I don't have central air conditioning. 

But, as soon as the weather turns and it becomes a bit cooler, then, it is baking season!  A summer's worth of pent up baking urges are released! 

Last night was the start of baking season for me.  Out came the last packet of pre-browned ground beef from the freezer and a package of the frozen puff pastry I had bought.  I reheated the ground beef and added some diced onion, a grated carrot, some diced tomato, and, to get in enough vegetables (and extend the filling), some shredded cabbage; curry powder, garlic, curry leaves, chili powder, etc. to make a spicy curry filling.   The filling actually varies from batch to batch, depending on what I have on hand at the time; sometimes, I add celery and potatoes to the ground beef mixture, for example.  The filling was placed in the middle of the puff pastry squares which were then folded over to make triangles.  I didn't do a step-by-step post with pictures because I had done one, earlier, here. 

There was enough filling to make six curry puffs; I had two for my dinner:

Curry Puffs with Spicy Ground Beef Filling

The package of puff pastry contained eight pastry squares.  Since I had enough ground beef filling for six curry puffs, I had to come up with something else for the other two squares, didn't I?

Apple Pastries  (second one for you, Nathalie)
Slices of apple with a spoonful of pineapple jam placed over them and baked along with the curry puffs.  No added sugar, but a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top before serving would be pretty; I don't have any powdered sugar on hand, though, so I didn't sprinkle any before I took the picture. 

I want to bake a loaf of banana bread, next, to use up some ripe bananas, and there are two cans of puree in the cabinet that need to be used up, so maybe some pumpkin bread, as well.

Do you have a baking season?  Or do you bake year round?

Road Blocks and Detours on the Road to the Mountain Quilt

It started out as a Mile a Minute Quilt.  That was the name used to describe the method of piecing.  I think it is just another name for good old-fashioned crazy quilts.  At one point I thought I could incorporate it into my Mountain Climbing quilt, but I had made too many patches and it was too busy for the Mountain Quilt and detracted from it, I thought.  So did my daughter and my friend who were shown previews for their opinions.  It became apparent that I had two quilts and the Mile a Minute patches became the Road to the Mountain quilt.  We'll call that Detour #1.

I was planning to use an existing twin/full blanket as a batting, but the quilt top I had pieced was a little too big for it and I wanted a bigger, queen size quilt.  One that draped a bit over my queen size bed.  We'll call that Detour #2.  Since quilt batting at the fabric store cost more than the comforters at the dollar store, I bought a dollar store comforter.  The dimensions given on the label for a king size comforter seemed more like the dimensions given for queen size quilts on-line, so, I bought the king size comforter.

Now, the quilt top I had pieced was a little too small!  Oops!  I pieced another row of 12 patches and attached it.   Detour #3! 

By now, I was running short of the 2 or 3 yard (can't quite remember how big it was) piece of purple fabric I had in my stash.  I pieced together some of the short pieces I had for the side of the row I had newly pieced.  Detour #4!

Then, I went to attach the borders at the top and the bottom.  The sewing of the first border worked out OK, but the bobbin thread was causing some problems, with loose, loopy stitches.  I adjusted the tension, but it didn't make much of a difference.  I turned the quilt top over and re-sewed the seam for added strength.  Detour #5.

But when I went to sew the second border, my sewing machine stopped working!  The needle wouldn't go up and down anymore; the wheel wouldn't turn when I tried to move it by hand.  I removed the bobbin and cleaned the bobbin casing.  Then I opened up the part where the bulb and needle are and tried to oil it.  My owner's manual says to "oil as described" but nowhere does it actually say how and where to oil!  I looked up the instructions on the website and there's nothing there, either.  I watched a couple of videos on-line about cleaning and oiling a sewing machine.  One video said to use canned air to blow out accumulated lint and dust.  The other video said don't use canned air!  Very helpful.  Once before, my machine made some clattering noises and I oiled what I could and it worked beautifully after that.  Now, even after oiling, I couldn't get the needle to move.  Road block #1!

Of course, I could sew the second border on by hand, but, I did have another option.  I called daughter and asked her if I could use her sewing machine, instead.  She had bought her sewing machine in order to sew her costumes for anime cos-play but she didn't take it up to Berkeley with her.  She said I could definitely use her machine, so that's what I did to sew on the second border!  Detour #6!

But, the quilt top was still a little not wide enough to cover the comforter being used as the quilt batting:

Not long enough to cover the white with black stars comforter

The other side, showing the new row of patches I added and the comforter peeking below

 It wouldn't be a problem if I had enough of the purple fabric left over, but this is all that is left:

Leftover Purple Fabric

Road block #2!  Not enough purple fabric left!

I do have a couple of options (or detours) though:  I could cut off the excess comforter ; I could turn it under and sew it in place to make it narrower, or go to the fabric store to buy another yard or two of a matching or coordinating purple fabric. 

Or, I could use this strip of lilac fabric leftover from making a nightdress; however, it is a bit too narrow at one end and not quite long enough to be used without being patched.

Lilac fabric
However, there is one additional option.  Three years ago, when I bought a comforter for daughter, to use on her mattress as a substitute for a mattress pad, I bought a bed-in-a-bag set at a discount store.  For $23, I was able to buy a queen size comforter (that she's using as a mattress pad), a sheet set, 2 pillowcases, 4 pillow shams (which I use on my bed), and 2 bed skirts!  No idea why there were two bed skirts, except the bag had been torn and I presume someone just stuffed the second bed skirt in there!  At the time of purchase, I had asked the sales clerk to open the bag to make sure the pillowcases were in there and we discovered the extra bed skirt, but she told me to take it as well and I did.  One bed skirt was queen size and is currently being used on my bed.  The other one was full size and it has been sitting in my linen cupboard, resisting my efforts to declutter because I felt I could use that fabric for something!  There is enough fabric to make the border and it would match the bed skirt I already have.  Detour #7! 

Spare Bed Skirt
I haven't quite decided if this is the route I'll take, but it makes the most sense, doesn't it?  It's fabric I have on hand, it matches the bed skirt, there's more than enough of it, and it's already hemmed on one side! 

What is your opinion? 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Autumn Joy List - Second Time Around

Last  fall was the first time I did a joy list.  I was a little hesitant, as I didn't want yet another "to do" list, but I have continued to make seasonal joy lists and I have found that I enjoy doing them.  I have decided that I will make another list of joyful things to do from now until Thanksgiving.  I have deleted some items that are repetitive, which I do more or less daily, as a matter of course, such as the daily prayers, drinking tea out of my favorite cup, talking daily with my daughter.  I want to focus more on other joyful things which I don't do as often and tend to get neglected.

List of Autumn Joys:

1. Sew a quilt or two; or, rather, finish the On the Road to the Mountain Quilt (had to sew another row of patches to make the top fit the bigger comforter I'm using as the batting) and finish the Mountain Quilt (need to piece the side borders)
2. Make a wall hanging for the cancer treatment clinic
3. Decorate my house for fall (in October)
4 Decorate for Thanksgiving (in November)
5. My daughter's visits home  (2 planned for in November)
6. Host the October prayer gathering
7. Celebrate my birthday (November)
8. Celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family
9. Enjoy a week of vacation during Thanksgiving week
10. Bake an apple pie
11. Visit the garden center
12. Plant a fall garden

So that is my Autumn joy list!    Yes, it includes several things to do, but, they are things that will bring joy. 

Anyone else thinking of making a joy list this fall?

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Garden at the End of Summer

Front Garden

Summer, with its triple digit temperatures, is not a good season for my garden.  Several days of temperatures over 110F and everything gets scorched.  Add the watering restrictions and only the hardiest survive, let alone thrive.  We are no longer under drought conditions, but, I am still limited to a certain amount of water at the lower, tier 1 billing rates.  I received the water bill for the latest billing period (July 19 to September 19) today and I went over the tier 1 allocation of 16 hundred cubit feet (billed at $5.67/HCF) and used 17 HCF; that additional 1 HCF is billed at tier 2 rates of $7.30/HCF.  The water portion of my bill for the period of July 19 to September 19 is $98.04.

We had a bit of rain, yesterday morning - enough to wet the ground but probably not enough to do much good.

The majority of these pictures were taken at noon with my cell phone camera.  My photography savvy friends will no doubt tell me that noon is not the best time to take pictures, but I am not entering any photography contests.  :)  A couple were taken a bit later in the afternoon, as I decided I needed one or two additional pictures.

Let's tour the front garden:

View from Front Door

Flower Bed Along the Walkway Leading to/from Front Door

The pomegranate tree is planted at the front because it is supposed to be lucky to have a pomegranate tree near the front entrance; it was a house-warming gift from the monks at the temple.  Every year, I lose some of the fruit to birds and some to passers by who help themselves!

I picked this fruit after I photographed it

This is the flower bed along the drive way.  I had planted several purple iceberg roses in this bed, last year (or was it the year before?).  There is one barely surviving rose bush, left!  The rest have all died.  Some African daisies (osteospermum) have self-seeded themselves and are growing, along with the few gladioli plants that came up from bulbs planted two years ago.

In Need of Replanting

The view of the flower bed along the walkway leading to the front door from the garden:

Front Flower Bed

The rest of the front flower bed:

Mostly Osteospermum and Dusty Miller

Even the succulents planted in the middle aren't doing well.  The garden slopes down ever so slightly, so the water pools at one end and that's the only place where you'll find more than two blades of grass!

Sun-scorched Succulents and Grass!

The succulents planted at the end along the side wall are faring well; the wall provides them some shade.  Euphorbia at the far end, some mixed succulents which are not seen in this picture, aloe plants, and a jade plant in the foreground:

Succulents Along the Side Wall

The top-heavy, self-pruning eucalyptus; it does provide some filtered shade to the front garden:

Even the lantana I planted along the front are struggling - they haven't grown at all in the three years since being planted, but, then, again, they haven't died, either!


The back yard gets the morning sun, but is shaded by the house in the late afternoon and evening.  It fares a little better than the front garden.

Back Garden from the Back Door
But first, a look at the side yard:

Side Yard
There are two different types of guava trees growing in the side yard.  The cherry guava tree at the far end is all but dead:

Cherry Guava Tree
I might cut it all the way down and see if it regrows.

The feijoa is doing a little better - lots of tiny fruit on it, but usually, by this time, they are ready to be picked!


When the garden looks as sad as it does, I find myself looking for and focusing on the the bright spots; they are there, but not always apparent at first glance.  Under one of the lemon trees, for example, along with the dried out fallen lemons, there are one or two self-seeded yellow four-o-clock plants:

Yellow Four-O-Clocks

The hibiscus plant is doing well, although its flower has already begun to fade when this picture was taken shortly after noon:

Fading Hibiscus Flower

Almost all the rose bushes have died, but, the few that are still alive are trying their best:

Today's Rose

Tomorrow's Rose
Oops!  Out of focus!  I tried again:

Not much better, is it?

Hidden among the leaves of the orange tree is a promise of oranges to come:

Baby Orange

There is still one zucchini plant surviving!  It never produced any zucchini but I kept it because it provides a touch of green.  However, the newer leaves look a bit like they might have developed mosaic leaf virus, so should probably be pulled out.

Zucchini Plant

Remember the bed where I planted green beans and okra?  Well, the vegetable plants came up just in time to get scorched during the first heat wave.  In the meantime, the preparation of the bed disturbed some of the roots of the nearby curry leaf tree, and when the curry leaf tree roots get nicked, they send up new growth!  I now have a bed of curry leaf plants!  I should call the Sri Lankan stores and ask them if they want some plants - they sell for upwards of $10 a plant at the Indian stores!

Baby Curry Leaf Plants

In one corner of the back garden, between the side wall and the back wall, the yucca plant and a schefflera plant are growing very happily:

Yucca and Schefflera

Did you see something else in the picture?  No, not the euphorbia growing along the backwall to the left, but on the ground; yes, that white round thing:


I am not familiar enough with mushrooms to identify this one beyond "white with brown spots"!

The pink oleander is doing well, at least, the one that can be seen:

Pink Oleander
There is a second pink oleander plant next to it, but it can't be seen because this monster of an euphorbia is growing in front of it and covering it all up:

Monster Euphorbia
It was grown from a small cutting and has grown to over 8 feet in height!  My gardener friend has cut it back time and again and it probably needs to be cut back, again!  It seems determined to take over my back garden!  I've cuttings growing in other places along the back wall and the front garden, too.  I think I'll take a few more cuttings and then, have it cut back to give the second oleander a little breathing room!

Speaking of plants determined to take over the garden:

Variegated Schefflera
It was bought in a plastic planter and we kept it under the shade of the calamondin tree with the intention of planting it somewhere, eventually.

From the back
When we went to move it, we found that it had planted itself, through the pot! 

The roots grew right through the pot!
This spot under the pine tree (grown from a seedling given out at an Earth Day celebration about 27 years ago) is another micro-environment.  It looks messy because the dead pine needles have got caught in the branches of the monster euphorbia, growing next to it (and there is another euphorbia on the other side of the pine tree):

Under the Pine Tree

But the shade of the pine tree enables these dayflower plants to grow:

Dayflower plants (and a gazania in the foreground)

It has the prettiest little blue flowers:

Dayflower (Commelina)

Another blue flower in my garden:

Plumbago and Lantana Hedge

The plumbago and lantana grow along the side wall behind the garage and the shed.  It was severely pruned back earlier in the summer and has grown right back.

I wish the lantana in the front will grow like this!

Closer to the house, these plants are still waiting to be planted!  The two grape vines and the lemongrass:

Grapes and Lemongrass

We are enjoying some cooler weather right now (highs of only in the mid 70s), but, it is supposed to warm up again into the mid 80s next week and low 90s by next weekend.  Very typical autumn temperatures for us.

Autumn is the time to start cleaning up the garden.  My gardener friend started, this evening, with the front garden.  He pulled out the dead rose plants and weeded that bed and trimmed back the osteospermum in the adjoining bed.  We will continue to concentrate on the front for the next couple of weeks before we tidy up the back.   

Hope you enjoyed your tour of my garden at the end of the summer.  How is your garden doing?  Better than mine, I hope!