Monday, April 30, 2018

April Balanced Life Goals Update

Here is the update of my April Goals for a more Balanced Life:

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude; focus on being positive - daily prayers and gratitude have been on-going; continuing to focus on being positive as I learn to "dance in the rain".  
- Take time for meditation -  I didn't achieve this goal, this month.  I meditate a little when I put water to the garden, but I rarely take time to just sit and focus on the meditating.  I am usually doing something else and multi-tasking, which is not what I want from this activity.  Why is it so hard for me to take 15 minutes to sit in silence and truly focus on just being?
- Cultivate non-attachment  - continue with the attempt to declutter; the goal is 100 items in April -  Once again, I didn't declutter as much as I wanted to; we'll call it a work in progress.
- Attend the monthly rosary prayer gathering - Attended the monthly prayer gathering with my cousin, her daughter, and a friend.  

In addition, I attended a special blessing ceremony at the Temple, to celebrate our cultural New Year.

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
- Focus on decluttering and maintaining cleaned areas - Did some; I end the month with a clean living room, dining area, bathrooms, and kitchen.  

- Maintain (water 2x per week; weed) -  I have been watering the garden twice a week (occasionally, trice); weeding is on-going.  
- Buy/make and fix a trellis for the grape vine -  I decided to reuse the trellis cage I made for the tomato plant, last year.  It will do for this year, as I don't expect the grape vine to grow too much, this first year.
Plant some flowers and vegetables - I planted some flower seeds; I have more seeds to plant, including vegetable seeds.  

Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her (without being over-protective!) - Learning how to do this; trying hard to be more hands-off!  
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails, and video chatting - Did so, daily.  

Family & Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.
- Call, email, wish people on their birthdays, etc.  -  I have been keeping in touch with family and friends; several phone calls, emails, etc.  I also wished a friend on her birthday (didn't forget it this year!) 
- Meet sister and her family for lunch (scheduled for 4/2; better get the boys' gifts ready!) -  Enjoyed getting together with sister and her family.  I couldn't finish the T-shirts I was embroidering for her grandsons, but I gave them gift cards to a bookstore, instead.
- Will be seeing several members of the family and friends at the monthly prayer gathering - Only one cousin and her daughter were able to attend and the only friends were the friends who were hosting the gathering and one other friend who went with us.  But, the smaller gathering was nice, too, as it gave us more of an opportunity to sit and talk as a group.    
- Weekly calls with neighbor T/have coffee with her on my next day off - Spoke with her on the Sundays during the month and several times last week, when her daughter was out of state; visited her, one Sunday, and had lemonade, instead of coffee.
- Get together with friend R for lunch - Spoke with her several times, during the month; we had made plans to go out to lunch, but we weren't able to do so, for one reason or another.  We decided to try again, in May.  However, she went with cousin and me to the monthly prayer gathering and we had tea together, at home, afterwards.

In addition, I visited one of my aunts and spent a pleasant afternoon with her and her daughter.

Community:  The goal is to become more involved in my community.
- Continue to participate in the blogging community - Did so; I've been posting daily, reading and commenting on other blogs on a regular basis, and, hopefully, doing so in a kind, encouraging, and positive manner.

In addition, I attended a ceremony at the temple and participated in the temple community, and I attended the monthly prayer gathering and participated in the prayer circle/community.

Career:  The goal is to continue to work while planning for retirement.
- Find the best commuting option to the new location - Did so.  I located several small parking areas near the new office, although they are usually full by the time I get to the office (I'd have to get there before 7:00 a.m. to get parking and that isn't happening any time soon!); I applied for a transit pass and received it on the last Friday of April, so I have the option of taking the subway to work, if I need to.  For now, I have been continuing to park at the old office and I take the shuttle bus from that office to the new one and back.  I've found out that I am not the only one who hasn't given up her parking permit at the old office!  Yes, I am breaking the rules and living dangerously in my old age! 
- Continue to do my assignments in a timely manner - Did so.  I updated my current projects list, as well, so my supervisors can see when I receive my assignments, when I actually start working on them, and how long it takes for me to work on each section.
- Attend the retirement seminar (scheduled for 4/14) - Apparently, the online reservation I submitted was never received and I didn't receive the confirmation I was supposed to receive.  When I called to inquire, I was told the seminar was fully booked, and, although I could still attend, they won't have any personalized papers for me.  So, I decided to wait for the next seminar which is being offered in May.

Finances:  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose -  On going. 
- Speak with my financial planner (there are some documents to sign) - Did so.  Actually, spoke twice with her, because there were a couple of other things I wanted done.
- File my taxes!  (appointment with tax preparer scheduled for 4/7) - Did so.

Health & Well Being:  The goal is good health.
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors - 1 scheduled in April (with radiation oncologist for a routine check up) - Did so.
- Continue to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight - Did so.
- Continue to focus on a healthier diet, drinking enough water (8x 8oz), exercising regularly (walk for 30 minutes during the work week), and getting sufficient sleep (keep trying for that elusive 11:30 p.m. bed time during the work week!) - Work in progress!  There is much room for improvement in this area, I am afraid!
- Focus on accomplishments and staying positive - Work in progress!

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
- Procrastinate less - Work in progress!
- Implement routines and schedules/get myself on a better time table! Work in progress!

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Set aside 30 minutes a day to do something relaxing, such as reading books, or doing a craft - Did so.  I finished one sweater and started on another. 

So, that is my goals update for April!  Once again, it is a mixed bag when it comes to achieving what I set out to accomplish.  I did quite well in some areas, but there's a lot of room for improvement in other areas.  But I think I did well enough for the most part.  Did you make any goals for April?  If so, how did you do on them?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday: Monthly Prayer Gathering and April Grocery Shopping Week 4

Star Jasmine, just coming into bloom

I had the best of intentions to go to bed before midnight, last night, but by the time I did my blog post, read a couple of other blogs and commented on them, cleaned the litter box, dithered about making a dessert to take to today's prayer gathering (I decided not to make the dessert, after all), said my nightly devotions and so forth, it was 2:00 a.m.  Then, I stayed up another 30 minutes, trying to do a sudoku puzzle!  Finally, it was lights out at 2:30 a.m. and I believe I fell asleep right away.  Only to wake up at 4:30 a.m.!  But I managed to fall asleep, again, and slept until almost 9:30 a.m.  (Alarm went off at 9:00 a.m., but I stayed in bed and dozed for another 20 minutes or so)  So, I had about 7 hours of sleep, which was good. 

I had a cup of coffee, checked my emails, responded to blog comments, etc.  Then, around 10:15 a.m., I decided to tidy and dust the living room and dining room.  They were two of the items on the "Big Long To Do List" I made on Friday, which I couldn't do on Saturday.  The living room was relatively tidy; only a few things needed to be put away and the furniture dusted.  It probably took me about 10 minutes to do that.  The dining table was a bit of a mess, with things piled up on it (sewing, paperwork, etc.)  It took me about another 10 minutes to tidy the table, dust the furniture, and put a new table cloth.    Yay!  Two items crossed off my Big Long To Do List! 

At 10:45 a.m., I went to take my shower.  I was just coming out of the shower, when the phone rang.  It was friend R. calling to find out what the arrangements were.  I said I will pick her up around 11:30 a.m. and she was fine with that.  Then, I called friend F to see if she was feeling well enough to go to the prayer gathering (last night, she had called to say she wasn't feeling up to it, but I thought I'd check again in case she had changed her mind), but she said she won't be going (she said she sent me a text, but I didn't receive it; I had checked my text messages before I called her).  Then, I called my cousin to let her know that I was about to go and put gas to the car and pick up friend R.  But cousin said that her daughter had agreed to drive us and I didn't have to drive!  Well, that was a pleasant surprise! 

I picked up friend R (didn't put gas because I didn't need to make the long drive to the prayer gathering and back) and we came back to my house and chatted a bit while we waited for my cousin and her daughter to come and pick us up.  While we waited, neighbor T called, too, for our weekly Sunday morning chat and daughter called to say good morning and that she is sore after her gymnastics class, yesterday!

Then, we went to the prayer gathering.  It was yet another small gathering of just six of us - my cousin, her daughter, friend R, myself, and the friends who were hosting the gathering.  I enjoy the smaller gatherings more, I think, because we are able to sit as a group and talk. 

Afterwards, we came home and R and I had a cup of tea and chatted a bit more.  I gave her a portion of the chicken and vegetable soup I had made to take home with her. 

Then, on the way to drop R, I put gas to the car ($3.49/gal; I put for $30) and we stopped at the grocery store.  R bought some bread and milk for herself; I bought bread, milk, and two bags of dry cat food.

April Week 4 Groceries

The bread cost $.99 and the milk cost $1.99 = $2.98

My April grocery budget is $75 - $.69 (that I overspent in March) = $74.31
Spent to date = $27.05 (week 1) + $20.49 (week 2) + $28.84 (week 3) + $2.98 = $79.36
Amount over budget = $5.05

My May grocery budget will be $75 - $5 = $70 (I am going to ignore the $.05!)

After I came home, I turned the sprinklers on in the back garden, watered the indoor plants, and replaced the battery in the wall clock in the family room. 

Gas, groceries, buying cat food, watering the back garden and indoor plants, replacing the clock battery - five more items crossed of my Big Long To Do List!

Miko: One of the reasons for all those bags of cat food I buy

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to attend the monthly prayer gathering
- Cousin and her daughter giving me a ride to the prayer gathering and back
- A pleasant afternoon spent in the company of family and good friends
- Being able to accomplish a few things from my To Do List
- An overall good day.

Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Water the front garden
- Load of laundry

Rest of the Big Long To Do List:
- Tidy & dust family room
- Vacuum: living room, dining room, family room, kitchen, hallway, bedrooms
- Kitchen: clear and wipe counters, wipe stove top
- Bathrooms
- Bedrooms
- Laundry (bed sheets, chair covers)
- Gather documents needed for retirement seminar
- Attend seminar (5/3)
- Locate payment papers re. dr's office billing
- Call re. dr's office billing
- Buy new batteries for the anniversary clock
- Replace clock batteries
- Buy kitty litter
- Sort out donations/bag them up
- Call for donations pick up
- Garden - plant seeds

My plan is to fit in a few of these items into the daily to do lists, but, most probably, the majority of them might have to wait until next weekend. 

How was your Sunday?  What are your plans for the upcoming week?

Resting on Saturday

Bottle Brush Flowers

Last night, before I went to sleep (at 2:30 a.m.), I wrote out a long To Do List for the weekend.  It helped, I think, because I didn't stay awake thinking about all the things I had to/wanted to do.  I was woken up at 8:30 a.m. by a friend calling to find out if I was coming to the prayer gathering; she's hosting it and calling her to confirm if I am attending the prayer gathering was #1 on my To Do list!  So, I told her, yes, I am planning to come and I will be giving another friend and my cousin a ride, as well.  Then, I went back to sleep and slept till 11:30 a.m.!  So, I got 9 hrs. of sleep!  One would think I'd feel well rested and energetic after all that sleep, but I woke up feeling lethargic and with a sinus pressure headache! 

Feijoa (Pineapple Guava) Flowers

The headache might have been a sign that I was dehydrated.  Or, just too stressed over my long to do list, or insufficient sleep during the week caught up with me.  Anyway, I took it easy and mostly rested, today.  So, practically nothing on my list got done!  I did text my friend to confirm I will be going to the prayer gathering and can give her a ride.  Then, I called my cousin to tell her the same.  Later, when friend R called me, I offered her a ride, too.  

Pink Rose

In the evening, after the headache went away, I did a little weeding in the garden (and took some pictures), did the dishes, and cooked a chicken stir-fry for dinner.

Chicken Stir Fry for Dinner

I packed the leftovers for my lunch on Monday. 

My daughter tried out an adults gymnastics class, today!  She hasn't taken gymnastics for the past 7 years, but, she said she really enjoyed the class.  She said she wanted to continue to take classes, provided her budget allowed it.  I told her to go ahead and take the classes, that I will pay for them ($100 for the month).

Yellow Rose

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to sleep in
- Being able to rest and take it easy
- The headache going away, eventually
- Spending some time in the garden
- Daughter is finding fun things to do

Sunday's To Do List:
- Put gas to the car
- Pick up R
- Attend the prayer gathering
- Maybe pick up some dry cat food on the way home from dropping R off (or, I can do it on Monday, on my way home from work)

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for tomorrow?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Dancer's Step by Step Guide to Sleeping

Dancer has no problem falling asleep

"Step 1:  Stack two cushions, one on top of the other, so you have a comfy spot on which to lie. 
Step 2:  Snuggle right up to a hand knitted blanket for warmth and added comfort."

Last night, too, it was 3:30 a.m. before I fell asleep, so, it was hard to wake up when the alarm went off at 7:00 a.m.   As I told my daughter, I wished I was retired already, so I could have slept a little longer!  But, I had to go to work, so I got up, got dressed, and went to the office.

I had a fairly productive day at the office.  We are being asked to maintain a spreadsheet, noting down when assignments were received, when we started to work on them, and when we completed the assignments, so I updated my information, in addition to actually working on my projects.

"Or, you can sleep on a quilt covered bed"

"Step 3:  If the cushions and blankets don't work, move to a quilt covered bed; hand made quilts are especially soft and comfy."

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to buy two cans of cat food for Dancer.  After I came home, I had a cup of tea, had a snack, watched some TV and knitted.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter. 

"And that's how you fall asleep"
Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to get tips on how to fall asleep from Dancer
- A safe drive to the office and back
- A productive day at the office
- A restful evening
- Video chatting with daughter

"Sleep tight"

Friday, April 27, 2018

Tired on Thursday

Last night, I slept a little better in the sense that I fell asleep at 2:30 a.m.  I really didn't want to wake up when the alarm went off at 7:00 a.m.  I would have slept longer, if I didn't have to go to the office!  But, I had to go to work, and so, I got up, got dressed, and drove to work.  On the way to the bus stop from where I parked my car, I passed by the Farmers' Market and treated myself to an almond croissant, which I had for breakfast.  Lunch was leftover rice, meatball curry, and green beans from last night's dinner.  

I had a productive day at the office.  I was able to finish one of my assignments and move on to the next.  I was also able to avail myself to a free massage at work!  Earlier this month, the office Wellness program had offered free chair massages as part of its stress management seminars.  It was being offered at different locations and today, it was being offered at our new location.  I signed up when the memo came out and today, I went for my massage!  It was nice; lasted about 10 minutes, I would say.  Afterwards, we received a free tealight candle, a packet of wet wipes, and mints!  

After I came home, I had a cup of tea and a chicken cold cuts sandwich.  Then, I watched news and fell asleep on the sofa for almost an hour and a half!  As a result, I didn't do any gardening or anything else, for that matter!  I did call neighbor T to check on her; she said her daughter has come back from her conference, so that is good.  She was really nervous with her daughter being out of state.

Later, I boiled some rice for dinner:

Dinner: Fish curry, beets, green beans

One of my colleagues was asking me how to make curry, today, and I was trying to explain the process to him.  I generally don't use measurements when I cook, so I tend to give directions rather than a recipe.  He was quite confused with my "add some milk", type of cooking directions.  "How much milk?", he asked, and I had to stop and think!  In general, the amount of milk depends on how much gravy I want the dish to have.  So, I said, "About a cup".  I remember I had the same problem when I was trying to teach daughter to cook!  I'd say, "Some curry powder" and she'd ask, "How much?"  Then, I'd say, "1 teaspoon" and she'd put a teaspoon of curry powder and I'd look at it and say, "Add another spoonful"!  LOL.  Now, she does the same, eyeballing the amounts and rarely measuring anything.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- A free massage!
- A productive day at the office
- A nap on the sofa
- A safe commute to the office and back
- Chatting with my daughter

How was your day?  When you cook, do you follow a recipe faithfully and measure everything, or do you just sort of generally follow directions but eyeball the ingredients?  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Quiet Wednesday


Today has been another quiet day.  It was 3:30 a.m. when I finally fell asleep, last night (or, should I say, this morning?)  I didn't want to wake up when the alarm went off at 7:00 a.m.!  I stayed in bed until 7:30 a.m. and then, got up, had a cup of coffee, fed the cats, got dressed, and went to the office.  I got there a little later than usual, but I ate at my desk and didn't take a lunch break and was able to make up the time.

But, before I left to go to the office, I had to take a picture of the hibiscus plant, as it was covered with flowers:

Hibiscus Plant
It is not a very big plant, but there were more than a dozen flowers on it!   We used to call them "shoe flowers" in Sri Lanka. 

I had a fairly productive day at the office.  I wore my usual layers.  I get the morning sun from the window in my cubicle, so it was comfortable in the morning in just my blouse and sweater.  Then, around 11:30 a.m., the air conditioning kicked in and I had to put on the cardigan over the blouse and sweater.  By 2:30 p.m., I had to wrap my shawl around me!  My colleague in the next cubicle was so cold she got herself a mug of hot water to warm her hands! 

Once again, I shed my layers as I made my way home! 

I had a cup of coffee when I got home and watched the evening news.  Then, I did a little knitting. 

After that, I did a little gardening.  I weeded a section of a flower bed and planted some "Love lies bleeding" (Amaranthus caudatus).  This is another plant that is often grown as an ornamental plant, for its flowers, but it is an edible plant and the leaves are cooked as greens.  The seeds I planted are rather old; I hope they will germinate.  I didn't get around to blocking off the planted area; I hope the cats won't dig up the seeds!  Tomorrow, I will put up some chicken wire mesh to keep the cats out.

Later, I cooked some green beans and had that with rice and leftover meat ball curry for my dinner:

Dinner: rice, meat ball curry, sauted green beans
I packed the leftovers for my lunch, tomorrow. 

Aunt C called while I was doing the dishes; she said she had some of the soup I had made and taken for her and that she really enjoyed it.  Later, cousin P called and we chatted for a bit.  Still later, I video chatted with daughter. 

So, it was a quiet day, without a lot of excitement, but that is alright. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A quiet day
- Being able to go to the office a bit later than usual
- I managed to keep warm for the most part
- I was able to do a little gardening
- Phone calls from family, emails from friends, and video chatting with daughter.

How was your Wednesday?  Was it a quiet day for you, too?  Or was it a busy day with a lot of things happening?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Slow Tuesday

It has been a slow day, today.  I went to the office rather reluctantly, because I really wanted to stay home, today!  But, as usual, once I got to the office, I had a fairly productive day. 

I was ready for the air conditioning, today!  I wore fleece lined leggings under my slacks.  I wore a short sleeved blouse with a long sleeved turtle neck sweater over it and a cardigan over that!  I also wore a jacket and had a scarf with me, although I didn't need to wear them.  I wore my knitted hat every time the a/c came on and wore my gloves for a short time.  But, it seems the trick was to keep my head warm, because, when I wore my hat, my hands didn't freeze as much!  In the afternoon, when someone came up from the floor below, he commented on how cold it was up in our office!  So, it really isn't just me!  But I am the only one who is all bundled up! 

Once I came home, I was able to change into a skirt and the short sleeved blouse and was quite comfortable, as it was in the upper 70s and the house was warm!  I brought in the trash cans, and checked the mail.  This week's grocery ads came out, but I didn't see any good deals or stock up prices.  I don't think I will need to buy any groceries until the end of the month.  If I do grocery shop during the weekend (I might need to buy milk), I will consider it as May grocery spending. 

Today, I cooked the pork chops I had bought on Saturday:

Dinner: Pork chop, broccoli, and corn

There were three pork chops; I had one for dinner and will have the other two later in the week (or might freeze them).

Friend R called in the evening and we had a nice long chat.  Later, I video chatted with daughter.  She was tired after her ice skating lesson, so we didn't chat for too long.  She admonished me to go to bed soon, so after I post this, I will say my nightly devotions and go to bed!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Waking up, well and alive
- A safe commute to work and back
- Lovely weather (even if the office is cold!)
- Emails and phone calls from friends
- Daughter had fun at her skating lesson

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Water the indoor plants
- Do the dishes
- Do some paperwork and filing

How was your Tuesday?  Did you have a good day?  What have you planned to do on Wednesday?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Family Visits on Monday

I called my aunt, this morning, to check on her and to see if she was up to having me visit; she said she was feeling well.  I cooked the broccoli I didn't cook yesterday and cut up half the cantaloupe to take for her.  Then, packed up everything, including their Christmas gifts, as I haven't seen them since before Christmas!  I had almost forgotten what I put in their gift bags!  

I got to their house at 10:45 a.m.  I had meant to visit for about an hour and then, come back home.  But, aunt insisted that I stayed to lunch, so I stayed till 2:00 p.m.!  Then, instead of going to the library or doing a little shopping, as planned, I took a nap on the sofa!

Later, after a cup of tea, I took the trash cans to the curb.  As I was taking them to the curb, a vehicle pulled up and parked in front of my house and blocked the driveway!  I told the driver that she was blocking my driveway, but she said she was going to visit my neighbor (the one who is having work done on her house) and will be just 5 minutes.  What could I say?  It would have been very petty of me to have objected to her blocking my driveway for 5 minutes (although, I did wonder if it would have been for only 5 minutes if I hadn't been out there and hadn't said anything).  I also watered the front garden again (it was hot, today, with a high of 91F; the plants were drooping!) and turned on the sprinklers at the back.  Then, I put away the laundry from yesterday, emailed my cousin some information she wanted, exchanged emails with a friend, knitted a bit, and video chatted with daughter.  Need to clean the litter box before I go to bed.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A pleasant visit with aunt and cousin
- A safe drive there and back
- They liked the gifts I got them
- A nap on the sofa
- A relaxed evening

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Bring the trash cans in
- Cook the pork chops I bought (or freeze them)
- Wash the dishes

How was your Monday?  What have you planned for Tuesday?  

Earth Day Sunday

It was Earth Day on Sunday, but the day was being observed all weekend long!  Here, in Southern California, a freeway was closed to traffic so that people could run a race and several roads were closed to vehicle traffic so that people could cycle through the streets.  I am sure there were other activities, as well, and everyone had lovely warm weather (highs in the upper 80s) in which to enjoy the day!

I had a relaxed morning, watching cooking shows on TV, replying to blog comments, reading, and knitting.  Yes, I have started to knit a sweater with the darker yarn I bought earlier in March:

The yarn bought in March
As usual, I have started with the back; this time, I decided to cast on 61 stitches.  I did a knit 1 purl 1 rib and am knitting up the back in stockinette stitch:

Color changes

Yesterday, I called family and friends.  Today, it was their turn to call me!

Friend R called first.  Yesterday, we had discussed maybe going out to lunch, today.  But, she called in the morning to say she had a headache and so we agreed to go out to lunch on another day.  

Then, there was a text from a different friend R, about the monthly rosary prayer gathering, which she will be hosting next Sunday.  I asked if it will be potluck, but she said no, she will cook.  However, I will take a dessert if I am going.  But I won't know if I will be able to go or not - it all depends on how I feel by the end of the week.  I told her I will call and confirm if I am going, closer to the date.

Shortly after that, friend F called to ask if I will be going to the prayer gathering because she needs a ride.  I told her I am hoping to go, it all depends on how I feel, but I'd be happy to give her a ride, if I am going.  

Neighbor T called a little later in the morning and we chatted a bit.  During our conversation, she said she didn't expect anyone to visit her today (I think her daughter usually visits her on Sundays), and she sounded so sad and lonely, that I said I'll pay her a visit this evening, which I did, around 5:00 p.m.  She served me cookies and lemonade and we chatted for about half an hour and she thanked me for coming to visit her.  I hope I eased her loneliness a little.

I also had a call from Cousin V.  I had received the invitation to her son's wedding, in the mail, yesterday, and we discussed the wedding plans a bit.  She will borrow my big ceremonial oil lamp, just as she did when her daughter got married.  

In between phone calls and visiting T I cooked!  I made chicken stock and made a chicken and vegetable soup with potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, onions, and a handful of lentils.  I had some of it for my dinner:

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I cooked a mackerel curry, as well, and I made an egg salad.  I also boiled some beets, which I sliced and seasoned with a little salt and pepper.  Tomorrow morning, I will cook the broccoli.  I will keep a portion of what I cooked and take the rest to my aunt.  All cousin N will need to do is cook some rice  and there will be enough food for them for several meals.   

I also watered the front garden, cleaned my bathroom, and washed a bunch of pots and pans and dishes!  

Later in the evening, I video chatted with daughter.  She, too, had been busy cooking!  She made an apple tart to take to a potluck at her office and she made a roast chicken.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A warm, sunny day
- Being able to visit neighbor T and keep her company for a bit
- Phone calls from family and friends
- Being able to cook a few dishes to take to my aunt
- Video chatting with my daughter

How was your Sunday?  Did you do anything to observe Earth Day?  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday: April Grocery Shopping Week 3

April 21 Groceries

I had a relaxed morning, today.  I spoke with Aunt C in the morning (I wanted to ask her if I could visit her tomorrow, instead of this evening, because I was wondering if I'd be up to grocery shopping, cooking and visiting, all in one day).  Aunt suggested I visited on Monday morning, instead of today or even tomorrow, as her daughter will be freer to sit and chat on Monday morning (she gives music lessons at home and the weekends are her busiest days).  That works out well for me because I have a day off from work on Monday.  Instead of grocery shopping this morning and cooking this afternoon and visiting aunt in the evening, as planned, I can grocery shop this afternoon, cook tomorrow, and visit aunt on Monday.  Much more relaxed!

I called my neighbor T to check on her (her daughter left for an out of state conference, yesterday, and will be gone the whole week, and I have promised to check on T during her daughter's absence).  She said she was doing OK and waiting for her friend to give her a ride to church.  I told her I planned to go grocery shopping in the afternoon and asked if she needed anything; she thanked me, but said she didn't need anything.

Then, I called friend R to check on her and we chatted for a bit.  She had already run her Saturday morning errands and was looking forward to attending a friend's birthday party in the evening.

It was a warm, sunny day.  I did two loads of laundry and hung them up to air dry inside the house.

Then, I went through this week's grocery ads, made my list, and went grocery shopping in the afternoon.  I went to two stores.

Mostly Fruits

First, I went to the ethnic store and bought:
1 lb. bag carrots = $.50
Green beans @$.79/lb.  = $.33
Broccoli @ $.49/lb = $.27
Red potatoes @ 3lb/$1 = $.70
1 Cabbage @ 5lb/$1 = $.40
Zucchini @$.39/lb = $.40
Beets @$.39/lb = $.37
2 cans mackerel @$1.49 = $2.98
2 cans coconut milk @$.99 = $1.98
1 package chicken cold cuts (7 oz) = $1.49
Apple bananas @$.99/lb = $.73 (regular bananas were $.49, but these small bananas are a treat)
Fuji apples @$.39/lb = $.69
1 cucumber @3/$1 = $.34
Total = $11.18

Store 1 Receipt

Cantaloupe was on sale for $.39/lb. at this store, but I had noted that the other store had advertised it for $.25/lb., this week.

Mostly Vegetables
 At the second store (Kroger affiliate), I bought:
4 packages of 4lb. sugar @$1.50 = $6.00
2 lb. chicken drumsticks @$.67/lb = $1.36 ($.99/lb. at the ethnic store, this week)
1 lb. pork chops (3 chops) @$1.29/lb = $1.26
1 cantaloupe @$.25/lb = $.87
8 mangoes @$.25 = $2.00
1 box pancake mix = $1.69 (regularly $1.99)
1 bottle pancake syrup = $1.99
1 container flavored coffee creamer = $2.49
Total = 17.66

Two of the bags of sugar 
The sugar was a stock up price for me.  I usually buy it when it is $.50/lb. or less.  They had a limit of 4 packages, so I bought the limit, even though I still have several packages of sugar from when I stocked up, earlier.  This will replace what I have used, already, and I will share with daughter.

Rest of the Groceries

I also bought a bag of cat food ($10.49 + $1 tax) at this store.  With the cat food and tax on cat food, my total spending at this store came to $29.15.  But the cat food is from the Pet Supplies budget, so isn't included in my grocery budget.   Therefore, the groceries only spending at Store 2 came to $17.66

Store 2 Receipt

Today's grocery spending came to:  $11.18 + $17.66 = $28.84

My April grocery budget is $75 - $.69 (that I overspent in March) = $74.31
Spent to date = $27.05 (week 1) + $20.49 (week 2) + $28.84 (week 3) = $76.38
Amount over budget = $2.07

Oops!  I shouldn't have bought that bottle of syrup!

Oh, well.  Some of the groceries I bought today is to cook to take to aunt when I visit her and since she lives with her daughter and son-in-law, I will take enough for them all to share.  And some of the sugar is to share with daughter.  I am not going to worry about going over budget, this month.  I don't anticipate needing more groceries, next week, but, if I do, it won't be much. 

Cousin P called in the evening and we had a chat.

I also video chatted with daughter; she, too, had gone grocery shopping, today.  She went to the regular grocery store to stock up on meats, she said.  She didn't take any pictures, today, but she bought 2 whole chickens for $.78/lb., pork sirloin chops for $1.99/lb., 1 lb bag frozen salmon fillets (3 fillets) for $5.00.  She also bought 1 bottle (20 oz) ketchup for $1.99, 4 ears of corn (@$.50), 1 bag frozen shelled edamame for  $2.99, 4 Lara bars @$1, and 1 bag (4lb) sugar for $3.59 on sale!  She also went to the dollar store and bought 2 bags of pop corn (white chocolate peppermint flavor!),  1+ lb. bananas @$.49/lb, 1 English cucumber, 2 cans coconut milk, 1 pack maple bacon pork sausage, and 3 types of cold cuts - black pepper turkey, rotisserie style chicken, honey smoked turkey.  She spent $9.58 at the dollar store and $39.15 at the grocery store.  Her grocery spending was higher than average, this week, because she stocked up on meats. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A sunny, warm day
- A relaxed morning
- Phone chats with family and friends
- Video chatting with daughter
- Good deals at the grocery store

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for tomorrow? 

Finally, Friday!

Friday morning, I woke up with a start and discovered that it was already 8:00 a.m.!  I guess I forgot to set the alarm before I went to sleep, last night!  Or, I turned it off and fell into a deep sleep, but I don't have any recollection of doing that!  My first reaction was to rush in order to get to the office, as soon as possible.  But I don't do too well when I rush and get flustered.  So, I emailed my supervisor and said I was running late, but will be in by mid morning.  That way, I was able to have my coffee and not rush.  I got to work a little after 10:00 a.m.; I will use vacation time off to make up the time. 

I found the entrance to the parking garage in the building and found out how much parking in the building costs:  $2.75 for the first 15 minutes; maximum $27.50 for the day.

Parking Rates at the Building

I had a productive day.  It wasn't quite as cold in the office, today (I didn't need to wear my gloves), but it was cold enough.  By late afternoon, I had a headache, whether from the cold or from something else (chemical fumes from the new carpets and upholstered cubicle wall panels, maybe? or maybe just hunger, although I ate?) .  I came home, had a cup of tea and rested a bit; eventually, the headache went away.  But I didn't do anything very productive after I came home and I didn't stop to buy cat food.  I will need to do that, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to go to work late, as needed
- A productive work day
- A safe commute to work and back
- A restful evening
- Video chatting with my daughter

Saturday's To Do List:
- Grocery shop
- Buy cat food
- Cook
- Call and visit aunt
- Call friend to arrange for a lunch date
- Laundry

How was your Friday?  Did you have a good day?  What are your plans for the weekend? 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Rain on Thursday!

It rained, this morning!  That was a surprise!  It was clearing up when I woke up and looked out the window, but it had rained enough to wet the ground and snarl up the traffic!  It remained cloudy all day and our high was only 53F.  It was cold inside our office, with the a/c going full blast.  Even the girl who has the cubicle next to me was complaining that it was cold!  I wore two 2 cardigans, my jacket, and gloves!  Even my head felt cold and I'd have gladly worn a hat, if I had one!  I might take one of my knitted hats, tomorrow, and keep with me just in case!

I took a bagel with cream cheese for my breakfast, today.  Lunch was an egg salad sandwich.  A banana and strawberries for fruit, along with some apple juice.  In the evening, after I came home, I cooked rice, a meatball curry, and sauted zucchini for dinner. 

Dinner: rice, meatball curry, sauted zucchini

At first, I was going to cook only half of bag of frozen meatballs, but then, I decided to make the whole bag.  There are supposed to be 26 meatballs in the bag (I didn't count); that would make 4 servings for me.  I added a tomato and half an onion to the curry, along with spices and half a can of coconut milk.  I chopped up and froze the balance half of the onion.  I will take some of the leftovers for my lunch, tomorrow. 

Daughter attended a trivia game night with some colleagues from her office.  She said her team came last, but she enjoyed an evening of socializing with her colleagues away from the office setting. 

I felt tired after I came home from work, so took it easy.  I cooked, put away the washed dishes from yesterday, wrote to a friend, and watched some TV.  Later, I video chatted with daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Rain!
- The garden got watered!
- A safe drive to the office and back
- A productive day at the office
- Daughter had a fun evening with colleagues

Friday to do list:
- Go to the office
- Do the online safety training
- Buy a bag of cat food on the way home
- Water the indoor plants
- Clean the cat litter box

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Doctor's Appointment and April Grocery Shopping Week 2

Today, I took the day off from work because I had a doctor's appointment.  Yes, I could have gone to the office in the morning and then, gone to the appointment, which was at 1:00 p.m.   But, taking the day off meant I could have a relaxed morning.  I left the house a little before 12 noon and got to the clinic a little after 12:30 p.m.  But the clinic was running late, so I didn't get seen until 1:30 p.m.  It was a routine follow-up check; doctor examined me, noted that the treatment site was still somewhat red and swollen, but thought it looked better than on the previous visit.  I am to return in 4 months' time for another follow-up.

On the way home, I put gas to the car.  Gas was $3.40/gal.; I put $36 worth of gas.

Then, I did some grocery shopping:

April 18 Groceries

I went to the regular Kroger-affiliated grocery store, because they had advertised  strawberries for $.99/lb.  I also needed bread, milk, and bananas.  In addition to these, I bought a few other items that were on a mix and match sale (buy 5 participating items and receive $1 off each item), including a bag of potato chips as a treat!

I bought:
1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
1 loaf white sandwich bread = $1.29
1 package (6-ct.) bagels = $1.99
1 bottle unfiltered apple juice = $1.49*
2 packages meat balls @ $1.99 = $3.98*
1 package potato chips = $1.99*
2 lb. strawberries @$.99 = $1.98
4 bananas @$.59/lb = $.79
1 smoked sausage (14 oz) = $2.49*
1 roast beef cold cuts (7 oz) = $2.50
Total spent for groceries = $20.49

*Asterisked items were participating items in the mix and match deal.

I also bought two tubes of toothpaste for $1.00 each, but that is not part of my grocery budget (comes under Toiletries, budgeted at $10 per month).

April 18 Receipt

My April grocery budget is $75 - $.69 (that I overspent in March) = $74.31
Spent to date = $27.05 (week 1) + $20.49 = $47.54
Balance remaining in my April grocery budget = $74.31 - $47.54 = $26.77

There were other good deals at this grocery store, this week - asparagus was $.99/lb. and English cucumbers were $.88 each (Sandy, I thought of you).

The bagels are for breakfasts.  There is a cafe in the lobby at the new office building and I checked their prices, the other day.  A plain bagel is $2; a bagel with cream cheese is $3.  In comparison, the package of 6 bagels was $1.99 and a package of store brand cream cheese was $1.79 (I didn't buy cream cheese because I still have some leftover from the last package I bought).  Even if I needed to buy a package of cream cheese, I'd have enough bagels and cream cheese for a week of breakfasts for $.78 more than what a single bagel and cream cheese would have cost if I were to buy from the cafe in the office building.

I might go to the ethnic grocery store, later this week or during the weekend, as I want to buy some chicken and a few other things to make some soup and a few other dishes to take to my aunt.

By the time I got home, took the pictures and put away the groceries, it was about 4:00 p.m.  I hadn't eaten anything, yet (had a cup of coffee in the morning before I went to the doctor's appointment), so, I made myself a roast beef sandwich and had it with some potato chips, a banana, and some of the apple juice.    Later, I had a cup of tea.

I called my aunt and checked on her; she said she is recovering, slowly.  She feels weak, she said, because she didn't eat much when she was in the hospital - apparently, the food was not to her liking! I have promised to bring her some soup and some curries, this weekend.

Then, daughter called to say she was home and we chatted a bit.  She has apparently received a call from someone who left a message on her phone stating they were from the IRS and asking her to call back to discuss some missing information on her tax returns!  She called me to confirm that this was probably a spam, because the IRS always says that they contact people by mail.  She said she wanted to check with "an adult adult"!  LOL!  She said she didn't call them back and I told her not to.  I did tell her to send the information to our tax consultant, so she will be aware of it.  Daughter called, again, later, to say she's booking her flights home for the Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July weekend.  She is still nervous about flying, in general, and she usually flies Southwest Airlines, which just had a situation with an engine explosion and a fatality as a result.  I usually keep the altar lights on from the time daughter boards her plane until she comes home as a prayer for a safe flight; I will definitely be doing that, when she flies, next.

Later, friend R called and we had a nice, long chat.

Dinner was another roast beef sandwich.   

I ran the dishwasher and washed a few other items by hand (my china tea cups, the pots and pans, etc.)  Took the opportunity to wipe down the stove top and counters, too. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- The doctor's appointment went well
- A safe drive there and back
- Validated parking
- Gas is available, even if the price is going up
- Phone calls and emails from family and friends

How was your Wednesday?  Are you on track with your grocery spending for this month? 

Quiet Tuesday

Today has been a quiet day.  I went to the office in the morning - there had been an accident on the freeway and three of the four lanes were closed!  Needless to say the freeway was clogged.  I got to the office later than usual, but it wasn't too bad.  I spent most of the morning attending a meeting.  The afternoon was more productive. 

I wore my new sweater to the office today and received several compliments on it. 

I boiled some eggs, last night, and made egg salad, before I went to sleep.  This morning, I made an egg salad sandwich for breakfast and took the last two curry puffs for my lunch.  My colleague in the cubicle next to me asked me what I was doing for lunch and I told her I had brought my lunch.  She said she used to bring her lunch, but she has been going out to eat almost every day since we moved to the new building and it gets to be expensive.  I didn't say anything, but the cheapest lunch in this area costs at least $5 for just a sandwich; that's $25 per week for lunch.   At $25/week for 50 weeks (with 2 weeks off on vacation), that's $1,250 per year.  Yes, it is a bit of work to make sandwiches or pack leftovers, etc., and it is nice to be able to treat yourself to a meal out, every so often, but packing a lunch from home is one of the easiest ways to save money. 

After I came home, I brought the trash cans in and put water to the back garden.  The weekly grocery ads were delivered and I took a look.  Strawberries will be on sale for $.99/lb, this week; I plan to get some, along with bread, milk, and some type of meat to cook for the week. 

Later in the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.  She has started taking ice skating lessons; she had her second lesson, today, and said she really enjoyed it.  I'm glad she found something to do.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A sunny day
- A safe commute to the office and back
- A relaxed evening at home
- Video chatting with daughter
- Working sprinklers

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Doctor's appointment
- Put gas to the car
- Grocery shop?

How was your day?  Did you have a good Tuesday?  Do you (or did you) take your lunch to work?  Or do you prefer to buy lunch? 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Exploring the Patio on Monday

When I woke up this morning, I really wished I had taken the day off!  But, I hadn't, so it was get up, feed the cats, drink my coffee, get dressed, and head off to work!  Once I got to the office, however, I was fine and had a productive day.  I think, for me, waking up is the hardest part of the day! 

In the afternoon, I took a break and set out to discover the patio.  The new office complex consists of two buildings built at angles on the grounds.  There is a landscaped patio that wraps right around the buildings.  One area has tables set up with patio umbrellas.

Patio with tables and umbrellas

 The rest of it has benches, one or two picnic tables, and lots of ledges edging the planted areas on which to perch.

New apartment building across the street

I was most interested in the plantings:

Succulents and other drought tolerant plants

More planted areas and seats that are hidden from view in the picture

A couple of picnic tables in the corner

I have not been down there during lunch time, but at 3:00 p.m., there were only a handful of people, taking a break.

Trees to screen the view of the adjoining office building

I really liked this planted area, with a dry stream running down the middle:

Dry stone stream

From the other side

I am thinking of my narrow side yard - I had wanted something a little like this in that area; I need to show these pictures to my gardener friend and do some planning!

Another look!

Then I found another planted area with a similar dry stream, but this one widened to a small stone pond!

Stone pond

It was a windy, cool afternoon.  I enjoyed the fresh air, though.  I am looking forward to warmer days when I will enjoy being in this patio.

The area behind the patio with the umbrellas
This section is giving me ideas for my front garden - smaller planted areas surrounded by gravel paths:

Planted areas with gravel paths

After I came home, I changed out of my clothes, made a cup of tea and called Aunt C to check on her and then, called cousin P to see how she was, as she had a doctor's appointment today.  She said she was feeling OK and asked me if I could drive her to the office supplies store to fax a document (apparently, she faxed it earlier, but the company she faxed it to claimed they never received it).  So, I got dressed again and took her to the office supplies stores.  After I came home, I ate the leftovers from my lunch (I had taken the rest of the spaghetti I cooked for yesterday's dinner) for dinner.  I took the trash cans to the curb, but didn't water the back garden because it was so windy.  Later, I video chatted with daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Getting some landscaping ideas for my garden
- The wind didn't down the eucalyptus tree!
- A good day at the office
- Being able to help my cousin
- Chatting with my daughter

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring the trash cans in
- Go to the office
- Attend a work-related meeting
- Water the back garden
- Run the dishwasher
- Water the indoor plants

How was your Monday?  Did you have a good start to your week?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Finished Sweater and Blessings on Sunday

I woke up feeling less than energetic, today.  So, I decided to take it easy.  I spent a good portion of the morning and afternoon watching cooking shows on TV, reading blogs, responding to comments, etc.

My neighbor T called around 11:30 a.m. for our weekly Sunday chat and, after that, I went out to the garden for a bit.  The little mourning dove was no where to be seen, so maybe it found a better place in which to stay, far away from a crazy lady following it around with a cell phone! 

The pomegranate tree can't fly away, so it stood patiently while I took a few more pictures of it:

Pomegranate Tree
"It's for the blog", I told it, "they liked your flowers",  Yes, I am the crazy lady who talks to the trees, in addition to walking behind birds!

Doesn't it look like a dress with a frilly skirt?

One more
I had leftover milk rice and the last bit of chicken curry for brunch, today, followed by an orange.  There are maybe 10 oranges left on the tree; after that, no more until this year's oranges develop.

In the afternoon, I finally got around to sewing up the other side of my sweater:

New Sweater
I haven't blocked it
The sleeves are a little too big, as I suspected they would be, but they are not too bad, so I will not redo them.  The rest of it fits:

New Sweater
In the picture, I am wearing the sweater over the white skirt and blouse I put on to go to temple.  The temple was holding a ceremony to offer New Year blessings.  In addition to the usual chanting of blessings, being given blessed water to drink and having the blessed thread tied around our right wrist, we were anointed with blessed oil.  I gave a donation to the temple in memory of my father (whose birth anniversary was on March 28) and in memory of my step-father (whose birth anniversary was on April 8).  

After I came home, I put water to the front garden.  The forecast says there is a 20% chance of rain, tomorrow, but I thought I'd better water the garden, today, without counting on it to rain.

By the time I watered the garden and came inside, it was already 8:00 p.m. and I was hungry!  I decided to make spaghetti for dinner.  While the pasta cooked, I heated up the spaghetti sauce I had in the freezer and added some of the ground beef I had cooked, earlier in the week.  Dinner was ready in 15 minutes or so.  There's enough leftovers for tomorrow's lunch to take to the office.

Later, I video chatted with my daughter.  Unlike me, she did her weekly meal prep and cooking:

Brown Rice, Meatball Curry, Glazed Roasted Carrots, Zucchini and Corn

Cauliflower made two ways, Spiced chick peas, Roasted Beets, Potato Wedges (2 different seasonings)
She has 4 baking sheets.  She said she found recipes for the potato, cauliflower, beets, and carrots, that all required baking at 400F, prepared the vegetables and baked them all at the same time!  The zucchini and meatball curry were made on the stove top.

It was raining in Berkeley, she said.  They've been having a rather wet spring.

I called Aunt C in the evening, because I hadn't heard from her all week.  Apparently, she had been in hospital with pneumonia!  I wish cousin N had told me; I could have prepared some food and taken to them.  I will call aunt during the week and cook something and take to them, next weekend.

Today, I am grateful for:
- New Year's blessings at the temple
- My new sweater
- A relaxed day
- Aunt is home and recovering
- Video chatting with my daughter

Monday's To Do List:
- Go to the office
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Do the dishes
- Water the back garden (if it doesn't rain)

How was your Sunday?  What are your plans for Monday?