Friday, November 30, 2018

November Decluttering: 63 + 1

That's the goal for the number of items to be decluttered in November!  63 + 1.  63 because that's how old I'll be, this November, and the +1 to carry me through to my next birthday (if all goes well).  It roughly works out to be 2 items a day, with a bit of doubling up at the very end!

So, here's how the decluttering went:

11/1 - 1 bag of (15) erasers
        - 2 zippered plastic bags that bed linen came in (bought when daughter went off to do her master's in 2014 and kept thinking I could reuse them to store craft supplies); recycled
        - 1 pile of papers (old lecture notes that daughter no longer needed)
= 4 items

11/2 - 2 books, bought during a time when I belonged to a mail-order "Book of the Month" club and didn't have access to all the information we now get on the internet:

Books from my shelves
11/3 - 3 magazines (given to me by friend M to read and recycle/give away)

3 magazines
11/4 - 1 pair of worn out socks (holes in the heels)

11/5 - 1 pile of junk mail, mostly political ads

11/6 - 3 election related brochures
Election Brochures
11/7 - 4 magazines (kept because they had interesting articles about places to visit/things to do with daughter when she comes on visits):

Auto Club Magazines
11/8 - 2 more books - it is hard to give away the craft books, but I am trying.

Craft Books
11/9 - 3 magazines; one year, for my birthday (or was it Christmas?) I asked my daughter to get me a subscription for these magazines (I saw an offer for $5/1 year).  She got me subscriptions for 3 different magazines.  I enjoy looking through these magazines, every so often - it doesn't seem to matter how old they are or how often I look through them!  So, I tend to hold on to them for those odd moments when I want to read something, but, not necessarily a book.  But, these date back from 2014...time to get some new magazines, I think!

3 more magazines

11/10 - 1 pink dance skirt I had sewn for my daughter when she was still taking ballet lessons (donated)

11/11 - 1 purse with broken strap (tossed)

11/12 - 1 plastic container that some ready made frosting had come in which was being used as a storage container (recycled)

11/13 - 1 fake fur lined jacket hood that used to be on one of daughter's jackets (she didn't like the hood and removed it; I kept it in a drawer "just in case" for years!)

11/14 - 1 pair of shoes (daughter's that she said I could give away - donated)

11/15 - 1 stack of birthday cards I received (kept one because I liked the verse inside)

11/16 - 3 blouses (donated)

11/17 - 1 skirt (donated)

11/18 - 1 picture frame (donated)


11/22 - 2 pairs of pants given by aunt (daughter said they were too big on me and I looked funny wearing them!  In any case, she bought me better fitting new ones!) - donated

11/23 - A bunch of junk from the kitchen junk drawer: 
          - 1 lot plastic cutlery & ice cream/dessert spoons (= 1 item):

Plastic Cutlery 

Ice cream/dessert spoons

          - 1 lot chopsticks, drinking straws, bread tabs, rubber bands, and twist ties (= 1 item):

Chopsticks and Straws
Kitchen drawer junk!
11/24 - More kitchen drawer junk:

          - 1 lot miscellaneous items (= 1 item):

Misc. items
          - 1 doorbell system:
Doorbell System

          - 1 fridge drawer edge:

Fridge drawer edge
          - 1 lot napkins and wipes:

Napkins and Wipes
          -1 chipped glass:
Chipped glass

11/27 - 2 cookbooks, including this one:

Cook Book
I bought myself a newer version, several years ago, yet couldn't bear to part with this old one, until now.

11/28 - 1 wall clock
          - 1 bag of papers (recycled)
          - 1 plastic flower pot

11/29 - 2 pairs of pants
11/30 - 14 magazines

14 Magazines

 = 64 items       

My goal for the month was 64 items decluttered and I met that goal!   I have 1 bag of clothes, 1 bag of books/magazines, and 1 bag of miscellaneous/household (including shoes) to be donated.  Other items were recycled or tossed. 

Does that mean I am all decluttered now?  Nope!  I still have an abundance of belongings!  Clothes, decorative items, books, etc.  It is hard for me to declutter.  I am definitely a collector, although I've stopped buying decorative items, books, cookware, etc.  But, it is hard for me to declutter what I have already bought or have been given as gifts or items with a sentimental value.

For example: these items were considered for decluttering.  In fact, I pulled them out from the drawer and put in the donations bag, but, they made their way back to the drawer where they had been stored.  I guess I am a sentimental fool, but, I am not ready to part with them, yet!

Daughter's Baby Shoes
Did you do a decluttering challenge in November?  If so, how did you do?  Were you able to meet your goal?  Did you find it easy to declutter or hard?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rainy Thursday

We have rain!  It started raining late last night, it rained for part of the morning, then it cleared in the afternoon, and it has rained on and off all evening from about 4:15 p.m.!   I am glad that it is raining because we really need the rain.  However, the rain is bringing more devastation to the areas that had the fires, earlier, because it is causing mud slides and debris slides.

Day 2 of my new schedule didn't start out too well.  Mornings are a work in progress!  I got to bed a little earlier, last night (well, early this morning, actually), but I couldn't fall asleep.  Usually, I listen to the sound of the rain and fall asleep right away, but, not last night.  I tried meditating, but it still took me until after 3:00 a.m. to fall asleep.  Sometime later in the morning, the electricity must have gone off, because, when I woke up, the time on the clock radio on my bedside was blinking on and off.  As a result, the alarm didn't go off (the power outage resets the alarm back to 12:00) and I slept until 11:30 a.m.!  So much so for getting up at 9:30 a.m. and going walking by 10:30 a.m.!  In any case, it was raining, on and off, this morning, so I wouldn't have gone walking, even if I woke up early.

The rain ceased in the early afternoon, however, so I went for my walk at 1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. I enjoyed seeing all the clouds:

Clouds over the distant hills

More rain clouds?
After I came back from my walk, I called the doctor's office and rescheduled Monday's appointment.  I need to do a blood test prior to the appointment, and I need my updated insurance card to do the blood test.  So, I postponed the doctor's appointment for two weeks - hopefully, by then, I'd have received my new card and would be able to get the blood test done. 

Then, I dusted the living room, dining room, and family room and vacuumed all three rooms.  Once that was done, I sorted through one bag of papers, although, I cheated a bit and selected the smallest bag of papers!  LOL!

When I was vacuuming, I knocked over a traditional water storage vessel, called a guruleththuwa, and it broke:

Earthenware Water Storage Vessel
Water stored in these vessels keep cool through evaporation, but I used it as a decorative item.  I am debating whether to glue the pieces in place or dispose of it.  What do you think? 

I had just finished vacuuming and sorting through my papers when it started to rain again!  It has since rained on and off all evening.  I am glad because my garden is getting a good soaking.  It needs it, rather badly.

I had a curry puff and a cup of tea after I finished my housework for the day and watched some news.   Neighbor T called because she was a bit nervous about the rain and I spoke with her for a bit.  Later, I called friend R to check on her.  We are going to try to go out to lunch on Sunday.

Dinner was a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup (had two bowls, actually) and a piece of cornbread for dessert. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- The much needed rain
- Being able to walk in the afternoon during a break in the rain
- What I was able to accomplish today
- Dancer cuddling next to me on the sofa
- My warm cardigan that I knitted several years ago

Thursday's Schedule/To Do List:
- Morning Afternoon walk - DONE
- Put away dried laundry - DONE
- Afternoon cleaning - Dust/Vacuum Living room, dining room, family room  DONE
- Paperwork - 1 more bag, includes filing - DONE
- Do dishes - DONE
- Clean litter box - DONE

Day 2 of the schedule got a bit derailed in the morning, but I was able to get back on track in the afternoon.  Most importantly, I got most of the house cleaned and some paperwork done, as well, so I am very pleased. 

Friday's To Do List:
- Morning walk
- Afternoon cleaning - Dust my bedroom
- Paperwork - 1 bag
- Sew 1 holiday gift
- Gardening with M

How was your Thursday?  What have you planned for Friday? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wednesday: First Day of New Schedule

Today was the first day of my new schedule that daughter and I drew up.  It got off to a bit of a shaky start this morning, because I didn't wake up at the time I had planned on waking up (didn't go to bed by midnight as planned, couldn't fall asleep till 3:00 a.m., even after I got to bed, so couldn't get up when the alarm went off).  However, I only slept in for an additional 30 minutes, which was not too bad.  So, instead of getting up at 9:30 a.m., I woke up at 10:00 a.m.  I had my morning coffee, checked my emails, etc., then, got dressed.

Then, I went for my walk, from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  After I came back from my walk, I put away the laundry from yesterday, changed my bed sheets, and did a load of laundry. 

I took a lunch break from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Had lunch, replied to blog comments, and read for a little bit, as well. 

On the schedule for this afternoon was cleaning the bathrooms and doing some paperwork.  As part of cleaning the bathrooms, I decided to vacuum the bathroom floors (instead of sweeping them).  Then, since I had the vacuum cleaner out (and because, as we all know, I prefer to clean the house to doing paperwork), I decided to vacuum the hallway, kitchen, and the bedrooms, as well (vacuuming the rest of the house is scheduled for tomorrow).   I needed a short break after the bathrooms were done, so, I played sudoku online for 30 minutes or so.  Then, replaced the batteries in the clock in the living room, planted a new pot of cat grass for Dancer, did a bit of decluttering, watered the front garden (the forecast calls for rain, but we haven't had any rain yet; I just watered some of the flower beds because, already, some of the mums I planted are dying), went through today's mail, and redelivered a neighbor's mail that had been delivered to my address.  Then, had a cup of tea!

Finally, I stopped procrastinating and started on a bag of paperwork (they are not in stacks, but in bags!)  I was determined to process the entire bag, so that's what I did, until 6:30 p.m.  I tossed what I could, filed what needed to be filed, and shredded a few documents.  Well, I don't have a shredder, so, I cut the papers with my pair of scissors, which broke last week and I duct taped together (but it is not holding together, too well, so, time to buy a new pair of scissors, I think!)

Low-Tech Paper Shredder!

My neighbor T called then, to ask if I could help her program her thermostat, but when I went over to help, she said her dog was barking too much (he barks when I go over there) and she'll deal with it, herself.  Later, daughter called to say she was home and shared her 1st day back at work with me.  She now has a published a peer reviewed article which lists her as the first author! 

I had leftover milk rice and fish curry for dinner.  The rest of the evening is set aside for blogging, emailing friends, and relaxing.  Later, I will video chat with my daughter and try to get to bed by midnight.

I think the first day of the new schedule went well, even with all the tweaking.  But, I've had a productive day and I am rather pleased with it.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to accomplish all what I did, today.
- Daughter had good news about her article being published!
- A sunny warm day
- Having a schedule to help with time management
- A good cup of tea

Wednesday's To Do List:
- 30 minutes walk in the a.m. (10:30 - 11:00 - 11:30) - DONE
- Put away dried laundry - DONE
- Do another load of laundry (my bedding)/remake bed - DONE
- Clean the bathrooms - DONE
- Paperwork (process 1 bag of papers - includes filing) - DONE
- Sew 1 holiday gift
- Water the garden if it doesn't rain (forecast says scattered showers Wed. and Thurs.) - DONE

Other items accomplished (that weren't on the To Do List):
- Replaced clock batteries
- Vacuumed the hallway, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms
- Planted a new pot of cat grass

Thursday's Schedule/To Do List:
- Morning walk (10:30 - 11:00 a.m.)
- Put away dried laundry
- Afternoon cleaning - Dust/Vacuum Living room, dining room, family room (1:00 - 2:00 p.m.)
- Paperwork - 1 more bag, includes filing
- Do dishes
- Clean litter box

How was your Wednesday?  What have you planned for Thursday?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Daughter Leaves on Tuesday

My daughter and I stayed up till 4:00 a.m., chatting, again, and it was 4:45 a.m. when I turned off my bedside light.  Which is why it made no sense when I woke up at 7:30 a.m., feeling wide awake!  I knew I hadn't had enough sleep, so, went to the bathroom and then, went back to sleep!  I next woke up when the phone rang at 10:30 a.m.  I picked it up thinking it might be the doctor's office calling to verify insurance, or something, but it was some other company calling about my electric bill.  It was not the utility company, but, some other company wanting to know if I was paying too much and to find out if I might qualify for some program or the other.  They always call, so I think it is some type of scam.  I just said, "No, thank you", and hung up on them.  Then, I got up and had my coffee, fed the cats, replied to blog comments, etc.

Daughter woke up shortly thereafter and made her own coffee (she prefers brewed coffee; I prefer my instant coffee).    She observed how, on the two days we stayed home during her visit home, she stayed up till 4:00 a.m., without feeling tired, and how, on the days she went out, either visiting family or shopping with me or out with her friends, she was usually ready for bed by 1:30 a.m.  It made me wonder if part of the reason why I am up till the wee hours of the morning is because I am not going out and about that much, on a daily basis.  But, I've been staying up till about 4:00 a.m., even on the days I've gone out when daughter was home, so, I don't think the same logic applies to my sleep habits.

I called the podiatrist's office, this morning, and rescheduled Thursday's appointment, as I wasn't sure if my insurance change would have gone through by then, and I don't have the new card they were going to mail me.  The new appointment will be in December and I should have my new card by then.

Around 12:30 p.m., daughter and I set out to go to the airport.  Less than 10 minutes into our drive, daughter realized that she had left her jacket at home!  She didn't need it here, today, where it was 80F and sunny, but she'd need it at the other end, where the high was supposed to be 58F and forecast called for rain.  So, I turned the car around and we came back home  to get her jacket!  Then, I drove her back to the airport!  Fortunately, she flies out from the local airport, not the Los Angeles International Airport, so the delay didn't matter, too much.  We always try to get her to the airport one hour before boarding time, but today, she got to the airport one hour before flight departure time.  The airport was a little more crowded than we had expected it to be, but not too much.  Daughter texted me to say she got through the check in and made it to the gate with 10 minutes to spare before boarding time.

I ate one of the curry puffs I made yesterday for my brunch and then, did a load of laundry (daughter's beddding) and remade her bed with fresh sheets. 

I started writing this blog post after that and did a little decluttering, too.  Today, I decluttered my cookbooks and one of the items I decluttered was this:

Cook Book
I had bought a newer edition to replace it, years ago, but held on to the old version, as well.  Today, I decided I could let go of the older version. 

Daughter called to let me know that she arrived safely at the Oakland airport.  It was raining there, she said.  Then, she took the subway from the airport to Berkeley and walked home from the subway station, because she doesn't believe in waiting for a bus!  She reached her apartment a little after 5:00 p.m.  She said it was raining in Berkeley, too. 

I watched some news and a TV program about the Olmec, in the evening.  Dinner was leftovers.  The fridge seems, to be full of leftovers!  I won't have to cook for at least a couple of days, unless I want to!  I also realized that I had forgotten to give daughter the salmon I had cooked and frozen for her!  Oops!  It will keep until she comes home, again.

I am taking it easy, this evening.  I will be video chatting with daughter a bit later and then, the plan is to try and get to bed by midnight! 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter had a safe flight and subway ride home
- We were able to go back to get her jacket and she still made it to the airport in time to make her flight!
- I was able to reschedule my podiatrist's appointment
- A fridge full of leftovers!
- Daughter will be back in approximately 3 weeks! 

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Take daughter to the airport - DONE
- Do a load of laundry - DONE
- Do some sewing
- Clean the litter box - DONE
- Call the podiatrist's office - DONE

Before she left, my daughter helped me to make a schedule for my days in order to better manage my time and enable me to accomplish the things I want to accomplish.  We both think that I will be happier with a little more structure to my days.  Being retired and having all the time in the world to relax is nice, but I seem to fritter away the day at times and then, complain that I didn't get anything done!  So, we are going to try something different!

Tomorrow will be the first day of this schedule.  Basically, I'll be getting up around 9:30 a.m., going for my walk from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the morning rather than in the evening, and then, having brunch when I come home.  In the afternoon, from around 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., I have a 4 hour block of time in which to get housework, paperwork, errands, etc. done.  Then, in the evening, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., is screen time to blog, watch TV, play sudoku, etc.  Dinner at 8:00/8:30 p.m., then, spend the next hour writing emails and phoning friends.  Usually, I wait until after I video chat with daughter to get ready for bed; but now, I am going to get ready for bed, first, and then, video chat with daughter.  That way, after I say goodnight to her, I will play 30 minutes of sudoku, and then, go to bed, myself!  Bedtime is 12:00 midnight!  Hopefully, I'll be asleep by 1:00 a.m.  At least, that is the plan!  We shall see how well it goes!

Wednesday's To Do List:
- 30 minutes walk in the a.m. (10:30 - 11:00)
- Put away dried laundry
- Do another load of laundry (my bedding)/remake bed
- Clean the bathrooms
- Paperwork (process 1 bag of papers - includes filing)
- Sew 1 holiday gift
- Water the garden if it doesn't rain (forecast says scattered showers Wed. and Thurs.)

I have a schedule for Thursday, too, but the doctor's appointment has been rescheduled, so I will have a longer block of time for the cleaning I plan to do (dust and vacuum the living room, dining room, and family room).

How was your Tuesday?  What have you planned for Wednesday?  Do you have a regular schedule for your days? 

The Past Few Days

Thursday was Thanksgiving and the days after that have been a blur! 

On Friday morning, we debated going Black Friday shopping.  The only place I was interested in going to was the fabric store.  Daughter gets their emails about various deals and we checked to see if there was anything I wanted, but I decided I didn't want anything.  I still have plenty of fabric in my stash and I am determined to use up the stash as much as possible before I buy more.  I am back on a fabric and yarn diet!  We spent the day relaxing and daughter did some polymer clay crafting.

On Saturday, daughter went out with a group of her friends: karaoke, dinner, and a movie.  I did two loads of laundry, cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer, and relaxed.

Sunday morning, I baked the apple dump cake and, in the afternoon, my daughter and I attended the November monthly prayer gathering, which was held at cousin V's house.  There were about 25 people at the gathering, as her husband's siblings also attended, as it was the anniversary of their mother's death, as well.  We came home around 5:30 p.m. and my daughter went to see a movie with another friend of hers.  When she came back, we had dinner and spent the rest of the evening chatting; the kind of late night chatting mothers and daughters do, reminiscing, planning, discussing hopes and dreams, etc.  In the middle of all that chatting, daughter baked us more cornbread, which we had as a midnight snack!

On Monday, both daughter and I slept in.  After we woke up, we decided it was going to be another stay-at-home and relax sort of day, as it was her last full day at home.  She finished making her polymer clay items (she's making pendents and key rings to donate to a coworker's daughter's school craft fair fund raiser).  I played on the computer a bit, and then, made milk rice and a fish curry for brunch. 

Later in the afternoon, my daughter helped me straighten out something with my new health insurance.  When I switched from active employee to retired, I kept the same insurance carrier, but, my coverage changed because the insurance was now being administered through a different agency and fund.  Somehow, even though I had requested to keep the same in-net work medical group, I had been assigned to a different IPA (Independent Practice Association), and, my oncologist's office informed me that they will need to verify with their billing department whether they accept patients from my new IPA, because they've experienced some payment problems with that IPA!
Which upset me quite a bit!  One of the main reasons why I kept the same insurance carrier was to be able to keep my same group of doctors.  I called the insurance company to ask about it, but the customer service representative I spoke with wasn't very helpful and transferred me back to the main menu of services I had reached when I first called!  I was in tears by then and my lovely daughter came to my rescue!  She called on my behalf and I was able to switch back to the previous medical group.  The customer service person who helped us the second time around was more helpful; she said the change will be made retroactive to the 1st of November, that it would take 24-48 hrs. to be updated, and a new card with the corrected information will be sent in the mail in the next 2 weeks.  Thank goodness!

Later in the evening, I paid my property taxes, took the trash cans to the curb, and watered the front garden.  Then, I made some curry puffs:

Some of the curry puffs I baked
I had some puff pastry left, so I made some mini "sausage" rolls, using some cocktail sausages I had in the freezer:

"Sausage" rolls
We had some of the curry puffs for dinner.  Daughter will take some back with her and I'll have the rest for my lunches or dinners, this week.

It is Tuesday morning, 2:22 a.m., as I type this.  Daughter is packing her bag with everything except the food items, which she'll pack before she leaves, later this afternoon.

I am grateful for:
- Daughter helping me to straighten out the insurance mess-up
- Having daughter home for 12 days
- Late night mother-daughter chats
- Lots of cuddles
- Being able to bake some of daughter's favorite things

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Bring the trash cans in
- Take daughter to the airport
- Do a load of laundry
- Do some sewing
- Clean the litter box
- Call the podiatrist's office

What have you planned for the day?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Kitchen Junk Drawer

I have a partitioned double drawer in my kitchen.  One half of it is where I store the foil, cling wrap, baggies, etc.   The other half is supposed to be a "storage" drawer for those useful, and, sometimes, necessary, bits and pieces: extra twist ties and rubber bands, for example, or a permanent marker to write the contents of freezer bags.  Unfortunately, things tend to get shoved in there and then, it turns into the "junk" drawer!  Every now and then, I try to sort through and clear it out, but, I admit I haven't done so in quite a while.  So, the other day, I decided it was time to clean out the kitchen junk drawer.

First, I emptied out the side where I keep the boxes of wraps and baggies, etc., and wiped the drawer liner with a damp sponge cloth:

Empty Drawer
Then, I put back the boxes of wraps and baggies and a package of plastic straws:

Baggies and Wraps, etc.
There are different sized baggies, from snack sized to quart sized; gallon sized and larger are in the cabinet underneath.  I could simplify and buy just sandwich and quart sized bags, I suppose.  But I like having just the right sized bag and the snack bags come in handy for sorting and storing craft supplies, as well.  I have a couple of manuals for one or two of my kitchen appliances stored under the boxes of wax paper, etc., as well, which can't be seen in the photo.

Next, I emptied out the other side of the drawer and wiped it,  too.  Then, I sorted out what I was storing there and, all I can say is, "Hi, my name is Bless and I am a hoarder of odds and ends!"

Anybody wants to go on a scavenger hunt?  Want to see what I had stored in my junk drawer?

Every time we order food to go, it comes with plastic spoons, forks, and knives.  I wash and reuse them, sometimes, but, apparently, my storage drawer is where they go to multiply!  I had at least ten times the number of plastic utensils that are shown in the photograph below! 

Plastic Utensils
Or, if the food doesn't come with spoons and forks, they come with chopsticks and, any drinks come with straws:

Chopsticks and Straws
Or, if we get a dessert, then, there are little dessert spoons for ice creams and puddings:

Dessert Spoons
Occasionally, the little plastic tabs that close the plastic bag in which the bread comes break, and then, it is useful to have an extra bread tab, saved from a previous loaf, on hand; and those twist ties from produce bags have many uses, too, and rubber bands from bundles of scallions and broccoli, etc. can always be reused, right?  Think I have enough?

Bread Tabs, and Rubber Bands, and Twist Ties, Oh, My!

But, that's not the interesting stuff!  These are the hidden treasures that I discovered!

Hidden Treasures!
Chewing gum (I haven't chewed gum in years), a birthday candle (probably from daughter's 21st birthday), a piece of purple plastic clip like thing that probably broke off from something, a mini bag clip, a lollipop from???, a piece of plastic netting from a bag of fruit that I thought I could make into a scrubbie, the top from a bottle of dish detergent, and the last remaining cocktail fork from a package that my mother had!

Then, there was this battery operated wireless door bell - the small unit with the button used to be mounted near the door and the bigger unit was plugged into an outlet, inside the house, and it would chime when the door bell was rung.  Well, the smaller unit's battery died after a few weeks and I never replaced it and it has stayed in my kitchen drawer for at least 15 years, or, is it 20?

Wireless Door Bell

Are we having fun, yet?

This is the edge that came off a crisper drawer from the old fridge.  I got rid of the fridge, last year, but apparently kept the drawer edge!

Edge from Fridge Drawer

These following items are self-explanatory:

Napkins and Wipes

Yes, napkins from my daughter's 16th birthday.  She'll be 26 next birthday.  Enough said!  The wet wipes are more recent.

And, finally, these flex cords from long ago appliances.  My old rice cookers, I believe, which are long dead and gone.  But, ooh, look!  They are being kept neatly coiled with the help of some twist ties that have been reused! 

Cords from appliances long gone
I don't know why I keep them, they probably won't fit any of my other appliances.  But, I am not quite ready to toss them, either, so I put them back in the drawer.

I kept a few plastic spoons and forks and several unopened packets of them, as well (just in case I decide to pack a picnic lunch, one day, and want a conveniently packaged set of utensils); some bread tabs, twist ties, and rubber bands, and either tossed or recycled everything else. 

Sorted "Junk" Drawer
The drawer organizer tray has a few plastic spoons and forks to use when I give Dancer his tuna treats, two permanent marker pens for writing on the freezer bags, some twist ties, bread tabs, and rubber bands in baggies, a few candles and a couple of match books, unopened packages of plastic utensils (and, buried under them, the three appliance cords, although I might toss the cords, after all), a roll of masking tape, and a tub of silver tarnish remover.

I am hoping to be able to keep the drawer better organized in the future.

Kitchen Drawer
Do you have a kitchen storage drawer?  Does it turn into a junk drawer?  Or do you keep it well organized?

Apple Dump Cake

Today, I made an apple dump cake to take to the monthly prayer gathering my cousin V was hosting.   It is called a "dump" cake because, you dump the main ingredients into the baking pan!

Pie Filling and Cake Mix
I remembered to take a photo of the ingredients only after I opened the cans!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F

Step 2: Dump two cans of apple pie filling into a 9" x 13" baking pan.  I didn't grease the baking pan.  I did add a little ground nutmeg and cinnamon (didn't measure; maybe 1/2 teaspoon of each?) to the apple pie filling for a little flavor and I smoothed the filling a bit with a spatula to make it a more or less even layer:

Apple Pie Filling
Step 3: Dump the contents of the box of cake mix over the apple pie filling and spread it to make a more or less even layer:

With Cake Mix on Top

I used a yellow cake mix, but a spice cake mix might be good, too.

Step 4:  Add butter.  The recipe I found online said to use 1 stick of margarine and 1/2 stick of butter.  I used all butter.  For my international readers, 1 stick of butter (or margarine) is the equivalent of 1/4 lb.  Some recipes say to melt the butter and drizzle on the top; the one I followed said to cut pieces and arrange on the top, which is what I did:

With Butter on Top
Step 5: Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes.  The recipe I followed said to bake for 1 hour, but my oven tends to run hot and 1 hour would have been too long.  When I made the peach dump cake for my own prayer gathering, last month, I baked the cake for about 45 minutes and there were a few over browned spots.  Today, I baked it for 30 minutes and it seemed just right:

Baked Apple Dump Cake
The apple pie mixture was bubbling up the sides when I took it out of the oven.

Here's a photo of the peach dump cake for comparison:

Peach Dump Cake

The cake mix/butter mixture forms something similar to a cobbler topping, so it is more like a fruit pie than a cake.  I liked the apple version, as well. 

Have you made a dump cake?  If so, what is your favorite combination of fruit and cake? 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fall Joy List 2018 - Update

Back in September, on the first day of Fall, I made myself a Fall Joy List - 12 joyful things to do.  It was not to be a To Do list, but activities that would bring me joy.  Of course, Fall doesn't end with Thanksgiving; it goes on til December 20, but, it seems like it is the unofficial start of Winter, as people prepare for Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is over.  So, I thought I'll do an update of my Fall Joy List, today.

Fall Joy List 2018:

1. Celebrate my official retirement (in October) - not quite sure how, though!  I didn't go anything special, just enjoyed staying up till the wee hours of the mornings and sleeping in the next day, because I didn't have to get up early to go to work! 

2. Spend more time sewing - I combined this with item #12, below, and sewed some holiday gifts!

3. Bake a cake - DONE!  Baked a couple of cakes, actually, a yellow bundt cake (back in September) and a peach dump cake (for the October prayer gathering).  I will be baking another dump cake to take to the November prayer gathering, this weekend, too.

Yellow Bundt Cake
4. Bake a pie - Didn't do; I think the dump cake did double duty as it seemed more like a crumble than a cake.  Plus, I baked those individual raspberry pastries.

Raspberry Pastries

5. Decorate for fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving - Didn't decorate as it felt more like work than fun when it was time to decorate!

6. Celebrate my birthday (might wait until daughter comes home for Thanksgiving) - DONE!  My daughter and I went out to lunch by ourselves, one day, with my cousin and her daughter, another day, and went for a massage; plus, daughter took me shopping and bought me some clothes as her birthday gift to me!

7. Bake pumpkin bread with daughter when she comes home - This weekend.

8. Host the October prayer gathering - DONE!  There was a certain amount of work involved, but, it was a joyful occasion. 

9. Celebrate Thanksgiving - DONE!  Celebrated twice over, since we attended two Thanksgiving meals with friends and family!

10. Do some gardening - DONE!  I planted some chrysanthemums and had a leaky sprinkler valve replaced.

Newly planted chrysanthemums

11. Knit - DONE!  I have been knitting red hats for newborns for the American Heart Association.  Will be mailing the completed hats to them at the end of the year.

12. Make holiday gifts - DID SOME, in combination with item #2, above.

All in all, not too shabby!  I didn't do some items for one reason or another, but, on the whole, did some activities that brought me joy.  I will continue to do do a couple more items from the Fall list at least until the end of this week (bake the pumpkin bread, another dump cake, etc.).  I am also considering doing a Winter Joy List, as well.

Did you have a list of joyful things to do this fall?  If so, were you able to do some of them?  Will you be making a Winter Joy List?

Giving Thanks on Thursday

Today was Thanksgiving Day.  A day in which to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.  For me, they include my daughter, good health, family and friends, my home, having enough to meet all of my needs and some of my wants, and memories of loved ones who are now gone.

My day began with a phone call from Aunt C, who called to wish me and my daughter a happy Thanksgiving. 

Later, I prepared the fruit platter I was taking to my friend A's house and packed up the cornbread to be taken to Aunt T's house.

When I was getting dressed, however, I realized that I had forgotten to hem the new black pants my daughter had bought for me!  Oops!  Fortunately, I had a long black skirt my aunt T had given me, which had a pattern of scattered leaves on it which were the same color of the new plum sweater, so that's what I wore as my Thanksgiving outfit!  I discovered that the skirt was a bit too big, but it had a tie at the waist and it was fine.  I might need to take the skirt in a bit, so I'll put that in the alterations pile!

Then, in the afternoon, around 2:30 p.m., my daughter and I went to my friend A's house to share Thanksgiving lunch with her, her husband, and two daughters.  She had prepared a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, ham, and all the usual side dishes of cranberry sauce, yams, stuffing, etc.  Before we sat down to our meal, A said a prayer and we each took a turn to say what we were thankful for.  After lunch, we sat around the table, chatting.  Friend A asked us to take some of the leftovers home with us, but I took only some fish cutlets she had made (the only Sri Lankan item on the menu) because my daughter loves cutlets and I don't make them that often (cutlets are made with a fish or ground beef that has been mixed with mashed potatoes and onion, dipped in batter, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried).

Around 6:00 p.m., we left A's house to go to aunt T's Thanksgiving dinner.  This was a larger gathering of about 25 people; all family, including some of the extended family (aunt T's son-in-law's siblings and their spouses; aunt T's grandson's wife's twin sister and two cousins, etc.)  Aunt had bought the ham, her older daughter (cousin V) had prepared her specialty roast beef as well as baked salmon, aunt's younger daughter (cousin R) had prepared the roast turkey, and other family members brought the various side dishes - salads, macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, etc. 

It was nice to see everyone, and there was music and dancing, as well.  But, around 9:00 p.m., I was feeling tired, so daughter and I took our leave.  Cousin V urged me to take some leftovers home and, this time, I took a little ham, roast beef, and turkey, as well as some bread rolls.  Daughter and I will have sandwiches, tomorrow. 

We've been relaxing since we got home.  I responded to a couple of blog comments, exchanged emails with a friend, and have just made us a cup of tea.

Today, I am grateful for:
- My many blessings
- Each morning that I wake up, alive and relatively well
- Having my daughter home with me for Thanksgiving
- Being able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and friends
- My blog friends - I appreciate you taking the time in your busy days to read and comment on my blog.  You have all been very kind and considerate when commenting, too, and supportive.  I know that some who used to comment have stopped doing so, maybe they've stopped reading my blog, but I am grateful I had the opportunity to hear from them when they did comment.

Friday's To Do List:
- Hem the new pairs of pants/slacks
- Decluttering

What are your plans for Friday?  Do you plan to do any Black Friday shopping? 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

More Fun on Wednesday

On Wednesday, my daughter and I went out to lunch at a Jamaican restaurant with my cousin P and her daughter.  I had curry goat, my daughter had jerk chicken, cousin P had curry chicken, and her daughter had curried oxtail.  They came with rice and red beans, fried plantain, and steamed mixed vegetables.  I forgot to take photos of our lunches, however.  None of us could finish our lunches, so we all brought leftovers home for another meal.

Afterwards, we went to have massages done!  This was one of the things we wanted to do as part of my birthday celebration.  We had checked prices in a couple of places and found a place that did an hour long full body massage, with hot stones, for $40.  This was only the second time my daughter and I had gone for massages; the last time, too, which was several years ago, we went with cousin P and her daughter.  Today was the first time we tried a hot stones massage.  It was definitely an indulgence, but, it was a fun experience. 

After we came home, my daughter and I ran over to the dollar store for a bottle of nail polish remover and I made a stop at a nearby grocery store to redeem a couple of coupons I had for a dozen free large eggs (saved me $2.99), $1.50 off one package of daughter's favorite coffee (which was on sale for $4.99), 5 lb. bag of store brand flour ($1.99), a bottle of store brand vegetable oil ($1.99) and a bag of spicy hot snacks ($2.79) for my daughter.  The total came to $10.26.  I didn't take a photograph, as I was in a rush to water the front garden before it got too dark.

I had put off watering the garden because the forecast had said it would rain.  But, the day had been sunny and there were no rain clouds that I could see.  So, I thought it would be prudent to water the front garden, at least.  Of course, it rained, much later in the night!  In fact, it is still raining, as I type this!

I had a cup of tea after I watered the garden, and then, both my daughter and I napped a bit.  Later, I mended one of daughter's new skirts.  She discovered that one of the side seams had been sewn without catching both sides of the fabric in one place!  But, it was an easy repair and I sewed the seam closed.

Later, I cooked the salmon steaks I had bought on Tuesday - daughter had one for her dinner and I froze the rest for her to take back with her.  Then, I browned the ground beef I had bought, but first, I took a little of it and made myself a hamburger for my dinner.  Then, I washed all the dishes and the saute pans and wiped the stove top and the kitchen counters.  It was while I was wiping the kitchen counter that my right hand cramped.  It has been awhile since my hand cramped last - I guess I overdid things, today.  I was ordered to sit and rest, by my daughter, who finished wiping the counters for me.

I still needed to make some cornbread to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's house, but my daughter made it for me, so I could rest. 

Then, she did my nails for me, again!  No accent nail, this time, though. 

On Wednesday, I was grateful for:
- Being able to go out to lunch with cousin P and her daughter
- Being able to experience having a massage, again
- Afternoon naps!
- Daughter making the cornbread for me
- Getting my nails done, again!

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go out to lunch with cousin and her daughter - DONE
- Water the garden (if it doesn't rain) - DONE (and it rained, later!)
- Bake cornbread to take to Thanksgiving dinner - DONE (by daughter)
- Mend one of daughter's skirts - DONE

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.  I will make a fruit platter in the morning and my daughter and I will go to my friend A's to have Thanksgiving lunch with her and her family.  Later, we will go to my aunt T's to have Thanksgiving dinner with her and my cousins. 

I wish all my blog friends a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday in November or on another day.  As far as I am concerned, every day is Thanksgiving Day, because I think we all have something for which to be thankful, every day. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More Shopping on Tuesday

My daughter and I went shopping, again, today!  We started out with appliance shopping.  My washing machine and clothes dryer were bought in 1992.  The dryer quit working about 3 years ago (it still tumbles, but it doesn't heat up).  The washing machine knob to select the wash cycle and start the machine broke off several years ago, but I was able to turn the dial with my finger, so that was OK.  Then, it began to stop midway through the wash and rinse cycles, and/or between the rinse and spin cycles.  The first time that happened, I had a full tub of water left in the machine!  My neighbor E was able to get it started again, but it would happen over and over again.  I would get it going again, by lifting and closing the lid (it is a top loader) or poking a chopstick (kept nearby) to trigger the mechanism that caused it to work.  Lately, I've needed to run through the spin cycle a second time to get all the water out or, I'd have to hand wring the clothes and then, put towels on the floor under them as they dripped dry (I don't hang them outside because I don't want to risk getting any cat fleas on them from the garden cats).  My daughter has been telling me I need to replace the washer and dryer for at least the past three years, if not more.  I've known I need to buy a new washer and dryer, but I've resisted doing so.  I tend to have a stubborn, "make do" attitude, even when the money to replace appliances is there.  But, eventually, even I realized that things were getting to a point where I was being irrational!  Most people would be happy to be able to get new appliances, but for me, it is stressful.  Spending money is stressful, even when I budget for it.

Anyway, today, I selected my washer and dryer with my daughter's help.  I wanted a top loader, similar to what I already have, but slightly upgraded (no central agitator, a bigger capacity in order to be able to wash my quilts more easily) and, apparently, everything is digital now.  The washer cost $600 and the dryer cost $700; I had to pay extra for the hoses ($53 for the washer hoses; $19 for the dryer vent hose), but I got a 10% discount on the pre-tax total because I had a store card, am getting free delivery, and they waived the $25 charge to haul away the old machines (installation is included in the charges).  My total came to $1,219.  They will deliver and install on December 7.  I will, most probably, continue to air dry most of my clothes, but, it will be nice to have a working dryer, when needed and a reliable washer.

We looked at a new garage door opener, too, and got quotes on them (my garage door opener has been broken for over a year, now; opening and closing the garage door has been a bit of a song and dance routine which involves pulling out the car, closing the garage door manually, unlocking and locking the side gate, etc.)  I had gone to the store with the intention of buying a new garage door opener, but, felt overwhelmed after buying the washer and dryer, so decided to wait on the garage door opener.

We looked at space heaters, too, for daughter's room, but they didn't have a big selection.  That might be a purchase to be made closer to Christmas.

After that, my daughter insisted on buying me some clothes as her birthday gift to me!  I had been wanting another pair of black pants and after trying several pairs, I found a pair that I liked and which fitted.  My daughter insisted on buying me three pairs of black pants, even though I said two would be enough (I didn't want any of the other colors they had), as well as three sweaters, and...I cried!  I thought it was too much for her to spend on me (it all came to $110), but she insisted.  So now, I have three new outfits!  I plan to wear the plum colored sweater to Thanksgiving dinner, the teal colored one on Sunday to the November monthly prayer gathering, and the cream colored one will be for Christmas.  

Birthday Haul!

After that, we went to the Armenian grocery store to buy the chicken breasts that were on a one day special sale.  Except, by the time we got there, they had run out of their stock and they don't give rain checks.  But, we found plenty of other stuff to buy, instead!  Salmon steaks were on sale again for $4.99 and my daughter wanted some to take back with her (I will cook and freeze them for her), and she asked for curry puffs to take back, too, so I bought more frozen puff pastry and ground beef.  I also bought some fruits to take to friend A's house as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal and I picked up some vegetables, cold cuts, and bread rolls.

11/20 Groceries

I bought:
Dried apple rings = $2.22
Dried mulberries = $3.55
Roasted chestnuts = $1.19
2 lbs. extra lean ground beef @$2.99/lb = $6.23
6 salmon steaks (3+ lbs), @ $4.99/lb = $18.51
Turkey breast cold cuts (11 oz) = $1.99
Red onion @$.39/lb = $.16 (they had been $.79 each, at the store we went to, yesterday!)
Zucchini @$.39/lb = $.42
Okra @$1.99/lb = $.62 (bought just enough for myself, since my daughter doesn't like them)
Honeydew melon @$.25/lb = $.88
Red pears @ $.99/lb = $.98
Black grapes @$.99/lb = $2.25
Tangerines @$.79/lb = $1.04
2 packages blackberries @$.99 = $1.98
4 packages frozen puff pastry dough @$1.99 = $7.96
1 package of 6 bread rolls = $2.19
Total = $52.17

11/20 Grocery Receipt

After that, we came home, shared a turkey cold cuts sandwich, had a cup of tea, and relaxed.  My daughter took a nap and I dozed a bit, too.  Later in the evening, I called friend R to check on her.  Cousin P called, too, and we made plans to go out to lunch, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Birthday gifts from my daughter
- Extra pairs of black pants
- Being able to buy myself a new washer and dryer
- Evening naps
- A warm house

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Trim daughter's hair - DONE
- More shopping! - DONE
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Water the garden

I didn't water the garden because the forecast said "a chance of rain" for tomorrow!  Not sure if there will be any rain or not, but I wanted to wait and see.

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Go out to lunch with cousin and her daughter
- Water the garden (if it doesn't rain)
- Bake cornbread to take to Thanksgiving dinner
- Mend one of daughter's skirts

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday?