Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve


Armenian "Porcupine" Cakes

Yesterday evening, neighbor S's daughter N brought over these little cakes that they had made.  The Armenian name for them translates as porcupine, we were told.  One is vanilla and the other is chocolate.  Each is a two layer sponge type cake, layered with a condensed milk frosting and coated in cake crumbs.  There were four cakes, but, daughter and I sampled two, last night, before I remembered to take a picture of them!  They made a lovely dessert to our dinner of rice, chicken curry, green beans, and pumpkin curry that I cooked, yesterday.  I sent over their Christmas gifts with N.

The days between Christmas and New Year's Eve have been relaxed ones as we really didn't have a need to go anywhere or do anything.  I spent my days relaxing, cooking, making some cards, and minimal housekeeping.  Daughter,  who was on mandatory vacation this week (her work place closes for the week and everyone has to take time off, including some furlough days as a cost cutting measure due to Covid-related budget shortfall)  has spent her days making polymer clay earrings to give as gifts to her friends, deep cleaning her bedroom, and cooking some delicious Korean food for us to enjoy.  

Today, daughter prepared several Korean dishes for our lunch:

Sweet and Spicy Stir Fried Dried Anchovies (Myulchi Bokkeum)

Braised Potatoes with Carrots and Onion (Gamja Jorim)
Blanched Cabbage with Fermented Soy Bean Paste (Doenjang Muchim) and Sesame Broccoli

Afterwards, we took a portion of the food and some dessert to friend R so she can enjoy some of it, as well.

And so we come to the very last day of 2020!  I know some people are looking back and reflecting on the year that was.  It certainly wasn't the best of years for a lot of us, but, for me, personally, it wasn't the worst of years, either (that dubious honor probably goes to 2015 when I received my cancer diagnosis!  Every year since then has been a bonus!).  I have had many blessings for which to be thankful and, if nothing else, 2020 has taught me to count my blessings!  

Thank you all for reading my blog over the year and, especially, for commenting in such thoughtful, considerate ways.  You have all been very kind and supportive; I really appreciate that.  I wish you all a blessed New Year.  May 2021 be a year of good health, joy, and prosperity!

Tonight, my daughter and I will stay up to greet the New Year and toast it with a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider!  I shall boil a pan of milk on the stove for good luck and make some milk rice for our first meal of the new year.

Today, on the last day of 2020, I am grateful for:

- Being alive and relatively healthy

- Having my daughter home with me 

- A safe, warm, and comfortable home 

- Having enough for our needs and even some of our wants

- Being able to share

 Today's joyful activity was eating the lunch my daughter cooked and sharing it with a friend.

May your New Year's Eve be a peaceful one filled with hope.  Happy New Year to all.

WPSH - December

The Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt began on December 1, 2020 and will end on March 31, 2021 (if anyone would like to join, there's still plenty of time!).  There is a list of 20 prompts and three alternatives.  These are the selections I have made for the first link up:

1. A set of three: A set of three blue and white elephants that were a gift from my mother.

3. A Set of Three

3. A peek inside:  This little figurine of Santa at the mailbox, which I include with my winter village set, used to be a favorite with my daughter when she was a little girl:

Santa at the Mailbox

The mailbox opens up to let one peek inside to see all the gifts that Santa has placed inside:

3. A Peek Inside

8. A sign of the times:  We have all become accustomed to seeing a sign similar to this one, I'm sure.

8. A Sign of the Times

19. Something yellow:  A winter rose from my garden.

19. Something Yellow

20. Marking time:  Counting down to the big day (yes, I got a lot of mileage from this one photo!)

20. Marking Time

Thank you, Eileen, for organizing this!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Monthly Balanced Life Goals - December Review

December is coming to an end and with it, the year!  Time to review my balanced life goals for the month and see how I did on achieving those goals. 

As I've explained before, my monthly balanced life goals are similar to the spokes of a wheel, with the length of each spoke representing my satisfaction in that area of my life, from 1 to 10, with 1 being most dissatisfied and 10 being most satisfied.  Ideally, all the spokes are of equal length and the wheel will roll along smoothly.  If the spokes are of unequal lengths, then, the resulting wheel will be lop-sided and wobbly.  My ratings for each segment are shown within the parentheses, with the beginning of the month ratings in black and the end of the month ratings in blue.

Balanced Life Goals: 

December Spiritual (10)(10)The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to attend Temple prayer/blessing services online
- Make the almsgiving donation to the Temple in lieu of having an almsgiving at home
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able

I continued with my daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, and I have tried to be positive and joyful.  I sent the almsgiving donation to the Temple and I have tried to be generous and others, as well.  On the whole, I feel that I do live a spiritually meaningful life; I will continue to keep the rating at 10.

December House (8)(9): The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming.
- Clean - Clean as needed
- Organize - Continue to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place
- Well maintained - Keep "erasing the evidence"; implement daily and weekly cleaning schedules
- Decluttered - Continue to declutter (goal = 31 items)
- Decorate - Decorate to bring some holiday cheer!

The house was cleaned and decorated and is being maintained, with daughter deep cleaning her bedroom!  I also did some decluttering, although I didn't meet my goal of 31 items.   I am raising the rating to 9 because I am happy with how the house is, at present.       

December Garden (9)(9): The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant.
- Maintain (water frequently as needed, weed, fertilize)

The garden is being maintained; the peach tree was sprayed earlier in the month, the winter vegetable seedlings are sprouting, and Mother Nature provided a good shower of rain to water deeply!  I am keeping the rating at 9.  

December Daughter (10)(10): The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her.
- Daily texts, phone calls, and video chatting, etc., to keep in close touch with her
- Be supportive of her and continue to be there for her
- Look forward to the possibility of her coming down for Christmas!

Daughter  was able to come home for Christmas and she's planning to stay down here and work from home at least until March!  I am definitely keeping the rating at 10.

December Family & Friends (10)(10): The goal is to continue to have a close connection with family and friends.
- Regular phone calls and emails to check on family and friends
- Try to get holiday gifts to them, if possible (contactless deliveries/shipped direct, etc.)

I interacted with family and friends through phone calls, emails, texts, etc., and managed to give them their holiday gifts, either dropping them off or having them shipped.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Community (10)(10):  The goals is to be involved in my community
- Continue to participate in the various community groups to the extent possible

I participated in the blogging community and at least one other online community; I exchanged gifts with several neighbors and donated to various community groups that provided meals and other services to those in need.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Finances (10)(10): The goal is financial security
- Continue spending mindfully, with purpose

I continued to spend mindfully in December.  I stayed within budget and paid my bills in a timely manner.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Health & Well Being (8)(8): The goal is good health

- Attend all of this month's medical appointments 
- Continue to work on the same life style changes as before to the extent possible
- Continue to strive to attain a healthier weight 

I attended this month's medical appointments (two visits to the dentist).  I am continuing to work on my life style changes (sleep patterns, exercise, better diet, etc.) and I lost a little bit of weight, but, I think all the Christmas goodies cancelled that weight loss!  I'm keeping the rating at 8!

December Time Management (8)(8): The goal is to spend my time in a mindful manner.
- Continue to focus on making my schedule work for me
- Procrastinate less
- Spend time purposefully, mindfully

On going.  I did manage to accomplish most of what I wanted to accomplish this month in a timely manner, without procrastinating.  I am keeping my satisfaction rating to 8.   

December Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (10)(10): The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Engage in daily joyful activities
- Daily piano practicing
- Do some holiday crafts/making gifts

I have been engaging in daily joyful activities and did several f the activities listed in my December Joys list.  I have been practicing the piano, too, and did some holiday crafts.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December was a fairly well balanced month, I think.  As always, there were some areas that could have been better, but, over all, it was a balanced month.

Year End Review:  I incorporated my New Year's resolutions into my monthly balanced life goals and worked on them throughout the year.  I did better in some months than in others, and it always seemed to be the same three or four areas that I struggled with the most, but, overall, there was balance throughout the year.  Certain areas of my life, such as spirituality, my relationship with my daughter, family and friends, etc., consistently remained highly satisfactory, while other areas, such as keeping a well maintained house, my health and well being, and time management continued to challenge me.  I shall work on those areas in the coming year.

How was your December in terms of maintaining balance among the different areas of your life? 

Monthly Photo Challenge: December - Christmas

There are still a few more days left in December, but, I have decided to post my pictures for the monthly photo challenge for December.  Eileen had said, in her comment on my November Monthly Photo Challenge post, that December's theme was "Christmas",  So, with that in mind, I present my selections for December:  

Christmas Angel 


Christmas Tree Ornaments

Count Down to Christmas

Waiting Under the Christmas Tree!

Christmas Gifts

Christmas Greetings

Monday, December 28, 2020


Yesterday afternoon, when the morning clouds cleared and the sun shone from a blue sky, I thought the weather forecast had exaggerated the storm that we were supposed to get.  However, late at night, it poured with rain!  At first, there was a fairly heavy rain which was over in five minutes or so.  But, a little while later, the main storm arrived with rain, hail, thunder, and lightning!  We haven't had such a big storm in months!  Poor Dancer was spooked by the sound of the rain and thunder.  My daughter and I kneeled on the living room sofa so we could look out from the living room window to watch the rain!  LOL.

It has been raining steadily all day today, too!  More of a light rain slowing down to a drizzle at times, but, still, RAIN!  No doubt the higher elevations received snow.  The garden got a good soaking and I am happy about that.

Yesterday, in the evening, my daughter made us a nice salad:


And I made us a dish of turkey tetrazzini:


Turkey Tetrazzini Fresh from the Oven

After We Took Out a Serving 


I didn't follow any particular recipe but, based on what I had read, I used a 12 oz. package of egg noodles, a can of cream of celery soup and a soup can of half and half, cut up turkey leftover from Thanksgiving, some onion, and a handful of frozen green peas.  Plus salt and pepper, of course. Some of the recipes said to add cheese, but, my daughter doesn't like cheese; she was OK with me sprinkling just a little bit of grated parmesan on top, however.  I boiled the noodles, sauteed the onions and turkey, added the soup and half and half mixture and brought it to a boil, put the boiled noodles into a 9 inch x 13 inch baking dish, and poured the mixture of turkey and soup over it, then, baked it at 375F for 15 minutes or so.  My daughter thought the noodles could have been mixed with the turkey and soup and eaten just like that, without the additional baking or, put under the broiler for five minutes just to brown the top.  We both enjoyed a portion of the casserole as it was and she took a second helping to which she added chili powder and some other spices!  LOL.  There is plenty leftover for tonight's dinner, too.  I might try cream of mushroom soup, another time.

I made a dessert with lime gelatin and condensed milk for dessert, but, I didn't take a picture of that.

Today has been a relaxed day.  I made us French toast for brunch, then, oiled daughter's hair for her.  She is cleaning up her bedroom, going through stuff in her desk drawers and finding mementos saved from middle school onwards.  I practiced the piano and took the trash cans to the curb.  It is 5:30 p.m., now, and the rain seems to have ceased.  Plans for the rest of the evening include having a cup of tea, watching news, and maybe making a New Year's Card for my aunt.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Rain!

- A non-leaky roof above my head (I used to have a hole in the roof which caused part of the kitchen ceiling to collapse a few years ago!  There's still some water damage from that which hasn't been repaired, yet.)

- A working heater and a warm house in which to shelter

- Chatting with my daughter throughout the day

- Dinner is in the fridge, just waiting to be warmed up (leftovers)

Today's joyful activity was just relaxing at home with my daughter.

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

December Meal Plans - Week 4 Review and Week 5

I started Week 4 with a new grocery pick up and some leftovers in the fridge, along with a few perishables my daughter brought home from her fridge.  I hadn't planned a special Christmas dinner, however, a friend blessed us with dinner.  I cooked a dinner and took over to another friend and there were additional exchanges of food gifts, as well.  With daughter being home on holiday and it being Christmas, I am afraid I didn't keep close track of what we had for meals, especially as daughter and I chose to have different things for breakfasts and lunches on some days.  

These were the December Week 4 Menu Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Waffles✓, French toast, bagels✓, croissants✓, scrambled eggs and toast, cereal and milk, oatmeal (for daughter; I don't much care for oatmeal), soup✓, salad✓, sandwiches, or leftovers✓

Dinner:  Chicken curry with rice, lentils, and cabbage green beans✓; coconut flat bread with chicken curry✓; turkey meatball curry with rice and green beans cabbage, leftovers✓.

Snacks/Desserts: Fruit✓, fish cutlets✓, nuts✓, granola bars, fried breadfruit chips✓, popcorn✓, Christmas candy✓

Here's how it all turned out, more or less!


Breakfast:  Half a bagel (me); rice and chicken curry (daughter)
Lunch: Soup (me); rice, green beans, and chicken curry (daughter)
Dinner: Rice and chicken curry with green beans (both of us; yes, daughter ate rice and chicken curry for all three meals as she said she couldn't get enough of my chicken curry after not having it for 9 months!  LOL!) 
Snacks/Dessert: Fresh oranges, home canned peaches (daughter can't get enough of that, either!)

Brunch: Croissants with butter and homemade peach jam; bananas (daughter might have had rice and chicken curry for lunch, as well)
Dinner: Coconut flat bread, chicken curry
Snacks/Dessert: Cookies, pears, banana

Brunch:  Croissants; daughter had leftover coconut flat bread with chicken curry, later
Dinner: Rice, chicken curry, dhal, sauteed cabbage (took some over to a friend, as well)
Snacks/Dessert:  Cookies, fruit, popcorn, candy, etc.!

Breakfast:  Croissants
Lunch: Rice, turkey meatball curry, sauteed green beans
Dinner: Rice with Korean style chicken stir fry (with onions, zucchini and mushrooms) that daughter cooked
Snacks/Dessert: Vietnamese meat pies, cake, cookies, fruit

Breakfast: Waffles and bacon
Lunch: Leftover rice and turkey meatball curry
Dinner: Sri Lankan yellow rice, mutton curry, cashew and green peas curry, fried eggplant, cucumber salad, fried pappadum, and fresh pineapple
Snacks/Dessert:  Cake, cookies, fruit, peanuts

Breakfast: Half a bagel (me); banana (daughter)
Lunch: Leftovers from Christmas dinner 
Dinner: Parathas and mutton curry and leftover curry gravies
Snacks/Dessert: Fried breadfruit chips, popcorn, cake, canned peaches

Brunch: Leftover waffles and bacon (me)
Dinner: Salad, turkey tetrazzini (it was the first time I'd made it and my daughter liked it very much)

Turkey Tetrazzini

Snacks/Dessert:  Lime gelatin with condensed milk; chocolate; banana

According to my way of thinking, the week's meal plan options worked out quite well.  
I am going to consider the week starting December 28 as Week 5.  I start Week 5 with some leftovers from Christmas lunch and about half the dish of turkey tetrazzini.  There are also some fresh vegetables that must be cooked before they spoil and some fruit that must be eaten.  

These are my December Week 5 Menu Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch:  French toast, scrambled eggs and toast, cereal and milk, oatmeal (for daughter), milk rice (on January 1)

Lunch: Salad, sandwiches, fried rice, or leftovers

Dinner:  Turkey tetrazzini; rice, with chicken curry, green beans, and pumpkin curry; paratha with chicken curry; rice with mackerel curry, dhal, and broccoli; leftovers.

Snacks/Desserts: The house is well stocked with snacks, but, I need to go back to being careful about what and how much of it I eat!  Ideally, my snacks will consist of fruit and nuts.  I will be keeping track of only the snacks and desserts I will be eating and not what my daughter eats!

What's your meal plan for this week?

Sunday, December 27, 2020



Recycled Greeting Card Gift Tags

Last night, my daughter and I stayed up till quite late, talking, laughing, and snacking.  I was trying to finish my blog post and she wanted me to pay attention to her!  I can see that I need to write my blog posts in the morning or afternoons from now on!  

This morning, I woke up at 9:30 a.m., after going to bed at 4:30 a.m.  It was an overcast morning, but, it has since cleared up and we have sunshine and clear blue skies.  There is a possibility of rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, but, I doubt if we'll get much rain, now!

One of the things I did this morning was cut up some of the old Christmas cards to make gift tags.  These tags are then attached to packages with tape or, I punch a hole at the corner and pass through some cord or ribbon and tie them on to the packages.  If you have paper punches, you could cut them out in different designs, too.  But, since I don't have any punches, I just cut squares and rectangles for the most part and, occasionally, circles.  

Greeting Card Gift Tags in Use

Admittedly, gift tags don't cost a lot (especially if one buys them at the dollar store or during an after Christmas sale), but, turning old greeting cards into gift tags can save a few cents, is a good way to reuse and recycle, and can help out in a pinch if one has run out of store bought gift tags and doesn't want to run to the store for more!

Today, I am grateful for:

- A sunny afternoon

- "Free" gift tags

- Dancer keeping me company while daughter slept in

- A warm and comfortable home in which to shelter

- Thoughtful gifts from family and friends

Today's planned joyful activity will be spending time with my daughter and relaxing.  If I manage to clear the dining table, we might try working on a jigsaw puzzle, later, today!

Do you make gift tags with your old greeting cards?  Or, make new cards using the fronts?


Modified Store Bag (Front)

Modified Store Bag (Back)

When I ran short of gift bags for the Christmas gifts, the other day, I took a solid colored (navy blue) store bag and glued the fronts of two Christmas cards to cover the store logo and turned it into a Christmas gift bag.  I couldn't find two identical cards, but, I thought these cards complemented each other.  One year, I glued wrapping paper around a brown grocery bag to create a gift bag (for a gift that was hard to wrap). 

I am someone who saves and reuses gift wrap, bags, ribbons and bows, etc., when I can.  The rest of my gift wrapping supplies are bought during after Christmas sales.  I am very glad that I stocked up on two rolls of gift wrap, about two years ago, and a new package of tissue paper, last year!  I used some of that, this year, and there is still some left for next year, as well, which is a good thing because I am unable to stock up, this year!  I store my gift wrapping supplies in a wicker chest, which I sorted through and organized, earlier this week.  I try to keep the Christmas gift bags separated from the birthday/all occasion gift bags, but, they don't always stay that way!    

Daughter and I have had a quiet, relaxed day, today (Saturday).  We slept in, ate leftovers for meals and snacked on Christmas goodies in between!  I folded and put away two loads of my laundry (daughter gets to fold and put away hers) and tidied the small dining table that is in the family room.  Daughter helped me pay some bills online and do some mobile banking.  She got to experience the shortcomings of my very basic cell phone!  One of the first things we will be doing in a post-Covid world, I was informed, is getting me a better phone!  LOL!  We ordered some New Year gifts to be sent to some of our relatives and I wrapped a few more gifts to be given to friends over the next few days.  This year, all the jars of jam and several of the jars of chutney I made have been (or will be) given as gifts!  

In the afternoon, I walked for 15 minutes.  Daughter joined me for the last few minutes because she was curious to see what my walking routine looked like.  We were both laughing because it was a bit ridiculous, since I march up and down my driveway and along the sidewalk to the left to the end of my property line and to the right to my neighbor's driveway; my walking route forms the shape of a T.  When I walk by myself, I usually recite prayers and it becomes a meditation of sorts.

Later in the evening, I practiced the piano and chatted with cousin P and with friend R.  

In the meantime, Dancer has enjoyed trying out daughter's yoga mat:

Dancer Does Yoga

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter being home and helping me with online bill paying and mobile banking

- Shared laughter

- Cuddles

- Gifts of food from friends

- The stash of gift wrap and supplies

Today's joyful activity was spending time with my daughter.

Plans for tomorrow include clearing the big dining table.

How was your Saturday?  Do you save and reuse gift wrap, etc.?  Or have a stash of supplies that you bought on sale?  Or do you prefer to buy what is needed each year?

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas 2020


Christmas Mantel

Happy Christmas!

My day started with a phone call from Aunt C, wishing us a Merry Christmas.  Afterwards, I dropped off gifts at cousin P's house, leaving them outside and texting my cousin's daughter to pick them up.

I made waffles for brunch and we had them with bacon and syrup.  

In the afternoon, daughter and I drove over to friend R's to exchange gifts with her.  I took her some of the chicken stir fry that daughter had made and she gave us some Sri Lankan treats that she had ordered.  Afterwards, we went over to cousin V's to exchange gifts.  Cousin V was having the rest of the family over to have Christmas dinner, so I took their gifts over, as well, asking her to distribute them to the others.  Then, daughter and I came home.  

Five minutes later, friend S called to say she and her husband were in our driveway!  They had brought us rice and curries for Christmas dinner!  That was so nice of them to do so.  We enjoyed our dinner and there are plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, as well!

Later in the evening, cousin P and her daughter dropped off their gifts to us!  

Everyone wore masks and we kept our social distances during the gift exchanges, spraying and disinfecting everything, afterwards.  We might not have been able to be together, but, we managed to see each other and exchange Christmas greetings and gifts.  I still have a few more gifts to distribute, but, they will be done over the course of the next few days.

Now, daughter and I are relaxing and I am doing laundry.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Having my daughter home for Christmas

- Being able to exchange greetings and gifts with family and friends

- Friend S bringing us Christmas dinner

- Safe drives to deliver gifts

- The peaches and feijoa from the garden which enabled me to make all the jars of jam which made the basis of most of the gifts I gave!

Today's joyful activity was exchanging gifts with family and friends.  I feel very blessed to be able to do so.

Plans for tomorrow include clearing up all the gift wrap and stuff from the dining table!

I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas had a lovely day.  Do you celebrate the full twelve days of Christmas and leave the tree up till January 6th?  Or, do you take the tree down before then?  

Rain on Christmas Eve!


Christmas Gifts

We received one of the best gifts we could have had from Mother Nature, today!  Rain!  It was more of a steady drizzle than a downpour, but, it was enough to wet the ground!  

It is Christmas Eve and I am watching the broadcast of the Midnight Mass from the Vatican - a tradition I have been observing for many years, now.  

This has been a rather busy week for me.  On Monday, my daughter and I did the grocery shopping, among other things.  On Tuesday, she helped me order the last few gifts, online, as I needed gifts for all the young ladies on my gift list.  Also on Tuesday, neighbor T and I exchanged gifts and I had my piano lesson in the evening.  There will be a two week break before piano lessons resume after the new year.  We made coconut flat bread for dinner and, later, we baked some spritz cookies. 

On Wednesday, my daughter and I cooked a dinner of rice, chicken curry, dhal, and sauteed cabbage and took it to her friend P's parents home, along with gifts for them.  We left the packages on their doorstep for them to take in.  Later in the evening, I wrapped a few more gifts.  

Today, I wrapped the rest of the gifts.  I used gift bags for some of my gifts, like the jars of jam.  I didn't have many small and medium sized Christmas gift bags in my stash, and, since I didn't think to order them, I used what I had, gluing some Christmas cards to hide the printed logos on some regular store bags. 

Friend A called in the morning and stopped by with gifts and cake; daughter and I gave her and her daughters their gifts.  In previous years, we would go over to their house to share Christmas lunch with them, but, that is not possible, this year.  Later in the afternoon, daughter and I drove by friend S's house and dropped off their gifts, leaving them on their doorstep.  Still later, in the evening, daughter's friend P dropped off a gift for her, some specialty Korean groceries she had wanted, and some Vietnamese meat pies P's family had made.  

Daughter made dinner, tonight, cooking a Korean version of chicken and vegetable stir fry, with mushrooms, zucchini, and Savoy cabbage.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Rain!

- Being able to order gifts online

- Next day delivery!

- Daughter making dinner

- Being able to exchange gifts with family and friends

Today's joyful activities included exchanging gifts with friends.

How was your Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December Grocery Shopping

Decorative Pot Holder

Decorative Pot Holder

These decorative pot holders were crocheted by my mother; they are double sided, but the decorative Santas are only on one side.   The fabric Santas were purchased (probably at the same time as the snowmen for the wreath) for under $1 each.

On Monday, my daughter woke up early and hearing her move around woke me up, too!  It was barely 6:00 a.m.!  A couple of hours later, we had breakfast - I ate half a bagel and my daughter ate rice, chicken curry, and green beans because she liked the chicken curry, so much!  Later, I picked two oranges from the new crop of oranges, and we had that as a mid-morning snack.  Then, around 11:00 a.m., my daughter helped me to place an order of groceries, online, for curbside pick up between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Around 4:30 p.m., the grocery store sent a text stating that, due to the high volume of orders, they were running late with getting the pick up orders ready and said the order will be ready between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Shortly after that, someone from the store called and asked us to come between 6:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  My daughter had an online acrobatics/conditioning class from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., so we went to the grocery store around 7:00 p.m.  (she drove to get some practice driving, again). 

Usually, when I go to pick up groceries, I go in the mid afternoon - I drive into one of the 4 spaces reserved for curbside pick up orders, call the store, and someone is out with my groceries within 5 minutes, or so.  I am usually in and out in about 10 minutes.  On Monday, however, there was a line of cars waiting for a parking spot for curbside pick up and they were parked up and down two aisles in the parking lot, not just the 4 reserved spots! 

We had to wait for at least 30 minutes before we got a parking spot!  Then, when I called the store pickup number, I was told that they had my order, but, because of the volume of customers waiting to pick up (it being just before the holidays), they were running late and it would be another 30-45 minute wait!  They gave us the option of waiting and returning at any time the next day.  Well, we decided to wait, because, we figured that, there might be even more people, on the following day, since it would be one day closer to the holiday (plus all the people who had scheduled to pick up on that day!).  We waited until it was past 9:00 p.m.!  Finally, our order was brought to the car!

The wait wouldn't have been too bad - we had the radio playing Christmas carols and we were singing along - but, eventually, I needed to go to the bathroom and then, the waiting became less pleasant!

Once we got home, daughter brought in all the groceries and helped me to disinfect and put things away.  That was nice - having her help!  She is quick and efficient; the disinfecting and putting away took a lot less time than usual!  

The store didn't have a few of the items we wanted, even though they substituted with different items where they could (another brand of oil than the one that was on sale for $2.50 per bottle, a crunchy cheese snack instead of the puffy one that was requested,  etc.), but, they charge the lower price for substitutions and we now have plenty of fresh vegetables, milk, the half and half she uses for her coffee, and more chicken to cook.

We had ordered a tray of regular (with skin and bone-in) chicken thighs, on sale for $1.29/lb.  They had substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs ($1.99/lb), instead, which was fine with us.  It was only when we got home and I reviewed the substitution list and receipt that I noticed that they had not charged me for the chicken, which amounted to $4.24!  That made up for the long time we had to wait to receive the groceries, I guess!  That chicken is now marinating with spices to be made into a chicken curry which will be taken to my daughter's friend P's parents home, along with other curries and rice, as a surprise dinner for them, along with their Christmas gift of an assortment of my homemade jams.

My groceries included a bag of egg noodles to make turkey tetrazzini, 6 cans of cream of celery soup (@ $1; a stock up item), two bottles of oil (another stock up item), two bags of hot cheesy snacks for my daughter, half a gallon of milk, two half gallons of half and half, a container of mixed salad greens, a bag of frozen corn, some frozen burritos for my daughter, a loaf of bread, a container of 18 mini croissants, a container of refrigerated flaky biscuit dough, a bottle of hot sauce, a can of pineapple chunks, a 3 lb. bag of onions, a jar of dry roasted peanuts, 8 oz package of mild cheddar cheese, sugar snap peas, a container of sliced mushrooms, 1 cucumber, 1 zucchini, 1 head of lettuce, 2 lb. green beans, broccoli, and bananas.  My bill came to a total of $64.36, which is well under my budget for December.  I don't plan on grocery shopping again until sometime in January.  

Have you gone grocery shopping lately?  Were the stores crowded?

Monday, December 21, 2020

December Meal Plans - Week 3 Review and Week 4

December Week 3 Meal Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Pancakes✓, soup✓, salad, scrambled egg and bacon with toast✓ or fried potatoes 

Dinner:  Chicken curry with rice and cabbage, green beans, etc.✓, chicken and vegetable soup✓, baked battered fish fillets (frozen) with vegetables✓, spaghetti and meat sauce✓.

Snacks/Desserts: Fruit (oranges and pomegranates for fresh, plus canned fruit)✓, crackers with cheese✓ or peanut butter, nuts✓, granola bars✓, dry cereal✓

That was the plan and this is how it turned out: 

Brunch:  Pancakes and bacon; orange
Dinner:  Soup and salad
Snacks/Dessert: Chocolate cake

Brunch: Scrambled egg and toast; orange
Dinner: Salad, bread and chicken curry
Snacks/Dessert: Actually didn't snack!

Brunch:  Pancakes and chicken curry
Dinner: Soup
Snacks/Dessert:  Cheese and crackers, peanuts, raisins

Brunch:  Spaghetti and sauce
Dinner: Spaghetti and sauce, again!
Snacks/Dessert: Cereal, peanuts

Brunch: Cheese toast
Dinner: Baked battered fish fillets, rice, green peas, tomato chutney
Snacks/Dessert:  Cheese and crackers, 

Brunch: Sausage fried rice
Dinner: Chicken and vegetable soup
Snacks/Dessert: Fried breadfruit chips, pecan pralines

Breadfruit Chips

Brunch: Bagel and cold cuts open face sandwich
Dinner: Rice, chicken curry, lentils (dhal), sauteed green beans, peach chutney
Snacks/Dessert:  Fish cutlets, popcorn, peanuts, home canned peaches

I think the menu plan options for Week 3 worked out pretty well!  

December Week 4 - I'm starting off Week 4 with chicken curry and some leftovers in the fridge, along with a few perishables my daughter brought home from her fridge.  I ordered some groceries, this morning, which I will pick up in the evening (curbside pick up).  Unlike on Thanksgiving, we are not planning to have a special Christmas dinner.

December Week 4 Menu Plan Options:

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Waffles, French toast, bagels, croissants, scrambled eggs and toast, cereal and milk, oatmeal (for daughter; I don't much care for oatmeal), soup, salad, sandwiches, or leftovers

Dinner:  Chicken curry with rice, lentils, and green beans; coconut flat bread with chicken curry; turkey meatball curry with rice and cabbage, leftovers.

Snacks/Desserts: Fruit, fish cutlets, nuts, granola bars, fried breadfruit chips, popcorn, Christmas candy

What are you planning to make this week?

Home for the Holidays!


Santa Placemats

I know I have posted a picture of my Santa placemats, in a previous year, but, I decided to post another picture of them, again!  The placemats came in pre-printed panels, with the mitten pockets printed along the side, to be cut out and sewn on.  I bought several panels and made three sets of four placemats; I kept one set for myself and gifted the other two sets, as well as an apron that had Santa's face printed on it.  

This afternoon, my daughter came home!  Her friend P drove her and they made the journey in just under 5 1/2 hours.  Daughter texted me when they left, in the morning, to let me know they were on their way.

I spent the rest of the morning and early part of the afternoon completing that mile-long to do list I mentioned in my previous post.  I had been dusting as I decorated, but, I have now tidied the place, vacuumed, done several loads of laundry, changed the bedsheets to flannel sheets, cleaned the bathrooms, and cleaned the kitchen.  

My daughter arrived shortly after 3:30 p.m. and we've spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chatting and hugging!  She loved the Christmas tree and the rest of the decorations and the feeling of space!  Her studio apartment is less than 400 square feet and while my house is not huge, it is much bigger than her apartment!  

I cooked a chicken curry, lentils (dhal), sauteed green beans, and rice for dinner and we opened a jar of my peach chutney, as well.  Daughter enjoyed the dinner as it was the first meal since the middle of March that she didn't cook, herself!  Afterwards, we sampled a jar of my home canned peaches - it was pretty good.  But, the peach chutney was declared a winner!  Later, I practiced the piano and she played, too, and we sang some Christmas carols.

Today, I am grateful for:
- My daughter was able to come home for the holidays
- P was well enough to drive home and offer her a ride
- They had a safe drive home
- Being able to hold and hug my daughter
- Answered prayers

Christmas Tree 2020

Today's joyful activity was hugging my daughter!  I know that I am blessed to be able to have my child home for the holidays and not everyone is able to be together with their children, families, and loved ones.  My prayer this season is that we will all be able to gather with our loved ones at this time, next year.

Plans for tomorrow (Monday) include putting in a grocery order, putting together holiday gifts, and, maybe, doing some baking. What are your plans for Monday? 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

It's Beginning to Look...


Snowman Wreath

Festive!  Yesterday, I put up the wreaths, including this snowman wreath.  My mother saw one in a sewing patterns catalog and admired it.  So, when we found these felt snowmen ornaments at Woolworths (they were still open, back then, early 1990s) and on sale for $0.50 each, I bought some and made the wreath.  It remained my mother's favorite wreath for as long as she lived.

My nativity set has been set up, too:

Nativity Set

The doily is something my mother crocheted.

I've spent a couple of fairly quiet days, keeping myself busy with decorating for Christmas, watering the garden, and doing regular household tasks like laundry and cleaning.  The donations check to the Temple (in lieu of having the annual almsgiving) has been mailed and the holiday gift list has been prepared.

Yesterday, friend M came by to tend to the garden.  He brought me a big bag of soil amendment/fertilizer and two broccoli seedlings; he planted the seedlings in my tiny vegetable plot (where, so far, only the radishes and four pea seedlings are growing) and added the soil amendment/fertilizer.  He wouldn't accept any payment for the bag of soil amendment, saying, "Merry Christmas"!  LOL.  I gave him his Christmas gift from me before he left. 

My daughter's friend P has tested negative for Covid, so, they are planning to drive down together.  I am glad that she doesn't have to drive down alone.  I am hoping that they will have a safe drive.

Reindeer Bells

One year, my daughter wasn't very sure about the whole Santa Claus and reindeer story; she was about 6 years old then, and had heard a rumor that it wasn't real.  In her letter to Santa, that year, she asked for a bell from Santa's reindeer, as proof.  Santa's helper had to run all around town, that year, but, on Christmas morning, there was a strap of bells that Santa's reindeer had left for her!  Ever since then, these bells have hung from the front door, at Christmas time. 

I have a mile long list of things to do, today!  I want to finish decorating, tidy the place, and vacuum, in addition to more laundry, wrapping gifts, and cooking!  

Today, I am grateful for:

- P tested negative

- Daughter will probably get a ride home instead of driving by herself

- Friends and family calling to check on me

- Packages arriving in the mail

- Working appliances

How is your weekend coming along?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Daughter's Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

My daughter sent me a description of the ornaments (drawn on paper and handcolored by her) on her Christmas tree, late last night.  I am copying and pasting it, in its entirety, below:

 Xmas tree ornaments:

I decided to decorate my ‘tree’ with ‘ornaments’ that reminded me of things that I was grateful for or that brought me joy in the past year – warning, it gets quite sappy, so read with caution.

Starting at the top, and then moving down across the rows:

At the top of the tree, there are a bunch of crests that are from Digimon, that struck me as the easiest way to visually represent some of the more abstract concepts I wanted to show on my tree:

·         Crest of light

o   A reminder to always try and look at the bright side of things, instead of focusing on all the negatives.

o   Also reminds me of this quote from Dumbledore (in Harry Potter series) that I really tried to keep in mind this year: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

·         Crest of hope

o   Fairly self-explanatory I think, but, it’s been so important to keep hoping that better days will come and I am thankful that despite all the hardships and stress of this year, I’ve been able to keep that hope alive in me

·         Crest of kindness

o   This year I’ve been struck with gratitude at how kind the people in my life are – from friends and family bringing my mom cooked food or offering to buy her groceries to the kindness of my coworkers checking in to see how I’m doing mentally and emotionally and offering to give of themselves if I ever need anything – I feel really blessed to know and be touched by such kindness

·         Crest of love

o   Again, very obvious – I’m thankful for the love I’ve received from friends and family – even though we haven’t been able to see each other in person for the majority of this year, I’ve felt their love through our long-distance interactions

·         Crest of friendship

o   And, I can’t say thank you enough to the wonderful friends I have – friends who I can have ongoing text conversations with, have virtual movie nights with, have virtual crafting sessions with… I’m seriously so lucky to have the group of friends that I have

·         Crest of courage

o   This is one of the things that I’ve really had to work on this year – having the courage to deal with unprecedented situations and uncertain times, and, having the courage to speak out against the wrongs of the world – and I’m thankful for being able to gather the courage to deal with all the various challenges that this year has brought

·         Crest of sincerity

o   This might seem like a really little thing, but, I’ve noticed (and appreciated) an increase in the sincerity of asking the question “How are you?” – whereas this phrase is usually just a customary opening question in a conversation, this year I’ve noticed it turn into a sincere question when I talk with people in that we actually do genuinely want to know how the other person is doing and check that they’re holding up alright

·         Crest of knowledge

o   I can’t say how thankful I am for increased knowledge this year – particularly with regards to COVID… at the beginning of the year, nothing was really known about it, but so much progress has been made on knowing what are the proper precautions to take, and, we’re even now at a point where vaccinations are possible thanks to what we’ve learned about this virus – not to say that our knowledge is perfect on it yet, but, if there’s ever been a year to be thankful of learning more about things, it’s this one!

·         Crest of reliability

o   Gonna keep this one short and sweet - knowing I have people who I can rely upon has definitely been a blessing to me this year.

·         Crest of miracles

o   I’m so thankful for all the little miracles this year has had – I’m not going to list them all out, but, to give you a flavor: having all the people that I personally know who got COVID be able to recover, timing working out in ways that protected my health and the health of my mom, having technology available and accessible in a way that allowed me to safely keep myself at home during this time

And, now moving on to the ornaments of much less sappy and abstract things that have brought me joy in the past year:

·         Nyanko-sensei

o   This is a character from the anime Natsume Yuujinchou, which I have been obsessed with rewatching multiple times this year – it was such a relaxing and comforting series to watch and enjoy

·         Kero-chan

o   This is a character from the anime CardCaptor Sakura, which I also have loved rewatching over and over this year – it’s such a happy and cute anime that just makes me smile every time I watch it

·         Phantom Thieves logo

o   This is a logo from the game/anime Persona 5 – I loved watching the anime and listening to the great music from it, but also, playing the game which centers around bringing corrupt people in society to justice was so therapeutic at times when the world felt like it was going crazy and problems in the real world were reaching fever pitches

·         Mishy

o   This is a mascot character from the series Trails of Cold Steel – which, I’ve been obsessed with playing lately – no deep meaning behind this one, it’s just a really fun games series to play!

·         Konoha symbol

o   From Naruto – during parts of this year, I really enjoyed playing some Naruto videogames and reading Naruto fanfiction – those were two really enjoyable activities

The next row includes ornaments that symbolize activities I’ve loved to do in the past year:

·         Lucky Star cat

o   This one has multiple meanings, (1) it’s an image that appears in the anime Lucky Star (one of my all-time favorite anime) so I’m using it to represent watching anime, which is such an enjoyable activity to me (if you didn’t already realize that from the earlier ornaments, haha)

o   (2) I’m also using it to represent all the crafting I’ve been doing this year, since one of the projects I’m working on is a cross stitch of a scene from Lucky Star – I feel like I’ve really exercised my arts and crafts muscles this year!

o   (3) And, lastly, as the cat is yawning, I’m using it to represent how important it’s been to take breaks and allow myself to take things easy at times during this year

·         Athletic Playground logo

o   Omigosh, AP has been an absolute godsend this year – I’ve loved taking their various acrobatics classes for years now, and, I’m so happy that they were able to offer virtual classes this year

o   Doing acrobatics, couch parkour, conditioning, and dance classes has been amazing for me – not only has it kept me fairly physically fit and healthy, but, it’s just been SO fun and I always feel so good after taking one of their classes

·         Nintendo Switch

o   I finally caved and bought myself a Nintendo Switch this year – a purchase that I’m very happy with, and, more generally, I’m using this to represent videogaming – which is an activity that has brought me SO much entertainment and happiness during this year

·         Book of friends

o   And, here we have a repeat of an anime – Natsume Yuujinchou (aka Natsume’s Book of Friends) – though in this case I’m using it to represent the activity of learning more Japanese (since it has some Japanese kanji characters on the cover) – I’ve tried to improve my Japanese language skills this year and playing games in Japanese, reading a book in Japanese, and watching anime in Japanese without subtitles are all activities I’ve really enjoyed doing that brought me a sense of accomplishment this year

·         Microphone

o   This is standing in for all the impromptu, random karaoke sessions I’ve had alone in my apartment – honestly is just SO fun to do!

And in the last two rows, we have a bunch of ornaments from various fandoms I’ve been loving this year

·         Animal crossing

o   The first three ornaments are a fossil, bell bag, and Nook Inc./furniture symbol from Animal Crossing – along with my Switch, I got myself the Animal Crossing New Horizons game this year, and, it’s been SO much fun to play it – designing my island, getting all the clothes to create different outfits for my in-game character, visiting friends’ islands… just has been such a great way to kick back and relax

·         Rockman.exe symbol

o   This is from Rockman.exe, which is an anime and game series that I’ve enjoyed watching and playing this year

o   Also, since that series is based in an internet-centric world, I’m using it to express my thankfulness for the internet, and really technology as a whole – don’t know how I would’ve handled this year without all the things that technology has made possible!

·         Pokemon

o   Again, it’s been fun to replay some of my old Pokemon games, and, at times has been nice to watch some of the episodes of the anime or some of the movies – nothing like Pokemon to harken back to the golden days of stress-free, happy childhood :3

·         Music

o   Another multi-faceted one – I’ve really enjoyed getting more into kpop songs and dances this year, and, I’ve also loved practicing and playing the piano (well, keyboard)

·         Clow key

o   Just another ornament using an item from the anime Cardcaptor Sakura, what can I say, I really love that series!

·         Morgana

o   And, another character from Persona 5 – again, wanted to include another image from this series because I’ve enjoyed it so much this year!

·         Digivice

o   And, a digivice from Digimon – I’ve enjoyed reading Digimon fanfiction, playing Digimon games in Japanese, and, I’ve been loving the new Digimon 2020 anime!