Thursday, April 30, 2020

Monthly Balanced Life Goals - April Showers and May Flowers

Since my previous post of combining the review of the current month's goals and the setting of the next months goals worked so well, I thought that I will continue doing so from now on!  Besides, we did have a lot of rain in April and there are lots of flowers now, in May!  So, here is the review of April's goals and the goals for May!

As mentioned before, I have chosen 10 areas of my life that I think are important to me, on which to focus.  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 which then become the starting ratings for the next month.

Balanced Life Goals:

April Spiritual (10)(10):
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment to material things by donating/decluttering more

April's spiritual activities have been reduced because I will not be going to the Temple or any prayer gatherings this month, since we will be staying at home for the entire month.

I am very happy to say that, in April, thanks to all the technology that is available these days, I was able to attend blessing services at the Temple, online, and to attend the monthly prayer gathering as well!  I also continued with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, and I have tried to be positive and joyful.  I haven't done a lot of decluttering or donating, however, I have been using some of my fabric stash and sewing supplies to make face masks and have been donating them.

I am keeping the rating at 10.

May Spiritual (10):
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to attend Temple prayer/blessing services online
- Attend May's prayer gathering if possible
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able

House (9)(9):  The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming:
- Clean - Continue with spring (deep) cleaning
- 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 - Declutter 31 items in March

The house has been maintained.  I have more or less resumed my weekly cleaning routines, although there have been some lapses, here and there.  But, on the whole, I am happy with the state of the house and that is enough for now!  

I am keeping the rating at 9.

May House (9):
- Clean - Continue with spring (deep) cleaning
- 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 - Declutter 31 items in May

I am hoping to keep the house maintained in May.  

Garden (8.5)(8.5):  The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant:
- Maintain (water 1- 2 times per week; weed)
Clean out the garden shed
- Start spring planting (vegetables and flowers)  

The garden is coming along nicely!  The roses are blooming and so are the pineapple guava and pomegranate trees.  Baby peaches are growing and the orange tree is starting to set fruit.  I harvested a single radish and have some vegetable seedlings sprouting - cantaloupe, I believe, and, maybe a tomato!  I have carrot tops beginning to re-grow, an avocado seedling that needs to be hardened off before being planted in the garden, and a sweet potato starting to sprout!  The garden shed got postponed, yet again, but, that's not a priority.

I am keeping the rating at 8.5.  

May Garden (8.5):

- Maintain (water 1- 2 times per week; weed)
Clean out the garden shed
- Care for the seedlings 
- Plant a few more vegetable and flower seeds

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 be there for her

Daughter and I keep in contact daily.  She has been very helpful to me with things like accessing online services!

I am keeping the rating at 10.

May Daughter (10):
- 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

Family & Friends (10)(10):  The goal is to have a close connection with family members and friends:
- Regular phone calls and emails to check on family and friends

Despite the continuing need to maintain physical distancing, I managed interact with family and friends through phone calls and online visits.  I chat daily online with my daughter, but, this month, chatted online with a friend, "met" with a group of friends, online, too, to chat, and for monthly prayers.

In addition, a friend and I were able to spend almost one hour of working on projects by being accountable to each other, online!  We arranged to have a chat and did so for a few minutes, then, went offline for 25 minutes to work on our individual projects (she did some decluttering, I did some paperwork), at the end of which time, we went online to update each other and we set our timers for another 25 minutes to work on our projects.  Then, since she had finished sorting through one bin and I had come to a good stopping point (had gone through one stack of papers and had a small pile to be filed), and because I needed to eat something, we decided to end our work session.  But, we plan to do it again, next week!  

I also managed to visit friend R to take her some masks, and we were both blessed by visits from our mutual friend S who brought us both dinner a couple of times!  Cousin P, too, blessed me by bringing me a few items of groceries and so did friend M.  

I was also able to "see" family and friends at the monthly prayer gathering as we did it online. 

I am keeping the rating at 10 because I feel that I have done my best to keep in touch under the circumstances.  

May Family and Friends (10):
- Regular phone calls and emails to check on family and friends

Community (10)(10):  The goal is to be involved in my community:
- Continue to participate in the blogging community 
Weekly phone calls with neighbor T
- Call to check on neighbor S
- Continue to participate in the online group of which I am a member

I participated in the blogging community and the online group (and, even met a few of them during an online chat), exchanged weekly phone calls with neighbor T, etc.  I spoke with neighbor S a couple of times, as well, and another neighbor brought me a gift of Easter bread!  I was also able to participate in temple services online, as well, which was a bonus! 

I believe I did what I could under the circumstances and will keep the rating at 10.

May Community (10):
- Continue to participate in the blogging community
- Weekly phone calls with neighbor T
- Call to check on neighbor S
- Continue to participate in the online group
- Continue to participate on Temple online services

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

I spent mindfully and with purpose in April.  Although I went over my grocery budget of $75 in March, when I stocked up a few things, I only spent a total of $35 in April!  I anticipate needing to buy a few more groceries in May, especially if I intend to replenish or add to my stock.  For the time being, however, I will keep my grocery budget at $75 and see how it goes.  I can increase it if I need do.

I am keeping the rating at 10.

May Finances (10): 

- Continue spending mindfully, with purpose 

Health & Well Being (7.5)(7.5):  The goal is good health:

- Call and reschedule this month's medical appointments and lab tests 
Continue to work on the same life style changes as before to the extent possible 
- Continue to strive to attain a healthier weight 

I rescheduled my medical appointments due to the corona virus and advice to stay at home.  My appointments weren't urgent.  I got dehydrated, at one point, but I have been trying to drink more water since then.  I didn't lose any weight this month (although, at one point I thought I had!), but, I haven't gained any, either.  So, I'll take that as a success and leave the rating at 7.5!

May Health & Well Being (7.5):
- See if I can reschedule this month's eye appointment 
- Continue to work on the same life style changes as before to the extent possible
- Continue to strive to attain a healthier weight

Time Management (7)(8): The goal is to spend my time in a mindful manner:

- Keep to a more regular schedule
- Procrastinate less

I have tried not to procrastinate quite as much!  I have been finding it hard to be quite as productive as I think I should be, but, the important things are being done.  

I have increased the rating to 8.  

May Time Management (8):
- Keep to a more regular schedule
- Procrastinate less

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
- Participate in the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Daily piano practicing
- Do a crafts project (finish knitting the scarf)

This is another good area in my life!  I finished knitting the scarf and a sweater that I had started earlier and have started on a pair of socks.  I have also sewn several fabric masks to give to others.  I have been engaging in daily joyful activities, too, and I continued to participate in the photo scavenger hunt.  The daily piano practicing has faltered a bit, but, I am determined to get back to it.  

I am keeping the rating at 10.  

May Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (10):
- Engage in daily joyful activities
- Daily piano practicing
- Do a crafts project (finish knitting the socks; finish making one of the quilts in progress)

That is the review of my goals for a more balanced life in April and the goals for May.  April has been another pivotal month of changes and upheaval for many.  Who knows what May will bring?  But, all we can do is take each day as it comes.  

Did you make any goals for a more balanced life in April?  If so, were you able to achieve those goals?  Will you be making any goals for May?

WPSH April Link Up

It's the end of the month and time for the final link up for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt, which was hosted by Eileen.

Here is the original list, as amended to extend the ending date and additional alternatives to accommodate having to shelter in place/stay at home:

  1. in the bag
  2. contrast
  3. the way to go
  4. colours
  5. a garden gate
  6. vintage 
  7. I stood here
  8. 11 o'clock
  9. solitary
  10. the little things
  11. industrial
  12. time for tea
  13. a keyhole
  14. flavour of the month
  15. letters
  16. a barrier
  17. a line
  18. a chain
  19. an alley
  20. monochrome
Alt A: Chess or Checkers
Alt B: Market
Alt C: The View From My Front Door
Alt D: Three Colours One One Item
Alt E: I Am Reading
Alt F: The Sky Today
Alt G: Free Choice
Alt H: Free Choice   

It was a bit of a challenge to find photos for one or two of the prompts, because I had ideas for what they should be and then, couldn't go looking for the appropriate items to photograph.  But, in the end, I think I liked that challenge, because it made me think "out of the box", so to speak.

My other photos for this WPSH are here: (December Photos), (January Photos), (February Photos), (March Photos).

These are my additional photos for this month:

#3 The way to go:

#3 The Way to Go - A Map of Jerusalem 
I like to look at a map and "see" where I am going. 

#6 Vintage:

I have two possibilities for this prompt; I couldn't quite decide between the two, so I am showing both!

#6a:  My Mother's China Figurine.

My mother had said that she had this figurine and its lady companion since she was a teenager (my mother was born in 1920).  I don't remember seeing the lady, though, so she must have broken a long time ago.  But, my mother brought this figurine with her when she left Sri Lanka.  I honestly don't know the significance of this figurine or why she chose to bring this particular item when she got rid of so many other items.  The arm holding the red rose broke off once, and I glued it together and I think the head broke and I glued that together, too.  Every time I declutter, I hold this figurine and ponder, but, I put it back on the shelf, simply because it was my mother's and she chose to bring it with her.  It is about 6 inches high and has no identifying marks that I can make out.

#6a Vintage: My Mother's China Figurine

#6b: Pair of Dictionaries.

Charles Henry Carter, a Baptist missionary to what was then called Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) compiled two dictionaries, an English-Sinhalese Dictionary and a Sinhalese-English Dictionary.  According to my mother, her paternal grandfather is supposed to have worked on the compilation of the dictionaries, although I haven't been able to verify that!  My mother didn't have a copy of the dictionaries, although one of her brothers had a set which went to his daughter.  Then, on a subsequent visit to Sri Lanka, my step-father's sister, Aunt SM, decided to gift to me the set of dictionaries her mother had given to her, on May 6th, 1944.   Her copies were printed in 1924 and in 1936 and her mother had written the date they were given to Aunt SM.

#6b Vintage Dictionaries

Inscribed by my Step-father's Mother

#8 11 o'clock:

#8: 11 O'Clock

The anniversary clock on the mantel.  A gift from my step-father to my mother, who had a fondness for clocks.  It was meant to replace another anniversary clock (one that had to be wound with a key, approximately once a year, which, apparently is why they were called anniversary clocks) that she had to give up, on the rather acrimonious occasion of the household goods being divided after my father's death.  This clock is battery operated and one of the points that connect to one of the batteries broke.  So, now, it runs on two batteries instead of three.  It is yet another object I look at and debate whether to keep or not when I declutter. 

#10 The little things:

Display of my Collection of Little Things
I like collecting miniatures!  Some of these items, such as the blue and white porcelain elephants and the glass "Snoopy" figurines were given to me by my mother.  Below the Snoopy figurines, are two porcelain Siamese kittens - I've had them since I was 11 years old!  Originally, it was a mama cat and three kittens, but, these two kittens are all I have left.  In the space next to the kittens is a clear glass bird with its wings raised up, which is not really visible in the photo - but, my step-father's sister gave it to me when I left the family to come to the U.S., as it was my first "solo flight" (the very first time I flew on a plane by myself) and I was "leaving the nest", so to speak.  That was in 1974! 

#11 Industrial:

#11 Industrial - Utility Pole
Not sure if the utility pole (telephone, cable, etc.) in my backyard counts as industrial.  But, it's the best I can do!  If not, maybe this can of lubricant might do:

Industrial - Alternative!

Or, maybe I can substitute Alt. A Chess or Checkers (below) for this!  This prompt was a hard one for me!

#13 A keyhole

#13: A Keyhole
Not quite the keyhole I was hoping to photograph, but, it is a keyhole!  Looks a bit like a shocked robotic face, doesn't it?

Alt A  Chess or checkers:

Alt A:  Chess or Checkers
How about chess and checkers?

Alt E: I am reading - 

Alt E: I am reading
This is the book that I am currently reading.  I've had it for several years and never quite finished reading it.  I put it aside to donate during one of my decluttering sessions, but, since the donations have not been scheduled for a pick up, yet, I decided to go ahead and finish reading it.  I am finding it a very interesting read.

I am very happy to say that I have been able to take photos for all the prompts on the original list and even some of the alternatives, as well.  Thank you, Eileen, for hosting this and, I am hoping that there will be a summer one, as well!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Blessed by Angels, Again

Dinner and More!
Ha, ha, my brand new meal plan went flying out the window on just the second night! 

I was watching the evening news and knitting, when friend S called, around 6:45 p.m.  I had called her a couple of days earlier, just to check on her, and left her a message on her answering machine.  I had started off my message saying I didn't need anything, I have everything, and I was just calling to see how she was.  Then, on Monday, friend R said she hadn't heard from S in several days and she called her, too; S had just come home from work when R called and had answered the phone.

Yesterday, when S called, she asked if I needed anything and I said no, I only called to see how she was doing, if she was keeping well, etc.  Then, she said, she was on her way and she'll see me a little later!  I asked her if she wanted any lemons or curry leaves, but she said she had plenty of both.  But, she wouldn't mind a few more masks, because she had given away all but two of the masks I sewed for her! 

I rushed to cut out a few more masks but, I was still sewing the first one when she, her husband, and their daughter drove up.

As I suspected when she said she was coming over, she brought me dinner!  Half a rotisserie chicken, a packet of cream buns (two buns sandwiched with a sweetened cream), Sri Lankan "roast paan" which is like a large, extra thick slice of bread, three pieces of a crispy fried snack called "murukku" (the swirly things in front) and three pieces of "ulundu vadai (or wade)", which is like a savory doughnut made with urad (a type of lentil) flour, and the ground coconut sambol to go with them (in the small container).  S said that some friends of hers had gone to one of the Sri Lankan stores and had bought a few extra things to share with her and she, being the generous person she is, brought me a portion of it and was taking a portion to friend R.  I am just overwhelmed by her generosity and kindness!

Needless to say, I postponed my planned dinner and ate some of what S brought me, instead!  A small piece of chicken, a piece of bread with the last of the onion sambol (seeni sambol) I had in the fridge, one of the ulundu wade with some of the coconut sambol, etc.  Later, I snacked on the murukku and I deny all knowledge of what happened to the cream buns!  LOL! 

I portioned out the rest of the rotisseri chicken and froze it.  I now have two halves of roast chicken in the freezer!  This practically doubles my stock of chicken! 

I am grateful for:
- My friend bringing me dinner
- I am able to make her more masks in return
- My half-sister calling to check on me
- Water for the garden
- Dancer seems to have recovered

I think today's brunch is going to be  the rest of what friend S gave me!  Hope you are having a blessed day, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Meal Planning (or Not) on Tuesday

Tuesday Brunch: Pancakes and Lentil Curry (Dhal)

I am not good about making and sticking to meal plans.  I never have been.  I often run out of ideas after the 2nd or 3rd day, when I have to write down a meal plan!  For the most part, I tend to cook one or two things and eat them throughout the week before I make something new.  For example, over the weekend, I pulled out a package of rice noodles and a package of smoked sausages with bell pepper from the freezer and ate that Saturday night and Sunday night, until the rice noodles were finished.  On Monday night, I was going to have rice with the leftover sausages and took out a package of cooked lentils (dhal) from the freezer, to go with it, but, the lentils hadn't thawed by evening and, although I could have thawed them in the microwave, I decided not to.  Instead, I cooked some pasta, and had that with the sausages.  There is one serving of sausages left for another meal, later in the week. 

Today, the lentils had thawed and I decided to make the pancakes I didn't make over the weekend and have them with the lentil curry.  I used a "just add water" pancake mix, but I made the batter a little thinner because I didn't want very fluffy pancakes.  I wanted something a little thinner.  To me, this type of pancakes resembles dosa, which is a type of  Indian pancake made with fermented urad (also known as black gram/lentil) flour and rice flour.   It doesn't have the same taste, but, that's fine with me.  I made four pancakes and had two for brunch.  The other two are in the fridge, maybe for tomorrow's brunch.

In the meantime, I have a packet of chicken curry thawing in the fridge.  My plan is to have that with one or two of the parathas (Indian flat bread) that friend R gave me.  Provided the curry thaws in time.  If not, I could go with my original plan for Monday night's dinner, which was rice, sausage, and lentils (except, now I want to wait until the first of May to open my new bag of rice and make milk rice with the first cup of rice).  Or, I might have the other two pancakes with my lentil curry, again!  Or, have an egg salad sandwich with the last of the egg salad.  Or repeat last night's dinner and cook pasta to go with the sausage, again.  This is why I can't meal plan!  I am too "wishy-washy"!

But, in an attempt to make the best use of what I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry cabinet, I am going to try!  So, here's the tentative plan for meals, this week: subject to change, of course!

Brunch - Egg salad sandwich (followed by a peanut butter - no jelly - sandwich at tea time)
Dinner - Rice, pasta, smoked sausages with bell pepper, dhal (lentil curry)

Brunch - Pancakes with lentil curry
Dinner - Parathas with chicken curry (if thawed), or leftover pancakes with lentil curry, again, or something!  Maybe I'll make a cabbage salad to accompany it (need to eat some vegetables!)

Brunch - Egg salad sandwich
Dinner - Parathas with chicken curry, if I didn't have it on Tuesday, or pasta with smoked sausage

Brunch - Leftover pancakes (if not eaten for dinner on Tuesday, or make more pancakes!) with caramelized apples (if feeling ambitious) or homemade strawberry jam and/or pancake syrup (one of my friends said she had pancakes with orange marmalade and sour cherry jam and maple syrup, the other day, and that sounded so delicious!)

Dinner - Um...depends on what leftovers I have in the fridge or what I feel like pulling out of the freezer!  Maybe I'll make some coconut flat bread (roti) to eat with chicken curry (the package contains enough chicken curry for at least two servings, maybe three).

Brunch - Milk rice with caramelized spicy onions (seeni sambol)
Dinner - Coconut flat bread with any leftover chicken curry and/or spicy onion sambol (katta sambol)

Brunch - Probably leftover milk rice as I usually make enough for two meals
Dinner - Probably leftover coconut flat bread

Brunch - French toast, maybe?
Dinner - Chicken pot pies, perhaps?  I have half a roasted chicken breast in the freezer and puff pastry squares!  Add some carrots, celery, and onions, and there'll be enough for a couple of meals for next week, as well! 

There we are!  A week's worth of meal plans!  Subject to change, as I mentioned, earlier.  Snacks will include fresh fruits, carrot sticks with or without peanut butter, spicy garbanzo beans, maybe cookies or granola bars or dry cereal, or one of the muffins from the freezer. 

How about you?  Do you do meal plans?  Do you follow them for the most part?  Or, do you prefer to cook and eat what you feel like having?  If so, how are you managing during this time of staying home for the most part? 

More Masks on Monday

New Masks
I've had a request for a photo of the fabric face masks I make.  Photographed above are the ones I sewed for friend R.  They are made with two pieces of fabric, without a filter inside.  These ones have fabric ties to tie behind the head, so they can be adjusted as needed.  Besides, I ran out of 1/4 inch elastic after the first few and, although I made a few masks with 1/2 inch elastic, I don't have a lot of that, either! 

Today was a cooler day (our high was only 83F according to the forecast).  Neighbor T called me in the morning and we had a little chat.  Afterwards, I finished taking an inventory of what I had in my freezer and reorganized some of it so that I know what is stored where: all the meat in the bottom pull-out drawer, all the bread dough (1 package with 3 loaves of frozen dough) and puff pastry dough (5 1/2 packages of 8 4"x4" suares each - one of the sale items I purchased on my one but last grocery shopping trip before we were asked to shelter in place!) on one shelf, vegetables one one shelf, dairy and treats on one shelf, and so forth.  I also checked what I had in the little shelves on the door of the freezer (1/2 of a 5 lb. bag of all purpose flour, 3/4 of a 5 lb. bag of whole wheat flour, 2 partial bags of red rice, some green chilies, and a small bag with pandan leaves) and wiped each shelf before I put things back.  

I hadn't stocked up on meat before the "stay at home" order went into effect, so, while I have some chicken, two smoked sausages, and two pieces of fish, I am rather low on beef and I don't have any pork (I don't eat a lot of pork, other than the occasional pork chop).  With food processing plants closing down due to the virus, however, I am wondering if I should put in an order for groceries, including more meat, to be delivered or picked up curb-side.  I urged my daughter to do so and she put in an order for groceries, including meat, to be delivered on Saturday. 

After I did the freezer inventory, I sewed the last of the face masks and watched news on TV.  

Yesterday, poor Dancer threw up, twice.  Once after he had eaten his evening tuna and later, after he had eaten some of the store brand cat food I had bought (mostly for the garden cats, but, Dancer loves it and prefers it to the brand name food I buy for him!)  He has eaten it before, without any problems, but, I am thinking he likes it so much that he eats too much and two quickly.  So, I removed the bag out of his reach (it is now in the laundry closet, with the door closed so he can't access it).  Then, this morning, I opened a new can of tuna and gave him a little, but, he threw up after that, too.  So, he is now on only his regular dry food and he is very unhappy about it!  I didn't give him any tuna at tea time, although he begged for it, and, because he associates me having my evening cup of tea with him getting his tuna, I didn't have a cup of tea, either!  Because I felt bad about having tea and not giving him tuna!  He hasn't thrown up, since, however.

But, guess who has been showing up by my sliding glass door around tea time?   

Mourning Dove
There are two of them, a pair who might or might not be nesting in my back neighbor's big pine tree.  But, they spend a lot of time in my garden and stop by to see if there is any cat food outside (I tend to feed the garden cats around my tea time), which, they seem to think is as good as bird seeds!  (Sorry, the sliding glass door is smudgy; I haven't cleaned the cat nose prints, recently).

Later, after I finished watching news, I took the masks and some lemons from my garden to R.  I stayed in the car and she took the packages from the trunk of the car and gave me half of a packet of frozen parathas (a type of Indian flat bread) that she had asked a neighbor to buy for her!  I stashed it in the freezer to have with chicken curry, one night, for dinner.

Breakfast had been an egg salad sandwich (half sandwich, made with one slice of bread, cut into two).  I had another half sandwich with peanut butter around tea time (even if I didn't have a cup of tea).  For dinner, I boiled some pasta and had that with some of the smoked sausages and bell peppers.  I was going to have a tangerine after that, but daughter called and we video chatted for more than two hours and I forgot about the tangerine!

Daughter said that Berkeley extended the stay at home orders into May and her work place has said that staff will continue to work from home until the end of May.  Both daughter and I are relieved because she was scheduled to return to the office on May 4th.  She shares one small room with two other colleagues and she said there isn't sufficient space in the room to maintain six feet of distance between the three desks.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter can work from home for another month
- I was able to drop off more masks and lemons for friend R
- R shared some of her parathas with me
- The contents of my freezer
- The car started and drove without any problems

My joyful activity today was having a long chat with my daughter.

Monday's To Do List:
- Sew a few more masks - DONE
- Deliver masks and some lemons from the garden to friend R - DONE
- Dust living room & dining area
- Finish freezer inventory - DONE
- Clean the fridge - DID the freezer doors, instead
- Take trash cans to the curb for Tuesday trash pick up - DONE

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Dust living room, dining area, family room and my bedroom
- Paperwork/pay bills
- Water the garden, front and back
- Water the house plants

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

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday's Blessings

Sunday morning, I had a phone call from cousin P, "We are going to the grocery store, do you need anything other than the dozen eggs?"  (I had asked her, on Friday, when she called, if she could buy me a dozen eggs when she went grocery shopping, next.)   I hesitated, but, then, asked for a loaf of bread, as well.  A little later in the morning, she and her daughter drove up and, in addition to the bread and eggs I had asked for, she also gave me a box of cereal that she had (she had asked me, earlier, if I'd like to have it - apparently, someone gave it to her, but, neither she nor her daughter eats that kind of cereal) and a packet of cookies!  Such a blessing! 

I had put some money in an envelope to give my cousin for the groceries.  I don't even know the price of eggs, anymore!  They used to be $2.99 per dozen for large eggs, regularly, unless they were on sale, which is when I used to buy them.  But, these days, availability is more of a factor than price, isn't it?  My cousin and her daughter didn't want to accept the envelope, but, I insisted.  I had put a little extra in there and told my cousin's daughter to buy herself a cup of coffee with it for doing the grocery shopping.  According to my cousin, she stays in the car while her daughter goes into the store to do the actual grocery shopping.

After I brought in the groceries (before I took the photo), I took the eggs out of the carton and washed them!  Then, I tossed the carton out (I will put it in the recycling bin, later; I didn't want to keep it in the bag I keep in the kitchen to hold items for recycling in until I take them to the bin), took the six eggs out of the carton I had in the fridge, put two of them to boil, and put the other four into a container.  Then, I put the washed new eggs into the old egg carton!  I also wiped the outside of the bread bag, the box of cereal, and the packet of cookies with a disinfectant wipe.  I've read somewhere that one should remove the bag of cereal from the box and store in a container, but, I think it will be safe enough to leave it as it is. 

For brunch, I had an egg salad sandwich.  I figured that, since I had wiped the outside of the bread bag with a disinfectant wipe, it would be fine to take some bread from the bag, without leaving it to air for 24 hours, as well.  I removed the tab and opened the bread bag.  Then, I washed my hands.  Then, I removed two slices of bread and closed the bread bag.  Then, I washed my hands!  What a rigmarole!  LOL!  Maybe a bit of an overkill, but, the other day, the local TV news showed unmasked, ungloved, grocery store workers in several local grocery stores, who were restocking the shelves and they were sneezing and blowing their noses, or wiping their noses with their bare hands, etc., and then, continuing with handling groceries and restocking shelves without pause to sanitize their hands!  Most probably, they didn't have time to go and wash their hands.  Quite possibly, they didn't even realize what they were doing.  But, I do know that the outsides of packages aren't exactly germ free.  Normally, it would not bother me; I am not afraid of a few germs, but, these are not normal times, are they?  I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Finally I made my sandwich and ate it!  I had grated a little bit of green chili into my egg salad and it was delicious!  The rest of the egg salad is in the fridge for another sandwich, maybe for tomorrow's brunch.

Tonight's dinner will be the leftover rice sticks and some of the sausages.

It is a cooler day, today, with a cloud cover and the high being only 87F.  Inside the house, it is a very comfortable 82F. 

It is a little after 5:00 p.m. as I type this.  Almost time for a cup of tea.  Dancer is snoozing peacefully, by my side, with his tummy exposed to cool off.  I plan to have a restful evening.  The only thing I need to do is clean the litter box and sweep the bathroom. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- My cousin and her daughter offering to pick up some groceries for me
- The extra items my cousin gave me
- A supply of eggs and bread
- Another warm, if slightly cooler, day
- Being alive

Today's joyful activity was chatting on the phone with my daughter (our nightly video chat will be later).

How is your Sunday?  What are you grateful for, today?  What is the price of a dozen large eggs in your stores, these days?  Do you know?

Saturday's Doings

Saturday was another hot day, with the daytime highs in the 90s.  It was warm enough in the afternoon for me to change from a long sleeved blouse (very thin and airy, though) and yoga pants to a sleeveless top and skirt, and tie up my hair!  LOL.  But, not hot enough to turn on the fans!  That only happens when we are in the upper 90s/low 100s inside the house.  Ha, ha.  When I say I like it hot, I mean it! 

In the afternoon, I joined in a video chat with a group of ladies I have known for several years, but, only on-line!  We had all joined an online organizing forum which is now defunct.  But, several of us formed a private group on a social media site and continued to keep in touch, discussing our cleaning and organizing challenges and, more recently, our concerns about the ongoing pandemic and its impact on our daily lives.  Then, someone had the wonderful idea of having a video chat and offered to host it!  Some of us were all excited about it, a few of us were nervous about it, but, it was wonderful!  There were about seven or eight of us who joined in the chat and we talked for over one hour!  LOL!  It was fun!

Saturday lunch was a salad, made with the last bit of the lettuce, grated carrot, chopped apple, and a few slices of the cold roast beef, with the crisp apple and honey bottled dressing.  That was the end of the lettuce I bought on March 16!  It kept fresh, except for a couple of the outer leaves that were wilted and I put in the compost pile.  My plan is to make cabbage salad with the cabbage I still have in the fridge (bought at the same time as the lettuce - I had to remove the two outer leaves of that, too, but, otherwise, it is still good). 

With my evening cup of tea, I had two more slices of the Easter bread, with butter. 

In the evening, I watered the garden, both back and front, with the hose.  When I watered the star jasmine vine, the plant sneezed!  What?!  I was taken aback for a second before I realized that Snowball (the all-white garden cat) was hiding under it and must have got wet!  Oops!  Sorry, Snowball!  She didn't come out, at first, and I watered some of the nearby plants, but, the star jasmine really needed a little more water, so I returned to water it, and, finally, a rather indignant Snowball ran out from under it and climbed up to her perch on the pineapple guava tree to lick the water off  and groom her fur!

Dinner was rice sticks with vegetables mixed in and smoked sausage cooked with bell peppers, both from the freezer:

Saturday Dinner: Rice Sticks and Smoked Sausage
I had thawed both packages in the fridge and then, reheated everything on the stove top, adding a little more soy sauce to the rice sticks.  There are enough of the rice sticks left for Sunday's dinner and enough of the sausages for at least a couple of meals. 

Still later in the night, I wanted a snack and the snack I really wanted was carrot sticks!  So, I cut up some carrot sticks to munch on!  I had them with peanut butter to add a little protein to the snack.  Yay for relatively healthy, guilt free snacks!  LOL.

On Saturday, I was grateful for:
- A lovely video chat with friends I've known a long time but, have never met!
- A sunny and warm day
- Water for the garden
- Food from the freezer
- Video chatting with my daughter

My joyful activity on Saturday was video chatting with friends.

How was your Saturday?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Meadow: Update

Remember this?  My side yard, a.k.a. "the meadow"?

Side Yard: Before

"The Meadow"

On Friday, when M was here, he cleaned it up for me:

Side Yard: After

New Growth on Pineapple Guava Tree

I was very excited to see that the pineapple guava tree, that had died and we cut down, seems to be re-growing!  I need to remember to water it, so it will continue to grow!

Well, the side yard is now an almost blank slate for me to try to landscape!  The square cinder block near the side of the house marks the spot where one of the openings to the sewer pipe (for easier access as needed) is located.  I had oleander trees growing along the wall, at one time, but, they had to be removed when the sewer line had to be replaced.  Then, I grew sugarcane bushes, but, they died during the drought.  I have since planted the green pencil-like euphorbia where the sugarcane use to be, in the hope that they will grow. 

I have been looking at pictures of side yard landscapes, trying to think what I can do to improve this much neglected area of my yard.  The high wall gets really heated in the summer (this is on the south side of my house) and the heat (plus insufficient watering) has been killing a lot of plants I've tried growing here, although the weeds seem to thrive!

I am envisioning this space with a "dry stream" of stones  (or, maybe just paving stones), forming a sort of curving path and succulents growing on either side.  But, first, I need to put down some sort of weed barrier, because poor M can't spend his time weeding and clearing this area, all the time! 

What do you think?  Any suggestions?


Warm on Friday

Friday was another sunny and warm (some would say, hot!) day.  You know it had been a warm day when the temperature at 8:00 p.m. was 88F!  I think our daytime high was 95F.

One of the first things I did this morning was water the poor melon seedlings I forgot to water, yesterday.  They were starting to wilt, lying along the ground, but, I has happy to see that, after being watered, they revived!  M isn't sure if the other seedling is a tomato plant or not, but, we are going to let it grow to see what it turns out to be!  I also watered the orange tree as it is starting to set fruit and I don't want a lack of water during this mini heat-wave to cause the fruit to drop.

I've spent a pleasant day, spending some time reading in the afternoon, taking a couple of photos for the winter photo scavenger hunt, watching news, knitting on a sock (just why I am knitting when it is 90+ is something I don't know!  LOL!), chatting with cousin P and friend R who called, and so forth.  I also made myself a glass of fresh lemonade to sip during the afternoon.  

The most productive things I did today was do the dishes and take an inventory of my freezer!  The latter was most helpful as I found some smoked sausages and bacon that I had thought had been used up!  Plus a baggie with four frozen muffins that I had forgotten I still had!  I still need to sort through the top shelf of the freezer (it is a side-by-side fridge/freezer) and then, I 'll know exactly what I have in it and will be able to plan a few meals, accordingly.

Brunch, today, was spicy garbanzo beans (from the freezer).  I had two small slices of the Easter bread with my tea in the evening.  For dinner, I cooked the rest of the sweet potato I had in the fridge and had it with roast beef and broccoli I took out from the freezer:

Friday Dinner
Later in the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to video chat with my daughter
- Phone calls from cousin and friend
- M tending to the garden 
- Fresh lemonade
- The warm weather!

Tomorrow, some friends and I plan to have a group video chat in the afternoon.  I also want to finish my freezer inventory and, maybe, sew a few more masks.

How was your Friday?  What are your plans for Saturday and the weekend?

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Thursday Brunch: Scrambled Egg and Sweet Potato Hash
Today has been a lovely, warm, sunny day!  It's my kind of weather!  Upper-80s to mid-90s (F) is definitely my comfort zone!  Not only am I wearing a short-sleeved blouse (as opposed to blouse, sweater, and cardigan, with a scarf or my neck warmer), today, even my socks came off!  LOL!  Once again, I opened several windows and the front door (the wooden door; there is a metal security door that remains closed) when I woke up, to let the warm air in.

I spent an enjoyable morning video chatting with a dear friend to wish her for her birthday.  We started this tradition several years ago, when she video chatted with me to wish me for my birthday and I reciprocated on her birthday.  The rest of the time, we tend to email, more or less on a daily basis.

After we ended our video chat, I made myself brunch.  The last sweet potato that friend S had brought me was just beginning to show signs of sprouting, so, I thought it would be best to cook it.  I cut the very top off to see if it would continue to sprout and maybe root; if so, I might be able to grow a sweet potato vine!  Then, I cut a portion of the sweet potato into small cubes and fried them in some bacon grease I had saved in the fridge from the last time I cooked bacon.  I don't have any more bacon, but, the bacon grease lends a bit of flavor to the sweet potato hash and the scrambled egg.  I now have six eggs left.  I eat 1-2 eggs a week, so the 6 eggs I still have will last me at least 3 weeks, but, I might give M another $5 and ask if he can pick up a dozen eggs for me, at his convenience.  I am afraid to ask friend S to buy me eggs because I know she will buy a bunch of other stuff to bring me!  I had a glass of orange juice, too, with my brunch.

I spent some time in the afternoon, sewing a few more face masks to give to friends.  Then, after watching the evening news, I watered the peach tree, again, and the buddleia which was drooping, started the car and let it warm up while I walked my 20 minutes.  Then, I watered the front garden.  I meant to water the tomato and melon seedlings, too, but, I forgot!  I'll need to water them tomorrow.

I had eaten a piece of the Easter bread my neighbor brought me, with a little butter and a piece of cheese with my tea in the evening.  For dinner, I decided to have a salad:

Dinner:  Salad
Some lettuce, grated carrot, a part of an apple, the single radish sliced thinly, and a handful of chopped almonds.  I used a bottled dressing (crisp apple and honey vinaigrette)   that I had in the fridge.  Dancer had some lettuce, too, although he fussed because he prefers radish leaves, to lettuce!  But, I had already given him a small piece of radish leaf, earlier, and I didn't want to give him too much of it (it's not toxic to cats, but, they shouldn't have too much of it at one time).  I have just enough lettuce left for one more salad. After that, I will make a cabbage slaw when I want a salad.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Technology that enabled me to video chat with my friend
- The pharmacy calling to ask if I'd like my medication refill to be delivered (yes, please)
- My daughter who willingly helps when I ask her to
- Water for the garden
- The car started

Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my friend.

Friday's To Do List:
- Clean the bathroom
- Paperwork
- Water the seedlings and rest of the back garden
- Sew more masks
- Have M tend to the garden
- Practice the piano (I'm afraid I didn't do much of that, this week!)

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

Radish Harvest on Wednesday

Radish Harvest

I found this radish growing under the orange tree, a week or so ago, and decided to harvest it, today!  I think it grew from a seed from the rather large radish plant that was there, last year, which set seed pods.  I picked a few of those seed pods for a stir-fry or two, but, I allowed others to mature on the plant and I scattered them around to see if they grow.  However, so far, only this one radish has shown up and I think the birds may have eaten the other seeds.  Anyway, I now have a radish to add to a salad!

It has been a sunny and warm day, today.  When I woke up, mid-morning, outside was already warmer than inside the house!  So, I opened several windows and the front door to warm up the house!  I closed the windows at 6:30 p.m., because, once the sun goes down, it tends to cool off very quickly.

Today, I watered the peach tree, again, and watered these little seedlings that are coming up:

Tomato Seedling?

I don't have a proper compost heap, anymore.  Instead, I bury kitchen scraps here and there in the garden beds and leave them to compost.  I remember I put some parts of a tomato that had started to go bad in this general area, and it looks like a couple of seeds have germinated.  This one is the biggest seedling with the first set of true leaves.  I will be watching this area, closely!

Cantaloupe Seedlings?
I also threw out some cantaloupe seeds in the same general area, and I hope that these are cantaloupe seedlings!  It would be lovely if they are!  But, first, they need to be able to survive tomorrow's forecast for 90F temperatures!

The other seeds I tossed out were papaya seeds, but, so far, I haven't seen any papaya seedlings. 

Today, I set my timer for 20 minutes and walked up and down my driveway and in front of my house and neighbor T's house.  First, up and down my driveway, then to the end of the front garden and turn around; back up and down my driveway and to the end of T's driveway and turn around; then, repeat!  While I walked, I prayed.  It is an adaptation of what we call walking meditation.  Except, walking meditation involves being mindful and aware of each step being taken.  In my situation, I simply walked and prayed as I walked.  It was still a form of meditation, as far as I am concerned because I was focusing on my prayers.  I had texted my daughter to let her know I was setting out to walk and she said it inspired her to do a cardio-dance workout (her workout lasted one hour, compared to my 20 minutes of walking).

When I came back inside after my walk, there was a message from neighbor T, so I called her back and chatted with her.  Then, I called friend R to chat with her.  While I chatted with her, I cooked some spaghetti for dinner.  I had made some pasta sauce, last night, with half a can of pasta sauce that I had frozen and half a packet of previously browned ground beef that I had in the freezer.  The packet of ground beef had been half of a pound of ground beef I had bought and cooked just before the stay at home order went into effect.  I had used half of the ground beef for spaghetti sauce then, and frozen the rest.  Since that was all the ground beef I had in the freezer, I didn't want to use it all up, so I took just half of that and bulked up the sauce with a grated carrot and some frozen broccoli florets.  I wasn't quite sure how the sauce would turn out, but, I was very pleasantly surprised that it was so tasty.  I had it with spaghetti last night, had leftovers for my lunch today, and the last bit of the sauce with more freshly cooked pasta, for tonight's dinner, as well!  LOL.  I have no problem eating the same thing for several meals in a row! 

Aunt T called, too, and I had a nice chat with her.  I spoke with her, yesterday, too, but she calls often because she is feeling bored.  Her mind is as sharp as ever, but, at 91, her eyesight is failing and she is unable to read or do any of the things she used to do. 

Later in the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A radish to harvest!
- New seedlings
- An evening walk
- A warm and sunny day
- Chatting with family and friends

Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my daughter.

Plans for tomorrow include video chatting with a friend and sewing a few more face masks for a friend.

How was your Wednesday?  What do you think of my radish harvest?  What are your plans for Thursday?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Another Garden Walk!

The Front Garden

It'll be a shorter walk and more of a stroll, actually.  The front garden is much smaller than the back.  Enter through the gap you see, between the bed of osteospermum on the left and the lantana border on the right. 

The lantana, bordering the sidewalk is full of flowers; some osteospermum plants self-seeded themselves among them, and I have allowed them to grow.  This might evolve into a mixed border, eventually, especially as there are two jade plants at the far end of the border (there were three, but, one died).

Lantana  Border

The succulents border is along the sidewall/fence and has several aloe plants, euphorbia, and aeoniums growing.  M has been sharing cuttings from his garden to help fill in my collection:

Aloe Plants

Euphorbia and Aeonium

Another Look

It is my hope that the Euphorbia tirucalli (with green pencil like branches) will grow tall and provide more privacy, over the years.

When you reach the end of the succulents border and turn, again, you see the plantings under the living room window:

Planting Bed Under the Living Room Window
This window faces west and gets the full blast of the late afternoon/evening sun, especially in the summer.  I have struggled to grow any plants as the reflected heat from the window burns the leaves and flowers.  A couple of years ago, M planted cuttings of the Euphorbia tirucalli to see how they will fare.  I've got cuttings of this plant growing everywhere, as it is so easy to grow and it seems to thrive in my garden!  It is not the more colorful "Sticks on Fire" (E. tirucalli "Rosea"), which is currently very popular, here, but, I don't mind.  Like Kermit, I like green!  

In the corner of this planting bed, I planted a few of the aeonium cuttings one of my former supervisors (K) gave me from her garden a few years ago and they have filled in the area!  Some of those rosettes are bigger than a dinner plate!  Unfortunately, this plant does get scorched during the really hot days of late summer/early fall, but, it recovers over winter.  I might take a few cuttings from this plant, to plant elsewhere in the garden:


In the middle of the garden, in front of the living room window, is another planting circle: 

Aloe and Aeonium in the Planting Circle
M originally planted cuttings of aloe plants from his garden in a circle with a different plant in the middle.  The plant in the middle and a few of the other aloe cuttings didn't make it.  But, the aeonium cuttings K gave are thriving!  We had to make the circle bigger, to accommodate them and M brought me a few more variegated aeonium cuttings to fill in a few bare spots.  These aeoniums, too, get scorched on those days when the temperatures soar about 100F, but, they, too, recover:

Continuing our walk along the front of the house, this is the flower bed along the walkway to the front door:

The osteospermum seems to have taken it over, although, there are a few other plants growing, in there, among them, including the red climbing rose, a jasmine vine, and the pomegranate tree!  A few of the gladioli bulbs are also starting to come up, through them!

The Jasmine Vine
The jasmine vine has almost finished flowering.  I need to pull the tendrils down to prevent them from going up the roof!  This poor jasmine plant has a long history.  My mother bought the original plant to go in front of the living room window.  She had M construct a long trellis, spanning the width of the window, out of PVC piping with a mesh wire over the top to support the weight of the vine and it grew, just like everything else she planted, into a lush vine full of fragrant flowers.  Then, a few years later, when I did the family room and second bathroom addition, I needed to replace the plumbing throughout the house and, guess where the connection from the house to the mains was?  Right where the jasmine vine trellis was!  The vine had to be cut down and dug up and the trellis dismantled in order for the guys to dig up the front garden to replace the water pipes!

My mother was not pleased, but, we moved the dug up plant to the back garden, set up a modified trellis along the side wall, behind the garden shed, and the jasmine vine thrived there, even after my mother died.  Until the drought years, when it, too, died.  I was so sad when that happened.  Fast forward a couple of years and, one day, I noticed a green tendril poking out from a tangle of plants growing behind the garden shed!  Was it?  Could it possibly be?  Yes!  It was!  It was a jasmine plant!  Somehow, deep under the ground, one of the roots of the jasmine plant had survived and remained dormant until there was enough rain to reach it and it grew a new plant!  I had M dig it up and we planted it in a pot, but, then, one of the garden cats decided the flower pot made an ideal bed and broke the plant!  But, it survived and M and I planted it here, to go up along this trellis, in the front, again.  Maybe not exactly where my mother envisioned it would grow, but, away from the water pipes!  I am hoping it will continue to grow and thrive just as the original plant did for my mother.

Not only that!  Another rainy winter and I have seen another jasmine vine growing in the back, behind the shed!  I am leaving it in place, for the time being.  Maybe M can dig it up, too, later, and we'll have two jasmine plants!  And this is why M and I have a running joke between us that my mother's spirit is still at work in the garden! 

Elsewhere in the front garden, the euryops plants (planted in early February) are coming along nicely:

Euryops Plants
They were planted in a sort of semi-circle around the eucalyptus tree, and M also planted three white iris bulbs closer to the base of the eucalyptus tree and they are just starting to sprout!

White Iris Bulbs
These bulbs come with a 'pedigree', being extras from the garden of a sibling of a TV personality!  M is a gardener to the stars!  LOL!

Finally, we come to the planting bed along the drive way.  It is, a mixed border, that is currently mostly osteospermum!  I tried growing roses, here, but, almost all of them died, except for a single burgundy iceberg rose plant; I tried growing a bed of lavender and, again, all but one plant died; I planted thyme, oregano, parsley, and rosemary, and only the rosemary survived.  In the meantime, the osteospermum self-seeded and spread and continues to spread!  I am letting it spread, too, because it brings flowers to the front garden!

Rosemary Plant (and osteospermum seedlings)

Burgundy Iceberg Rose Plant

Lavender Plant

Osteospermum Seedlings

And, last but not least, the pomegranate tree, a gift from the monks at the Temple when I first bought the house, just starting to flower:

Pomegranate Flower
With the promise of more to come:

Pomegranate Flower Buds
Thank you for coming with me for a walk around the front garden with a side detour of a stroll down a memory lane, as well!   I hope you enjoyed it.