Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Rain on Monday

Rain Drops on a Double Colored Rose
It rained all Monday morning!  According to what I read about the bacterial leaf spots on the peach tree, it apparently spreads from leaf to leaf on drops of water and is prevalent during wet winters and springs!  My daughter suggested I rigged up an umbrella over the peach tree to protect it from the rain, but, I wasn't able to do so!  LOL!  Now that would have been a picture worth a thousand words, would it?  The rain ceased in the afternoon and we had nice sunshine; hopefully, the peach tree leaves dried up nicely without too much spreading of the leaf spot bacteria!

I slept in on Monday morning and finally got a good 8 hours of sleep after a long time!  As a result, I didn't get a headache or an eye ache all day (lately, I've been experiencing some eye strain towards the end of the day - too much screen time on the computer, no doubt!)

I found a lovely surprise in the mail, yesterday:

Three No. 3 Knitting Needles!
A friend had read in one of the responses to comments on my blog that I had knitted the socks with three #3 needles and one #4 needle because I only had three of the #3 needles.  She sent me these three #3 needles that she had, which she received free with the purchase of some yarn (apparently, she, too, had lost the fourth one!).  They are about four inches in length and are the cutest little needles I've ever seen!   The shortest needles I've had in my collection, prior to this, are 7 inches long!  These needles will be a pleasure to use when I am working on the heel and the foot part of the socks.  The longer needles I currently use make it awkward to knit when there are only a few stitches to work on.  Thank you!  (You know who you are!)

Later in the afternoon/early evening, I did some baking:

Curry Puffs with Chicken and Potato Filling
I had shredded and cooked the rest of the roast chicken breast, the other night, with onions, curry powder and a little chili powder and turned it into a curried version of shredded chicken. On Monday, I boiled and mashed three potatoes and added them to the curried shredded chicken, with a few more spices, salt, minced green chilies, and lemon juice to make a tasty filling for frozen puff pastry triangles.  The puff pastry came in four inch squares; I cut each in half, diagonally, to make two triangles.  I placed a heaping table spoon of filling on each triangle which was then folded over and sealed by pressing along the edges with the tines of a fork.  I brushed the tops of the pastry with some milk and baked them at 350F for about 20 minutes or so.  I didn't time the duration of the baking, but, checked on them every now and then and took them out when they were puffed and golden.  I had enough filling for 32 curry puffs!  As I mentioned to one of my friends, no one will believe just how far I was able to extend that one chicken breast half!  LOL!

Then, it was my turn to spread some blessings!  I took six of the curry puffs to neighbor S.  I called her, first, and asked if her daughter could come to their gate and I handed over the dish to her daughter.  We both had our fabric face masks on and I think it was safe enough.  S stood on the door step and thanked me.  She was very pleased with the pastries and called me back, later, to say her husband and daughters enjoyed them.  They make a similar pastry known as borek (or byorek), which has a salty cheese filling, so she told me that I made borek with a chicken and potato filling!  LOL.

I took another six of the pastries over to cousin P, who lives across the street, a couple of doors down from me.  Again, I called her and asked her to meet me near the gate.  She didn't have a mask on, but, I had my mask on.  I left the container on top of the wall and stepped back while she took them from the wall.  She thanked me for the pastries and I hurried back home. 

After that, I took six more pastries and part of the soup that S had given me (I told S that I was sharing the soup with a friend), along with a few sprigs of curry leaves, over to friend R.  Friend R had told me, the previous evening, that she doesn't have much of an appetite, she's eating only because she knows she needs to, etc.  That sort of concerned me, but, I thought it was probably because she was tired of eating what she cooked (we all know that she does not like to cook!).  I had placed the food in a bag in the trunk of my car and R took them from the trunk, so we didn't have any physical contact.  She called me later in the evening to say she immediately ate one of the pastries (they were still warm from the oven) and was heating up the soup for her dinner!  I'm glad she enjoyed them.

I, too, ate some of the pastries for my dinner, last night, and some for my brunch, today!  There are enough left for another couple of meals during this week. 

Later in the night, it started to get cold and, instead of turning on the heater, I decided to do a little more baking!  There was one last banana that had got a little too ripe for my liking and I was determined not to let it go to waste!

Banana Nut Muffins
I baked a batch of banana nut muffins, with the one banana and a handful of walnuts from the freezer.  My recipe said to bake them at 400F for 20-25 minutes.  They were done in 15 minutes, however, but, I turned off the oven and left them in the oven for another 5 minutes and that was a mistake, as the bottoms got a bit burned!   I had been planning to take some of these to friend S, but, I can't give her burned muffins!   I will keep these for myself (I just cut the burned bottoms off and they are fine) and bake something else for friend S.

Yesterday, daughter found out that her salary will be frozen, next fiscal year.  But, we have a lot to be grateful for - at least she still has a job, she doesn't have to go on furlough, and it is not a pay cut.  Her rent will increase as of July while her salary remains stagnant, but, she is careful with her spending and will still be able to manage.

I remember back in 2008, when I had to go on furlough and had a 20% cut in pay!  I reworked my budget and slashed discretionary spending down to a minimum.  Not that easy to do when one was already fairly frugal and there weren't any extras like eating out, hair cuts and manicures, etc., to cut out of the budget!  There were also talks of layoffs and we all had to fill out a survey about our years of service to determine seniority, etc.  As result, I also made two other budgets, based on state minimum wage and federal minimum wage (lower than state minimum wage and our governor at the time was talking about doing away with the state minimum wage and adopted the federal minimum wage, instead) to prepare for being laid off and having to accept a minimum wage job.  I remember realizing that, even if I were to slash all my spending to the absolute bare minimum, given that I still had a mortgage to pay, I would have had to have two full time minimum wage jobs to make ends meet!  Even if I gave up my house and rented an apartment, my rent would have been higher than what my mortgage was at the time, so that was not a good option.    Thank goodness that they were only exercises on paper! 

On Monday, I was grateful for:
- Rain to water the garden
- The gift of knitting needles from a friend
- Being able to make the curry puffs and share them with family and friends
- Daughter still has a job and doesn't have a pay cut
- The car started without any problems

My joyful activities on Monday included receiving a gift in the mail, baking, and sharing the baked goods!

I didn't do anything on Monday's To Do List, other than taking the trash cans to the curb and making the curry puffs!  I also washed what felt like a mountain of dishes, both before and after I baked!  LOL. 

Dancer is ready for a nap!


  1. You were so, so busy today. How wonderful you shared those chicken curry puffs with so many. I'll bet they were very much appreciated. Too bad about the muffins. I'm sure they were not burned exactly, but I know you wouldn't have felt right giving away muffins less than perfect. They will stay in your freezer and provide you lots of breakfast and tea items over the next little while. Muffins are finicky sometimes. I hope you penciled in a correction in your recipe book, before you forget.

    I am grateful that your daughter still has a job and that she can meet her financial obligations without a pay raise. My son has lost some hours and we keep our fingers crossed that once things start to open up slowly, there will not be a need to cut any more hours. He works for a larger company that is managing for the moment, but they have lost a lot of contracts.

    It looks as though you have completely worn Dancer out. Poor cat.

    1. It was a productive day, wasn't it? I think the people I gave the curry puffs to were happy to receive them, which, in turn, pleased me. :) Yes, the muffins were a bit over browned on the bottom and I didn't think they were good enough to be shared. I'll make something else to give to friends, next. Good idea to note the change in baking time! I shall do so as soon as I finish this comment!

      I hope your son's hours will increase and go back to normal before long. Keeping my fingers crossed for him.

      Dancer has been feeling a bit poorly, these last couple of days. Poor kitty. He's not bad enough to take to the vet, so I am hoping he will feel better, soon.

  2. I slept in on Monday morning, too, and had a lovely dream about a parade of colourful clowns coming towards me on the street. Nobody was having to distance themselves!
    Your curry puffs went a long way to bring joy to others.
    When I looked at the photo of Dancer on the piano, a famous piece of piano music came into my mind but I can't for the life of me remember who wrote it! Perhaps Rachmaninoff, as it is quite dramatic. I wonder if Dancer was dreaming piano music?

    1. That's a nice dream to have, unless you are someone who is afraid of clowns! Then, it would be considered a nightmare! LOL!

      Thank you, yes. The curry puffs were a good thing to share.

      Ha, ha, maybe Dancer was dreaming of piano music! I haven't been playing much, recently, and maybe he misses his singing! :D

  3. Followup to my previous comment, it's the Chopin Polonaise OP 53 - perfect music for a cat to dream and maybe for you to play one day!!

    1. Ooh, that's one of my favorite pieces of music to listen to! Ever since my mother gave me a cassette tape of Vladimir Horowitz playing pieces by Chopin! I've always dreamed of being able to play it, but, I don't think I'll ever be able to master that piece!

    2. Isn't that strange how that particular piece popped into my mind! I have no idea whenever I last heard it and I had to do some searching on youtube for likely piano music and there it was.

    3. I've another friend sending me links to various piano music she is enjoying listening to and I've been discovering some new pieces and some old favorites. :)

  4. I just took a cropped screenshot of how you made the curry puffs. Greeks do spinach and feta cheese in puffs like that. It sounds good.

    1. I had posted how to make them, earlier, too:


      But, in that post, I used a whole puff pastry square, not half a square, and made bigger curry puffs with ground beef filling. The spinach and feta cheese ones sound like something I've had at neighbor S's house, once. :)

  5. That chicken breast has made so many meals for so many people - it reminds me of the little boy in the Bible who shared his packed lunch of loaves and fishes with Jesus, and 5000 people were fed! How generous of you to share those curry puffs with many other people. Usually when someone turns up in a mask, it is a robber - but your story is the complete opposite, you have arivednot to stel but to bless!!

    1. I certainly stretched that chicken breast, didn't I? Thank you, Angela. I was happy to be able to make enough curry puffs to share. I have been at the receiving end of other people's generosity and I thought it was my turn to return the favor. :)

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  7. Those curry puffs look delicious.
    It must be a relief to know your daughter is managing OK just now. I'm sure she is very sensible with her spending and I think I know just who she takes after. :)

    1. Thank you, Jules. Yes, it's good to know that my daughter is able to manage. She budgets and has a savings goal. Can't think who she takes after! :D

  8. Your curry puffs look so tasty and tempting but I am supposed to be watching what I eat and losing weight. Still, it'll be worth making and eating some to see how my weight loss is affected .... just as an experiment, you understand 😂

    It was a lovely thing to do and to share with your friends and family.

    1. Ha, ha, maybe you do need to experiment to see how different foods affect your weight loss! :D Thank you. :)

  9. Well, aren't you quite the baker and friend too. I am glad your daughter still has her job, that's a blessing in itself. We are having rain day after day - I might have to seek the kitchen as a distraction and do a little baking myself. But I better check the pantry first, I never seem to have everything I need.

    1. Thank you, Susanne. Yes, having a job is a blessing, especially these days, isn't it? Ooh, you are getting lots of rain! I like to bake on rainy days. Hope you find everything you need in your pantry and get to bake something, too.

  10. I was watching the trailer for the Danny Trejo documentary right before reading your blog. In it he is quoted saying, "Everything good that has happened to me is the direct result off helping someone else". You are sowing a lot of good things to come! I am sure your neighbor, friend, and cousin feel very blessed by your gift of delicious food.
    So very glad your daughter will continue to have employment!

    1. Good karma! I don't mean it in a flippant way, either. Karma actually means "deed/action" in Sanskrit and in Buddhism, the meritorious deeds we undertake are all considered good karma and have beneficial reactions, either in this life or in the next. :) I simply try to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Lately, I've been the beneficiary of a lot of kind and generous actions from others; it was time for me to give to others in turn. Besides, it made me feel good to give to others. :)

      Thank you; yes, we are very happy that my daughter will continue to be employed! :)

  11. Those curry puffs sounds like something we would enjoy. I need to add some puff pastry to my next grocery pickup order. When you say curry powder do you mean just the usual kind you find in the spice section of the store? I rarely use curry but I like it. And what kind of chili peppers? I've only used the canned Ortega chilies.
    I remember at one stage of my life - probably the 1970s - I used to send for inexpensive pamphlets from the government printing office on different food and gardening topics. I always enjoyed was the meal planning ones. They would have tables with the numbers that a family of four would spend at the poverty level etc with ways to still get nutrients.
    I always wanted to live on a farm but that never happened. I am thankful we live in a semi-rural area even though we are in a subdivision.

    1. Debbie, the curry powder you get from the grocery store spice section will be fine for this dish. In general, however, I tend use a curry powder known as Dark Roasted Ceylon Curry Powder which I buy from the Sri Lankan grocery store (or, rarely, make at home). For the curry puffs, I also included a little bit of Madras curry powder, as well, because it adds a different flavor and a bit of heat. The chili peppers I used were green Serrano peppers, but, any chili pepper will be fine. Or, you can omit them, if you think it might be too spicy or substitute bell peppers.

      I have seen those publications with the suggested meal plans and the various spending amount by income levels and enjoy seeing how I compare with them! My monthly grocery budget used to be almost always well below the thrifty/poverty level spending. I went over budget in March, however, as I felt I needed to stock up. Then, I did well in April, but, I've gone over budget in May, as I am still stocking up and ordering groceries for pick up or delivery from a couple of stores that offer that service and not going from store to store to cherry pick that week's sales.

  12. You've been spreading goodness around today, Bless. I know that makes you as happy as the beneficiaries of your kindness.
    Your curry puffs look so good. I am always a bit lost when it comes to puff pastry/filo
    I'm never sure just how it all works. I've tried a couple of times and it turns out a dry mess. How many of those thin sheets do you use? One seems so thin. I've seen instructions to brush each sheet with melted butter- do you do that? And then place one sheet on top of each other?
    I'm so confused :(

    I am really glad your daughter has kept her job and even though she will not be getting a raise - and her rent will be going up - at least she has not had her earnings interrupted. Does she budget like you do? I'm sure your habits have rubbed off on her.
    Your story about your budget exercises years ago when your job was a bit uncertain is so interesting. I don't know why but I always enjoyed money, savings, budget posts on blogs.

    What a good blog post today. It's chock full of different stories.
    Thanks for writing.

    1. It was my turn to give, Debra, and I was happy I was able to do so. :)

      As yes, puff pastry comes in one sheet of dough, usually about 1/4 thick, if bought frozen. I used to make it from scratch, but, that involves a lot of rolling out of pastry, spreading butter, folding, chilling, rolling out again, more butter, more chilling, etc., to get the layers of flaky pastry that will rise when baked. These days, I opt for easy and buy frozen puff pastry, which is ready to use. I generally don't do anything to it - just cut, fill, seal, and bake.

      Filo dough is a little different. I have always used frozen filo dough, although I know one can make it (just have to be careful to roll it out as thin as paper!). Filo dough is supposed to be used, sheet by sheet, each sheet brushed with melted butter before placing the next sheet on top. I usually work with half the package of frozen dough at a time and keep the unused half covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from getting dried out. I have never been able to separate the thawed frozen sheets without them getting stuck, tearing, etc. I use filo dough mostly to make baklava (back when I used to make it! Haven't done so in years!). And yes, I do brush each sheet with melted butter. It's the butter between the sheets of dough that helps to create pockets of air that forms the separated layers of dough when it is baked. To make baklava, you butter and lay about 10 sheets of filo dough in a buttered dish, brushing each sheet with melted butter, then spread half of a mixture of ground walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon, spread another 10 sheets of buttered filo dough on top of the mixture, spread the rest of the walnut mixture and lay more sheets of buttered dough on top, score into diamonds or squares and bake (I forget the temperature; 325 or 350F, probably) for about 45-50 minutes. In the meantime, you prepare a honey and sugar syrup, flavored with cinnamon (I like to add a little rose syrup, too), and when the pastry is baked, you pour the syrup over the hot pastry! Once it has cooled, you cut out the pieces and it is the sweetest, most delicious dessert in the world!

      Yes, we are very grateful that daughter still has her job and continues to earn a living. Yes, she does budget! Maybe not exactly how I do it, she doesn't have as many categories and she sort of lumps certain things together, but, she budgets for rent, utilities, groceries, etc., and she saves.

    2. To continue with my response, above (I exceeded my max. number of words!):

      When my daughter was in elementary school, my mother gave her an allowance for doing her homework and studying, as that was her "job"! Started out with $1.25/week ($.25 per day!) Then, as she went up a grade, her allowance increased by a dollar, or so. I told my daughter that her allowance was for her to spend or save as she chose, but, she had to buy any toys she wanted with that. She soon learned to save her allowance to buy a certain toy she wanted and would advice her friends, too. Today, she says she doesn't understand why everyone doesn't save to buy what they want!

      Then, when she was in middle school and we went clothes shopping for back to school, I would tell her what my budget was for her clothes. I'd tell her I have budgeted for 5 bottoms (pants or skirts) at $10 each, 10 blouses at $5 each, 2 sweaters or sweatshirts at $15 each, a pair of shoes ($25), and a packet of socks, undies, etc., while reserving a certain amount for a winter jacket, later on. She could choose which items to get as long as she kept to the budget and got the basic number of items I specified. She soon figured out that looking at the clearance racks gave her more items and would negotiate with me for a more expensive item provided she bought a cheaper item to offset the cost. I didn't mind, as long as we didn't go over budget. It really wasn't a set in stone budget, but, I didn't want to enable her to feel entitled, to think that she had to have the latest and the most expensive things on display at the front of the store, designer brands, etc. I wanted her to learn to seek the bargains, to make the most of the amount of spending money she had. She didn't fuss about having to stick to a budget, especially since I allowed her some lee way in how she spent it, but, she thanks me now for teaching her. She still gets excited when she is able to find bargains.

      Later, when she got to high school, I gave her, her portion of my budget (for school lunches, clothes, etc.) up front, each month. I told her that if she took lunches from home, then, she could keep what she didn't spend on school lunches - a savings incentive, of sorts! And, I'd discuss my budget with her (she was in high school during the 2008 recession).

      Finally, when she left to go to Berkeley, she asked me to make her a budget to guide her during that first year of living on her own. I paid for her rent and tuition. She told me she will pay for her books, transportation, utilities, groceries, clothing, etc. as she worked part time. Then, when she started working full time, she told me she will be responsible for all her expenses. I still pay for her cell phone as it is on my plan and it is easier to do so. :) Ha, ha, that is my long-winded answer to your question if she budgets! The short answer would be, yes, she does! LOL!

    3. CORRECTION: My daughter corrected me and said that the prices I established for the clothes were $20/bottoms and $10/tops! LOL!

  13. Bless - I love your long-winded answer!
    I love all of these details. What a great story of how bringing your daughter into your budgeting efforts ended up empowering her in her own adult life.
    She didn't think money grew on trees - She saw you working hard everyday to provide for the family and you taught her how to spend carefully within an allotted amount.
    The stories of how she understood if she shopped for a bargain the money would last longer and provide her with more is a valuable life lesson.
    And the school lunch story is really great. In my working years I saw so many people spend so much money every single day on buying breakfast, lunch and coffees out while at work while complaining that they didn't have enough money to pay their rent or car payment or whatever payment they had due and I used to think "why are you buying this food out? Why don't you bring food from home?"
    Your daughter learned early on that if she did that, she would have money leftover to spend on something she wanted. I think it was wise that you set up a system with her school lunch money where she could handle that money on her own and use it towards a savings goal.

    These are such important lessons. I don't understand why personal finance isn't taught in school. It's such an important skill for living our lives.
    Your daughter is lucky she had you to teach her.

    Thanks for your detailed response,

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Debra. I believe I did a couple of blog posts about allowances and her first budget, too:

      Allowance: https://bless2cents.blogspot.com/2015/10/allowances.html

      The first budget I set up for her:

      How I started to budget:

      Ha, ha, you now have reading homework! :D

      I believe that my daughter had to have a "Life Skills" class, the summer before she graduated (so, just after 11th grade). It was a summer school class at her high school and they were taught things like how to write a resume and, I think, how to write a check although I can't be sure of that! Although probably no one but myself writes checks, these days! LOL. It was a course she had to take to fulfill graduation requirements and, I think, they taught a little bit about personal finances. I know she said they didn't teach anything she hadn't already learned from me! LOL.


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