Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year's Eve: 2021

 Happy New Year's Eve!

A sunny day, today, after several days of rain!  An opportunity to dry out, a bit!

In the early afternoon, I went to the grocery store to pick up the groceries we had ordered, online, on Thursday.  My favorite grocery clerk, Jennifer, brought out the groceries to the parking lot and loaded them into the trunk of the car.  She asked me if I had seen the substitutions they had made and I said no (my cell phone is on its last legs and somethings aren't coming through/I can no longer open links, etc.)  Anyway, the bag of frozen mixed berries we had wanted wasn't available and they had substituted a bigger bag of frozen mixed berries for the same price; while the container of mixed grapes (red/black/green; 3 lbs. for $5.99) was substituted with 1.9 lb. of green grapes for $2.98/lb (they were not part of the special sale), which came to $5.68.  I was fine with that, but, Jennifer gave me $5.00 off my total, anyway!  My grocery total came to $79.44.  Today's groceries include some items bought especially for the upcoming almsgiving and for at least the first week in January.  But, even so, I stayed within budget for this month!  

Later in the afternoon, I worked on another holiday gift I am making.  I have a couple of other gifts to make, but, they can be made after the New Year.

My doctor had sent me an email with the results of yesterday's blood tests.  I was surprised to receive them so quickly!  The results were mostly good, but, there were one or two results that require further testing.  She will process the requests for those tests and probably have me do another blood test before my next appointment with her (scheduled for February).  I am not going to worry too much about those not so good results for now.  However, I know there are some steps I can take between now and when I next see my doctor to address those results.  So, that's going on my goals for the New Year!

Neighbor S called in the early evening to remind me that she is bringing us dinner, tonight, complete with dessert.  She asked if I could finish cooking a couple of the items she had prepared as she was planning to go out and wouldn't have time to finish cooking them (one item required boiling and another item required frying); I said I didn't mind it, at all!  Then, around 7:00 p.m., neighbor S and her older daughter N brought us the feast that is pictured in the photo:  

New Year's Eve Dinner (Compliments of S and Family)

A plate of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage rolls, and stuffed bell pepper; on the bottom left), a bowl of a type of tuna salad topped with pomegranate seeds (in the middle), frozen kuftha (in the zippered plastic bag; the item that required boiling), and blinchik (stuffed pancake rolls, some filled with meat, some with a potato filling, and two with cheese; the item that required frying; they had even wrapped the cheese filled blinchik separately, because they know my daughter doesn't like cheese!).  And for dessert, the plate on the top of the picture, with two gatas (cookies) and two "porcupines" - each is a two layer sponge cake with a condensed milk filling, frosting and a cake crumb coating!  They brought us some of the porcupine cakes last New Year's Eve, too!

Such a wonderful feast!  I decided to keep the kuftha and the two cheese filled blinchik in the freezer for another day, as what they gave us was too much for one meal!  Then, I fried the rest of the blinchik:

Blinchik (Stuffed Pancakes) After Frying

I might have fried them a bit too much!  But, they were delicious!  We were too full after dinner to try the desserts - they are in the fridge for later!

My daughter and I are planning to greet the New Year with some sparkling apple cider (non-alcoholic, basically carbonated apple juice) and I will boil some milk until it boils over (for good luck! I bought a new container of milk, for the purpose, today), and make some milk rice (an auspicious food).  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to spend New Year's Eve with my daughter
- Neighbor S and her family bringing us such a wonderful New Year's Eve dinner
- Getting the blood test results so quickly
- Being able to pick up groceries curbside
- All the blessings I've received this year!

Today's joyful activity was enjoying the lovely meal brought to us by our wonderful neighbors!

On this New Year's Eve, I wish each and every one of you who read my blog a Very Happy New Year!  May the coming New Year bless you and yours with good health, prosperity, and happiness!

Rainy Thursday Activities


Christmas Basket of Goodies

It poured with rain, Wednesday night, and it rained most of the day on Thursday, too!  I had a blood test scheduled at 12:30 p.m. and drove through flooded roads and intersections to get to the clinic.  But, the wait to be seen to was fairly short and the blood tests were done without any fuss by a very friendly and cheerful technician.  

Afterwards, daughter and I went to drop off some gifts at a friend's house.  Daughter crocheted this amigurumi Spiderman, with yarn in our stash, as a gift for her friend:  

Crocheted Spiderman - Front

I put together the gift basket for the rest of the family, with a couple of jars of my homemade jam, a couple of snack items from the Sri Lankan store, a hot pad, and one of my embroidered towels.  The wooden box I used as the basket was something I had in my "stash" (saved from a holiday gift basket I had received, one year, with the intention of reusing it to make a gift basket of my own).  

We texted our friends before we left the house; I stayed in the car while daughter dropped off their gifts and picked up their gifts to us: a box of chocolates, some homemade zucchini bread, meringues (the friend who made them had been a pastry chef before the restaurant he worked in closed due to Covid) and a container of berry coulis to go with the meringues:

Meringue with Berry Coulis

Of course, I had to try one when I got home!  LOL!

Later in the evening, I did some laundry while daughter went through her closet and decluttered a huge bag of clothes!  I think I will be calling for another donations pick up before too long!  We also put in an order of groceries to be picked up, tomorrow.

Daughter also put together a video of us making the semolina and cashew cake that is known as Love Cake in Sri Lanka, if anyone is interested:

I'm a YouTube star!  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The rain we've received
- Being able to get the blood tests done
- A safe drive there and back
- Exchanging gifts with friends
- Daughter's help with so many things

Today's joyful activity was watching the video daughter did!  Oh, and eating meringues!  LOL.

Plans for tomorrow include picking up the groceries, tidying the house a bit, and getting ready to celebrate New Year's Eve at home with my daughter!

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Monthly Photo Challenge: "Christmas"

The theme for Eileen's Monthly Photo Challenge for December was...Christmas!  These are the photos I have to offer:

Front Door Wreath

Christmas Tree

Dancer and the Christmas Tree

Gifts for Giving

More Father Christmas than Santa Claus!

Blurry Festive Fireplace 

Thank you, Eileen, for hosting the monthly photo challenge.

January's theme is "beginning with G"

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December Decluttering

My decluttering goal for December was one item a day for a total of 31 items.  I am happy to say that, even with a couple of days left in the month, I met and exceeded that goal!  Even with things coming into the house in terms of clothes, etc., given to me by family, I was still able to have more items leave than came in!  

I began the month keeping a list of the decluttered items, but, I decided to do a narrative post instead of just posting the list of items!

Old Wicker Chest

Some of the items I decluttered included a broken wicker chest that used to be in the family room (bought as a coffee table with storage, used to store gift wrap and my stash of gifts for several years and, more recently, to hold the bags of dry cat food), a non-working can opener, a broken whisk, and broken ornaments, which were simply tossed.  Today, four old plastic spatulas (assorted sizes) that were starting to crack and break off were tossed as they were replaced by two new silicone spatulas (a gift from friend R who had asked me what I wanted; I like practical gifts that I can use).  

Other items such as the 4-tier plastic shelving unit which also used to be in the family room (which I decided I didn't need to keep as a plant stand, after all), magazines, and catalogs were recycled.

Some items were set aside to be donated, along with the previous months' items that had been set aside for donating.  Altogether, about 8 bags of my stuff and 2 bags of cousin P's stuff were picked up by the charity I was donating to, on December 22. 

Gift Using Items from the Stash

Also "decluttered" were things I had on hand in my gift stash and crafts supplies, such as the new picture frame and ceramic flowers in the gift shown above, fabric, yarn (used for the blanket and a shawl I crocheted), a set of new kitchen towels, etc., which I incorporated into holiday gifts and old Christmas cards and scrapbooking supplies I used for making this year's cards and gift tags, etc.

I will continue my decluttering in the new year, too.  I am going to try the one item in/one item out rule where I can, but, I think more items will have to go out than come in if I am to declutter!  

Did anyone else declutter in December?  Is anyone planning to join me again in January for decluttering?  

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Clear on Tuesday


No rain, today, and no sinus issues, either!  I am very, very relieved and thankful!

I spent a relaxed morning, replying to blog comments, reading some blogs, and downloading and printing a calendar to help me be a little more organized, next year!

In the afternoon, daughter and I ran a few errands.  First, we went to pick up the two bags of dry cat food and two packets of clothes hangers we had ordered online for curbside store pick up.  We are going to need those extra clothes hangers for the new and new-to-us clothes we received!  At some point, though, we are going to run out of closet rod space to hang the clothes hangers!  When that happens, we will really have to implement the one in/one out rule!  

After that, we went to friend R's to exchange Christmas gifts, curbside.  In addition to her gifts, I took her several sprigs of curry leaves and lemons from my trees:

One of Three Meyer Lemon Trees

Another of the Three Lemon Trees

M keeps them pruned so they don't grow too tall, but, the trees can grow to reach 10 feet or so, if not kept pruned.  

In return, along with her gifts, R gave us some chicken and vegetable soup she had made.  She had added lots of fresh ginger root to it, for health benefits, making it a ginger chicken and vegetable soup!  My daughter and I enjoyed it for our dinner:

Ginger Chicken and Vegetable Soup

On the way home, we stopped to put gas to the car.  I had half a tank of gas, but, we topped it up until the tank was full.  Gas at the "cheap" station near my house was $4.65 per gallon.  

After we came home, daughter brought in the trash cans from the curb, after trash pick up, and took neighbor T's trash cans in for her.  I had my evening cup of tea and watched news and a favorite TV program, "Finding Your Roots", on one of the public television channels.    

Today, I am grateful for:
- My sinuses have cleared
- Being able to order items online and pick up curbside
- R sharing some of her delicious chicken soup
- Gas for the car
- Time spent with my daughter

Today's joyful activity was visiting friend R.

According to the forecast, we will have more rain, tomorrow and Thursday.  Plans for tomorrow include some tidying up and putting away of holiday gift making materials.  How was your day?  What are your plans for tomorrow?

Monday, December 27, 2021

Rainy Monday


Christmas Card Version 1

Version 2

I made two versions of this card layout; I know both cards were received so I can post pictures, now.  The Santa Claus/Father Christmas stickers came from the same sheets of stickers as the holiday bears I used on another card:

Card with Bear Stickers

Today has been another rainy day.  I felt that my sinuses were a bit inflamed, although I didn't have a fever.  I took it easy and rested.  I guess I've been doing a bit too much, these past few days, and going to the family gathering on Saturday probably didn't help!  But, I did enjoy myself on Saturday and my cousins all seemed to like the gifts I gave them:

Homemade Jam, Festive Spoon,
Hot Pad, and Cross Stitched Kitchen Towel

Jam from the fruits in my garden, the spoons from a set I had bought some time ago, hot pads sewn with fabric in the stash, and the kitchen towels were a set of plain towels I had in my stash which I cross stitched.  

I spent the day resting and chatting with various family members.  Cousin P's daughter (who flew in from Florida, last night) brought over a bag of her clothes to give my daughter, with instructions to give away any that she didn't like.  We are definitely going to need more clothes hangers!  Although we have plans to sort through our closets, again! 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to spend the day relaxing
- Daughter being home to pamper me (she made our lunch and dinner)
- Hot cocoa
- More rain for the garden
- Phone calls with family and friends

Today's joyful activity was chatting with family and friends.

No firm plans for tomorrow.  All will depend on how well and energetic I feel!  

How was your Monday?  Any plans for Tuesday?

Four Calling Birds?

On Sunday, when I was doing the dishes in the afternoon, a movement at the very back of the garden caught my eye and I asked my daughter to take a picture (her cell phone camera is much better than mine!).  I had posted, earlier, in the summer, about the visiting rooster.  There he was, again, with his companions - another rooster and two hens!

All the way at the back

Happily scratching in the dirt

Two roosters and two hens!

The fourth one (a grey hen next to the brown hen) is hard to see

They were in the yard for a good hour or so, until I went back outside and chased them!  I don't really mind them being there, at the very back, but, I don't want them find the pea plants and the mustard greens, etc. and eat my vegetables!  There was a lot of cackling and a flapping on wings as they flew up to the wall!  The small brown rooster (with the black tail) even fell off the wall back into the garden, before he flew back up!  Then, they all strutted across the top of the neighbor's dogs' kennel and hopped onto their roof and the big white rooster crowed to announce his territory!  Then, I picked some peapods and went back inside the house and when I looked out, again, the little brown rooster was back in my garden, finding yummy things to eat!  LOL!  After all that, they didn't even leave me a single egg!

Sunday's Harvest 

On Sunday, I scheduled an appointment for my comprehensive blood tests for later in the week, arranged a date with the Temple to hold a much scaled back almsgiving in the first week of January, did two loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and finished making another gift (a crocheted shawl).  Then, I wrapped and tagged more gifts.  Sunday's meals were leftovers from the Christmas dinner, as I had brought some home since my cousin insisted that I did!  

On Sunday, I was grateful for:
- Being able to book an appointment for my blood tests
- Being able to schedule the almsgiving for the first week in January
- Having more peapods to harvest
- Working appliances
- Leftovers 

The day's joyful activities included chasing chickens, picking peapods, and wrapping up more gifts to give!

How was your Sunday?  Did you celebrate Boxing Day?  (It's not observed here, in the US). 

Christmas 2021

Cheese Board My Daughter Assembled

Christmas Day began with an early morning a phone call from my aunt to wish me for Christmas (it wasn't that early in the morning, but, I was still asleep!)  I mumbled "Merry Christmas" into the phone and she laughed, apologized for waking me, and told me to go back to sleep!  Instead, I got up, fed the cats, etc., and had my morning cup of tea.  Then, I called aunt back to wish her properly for Christmas, followed by other phone calls to various friends and relatives to wish them.  

It rained in the morning, but, the rain ceased in the early afternoon.  My daughter and I picked up cousin P and went over to cousin R's home for the family Christmas gathering.  My cousins had prepared a feast and, after my cousin's daughter-in-law said grace and we all took turns saying what we were grateful for this Christmas, we enjoyed a nice dinner.  

Later, we exchanged gifts.  In our family, we don't draw names.  We give gifts to everyone!  I tend to give homemade gifts, for the most part, at least to the adults: jars of my homemade jams, holiday pot holders, cross stitched kitchen towels, etc.  My cousins gave me more clothes!  

Afterwards, my daughter and I saw cousin P safely home and came home.  It started raining just as we pulled into P's driveway!

It was a lovely evening spent in the company of my cousins and their families.  But, I am hoping, rather fervently, that there won't be any negative consequences from attending this gathering!  We weren't very good about wearing masks throughout the evening and one cousin had a cold (although she hastened to assure us that she took a Covid test and it was negative).

This Christmas, I am grateful for:

- Having my daughter home for Christmas
- Being able to get together with family for Christmas
- Being vaccinated and boosted for good measure (which made it possible for me to be with family)
- A safe drive to the gathering and back
- More rain!

Joyful activities have included being with family this Christmas.  

I hope everyone had a safe Christmas, this year.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Happy Christmas


Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very blessed day.  

From Bless, Daughter, and Dancer!

Christmas Eve

Cheese Burek (Cheese Filled Puff Pastry)

Cheese burek from neighbor S and her mother L!  L's neighbor had made them and given to L; L brought them to S who brought some over to me (while L stood outside their door and waved at me from across the street!)  This time, it was my turn to take a bite out of one before I remembered to take a photo!  LOL.  I love cheese burek and these were very delicious.  S also brought me more mulberry preserves because I really liked it.  Such generous-hearted neighbors!  

It rained all last night and this morning.  However, the rain ceased in the afternoon and we even had some bright sunshine for a few hours.  Fortunately, the rain had ceased when M stopped by to tend to the garden.  He didn't need to put water, of course, so concentrated on tidying up and clearing some areas.  He will be taking next week off; I'll see him again on the first Wednesday in January.  He hasn't opened his gift from us, yet, he said; he was waiting until Christmas Day!

Today was baking day at my house!  I started with a tray of my "world famous" as one or two of you call it, dump cake!  I am now getting a bit adventurous with my dump cakes!  This time, I dumped a can of apple pie filling, two cans of peaches (I drained off most of the light syrup) and some fresh cranberries:

Dump Cake Filling: Apples, Peaches, Cranberries

I stirred it all together and sprinkled some ground cinnamon and nutmeg.  Then, I dumped a box of yellow cake mix (the dry mix) over the fruit and topped it with a stick (1/4 lb.) of butter, cut up.  The first time I made a dump cake, the recipe I followed called for a stick and a half of butter, but, I've been able to reduce the amount without any problems.  Some recipes say to melt the butter and pour it over the cake mix, other recipes say to mix the melted butter and cake mix together first and then spread it over the fruit.  But, I do it this way:

Topped with Yellow Cake Mix and Butter

I baked it in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 30 minutes:

Fresh Out of the Oven

The dump cake will be taken to my cousin's place, tomorrow, for the family Christmas gathering.

Afterwards, I helped daughter make a cashew and semolina cake that is known as Love Cake.  I've described the process in several previous posts as we've been making this cake almost every year around Christmas or New Year's.  Basically, you dry roast a pound of semolina, add half a pound of butter to it.  In the meantime, you beat together 10 whole eggs and two additional egg yolks with 2 1/4 lb. sugar, until light and fluffy.  My original recipe calls for 10 whole eggs and 8 additional egg yolks.  But, daughter said that was too much cholesterol!  So, we reduced the number of eggs.  Today, she accidentally added 11 whole eggs and the yolk of only one additional egg, but, that didn't make much of a difference.  A pound of cashews are also ground up and spices and essences, etc. are added to the ground cashews.  My mother used to keep the cashew mixture overnight to allow the flavors to develop.  My daughter would only agree to keeping it for one hour!  LOL.  After that, the semolina and butter mixture was added to the egg and sugar mixture and the cashew mixture was stirred in.  Then, we baked it in a 10" by 15" baking pan, at 275F (I lowered the oven temperature from what I had baked it at on previous occasions; 300F works well, too, but, the edges of my cake got a bit burned the last time I baked it at that temperature) for 1 hour.  (We checked it at 45 minutes and decided it could do with another 15 minutes). The cake is done when a bamboo skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  But, this is a very dense and moist cake - it doesn't have a texture like a regular cake made with flour would have.  However, one should be able to cut it into pieces.

After the love cake was made, I rested a bit.  Wrapped a few more gifts and took neighbor T's gift over to her (left it on her doorstep after calling and telling her that I was going to do so).  Had a cup of tea and watched the evening news.

Later, I made a double batch of my cornbread muffins.  Two dozen muffins have been packaged to be taken to the Christmas gathering, tomorrow.  I am currently watching Midnight Mass from the Vatican.  I am not a Christian, but, watching the Midnight Mass from the Vatican has been part of my Christmas Eve traditions for many, many years.

Today's decluttering was a wire whisk which broke (came off the handle!)

On this Christmas Eve, I am grateful for:
- My daughter being home with me for Christmas
- Baking love cake with my daughter 
- S and her mother L sharing some delicious treats with us
- M tending to the garden
- Holiday traditions

Today's joyful activity was baking.

Wish all my readers a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Rain on Thursday


"Gift Tags" 

One of the things I like to do with old greeting cards is cut them up to make gift tags!  I'm sure lots of others do this, too.  I punch a hole in one of the corners and tie it to the package or gift bag with some ribbon or red yarn.  I haven't bought gift tags in years!

It started raining, last night, and it rained all night and pretty much all day, today!  Such a blessing to receive all that rain!  The garden needed it!

I spent the day cross stitching on a set of kitchen towels and wrapping up more gifts!  One of the gifts I ordered was delivered, today, while the fabric store cancelled our order for the replacement rotary cutter blades and the beading thread that my daughter wanted, stating that the store was out of supplies (even though the store website had said they were available when we placed the order).  We will try again after the holidays.

Cousin P called me today to thank me for the gift I gave her and to ask if I can give her a ride to the Christmas dinner and back.  I told her I can give her a ride.  Shortly afterwards, cousin V called to ask if I was OK with giving P a ride to the Christmas dinner and back and I said yes.  The main reason I will be attending Saturday's get together is because it might very well be the last time all of us cousins will be together. 

I also had a long chat on the phone with friend R and with aunt C and exchanged texts with cousin N.  I also took a plate of rice and curries over to neighbor S and her daughter N.  It has been a good day for interacting with family, friends, and, neighbors.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Rain for the garden
- A good, non-leaky roof!
- Phone chats with family and friends
- Being able to order gifts and have them delivered
- Daughter helping me with one of the gifts I made

Today's joyful activity was cross stitching.

Plans for tomorrow include baking!  I will start off with a couple of batches of cornbread muffins and later, daughter and I hope to make the cashew and semolina cake that is known as love cake in Sri Lanka.

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

One Year!

It's been one year since my daughter came down from Berkeley to be with me for the holidays, last year!  The original plan had been to return to Berkeley in early March because that's when her employer thought they would be able to move into the new office location and start working in person.  Then, the date to return to the office was moved back to the summer and to autumn and to January of 2022!  Now, it looks like she might not have to go back until February!  Having her home with me has been such a blessing!  I've enjoyed her company (not to mention her taking care of me when I was practically bedridden with sciatica pains) and I know she's enjoyed being home with Dancer and me rather than being cooped up in her tiny studio apartment!  Today, we celebrated one year of being together with a take out lunch from our favorite neighborhood Japanese restaurant:


Teriyaki Beef/Tempura Lunch Special

Spicy Octopus Salad

Tempura Roll

The teriyaki beef and tempura lunch special was for me (it comes with a serving of miso soup which is not pictured).  That is my favorite meal and my daughter teases me because I always order it.  There was enough food there for me for both lunch and dinner and I shared some of it with my daughter, as well.  She ordered the spicy octopus salad and the tempura roll (she had already started eating the tempura roll when I took the photo!) and she, too, had enough for both lunch and dinner.  This restaurant has been in the neighborhood for decades; they are a bit pricey, but, their food is good and anyway, we are supporting a local business.

I woke up relatively early, today (7:30 a.m.).  I said my morning prayers and replied to blog comments, etc.  Cousin V texted me to ask what my plans were for Christmas, saying she and her husband were going to her younger sister R's house.  Earlier, I had told V that I was not planning on going anywhere for Christmas, but, today, I texted her to ask if she was inviting me and does R know!  LOL.  She texted back that, yes, I'm being invited and R had asked her to reach out to me.  I called and spoke with R and I guess my daughter and I will be joining cousins V and R and their immediate families for Christmas dinner!  I offered to bring something for the meal and V immediate said to bring my cornbread muffins and a dessert!  I didn't join the family for Thanksgiving and I guess they missed my cornbread muffins!  LOL.  Cousins and families are all vaccinated and some of them have had their boosters.  I am still not 100% sure about attending the family gathering, but, I'll make the final decision on Saturday.  This might be the last Christmas when all the cousins will be together, since cousin P will be going out of state after Christmas.  

M came over to tend to the garden, today.  He did more pruning and clearing, today, but, held off on watering because the forecast calls for rain tonight, tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday!  My daughter served him a plate of food (leftovers from last night's dinner) to take home with him.  

Later in the afternoon, I called cousin P and went over to her house to give her and her daughter their Christmas gifts, early; partly because P is not sure what her plans are for Christmas (if she's going to cousin R's or not) and partly because her daughter won't be here for Christmas.  I also thought that this would give them enough time to pack the gifts in the boxes they are taking with them (should they decide to keep them! I got P a bottle of her favorite cologne and I got her daughter a book about finding happiness.)

I mentioned to P that I was waiting for the donations to be picked up, today, and she gave me two bags of items to add to the donations pile!  LOL.  I accepted them because I knew she didn't have time to call and schedule a donations pick up, herself.  Her daughter helped me to bring the bags over to my house and we left them on the doorstep with the rest of the donations.  Nothing made it inside the house!   The donations were all picked up a little later in the afternoon.  I have already decluttered my quota for the month (31 items), but, I will continue to declutter for the remainder of the month and then, start over in January!

I wrapped and tagged more gifts in the evening.   I am still waiting for a few more gifts to arrive and, in addition, I have about 6 gifts to wrap and tag!  I also need to make another couple of quick cards and embroider a couple of items.

Speaking of embroidery, Mary-Lou at Patio Postcards had posted a photo of her garden, back in August.  The photo featured a rose and a sign about gardeners knowing the best dirt.  When I saw the photo, it gave me an idea:

Embroidered Picture Gift

I made this embroidered picture as part of the gift for gardener friend M.  Fabric, embroidery floss, picture frame, and little ceramic flowers on the frame are from my craft supplies stash!  The idea, of course, came from Mary-Lou's sign.  Thank you, Mary-Lou for the inspiration!  

Later in the evening, I spoke with friend A who is now back home from hospital.  I am hoping to be able to visit her after Christmas.  I also called and checked on friend R.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to enjoy daughter's company for a full year!
- Cousins inviting us to join them for Christmas dinner
- Being able to see P's daughter, again
- Shipping and delivery services!
- Donations being pick up

Today's joyful activity was having take out Japanese food for lunch (and dinner) and wrapping gifts.

Plans for tomorrow include doing a curbside pick up at the fabric store (not for fabric, but for replacement blades for my rotary cutter and some clear elastic thread that my daughter wanted; she was able to apply a 20% off total purchase coupon on this online order).  Plus more gift making and wrapping, etc., too.  

How was your Wednesday?  Are you just about done with your holiday gift shopping and gift making?

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice Tuesday

Gata (Armenian Cookies) from S

Neighbor S called and brought me some gata (Armenian cookies) that she had made.  She brought over four cookies, but, my daughter ate one before I could take the photo!  LOL.  She loves them!

Today, I received a call in the morning from the charity I will be donating to, to remind me that the pick up is scheduled for tomorrow, "between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.".  I have to put the bags by the front door, with a sign on them, naming the charity group.  

That phone call was followed by a call from cousin P; I politely declined today's offering because I wouldn't have been able to wash it in time for the donations pick up, tomorrow.  

My daughter is hosting a small get together for three of her friends, today.  Two of them are friends from middle school and one is a friend from high school days.  They used to call themselves the Awkward Turtle Squad and have been bridesmaids together at one girl's wedding and they will be bridesmaids and maid of honor at another's planned wedding, next year (it was postponed from last year, due to Covid).  They started this tradition of having a holiday pot luck when they were in high school and after they graduated, they continued to get together, even when some of them moved out of state to go to college, every year, usually at our house.  In 2019, they had a dinner at a restaurant for the first time.  Of course, they didn't do anything in 2020, but, this year, with a great deal of discussion, watching the Covid case numbers, and endless rounds of "should we/shouldn't we", they've decided to go ahead and have the gathering, with my daughter hosting.  She offered to cook rice and curries, which she did on Sunday, leaving only the cucumber salad and rice to prepare, today.  All the girls are fully vaccinated and daughter and at least one other girl have had their boosters.  I have had my booster, too, but, I am staying sequestered in my bedroom to minimize contact!  Daughter has the air purifiers on and two or three windows are cracked open for ventilation, as well.

Today, I did some final house cleaning and tidying before tonight's get together, even though my daughter told me not to bother.  I dusted and vacuumed the living room, dining area, and family room.  Scrubbed the stove top (including under the burners) and the top of the vent hood and swept the kitchen.  There are some decorations up and I've made sure the holiday table cloths are spread on the tables, although my daughter didn't want to take down the holiday plates, etc.  They are using paper plates, she told me.  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:
- S bringing us gata 
- Being able to get the house cleaned, tidied, and decorated for the holidays
- My daughter having good friends of many years
- The last of the holiday gifts I ordered arriving safely
- The sound of laughter as my daughter and her friends enjoy being together

Today's joyful activity was getting the house cleaned for the holidays.

(We will not talk about the few boxes of stuff that ended up on my bedroom floor to be dealt with over the next few days!  They contain gifts to be wrapped and tagged, paperwork to be dealt with, sewing projects to be finished, etc.)  

Plans for tomorrow include having the donations collected (I'll put them out by the front door, before I go to sleep, tonight), wrapping and tagging some holiday gifts, having M tend to the garden, and relaxing.  

How was your Tuesday?  Did you do anything special to celebrate the Winter Solstice?  What are your plans for tomorrow?



Monday's Harvest!

I picked five peapods from the garden, this afternoon!  

Pea Plants

There are 12 pea plants, some are snow peas and the others are snap peas, but, I'm just picking them while they are still tender pods to add to a stir fry!  I left three or four small peapods on the vines to grow a little bigger before picking them.  

Today, cousin P called me, twice in the morning.  She asked me to come over as she had something to give me.  Although I've said I didn't need anything, I went over, anyway, and collected the blouse, bed sheet, and hat she had to give me.  I don't need them, but, I guess the donations pick up people have been to her house already and collected whatever items she had to give and these are items she was unable to give them.  Rather than trash them, she decided to give them to me to be dealt with as I pleased.    

After I came home, I started on the laundry ("Wash on Monday").  I washed and dried the blouse and the sheet (and pillowcases) that P had given me, along with the rest of my laundry; I think I will add the items she gave me to the donations pile so someone who needs them more can have them (my donations will be picked up on the 22nd).  I have also decided that, starting in the new year, I will implement a one in/one out system.  

In between loads of laundry (I did four loads, today, including the sofa dust covers), I watered the newly planted vegetable plants in the garden and took some photos of the garden for a later post, took the trash cans to the curb for pick up in the morning, did dishes, watered the houseplants, and did a little tidying up.  I also did a little bit of embroidery on a gift that I am making and wrapped up a few gifts.  Later in the evening, I called friend R and checked on her.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The peapod harvest
- Time spent in the garden
- Working appliances
- My stash of embroidery thread
- Having my daughter home for the holidays

Today's joyful activity was making another holiday gift.

Plans for tomorrow include tidying up the family room and making some preparations for Christmas.

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

Monday, December 20, 2021

Grocery Shopping on Sunday

Christmas Bears Card

I've had these bear stickers for years!  I glued them to a strip of cardstock and made another card with them.  

Today was a sunny day with the daytime highs in the mid-60s.  Tonight's low is supposed to be 39F, though.  

I spent a relaxed morning, answering blog comments, etc.  Thank you all for your kind comments, especially regarding the email to check on my niece. 

In the afternoon, I went to pick up my groceries that we had ordered on Saturday.  When I pulled into one of the designated parking spaces for customers picking up online order, Jenny, the young woman who usually brings the groceries to the car, was helping another customer.  When I parked my car, she came up to my car to ask me if I had already checked in online and I said no (I usually check in when I arrive at the parking lot).  She very apologetically asked me if I could hold off on checking in until she had finished helping that customer because it was taking some time and the store keeps tabs on how long it takes the workers to bring an order out after the customer checks in.  I think they are expected to fill the orders within 10 minutes of arrival, because, when we check in, we are told to call back if we're still waiting after 10 minutes.  I wasn't in a hurry, so I waited.  I suppose there was some issue with that customer's order, because after Jenny loaded the groceries into the truck, the customer went back to the store with her and came back several minutes later with another cart full of groceries.  

I waited until that customer got into the truck before I called to check in and let the store know that I was was waiting.  I had waited for almost 20 minutes before I checked in.  In the meantime, someone else had pulled in to the parking spot next to me and checked in!  Jenny brought out both our orders at the same time, apologized to me, and helped that other customer, first, because she had checked in before I did.  Which was fine with me.  Then, it was my turn and Jenny was very, very apologetic for the delay.  I told her it was OK, I was just grateful to be able to order online and pick up the groceries.  She told me that I was very sweet!  LOL.

Apparently, her co-worker had left work early, when he wasn't supposed to, and she was having to pick up the slack.  She sounded very stressed!  I told her it was OK and to take a deep breath, which she did.  Poor thing; working retail is never easy and dealing with the holiday rush and irate customers, while being timed on each interaction and short staffed is awful.  She thanked me, again, for being so understanding and gave me $15 off my order for having to wait!  I told her it was OK, she didn't have to do that, I didn't mind waiting, but, she had already put in the discount on her handheld device.  I took the store survey when I came home and in the box that asked if I'd like to recognize an employee by name, I said yes and put in Jenny, and when asked if I would explain why, I wrote that she was courteous and had excellent customer service.  I hope she will be notified in some way that a customer appreciated her.  By the way, the groceries were brought out and loaded into my car 5 minutes after I checked in (after that initial wait of 20 minutes, before checking in).  

This was my second grocery pick up for this month.  The first pick up was on December 12 and I spent $61.29 on that order (not including the bottle of ibuprofen, which was $14.99).

Today's order included 5 lbs. of butter on sale for $1.99/lb., two packets of coffee on sale for $5.99 each, and chicken thighs at $.99/lb. 

My December grocery budget is $250.

Spent to date: $61.29 + $23.71 = $85

Neighbor T called in the afternoon, after I had come home from picking up the groceries.  We chatted a bit; she wasn't sure if her daughter would be able to visit her on Christmas Day or not.  I told her I'll call her again, before Christmas.  I do hope her daughter will be able to visit her.  

In the evening, I finished my card making for now and tidied up the house a bit with my daughter's help.  She also did some cooking for the week, making chicken curry, dhal, kale mallung (shedded kale cooked with grated coconut, turmeric, etc.), and sauteed leeks.  I made coconut roti (flat bread) with the rest of the grated coconut (we used a packet of frozen grated coconut).   Later, I chatted with friend R.  Afterwards, daughter and I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV, which has become a tradition with us!   

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online and curbside pick up
- The discount for the delay at the grocery store!
- A safe drive to the store and back
- My card crafting supplies
- The spare bedroom doubling up as a storage room!  

Today's joyful activity was putting up a few more holiday decorations.

Plans for tomorrow include doing laundry ("Wash on Monday")  and taking the trash cans to the curb.  

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

Sunday, December 19, 2021

More Card Making on Saturday


Holiday Greeting Card

I have to credit Susanne at Snaps and Snippets for this card idea!  When I saw her card, I asked her if I could copy it (using different papers).  Her version is cuter, but, I'm pleased with how mine turned out and I've made a few cards in this design, using a template for the tree.  Thank you, Susanne!  

Cousin P called me again, this morning, and we chatted a bit more.  She said she spoke with the other cousins, too, so everyone is now up to date on all what's happening.  

Later, I emailed a niece who is out of state, to find out what's going on in her life because the holiday greeting card she sent me had a new address and she signed only her name and her children's names.  I had called her, earlier, and left a message, but, she didn't return my earlier phone call, which isn't like her.  So, I thought I'll email her.  My daughter said I was being nosy, but, I told her, what if there had been a bereavement and no one informed me?  Wouldn't niece wonder why I hadn't called or sent her a card or something?  I told my niece that if I was being nosy it was only because I cared about her well-being and hadn't heard anything from anyone in the family.  She replied to my email right away and sent me her new phone number.  She explained the reason for signing the card with just her name and the children's and said I had picked up on it, at once!  Ha, Aunt Bless the detective!  I assured her that as long as she and her children are happy and doing well, then, that's all that matters.  Apparently, they are going to Sri Lanka to spend some time with her parents (my half-brother and his wife).  I told her that I sent her a package in the mail, but, most probably it won't be delivered before she leaves.  Hopefully, it will still be there when she returns!  I also mentioned the birthday card and the holiday greetings card I had sent to her father.  If he doesn't receive them, maybe she can at least tell him that I sent the cards!

Neighbor S called and brought over some frozen kuftha that her mother had made, as well as a container of mulberry preserves which I had tried earlier and liked, and two cookies (daughter's favorites).  I showed her the new piano book I had bought for myself and she said we can work on some of the pieces, next year, when lessons resume.  She also told me not to cook dinner on New Year's Eve!  Apparently, she is planning to make something special which she will share with me!  How kind is that?

When I was not occupied with being a busybody and playing detective, I made Christmas cards, cooked dinner, ran the dishwasher, put in a small order of groceries, and chatted with friend R.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Chatting with family and friends
- Neighbor S sharing gifts of food with me
- My scrapbooking paper stash (now being used to make cards)
- Working appliances
- Being able to order gifts, etc., online

Today's joyful activity was communicating with family members.

Plans for tomorrow include picking up the grocery order.

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

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sunny Friday

Holiday Joy Card

A sunny day, on Friday, and warmer with a high of 65F.  

Yesterday, there were a few calls and texts between cousin V and myself because V and another cousin couldn't get through to cousin P who was, apparently, not answering her phone!  (Yes, she's the one who is selling her house and moving out of state.)  I called P and left a message.  This morning, I called P, again, and left her another couple of messages, on her cell phone and on her landline.  Later, P called and we chatted for a bit.  Afterwards, I texted V to let her know that I had spoken with P.  We have our reasons for being so concerned about P.

Later, I made a few more holiday greeting cards.  Some of my cards are fully handmade; others, have a little help in the form of pictures cut from old greeting cards or stickers!  The wreath in the center of the card shown above was taken from an old card!  Is that cheating?  Can I consider it as reusing/recycling?

In the evening, M tended to the garden.  He is concentrating on pruning the fruit trees and some of the other shrubs in the garden.  There's a lot to clean up and tidy!

Later in the evening, friend A's daughter called.  Friend A is back in the hospital due to a recurring infection.  Tomorrow's visit will not take place as planned.  I hope we'll be able to visit her, later.  

My order of gift bags and tissue paper was delivered, today, as well as a couple of gifts I had ordered.  A few more gifts were also ordered online, to be shipped directly as they are going to family members who live in other states.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- A sunny and warmer day
- Chatting with family and friends
- M tending to the garden
- Being able to order gifts online
- Good health

Today's joyful activity was making more cards.

Plans for tomorrow include making the last few cards I need to make and then, wrapping up gifts!

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

Friday, December 17, 2021

Cloudy Thursday

Thursday was cloudy and cool, with a high in the mid-50s.  I concentrated on getting my holiday greeting cards written and ready for mailing.  I got the overseas cards ready, first, especially the ones going to Sri Lanka, because mail going to Sri Lanka has been hit or miss, recently, depending on if flights are suspended or not.  Friend R said most of her cards to her family have gone, but, some people haven't received theirs even though she mailed the cards at the same time and they were going to the same address!  Anyway, I managed to give the card I was sending to my half-brother to the letter carrier, so, hopefully, it will reach my brother before the New Year or, at least before next Christmas!  LOL!  Then, I began on the cards going to family and friends in the U.S.

I bought a box of assorted holiday greeting cards a couple of years ago and I have almost come to the end of the box!  I usually buy the following year's cards during the after Christmas sales, but, with our current new Covid case numbers increasing (Thursday's new Covid case numbers for my county was 2,275 confirmed cases), I am wondering if I will venture out to shop any after Christmas sales!  I guess holiday greeting cards will be the next item I'll be buying online!  

I also made a couple of cards to send to one or two friends and family members.  I enjoyed making those and I plan to make a few more, tomorrow.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The letter carrier collecting my cards from the mail box
- Card making ideas and supplies
- Phone calls with family and friends
- A working heater
- Warm, handknitted sweaters

Today's joyful activity was singing Christmas carols with my daughter.  

Plans for tomorrow include making more cards, having M tend to the garden, and doing some housekeeping tasks.

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

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Sunny on Wednesday

Dancer Checks Out the Christmas Tree

It was a sunny day, today.  In the morning, the temperature was 36F at M's house, which is a couple of miles from my house and he said there was frost on the roofs in his neighborhood.  It was a little warmer by the time I woke up, but, it was still crisp and cold.  Our high today was 55F.  

M was able to fix the cover on top of the vent pipe, this morning, but, he found that there was a hole in the pipe, itself.  I might have to replace that pipe - I'll add it to that ever growing list of home repairs I have to do!  

I finished crocheting the blanket, today, and washed and dried it.  Then, I hung up the wreaths and did a bit of decorating.  I didn't put the Winter Village up, yet, though.  I need to clear off the counter on the pass through between the kitchen and the family room to set up the Village, there.  The house is looking very messy, again, with the bins of holiday decorations out and piles of gifts waiting to be wrapped, etc.  I discovered that I didn't have as many medium sized gift bags as I had thought and had to order a few, as well as more tissue paper!  They should be delivered on Friday, along with a gift that I ordered.  

Later, in the evening, I cooked a dhal (lentils) curry and curried green beans to go with leftover rice and chicken curry from yesterday for our dinner.  After dinner, I put away the leftovers, did the dishes, cleaned the litter box, etc., and chatted a bit with friend R.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A sunny day to dry out from the rain
- M tending to the garden and fixing the vent cover
- I was able to finish crocheting the blanket in good time
- Being able to order gift wrapping supplies online and having them delivered
- Cards arriving in the mail, each bearing a holiday wish from a friend or family member.

Today's joyful activity was finishing the blanket!

Plans for tomorrow include tidying the house and writing cards!

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