Sunday, February 28, 2021

Monthly Balanced Life Goals - February Review and March Goals

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

Monthly goals:

Spiritual (10)(10):   The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life:
- Continue with daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, positive, and joyful
- Continue to attend Temple prayer/blessing services online
- Continue to cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able

In February, I continued with my daily prayers, meditation, being grateful, and I have tried to be positive and joyful.  I feel that I do live a spiritually meaningful life and I will continue to keep the rating at 10.

March Spiritual  goals will be the same as above.

House (9.5)(9):  The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming:
- Clean - Deep clean the house as needed 
- Organize - Continue to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place
- Well maintained - Keep "erasing the evidence"; implement daily and weekly cleaning schedules
- Decluttered - Continue with the decluttering process; call for a donations pick up by the end of the month

I started off the month well, getting quite a bit of cleaning done, but, it sort of fizzled out towards the end.  The house is being maintained, but, I feel like I've slacked off a bit!  I am lowering the rating to 9 as I feel the higher rating is not justified!  

March House goals will be the same as above. 

Garden (9)(9.5):  The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant:
- Maintain (water 1- 2 times per week, depending on how much rain we get; weed)
Clean out the garden shed
- Discuss spring planting plans with M

The garden was well tended to in February!  Four new fruit trees (an Asian pear, a nectarine, a plum, and a Fuyu persimmon) were planted as well as three blueberry bushes and two rose bushes were transplanted.  The peach tree has tiny new peaches forming and we continue to pick oranges, lemons, and calamondin.  I have been harvesting small amounts of vegetables from the tiny vegetable bed we planted and gained much joy from doing so!  The garden shed hasn't been tackled, yet, but, even so, I am raising the rating to 9.5.  I guess the house and the garden changed places in terms of satisfaction ratings, this month!  

March Garden goals will include:
Maintaining (water; weed, thin out the peaches)
Clean out the garden shed
- Maybe start germinating the summer vegetable seeds?

Daughter (10)(10) The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her:
- Enjoy her being home!

I am definitely enjoying having her home and she has extended her stay until at least May!  I am keeping the rating at a 10!

March Daughter goals will include:
- Celebrating her birthday

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

I interacted with family and friends through phone calls, emails, texts, online chats, etc., and two of my cousins blessed me with some clothes that had belonged to their late mother.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

March Family and Friends goals will be the same as above. 

Community (10)(10):  The goal is to be involved in my community:
- Continue to participate in the various community groups to the extent possible in the following ways:
  - Participate in the blogging community
  - Participate in the online organizing group
  - Weekly phone calls with neighbor T
  - Participate in temple events

I participated in the blogging community and at least one other online community, stayed in contact with the monks at the Temple, received many wonderful meals from my neighbor S and her family, spoke on the phone with neighbor T, and tried to be a good neighbor in small ways.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

March Community goals will be the same as above.

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

I continued to spend mindfully in February.  Some expenses such as medical and groceries have increased, but, other expenses such as gas to the car have decreased, and, overall, things are well balanced.  I am keeping the rating at 10.

March Financial goals will include:
- Filing my taxes!

 Health & Well Being (8)(8.5):  The goal is good health:
- Continue to work on the following life style changes: 
  - better diet - eat more vegetables and complex carbs, less refined sugar
  - better hydration - drink 8 x 8oz glasses of water, daily
  - better sleep habits -  get sufficient sleep and try to adjust the sleep schedule
  - more exercise - continue with a walking schedule 
- Continue to strive for a healthier weight 

I didn't have any medical appointments in February.  I continued to work on my life style changes; my weight kept fluctuating within a 5 lb. range, but, I end the month a couple of pounds lighter than I was at the beginning!  I'm keeping the rating at 8.5 due to the slight decrease in weight!

March Health and Wellbeing goals will remain the same as above.  I have no medical appointments scheduled for March.  

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

This is still a work in progress!  I accomplished most of what I wanted to accomplish this month in a timely manner, with only a little bit of procrastinating!  I am keeping my satisfaction rating to 8.   

March Time Management goals are the same as above, but, I would like to see a little less procrastinating!

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

I have been engaging in daily joyful activities and I completed the granny square blanket that I had been working on in January.  I also gave myself a pedicure as part of my 'me-time' which I am changing to self-care from now on (I feel that I have plenty of me-time, these days, and want to focus on doing some extra pampering as self-care).  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

March Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time Self-Care goal remains the same as above.  

February was a well balanced month, I think.  Several areas remained the same, a couple (Garden and Health/Well Being) increased, but, the House came down a bit.  I do recognize that these ratings are rather arbitrary!  It's all based on how pleased I am with what I was able to achieve in each area, that month!  Some months, I am able to achieve a little bit and it pleases me a lot; other months, the same amount of achievements don't feel quite enough!  But, I am looking forward to March and what I might be able to accomplish.

How was your February in terms of maintaining balance among the different areas of your life?  What do you wish to accomplish in March?

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February Grocery Shopping Part 2

Weekly Grocery Ads

The weekly grocery ads are delivered on Tuesdays over here, as the prices go into effect on Wednesdays.  This week, the store I shop at most during the pandemic (they offer free curbside pick up with purchases over $35) was having a sale on butter, for $1.99/lb., with a digital coupon.  That is an excellent price for butter, in our area, especially during this time.  That is my pre-Covid stock up price!

They were also offering chicken on a buy 1 get 1 free sale, various other items on a 'buy 5 or more participating items and get $1 off of each" sale and some good deals with coupons.  It was a good time to stock up!  I wanted to get some special treats for daughter's upcoming birthday dinner, as well.

On Thursday, we placed an order of groceries and I picked it up, yesterday (Friday) afternoon.  The pick up time I selected was 1:00 p.m. (earlier pick up slots were available, but, I prefer going in the afternoon).  At 12:30 p.m., I received a text stating that certain things were unavailable.  They suggested substitutions for the majority of them and I authorized the substitutions.  They always adjust the price to which ever is lower!  Thus, instead of the store bakery French bread ($1.50) that they didn't have, they substituted a well known bakery's sliced French bread ($4.99) and charged me $1.50!  If I had been shopping in person, I wouldn't bought the $4.99 bread as I wouldn't have received that price adjustment.  Ditto with the store brand smoked sausages (14 oz. @$2.00); they substituted the more expensive brand name smoked sausages (12 oz. @ $4.99) and charged me the same price as the store brand.  I was fine with the brand name sausages being 2 oz. less for the same price as the store brand. There was minimal waiting time and I was home in half an hour.   

I bought 5 lbs. of butter at $1.99/lb.  (the digital coupon could be used up to 5 times), 2 trays of chicken thighs (each tray was about 5 lbs.; $9.77 total), 3 lbs. ground sirloin @ $3.99/lb. with coupon, 2 smoked sausages (@2.00), fish (frozen pollock 2 lb. package @ $6.99 and 3 packages of salmon fillets @ $5.69/lb. with coupon), and 1 lb. package of frozen shrimp ($5.99/lb.; they substituted another type of shrimp that was $12.00/lb., but, charged me $5.99).  I also bought toothpaste, rice (10 lb.), sugar (10. lb), cereal, pancake mix, half and half, coffee creamer, fresh fruits (bananas and mangoes; they didn't have the nectarines we also ordered), raisins, vegetables (salad mix, snap peas, cucumber, lettuce, asparagus), a bottle of salad dressing, a jar of Miracle Whip, two bottles of cooking oil, tortilla chips and salsa, some cookies and a cake!  The total (with tax on the toothpaste; food is not taxed) came to almost $152!  I had spent just over $105 for groceries, earlier in February.   

Daughter was between meetings when I came home and was able to take a quick lunch break to help me bring in the groceries, sanitize them, and put them away.  

In the afternoon, I did some cooking.  I had separated one of the trays of chicken thighs into smaller portions and frozen them; but I sauteed the other tray of chicken with onions and peppers.  Afterwards, I froze half of the cooked chicken and kept the rest in the fridge for us for the week.  I also browned one of the packages of ground beef, adding diced onion and grated carrots to it.  I kept half of it aside for my daughter.  I added a can of spaghetti sauce to the other half of the ground beef and froze half of it.  The rest is in the fridge.  I also cooked one of the packages of salmon fillets (it contained two fillets), sauteeing them with onions and tomatoes.  It's not bulk cooking, exactly, but, I cooked enough at one time for meals this week and for the freezer.  Then, I cooked some spaghetti pasta for dinner.  I had my pasta with the ground beef spaghetti sauce; daughter (who doesn't like tomato based sauces) had her pasta with some of the ground beef I had kept aside for her.  

Today, I made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast and daughter made a salad with cut up cooked chicken added to it for our lunch.  I had more spaghetti with sauce for my dinner and daughter decided to have a piece of the salmon with the rest of the pasta for her dinner.  The nice thing about having a variety of cooked dishes in the fridge is that we can each eat what we feel like eating.  

I am grateful for:

- Being able to buy groceries
- Free curbside pickup
- The store not charging extra for substitutions
- A safe drive to the store and back
- Daughter helping with sanitizing and putting stuff away

How was your grocery spending in February?  Did you keep to your budget or did you go over?  

Friday, February 26, 2021

Peapod Harvest

I picked a few of the peapods, yesterday.  I have a total of four pea vines, two bearing green pods and two bearing purple ones.  To be quite honest, I don't know what kind of peas these are because they are grown from seeds that M shared with me and he doesn't recall what kind of peas they are.  The young pods seem to resemble snow peas, but, once the peas grow and fill out the pods, they resemble snap peas (I've read that snap peas are a combination of regular green peas and snow peas).

Peapods - Green and Purple

The peas inside the purple pods are bright green, just like the peas in the green pods:

Peas in a (Purple) Pod 

The above photo would have been a good candidate for the WPSH No. 3 "Peek Inside", but, since I posted the photo of the Santa at the mail box for that prompt, I might use it for prompt No.7 "An Opening".

Another look at the peapod harvest:

Peapod Harvest

Ten peapods by themselves wouldn't have been enough for anything much but, they were a good addition to a smoked sausage stir fry, with carrots, broccoli (no, not the ones from the garden), and peanuts.  I was very pleased to see that the purple peapods retained their color:

Stir Fry with Pea Pods

Daughter and I had the stir fry with rice for dinner.

I am grateful the peapods that I was able to harvest and am looking forward to the next peapod harvest! 

Have you seen or grown purple peapods?  

Granny Square Blanket on Thursday


The Granny Square Blanket

I finished tidying yarn ends of the Granny Square blanket, today, and washed it.  It is big enough to cover the top of a twin sized bed.  Considering the fact that it was made from leftover yarn, I think it turned out quite well.  I told my daughter that it will be my birthday gift to her!  Well, along with the video games I am ordering for her.  It fits her bed, nicely, and, when she goes back to Berkeley, she can take it with her to use on her sofa, if she likes.  Who knows, maybe it'll become a family heirloom!  

It's been a good day - sunny and warm.  I did some housework (dusting and vacuuming), watered the back garden, hand washed a few clothing items, practiced the piano, chatted on the phone with friend R and friend A, cooked a stir fry for dinner, and spent the evening singing some old songs with my daughter - my mother's favorite song (Whispering Hope), my step-father's favorite song (Danny Boy), etc.  We also put in an order of groceries to be picked up, tomorrow afternoon, and another order of some household items to be delivered.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Completing the granny square blanket 
- Singing with my daughter
- Phone calls with friends
- Water for the garden
- What I was able to accomplish 

Today's joyful activity was singing with my daughter.

Plans for tomorrow include picking up groceries, doing some gardening with M, and deciding which work in progress to finish, next!

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Spring Flower Arrangement

Another warm, spring day, here.    I asked daughter to pick a lemon from the garden, this morning and she accidentally broke a branch along with the lemon!  It had tiny lemon flower buds growing on it and it seemed a shame to just throw the branch away, so, I decided to try my hand at a flower arrangement, with the branch and a few osteospermum flowers.  Now I'm thinking I should have stuck the branch going the other way, instead!  I might redo it, tomorrow.  

I spent a relaxed day, today.  I continued to tidy up the yarn ends on my crocheted blanket, read and commented on blog posts, practiced the piano for a bit, watered the indoor plants, watched news, cooked (made that chicken curry, finally), did the dishes, tidied the kitchen, and chatted with friend R.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Sunny, warm days
- Fresh lemons and oranges from the garden
- Fresh flowers 
- Chatting with friends
- Relaxed days

Today's joyful activity was trying to do a flower arrangement!

Plans for tomorrow include vacuuming.  

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

Tuesday: Not a Robot and Front Garden Tour

Well, it seems that I've reassured Blogger that I am not a robot, after all!  Last night, it stopped asking me to prove that I wasn't a robot and hasn't asked me even once, today!  

Yesterday, after I posted on the blog, I took a jar of marmalade, some muffins, and chocolates to friend R and she shared some frozen parathas that she had bought!  It was a lovely afternoon, with the temperature hovering around 80F!  Later, I watered the back yard.

Dinner, last night, was leftover baked chicken.  I cooked a boxed rice/wild rice mix that I had in the pantry to go with it and some Brussels sprouts (along with the leftover broccoli):

Monday Night Dinner

Today, has been another warm and sunny day.  Daughter woke up before I did and she opened all the windows to let in the fresh morning air and fed the garden cats for me.  Then, she spent the rest of the day attending online meetings!

I spent a relaxed morning, responding to blog comments and reading and commenting on other blogs.  I was delighted to see that I didn't have to prove that I wasn't a robot!  LOL.

In the afternoon, I finished crocheting the border around the granny square blanket and started weaving in all the yarn ends and tidying it up.  That is my least favorite task when knitting or crocheting. 

I also spent some time in the garden, just checking on the plants, picking a couple of oranges, and taking a few photos of the front garden:

Front Garden

Mid afternoon is probably not the best time to photograph the front garden as the glare from the sun was a bit strong.  The bed in the foreground, along the driveway, is looking a bit bare after I pulled out all the old osteospermum plants.  Seedlings are growing, but, they are taking their own sweet time to fill in the empty spaces.

However, the succulents in the circle (beyond the eucalyptus tree) and along the side wall are doing well:

Succulents in the Circle (mostly aloe and aeonium)

Along the Side Wall

The lantana along the border of the sidewalk are doing well, too:


As are the osteospermum growing in the other planting bed near the front door:


They have sprawled over the edge of the planting bed and some have escaped the planting bed altogether, like this plant growing at the foot of the eucalyptus tree:

Osteospermum Escapee

I am letting them grow where they please! 

In the evening, I watered the front yard.  

I also paid a couple of bills, did some filing, chatted on the phone with neighbor T and friend R, and practiced the piano.  

I was wondering what to make for dinner, tonight (the chicken I put to thaw hadn't thawed yet!) when neighbor S called and brought me cheese steak sandwiches and croissants!  Dinner and tomorrow's breakfast!  

Cheese Steak Sandwiches and Croissants 

(Daughter took a bite from her sandwich before I could take a picture!)  

Have I mentioned that I'm blessed with some wonderful neighbors?

Today, I am grateful for:
- The blessing of good neighbors and friends
- Dinner compliments of S
- Having a garden in which to stroll around
- Water for the garden
- Sunny, warm days

Today's joyful activities included crocheting and being out in the garden.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Is Anyone Else Being Asked...

To prove that they are not a robot?

For the past couple of days, every time I go to post a comment on someone's blog, a little window pops up asking me to prove that I am not a robot.  I have been duly clicking on the box, but, I've noticed that sometimes, my comments don't go through (or, maybe, they are waiting to be approved?)

I am wondering if this is something all the other bloggers have installed on their blogs, or, if Blogger updated something. 

I asked my daughter to try posting a comment on my blog to see if she received the same request to prove that she was not a robot, but, she said she didn't get that message.

Do you get the same request to prove you are not a robot when you post a comment on my blog?  

Have you been asked to do so when you comment on other blogs?

Or, is it just me and my computer?


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Weekend Cooking with Bless: "Can't be Bothered" Baked Chicken and "Not At All Cassoulet" Soup!

Saturday's Dinner: "Can't be Bothered" Baked Chicken, Potato Fries, Broccoli

Yesterday (Saturday), I put a package of four chicken thighs to thaw, intending to make a chicken curry.  However, by dinner time, I couldn't be bothered didn't feel like making chicken curry and so, I decided to bake the chicken, instead!  I lined a baking sheet with foil (easier clean up), put the chicken thighs down and, only then, realized that these were the skinless boneless thighs and would need a little oil.  It would be easier to start with an oiled foil lined tray!  As is was, I sprinkled each piece with salt, dark roasted curry powder and chili powder on each side, topped each piece with a little bit of chopped onions and sliced sweet peppers leftover from the salad daughter made for lunch, drizzled a little bit of oil over them, then, tried to get the oil on both sides of the chicken and had half the onions and sweet peppers fall off, and put them in the oven at 375F.

I debated making rice with it (but, that would require some kind of sauce) and decided oven fries would be better, especially since the potatoes I had bought are threatening to sprout!  Two potatoes were washed and cut up, without peeling, then, sprinkled with salt and chili powder, and placed on another foil lined and oiled baking tray.  I stirred the potatoes around a bit to get coated with the oil, then, spread them out in a single layer and place in the oven, along side the tray of chicken.   I took the opportunity to turn the pieces of chicken over at that time.  

Then, I cut up one of the heads of broccoli I had purchased (as opposed to have grown) and boiled them in a little bit of salted water for a few minutes.  

By which time, the chicken was done and the fries were almost done - I baked the fries for another five minutes or so and then, called daughter to dinner.  She asked me what I made and I said, "Well, I couldn't be bothered to make chicken curry..."  She said, "For someone who couldn't be bothered cooking, you made a feast!"  I wasn't sure if she'd like the baked chicken (she loves my chicken curry), but, she loved it!  She said she'll be asking for this chicken again! And I thought I had better write down what I did, in a blog post, because, otherwise, I'd probably forget!  LOL!  The fries were a hit, too, and she has, just now, requested another batch of fries which are baking as I type this!

There are two more pieces of the baked chicken left for tomorrow's dinner - I will cook more broccoli and perhaps try making the spiralized baked potatoes to go with it. 

Today (Sunday), there was a blog comment by "56 Steps" (Debra), on my Thursday's post and she mentioned making a black bean soup.  Which reminded me that, some time ago (last year, I think), she had mentioned she made a mock cassoulet, with smoked sausage, white beans, and a can of diced tomatoes.  Canned diced tomatoes aren't a regular purchase for me, but, shortly after that, I bought some cans of diced tomatoes.  I had intended to try her mock cassoulet, but, hadn't.  I decided to make it for dinner, today.  I had smoked sausage and I had canned diced tomatoes, but, what I didn't have was white beans!  I guess I could have substituted a can of garbanzo (chick peas), instead, but, I had a can of dark red kidney beans that needed to be used up and so, I went with that!

Sunday's Dinner: "Not at All Cassoulet" Soup!

I described the recipe to my daughter and asked her if she'd eat it if I made it - she promised to try it, because she generally doesn't like tomato based soups and sauces.  But, there was leftover chicken from yesterday if she didn't like it, so, I was not too worried.

Here's what I did:
Dump into a small stock pot -
1/2 store brand smoked sausage cut into small rounds
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and well rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes in tomato juice
1 can of water (using the empty tomato can)
Small amount of diced onions
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 handful of frozen corn (1/4 -1/3 cup, maybe - didn't measure)
3 small sweet peppers cut up 
2 bay leaves
salt, ground black pepper

Bring to boil and then, simmer, for about 30 minutes.

In the last 5 minutes or so, chop up the 6-7 small leaves of chard picked from the garden on Friday and add for extra color and nutrition!  

I cooked some egg noodles to go with it.  At first, I poured some of the "not quite cassoulet" over the noodles: 

Not Quite Cassoulet Over Noodles

But, then, daughter said it was more like a soup and she thought I should mix the noodles in the "not quite cassoulet" so, I did just that!  And it became Not At All Cassoulet Soup, instead!   I didn't take a picture of the soup as we wanted to eat!  Daughter, who doesn't like tomato based soups, said it was "alright".  I thought it was pretty good and, in fact, might become a new way to hide add vegetables to my diet (I was thinking that canned green beans would be good in it).  

I took some of the soup and two jars of the marmalade over to neighbor S, as well and asked her to give one jar of the marmalade to her mother.

There's a little more left for a quick lunch, one day, during the week.  That is the extent of my meal planning for this week!  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:
- New recipes and recipe inspirations
- A daughter who is willing to try something new and different (so much better at it than her mother!)
- The oven helping to heat up the house!
- Conversations with friends and family
- My turn to share food with neighbor S!

Today's joyful activity was adapting a new recipe!  

Saturday, February 20, 2021


Saturday morning, I video chatted with a friend who is in Europe.  It's always nice to chat with her, although we tend to email more than we chat online.

Afterwards, I treated myself to a little breakfast of toast and calamondin marmalade:

Toast and Marmalade for Breakfast

I liked the color and the flavor of the marmalade.  It tasted just how marmalade should taste, I think.  Not too sweet, with a hint of bitterness, and a nice consistency, too.  

Yesterday, when M came to tend to the garden, we planted the nectarine (Fantasia) and plum (Santa Rosa) trees.  We had to dig up and transplant two rose bushes to make room for the nectarine tree (trying to keep about 10 feet distance between the fruit trees to give them room to grow).  I didn't take pictures of the newly planted trees, but, I took pictures of a few other things growing in the garden:


Last year, I scattered some osteospermum seeds in the back garden and a few plants came up, including one plant in a planting bed with roses.  M accidentally flattened it, one day, when he was weeding and thought he had killed it.  Instead, it continued to grow and became this big bush!  The rest of the osteospermum that came up are spindly little plants, but, this one obviously found its niche!  I will be sure to collect the seeds from this plant to scatter around, later, this year!

The Asian pear tree we planted last week has small clusters of flowers!  

Asian Pear Flowers

I am not expecting any fruits, this year, but, the flowers do look very pretty!  

Meanwhile the mini vegetable plot is doing its best to keep me entertained if not exactly fed!

Mini Broccoli Head!

This one is almost ready to harvest, per M!

I have three broccoli plants, each with a broccoli floret that is about one inch in diameter!  LOL!  According to M, they are ready to be harvested!  I shall be making the world's smallest stir fry with three micro heads of broccoli, two (maybe three) pea pods, and maybe a pea shoot or two?    Well, I guess it is a good thing that broccoli leaves are edible - I can harvest the leaves if this is as big as the broccoli will grow and make cooked shredded greens ("mallung").  I picked five or six leaves of chard from one of the plants, yesterday, and pulled up three barely formed radishes to make something with them!

Let's hope I have better luck growing fruits than I do with growing vegetables!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to video chat with my friend
- Phone calls with cousin P and friend R
- Marmalade on my toast!
- Mini harvests from my veggie plot
- Flowers in the garden

My joyful activity today was video chatting with my friend.

How is your weekend coming along?

Calamondin Marmalade on Friday!

Calamondin Tree (and companions)

The calamondin tree was already growing in the garden when I bought the house.  The variegated scheffelera plant seen under it, was growing in a pot and my mother placed the pot under the tree to get some shade one summer.  It remained there for a couple of years and when I went to move it, I discovered that the plant had broken through the plastic pot and had firmly rooted itself in the ground!  The bare branched plant in the foreground is a new nectarine tree, which was planted, today.

Eileen had asked if I picked all the calamondin fruits and I said no, the ones we picked were the ones that were within daughter's reach.  The tree is full of fruits:

Close Up of the Calamondin Fruits on the Tree

(Sorry, not the best photo - I took it at midday with my cell phone, as that's the only camera I have.)

Remember the fruits we picked on Thursday?

Freshly Picked Calamondin

On Friday afternoon, I cut each fruit in half and removed the seeds.  A very sharp knife is essential for this step and I was very grateful that my daughter gave me a knife sharpener as a gift, one year for Mother's Day!  The biggest fruits were about one inch in diameter.  Each fruit had about 5 or 6 seeds on average and it took me a couple of hours to cut and deseed them all!  I think I had at least half a pound of seeds!

Deseeded Calamondin Fruits

The next step was to cut the fruit into thin strips.  I cut about half the fruit and processed the rest in the blender (don't have a food processor).  

To make the marmalade, I put the cut up and processed fruit into a big pan with two cups of water and 5 lbs. sugar.  Then, brought it to a boil, stirring all the time.  My daughter was called upon to help with the stirring!  While she stirred, I washed and sterilized the canning jars.  I used half pint (8 oz.; U.S. pints are 16 oz.) canning jars.  

It took approximately 1 hour of boiling and stirring until the marmalade came to the setting point.  I tested for "doneness" by dropping a little of the marmalade onto a cold saucer and seeing if it held its shape when tilted.  Afterwards, daughter helped to pour the marmalade into the prepared jars.  We had 16 half-pint jars of marmalade and almost enough extra to almost fill a pint jar!  

Calamondin Marmalade!

My daughter, who doesn't like most jams because they are two sweet, loves the calamondin marmalade!  It is tangy, with a very pronounced citrus flavor.  Several of these jars will be given as gifts to various people, but, daughter will take a couple of jars with her when she goes back to Berkeley.  I need to print out some labels to put on the jars.

Today, I am grateful for:
- The calamondin tree and its fruits
- Daughter's help with making the marmalade
- A sharp knife and a knife sharpener!
- M helping in the garden (he planted the other two fruit trees)
- Jars of marmalade to gift to family and friends

Do you have a favorite marmalade recipe?

Friday, February 19, 2021


Mini Blueberry Muffins

Thursday morning, I was awakened by a phone call from neighbor T; she was having a plumber come out and wanted to know if she could use my bathroom if she needed to.  For a couple of seconds, I hesitated as my thoughts raced - what about Covid?  Would it be safe?  But, then, common sense kicked in and I said, "Yes, certainly".  I know T hasn't been going anywhere to get exposed to the virus and we would be fine as long as we wore masks.  I wasn't sure if she had any masks or would wear one if she came over, but, I kept a box of new surgical masks near the front door to hand one to her, if she came over and didn't have a mask on.  A couple of hours later, she called and said she didn't need to come over, after all.  

I spent the rest of the morning replying to blog comments, paying a bill, and doing a couple of other tasks.  I called my step-aunt in Texas and checked on her - she said they have power, but, a water pipe connected to the sprinklers had burst and they had no internet connection.  She was glad that I called.  

In the afternoon, I practiced the piano and attached the rest of the rows to the granny squares blanket.  I am now crocheting a border around the whole thing, to finish it off.

Later in the evening, I watered the back garden, paying extra attention to the new fruit trees.  Then, after she finished her work for the day, daughter helped me to pick some of the calamondin from the tree in the back:

Calamondin Fruit

Calamondin is a type of citrus.  They are about the same size as kumquats, but, rounder.  They look like miniature tangerines, I think.  I am planning to make some marmalade with them, tomorrow.  All I could do, today, was wash them.  

Afterwards, daughter made some coffee for us and then, I cooked dinner - a fish curry using frozen pollock fillets and sauteed zucchini, served with rice, of course.  

Later, daughter baked some mini blueberry muffins for dessert.  She found a recipe online that called for plain yogurt in the muffin batter and we were glad we had been able to buy yogurt in our last grocery order! 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to pay the bill online 
- A working printer so I could print out the payment confirmation
- Being able to say, "Yes" to neighbor T's request
- Calamondin from the garden
- Blueberry muffins!

Today's joyful activity was picking fruit from the garden.

How was your Thursday?  What are you planning for Friday?


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

But, Of Course...

It never fails...I spread an ongoing project out to check on its progress and the Chief Inspector of Quality Control springs into action!  You can count on him to be always on top of things!  

Chief Inspector of Quality Control on the Job!

First a Squirm or Two to Test for Comfort

Then a Pause to Ponder

Finally - the Seal of Approval!

Thank you, Dancer, for all your help!  

The crocheted blanket is coming along, nicely.  I am still attaching the rows (have five more left to attach).  Then, I want to crochet a border around it to try and tie it all together.  

It's been another sunny, but, windy, day.  I tried to contact my step-father's sister and her nieces and nephews in Texas to check on them, but, they didn't respond.  However, I contacted the sister of one of them, who is in Hong Kong, and she was able to reassure me that her aunt and siblings are okay.  She had spoken with them.  I will try to call them, tomorrow.  

Cousin V called and we chatted a bit.  Later, I called cousin P and checked on her as she had a couple of medical appointments, earlier this week.  Then, friend R called.

Today, I am grateful for:

- News that the extended family in Texas are doing OK
- No wind damage in my area
- Conversations with cousins and friends
- Time to crochet
- Having a Quality Control Inspector in Residence!

Today's joyful activity was crocheting.  It's exciting to see the blanket coming together.

How was your Wednesday?  Who helps to inspect your projects and give them a seal of approval?

Tuesday in Review

I'm a day behind with my blog posts!  I like to wait until night to write my posts because I usually write about what I did that day.  But, some days end a lot later than usual, and then, my wanting to write a blog post loses out on my need to get some sleep! 

It was a sunny, but, windy day, yesterday.  I brought in the trash cans, watered the back garden, practiced the piano, and did three loads of laundry, including the clothes cousin V gave and the sheets from my bed.  Later, Dancer and my daughter both helped me to remake my bed!

I picked a green pea pod and a purple pea pod from the garden, yesterday, and daughter and I did a taste test.  We each ate half of each pea pod, raw.  I couldn't taste any difference, but, my daughter thought the green one was sweeter.  The green pea pod was bigger and had bigger peas; the purple pea pod was smaller and the peas inside (which were a bright green) were tiny.  I am waiting for the next purple pea pod to get a bit bigger before I pick it - I want to try steaming it to see if the pod color will remain purple or turn to green!  

Poor Dancer ate a bit too much cat grass, yesterday - my fault for giving him so much!  Not only did he throw up, he also had an accident on his way to the litter box!  He felt very bad about it, though, because he was rather subdued the rest of the day.

Neighbor S called to let me know that she is extending her break from teaching piano for the rest of February, which is fine with me.  It means I can take my time learning the two new pieces I was assigned (the theme from Godfather and Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter - both are simplified arrangements to suit my level of piano skills, but, nevertheless, challenging for me to play).  She asked me if I wanted any new pieces to learn during her break, but, I declined the offer!  I do have other easy piano pieces to learn, if I wish to, or, I can go back and brush up on the pieces I learned, earlier.

In the evening, I watched news and crocheted.  I ran short of the grey yarn I was using to crochet a border around each granny square half way through and switched to a lilac.  But, on the very last row, I ran short of the lilac yarn, too!  Oh, dear!  The last three granny squares have been bordered with the pale green yarn that my daughter used for the leaves of the sunflower she crocheted!  I am now joining the rows with yet another color - a pale lemon yellow that was leftover in my stash!  Just how it will turn out is anybody's guess!  LOL.

Later in the evening, I called friend R and chatted with her for a bit.  Then, I read for a bit, before going to sleep, around 3:30 a.m.

On Tuesday, I was grateful for:

- No damage from the wind
- A sunny and bright day
- Working appliances (the washer and dryer)
- Freshly laundered bed sheets
- Dancer seemed to have recovered from being sick, earlier

My joyful activity yesterday was picking pea pods, purple and green, from the garden!

How was your Tuesday?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Presidents' Day Monday


Crocheted Sunflower

Monday was Presidents' Day and a holiday.  Daughter finished crocheting a sunflower and took it over to neighbor T (who had once told me that sunflowers were her favorite flowers) and left it on her doorstep.  I called neighbor T to tell her that there was something for her and a few minutes later, she called daughter and thanked her.  Daughter told her that it was a little something to brighten her day.  

In the afternoon, daughter and I went over to my cousin V's house to pick up the bag of her late mother's clothes she had set aside to give me.  Cousin V is really enjoying growing succulents, right now, so I took her a box of succulents cuttings from my garden, along with a small bag of oranges from my tree.  In addition to the bag of clothes, she also gave me a Christmas gift from her sister (my cousin R) that R had left at V's house to be given to me - a box of Quality Street chocolates!  After I came home, I called cousin R and thanked her for the gift and we chatted for a bit.

Later, my daughter and I spent an fun half hour or so trying on our 'new to us' clothes.  Cousin V had told me that if there were any items I didn't want, to feel free to donate them.  But, all of them fitted daughter and most of them fitted me, too!  I think we will keep most of them!  I gave daughter the first choice since she decluttered her closet, earlier, and she has more opportunity to dress up because she has online meetings for work.  She will take a few of them back to Berkeley with her and the rest will be kept down here.  She very graciously told me that I could borrow them any time!  LOL.

After that, I watered the front garden and took the big trash bins to the curb for pick up in the morning.

In the evening, I watched news, spoke on the phone with friend R, exchanged emails with a friend, and practiced the piano.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter being able to give the crocheted flower to neighbor T
- The gift of clothes from cousin V
- The gift of chocolates from cousin R
- A safe drive to cousin V's and back
- Being able to share some of the succulents and oranges with V

Today's joyful activity was visiting cousin V.

Plans for Tuesday include doing some laundry and watering the back garden.

How was your Monday?  What are your plans for Tuesday?  Will you be making pancakes, tomorrow?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy St. Valentine's Day!


Banana Cookies

Happy St. Valentine's Day!  Hope your day was filled with love!

My daughter tried out a recipe she found online to make a so-called healthy cookie using ripe mashed bananas, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and flour, plus optional ground cinnamon and nutmeg; no eggs.  Except, she substituted 1/3 cup brown sugar (and a little milk) for the maple syrup and used a half and half mixture of whole wheat flour and white flour.  The resulting cookie was soft, with an intense banana flavor (to me; she didn't find it that intense) and not very sweet.  It was alright, but, not quite what she had hoped for!

It was a sunny, but, windy day, today.  I watered the newly planted Asian pear tree with something that is supposed to help reduce the shock of being transplanted, which M had mixed up and left for me.  The strong gusts of wind had knocked a few oranges off the tree, so I picked them up, too.  

I spent a relaxed day.  Neighbor T called for our weekly chat, I practiced the piano, and I called friend R to check on her.  I also finally finished reading a book I had started reading some time ago, then,stopped reading.  I pulled it out to declutter on June 1, 2019, but, decided to hold onto until I finished reading it:

Finally Read!

It was a good book and I like the author's style of writing.  What made it difficult to read was how angry I would get at the people and events described in the book!  I could read it only in small doses!  But, it is not a book I will re-read, so, it will now be given away!

Brunch had been a slice of the bread my daughter had made, yesterday, with butter and some of my feijoa (pineapple guava) jam.  Dinner was rice, chicken curry, green beans, and peach chutney.  I had a couple of the banana cookies for dessert.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Windfall oranges
- "Healthy" cookies
- Chats with neighbor and friend
- No damage to the house or garden from the strong winds
- Books to read

Today's joyful activities included reading and eating cookies!  LOL!

Have you ever tried making banana cookies?  



Purple Pea Pod

Purple Pea Flower (Pretty, isn't it?)

There's a purple pea pod growing in my mini vegetable plot, that is just about ready to be picked!  This is the first time I've grown purple pea pods; it's going to be interesting to see how they taste and compare to the green ones.  There's another green pea pod that's about ready to be picked, too:

Green Pea Pod

I only have four pea vines (two green, two purple) so, the pea pod harvest will be no more than a handful at most, but, that is okay.  Maybe next year, I will be able to make a proper planting bed for them and grow more peas!  Today, one of my cousins reminded me that the pea shoots and tender leaves make a great stir fry with garlic, but, as I told her, I don't have enough pea vines for that!  Unless I buy another packet of peas and see if I can grow them (the pea vines I have now are from seeds that M shared with me).

M was unable to tend to the garden, on Friday, but, he made up for it, on Saturday, instead.  We planted two of the new fruit trees, today!  The Fuyu persimmon and the Asian pear trees.  That was all the time he had before he had to go to his next client's house.  But, we will plant the other two fruit trees and the three blueberry bushes in the course of the next couple of weeks.  I have my instructions to water them well!

My daughter made egg salad in the morning and we had an egg salad sandwich each for breakfast.  Later, she made a Korean spicy chicken stew, called dak dori tang, with potatoes, carrots, and onions:

Korean Spicy Chicken Stew

It's both spicy and a little sweet.  We had a bowl of it served over rice for a late lunch.

Later in the evening, N (neighbor S's daughter) brought over a container of butternut squash soup that she had made.  Daughter decided that we needed some crusty bread to go with it.  She found a recipe online for a quick bread using baking powder instead of yeast and made it with whole wheat flour instead of the white flour called for in the recipe.  Baked on a parchment lined cookie sheet, instead of a loaf pan, it made a dense, crusty bread in about 30 minutes:

Crusty, Whole Wheat Baking Powder Bread

We had the butternut squash soup with some of the bread for dinner:

Butternut Squash Soup and Crusty Whole Wheat Bread

They were both delicious!  What a blessing to be able to enjoy such wonderful meals prepared by my daughter and my neighbor's daughter!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughters (mine and my neighbor's) who cook!

- N sharing some of the soup she made

- M helping to plant the new fruit trees

- Garden vegetables

- Chatting on the phone with friend R

Today's joyful activity was enjoying all the good food my daughter and N made!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

February Grocery Shopping

On Thursday night, we put in an order for groceries and I picked it up on Friday afternoon.  My last grocery pick up was on January 30 and I thought I wouldn't have to grocery shop again for three weeks.  But, the store was having chicken on sale for $.99/lb., canned tuna on sale for $.50/can, and Brussels sprouts on sale for $.99/lb.  Plus, we were all out of salad greens and bananas and coming to the end of the bread.

Today's grocery shopping included meat/poultry (two trays of chicken thighs, a 3-lb. package of ground beef, a package of smoked sausage, a container of turkey cold cuts, a can of corned beef), canned tuna, bread/tortillas, dairy (half gallon container of milk, a container of half and half, and yogurt - yes, they finally had plain yogurt!), vegetables (salad mix, lettuce, a cucumber, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, leeks, onions, and a bunch of radishes with leaves), fruits (bananas, two mangoes, a container of blueberries, two cans of fruit cocktail in juice), a dozen eggs, a jar of apple sauce, a jar of roasted peanuts, a box of saltine crackers, 10 lb. sugar, and a package of coffee filters.  We also bought a box of fruit popsicles and a bag of hot Cheetos as treats!  This time, there was only one substitution - they didn't have the store brand saltine crackers I ordered and asked if they could substitute a box of the (more expensive) brand name ones at the same price as the store brand; I approved the substitution.  This time, I received everything I ordered!  The total came to $105.29.

Daughter took a break from her work to help me disinfect and put away the groceries.

I divided up one of the trays of chicken thighs into three packages of four pieces each and froze them, along with the package of ground beef.  The second tray of chicken thighs was kept for immediate use.  I sauteed some with onions to be used in salads and made a chicken curry with some.  About four pieces were kept in the fridge for daughter to make a dish she wanted to make (once she decides what she wants to make!)

I also sliced the green beans that were in the fridge (2 lbs., bought during the previous grocery shopping trip) and cooked them (sauteed/curried green beans known as "bonchi thel dala" in Sinhalese - slice green beans, add curry powder, salt, a little chili powder, etc., saute in oil with onions and curry leaves, then, add a little water and let it cook until the beans are tender and the water has been absorbed; you can omit the water if you want the beans to be crunchy, I prefer the beans to be soft).  I froze half of the green beans for another day.

Brunch was a salad daughter had prepared with some of the sauteed chicken cut up and added to it.  Dinner was rice, chicken curry, green beans, and peach chutney.   There are enough leftovers for another couple of meals for us.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online

- Being able to pick up, curbside, at my convenience

- The availability of groceries

- Daughter helping with disinfecting and putting away the groceries (as well as with dinner prep)

- A safe drive to the grocery store and back

Have you done any grocery shopping in February, yet?  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Quiet Wednesday

Dinner: Kufta, Pasta, and Veggies

Cousin P's phone call woke me up in the morning.  Her daughter had been ill on Monday and she had called me to ask if I had any coriander to make coriander tea for her (the Sri Lankan panacea) and I had taken her some coriander and a couple of other items she wanted and I had called her on Tuesday to check how her daughter was feeling.  She was calling me today to say her daughter was feeling better.  

In the afternoon, I watched some of the impeachment hearings and crocheted.  Later, I started the car, since I hadn't started the car in over a week - it started without any problems, thank goodness!  I also weeded one of the flower beds in the front and picked some oranges and the first pea pod.  

For dinner, I cooked some kufta that neighbor S had given me and I had kept in the freezer.   I cooked some pasta to go with it (a boxed pasta roni mix), as well as some broccoli and corn.  There's enough kufta leftover for daughter's lunch, tomorrow.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Cousin's daughter is feeling better

- The car starting without any problems

- Meals from the freezer and pantry

- The first pea pod from the garden

- Having daughter home with me

Today's joyful activity was crocheting.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Minimally Planned Meals

Ramen Bowls

Weekly meal planning is sort of taking a back seat, these days.

This week, on Sunday, I cooked a package of smoked sausage links with strips of onions and bell peppers and sauteed some chicken thighs with caramelized onions.  For Sunday night's dinner, I placed a smoked sausage link and some of the onions and bell peppers on a tortilla which was then folded over to form a sort of burrito and sauteed to brown it a bit.  The leftover smoked sausages are in the fridge for another meal, this week.  

Monday night's dinner was ramen bowls, using packaged ramen noodles to which we added toppings - slices of sauteed chicken thighs, shredded cabbage, snap peas, broccoli florets, etc.   I cooked the ramen noodles while daughter sliced up the toppings.  

Today (Tuesday), daughter made us both salads with lettuce, the last of the mixed salad greens, the last of the sauteed chicken thighs, snap peas, and a cut up pear.  I baked brownies from a boxed mix for dessert!  

I am thinking of cooking some ground beef for tomorrow night's dinner - I thought spaghetti with meat sauce would be nice, but, my daughter doesn't like tomato based sauces all that much.  She has mentioned making a miso meat sauce, so maybe we'll try that, instead.  I'll have to remember to take a package of ground beef out to thaw!  Better take out more chicken, too, for later in the week!

How is your weekly meal planning coming along?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Couch Parkour

My daughter has been taking acrobatics/gymnastics classes at a place up in Berkeley; when the lockdown dragged on, they began to offer online classes.  One of the online classes she is taking is called "couch parkour", designed to use what is available indoors.  I remember telling her not to jump on the sofa when she was a little girl!  But, now, she does shoulder rolls:

Shoulder Rolls

Kong vaults:

Kong Vaults

Cat walks:

Cat Walks

(She walked the entire length of the sofa back, which, with the back sofa cushions removed, is about two inches wide!)

As well as several other moves and hand stands to dismount!  

Hand Stand Dismount

So much for telling her not to jump on the sofa!

Meanwhile, the cat thinks the sofa back (with the cushions in place) is best for napping!  

Dancer's Version of Couch Parkour!

I think I agree with Dancer!  LOL! 

But, daughter's version provides her with a fun way to exercise!  

Have you or any of your family members done parkour?