Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Balanced Life Monthly Goals - November Review and December Goals

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 cultivate non-attachment by being generous and giving to the extent I am able

I continued with my daily prayers, meditation, being grateful; I have tried to be positive, generous, giving, and joyful in November.   I feel that I do live a spiritually meaningful life and I am very pleased with this area of my life!

I will continue to keep the rating at 10.

December Spiritual  goals will be the same as above.

House (8.5)(8.5):  The goal is a home that is pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming:
- Clean - 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
I was able to keep up with my cleaning routines in November.  I also kept up with the decluttering during the month, exceeding my goal of decluttering 30 items this month.  One big improvement made in getting my house organized, this month, is the new sideboard my daughter assembled and set up for me.  It is providing a lot of covered storage space which has done a lot to reduce the visual clutter in the family room!  

I am keeping my rating at 8.5.  

December House goals will be the same as above, with the addition of decorating the house for the holidays.  I am planning to continue with the decluttering in December, too; the goal is at least 31 items!  I have also scheduled a donations pick up for December 22, so that will make sure that the decluttered things will be leaving the house rather than being piled up in the corner of the spare bedroom! 

Garden (9.5)(9.5):  The goal is a garden that is productive, yet drought tolerant:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed); M will continue to visit twice a week
- Focus on the vegetable and fruit plants
- Schedule tree trimmers to trim the eucalyptus tree

The garden was well tended to in November.  We have already harvested some leaves from the Japanese purple mustard greens and purple mizuna that we planted and the pea plants have their first flowers!  The fruit trees are continuing to be pruned and sprayed in readiness for winter dormancy, although the recent warm summer-like temperatures are probably going to cause the peach tree and the plum tree to bloom early!  Which won't be helpful because we often get a cold snap in spring and that will damage the flowers!  The eucalyptus tree was trimmed, as scheduled, on November 11.  Unhappily, some unknown person seems to have decided that the yucca plant stems in the front garden that were just sprouting new growth needed to be trimmed, too, because several plantlets had been removed!  There are two stems that were planted, a taller stem and a shorter one.  Each had about 5 or 6 new plantlets sprouting along the top part of the branch, from the former leaf nodes:

Shorter Stem: Still has several plantlets

Taller Stem: Only one plantlet left 
Where a plantlet was removed

Another missing plantlet

I don't mind sharing plants from my garden; but, I do mind people helping themselves to the plants without asking!  This is not the first time; on previous occasions, they've dug up plants!  Oh, well; at least they are not breaking into my house! 

I am keeping the rating at 9.5, because the garden has been doing quite well.    

December Garden goals will include:
Maintaining (water, fertilize, and weed); M will continue to visit twice a week
- Focus on the winter vegetable and fruit plants

Daughter (10)(10) The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her:
- Continue to enjoy the rest of the time together before she has to go back
- Do more fun (safe) activities together (some craft projects, painting, etc.)

I am continuing to enjoy having my daughter home with me and am especially thankful she was here when I needed help getting up after my fall.  Fun (safe) activities have included making some tea cup candles for gift giving and celebrating Thanksgiving together.
I am keeping the rating at 10!

December Daughter goals will include:
- Continue to enjoy the rest of the time together before she has to go back
- Take her to get her booster dose
- Do more fun (safe) activities together (some craft projects, painting, etc.)
- Celebrate the holidays (Christmas and New Year) together

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, mostly through phone calls, emails, texts, etc.  Several of my cousins and friends called, emailed, or texted to wish me for my birthday, which was really nice.  I got to video chat with another friend, although there was more chat than video as I couldn't get my camera to work (hadn't known that there was a button on the laptop to allow the camera to be switched on!) and her camera was automatically turned off to save bandwidth, according to the message we received; even so, it was a lot of fun.  One of my cousins had invited us to a family Thanksgiving she was hosting, but, we declined, preferring to stay at home.  There was, also, the exchange of food with friends from time to time!    
I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Family and Friends goals will be the same as above.  I will be attending a memorial service for my late aunt (can't believe it has been one year, already!) and I will probably see quite a few family members and friends then, but, I will not be attending the reception which will be held at a venue, afterwards.  I will probably visit my cousin at her house, later in the week.  I hope to see her daughter and grandsons who will be coming down from New York for the memorial and I will be able to give them their holiday gifts, then.

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 when safe to do so

I participated in the blogging community and interacted with my neighbors; we still have a steady sharing of food among us!  I am counting unknowingly supplying garden plants as part of my community participation!  LOL.  I'm keeping the rating at 10.

December Community goals will be the same as above!

Finances (10)(10):  The goal is financial security:
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose; the big expenses this month will be paying the property taxes and for the tree trimming. 

I continued to budget and spend as mindfully as possible in November.  I paid the property taxes and for the tree trimming.  I came under budget for groceries and gas for the car; I used my grocery budget savings to stock up on some specialty items and to get some holiday treats for gift giving. 
I am keeping the rating at 10.

December Financial goals:
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose; the big expenses this month will be paying the homeowner's and earthquake insurance for next year (due at the end of the month) and holiday gifts, although I budget for that, year round.  

Health & Well Being (8.0)(8.0):  The goal is good health:
- Focus on continuing to improve my health
- Focus on diet and hydration

My health goals are on-going.  The focus on the diet lasted only for the first 10 days of the month!  Then came my birthday and all good intentions flew out the window when there were scones and cakes and other goodies to be enjoyed!  Followed soon after by Thanksgiving feasts!  However, I have not gained any weight, even with all the feasting, so, I shall count that as a good thing!  I received my flu vaccine earlier in the month and the Covid booster dose mid-month and had relatively minor side effects for both vaccines.  There was the fall, at the end of the month, but, again, I wasn't badly hurt.  On the whole, things have been OK.
I am keeping the satisfaction rating at 8.0.

December Health and Well Being goals
- Focus on continuing improve my health
- Focus on diet and hydration
- Go for a blood test towards the end of the month

Time Management (7)(7): 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

I have felt better about my time management, this month!  I've become more accepting of my current schedule!  Things are still getting done, even if it takes more time to do them.  However, I am still procrastinating on some things and I know that I can manage my time a bit better!   There is much room for improvement!  Therefore, I will keep the rating at 7.  

December Time Management goals are the same as above.  

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Self-Care (10)(10):  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Engage in daily joyful activities

I engaged in daily joyful activities in November.  They've included celebrating my birthday, doing a facial with my daughter, making holiday gifts, chatting with family and friends, and spending time in the garden when NOT falling!  LOL.  I am keeping the rating at 10.  

December Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Self-Care goal remains the same as above, with the focus on getting the holiday gifts done!

November has been another good month, overall.  My ratings remained the same as nothing improved or got worse that dramatically.  Health/Well Being and Time Management will continue to be the focus areas in December, too.      

Anyone else making monthly goals for a more balanced life?  If not, how do you try to maintain balance in all the different areas of your life?  

Monthly Photo Challenge - November: "Starts with F"

The theme for the November Monthly Photo Challenge, hosted by Eileen at A Bracelet of Days, is "Starts with F" and these are my selections:


Flowers: Hibiscus
Flowers: Cosmos
Flowers: Lantana


Feijoa (Pineapple Guava)

Fire-Breathing Dragon Furnace:

Fiery Flames of Frustration (Thanks Lady Ella for the title!)

Furry Feline:

Furry Feline Furniture Assembly Supervisor


Fabric From The Stash

I told my daughter we should have taken a photo of me after I fell in the garden, but, we weren't thinking of the monthly photo challenge at the time!  Ah, a missed opportunity!  

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

November Decluttering Week 4

With November ending today, this is what I was able to declutter this week:

11/22 - 4 egg cartons (saved as potential seed starters, but, not needed; recycled)

11/23 - 2 text books (daughter's; recycled)

11/24 - 1 fabric carol singer print (turned into a hot pad and will be gifted)

11/25 - 1 Tupperware pastry sheet (tossed; replaced by a new one!)

11/26 - 1 CD (donated)

11/27 - 16 cassette tapes (13 donated; 3 tossed)
            1 cassette tape holder 

11/28 - 2 brochures
            1 food container (given with cookies to friends)

11/29 - 20 knitted infants' hats (knitted for the American Heart Association's Red Hat program, but, they cancelled the program before I could send them the hats; donated)

11/30 - 1 crochet pattern booklet; missing the first few pages (recycled)

Here are the posts for the first, second, and third weeks of November:

November Decluttering Week 1 

November Decluttering Week 2

 November Decluttering Week 3

My goal for November was at least 30 items decluttered.  I decluttered over 30 items in the first week, 11 items in the second week, another 8 items in the third week, and 50 items this final week.   Some of the items were small items, but, they seem to contribute more to the clutter than the bigger items, I feel!  I am quite pleased with what I have been able to declutter this month.

I have a donations pick up scheduled for December 22.  I am going to try and add more items to the donations pile in December!

December's decluttering goal will be at least 31 items!

Did you do any decluttering in November?  Will you be decluttering in December, too?

Please Help Me, I'm Falling

Does anyone remember the song by that title, sung by Hank Locklin?  Country and Western (which is what we called it) songs were very popular when I was growing up and that was one of my favorite songs!  The song is about falling in love, but, that's not what brought the song to my mind, today!  I had to change the lyrics, slightly:  "Please help me, I've fallen, in the garden again"!

I was out watering the garden, this morning.  I did the front garden first and that went well.  Then, I moved to the back garden and that's when I fell again!  I was straightening out the garden hose and I am not sure if I tripped on the hose or the crack in the paved path, but, the next thing I knew, I was falling forward and there was nothing to grab onto to stop the fall!  I did put out my right hand, palm down, to try and break the fall, which helped.  I scraped both knees, but the right knee took the brunt of it.

The good thing was, I didn't break anything (I have osteopenia, which is the beginning of osteoporosis) or knock my head on the cemented path.  The bad thing was, I seem to be unable to get back up by myself after a fall!  I need to have something to hold on to in order to get up!  The good thing was I had my cell phone with me and my daughter was inside the house (she was working and didn't hear me call out for her), so I could call her on her cell phone: "Please help me, I've fallen, in the garden again!"  She immediately rushed out and helped me up!  Such a blessing to have her home!  

Apparently, I don't need to chase any bunny rabbits to fall in the garden!

Daughter insisted that I rested for awhile after that.  But, later in the evening, I went back out and finished watering the back yard.  It needed to be watered because M took the Friday after Thanksgiving off and the garden didn't get the regular Friday watering.  We've been having 80F weather and very dry Santa Ana winds, recently, so the garden was very dry.  

After I finished watering, I took a few pictures of the Kent Mango Family:

Clark Kent Supermango

Clark seems to have finally got over his sulk about being transplanted and has begun to grow a new set of leaves!  

Lois Lane Kent Mango

Lois, on the other hand, sprouted directly in the soil and, although she sprouted after Clark did, has grown taller than Clark!

Conner Kent (SuperBoy) Mango

Conner was transplanted shortly after he sprouted and has taken well to growing in the soil.  He still hasn't grown a second set of leaves, but, his first set looks very healthy.    He will soon be joined by Tommy (Tommy Atkins mango, sprouted from seed) which is still in a jar of water inside the house.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- I didn't hurt myself badly when I fell
- My daughter was home to help me up
- I had my phone with me to call her
- I was still able to finish watering the garden
- Mango seedlings!

Today's joyful activity was ordering some Christmas gifts for my cousin's grandsons, aged 2 and just turned 5!

Plans for tomorrow include going to the Sri Lankan store to pick up an order of groceries and treats we put in, today!  

How was your Monday?  What were some of your favorite songs when you were growing up?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

November Groceries - Part 3

I picked up an order of groceries,  this afternoon.  This particular order included some non-grocery household supplies (aluminum foil) and toiletry items (shampoo and toothpaste).  I know that some people include all their household supplies, toiletry, and pet food, etc. in their grocery budget, but, I like to keep things in separate categories because I like to be able to say exactly how much I am spending on food, versus cleaning products, toiletries, etc.

I tend to stock up on household and toiletry items, more or less quarterly, buying enough, each time, to last at least until the next quarterly stock up, if not longer, depending on sales.  For example, I was down to two tubes of toothpaste and I wanted to stock up on toothpaste when it went on sale.  The last time I ordered groceries, toothpaste was selling at the regular price of $1.59 and I held off on buying any.  This week, it is on sale for $.88 each and I stocked up!  The other toiletry item I stocked up on, today, was shampoo.  3 bottles of the brand my daughter uses (she has extremely dry hair and this is the one shampoo that seems to help, plus there was a store coupon for $5 off on the purchase of 3) and 2 bottles of the brand I use, which was the same price at the grocery store as at the dollar store!  

One household supply item I bought today was definitely not the same price as at the dollar store and that was aluminum foil!  But, I had finished all my aluminum wrap and was already using my last emergency roll!  I ordered two rolls of regular aluminum foil, cringing at the price, and the store sent me a text this morning saying they were out of regular aluminum foil and would I like the heavy duty rolls, instead.  I accepted the substitute; the price was the same but the amount of foil per roll was less.

So, what are the groceries you bought, Bless?

I bought:

1 x 5 lbs. bag all purpose flour = $1.99 (Holiday baking ahead!)
5 x 4 lb. bags sugar; reg. price $2.17, on sale with digital coupon at $.97 @ = $4.85 (Great stock up price!)
1 loaf white bread, 20 oz. (used to be 24 oz!) = $1.50

1/2 gal. milk = $2.19
1/2 gal. half and half = $3.99

2+ lb. bananas (6 bananas) @ $.64/lb = $1.72
1 x 4lb. bag oranges = $1.97
0.9 lb. green beans $.99/lb. = $.89

1 bag (13 oz.) potato chips! (reg. price $5.09) =  $2.77

Total = $21.87

We didn't need a lot of groceries, this week; mostly needed the half and half and milk, and some bananas.  But, the sugar was on sale for a very good price and I wanted to stock up for holiday baking, etc.  The potato chips are something I had been craving for a long time!  I finally gave in!  LOL.

My November grocery spending has amounted to:

$74.98 (on 11/2) + $68.89 (on 11/16) and $21.87 (on 11/28; today) =  $165.74.  

Once again, I managed to stay well under my monthly grocery budget of $250 for two people.  I have been wondering if I should reduce my monthly budget to $200 in January or whether to wait until my daughter goes back to Berkeley and then, reduce the budget to $125 for just myself.  Prior to the pandemic, my monthly grocery budget was $75 for one person.  But, that budget was based on being able to go grocery shopping in person at the ethnic stores, etc., and taking full advantage of clearance items, which I am not doing at present.  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes monthly reports estimating the costs of a healthy, balanced diet based on four levels of spending: Thrifty Food Plan (used to determine the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits eligible individuals receive), Low, Moderate, and Liberal Food Plans.  According to the latest monthly report (for October 2021), the Thrifty Food Plan for a household of two females, one of whom is aged 20-50 (daughter) and one of whom is aged 50-70 (me!) comes to a little over $400.  Compared to that, I think I am doing very well, keeping my food budget to $250 and under! 

Meanwhile, "turkey week" as a friend of mine has been calling it, is going well!  I made turkey fried rice, yesterday, with leftover rice, some leftover turkey, a few mustard greens from the garden, a handful of coleslaw mix from a bag in the fridge, an egg, plus what was leftover from the egg used to glace the apple pie and the white from the egg daughter used to make the cookies (she only needed the yolk), a little soy sauce, and a handful of peanuts. Daughter had leftover turkey fried rice for her lunch today.  For dinner, I made a turkey curry with the rest of the roast turkey and served it with biriyani rice.  There is more turkey curry leftover for at least another couple of meals for us!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online
- Free curb side pick up
- The availability of groceries
- Being blessed with the means with which to pay for the groceries
- Leftovers turned into made-overs!  

Today's joyful activity was chatting online with a friend, even though I was unable to figure out how to switch on my computer camera until much later!

How was your grocery spending for the month?  Were you able to keep to your budget?

Feasting Continues!

Almond Cookies

Today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my daughter decided to bake some cookies!  We are calling them almond cookies because they have ground almonds in the dough.  She found the recipe online, but, then, proceeded to modify it, substituting all purpose flour for cake flour, half and half for skim milk, vanilla essence for vanilla beans, salted butter for unsalted butter (and omitting the salt called for in the recipe) because that's what we had!  Plus she shortened the chilling time for the dough and decreased the oven temperature!  LOL.  She left a few cookies plain, but, topped the rest with melted chocolate chips, melted chocolate and almonds, cranberry sauce, cranberry frosting (powdered sugar mixed with cranberry sauce), and Nutella!  She packed up a dozen or so of the cookies in a container to give to a friend of hers who had texted her, earlier in the morning, to ask if she'd like some Vietnamese spring rolls.

At first, her friend had said that there were spring rolls leftover from their Thanksgiving dinner, which they had yesterday, and would we like to have some?  Daughter replied, yes, please. Her friend was going to drop off the spring rolls in the early afternoon.  Then, her friend texted her to say that his aunt had been upset that he had offered leftovers to us and was now insisting on making a fresh batch of spring rolls to give us, so, he will bring them over a bit later!  A couple of hours later, he dropped off this feast:

Vietnamese Meat Pies, Rice Paper Spring Rolls, Peanut Sauce, and Fruits

Freshly made spring rolls (rice noodles, slices of cooked pork, lettuce, fresh mint leaves, and shrimp, wrapped in rice paper) with peanut sauce for dipping, meat pies still warm from the oven (the friend's mother and aunt had remembered that I really liked them and made some!), plus guavas and lemons from their garden!  I called the friend's mother and thanked her for the feast they had sent us!  They have been such wonderful friends to us over the years (we've known each other since my daughter was in 4th grade).

While my daughter was busy making cookies, I busied myself making more holiday gifts:

Snowman Coasters

A set of four snowman coasters.  I had just enough black embroidery thread in my stash to finish this set!  I made a similar set back in 2019, too.  

Later in the evening, my daughter and I gave ourselves facials as a mother-daughter activity!    

Today, I am grateful for:

- Good friends of many years
- The delicious meal from my daughter's friend and his family
- The yummy cookies my daughter baked
- Being able to make gifts from The Stash!
- Being able to order groceries online

Today's joyful activities included enjoying some really delicious food and facials. 

Plans for tomorrow include video chatting with a friend, picking up the groceries, and making more gifts to give.

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

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday

Apple Pie

Thanksgiving Day was wonderful because my daughter and I were together to celebrate it!

The day started off with an early morning phone call from my aunt, who called to wish us a happy Thanksgiving.  It really wasn't that early in the morning, except, having gone to bed around 3:30 a.m., I was still sleeping at 9:00 a.m. when she called!   LOL.  

I spent part of the morning finishing up the hot pad I had started sewing the day before:

Hot Pad Front

Hot Pad Back

The caroling lady was supposed to have been a stuffed toy/ornament and has been in my stash for a long time!  I am not quite sure how I came to have it in my stash in the first place!  I couldn't think of anyone who would appreciate a fabric ornament, but, didn't want to dispose of it, either.  Then, the other night, I thought it would do nicely for a hot pad, instead.  I appliqued it onto the plain blue fabric and then, sewed the hot pad.  I'm definitely going to consider this as a decluttered item!

The previous night's wind had knocked over the avocado plant and when my daughter and I went to set it back upright, again, we noticed that some of the purple mustard leaves had been snapped off by the wind!  We picked those and daughter added them to the salad she prepared for our dinner, later in the evening.

I started on the Thanksgiving dinner preparations in the afternoon, making the cranberry sauce, first.  Then, an apple pie, made with Granny Smith apples and my homemade all butter pie crust.  I had an opportunity to use two of my birthday presents from my daughter to make the pie - the mini food processor to blend the butter into the flour for the pie crust (so much faster than using two knives to cut in the butter) and the new silicone pastry sheet to roll out the pie crusts!  I decluttered the old pastry sheet I have had for the past 25 years (bought at a Tupperware party - that one was rather battered with a corner melted when it came too close to a stove burner that was on and cut through in places!)  

Daughter made the rice using a boxed wild rice and rice mix and after the pie finished baking, we increased the oven temperature from 350F to 400F and baked the frozen salmon fillet, which we seasoned with some lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.  It turned out nicely.  We had some mixed Japanese mustard greens and mizuna cooked together in a dish called "namul" to go with our salmon and rice:

Thanksgiving Dinner

I didn't take a picture of the salad of mixed greens and cucumber.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a piece of pie, each.  

This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for:

- Having my daughter home and being able to celebrate with her
- The blessing of good health and being alive
- A warm and comfortable home
- Good food and plenty of it
- Family and friends 

My joyful activity was celebrating Thanksgiving with my daughter.

Today, Friday (Black Friday), I am doing laundry and relaxing.  We didn't do any Black Friday shopping (we rarely do, anyway).

Neighbor S sent over a platter of goodies through her daughter N:

Thanksgiving Goodies from Neighbors S and N

N had made the little round pumpkin pastries and apple pie; S had added the madeleine cookies that my daughter loves and some chocolates to round it off!  She also sent over some turkey!  I think there will be some turkey pot pies and/or turkey casserole, this weekend!  LOL.  

No big plans for the weekend.  Just taking it easy and relaxing.  

Hope everything is well with everyone who is reading this blog of mine.  Did anyone do any Black Friday shopping to take advantage of the deals?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Bread and Potatoes on Wednesday

I set my alarm for 8:00 a.m., today, as I was determined to wake up earlier than usual.  I was tempted to go back to sleep when the alarm went off (I hadn't gone to bed until around 3:00 a.m.), but, I got up, got dressed, fed the cats, unlocked the gate in anticipation of M arriving to water the garden, had a cup of tea, and said my morning prayers.  Then, I spent a little time online, until M arrived.

We chatted a bit, then, he watered the garden, both front and back for me.  We picked more guavas from the pineapple guava (feijoa) tree and harvested the potatoes I had grown in a container (from a supermarket potato that had sprouted).  It might not be a huge potato harvest, but, I was thrilled to bits!

Pineapple Guavas (Feijoa) and Potatoes

I boiled the potatoes and had some for my brunch, along with my salad and turkey.  

Today, I sorted all the Christmas fabric scraps I had collected in the gallon sized bag and separated them by fabric design, putting all the likes together.  They won't stay like that once I open the bundled up pieces of fabric to get pieces out for the next project, but, it satisfied my need to organize!  It reminded me of something my mother had written about me in my baby book, that she would give me her basket of lace trims and ribbons and I would spend hours sorting them and rearranging them; no doubt I tangled them all up, too, but she had written that it would keep me amused for hours!  I remember doing the same with my daughter when she was a baby - give her her own pile of fabric scraps when I sorted out pieces for a quilt top and it kept her happy for long periods of time!

Once that was done, I settled down to sew another hot pad/pot holder,  but doing applique instead of patchwork.  I made a start on it, but, haven't finished sewing it.  I hope to finish it, tomorrow.  

Later in the afternoon, I decided to make some bread.  Regular yeast bread, using all purpose flour and a packet of yeast friend R had given me, last year, when I couldn't find any yeast in any of the stores or on line!  The packet had expired, last year, but, I proofed it and it worked well enough.  But, today has been a relatively cool day (and very windy - so glad I had the eucalyptus tree trimmed!).  I kept the dough to rise in the unheated oven with a bowl of hot water and the oven light on to provide a little extra warmth.  The dough took its own sweet time to rise and didn't rise a lot.  I was afraid I might end up with two bricks of bread instead of two loaves!  But, I eventually baked it and I think it turned out quite well, if I say so myself!

Freshly Baked Bread
Warm From the Oven
With Butter

Today, I am grateful for:

- M tending to the garden, twice a week
- The guava and potatoharvest!
- The dough hook on my stand mixer!
- Fresh bread, hot from the oven
- The eucalyptus tree was trimmed in time

Today's joyful activity was baking (and eating!) fresh bread!

The wind is blowing so hard that the lights went out once and has been flickering on and off!  One of the energy providers had already said that their customers might be without power, tomorrow, as they plan to shut down their power lines to reduce the risk of fires during these strong Santa Ana winds which are dry desert winds.  I hope we won't lose power, tomorrow!  But, if the power does go out, we have cooked turkey leftover in the fridge, a container of salad, and freshly baked bread for our Thanksgiving meal!  Oh, and plenty of candles!  LOL!

I know that not all of my readers will celebrate Thanksgiving, tomorrow.  Some of you live where Thanksgiving is not a holiday to be observed, some have already celebrated their own Thanksgivings, last month, and some are going through some emotionally difficult times keeping vigil by family members who are ill or nearing the end of their lives.  I do, however, wish everyone a day filled with blessings; may you find something for which to be thankful, not just tomorrow, but, every day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Sewing From The Stash!


Christmas Hot Pads/Pot Holders

In between making tea cup candles with my daughter, I've been making some hot pads/pot holders to give as Christmas gifts!  On Sunday, I pulled out all the Christmas fabric I had in The Stash.  I had thought of making a really simple table runner (or two) to give as gifts.  But, I was distracted by a gallon sized bag of bits and pieces leftover from previous projects and thought I should try to use up some of those, first.  I thought I'll make hot pads.  They could be used as pot holders, too, but, I didn't have the special heat resistant batting that is recommended for pot holders.  Then, again, the pot holders I've bought from the dollar store usually don't have them, either!

Anyway, I spent Sunday afternoon playing with fabric, sorting out the fabric, and deciding I will make hot pads based on the Log Cabin pattern.  A "scrappy" log cabin, because I was using the fabric I had on hand, without sorting them out by color, etc.   I decided to use fabric strips that were 2 inches wide, which, when sewn with 1/4 inch (approximately; I'm hopeless at keeping my seams even) would end up being 1 1/2 inches wide.  

Some people pre-cut their fabric into strips of different widths and sort them in containers by width before storing them.  I don't.  Which meant I had to spend some time measuring and cutting and ironing because everything had been crammed into the gallon sized bag for storage!  

By Monday evening, I had finished sewing the tops of five scrappy log cabin hot pads:

One of the pieced tops

I decided that the hot pad would look better if the very last round of strips would be the same fabric and cut the strips from a larger piece of leftover fabric, for all the hot pads.

I also cut out the batting and the backing fabrics; four of the hot pads have this fabric for the back:

Backing Fabric (Leftover from a dress my mother made for my daughter)

I ran short of that fabric for the fifth hot pad and cut out a different piece of fabric to back that.  It doesn't matter because I will be giving the hot pads to different people.

Today, Tuesday, I put the hot pads together, first cutting a short strip of fabric and sewing it to make a loop:

Fabric Loop

Then, placing it on the right side of the pieced top of the hot pad, so that the loop points inside and the ends of the loop are along the outside edge of the pieced top:

Loop Attached to the Corner 

I decided to attach the loop to the corner, but, it can be attached to the middle of the top edge, as well.

Then, lay the backing piece on top of the pieced top, so that right sides of the fabrics are together and the wrong side of the backing piece faces up:

The backing piece placed on top, with right sides of fabric together

Next, place the piece of quilt batting over the backing fabric:

Quilt batting placed over the backing fabric

And pin all the layers together, leaving a gap of about 3 or 4 inches on one side:

All the layers pinned together, with a gap along one side

The next step is to sew all around the edge of the pinned together pot holder, leaving the gap between the two pins unsewn.  Then, turn the piece inside out, through the gap.  I didn't take any photos of this step.  Once it is turned right side out, the quilt batting should be inside the hot pad.  I sewed around the inside of the edge of the hot pad and hand sewed the edge of the opening to close it.  I also sewed around the square in the middle of the hot pad and did a sort of "quilt in the ditch" to finish it.

The finished hot pad measures about 8 inches square.

I am rather pleased with how they turned out.  I had fun sewing them and since I used supplies I had on hand, all they cost me was time and some electricity to run the sewing machine.  I consider them to be frugal gifts.  I am thinking of pairing a hot pad with a solid colored kitchen towel to give as a token gift with perhaps a jar of my homemade jam to some of the people on my gift list.  What do you think?

By the way, the gallon size bag is still quite full of scraps!  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The Fabric Stash!
- A working sewing machine
- Time to sew
- Frugal gifts
- Leftovers for meals

Today's joyful activity was sewing Christmas gifts.

Do you make handmade gifts to give at Christmas and other holidays?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Vacation Days

My daughter has taken three vacation days off from work, this week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) because Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Friday are holidays.   With the two weekends at either end, she will have nine days to rest and relax.  We are not planning to go anywhere; we will relax at home and enjoy a week of relaxing, crafting, and cooking, of course!

This is how the tea cup candles looked, on Sunday, after the wax had hardened, overnight:  

Tea Cup Candles

As you can see, there were deep wells near the middles of the tea cups.  But, that is just how the wax hardens.  Today (Monday), we melted another leftover pillar candle and poured another layer of melted wax over the hardened wax in the tea cups to fill in the gaps and left them to set:

Tea Cup Candles
This time, there were a few bumps on the surface (they are not air bubbles; it's just how the wax hardened), but, we are OK with that.  Daughter cut off the excess wicks (we will try to use them for some shallower candles).  The tea cup candles will be set aside until they are needed around Christmas or New Year.

Daughter harvested the first leaves from the winter garden, today:

Purple Mizuna and Purple Japanese Mustard Greens

She used some of them in this noodle dish she made for our lunch:

Tofu Shirataki Noodles with Shrimp and Greens

The rest was sauteed with spices to make a Korean side dish called namul, but, she didn't take a photo of that.

I spent Sunday afternoon working on a Christmas gifts project of my own (no photos to show, yet).  I had made more tuna salad for brunch and daughter heated some frozen burritos around tea time.  We weren't that hungry for dinner, but, I made a light snack, with the last of the wonton wrappers and some leftover ground beef curry:

Baked Wonton Cups with Ground Beef Curry  and Chutney

It was a bit of an experiment.  But, I lined mini muffin cups with the wonton wrappers, added a spoonful of the ground beef curry to them, and baked them at 350F for about 12 minutes.  I think the oven was probably too high; 325F or, even 300F would have been better.  But, the tops of the wonton wrappers turned out nice and crisp.  Daughter had hers topped with a bit of zucchini chutney (top photo).  I preferred mine with a squirt of tomato ketchup:

Baked Wonton Cups with Ground Beef Curry and Ketchup

Today, I worked a bit more on the Christmas gifts I'm making, took the trash cans to the curb to be picked up tomorrow, chatted with neighbor T and friend R, and cooked dinner:

Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Salad

Yes, I roasted the Thanksgiving turkey, today, instead of waiting until Thursday!  I didn't have room for the uncooked turkey in the freezer, so I had kept it in the fridge, intending to cook it once it had thawed.  I thought it might have thawed by the weekend, but, when I checked it on  the weekend, it was still quite frozen!  It had thawed nicely by Monday afternoon, although there was still a bit of ice around the cavity.  This turkey came with its own gravy packet in a pouch, inserted in its cavity!  How convenient!  The instructions said to mix the contents of the packet with 1 1/4 cups of water, but, I used the broth from boiling the neck and giblets, instead.  I don't like stuffing, so, I didn't stuff the turkey.  Instead, I seasoned it lightly, inserted a cut up lemon in the cavity, and roasted it, at 325F for almost 3 hours.  I made mashed potatoes and the gravy, and served it with pre-mixed salad.

I kept some of the cooked turkey in the fridge for meals this week.  The rest is packaged and frozen, for future meals, along with the bones and pan drippings to be made into broth, later.  

So, what are you going to have for Thanksgiving, Bless, if you've already cooked the turkey?  Daughter would like salmon, so that's what we'll make for Thanksgiving.  I have a package of salmon in the freezer.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Time spent crafting
- Garden harvests
- A working oven and other appliances
- A full freezer
- The warm weather (in the low 80sF, Sunday and Monday)

Today's joyful activity was making holiday gifts.

How was your day?  What are your plans for the week?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

November Decluttering: Week 3

This week's decluttering has been a bit "hit or miss" - some days, I found it difficult to declutter and other days, things practically decluttered themselves!  However, the important thing is, I found some items to declutter.  Some have left the house, already; others have been set aside to be donated, as soon as I can schedule a pick up.

These are the items I decluttered this week:

11/15 - 1 basket and some artificial flowers (tossed; too dusty to donate!)

11/16 - 1 stuffed toy (tossed; again, too dusty to donate)
            1 paint stirrer stick (tossed/recycle bin)

11/17 - 1 catalog (Christmas gift baskets) that arrived in the mail (recycled)

11/18 - 1 set of 3 mini painted terra cotta flower pots on a base, 3 tealight candles, 2 ribbons, 1 gift bag, tissue paper, and a card; all from the stash (gifted)

11/19 - 1 Auto Club magazine (recycled)

11/20 - 1 Crochet book (to be donated)

Crochet Book

I bought it because I thought I'd be able to improve my crocheting skills.  Unfortunately, I can only make the traditional Granny Square when it comes to crocheting!  I'll stick to knitting!

11/21 - 1 Christmas book (to be donated)

Christmas Book

I have enjoyed looking at the pictures shown in this book, but, I have realized that I am no longer likely to decorate as lavishly as shown!  Time to let it go to be enjoyed by someone else.

I managed to declutter at least one item a day, in week 3.  Did you declutter anything this week?

Saturday Fun

Treats from S!

Neighbor S called in the morning to ask if I would like to have some of her mother's famous banana cake and a piece of chocolate cake from the Armenian bakery.  Oh, yes, please!  Her daughter N added the containers of chocolate pudding, as well!  Now, wasn't that a nice start to the day?

It was very foggy, when I first woke up, this morning.  I turned off the porch lights and went back to bed for another hour or so.  It stayed cloudy and cool, all day.  

In the afternoon, daughter and I spent some time crafting/gift making:

Tea Cup Candles in the Making

I had some tea cups that I had been given.  I had bought the wicks, a packet of six with clips, prior to the pandemic (July 2019; I had mentioned it in a blog post!), using a 40% off coupon.  I don't remember how much I paid for them, but they are priced at $3.99 on the store website, now.  I had bought a big 3-wick rectangular candle, several years ago, from a discount store for about $3.00; I had used part of it to make tea cup candles, previously.  There was a portion of it (less than half) left, plus, assorted candle ends that I had saved over the years.  Today, my daughter and I cut up and melted some of the candle wax (I had kept the old saucepan I had used previously to melt the wax), and we made five tea cup candles!  Four of the cups have the same design (the pink flowered ones shown at the back in the photo) - they are for four of my daughter's friends; they don't have matching saucers, but, my daughter says that's fine.  The cup in the front has a matching saucer and it was given to my mother by one of her students.  After pouring in the melted wax, the tea cups were set aside for the wax to harden, which it did, but, the process resulted in some dips and ridges on the surface.  Tomorrow, we will melt a little more wax to pour into each tea cup to fill in the dips and smooth out the tops.  

On a productive note, I scrubbed and cleaned under the burners, etc., on one side of the stove before we began melting the wax, etc.  I also washed some dishes (by hand).  

Later in the evening, my daughter and I watched an acrobatics performance put on by some of the instructors at the studio where my daughter takes her acrobatics classes; the performance was to celebrate the studio's 13 year anniversary and live streamed.  We both enjoyed watching it.  

Afterwards, I called and spoke with cousin P and with friend R.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- S sharing more treats with us!
- Spending an afternoon crafting with my daughter
- Frugal gifts thanks to The Stash!
- A working furnace
- Chatting with family and friends

Today's joyful activity was crafting with my daughter.  

Plans for tomorrow include having an online video chat with a friend of mine and some sewing.  According to the forecast, it will be a sunny and warmer day, tomorrow.

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday?  Have you made tea cup candles?  If not, is it something you might consider making?  

Friday, November 19, 2021

Still Relaxing on Friday!

Yet another relaxed day, today!  I slept in, then, put away the laundry from yesterday, replied to blog comments, read some blogs, spent some time in the afternoon chatting with neighbor T and friend A, did a bit of weeding in the back garden, did the dishes, and checked the mail.

There was a sales ad from the fabric store, advertising their Thanksgiving/Black Friday deals!  Oh, I wanted to order just about everything they had advertised!  Fabrics at 60% off, plus a coupon for 20% off the total purchase!  I didn't actually buy anything, of course, but, I enjoyed drooling over everything!  LOL.  

M tended to the garden in the early evening and I chatted on the phone with friend R later in the evening.  I also watched news and one other program about ancestry that I like to watch on TV. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to enjoy another relaxed day
- Chatting on the phone with friends
- M tending to the garden for me
- Feeling well after the booster dose
- Hugs from my daughter 

Today's joyful activity was watching a hummingbird enjoying the nectar from the moringa flowers.  

Plans for tomorrow include doing some sewing (holiday gifts won't get done unless I actually start making them!)

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


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Relaxed Thursday

A cloudy and cooler day, today, with a high of only 73F.  I slept in this morning and took it easy because I felt just a little tired, probably a side effect of the booster dose?  My daughter encouraged me to relax and so, I did!  I did do two loads of laundry, just to feel I was productive, as I told my daughter.  She just shook her head at me!  LOL.

I called neighbor T to check on her and I called neighbor S to ask her if she'd like some of the tomato soup I had made, but, she declined saying tomatoes give her heartburn.  Later in the evening, I called friend R and had a chat with her.

Today, I managed to put together a small gift for a friend's daughter using things I had on hand!  A long time ago, I had seen and bought sets of tiny, painted terra cotta pots; each set consisted of three pots on a small tray.  I use one set on my desk to hold paper clips, etc.  Today, I paired one set with three tea light candles.  Wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a matching colored ribbon, it made a little "thinking of you" gift for her, with the added bonus of enabling me to declutter a couple of items I had in my "Stash"!  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Good health and being alive
- A working heater
- Other working appliances
- My "Stash" for a quick gift
- Online videos to watch

Today's joyful activity was chatting on the phone with friends.

Plans for tomorrow include paperwork and tending to the garden with M.

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