Monday, January 31, 2022

Sunny Sunday


Hellebore Flower

A sunny Sunday, in contrast to the cloudy Saturday.  Clear blue skies and an afternoon high of 72F.  Very pleasant weather for the end of January.

My day started out with a phone call from friend A, saying she has to postpone our visit.  She was on her way to the hospital for an evaluation, as she put it.  Of course I said we'll visit her another day when she is feeling better.  Much later in the day, my daughter texted A's daughter to get an update; A was home and resting.  I will call her tomorrow to check on her.

I spent a quiet morning, after that, replying to blog comments, reading and commenting on other blogs, etc.

Later, I decided to make some soup for lunch.  I pulled out a package of turkey bones from the freezer (from the Thanksgiving turkey) and put them to boil to make the broth. I don't make the broth and freeze it because it takes more space in the freezer, I think.  After it had boiled for a couple of hours, I strained the broth and then, added the shredded turkey meat and a package of cut up ham, along with an assortment of chopped vegetables - half an onion, several cloves of garlic, a large carrot, the stems of some kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, a handful of edamame, and the last of the homegrown potatoes.  Some salt and crushed black pepper corns and a little soy sauce and let it all simmer for another hour or so.  

I took a container of the soup and a couple of pieces of the applesauce brownies my daughter made over to neighbor T.  Then, my daughter and I took a container of the soup and another container of the brownies to friend R, along with some lemons from the garden.  She gave me some tangerines a friend had given her (from the friend's garden) and a new set of small food storage containers!

In the afternoon, I practiced the piano for a bit and played word games.  I also did two loads of laundry, so I was somewhat productive!  

More leftovers for dinner and a relaxed evening spent in my daughter's company.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Friend A is home from the hospital
- Being able to share some of my homemade soup and daughter's brownies with neighbors and friends
- A sunny and warm day
- Working appliances
- The blessings of an ordinary day, relaxing at home and all what it means

Today's joyful activity was taking some soup and brownies to share with friends and neighbors.

Plans for tomorrow include:

- Doing some housecleaning!

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for the week ahead?

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Monthly Photo Challenge: January - Begining with G

The theme for January's Monthly Photo Challenge, hosted by Eileen, was "beginning with G".  These are the photos I took for this challenge:

Garden (Front)

Garden Gate

Not the fancy gate, and we've found out that it doesn't keep out cats or rabbits, but, it is functional.

Green Grass

One of the benefits from the rain we had earlier this month!  

Green Geranium Leaves (Martha Washington Geranium)

Geranium (Zonal)


Growing Sweet Potato (in Glass Jars)


Gift from a Friend

Gold Glitter

And last, but not least, we have a Good Boy:

Good Boy, Dancer!

Thank you, Eileen, for hosting the challenge.  I had fun taking my photos.

February's theme is circles/circular, if anyone wants to participate.

Cloudy Saturday



The first crocosmia flower stalk.

We had a cloudy, overcast day, today.  It wasn't all that cold, but, it felt colder because it was so gloomy.  No rain, though.  I woke up fairly early, turned off the porch lights, fed the cats, and went back to sleep! It was no less gloomy when I woke up the second time, but, it was midmorning by then and time to get up. 

I had a relatively quiet day, today.  I practiced the piano for 30 minutes, replied to blog comments, read and commented on a few blogs, ran the dishwasher, and played word games!  We had leftovers for meals.  Daughter baked a batch of applesauce brownies to take to friend A's tomorrow, substituting applesauce for oil because A is on an oil-free/fat free diet for health reasons.  I will also take her some fresh oranges from the tree as well as a bag of lemons.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A working heater/furnace
- Daughter baking the brownies
- Daughter cleaning the litter box for me
- Leftovers
- A quiet, relaxed day

Today's joyful activity was playing word games!

Plans for tomorrow include a visit to see friend A.  

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

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Doctor's Appointment on Friday


Snowpea Flower

I had my routine check up with the oncologist today.  My appointment was in the early afternoon and I got to the clinic the required 15 minutes before my appointment.  My pressure was good and I have lost a couple of pounds since my previous visit.  It's not much, of course, but, at least it wasn't an increase!  I saw the nurse practitioner, today, and she went over my blood test results and my mammogram results with me (blood test results were good), did a quick examination, and gave me the injection.  I am to go back in three months for another routine check up.  Today's visit cost me $75 for the injection copay and $9 for parking.  

After I came home, I made a quick lunch with some of the ground beef mixture I made last night, adding some leftover rice to it and a little more chili powder.  Then, I replied to blog comments and caught up on a couple of blogs.

M came by, a little later, to tend to the garden.  He potted up a couple of plant cuttings that I had rooted in water and watered the garden.  

I spent a quiet, relaxed evening.  Called and checked on neighbor T (and when she didn't answer, I called her daughter to check with her and she said her mother was with her and they were at the chiropractor's office; she thanked me for checking on her mother), spoke with friend A and with friend R, too.  And declined an invitation to a party to celebrate my cousin's grandson's birthday!  Our county's Covid numbers are still very high; today's confirmed new case numbers amounted to 23,796 with 101 deaths.  The numbers are too high for me to feel comfortable attending a large gathering.  I will drop off a gift the day before the party and that will have to suffice. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Good blood test results as well as the good mammogram results
- A safe drive to the clinic and back
- Medical insurance
- Access to medical care
- M helping with the garden

Today's joyful activity was tending to the garden with M.

Plans for tomorrow include catching up on some housework.  

How was your day?  What are your plans for tomorrow and the weekend?

Friday, January 28, 2022

Thursday's Happenings


"Stinky Flower" Stem

Going by the mottled stem (which is really a pseudo stem) and the tiny white flecks along the veins of some of the leaves, I think I have identified the stinky flower as Dracunculus vulgaris, which has several common names including dragon arum, snake lily, stink lily, and voodoo lily.  I'll have to confirm it with M when he is here, next.

Today, I practiced the piano a little when my daughter took a lunch break, but, a little later, neighbor S (who is my piano teacher as well) called and by mutual agreement, we have decided to postpone the lessons for another couple of months, until mid-April.  This will work out best for us both for various reasons.  I will continue to practice the pieces she has assigned me and she has encouraged me to review some of the older pieces, as well.  Plus, there is the new piano music book that I bought myself, which I can learn to play on my own.  

According to the latest information, daughter's office is still ironing out the logistics of people returning to the office in person and Covid safety measures; it looks like she will not need to return to Berkeley until the end of March or early April!  I am more than happy to have her company a little longer!  

In the afternoon, I called the new pharmacy because I had a question about one of my medications.  I had been notified that the medication was available at CVS and I was wondering what was going on.  Apparently, this one medication was not transferred to the new pharmacy (although I remember giving them the information).  Perhaps when they sent their forms to the doctor's office, the doctor's office went ahead and sent the prescription order to the old pharmacy instead?  Anyway, I found out that there won't be a problem if I did pick up this prescription at CVS.  Then, I called CVS and the pharmacy staff asked me if I wanted it mailed to me!  What?  I thought they didn't do mail delivery anymore!  Isn't that what they said earlier this month and wasn't that the entire reason why I changed to the new pharmacy?  "Oh, no, your insurance covers the mailing", I was told!  Well, in that case, please do go ahead and mail it to me!  I am half expecting a phone call or text saying that it could not be delivered, but, so far I haven't heard anything!  No news is good news?

Kufta, Pita Bread, and Ice Cream Cake from Neighbor S

Neighbor S asked me if I would like to have some kufta and pita bread, and I said I'd love to have some.  She also included a piece of ice cream cake to share with my daughter.  I shared some of the homemade marshmallows that friend S had given me, in return.  I froze the kufta because I needed to cook the ground beef I had bought on Tuesday, since I had kept it in the fridge.  Such a blessing to receive this gift of food from neighbor S.  

I browned the ground beef with some diced onions and garlic, then, added a packet of my homegrown zucchini pieces that I had frozen (I thawed it a bit in the microwave, then, ground it up in the food processor, along with some frozen bell pepper pieces), added the rest of the can of diced tomatoes that I had opened earlier, when I was cooking the sausages, and finally, some frozen corn.  I used some spices (cumin, chili powder, dried basil, etc.) and it turned out really well.  Adding the zucchini and other vegetables not only extended the ground beef but, also, increased my vegetable intake!  Some celery would have been good, too, but, I didn't have any to add.  We had some of the ground beef mixture with the pita bread for our dinner.  Leftovers are in the fridge for future meals.  

After dinner, I did the dishes, cleaned the litter box, etc. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Neighbor S sharing some of her delicious kufta along with the pita bread and cake
- Being able to postpone resuming piano lessons
- The pharmacy saying they can mail me the current prescription, after all!
- Phone chats with family and friends
- My daughter might stay with me a little longer!

Today's joyful activities included receiving more delicious food from neighbor S and enjoying a piece of the ice cream cake with my daughter.  The rest of the cake is in the freezer! 

Plans for tomorrow include my appointment with the oncologist in the afternoon and tending to the garden with M in the evening.  

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Wednesday's Blessings


Hellebores Flower

The hellebores plant that M gave me had its first flower!  It appears to be a very pale green, but, M thinks it might turn white, later!  This is how it looked, yesterday, but, I shall try to take another photo when there isn't such glare from the sun.  There are several buds on the plant, as well, so I anticipate more flowers in weeks to come.  This is the first time I am growing this type of plant.

Another first time plant is this "stinky flower" plant that is growing from a bulb that, once again, M gave me:  

"Stinky Flower" Plant

I don't know the proper name of the plant, but, M said it has a stinky flower!  Which is why I had him plant the bulb towards the back of the garden!  He planted it near the rosemary bush.  In the meantime, the crocosmia bulbs that were already in that area of the garden started to grow and hid the emerging 'stinky flower' plant until M discovered it growing there, today!  He asked my permission to remove some of the crocosmia and I said fine, but, asked him to dig them up and replant them along the back wall, which he did.  The crocosmia were one of the few plants that were already here when I bought the house.  My mother didn't much care for them and she pulled them out, only to have them return the next year!  And the next!  I admire that plant's tenacity!  

This morning, my friend S (not neighbor S) called me.  The first time she called me, I was saying my morning prayers and I didn't answer the phone.  A few minutes after I finished my prayers, the phone rang again, and it was friend R, calling to tell me that friend S was trying to reach me!  Apparently, when I didn't answer my phone, S called R to ask if I was OK.  So then, I called friend S back and explained that I had been saying my prayers and that's why I didn't pick up the phone.  I was asked if I'd be home in the evening and then, I was told not to cook dinner because she was going to bring me dinner!  What's the occasion?  No occasion; she's home today and she's cooking!  

Dinner, Compliments of Friend S

In the evening, friend S, her husband, and their daughter came over and brought us dinner!  Yellow rice and curries (clockwise, from the back - cashew curry, shrimp curry, chicken curry, Sri Lankan style mixed vegetable pickle, fried eggplant "pahi", green bean curry).  Cake and homemade marshmallows for dessert!  What a blessing!  Friend S is a very good cook and both my daughter and I enjoyed our dinner.  We visited very briefly, with everyone fully masked, etc.  I gave S a grocery bag full of lemons and curry leaves I picked earlier in the evening, in exchange.  Afterwards, they took dinner over to friend R, too. 

After dinner, I did the dishes and tried to unclog a slow draining bathtub - the usual pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar, and a kettle of hot water; it doesn't always work the first time and I might have to repeat it a couple of times, but, it's a bit better than it was!

M was here this morning and he tended to the garden.  In the afternoon, I dropped off a birthday gift for neighbor S's daughter, leaving it on the doorstep for her (after calling her to let her know).  

Today, I received a letter from the clinic saying my mammogram results were normal; such a blessing and a relief, too!  The full report will be sent to the oncologist in time for Friday's appointment.  I also received a phone call from the oncologist's office about the injection I receive every six months to boost my bone density; I now have a $75 copay for it (it used to be fully covered by insurance, till now).  They asked if I'd like to pay it by credit card over the phone and I asked if I can pay it by check when I go in on Friday for my appointment, instead.  I'd rather pay by check than by credit card!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friends like S, who call and say, "Don't cook, I'm bringing you dinner!"
- Good news about the mammogram
- Having health insurance and being able to pay the increased copays, etc.
- Access to medical care
- New plants and flowers coming up in the garden

Today's joyful activity was visiting briefly (with everyone wearing masks) with friend S and her family when they brought us dinner.

Plans for tomorrow include resuming my piano lessons after more than 6 months!  I am both excited and nervous!  

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

Sunny Tuesday and January Groceries - Part 3

Peach Flowers

The peach tree is very confused and thinks it is spring!  Hardly any of the buds were open on Friday, but, they started opening, this weekend!  The problem is, February is usually our coldest month and these flowers might have bloomed too soon.  The bees, however, are going crazy!  

Thank you, everyone for the kind comments on the collage in yesterday's post.  I had discovered the collage function on the phone quite by accident and, today, I couldn't remember just how I did it!  But, I played around a bit and figured it out! I'm still learning how to take pictures on this phone (you have to click on a specific round spot on the screen to take the picture, whereas, in the old phone, I could touch anywhere on the screen - I keep forgetting and then, wondering why it is not taking a picture!)  As a result, some pictures are blurred and out of focus.  

Today was another sunny and warm day.  In the morning, I did a few things around the house and took these peach flower pictures.  In the early afternoon, I went to pick up my groceries.  I had received a text saying that one item I had ordered was unavailable and they had a substitution for my approval.  I agreed to the substitution, so I received pork and vegetable frozen potstickers/gyozas instead of the chicken and vegetable ones I ordered.  

The pick up went smoothly; it was the young boy, again, who brought out my groceries and loaded them.  Maybe Jennifer left!  Or got into trouble for giving out so many discounts!  I hope not, as she was a really pleasant young woman.

Other than that one substitution, the order had everything I wanted.  I bought:

2 lb. package 80% lean ground beef (reg. $9.98)  = $8.98

1 package (5 count) Italian sausages (reg. $5.79) = $3.99

1 package (20 oz.) frozen pork and vegetable potstickers = $4.99

Bananas @ $.65/lb. = $1.35
Pears @ $1.49/lb = $1.91
1 Cantaloupe = $2.50
2 Mangos @ $1 = $2.00
2 Avocados @$1.25 = $2.50
Apples @ $1.48/lb. = $2.29
1 container (64 fl. oz.) cranberry juice = $3.99 

Broccoli @ $1.99/lb. = $2.15
1 Cucumber = $0.99
Green beans @ $1.99lb. = $2.43
1 Iceberg lettuce = $1.69
1 lb. kale = $1.49
White yam @$1.49/lb. = $1.61

1/2 gal. half & half = $3.99
1/2 gal. milk = $2.29

1 package (8 oz.) tofu shirataki noodles = $1.69
1 lb. package quinoa = $3.79
1 lb. red lentils = $2.29

1 loaf (24 oz.) multi grain bread = $1.99

1 bottle (2 oz.) garlic poweder = $1.25

1 bag hot Cheetos = $3.50

The total came to $65.65

My January grocery budget is $200.  So far, I have spent $23.12 + $83.06 + 65.65 = $171.83

I might or might not do another grocery order before the end of the month.  This week's grocery ads (prices effective Wednesday to Tuesday) arrived today and chicken drumsticks and thighs will be on sale for $.99/lb. and ground beef for $2.99.  Those are good stocking up prices for me.  Besides, daughter will need a new container of half and half by next week, anyway.  

On the whole, it looks like I will be able to keep to my new budget of $200/month (down from $250/month), at least in January.  

I cooked some of the potstickers for our lunch, today.  I added some freshly picked snowpeas from the garden and sliced carrots to the potstickers to make it a more balanced meal.  According to the bag, 3 potstickers are a serving, with 150 calories per serving and a bag contains about 7 servings.  But, 3 potstickers aren't enough for a meal in my opinion; I cooked 5 for me and 6 for my daughter.  There is enough in the bag for one person's meal or a light snack for two.  

I was going to cook the ground beef for dinner, but, when it was time to cook dinner, I changed my mind and cooked the package of sausages, instead!  I added onion slices, bell pepper strips, and half a can of diced tomatoes to the sausages and cooked a fresh pot of rice to go with it.  There are leftovers for tomorrow's lunch or dinner.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to afford groceries
- Being able to pick up groceries using the store's curbside pick up service
- Receiving everything I ordered with only one substitution
- A safe drive to the store and back
- Daughter figuring out how to set the voicemail function on my phone

Today's joyful activity was picking fresh peapods from the garden.

Plans for tomorrow include having M tend to the garden.

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday?  How are you doing with your grocery shopping?  Are you able to stay within budget?

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Playing with New Toys!

Front Yard Picture Collage

The problem with weekends is they go by too quickly!  It's not like I had a lot going on, either!  But, the days flew by!

Friday night, I stayed up all night, till 5:00 a.m., playing new word games (crosswords, etc.) that my daughter downloaded for me!  On Saturday, I slept in!

Saturday was another windy day.  I cleaned part of the kitchen: wiped down the counters, cleaned the microwave, and washed the doors of some of the kitchen cabinets and the door of the dishwasher.  I ran the dishwasher, too.  Daughter installed the new wireless internet device that the phone company had sent to replace the one that we had because the phone company is switching to 5G services.  I am very thankful that she was home to set it up, because I would have been lost trying to figure it out!  She needed to call the phone company to activate it and there was a bit of back and forth to get it to work properly, but, now, the new system is working.  We kept the old phones, but, the system box (for a lack of a better word for it) is new.

After that, she very kindly set up the new cell phone that the phone company had also sent, free of charge, to replace my old cell phone, also due to the change in service from 3G to 5G services.  My old cell phone had been on its last legs, so to speak, and I had been wanting to replace it, but, we were waiting until the Covid numbers improved to risk going into a store.  But, in this case, procrastination paid off!  I received a replacement phone, which is better than what I had, free of charge!  There are a couple of new things I need to get used to, including unlocking the phone with a passcode prior to using it, but, my daughter assures me that it is for better security of the devise.  The biggest plus is I can now take and send photos to myself, without having to text them to my daughter and having her email them to me in order to upload to the computer!  I tried it, today, and that's when I discovered that I can make collages with my phone!  How exciting is that?!  

We had the leftover fish pie for dinner on Saturday and ham sandwiches for a late night snack (yes, we stayed up till quite late, on Saturday night, too!)

Sunday's adventure was setting up the voicemail feature on the home phone!  Daughter had to call the phone company, again, to get help with setting it up, and we realized part of the problem was we hadn't turned off the answering machine built into the phone base!  One of the nice things with the way the new system works is, we no longer have to listen to the messages as they are being left on the voicemail which is nice when the callers are unsolicited marketing calls.  The bad thing is, I can no longer use hear the message as they leave it and pick up when I heard who was calling!  Now, I have to check the phone number and pick up if I recognize the number, or else, play back the message to know who called.  A minor inconvenience; I just have to make sure I regularly check to see if the new messages indicator light is flashing!

Sunday was another relaxed day, but, I printed out the check in form to take to the lab for Monday's (today's) blood test, made sure I had the lab test order in the file folder, and got my bag ready for the appointment; took the recycling and kitchen trash out; checked the mail; cleaned the bathroom and Dancer's litter box; cooked dinner (chicken curry, sauteed cabbage and the handful of spinach leaves that was still left, and rice), did the dishes, and practiced the piano (lessons are scheduled to start on Tuesday).  I also gave myself a mini pedicure, soaking my feet in the plug-in bubbling massager thing and applying lotion, afterwards (no polishing of toe nails, however).  

Today (Monday), I went for my blood test at noon.  They are for my regular follow up appointment with the oncologist on Friday.

In the afternoon, I took the above photos of the various plants in the front garden.  The top photo in the collage is part of my succulents bed along the side wall. 

At 5:00 p.m., I logged onto the online painting class.  I discovered that a lot of the paints that I have are dried out!  So, if I plan to continue taking these classes, I might have to buy new paints!  But, I managed to work with what I have; however, I didn't try to rush and finish the painting, today.  Even the instructor admitted that they had to cover a lot of ground in one hour.  The video will be available on line after 24-48 hours, so I can go back and work on it.  Today, I mostly worked on the background and I am finally happy with my blending skills!  

Afterwards, I did two loads of laundry and practiced the piano for a bit.  Neighbor S had called earlier today to ask if I can do the lesson tomorrow, instead of Thursday, which means I don't have the extra two days of practice time!  

Lunch had been a salad; dinner was leftover rice, chicken curry, and cabbage (I had to cook more cabbage, actually), with zucchini chutney.  

Later in the evening, we put in another grocery order, which I will pick up, tomorrow afternoon.

Today, I am grateful for:

- New replacement phones, free of charge
- Daughter being home and able to install them
- Medical insurance to cover the costs of routine blood tests
- Free online painting classes
- Being able to order groceries online

Today's joyful activity was finding out the collage feature on my new phone!

Plans for tomorrow (Tuesday) include:

- Picking up the groceries
- Piano lesson
- Paperwork

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

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Windy on Friday

Not Quite Fish Pie

Once again, thank you so much for the kind comments on the front yard!  I spoke with M, today, and discussed putting down some paving stones and bark chips, but, no firm decisions were made.

Today has been a very windy day with strong off shore winds known as the Santa Ana winds blowing.  The wind loosened the fiberglass roof panels in the sort of patio overhang that I have in the back of the house - daughter tried to nail them down, last time we had strong winds, and today, M nailed them down, again!  

In the afternoon, I took the empty food containers and a freshly picked bunch of the Japanese purple mustard leaves to friend N, dropping them off at her doorstep.  She called me, later, to thank me and we chatted for a bit.  From there, I went to see friend R, to give her some lemons, purple mustard leaves, and a small packet of cookies.  She gave me two packets of coriander seeds and a packet of lavash bread, a type of flat bread.  I ate one of the lavash breads with some scrambled eggs for a late lunch, after I came home.

In the evening, I made the fish pie for dinner...well, sort of.  First I made a sort of fish stew with bechamel sauce (the sauce I had leftover in the fridge turned out to be a bit too old, so I made some new sauce), green peas, carrots, two frozen pollock fillets cut up into pieces, and some leftover Brussels sprouts that were in the fridge (as I made this, I thought one could make a vegetarian version without the fish and with the addition of more vegetables) :

Fish Stew

Then, I ladled a portion of the stew into two individual ceramic pots that I had been given as a gift several years ago (but, never used!):


Served into the Individual Pots

They are handled soup bowls (I think), with matching covers; they say "microwave and dishwasher safe" on the bottom, but, they don't say if they are oven safe!  So, I was afraid to top them with frozen puff pastry and bake them as I had planned!  I didn't want the pots to explode in the oven and spew fish stew all over the oven!  Instead, I baked two squares of frozen puff pastry by themselves:

Baked Puff Pastry

And used them to top the fish stew before serving!  I was going to serve one puff pastry square per serving, but, then, I decided I only needed one quarter of one (these things are not exactly low in calories!).  Daughter decided that half of one would be enough for her.  There is a little more of the fish stew left, so we'll have that with the remaining puff pastry for lunch, tomorrow.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- M nailing down the fiberglass roofing panels
- Being able to share some of the garden produce with friends
- R giving me the packets of coriander and lavash bread
- A safe drive to and from the visits to drop off the containers and food
- A warm and comfortable home

Today's joyful activity was sharing garden produce with friends.

Plans for tomorrow include some housework and paperwork.

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

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Front Yard on Thursday


Front Yard

Thank you, everyone, for your very kind comments on yesterday's post about the back yard and the paintings.  I signed up for next Monday's painting class, today; we will be painting purple wisteria flowers!  

Today's photo is of the front yard.  Curb appeal is seriously lacking, but, that doesn't seem to matter because I receive unsolicited inquiries from real estate agents, asking if I am thinking of selling my house, almost every week!  There seems to be a huge demand for houses, in my area, and the prices are crazy! 

I let the grass die during the most recent drought and have not attempted to have it grow back.  The big tree trunk in the middle is the eucalyptus tree.  I am not growing many edible plants here, but, there is a pomegranate bush that is just out of the photo at the left (you can see a branch from it, though), a feijoa (pineapple guava) tree on the far side of the house, and a small rosemary plant in the planting bed along the drive way.   There is a row of lantana bushes growing along the sidewalk on the right of the photo and some yellow flowered euryops plants around the base of the eucalyptus tree.  Otherwise, the front yard is devoted to succulents and osteospermum which happily self-seed and grow wherever they please!  

Among the succulents, the aloe plants that were grown from cuttings from M's garden are flowering:

Aloe Flower Stalk (mostly buds)

Aloe Flower Stalk (flowers opening)

The hummingbirds love to sip the nectar from these flowers.
I spent a relaxed day, today.  I walked in the garden and up and down the drive way for 15 minutes and took these photos, washed the other two wool sweaters that I had knitted for myself a couple of years ago and lay them out flat to dry and did two loads of regular laundry.  I also ironed a few items that needed ironing and started mending a table cloth that had a small hole in it (didn't finish mending it).  Daughter had meetings all day (or so it seemed; there were at least three online meetings) so I tried not to make a lot of noise.  That's my excuse for not doing any housework, other than the laundry and putting away the dried clothes, etc.  Later, I ran the dish washer, washed a few other items by hand, and scrubbed the sink.  

Neighbor S had texted daughter with the recipe for making the grain filled dolma and saying she was making the cheese filled puff pastries and would we like some, but, we declined.  Lunch was the last piece of cottage pie which daughter and I shared.  Dinner was the last of the salmon I had cooked earlier in the week.  I sauteed carrots and kale to go with the salmon and daughter had rice with it, as well.  Tomorrow, I want to try making a fish pie for dinner (we have some bechamel sauce to finish up!).  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Neighbor S sharing the recipe for the grain filled dolma and offering us some of her cheese pastries
- Working appliances
- Having a garden
- Being able to walk without pain
- Relaxed days

Today's joyful activity was spending time in the garden.

Plans for tomorrow include taking some of the purple mustard greens to friend N, along with the containers she sent the meringues and other treats during Christmas, and taking some lemons to friend R.  (Friend N didn't want any lemons as her daughter has a lemon tree in her garden.)  Later, M will be here to tend to the garden.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Gardening and Painting on Wednesday

Back Yard

It won't win any awards for landscaping and design, but, the back yard is looking nice and green after Monday's rain showers and Tuesday's drizzle.  This picture was taken on Tuesday, from the back door steps.  You can see the purple leaf mustard greens and mizuna (and baby beets) in the planting bed in the foreground, the practically leafless moringa tree growing in the heart shaped bed, one of the lemon trees (and a glimpse of a second lemon tree) to the left, growing against the white side wall of the garage, and the orange tree a bit further down, on the right of the picture (clicking on the picture will enlarge it, I believe). 

Growing in the bed just behind the moringa tree are broccoli seedlings and the pea vines; I picked another five or so peapods, today (Wednesday) and added them to the leftover chicken stir-fry for tonight's dinner.  The lone serrano chili pepper plant is growing just behind the bed with the peas and behind that, the peach tree, which has been pruned severely to minimize broken branches and falling over, later this summer.  The Asian pear tree is behind the purple mustard plants, in a pentagonal planting bed!  It started out as a square, as did the moringa tree bed, but, my planting beds change shapes at will!  This was where the famous Fort Wawamelon was located!  

Fort Watermelon

M planted some watermelon radish seeds (keeping the watermelon theme going) and something else (carrots, I believe), around the Asian pear tree, today.  

The small circular bed behind the Asian pear tree has the hibiscus plant growing in it and the black planter behind it, to the left, has the avocado tree growing in it.  There is a plum tree behind that and a nectarine tree further back, but, they are barely visible because they don't have any leaves on them, yet.  There really is no rhyme or reason why things are planted where they are, other than there was space in that spot, as we worked around what had already been planted and was growing!

My day didn't start out quite as early, today, as it did, yesterday.  But, once morning devotions were said and I was dressed, etc., I walked in the drive way for a bit, collected the mail, and the two packages that had been delivered.  They contain a punch needle kit and embroidery kit that my daughter ordered for herself with one of her Christmas gift cards and a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt that we ordered for me.  There's another pair of sweats that will arrive, tomorrow.  Once they both arrive, I will do some decluttering!

M arrived a short time later and tended to the garden, planting several varieties of seeds: the watermelon radish seeds I mentioned above, carrots, Japanese spinach, a type of broccoli, and burdock.  Now, it is a matter of keeping the cats away from where the seeds were planted and hoping things will sprout and grow!   

Afterwards, I did a load of laundry, including the new sheet set.  The patch held well and the new sheet is on daughter's bed.  The sheet set included only one pillowcase and my daughter has more than one pillow; but, since my daughter doesn't use the flat sheet for covering, I will cut up the flat sheet to make more matching pillowcases for her.  

In the evening, daughter and I took our painting class, together.  This time, it was painting what they called "icy florals".  We were shown the painting the instructor had already done, then, she showed us how to go about painting it.  You start out by putting a dot for the center of each flower (there were three flowers) and you draw a five petalled flower around each dot, using brown paint (which was painted over, later).  We were shown how to do the background first, going from light in one corner to darker at the lower area and then, the flowers.  The finishing touch was to use some gold paint to highlight the flowers.  These are the paintings my daughter and I did:

Icy Florals

My daughter finished her painting by the end of the class; it took me at least 45 minutes longer to finish my painting; I still can't blend my background colors and my painting is bluer than what the instructor did.  I also added leaves to mine, which was not part of the original painting being shown.

After I finished the painting, there was a lot more paint left in the palettes we used and rather than wash it all away, I decided to do another painting to use up the paint, in an old sketch book:

Palette Cleaning Flower!

This painting took me all of 15 minutes and much of that time was spent daubing all the leftover paint on the paper!  LOL.  

We had some of the leftover cottage pie for our lunch, today.  For dinner, I added more peapods to the leftover chicken stirfry and cooked a pot of rice to go with it.  Daughter had a banana and a slice of zucchini bread for her dessert; I had a couple of dates.  Later, we shared apple slices and peanut butter.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The backyard garden
- M tending to the garden
- Free painting classes/painting with my daughter
- The new patched bedsheet
- Having packages delivered

Today's joyful activity was painting with my daughter.

Plans for tomorrow include doing some paperwork and maybe sewing pillowcases.

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mending on Tuesday

According to the old rhyme, after you wash on Monday, you iron on Tuesday, and mend on Wednesday, but, I switched things around to suit me and mended on Tuesday, instead!

Remember this?  The new sheet that came with a tear in it:

Torn Sheet: Front
Back (More Noticeable)

Well, today, I mended that tear: First, I sewed a stay-stich around the tear to stabilize it. The sheets came in a fabric pouch made of the same fabric and I was going to cut two small patches from that fabric to sew over the tear.  But, instead, at my daughter's request, I sewed a pink heart-shaped patch on the front, using a piece of scrap flannel that I had:


I sewed on a rectangular patch on the back to cover the tear from the back as I didn't feel like sewing a second heart:


Miss P, my sewing teacher in elementary school would not have approved of the patch on the back!  She used to always say my stitches looked like coconut trees!  

The blanket stitch around the heart patch used up the last bit of the pink embroidery floss that I had in my stash!  My stash of embroidery floss is something else I've been trying to use up, but, it is also convenient to have the different colors on hand for small mending jobs like this!

I will wash the mended sheet, tomorrow, and put it on daughter's bed.  I hope the fabric doesn't tear, again!

I woke up relatively early for me, this morning.  I had gone to bed around 3:00 a.m. and woke up at 8:00 a.m. and couldn't fall asleep, again!  So, after 30 minutes or so of trying to fall asleep, I got up, got dressed, had my tea, and said my morning devotions.

I heard the trash collection truck emptying the trash cans, so, I brought the trash cans in, waved across the street to a couple of my neighbors, took the kitchen compost to the compost bin, etc., and replied to blog comments (thank you so much for all your kind comments, every day).  I also put in my request for the four free Covid-19 home testing kits the government will be sending to all households and I called friend R to inform her (she said that she was able to request them, too).  Then, I put two of my handknitted wool sweaters to soak; I washed them by hand and laid them flat on some towels to try.  Once they are dried, I will wash the other two wool sweaters.  

In the afternoon, I mended the sheets.  In the evening, I watched news and read blogs.

Breakfast had been a banana.  Lunch was a slice of whole grain bread, toasted, with a slice of cheese (daughter had some salmon).  For dinner, I made a version of cottage pie, using up the rest of the "taco" meat (ground beef) that my daughter had made, along with a can of mixed vegetables that had reached expiration date (it was still fine, though), the last bit of sauteed purple mustard greens leftover in a container, and some of the spinach that needed to be used up:

Ground Beef and Vegetable Mixture

Cottage pie purists might cringe, but, topped with mashed potatoes and baked, the made over leftovers became a very tasty dinner!

Cottage Pie!

Daughter and I had two helpings each and there's enough for another meal, tomorrow, or later in the week.  I had the last fresh pear for dessert.

The next item to use up is daughter's bechamel sauce and I have ideas for that, too.

Today, I am grateful for:
- All those who read my blog and leave such kind comments
- Being able to mend the tear in the sheet
- Weekly trash collection services
- Being able to sign up for free Covid testing kits
- Leftovers that can be made over!

Today's joyful activity was mending the free sheets!

Plans for tomorrow include the painting class that was postponed.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Rainy Monday and January Grocery Shopping Part 2


Yellow Rose

As the weather forecast promised, we had scattered showers of rain, today!  I was very grateful for the rain, but, equally grateful for a long enough gap between rain showers in the early afternoon, during which I picked up my groceries!  My favorite grocery worker, Jennifer, wasn't there, today; it was the other grocery worker, a young man, who simply loads the groceries into the trunk and waves at me when he's done.  I received all the groceries I ordered, nothing was unavailable and no substitutions.  I was very grateful for that, as I had been hearing about supply chain issues and empty store shelves.  

Today's groceries included:

3 packages salmon fillet (3+ lb) @ $7.99/lb (reg. price $9.99/lb.) = $28.69 (splurge/stock up item!)
1 bone in pork roast @ $1.98/lb (reg. price $3.99/lb.) = $11.00
2 lb. butter @ $1.97 (reg. price $3.69) = $3.94
1 doz. eggs (reg. price $3.79) = $2.49
1/2 gal. half and half (reg. price $4.79) = $3.99
1 yogurt (32 oz.; reg. price $3.49) = $2.49
6 cans coconut milk @ $1.50 (reg. price $3.49) = $9.00 (stock up item)
2 lb. red lentils @ $2.29/lb. = $4.58
10 lb. bag long grain rice = $5.79 (stock up item)
1 loaf multi-grain bread = $1.99
2 jars peanut butter, 16 oz. each, @ $1.99 = $3.98
3 apples @ $.99/lb.(reg. price $1.99/lb) = $1.57
6 bananas @ $.65/lb. = $1.56
2 lb. carrots = $1.99

Total = $83.06

My January grocery budget is $200.  So far, I have spent $23.12 (1/8/22) + $83.06 = $106.18

Today's art class was postponed due to bad weather and intermittent internet connections at the location from which the class was to be conducted and postponed until Wednesday, which was fine with me.

Instead of painting, I tidied the kitchen, cleaned out the fridge drawers, and scrubbed the top of the fridge/freezer!  

Lunch had been leftover chicken stir fry (there is at least another serving left); dinner was salmon, with Brussels sprouts and corn (daughter had leftover quinoa instead of the corn).  I had a banana and some blueberries for snacks; daughter finished the rest of the pineapple.  

I am not doing too well with meal planning at the moment, but, there is leftover salmon for tomorrow's dinner.  I'll just have to cook a couple of additional vegetables for sides - I've some spinach and kale that need to be used up before they spoil.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The rain for the garden
- Contactless grocery pick up
- Receiving all the groceries I ordered
- A safe drive to the store and back
- Chatting with my daughter

Today's joyful activity was watching the rain fall!  

Plans for tomorrow include mending the new sheet that had a tear in it.

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

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Long Weekend

Double Colored Rose

We are having a three day weekend, here, in the U.S. with Monday being a holiday to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Daughter and I are relaxing and enjoying the long weekend.

On Saturday, it drizzled a little bit!  Not enough to wet the ground, but, just enough to show a few damp spots on the cemented areas in the back!  I checked on the garden, a bit later, and took a couple of photos, but, didn't pick anything.  The rose I photographed and showed on Tuesday's post has opened up!

Saturday morning, I cut up the fresh pineapple I had bought, earlier, as it had ripened.  We had fresh pineapple for breakfast and I put the pineapple top in a jar of water to see if it will root.  I've been able to root a few others, earlier, but, so far, I've not had any luck getting the rooted tops to actually grow when planted!  I also removed some of the pineapple seeds (they are tiny brown/black seeds, about the size of sesame seeds, located just below the skin) to put in water to see if I can get them to sprout.  If they do grow, I'll let you know!

Later, I put away the last of the Christmas holiday items - the table cloths, crocheted blanket, cushion covers, etc., which I don't like to store in the garage and store in a suitcase in my closet, instead.  Then, I vacuumed the family room and put the furniture back in place, with the two sofas placed in an L-shape, once more. 

Aunt C called in the afternoon and I had a long chat with her.     

Friend A's younger daughter dropped off the empty food containers (although I had told her I didn't need them back!), in the afternoon, along with a package of fresh salmon fillets!  That was such a lovely thing to do!  Even with our custom of not returning containers empty,  a package of salmon fillets was too much!  That's what I told A, when I called her to thank her, but, she laughed it off, saying it was a small gift in return for all the food my daughter had prepared for them.  I froze some of it and cooked two pieces for our dinner, along with some stir fried vegetables.  Afterwards, I did another load of dishes.  

Today, it was sunny and bright in the morning, but, the clouds moved in later.  We have rain ("scattered showers") in the forecast for tomorrow!

It has been a relaxed, restful day.  Daughter has had a stiff shoulder for the past couple of days, so, she's taking it easy and doing a paint-by-numbers kit that she had received. I chatted with cousin P, friend R, and with neighbor T.

Later, I pulled out the big bin in which I kept my yarn stash and sorted through that!  The good news is, I don't have much of a yarn stash, any more!  I have one leftover ball of blue 100% wool and half a ball of grey 100% wool, along with a few other smaller quantities of 100% wool, some small quantities of acrylic yarn, and two unused balls and three partially used balls of novelty yarn ("eye lash" yarn, and a ruffly yarn).  There was, also, a partial cone of a very thin fuzzy yarn that someone had given me several years ago, which I haven't used and I am not likely to use; I decluttered that, today (put aside to donate).  

I cooked a chicken stir fry for dinner, with shirataki noodles.  Later, daughter placed an order for groceries to be picked up, tomorrow.  Not sure how many of the items we ordered will be available, however, as we are hearing more about empty store shelves on the news.  I will pick up the groceries, tomorrow, and depending on what we get, I will meal plan for next week. 

This weekend, I am grateful for:

- The gift of salmon fillets from friend A and family
- Pretty roses in the garden
- Phone chats with family and friends
- Relaxed days and long weekends
- A working heater/furnace

This weekend's joy full activities have included chatting with family and friends and strolling around the garden, checking on the plants.

Plans for tomorrow include picking up the groceries and attending the online painting class I signed up for!  

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

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Taking Down the Tree on Friday

Purple Osteospermum

Thank you, everyone, for your very kind comments about yesterday's paintings!  My daughter and I really enjoyed painting together.  

This morning, there was a knock at the front door; I masked up and opened the door to two workers from the Water and Power Department requesting access to the power pole in the corner of my backyard.  They were here to do a safety check, they said,  So, I quickly unlocked the gate and watched them as they checked on the pole and nailed another tag on it, probably to say that it was inspected.  They were here for no more than five minutes, but, it provided a bit of excitement to my day!  I was thinking it was too bad I didn't have any zucchini to give to them!  LOL.

Today, I finally undecorated and took down the Christmas tree.  I put away the tree decorations in their bin and the wreaths and a few other decorations in the big bin in which I store them.  I think I have too many Christmas decorations, but, I am not yet ready to declutter them!  When M arrived to tend to the garden, I got him to dismantle the tree (it breaks down into three sections) and pack it away in its box.  He was kind enough to take all the bins to the garage for me.  After which he tended to the garden, adding fertilizer to some of the trees and watering them.

I still need to put away the Christmas cushions and table linen, etc., and put the family room sofas back in their usual L-shaped arrangement.  That's on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Power company workers checking on the safety of the power pole in my backyard
- M helping me to take the Christmas bins to the garage
- Emails from friends, both old and new
- Today's garden harvest of red chili peppers, more peapods, and oranges (shared some with M)
- Phone calls with friends

Today's joyful activity was reminiscing about some of the Christmas tree ornaments with my daughter.  I started out buying a new ornament for her every year, but, that only lasted until her 6th Christmas, I think! I was planning to give them to her when she left home and had her own tree, but, she's been coming home for Christmas, every year, anyway.  

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

Painting on Thursday


Our Paintings!

Today, in the evening, daughter and I took an art class offered online by one of the craft supplies stores!  It was a free class, probably sponsored by the company producing the acrylic paints they were using for the class, which was fine with me.  I have bought their paints before, although daughter and I used the cheaper store brand acrylic paints we already had on hand, today, mixing colors to get what we needed (red and white to get the pink, for example).  The class was good, but, just a tad too fast paced for me!  It lasted one hour and I worked on my painting for another 30 minutes or so before I was happy with it.  But, it was fun to do, especially since I was doing it with my daughter.  I have signed up to take another painting class, next Monday, but, that time will be without my daughter as she has an exercise class at the same time. 

The painting is supposed to be of birch trees against a sunset sky!  The technique being taught was reverse painting, using painter's tape to block off the areas we wanted to be our trees, then, painting the background colors.  Once the background was painted, and before the paint dried, we were told to remove the tape and paint the trees, using the edge of a plastic card dipped in paint and scraped across to get the lines.  We used cardboard and while daughter mastered the technique well, I struggled!  In the end, I cheated a bit and used my paint brush to get the markings on my trees!  LOL.

Can you guess which painting is whose?  I'll give you a hint - daughter is better at blending her colors than I am!  Yes, that's her painting on the right of the photo (closer to the back cushion of the sofa) and mine on the left (closer to the edge of the seat).   

Daughter placed them together and we discovered that they fit together nicely to form one painting!  I just need to practice my blending a little more!

Together They Make One Picture!

In addition to painting, I cleaned my bathroom, did a couple of loads of laundry, and ran the dishwasher, today.  I also walked in the drive way for 15 minutes (a shorter length of time than yesterday, but, at a slightly faster pace while being very careful not to fall!).  Afterwards, I walked around the garden, taking some pictures and picking a few things: two oranges, three lemons, five peapods, and a handful of Japanese purple mustard greens:

Today's Harvest

Daughter and I had the oranges for a late afternoon snack.  The peapods were added to the bag I have in the fridge to make a stir fry, tomorrow.  Daughter cut up and sauteed the mustard greens in a little sesame oil, soy sauce, and mirin to have with our dinner.  Daughter had quinoa with the last of  the chicken she had cooked earlier, and the sauteed mustard greens; I added the mustard greens to my bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce.  I've remembered to put a chicken breast to thaw for a chicken stir fry, for tomorrow's dinner.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The new pharmacy notified me that they have mailed one of my medications and provided me with a tracking number
- Free online art classes 
- Working appliances 
- Garden harvests
- Not falling when I walked!

Today's fun activity was taking the painting class with my daughter!

Plans for tomorrow include - taking down that Christmas tree!  If I keep it up any longer, I might have to decorate it with hearts and call it a St. Valentine's Day tree!  LOL!  M will be here, tomorrow evening, and I will have him take the Christmas bins to the garage for me.  Other than that, it will be a relaxed day.

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?  Have you taken any online art classes?  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Quiet on Wednesday

A quiet day, today, after all the excitement over switching pharmacies, on Tuesday.  It was a mostly sunny, relatively warm day, with the afternoon high being 78F.

The new pharmacy sent me a couple of notifications that they were processing my prescriptions.  I had been told to call the pharmacy customer service when the notifications arrive, so, I called and confirmed the address, etc.  At least, I did so on the first notification, which listed one of my medications; I didn't call on the second notification which listed several more medications.  I might call them, tomorrow, to confirm that I received the second notification, too.

M arrived later in the morning to tend to the garden.  He brought me two seed catalogs he had received for me to look through.  I will be planting a few more vegetables this year, but, maybe not 14 zucchini plants again!  LOL!

It was a rather low energy day for me so I didn't do a lot.  I spoke with neighbor T, cousin V, and friend R.  I walked for 20 minutes or so, up and down the driveway in the afternoon for some exercise.  I harvested another handful of peapods - I now have enough for a stir-fry.  

The weekly grocery ads were delivered in the mail, today.  Store brand butter is on sale for $1.99/lb., again, but, I have plenty of butter in the freezer.  Pork is on a half price sale, $1.99/lb. for a shoulder roast and $2.49/lb. to $2.99/lb. for different types of chops, depending on the cut and bone in/boneless.  Beef is advertised at $6.99/lb.  Salmon fillets are on sale for $7.99/lb. (regular price is $9.99/lb.).  I will probably buy a pork roast and salmon fillets, I think.  

I cooked spaghetti for dinner, using my tomato "soup" as the base for the sauce, with the addition of some cooked ground beef.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The pharmacy switch seems to be working out
- M tending to the garden 
- Harvesting peapods from the garden
- Spending time out in the garden
- Phone calls with family, friends, and neighbors

Today's joyful activity was looking through seed catalogs.

Plans for Thursday include doing some tidying and maybe taking a free online painting class (being offered by one of the major craft supplies stores) with my daughter!

How was your Wednesday?  What are your plans for Thursday?  How do your grocery prices compare?