Wednesday, August 31, 2022

On the Last Day of August

Triple Digits! 

We broke heat records, today!  The forecast said we'll go up to 109, but, it was already 111F when I took this photo and we eventually went up to 112F, according to the news.  But, with the humidity being just 9%, it didn't feel too uncomfortable (the humidity has since gone up to 24%).  I considered going into the bedroom and putting on the a/c, in the afternoon, but, I found myself feeling comfortable with only the fan.  The house stayed around 88F most of the day:

88F (taken at 7:30 p.m.)

I kept the windows closed all day to keep the house cool and opened them around 7:30 p.m., just after I took this photo.  It was still warmer outside than inside, but, I wanted some fresh air!  

Wednesdays are when I vacuum the house, usually, but, I decided to skip the vacuuming!

I had texted gardener M, late last night, when I heard the weather forecast, and told him it was fine with me if he wanted to take the day off.  But, he does other gardens both before and after mine and he said he planned to work today as usual.  I told him to let me know if he changed his mind, that it would be fine, but, he showed up and watered the garden, as usual.  I served him two of the slices of the bara brith that I had made and he liked it.  He gave me another kind of pluot he had bought:

Pluot: Dinosaur Egg

He said they are sometimes called Dinosaur Egg pluots!  It was very sweet and I cut it up to add to the fruit salad I made for my brunch:

Fruit Salad for Brunch

I had the last piece of the small loaf of bara brith, as well as fruit salad.  

Yesterday, I had taken a couple of slices of the bara brith to neighbor S for her to try.  She said her daughter N tried it and liked it.  In the afternoon, neighbor S called me to ask if I'd like some red grapes her mother had given her and I said I'd love to have some.  A few minutes later, she brought me a bag of grapes.  She said she was on her way to the Armenian grocery store and if I wanted anything from there!  Oh, I was so tempted to say, yes, please, but, I was good and said, no, thank you!  LOL.  I have plenty of what I need and enough of what I want for right now.  

I didn't feel like having my evening cup of tea today, but, made some tuna salad sandwiches and ate them, along with a piece of mango.  

Speaking of mangos, I took these photos of the Kent family of mangos a couple of days ago (that's part of what I was doing in the garden on Monday, when I forgot my cup of tea that was brewing):

Clark Kent SuperMan-go

Conner Kent SuperBoy 

They both seem to have received too much Kryptonite!  

But, look over here:

Lois Lane

"Hello, Lois, You're Looking Swell, Lois"

Oh, I hope you will manage to stay well during our triple digit heat wave, Lois!

And, you, too, Apple Seedling:

Apple Seedling

I will have to give it a name if it survives this heat wave!  

I'll do a garden update at the end of the week, but the heat wave will continue next week, too, we've been warned!  It never fails - end of August/beginning of September are our hottest days of the year.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Fans and electricity
- Low humidity
- Neighbor S bringing me grapes and M giving me more pluots
- M tending to the garden for me
- Modern technology which enables me to keep in contact with friends and family, via texts, emails, phone calls, and video chats.

Today's joyful activity was participating in the monthly photo challenge!  

Tomorrow is supposed to be slightly cooler with a high of 100F.  I wonder if we'll go up higher than what the forecast states!  Meanwhile, in Berkeley, the high was 71F today and it will be 75F tomorrow!

How is the weather in your area?


Monthly Photo Challenge: August

 Eileen's monthly photo challenge theme for August was "noughts and crosses".  We don't often use the term "nought" over here, in the USA, and the game known as "noughts and crosses" is called Tic Tac Toe over here, but, I grew up using the term.  Even so, I found it quite a bit of a challenge to find appropriate photos for this challenge.  These are what I found:

A Scrap of Fabric on a Quilt

(There are memories attached to this piece of fabric - my mother and I purchased it in 1979 on our first return trip to Sri Lanka and my mother made a set of pyjamas with it for my step-father; this was a remnant scrap that I used for my Dresden Plate quilt).

Cat Food Kibbles

Human Food Cereal

Design on Glasses

Stand Fans

Whew!  I managed my required five photos!  

Oh, but, where's Dancer?

Well, nought is sometimes spelled as naught, isn't it?  Lady Ella suggested that I could use this photo of Dancer (taken August 2) for the challenge:

Dancer: Being "Naught-y"

How about one of you being cross, Dancer?

"Is this cross enough for you?"

Yes, thank you, Dancer!

Thank you, Eileen, for organizing the monthly photo challenges; I found this one rather challenging!

Thank you, Lady Ella, for your helpful suggestions!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Bread Baking Adventures: Bara Brith

Baking Bara Brith

Eileen, had mentioned a Welsh bread known as bara brith (spotted bread), which is a sort of tea loaf/fruit cake made with tea soaked raisins/mixed fruit, several times in her blog.  I was curious.  So I looked it up on line and found several recipes.  The recipes varied a little bit, but, basically, one soaks dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultana, currents, etc.) in tea, overnight, then, add flour and an egg and bake it.  I wanted to try making it and had mentioned it to Eileen a couple of times.  I was waiting until it got cool enough to bake.  But, last night, I decided it was time to try making this bread.   

Why last night, you might ask?  Well, you see, I was going to make myself a cup of tea in the evening as I usually do, and I left the tea to steep, as I usually do, then went to do something else (as I often do - yesterday, it was to feed the cats, both Dancer and Mama Cat), got distracted with something in the garden, then, took the trash cans out and decided to pull up the dead osteospermum plants in the second flower bed in the front, and forgot all about the cup of tea!  I noticed it only when I went to the kitchen to warm up something for my dinner!  I don't like reheated tea (it tastes different to me) and I don't like iced tea, and I didn't want to waste the tea, either!  So, what to do with the cold tea?  Why, just the thing to use for soaking mixed fruit for the bara brith I had been planning to make, of course!

Except...I didn't have mixed fruit!  Not a problem because I had raisins!  Currents are small black raisins and I had some small black raisins, sultanas are what is usually known as golden raisins here, in the US, and I had some of that, too.  But, a whole pound of raisins?  That sounded like a lot of raisins to me.  So, I opted for a little over 8 oz. (I carefully weighed out 8 oz. of the black raisins and then, tossed in a handful of the golden raisins/sultanas!)  

Many of the recipes also called for candied peel.  Hm, no candied peel on hand, but, I had some dried orange peel (from my very own oranges) in the freezer, so, I tossed in a little of that (didn't measure; about a teaspoonful?).  

Next, 300 ml. tea - I had a cup of cold tea and I added some water to make it about 1 1/4 cup, which is about 300 ml.

I put the raisins and orange peel into a small mixing bowl and added the tea to it.  The recipe had said hot/warm tea, but, I just added it cold/room temperature (in other words, I forgot to heat it!)

Some of the recipes I had read said to use brown sugar, others said demerara sugar, which is usually known as raw sugar, here; I used brown sugar, adding 1/2 cup to the raisin/tea mixture.  Then, I covered the bowl and let it soak overnight.

This morning, I continued with my bara brith making.

The quantity of flour in the different recipes ranged from 250 grams for 450 grams, but, they all specified self-raising flour, which, I don't have!  I decided to use 1 lb. all purpose flour and I added 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder to it and forgot to add the salt that you are also supposed to add along with the baking powder!  The dough was already in the oven before I realized I left out the salt!  Oops!

Some of the recipes also called for "mixed spice" - I don't have "mixed spice", so I used about 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, half a freshly grated nutmeg (maybe about 1/2 tsp.?), a little bit of ground ginger and thought it would be fine.  I didn't want to bother with grinding cloves and cardamom, but, they would have been good, too.  I added the spices to the flour and gave it a stir.

Then, I mixed together the soaked raisins and the soaking liquid with the flour/baking powder/spices mixture and added in the one egg called for in all the recipes.  My batter looked a bit dry.  

At least one recipe I had read had said to use marmalade in the mixture - I have a little bit of ginger marmalade and I thought that would go well with the batter and added two teaspoons of it to the mixture.  

The batter still looked a bit dry to me (of course, I had no idea just how wet or dry this batter should be).  Some recipes mentioned adding butter to the mixture, but, by this time, it was past noon, the day was warming up (today's high was 98F and it was about 95F around noon, already), my plan to bake this while it was still cool in the morning was not working out, and I didn't want to take the time to look up recipes to see how much butter I should add.  Instead, I added a drizzle of pancake syrup and mixed that in!   By now it was probably no longer bara brith batter (none of the recipes included pancake syrup as an ingredient!) but, we'll just call this Bless' version of bara brith!

The next problem was the size of the loaf pan!  Almost all the recipes called for a 2-lb. loaf pan!  I have several loaf pans, but, I don't think any of them is a 2-lb. loaf pan!  The largest loaf pan I have is a 8.5"x4.5"x2,5" pan, which is more or less the standard size of loaf pan used here.  One recipe did state use a 9"x5" loaf pan and the online charts to find the dimensions of a 2 lb. loaf pan just seemed to be confusing to me.  So, I put most of the batter into a regular loaf pan, filling it about 2/3 full and put the remaining batter into a small foil loaf pan.  I think all of it could have gone into the bigger loaf pan, but, I didn't know how much this bread would rise and I didn't want to have any dough over flowing and having to clean the oven!

I baked the bread in a 325F oven; the smaller loaf for 35 minutes (I tested it with a skewer which came out clean) and the larger loaf for an additional 20 minutes.  Some recipes said to glaze the top with honey, but, I omitted that step since I had already added pancake syrup to the batter!  Others said to reserve a few spoons of the soaking liquid to pour over the top of the baked cake, but, I hadn't reserved any.

Then, I sliced the smaller loaf and tried a piece without butter, first, and with butter (which melted quickly because the bread was still warm).  I like the taste both with and without butter.  I think I used just the right amount of raisins for me.

I like the fact that this bread can be made without butter (which is getting to be a rather expensive ingredient, these days) and just one egg.

Plus, I only dirtied three of my four mixing bowls!  LOL.  Next time, I'll use a larger bowl to soak the raisins!

The recipes do say to cover and keep the bread overnight for the flavors to develop.  Considering the fact that I've eaten half of the smaller loaf (it's what I had for brunch, today),  I think I like it just as well on the first day!  LOL.   I will be making it again!  But, I might wait until it is a bit cooler!  LOL.

A Slice of Warm Bara Brith with Butter

Thank you, Eileen, for introducing this bread to me.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Eileen making me curious about trying this bread
- Online recipes and conversion tables
- A working oven
- An experiment which turned out well
- Gas for the oven and electricity for the fan!

Today's joyful activity was baking my version of bara brith!  

Have you had bara brith?  Or a version of it?  Is it something you might consider making?  Do you have as much of an adventure as I do when it comes to baking and adapting recipes?  

August Plans - Week 4 Review and September Week 1

This was the plan for the August Week 4 meals:

Brunches: Leftover fried rice (Monday), salads✔, frozen burritos✔, bread pudding, scrambled egg and toast

Leftover shirataki noodles stir fry (Monday)✔
Chicken curry, rice, leftover dhal, moringa curry (some of the moringa pods are ready to be picked) maybe broccoli leaf mallung  (had it on Monday, August 29; without the broccoli)
Chicken curry and tortillas✔
Macaroni and cheese with leftover chicken curry (if any) or canned tuna
Leftovers ✔ 

Here's how it turned out:

Brunch:  Leftover fried rice
Dinner: Leftover shirataki noodles stir fry

Breajfast: Toast, butter, jam
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Hamburger patty on bread ends "bun", with lettuce, ketchup, etc., and corn on the side

Brunch: Burrito
Dinner: Chicken curry and tortilla

Brunch: Toast and peanut butter
Dinner: Chicken curry and tortilla

Brunch: Pizza and ice cream!
Dinner: More pizza!  Salad.

Brunch: Cheese sandwich
Dinner: Hamburger, side salad

Brunch: Burrito
Dinner: Sauteed/glazed chicken drumsticks, rice, stir fried vegetables

I am afraid I didn't stay on the meal plan this week!  I was in a snacky kind of mood and didn't feel like cooking that much.  

Moving on to this current week - I don't know if I should call it August Week 5 or September Week 1!  LOL.

Brunches: Peanut butter sandwich (Monday), cereal, salads, milkrice with seeni sambol and chicken curry, leftover milkrice, egg salad sandwiches?

- Chicken curry, rice, leftover dhal, moringa curry (Monday)
- Sauteed chicken drumstricks, rice, stir fried vegetables
- Gyoza/potstickers/dumplings
- Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast?
- Leftovers

We'll see how it all works out!

Have you made a meal plan for this week?  How is meal planning working out for you?

Monday, August 29, 2022

Moringa Harvest

Moringa Pods on the Tree

There were several pods ready for harvesting on the moringa tree and I picked them, this weekend:

Moringa Harvest

Not a bad harvest at all!  There are a few more pods on the tree, that haven't matured enough to be picked.  I think you can see why these pods are also known as "drumsticks" in English.  

You have to lightly peel or scrape off most of the green outer peel before cutting the pods into shorter lengths for cooking.  I peeled about half of the pods, on Sunday, and cooked them.  I wanted to peel and cook all of them at once, but, my hand began to cramp up after I had peeled about half and then, I had to stop.  I will peel and cook the rest, tomorrow, and then, I am going to freeze some of it.  

I posted about making moringa curry here

It was a quiet and peaceful weekend.  

I am grateful for:

- Being able to grow and harvest moringa pods
- A quiet weekend
- Sleeping in
- No noisy parties in the neighborhood
- Chats with family and friends

Joyful activities have included harvesting moringa pods and sewing.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Friday, August 26, 2022

August Grocery Shopping Part 2

I put in an order for groceries, yesterday, and pick them up, today.  This is my second grocery shopping order for this month (the first was done on August 5).  I tried to keep my order to under $40, because I knew that I had just a little less than that in this month's budget ($39.40 to be exact).  But, the discounts for digital coupons, etc., don't show up on the total when you order, and the order showed $45+ when the payment information was entered.  I figured it would work out; if not, I'll "borrow" from September's budget!  After all, some of what I'm buying during this grocery order will be eaten in September, 

This morning, I received a text from the store saying that the frozen gyoza/potstickers I ordered weren't available, but, they could substitute a different brand, which was $1.00 cheaper; I accepted the substitution (I'm not brand loyal where a lot of things are concerned).  Other than that one substitution, I received all my groceries, today!

So, what did I buy?

3 bananas (1.19 lb. @ $.65/lb.) = $0,77  (more than 3 and they get overripe before I can eat them)
6 apples (1.77 lb. @ $.99/lb; reg. price $2.99/lb.) = $1.75
4 mangos @ $1 = $4.00
1.43 lb. grapes @ $.99/lb. with digital coupon (reg. price $2,99/lb.) = $1.42

1 cucumber = $0.99 (Yay!  I finally got my cucumber!)
1 iceberg lettuce = $1.49

1 package frozen corn (12 oz.) = $1.25

1/2 gal. milk = $2.69

1 tray/family pack chicken drumsticks (4.61 lb. @ $.99/lb.; reg. price $2.49/lb.) = $4.56

1 package (20 oz.) frozen vegetable and chicken dumplings/potstickers/gyoza = $5.99

1 frozen pizza (20 oz.) = $3.49 (on sale with digital coupon)

1 loaf (20 oz.) sandwich bread = $1.50 (went down in price!)

1 bar (4.25 oz.) chocolate = $2.49
1 container (48 fl. oz.) store brand mint chocolate chip ice cream = $2.79

Sub-total = $35.18

Less $5.00 discount from Jennifer, for the accidental omission of the cucumber from my previous order!  I told her I would be just as happy if she just gave me this order's cucumber free, but, she said I deserved the discount!  By the way, she assured me that the store had reimbursed her for the instant cup noodles she got for me from the dollar store, last time, which is good to know.  

Total = $30.18

August grocery budget is $100 - $23.50 (overspent in July) = $76.50.

Spent to date = $37.10 (on August 5) + $30.18 = $67.28

Balance left =  $9.22

Considering the fact that I was shopping with a reduced budget this month, I think I did quite well with my grocery spending in August!  Even without Jennifer's generous discount, I still would have been under budget.  

Yes, I'll carry over that $9.22 to September and use it for stocking up or for a splurge item!

After I came home and put away the groceries, I baked the pizza and had some for brunch, along with a bowl of ice cream.  It's 92F here, today, and although not as hot as it has been, earlier, ice cream was a lovely, cold treat!  At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  I'll find another excuse for the bar of chocolate, later!  LOL.

I kept the chicken drumsticks in the fridge for now.  I'll cook half of the tray for this week and freeze the rest, I think.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online
- Curbside pick up and receiving all the groceries that I ordered
- Wonderful store clerks like Jennifer
- The car started without any problems (haven't driven it in nearly 3 weeks; just started the engine once a week)
- A safe drive to the store and back

How is your August grocery shopping coming along?  Are you staying within your budget?  

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Row by Row

Quilt Top So Far

Thank you, everyone, for your very kind comments to Dancer's post, yesterday!  I love how you all play along.

I attached one more border (the solid blue border) to the quilt, today (ignore the starred background - it's the back of the scrap quilt I have on my bed).  I'm using the borders as visual breaks between the different types of patchwork piecing.  I guess you can say that I am growing my quilt from the inside out.

The next row in the quilt will need a little more "framing" before I can attach them, so, that's what I'll be working on, next.  

In addition to playing with fabric, I have been doing a little housecleaning, tended to the garden with M when he was here on Wednesday and kept in touch with family and friends.  I am also getting ready to put in an order for groceries to be picked up, tomorrow. 

I'm grateful for:

- Water for the garden
- M's help with the garden
- Fans to keep me cool and the electricity to run them
- Dancer's help with the quilt making!
- The fabric stash

Joyful activities have included playing with fabric!

Plans for tomorrow include picking up groceries and tending to the garden with M.

How is your week coming along?  What are your plans for Friday?

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Lending a Helping Paw with Quilt Making

Dancer Lends a Helping Paw

Hello blog friends!  It's Dancer, here!  It's been a long time since I last did a blog post, isn't it?  But, I simply had to update you on this quilt my Mummy has trying to make!  I know she's been telling you that she's making a quilt with all the scrap pieces of fabric she has in her baskets.  But, you all know that she can't do them on her own!  She tries to, bless her heart, but, she needs help!  A lot of help!  Which is where I come in!  I am her most helpful assistant!

Mummy has been worried that one side of her quilt was wider than the other, so she tried to narrow it down by cutting a strip of it off to straighten it and now she's saying it is longer on the other side!  Oh, no, Mummy, that's not how you make it more even!  Let me show you how it should be done!

"First you lie on it and then you squirm; that makes it more even"

"Then you pull up one corner, take another patchwork piece, and..."  

"You take a nap because helping Mummy is hard work"

And there you have it!  Job all done!  I tell you, blog friends, she really can't sew a quilt without me helping her!   

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Front Garden in August and a Slow Start to the Week

Front Garden in August

The front garden in August doesn't look very interesting, does it?  It's too dry and parched.

But, the newly transplanted sprengeri ferns are doing well:

Sprengeri Ferns

With new growth on all of them:

New Growth on the Sprengeri Ferns

And do you see what I see, coming up between the mulch that we put down between the ferns?

Osteospermum Seedlings!

The osteospermum had seeded itself and removing the old plants have facilitated them growing!  

Elsewhere in the garden, even the succulents are scorched:

Scorched Aeonium

Once it cools down in October or so, I might dig up this clump and transplant the bigger stems.  

Yesterday, Monday, I did a load of laundry in the morning (my bed sheets, etc.), cleaned the litter box, took the trash cans out, did my meal plan (which I've changed, already!), spoke on the phone with friend R, and video chatted with my daughter.

When I took my trash cans out, I saw neighbor T's daughter K pulling out of T's driveway; I waved to her and she stopped the car to chat with me through the open window.  She had been over to the house to take T's trash cans out and check the mail, etc.  She said her mother was settling in at the facility and was liking the routine, going down to the common dining area for meals, etc.  I told K that her mother had called me on Saturday and I had spoken with her on Sunday.  K said she was going to see her mother on Tuesday and again on Wednesday because she is having cable installed in T's room so she would watch her TV programs and having a landline put in, as well, to make it easier for T to call her friends (she finds it easier than her cell phone).  

I didn't do any sewing on Monday because, when I went to attach the next row of patchwork pieces, I discovered that, somehow, the top edge of the quilt was two inches wider than the bottom edge!  Oops!  I guess I didn't piece all those 3-inch squares properly!  That threw me off, completely, and I decided I needed to give it a rest. 

This afternoon, I trimmed the outer grey border to try and even out the difference.  I am not very happy with the end results, but, I think it won't be that noticeable.  I will notice it, but, that's because I'm aware of that little mistake.  Then, I trimmed all the disappearing nine-patches to make them all even and sewed them in short rows of four squares per row.  The next step is to iron them out and figure out how they should be incorporated into the quilt top.  

Today (Tuesday), I brought in my trash cans and took neighbor T's trash cans in for her.  I spoke with cousin P this afternoon (she's the one who moved to Florida), chatted with friend R, and with aunt C, too.  

Yesterday, I had leftovers for my meals - the leftover fried rice for brunch and the leftover shirataki noodles for dinner.  Today, I had some toast with butter and jam for breakfast followed by a salad for lunch (eaten around 3:00 p.m.).  Dinner was going to be rice and chicken curry, but, the packet of chicken curry I took out from the freezer hadn't thawed in time for dinner!  I should have taken it out on Sunday!  Instead, I took out one frozen hamburger patty (which, according to the instructions on the package, could be cooked frozen), cooked it in a frying pan, and had that for dinner!  I didn't have hamburger buns, but, the end crusts of store bought bread make good hamburger bun substitutes for me.  I boiled some frozen corn, too, to have with my hamburger and it made a filling dinner.  

I am grateful for:
- Weekly trash collections
- The sprengeri ferns seem to be doing well 
- Osteospermum seedlings emerging
- Phone calls and chats with family and friends
- Electricity to run the fans, power the lights, etc.
Joyful activities have included playing with fabric and being in the garden.

Plans for tomorrow (Wednesday) include:
- Tending to the garden with M
- More sewing
- Dusting my bedroom

How is your week coming along?  What are your plans for Wednesday?

Monday, August 22, 2022

August Meal Plans: Week 3 Review and Week 4 Plan

This was the meal plan for Week 3:

Brunches: The last slice of frozen pizza (Monday) ✔, salads ✔, fruits, chicken curry ✔and tortillas

Chicken curry, rice, dhal, chutney (Monday)✔
Shirataki noodles stir fry with sausages✔
Breakfast for dinner - French toast

Here's how it turned out:

Brunch: Slice of pizza from the freezer
Dinner: Chicken curry, rice, dhal, zucchini, chutney 

Brunch: Salad (lettuce, carrot, zucchini, apple, bottled raspberry and pecan dressing)
Dinner: Leftover chicken curry, rice, dhal, and chutney

Brunch: ??? I didn't write it down, but, toast with butter and jam maybe, or toast with cheese! 
Dinner: Fried rice made with the last of the corned beef cooked with onions, a couple of green tomatoes, etc.

Breakfast: Mango
Lunch (eaten after the bread was baked): Freshly baked bread with butter (1 slice) and warmed up dhal curry (1 slice)!
Dinner: More bread with chicken curry

Brunch: Bread and cheese
Dinner: Rice, dhal, the last of the chicken curry, chutney

Brunch: Homemade bread, toasted, with butter and peach jam!  Yum!
Dinner:  Fried rice with sausage, the last two green tomatoes, shredded passionfruit leaves, an egg, etc.

Brunch: Scrambled egg and toast
Dinner: Shirataki noodles (Yay! I finally made it!), stir fried with sausage and broccoli

I didn't have French toast as breakfast for dinner, as planned, but, that's OK.  I'll keep that for another time.

On to Week 4:

I haven't put in a grocery order, yet, although I might put in an order later this week.  But, this week's meal plan is based on what I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry:

Brunches: Leftover fried rice (Monday), salads, frozen burritos, bread pudding, scrambled egg and toast

Leftover shirataki noodles stir fry (Monday)
Chicken curry, rice, leftover dhal, moringa curry (some of the moringa pods are ready to be picked), maybe broccoli leaf mallung 
Chicken curry and tortillas
Macaroni and cheese with leftover chicken curry (if any) or canned tuna

If I do put in a grocery order before the end of the week, I might buy a bag of frozen gyoza and have that, one night.

How about you?  Are you making a meal plan for this week?

Productive Sunday

Work in Progress

Yesterday's music ended at 1:30 a.m., which was actually, rather early for them!  I was surprised.  Maybe the neighbor in the house behind them complained.  In any case, I was able to open a window and cool down the house before I went to bed.  

It was relatively cool this morning (below 80F) and after my morning cup of tea and prayers, I did a load of laundry, scrubbed the toilet, and vacuumed the house.  

Afterwards, I replied to blog comments and commented on a couple of other blogs.  Later in the afternoon, I sat down to sew on my quilt top.  I am using the leftover piece from the Roman Stripe quilt as my center block!  I can see pieces of fabric from three dresses my mother made for herself and at least two dresses she sewed for me!  Others are leftovers from other sewing projects.  Surrounding that center block are the 3-inch squares I cut out.  While I sewed, I watched some musical programs on TV.

I also called neighbor T in the afternoon.  She had called and left a message, yesterday, but, it was too late to call her back when I saw that I had a message and checked it.  She said she is 90% settled in and she likes the place.  She said she feels guilty asking the people there to do things for her, but, I told her not to feel guilty because she is paying for those services!  She said her daughter was coming to see her a bit later in the afternoon, so, I told her to have a good visit with her daughter and I'll talk to her, later in the week.

Later, I called friend R and chatted with her.  

I had a scrambled egg and toast for my brunch, today.  For dinner, I made the shirataki noodles, stir fried with a sausage, broccoli, chili powder, sesame seeds, and roasted peanuts:  

Shirataki Noodles Stir Fry

I drizzled the top with a little bit of hot sauce before I ate it.  There's another serving of the noodles leftover for tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A cooler day
- Getting the housework done
- Chats with friends and neighbors
- Time to sew
- Video chatting with my daughter

Today's joyful activity was sewing.

Plans for tomorrow include a little more housework (dusting), another load of laundry (my bedsheets, etc.), watering the garden, and taking the trash cans to the curb.  Of course, there will be some sewing, too!

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

Sunday, August 21, 2022


Asian Pear

Yesterday (Friday), I picked the first Asian Pear of the season,  It was hot from the sun, so, I kept it in the fridge to get cool and I cut it, today: 

Halved Asian Pear

It was crisp and sweet and very refreshing.  There are smaller fruit on the tree; I don't think they'll get much bigger, but, I will wait a few more days to pick them.

It's been a cooler day, today.  Of course it would turn cool once the a/c unit was set up!  LOL.  I have had a relaxed day, spending most of the afternoon and early evening sewing.  I started the car, cleaned the litter box, did the dishes, chatted with friend R, and watched some TV before the party started, next door, around 6:30 p.m. Once the music started (it's all being held outside in their yard - live music and amplifiers that are taller than I am!) I couldn't hear the music program I was watching on TV!  So, I turned the TV off.  Even the video chat with my daughter was kept short because we could barely hear each other!  She had a good day, though; she went to San Francisco to meet up with some friends and they went to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 

I toasted two slices of my bread for brunch; it was very good, toasted, especially spread with some of my peach jam.  For dinner, I made fried rice:

Sausage Fried Rice

Leftover rice, a sausage I had previously cooked and frozen (cut into small pieces and refried a bit), the last two tiny green tomatoes, chopped up, a few passionfruit leaves, shredded, an egg, some chili powder, soy sauce, and a handful of roasted peanuts on top.  Home style fast food!  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Fresh Asian pears from the garden
- The car started without any problem
- Daughter had a fun day with her friends
- Chatting with friends
- A relaxed day

Today's joyful activity was, once again, playing with fabric!  

How is your weekend coming along?  Any plans for Sunday?

Saturday, August 20, 2022


Mama Cat

Guess who showed up at my back door for breakfast, this morning?  Mama Cat was sitting by the door when I woke up, this morning, and even tried to help me open the door by pawing at it!  I was SO happy to see her!  I guess she is over whatever it was that was ailing her and was more or less back to her usual self!  I gave her food and filled the big water bowl and she ate some of the kibble.  Then, she disappeared, but, later, I saw that she was relaxing near the back gate, in the shade.  I fetched the small bowls I had used to feed her when she was hiding under the plants in the front garden, rinsed them out, and filled them again for her, but, kept them near the back porch.  She came to check them out, ate a little bit, and went to lie down, again.  She came back to eat, much later, again, which is when I took the photo.  The steps are wet because M washed them for me.

The morning was nice and cool.  But, it warmed up in the afternoon.  I spent the afternoon sewing my disappearing nine patches and planning the next step of the quilt.  I will not be making the entire quilt top with disappearing nine patches.  I want to incorporate some other patches I've pieced earlier.  I'm not quite sure how that will work out, but, I think it will evolve as I sew.

In the evening, M arrived to tend to the garden.  He watered the plants and tidied up the place a bit for me.  I served him some of my bread with butter and peach jam.  I warned him that the bread was a bit dry and dense and he replied, "Like me!"  LOL.  

Brunch had been some of the bread with a slice of cheese.  Dinner was rice with the last of the chicken curry, dhal, and zucchini chutney.  Snacks included an apple, the last of the chocolate wafers, and roasted cashew nuts.  

I texted with cousin V, spoke on the phone with friend R, and video chatted with my daughter.  Daughter also shared some pictures her friend had sent her of the new baby.  In one of them, she is shown wearing the Pikachu hat my daughter crocheted for her!  So cute!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Mama Cat seems to have recovered
- M helping me with the garden
- Water for the garden
- Keeping in touch with family and friends
- Electricity to operate the appliances (fans, sewing machines, irons, TV, etc.)

Today's joyful activity was sewing on my patchwork!

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

Friday, August 19, 2022

Bread on Thursday

Freshly Baked Bread

First of all, thank you, everyone, for your kind comments about my patchwork and quilting efforts.  

Yesterday, when the weather forecast said it will be cooler on Thursday, with a high of only 90F, I told my daughter that I might try baking some bread, again, because I had finished the loaf of bread I had bought when I did my grocery shopping, earlier this month.  I usually don't bake in the summer, but, with the window a/c in place, I had the option of retreating to the bedroom and turning on the a/c if the rest of the house got too hot with the oven on.

I will start off with saying I am not a confident bread baker.  I have made bread from scratch a few times but, it is always a bit of an experiment where I am concerned.

To begin with, the yeast - remember when I couldn't buy any yeast at all during the first lockdown?  I had a couple of expired packets of yeast and I was not sure if they will work.  By the time my daughter was able to find some yeast to order online for me, the initial lockdown was over and the whole home made bread during the pandemic movement had passed me by!  Anyway, I was able to buy some yeast, after all, and I had it all stored in a container in the cabinet (although, I guess you are supposed to store it in the freezer?!)   

So, today, I reached into the container and took out one of the packets of active dry yeast.  Now, the first thing any bread making recipes say is check the date of expiry on the yeast.  If it has expired, they say toss it out and start with yeast that has not expired.  I turned over my packet of yeast to check the expiration date: December 2016!!!  Um...toss it out?  No way!  I decided to proof it to see if the yeast was any good - I warmed up 1/2 cup of water and sprinkled the yeast on top, covered it and kept it aside for about 5 minutes:

Proofing the Yeast

Yay!  That yeast was bubbling away and seemed very much alive to me! 

The next step, according to the instructions in my cookbook was to warm up 2 1/2 cups of milk.  Um...I didn't have milk, but, I did have some half and half that needed to be used up!  We'll have extra rich bread!  I had 2 cups of half and half and I added 1/2 cup of water to make up the needed quantity, entirely forgetting the 1/2 cup water I used to proof the yeast!  No matter.  Our air is so dry, here, anyway, that a little extra liquid would not be a problem. I'll just add a little extra flour if necessary.  The recipe said to use 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, using as much as was needed to make a moderately firm dough.  I kneaded the dough by hand and set it aside to rise:

The Kneaded Dough

My "warm place" was the dining room table.  I was supposed to leave it covered until the dough doubled in size.  I checked on the dough 45 minutes later:

Doubled Dough

I sent the picture to my daughter and texted, "I think it's doubled, don't you?"  She agreed.

The next step was to punch it down, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two.  I forgot to punch it down until I had it on the pastry sheet!  But, I was able to use the new pastry scraper my daughter had given me to divide the dough!

Divided Dough

It needed to rest for 10 minutes before being shaped into loaves and put into two greased loaf pans and kept for a second rise; the recipe said not to let it rise too far above the top of the rim of the pans.  This is how my dough looked after about 30 minutes:

After the Second Rising

I baked them in a 375F oven for 35 minutes, covering the tops of the loaves with foil for the last 15 minutes.  I cooled them just long enough for me to be able to hold one of the loaves to slice into it!

Freshly Sliced

Sorry, the kitchen light caused it to appear yellow, but, it is white bread.  Maybe the texture of the bread is a bit dense; maybe it could have risen a bit more?

Delicious with Butter

But, it was absolutely delicious, spread with a little butter, while it was still warm!  I had the second slice with some warmed up dhal curry.  

I'm keeping one loaf for use this week.  I sliced the second loaf and froze it in smaller packages, with 4 or 6 slices per package; that way, I can take out one package and have enough bread for a couple of meals, as needed, without worrying about the rest of the loaf getting stale.

Of course, by the time I finished baking the bread, the kitchen was a disaster zone!  I have four mixing bowls of different sizes and I managed to dirty all four of them!  There was flour on the kitchen counters, flour on the dining table where I kneaded the dough, dirty dishes in the sink, the used bread pans on the stove, and, after I sliced the bread, crumbs everywhere!  But, I washed the dishes - some by hand, some in the dishwasher, and restored some order.  My hand started to cramp when I was rinsing out the last plate, but, it was fine afterwards.  

In addition to making bread, I checked on Mama Cat in the morning, and she seemed a lot better, today, actually sitting out in the open and following me to the food bowl.  I gave her more food and water, again, in the evening, too.

My half-sister called in the morning and a short time after that, cousin V called.  Later in the afternoon, while I was waiting for the bread dough to rise for the first time, neighbor T's daughter K called.  She said she, her brother, and T were at the house!  They had stopped by the house before going to the assisted living facility to pick up a few items that T will need, including some clothes and her recliner chair!  She said T would love to see me if I could come over!  So, of course, I masked up and went over to say Hi to T!  But, before I went, I picked the last of the sunflowers (some of the smaller ones along the main stem were still flowering) and arranged them in a small vase that I had, along with some fern fronds, to take over.  Sunflowers are T's favorite flowers and she was so happy to receive them.  Her daughter said they will take the flowers with them to T's room at the assisted living facility.  T looked well and I'm sure she was happy that both her children were there with her.  I told her I'll be calling her to resume our Sunday morning chats, once she's settled at the facility.  I didn't stay long, visiting, just 5 minutes at the most (I wore my mask, but, of course, they weren't wearing masks), but, it was nice of K to let me know that I could see T and it was lovely to see her.  I'm not sure what visiting protocols are at the facility, but, I'll probably not go to see T, there, because of Covid concerns.  

After baking my bread and having some of it for a late lunch, I took a nap!  Afterwards, I cleaned up the kitchen, chatted with friend R, and video chatted with my daughter.  Dinner was another slice or two of my bread, with chicken curry.  Some mango for dessert.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to make bread!  The yeast actually worked!
- Phone calls with family and friends
- Getting to see T for a few minutes
- Flowers from the garden
- Afternoon naps

Today's joyful activities included visiting T and baking bread.

With the bread making and visiting, etc., I didn't get around to finishing the vacuuming.  So, that's on the agenda for tomorrow!

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?  Do you generally bake your own bread?  If so, do you have any tips on bread baking to share?

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Disappearing Nine Patch!

Now You See It

My basic nine-patch block, wonky seams and corners that don't quite meet, and all!

Now You Don't!

It needs to be ironed out and edges trimmed, but, this is what I've been doing today.  Making disappearing nine-patch blocks.

In case you want to find out how it is done, once you have pieced the basic nine-patch block, you cut it in half in one direction and cut it in half again in the other direction, to quarter it:

Quartered Block

Then comes the fun part of rearranging the quarters!  There are several different ways of arranging them, but, this is the design I selected:

The New Arrangement

It has the advantage of not having any seams that have to be matched!  LOL.  Then, you sew the quarters together, again, to make the new block.  You can mix and match quarters from different blocks if you want, but, my original blocks are scrappy enough that I didn't want to mix and match too much.  I will iron them all out once I've finished sewing.  

I vacuumed part of the house, this morning, and moved my bed off to the side in order for M to have access to the bedroom window to install the window air conditioner unit.  He texted me to say that he will be late because he had a flat tire on his truck this morning, and the tire was so old that two places he went to, to have the flat repaired refused to patch it!  So, he went to the dealers to get his tires replaced.

But, once he was here, he put up the window a/c unit in place for me, sprayed the areas around the front and back doors with the flea spray, and watered the garden.  We decided to pull up the zucchini plants and the wonky tomato plant, which had produced two ripe tomatoes and about four green tomatoes, each the size of a cherry tomato!  This was not the year of the zucchini or tomatoes!

I used two of the green tomatoes when I cooked the last of the can of corned beef for my dinner, tonight, slicing and sauteing them with some red onions and the corned beef.  Then, I added the last serving of rice to it, some chili powder, and made a sort of fried rice, which I had for dinner.   

Today's high was only 93F, so I didn't turn on the a/c in my bedroom.  But, now I have it in place, just in case I need it.  Dancer doesn't like it when I turn on the a/c in the bedroom, because I close the bedroom doors to keep the cool air in the room.  He will sit outside the closed door and cry until I let him come inside.  Then, he will sit in front of the closed door, inside the room, and cry until I open it and let him out!  And so it goes!  He hates closed doors!  

After dinner, I called friend R and checked on her.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:

- M was able to install the window a/c unit for me
- It still works!
- M was able to spray the flea spray in the area around the doors for me
- The zucchini and tomato harvest, meagre as it was, this year
- The technology that allows me to video chat with my daughter, daily

Today's joyful activity was sewing disappearing nine patches!

Plans for Thursday include vacuuming the rest of the house and tidying the kitchen.

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