Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Monthly Photo Challenge - February

February's theme for the monthly photo challenge hosted by Eileen is 'square(s)'.  These are the photos I took:

Squares in the Parkway

A Square in the Garden

Squares of Cornbread

Squares on the Cutting Mat

Squares on the Cutting Ruler

Checker Board Squares

Crocheted Granny Squares

Knitted Sampler Squares

Cat Quilt Squares

Keyboard Squares

Two Square Buckets (and one round!)

And Dancer, Not Being a Square!

Thank you for this opportunity to participate in the monthly photo challenge, Eileen.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Rainy Days and Mondays

The Rain Water Buckets are Full!

It rained on and off today.  The sky stayed uniformly grey all day.  The temperature never went above 48F, which is cold for us.  I stayed huddled close to the heater for the most part!

However, I managed to get a few things accomplished, today.  I washed the dishes that had accumulated in the sink, wiped the stove top, mopped the kitchen and the bathroom floors, cleaned the litter box, did a load of laundry (bath mats, kitchen rug, Dancer's rug, etc.), took the kitchen compost to the compost heap, and took the trash cans to the end of the driveway to be picked up, tomorrow morning.  

I also noticed that I hadn't quite escaped any storm damage - some of the end tiles on the garage roof had become loose and a couple had come off.  I will have to get that attended to as soon as possible, before it becomes a big problem.

Lemon Blossoms

Brunch was a banana muffin (yes, one, because after a few days, the banana flavor intensifies and then, I don't like them as much).

For dinner, I made over the turkey I had pulled from the carcass when I made the stock for the soup.  I didn't put all of it in the soup because there was a lot of turkey still left on that carcass.  I thought I had about a cup of shredded turkey, but, I had about two cups of it.  I wasn't quite sure what I was going to make with it .  It would have been good added to some pasta, either in a pasta bake or mixed in with some macaroni and cheese, but, I've already had quite a few pasta meals last week.  I could use to make fried rice, but, I didn't have any leftover rice and fried rice is best made with leftover rice.  Eventually, I decided that I wanted something spicy; either a filling for patties or a keema curry.  I sauteed some sliced onion, added the shredded turkey, some green peas, curry powder and chili powder.  Then, I took the last serving of the turkey soup that I had; I knew I was getting tired of the turkey soup, but, of course, I didn't want to waste it.  I strained the soup and added the last bits of potato and other vegetables from the soup to the sauteed turkey in the pan.  By which time, I was too tired and a bit too hungry to make the pastry for patties and bake them, etc.  Instead, I decided to cook a pot of rice and I used the broth from the strained soup to cook the rice!

Sauteed Shredded Turkey Mixture

I sliced some of the cucumber I still had in the fridge and dinner was ready:

Monday Night Dinner: Rice, Turkey Mixture, Cucumber Slices

Although I had been getting a bit tired of the turkey soup, the rice cooked in it was very tasty.  

I could make some patties, tomorrow, and use the turkey mixture as the filling, or, I could have it with the leftover rice over the next couple of days.  Options!

Today, I am grateful for:

- More rain for the garden
- The damage to the garage roof doesn't look too bad
- A working heater
- Chats with daughter and friend R
- What I was able to accomplish today

Today's joyful activity is video chatting with my daughter.

There is more rain in the forecast for tomorrow.  Plans for tomorrow include a doctor's appointment in the afternoon.

How was your Monday?  What would you have done with the shredded turkey?  What are your plans for Tuesday?

March Meal Planning, Week 1

I got away from meal planning in February!  Or, rather, I didn't do a lot of planning at the beginning of the week and post about it.  Instead, I just cooked various dishes depending on what I had on hand and what I felt like eating and then, either froze some of it (chicken curry and ground beef with vegetables) or ate the leftovers as long as they lasted!  It worked out rather well for me.

All my meals were cooked at home (except for the bagels and the bread which I bought from the store) and included milk rice, fried rice, rice with chicken curry and green beans, scrambled eggs and toast, French toast, pancakes, bagels and cream cheese, toast and cream cheese, banana nut muffins, corn bread, cheeseburger/hamburger, turkey and vegetable soup (two batches), fried potato slices, baked potato wedges, mashed potatoes, sausages cooked with vegetables and eaten with mashed potatoes or added to pasta sauce and eaten with spaghetti, ground beef with vegetables (eaten with rice as fried rice, added to macaroni and cheese, added to pasta sauce and eaten with spaghetti), macaroni and cheese (eaten with ham and with ground beef), and sandwiches.  Oh, and leftovers!  Lots of leftovers!  LOL.  

But, February is coming to an end and March is starting.  Maybe I should try to do some meal planning, again!  I am going to consider the last two days of February as part of March for meal planning purposes.

I only did one grocery shopping pick up in February, on the 10th.  I will be needing to do another grocery pick up in the first week of March because I am out of bread and could do with some fresh fruits (and maybe more bagels - I really enjoyed having bagels and cream cheese for breakfasts and as snacks!)

The March Week 1 meal plan is made based on what I have on hand, though.  

Once again, I am going with options, instead of a set menu by day, as that seems to work best for me.

Breakfasts/Brunches:  Banana muffins (3 left), pancakes or waffles, milk rice with seeni sambol (March 1), turkey soup (1 serving left), scrambled eggs with fried potatoes or hash browns, leftovers


- Leftover shredded turkey made into something!  It's been sitting in the fridge for several days, now!

- Rice with chicken* or mackerel curry, dhal, moringa curry*, chutney

- Ham* and split pea soup?

- Ground beef* with mashed potatoes, snow pea pods* or broccoli*

- Leftovers

*Items from the freezer

I think this will be a good meal plan.  As always, subject to change depending on how I feel.

Have you been meal planning in February?  Will you meal plan in March?

Sunday, February 26, 2023

No Rain on Sunday

Sunday Afternoon

No rain on Sunday, but, cloudy and overcast.  We have more rain in the forecast for next week, Monday through Wednesday!

I've had a fairly quiet day, today.  I called Aunt C in the early afternoon and she said she's fine.  Later, neighbor T's daughter called, again, with a message about the house, and T called, too, for our Sunday chat.  T said she is having a cold (she sounded all congested) and she shared it with her daughter!  LOL.  My late friend A's younger daughter called, too, to check on me, which I thought was very kind of her.  Neighbor S called later in the evening to say that they are having some guests and could they use my drive way to park one of their cars for a couple of hours as there's no street parking available.  I said, yes, of course.  

I had turned the thermostat down to 60F before I went to bed, last night, and kept it at 60F for most of the afternoon.  But, later, I turned it back up to 65F because I felt cold.  I'll turn it back down to 60F when I go to bed.  

Brunch was the last of the pasta with sausages, sauce, and green peas.  I had the last piece of cornbread in the evening with a mug of hot cocoa instead of tea.  Dinner was a bowl of my turkey and vegetables soup (there is another serving of soup left for Monday's lunch) followed by saltine crackers with peanut butter topped with a bit of my homemade strawberry jam.  Mandarins and apples for fruit.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A day to dry out between rain storms
- Phone chats with family and friends
- Having the heater on
- Leftovers and planned overs for meals
- Electricity and internet connections

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

Tomorrow (Monday) is supposed to be another rainy day.  My plans for tomorrow include the usual Monday housekeeping, meal planning, and maybe some cooking for the week.

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

Rainy Saturday

More rain on Saturday, too!  We received 4.57 inches of rain on Friday and another 2+ inches on Saturday!  With January rainfall totaling over 8 inches and more rain expected next week, too, it looks like we will exceed our normal rainfall of just under 15 inches, this season.  With any luck, this year won't be considered a drought year!

Our day time temperature was 45F around noon, but, in the afternoon, it went down to 40F.  Some parts of Los Angeles received snow, especially in the mountains, but, we just had rain in my area.  

Neighbor T's daughter K called me in the morning, to check on me.  She said she had stopped by T's house to check on things; she had been concerned about the bottle brush tree in T's front garden, but, it is fine.  She said that there were several downed trees in her neighborhood.  Gardener M texted, too, to see if I was OK and I assured him that all was well and the eucalyptus tree was still standing.  According to the news, we had 50-70 miles per hour wind gusts, Friday night!

I spent a fairly relaxed day, today, watching online videos, reading blogs, trying to figure out a new budget, etc.  I know I seem to be obsessing over the gas bill, but, just the first two bills for this year have amounted to 63% of what I paid for natural gas in all of 2022 and 57% of what what I had budgeted for this entire year's gas bills!

The way I budget for most of my expenses, especially utilities, is I add up the previous year's bills, divide by 12 to get a monthly average, and then, add 10% for inflation.  I am not on the gas company's monthly payment plan, but, the way I budget for it is similar to how they calculate their monthly payment rates (and then, they bill you for any difference between what you've paid and your charges).  Then, I set aside that amount in my monthly budget towards that spending category.  Last year's gas bills varied from a high of $351 for January to a low of $30 in July, with an average bill of $135 per month.  With 10% for inflation, that comes out to $148.50 per month and I rounded it up to $150 for natural gas in my monthly budget for 2023.

Billing Period/
# Days
 Therms  Used
Bill Amount
 Billing Period/
# Days
 Therms Used
 Bill Amount
12/21/21-1/21/22=31 days
 12/19/22-1/20/23 = 32
= 32 
 1/20-2/17 = 28 
= 29
= 31 
1,621.16 =$135.09/mo.
 $1,031.08 = 63% of 2022 total payment

I used 164 therms during the first billing period in 2022 and my bill was $351.62.  I used 160 therms during the first billing period in 2023 and my bill was almost double at $693.34!  Even with their weekly bill notifications, it was still a shock!  This month's bill is not quite as bad, but, these two bills have thrown my 2023 monthly budget into complete disarray!  Obviously, I'll need to budget more than $150 a month for the gas bill!  But, how much more?  As a retired person living on a fixed income, there is only so much I can expand the budget to accommodate higher expenses.  Which means I need to cut other expenses, which is going to be rather interesting.  

I reduced the thermostat to 60F, today; the electric heater was on for most of the evening, although I've turned it off, now.  In the meantime, the gas company sent out a notice today about a public hearing on their proposal to...guess what?  Yes, they want to raise the price of gas!  No kidding!

I called friend R to check on her in the evening; she's been without internet and TV service all day, but, she had electricity.  I tried to call Aunt C to check on her (her backyard gets flooded when it rains, she has told me), but, she didn't answer the phone and I couldn't leave a message for her because I received an automated recording that her mail box was full.  Maybe her phone service is affected due to the storms.  I will try calling her tomorrow.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

Brunch was a bowl of soup and I had a piece of cornbread with my cup of tea in the evening.  Dinner was leftover pasta with sausage and pasta sauce.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The strong winds didn't cause any visible damage to my house and garden (just a few potted plants knocked over)
- Friends calling to check on me
- I have electricity and internet connections
- I have heating, even though it is costing a lot
- Having savings in place to pay for higher than expected bills!

Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my daughter.  

Sunday is supposed to be mostly cloudy with a 14% chance of rain.  Plans for Sunday include a little card making.

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