Sunday, July 30, 2023

Monthly Photo Challenge - July: Begins with O

The theme for the July Monthly Photo Challenge, hosted by Eileen, was "Begins with O".

These are my Begins with O photos:

Oranges, although they are still unripe and green!

Baby Oranges

Onion Flowers and Onion Plant (they bolted before the bulbs could form!):

Onion Flowers

Onion Plant




Overgrown Weeds and Plants




Oval Mirror

Out together walking beak to beak (Mourning Doves):

Out Together Walking Beak to Beak (Mourning Doves)


I had three possible captions for this picture - Out for the Count, Out like a Light, and the one I chose: One Cool Cat!

One Cool Cat!

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

Friday, July 28, 2023

July Grocery Shopping - Part 2

I had ordered groceries online, yesterday, and, today, Friday, I went to pick them up.  I had selected a morning pick up  time because, the last two pick ups were done around 6:00 p.m. and both times, items had been missing and I've had to go back for them.  I figured that 6:00 p.m. on a weekday, especially on a Friday, must be a very busy time at the store.

Usually, I receive a text if an item I ordered is missing and they offer a substitute for me to approve.  I have the option of accepting or declining the substitution and, if there is a price difference, the store charges me whatever is the cheaper price, even if the substituted item costs more (which it usually does because I tend to pick the lowest cost items!)  This time, there was no "we are out of an item you ordered" text, just a reminder to pick up the groceries during the appointed time slot.  

Therefore, I was surprised when I got to the parking lot and Jennifer (my favorite pick up service person) told me that they only had one can of soup instead of the two I had ordered and that was what they gave me.  For some reason, they had not substituted another can of soup, even though, on my order, I had OK'd substitutions.  My fault for not specifying which flavor of soup they could substitute, I suppose.  I shall know to do so the next time.  Unless they were all out of the chunky soups?  Surely not?

Not a big deal, I suppose, except, that second can of soup was the one that qualified me for the "buy 5 get $1 off each item" deal, which would have enabled me to get the peanut butter at $1.99 per jar, instead of at $2.99 a jar!  I asked Jennifer if they charged me the full price for the peanut butter, but, she was not able to access the receipt, she said.  They no longer give a printed receipt, but, rather, it is emailed to me   She told me to go home and check the receipt and if there was a discrepancy, to call her. 

So, I came home and checked the receipt (my phone is slow and the email was received on the way home; next time, I shall wait in the parking lot until I get the receipt!)  Of course the receipt showed that I had been charged the full price for the three jars of peanut butter and the one can of soup.  I had to call the store four times to get through to Jennifer - the first time, they connected me to the service deli, the second time to the bakery, the third time they forwarded the call to the pick up team but, I guess Jennifer was the only one there, today, and she had gone to lunch, because the phone just rang and rang and no one picked it up!  I waited for at least 10 minutes before I hung up.  Then, I called back, later, and spoke with Jennifer.  She said I could try to get a refund through the app or she'll give me a $10 discount the next time I shop.  Well, I figured the app would say I only bought 4 items and not the qualifying 5 items, so I opted for the future discount!  We shall see if I actually get it on the next trip (the discount that Ricky promised wasn't given; probably because he wasn't there, today). 

Jennifer asked by how much was I over charged and I said $4 ($1 per item) and she laughed, but, you know, $4 is $4!  I could have bought two more bars of chocolates for those $4!  LOL.

But, honestly, I'm turning into a bit of a drama queen when it comes to my grocery shopping adventures, am I not?  

Here's what I bought:

1 can (18.8 oz) chunky chicken pot pie soup (would have been $1.29) = $2.29 

3 jars (16 oz.) peanut butter @ $2.99 (would have been $1.99@) = $8.97 

1 cucumber = $0.79

1 iceberg lettuce = $1.99

2 bananas = $0.60

3 containers (2.62 oz.@) mustard seeds, $1.99@ = $5.98

3.52 lb. chicken thighs, @$0.99/lb. = $3.48

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

1/2 gal. milk = $2.39

1 loaf sandwich bread = $1.79

5 lb. bag all purpose flour (with $.55 off coupon) = $2.64

1 ice cream, 48 fl. oz. (French vanilla) = $4.50
(a cheaper brand, for which there was a coupon, was for delivery only)

2 bars chocolate $2.00@ (reg. price $3.39@) = $4.00

1 container (20 oz) chocolate milk powder mix = $6.49

3 bags (12 oz.) ground coffee $6.99@ with digital coupon = $20.97

The total adds up to $72.87, but, I had a store coupon for $5 off $70 spent in one transaction (which somewhat made up for having bought the peanut butter and can of soup at full price).

So, my total came to $67.87, of which, $46.90 were for my groceries and $20.97 was for daughter's coffee.

My July grocery budget is $100 (+ $64.38 carried over from May) = $164.38

Spent to date = $45.26 (on July 13) + $67.87 = $113.13

Carrying forward to August = $164.38 - $113.13 = $51.25

The August grocery budget will also be $100 plus $51.25 carried over.

If I don't take daughter's coffee into account, then, I stayed under my $100 July budget.  I'm glad I was able to buy her coffee when it was on sale, though.  

I am grateful for:

- Being able to order groceries online
- Being able to pick up groceries free of charge
- Being able to absorb extra costs when they occur for whatever reason
- The availability of groceries
- Lessons learned

How is your July grocery shopping coming along?  Are you able to stay within budget?  

Tune in next month for more grocery shopping drama with Bless!  LOL!

Warm on Thursday

Banana "Nice Cream" with Peach Jam and Peanut Butter

We went up to 99F/37C again, today.  But, it was a comfortable 80F in the house during the morning and I was happy.  In the afternoon, however, it went up to 89F inside the house and then, it felt a bit too warm, partly because it was humid, too.  But, did I put the air conditioner on in the bed room and retreat there?  Of course not!  LOL.  

I did another load of laundry this morning; I'm washing all the quilts and blankets I had on the bed and the quilts need to be washed one at a time.  I have today's quilt draped over the drying rack.  I managed to shove the rest of the washed and dried quilts and blankets into the linen cupboard; I am hoping I'll be able to squish this one in there, too, once it's dried.

In the afternoon, I went to the library!  They had emailed me, last night, saying that one of the books I had requested had come in and was put on hold for me.  I took the opportunity to return the previous book when I went in to pick up the new book.  The library was nice and cool and I was tempted to stay there, but, I didn't.  It wasn't crowded, but, no one else was wearing a mask and I didn't want to tempt fate!  I did put the a/c on in the car, though, which was nice.

I started reading the new book, "The East Indian" by Brinda Charry once I got home.  I'm enjoying reading it; maybe I'll do a review of it when I have finished reading it.

Brunch had been some of my rosemary bread with the rest of the tuna salad I made for dinner, last night.  During the afternoon, I also snacked on grapes and some yogurt.  Later, I made myself a bowl of banana "nice cream", blending a frozen banana with a spoon of my peach jam and a spoon of peanut butter, too.  It was delicious!  I had that instead of my usual cup of tea in the evening.  Dinner was leftover rice, chicken curry, peach chutney, etc.  

I ordered groceries this evening.  Coffee is on sale for $6.99 with a digital coupon, so I bought some for my daughter - she can take them back with her after her next visit home.  Chicken was also on sale for $0.99/lb., and while I still have some cooked chicken in the freezer, I thought I should buy just one tray of chicken to cook for this weekend.  I also bought more name brand peanut butter at $1.99/16 oz. jar as it was cheaper on sale than the store brand ($2.29).  I bought three jars to stock up.  It was part of a buy 5 participating items and save $1 per item deal. I didn't really need any of the other items on that deal and I didn't want to buy five jars of peanut butter, either, so I bought two cans of ready to serve chunky soup at $1.29/can.  I used to love this brand of chunky soups, but, hadn't bought any in a long time, preferring to make my own soups.  They'll go in the pantry cupboard and will be a quick meal on a day when I don't feel like cooking.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A safe drive to the library and back
- Library books
- Working appliances and the electricity to run them
- Being able to order groceries online
- Being able to video chat with my daughter

Today's joyful activity was borrowing another book from the library.

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Not Small Potatoes to Me!

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four!

You might have heard the expression, "It's small potatoes" to mean something small and insignificant?

Well, these are rather small potatoes in size, but, they are not small potatoes in terms of insignificance to me since I grew them!  There were thirteen potatoes in all in the second planter (I had planted two potatoes in it), but, I gave M the two largest ones and we replanted the smallest one to see if it will actually do anything!  I'm thrilled to bits to have grown them!  Maybe next year, I might actually dig up an area in the garden and actually try growing them in earnest, rather than sticking a sprouting potato in a container and seeing what happens!  There were some tomatoes, too, that were ready for picking.

It was another warm day.  I don't quite know how high the temperature was, outside, but, inside the house, we reached 90F.  

I did a little tidying and dusting in my bedroom, this morning, and I pushed the bed to a side; then, when M arrived to tend to the garden, I asked him to bring in the window air conditioning unit from the garage and set it up for me.  I probably won't turn it on, yet, but, I have the option of doing so, if I do find it too uncomfortable without some cooling.  After he set up the a/c unit, M also cleaned the blades on the ceiling fan in the bedroom.  I served him some blueberry muffins to thank him and he enjoyed them.  Afterwards, he watered the garden for me.

Later, I vacuumed the bedroom, pushed the bed back into place, changed the bed sheets, and did a load of laundry (the mattress cover and the old sheets).  

I also cleaned the bottom of the fridge, under the bins, because something had spilled.  

In between, I watched the World Cup Soccer match between the USA and the Netherlands.  

Brunch had been a scrambled egg and the rest of the fried baked potato slices re-fried!  I cut up a small tomato and added that, too, to the potatoes, and it turned out really well.  During the rest of the day, I snacked on grapes, yogurt, and roasted cashews.  I haven't had dinner, yet; I'm debating between having leftover rice and chicken curry or some of my bread with tuna salad.  I think the tuna salad is winning!  LOL.

Today, I am grateful for:

- M's help with setting up the a/c and cleaning the fan, as well as his help with the garden
- More potatoes and tomatoes!
- Ceiling fans and electricity to run them
- Working appliances such as my new vacuum cleaner and the washing machine
- I knew better than to click on a link when I opened a message containing virus threat!  

Today's joyful activity was harvesting potatoes!  LOL!  It sounds grand when I put it that way, doesn't it?  Like I harvested bushels and bushels of potatoes, instead of just over a dozen!  LOL.  But, it was fun!

Plans for tomorrow include ordering some groceries.  I need milk and regular sandwich bread, plus some salad ingredients, and some stock up items.  

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


Tuesday, July 25, 2023


Rosemary Bread

It was cloudy on Sunday and a little cooler.  I decided that it was cool enough to do some baking.  I wanted to make a batch of blueberry muffins before the blueberries I had picked spoiled.  I was also out of bread and thought I should make some bread, using a no-knead bread recipe that I've made before.  The recipe for the bread said to proof the yeast first, and I'm glad I did, because the first packet of yeast I used (given to me by my friend R at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when the stores were all out of yeast ) didn't become very foamy; it was probably expired.  I used a second packet (which was also expired), but, it proofed well.  The bread dough rose well enough during the first rising, but, it took longer than I had anticipated.  I need to remember that when it is cool enough to turn on the oven, it's not warm enough for bread dough to rise!  I did the second rise in a slightly warmed oven.  I sprinkled a few rosemary leaves on the top of this particular loaf of bread - next time, I will add the rosemary to the dough, as well.  The bread was crusty and tasty, if a little dense.  Fresher yeast might have helped!  And bread flour instead of all purpose flour.  

Meanwhile, out in the garden, I picked more tomatoes, a few serrano chilies, and three potatoes!  I had five regular, grocery store potatoes, that had sprouted before I could use up the entire bag of potatoes I had bought and I planted them in three containers, two potatoes each in the two larger containers and one potato in a smaller container.  That potato gave me three potatoes!  I have not checked the other containers, yet (waiting for M to do the honors).  I am obviously a long way from being self sufficient when it comes to growing my own food, but, I'm very pleased with my three home grown potatoes!  

Garden Harvest

Monday was warm, again.  I did laundry, minimal cleaning, took the trash cans to the curb, and watered the back garden.  Neighbor T called and we chatted for a bit and later, I chatted with friend R.

Today, our high temperature reached 99F (37C).  The forecast calls for upper 90s for the rest of the week.  I'm taking it easy and drinking plenty of water.  I brought in the trash cans after they were emptied, called and spoke with neighbor T's daughter, and spoke with my daughter before she boarded her plane.  Her flight was delayed by an hour or so, but, hopefully, the flight, itself, will be uneventful.

Brunch was some of my homemade bread and cheese.  Snacks included grapes, cashews, and blueberry muffins.  I haven't decided on dinner, yet, but, I might have chicken curry and rice with a cucumber salad (need to cook the rice and make the salad).

Today, I am grateful for:  
- Ceiling fans and electricity to run them
- Clean water to drink
- Weekly trash collection services
- The garden harvest
- The pharmacy mailing my medications to me

Today's joyful activity was relaxing with my feet soaking in a basin of cool water!  LOL.  

Plans for tomorrow include tending to the garden with M.

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday?  Is it very hot where you are?  Are you able to keep cool?

Monday, July 24, 2023

July Meal Planning: Week 3 Review and Week 4 Plans

This was the meal plan for Week 3:

Brunches: Waffles and beef curry (Monday)✔, sandwiches (tuna salad, egg salad✔, peanut butter✔, cheese, pot roast✔ or beef curry), milk and cereal, uppuma (Indian style cream of wheat), gata (Armenian sweet pastry)

Dinners: Leftovers/made overs✔; coconut roti with beef curry; maybe macaroni and cheese with tuna or ham (there's a box of mac and cheese that needs to be used up); chicken curry (from the freezer)✔ with rice and vegetable curries. 

And this is how it worked out:

Brunch - Waffles and beef curry 
Dinner - Rice, beef curry, cucumber salad

Brunch - Egg salad sandwich
Dinner - Baked chicken, salad, and part of the baked potato that neighbor S had given

Brunch - Slice of bread with peanut butter; followed by the last leftover waffle, later
Dinner - Rice, beef curry, vegetables, peach chutney

Brunch - Slice of bread with the rest of the egg salad; side salad
Tea - Gata and dried/preserved apricots
Dinner - Leftover rice, beef curry, peach chutney, followed by grapes and yogurt

Breakfast - Gata
Lunch - Cold roast beef (sliced pot roast) sandwich
Dinner - Deli sandwich (chicken or turkey cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, and tomato) and chips from the open house

Brunch - Toast with peanut butter
Dinner - Leftover pot roast and vegetables with the rest of the baked potato sliced and pan-fried 

Brunch - Uppuma (Indian style cream of wheat)
Dinner - Chicken curry and freshly baked bread; blueberry muffins

Blueberry Muffins and No-Knead Bread
(It was cool enough to bake, on Sunday)

I had kept meal planning to a minimum and it worked out quite well, I think, with bonus dinners from neighbor S and T's open house!  

Moving on to this week: 

Brunches: Bread and cheese (Monday), blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, pancakes

Dinners: Chicken curry and bread (Monday), chicken curry with rice and vegetables, macaroni and cheese with tuna or ham, the last of the pot roast and fried potatoes, teriyaki chicken drumsticks with rice and vegetables, leftovers 

That is the plan; we'll see how it all turns out!

Did you do a meal plan for last week?  If so, how did it work out?  Are you making a meal plan this week?

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Garden in July

The Front Garden on a Cloudy Day in July
(Yes, it's time for the eucalyptus tree to drop its leaves)

Time to post the July garden pictures.  It was a cloudy day, but, at least the pictures are not bleached out by the sun!  We have reached our usual summer temperatures and there aren't many flowers.  But, the succulents are doing well:

The Succulents Garden

As well as the asparagus fern border:

The Asparagus Ferns Border

Meanwhile in the back garden, the passionfruit vine is full of fruit:

Passionfruit on the Vine

There is a volunteer tomato plant growing in the same pot as the apple seedling: 

Volunteer Tomato Seedling

The hibiscus plant still has a few flowers:

Hibiscus Flowers

The serrano chili plant is doing well; I was very pleased to see new leaves starting to grow.  I picked five chilies, today:

Serrano Chili Plant (with gaura flowers peeking through)

The hot summer sun, however, has left its mark on some of the plants, including this loquat plant:

Scorched Leaves on the Loquat Plant

The heat doesn't seem to bother the rosemary bush, though, and I picked a few sprigs to some bread I'm making:

Rosemary Bush

Finally, the avocado plant I grew from a seed continues to grow, although a few leaves are showing signs of being sunburnt:

Avocado Tree

In addition to picking some curry leaves, some rosemary sprigs, serrano chilies, and a small handful of blueberries, I also harvested three potatoes that I had grown in a container!  

That is the tour of the July garden.  Hope you enjoyed it.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Having a garden
- Garden produce
- A cooler and cloudy day
- Water for the garden
- M's help with the garden

Today's joyful activity was harvesting some garden produce 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Tomato Chutney and Salsa?

Tomato Chutney

I made a batch of tomato chutney, today, with 5 lbs. of tomatoes.  I made 7 1/2 pint jars of chutney.  I have more tomatoes, but, I need to buy more mustard seeds to make more chutney.  I might just cut up the remaining tomatoes and freeze them to make pasta sauce, later.  Or to use in cooking (I like to add tomatoes to my chicken curries, etc.)

And the salsa?  My neighbors put up their tents this morning!  Just two tents, this time around.  The music started at 5:30 p.m.  There are speakers and microphones and vocalists, but, no mariachi band.  Instead, we have salsa, with the addition of Spanish versions of Summer Time Blues, Achy Breaky Heart, and some Saturday Night Fever, complete with a disco ball.  I guess it was someone's birthday because they also sang Happy Birthday at one point.  I am writing this post at 11:00 p.m. and the music is still going on.   

At first, I closed my family room window to mute the sound, but, then, it became too hot inside the house.  My daughter suggested I put on my headphones; they are not sound blocking headphones, but, plugged into my computer with my choice of music playing in my ears, the neighbors' music fades into a faint noise in the background.  I'm glad neighbor T's realtor held the open house last evening instead of today!  LOL.

Brunch had been toast with peanut butter.  I think I need a new toaster - the bread was toasted on one side, only!  I also need more bread; maybe it's time to put in another grocery order.  Dinner was leftover pot roast with pan fried potato slices. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- The tomato harvest (I picked a few more today, too)
- Another batch of tomato chutney for the pantry cupboard (and gift giving)
- Working headphones
- Fans and electricity to run them
- Water for the garden

Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my daughter.  She said there was a thunder storm yesterday evening and later, I saw on the news a video of rain cascading down the steps in Fenway Park, due to the same rain storm.  

No special plans for tomorrow.  I'll probably do some laundry and do a bit of tidying.  How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday?


Dancer Finds a Cool Spot for a Nap

Today, we went up to 97F and Dancer found himself a cool spot, under my desk, for a nap!

My daughter left for a conference in Boston, today.  We both woke up early, by 5:00 a.m. and she called me before she left to go to the airport.  She was flying out from San Francisco and the airlines had wanted passengers to be at the airport two hours before the flight departure time, which was at 8:00 a.m.  She took a ride share to the airport and was at the airport in good time.  It was a five hour flight and, because Boston is three hours ahead of us, reached there around 4:30 p.m. eastern time.  She will be at the conference until Tuesday and will fly back to San Francisco on Tuesday night.  

I had been planning to wake up early and make tomato chutney, but, I had had about two hours of sleep, so, I went back to sleep!  So much for chutney making!  Instead, I picked more tomatoes that were ripe to add to the ones I've already picked!

In the afternoon, neighbor T's daughter K called me to let me know that the open house was scheduled for this evening,  6:00 - 8:00 p.m.  The realtor had already left a flyer on my front door, yesterday, so I told K that I was aware of it.  She urged me to attend the open house, so, in the evening, I went over and introduced myself to the real estate agent.  She had trays of deli sandwiches and small bags of chips set out, along with bottles of water, for anyone who wanted some.  I was not planning to eat anything, especially since I had my mask on (I noticed that I was the only one with a mask), but, she urged me to take some home with me, so I took a sandwich and a bag of chips.  I had them for my dinner, along with some grapes to round out the meal.  Breakfast had been the second gata that S had given me and lunch was a cold roast beef sandwich, using slices of the pot roast I had made, earlier.

M was here in the evening and he watered the garden for me, pruned the pomegranate tree, and redid one of the planters - the succulents in it had grown so much that it had become top heavy and the planter had toppled over on its side!   

I started on a decluttering project, today, but, I'll post about it in a separate post, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter had a safe flight to Boston and safe rides to and from the airport
- More tomatoes from the garden
- M's help with the garden
- It's warm enough to wear my summer dresses
- Free dinner thanks to the open house, next door!

Today's joyful activity was picking more tomatoes.

Plans for tomorrow include making that chutney before the tomatoes rot.  

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

Thursday, July 20, 2023

More Goodies on Thursday!

More Goodies from S!

First of all, thank you to everyone who responded to my previous post with the request for prayers for Judy's nephew.  Judy had posted an update in the comments section, but, I thought I'll copy and paste it here:

Dear, dear Bless! Thank you so much for spreading the word about needed prayers and many thanks for those prayers. My sister is so very grateful, as am I. An update on my nephew, John:
There was miscommunication (most likely on my end) and he does not have any facial burns, but he does have second degree burns along with horrible blisters on his right hand. He was hit with 480 volts from a “dead” breaker box. The doctors are concerned about his heart and are keeping him overnight. All-in-all and considering what he went through, he’s doing ok.
Once again, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. Love to everyone, Judy

Today, neighbor S brought me more goodies she brought back from her European vacation!  Two pieces of gata (Armenian sweet pastry) and dried apricots that her friend had made, a cookie from France, and some Ukrainian chocolates that her piano teacher had given her!  Of course, I sampled some of the gata and the dried apricots and they were both delicious!  The gata was rich and buttery and the apricots seemed to have been candied in a sugar syrup before being dried.  They tasted wonderful!

I was unable to wake up early enough to make chutney before the house got hot.  I did get up early, around 8:00 a.m., once, but, I had not gone to sleep until nearly 4:00 a.m. and four hours of sleep was not enough.  I slept for another couple of hours and by then, it was too late to start making chutney.  Today's high was 97F and the temperature inside the house was around 87F (it has cooled down to 84F at 9:15 p.m., when I took this picture:

Temperature in the Family Room at 9:15 p.m.

Comfortable enough for reading and blogging, etc., but, a little too warm to be standing in front of a stove stirring a pot of chutney.  The plan is to wake up early, tomorrow, when it would be around 80F in the house and start then.  

The pharmacy had texted saying a prescription was ready for pick up.  I debated going in person and then, maybe stepping into the dollar store next to the pharmacy

Brunch had been a slice of bread with the last of the egg salad and a side salad.  Tea was one of the gata and the apricots.  Dinner was leftover rice and beef curry with peach chutney, followed by grapes and some yogurt.

Today, I am grateful for:
- My community of blogging friends
- More goodies from S
- Ceiling fans and electricity to run them
- Memories of my father (he died 60 years ago, today)
- Internet access

Today's joyful activity was reading.

Plans for tomorrow include making chutney, tending to the garden with M, and maybe attending the open house being held, next door, in the evening.  

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

Prayer Request

 I have received a prayer request from one of my readers, Judy, for her nephew who suffered a work injury.  Here is what she wrote:

Hi Bless! I have a favor…could you and your readers send up some prayers for my 26 y.o. nephew? He has severe facial burns received from a work place accident and is in the trauma unit at UNM, Albuquerque. Thank you so much. Judy

Please join me in praying/sending healing thoughts and well wishes for his complete recovery.  May he receive the best medical care and may he make a complete recovery from this trauma.

Thank you for your thoughts, well wishes, and prayers.


Back Yard in the Morning Sun

The back yard looked so pretty in the morning sun that I had to take a picture, even though the colors didn't come out too well.  The Asian pear tree is in the foreground, with the plum tree in the center of the picture, the nectarine tree to the left and the avocado tree to the right (you can see the white pole that is helping to support it)

Lois Lane Mango, however, is not doing well, at all!  In fact, she is more or less dead!

Lois Lane Mango

However, the tomatoes are producing well!  The individual fruits are rather small, though, with some of them being the size of a large cherry tomato!  This is today's picking:

Early Girl Tomatoes

I woke up relatively early for me - 8:00 a.m.   I did a load of laundry (two handmade blankets, one knitted, one crocheted) and hung the items up to dry.  Once they are dried, I will put them away until they are needed again in the winter.  Then, I made a birthday card for a friend of mine.  Afterwards, I checked on the garden and picked some tomatoes.

M arrived later in the morning and did some tidying up and watered both front and back.  While we were out in the front garden, at least two people stopped by to look at neighbor T's house.  It is now listed online and apparently, there will be an open house this weekend.  One gentleman asked me about the neighborhood, if it was good, etc., and I said it was a good neighborhood.  I didn't mention the loud parties my other neighbors sometimes have!

I spent the afternoon and evening reading.  Later, I called friend R to check on her and video chatted with my daughter.

Brunch was a slice of bread with peanut butter; later, I ate the last blueberry waffle.  Dinner was rice and beef curry with peach chutney and vegetables.  

On Wednesday, I was grateful for:
- M's help with the garden
- Working appliances and electricity to run them
- The folding/adjustable metal clothes drying rack
- Tomatoes from the garden
- Phone calls, texts, emails, etc., from family and friends.

Today's joyful activity was gardening with M and picking tomatoes.

Plans for tomorrow include picking up my medications from the pharmacy and maybe making tomato chutney (unless it gets too hot - the high is supposed to be 90F/32C).

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


Guess Who is Back and Giving me Meals Again?

Guess who returned from her trip to Europe?  If you guessed neighbor S, you'd be right!  Her husband stopped by in the afternoon to let me know that S and their daughters had arrived at the airport and were on their way home.  They had given me both a set of keys to the house and the automatic gate opener, just in case they arrived while her husband was working.  However, he was home because he had met with an accident a day or two ago and while he was not badly hurt, his car was damaged and I guess he took a day off from work.  Anyway, I gave back the key and the remote for the gate.  Later in the evening, S called to thank me for keeping an eye on the house in their absence and to ask me if I'd like to have some dinner!  I told her that she had just arrived home and she's already giving me food!  But, she said that a friend had brought them dinner and she wanted to give me some.  I went over to her house and gave her some tomatoes I had picked this morning and returned her vase (she had given me some flowers before she left).  I wore my mask, of course, and we visited for a few minutes.  She said she had a lovely time while on vacation, but, she's glad to be back, again.

In the morning, I had boiled two eggs and made egg salad, so brunch was an egg salad sandwich.  Dinner was some of the chicken, salad, and baked potato that S had given.

It has been another warm day; a bit humid, too.  I brought in the emptied trash can, put away laundry, watched some TV, and started re-reading a book I had on my shelves.  My plan is to re-read some of the books and then, donate them.  This is a long winded way of decluttering, I know, but, I feel like I owe it to myself (and the books) to read them one last time!  In the meantime, I have put in hold requests for two additional books from the library.

Later in the evening, I chatted on the phone with friend R and watered the few house plants that I have.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Neighbor S and daughters returned home safely and her husband is not injured from the accident
- S sharing some of her dinner with me
- Ceiling fans and electricity to run them!
- Books to read (and re-read)
- Phone calls, emails, etc., from friends and familly

Today's joyful activity was visiting with S.  

Plans for tomorrow include M's visit to tend to the garden.  

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

A New Week on Monday


Old Rose Photo

This is a photo I had taken earlier: I didn't find anything to photograph when I went out to the garden, today.  The garden is quickly transitioning to its scorched summer phase!  

I did a load of laundry this morning and remade my bed with the second set of sheets.  Then, a certain Dancer cat got onto the clean sheets before I could cover the bed with a dust sheet and made a bit of a mess, so I had to strip the bed, again, and wash the bottom sheet and the blanket!  I am thankful for a working washing machine!  

I spent a fairly relaxed afternoon, making a meal plan, playing some online games, etc.  

Later, in the evening, I cleaned the litter box, took the one trash can to the curb, and watered the back garden.  Still later in the evening, I video chatted with my daughter.  

Brunch was leftover waffles with beef curry.  Dinner was rice, beef curry, and cucumber salad.  

On Monday, I was grateful for:

- A working washing machine!
- Water for the garden
- The warm weather
- Emails from friends
- Dancer's cat food was delivered to the door

Monday's joyful activities included being in the garden and video chatting with my daughter.

Plans for Tuesday include a little more housework and sewing.

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

Monday, July 17, 2023

Meal Planning Week 2 Review & Week 3 Plan

The meal plan for week 2  was as follows:

Brunches:  Banana nut muffins and cheese sandwich (Monday)✔, Toast with butter and peach jam (Tuesday)✔, scrambled egg and hash browns✔,  pancakes French toast and bacon✔, blueberry muffins waffles✔, uppuma (Indian style cream of wheat - haven't had that in a long time), leftovers✔.

Dinners: Leftover chicken "skillet dinner" with added green beans (from the garden) and sliced carrots (Monday)✔;  Shrimp curry with rice, chutney, and cucumber salad, Sausage stir fry with rice and vegetables✔, leftovers✔ Sandwiches, Pot roast with vegetables, Beef curry and waffles!

Snacks: Fresh fruit (grapes, apples, oranges), canned fruit, muffins, cereal, chips, etc.; lime gelatin

Breakfast - Banana nut muffins
Lunch:  Cheese sandwich
Dinner - Leftover Chicken skillet dinner with added green beans and sliced carrots

Brunch - Toast with butter and peach jam
Tea - Banana muffin
Dinner - Leftover Chicken skillet dinner with rice and peach chutney 

(I was planning to have shrimp curry with rice, but, couldn't find the last packet of shrimp curry that I thought I had in the freezer - maybe I ate it and didn't make a note of it in my freezer contents list!  I was disappointed, but, enjoyed the alternate meal enough to have seconds!) 

Brunch - Scrambled egg and hash browned potato
Dinner - Leftover Chicken skillet dinner with rice and peach chutney (same as Tuesday)

Brunch - French toast and bacon
Dinner - Tuna salad sandwich, chips; yogurt

Brunch - Tuna salad sandwich, chips
Dinner - Beef pot roast with vegetables (carrots, green beans, etc.)

Brunch - Pot roast sandwich
Dinner - Italian sausage with rice, chutney, vegetables, etc.; lime gelatin for dessert

Brunch - Blueberry waffles with syrup
Tea - Pot roast sandwich
Dinner - Beef curry with leftover waffles

And that is how Week 2 meals turned out! 

I sliced up the pot roast and froze two packages of it for later meals (and kept a portion out for sandwiches, etc., during the week); I froze some of the beef curry, too, and kept a portion for the week.  I froze the rest of the package of cooked sausages to be taken out when needed.  

I am going to keep the meal planning to a minimum, this week, partly because I need to eat what I've already cooked!

Brunches: Waffles and beef curry (Monday), sandwiches (tuna salad, egg salad, peanut butter, cheese, pot roast or beef curry), milk and cereal

Dinners: Leftovers/made overs; coconut roti with beef curry; maybe macaroni and cheese with tuna or ham (there's a box of mac and cheese that needs to be used up); chicken curry (from the freezer) with rice and vegetable curries. 

That is the plan; we'll see how it all turns out!

Did you do a meal plan for last week?  If so, how did it work out?  Are you making a meal plan this week?

A Warm Weekend



The warm summer days are here!  Not horribly hot, just in the upper 80s and low 90s, so far, but a bit more humid than usual.  But, the temperature inside the house is at least 10F cooler than outside, so it's very comfortable.  I open the windows in the early mornings to get the cool air in, then, close most of the windows during the heat of the day and keep the drapes in the west facing living room window drawn closed in the afternoon, to keep the sun out!  The very same drapes I used to open in the winter to get the sunshine in to warm up the house!

M wasn't able to tend to the garden on Friday evening and he called to ask if he could postpone his visit until late Saturday morning, and I said that was fine.  Later Friday evening, neighbor T's daughter called me.  She was next door and apparently, her car battery had died!  She was waiting for the Auto Club to send someone out to give her a jump start, but, in the meantime, her cell phone battery was dying and could she borrow my phone charger, again?!  Of course, I let her borrow it.  Poor thing, she hasn't had the best week, what with locking herself out with the keys in the garage and now, a dead car battery!  It took a while for the auto mechanic to show up, but, he got her car battery jump started; she returned the phone charger before she left to go home.

I cooked one of the pieces of beef I had bought, making a pot roast with it.  I sliced it up and froze some of it for later.  I've been enjoying roast beef sandwiches this weekend!

M was here on Saturday morning and he weed-whacked the back yard and watered the garden, both front and back.  Later, I made some lime gelatin from a box that I had in my cupboard from before the pandemic - it set well and I've been enjoying it.  I spent the afternoon and most of the evening relaxing and watching videos.

One video was about "essentialism" as opposed to "minimalism".  According to the video, essentialism was keeping what was essential to you and getting rid of the rest, not necessarily paring down to the bare minimum.  I know I couldn't be a minimalist, unless I absolutely had to, but, I could get behind keeping what I consider to be essential to me and decluttering the rest.  I suppose it is another way of keeping what sparks joy, although there are some items that are essential (such as mops and brooms, for example) which don't necessarily spark joy!  

I cooked a package of hot Italian sausages for dinner on Saturday; I had one with rice and vegetables for my dinner and froze the rest to have later.  

On Sunday, I made blueberry waffles for brunch.  Later, I cooked the other piece of beef, making a curry with it.  Again, I froze some of it for future meals.  Once again, the freezer is filling up!  

This weekend, I am grateful for:

- The warm, summer days
- M helping me with the garden
- I was able to help T's daughter by lending her my phone charger, again
- Phone calls and emails with family and friends
- Working appliances and electricity to run them

Joyful activities have included tending to the garden with M, cooking, and relaxing.

Plans for Monday include:

- Dusting the living room and dining area
- A load of laundry
- Taking the trash cans to the curb
- Watering the garden 

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

Saturday, July 15, 2023

A Visit to the Library and a New Book


The Woman in the White Kimono

Recently, one of the bloggers I follow, Lady Ella (her blog is a private one, so I won't post a link) had posted a review of a book she had read.  She writes excellent book reviews!  Based on her review, I recommended the book to my daughter, who loves all things Japanese.  Then, I checked my library's online catalog.  My neighborhood branch library didn't have a copy, but, the City's library system had several copies in other branch library locations; I put in a hold request on July 5 and asked that a copy be sent to my neighborhood branch library for me.  A week later, on Wednesday, July 12, the library emailed me to notify me that the item I had requested was waiting for me at the branch library.  

M was here on Wednesday morning, tending to the garden, but, Wednesday afternoon, I went to the library!  It was the first time I had been to the library since the the pandemic and the first lockdown!  I had driven to the library's parking lot to drop off my mail-in voter ballots, on a couple of occasions, but, I had not gone inside the building.  I went in wearing my mask, went directly to the holding shelves located in the "reading area" with newspapers and magazines, picked up my book, checked it out, and was out of the building in about 5 minutes!  I was not brave enough to browse in the stacks on this visit, although I was tempted to grab a few magazines that were right there, below the holding shelves.  But, I might browse a bit when I go to return the book.  

The book...First of all, I generally prefer non-fiction to fiction and when I do read fiction, I prefer historical novels (and love stories by a couple of favorite authors, both of whom are now dead!)  Having said that, I came home from the library, sat down to read, and read until I had to stop reading because my eyes hurt from crying!  I had read about 2/3 of the book by then.  I had a few other things to do on Thursday and the book sat unread.  But, I finished reading it on Friday.

I am not good at writing book reviews and have never been in a book club, but, I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is a story (apparently based on several true stories) of two women, connected through their very different relationships with one man and family secrets.  There are two narrators, one of whom is in 1957/58 Japan and the other in present day America, until the very end of the book, when they are both in present day Japan.  But, there are parts of the story that could have been set anywhere else in the world at just about any time, even in the present day.  The story really resonated with me for one reason or another.  

I don't want to give away the plot, but, if you think you might want to read this story, I found it to be a very engrossing book, although, by no means "light reading".  Apparently, it is the author's first novel; I think it was very well researched and on the whole very well written, too.  Yes, I recommended it to my daughter.  She was unable to locate it in her local branch library, but, she is planning to look for it at the main library.  

Thank you, Lady Ella, for reviewing this book and getting me interested in reading it, too,   And, yay me for taking a trip to the library, at long last! 

Friday, July 14, 2023

July Grocery Shopping - Part 1

I put in a grocery order on Thursday afternoon and picked it up in the evening. 

I needed bread because I had used up the last two slices of bread in the morning, for my brunch.  I also wanted more vinegar, sugar, garlic, and ginger for more chutney making now that the tomatoes are ripening.

In addition, the store was having some good deals on a couple of items I wanted, including beef with boneless beef chuck roast on sale for $3.99/lb.  I had stopped buying beef (other than ground beef when it was on sale for $3.99/lb.) for the past couple of years because the prices had gone up so much (the regular price on the chuck roast was $8.99/lb., per the receipt).  Trimmed tri tip roast was on sale for $5.99/lb. last week and I thought that was still too expensive.  This week, however, chuck roast was on sale for $3.99/lb. and since I've been paying that price for ground beef, I decided it was a good price for beef.  I ordered two packages of beef and I will cook them in two different ways.  

I bought:

1.74 lb. chuck roast @ $3.99/lb. = $6.94

1.7 lb. chuck roast @ $3.99/lb. = $6.78

1 doz. large eggs = $2.99

1/2 gal. milk, with digital coupon = $1.69

1 container (32 oz.) plain yogurt (reg. price) = $4.39 

1 Loaf white sliced bread (I ordered store brand, but they were out of it and substituted a loaf of Wonder Bread which sells for $4.29 per the store website, for the price of the store brand) = $1.79

1 cucumber = $0.79
2 pieces ginger root (0.35 lb. @ $1.99/lb.) = $0.70 
5 bulbs garlic = $1.99

1 bottle (64 fl. oz.) cranberry juice cocktail, with coupon (reg. price $3.69) = $3.04 + $0.10 deposit fee
(CRV - California redemption value)

1 gal. distilled white vinegar = $3.99

10 lb. white granulated sugar = $7.99

Pepsi, 2 x 6 packs @ $2.99 (reg. price $5.49@) = $5.98 + $0.60 CRV +  $0.50 tax

1 box (16 oz.) pound cake mix, reg. price $4.99, free with  coupon! = $0

Total spent = $45.26

According to the receipt, the original value of the items I bought was $78.70.  I will take their word for it!  

My July grocery budget is $100 (+ $64.38 carried over from May, if needed)

I spent $45.26
Balance left in the July budget = $100 - $45.26 = $54.74

Ricky, the same person who brought the groceries to my car last time (when the loaf of bread was left out), brought the groceries to the car today.  When I got home, there was a phone call from an unfamiliar number on my cell phone, but, I didn't answer it, because I didn't know who was calling and I was wary that it might be a spam call.  So, I let it go to voice mail.  I put away the groceries (the loaf of bread was there!) and then, I realized, my jug of vinegar and the bottles of soda were missing!  Not again!  This was getting annoying.

So, I called the store and spoke to someone named Steve and asked to be transferred to the pick up department.  My call was transferred and someone picked up the phone and said the store name, so I started to explain that part of my order had been left out.  The young woman at the other end couldn't understand what I was saying and I was getting a bit frustrated.  Turned out that I had been transferred to the bakery department!  No wonder the young woman didn't know what I was talking about!  I asked her to transfer me to the pick up department, but, she hung up on me!  She was probably thinking I was a crazy woman!   

So, I called the store again and Steve answered again and I said I had been transferred to the bakery department, but, I wanted the pick up department!  I was transferred again and this time, it was to the pick up department and Ricky answered the phone.  He apologized and said he had called my cell phone and left a message that items had been mistakenly left out.  I said I hadn't checked the message because I didn't recognize the number - it wasn't the store number.  No, he had called from his personal phone.  He was very apologetic about it and said I could come over then or tomorrow morning if that's more convenient.  Well,  I figured I might as well go over right away and get it over with.  It's not that the store is very far, it's just the hassle of closing up the house and driving over, again.  I asked him if I had to go into the store again, as last time, I couldn't get through to the pick up department once I was at the parking lot.  He said I could call him on his phone and he'll bring the items to the car for me.

So, I went back to the store.  I was no longer irritated that I had to go back a second time, again.  Ricky is fairly new, I think, and he's probably trying his best.  It was probably an honest mistake.  Picking up in the early evening is probably not the best time of the day, anyway, as they are probably quite busy.  I shall switch back to morning or early afternoon pick ups.

Anyway, once I got to the store parking lot, I called Ricky on his phone and he brought the items out and apologized again.  I told him we have to stop meeting like this, otherwise people might notice and start talking.  I don't think he expected me to joke about it, because he looked startled at first and then, burst out laughing.  He looked very relieved that I was not angry; I think I might have made another new friend! 

Anyway, I now have my groceries and am set for at least another two weeks.  

By the time I came home, I didn't feel like cooking dinner (brunch had been French toast and bacon).  The sausages I had taken out to thaw in the fridge will keep another day.  I opened a can of tuna, gave Dancer a spoonful, and made tuna salad with the rest.  Tuna salad sandwich for dinner with yogurt for dessert.  Grapes and almonds for snacks.  There's leftover tuna salad for brunch, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to order groceries on line
- Same day pick up only a couple of hours later
- Safe drives to the store and back, twice
- Being able to take advantage of sales
- Working appliances and electricity to run them

Thursday's joyful activity was enjoying a long phone chat with one of my cousins in Sri Lanka.  She had tried to call me earlier and had left a message asking me to call her.  I completely forgot the 12 hour time difference and called her at what was 5:00 a.m. her time!  She was very gracious about being woken up by my phone call! 

Have you grocery shopped in July, yet?  Are you finding good sales?  

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Meal Planning July Week 2

I'm a bit late with the meal planning for this week!

But, first, a review of last week's planned meals.

This is what I had planned for meals during the first week of July:

Brunches: Milkrice and seeni sambol✔ (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, too, with some chicken curry, as well); toast and cream cheese; cereal and milk, egg salad✔ or and tuna salad✔ sandwiches, pancakes

Dinners: Hamburger✔ (with the ends of bread for the bun; Saturday and Tuesday); Rice, chicken curry, lentil curry, curried sauteed green beans✔ (Sunday and Wednesday); Chicken curry sandwich with potato chips and sliced cucumber ✔(Monday; who needs cold cuts when there is chicken curry?);  coconut roti with leftover chicken curry✔ and lentils or seeni sambol mackerel curry; breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs and baked potato wedges or pancakes with bacon); baked chicken with vegetables

Snacks/desserts: ice cream bars✔, the last zucchini muffin✔, fresh fruit✔, canned fruit cocktail✔, cereal✔, banana-nut muffins

Brunch - Milkrice with seeni sambol and chicken curry
Dinner - Chicken curry sandwiches, potato chips, cucumber slices

Brunch - Pancakes with chicken curry and lentils (and one with syrup)
Dinner - Hamburger with "bread ends bun" and cucumber slices

Brunch - Egg salad sandwiches
Dinner - Rice and curries (chicken, lentils, green beans)

Brunch - Egg salad sandwich and doughnuts!
Dinner - Rice and curries

Brunch - Tuna salad sandwich
Dinner - Rice and curries

Brunch - Tuna salad on toast
Tea - Banana muffins
Dinner - Coconut roti with chicken curry and lentils

Brunch - Coconut roti with seeni sambol
Dinner - Baked chicken (from the freezer) made over with sauteed onions, tomatoes (from the garden), potatoes, and green peas; banana muffins

It worked out quite well, I think.  I didn't make the breakfasts for dinner; instead, I thawed three baked chicken thighs and added them to sauteed onions, tomatoes, potato, and frozen green peas to make a sort of "skillet dinner", which gave me leftovers to take me into this week!

The meal plan for this week (which started yesterday, on Monday) is as follows:

Brunches:  Banana nut muffins and cheese sandwich (Monday), Toast with butter and peach jam (Tuesday), scrambled egg and hash browns,  pancakes and bacon, blueberry muffins, uppuma (Indian style cream of wheat - haven't had that in a long time), leftovers.

Dinners: Leftover chicken "skillet dinner" with added green beans (from the garden) and sliced carrots (Monday);  Shrimp curry with rice, chutney, and cucumber salad, Sausage stir fry with rice and vegetables, leftovers

Snacks: Fresh fruit (grapes, apples, oranges), canned fruit, muffins, cereal, chips, etc.

That is the plan; we'll see how it all turns out!

Did you do a meal plan for last week?  If so, how did it work out?  Are you making a meal plan this week?

Monday, July 10, 2023

Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt 2023

Mary-Lou at Patio Postcards is hosting the Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt and the first link in is today.  I've posted the list of prompts at the end of this post.

These are the photos I've taken for the SPSH:

1. A Plant/Tree with Thorn(s): I couldn't quite decide, so I have two photos for this prompt:

1. A Plant/Tree with Thorn(s): Rose


4. Something Berry Berry Delicious:

4. Something Berry Berry Delicious: Blueberries

7. Something that Dangles


8. Some Shadows - Again, I couldn't decide between the two:

8. Some Shadows

8. Some Shadows

10. White Flower(s) - the garden was full of white flowers!
10. White Flower(s): Lemon, Osteospermum, Gaura, Gardenia, Onion

13: A Sold or For Sale Sign (Not Necessarily a House) - it doesn't say For Sale, but, it's implied, I think:

13. A Sold or For Sale Sign 

Thank you, Mary-Lou for hosting the SPSH.  

There's more time if anyone wants to join in.

The list of prompts:

2023 Summer Scavenger Hunt / Search Ideas

1. A Plant/Tree With Thorn(s)✔

2. A  Wordless Directional Sign

3. Something Netted or Webbed

4. Something Berry Berry Delicious

5. A Bridge

6. A School

7. Something That Dangles

8. Some Shadows

9. A Crack or Pothole in The Road or Sidewalk

10. A White Flower(s)

11. Extraordinary Water 

12. Summer Tools

13. A Sold or For Sale Sign (not necessarily a house)

14. Something That Rolls

Alternate A: Your Favourite Summer Taste

Alternate B: Your Choice