Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January Monthly Photo Challenge - Beginning with P

 Eileen at A Bracelet of Days is hosting the Monthly Photo Challenges again and January's theme is "Beginning with P".

These are my selections:


Piano Keys


Passionfruit on the Vine

Pineapple Plant

(Utility) Pole and Pine Tree



And, last but not least:

Purrfect Pet Peacefully Posing

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Sunny Tuesday

Jade Plant Flowers

It was another mostly sunny day and warm.  I walked for a little bit (15 minutes), checked on the garden and the parkway trees (still there!) and took this close up of the flowers on the jade plant.  Aren't they pretty?

I had some really bad pain in my right hand, last night, at the base of the thumb and wrist.  I think it was due to playing too many online games!  Did I take something for the pain as any sensible person would have?  Of course not!

This morning, the hand was still painful and slightly swollen.  I tried to do everything from brushing my teeth to responding to blog comments to opening a can of tuna for Dancer with my left hand.  When you are right handed and try to do things with your left hand, things take twice as long and seems twice as difficult to do!  I iced my hand throughout the day and now, the pain has subsided quite a bit.  I also took some OTC pain medication after dinner.

But, I took it easy today and didn't do any cleaning.

Brunch was the last leftover waffle with katta sambol.  Followed by pomegranate for fruit.  I had some cream crackers with my evening cup of tea.  Dinner was a ham sandwich.  Mini peanut butter cups for dessert!

Today, I am grateful for:

- Another sunny and warm day
- My hand feels better after resting, icing, and the Tylenol
- Being able to take it easy
- Kind blog comments
- Phone calls and emails from friends

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

Plans for tomorrow includes tending to the garden with M.  We might plant the rest of the succulents plants he rescued and brought me.  Depending on how my hand is, I might or might not do some cleaning.

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


Sunny Monday

Catching a Few Rays

A sunny and warm day with a high of 78F.  But, it was cold inside the house, which warmed up to only 67F, even though I had opened some windows and the front door in an attempt to get the warm air in.  As I told my friend, I was bundled up inside the house and removed my cardigan to go outside!  Like the lizard in the photo, I sat outside to bask in the sun and get warmed up!

I watered the front garden and made sure to water the two street trees.  

Later, I cleaned another kitchen cabinet.  I've been washing the doors and shelves of the upper kitchen cabinets,   The two cabinets where I store most of the daily use china and glasses, along with some of the items used less frequently, such as some of the items used for the almsgivings, were done last week.  Over the weekend, I cleaned the single cabinet on one side of the stove (where I store my supply of tea, box of hot cocoa mix, and container of sugar) and the cabinet above the stove (where I store some baking trays, the spice grinder, and a jar of tiny dried shrimp, used as a condiment in our cooking).  On Monday, I cleaned the cabinet on the other side of the stove, where I store the cooking sauces and oils, extra salt, and some canned foods.   

Kitchen Cabinet Cleaned on Monday

I'm taking it slow, doing just one cabinet a day, but, even so, my hand was hurting, today.  I've one more upper cabinet to clean and then, the tall, floor to ceiling cabinet.  I am also taking the opportunity to update my pantry inventory as I clean.  

I had leftover gyoza (from Sunday night's dinner) for breakfast on Monday.  Lunch was leftover coconut roti with mackerel curry.  For dinner, I had fried rice.  

I also made a batch of yogurt using the last bit of the store bought yogurt (leftover from the almsgiving) as the starter.  At least, I kept it to set overnight, in the oven (I warmed up the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes and then, turned it off).

Later, I video chatted with my daughter.  She finished housesitting, today and went back to her apartment.  She also had her first rehearsal with the University's alumni chorus, today.  She auditioned last week, Sunday, and was accepted as a second soprano. The first rehearsal was supposed to have been on last Monday.  But, on Monday, she received an email saying that the rehearsal was cancelled because someone tested positive for Covid.  It was someone that daughter had been exposed to during the audition, but, fortunately, she had worn her N95 mask to the audition and she tested negative.  She said today's rehearsal went well, although there was a lot of sight reading - her weak point!

On Monday, I was grateful for:

- A sunny, warm day
- Water for the garden
- The parkway trees were still there!
- Daughter had a good chorus rehearsal
- Working appliances

My joyful activity was watering the garden, including the new parkway trees!

Plans for Tuesday include cleaning another kitchen cabinet and maybe a bit of reading.

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

Sunday, January 28, 2024

It Didn't Take Long!

The Street Trees on Sunday Morning

Well, it didn't take too long for the second watering bag to disappear!  It was there, late last night, when I checked from the window.  It was gone this morning, when I opened the drapes, around 11:00 a.m.  

At least the trees are still there!

My trees are still the only ones missing their watering bags!  It makes me angry!


Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Back Garden in January

The Back Yard in January

As threatened promised, here are some pictures of the back yard/garden in January!  M would be mortified to know that I posted a picture of the back yard before he weed whacked the patchy grass!  LOL!

Most of the fruit trees are dormant, of course, but, not the citrus trees.  


And, just as in the song,


I have three lemon trees and this volunteer lemon plant (a sucker from one of the other lemon trees, but, I'm allowing it to grow):

Volunteer Lemon Plant: January 2024

Here's how it looked back in July 2022:

Volunteer Lemon Plant: July 2022

Then, there is the calamondin tree:

Calamondin Tree

There aren't many fruit on the tree, this year.  It's an old tree as it was fully grown when I bought the house 30+ years ago.  I think the tree needs to be pruned.

Calamondin Fruit

Not too many flowers in the back yard, right now, but there are still some paperwhites in bloom:


And the crocosmia:


Another plant that has sent up a flower stalk is the aloe vera plant, which desperately needs to be divided and repotted:

Aloe Vera with Flower Stalk

A rather blurry close up of the Aloe Vera flower stalk
Still in bud

The aloe vera flowers are yellow; they should bloom in mid to late February.

Another aloe plant that also needs to be repotted is the Red Aloe (Aloe cameronii); it's called red aloe because the leaves turn red in the sun:

Red Aloe in January
Here's how it looked last summer:

Red Aloe in June 2023
It has orange flowers.

Yesterday (Friday), we planted the apple plant in the ground:

Apple Plant

It was grown from a seed and I've no idea if it will actually produce any fruit or how they will taste, but, I'm happy to have it grow as a decorative garden tree!  Here's how it looked as a seedling:

Apple Seedling in July 2022

And finally, we have some very confused blueberry bushes!  Their leaves started to turn red for autumn, but, then, they started to flower:

Blueberry Flower Buds

And even set fruit:
Blueberries Forming

I did read that sometimes, blueberries will produce year-round in milder climates, so maybe that's what's happening?

Thank you for visiting the back garden with me.  I hope you enjoyed the tour.  

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Front Garden in January

The Front Garden in January

After taking monthly garden pictures for two years, I wondered if I should continue to do so for a third year, but, I decided I shall!  After all, the garden continues to change from year to year, as plants grow, new plants are added, and old plants die off!  It was a sunny day, as you can see, and the garden is looking green after last weekend's rain.

The Succulents Border

Looking along the succulents border planted along the side of the garden; the jade plant in the foreground is flowering and the aloe plants in the middle are flowering, too.  And there are self-seeded osteospermum plants in front of the succulents!

Self-Seeded Osteospermum Plants

A close up of the self-seeded osteospermum growing in front of the succuments.  I am letting them grow and I am looking forward to seeing them flower later in the spring.  They might look a bit untidy, but, we can always clear them out once summer arrives and they stop flowering.

Continuation of the Succulents Border

These are the succulents we planted last year, continuing the theme of growing succulents along the side wall.  I'm thinking of adding a row of small pavers down the middle, although the path won't lead any where as there is a metal railing at the end.  I will have to ask M to get them for me.

Succulents Circle

There are more succulents and a jacaranda plant (grown from a seed) in a sort of scalloped circle in front of the succulents border.  The aloe plants in the circle are flowering:

Flowering Aloe Plants

Currently, only the flowers at the very bottom of the flower stalks are open, but, they will all open and the hummingbirds will enjoy the nectar:

Aloe Flower

This is the rescued jade plant that one of M's other clients had him dig up from her garden.  We planted it under the eucalyptus tree:

Rescued Jade Plant

Today, M brought me a few more succulents (a different type) he rescued from the same client's garden.  We haven't planted them, yet.

Euryops Bush Daisy

Also around the eucalyptus tree, are four of these euryops or bush daisy plants.  They look like they could do with some fertilizer;  I need to talk to M about it.

Last, but, not least, the sprengeri asparagus ferns we planted in one of the front planting beds have established themselves well and have formed lots of seed bearing berries:

Sprengeri Asparagus Fern Berries

They don't all germinate and grow, but, I've been known to scatter a few of them in places in the garden, hoping they would grow.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of the front garden in January.  I'll post the pictures of the back yard, tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for:

- A sunny day
- M's help with the garden
- Rescued plants
- Being able to garden year round
- Green plants and flowers in January

Are you able to garden year round? 

A Relaxed Day on Thursday

Banana Walnut Muffins

It was sunny and warm on Thursday.  I spent a relaxed morning, replying to blog comments, catching up on a couple of blogs, scheduling an appointment for my next lab tests, and doing a little daily cleaning!

The pharmacy notified me that one of my medications was ready for pick up, so, in the afternoon, I drove to the pharmacy to pick it up.  I also needed to get a tube of cortisone cream as my current tube was almost over.  So now, my bathroom cabinet looks even more like an aisle in a pharmacy!  LOL.

I spent the evening reading one of the new library books.  It's fiction and I'm about halfway through the book.  So far, it has been interesting.  

I baked some banana muffins, last night, to use up the two ripe bananas that were sitting in the fruit bowl.  As you can see, they got a bit too browned, but, they weren't burnt.  I had some of them for my brunch on Thursday; dinner was leftover coconut roti and mackerel curry.  

On Thursday, I was grateful for:

- The availability of medications
- Two really nice people I chatted with while waiting in line at the pharmacy
- Friendly pharmacy workers
- A safe drive to the pharmacy and back
- Being able to make appointments online

Thursday's joyful activity was spending the evening reading!

Plans for Friday include a little more kitchen cleaning, reading, and tending to the garden with M.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Cloudy Wednesday and a Missing Watering Bag

New Street Trees on Friday

Remember this photo of the new street trees, planted on Friday morning?  Notice the green slow release watering bags, one per tree?

Well, this is what I noticed this morning (Wednesday):

Missing Watering Bag!

The flowering pear tree is missing its watering bag!  As far as I can recall, both bags were there when I checked on the trees on Monday.  I didn't check on them, yesterday (Tuesday).  And, today, one bag was missing!   Of course, of all the trees that were planted up and down the block, only one of my trees is missing its watering bag!  I called the City and filed a report that the watering bag is missing.  Maybe they will replace it?  

The Remaining Watering Bag

The Australian Willow tree still has its watering bag.  If you look closely at the photo, you might notice the black line on the side - it is actually a zipper; I suppose it would be easy for someone to unzip the bag and pull it out.  I checked the price of these bags online and they sell from between $12 to $25 per bag, depending on who is selling it and size, etc.  Of course, I don't know for sure if it has been stolen, but, I don't think it unzipped itself and walked away or even that the wind blew it away!  It's really disheartening to think that someone would steal a watering bag when the City was trying to beautify the neighborhood.  

I suppose I should be thankful that the entire tree is not missing?

It was a cloudy and cooler day, today.  

M was here in the late morning to tend to the garden and he wanted to concentrate on the front garden, today.  We planted the jade plant (and some of its broken branches) and some aeonium cuttings.  Then, he raked the eucalyptus leaves and tidied up the front.  

I had the robot vacuum cleaner help me vacuum the family room, today, and started cleaning the kitchen.  I did a load of dishes in the dishwasher and washed the rest of the items by hand.  Then, I wiped down the counters, the microwave, the stove top, and the fronts of drawers and lower cabinets, taking breaks for brunch, a cup of tea, and when I felt my hands cramping.  Still need to wash the upper cabinet doors, stove vent hood, etc., but, that's for another day.

For brunch, I made coconut roti and had two of them with katta sambol (a mixture of onion, pieces of Maldive fish - a type of cured, dried tuna - chili flakes, etc.) and one with peach jam.  

Dinner was rice, mackerel curry, dhal, and peach chutney.  A piece of love cake for dessert.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Whoever took the watering bag, left the tree in place!
- Only one watering bag was taken (so far, anyway)
- M's help with the garden
- Working appliances
- What I was able to accomplish in terms of housecleaning

Today's joyful activity was gardening with M.

Plans for tomorrow include continuing with cleaning the kitchen.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Sunny on Tuesday

Crocosmia Flower Spike in Bud

The crocosmia plants are flowering.  I've read that they are supposed to be summer flowering plants, but, in my garden, they almost always flower in January and February.  

Crocosmia Flowers

Tuesday was sunny and much warmer, with an afternoon high of 69F.  It was a bit windy, too, but, it was not a strong wind.

I spent a fairly relaxed morning, doing my usual morning things, bringing in the emptied trash cans, answering blog comments, etc.  Thank you for all your comments.  

The library had sent an email notifying me that the two books I requested were waiting for me, so, in the afternoon, I went to the library.  I returned one of the other library books I had borrowed earlier (I decided to hold on to the decluttering book for a bit longer) and borrowed the two new books.

The library is located next to a fast food place.  Before I went to the library, I checked the coupons I had received from them and debated if I wanted to buy a hamburger from them.  But, then, I decided I didn't want to get any fast food, today.  Instead, after I came home, I fried some frozen breaded shrimp I had in the freezer, cut up a potato to make some fries, and had them with some of my peach chutney for my brunch (a very late brunch, eaten at 4:30 p.m.)  I ended up not eating many of the fries, but, I will reheat them in the toaster oven and have them another day.  Probably not the healthiest meal, but, I didn't buy fast food and I continued to eat what I had in the freezer and pantry.  Dinner, if you are wondering, was a slice of multi-grain bread, toasted, with a scrambled egg.  I had some grapes and then, some yogurt with granola.  

After sorting through my bathroom cabinet, yesterday, I decided to check the cabinet in the second bathroom.  My daughter uses that bathroom when she comes home and the cabinet was mostly full of her lotions and potions.  I didn't touch those, at all.  But, up on the very top shelf, I saw an unopened box of the hair dye my mother used to use.  My mother died in February 2006, and she stopped dyeing her hair a few years before she died, but, that little box of dye was still sitting there!  I know I've cleaned that cabinet, before, but, I guess I overlooked the box of hair dye!  I tossed it, today.

I called my tax preparer's office, today, and booked my appointment with her.  I scheduled it for mid-March, which should give me plenty of time to collect all the documents (haven't received any of the statements, etc., yet) and get everything to her in early March.  Later, I chatted with friend R.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A sunny and relatively warm day
- The car started (it's been a week since I last started or drove it)
- A safe drive to the library and back
- Being able to borrow books from the library
- Phone calls and emails with friends and video chatting with my daughter

Today's joyful activity was a trip to the library to borrow new books to read!  

Plans for tomorrow include tending to the garden with M and reading!

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

Rainy Days and Mondays*

Raindrops on Osteospermum Leaves

It rained on Monday!  Heavily in the early morning hours, tapering off to light showers and drizzle, until it stopped raining altogether.

* Every time it rains on a Monday, I think of the Carpenters' song, "Rainy Days and Mondays".  

I went outside in the afternoon, during a break in the rain to check on the newly planted street trees, to take the trash cans to the curb, to check the mail, and to take a photo of the raindrops!  The garden has received a good watering and the plants are looking refreshed!  The rain is such a blessing!

On Monday, I did a quick sort through of the bathroom cabinet above the sink.  I didn't take everything off and wipe down the shelves, but, I tidied it, a bit.  One of the questions in the decluttering book was:

"Does the cabinet look like an aisle at Walgreens?" (which is a pharmacy/drug store, here, in the U.S.)  My answer to that question was "Yes"!  

I don't store my prescription medications in the bathroom cabinet, but, I do store some first aid items (such as bandages, band aids, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial creams, etc.) in there, along with toiletry items such as soap, toothpaste, cotton swabs, etc.  I usually buy a packet of 6 or 8 pieces of soap at a time and I buy several tubes of toothpaste (about 3 or 4) when it goes on sale for $1 and stock up.  When I get down to the last piece of soap or last tube of toothpaste, I look for the next sale and stock up.  I call these my quarterly stock up; every three months or so, depending on the sales, I buy certain items, and stock up.   As a result, on Monday, I counted 7 pieces of soap and 6 tubes of toothpaste in my bathroom cabinet.  I am okay with that amount of soap and toothpaste.  It just means I don't have to worry about running out of either at least for another 3 or 4 months.

I didn't sort out the lower cabinet or the two drawers on the side, this time.  The lower cabinet has cleaning supplies and my stock of spare light bulbs.  One drawer has a couple of unopened containers of baby wipes/pre-moistened towelettes, which is a part of my earthquake emergency supplies - if there is an earthquake which damages water mains or pipes, we won't have any water on tap and the bottled water I store will be used mainly for drinking and cooking; the baby wipes will be used for personal cleaning.  The other drawer has my hair dryer, a curling iron (rarely used, these days, but, it's there and I am not getting rid of it), and not much else.

I had planned to start on the kitchen cabinets, but, tidied the bathroom cabinet, instead.  I'll start on the kitchen on Tuesday.

On Monday, I was grateful for:

- The rain!
- A working heater
- Electricity
- Leftovers (I didn't meal plan or cook!)
- Being able to video chat with my daughter

My joyful activity was exchanging emails and phone calls with friends.

How was your Monday?  What are your plans for Tuesday?  Does your bathroom cabinet look like an aisle in a drug store?

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Weekend

Red Kiwi

M gave me a red kiwi to try.  I realized, later, that I should have cut it crosswise, into slices, to show off the redness a little better.  The redness is in a ring, around the center of the fruit.  The fruit wasn't as acidic as regular kiwis, but, the taste was rather bland.

Rosy Apple

This is another fruit that M gave us to try - an apple which has rose colored flesh!  I forget the name of the apple.  I gave the apple to my daughter to take back with her and she took this picture after she cut it, this weekend.

Saturday was a rainy day, here.  Light showers on and off throughout the day and very gloomy.  But, the garden and the newly planted trees in the parkway got a good watering.  I wrote my blog post about the parkway trees, emptied the dishwasher, folded and put away some laundry, cleared the family room coffee table and dusted the furniture.  I also decided that I could declutter one CD of Christmas music that I had bought years ago.  The songs are not traditional Christmas carols and while it provided something to listen to, it was not one of my "go to" Christmas CDs.  

One of the questions in the decluttering book, in the Living Room area (which I applied to the Family Room) was, "Do you have out-of-date electronics? A huge CD or DVD collection?"  Yes/No

My answer to that question was "Yes".  I don't know what qualifies as a "huge" collection, but I counted my CDs and  I have 76 including the one I just decluttered.  Some of the CDs are double CDs and I counted them as two CDs.  Is that a huge collection?  I don't know.  But, I listen to most of them from time to time.  I have a two-drawer CD holder which has space for 56 CDs and the remaining 20 are in a plastic shoe box set on top of the two-drawer unit.  Both CD storage containers fit on one shelf in the  shelving unit I call the "entertainment center" (apparently, another out of date piece of furniture from what I've read!)

The author suggests uploading the CDs to a play list.   As I told one of my friends, I didn't know how to do that, but, I asked my daughter and she explained how one makes a playlist.  But, then, she went on to explain how the playlist has to be stored online (or as a file in your computer) and it sounds rather complicated to me! What happens if you don't have internet service for whatever reason?   I think I will continue to keep my CD collection!  Maybe I can declutter 20 CDs so that the rest will all fit in the two-drawer unit!  

As for DVDs, I have two.  BUT, I have  31 VHS video tapes of movies!  Talk about out of date!  They all fit on on shelf of the entertainment center and, yes, I have a video player (a dual video/DVD player) and I do watch some of the movies from time to time, although I don't watch them that often, anymore.  I don't subscribe to any streaming services, so, unless a movie is playing on TV, I tend to rewatch a movie from my collection of tapes.  

I am not including my daughter's collection of DVDs and CDs in my count, above.  Her CDs are with her and her DVDs (and there are one or two VHS tapes, too) are stored on one shelf 

Sunday was cloudy, but, dry.  I cleared the folding table in the family room and spread the newly washed table cloth on it.  Then, I put away the rest of the laundry, tidying the linen closet as I did so.  I didn't try to declutter any of the clothes, but, I did declutter one scarf, because I received a new scarf as a Christmas gift from one of my cousins.  

Later, I video chatted with my daughter.  

This weekend, I am grateful for:
- The rain we received on Saturday (more rain in the forecast for Monday)
- A day to dry out on Sunday
- M bringing us new fruits to try
- Working appliances
- What I was able to accomplish in terms of housework

The weekend's joyful activities included sleeping in, relaxing, and, of course, video chatting with my daughter.

Plans for Monday include:
- Start tidying and cleaning the kitchen (the room of the week)
- Bake a loaf of banana bread
- Meal plan

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for Monday and the week ahead?  Do you have CDs and DVDs/VHS tapes?  What would you consider to be a "huge collection"?

Sunday, January 21, 2024

What a Surprise!

New Parkway Trees! 

More than twenty years since the City's Street Tree Division cut down the tree that used to grow in the middle of the parkway in front of my house, siting damage to the sidewalk (it was their tree to cut and they repaved the sidewalk), and just under one year since M and I landscaped it with pebbles and pavers, the City planted, not one, but two trees in the parkway on Friday!  Not just in front of my house, but, several other parkways, up and down the block, unless they already had trees or had been cemented over!  Not a word of notice in advance that they were planning to do this, of course!  I woke up on Friday morning to the sound of machinery and, at first, I thought it was my next door neighbor (he's in the process of digging out the tree stump in front of his house), but, then, I looked out the front window and there was a crew of City workers, busily planting new trees!  Afterwards, they watered the trees, putting the water into the green bags that are attached to the trees.  They brought their own water in a tank that was attached to a piece of machinery.  

I don't know for sure, but, I think the tree closest to the driveway (pictured above), with the long thin leaves, might be Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora).  They are drought tolerant, fire resistant, and have non-invasive roots. They have small cream colored flowers that are attractive to bees.  

Flowering Pear

The second tree (pictured above) is a flowering pear/ornamental pear (probably Pyrus calleryana).  These trees have beautiful white flowers in the spring.  My little tree had one bunch of flowers on on of the lower branches: 

Flowering Pear Blossoms

They planted each tree between two pavers and, while I hadn't planned on having trees in the parkway, I think the end results look okay.  There are four pavers between the two trees and one paver at each end.

M was very surprised to see the trees in place when he came over in the evening to tend to the garden.  He likes the Australian Willow, but, isn't too thrilled about the flowering/ornamental pear.  I'm fine with both trees.   I hope the trees will grow and provide some shade in the summer.

I am grateful for:

- The City planting two trees in my parkway, at long last!
- The parkway finally looks cared for, with the trees, pavers, and pebbles
- M's help with the garden
- A nice chat with former neighbor T
- Being able to video chat with my daughter

Friday's joyful activities included having trees planted in my parkway and tending to the rest of the garden with M.

Do you have a parkway in front of your house?  If so, do you have any trees planted there?