Monday, January 18, 2016

The Beautiful Days of January

The first few days of the year were quite hectic what with the earthquake and activities and missions in Kenya. But since then I've been taking things slowly. This year I feel the need to take care of my energy levels and rest more so I've been looking at ways I can do that yet still keep in touch with people and continue blogging.

I've been spending a lot of time on organizing myself for better health and wellness. That includes all aspects of health:  physical, emotional, spiritual & mental.  I won't go into the details of each area like I've done in years passed.  That would be time consuming and I'm not into doing that this year.  I'm also not into choosing a guiding word for the year. But I do have everything clear in my mind as to what I want to work on and how that will guide my daily and monthly activities.

The last week or two have been quite enjoyable. I've just been taking my time to do this and that and moving at a comfortable pace as opposed to the frantic pace I seem to always set for myself.  I've managed to reconnect with several friends who had been going through some difficult and/or very busy periods. It's always nice to reconnect with people who you've lost touch with.  I actually have several more people to reconnect with but there are only so many people one can keep in good touch with. Of course I cannot forget my friends in Kenya who are often on my mind as well as my sponsored boys in Kenya and Ethiopia who need to hear from me on a regular basis. Since last Fall I've been trying to make sure they hear from me more often.

Reading is always a big part of my life and this year I started off reading two books: A Girl in the Woods and the Orphan Train.  The first book I happened upon when I went to a movie in November. A woman was lined up for the show and intently reading the book. I asked her what it was about and made a note to read it and borrow it from the library.

A Girl in the Woods is Aspen Matis's exhilarating true-life adventure of hiking from Mexico to Canada.  She went on the hike after being raped in his first year of college.  The story is not only about the hike but about her survival and growth from teenager to young adult.

I picked up the Orphan Train at a second hand shop.  The book is about trains that ran between 1854 and 1929 from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children to be adopted or fostered.       

Both of these stories are based on true events. I would recommend both of them if you are at all interested in the subjects.  Though I cannot say either of the books were my all time favourite reads, they both taught me something.

Last week I attended an educational seminar on health matters and I learned so much. I took many notes and all of it will come in very handy this year. In fact, I have already started to put the knowledge to work to try and improve my health and wellness. That is always a goal of mine and every few months I tweak what I am doing to try and keep moving forward in a positive way. While I was at the seminar, I met a retired teacher who invited me to join the University Women's Club. I haven't given an answer yet but I know the club is on it's annual membership drive and will be until late next month.  I've actually considered joining this group before.  The membership dues are rather high and I already participate in a number of similar activities through free groups (or groups that charge a very nominal fee).  Whenever there is such a  large expenditure of funds involved (I'm talking hundreds of dollars annually in  membership dues alone), I always think the money could be better spent on  missions needs in Kenya. Especially now that the Canadian dollar is so lacking in strength on the world market.

A big part of  my focus this year will be on health and wellness.  This is true every year because I have a number of chronic health issues.  Mostly on this blog, I address the diabetes issue just because it is all consuming condition and eats up a lot of my time (no pun intended). As I begin the new year, I'm studying a lot of health and nutrition information; both from the seminar I went to last week and from a fitness consultant I 'met' on line last year.  I've also made a good start on using and applying the information I've learned.

Food shopping is a big part of health and wellness management and anyone who runs a household (whether it's a household of one or a household of several)  knows that it is very time consuming to manage all the household needs. Shopping is a big part of managing the household and with the ever increasing prices of food and the falling loonie (Canadian dollar coin), it becomes more time consuming and challenging to shop healthy and eat well.

Just last week I discovered that the celery I'd purchased a came to almost $5 for the bunch and it wasn't even organic!  I purchased it without even looking at the price because celery is something I use a lot.  The situation has become so alarming that the local news station did a story or two about the skyrocketing prices. I like to purchase multiple varieties of vegetables each and every week as well as fruits so I'm going to be more adventurous and change what I eat slightly since I'll mostly be buying those things that are on sale.  There is only so much I will pay for a particular vegetable or fruit or meat for that matter.  So far I've been managing to do most of the shopping for a reasonable amount of funds each week.  It takes a lot of planning and effort to shop the sales but I enjoy this part of the week as long as I'm not too rushed in the doing of it. It is also a time when I usually check to see what bills need to be paid.I can't complain too loudly because I read in internet news very recently that  3 out of 10 Kenyans (mostly those in rural areas) do not get a daily meal. I'm still eating daily and that is a blessing so nothing to complain about here but there are adjustments that must be made.

I've also been looking into sources of cashew nuts and almond nuts so I can begin making my own cashew and almond milk. The nuts will be raw and organic so it is quite a splurge for me in terms of costs since nuts have to be imported.  Given the long drought in California the nuts have to be imported from Asia.  Some of you may remember that I tried making brown rice milk last year.  It turned out okay but I wasn't a big fan of it and it took too long because the rice must be cooked first.   With cashew and almond milk you simply soak the nuts first though some people don't soak them at all.  I purchased a Vitamix blender last year to make smoothies, flours and nut milk.  So far I've made a lot of blended green smoothies but haven't yet tried making nut milks or flours. I've cut down on the baking (a lot) due to the need to manage my blood glucose levels better.

The other place I practice careful shopping is at the local pharmacy. I've been making sure I only buy those things I really need but also looking for those things that will get me a lot of in store points.  By doing this I managed to get 4 free movies tickets last week. A friend and I went to see the  movie "Brooklyn". I enjoyed it but it turned out rather differently than I was expecting. It's always a good thing when a movie or book isn't overly predictable.  Movies are another luxury so I try to get as many free tickets as possible. I have a points card so that when I go to movies I get a few points for it and if I purchase concession foods I get a few points there too. Eventually I get enough points to go to a "free" movie. I tend not to buy concession foods because they aren't healthy but now and then I treat my niece to a movie and I must buy her popcorn or she will throw a hissy fit, lol. When I went to the movie with my friend, I took some hot tea in a thermos and some home made popcorn with nutritional yeast for flavouring. I also took an apple and protein bar as it would be awhile before dinner.

For all my careful shopping at the pharmacy I accumulated enough points to spend $195 (Canadian) in store. It took a few months to accumulate the points but now that I have them I will use half to purchase health supplements as needed and the other half to purchase daily/weekly items (milk, eggs, bread, toilet paper, etc.).

The weekend saw me doing some minor alterations.  A top I'd purchased with Christmas money gifted by a friends had some loose beading on the bodice which needed tacking down.  The top is actually too large but it was on clearance so I bought it. I sewed the sides in and made the armholes a bit smaller.  It feels much better now though there is still plenty of give in the fabric. I do tend to shop on clearance items mainly these days so I also managed to purchase a summer dress and some earrings with the same Christmas money gift.  Again, the dress doesn't quite fit and will need a few simple alterations. I've already made great use of the earrings as they match the beading on my top (as in the photo below).  The top looks a bit wild but it is a great summer top and matches so many plain coloured items I already have in my wardrobe.

Early in the week I plan to go fabric shopping to make some more dresses for my mother.  It was Fall 2015 when I made her 2 dresses (2 tops and 2 skirts) but I find the dresses are a little too baggy in the front area.  I want to make some that fit better. I always ask her for her colour choices and try and buy them if they are available.  This time she has selected purple and turquoise for 2 separate dresses.

Now I leave you with some sky photos I took on a beautiful day late last week. In fact, I was on my way to the movie. I could not believe that the trees were already beginning to bud.  We've had a lot more sunny days this winter than we usually have and now the weather too is quite warm during the daylight hours.

In case it isn't so obvious why I titled this post "The Beautiful Days of January", it is because I feel great about the slower pace and good process I'm making on a number of fronts. I'm also very happy with the weather we've been having.
I also have great news that the Pokot man that was injured by 3 black mamba snake bites is now doing much better and ready to be released from hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Jonah of Missions of Hope, Kenya had to return to the hospital for a check up a week after release and was able to get an in person update from the man.

The Pokot man's hospital bill is enormous and he cannot pay it. Neither can I help him.
But he is still so very appreciative that I was able to send the deposit which enabled him to get medical treatment and save his leg. He is believing for some miracle from the hospital concerning the hospital bill.
 I like his positivity and optimism.
How about you dear reader?
How is your January going?
Are things progressing well?
What about on the food front?
Have you too noticed the high cost of food and how are you managing to deal with it?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. A year to make adjustments and changes to suit one's life. You have great self-control for careful spending. Since my retirement, I too have been careful in my spending.

  2. That surely is a winter sky! My biggest goal is to arrive at spring, soon.

  3. It sounds as though your new year has started well and you are doing so many "right" things -- slowing down, reading, taking care of your health, being creative and good for you on your savings points! You are being very responsible -- but still having fun! I know what you mean about the pricing. It's not great here, either, but really troublesome a few hours down the road from me in Canada. And yes, almonds are even bad here. I noticed when I bought some at Trader Joe's that the price hadn't changed for the package -- till I realized the package was a little smaller than it used to be.

  4. Keep on working on the health issues. Quality of life is extremely important and if we can do something about it should be done. There's lots to learn about shopping for groceries and pharmacy stuff and then they go and change stuff.

  5. Your photos are gorgeous! I can empathize with your health issues because I have quite a few myself. Take good care of yourself and thanks so much for sharing.

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  7. January 18, 2016 at 12:28 PM

    You seem very focused which is a good start to the new year, and you are wise to keep a eye on what you spend. I think also food shopping as become such a big household bill and I have to be careful here!!

  8. I have noticed food is becoming more and more expensive. At our one grocery store we collect points and I use them from time to time to get a free turkey. So I get plenty of meals of that. When chickens are on sale, I get them then. Not long ago the canned salmon was on sale so we bought half a dozen of them. Yes one must be careful especially on a fixed income. I am so looking forward to spring.

  9. It makes me happy for you that you set such wonderful goals to take care of your health and don't stress yourself out :) Reading is my all-time favorite thing to do to relax. Thank you for the interesting book recommendations!
    I have a lot of food intolerances so I've been all about health research for the past 15 years. Only now I start really figuring out what works for me. Buying organic and only things that have grown naturally is the most important thing to me. It does make grocery shopping extremely expensive but for my health I happily cut back on any not really needed expenses. You are what you eat, right? :)
    Have a wonderful day!
    Sending lots of hugs to you,

  10. Both of those books sound good. I've heard of the Orphan Train book before. Our grocery bills have gone up too, and I think the worst are the healthy foods. I hate spending money for produce and having it go bad so I'm trying to be conscious of it to use it on time.
    Love your sky shots!

  11. $5 to buy non organic celery ... gasp! We live in an expensive rural area for groceries but even with that its not that bad here. I don't know what I'd do if things had gone up as much as yours. We travel for an hour each way to buy any organic food.
    I'm sorry your health issues cost you so much time and effort. It's good, though, that you are making eating well a priority and I hope what you have learned makes a difference. That's a beautiful blue sky!

  12. My goodness you have been so busy and are sorting out so much. I need to be better with my health as I am heading towards diabetes whether I want to or not. I have kept it at bay by diet alone for years and years but it is slowly creeping up on me. More protein!

  13. I think i will look for The Girl in the Woods. Orphan Train sound too sad. Reading about something bad that had happened makes me depress.

    I havejust finished Mitch Albom's Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. It was sad but with hope in the end.


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