Friday, January 26, 2024

Skywatch Friday ~ January 27, 2024

It's the last Friday of the month!  I hope it been a good month for you.

As for me, it's taken me awhile to hit my stride but that is not out of the ordinary for me.  Each year it takes me a while to really get going no matter how organized I may be.

We've had heavy rainfall for a few days and thankfully it's melted all the snow.  Today (Friday), the sky cleared for a bit and enabled us to clear the patio deck for the renovations that start next week.  The preparations have taken long to get to this point. I'll be glad when it's all over and done and I look forward to a new patio and garden.

Joining in with Skywatch Friday this week. 

Have a great weekend. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Books ~ Tuesday 4

I'm joining in with Tuesday 4 meme where we are sharing about books and reading this week.

1.  Do you have a favourite place to read? Maybe you can post a photo of it or describe it for us?

I can't really say I have a favourite place to read. I do tend to read in one corner of my sofa because I have a wall sconce above which helps illuminate my book while reading. 

The photo is the most recent photo of my sofa but the look today is completely different. Gone is the black lamp. Instead I have a wall sconce on either side and changed out pillows, art and tchotchkes.  If you look at the photo, I tend to sit on what you would see as the right side of the sofa.  It's actually the left side of the sofa and I sit there because it's further from the window tp avoid drafts and it's closer to answer the phone if it rings.

I've also tried creating a reading nook in the bedroom.  But that idea no longer works because we need room for DH's clothes, shoes and other things.

2.  Some say reading makes a person more educated, more informed.  Do you think novels do this in any way? Do you learn things from novels?  Would you tell us what you have learned?

Yes, I think novels can make a person better educated or informed. Firstly, they can improve one's vocabulary if you choose novels that are a little more complex. I read a lot of novels many of which are historical fiction and many are stories set in other countries. I've been exposed to different cultures, been inspired to learn more about various  historical events and learned how people lived and survived at various times in history.

3. Are there any books on your list to read right now?

My 'to read' list is always very long and I don't keep a comprehensive list of books I want to read. I've downloaded many free books on both Kindle and Kobo for a time when I may not be able to find a book to read at the library, lol. I also recently asked my library to curate a list of books for me to read based on my preferences and desires.  I'm hoping to start on that reading list sometime this year.  The book I'm reading at the moment is called The Covenant of Water, a book of my own choosing (and is pictured below).

4. Which books did you like the most and which did you dislike most?

Like many people do, I track my reading on the Goodreads website.  I've discovered that historical fiction is the genre I read and enjoy most. I've read and loved so many books over the years but I've also read a lot of books that are barely satisfactory. Some of my favourite authors to date are: Ken Follett & Edward Rutherfurd both of whom write historical fiction. I've also enjoyed Khaled Hosseini  (The Kite Runner), Abraham Verghese (Cutting Stones & Covenant of Water) and Rohintin Mistry is another fantastic writer (Family Matters, A Fine Balance). 

Female writers also feature prominently in my reading.  Over the years I've really enjoyed Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher, both of whom write novels set in the more recent history in Ireland and Scotland/England respectively. I also really like Lisa See who writes a combination of historical and contemporary stories set in different parts of Asia. All of her books are  very interesting and keep me riveted.  Here is the author talking about her book, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane which is the first novel of hers I read.

An American-Canadian author I love is Sandra Gulland who wrote the Josephine B. (Bonaparte) trilogy. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, is another great writer whose stories captivate me and teach me more about Nigeria and racial issues from an African perspective.  I've read her books, Half a Yellow Sun and Americanah, the latter is about race issues in the UK and USA.

Here is a link to the movie based on the book Half a Yellow Sun.  I only just found it on line today. I haven't watched it except for the first 15 minutes or so and I enjoyed it. 

There are a handful of books I didn't like but I'm not going to create a list of them because that would be a waste of time.  Just top of mind though I do remember two books I didn't like much.  One I read recently, and completed, is a popular book with excellent reviews.  It's called, A Grandmother Begins The Story. I've linked it for you if you'd like to read more.  I really wanted to like the book but sometimes things don't work out.  The other book is Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope. I just remember being bored and I never completed it.  Perhaps I will try again another day but there are so many other books to read. I did read an earlier book of his called, Dreams From My Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance, which I enjoyed very much. 

Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Snowy Sky and Snowy Scenes

We've been having very cold weather for a week and in the last 2 days, a lot of snow. This is very unusual for us here in Vancouver though in the last few years the snow and cold has been increasing over the previous decades. 

People were advised to stay home if possible on Wednesday so that there would be fewer accidents. I did go out late to pick up a book at the local library so I had an opportunity to take some photos. The first photo was taken on Tuesday after a significant snowfall.  More snow is in the forecast for late Thursday.

I hope you are keeping warm enough if you are in the cold parts of the northern hemisphere.

 Joining in with Skywatch Friday this week. Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

What I'm Doing During the Cold

 Hi friends,

As I mentioned in my last post, it's been very cold where I live. Actually it seems to be very cold everywhere but we aren't used to these low temperatures in my city and I can't get it warm enough inside. 

So during the cold days of winter, I usually don't do a lot besides sit under warm blankets with a hot drink and read.

I hope to reduce my reading this year soI can work on projects.  But having a good book handy when you need one is a wonderful thing.

I just completed Barbra Streisand's very long autobiography, My Name is Barbra. It's a very detailed account of her life in theatres, movies and in song. She tells us everything we might want to know. She intersperses these details with snippets about her family and personal life, her activism and her love relationships and marriages.

Having finished the autobiography, I am now reading this debut novel A Grandmother Begins the Story by Mรฉtis author, Michelle Porter. I haven't gotten too far but don't you just love the cover design? It's beautiful Mรฉtis beadwork.

The next book I'll read is called The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.  I read his novel, Cutting for Stone a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with his story telling. I'm very much looking forward to starting it in a few days once the hold arrives at the local library.

In an earlier post I mentioned that my theme word for 2024 is "Create". I hope to make or bring new things into existence more frequently this year. It can mean new dishes in cooking but more likely in my case, it will mean new things I've sewed or crafted. I've been giving some thought to a few projects I'd like to make and have collected a few supplies. Some of what I hope to create is new to me so I'm just learning what I'll need. It seems I'm not quite ready to get started on one of my projects because I need more materials. It's okay because it's too cold for me to sit and make things right at this moment.  I have time to collect what I need.  Here are some of the materials I've been collecting.

I've already sewn these strips of fabric together.

I bought the fabric strips (bubble bees, daisies and solid yellow fabric) at the dollar store just before Christmas and sewed them together before the new year.  There isn't a lot of fabric but I have an idea for what I'll make with it.  The Star Wars fabric will likely be for a cushion or two for my niece.  I'm always looking for items for here with a theme I know she will enjoy. The items in the top photo are for surprise projects which I'll unveil along the way. I've got lots more I want to make but these are some of the projects I have in the top of my mind.

Speaking of cooking, I did in fact make one new to me dish during these cold days. It's my version of a a rice noodle and prawn soup with broccoli. It was quite good and warming but the noodles took forever to cook and soften. Next time I'll probably use a different brand of rice noodles.

These are just some of the activities I'm trying to keep myself busy during the cold days. I've been reading on line about how cold it is elsewhere and I  hope you are keeping warm enough wherever you live. 

My "baby" brother has been away in Thailand and Japan. I'm looking forward to him returning tomorrow. When my loved ones travel, it's hard for me to relax until they are safely home even though I do pray for them. On this journey there was the large earthquake off the west coast of northern Japan just before my brother was expected to arrive there. Of course I was praying a lot and all has gone well with his journey this far. He seems to really be enjoying his time in Tokyo despite the fact it is winter there too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

It's Cold & Dark

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2024 will be a great year for you wherever you may live. 

Since it still gets dark so early it's lovely to see the lights at night. It's been cold for a few days and is expected to get much colder Thursday night (minus 17 Celsius then warming a bit) for a few days. I took the opportunity to go out today and run errands in case I don't want to go out later.

How is the weather where you are?

Joining in with Skywatch Friday

Monday, January 8, 2024

Food & Health ~ Tuesday 4

Food and Health

 Welcome to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.

How we eat, drink and exercise are important to our health. Let's talk about it.

1. Do you believe you eat a healthy diet and what makes it healthy?

I try very hard to eat a healthy and varied diet but I'm not very disciplined about doing it every single day and some days and weeks are better than others.  I don't actually enjoy eating a lot of protein so that is probably a weakness in my diet. I do try to get a variety of proteins (meats, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, nuts, beans and legumes). When I don't eat enough protein it means I eat too many carbs and that is another weak spot in my diet.  I've been working on a varied diet now for many years and health issues, especially chronic fatigue make it difficult for me to be as consistent as I'd like to be.  I've purchased an Instant Pot, and more recently an air fryer/oven combo to help me make healthier meals when I haven't had time or energy to do meal planning and preparation.

2. What sort of drinks do you have with meals or between meals. Does it include enough water?

I always drink water between meals. Early in the day I have coffee and late at night I drink decaf tea.  Sometimes I have watered down juice or occasionally a soda, carbonated water or flavoured carbonated water (San Pellegrino or something like it). I always check the carbohydrate count and try to avoid a higher carb drink on days when I've had a higher carb load.

3. Do you enjoy snacks throughout the day and what kind do you enjoy?

I do enjoy snacks.  I love all kinds. Sometimes fruits like orange, apple, berries and less often watermelon, pineapple, mango or papaya. I also like cakes or pastries but my real weakness is ice cream.  On a lesser occasion, I might have chips and chocolate bars though this only happens when I haven't been eating a varied diet and making sure I get adequate food intake during the day. I usually only have one meal a day and it isn't enough to get adequate nutrition. From time to time, I try to substitute dark chocolate for the chips and chocolate bars but I find the taste very strong.  These days I wear a continuous glucose monitor and since I've been using it it  has really helped me to make better eating decisions.  If my blood glucose level is too high, I know I have to postpone eating something with higher carb content. The monitor is a wonderful tool and since I've been using it, my blood glucose levels are improving.

4. How do you make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet? 

I'm never sure if I'm getting enough vitamins and minerals but chances are I am not. I don't think most people do from food alone.  I aim for a large variety of vegetables and also a large variety of fruits so I can get as many vitamins and minerals as naturally as possible. I tend to eat more berries because they have a lower glycemic index than most other fruits.  From time to time,  I take multi-vitamins or specific individual supplements like Vit. C, A, B Complex,D3, CoQ-10 etc. 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

A Slow Start

I'm still convalescing but each day gets better.

I didn't have the energy to do much this week but a little bit here and there helps.

I haven't even been cooking and don't much feel like eating. There is a Chinese noodle house very near me so when I feel hungry I've been eating congee (rice soup) and the most wonderful fried rice with shrimp and BBQ pork. 

On Friday I went to the post office to pick up a parcel and ran into a friend who had come to check her mail. She lives rather far but retains a mail box in my neighbourhood from the days she used to live nearby. She took me out to dinner as she too wanted soup. So we had an unexpected and very nice catch up.  Another friend called with distressing news. He lost 3 toes to gangrene over the past several years and was calling to let me know his leg will now have to be amputated. He'd been hoping to avoid this but the doctor gave him a stern warning, that it was either his leg or his life.  We didn't get to chat very long because another friend of his happened to drop by to visit him but I encouraged him as best I could for what he is about to go through.

I've set a modest reading goal this year of only 25 books because I want to do other things.  This number will likely go up but I'll keep it low for awhile as it will help temper my reading habit a bit.  This autobiography by Barbra Streisand came available as an online loan so I checked it out.  The book is over 2300 pages long and I think it might be the longest book I've ever read.  At this point, I've only completed 20% of it.  If you are a fan of Barbra Streisand's movies or her music, I recommend this book because she tells her life story in great detail.

I found a series on Netflix called Wild Wild Country which was very interesting. It's about the Rajneeshpuram, a international religious community headed by it's guru, Rajneesh from India who later changed his name to Osho.  I recommend it if you are at all curious. The other film I watched was a documentary on Warren Buffet called Becoming Warren Buffet.  I really enjoyed learning more about him and his family. 

I've been trying to use up bathroom products now for some time as I've got far too much. We've managed to empty 8 containers of various sizes. Some of it can go into recycling and some will have to go in trash. 

I also decluttered some music books and song sheets (4 items). I'll be donating these.

In December, I did a major purge of Christmas decorations and managed to give away a bag of items (36 items in all) to two different friends.  I'm glad to have cut down on the decorations in storage.

I took down the Christmas tree and decorations on December 28th but was only able to retrieve the storage boxes from downstairs on January 5th. I've packed everything away and will take it back to storage in a day or two.

I wrote about my new air fryer/oven combo which was my gift to myself.

I haven't made too much in it yet but did put together this blueberry loaf on Saturday. I was going to make muffins but the muffin tin is too large for the small oven. It's okay because slices are just as nice.

Last but not least, I've thoroughly cleaned the master bathroom and washed all the towels stored there as well as the shower curtain and liner.  I usually put my efforts into the master bathroom. but it always feels good when I can get both bathrooms nice and sparkly clean.

It seems like I've done a lot but really I have been taking everything very slow and easy. I'm just glad to have gotten a few things done so the week doesn't seem like nothing got accomplished at the start of the new year.   It helps when you don't have to cook every day and have all the dishes to wash because those two chores take a lot of time in one's day.  I hope you all had a good start to your week and wish you a wonderful week ahead.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

New Word of the Year 2024

Happy New Year once again everyone. ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰. The beginning of 2024 saw me spend a day in the Emergency Room. I'd been very sick since Friday and my DH and I wanted to be sure I was going to be okay. All the tests turned out fine, for which I'm grateful but I will have to take it easy for several days. I'm at home recovering. 

This incident put me back from the plans I had to get a good start on the New Year but health is the most important thing, isn't it? I realize as I get older that each and every day is a gift. I know some of you have been sick as well and I hope and pray that you are now feeling much better. 

I'd been mulling over a theme word for 2024 and I've settled on "Create". It's broad enough that I will have the flexibility to do a lot of things I'd like to do in the coming year. 

Last year, I chose the word "Start". It was a perfect word. I started (and completed) so many things that were on my list so I'm very happy about that. Since creating usually also involves joy in the creating, I'm not pressuring myself to reach particular objectives. I'm looking forward to 2024 being a creative and joyful year. Much love to you all. ❤️๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ’ฏ

City Gardens, Weather & Cooking

Hello dear friends and fellow bloggers, Time passed too quickly this month and before you know it May will be here.  With it's return th...