Memories & Music

Hello friends,

How are you today?

It is a beautiful sunny day here at last so I intend to catch a few rays before they disappear.

My post is brief today after such a long one last time. I will finish responding to commenters later today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, instead of sharing a photo of a bright sunny day I will share with you some beautiful cowboy art set to one of the best voices I've ever heard for all around soothing music in the country genre.

I was listening to this wonderful singer on Saturday while I cleaned the kitchen cabinets.

It brought back a lot of memories of when I was a teenager and my siblings and I would be babysitting every Saturday night (and more often too). It also brought back lovely memories of Kenya. Believe it or not, the music of Don Williams, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton is very popular in many parts of Africa, including Kenya.

When I was babysitting, I would also watch television or listen to music as most teenagers do.  Lots of times the parents had a wonderful music collection of all kinds of country artists.  Included in one household was the music of Don Williams. The song I've chosen to share is one of my favourites of his because though the words may depict someone who is on the razor's edge of depression, he is also believing in God and holding on to the promise of a better day coming.  The music itself is fast paced and very upbeat and makes me want to dance for joy. (As an aside, there is also a video on youtube which shows Don Williams' visit to Zimbabwe. If you'd like to see it you can see it here . It is a 1 hour documentary. If you can't watch it all, at least watch the first 3 minutes. It will touch your heart).

This video features some fantastic cowboy art too which I thought might be fun for some of you. I am not a cowgirl but I grew up in cowboy country.  Many of my relatives were rodeo fans. I also have a few cowboys in the family, the youngest being one of my nephews.


Thoughts on January so Far

Even though you're growing up, you should never stop having fun.
Nina Dobrev
(Bulgarian-Canadian actress)

Hi friends,

I've had a very busy few weeks and yet I've been feeling oh so tired. In some ways I've got a lot done and in other ways not.

Each year I find the months between November and end of February hard to take and especially January and February. I live in a place where we get so little sunshine over that period and by January I am really feeling it. This year I think more so than usual.

These kinds of days are still a few months away.

I've already done a lot of reading this month since I haven't been up for a lot more.

Here is a good book if you are interested in adventure to other lands or if you have an interest in elephants.

I've also done a lot of organizing in terms of setting myself up with things I need to move forward in the coming months: a stash of material to make a few items for my mother, a summer wardrobe that I've been pulling together over the last few months (almost done), a few additions to the winter wardrobe and replenishing linens and towels. It feels good to get these things out of the way. Bit by bit I've been also making my way through the house getting things tidied. I've got bigger ideas for moving things around but that will take a bit more time.

I found I haven't been sleeping well at all this month and my body really feels it. Then I started taking Vitamin D3. I don't know if that helps with sleep at all but since we don't get a lot of sunshine for many months where I live, I know supplementation is a must.  I think it is working already. After just a few days supplementation, I got the urge to start cleaning my kitchen cabinets and reorganizing them. Trust me, this is a job I don't like doing.  It is very hard to reach deep into and even to see into the backs of these cabinets. So as you can imagine, it is a job that very much needs doing and one has to feel like doing it. I'm glad I'm feeling like it now so I don't waste the sunny days to come with cleaning the cabinets, lol. Here is a link to read more about Vitamin D3 supplementation in case you might need it too.

I was inspired by seeing some videos of young women who totally organize their homes (I thought I was organized).  Seriously, I personally think people have too much stuff (myself included). Since I travelled to Africa many years ago now and experienced just how little so many people have, I've learned that we really don't need that much to live on a day to day basis. Food, shelter and a few garments are the key things besides family and friends. 

Over the ensuing years since my first visit to Africa, I determined that I needed to downsize my "stuff" and have been doing so bit by bit.  I do have to buy and replace things when they break or get worn out.  Add that to "stuff" I see and think it will help me organize or I can use it in a new recipe, and so on , and it does make it a bit more challenging to get to a good point of balance with "stuff".  I keep trying.  Knitting supplies and fabrics and all the tools required to make anything with these materials are what I tend to spend on besides food and household related items.  Yarn and fabric are  things I need to buy new if I want to make things.  (I gave up on buying used yarns because of the problems of not having enough to make any real projects I wanted.  Now I buy new yarns and fabrics on sale as much as possible.  It can take up quite a lot of time to build up the yarn stash and yet it still takes so much room to store until you have enough to start working with. I truly don't have space so I've had to purchase some baskets and try to limit myself to the colour batches I am going to use in future.  The challenge is to use these things and not just let them become clutter.  Some of you will remember that I also inherited a lot of fabric and craft items from my mom when she moved into care.  Though I did get rid of a lot, I still have a lot that I kept.  All the medical type equipment takes all the space in my downstairs storage unit and then some. I also have many of her papers and my dearly departed sister's papers and personal mementos too. I hope to give a lot of this to her son when he is settled down post education years.

Though I am fairly organized I do still have areas of too much clutter. It happens easily in a small home when you have a number of different collections, and if, like me you are keeping things that belong to others.  I need to keep better organized in some areas.  One area that needs a better set up is in my kitchen with spices and canned and dried goods.  I don't have a pantry or a closet or garage where I could store food.  So I have no choice but to make the best use of one awkwardly placed and shaped kitchen cabinet. It is the only real place I have to store food.

If I had a pantry like the one in this video  I would have no issues with keeping my kitchen tidy.  The woman in the video  is an organizational expert and has lots of wonderful ideas. However she has so much space in her house that very little of what she does can apply to someone in a small space like me. I can still learn a little from her and from some others on youtube and see how I can use the ideas in a more modest way. Virtually everyone who has a video on youtube to organize small kitchens has far more cabinets than I do, and a pantry to boot. Alternatively they are living in a pied a terre and I don't fit into either of those categories.

I went to Dollarama Friday and bought several containers.  I don't know exactly how many I might need so for now I bought 4 large and 4 medium and I think I am going to need at least 4 more medium containers.  That is probably all that will fit into my cabinet anyway along with the canned goods.  I may also purchase some fabric "boxes" to put a lot of my canned goods.  Some of the cans are currently "hiding" underneath a stand alone cabinet in my kitchen. If I put them in neat little boxes they perhaps go above the cabinets.  It is warm up there so they probably wouldn't last so long but this will accomplish two things:  using them up more quickly and  putting an end to my stock piling.  The meal planning I started recently is going to help a lot with both of these goals. 

I also spent time the other night re-arranging other kitchen cabinets so I can ultimately clear more of the counter space.  It is very difficult to do since I have so cabinet and counter space overall but every little bit of improvement helps.  I  moved my coffee pot closer to the kitchen sink where I can easily dump the grounds into the garburator without dripping on the floor. 

Starting in February all grounds and food scraps need to go to the common compost for pick up by the city each week. This is a new rule of the City Council to help conserve the environment. I totally agree with the change but it is expensive proposition for the City.  Taxes go up when things get expensive and there is the problem of rodents if the garbage is not picked up often enough.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm not really sure how sustainable this program will be. I read recently that another municipality in the area started garbage compost collection twice a week.  They've already had to reduce compost pick up to once a week when they realized how expensive it going to be.

Soon our City Council and provincial  government also want to have us vote on building yet another skytrain (above ground remotely operated trains). This again means more tax hikes and we've just paid for a new skytrain on another route and and all the other structural upgrades for the recent winter Olympics.  We've also just paid for significant highway construction and upgrades.  I am just not feeling up to paying for yet another skytrain though I really would like one. Increases to strata fees and special building levies come for me like clockwork every winter and so it is a lot to contend with when it all happens in a short space of time. It will be interesting to see if the property owners of Vancouver vote for or against the new skytrain because I know pretty much everyone would like one despite the cost.

The good news is my pension is indexed so I got an increase this month. The bad news is the cost of everything has gone up and there is more to come. In these kind of circumstances where I feel pressed, I do everything I can to remind myself just how blessed I truly am and I am grateful to have a small raise which I know many people do not get.

I'm going into my 2nd week with the menu planning. I have to say it is working out very well and I'm enjoying it so far. I also noticed that my blood glucose levels have already improved and rather than worrying about them getting too high, I have to watch that they don't go too low. Getting too low is more scary to me than getting too high though high blood glucose over the longer term is definitely not good. When I go too low I end up eating stuff that isn't too healthy just to bring my blood glucose back up.  I'm sure that as I continue I will find a happy medium for just the right way to eat. I am pleased with myself and think I've found a new tool to help manage my diabetes.

I started the weekend shopping for containers for dry goods. Saturday I shop for fabric to make mom a skirt.  I will also take in the new movie "Selma" about civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Sunday is fellowship  and I look forward to seeing friendly faces at church. In between I'm doing a lot of things that most of you have to deal with every day as well: cooking, cleaning, catching up with correspondence and telephone calls. I don't have any social planned for tomorrow like I often do. I feel like taking in a movie on my own because I have errands to run afterward. I just find it easier that way.

My post started with a quote about having fun. Sometimes I need to remind myself to have fun especially when I'm feeling tired and a bit down because of constant gray skies. Today I made my own fun. While I made dinner I listened to music in my kitchen using my phone and mini-speakers. This is so simple and something I never do though I know a lot of people do.  I'm hoping to listen to music in the kitchen more often. Mostly I listen when I am sitting at my desktop with the headphones on.  I may need different mini-speakers because the ones I have don't have very good volume. Or perhaps I can simply dig out my small radio from the emergency kit I've prepared and listen to the radio.

Tomorrow I will have fun getting out and about and seeing a movie. I'll also feel like I've accomplished something when I get the fabric for mom's skirt. Next I have to make a sewing day later this week as I now have 3 full slips and one long skirt to make.

Whatever your plans are, I hope you too have fun. Before I know it the winter here will be coming to an end.

Beautiful Skies

The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through. 
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Menu Plan

Here is another week's menu plan.  If you'd like to see my last menu plan you can see it here.

I'm leaning more toward more vegetable based dishes this week.  All vegetable dishes this week are new to me except for the Red Pepper soup which I've made before (see photo below).  I plan to look to look for a few more tasty vegetable based dishes to make which I hope to add to my repertoire. It might take awhile to find just the right vegetable based dishes.

There are so many places to find good recipes on line that it can be time consuming. Here are some links to find healthy food recipes if you too are looking to plan healthier meals. I'll be making my way through them bit by bit.

I got these links from MyFitnessPal and in the past came across several of these links looking for recipes to try.

So how did week 1 go with the meal plan?

I think it went quite well. I did find it a bit labour intensive as I had a lot of different things on the menu. For the most part I had many of the main ingredients on hand and only needed to shop once.  Frankly, I just don't eat that much for lunch and dinner so I skipped one or two lunches from my first menu plan. Though I am working on trying to eat more in the morning for health reasons it will be a challenge for me.

In my effort to make sure I eat something for breakfast other than cereal, I baked muffins twice this week.  The second time I made more of them to freeze ahead for breakfasts on days when I'm in a hurry.  Most days I will eat hot oatmeal with goji berries (for sweetener).  Sometimes I add nuts. Lunches will consist of leftovers and sometimes a new thing thrown in here and there with a salad or fruit to round things out.

The cooking routine and time for preparation and cooking should also get easier as I get used to the new routines and new recipes.  I do know how to make many dishes without a recipe however I am trying to achieve: a consistent diet, a more balanced diet and one that isn't laden with carbs. This will involve looking for new low carb recipes for breakfast that don't require me to eat a lot of meat. So far the recipes I've found require too much effort so I will keep researching.

My meal plans start on a Saturday rather than Sunday like most people. Sunday seems to be the day when most people commence their menu plans.  My choice of Saturday had more to do with when I had time to draft a plan  than anything else.  In the past my big shopping was done on Wednesdays and Thursdays before the weekly sales ended and the new ones would begin. This may change too. I'll know more as I move forward.

I will be trying to sit down with the flyers next time to plan the menu.I don't intend to post every menu on my blog only my first several attempts as I work it out and see how it is going. I'm realizing that I like the freedom that comes with not having to worry or plan what to eat every day since it is already planned out. If I don't feel like eating something, I can simply switch the menu from one day to another. Making the turkey was a good idea too. Though it was quite a skinny bird, there was more than enough left over for freezing and for making soup.


Breakfast - Whole Wheat Pancakes or Waffles with banana
Lunch -  Red Pepper Soup
Dinner - Pot Roast & Roast Vegetables, salad 

Red Pepper Soup


Breakfast -  Muffins or leftover waffles
Lunch - sliced beef and green salad
Dinner - Stuffed bell peppers (using brown rice & leftover roast beef)

Breakfast - Cranberry - Lemon Muffin
Lunch -Egg salad, mixed cut vegetables
Dinner - Chickpeas, Spinach, Squash Gnocci 


Breakfast - Hot cereal with goji berry
Lunch - Salmon Chowder, cut veggies
Dinner - Eggplant & Chickpea Stew


Breakfast - Cranberry Muffin
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner -Spaghetti & Meatballs, romaine salad


Breakfast - Hot cereal with goji berry
Lunch - Greek salad?
Dinner - Chili, cornbread or cornmeal muffins


Breakfast - Cranberry Muffin
Lunch - Green smoothie, salmon or tuna salad
Dinner - Curried Lentil Soup, home made dinner rolls

Snacks * yogurt, fruit, green smoothies, crackers/cheese

My Saturday of Simple Things

Hi friends,

They have testified before the church of your love and friendship. You will do well to forward them on their journey [and you will please do so] in a way worthy of God's [service]. 
  3 John 1: 6

Saturday went by in a flash. I was invited to a friend's for lunch today and had a plethora of errands to run before and after my lunch date.

Alas, I could not sleep last night. Though my eyes were tired I just could not sleep. I even woke up and warmed some milk to drink. That has helped before but not this time. It made my eyes more sleepy but I still could not sleep. I did a lot of praying for others over this time as God brought remembrance of each one and their needs forward. Maybe that was the real reason I could not sleep. Someone needed prayer support. Did you ever have a night like that?

Cartoon Sleepy Sheep

So I woke up much later than anticipated after only a few hours sleep.  I just had time to get a few things done around the house and then I had to get going. No time for shopping.  Off I went to meet my friend, her husband and her children who were just getting home as I was arriving at their door step.

My friend woke up early this morning and made a wonderful lunch of: a tomato based soup, chapati (Indian flat bread), braised green beans and broccoli, roasted organic chicken, brown rice, and salsa (with avocados and other veggies).  She also made chai tea to drink and a nice fruit platter for dessert. I can always count on my friend for a healthy and delicious meal. I felt so blessed to have such a delightful spread for lunch and very much enjoyed my fellowship with her family and one of their boarders.

I actually took my camera with me hoping to get a photo of the food but was so busy talking and eating that I forgot to take the photo, lol!

After a few hours there, I helped to clear the dishes and rinse them so that whoever is doing dishes later (her husband apparently), had a lighter load of work. Of course like all good hosts they didn't want me to clear away dishes but based on personal experience, I know what a chore clean up can be after one has had the fun of eating and sharing good conversation. It was also great to see the children. They are such dears. They kept asking me if I was going home every time I got up. I said no but do you want me to and they would shout "NO, we want you to stay and come more often!". They were so cute and the eldest boy who is 6 said it had been sooooooo long since we had visited last and when can I visit again. It is so nice to have such loving children to visit as well as my good friends.

After lunch and tidying, I had to rush as the business day was almost done. I needed to buy some contact lens. It is getting harder and harder to get contact lens by shopping around for a price here. I'm not sure what has happened but this lat year all opticians are telling me about the laws in place preventing them from selling contact lenses without certain paperwork. When I questioned as to whether this is new law or regulation they tell me it has been in place for 10 years! I didn't understand why then, I am only now (well actually the last 2 years or so) experiencing problems getting a prescription filled without a "fitting" and without a prescription written in the last 6 months.

My prescription is about 8 months old and I'm told I need to get a new one. One optician even told me that I need a higher prescription for my contact lenses based on my eyeglass prescription. I told her my eye doctor doesn't share her opinion and I don't want to go to a higher power which will then make it difficult to read.  I'm due for my annual eye exam in May and I don't want to make any big changes until I know the results of that examination.  What it seems to boil down to is more ways to make sure the consumer pays more money to get more examinations which they do not need. Once a year should be quite fine unless you have an eye problem that needs more frequent observation.

About 2-3 years ago the government stopped covering annual eye examinations as part of the insurance we all pay into.  We now all have to pay extra for that unless you have diabetes.  So this rigamarole around special contact lens fittings seems to correlate with when eye doctors and opticians started insisting that you (the patient) get more frequent eye exams. One required for eye glasses and one required for contact lenses.  Before all they did was use the eye glass prescription to also fill your contact lens prescription. So who are they kidding?  But I digress.

My mission was to get some disposable lenses because I have run out of them and my eyes are feeling the strain. I can't wear my glasses because my eye sight has gotten worse in the last year and a half.  That means since I got my last set of glasses prepared with special lenses and all the high cost of that, my eyes have weakened and so the glasses are distracting to look through and tire my eyes out.  I am waiting until my next annual check-up in Spring to see what has happened since last year and what I should do about the glasses.

The good news is that I was able to find a nice optician who understood my situation and who has dealt with me a few months back.  I bought some lens from him and was so grateful and joyful. I told him he was a "lifesaver".  He said he liked being a lifesaver *smile.  Needless to say I will deal with him again should I decide to get a new eye glass prescription in the Spring.

After my adventures in hunting for vision aids, I hopped on the bus back to my neighborhood.  I needed to buy some veggies and spices that I will be needing for this week's menu plan.  I got home and prepared the lamb dinner from my new plan.  It was quite good. I made up the recipe based on lunch a long-time friend made for me many years ago.  Since I had that lunch with her I've made the dish about 3 times (I don't eat lamb that much despite really enjoying the dish).

After eating I made a quick phone call to my mom who told me she had been trying unsuccessfully to reach me. Whenever she dials my number, which she has memorized correctly (she recited it to me), she gets a  message that the number is not in service. This is very frustrating for her and understandably so.  She reported that she is still under quarantine due to an outbreak of influenza in her care home.  This is about the 4th or 5th day of quarantine. This is difficult to deal with too.  So we prayed together after a short talk and then I had to go.

Smoked Black Bean Dip recipe can be found at

After that I responded to a friend who lives several hours away by plane ride. He is going through a low point.  Wanting to throw in the towel after just starting to get back on his feet. I don't think he realizes how he sabotages his own happiness and success. He goes through a familiar cycle of working hard, feeling upbeat then inexplicably (to me) feeling in a funk and defeated. He is also very bright and has loads of trouble getting along with anyone for very long.  His relationships tend to be quite dysfunctional and I choose not to be too heavily involved in that but want to be a supportive friend where I can and within my boundaries.

I thought he had reached a turning point after going through a particularly difficult time in the last year.  He was  starting to realize that he needs God and a spiritual life to overcome his challenges. We've chatted briefly over several times in the last month and he's been very upbeat. As recently as two nights ago he had wonderful news concerning his future.  Today he sends me a note saying he is burned out and wants to quit.  I'm afraid I've not much patience. It is okay to feel tired and maybe even feel like quitting but don't drop these "emotional bombs" on your friends and expect them to "fix your emotions". In the past I've done it for him and many, many others. I recognized that in myself and put a stop to much of it when I realized I was a "fixer" or an enabler.

Until he can overcome his self-limiting behavior he will not be able to meet his goals. I suggested some emergency scriptures and daily Bible reading and prayer. (He thanked me later so I think he will be okay).  Of course he needs others to support him in prayer too so I will add him to my prayer list. He needs to learn how to cope with adult things and how to deal with and overcoming the challenges that arise in his life.  We all need to learn those skills. Some seem to learn much better than others and some have more negative circumstances and backgrounds to overcome but overcome they must if they are going to move forward in life.  They also need God and loving supportive friends but they must first and foremost take responsibility and become accountable for their own actions.

Oh boy, I did not plan to go there at all but there you have it. Maybe this post will help someone else who is an enabler or someone who thrives on chaos and dysfunction and needs to get beyond it. I hope so.

Anyhow friends, I still have to prepare the smoked black bean dip and pita bread for tomorrow's church social so I best get at it.  We gather every week after the service and have a little fellowship. We all prepare light snacks (different teams take turns preparing food on any given week) 3 weeks out of the month.  Once a month we have a full meal together and everyone who can brings a contribution to the food and drink.  It is always nice to find a simple, portable recipe to take to such potlucks.  It is also nice to sit and chat over coffee and refreshments.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Update: Friends I only made half the black bean dip recipe and it was plenty so if you are only making for family you might want to halve the recipe. I also found it very hot without adding the jalapeno. I think I accidentally doubled the chipotles so be careful if firey hot isn't to your taste. Here is a link to the recipe.

What is in a Plan?

Hi friends,

I mentioned the other day that I was going to try meal planning. Here is my first attempt.

Some people seem to have a knack for meal planning but I'm not one of them. I will see how it goes this week with the plan. One thing that I can see will be a benefit of  a plan is that the grocery shopping list will come together more quickly in the sense of you know what you will need to buy. What I'm not sure about is how much I can take advantage of sales.  The other benefit to a plan is though you need some time to prepare it, you don't have to do much thinking during the rest of the week as your plan will guide you.

If I continue with meal planning I will need to synch my plan with sales flyers in future. I'm not sure how this will work in terms of timing and scheduling to 1) shop the flyers 2) make the meal plan and 3) draft a list of things to buy. All this is something I will need to learn as I go. Sounds silly after shopping, planning and cooking on the fly all these years.

Really what I'm attempting to do is streamline things but I am not the type that likes to write everything down every day. I guess the beauty of a weekly plan is you create it once a week and after awhile you have a repertoire that you simply repeat and shift around. Also, within the plan you can switch the menu between days as long as you have your ingredients on hand.  But this approach is vastly different from my usual approach which is to shop the sales and create meals around that. I just find this approach isn't working quite as well as it used to because a lot of things that used to be on sale are much more expensive now. A different approach is needed. Also when I see meals for a few days or a week ahead, I can try to balance things out a bit more in terms of getting good nutrition.

In the past (and hopefully into the future) I purchase a roast or two and try and portion it out for different meals in a given week.  I don't necessarily have a lot of left overs as I might cut the roast in two or three parts and use some for a roast, for a stew and for stir fry, etc.  All this is probably old news to those of you who already do meal planning.

Right now I don't have any roasts in my small freezer but I do have a turkey so that features in several meals this week. It's a smallish turkey so it may not stretch quite as far but I'll find out. My freezer size and space limitations also mean I cannot stock pile meat when it is on sale like many people seem to do. For that matter, I can't make meals ahead and freeze them.

Meal Plan  

Breakfast – Whole Wheat Toast, 1 slice plain + 1 slice w/jam; coffee
Lunch –n/a  
Dinner – Roast Chicken Thighs/Legs; Baked Brown Rice with Celery & Onion

Snacks – Mixed nuts, 2 chocolate pieces

Breakfast – Lemon-Cranberry Muffin, Coffee
Lunch –n/a
Dinner – Stir Fry of Kohlbassa Sausage/Apple/Savoy Cabbage; Baked Barley w/Onion Soup Mix, Kale/Carrot/Raisin salad
Late snack - sandwich with left over meat

Saturday Breakfast – Lemon-Cranberry Muffin
Lunch at friend’s – surprise meal but likely vegetarian
Dinner – Baked Lamb w/mushrooms, onion, small potatoes, braised green beans, romaine lettuce/tomato/feta salad
Snacks – yogurt w/banana

Breakfast – Hot Cereal with nuts & goji berries, coffee
Snack (My contribution to Church Fellowship) – Smoked Black Bean Dip w/tortilla chips and/or baked pita chips
Lunch – 2 Boiled Eggs; tossed green salad
Dinner - Roast Turkey & Stuffing; Green Salad, Sweet potatoe

Breakfast – 2 poached eggs, few spoons of yogurt w/flax, coffee
Lunch – Turkey Salad Sandwich (cold), tossed salad
Dinner – Penne Pasta with stir fry vegetables (onion, garlic, carrots, mixed peppers, eggplant)

Breakfast – Muffins (cranberry & Nut), coffee
Lunch – Potato Leek Soup, pears
Dinner – Turkey Salad or Hot Turkey Sandwich & Sweet Potato, tomatoes/English cucumber

Wednesday Breakfast – Hot cereal with nuts/goji berry, apple, coffee
Lunch – Leftover soup/s, carrot & celery sticks with peanut butter
Dinner - Quinoa casserole

Breakfast – Hot cereal with nuts/goji berry, apple, coffee
Lunch – Tuna salad with fruit or Corn Chowder
Dinner – Grilled Steak, mushrooms, brown rice with green beans

Breakfast – Hot cereal with nuts/goji berry, fruit, coffee
Lunch – Veggie soup or soup made with leftovers, fruit, yogurt
Dinner – Basa Fish Fillets, mixed vegetables steamed, apple crumble ?

Snacks – apples, bananas, smoothies, muffins, nuts, yogurt

Notes:  After I sit back and see my plan I can see I have too many carbs. This is my usual issue. I will either turn my sandwiches into salads only, substitute a lettuce leaf for a slice of bread or use sandwich filling on one slice of bread only. Goji berries are a wonderful berry that has many health benefits and help with strength and longevity.  But you need to be careful as with all things natural there are potential side effects. If you take blood thinners, have dangerously low blood sugar readings or have blood sugar issues you should do more research and speak to your health care provider before using goji berries.

Bon Appetit!

Out with the Old, In With the New

Hi friends and newcomers, welcome!

This verse is a comfort to me today as I move forward in the New Year with all it's possibilities.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19

I hope your new year is off to a great start. Mine has started out a bit slowly and in a bit of a funk. I was gentle with myself and didn't push myself to do things I didn't have to.  Since I am never able to do nothing much for very long, I also did a lot of reading and a bit of shopping.  The shopping was done at the end of last year and beginning of the New Year to help me get 2015 off to an organized start. I have some goals this year for my spiritual life, my physical being, my home and my relationships. I also have a theme word or a guiding word for the year "joy". This is to help me look for joy in the world each and every day. Sometimes I might share those moments with you here on the blog.

Those of you who have been reading me for years might recall that I go through frequent times of purging my possessions. When I need to replenish or renew them I try to do it in as frugal a way as possible. These actions relate to my personal goals of keeping things organized and tidy, financial goals to reduce spending and also spiritual goals to help on the mission field (read more at my Work in Africa page at the tab on the top of this page).

Purging at the end and beginning of the year happened again when after Christmas I realized that my pillows are well over 20 years old. I can't imagine all the dust mites in those pillows after all this time as they were not washable. I did keep them covered with washable pillow protectors and aired them out every now and then.

The pillows were still supportive but looking worse for wear. I'd been thinking of replacing them for some time.  This year I finally did it. I ordered them on line which is always a bit dicey but they were a good price.  Basically two for the price of one.  While they are not my best pillow (that is one I'm throwing out), I'm  happy to say they seem to be working out fine. If I think back over the past week or so I think perhaps I am also sleeping better too which is one of the claims made by the pillow's inventor. I will have to keep alert and see if the better sleep (not waking up so often through the night) is a long-term benefit.  I can now throw out my old and well worn pillows.

The new pillows are washable and that is a bonus. I want to buy another two good quality latex pillows.  Of the two pillows I'm throwing out, one was latex and one was buckwheat. I would say they were both worth the price I paid for them way back when. I'll take my time looking for a good pillow replacement.

I've also replaced some cheap towels and a floor mat I had purchased less than 10 years ago. These are white towels that cost me only $1.99 each at the time. They now look rather dingy and gray and are starting to fray. The towels I had before were good quality ones that lasted over 2 decades. I'm afraid I was still using those with a few holes and frayed edges when I bought the inexpensive white ones.

My new towels and bath mat finally match my shower curtain which I've had for a few years already.   I now have white towels (2 bath) with teal trim and several other teal coloured towels in various sizes (2 hand towels, 2 bath towels and 1 bath sheet). I couldn't get any facecloths as they were all sold out but I will probably just look for some packages of inexpensive white and teal facecloths somewhere else. I tend to go through face cloths much more quickly and there is no way I will spend $4 or more on one face cloth.

So what else is in or out in my life?

Well for years I've been saying I want to try meal planning. I think it would help me to know in advance about what I will eat so I can prepare several days ahead with the food buying.  This way I hope to get a better handle on my blood glucose levels which are still not fully under control.

I've never actually tried meal planning for a whole week at a time and for some reason I don't find it easy to do. Instead I go to the store and buy whatever is on sale meat wise.  Then I purchase a lot of things to go with it (rice, pasta, quinoa, all kinds of beans and legumes & all kinds of vegetables).  Each day I think about what is going to be for dinner and sometimes I think several days ahead especially if I am going to be fairly busy and want to eat healthy.  This method works fairly well but lately I feel I could do much better and maybe spend much less if I sat down and had a plan of meals.  Plans always include breakfast, lunch and dinner and it is really Breakfast and lunch that I seem to have the  most trouble with.  Also, I have this idea that meal planning is going to require me to also look up recipes and learn new dishes so I can keep things interesting and thus the time factor puts me off a bit.

My first attempt at meal planning started last night. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it.  I may have to start smaller than planning for a whole week.  It will be good for me to start with planning more for breakfast and lunch since I seem to be pretty good with the dinner menu. Maybe I shouldn't try to reinvent the wheel and just focus on planning ahead for breakfast and lunch and continue to plan dinners after buying whatever is one sale. That might work better for me. I'll have to experiment a bit so it might be awhile before I'm in a groove so to speak.

I've never been a breakfast person except for when I travel.  So I really do need to plan ahead for this meal.  It will  largely consist of one of  the following:  hot cereals with fruit, yogurt and fruit, combinations of egg dishes or yummy muffins. I don't eat bacon anymore largely due to the cost and heart health.  Though I would probably do better on a higher protein breakfast I don't often have meat left over from dinner.

Here is a good heart healthy and healthy weight muffin recipe that came with lots of rave reviews. The recipe is actually for Lemon-Raspberry muffins but I substituted cranberries since that is what I had in my freezer. I've made these muffins to have for breakfast every other day or so this week.

 Lemon-Cranberry Muffins * Rated as heart healthy & Healthy Weight



  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
  3. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in berries.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
  4. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Books, Television Shows & Weather

Hi friends,

I finished the last book in the Century Trilogy. It was over 1000 pages so I'm glad it is done.  It was weighing heavily on my wrists which suffer from pain now and then when overusing the computer or other hand work. I still like to read paper books rather than books on my devices. It is more enjoyable and comforting for me somehow.

So I had to get to the library today as I discovered last night that I had an overdue fine for the Maeve Binchy Biography.

I finished reading this biography on December 28th, well before it was due on January 3rd.  I usually wait for a notice from my library about books coming due and I don't remember receiving one. So I was more surprised than anything when I logged on to my account and found I owed a fine. It wasn't so terribly much (90 cents Canadian). It is just that I try very hard not to have overdue books and overdue fines. Every bit helps the budget.

I took out a new book about an interesting man who developed a special relationship with elephants in Burma and how he subsequently used elephants to save people during WW2. It is called Elephant Company.

I put off starting on this new book for a bit.  When I got home I saw that tonight a television mini series (6 episodes) based on a book I very much enjoyed reading last year was starting.   The book and series is called  Book of Negroes. It is being live streamed on Canada's national television network, the CBC. You might be able to access it. Let me know if you are able to watch it at this link. I'd love to know if you are able to view it from somewhere else in the world and what you think of it. Filming was done in South Africa & Canada. Weather here is quite nice at the moment. It is not raining and not snowing. There is no white stuff on the ground so nothing to shovel or walk carefully through.

When I took my walk earlier there was mist in the air and it was a bit nippy so I took my pashmini shawl with me to cover my neck but I didn't really need my gloves. However this past week much of Canada is digging out from under heavy snowfalls and I suspect the United States is coping with the same weather since it is winter after all. Take care in the snow and for those on the other side of the world, enjoy your sun and warm weather. That too will arrive here in a few months along with the flowers.

Since before Christmas I've been working on a new wardrobe. It will have lots of maxi dresses, both sleeveless and flutter sleeves, light cardigans and light tops.  I'm preparing for my next travels to warmer climates.  I'll let you know when I've decided when and where I'm going.  Until then, happy dreaming *smiles.

Day One of Routine ~ Not!

Hello friends,

I hope you all had a great day today.

I decided to postpone my regular routine and just took it easy for another day.

I did very little. I talked to mom, had a shower, a cup of coffee and am reading a good book in between doing a little of this and that around the house.

The 3rd and last book in Ken Follett's Century Trilogy.
This book is extremely popular and has many holds on it at the library.   had better finish it quickly as it is due soon. I've haven't been reading as much over Christmas holiday as I had hoped so I still have hundreds of pages to go before I am done.

I love reading. It gives me a lot of joy.  How about you?

Two other books I've read this past week.

Each year I am steadily increasing my reading goal. At the same time I don't want to make the goal so high that I don't achieve it.

Last year I started my reading goal quite modest. I think it was 25 books and I kept gradually increasing it because I kept surpassing the goal. I ended the year with 56 books read and that didn't seem too onerous.

This year I've set my goal at 45 books. If I find myself getting behind I will simply reduce it so it doesn't become a chore.

Over Christmas I posted on my blog that the highways through the mountains to go and visit my mom were mostly bare and clear. Then we were expecting a snow storm over the weekend but it didn't affect where I live. However it did affect most of the rest of the province and there are a number of road accidents. Unfortunately, I also had some sad news.  One of my brother's friends passed while he was shovelling snow the other day. This is very sad because he is under the age of 50 years. It really drives home how dangerous it is for people to shovel snow. Especially if they have any unknown heart issues.

Please be careful if you are shovelling snow. It might be better to hire someone if you aren't feeling up to it. This is not activity in which one should push themselves to do more. If you are tackling the job yourself, read these tips on how to take care of yourself.

Keep safe and enjoy the snowfall if you are affected by winter snows. It can make everything look so clean and pretty.

Post Christmas Doldrums

Hi friends,

We are now well into the New Year and I'm a little in the doldrums.

I was bracing for cold weather and snows this weekend but it didn't happen.  We did have coolish tempertures last night as I went out to a friend's house for dinner. Maybe the snow is just a bit late. I'm ready for it if it arrives.

I am still feeling a bit tired as I have been in a long cycle of not going to bed at a good hour. I hope to change that tonight.

My cousin who was supposed to visit with my family this Christmas never made it. As an alternative, we agreed that she would visit between Christmas and New Year's but she never made it due to her brother-in-law getting sick. Now she is far away visiting her daughter before she goes home.  I'm glad she is with her daughter who had a heart attack a few months ago.  But I really did want to see my cousin again briefly so am sorry it didn't work out.

I am a bit behind schedule with getting my Christmas decorations put away because instead I've been trying to buy a few things that I need and while they are on sale.  I finally got a chance to take down the decorations this afternoon.  My things don't look so colourful anymore, lol.

It is a bit funny because I have an artificial tree and it sheds needles like a real tree. I still need to vacuum.

See the pine needles all over the carpet.

Joy is my theme word for the year and today I wasn't feeling much of it.

So how can I find joy today?

I think that joy is a choice.  Not just something to be felt only when outside circumstances affect us.

Today I choose to feel joy even if I feel a bit sad too.  Although my cousin did not visit and I am feeling a bit tired and behind schedule in some ways, I can still choose joy and to look at the bright side of things.

Things to be joy-ful about are quite plentiful.

I had a terrific visit with my mom, my niece, nephew and brother. We had an out of town journey that went off without a hitch. When I returned home I was able to unpack, do laundry without delay and put clothing away. This is something I seldom do and it often takes me weeks to fully unpack and put things in their proper places.  I had so many bags of things to put away this year that I made a point of doing it right away.

I also managed to think ahead and take advantage of some sales on household items (bedding, linen, pillows) and some crafting items (rotary cutters and replacement blades, yarn and fabric pieces) so that I'm all set for the New Year. I did purchase some things on credit though so I have to pay those down as soon as possible.

Other ways I am on top of things include keeping in touch with friends. I had a nice dinner invitation yesterday and have another one next Saturday with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. I have so many people to try and keep in touch with so when I get a chance to meet with some of them I feel a bit more breathing room to be able to get in touch with others I haven't had a chance to see yet.

I like to be ready for the year so that I can be as organized as possible. Each year I seem to be getting a little more organized for the coming year.  Maybe that's why I'm feeling a bit tired.   After a month of my routines getting out of whack I'm hoping I can start getting back into a schedule this week.

I hope you are all set for your year. If you are also feeling a bit down after the Christmas whirlwind, I hope you too will choose "joy".  Let's make 2015 a great year!

It's a New Year

These first two photos were taken with my phone camera about 1 hour before the last two photos.

The light changes fast at this time of year.

Last year I chose two words to guide me for the year rather than setting out a long list of goals like I have in year's gone by. The list of goals really helped me and for the most part I achieved them but I now feel like trying something a bit different so will choose one word this year to guide me.

The word is

{You can see my review of  2014 in pictures here}.

A Peek at the Garden

To date the spring season has been quite cool and a lot of rain. I haven't had to do much in the garden as a result and I find it isn...