my new hair

Farewell red hair – I will miss you so much….

I have got my hair fixed today. I had prepared myself for quite a light-colored hair, with lots of highlight. I had two options: I would either have it dyed to platinum colour and have dark brown low lights all over. Or, have it dyed to close to its original dark brown, and have lots of highlight. The colorist gave me two options: one: colour correction, which would take multiple visits (and a longer time frame to get a decent hair in the short term), or second: dyeing it to brown and have highlights. I chose the second option.

I was not ready to leave the current shade. I kept looking at the red colour and got very saddened….

It was a meticulous process that took around 5 hours; highlights in foils first. Root treatment second. Dyeing the rest of the hair next. And finally a toner application.

I was suspicious that the hair colour would turn too dark and as a result when the roots start showing up, the contrast would be weird. This is mostly because while washing out the toner, the colorist said that the highlights were somehow dark…. Argh…..

The moment I looked at my new hair was disappointment. All I could see was dark brown and no highlights…. Poor colorist needed to talk to me defensively 15 minutes or so, and try to convince me that the highlights would get lighter in two weeks. I was not convinced. Until she moved me over to the window where there was a lot of light. There I saw what she meant. Yes there were highlights, and yes there were not very strong, but I have had some lightness to hair colour that gave me hope and realize that we were on the right track! I apologized sincerely. 

Of course transitioning to my gray hair is a process that will take around a year. There will be times that I will lose my cool again and attempt to change it to platinum or something. But, today I feel like at least I have started the process and so far it is okay.  

Tomorrow is another day. Let’s think about it then.

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My hair after today’s treatment:

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And this was a day agoIMG_1600 

 

 

life is unexpectedly good sometimes

While dealing with work stress and feeling a disastrous low self-esteem, life has reminded me once again that it is full of surprises and can be indeed a delightful experience.

Today I have given my old (but still quite good looking and functional) recliner to someone I do not know free of charge. She just loved it and the joy was very visible from her own eyes. She thanked me more than once, was very excited to have it, and her joy filled my eyes with tears. This experience literally made my day and gave me an unexpected dose of happiness. Even now I can feel her joy.

I am so grateful that such a wonderful match could happen and I was a part of it.

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gray hair saga

Have I mentioned that I made an appointment for Thursday to get my hair done?

My current plan is to dye my hair similar to its original shade (it is dark brown – that I remember…) and then have low-lights over. I do not know what portion of my hair is gray and what portion has the original colour. I trust that the dresser will figure this out.  I want to have streaks right around my face. Like in the character in the Addams family movie.. Yuppii!!

Of course that is what I think it is gonna be, but I will also be open for the suggestions by the hair dresser. I hope not to come back with a hair that I cannot live with. Like complete platinum or something – I m not ready for this. I also hope that we will not need bleach and the current reddish/grayish hair can be dyed to brown. I want to believe in this.

This is also gonna be an expensive adventure. Over 200 bucks for a cut, dye, and low-lights. If bleaching is needed, that will be an additional expense. I do not think I can handle bleach. This is already too much of a money to pay and even though I am capable of paying more, my guts say absolutely not!

I called a number of hair saloons today and except one all give estimates around this range. The one with a lower fee was not exactly a good saloon. Even though it would be nice to save some bucks, I did not wish to risk it. This transition for me is important.

I never have had high-lights, low-lights in my life. I cannot remember but I think I did not even have perm. I believe it was only once or twice that I have had my hair dyed by a dresser; both times with bleaching and both times to become a red head. I never had manicure and pedicure at such saloons either. So my consciousness is clear – I deserve this hair and am eligible to pay such a high amount for my hair. My first ever, in fact.

I do not know what to feel about this transition. Will I like it? Will I hate it? Will I look old? Considerably old? How will my mom take it? I do not want her to feel sad. I am her youngest child. Sadly, I am also gifted with early gray hair. There will be a lot of adjustments I can say.

My hair has been red the last few years and I have been loving it. It is sad to know that I will not have such a shade again. It feels like an end…… This is kind of hard to digest. Knowing that not even once in my life I will be a red head gain. This is sinking now. And it is heavy….

Thank goodness that there are also other stuff I can try with my gray hair. I would like to try having the tips dyed to dark blue, for example 🙂 Or, dark brown 🙂 Would that not be fun? 🙂

the sixth day of “work” staycation

The morning went well, but I lost my hope for success in the afternoon again. Being a naturally skeptical and highly critical person, especially towards her own, I am not surprised with this.

I work, work, and work, and only a small fraction of it goes into “recognize me” bin. All these efforts, careful and meticulous work, time, energy, and deals with stress I put into this work seem to wash away and bring me from all the way bottom to all the way top, the feeling of being inadequate. Its pain and heaviness are inescapable.

I wish I could retire. I do not want to say that I wish I was old enough to retire – I have a life to enjoy and explore still. I want to fully immerse in it before it becomes too late to do whatever I can do with my healthy and able body and mind. But nothing makes me feel more remorseful of having only a little amount of money saved, which prevents me from even thinking about retirement.

They say education is great and a must, and what an education I have had. I have got a PhD degree, worked in four different countries, did countless of interesting work. Yet it was not only after 36 that I could get a job with benefits (including pension plan) and only after 38 that I have got a job with a decent salary. I want to ask; where is all my knowledge, skills, and experience now? Obviously while my efforts, tears and sweat have benefited many organizations, countries, and people (for which I am actually happy), here I am at mid-40s struggling with the idea of leaving a job that constantly makes me feel low, stressed, and unappreciated. Where are the benefits of all my education and capabilities when it comes to me?

Low self-esteem should be broken by all means; nobody is as “low” as one can think. I cannot do this in my case, however. This has been like this for years, fueled by my current position. I competed with many talented individuals to come all the way here and here at this position I am not capable of going any further. I cannot blame others or the conditions, but I cannot blame myself, either. I gave my best and countless numbers of hours and brain cells to this work over the many years. I cannot take this feeling anymore.

I want to believe that even without attaining the level of success I wish for myself, I still can and do great work. I know many people at my position going through the same struggle, and even performing less than me. Yet, they are good at standing, talking, and walking tall, in contrast to me. My own hardship on myself, my own expectations from myself, and my own frustration are the ones that drag me down in my own eyes and then in others’. I sometimes think that this job is more about mental stamina and confidence, however false it can be, than having the capabilities, skills, and excitement for creativity, quality, and effective work. I lack that stamina. 

I once had told another colleagues of mine at administrative level that I was more of a manager than a leader; I get things done. He was understanding and said that “….a leader is great, but a manager is even greater. Leaders open the way and develop the ideas, vision. Managers are the ones that make it reality….” How great is that?

I am affected by the lack of effective leaders at my organization as well as the lack of transparency, trust, and presence of lots and lots of silos. I need a leader that can open the way for me and provide me with better resources so that I can soar. Yet, nauseating truth is that I am supposed to be a leader of myself and do all of these. Nobody is going to care about my conditions, needs, or improving my morale. It is all on me.

I wish I could just stop resisting this frustration and accept myself as a failure to find some kind of peace and perhaps identify new paths to explore and move forward, but I am not capable of doing this. I have either a competitive nature that I am not consciously aware of, some kind of hope that does not go away and keep pulsing in my mind, or I am in fact better than I think I am. Not necessarily awesome, but just better. Whatever the reason for not accepting myself as a failure is, I am not sure whether I am grateful or not. What I know is that my time did not arrive yet, so I will keep going, even under harsher conditions. Eventually I will figure out how to make “lemonade”.

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The fifth day of the “work” staycation

Today went well, too. I was up and off to office before 8 am. Our administrative personnel was shocked to see me work intensely the whole day. How would one not? I took vacation time, but I am working harder than ever!! 🙂

At least things are going well. I was grateful once more to make this decision to use my vacation time and work at home. Distractions, distractions are huge at the office. I realize once more how many times people come to my office to just chat or ask something. Thank goodness, none of my team members were around (some of them are off too). Otherwise I would have to meet with them, too… It is great to be helpful and have chit-chat with the colleagues, but it divides my attention and time.

I decided to take some more time in August. 

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resourcefulness and reducing waste

You know I love being resourceful, self-sustaining, and reducing waste.

I am not 100% in any of these, but I do try; nowadays better than before. 

I cut out an old t-shirt and will use the pieces to clean my bath tub. I was not gonna use this t-shirt, it was not in good enough shape to be donated, and I could not let it fill the landfill just yet (horrible, I know… ). So, why not to use it as a cleaning cloth? Of note, it will still go back to landfill after I use it, which makes my heart tightened somehow. When are we going to have bio-degradable clothes?

I have a large amount of plastic shopping bags. I made the decision to rather use a canvas purse during shopping. The last few weeks that is what I have been doing and it is going well. My aim is to keep doing this until I have something like 20 of them left. I re-use these bags as garbage bin liner, so not getting new ones after that will not be feasible, but still at least I will be able to make use of what I already have and save the companies and earth some plastic bags. Feeling good, however little that can be.

One thing I am missing is composting. I have been meaning to do this the last 9 years, but honestly I cannot think about it during winter (when we get a lot of snow and me going in to back yard is usually prevented by the snow at the back door). I thought today that perhaps I can do that only during spring-fall when weather is permissive. That sounds good to me and I will be checking on internet to see what practical options I do have. 

 

 

 

Sunday morning musings

It is a bright and warm summer day; who can complain about these? Certainly not me 🙂

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It is a routine Sunday morning, which is good. It feels great to be back to my routine after a couple of agitated days.

There are things that I realize after the recent ordeal:

a) I feel better within my own so called “highly structured daily life”, where every action and activity has a time and meaning. I do grocery shopping on Thursdays, purchase milk on Saturdays, clean the house and do the laundry on Saturdays, read, write, and watch movies/TV series during the evenings, and work during the weekdays between regular hours. I miss spontaneity time to time, but losing my routine when I most need it (i.e. when I am agitated and stressed) is worse than the boredom that I feel when not having spontaneous activities. You may call me old, hey, I may call myself old, but honestly I like the way my now middle-age mentality works for me, and knowing what works and what does not work for me. One can call this wisdom that comes with age….

b) I may need to reduce the amount of distractions I have at the office so that I can focus on what is important for my work. I lead a small team of talented individuals, some of which requires more supervision that the others. I also have collaborations with other groups and roles in committees in my organization. Late Spring, I started to aim for having at least 2 work day with no meeting, which turned out to be quite beneficial for me. I would love to keep doing this with some luck, by saying “no” more often, and by organizing my time a little bit better. I contemplate on increasing the work hours, either during the week or assigning a week night for work. Fridays can be a good option, but I will have to see that. While I am aware of the fact that I must work harder or longer, I also would love to keep my “me” time that relaxes me and lets me engage in learning, writing, and fun activities. I am a strong proponent of having “me” time. I do not wish to let go off this now.

c) The recent agitation was triggered by me being not prepared well in advance. When I realized that the work I was working on was, although bright, not feasible, I felt anger. Towards myself, towards everything and everyone that kept me away from having more time. This is not right and this is not healthy; others have nothing to do with this. It is my own responsibility to protect my own time and manage it better. I should take full responsibility for my own actions, or inactions, and stop being a drama queen. I cannot keep failing myself. This gotta stop.

d) These being said, I must also say that stress sometimes makes me work way productive than the rest of the time. Like the rest 3 days, when I actually fumed a lot but also did a lot. Stress is counter-productive when it is too much, but as the others would also say, it also facilitates some action. Thus, as long as I remind this myself during high stress times, perhaps I could go through those times smoother.

Lessons learnt… Sometimes over and over… But, hey I am a human being with all the fails and limitations. 

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I am looking forward to today; there will be a thrift store visit (I hope), conversations with my family, a sourdough to bake and give to my good neighbours next door, and some X-File episodes to watch at night! Boy, the later parts of the Season 2 was just heart-pumping and the first episode of Season 3 is making me jump in excitement! Thank goodness that we have such joys and excitements in life! 

I believe it is gonna be a fantastic day!

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Have a great Sunday everyone 🙂

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The third day of the “work” staycation

Today went really well in terms of the work I have been trying to fix. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! 🙂

Honestly the stress levels I have right now is huge. I want to take things one thing at a time, but how do we achieve that when there are multiple things at hand? Challenge… I need more than ever my logical self and sound mental state.

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Overall, though I am feeling calmer and more optimistic after finding solutions to the work at my hand. Until next time…..

I have not dwelled on my Saturday routine today, except I prepared sourdough to bake tomorrow. For some reason I do think that my home is clean enough and the laundry can wait till I run out of clean items (boy, did that ever happen to me? Never…). I did not go pick up milk, either. Luckily I have some at home and my kefir granules are all fed and happy. 

Tomorrow is another day and another work marathon, but I must take it as it is. While work-list is stressing me too much, I also find the satisfaction in taking care of them. Those times require complete focus and I do have it for now. But i am feeling like having no human contact and confined to home for extended periods of time will take its toll on me. So I am likely to go to office and do some work there on Monday. Talking about “work” staycation.

I wonder why I always loved my line of work but could not handle stress very well. I know my remedy is cardio exercise. It clears up the fogs and illusions in my mind like a wizard’s rod. Terrific and electrifying truth. So electrifying that I cannot get myself up and do some hiking. How great I would feel! So why is this laziness and reluctance? 

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Am I funny or what?

🙂

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Making fun of myself always feels great 🙂

Have a great Saturday everyone!

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The second day of the “work” staycation

Today went well too; worked more or less without much of a distraction and it felt good to be able to do this.

My anxiety levels are still high, though, and unless I find a way to reduce it, I am afraid it may escalate. So I will be making a good effort to go back to my routine tomorrow; thank goodness it is Saturday tomorrow and I will fill it up with my regular activities, such as cleaning the house, picking up milk from a store, doing laundry, preparing my sourdough for over night rise, and speaking with my family. I must also clean up the yard and pick the weeds and other unnecessary life forms. I never knew how much I would appreciate my daily (and often times boring) highly structured life-style.

I am familiar with anxiety accompanied with shallow breathing and the feeling of being scared of something, someone, a thought. I try to not resist but rather relax into it and mediate the situation with some meditative music and focusing on the positives; I have a great family who supports me; I am doing great work; my home and yard are at a much better shape than last year; I keep budgeting and living frugally; I try to find joy and happiness in little things; there is a wonderful weather outside; I was able to keep my window open the whole day and have fresh air inside; I have good friends who are happy to socialize with me and help me if needed; I have usually a great job that provides me with more than enough money (even though it also makes me feel inadequate – the main reason of my latest anxiety boot).

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I feel angry at the conditions that limits me at work and my performance; i am angry at the funding situation for our projects; I am angry at the endless competition we undergo to achieve something; I am angry at the economy; I am angry at myself for not saying “no” more often and often ending up doing other peoples’ works. I am angry at myself for not focusing on the positive and the big picture we call life, rather than all the little antsy bitsy things that I let to annoy me.

I want to feel good and I know that as long as I have this wish, this anxiety will not go anywhere. Wishing to feel good by running away from what I am experiencing is a form of resistance that makes things worse. It is so counter intuitive. I know there are things that I will change and improve as a result of this experience. I just do not know what they are.

The best remedy for anxiety is to trust the unknown. I need to trust to life, the universe if you will, people around me, and more importantly, myself. I may fail at work according to my own or others’ criteria, I know I will get up being better and stronger out of this hurdle. Maybe I will turn things around by being a little bit more smart in protecting my own time and energy, a little bit more lucky, or by changing my own attitude towards myself, my life, my work, my colleagues, my hopes, and my failures. 

I know all of these. 

Now it is time to believe in them.

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The first day of the “work” staycation

I am hesitant to call this a “staycation” because I am doing anything but relaxing.

I got up before 8 am and started working right away. I realized one of the works I have been working on the last 1 month or so had a significant flaw. Naturally, I fumed and my agitation that started yesterday heightened again.

I was so pissed and lost my hope in doing a good job that I contemplated about quitting this line of work and leave here for good. Oh, how lovely my life would have been then? (ah, no really… it would come with its own problems that is for sure, but at that time the idea of leaving these behind looked so appealing, so lovely…anyways).

I talked to my family and it was great to know that they were well and sound. Yet I think with my toxic mindset, I negatively affected their morale. Boy.. At least I felt a little bit better. But, at what cost, I should ask. I will apologize tomorrow…

After that fiasco, I realized that I may not be able to solve that flaw just yet, so I moved on with other tasks that I must be taking care of. Two of them have moved quite nice and easy. I must say sometimes being pissed off or feeling inadequate makes me quite productive. After all, if there is one feeling that makes me feel better is to be able to move/progress something.. Anything! 

I want to remind myself that all hurdles are an opportunity to grow and do better….

I want to think that realizing that work of mine was bad earlier than later was actually a great thing for me overall…..

I want to believe that whatever I am going through right now will pass and I will feel good again…..

As my sister said today, there are so many insoluble and serious problems in life that these kind of things do not make sense after all.

I want to feel these.

I want to.

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the start of the 11 days staycation and the chicken noodle soup

I am starting my 11 days staycation as of this evening. I am not overly enthusiastic, but grateful for this nevertheless. You know I chose to take these days off to actually focus on my own work (not on others’ like my team members) and to do some work needed at home, such as decluttering, too. Everybody needs a break every once a while.

Interestingly I am feeling kinda sick as of this afternoon. I am not sure what triggered this but I was attending two meetings/presentations this afternoon back to back, and I realized my heart was kind of racing (or the feeling I have had was that, because the physical heart was working just fine – I checked my heart rate), I was feeling down, tired, and worn and torn all of a sudden….

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I felt like something really bad happened to a loved one of mine (my mom came to me my mind; since I did not get any bad news yet I am assuming this feeling was not real….how could it be real, by the way? Am I  psychic now?? That being said I had felt something at around the time that my dad had passed away.. it is scary.. anyways).

It was like I was having a heavy anxious state or depressive mood. I could not solve it, but I did not like it either. But then years of life experience taught me not to resist but take it as it is and go home and make yourself chicken noodle soup. That is exactly what I have done. I believe in its healing properties – there is something unknown and great about the smell and taste of chicken noodle soup….

When I came to my senses, I thought that perhaps I am feeling down because I have been feeling kind of excited lately. The facts that I have re-arranged the furniture and created a much better living space and found some great stuff at the thrift stores that excited me, I wonder whether this is a way of my mind and body saying “enough is enough, let’s go back to regular”. Maybe subconsciously I realize that my joy and happiness is not hidden in these material things, but is rather internal and this is what I must be looking for. And I think the timing supports this idea because now I actually have time to “reflect” on my life. What are the things that I want? How do I attain them? What is important for me? Is my life really working for me? Do I work well for my life in turn? When and how will I fall in love? Will I leave here? And if so, when?

These are serious questions I must address. No wonder that I have had a little anxiety today..

These experiences reminded me two things:

1) I am scared of being bipolar because sometime after being excited about some good stuff going on in my life, I lose my interest in them (or the excitement they give me). I know that clinically this does not make me affected by bipolar disease, but I cannot not keep thinking about this elation followed by so-felt down experiences.

2) I knew someone that I cared a lot about who had a heart condition. He would go extra miles, 1,000 of miles, to not get excited… he would say the racing heart symptoms that he was experiencing at those times were too painful, too scary.. Poor guy. Like myself, he could not live his life to its full potential. I at least have a chance still… I want to take advantage of this and find my true call. What is it? Where is it? How am I gonna identify and reach it?

Important questions for me to deal with…

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thrifting becoming a second nature

That is right.

Today at noon I found myself wanting to take a break. So I walked to two thrift stores nearby. This was mostly because of the great treasures I hunted this past weekend – i can see how easily it can become addictive 🙂

Today I bought a couple of empty frames, a coffee press, two art work, and a blouse.

Both of the artwork are giving me delight and making me very excited and happy! They were the most expensive things I have ever bought from thrift stores (both over 25 bucks together), but I think this money is well spent.

I have lots of photos to post in the empty frames; I cannot wait to hang them on the wall 🙂 Together with the art works, these frames will help me turn my house into a home. With character. And beauty.

And the coffee press was a great deal; I bet it is new and never been used (i could not detect even a light coffee stain on it or on the filter) and it had the best deal: it was only 2 bucks. 

And last but not the least; the blouse I have bought is so cute, so lovable that I am in love once again! This is the 5th blouse I have purchased from thrift stores this year and I could not be happier with my choices.

Life is good my friends 🙂

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Day of the sourdough

I have baked two sourdough loaves today: one plain, and one with tomato, bell pepper, and garlic shoots.

Next time I can leave the garlic out, but this sourdough was interesting to bake and eat. I would recommend for those who like a taste of sunny and healthy Mediterranean food 🙂

Mediterranean loaf:

 

Plain loaf:

 

 

I may not be perfect, but I am damn good

Why am I so proud of myself now?

Because I worked like 5 hours carrying, pulling, pushing stuff around; re-arranging, arranging, and re-arranging again; sweating, feeling depressed, a failure, and then a genius; and finally there it is; a new living room/dining room with a proper dining table/chair arrangement, rugs freely presenting themselves, and book cases and CD racks finely standing tall. The only thing is that I need to get rid of my recliner, which is an old, heavy thing that does not fit anywhere and crumbling my seating area.

Since I took my dining table from kitchen to dining area and placed my little desk in the kitchen, my kitchen looks quite big now. As a matter of fact the entire living room/dining area looks larger and wider. I have bulky couches – maybe they should be replaced with slimmer ones so that I can have a much spacious 1st floor.

Now; what I want to do is to get new decorative artwork and make my walls smile and talk. 

I cannot wait to host at my house 🙂

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Sunday morning musings

Another lovely summer morning – hope everyone is gonna have a great day!

I am enjoying my coffee and the bright day outside. Already walked in the yard to see how the plants/seeds were doing. Some of the seeds germinated alright and my potato and onion plants are growing. It seems like a spider formed his net where my potato plants are. Yesterday there was no such thing. Nature is an amazing thing. Perhaps I should start studying zoology 🙂 The yeast and lacto bacilli bacteria in the sourdough starter, yeast and all bunch of bacteria in kefir, and all the lives in the yard….. I have a little piece of nature here 🙂

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My plans for today is to start re-arrange the furniture in the living room, while also decluttering that area. This is gonna take a number of days as the arrangement in my mind is something new and I do not even know that in reality it will work. So I will take it easy and will come up with alternative plans if needed. But I am determined to change the current face of the room. The items that I bought yesterday from the thrift store are making this room look quite better already. I am so excited about this 🙂 One of the best times of my weekend time spent 🙂

I also am trying a vegetable sourdough today. It smells gorgeous but not sure how I would like it in a bread. We all will see this this afternoon.

And in the evening, of course I will keep watching the X-files! Friends; when I was young I knew about this show but was never mesmerized by it. Now, I am hooked! I started from season 1. Mulder and Scully are so young, so different from each other, but also so sweet and innocent. These actors should have had lots of fun and development during this series.

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When I retire (!), one of the plans I should have is to have a fan review of these and other series and characters (like Game of Thrones). So mesmerizing is this thing between Scully and Mulder, and Brienne and Jaime. Damn!

 

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And, I have reached 1,000 followers today… I never thought that I would have such a large number of bloggers finding something in my blog. What a significant milestone. Thank you each one of you….

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When I started this blog in Nov 2014, I did not know what I wanted to do with it. But I had things to say and boy, did I say them. This is one of the 1225 posts that exist in more than 15 different categories.

Notable categories include:

baking bread: which has been an intense interest since May 2016. I failed quite a bit but after a year or so now I have generally nice quality of loaves. Every weekend is an excitement because every weekend is an opportunity to try a new recipe, a new sourdough loaf. Could not ask for a more exciting hobby.

joy Journal: where I write the things that I am grateful for. The most healing experience that I have had for years. There is something exciting and surprising about finding the so called little things and experiences that fill your heart with joy, excitement, and happiness 🙂

Conscious spending: is where I documented my financial hardship, plans, failures, and achievements. It has been 2 years now that I have a budget that ever evolves and bring me not only savings, but also gratitude and joy.

Random thoughts: is where I write about no particular theme, but whatever comes to my mind, often unrelated things and events. It is one of my busiest categories of mine. Truly loved.

Kate’s short story, poems, The life in the diary, Sasha’s story, fiction bits: are my literary trials. I started this blog mostly focused on these, especially Kate’s short story and poems. i am not a professional, but i love writing free style and putting those words that come to my mind without much of a revision. Every once a while something, a sentence, a paragraph, a poem comes along that surprise me. These are precious…

Sunday morning musings: is a new one that I started lately to write solely on the joy, relaxation, and beauty of this wonderful weekend time. It is the most optimistic of all my writings and I really love this. So for so great 🙂

Now I am gonna go there and start my day. But, first let me get another cup of coffee.

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Have a great Sunday everyone!

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a good day today

It has been a fine day 🙂

I got up early and that is why I did quite a bit today. For example, I deep cleaned the upstairs and I am now ready to clean downstairs and re-arrange the furniture. It is gonna be tough, but the end product will be awesome. I am hopeful 🙂  And excited 🙂

Anyways.. Most importantly, I have taken the clothes I sorted out while decluttering to a donation centre/thrift store. In turn, I grabbed a lovely mirror, two empty frames, and a great ancient Egyptian figurine. Friends, you would not believe how great I am feeling about all of these! All loved. All looking great. All excite me.

I have painted one of the empty frames. I want to frame a piece I have bought in Athens a couple of years ago. I always thought that I would have a green wood frame for it. I did not have it, so I painted one 🙂 Now, I have it 🙂

I display the dried flowers (those that were sent to me by my work place when my dad died, which I had dried) in the second empty frame. I used to have them in two small frames with white background. But this frame is large enough to have all of them inside. And it has a black background which beautifully contrasts the flowers. It looks so great. It looks so great… As my dad would have deserved. May he rest in peace.

I think this has been a day that I really found awesome pieces by luck. I think it is true what they say that you gotta keep checking them. Many days one may not find exciting stuff, but someday, you get what you ask for 🙂  Like Hugh dancing like noone is watching. See, what I say?

🙂

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PS: this movie was really great 🙂

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benefits of decluttering

…are a lot.

I started doing my bedroom and master bathroom. I already found a nice facial mask, wash cloths, nail polish, other make up materials that I was looking for, and many blouses and t-shirts that I either did not like at all or did not remember that I have had.

So as you can guess, a number of things will be gone soon, either donated or cut down to be used as cleaning cloths. A number of things will find their use too. Hello nail polish! It has been sometime that we saw each other. Now, remind me how it felt to have nice, decorated, and good looking nails. Right? 🙂

hmmm. I have started and I am feeling good. Decluttering always feels good. I wonder what other treasures and trash I will find during the entire process 🙂 I will keep you posted!

random thoughts

We have a summer alright… A nice warm summer with heat and clear, blue sky. Like I have never seen here kind of sky. What a blessing we have had this year! I am grateful 🙂

The week has ended and I feel like time is flying and that is why I am not feeling overly enthusiastic. I have had a look at the important things I must do in three months: three projects to be written and submitted; one report to be finalized and submitted; two business trips to Europe; a short vacation in Europe; a new team member to hire among many others. And I am thinking about taking some days off to work comfortably at home or at the office, while also relaxing somehow, cleaning and decluttering my home, and having some free time to contemplate. How are all these gonna happen? I am feeling stressed rather than joyful, and that is not right.

Thankfully it is true that if I am not distracted and have no meeting during the day, usually I do generate a great amount of work. Like today. This pleases me a lot and gives me hope. I can do all of these if I can be smart enough to keep the distraction by others to minimum. Yep.

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I have had a nice sleep yesterday and as a result in the morning I woke up feeling positive. I wanted to wear something different and eventually tried a white cotton shirt that I had bought years ago. I was surprised when I looked at the mirror that it actually looked pretty good on me and I was lucky to have it! Considering that I was contemplating about donating it soon, this is quite a surprise, do you not think? I wonder what other treasures I will find while going through my stuff during the decluttering activity and what items I will dump/get rid of? I really cannot wait to start this tomorrow 🙂

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My grey roots are showing and seeing them like 50 times a day annoys me big time. I am feeling like I am getting close to visiting a hair saloon and starting the process of grey hair.

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I am conflicted because I want to visit a number of people in a couple of months and I wonder how they will react to me transitioning to grey hair. Perhaps I should leave it to after that time? I really do not know. I think everybody would be okay with me being happy with my new hair.

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I am assuming I will be happy with it, by the way.. Is this a big assumption? Perhaps I should really let this annoyance of grey roots sink so that I can be happy when I no longer have that issue with even a larger patch of gray showing on my head… Who knows?

I was not sarcastic here… No, really.

Anyways…

Talk to you next time 🙂

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taking some vacation time next week on

I jut learnt that I cannot carry my annual vacation time to next year. So I decided life was too short and I could make excellent use of my paid vacation time.

You may think I will be going away, but this is not the case. I plan to spend time, thankfully free time, at work and home.

Let me tell you my exciting plans:

Work:  One may say that I am taking time off to finish work and that would be the truth. My expectation is that I will be free to work on my own work without any meetings or commitments to my team members or the committees I work in. I may work at home or in the office – does not matter. I am so looking forward to this and finishing up important tasks that are good for my own success.

Home: I have exciting plans. Let’s see…. I have started decluttering my wardrobe and I would love this to be extended to the whole house. This is very exciting!

I would like to get decluttered items either donated or chopped down to be used as cleaning cloths.

I want to deep clean the house – the last time I could do it was the holiday season.

I also would love to re-arrange my furniture on the living room/dining room. This will take me some time to do but i am very excited about this. Finally it will look like a welcoming house.

I want to buy a new dining table and chairs set, but not sure whether I can find something that I can afford. We will see how that goes.

I want to visit the thrift stores during the weekdays (somebody suggested that there may be new items right after the weekend when people usually drop their donations) and build my new wardrobe. I grew so tired of my current wardrobe 🙂

And I will binge-watch the X-files! 🙂

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I want to fall in love again

I cannot believe that I am writing this, but I think it is time that I fall in love again 🙂

I must be over him – what a blessing!

I ask the universe, life, and chance to bring me a great guy that will love me and I will love.

And I ask myself to make an effort to be in the moment and actually notice this great guy this time!! 🙂

 

Summer heat

You know, being a Canadian is a unique experience;

“eh”,  “poutine”, “Canadian beer”, “Tims/timbits”, “Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)”, “Canadian kindness”, “universal healthcare”, “sorry – not sorry”, “snow/winter” and many more 🙂 

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The most important one, however, is that you may be bothered with heat and sun.

That is right!  🙂

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Yesterday was 22 C and I walked to a shopping mall at noon. I believe I have had sun stroke and had to take a long cool shower to cool my body and reduce my heart rate. The same thing today – it was 27 C, sunny, and hot, and here I am trying to cool my body..

Boy, no hesitation here. 

I am Canadian and I am loving it.

 

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Sunday morning musings

It is Sunday! Hope every one of you will have a lovely and relaxing Sunday 🙂

We have had a great day yesterday. Two friends of mine, a couple, have just moved in my neighbourhood yesterday. We met in the morning, went to their house, moved their boxes and furniture, and them brought back to their new house. We were around 7-8 people and I cannot believe how smoothly and easy it all went! We had a lot of laughs and excellent meals too. Even though it rained whole day I guess nobody could ask for a better moving day.

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It is great that we can have friends to help us move, friends. I guess it makes it not only an affordable thing, but also memorable and personal with all the interactions, laughter, and efforts done together. Well done 🙂

Now somebody give me a hug because my body is aching from all the carrying and lifting boxes and stuff ! 🙂 

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Have a great Sunday everyone!


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weekly budget check

It is a great day my friends; I made a lump sum payment today that I have been saving money for since the new year! I am so happy that I could make it, that I could save money, and that I did not need to use the line of credit to pay it off. I am quite proud of myself! 🙂

This means my chequing account is back to a level that I must keep an eye on and make sure that it increases every time I get my pay cheque. My plan is to keep going like this till December and then make a lump sum pre-payment to mortgage. I am hoping this will be around 4K or something. It is such a pleasure and joy to be able to have such an effective budget, reduced spending, great savings, and ability to feel abundant and not poor(!). I am so happy with these right now.

As per my weekly budget check; in short I have had regular expenses (such as for grocery), bought two blouses from the thrift store, and purchased some medications within the last week, but my expenses were still within my limits and all work out really well.

I have $1,320 accumulated in my fun funds, which I plan to use for a short vacation sometime in October (yay!).

During summer months my salary increases because I guess the CPP payments are done till then and that means there are more money left in my pay cheque. This is a pretty nice sum for me, which always excite me. Together with that extra money, my aim is to save at least $650 from my biweekly salary till December. This money is what I want to use primarily for my pre-payment in December.

This being said, I put a pre-payment order today for next week in the amount of $350. I saved this money in the last 4 weeks by lucky encounters (such as expenses at socials that I did not have to pay for others), having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, savings from discounts etc. This is the highest amount (other than my tax return) that I put in as a pre-payment this year – this excites me 🙂

I am excited. I am happy. I am proud. I have a budget that works wonders for me, financial aims that excite me and I keep working towards, a simple life-style that makes me happy, relaxed, and abundant, and a great job that pays me good enough so that I can do all the savings, necessary expenses, mortgage payments, and investments for my future.

I  am very grateful.

🙂

time to embrace my grey hair?

I have started to have grey hair quite young (in my late 20s, early 30s). Since I started this current job almost 9 years ago, it has been getting worse. I believe more than 50% of my hair is now grey. I have been dyeing my hair regularly in the last 9 years and I can say that I forgot the real shade of my hair. More than that, lately I started to need dyeing my hair every two to three weeks. Boy, who has got time for this. Also and more alarmingly, what the heck is happening – why needing so soon?? 

I have been meaning to stop dyeing my hair for quite sometime, but it was my mom and sister who convinced me otherwise. They think I am too young to have grey hair and I agree, but the current situation states otherwise. I am one of these people who have prematurely grey hair I think it is time that I embrace it.

I hate seeing my hair half dyed half natural, so I will go to a hair dresser, a good one who is not afraid to cut it short!! (see a previous rant), show her or him some pictures as inspiration, and will get a dark grey colour with light highlights so that my grey hair can blend in well.

I have one last bottle of hair dye of the current shade that I plan to apply in the coming weeks. After a few weeks after that, the time of the grey hair will start. Let’s hope I can find a great hair dresser, can wear the grey hair well, and my clothes are compatible with it.

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an open letter to hair dressers

Dear hair dressers,

I have great respect for your profession and I admire your stamina; standing there whole day and working without a margin of error cannot be easy. But, please cut the hair short if your customers ask it to be so. We would appreciate it when you understand what we want and do your best to deliver it. It is not cool that you argue against things that we ask, especially if it is a short one that we want. There must be a way; come on.

Rant over.

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Tuesday already..

It is Tuesday already….The long weekends make the week quite short. A three day long weekend and a shorter week following it. What do you say? Double win! :))))

We have a great day today, which is supposed to chill down tomorrow. My windows are open. There is something nice about walking through the front of the windows and feeling the cool fresh air on your skin. All these things that I am grateful for during Summer 🙂 Add this list the ice cream and imagine how happy I can be 🙂

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I have some serious work to do within the next 3 months. This means I gotta organize myself well and use my time like a tiger. I must focus on this…. Doing what matters most. It is a challenge for me to do select things rather than everything in my list, but we all will see how this will go. Who knows? maybe I will do this 🙂

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In our interactions with a unit in my organization, we have been having some mis-communications and rejections only because of mis-understanding and lack of standards/clarity. I volunteered to work in that unit/committee with the hope of improving things and also my own understanding. I fear that they will not approve it, but if they do, then this will be awesome. You know I applied for a job last week with mixed feelings, and I wanted to note what I really like about my current job: this freedom to decide myself to undertake new things, and ability to learn new stuff is what make this job really unique and beneficial for my own development. Totally awesome! There is not any other job that can provide me with such a  great mental stimulation. It will be hard to leave this job.

Good to know! 🙂

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end of long weekend and thoughts on thrifting

The 3rd and the last day of the long weekend. It was so welcome and so refreshing – I am grateful for this long weekend.

Notable activities include the trips to the thrift stores and getting two blouses, a little and lovely decorative porcelain shoe, and some sewing thread 🙂 needless to say, they are all loved and the prices are incredibly good.

This being said, at one of the trips I have noticed the fiancee of a colleague of mine at another cashier. I did not know what to do first. I thought “this is what I always wondered – how would I take it to be known that I shop at thrift stores? I tried to convince myself that shopping at thrift stores is not only good for me, but for the thrift stores/charities, people work there, people benefiting from the charities, and the environment. Yet, I could not manage to not feel “cheap” and thus I left the cashier after 2-3 minutes and went around the store again to give this individual time to pay and leave the store so that the chances of them seeing me and them spreading the word to my colleagues first and then to others would reduce. I hope I could achieve this…

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It turns out interestingly that I am ashamed with shopping or being seen at thrift stores. That is very strange. It is also strange that I found shopping at thrift stores synonymous with “being cheap”. I should stop doing that, but….I cannot help it 😦

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I read in a blog yesterday that the lady explained using thrift stores and purchasing second hand items actually quite similar to staying at hotels and using their bed sheets, coffee mugs, and anything else they do offer you. Goodness know what happened in those hotel rooms and around those items…… That was the best explanation of why the second hand clothing or items are not worse than many other things we do at life. I even told my best friend about this and she too agreed. 

My best friend and I agree on a number of things; she like myself would not buy pants/shorts/pajamas, undies/socks/foot wear/shoes and anything else that might have a risk of risking hygiene. But we both are okay with shirts/jackets/blouses, purses, kitchen items, books, sewing notions, fabric, stationary items, and decorative stuff that can be cleaned/sterilized pretty easily. 

For me visits to thrift stores is a nice and exciting activity during the weekends. I happen to love old stuff and I like saving money – so it is a win-win situation. I read some inspiring blogs that find really unique and valuable items, like metallic vases and items, which I would like too. I wish I had discovered thrifting long time ago, but there is always a start 🙂 I know I need to work on this feeling of “being cheap” by being there and shopping there. Maybe I will never get over it, maybe I will over time – who knows? – but I am not giving up on this exciting activity yet.

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sourdough loaf with black olive, parsley, and kefir

I wanted to bake a sourdough that was not tried before and I think I managed to do so.

I present you the sourdough loaf with kefir, parsley, and black olive 🙂

Smells like sea! Enjoy!

 

 

looking forward to the long weekend

It is Canada day tomorrow and we have the long weekend with Monday off.

I may be working on Monday but I am so excited for this long weekend! I just feel tired and too strained lately, and I am looking forward to winding down a little bit. This weekend will give me this opportunity 🙂

What are my plans?

Other than the regular stuff (i.e. cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cutting the grass – which I have done this afternoon), I plan to bake an unconventional type of sourdough this week. What could that be? Something that has not been done before…. I do not know really – I will have to really get creative here, or bake a regular sourdough – in any way it will be awesome 🙂

I would like to visit the thrift stores tomorrow and see whether i can find something interesting. I may buy some sewing material.

Sewing… Yes… Why do I not try sewing a blouse again? I have tons of fabric that I hauled last year from thrift stores 🙂 What a great idea – I hope I will not chicken again and do it!

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I may also visit a nearby international food store and get some dry beans and bulghur – these could be excellent choices to prepare office lunch for me. Good idea! 🙂

I also would like to start drying some lilacs from my yard.  I have incredible lilacs that I have been thinking about drying up for some time. I think it is the time…. Once they dry up, I want to hang them on my wall in a frame. The beauty of the flowers and plants in my yard…. How nice is the nature? I have daisies blooming up. They are all so exciting 🙂

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And other than this, I will look ahead my life, and plan and hope for the best. It is time that things change for the better. Now that I appreciate my life, how simple and easy going it is, and how well it works for me, including my budget, increased savings, and investments. There is a lot to be grateful for in my life. This weekend will give me an opportunity to re-think about them and re-feel my appreciation.

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making a job application tonite

I am making a job application tonite and I am pretty shaken up about it; I feel like they will make me a great offer and another highly toxic thing will happen at my current work place, and therefore, I will take the offer.

For some reason this does not make me happy, even though such a thing would make my leave highly justifiable and me a highly fortunate person.

I do not understand my dilemma. Do I want to go? Do I not want to go? What is it that keeps me from understanding it?

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I know that I am looking for reasons to make my mind to leave here. This afternoon I have had such a thing occurred at the workplace. I was like “okay, that is it. I do not have to take this sh.t anymore”. But an hour later it was fixed and actually I could see it was not a big deal at all. I think I want to make my mind and I want to leave here. I think that is why I keep looking for things that can annoy me and make me realize what I do not want about here.

Yet, I also feel incredibly responsible towards my team members and cannot think about leaving them behind. This is huge for me – can I be that selfish and leave them here for a job somewhere else? Can I transfer them to other groups here so that they can still have their jobs secured? Even so, will they want to be parts of these new groups? Do I have the right to do these to them?

If you ask me no, I do not have this right. But when it is actually right to do this – if I cannot be a happy boss, can I be a good boss anyhow? Could they make better at new teams? Maybe I am just exaggerating and in reality things would work out just fine. Really…

Maybe all I must do is to care less about all of these now, go through it as it develops, and make a sound decision if it comes to it. I can even talk to my team members before I make any decision and get their opinion – if they are genuinely okay with it, who knows, maybe I can take the job with a clear conscience.

But before any of these, they must offer me the job and they must offer me a job with much better conditions, salary, and benefits than my current one. I am thinking if the salary is at least 30% more, benefits are more extensive, pension is more generous and transferable from here to there without extra payments, there is at least five weeks/year paid annual leave, flexible schedule, and of course a standing desk at the office :))) I want too much – I know 🙂 🙂 🙂  Am I spoiled or have lost track of reality, or what?

In reality: I love this unnecessary but interesting mental judo. It helps me understand my needs and wishes related to my life and career.

Now, I must go and make this application.

 Wish me luck friends! 🙂

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random thoughts

It is a true summer day; bright, blue, and warm 🙂

I have had a good work at the office but left early in the afternoon as I was trying to find a solution to an idea. I must apply for new projects to get interest in them and then lead them to completion. I am traditionally good about this, but the two ideas that I was brewing lately seem to be done by others, which necessitates me to find new ideas.

Finding new ideas is not the problem, but finding an idea that others will find interesting is. I realize that this is bothering me more than before and I feel at that point again where I just want to quit this line of work and do something that is more interesting, challenging, and awarding. Where I can feel great about my performance, abilities, and work. Enough is enough, is that not?

I am making an application this week. If it comes through I will be interested in making the interview and learning about myself (Will I really want this job? Will I really be willing to leave my job and life here?) and this job. I believe I can do it really well, but the question is whether or not there will be others who can make it better than me, or whether or not the human resources personnel or whoever is going to screen the applications will find me good enough for this position. All these possibilities make me feel fuzzy, but I will go ahead and make this application anyhow because I want to. Also because I can.

🙂

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My appetite is quite big nowadays, especially today. All I want to do is to eat, especially ice cream. I also want to eat pasta but goodness, if I eat it I sure will gain a pound or two (mostly water retention of course, but…). I think I crave for carbs to feel good…

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One of my aims for the summer was to reduce the consumption of canned food, especially those that I munched on in the office. I have done good so far and reduced my purchase and consumption of canned fish, yet now I feel hungry at the office, and need to bring food from home everyday. I purchased a plastic container (BPA-free) yesterday to put food in and carry it in my purse (it is large enough), and today I have had some veggies and tofu as the lunch. It was great but not enough to curb my appetite. Tomorrow I am bringing in some veggies and canned bean, and I am laughing at myself knowing what an ironic thing that is to be consuming canned food again..

I have serious concerns about this – will I really be able to eat well at the office?

I guess what I need is to plan a little bit better. Obviously the status quo is not optimum and I must refine and revise it. The objective of reducing the exposure to canned food is a good one. Finding alternatives to canned food, on the other hand, is a challenge. What can I bring in? I think cheese and hard boiled eggs as well as meatballs are great options; hard boiled eggs are awesome, I love them, but then I cannot keep eating them everyday. I have concerns re; cheese and if I can make my own cheese then I can have it, but the chances are slim to have this everyday. Meatballs are versatile alternatives and all I have to do is to prepare and cook them at the weekends (see how lazy i can get?). Also, sandwiches. If I must eat bean, the better option is to cook them myself from dry beans. I think this is what I can focus on this weekend.

And I think I should increase my purchase of veggies so that I can supplement the protein source with them.

Sigh…. So much to figure out. All in order to eat better and healthier! 🙂

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The Queen of all bread; sourdough with kefir

IMG_1382
but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂

I am hooked to this combination and I suspect that I will always bake sourdough with kefir from now on.

I have not tasted anything quite like this, nor eaten a softer sourdough that I have baked. The slight salty taste, the crumb (the best so far), and the smell of this sourdough will fill my dreams – I can tell you that with confidence.

The recipe is quite basic like any other sourdough I have baked;

1. I added to 1 cup of whole wheat starter fed twice (Friday night and Saturday morning), 2tbs of sugar and 1 cup of kefir – mixed well with a spoon until it become somehow frothy (it does become frothy quite easily). Then added 2 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt. Mixed and formed a shaggy dough.

This dough formed quite fast without needing to mix too much – I give it to kefir.       Somehow it helped bond the dough and voila! I had that healthy looking and soft             dough. As it was my practice the last few weeks, I made sure the dough was slightly           sticky while adding the flour.

2. I then left it at room temperature covered with a clean towel and stretched and folded 4-5 times time to time. The next day, I shaped it, and left for proving in a bowl covered with a clean cloth and sprinkled with generous amount of sesame and poppy seeds. It proved for 6.5 hours at room temperature in a plastic bag.

3. I baked it in non-preheated oven; 375 F for 15 min first, then 25 min at 350 F (the seeds burn pretty quick if the temperature is high), and then left in a turned off oven for an additional 5 min.

Give it a try and let me know whether you also agree that this is the best sourdough ever! 🙂

 

IMG_1360
mother of sourdough – the happy and active starter
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kefir – I am hesitant to add it but I read that others tried baking bread with kefir, so here comes a fresh batch of kefir
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the initial shaggy dough – do not worry – it will form just fine
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at the end of stretch and folds; ready to rest overnight
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and the next morning it has risen all nice and fluffy 🙂
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shaped and left for proving
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6.5 hours later, it seems to have proven quite a bit – exciting 🙂
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the seeds look great! sadly I also deflated it a little bit while taking it from the bowl onto the parchment paper.. feeling nervous….
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i deflated the dough a little bit more while scoring…. not my best day – next time I will have to handle this dough with a little bit more care
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but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂
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and the crumb is my finest so far – kefir and sourdough have formed a great collaboration. This bread will be a classic at my house from now on

Sunday morning musings

This Sunday morning too I am plain lazy on purpose and focused on lovely activities.

For example, my usual and long (3-4 cups long) rendezvous with coffee is going well and very enjoyable.

Coffee GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I have already walked around my small yard with my coffee mug in my hand to see how the seeds and flowers were coming out after the long rain yesterday (and they are all good).

I have had a light breakfast with the beet sourdough loaf I had baked last week and strained yogurt, which makes me feel quite light (not bloated).

Weather is great outside, warm and inviting and there is sunlight everywhere which opens my spirit and joy box.

And I am listening to some songs that I have not for years, which makes me nostalgic and wanting to do more of enjoyable things today and the days to come.

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I have little plans shaped for today. I think I will talk to my family first thing first and then go out for a walk and to buy some sewing stuff. I am really excited about this opportunity – hopefully what I need are all available in the stores that are open today (not too many choices, but we will see). As usual, I will bake my weekly sourdough loaf (with kefir – the first ever trial of mine – we all will see how that will turn out tonite). I will also cook a nice dish with minced beef and eggplant. It is great that summer is here and reminded me about this dish. I am guilty of not cooking great recipes that take time and require care, but yield the best taste ever. This one I am really looking forward to.

Cooking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Now let’s go find something to do that comes spontaneously and makes me feel like on top of the world! 🙂

Nature GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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random thoughts

After 6 months or so, I did some back and ab exercises yesterday and today I feel like my big belly has shrunk! 🙂

I am serious 🙂

I know I did not lose whatever fat I have but I must admit that the ab muscles do an awesome job keeping things in place and firm once they are active. 

My belly is all tucked up very nicely and my posture is a lot better. I even feel taller.

You know when the abs are strong and supportive, these are all expected to occur.

I used to be physically very active and quite muscular in the past, prior to starting my current job. I know that muscles have their own memory and they are quite forgiving. So if you want to remind your muscles how great they can be, go ahead, take a walk, lift a weight, or just find a way to use them. You will know the difference.

Abs GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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I have had a good day today. I got up at around 9 am, did the laundry, talked to family, and prepared an interesting dough (sourdough with kefir – cannot wait to see how it will turn out tomorrow).

I wanted to get out and buy some sewing notions but boy, do we have a rainy day? It is raining cat and dog, and I hope tomorrow we will have a better day. On the other hand, I am grateful that it rains – my yard and seeds/plants needed it. Had I mentioned that I have potato plants? Yes, I do and this is such a fantastic feeling! 

Anyways; back to sewing. Sewing relaxes me, even thought I am not sewing frequently or with confidence. Nevertheless this afternoon I felt like I needed to sew (that is a strange feeling; it is like the need to eat… the need to sew… strange but true…), so I have sewn two simple pieces of clothes to be placed over my washer and dryer. They are cute but can be cuter if I can find nice ribbons (which I hope to find tomorrow). They will keep the dust away from my machines and also make that area look a little bit homey. My washer and dryer are in small room with boiler, ventilator, and garbage bin, so this area does not traditionally look or feel nice at all. But after these cloths it feels a little bit better. I also am interested in sewing a nice cover for the garbage bin – maybe with a flowery fabric so that it may look and feel better too! Many can find this idea weird, but I have been meaning to do this for some time and I believe that it is gonna look cute, so I am all for it 🙂

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semi-annual budget check

Now that almost 6 months have passed, I wanted to have a look at what I had budgeted and what I had spent.  Main numbers for variable expenses (i.e. not including the bills, mortgage etc.) are as follows:

1. I spend around $66/week for groceries, occasional cab and eating out. 

2. I so far have not over-spent my weekly allowance that covers the expenses listed above ($120/week budgeted)

3. However, I spent $232 for cab so far – the majority of the time I could take the bus or walk. That bothers me, but I must let go.

4. My “other”expenses including socials, treats, donations, gifts, medication/other health related expenses, personal care (such as hair cut), hobby/sewing notions, clothes, and cleaning product purchases constitute a higher amount than my “weekly allowance” expenses: a total of $2,281 or $88/week (averaged) so far. I have budgeted a total of $6,500 for this year. 

5. My total expenses per week (weekly allowance and “other” expenses together) come to a total of $154/week (on the average)

6. I also save by following the discounts, using coupons/loyalty card points, etc. This amounts to $1,899 so far – $73/week  (which is an amazing amount, by the way) 

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So some categories are doing awesome, others need some more careful thinking, but overall these are very good numbers.

This year’s budget has been really good and I have been doing really awesome – so let’s go get that ice cream!

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/art-funny-iscreaming-AGGz7y0rCYxdS;

 

 

 

random thoughts

This week has been going non-stop at work and I am very pleased with this.

In the last few months the work has been going well – albeit slow sometime. I am feeling like I have geared it up a bit, things are moving faster (although not as fast as I would hope), and I am feeling satisfied and happy as a result of these 🙂

This week we are having a summer time. I tell ya – it is warm during the day, even too hot at nights for our Canadian bodies (like, 23C hot?!!), I am wearing no winter coat or trench coat, and everywhere is green and flowery. Beautiful!

Hot GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I feel like I am missing a huge opportunity every minute I spend inside the office. After all, we are at around the end of June and my goodness we have only 5-6 weeks of summer. I am so conflicted – should I keep working during the summer or take 1-2 weeks off to enjoy it without work? Argh… I really want to do both. Perhaps the best solution is to make sure I walk out during the noon and work during the rest of the day. Since I get up and go to office early, walking during the noon should not affect my work.

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I think some of the seeds I planted in the yard are coming to life! This is so exciting for me – I hope they are not weed but real flowers and plants! I got lazy and did not water them this evening upon returning from office. But later I realized how unfair that was to my little seeds and threw myself and my pitcher out to yard. It felt good to do this for these lovely life forms 🙂

Flower GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Overall, I am excited about summer, the seeds that seem to be germinating in the yard, and my work performance. I will meet with an ex-team member of mine tomorrow afternoon and I plan to play with her 1-year old son and totally enjoy my time 🙂

Life is good, my friends.

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The curious case of…… hang-drying the clothes

One of the common frugal practices many bloggers would recommend is to hang-dry your clothes.

This I believe is supposed to save money from electricity.

I am fine with the idea, but hardly do that. You may ask why?

Ok – here is my reason; I have work attire that I wash and my dryer (and dryer sheets) are doing an amazing job keeping them wrinkle-free. Do I really dare not use the dryer?

No.

Not everything that works for one works for the other. 

Problem solved.

PS: how much money do we save by not running a load in the dryer anyhow? I am curious….

 

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sourdough bread with beet

Here we go – the most interesting sourdough loaf I have ever baked!

What do you think?

I had seen a recipe here at wordpress once upon a time using beet (thanks whoever had posted it at that time). It always intrigued me and finally this weekend it was the time to give it a try.

My verdict; this is a very easy loaf to work with because wild yeast loves the beet (or anything else like carrots that provide some kind of nutrients and moisture to the dough/bread) and the colour is just amazing! It was a fluffy dough that rose pretty well. The proving step was also short (~5 hours at room temperature in my cool Canadian kitchen) – partly because of the hydration by the beet and partly because I tried to make it kind of sticky with less flour than usual. The crumb is open (one of the best, if not the best crumb I have seen lately) and it is soft and palatable. The only thing was that the smell of raw/baked beet somehow threw me away at the beginning. But the remedy is easy and available – butter, as usual, makes it perfect! 🙂

This being said, I think next time I will try it with raspberry and some more sugar!

 

Recipe

Friday night: took the starter off the fridge and fed with whole wheat flour and water, wrapped in a towel and left at room temperature overnight

Saturday morning: fed the starter again and one hour later divided it into two portion: one portion went to fridge (starter) and the second portion left at room temp for 3 hours to flourish (to be used in the dough)

Saturday afternoon: added to 1 cup of starter, 2 tbs of sugar, and 1 cup of water. Grated 1 medium sized beet and added to the mixture. Then, added 2.5 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt and mixed with a spoon. It formed a shaggy dough. After that I left for shopping, so only 5 hours later or so, I stretched and folded it once or twice before leaving it to rise at room temperature overnight (closed lid and covered with a towel)

Sunday morning: shaped on a generously floured work surface, let rest for 10 min and shaped again. I decided it was better if I proved it in an oven dish and directly baked it after proving. Hence, I placed the dough in the dish covered with parchment paper and put it in a nylon bag – that, I found a while ago, creates a green house effect and help dough prove faster

Sunday afternoon: After 5 hours of proving, turned the oven on (375F) and placed the dough in it. Baked for 45 min with oven on and then an additional 15 min with oven turned off.

Do not forget to cool down, admire, and enjoy it with butter and loved ones!  

Bon appetite 🙂

 

 

 

Sunday morning musings

Happy Sunday everyone 🙂 Wherever you are, I hope you are having a great day, joy, hope, safety, and anything else your heart may desire.

Happy father`s day too! Those fathers who have been great to their kids and families – you should be proud of yourself. Hope you are having a great day too.

I am having a rather quiet Sunday.

When compared to yesterday this is an excellent change I must say. So how was my Saturday? First of all, I prepared my first sourdough with beet and we shall see how that will develop this afternoon when I bake it (proving now). I also did quite a bit of shopping yesterday: as usual I went to a store 10 min away to purchase milk. And then to another one 25 min away (on foot) to purchase yogurt that was on sale; I consume them quite frequently so I was happy to get them yesterday. Also, weather was so nice (around 20C, which is Summer! for us here) that walking and being outside felt like I was on vacation somewhere exotic or something 🙂

Sunny GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Then, as if all these walking was not enough, I decided to walk (~1 hour each way) to a shopping mall, having a hair cut along the way and checking two thrift stores for pitchers. Well, at the end I did not find anything I really needed, so I also checked a department store. I found a pitcher but honestly it did not give me any joy, so I decided to leave it there (even thought it was affordable and do the job). I am glad I have done this because I checked another nearby store and guess what? I found the loveliest pitcher just like I wanted: affordable (and on sale), large enough to take all the kefir I produce (around 3 liters – I plan to collect a couple of days’ produce and store in the fridge), with a large neck/lid (so that cleaning inside is easy – kefir usually leaves it fat marks on glass quite easily), and the lid is adjustable so that you can tighten it up or loose as you wish (which is critical while dealing with kefir, because grains produce gas which needs to escape the container otherwise it can explode)! How happy I was with that purchase? Very 🙂 That is a great feeling.

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When I reached back home it was already past 7 pm and my legs were just aching. I think I walked around 3 hours yesterday. I know I could stretch and relieve some of the muscle tension in my legs yesterday but I was too lazy to do this and rather I slept over it and now I am feeling much better. 

So, what are my plans for today? I am taking it light today. I have an interesting sourdough loaf to bake, family to talk to, some laundry to do, and some work to seriously think about. I can also work on the yard and clean the weed up.

And, I can always enjoy my coffee and reading 🙂

Books GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have a great Sunday friends 🙂

 

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adventures with kefir

I have had the excitement of owning kefir grains in the last one month 🙂

At first I left the kefir grains+milk mixture in a jar on the counter with only the top/lid being covered by a clean piece of cloth (secured with elastic band). I replaced milk everyday, directly from fridge. It did not get thick (that is, curdy) but tasted tangy and salty in 24 hours. I kept it that way for a week or so. 

Then I decided to wrap it with a kitchen towel and hoped that it warmed it and helped with fermentation. It did not make a huge difference in fermentation/texture/taste I would say.

Then I decided to put it in a cabinet and wrap with a thicker towel, away from sunlight. Again, there was no significant change.

Then, my sister convinced me to use warm milk; basically I put the fresh milk in a clean jar, covered the top, and put it in hot water bed for 10-15 min to warm it up. I then added the grains in warmed milk and also covered it with a thicker blanket. I replaced the milk everyday, and then started to change it every two days. These changes occurred last weekend (June 3-4). There was some thickening of the milk (curd) around the grains and there was some kind of mucus-like thing going on around the grains, but again there was not significant change in the texture. 

Then my best friend gave me the idea to warm up the thick blanket in the dryer to help fermentation. I did this starting this weekend – 3-4 min in dryer is enough. I did this whenever I changed the milk.

And a couple of day later, yesterday to be exact, I have had the kefir fermented in 12 hours! 🙂

I have removed the grains, fed them with fresh milk (which nicely gave me another batch of kefir today), and left the fermented kefir at room temperature away from sunlight (not covered by anything, except the lid) yesterday. This is called “second fermentation” by sources in internet. It started to separate (the curd and whey) a few hours after that and this evening I planned to make cheese/spread out of it (total of 24 hours of second fermentation). 

It was very easy.

It turns out if you leave it like that, the curd naturally moves up and it almost drains itself of the liquid part (i.e. whey). When used the spoon, I was surprised by how solid it felt 🙂 the bottom part where the curd touches the whey is naturally a little bit wet, but one can strain/drain this using a strainer (I did not this time, but I am planning next time). I added some salt, chili flakes, and dried dill to my first ever kefir spread! Yum 🙂

A couple of notes: I noticed that if I warm up the milk and the blanket, the jar/grains keeps warm for quite some time (for hours) and it is especially important to keep it warm where the grains are; my grains are always on the surface so covering the top/lid of the jar really good with a clean piece of cloth first and then with warm, thick blanket is a good idea.

Also, the fermentation temperature seems to make a difference; when it is colder temps, then it is more sour/tangy. However when it is fermented in a warmer environment, then it is not. There must be some bacteria that like colder temps and produce the tangy taste.

I used 2% or homogenized milk. I am not sure whether skim milk would yield such robust kefir grains. I must also say that there has not been significant change in the size or numbers of the kefir grains since I adopted them a month ago.

Overall, I am very excited and would love to try a cheese or two using the kefir curd. Here is one recipe that makes it sound really easy. Hope I can succeed in this 🙂

joy journal – June 14, 2017

Lots of great things are happening, which deserve to be acknowledged and thanked for 🙂

1. I am grateful for a good sleep yesterday and waking up early.

2. I am grateful for walking in the morning to office. I am usually very absent minded during these walks and I hardly notice what I am up to, but that is not a problem – I feel relaxed as a result of these walks. I also know how useful walking for my bones, muscles, heart, vascular system, skin, and mind – so one activity in the morning does give these many benefits is amazing. I always feel excited and happy about walking in the morning throughout the day! 🙂

3. I am grateful for getting up early. I noticed that if I get up early, I am more inclined to walk. It is, I guess, because if I am late, I feel stressed and want to go to office as early as possible. So a reason to take the cab rather than walk. Being in the office early also gives me a chance to relax and start working early in the day. That means before noon I take care of quite a bit of work, which makes me feel efficient and I am not as stressed as I otherwise would. So, getting up early works very well for me 🙂

4. I am grateful for having a chat with a friend/colleague of mine where we both were frustrated with the toxic workplace environment and finally had realized that we were better than what we thought we were because surviving and striving in such an environment was not easy and not for everyone, but we were doing it. We should stop listening to others and go ahead with our work and plans to success. I also mentioned during this talk that how good I felt about my life, my daily routine, and everything else, except the toxicity of the work place and the feeling of “I am not god enough” that taxes my self-confidence. It felt awesome to be able to feel and say good about my life 🙂

5. I am grateful for walking in the nearby forest with two of my colleagues in the afternoon. It was refreshing and energizing – we all enjoyed it 🙂

6. I am grateful for my kefir grains! have I mentioned that for the first time since I have had the grains (the last 4-5 weeks) I had the milk fermented in 12 hours? I checked it this morning, as my usual habit and curiosity, and there it was! all thick and curdy! It was so exciting! I fed it this evening and cannot wait till tomorrow morning to check it out! I have so many plans; I would like to buy new and bigger jugs to preserve my kefir. I also would like to try kefir spread and cheese sometime. And tonite I also thought about fermenting my own yogurt! I had tried it last year and I was not successful, but I would like to give it a try again. Very exciting!

7. I m grateful for eating relatively healthy today. 

8. I am grateful for today being a no expense day 🙂

9. I am grateful for tomorrow being Thursday,which is usually my grocery shopping day! I really need to buy fresh produce and shopping makes me feel good. So, happy Thursday everyone! 🙂

10. I am grateful for relaxing the entire evening and night and enjoying my time by reading, writing, and watching movies 🙂

11. I am grateful for the rain that we have had for a short time today. Thanks to it, I did not have to water the seeds in the yard. So far I was not able to see any seed germinate (some of them were planted 10 days ago), which is discouraging. But at least, i think I have 6 potato plants! Yuppiiii!! 🙂 Something other than a sturdy stalk of mint, weed, and grass grew in my yard! 🙂

12. I am grateful for the work I have done today and moving things.

13. I am grateful for brewing my own coffee and enjoying it a lot today.

14. I am grateful for the weekend to come and all the shopping I can do then!

Have a great night everyone 🙂 

 

complete frugality

Is it possible for me to be frugal 100% of the time?

I have been thinking about this since yesterday. You know I take the cab sometime and then usually (not always – sometimes I like pampering myself) I resent it the rest of the day.

It is one of these activities that works against my frugal and effective budgeting activities; a ride to office costs around 10 buck – considering how much effort I put to save 10 bucks each week, it is understandable that taking the cab is quite counter-intuitive and counter-productive for me. 

I thought about it and I know there are three other areas in my expenses that are against my frugal life-style;

  • social treats to cheap friends/colleagues (these are the ones that would let me pay for everything, rather than putting their hands in their purses!),
  • gifting (new year gifts, kids, house-warmer gifts, etc.), and,
  • social treats/donations that I must do because of my work place seniority. 

Some of these I can handle better I guess.

First thing first, those friends/colleagues who take advantage of my generosity: obviously I am pissed off by them! Next time I can try to be assertive with them!

Gifting: when I bought my sewing machine I thought I could sew gifts, but now I can see that this is not gonna happen anytime soon. So, I better start shopping for the new year gifts while there are sales. There will be other gifts that I will have to get along the way, like a birthday gift I probably will need in two days  – these I guess can be purchased when they are needed. I am afraid I have nothing additional to do about these expenses.

And social treats/donations that I must do at work: This is also an area of expense that I can hardly limit…. We have annual contributions for recognizing some of the employees’ work with us, which is perfectly fine and I am happy to do these (they so well deserve these). I am often asked to donate to causes that we all care, which I am again very happy to contribute to. And I usually take my team out for lunch several times a year, which is also great because we usually do that to celebrate a significant achievement or a life-event such as a wedding. It is also a great team-building activity. So other than choosing affordable places for lunch, I cannot see much of a thing to change here, either.

Alright. And the rest of my expenses seem to okay (not including the trips I pay to visit my family).

When I look for an opportunity to see whether I can further reduce my spending, I see that this may be possible.

But things that I can do are really small; like making my own detergent (which I do not want to), cutting my hair (which I do not want to), stop dyeing my hair (which I do not want to), buying grains and beans in bulk (like 10 kg bulk) and making them my primary staple (which I do not want to – I like grains and beans a lot but I want to eat fresh produce more), reducing the heating really low (which I do not want to), canceling my cable and risking the good price of internet-cable-phone plan (which I do not want to), not buying occasional awards such as a bar of chocolate or a drink/meal/breakfast for myself (which I do not want not to), and occasional waste like a bad apple here and there.

So, looks like for now, I am at a good shape and have a plan to tackle some of the the unnecessary expense areas. And who knows, once I reach the next level of frugality I may come up with new ways to cut my expenses and become more self-sustaining and resourceful 🙂

After all, there is always a chance of surprising ourselves – just like this bird/crow(?) in the gif below! What a smart animal! 🙂

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/closer-level-3O5ihx3odCq76

 

 

 

 

joy journal – June 12, 2017

It has been a while that I wrote down my gratitude for many things, people, and experiences in my daily life that makes me feel lucky, happy, optimistic, or better about myself and my life. 

Here is today’s list:

1. I am grateful for sleeping well and dreaming. My recent dreams are not violent but somehow leave me feel heavy-minded, confused, and annoyed. I know I dream to work on some issues. I just wished I did not remember them – at least for some time 🙂

2. I am grateful for the cab ride and then resenting it the whole day. I took the cab because I wanted to feel good about myself (after the annoying dream in the morning). But by taking the cab, I not only lose 10-11 bucks but also all the benefits of walking, the most important of which is the “feel good” feeling that lasts the whole day. I need that free and ultra-positive feeling more than many things in life – so let’s get back to walking starting tomorrow morning. please 🙂

3. I am grateful for having a stress-free day at the office and doing some work. I was not as efficient as I wished but it went well.

4. I am grateful for walking at noon in the nearby forest. How lucky I am to have a work-place close to a large forest with little rivers and ponds…. what a blessing it was to just sit next to a pond and listen to the voice of the waves and looking at the blue sky.. it was there where I realized that my life was working out just fine for me; I have had a house, a job, a daily routine, a budget, and everything else I may need. I was healthy and still considered young. I did not have a huge problem that had no solution. I was mentally clearer and my psychology was stronger than before. My life was working just fine – it was the job situation that was kind of problematic. But, is it not great that at least an important part of my life was simple, easy, and comfortable? I realized that at least for that moment I was actually “happy with my life” – what a HUGE blessing!

5. I am grateful for being excited about my yard. Yesterday and today I was just thinking what a progress I have had and how beautiful my yard would be looking in two years. I have plans and I hope that I can do these slowly and one by one. It already looks a lot better than last year 🙂

6. I am grateful for my kefir 🙂 I ferment it for two days now, which makes it thick. But I miss the slightly carbonated and sour taste of it that I have had at the beginning (24 hours ferment). I really would like to see the grains get bigger so that they can start fermenting faster. This would help me get a large volume (around 3-4 cups) of kefir daily. Oh, well… Those days will come!

7. I am grateful for the food I have had today at the office and then at home. I have eaten some cheese, which I think makes me gain weight, but I had that huge appetite this evening and I felt compelled to eat it…. Luckily I have a couple of hundred grams of it left. I promise to myself not to but another one for some time.

8. I am grateful for having the evening and night to myself and enjoying it by watching movies, writing, reading, and contemplating.

9. I am grateful for changing my purses and now using a lovely one that I had bought from Rome a few years back 🙂 It is a beauty!

10. I am grateful for improving the cover letter I am preparing for the job opportunity I am interested in. I am taking my time with that application. The deadline is in 2-3 weeks and I honestly think about making the application the last day or something. I do not know why, but those applications that are submitted to me later (but not right away) are usually the better than the first applications. I think maybe it gives the impression of rushing by the applicant, which may mean either desperation or carelessness while preparing the application. So, I am taking my time. While I am interested in this job, I am not 100% sure of me being able to take it. Unless it offers me an excellent package of course and unless my trainees are okay with me leaving. This makes me feel conflicted about it. But, I must remind myself that I am appliying to this job to understand my needs and wishes better and to gain some kind of confidence. So, for now everything is going well and I have no reason to feel confusion or conflict.

11. I am grateful for having walking shoes that make walking/hiking a comfortable and enjoyable activity.

12. I am grateful for all the food I have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry 🙂

13. I am grateful for my hand and face moisturizers 🙂

14. I am grateful for my computer and internet connection that make blogging experience possible.

15. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note these down.

Sunday afternoon musings

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It has been a good day; I have planted a number of seeds and I hope that at least one or two of them will germinate and grow! Please! 🙂

Since my arm is still acting, I take it really easy with the yard. I still have some digging to do, but I guess it will be spread over the summer. I think the main problem is resolved, or almost resolved (which was an uneven surface at the back). I bought some flower seeds today and together with my mom’s seeds I have planted them in the yard. I also planted mint, basil, and parsley seeds today. It was fun to give them water this afternoon, thinking that water will help these little seeds start their lives.

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Did I mention that my potatoes indeed potated!!? Ahem – yes! I think I have 3-4 potato plants growing in the yard 🙂 Also two onions and 6-7 garlic sprung. These are so exciting for me 🙂  I read somewhere that the best time to plant the garlic is fall. I will do that this year. I also would like to plant tulips and other bulb flowers. Next year I hope to have a much decent looking and pretty yard. What an excitement 🙂

Other exciting activities of the day included baking sourdough bread, walking around 1 hour to a shopping mall, and shopping some canned food and other needs. I had not done this kind of shopping in the last 8 weeks or so, so it was the right time. And I was lucky and could catch the bus right on time on the way back, which is always pleasing (who wants to wait 30-40 min for the bus? No one 🙂

I have been eating better lately, which always pleases me. I can see that it has an effect on my scale so I would love to keep eating better (e.g. no peanut or peanut butter, or refined carbs like pasta). i do not know why I feel the need to share this info here – I guess it is just a mental note – so bear with me!

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Have a great Sunday evening and night everyone! 🙂

 

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sourdough with rolled rye

Here is another Sunday sourdough with a touch of rolled rye – a slice of it and butter  – yummy!

The recipe is very similar to an earlier loaf with slight changes: I did not wait 30 min after adding water to rolled rye (rather mixed it with the rest of the ingredients right away – I have got lazy here 🙂 ), used one cup starter, 1 cup water, 2 tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt and 3.5 cup of bread flour. Since the bread flour is a little bit less than the previous recipe, this was a slightly sticky dough, which I prefer the last few weeks. I also did not pre-heat the oven; just put it inside and let it oven spring 🙂

In my experience rolled oat, rolled rye, or semolina flour in small amounts (like 1 cup in addition to 3-4 cups bread flour) help with proofing and oven rise – these kind of loaves never disappointed me in terms crumb.

Here is a pictorial recipe for this hearty and tasty loaf:

 

 

 

 

 

a regular Saturday

I am not having an extraordinary Saturday, but it is beautiful like the other ones.

I always loved, loved Saturdays. The day after the school/work week where you are free to do everything you want to do, every store is open, every cultural or entertainment-related attraction/event is available. It is beautiful and I like the sense of “freedom” it usually gives me. 

Like any other Saturday, I may be involved in cleaning the house, doing the laundry, feeding my starter/preparing levain for the Sunday sourdough, getting milk and egg from a store 10 min away, and speaking to my family. It may be all routine, but I still love it! 

It is Saturday! Wherever you are, hope you are having a wonderful day 🙂

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weekly budget check

I have not posted last week, but it is similar to this week’s spending; my grocery spending is more or less around the same level across the weeks; I continue to be generous with great people and gifting them (which is a delight); and I have reached one of my financial goals for this month, thanks to the budget for the year 2017! What a success 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab ride x 2): $68.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $68.5= $51.5

Fun funds expenses: $47

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,176.25 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $64 (cab to an appointment and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $49.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons/sales etc.). 

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: The ones I remember are: frozen veggies from the freezer; canned beans x 2, canned lentils from the pantry.

My pantry and freezer are in good condition, with old purchases being consumed – I am pleased with this 🙂 #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”, I believe I have eaten some food that I have not eaten the week before, some of which are lentil, beet, celery, garlic, and lettuce. I am not paying attention as much as I want to,  but I will get serious about eating diverse food again starting tomorrow 🙂

One positive experience I can note, however, is that my consumption of canned food is significantly reduced! This has been something that I wanted to do for quite some time! I am excited and quite satisfied with this 🙂

Thanks for listening! Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

appliying for a job

I am feeling optimistic nowadays, which is awesome.

You know what I will do soon? I will apply for a job that I thought was suitable to me and is meaningful and challenging at the same time. 

I had saved the link to this job ad for some time and today I started drafting the application letter. 

I am not 100% sure that this is what I want to do; maybe things would change here and I would feel better with some change/some people leaving. But then maybe the fiscal situation would only go worse, and with that many other things like the way we run our organization, our work-loads, and the pressure on us – who knows? Seriously.

I feel obliged to trainees that I have recruited and believe that they are the only thing that can keep me here even if they offered me the said job opportunity….. Or, maybe I would talk to them and get them new places within the institution so that I could free myself from them and leave for the new job… I do not know.

This is an example of classical dilemma of being responsible for others versus being responsible for yourself – you can never know which one is better and always feel selfish if you choose to be responsible towards yourself, even though your primary responsibility is your own well being and happiness. Right?

Right…

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Seriously – what if I am offered this job and also like what they get to offer and decide to leave my position here? How soon can I leave here? Would I really do this? How would I do this? Oh, boy – it must be a really great job to be able to leave my job here…. Unless of course, something awful occurs on top of everything and acts as the last drop to help me end my bond with (and suffering) here…

I know it is too early to think about all of these because I did not even apply yet and there is no guarantee that I will be even selected for an interview, let alone be offered the job, but I cannot keep trying myself with the future possibilities. It is good to know that I still have some kind of faith for my current work-place, care about my team members, and am hopeful that a positive change can occur. At the same time I should also be cautious about the possibility of issues increasing over time and the low self-esteem this position/institution left in me.

I think I will go and make this application mostly because I am eager to know whether I can get this great job. If I cannot get it, I will not get lost, but if I get it, then my confidence will be higher.

It is worth it.

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Sunday morning musings

It is a quiet morning.

I am sipping my coffee with gratitude and listening to a great song by Sia:

 

As usual, morning routine consisted of shaping my sourdough loaf, brewing myself coffee, checking the news, and planning the day ahead. Needless to say, news are depressing. Almost everyday something insensible or violent happens – the humanity better shakes itself up. Why can’t we just love all? I know love is complicated, one can prefer love for one over the other, and it is not always shaped by our feelings but by our thoughts, but I keep wonder anyhow. Choices, my friends, are interesting. All these choices we have made in our lives. 

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I have had another dream that I remember. I interpret this dream as being adaptable to the unforeseen changes in life and distinguishing between the fears in our lives and the fears in our minds: we just had a conversation about this topic a couple of days ago. Or, it can be interpreted like this: sometimes it is okay to take time and not rush at the face of an adversity to resolve it that can create more problems; this pretty much sounds like what was going in my mind lately about my work situation; it is not the best time to aggressively look for jobs right now. Things will change for the better – so stay put for some more time.

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My plans for today is to bake my Sunday sourdough loaf, plant seeds in the yard, bring forward the summer clothes and hang into the wardrobe, speak with family, cook a cauliflower dish, and walk. Not overly exciting, but so far looks really good.

Have a great Sunday everyone! 🙂

 

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What I would not do in the name of frugality

I would;

  •  not lower the home temperature below 16 C
  •  not eat spoiled food
  •  not dumpster dive (no offense meant)
  •  not re-use tea bags or coffee grains
  •  not shower in cool water
  •  not not use soap or other cleaning products
  •  not have no social life
  •  not wear torn clothes/shoes
  •  not not dye my hair
  •  not not give to people whom I care
  •  not not donate for good causes
  •  not not give gifts to those that deserve
  •  not cut my power, cable, water, or internet connection
  •  not not use moisturizers
  •  not not visit my doctor or not buy medications
  •  not use re-usable hygienic pad (no offense meant)
  •  not not use toilet paper
  •  not not visit my family
  •  not let others pay for my expenses

But it would be awesome if I had won the lottery! 🙂

dream

I have had a vivid dream this morning.

I was in a new dormitory. I was given a bed and locker in men’s unit. I have had around 8-9 roommates. I was pretty confident and comfortable being around them. They were young and kind. I felt like the boss – none of them could hurt me or could suppress me. Everything was gonna be fine. I was fearless. Nothing was a problem. I would make friends with them. Roommates alright!

Everything was so perfect. There was a lovely and clean kitchen. The bathrooms were very clean and sparkly with marble and everything. Then I could not find my locker – I have looked everywhere. Then I noticed that the bathroom doors were not secured – so I thought how do they manage privacy here? 

I left the building into a busy and large street. And then I could not find my way back to the dormitory. Was it this one or that one? I was not too far away, so it must be one of these streets. But which one?

I realized at that moment that nothing was as perfect as it seems. I was not the boss. New places, new challenges had their own unique problems. I was stressed. I lost my confidence that I could survive in this new environment.

Sounds familiar? 🙂

That dream was life. 

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the perfect day

I have got a great day today.

We have had a career celebration event for a past associate of mine. It was such a great ceremony 🙂 After the ceremony we went for a lunch and had a cozy afternoon. I was care-free, comfortable, feeling being among friends/family, and we had candid talks and laughter. So what else did I want?

Nothing much really……

It was a perfect day.

 

 

random thoughts

Yesterday and today was warm. Like, really warm. Like the coat is too much, a thin jacket is enough kind of warm 🙂

Today is the last day of May and hopefully that means we are ready to have some kind of warm weather. Maybe Spring or something 🙂 I may sound exaggerating but you know, it is really cool here. June is usually rainy but at least we can be almost sure that it is not gonna snow again for some time. July and August will be hot, like 25 C hot 🙂 Our summer! Cannot wait 🙂

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I have had a good day at the office, only that I was more useful for others than doing my own work. Also, I have had an annoying encounter with a negative person, but I will let this go. I cannot let her ruin my morale (which is going strong nowadays).

I crave for kefir, but I need to wait till tomorrow to drink it. I checked it this afternoon – there is no thickening yet (I changed the milk yesterday), so gotta wait till tomorrow to have it. I really hope that the grains can pick up and yield kefir everyday, now that the weather is warmer. 

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We have a celebration event to attend tomorrow for a past associate of mine. It is such a heart-warming experience 🙂 I feel lucky and honored to be invited to this event. It is gonna be a beautiful day tomorrow – cannot wait!

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This week I have been feeling better in terms of my work, re; finding a new one. I have a better idea now; I think some people at my work place are bothering me and if they had left, perhaps things would feel better. 

One of these people is the person I mentioned above who is vastly negative, likes to complain about everyone except herself, and overly-likes to show herself, her abilities, and performance up. I find this kind of people the most annoying. I have sensitivity towards negativity so I often pick their energies, which is not good for me. I also cannot help but react a little bit, especially when they brag about everything and never about their own faults/mistakes/limitations etc., which usually damages my relationships with them. Well, I am not interested in having or keeping personal relationships with this kind of people, but when it is for work, we gotta keep being in each others’ lives and as such when such eye-rolling encounters occur, they realize that I am not pleased with them, which in turn give them a reason to take on me…. Argh….

Be annoyed and then show being annoyed and then get a negative consequence. Who is winning here really? Obviously, not me 🙂 That is my main reason for hoping that they will leave. As a matter of fact, she said today that she may leave because she deserves so much better than this organization (!). Goodness, I hope so.

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There. I ranted and feel a lot better already – thanks for listening! 🙂

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random thoughts

These are what have happened today:

1. My kefir needs 48 hours of incubation – period. Since we almost never get hot temperatures here, I better get used to this. 

2. I did not walk in the morning, but I did not take the cab, either. The honour went to the bus this morning 🙂

3. Chatted with a colleague today and he thought that a couple of people from our unit would leave considering the toxic and fiscal situation. That changes things for me, for some reason. I realize I have problems with them and their leave would be beneficial for us/me – we can change things in our unit if they go. More room to breathe and do things as we design, decide, and like.

4. Three work-related issues that I have been trying to overcome for months have finally resolved today.  One of them is a potential partnership.  It is preliminary but there is an interest. Things are moving at last! 🙂

5. I continued to contemplate about myself, my performance, my achievements, my strengths, and my limitations. 

6. I gained weight nowadays, which I link to eating too much peanut! Every time I eat it, I gain the weight. So why do I do that????

7. My arm continues to worry me. Finally I made an appointment – I wanna know whether there is something seriously wrong with my arm. I hit it to my desk at the office 2-3 weeks ago. It was not bad at the beginning but after I started digging the yard, it acted quite badly and it has been like this since then. Time to get it checked.

8. I do not know whether I will apply for the job opportunity I identified at the weekend. maybe I will. maybe I will not. What do I lose if I apply?

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Here is to all uncertainties and career problems; an amazing song.

Cool down those senses and have hope my friends!

 

 

wet sourdough loaf

This sourdough was wet; way stickier than my previous ones.

As expected, it turned out to be just great in terms of the air packets. It is not the best looking loaf, but it is expected from such a wet dough (which is hard to shape). 

I could not help and enjoy a big slice with butter when it was still warm  🙂

I am very happy with this starter; it does not yield big air packets, but it is consistent and crumb is always well structured. See the little air packets all around? 🙂

Sunday morning musings

It is a great day with the freedom to do nothing and everything 🙂

I used this sentence first yesterday and I kinda liked it – so please ignore it if it bothers you. It just reminds me my own freedom. For a control freak and someone like myself who has a lot of things on her to-do-list, that is a great feeling:)

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I am drinking the first cups of my morning coffee and looking ahead the day:  I have a bean meal to cook (started already); a sourdough loaf to bake (proving right now); a yard to dig and fix somehow; loved ones to speak to; and mentally work on the problem of “what is best for my future self“:

 

1) is it staying at my current job and job environment, and aiming to change my mind set so that I can feel good about myself no matter how negative or problematic the work is?

Can I really relax, lower my expectations from myself, adapt a new attitude, care less, and become more self-confident and just make things happen – if they can happen? 

Not sure, but I sure can try….I am quite aware that my self-confidence is quite low. This is mostly because of myself and the expectations I have from myself. Certainly, it does not help when you self-critique yourself all the time…. Please do not do that, friends; it is good to be aware of yourself, but please be not rigid in your thinking about yourself and others. You change; people change. I too can change. I just do not know how to handle that…

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2) is it taking the risk or opportunity (depends on where you are looking from), and looking for jobs aggressively?

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Assuming that I find a new job that I am content with; 

Am I ready to make this change mentally and physically? Yes, I am. I have done this before – I can do it gain.

Can I move to another city? Yes I can – I have done this many times in the past. packing and getting rid of stuff is a head ache, but it happens eventually. The worst thing would be to ask a couple of friends or contract persons to rent a truck and deliver the stuff to a donation centre.

Can I sell my house? hey, yes I guess so. Also, keeping it and renting is another option, is it not?

Can I leave my team at work? That is gonna be tough….. They trust me that I look after them and advance their work and careers. They trusted me and relocated here….. So it is really tough. I am kind of thinking that we can find better jobs for them; at least we can try. And if not, look for alternative ways. I am sure it is gonna be just fine….

Can I leave my position, salary, benefits, office? Yes, if I can get a comparable one somewhere else.

Will I change? the way I look at my work, performance, and my expectations from myself; will I find myself in a similar situation in the new job too?  This is even a tougher situation for me…… I am not confident that I can be fully happy with my new job, either. I feel like I may end up feeling a similar way; lack of self-esteem may take over again. what will I do then? Start looking for another job? How will it affect me now that I am middle aged?

How will it feel to start a new chapter in my life? Energizing and exciting! It will be great to get rid of the garbage off my shoulders and put my chin up with positivity, fresh air, and hope!

But, if I do not make this change, do I have a chance to change? Do I have to get a new job for these:

  • to have a better look at life 
  • to have better interests and better value to my work?
  • to make positive changes for myself and others
  • to feel good about myself

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And, most importantly; what is it that I really want? To change myself or to change my work?

Is it about changing what I see or how I see what I see?

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on brutality of social media

I will write about the brutality in social media. Like Twitter.

Boy.

You risk getting a blast back if something you say pisses someone for some reason. It does not have to be personal, but there are many people out there who are ready to strongly oppose/make fun of an opinion. It does not matter that your intentions were good to start with. This is particularly true for sensitive topics. Or for topics that some people have sensitivity towards. 

I am not interested in adversity but I am not interested in restricting my freedom of speech, either. I certainly am not interested in apologizing for something that is not intended to hurt anyone. A healthy conversation is fine, but then when it becomes a piss race what do we do? What is the best way to stop people, especially those that I do not know, to respond and attack/make fun of my opinions?

Can I label is as a “rant”, or “please do not respond”, or what? Would that even stop getting a negative and unsolicited response?

How do we find that balance between expressing ourselves and risking adversity? 

It depends I guess.

There will be times that I will be hesitating to post a tweet but risking it and going forward with posting it anyhow. And there will be times that I will remember twitter is not the only place to express myself – even though I have every single right to do so.

keep going onward

It is a beautiful Saturday full of house chores (!) and freedom to do nothing and everything 🙂

It is not bad outside; it was rainy in the morning but right now we have a bright day. I worked a little bit on the yard. It bothers me that I am not done with it yet… Can I please finish it tomorrow and plant the seeds? I am so close, but my arm still hurts. Maybe I can make an effort tomorrow and hopefully cut the grass too. I meant to buy mulch and use it to make my yard look better/control weed. Alas…. The yard work was quite a progress this year, but honestly I am late to finish what I wanted to do, and may not be able to handle it all….. Oh, well 🙂

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I continue to be cranky about my job situation and considering changing it. Based on my past experience, once I put it in my mind, I will do it. But I try to be careful and play safe, too. I cannot lose a job that pays well and with some level of security for another job that does not excite me and does not give me what I already have. The best thing would be to keep an eye on job opportunities, apply if a great opportunity exists, keep going in the current job as if it is the best thing that occurred to me, and if something better is offered to me, consider it seriously. Until then, I will keep going. 

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My sister and mom gave me good information about kefir; while my kefir grains seem to be working in terms of the taste, I cannot get the texture right. I left it undisturbed for 48 hours last time and there was some clots, but nothing too much again. I now have it in a cupboard, the top part is wrapped loosely by a thick cloth, and hopefully it is feeling a little bit warmer, and the bacteria and yeast are feeling more active and alive! 🙂 My sister also suggested that I warm up the milk or the container a little bit to expedite the process. Sounds all great to me 🙂

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And I want to finish this post by stating that I have shopped and feeling better because of it 🙂 What is it with shopping and feeling better, friends? Why is this activity have such a great effect on us/me? 

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weekly budget check (belated)

I have not posted about my weekly budget check yesterday; here is a brief summary:

I took the cab three times this week because I was not feeling well or was in negative mood. I regret these decisions because walking is always making me feel great, but I certainly am okay with pampering myself when needed. So, the regret I feel works like a friendly reminder and helped me to take the bus this morning (rather than the cab).

Anyways; that is why my weekly expenses were inflated a little bit this week, but I was still under my weekly allowance of 120 bucks. So it was another successful week 🙂 So far in 2017 I have never over-spent my weekly allowance, which covers cab, breakfast/eating out, grocery and sometimes the cleaning and personal care products. So all is good. 

Since it is almost 6 months since the new year/new budget, I have looked at my expenses and savings. It looks really good – my expenses are considerably less than last year. The increase in the level of my chequeing account was not as great as I had hoped it would be, but I know soon it is gonna get better because of reduction in the power bill due to warmer weather 🙂 

And according to my calculations if the market continues like this, I will be increasing my net worth quite a bit this year (around 25%). 

Overall, things are going pretty good – I am very happy with this frugal adventure 🙂

 

job situation assessment

I do not know whether what I am doing is right or plain stupid, but I am looking for jobs. I think I have found one ad that may be a good fit for me.

But I am hesitant to apply – is it too much of a work to make this application/interview? Do I really want this change in my life? What if it is not a unionized position and they can kick me out anytime they want?

What are my choices really?

Right now I have a respected position. I have a nice-figure salary. I have benefits. I am capable of doing many different things and getting involved in a variety of activities that are related to my profession. I have a simple life in a small city. I am capable of saving money. I have a routine. Life is easy and abundant. I am bored sometime, but life works well. Work, however, is stressful and full of problems and problematic people. One problem of mine is to be involved in too many stuff and getting fragmented. We also have the demoralizing financial issues, for now and for the future, and the constant nagging feelings of “we should be doing more” and “I am not good enough“.

While the idea of resigning and leaving things behind sounds awesome to me, I think I should be careful about the risks of potentially incorrect decisions. I realize today, for example, that being unionized is very important to me. I also realized that my salary is in fact a great one that many people would love to have. So would it not be possible for me to look into the positives of this job and identify more as to what is important for me?

Analysis

What I appreciate about this job and my life in this city?

  • Great salary/respected job position
  • Some level of safety/being unionized
  • Freedom on projects and activities undertaken
  • Ability to save and invest for my future
  • Simple and easy life

 

What I do not like/appreciate about my job and my life in this city?

  • The stress of undertaking too much work/not being able to say no to requests for help (This can be fixed)
  • The delays in organizational support systems; lack of efficient systems to keep things moving (I cannot do much about this, other than accepting the situation as it is)
  • Feeling inadequate. The constant struggle to “achieve” things. (This feeling is constant and life is too short – so what do I do? How do I handle this feeling? Work better? More? Smarter? Luckier? Among everything else, this is the one that is hard to digest. I really dislike this feeling)
  • The unhopeful future financial forecast and pension plan changes; the possibility of deeper provincial financial issues that can erase what has accumulated in terms of pension contributions and the house equity (This is very scary)
  • The possibility of more pressure on us because of the fiscal problems; the talks and acts of firing; the demoralized and agitated environment

 

I can still apply for jobs and who knows, maybe I will come across a great one. I do not have to seriously consider a new job unless I have got a great offer. Those that did not yield an offer, or with unsatisfactory offers are not the problem – I can turn them down. So.. With this in mind, I think I will just relax now. I gotta relax and handle the future uncertainty as well as the feeling of being inadequate… That is the best remedy for now. Let’s hope I can do that.

you know it when it is over

We have had a day of strategic planning for our organization yesterday and today.

The theme has been “how do we strive in this challenging financial situation” considering also the fact that our institution is firing people and this will likely increase over time.

While I was happy to contribute and produce ideas for a better organizational future, I also felt that it was just too surrealistic… Like an ideal world that actually does not exist… I know that it is not gonna happen even with our best efforts, so why do we pretend like things can really get better?

I also heard one or two people who came here with big ideals, plans, and names, and now were leaving for smaller jobs somewhere else. I did feel some kind of inspiration from this – not the smaller job part but leaving here for a new job part –  and I am feeling like I will be leaving myself in a year.

Right now, I do not know where I would go or which kind of a job I would get (ideally I would leave my current life and work only after finding a new job), but I would love one that gives me joy and excitement. My current job is too stressful, too demanding. Like many of my colleagues in my position, I am feeling inadequate and inferior. I do not feel good about myself or my work performance. I do not work my best.  I do not contribute my best. I do not feel good or excited anymore. My entire life is negatively affected, not only my professional life…..

So what is the point in keep going?

I am making a mental note that if I can find a good and exciting job, I would like to leave my work and life here behind me and start a new chapter in my life. Who knows; maybe this is exactly what I need to feel good again about myself and about my life.

joy journal – May 23, 2017

1. I am grateful for feeling better today. I have been feeling like all my muscles were aching since Saturday. Yesterday it was really bad, so I came home early from work and took a healing nap. I am feeling much better now, which is great 🙂

2. I am grateful for eating peanut butter, which I really love, and bean salad, which I really love too!

3. I am grateful for walking in the morning and in the evening despite feeling tired – good job 🙂

4. I am grateful for having a healthy appetite – I am not that sick after all!

5. I am grateful for working quite well today. I am prioritizing my own work needs over others’ now, which is great. 

6. I am grateful for having a relaxing evening and night. It is soothing to know that I do not have to do anything, but relax, rest, and enjoy 🙂

7. I am grateful for watching a movie about an old man who rather than undergoing a second heart operation decides to die by assisted suicide. I have no personal opinion about this topic; but it must be a hard decision to make for many considering the social, moral, and other reasons re; life, death, and suicide. This is the second movie I have watched tackling the same topic lately. It does not make it easy to contemplate on this topic, but seeing why such a decision can be made is interesting. The story line is that a good life matters. Not wanting to live anymore, too… How strange, how controversial (for me, at least), and how true for many.

8. I am grateful for taking the pictures of my breads 🙂 Did you know that whenever I look at their pictures, I am filled with excitement and pride? 🙂 

9. I am grateful for choosing to focus on positivity rather than negativity today and tomorrow and hopefully the days after that…

10. I am grateful for the well being of my family and myself. 

11. I am grateful for the furniture and everything else I have in my house – they make my life easy and comfy.

12. I am grateful for today being a #no-expense day 🙂 I hope to each my biweekly saving target this Thursday 🙂 This will make me feel extra motivated to keep going.

13. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to write these today.

 

a brief snap shot of the day

  • got up at around 8 am
  • felt kind of tired and un-enthusiastic
  • had an untasty breakfast and my coffee was cold. Can you imagine? My COFFEE WAS COLD!!! WHAT IS UP WITH TODAY?!!!!
  • cleaned the house – it lasted longer than regular. Only because of my lack of enthusiasm
  • spoke with sister and mom
  • did the laundry
  • fed my sourdough starter
  • digged up a portion of the yard; it started to look  lot better. I need two more days of work and then it will be fine. I will also plant seeds now that I have a piece of the yard without the grass 🙂
  • ate beans and it was lovely
  • walked to a store and picked milk, egg, soft drinks, and chocolate – ate the chocolate on the way home :)))
  • got bored at home so decided to walk 
  • ended up at the shopping mall
  • purchased freezer bags and parchment paper
  • walked back – it was raining lightly
  • enjoyed walking and getting the fresh air
  • now resting finally 🙂

I have a busy day tomorrow too. I want to shape and prove my sourdough loaf; work on the yard; speak with family; purchase a couple items for the dinner tomorrow; cook for the dinner; bake the sourdough; host my friends and enjoy the rest of the evening 🙂

Kind of feeling like a super girl nowadays 🙂

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weekly allowance

I mentioned in an earlier post that I studied for a very long time, and as a result I had very modest income and thus life style until ~10 years ago. So being a frugal person is a second nature to me. However, in no time in my life I have been as frugal as this year, or a two years period a decade ago.

A decade ago, work was really competitive, things were going really problematic with my boss, I was fired twice (even though I was re-offered a better position in the same place and never had a day without being on payroll), and thus I realized if I want to keep my chin up during financially turbulent times, I had to be extremely frugal.

So what did I do?

I moved into a smaller and cheaper studio apartment, leaving my gorgeous one bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of a downtown complex. It was located 3 minutes away from my work-place; had swimming pool, exercise room, and other amenities; and the apartment had a wonderful downtown view that was always a delight to look at. It was a also secure building. It hurt to move out but it was the right decision.

The studio apartment was 20 min away from my work-place and the apartment complex was nothing like the previous one, but both the apartment and the building were okay. It was a slightly less secure street but nevertheless I was comfortable there. I spent two years in that apartment. I remember very clearly counting on pennies in my purse and making calculations. My very ambitious weekly budget was $50 at that time…..

I do not know how I ended up with this amount, but honestly I made extraordinary effort to keep my weekly expenses (including grocery, personal care and cleaning products, and other miscellaneous expenses) under $50. This budget was extremely restricting at that time – I remember this feeling pretty clearly. I believe I could never manage to do so; my weekly expenses were always more than $50.. I think there was no movie or concert ticket in that allowance. My maximum book budget was $5/week (and I bought books every week). Eating out, hosting, or meeting with friends were a rare occasion, even though I lovingly had my favorite weekend breakfast consisting of two bagels and a cup of coffee. I could never think about a weekend without this breakfast 🙂

While I struggled with keeping my expenses under $50, I also saved quite a bit of my income. I put the money I saved into my RRSP account. I know I was locking it this way, but this gave me an enormous peace of mind at that time. I felt really good and proud of this investment for my future. Unfortunately at around the same time the markets had a bad time (remember 2008 turn-down?), so I think I mostly lost money at that time, but that is not the point 🙂

This year I have a similar budget, only that it is designed in a different way. My weekly allowance is 120 bucks for grocery; not including the personal care and cleaning products, hosting and eating out with friends and colleagues, and house-related or other expenses. If I average all expenses I made, I believe it could be ~$130 per week this year.

Not bad, eh?

It also does not feel restrictive. 

I kind of think that this might be because I budget a reasonable amount (that is $120/week + additional expenses) and I have the flexibility. It may also be because I am a seasoned frugal now?? 🙂

Have a great Friday night everyone 🙂

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weekly budget check

It has been good week. One of these weeks where the expenses are quite low because previously I stocked up food.  Oh, well 🙂

I have had a number of #noexpense days this week; I believe Saturday, Monday-Thursday I did not spend money, not even for transportation because I made the choice to walk 🙂

So it is possible to live without the need of spending money? This, my friends, feels really good 🙂 

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $22.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $22.5= $97.5

Fun funds expenses: $54

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,108.5 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $11.5 (soft drinks for the dinner I was invited to)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $32.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons etc.). 

Better than spending them, do you not think 🙂

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Mortgage pre-payment: $225.5!

I am so excited about these payments!

I believe this is my 6th pre-payment since new year. Whatever I can save without much of an effort or planning (e.g. savings from would-be-expenses and the tax return are good examples), I use as pre-payments 🙂 I estimate that I will make around 5K of pre-payments this year – let’s cross the fingers! 🙂

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen chicken meal from the freezer; and bulghur, wild rice, red lentil, and canned corn from the pantry. Talking about #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”  I have consumed kefir (for the first time in my life), corn, lentil, bulghur, wild rice, carrot, meat, green salad mix, and chicken that I had not eaten the week before (and a lot of sweets at the dinner with friends – ooooops! 🙂 )

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

 

another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

I have not spent any money, not even for the transportation; I walked.

These days were very rare last year; I was amazed the first time I could manage not to pay anything (including the bus fare) in a single day. I still am! It just is becoming a routine thing now. Routine, but still exciting 🙂

Talking about surprising myself 🙂 The feeling of empowerment is high. I am one step closer to simple and self-relying life.

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

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random thoughts

I keep waking up early and going to office by 8 am. Our administrative person at the office has joked today by asking whether I slept at the office 🙂 She said that I was there when she left yesterday and I was there this morning when she arrived 🙂 I told her that I think I am getting old – they say we sleep less as we age 🙂 (is that true, by the way??)

I also keep walking to the office, even though I find that my mind is quite occupied while walking. It is usually very quiet in the morning and there is not much of a traffic. I think I am really lucky to live so close to my work place. 

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It was a very busy day at the office today. I was drained in the evening but I was also happy that things moved well today. Tomorrow I have a busy schedule, and possibly Thursday too. If I remember correctly I have a free schedule on Friday, which is awesome. I for some reason thought that I have had the next Monday off (the Victoria day). It turned out I was wrong. Nope – I gotta work that day. Argh… I was so looking forward to working in the yard this long weekend.. Everybody does… It is the Victoria Day! It is the beginning of Spring and gardening!

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I will have two friends, a couple, over for a dinner on Sunday. I have a list of food to purchase and cook on Sunday. It is gonna be fun and lovely. Having the dinner on Sunday rather than Saturday was a good idea as it will be give me ample time to shop, clean the house, and cook without rushing. This will reduce my cooking stress :))))) I am budgeting 100 bucks for this dinner (including the drinks). I am positive that it will work out just fine. Thank goodness that these people are incredibly lovely and down to earth people. So it will not be a problem to feed them without having too much of fancy stuff on the table. Such people are always welcome in my home.

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I feel like my kefir grains are getting bigger. I will take pictures tomorrow, and then again at the weekend, to document the development in grains. I note that the milk is only lightly fermented in 24 hours even though the soury-kefir-y taste is recognizable at the end of this time period. I wonder whether the taste will get stronger over time. Maybe I need to use a larger container and more milk to ferment… Anyways; my grains are still young. I am sure I will know more about them in the future. For now, I am excited to be arriving home every day, and checking, drinking, and replacing my kefir 🙂

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This is it for now, friends. I hope you have had a great Tuesday and are having a wonderful evening!

 

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joy journal – May 15, 2017

1. I had a pleasant night and an easy morning, for which I am grateful. I decided last week or so that it feels great to notice and note when I have a comfy and relaxing evening & night at home. The same holds true for the easy morning. Easy mornings are those when I get up when I want to get up and those that I do not stress myself by having negative thoughts going in my mind.

2. I m grateful for the bright day outside and the sunlight that make me feel energetic, optimistic, and hopeful! Spring indeed is awesome, my friends. One of the best remedy for feeling down and the seasonal effective disorder (SAD) that I probably have.

3. I am grateful for walking to office this morning. I do not notice anymore that I am walking. I just walk and often am thoughtful while walking. This may not be the best practice, but at least I am not counting the steps or the distance and wonder when i will reach the office. I just do it, it is relaxing, and becoming a second nature for my mornings 🙂 When I think about 2-3 years ago how lethargic and tired I was and all I could do was to take the cab to the office, I feel nothing but lucky, excited, proud, and happy for being capable of walking in the mornings 🙂

4. I am grateful for walking with my new assistant effectively. She just joined my unit but is very positive and intelligent person, so I am really excited to be training and working with her.

5. I am grateful for my mid-morning walk. I just put on my boots, my toque, and my jacket and walked out in the forest next to our building. The air is fresher and cooler, and it is so peaceful over there. I had felt very optimistic when I had done this last time, and this time was no exception. I am happy that regardless of the issues at work, I still seem to like my life and sometimes take my mind away from the issues and focus on the present and enjoy what it may present to me. 

6. I am grateful for inviting a couple of my friends for a dinner this weekend. We have the long weekend this week (Victoria day) in Canada. I hope to cook some great dishes and host my friends with confidence 🙂

7. I am grateful for eating healthy today; I have eaten eggs in the morning, fruits (apple, orange), chicken, and raw veggies/salad in the rest of the day. It feels great to eat healthy food, even though my scale this morning showed that I had gained weight this weekend 🙂 It must be the carbs and desserts I had. Argh! 🙂

8. I am grateful for my kefir grains 🙂 I had fed them yesterday with 1% milk and I was not sure whether they would strive in it. The majority of the sites on the net mention that the higher the fat content of the milk is, denser the kefir gets. I had some density this afternoon, which was good to see. However, not sure whether I should have expected more, so I will monitor this for a week or so and if it does get worse, maybe I will try the 2% milk.

9. I am grateful for feeling lucky for having been given the kefir grains 🙂 I believe that they are healthy and by caring for them and drinking them in the evenings, I am doing something great for my body. This is a very positive feeling. Many years ago when I was in Toronto, I was big on healthy life-style; each healthy food I purchased, every tea I drank, every walking and cardio exercise I did would make me feel great (and approving) about myself 🙂 Sometimes I miss those times; like checking the health and organic stores; finding those really rare but healthy products, and being grateful for being able to afford them… 🙂

10. I am grateful for being healthy and free of acute or chronic diseases.

11. I am grateful for taking the stairs (2 stories) up today 🙂

12. I am grateful for having the evening and the night to myself and my ability and opportunity to relax.

13. I am grateful for today being a #noexpense day.

14. I am grateful for my hand creams that keep my hands moisturized and give me healthy-looking skin.

15. I am grateful for flossing and loving my floss!!

16. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note this here today.

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What am I thanking myself for today?

  1. I like the fact that I make an effort to be healthy by walking and eating better
  2. I like the fact that I like to work and find satisfaction in it
  3. I like the fact that I have the time, interest, and patience to have fermented food (i.e. sourdough bread) and drink (i.e. kefir) at home
  4. I like the fact that I enjoy walking in nature
  5. I like the fact that I dream and my dreams are helping me to solve problems, even though sometime they are annoying or scary

today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

IMG_1011

Here is my baby today 🙂

This loaf is similar to others in making, only with an additional 2 tbs water to make it slightly sticky. During stretching and folding, the dough formed well and the stickiness has almost disappeared. I also did not add sugar to dough for the first time.

IMG_0997
proofing 🙂
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after the proofing step
IMG_1000
this scoring worked well 🙂
IMG_1007
and the end product 🙂 what a beauty! I am very pleased with the oven spring.

 

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And, finally I am consuming the wild rice that I have had for some years!!!

I totally improvised this soup:

IMG_1009

  • Add in a pot 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup red lentil, 1 small potato, 100 grms of butter, and 3 cups water
  • Boil and then simmer for 1 hour, or until rice softens

This is a very creamy and hearty soup because of the lentil and potato, and has a mixture of both soft and somewhat crunchy texture (the wild rice has a tough outer membrane)

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

my kefir grains :)

IMG_0996

My friend who we visited yesterday gave me kefir grains! 

I am so excited!

Last year I had looked on the net for information about it. I was hesitant to purchase it, so I let it go from among my plans. So when my friend yesterday asked me whether I have had other fermented food (she knows that I have a sourdough starter),and whether I would like some kefir grains she has had,  I was like, yes – please!! 🙂

A wish came through.

Unexpectedly.

I m grateful for my friend and my sourdough starter – it will keep company of my second house pet 🙂

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

This week passed so fast that it is one of those times when I am kind of stressed that it is weekend. Go figure! 🙂 

I got up later than usual today, even though I was woken up a number of times. I should get up as soon as I wake up – otherwise there is a period of half sleep-half awake state where many thoughts, memories, or emotions go through my mind and I kind of find their strength is increasing this way. Naturally many of these are negative, so it makes me feel bad after a while. I must focus more on the positive. Yes….. Yes….. Yes…..

So when I finally pushed myself out of the bed and saw how bright and shinny outside was, I felt great immediately. Spring is beautiful 🙂

We have a social to attend this afternoon and I am looking forward to that. There are kids involved (our friends have two kids), which means we (I and two of my friends, who do not have kids) are excited to see them and play with them. Kids, like animals, are so innocent, so loving that they make me feel grateful and protective again. Like mother nature. It is like returning back to beginning. The original. Where we are all loving, supportive, and happy. Interesting thoughts for a morning friends! 🙂

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Soon it is gonna be two years that I have had a budget, monitored my spending and identified where my money was going, what I could save by cutting expenses, and how I could help myself with all of these. It was a struggle at the beginning, it still is sometime, but I m reaping the benefits now; my chequing account is above $0, I keep doing investments for my future (RRSP and TFSA contributions), I started to make mortgage pre-payments this year (however little they may be), my spending is significantly leaner, and I am feeling great about all of these.

I just want more.

I want to save more and invest more or pay mortgage earlier. Since the most significant expenses are already curbed (like transportation and being overall less enthusiastic to shop and waste), I keep wondering what areas I can work on? I must realize somehow that whatever I will be doing from this point on will not be a significant saving, but rather modest. Like maybe 10 bucks a week. Is it worth it?

It is an exciting activity to do so if it does work without anything negative is attached to it (like feeling depriving myself, feeling cheap, or reducing the quality of food I consume). Otherwise, no, it is not worth it. 

I think the reason I would like save more is because I do see the benefits of it and the debt (aka mortgage) getting smaller. I sure feel able and prosperous. I am not a victim of my expenses and circumstance, but rather am in charge of my of financial world. That is very empowering.

I just need to figure out how to save more.  An exciting new game plan is needed 🙂

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cemetery visit

There is a nice cemetery somewhere like 20 min away from home. I used to walk to visit it time to time before I moved to my current home – my then-flat was very close.

It is a perfect reflection of life; there is a combination of old and young tombstones; big and little ones; single and family ones.. There is nothing nice about death, but there is such a nice feeling of knowing that it is peaceful there. And that we are still alive and have a chance to make the best out of our lives. However miserable our lives may look, we still have it and all the opportunities it can offer us.

I used to be scared of cemeteries when I was younger. After all we always visited the graves of our loved ones; family mostly, and there are so many horror stories/movies we grew up with. I visited my dad’s grave last year; I was not scared but I was immensely saddened….  His name was on a tomb. So saddening… But it was peaceful, too. He lies in a beautiful grave yard, under the branches and leaves of beautiful trees, and away from the hassle, chaos, and noise of city centre. I still remember the voice of the trees; the soothing noise their leaves make when the wind goes through them…. Trees are so magical and there is nothing more soothing than having them at cemeteries.

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When I woke up this morning, I was excited to see the bright day out and decided to walk. I bought myself a nice cup of coffee and bagels at a cafe and then I walked to that cemetery. It changed a little bit since I have been there last time. There is now a couple of sections for the ashes. There are more seating space. I sat on one of them today for a few minutes. I asked “how do I make the best out of my life?”.

I did not have an immediate answer (from my subconsciousness, certainly not from the souls lying in the cemetery – I am not superstitious). But I sure am reminded about all the opportunities I have at life. My life.

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joy journal – May 6, 2017

1. I am grateful for sleeping in today. I woke up at around 7 am again but decided to sleep some more. It was past 9.30 am that I finally got up. It made my day short but I appreciated having a lazy and cozy morning.

2. I am grateful for the breakfast I have had at home. It was healthy and filling. And, coffee was awesome! (as usual 🙂 )

3. I am grateful for wanting to walk and walking to a shopping mall. I walked around 2 hours today. Weather was awesome and I felt quite light. Walking was easy and very enjoyable. I have done very well for my health by walking 🙂

4. I am grateful for going around the thrift stores. I found nothing to buy but i am getting used to this. It is still quite exciting to check the items and hope that one or two will turn out to be mine. In the future. Eventually 🙂

5. I am grateful for my back pack. It is such a sturdy and useful thing. I always grab it whenever I go for shopping. It takes up a lot of things and make carrying items easy.

6. I am grateful for talking to my family; sister, mom, and brother today 🙂 My brother is visiting my sister and mom and it was a fun and delightful talk today.

7. I am grateful for all the healthy food I have consumed today and the milk I have drunk. All of them are helping my body keeping healthy and strong. 

8. I am grateful for enjoying the bright day with blue skies. 

9. I am grateful for the things I bought today; milk which is good for my bones; eggs which are awesome, tasty, and packed with nutrients; coffee that will last for 3-4 months; and the chocolate that felt like from heaven 🙂

10. I am grateful for taking a rest and relaxing into my Saturday night. I need to spend time alone so that I can fully relax. It is strange that when I spend time with others in the evenings, I feel like I miss something…. It is awesome to be spending time with myself 🙂

11. I am grateful for the moisturizers I have! They make my skin feel better. And they smell so good too! 🙂

12. I am grateful for dreaming yesterday. I have a new recurrent theme in my dreams. Wonder what it signifies… Life is so mysterious sometime 🙂

13. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note these beautiful things, people, and experiences.

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What do I appreciate myself for today?

1. I thank myself for pampering myself with sleeping in and treating myself with chocolate! 🙂

2. I thank myself for walking and enjoying it. I now consider myself a regular walker.

3. I thank myself for making a continuous effort to eat healthy and drink milk.

4. I thank myself for being frugal and not buying things just because they are on sale or pretty.

5. I thank myself for having a routine and not getting bored of it all the time.

6. I thank myself for enjoying the Kung Fu Panda! Have you seen that animation movie series? please do!

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what a beautiful day

The day was dull before afternoon. I was down actually. But after that it just became awesome!!

How?

One of my ex-team members came to visit me, bringing along also her 1 year old son 🙂 What a beautiful boy he is and how happy it did make me to see them again.

I am lucky that my team members come by to visit me time to time. I often get emotional seeing them, but I must say it is because it is such a proud and joyful occasion. 

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I always have time and support for my team members. When they worked with me, they were young and shaky. I see them get confident and exceptional over time. May they always be happy , healthy, and have a beautiful life that they love.

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random thoughts

So they say Puerto Rico has declared bankruptcy.

Hmm…. I understand individuals but a state/country? No idea how that would be feeling for its residents. I am selfishly grateful for one thing – I had looked for jobs at Puerto Rico over a decade or two, and if I had found one, I would have moved there. Now I realize that I am in a much better place – this province did not declare a bankruptcy. At least, not yet…Until then I will keep working, soothing my anxiety over losing my job/pension, looking for alternative income resources or jobs, and saving as much as I can.

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I wore one of the thrifted blouses today and I felt lucky again; I have got that beauty for such an affordable price. I plan to go to thrift stores again this Saturday. I thought today; would I ever buy new blouses or shirts (these are the primary clothes I am okay for buying at thrift stores) from other stores? I have a shirt that I have hardly worn that I bought for over 50 bucks 4-5 years ago. What a waste…. I do not think I would do that again, as long as my experience with the thrift stores continues to be positive. There is something very satisfying and exciting about finding a beautiful blouse or item at a low cost, feeling lucky about this, and having savings building up for my future 🙂

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I happen to get my weekly shopping done today. I could not help and bought more stuff than I would usually consume. The difference this week is that I will start bringing food to office…. I so far consumed usually canned foods and fruits, but this had to change; I do not think canned food is very healthy. Not 5 days a week. So I have been meaning to transition into bringing in real food everyday. 

This, I suspect, will be a challenge for me. My primary concern is that I may forget to pick up the food in the morning, or get too lazy to even bother preparing food everyday….. One strategy will be to bring a week’s worth of food on Mondays – we have fridge on the floor so it should not be a problem to store them. Since I plan to walk in the mornings, this also means carrying them in my back pack on Mondays… I need a new habit, see? I gotta say that I am pretty sure this will be a struggle for some time, but we will see how it will go. The worst thing I will do is to eat nuts and trail mix at the office, in addition to fruit. At least they are easy to carry and always tasty.

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Tomorrow is Friday. This week has passed quite fast. This weekend I plan to continue fixing my yard, shop at thrift stores, clean my house, and walk to a park or something. I may as well start reading a book, who knows? It has been sometime that I read a book, so this may be actually a great activity to do. 

These are what crossed my mind tonite, friends. Hope you are having a great night and have wonderful plans for the coming weekend 🙂

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weekly budget check

I have done well this week, too. I think after a while, being frugal becomes a second nature 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and a cab ride): $54.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54.5= $65.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,039.5 !!! 🙂 (a milestone! What do I do with this 1,000 bucks I saved from my weekly allowance? Tell me!!!!! 🙂)

Other expenses: $31.5 (gift and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $43 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc.). 

These savings have a special place in my heart because I know that I could easily make these expenses. And, more importantly, every once a while I contribute these saved money as mortgage pre-payments! How about this extra motivation to save? 🙂

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, bean meal, and red lentil soup from the freezer 🙂  #endfoodhoarding; nothing from the pantry this week (ouch! I may have but I just cannot remember…..)

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 7-8 food that I had not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are beet, celery sticks, shrimp, carrot, red lentil, green lentil, and rolled oat. I must confess this is hard – to eat a variety of food and then trying to remember them 🙂 But it is all for good, so I will keep going 🙂

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

work and summer

Life continues, and time flies; this is how it feels this week.

I cannot believe that it is Wednesday! I feel like I have so much to do and not done much. Three office days passed already…

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On Monday afternoon I was at a professional event where one of the speakers said something like that “you gotta make sure you work for yourself, but not for others by doing their work“.

How true… I am so involved in other peoples’/trainees’ work that when I need to take care of my own work, I feel stressed because I either run out of time or the energy. I want to claim my own time at the office. Even though I like having trainees under my supervision, I must admit they are too much of a work sometime. It is interesting that not only my colleagues, but also my trainees feel the need to ask me even the smallest thing that they are capable of figuring out themselves. I do not know why I have this effect on everyone, but this gotta change.

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I kind of started doing  that recently; I aim for having at least 2 days/week without any meetings or commitment to others. I found that when I have such schedules, I am most relax, unstressed, and productive. I like my freedom in those days and the peaceful mindset. I love those “free” days 🙂 They make me happier.

Summer is almost here and I have great plans in terms of work. I have a couple of reports to be finished, new collaborative work to be done, at least one project application to make, while also relaxing during the warm, sunny days. This year is unique in the sense that I am not going to visit my family during the summer. That means I have time for myself. I would love to take 2 weeks off during summer. I am not sure when I would like that and what to do during that time, but I am hoping I will at least make it a priority to enjoy the warm outdoors, whether this means hiking, working in the yard, or sitting at a park. 

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joy journal – May 2, 2017

1. I am grateful that I dreamt yesterday night. I cannot remember what it was but I believe that dreams are a way of my subconscious mind working and expressing itself. It is supposed to be healthy, so all is good 🙂

2. I am grateful I woke up early and I was okay with it. Friends; I keep getting up before 8 am and that feels really weird. I mean, when I was young nobody could make me get up before 9 am, and now I am up at 7 am?? What is up with that? 🙂 And what is next – will I get up at 6 am, brew my coffee in dark, have breakfast, and then leave home for work? This… has…never..happened… Never! Cannot happen… Can it? 

3. I am grateful that weather was nice and I was energetic so I walked to office in the morning 🙂 It was a relaxing walk, as usual. There is something very satisfying about starting the day with something as nice and beneficial as walking; I keep telling myself it is healthy; good for my bones, muscles, cardiovascular system, my mind, and emotions. In addition, by not taking the cab or the bus, I demonstrate self-sufficiency 🙂 These are all great things, right? 🙂

4. I am grateful for brewing my coffee at the office. I could not achieve my Spring plans of reducing the amount of coffee I drink yet. In contrast, it looks like I developed a tendency to drink more…. Argh…. At least though, I am drinking also tea (the original idea was to replace a part of coffee with tea…). Perhaps soon I can cut coffee… Who knows?

5. I am grateful for working between 3 different meetings today. I was actually overwhelmed by the amount of work I must do – so at the afternoon I was rather lost and not focused. But between 4-5 pm, I have worked quite efficiently. This feels good.

6. I am grateful for organizing for a social with my current team and past members 🙂 I am really looking forward to this lunch next week, which excites me. One of my favorite past team members emailed me and gave me some great news about her career. I am so proud of them. All of them were great and brilliant people. I hope they will always have great jobs and be surrounded by awesome people.

7. I am grateful for eating healthy this evening. Have you tried cabbage salad? Since I am  a lazy person it fits me well; basically I shred cabbage and season it with olive oil and salt. Voila – it is ready! 🙂

8. I am grateful for my clothes, shoes, and boots that keep me warm and make my life easier.

9. I am grateful for having internet connection, a great computer, and this blog-space that make it possible for me to explore, read, learn, interact, and write 🙂

10. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

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What do I appreciate myself for today?:

I appreciate myself for not reacting negatively to getting up early in the morning

I appreciate myself for making a consistent attempt to eat healthy

I appreciate myself for collecting the garbage in the yard 

I appreciate myself for walking and not spending a dime today

I appreciate myself for being kind to myself today

 

The 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure :)

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Today is the 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure!

And what an adventure it has been 🙂

I first got enticed by commercial yeast by chance, and tried my first loaf without knowing what I was doing 🙂 It was a very tasty, very hearty bread though – I enjoyed it 🙂 

With the confidence coming out of that experience, the week after that I tried baguettes and this time I was very badly defeated 🙂 I have had very serious concerns about whether I would ever be able to bake a decent loaf. This lasted some time, while I read, read, and read about how to best bake a bread. 

It was my mom who encouraged me to get hopeful and try again. And again I tried. It was not an easy period I would say; I often failed and only every once a while I could get a decent loaf. I experimented a lot with autolysing, kneading, stretching and folding, over-night dough risen at room temperature or in the fridge, using a roaster as a substitute for a dutch oven, using milk or water in dough, using pre-heated and non-preheated oven, misting the oven versus not doing it while baking, adding rolled oats or seeds like flax seed to dough, and different types of flour (all purpose flour and bread flour).

I got intrigued by wild yeast and sourdough, hence I also experimented with it 🙂 I attempted four times to get a decent starter and eventually got one with a whole wheat flour. It is my Monster starter that has been working just great since last August-September. I almost every single weekend bake a loaf or two using this starter, and I must say every week I notice a subtle progress and development in it. It is a living organism alright 🙂

So I found that while I am still far away from the “perfect loaf”, stretching and folding really works and develops the dough, over night dough is the best, there is no need for pre-heating or misting the oven, or using a dutch oven/roaster to bake a good loaf. All you need is love, patience, and paying attention to dough. If you do this, you will get a great loaf each time after a while. Guaranteed.

Today, on this very special anniversary, I tried sourdough with rolled oat with a recipe similar to this (and without the flax seed). What a beauty 🙂

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my sourdough loaf is “crowned” with rolled oat today to celebrate this important anniversary 🙂

Here are select loaves I have baked within the last year, starting with the first ever loaf I baked. Looking at them literally makes me happy.

If you are intrigued or interested at all, I would say go for it and try a loaf or two. Baking your own bread is very healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, an exciting hobby 🙂

Happy baking!  🙂

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The first loaf  🙂