joy journal – Dec 14, 2017

I have had interesting times lately. I was tired, stressed, and almost exhausted. But then things moved, issues understood, and most importantly I realized my own stamina and the importance of small things in life that attract my attention and give me joy πŸ™‚

1. I am grateful for walking this morning to the office. I missed the bus literally by 30 sec and thought I would just walk. It was windy and chilly, but walking gave me a chance to clear my mind and feel good about life as a whole.

2.Β I am grateful for going thru the meetings without losing my cool and already thinned nerves.

3.Β I am grateful for shopping this evening and purchasing frozen berries πŸ™‚ I will be making marmalade with them. I want to do this this weekend but I want to also wait for the canning kit I ordered so that I an start using the kit and water can the jars. I will see how I feel this weekend.

4.Β I am grateful for walking in the afternoon without difficulty. It feels good to return back to my regular walking routine. It is healthy, free, and quite an accomplishment for a lazy person like myself πŸ™‚

5.Β I am grateful for tomorrow being Friday! Three more meetings to go through and then the weekend will be here πŸ™‚ I plan to slow down next weekend, only finish the ends and bits and welcome the free time after that.

6.Β I am grateful for the fresh produce I bought today. I want to cook a couple of dishes this weekend so that I can eat better in the coming days.

7. I am grateful for the frozen meals I have eaten yesterday and today. I had a beautiful soup yesterday and a bean meal today; I had cooked and frozen them sometime ago. It is such a great pleasure to be able to eat home-made food when I am busy.

8.Β I am grateful for all the socks and clothes that keep my body warm and sound during the cold temperatures.

9.Β I am grateful for having money at the chequing account that enables me to afford what I need.

10. I am grateful for trusting life and take it as it is sometime.

11. I am grateful for liking to try new hobbies, like jamming and canning, and sharing the food with friends and neighbours.

12.Β I am grateful for having the night to myself – no distraction and all peace πŸ™‚

13.Β I am grateful for the internet, my computer, and TV that make my life enjoyable and time passing fast.

14. I am grateful for the three little jars that one of my colleagues gave me. They are cute and cute and cute πŸ™‚ It is one of these little things in life that makes me joyful and excited πŸ™‚

15. I am grateful for being healthy and safe.

16. I m grateful that my family is doing well and they are healthy and safe too.

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Things that I appreciate myself for today:

  1. I appreciate the fact that I am generous with my team members and friends
  2. I appreciate the fact that I decided to prioritize my financial needs this year
  3. I appreciate the fact that I have become more self-sustaining with my new canning interest
  4. I appreciate the fact that I walked today twice
  5. I appreciate the fact that I keep my sanity despite what have happened at the work-place lately; re; pressure of keeping our positions, increasing our work load, and demoralizing atmosphere
  6. I appreciate the fact that I decided to undertake less of others’ work in the coming years and prioritize my own time for my own work

 

 

 

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9 days to holidays and reflections on finances

Counting down the days till holidays πŸ™‚

I started cleaning my office yesterday, my traditional activity before the holidays. I am 1/3 done and would love to complete it sometime soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday, but maybe next week. But I will be doing it πŸ™‚

I also started thinking about my budget and life-style for the next year. I can see that unless I become more careful I may not be able to save what I want to save.Β Last year has been a great teacher for me in terms of finances and my own attitude.Β 

I learnt that:

1. if I do extreme budgeting I get unhappy and all I think about is spending money. I know that because I tried a pantry challenge or something early in 2017 and restricting my shopping experience was unpleasant and expensive :)))) So I should not restrict my already tight budget

2. Work stress makes me feel like I am entitled to make unnecessary expenses, such as on junk food. This is very silly and I need to work on this

3. I need both short-term and long-term financial goals.Β My overall calculations are for the entire year, but I would feel much better if I can have a soon-to-be-completed goal so that I can keep my eye on it, strive for it, and eventually feel the satisfaction of completing it. I think I will have to work on this idea to keep me motivated. After all, we can aim all we want but unless it is realistic or reachable, we will lose our hope first and then the intention to reach the goal.

4. While I can spend on junk food and rationalize it, I also continue not to over-spend on grocery or other things, which is strange… This must tell me something. Why do I turn blind to unnecessary expenses, which are often much more than my grocery bill? if I can figure this out, I can figure out many other things…

5. I continue to be not cheap when it comes to socials. I notice that many people do not get that generous with me when I host them, so I want to opt for a smaller thing to take with me to socials; a loaf of bread, a jar of pickle, a baked goods are good options.

6. I stopped picking my colleagues’ bills when we go out together, which is awesome.

7. I still treat my team members with lunches or so time to time; this was 2-4 times a year so far. I think I will make it once year now. I will have to really work on this because I really like celebrating their accomplishments.Β 

8. It is great to be taking advantage of the sales for items, such as clothes, required each year. This occurs often during October-December. I think one thing I should aim for is to save this money way advance; whether it is thru my fun funds or savings from the expenses that I could easily make but do not (like picking up others’ bills).Β 

9. Talking about the fun funds, I have never been clear about how to use them last year (fun funds are the money left out of my weekly allowance). I think it is time that I handle this better. I think this year I will replace the term “fun funds” with “weekly savings” and I will use these savings as mortgage pre-payments.

10. I will be on shopping freeze for trousers and jackets this year; the only place to shop for blouses/shirts will be thrift stores. I will continue to buy items that are supposed to be personal, like socks, from regular stores.

– to be continued –

 

towards the end of year financial calculations

I have 8 more days till the end of my fiscal year (next Thursday) when I will add up all the savings, expenses, and the net worth together to see how well I have done.Β 

I could not wait and did some preliminary calculations. I have room for improvement and also room for enjoyment.Β 

Overall, I spent more than I budgeted for for unnecessary items (like junk food).Β 

I also made significant expenses related to a trip/vacation and socials.

I am not sorry for any of these right now, but one thing is clear; if I want to save money, I must be consistent. The first half of the year I have done extremely well, and then started to spend unnecessarily.

And another thing clear to me is that if I want it, I can make it πŸ™‚

I am on the right track, but I need a new strategy, better mechanisms to not make unnecessary silly expenses.

Cannot wait to plan these next week πŸ™‚

 

 

random thoughts

I woke up tired and with a puffy face, but the rest of the day moved on without much of a trouble between four meetings. I am done 4 out of 15 meetings scheduled this week and this feels good πŸ™‚

Meetings are supposed to be beneficial. I always try to get at least one thing that will benefit the rest of the meeting attendees or myself. I have had it today as well. Hence, my consciousness is clear; I have done my best and exercised the regular practice of gaining something out of the meetings. But goodness knows, it would be much better if we did not have meetings for everything. Honestly this year meetings (on the average 13 hours a week and lately even 25 hours a week) got the best of me; I need time to do my work out of meetings as well. I know I am not the only one who thinks this way.

Two things that soothe my nerves are;

1) I decided to not focus on relaxing when I am stressed, and rather decided to focus on being smart. I know I have a hard time relaxing so imposing on myself to relax did not serve me well till now. I am shifting my perception and rather would like to try being smart; behave in a way that will work for everyone and keep the emotions out of things (so that I will not have my occasional bursts during the meetings if I am pressurized – it does not benefit anyone). The plus side is that I do not argue with myself whether I am smart or not. I am smart. So right away I feel like I have the necessary foundation to handle things well. This is quite a progress on my account. Hope I will be able to walk this talk.

2) We are getting close to the off time. From next Friday on, we will have a 10 days off with two days in between being a non-paid vacation time. I plan to work at that time and this is not a issue for me. I often benefit these quiet times at the office. For me, the most important thing is to be away from the pressing issues and my regular work routine. I will be happy to work during these two days. Other than this, you know I am looking forward to the last week of December; I will be shopping, cleaning my home, decluttering massively, and attending socials if the opportunity arises. Add on top of these being away from the work routine and you know that I will have a great time!

Looking forward to sharing my happy and excited experiences during the holidays.Β 

sourdough loaf with oats and black olives

Here is a fantastic sourdough with a hint of trolled oats and black olives πŸ™‚

This loaf was my first trial of a rectangular shape πŸ™‚ I learnt a while ago that sticky dough do not keep its shape well if does not have enough support. So I used one of my oven pots to prove and bake this loaf.

I would do this loaf again; the crust was thin and soft (the way I love it) and it tasted amazing!

The recipe is similar to others:

  • 1 1/3 cup 100% whole wheat starter (fed Friday night and then on Saturday morning prior to saving half in the fridge; used to make the dough in the afternoon)
  • 2 cups water; mixed the starter and water well with the help of a fork until it became kind of frothy
  • 2.5 tbs sugar; mixed well into the starter/water mix
  • 4.5 cups of bread flour, 1.5 tbs salt, and 200 grms of pitted black olive-halved: (approximately 1.5 cups). Formed a shaggy dough, closed the lid, kneaded every 30 min or so three times until dough looked like forming. At the end of folding stage dough was too sticky (must be the olives’ juice), so I added 1/3 cup of rolled oats to help with the moisture
  • let rest at room temperature over might
  • since it was a kind of sticky dough, I decided to place it in a large rectangular oven pot lined with parchment paper
  • sprinkled top with more oats, placed in a nylon bag, tied the ends, and proved for 4.5 hours at room temperature
  • baked in non-pre-heated oven at 350 F for one hour

holidays wish list

I am getting excited about the prospect of having some time off and shopping during the last week of the month πŸ™‚

Fall is usually a busy month for me in terms of shopping. I usually take advantage of the sales, whether in stores or online, and purchase things that I will need in the coming year.

My plans for this year are as follows:

1. Canning kit and stainless steel funnel. As part of my new interest on jamming, I figures I may make my life easy by getting a kit, including a stainless steel funnel that can be sterilized easily and is durable.

2. Sea salt. This will be nice for my pickle trials.

3. Jars, lids, and rings. I used to have a number of jars but since I give away pickles and jams, I am running out of them. My wish is to get 250 ml jars for jams (so that I can boil and can them), 1 liter jars with wide mouth (to be used in pickling and other adventures), and two 2-3 liters of pickling jars (so that I can make pickles in large amounts to consume over time). I am so excited! πŸ™‚

4. Non-stick frying pan. I replace these very year. No matter how carefully I use them, they always scratch over time.

5. Garbage bags. I love having a number of durable items in stock and garbage bags are one of them. I have enough bags to last another year, but one can never get enough of these bags, right? πŸ™‚

6. Steak knives. After 15-20 years one of my steak knives (I used them for all cutting purposes) got rusted last week. I am perplexed but I guess it is time that I look for a good deal on some sharp knives.

7. Trousers and leggings. I have a number of trousers stocked up, thanks to some sporadic sales. But the boxing day sales cannot be missed. If I can find a good sale, I would love to buy a couple more and also a pair of leggings so that I can start wearing dresses πŸ™‚

8. Thrift store visits. I love these adventures πŸ™‚ My wish list this time includes blouses/shirts, shopping tote, purse, back pack, a book or two on baking and canning, fabric and sewing items πŸ™‚ Who knows, maybe I will also find other items that I need or cherish.Β 

What a wonderful list πŸ™‚

 

Saturday noon musings

The beautiful day of Saturday has arrived πŸ™‚

I have been to a short trip yesterday for work and it has gone well. I made new connections, made a great presentation, got people interested in what I was to say, and enjoyed a number of meals and long walks in a city that was surrounded by water. Island cities can be really magnificent.

Beach GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I was very tired physically prior to this trip but I returned back replenished. My mind particularly. This change has been great to my fried nerves. Hence, I woke up feeling better and with a shoother mind. Things look a lot positive and lovely now πŸ™‚ The lesson learnt is to take breaks if we can and focus our minds to different things on the face of adversary. I know this very well theoretically; I am a difficult learner, but I hope one day practice will make it perfect πŸ™‚

Practice GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now I have a lovely day in front of me with no activity scheduled. I need to go shop a little bit, which would mean walking. I have neglected walking lately because of the pressing deadlines, but I will take this opportunity today to re-gain my love for walking. I am kind of reluctant right now, but I know I will find it great once I start, so as soon as I finish this post I will put on my walking shoes, grab my shopping tote, take myself out to street. I am sure the crisp air will make me delighted.

Walking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have a great Saturday everyone!

Happy Animation GIF by Chris Timmons - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/beach-travel-sea-26Ff8iOQQ31fap9BK;https://giphy.com/gifs/loop-flowers-pink-hair-l0HlOawzLhL5Pxwbe;https://giphy.com/gifs/walking-penguin-waddling-XZn9yRAjnVEQ0;https://giphy.com/gifs/MZg5d1aZTvsbe

 

#5 topic for reflection during holidays

I have been thinking; without taking new challenges, growth is stalled. Why do I not look at the problems as challenges and see how I learn and grow?

Taking issues as challenges will be my #5 topic to reflect during the reflection season (aka holiday season).

I have been dealing with a lot of issues all my life, both at work and at my social life. IΒ  yesterday mentioned about “liking my comfort zone” in the last few years. It is somehow related to this.

I have many work-place issues that I constantly try to solve. Little, big does not matter. They are constantly occurring. There are times that I am free of them, which are blessing. Naturally when one appears after such a period of comfortable time period, I react negatively.

I will try to take it easy next time. Next week I have an important meeting that can change things for me. I trust life. As long as I keep my cool, it is gonna be fine. I suspect that I will have to make a hard choice after this meeting, but it is possible that this choice is the better one. I must trust life. I must trust the unknown.

I will then decide with a soother and more rational mind.

#4 topic for reflection during holidays

This has been something I have been keep visiting but never fully committed to:

#4 topic for reflection during the holiday season for me is to take more risks. Being more bold. Doing things differently or doing different things.

I have had a tendency to move around my comfort zone, both at work and at life in the last few years. This past 6 months I somewhat moved into two new fields at work. It has been a bold step that was hard on me (too much stress and too much of a hard work), but it also helped grow me. Being interested in new topics, challenging myself, and then producing things/reports/projects that look really good gives a huge satisfaction. I would like to keep growing this way at work. Who knows; maybe I will even change my work πŸ™‚

As per my life and life-style, I need to apply a similar mind-set. The trouble is that as I age, I find that I need/enjoy more of stability and less of challenges. Social interactions would be one example – I am getting more and more enjoying a solo life and limited social interactions than before. Good? Bad? I do not know. But this might be one area to challenge myself.

Another area may be changing my style. This past weekend I wished I had worn dresses πŸ™‚ Would that not be amazing? With proper leggings/pants, summer or winter I may be able to enjoy this new style. I think it will be just fine together with my new (naturally silvery, pepper and salt hair) πŸ™‚

Goodness knows, maybe I will even go out to musicals or concerts πŸ™‚

#3 topic for reflection during holidays

Being more assertive is my #3 topic to tackle this year during my reflection season, aka, holiday season.

As I age I found that I got more understanding and tolerant. While these are great qualities, they are not always great. Sometimes we must sit back, evaluate, and then say no. Whether it is our own ego’s or somebody else’s request, it does not matter.Β 

This past year particularly I have had a number of experiences with my colleagues and work-place management where I was literally taken advantage of and burdened with extra work and ridiculous requests. Since winter I have been distancing myself from such a colleague and I still need to handle another one. Also, for some time now I have been asking questions and not saying yes to everything my management asks me to do. Hear me my fellow bloggers and do not sign anything before you absolutely sure to understand. There is so much sneaky management tricks that may fool you, especially if you are like me and tend to trust. Consult your union, knowledgeable people around you, or a lawyer. This is real.

So I have had some progress in this area and I know that I will keep going until all becomes manageable. There is more to be learnt and I am looking forward to it.

 

#2 topic for reflection during holidays

I kind of started doing my traditional holiday reflections today; I am early this year πŸ™‚

Anyways.

#2 topic for reflections during holidays will be my life.

In the last few years my main personal interest was to have a more frugal but enriched and simple life. I have done a good progress in this.Β 

Life goes on and years pass fast. While I am busy with work and trying to control my finances, many other aspects of my life are neglected. One important thing would be my family. Other important thing would be my health and emotional well-being. It is time that I realize as I get old, things that I can do get limited. What is important for me in the remainingΒ years of my life? I must find this out.

This year, I would like to remove money out of my main focus and rather concentrate on these under-served areas in my life. I know that I enjoy simple and frugal life and being resourceful. If I focus on these, I know that financial stability will follow. It is a shift in perspectives. Hopefully this will work out well.

Additionally I want to have a healthier and stronger body and mind. I missed my weight-training exercises and leisure walking. I missed my push-ups at home and exercises that help strengthen my lower back. Maybe I would care my eyes better; since I keep working and reading, I wear my glasses all the time. This is not good – my vision is negatively affected. I lost some weight in the last year and I can keep doing this by focusing on it. My aim would be to lose another 10 pounds. This is not a huge amount, but can take significant effort. I will see how it goes.

Also I want to keep developing new interests and abilities. Lately it has been pickles and marmalade. What will be the next interest of mine?Β Will I start writing that book finally this year? Is this my next project? Will I start a side-kick, an additional source of income this year? Will I start or undertake something with a significant impact on not only my life but others? Is it my time to start being an advocate?

What will happen to my work, though. Without the stability it gives me, none of these seems like a possibility. I am seriously fed up with the environment and the responsibilities I have. Maybe I should keep looking for work elsewhere? Other positions? What would it be? Where?

I feel like my life will reach a tipping point this coming year.

#1 topic for reflection during holidays

I need to protect my time better at the office and let others do their work. Not me. I repeat, I should not be doing others work.

Period.

Since last July I have done well preserving my energy to mostly my own work. That costed me my 5 weeks of annual leave being spent at home working hard to do my own work. What a ridiculous situation… I still do not know whether I should be laughing or crying over this.

On the positive side, however, it is good that I have realized this and prioritized my work and performance over other colleagues’.

During the holidays you know I like to reflect to improve things in my life. This will be area #1 to further improve.

More to come.

three weeks to holidays

Three weeks to holidays when we have 10 days off.

Every year I would be very excited about this. Except this year I have not come to that point yet.

See, I have been working non-stop since July and it kind of became a daily habit. Today I have submitted an important report, a third one in the last 6 months (which is very productive). I must be excited and relieved, but not yet, I see. I think it is because I have a short trip to make this week for business and I have some more deadlines/tasks to complete in the next few weeks. I should not be complaining that I am still on the “work” gear – it is very useful for me and my work. I just wished my mind was rather focused on the 10 days of off time, start making plans, and get excited about them πŸ™‚

I kind of think that two weeks later I will start slowing down. This would mean wrapping the little works, making and documenting projects for the new year ahead, and finally cleaning the office for once and best. this would mean dusting it, putting aside all the paperwork, or better yet dumping all in the garbage. It is my favorite thing to do at the office! What a great closure to a year of hard-work πŸ™‚

And as per the off time, my plans are more or less the usual; clean the every bit of the house, especially the floors; declutter nice and easy; donate the unwanted/unneeded items; shop and get stuff that I need, socialize with friends; read a book or two (have not done this for some time – it is the time that I get the pleasure of reading again); thrift; sew a piece or two; and reflect.

I have lots to reflect this year. As per work many things happened, first demoralizing/toxic organizational things and then the hard-work I have been doing since July. I have had three trips this fall (including the short trip I will make this week) and the one in Athens was particularly memorable. Also, I am getting used to my gray hair and do not even care about it anymore (what a strange thing that is….).

After celebrating and noting cherishable memories and experiences, it will come to this : “What do I want to change or improve then?”

We shall see πŸ™‚

Excited Duck GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/duck-excited-school-krewXUB6LBja

 

 

 

happy sourdough loaf – II

Today’s sourdough loaf has turned out to be another happy one with a great oven spring and happy smile πŸ™‚

my love affair with self-sufficiency

Life is interesting.

I have never been interested in cooking or being self-sufficient.

In the last two years, however, this has change. I still do not like cooking but baking, pickling, and jamming have been awesome. I could not be more excited πŸ™‚

Fermented food

Sourdough: I first became interested in baking bread and I now even have a sourdough starter that makes wonders every week πŸ™‚ I have not purchased any store-made bread since May 2016. I also shared my sourdough and commercial yeast loaves with my fiends. What a joy πŸ™‚

Kefir: I then was gifted by kefir grains within 2017 and i not only fell in love with kefir itself, but I made cheese/spread from it and even used it in baking bread πŸ™‚ Drinking kefir makes me feel good and I know that it gives me the calcium that I need at my age in addition to many nutrients. I am very happy with it πŸ™‚

Pickles: I did pickles before thanks to my mother, but I have never been this interested in it until recently – I love the beet and cabbage pickles I make! I think it is the benefit of living in a cold climate that the pickle lasts long without going bad and this way I always have a jar or two in my kitchen. I made three batches of beet pickles this fall enjoyed by myself and my friends πŸ™‚

Sauerkraut: And tomorrow I will try my first ever sauerkraut!Β 

How about this?Β 

I think I am moving in the right direction πŸ™‚

 

Jam/marmalade:

And just within the last 5-6 weeks, I started experimenting with making jam; dried fig jam first, then orange and tangerine, and today the raspberry jam/marmalade πŸ™‚

I feel like I am doing such a great job refraining from additives and chemicals in store-bought jams/bread/pickles. I must be rightfully proud of myself and I am!

 

Sewing

Okay.. I have not been as productive as I wished, but since I purchased my lovely sewing machine last year, I have done small stuff, including lots of covers for jars and discloth/cloth for the counter and window sills. I am yet to undertake a serious project, like a blouse or a quilt, but I know when the time comes, that will happen too πŸ™‚

 

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These are newfound interests for me and they have been enriching my life, providing me healthy and affordable food/items, and I feel increasingly “able”.

I really am excited about this change in me.

 

Squirrel GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/XSKhFtfGr1HYA

 

 

raspberry marmalade

 

IMG_3089
look at this colour. I dare you – look at it! πŸ™‚ doesn’t this look fantastic?

Yours truly continues to explore the world of jamming!

I wanted to try berry jam this time and found raspberries on sale the other day – how lucky I am?

Part inspired from others on the internet, part improvised, here is my frozen raspberry marmalade recipe πŸ™‚

Ingredients

  • 1 kg frozen raspberries (around 9 cups)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • juice of one lemon (8 tbs)
  • zest of a lemon

Recipe

  • Place the raspberries on a pot, cover with sugar, give a quick mix and let stand an hour or so
  • In the meantime, clean the jars. I used the dish washer and then placed them and the rings at pre-heated oven (220F) for 15 min. I pat-dried the lids using clean paper towel and set aside
  • At the end of one hour of resting, add the zest and lemon juice and bring the mix to boil on medium heat (takes around 10 min)
  • Continue to boil for 15 min until it reduces to half (make sure to mix to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot)
  • Pour in jars, clean the rims, place the lids, and close the rings (makes one liter of jam)
  • Water- or pressure-can if you would like to keep them for a long time (like a year), otherwise keep at the fridge and consume in 3-4 weeks
  • PS. The recipes I have seen usually calls for equal cups of raspberry and sugar – I used 50% less this time and to me it is perfect. Adjust the sugar levels as you like.

Bon appetite! πŸ™‚

 

joy journal – Nov 30, 2017

1. I am grateful for pampering myself in this long and tiring period of hard-work. I eat food my body craves for, I keep myself warm and cozy, and I make my daily life as comfortable as possible.

2. I am grateful for the snow we have had today! The first real snow of the year, which is always delightful to watch. The slow fall of the flakes, the white sky, trees, and roofs, and the need to drink a cup of hot tea. Magnificent! (remind me these in three months when I will be completely fed up with it πŸ™‚ )

3. I am grateful for two productive meetings today. One of them motivated a team member of mine and the other myself. I had asked for a favor from a colleague of mine and she did it during this meeting.Β  I feel awesome πŸ™‚ She was great really.

4. I am grateful for receiving the garbage collection schedule for the new year in the mail. It will help me remember to leave my garbage and recycle bag out on exact dates.

5. I am grateful for the new cardigan I got from the thrift store this weekend! It is a lovely piece, very soft and cozy, and keeps me warm. Come to think about it, this past year I almost renewed half of my wardrobe by purchases from thrift stores. They did not cost me a lot of money, they were fun to look for, and a delight to use. I feel lucky πŸ™‚

6. I am grateful for working at home and finishing up a report. It is due Monday and I think I have done really well. I had decided to draft it just 4 weeks ago, immediately after another big report. I was tired and exhausted then, but was also motivated to start this one because of its benefits. I have got quite a support from my colleagues and superiors who have seen its draft form. These make the time and energy spent on this report just fine πŸ™‚

7. I am grateful for my elbow feeling better thanks to physiotherapy. I never thought that it would be so beneficial considering that I waited like 5 months after the initial injury. Human body is a miracle and medicine is awesome πŸ™‚

8. I am grateful for tomorrow being Friday! I have only one meeting in the morning and the rest of the day I am free to finish small tasks and maybe go visit a thrift store. After all, I feel like I have deserved this break and the excitement to see all bunch of diverse items and clothes. Have you ever thought why we can find more diversity in thrift stores than regular retail stores? Very interesting.

9. I am grateful for being interested in life and work, although the latter has been getting on my nerves a lot lately. While the work place has been toxic, I found an opportunity to engulf myself in productive work rather than resentment. This feels like a good luck to me.

10. I am grateful for my computer, internet connection, and everything else I have that make my life comfortable and enjoyable.

11. I am grateful for being grateful.

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Things that I appreciate myself for today:

  1. I appreciate myself for working hard and seeing the benefits of it, even though my nerves seem to be on the edge
  2. I appreciate myself for keeping a simple and abundant life
  3. I appreciate myself for saving and investing for my future
  4. I appreciate myself for stretching
  5. I appreciate myself for liking and getting excited about little things in life

 

 

fried nerves and the Don Quixote syndrome

I woke up feeling like I was ready to charge and take down anything and everything that bothered me.

After an hour or so fuming with annoyance and having two productive meetings, this feeling thankfully subsidized.

I blame my fried nerves and extended period (since July) of non-stop working, shouldering every single problem at work, and resentment created by finishing tasks that others can do for this recent Don Quixote syndrome episode.

Don Quixote Illustration GIF by Sean Mirkovich - Find & Share on GIPHY

I just decided to take a week off from work to recuperate. I have a business trip to make soon, but after that I think it is best that I soothe my nerves by being away from the office and its problems, by reading books, by baking, jamming, and pickling, and by sewing the blouses that I was meaning to since last year but never found time to sew. Great plans!

Have a wonderful night everyone!

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choices, children, and the desire for a time-travel machine

I worked a lot this evening and as a result I am feeling hyper now πŸ™‚ Does that happen to you, too?

I am used to work till late, especially lately. It makes me tired and less thinking the itsy bitsy stuff, so actually I love sleeping well and not over-thinking during these intense work periods. Nevertheless, I am kind of annoyed tonite and am looking forward to winding down and relaxing.

While I sleep longer and deeper lately, interestingly I also dream more. Last night I have had two dreams, one about a little child that I met last weekend. He was one of these really kind and lovely kids. I felt quite an affection and protective feelings toward him.

Meeting with him made me think – should I have had kids?

Having a child has never been a real wish for me; it was partly because i was not married and was very busy with my work/career/life struggles. When I met this child, I kind of felt like I should have had kids. The love and affection I felt was awesome really.Β 

Then I remembered what an anxious type of a person I was and what a control freak of a mom I would turn into should I have a child. I know from a friend of mine that when you become a parent, anxiety related to the kids’ welfare, wellness, and happiness become the most important thing for you. It would not be something I could easily master or move on. That is a sad truth.

Or maybe I could. There are millions of parents on earth and some of them must haveΒ  personality like me. So, if others can manage it, so can I. why not? Right?

Adoption is always a choice. In the past, once or twice I have had considered it and eventually ruled out. Not that I would not like it. But because as a single person I did see it as a difficult task to take. I know from years back a single woman who adopted a lovely girl. She had a busy career as well, but did excellent with motherhood. I wish I had kept contact with her so that I could get an insider’s opinion/experience on adoption and child care.

Sometimes life is brutal I guess. I know what I have become has been shaped by my past choices. if only I was 20 years younger, perhaps I could make different choices.

That reminded me a new year eve 7-8 years back. I had that very strong wish to actually go back in time and re-start my life 10 years earlier. I had a lot of regrets and naiveness around me then. What if stories were true and one could move back in time?

I have a similar, albeit not as strong, wish today to go back and re-start my adult life. I wish we had not lost certain things in life, like our youth. I wish we could have better choices. I wish we lived our lives differently…

Logically I know whatever life I have right now is the best. There is no going back to certain things, abilities, experiences. I am old enough to know that whatever happens, it must be better than a less desirable outcome.

Today, I want to believe in this more than most other times.

December is coming!

We are about to welcome December soon πŸ™‚

December is always a good month; it signifies the end of our annual work/tasks, there are lots of deals and sales, and the last week of the month is usually off so that we can take a break from work, and focus on closing the year and welcoming a new one πŸ™‚

As usual, I cannot wait till the last week of December – this is a time that I can focus on mostly myself. Not work, not family, but myself. I usually spend it at home, too.Β 

My usual plans are to socialize a little bit (but not too much so that I can still find time for myself), shop at thrift stores and take advantage of other sales/deals, clean and declutter the house (cannot wait for his – always a delight), and stay away from work (if I can).

I also want to reflect on life, my life, the past year. Lots happened since last new year. There are lessons learnt, decisions made, and memories gained. I want to remember and realize these.

And make plans for future! I want to do this too! It is the most exciting part of it actually; there are things that I must change or appreciate by making new plans. Like my budget, my life-style, or work-related plans!

December is the perfect time to re-start.

Hope we all will have a great time in 2018 πŸ™‚

 

Sunday night musings

Lots of great things happened this weekend πŸ™‚

First of all; I have not worked this weekend πŸ™‚ A first in the last 6 months or so. I am still tired but my spirit is high, so all is well πŸ™‚

Second of all;Β I baked my first corn bread and it was delicious – that is so exciting! I can bake it of my guest as well πŸ™‚ I feel like my baking and cooking skills are significantly improved by this dish… I love this feeling πŸ™‚

Third of all; I thrifted today after a long time. I spent hours going through everything with excitement. I tried on maybe 30 pieces and bought three; one blouse that I was hoping to find (I have its exact same copy, which I love, love, love! I was hoping that I could find a similar one so that I could wear it for a longer time. Today my dreams came true πŸ™‚ ). I also bought two good-looking cardigans that i am sure I will wear with love. A very good day indeed πŸ™‚ I plan to thrift next weekend too.

Fourth of all; I cooked multiple meals for me this weekend, which is awesome. I usually would refrain from cooking or cook one meal to last 2-3 days, but not this weekend. How lovely is this? πŸ™‚

Fifth of all; I found a great deal on my favorite french press and ordered it πŸ™‚ It is expected within a week or so and I could not be happier πŸ™‚ I literally got it 75% off.. WOW! It is good that I have waited so long. Jack pot!

Sixth of all; I re-started push ups and back exercises to help ease my back problems and strengthen my arms, chest, and abs. My muscles are aching – that means my exercises are effective. I am happy with this!! πŸ™‚

Seventh of all; yesterday I used loyalty points for a large amount of shopping (like a hundred bucks) to purchase personal care and cleaning products. I found all items I was looking for and I only bought things that I will use or need. So every point/dime was used for a good purpose and no waste! πŸ™‚

Eighth of all; I am feeling good and lucky with all these positive experiences and this makes me relaxed and happier πŸ™‚

I could not ask for a better weekend!

Have a great Sunday night everyone πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

corn flour bread

I literally craved for this since yesterday πŸ™‚

I followed the recipe here with the exception of baking at 350F for 40 min, adding 2 jalapeno peppers (de-seeded and cut), and using corn flour (fine).

My verdict is that it is an easy and delicious bread that can be readied in an hour.

It was a little bit sweet for a bread, but it was not annoying. I would maybe add some more sugar next time to make it like a cake πŸ™‚

Jalapenos could have been lightly cooked prior to adding to the mix, but overall that was one great bake today! πŸ™‚

 

 

when I do not have cash I figured I cannot spend it

Since July I have had all the excuses (rightfully mostly, but still excuses) to spend money and pamper myself; take the cab, buy and eat junk food, etc.

I was sorry for leaving my wonderful frugal life style, but at the same time I also enjoyed spending money. I always thought the next week, the next day, after this deadline or the other I would comeback to my regular budget. And sometimes I have done this, too. But only transiently.

Yesterday it finally occurred to me that I could not save enough to make an extra 5K pre-payment to my mortgage by the end of December…. I have planned for this for a year….It was a sad moment….

It still is……

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So, I asked myself;

Well, how much can I pay?

3K at most and this is if I stop spending on unnecessary things and start being frugal right away.Β 

And how do I enforce this?

By making 2K as a pre-payment right away.

Now I have no extra cash in my chequing account – I cannot spend money.

πŸ™‚

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Tangerine jam

My jam-making saga continues!

I tried tangerine jam this weekend – my first ever trial with this citrus fruit and the third ever jam trial (previous ones were fig and orange jams).

Ingredients

  • 12 tangerines
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tbs of salt
  • juice of 3/4 lemon (8 tbs)
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 2.5 cups of peel (of 13 tangerine)

Recipe

  • Peel the tangerines, remove the white coat and seeds (there was no seeds in these tangerines, which is a great help)Β 
  • Add sugar, give a mix, and put aside for 1 .5 hours; mix every once a while
  • Immediately put the peels in a vinegar-water. At around 45 min after I added sugar to tangerines, I took them out one by one and scraped with the help of a knife. I then placed them in the vinegar water until use. Immersing them into liquid helps with swelling of the white coat. Vinegar helps with killing any microorganisms. Right before putting the jam on stove, slice the peels thinly.
  • At the end of 1.5 hours, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a “rolling boil”
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 min until it is reduced. Mix through the end to make sure jam will not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Clean the jars, rings, and lids. I placed them (except the lids) at 220F oven for 45 min. I dried the lids on a clean piece of paper towel.
  • Pour down the jam right away in jars, clean the rims, and close the lids. Makes jam enough for 2 x 500 ml mason jar
  • Keep in the fridge and enjoy within weeks (or try water or pressure canning for a longer time period)

Bon appetite!

PS; peels give a bitter taste to jam if the sugar content is not high enough. feel free not to use them. I love rinds because of their texture giving a lovely contrast πŸ™‚

 

 

 

“me” time; what? It is sacrificed for work tonite

Β I just finished up working…

My day started at around 8 am.

I missed the first bus and waited for the next while also reading a document at the bus stop. My first ever work at a bus stop!!!

Then I attended a long meeting. It at least had food and continuous stream of coffee, so that I could wake up after an hour or so. The meeting had many speakers and was interesting, but eventually I could not take it anymore and left early. I am not sorry!

I came directly home and worked, worked, and worked until this minute. When there are too many things to do all at the same time, when I cannot finish things at a time that I aimed for, and when time-crunches on me, I just feel inadequate. This feeling does not help. Luckily I have learned to ask myself what I was feeling and why. This exercise helped identify the cause of the stress I have had. I calmed down by reminding myself that this was not the first time I have found myself in such a situation.Β 

Eventually, I decided that I could do this even though it would mean that I would have to work till midnight and sacrifice “me” time. My other alternative would be to have “me” time tonite, which would mean I could find myself in the same situation tomorrow. And the next day to come. And so on…. The right choice was clear.

It was an epic struggle but I am happy to say that eventually I have done it.

Now I am gonna eat something.

Good night everyone – may you never have to sacrifice your “me” time..

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Orange jam

Here is my second ever jam trial and first ever orange jam πŸ™‚

I was mostly inspired by the recipe here, with minor changes.

Ingredients

  • 7 mid-big size oranges and 2 navel oranges (I decided to add these later and they were what I have had extra) – total around 3 pounds of oranges (including the peel)
  • 3 1/4 cups of sugar
  • Juice of one navel orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around 6 tbs)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced orange peel

 

Recipe

  • Wash the oranges, peel, and remove the white coat as much as possible (also the seeds)
  • Piece the oranges as you please; I have used my hand to have around 2 cms of pieces
  • Pour over the sugar, mix, and put aside for 2 hours. Mix with a spoon every 30 min

Peels:

Put the peels on vinegar-water.Β After 1 hour or so, take out the peels and remove the white coat as much as possible. I found that putting the peels in water helps remove it with the help of a knife. It is not an easy task, but doable. After that, place the peels on a cutting board with inside up and use the knife the scrap the coat – it is surprisingly easy this way.

  • Cut thinly and put aside
  • At the end of 2 hours, add all ingredients except the peels and bring to a vigorous boil, continue to simmer at medium heat for 45 min – it should be reduced a little bit
  • Add the peels, continue to simmer at medium heat for another 30 min. Mix every few minutes
  • Cool down and pour into the jars, close the lid and the ring.
  • Makes 2 x 500 ml jam

Jars:

I washed the jars, rings, and lids in washing machine. Then placed in an oven at 220F for around 40 min in order to kind of sterilize

Verdict: It was somehow too sweet for me, so feel free to use less sugar, but otherwise, yummy :). I love the peels making a contrast with soft orange. I did not water or pressure canned it, so preserve it in the fridge and consume within weeks.

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

in preparation for the long weekend

We have a long weekend coming up – The Remembrance Day in Canada. We remember once again all the armed forces that died while protecting us. May they all rest in peace. What a sacrifice..

Hence the next Monday is a holiday. This is the last one before the holidays. Needless to say I am excited about it. Here are my plans:

  1. Make orange jam! Yes, my first trial of this type and second trial of jam πŸ™‚ Exciting!
  2. Work. I will take this opportunity to do some more work, now that I have a great acceleration. Things are moving and I feel fantastic about how creative I am nowadays. Very much appreciated.
  3. Sew something? I have not been able to find time to sew anything lately. Even jam covers would be nice – let me try that πŸ™‚
  4. Thrift store visit. I want to do that so hard πŸ™‚ Time to renew my wardrobe a little bit and purchase clothes that are more active-style like. I figured with my new short hair (which seems to make me look young) and the gray hair growing fast (which reminds me constantly that I am not young anymore), I find that an active style makes me feel better about myself.Β 

 

joy journal – November 7, 2017

1. I am grateful for prioritizing my time and working effectively today. That is why I am not sorry for taking the cab from and to my home and making some additional extra expenses to keep myself pampered and time-efficient today.

2. I am grateful for my friends telling me how much they have liked the fig jam I made this past Sunday! It is always a delight to see friends appreciate my food – as a person who does not enjoy cooking this is a great feeling indeed. There is something great about sharing food, too.

3. I am grateful for getting a compliment on my hair today πŸ™‚ Did I mention that I have had a hair cut and now my gray hair is more visible? I was very sad to see them at first but over time I grew to love my hair and the new style. I do not know whether in the future I will have the same feelings, but at least so far, I have not reverted back to dying my hair, which is a significant success!

4. I am grateful for the wild rice soup I have made and consumed today. It is a delicious and completely improvised recipe. I am proud of myself and cannot wait to serve it to my guests.

5. I am grateful for the beet pickles I made last week. They are tasty and give me an opportunity to snack on them, rather than eating bread or other carbs.

6. I am grateful for my kefir grains. They keep providing me kefir and cheese. I am now drying a bunch of them for later use. I hope I will be able to revive them later so that I can always have these magnificent organisms and kefir in my life πŸ™‚

7. I am grateful for doing my physiotherapy exercises to help my elbow heal. It has been since May that I have had the problem. It is sad to see my body needing therapy like this, but hey, considering my age I guess this kind of things are just normal. Nevertheless, I must care for my body and keep it in good and strong shape. Goodness help me! πŸ™‚

8. I am grateful for the flowers in my yard sill striving and flowering. The weather was so nice this year that I am not surprised that they still are alive. I am collecting their seeds with the hope that I can have more of this plant next year.

9. I am grateful for all the food in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. I think I will not need a big grocery haul this week. Time to consume what already have πŸ™‚

10. I am grateful for watching movies and listening to music. They are distracting me when I need most and relaxing me when I cannot take stress anymore πŸ™‚

11. I am grateful for working really hard nowadays. I started a new project last week, which has moved really well in the last two days. I surprised myself with my performance today and I am glad that work is moving well. I do not know whether they will find interest and get approved for us to do them, but designing and writing them are the best thing I can do. The rest will be at the hands of life. Let’s hope for the best outcome πŸ™‚

12. I am grateful for the flexible working hours that allow me to come home and continue to work without distraction.

13. I am grateful for having no disastrous events in my life nowadays. I live in a safe and comfortable city that makes my life easy and peaceful.

14. I am grateful for sleeping well last night. Nowadays my sleep pattern is healthier than last few weeks when I used to sleep for only a couple of hours.

15. I am grateful for this weekend being a long weekend! My plan is to use the extra time to complete some work and also try orange jam! Yes, you have heard right – I want to try another jam, this time something that is my favorite. I may share it with friends should it turn out to be a nice one.

16. I m grateful for being grateful and taking my time to write these.

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Things that I appreciate about myself today:

  1. I appreciate the fact that I keep working and trying
  2. I appreciate the fact that I do not completely strain myself and relax some tight plans, such as my budget, in order to function better
  3. I appreciate the fact that I have lots of great food at my home
  4. I appreciate the fact that I find excitement and interest in small things, like pickling and jamming
  5. i appreciate the fact that I do a great job

 

 

 

 

 

Happy sourdough bread!

IMG_2935

Here is today’s sourdough bread with a happy, happy, happy face! πŸ™‚

It will be gifted to a colleague of mine, who gave me a ride this weekend – hope they will like it πŸ™‚

Dried Turkish fig jam with sesame seeds

And I present you my first ever fig jam’s recipe πŸ™‚

One of my friends gifted me with 2-pounds of dried Turkish fig a couple of months ago – yum yum yum πŸ™‚ I have been meaning to make jam with it and today was that day, my friends!

I have been inspired by many recipes on the internet, this oneΒ and this oneΒ particularly. I combined the general recipe of the first one (without the vanilla stuff) and the sesame seeds of the other, and voila here is my first ever dried fig jam!

Recipe

  • Wash briefly 2 pounds of dried Turkish figs (64 big sized and moist figs – one fig was eaten as per quality control(!) before the jamming process. I needed to do that, right? πŸ™‚ )
  • Remove the stalks, boil water, and soak the figs in water for 40 min, close the lid of the container to keep the heat in
  • Strain and drain the excess water (this is a delicious liquid, which I have drank without any reservation πŸ™‚ )Β 
  • Dice thinly – around 8 diced figs make up a cup
  • Toast 1/8 cups of sesame seeds, put aside
  • Put the diced figs in a pot; add 3 cups water, 3 cups white sugar, 1 tsp salt, juice of 1.5 lemon (around 10 tbs), and the sesame seeds
  • Bring to a vigorous boil, close the lid and simmer at low heat for 12 minutes
  • Cool for 10 min with pot’s lid open (to prevent moisture from the lid going into the jam) and put in cleaned jars (wash with soap and hot water; then transfer them into an oven at 220F for 30 min – rings included, except the lids which were air dried and patted down with paper towel)
  • Pour into jars , clean the rims of the jars, close the lids and rings
  • cool down and refrigerate. I believe it is supposed to be consumed in a month or so Alternatively water or pressure can it for longer duration. Jam can also be processed in a blender for a smoother jam. You can add less or more lemon juice – this was slightly sour and it complemented the sweet taste so well πŸ™‚
  • This jam fit into four x 500 ml mason jar
  • Bon appetite!

 

 

 

Sunday morning musings

First thing first, I am enjoying my coffee – what else πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Coffee Upload GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It is a beautiful morning, quiet and with an open sky. Traditionally we expect our first snow sometime this month. I actually love seeing snow. It is the ice and snow banks on the side walks that prevent me and others from safely walking during winter. Other than that, there is something nice and innocent about this fluffy white substance called snow…

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Anyways, did I mention that yesterday I participated in a community event where I and 5 other colleagues/trainees had a booth and distributed information and implemented games/puzzles to draw attention to our work? It was the best thing I have done lately, with lots of small kids visiting us. We have had lots of fun and laughter together. Knowledge exchange and dissemination directly with the public puts a significant meaning to our work and it is highly motivating. We must be doing more of these events!

Since this event took almost the whole day before 5 pm, now I must take care of the weekend chores including doing the laundry. My regular Sunday activity of baking a sourdough is on the list as well. And, today my friends I will try dry fig jam for the first time πŸ™‚ Let’s see how this will turn out. A portion of the jam will go to my colleague who gave us a ride to yesterday’s event (together with the sourdough), to my friend who gave me the figs, and another colleague/friend of mine who has treated me to a dinner last week. I hope that I will be able to get a good jam. I have never tried that before but in my experience the recipes online are good enough and my first trials are always better than second trials! πŸ™‚

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And the daylight saving adjustment is in effect as of today and we have one hour longer to enjoy in this beautiful Sunday. I wish all of you are going to have great time and make beautiful memories today πŸ™‚

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weekly budget check

I have not done these checks for some time. It was because I mostly over-spent since July, but I am almost back to my regular, frugal budget.

This week I over-spent my weekly allowance by $19.5. I have made silly choices and spent unnecessarily but I would love to stop doing this. Let me see what this week will bring πŸ™‚

I made a pre-payment to my mortgage in the amount of ~$1,600 today and I am feeling fantastic about this! I think it reduced the interest by round $50-60 – what better feeling than this right now πŸ™‚

I still have some fun funds left (around $800), which I hope to bring to around $1,000 till the end of the year. These funds will be useful in making yet another mortgage pre-payment. I was planning to make an additional pre-payment in the amount ofΒ $5,000 by the end of December, but I am not so sure anymore… I found myself shopping (to take advantage of the sales), I need a new hair treatment coming, and there is at least one hefty social that I must shoulder next month….. I should not lose my hope and keep working towards this goal of making pre-payment. I know that even if I can make half of it, it will be fantastic.

This is the beginning of a new financial week for me (starting tomorrow) and I know that once I set the tone frugal it will likely go frugal. My plan for this week is to be mostly using the food in my freezer and pantry. I have so much food! It is time that they are consumed. I expect this to keep my grocery expenses low this week. This will further motivate me to keep frugal πŸ™‚

an appreciation of the last 4 months

I made the final deadline of an important task yesterday and as of yesterday I am thinking “what a fantastic 4 months I have had” πŸ™‚

It was hard, stressful, and full of personal and professional struggle, but I made it! Now, all I can reflect on it how beneficial and useful all these were.

let’s start with the beginning; we have had a fantastic summer and I walked during the day in the nature. It was very enjoyable and relaxing. I kept thinking how bright the future would be.

I made a job application out of frustration re; my work place; even though I have not heard from them, it was nice to see what I was up to. A personal and professional development opportunity indeed.

Then I took my vacation time (4 weeks ) to work at home and to get away from the meetings. I have done an enormous number of things during this summer and fall, which is such a great thing. I am very satisfied with my performance, even though I have no idea how the outcome will be. I trust life.

I made two over-seas trips (business trips) and have had interesting experiences. I was so focused on working that I missed many opportunities to enjoy my life, but now I just laugh at my naive-ness πŸ™‚

I have dealt with serious and difficult tasks, one particularly very challenging. It dragged me down, made me suspect my abilities and made me lose precious time. But I made it, however imperfect it was. And I learnt about myself a long the way; I learnt that I do not quit when it is important for me. Something that I respect myself for. This experience also made me realize that I pull through difficult times, no matter what, and I can do this again!

In between all of these, I also decided to transition to gray hair, and boy, have I got the most challenging time! I hated my hair, felt old and lost, but kept going anyways. I am more brave than I think I was. What better feeling than this?

I have learnt that I can take risks and not be scared of them or failing. I learnt that I am stronger than I think I was and this feels great.

I have had a wonderful 4 months and now that it passed, I can reflect and realize.

I love this opportunity to learn about myself, changing as a person and as a professional, and undertaking more serious tasks and experiences.

Life is good my friends πŸ™‚

 

 

random thoughts

It was a strange day for me.

I went to work, got my usual 3-cups of coffee, and realized that my mind was not focused on work at all. So I decided to walk to a nearby shopping centre. I bought some much needed items that were on sale, bought myself a nice latte (with pumpkin spice; yummy) and two toasted bagels as breakfast, checked out two thrift stores nearby, and bought a lovely cardigan from one of them. I then had my hair cut somewhere on the way back to the office. I have short hair now and my gray hair is so easy to see. I think I am getting used to it more than I would like to admit. I do not like getting old and I will write about this later, but I think I actually am getting used to gray… Strange…..

Anyways, I had not realized that I had spent so much time out today – when I returned back to office, it was 4 pm already πŸ™‚ I worked a little and walked back home.

It has been sometime that I lost myself like this, fully focusing on shopping or going around the stores, without thinking work too much…

What a beautiful experience.

 

random thoughts

I have had a good weekend and I am very happy about this πŸ™‚

I am back to my regular self after four months of rush-rush-stress-stress work marathon and two over-seas trips.

I am eating better and healthy, I walk whenever I can, and my budget is back to its wonderful self πŸ™‚

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My hair is transitioning to gray alright and I have not lost my mind over the abundance of grays or the presence of many different colours in my hair, even though I know I HATE this hair, goodness knows I want to DYE it like right now, and I never knew I could be that BRAVE to carry this hair!!

Peace… I need to make peace with this hair, but it is so challenging…

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Anyways; going back to positive experiences….I plucked out weeds and unnecessary plants from my yard, moved a nice flower somewhere else so that next year I can plant food at the back of the yard, enjoyed the mints and flowers still striving, and felt the satisfaction of knowing that now my yard is ready for winter. There is nothing much to be done. I have done good.

I am baking a great-looking sourdough loaf and I will be sharing my beet pickles and potato salad with my friends, who invited me over for a dinner tonite. I am so looking forward to their company and having great time.

Good people make all the difference πŸ™‚

Have a great Sunday everyone! πŸ™‚

 

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fast beet pickles

I have got a great recipe from my mom which I am happy to share.

1. Peel the beets (I do that – many people boil beets in their skin, but I do remove them so that I can use the beet-water later) and chop

2. Put beet bits inΒ  boiling water and boil for 15-25 min. I like my pickles kind of crisp and not mushy; but you can adjust the boiling time as short or long as you please

3. Put the beets in jars that are clean and sterilized (I wash them in the dish washer and let the steam work on them. This time I also kept them at oven heated up to 212F (100C)Β  for 20 min. I treated the rings the same. As per the lids, I only washed them in the dishwasher and then dried with paper towel)

4. Close the lids but do not tighten yet; let cool the beet-water

5. Brine: per 750 ml jar; peel and grate 3 mid-size garlic; add vinegar+beet water (1 in 4 ratio), 2 tbs of sugar and 1 tbs of salt. Mix well

6. Pour down the brine over the beets (around 1 1/3 cup brine/each jar), make sure it covers them. Close tightly and preserve the jars in the fridge or a cool place (mine are always on the kitchen counter; we have a cool climate and my kitchen is heated up to around 17C).

7. These pickles can be enjoyed immediately. ConsumeΒ within a short time (2-4 weeks).

 

TIPS:

  1. You know beets will create a mess and you will clean and clean and clean, right? So, be careful and gentle while handling it πŸ™‚ I placed a number of towels around to make sure the mess will be contained, yet sill needed to clean my wall. Oh, well. I may be just clumsy (and I am) πŸ™‚
  2. You can increase the ratio of vinegar to water and reduce the sugar; this will help with keeping the pickle longer. I personally love this ratio; it does not smell like vinegar and tastes sweet. Just the way I love it πŸ™‚
  3. Since this pickle is not sterilized like in water baths or pressure canners etc, it is best consumed soon (like within a month). Always keep in the fridge to protect it from getting spoiled. Use sterilized tools and cans to reduce the chance of spoilage.
  4. I found the long beets rather than round ones make better pickles; I think it is easier to cut them and have decent sized bites.
  5. Use fresh beets – cannot believe what a difference it makes! One of my colleagues had brought me a bunch from her farm and the pickle I have made using these beets were the best. I purchased today’s beets from farmers market. Crunchy beets they were – the best πŸ™‚

 

 

today’s sourdough loaves

Because of my trips lately I had depleted my frozen bread stock. I feel a lot better when I have extra loaves at the freezer. Thus, I baked two sourdough today using the same recipe πŸ™‚

They both turned out to be lovely! Thin crust and soft crumb, with a kick of salt and feeling very homey πŸ™‚ The oven spring was way more powerful that I would imagine, as both loaves had sides cracked despite the fact that I had scored their surface πŸ™‚ Something worked really well πŸ™‚

The catch is that I had run out of bread flour, so I had to prepare the dough with all purpose flour.Β Now, IΒ  never have had a good rise with all purpose flour, even though I am in Canada (people says that Canadian all purpose flour is as good as the bread flour with high protein content…). That is why I thought I would add some oat or rye flakes to dough – my previous experience with these additions is that they make the yeast somehow happier and dough better and airy.

Recipe:

  • I used 1 cup of rolled rye flakes soaked for 2 hours in 1 cup of water, which was then topped with 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt, 1 1/3 cups of starter, and I believe 2.5 cups of water.
  • I used the stretch and fold technique to form the dough and left it at room temperature over night to rise.
  • In the morning, I was looking at a puffy and healthy dough πŸ™‚ I cut it into two, one smaller than the other, shaped, rested for 10 min, and then placed them in proving containers. The small one was proven in an oven pot and the other one was formed into a long loaf and placed on a cookie sheet surrounded with items to keep it in shape.Β I left them at room temperature for 4.5 hours to prove.
  • I scored them and then baked at non-pre-heated oven at 350F for 55 min.

Voila πŸ™‚

Sunday morning musings

It has been a while that I poured my heart out here; am I busy? Tired? Temporarily not interested in?

I do not know the answer to this, but I know blogging always made me feel good.Β 

I will start with “fuming”; I am still upset about the corruption and hatred I observed in Greece towards some other nations. Shame. If that was yet another developing country people would be more than ready to shame such behavior. We have double standards and we better recognize this and start treating the same behavior with same reaction. Hatred, a wide-spread hatred, towards nationalities of a person is not right. Whether this is done by a so-called developed country or developing country does not matter. Wrong is wrong.

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As per my schedule; this week is quite important. I have been working very hard since July but after this week, it will only get better. Goodness knows that I am just hanging in there, slowly working out tasks that would normally take 1/5th of the time… I feel like I am just crawling and keeping going. This one I should give myself a huge credit for: no matter what I have not quit. Until the last minute of my deadline, I will work to get it done. Well done.

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This year has passed quite fast, I would say. I cannot believe it is October already and we have only 2 more months till the holidays. I am so looking forward to this time. I will have around 11 days off and I want to use this time to take a rest and contemplate. I want to know what I want from life and how to get it.

When we are busy or when our minds are busy with things, it is so easy to forget the time and reflecting…. I am a true believer of reflections making a positive change and improvement in one’s life. I just need to sit, relax, remember and synthesize what happened and how I reacted, and think about what I would like to change or get in the future and how to do this… I have two more months to do this and it is exciting πŸ™‚

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My final thought for this morning would be about October. We are having a great October/Fall with trees turning colours. It is a magical scenery…. I always found fall consistently good for me and for my psyche. It is the perfect time to slow down, enjoy the time being, and getting ready to shed the outer layers during the great hibernation season of winter. I cannot wait πŸ™‚

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Have a great Sunday everyone!

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back to my frugal self this week

Seems like I have had enough of the over-spending spree that has been happening since July.

Except one, all my deadlines are met, a large volume of work is done, and I completed two over-seas business trips.Β My stress levels are low (knock on the wood) and I am feeling like having a simple and frugal/resourceful life is easy now πŸ™‚

Accordingly, this week my spending was way below my weekly allowance. A first in the last 3 months….. I am proud and very excited about this πŸ™‚

Cannot wait to feel the joy coming out of frugal life and collecting all the savings that I will use for my advantage, such as having mortgage pre-payments πŸ™‚

 

back from Europe

I am back from business trip / vacation at a European country. Greece to be exact.Β 

While it was great to be away, the business meeting went really well, and I much appreciated the opportunity to just sit and see a museum or two, I must say the corruption of the cab drivers (they extra charge and they are not ashamed about this, or not turning the meter on, or picking up a second passenger and collect fees from both you and them!!!!!) and the hatred of the Greek people towards some nations/immigrants threw me away very strongly this time.

I plan to not go there again.

Sorry, not sorry.

I know many nations that promote hatred and many nations do not. Be more like those which do not.

Shame on all of you countries/governments/cultures, who do promote hatred of others.Β 

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Other than this I think I am okay.

I was in a pretty edged-shaped right before I started the trip, and the first two days of it I constantly and very annoyingly fought with everyone in my mind! It was so strong that I needed to just sit down and self-therapy myself.

Here is a excerpt from the self-therapy:

………………………..

it is okay to know

it is okay not to know

it is okay to be angry

it is okay to think

it is okay to feel

…………………..

It was very effective. Instead of labeling things as “good” or “bad”, being neutral to anything in life may be boring but also does not create any expectation or frustration. My new realization πŸ™‚

It is okay to feel, and it is okay to be angry, and it is okay to be okay…..

πŸ™‚

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Today I am slowly back to my routine and I really am enjoying it.

I hope you all have had a great week and are enjoying the weekend πŸ™‚

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less is more…

I have come across a horoscope on the internet today. I do not believe in horoscope or estimating future. So my relationship with horoscopes is quite rejecting. But I could not help but read this one, which ended with the phrase “less is more“.

It is talking about not only physical but also mental clutter. I am good at keeping my home minimally cluttered. But, how about my mental clutter?

I am guilty of mental clutter that often drags me down.

I tried many times in the past to effectively block this mental negativity. Exercise is good, reading an exciting book is good, making plans is good, working is good.

I work big time, especially nowadays, but it is actually a resource for the mental clutter. So what do I do?

While quitting my job crosses my mind, logically I do not want to do this. I have commitments for the next 3 years, so it is out of question. Plus, I have no better alternative right now, so it is not a feasible option.

Then, what is my solution?

I do not know but a break and de-stressing would be awesome. Timing could not be better – I am going away for a couple of days for a business trip. This will give me much needed break from office. But it will not be a permanent solution – as soon as I returned back, I will find myself in the same stressful and on-the-edge situation.Β 

Removing negative people from my life would be a good option to tackle. I have a friend and colleague who is quite negative and constantly complaining about the work and other colleagues. As a good friend and senior colleague, I listen. I have been listening to for years now, and I cannot take it anymore. Time to keep my distance….

Setting a time aside to meditate each day would be an amazing thing to do. If done properly, this “doing nothing” state always made me feel better and more optimistic.

And being grateful for my job. Just yesterday I realized that I had missed to be grateful for my job….. There are so many things to be grateful for it. I make a living thanks to my job. I am a part of a big organization and train young professionals thanks to it. I have benefits and vacation time thanks to it. I save and invest for my future thanks to it. I have a place in my community thanks to it.Β 

There are countless things to be grateful for my job.

I think remembering these will help make this difficult times turn around.

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cannot believe it is October already..

The year has passed very fast.

Last October I was trying to get a good deal on my sewing machine. It was an exciting ordeal πŸ™‚

Then I shopped for gifts and my own needs by taking advantage of the sales.

Then came December and the holiday season. It was nice.

A year later here I am not knowing how to process this speedy pass of time. I managed to live one more year. I also became a year closer to my own death. Hmmm..

Maybe I should keep this in my mind and sweeten my life a little bit.

 

joy journal – Oct 1, 2017

1. I am grateful for sleeping well and waking up in relatively good mood. I am feeling better today, with no obvious negative thoughts or stress. Lovely πŸ™‚

2.Β I am grateful for my coffee πŸ™‚ This drink is a great start to day, waking me up and giving me an instant satisfaction and pleasure. It is great that we have means to prepare coffee anytime anywhere at an affordable price.

3.Β I am grateful for cooking chick peas πŸ™‚ I had put around a pound of peas in water yesterday. I was not expecting them to cook in 30 min πŸ™‚ My mom was right – if you simmer them after they start to boil, it helps them to cook faster. Counter-intuitive, is it not? But give it a try. I am sure you will be surprised as much as I was πŸ™‚

4.Β I am grateful for baking two great sourdough loaves today. I feel abundant and joyful.Β 

5.Β I am grateful for working at home, nice and easy. I could not as much as I wanted to do, but I have done good. This takes some of the stress away from me.

6.Β I am grateful for not chickening about a document I am reviewing. It is a kind of critical document that requires my full attention. I cannot make a mistake, or ignore a detail. It has been going well, knowing that I am doing my best and it is pretty good. My experience with this document helped me to develop some kind of confidence in my ability to handle critical assignments. There happened in me some kind of acceptance that it was difficult, can have significant negative consequence should I not do a comprehensive and thorough review, but it was what it was. An opportunity to grow.

7.Β I am grateful for the kefir cheese I made from kefir yesterday and today. It is healthy and tasty. Both my sourdough bread and kefir cheese seem to be resistant to microbial growth, which is quite pleasing.

8.Β I am grateful for my internet connection and computer that make my life easier and fuller.

9.Β I am grateful for getting used to silvery tone of my hair. Right now I do not feel like I am old. Who knows what I will feel tomorrow, but I will take this positive thought right now.

10.Β I am grateful for the safe home and neighbourhood. It is quite and peaceful. The only noise I can hear is from my internet and keyboard.

11.Β I am grateful for having the night to myself.

12.Β I am grateful for speaking with my family today. They are always nice and supportive.

13.Β I am grateful for feeling courageous today. I needed this feeling.

14.Β I am grateful for the gray weather that helped me to stay at home and work.

15.Β I am grateful for making beet pickles yesterday πŸ™‚ I thought they would take a lot of time, but I was wrong. This is my second or third time making them. I noted the ingredients and their measurements (that my mom told me) to help me in the future.

16.Β I am grateful for my notebooks, pens, and paper that make me write on. Writing always relaxed me. Like this moment, even though it is an electronic text.

17. I am grateful for all the food I have in my fridge and pantry.

18.Β I am grateful for having no pain today.

19. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note these here.

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Things that I appreciate about myself:

  1. I appreciate the fact that I keep going, no matter what
  2. I appreciate the fact that I am not scared of difficult tasks
  3. I appreciate the fact that I keep a quiet life
  4. I appreciate the fact that I keep my contact with my family
  5. I appreciate the fact that I cook simple but healthy food the majority of the time
  6. I appreciate the fact that I enjoy the scenery of my yard
  7. I appreciate the fact that I make an attempt to keep my home clean
  8. I appreciate the fact that I always take at least 2 hours per day to chill down and relax
  9. I appreciate the fact that I am a good friend and ready to help my friends
  10. I appreciate the fact that I have been kind to myself nowadays
  11. I appreciate the fact that I floss and enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

baked two sourdough loaves today :)

I baked two loaves today – my freezer stock has been depleted. One always need a decent home-made sourdough bread πŸ™‚

Both loaves have been sightly sticky, risen at room temp for about 18 hours (at round 17 C). For the baton loaf, I used a pot to rise, whereas the other one was risen in a mixing bowl. The latter was slightly more sticky in the next morning and required quite a bit of flour to handle. I also needed to use a lot of flour to keep it from sticking to baking clothe while proving. This inevitably resulted in a pale looking loaf. I have risen the baton loaf on parchment paper between a couple of stuff to help keep its shape.Β 

The prove time was 4 hours for the round loaf and around 5 hours for the other. I baked them at 350F for around 55-65 minutes.

The end results are good with lots of air pockets. The big pockets in the round loaf are worrisome, telling me that I did not do a good job deflating the dough in the morning. The baton loaf had a much better crumb, which was very pleasing.

Bon appetite! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Saturday morning musings

Another Saturday morning filled with fresh coffee, music, and “me” time πŸ™‚

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It is a kind of chilly day that deserves staying at home and finding ways to enjoy the day. I have no plans to shop or go out for other reasons, so this suits me well today.

I must, however, do house chores, my necessary yet un-joyful weekly activity, which continues to break into my day time plans. It is a great reminder of what needs to be done in order to have a comfortable house life. And, I will do the chores, knowing that after them I will feel great about myself, my home, and my life overall. So give me justΒ  another hour to reach this level of serenity.

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The optimism I have had last night continues. I keep repeating in my mind the past experiences that always lifted my life after a period of hardship. I will be fine. I do not know when and how, but life will be good to me again. There are times that we must change things or ourselves, but resist or cannot do. Eventually life takes it at its own hand and puts you in a period that is challenging, anxiety-creating, and uncomfortable. We must go through this time, which maybe we were supposed to be with our own efforts, but did not. Life corrects us.Β 

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They say wisdom comes with age and I kind of believe in this now. Our past experiences not only develop us, but also help us understand how life works and have hope for the future.

I have had many hard periods of life as well – it was not fun. Once upon a time (a.k.a. when I was younger), I had had a sense of adventure that made me curious about life and future possibilities. The entire world was under my feet, I felt strong, able, and good. Those times have left me a while ago. I think it is my current conditions that I prefer; living in a small city, having a once-permanent and great job which is hard to leave, etc. that made me feel living in a much smaller “world”. Aging and having past medical conditions exaggerate this feeling as well – I find myself asking and wishing for a stable and comfortable life conditions. So my choices are limited.

What are my choices?

For today?Β 

For tomorrow?

For the next few years and beyond?Β 

I want to be responsible for my life and life-style, the way I think and process information, and the way I act.Β 

Considering the difficulties I have experienced currently, making different and better choices is gonna be hard to do, but I know that once I start it, just like my house chores, it will likely move on.

Best to everyone out there who is struggling one way or the other.

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trusting life during hardship

Our work place continues to be toxic and putting lots of pressure on us. One of my colleagues and I were having a conversation today and we both are fed up.

I cling because I have no interest in losing what I have built in the last decade here. I also do not wish to lose my financial stability and benefits. Honestly looking for a job does not sound so exciting, either. While I still think about resignation time to time, I silence myself and keep going.

I know that this is a very challenging time. The last one year has been quite stressful and pressing. The last three months I have been working too hard. I have lost my daily routine, budget, and healthy life-style and scummed into high levels of stress, junk food, and financial waste. I am not pleased with this, but at least a part of the work is going well.

This is not the first challenging time of my life. Before I found this job, for two years I had lived in financial limbo, not knowing what to do. I had jobs but they were just enough to keep going, without making me happy or excited. Then I have got this job, which is decent but comes with lots of hardship. These previous times I was like right now, not knowing what the future would bring and how I could find a solution… It hurt, but eventually these times were followed by my current job, which solved at least the financial part of my problems.

Tonite I am kind of thinking that perhaps the current difficult time is a transition to a much better time…. The future can actually be an adventure….. It can be a much better job, a change of location, and finding what I had longed for but forgotten or failed to attain in life.

Why not?

Yes,Β I have a kind of optimism that I hope will last πŸ™‚

I believe that these difficult times will lead to a brighter future, and I am being excited about what the future may bring πŸ™‚

For a usually skeptical and pessimistic person I welcome this change in my perception.

I think I just trust life now.

πŸ™‚

my new hair – II

After 8 weeks of first treatment (e.g. dyeing and highlighting), I have visited a hair salon for the second time as part of my saga to transition to my natural, gray hair (you can find a picture of my hair at around 10 days agoΒ here).

It took around 3 hours to foil the highlights (platinum) and dye the rest of the hair to a neutral dark gray/light brown colour, followed by application of toner.Β 

I must say the new dresser was awesome; very understanding and positive. When I saw my new hair, I have had a reaction similar to previous treatment, but much milder and much more positive……Such a change is not easy to take. I feel like my hair will never have a dark colour anymore (feels like an end of an era… it is saddening…).

I also look old.

Much older than I thought I would look…

I can always start dyeing my hair, so that is a freedom that I may or may not exercise. We will see.

My new colour is much lighter than any other time in my life, very close to dark gray. My roots (which were not treated today) nicely mix with the new colour. I have strong platinum highlight at around my face, which I specifically asked for. There could be no better way to transition to my natural hair. I am rationally very, very pleased.

It is just that I must get used to this hair. I also think that if I smile more or change my make up, I may look better. Not a mid-age and tired woman, but a mid-age woman gracefully comfortable in her own skin……

IMG_2390

IMG_2389

 

my perfect life

Working very hard, feeling agitated and dealing with negative emotions related to mostly work, I feel more and more the need of sitting down and reflecting.

I have some inner work to do, which I have been neglecting, because almost all of my energy and time has been spared for work in the last three months. There are many warning sings, like being on the edge, having high blood pressure time to time, and lack of patience generally. I must stop and reflect.

This morning while trying to win the mental judo in my mind, I asked myself what would be my “perfect” life?

I know there is no such thing.

But I also know that I can always strive for a better life and more inner peace.

To reach that level, I must change the level of attention I pay to issues and peoples’ behaviors (that bother me). I must bring myself to my core, the loving life force, and open my eyes and mind to the bigger picture called life. I must set aside a time to just breathe and connect.

Even the idea of “setting time aside” puts me off.. When did we become so busy that we cannot even assign a few minutes a day to our own natural needs and abilities? When did centering our mind around life as it is become something unattainable? When did we become so full of work but lack of life? Why are we so competitive? What are we afraid of?

Sometimes I want to move to a deserted but safe place, like an island in central America, cut out all communications with outside world, and “lose myself” with just doing nothing. No phone or internet talk, no work or social obligation, no project to start, execute, or finish, no place to visit or explore. Just sit, gaze at the sky, and let my mind find itself.

sometimes trying something hopeless pays off

Yesterday I have prepared two sourdough; one can be found here; it was prepared by a starter that was rigorous and with a long rise (around 16 hours at room temp) with 4 hours of proving, following my regular recipe. It turned out to be a lovely loaf with a great oven spring.

That loaf will be given to my friends that I have seen yesterday night. So upon returning home at around 11 pm, I decided I needed a loaf for myself so I prepared a small dough using the left overs from my starter that I resurrected this past week. These left overs are those that needed to be removed and replaced with fresh flour and water while feeding the starter. I did not want to put it in garbage, so I thought I could find a use for them (like tortilla), so had kept around 3/4 cups of them in my fridge. They were not necessarily the best starter, but I took my chances with my second loaf.

The second loaf had 9 hours of first rise with limited stretch and fold (1 only) at room temperature and 5 hours of proofing. Honestly it did not look good when I put it on parchment paper (it did not keep its shape). Anyways, in the oven there was some kind of spring. So I was still not very hopeful. But when I cut it, I was very surprised; it has the largest air pockets I have seen in my sourdough! It is soft and the sesame seeds give it an incredibly nutty flavor πŸ™‚ Although its rise was short, I think dough being slightly sticky helped it to turn into this beautiful loaf.

I think sometimes keeping the faith and trying something that does not look much hopeful pays off πŸ™‚

 

 

Four seasons

Fall is upon us. It is my favorite season.

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The season of energy and renewal (summer) has come to an end, leaving its place to this gorgeous season.

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Fall always remind me of “closure”; evaluating and finishing things, even they are only thoughts, and move on with a period of quietness and break, and then bury or leave those that do not serve you anymore during the hibernation season of winter.

Winter is a season of survival, though. It is often harsh where I am and our daily lives are somehow dictated by the weather; will there be snow today? Will I shovel? Will there be a snow day? Can I really go to that store to pick up something? Will my power be restored, if it is cut due to some reason? What if I want to walk but cannot make it because the sidewalks are full of snow banks, or even worse, ice? Am I warm enough?Winter thus makes me feel like I must rather focus on the physical world than my inner world.Β 

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Spring, on the other hand, is a kind of time of re-birth; the time of new ideas, new adventures, new plans, new hope…. There is something awesome about the awakening of the nature that inevitably makes me feel like now I can do what I have not done or could not do before.

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The cycling nature of “nature”, whether that is snow, plants, trees, or flowers that flourish, animals populating, or simply changing temperature and daylight, is thus a reflection of our lives.

Maybe our lives is a reflection of nature?

I do not know really.

But we all are connected.

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Saturday morning musings

Listening to a piano piece, and drinking and enjoying my coffee on this quiet and sunny Saturday morning. What else would I need to feel grateful for this morning?

 

This is a day full of house chores, shopping, and interactions with family and friends. excpet the first one, you know, all is exciting πŸ™‚

I am not sure why I do not enjoy house chores. But I kept thinking that I may not be the only one feeling this way. Shout out in the comments area if you are like me.

There is a beautiful , serene feeling coming after the house is cleaned and tidied a bit. It is brighter, more peaceful, and certainly more enjoyable. While I do start house chores out of necessity (one of my almost consistent house rules is to clean the house on Saturday mornings), but the positive feelings I experience after I see it cleaned, organized, and decluttered for the week is amazing πŸ™‚

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As per shopping, I must visit a number of stores today. I plan to get some paint to help finish re-staining my porch, some dried food from a retailer, and yogurt from another nearby store. Thankfully all stores are close to each other and there is a bus stop close by. I am so grateful for the public transportation system that enables people like me to go around their lives easily and affordably. Many people assume that a professional like me would have a car. It is always interesting to see their reactions when I said this was not the case πŸ™‚ I wonder how many of them see is as a limitation on my abilities or choices, rather than a good choice economically and practically….

That reminds me another memory where one of my colleagues was surprised that I had bought a house only after 5 years of moving here. He said he bought his house within two weeks after moving here. I had to tell him that I did not have a down payment at that time. While that was absolutely true, I did not mention that my main reason was that I was not interested in purchasing a house. I have never been and now I am a house owner (ahem…)…. I am still feeling a little bit sour about this; re; feeling the pressure to make an explanation……People can be very judgmental when comes to others. The same colleague was quite judgmental about our work yesterday, not knowing the importance and meticulous nature of it. That pisses me off.

Why do we speak up our minds and evaluate others’ situations without giving a thought on it first? There are so much to learn if we do reflect and think about possible reasons for choices made by others. If not, listening to others can help expand your thinking capabilities. Let’s reflect on this for a moment. I certainly do. I am not excellent about it either, but at least I constantly remind myself and get humble about things. That is one Β more thing to be grateful for today.

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I am also grateful for my family, who were always there for me and mostly supportive. They did not get my circumstances and thus are not able to understand the reasons behind some of my choices, either, but at least they are trying after. This is priceless.

Go hug a family member today πŸ™‚

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reflections

Today I have not worked like crazy as I have done in the past 3 months. I rather took my time to reflect and I needed it. This was mostly motivated by the fact that yesterday I almost collapsed emotionally. My nerves are fried and I needed a break to go back to a healthy level of exhaustion (if there is anything like this ever) and feel good (because I deserve it, like anyone else).

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Life is bigger than what we experience and in order to expand our experiences, we must stop this wheel of routine and un-focus for a while, and look beyond where we are. It is exciting and refreshing. I am glad I have found a chance to do so today.

One thing I keep notice in such times is that I actually do better than I think. For instance, in the last 3 months I have re-arranged the furniture in my living room and kitchen, and they both look lovely and more functional. It was hard to move everything by myself, but I made it and the end results are excellent πŸ™‚

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I also made quite a progress in my yard. I digged the high part of the yard and placed the digged soil on the lower parts. I have four stalks of mint that are flourishing in the yard. I have planted seeds and grew beautiful flowers. New flowers and plants appeared in my yard this year, which are a delight to look at. I filled the sides of my yard with soil in the last two days (commercial soil) and now I have a wider-looking yard and the side sections are ready to be planted next year. It was tiring and challenging to carry those soil bags (30 liters each) from store to home, but I made it. I planted potato, garlic, and onion and all flourished and yielded (I have collected around 1 kg of potato; can you imagine my joy?)? I planted 35 cloves of garlic last week for harvesting next year and mulched over with dried leaves to protect them from frost during the winter. My neighbours renewed their part of the fence with fence similar to mine, and as such the yard looks really good now. Also the next door neighbours painted the exterior of their house and it looks beautiful. I have been lucky to have had all of these improvements this year πŸ™‚

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As per work, I have done really good, even though it was stressful. At least my efforts produced results, which is extremely satisfying.

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I have points to improve still, but I am not worried about them. Only because I know I am capable of doing them, too. One recurring issue is eating better and a variety of food. I am making an effort again nowadays. we will see how this will work out. I must reduce or eliminate my extra expenses that are made only to feel good in such a stressful time of my life, but I am slowly getting there. I must also regularly do my lower back exercises to keep it healthy. A manageable list of aims that I am sure I can do. It is just a matter of time.

Today I have taken steps to improve in these areas. I ate veggies and fruits at the office; I took the bus rather than cab; I made an appointment with my physiotherapist to help me get on track with my lower back. I ate junk food in the evening, but I am assuming this too will be gone sometime. I accepted the fact that sometimes change occurs over time, rather than when I want it. Acceptance brings serenity. Nevertheless, I must keep trying and making these changes occur.

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multi-purposed items are very useful :)

I like having items (such as in the kitchen) that I can use for multiple purposes. For example, Β glass mixing bowl can be used for serving salad as well as for mixing items together. I also like to use items for different or multiple purposes so that my home will not be cluttered and I will have a more or less resourceful daily life. Good examples could be using shopping bags as garbage bin liner, old clothes/t-shirts as cleaning cloths, and my shopping cart.

The shopping cart I have was purchased almost 15 years ago when I was in Toronto. It is not big and also foldable, so it is a practical item. It was incredibly useful in carrying groceries which I often bought from the Kensington place. Carrying a cart full of groceries and walking from there to my home (around 20 mins of distance on foot) was easy and peasy.

When I moved from Toronto to where I live right now, I got it transported with my furniture but I do not remember using it for grocery at all. While decluttering my home a couple of years ago I considered donating it but later decided that I could rather use it as a container for extra items in the laundry room. It serves this purpose very well.

Today I used it for shopping! My yard has some uneven surfaces, particularly on the sides. I have been planning to fill these parts with soil so that my yard would look wider and I could have flowers lining my yard. This weekend I noticed that the garden soil wason sale (buy one, get one free; hello!). I was skeptical at first because they looked heavy and I do not have a car to transport them home. I did not want to ask my friends to help me with it, either. Then, I came up with the idea of using my shopping cart and voila! I bought four bags of 30L of soil in two store visits. Bags were heavy and I still had a difficult time lifting them and placing in the cart and pulling the cart to home. But it is all worth it – I placed the soil on my yard and I can see myself planting flower seeds in that area next year!

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I cannot wait! πŸ™‚

I could not make this happen today should I have not decided to be resourceful and use that cart for another purpose πŸ™‚

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I am lucky…

I continue to feed positive messages to my mind right before going to sleep or when I wake up during the night. Last night the phrase that came to my mind and repeated many times was “I am lucky“.

I am lucky to be given a life. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to have every material I need.

There is a house with a little yard on my path to office. A couple of months ago I saw men dumping soil on it. Then little things sprouted out of the soil, which turned out to be clover. They grew incredibly well and are now around 10 cms. I love looking at that yard while walking.

Today I saw one with four leaves!

It was huge πŸ™‚Β 

I was amazed and deeply amused.

Am I lucky or what? πŸ™‚

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graceful acceptance of failure and mistakes

I have had a comment from an experienced colleague of mine about a work I have done which also included his involvement. Looks like I have missed some critical information in my report, which he drew my attention to.

I fully agree with him that these information should have been there. So in contrast to my regular self who would become defensive, I realized he was right, and thanks to him the work would be better presented now to others. I gracefully acknowledged this.

I was surprised with my reaction, but I am equally pleased with it. Admitting a negligence and mistake is a good thing; I like it when I see it in others. Today was my turn.

I must say this is a great experience for me. I had had another meeting on Friday, which had some heated arguments. I am not afraid of arguments, but creating a negative air around myself and the room. I realized that with today’s experience I would have managed the Friday’s meeting better. It is too late for it, but next time I will be better.

This experience tells me that there is always a possibility and opportunity for spontaneous growth and one can fail but can also accept it gracefully. I like this newfound wisdom.

transitioning to gray – 6.5th week after first treatment

Here is my hair after 6.5 weeks of first highlights and dyeing my hair close to its natural colour.

Highlights finally show up, which is a blessing (I am still fuming about the invisible highlights right after the hair salon visit).

My hair grew like an inch.

Between grays and highlights, there is a dark stripe (the dye applied last time, which gives an additional oddity to this hair…).

Honestly this hair does not look good at all (why did I not at least comb it before taking the pic?)….

The roots are annoying but not as much as before – I think the hair dresser was right – after a while highlights help soothe the gray roots. Only problem is that now I have my natural colour (dark brown), latest dye (lighter brown), grays, and yellowish highlights in addition to previous hair colour of red!

More is better!!

Argh.

I have an appointment in two weeks to get it dyed again and hopefully with better highlights this time. I would love to have wider streaks of platinum highlights to help with the gray hair coming off the roots. I hope this dresser will be able to give me what I want. Honestly, I am not very hopeful, but I will try as much as possible to demonstrate (with pics from internet) what I really want and expect.

I must say despite everything, this is a much better feeling than previous.

I previously very much disliked seeing the gray roots after 2-3 weeks of dyeing. Now it is 6.5 weeks and I am feeling okay with the roots. This is I believe because I have much bigger problems in that hair than only the gray roots…

I know this is a long journey to take up to a year, but I already have had the first 6.5 weeks, so I want to just keep going and get this transition done.

Wish me patience please. Because I may as well chop the entire thing and start from fresh!

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joy journal – September 15, 2017

I figured that if I have a positive mental state right before the sleep, then I wake up feeling positive! This is such a priceless experience. Thus, here comes today’s joy journal entry:

1. I am grateful for waking up around 4 am and getting up around 5 am. These are very early hours for me. I enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee and found a chance to work at peace. Lovely πŸ™‚

2. I am grateful for sending out a report to other parties. We have been working very hard on it in the last few months and I am glad we are close to its final submission after the revisions.

3. I am grateful for taking the bus this morning. Weather was nice, cool, and dry, which made waiting for bus a possibility.

4.Β I am grateful for working quietly at the office.

5.Β I am grateful for for eating a pear and two apples at the office. Fruits is nice and healthy πŸ™‚

6.Β I am grateful for sitting in an afternoon meeting for 4 hours and despite the lower back ache staying till the end. I wonder how we can do this.. Sitting for so long… How is this even possible to have the mental clarity to contribute to such a long meeting? I have some ideas to shorten this time, which I hope to propose next time.

7.Β I am grateful for walking back to the store close to my home and purchasing some items on sale. they are good for me on the long rem. Price was the lowest I have seen in that store and was very comparable to other sales in distant stores. I feel lucky to have found these items today.

8.Β I am grateful for eating a healthy meal with lots of iron in it (beef liver). My iron levels are down again, which worries me. I am not anemic and my energy levels are good, but I am worried about having a disease that can cause this. I hope it is just diet related. This makes sense to me because I keep eating the same things and rarely any meat, which is a good source of iron. I am making an effort now to eat more diverse than before. the trick is to aim high (more than 10 different food sources and at least one meal with red meat per week). I usually do not stick to this kind of plans, but I hope this time it will work out for me on the long run.

9.Β I am grateful for eating salad full of a variety of raw veggies and lemon juice. Yummy πŸ™‚

10.Β I am grateful for trying to resurrect my sourdough again… This is the second time that I have forgotten to spare starter lately. I am feeling upset about this, but keep thinking that my mind is so focused on work that it can be normal to forget trivial things..

11.Β I am grateful for having my window open and letting fresh air in.

12.Β I am grateful for having plans to shop tomorrow! Yes, I plan to shop and get food. I also plan to have my hair cut tomorrow – let’s see how this will work out.

13.Β I am grateful for having the night to myself and enjoying the dark and quiet environment. It is so peaceful right now….

14.Β I am grateful for everything I have at home; furniture, clothes, shoes, kitchen items, light bulbs, comforter, my computer, and internet access that make my life easy safe, and comfortable.

15. I am grateful for making an effort to fill my mind with these beautiful experiences, rather than negative encounters πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

where is my resilience?

I feel on the edge the majority of the time. My nerves are firing and sometime for the little things. It is time that I take a break.

I have another 3 weeks of speedy work schedule after which I will have another business related trip followed by a couple of days for rest in Europe. I am really looking forward to this break. When I return I have another month to go with stress and high work volume, but I am assuming that the break will help heal my nerves. I keep telling myself I must find a way to manage my stress. The best way, in my experience, is cardio exercise, aka martial arts. At my age?? I am hesitant…

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My other alternative is to sooth my nerves with junk food.

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What is it gonna be?

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joy journal – September 11 2017

1. I am grateful for sleeping well and waking up early. I was at the office before 8 and it was a productive time of the day.

2. I am grateful for having the money to take the cab in such a heavily raining day. I may not like wasting money but today it was well needed.Β 

3. I am grateful for working fine and being satisfied with it. It is great to appreciate my own efforts.

4. I am grateful for doing the right things. I am known with my meticulous nature and always striving for doing the right thing. Many people may not find it pleasant but it is very important. That reminds me one of my previous mentors who was especially not happy about it. It is strange how different people have different work ethics. I thank myself for always trying to do the right thing in the right manner.

5. I am grateful for having laughter while watching a comedy movie πŸ™‚

6. I am grateful for having a strong house that endures all the harsh winter and now the heavy rain. I appreciate this so much.

7. I am grateful for having a nice and positive conversation with the cab driver this afternoon. He was very positive and it was infectious – I felt lucky to have exposure to his positivity πŸ™‚

8. I am grateful for resting in the evening and feeling energized and well.

9. I am grateful for eating a nice potato salad with lots of great raw veggies – very healthy and yummy πŸ™‚

10. I am grateful for making a mortgage pre-payment this evening πŸ™‚

11. I am grateful for the cool temperature at home; last week it was very humid but in the last few days it is plain cool and it is the most magnificent temperature ever πŸ™‚Β 

12. I am grateful for realizing that I have had an extra week of work before a significant deadline! I was a week ahead of real time! This illusion has happened once again a couple of weeks ago. When I realize that I have more time than I thought I have had is an amazing relief. I do not know why I am feeling a week ahead of time.. I think it is because I am stressed and hyper because of the work-load.Β 

13. I am grateful for developing as a professional. I have been challenged quite a bit by some bossy and manipulating colleagues lately. It is a sensitive balance to keep a good work relationship and being assertive at the same time. I swallowed things a few times and I was assertive a couple of times. But the journey has not ended yet. The future possibility of dealing with such situations stresses me, but I try to talk myself out of this. “Learning and developing, and I will know better to handle such situations in the future“. Thus is what I keep telling myself. Experience… It is an hurtful experience but will help with next ones, right? They always do.

14. I am grateful for being healthy and energetic.Β 

15. I am grateful for the night being peaceful and lovely. Nights have always pacified me – what is it about them, I wonder? Is it the darkness? Lack of the daily rush? Tiredness? Closure of the day? Silence?

16. I am grateful for my computer, internet access, and TV/cable that make my life easy and entertaining.

17. I am grateful for my new trousers that fit me well and keep me warm. they are more suitable for winter but they look so good that I am happy to wear them.

18. I am grateful for yogurt. It is one of my most favorite foods. I eat too much though; sometimes around 750 ml per day… Too much of nothing can be good, so I would like to take a break from it for some time.

19. I am grateful for my moisturizers that keep my hands and face moist and healthy.

20. I am grateful for my floss! I love flossing. The trick is to have the most suitable floss for your needs. I use a three-liner that works wonders for me.Β 

21. I am grateful for my perfume. I do not wear it often, but yesterday I wanted to and it was a delight.

22. I am grateful for realizing, after all the stress and issues with collaborators, that inner peace is an important thing. It may have been stretched a bit nowadays but it will heal and be fine once this is over. I wonder why I cannot take things easy and be relax at the face of this kind of adversities. I need to focus more on seeing the big picture and caring for my inner self. This journal entry is serving just this purpose.

23. I am grateful for my flexible work hours that allow me to work at home when I need it.

24. I am grateful for needing this journal, remembering things, events, people, and experiences to be grateful for, and making a conscious attempt to feel good about myself and my life.

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Added after the post:

I forgot – as of Jan 2017, I aim to note at least 3 things that I appreciate about myself.

Here is today’s list:

  • I appreciate myself for resisting the bad and negative
  • I appreciate myself for working hard
  • I appreciate myself for eating better today
  • I appreciate myself for being healthy
  • I appreciate myself for taking time to rest
  • I appreciate myself for contemplating and learning about myself and others
  • I appreciate myself for soothing myself by self-care
  • I appreciate myself for taking steps and starting/continuing with the plans that are important for me
  • I appreciate myself for loving the nature
  • I appreciate myself for enjoying the sound of rain
  • I appreciate myself for finding joy in writing and reading this journal

 

 

 

 

 

a proud moment

After almost 2 months of senseless spending and lack of frugality in my life, today I made a pre-payment for my mortgage (only $404, but better than nothing, is it not?). I saved this money by my humble daily savings in the last 2 months. I am feeling extremely happy, proud, and excited about this πŸ™‚Β 

Sometimes planning is not good enough and one must take steps to move. This was an important step that I hope will help me come back to my frugal self.

I plan to pay another $6,600 till the end of December. This will mean that I will have paid an extra ~10K as pre-payment this year. Of course I still need to make these payments…. So before I get excited for no real reason, I must keep my eye on this prize and find the motivation that I so much needed to move even more forward πŸ™‚

what would I do when I retire?

I want to retire in 8-11 years only to get rid of the stress and ridiculous issues that I deal with everyday at the office.

A few minutes ago I thought about this: what would be my retired life like?

It would be free of work related things, I would have some kind of financial stability/security, but then how would I fill my life? What would it be like?

This is an unknown situation. As someone living alone, I probably would need some human interactions. I think I would have a part-time job. That would also give me some pocket money. I can switch jobs easily too if I do not like the environment. That is a relief.

What else?

I think I would travel a little bit with tours. I have no interest in going around the world by myself at that age. Too much stress. Tours, on the other hand, would make this experience easier. I would love to go see the South America and Europe.

What else?

Would I write a novel? Poems? Where would I publish them? Would they be good? If not, why to write at all?

What would I do really??

Would I be free of stress? I think not, but at least I would not have the stress of work. I think I would be stressed about other things.

My health for one. I would probably stressed about health problems. Right now I am free of chronic diseases, but heck, anytime something may show up. So..

Life does not wait and time flies. I think I should stop thinking about retirement and rather focus on how to have a better and more fulfilling life.

What would make me more joyful and fulfilled now, I wonder?

Spending good time with my family. Having laughter. Feeling energized and hopeful for the future. Being more in the moment. Caring less about work and more about my life experiences. Being more positive. Seeing opportunities more. Taking opportunities more. Changing things that do not work. Removing toxic experiences and people from my life. Caring less about money and having less anxiety about future financial well-being. Being more spontaneous. Joking with life. Dancing with life.

Do I want too much?

 

 

joy journal – September 10, 2017

It has been a long time that I wrote in this journal. I miss it almost everyday but it is hard to find time to put the words out. Today I am taking my time as I made a conscious choice of being grateful and, as a resultΒ feeling good.

Not all days and moments are joyful, or without any problem or hurt that bothers us. But we/I could find some time to remember the things, event, experiences, and people that makes our lives better, safer, and enjoyable. This journal has served me well in this sense, I hope you too will start your own and benefit from it at least as much as I do.

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1. I am grateful for sleeping well and getting up at around 9 am. It was not too early or too late. Just right.

2. I am grateful for my morning coffee which was just right. Every once a while I get the temperature right and today was one of those times. With a little bit of sugar, it was the most enjoyable drink I have had in the last while πŸ™‚

3. I am grateful for not getting crazy over the rain. I was planning to shop today but it rained whole day and made my plan a future plan. I do not need anything urgent, but shopping would be very therapeutic and help me with feeling good and excited. Ah, shopping…. πŸ™‚

4. I am grateful for baking a sourdough loaf today. I run out of the bread in my freezer and I was so craving for fresh bread πŸ™‚Β 

5. I am grateful for speaking with my family today and for their well being, health, and happiness.

6. I am grateful for working today. I worked around 3 hours reviewing a report and drafting a report about it. I still have work to do on it, but I started and this is good. I must finish my report in two weeks and I have ample time now that I progressed quite a bit today.

7. I amΒ grateful for being assertive with a dominant and bossy collaborator of mine. He changes things or involves more people in without consulting me on matters directly related to me. I swallowed a few incident like that in the last one month and today he did it again and I said it is time that we talked. I asked him to call me, which he did and we talked. He admits that I am a control freak (who did not know this?) and he was too negligent of others’ opinions and priorities. We talked like two mature individuals with understanding and without yelling or getting mean, which was nice. I am not naive enough to think that this talk has solved the problem for ever; no, as long as I work with him, we will come to the same point again and again. But I am happy that I talked without fearing negative consequences (I actually need him for a project of mine), and formed a more respectful bond between us. This is good enough for now and we can always talk in the future should it be required.

8. I m grateful for the kale meal I have cooked yesterday. At one point in the afternoon I took a supplement that upset my stomach. I ate the meal and it was okay after that. Should I not have the meal ready, I think I would suffer longer while trying to cook something new. Long live kale! πŸ™‚

9. I am grateful for my windows being open and having fresh air in. I love this about summer and fall. One of my treasured activities at home. I feel so lucky πŸ™‚

10. I am grateful for listening to a relaxing music that is great for my fried nerves…. Many years ago I used to try to mediate listening to this kind of music. Seeing the bigger picture in life and feeling safe and well in it in the moment are priceless. I should try sitting meditation someday again, but honestly it is the most boring thing for me (I know many people can do it – hats off!!).

11. I amΒ grateful for stepping out for a short time and purchasing yogurt. I love yogurt!! I can eat an entire tub on a single day; it is creamy and healthy. I should make better choices and opt for low fat variety next time. My doctor informed me that my bad cholesterol is a little bit high. I am still at low risk group, but it was consistently increasing in the last year, so I must be careful with it.

12. I am grateful for realizing my needs and short-comings. I Β just had a birthday in the last few weeks. Between the trip to Rome and the busy and stressful work schedule, I could not reflect on my new age except in a few short moments….. I have been looking forward to a quiet time to actually reflect and figure out how I feel about my age and aging, what changes I must introduce in my life, and how content I was with everything else. But this is not happening yet, and I feel annoyed by this… I know that I am changing as a middle aged individual. I know my dreams and plans are changing. I know my days are getting shorter and shorter and so are the days of my loved ones. My chronic disease and death probability is also increasing with each passing moment. These demand significant changes in my attitude, my life-style, and the way I look at life and my priorities. I know my health and my family’s health are the most important thing, but ask me how I contribute to either of this and the answer will be very lame. I am so focused on turning work around and dealing with antsy bitsy issues that I cannot find time to think big or be positive. What a shame…. I am rationally aware of what I must do, yet still cannot or do not take the steps to better my life and spend more time with and cherish my family…. It takes one step to start this journey… I wish that I can start it right now… I may or may not, but at least I am aware of my need and wish and who knows, maybe I will take that step sometime soon.

13. I am grateful for having the day to myself. I plan to watch TV after this and enjoy my time.

14. I am grateful for the cat of my neighbour’s who spends time in my yard a lot. It is a beautiful black and young female cat that keeps hunting and surveilling the yard for pests and moth. She killed a little rat a couple of weeks ago in my yard, which was a scary sight at first. But I am so grateful for this mouser that keeps my yard free of pests. She and I do not interact much except that we both look at each other whenever both of us exist in the yard at the same time. I respect her presence and she respects mine. We are a good team πŸ™‚

15. I am grateful for the food in my fridge and pantry; all the clothes, shoes, furniture, and everything else in my home. They make my life easy and comfortable.Β 

16. I am grateful for making a conscious effort to have a healthier lifestyle as of today. The last 2 months have been crazy stressful and I lacked the time, energy, and willpower to pay attention to my own health and well being. I almost left home today for a convenience store trip to get junk food, but stopped at the last minute and I am very happy about this.

17. I amΒ grateful for being grateful and finding time to note these here today πŸ™‚

Sunday morning musings

A quiet and rainy Sunday morning that gives a feeling of solitude and healing.Β 

Coffee with its unique smell and taste is also very helpful.

I usually do not enjoy rain, but sometimes it helps you to stay in and recuperate with warm drinks and slightly dark day. Β Sometimes it is depressing, sometimes healing. You choose.

We are looking for a week full of rain according to the forecast. It will be too much but we will survive. Heck we survive 6 months of winter here, what is a couple of cups of rain, right? πŸ™‚

Weather with its unpredictable and uncontrollable character is something that teaches us to accept life as it is. We often adapt it to well. Except that the hurricanes going on in the South, damages they make, and the fear they create are alarming. I wish everyone a safe evacuation or a strong shelter during these hurricanes. When I was in the USA I never have experienced an evacuation and I keep wondering whether I could ever make it as I do not drive. I kindly ask everyone who is able to do so to pick up people that are not capable of evacuating themselves.

Wishing everyone a safe and joyful Sunday! πŸ™‚

 

random thoughts

I slept till 10 am and felt energized upon getting up. My plan was to start the day with coffee and the usual house chores. A work-related email asking for an urgent document ruined these plans. So I worked in an intense way and in the afternoon it was sent out. That is a big relief. And the house chores are done after that. talking about breaking the routine! πŸ™‚

I have done well and prepared myself a nice lunch with kale. I must re-instate my plan to eat from diverse array of food. I keep eating the same things and a s a result I believe I have some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Not good. So today’s lunch was a good step towards this plan and I feel fantastic about this πŸ™‚

I am excited about another thing. I placed lettuce and celery in water last week and voila this week they have little growth πŸ™‚ This is so fantastic! I love nature and how it does miraculously! My mom suggested I could plant them and grow at home. I need a pot and soil and I have no idea when I can find time to purchase them, but this system itself is so magical that I feel truly elated πŸ™‚ Thanks those who posted about this which inspired me to try.

πŸ™‚

 

 

short-term memory problems

I have been having short-term memory problems (or absent mindedness) in the last one year or so. For example, I just went down to my living room and thought about picking my notepad and rather come up with the idea of taking a tub of yogurt from the fridge. Then I came back to my room and realized I forgot to get the notepad!!! This kind of things have been happening almost everyday. Should I be worried?

I am kind of worried because one day I had the stove on to boil water and I almost forgot it. Luckily the hood was on so I felt like checking it. I could have easily forgot the pot on the stove and create a fire hazard should the sound of the hood did not get my attention. This kind of possibilities are terrifying me.

I am mid 40s now and I think it is quite early for a serious disease, such as Alzheimer’s. I was looking for this online (not a good idea I know – there is so much information and often not even accurate when comes to health, but…) and one of the possibilities is the onset of menopause. Now, is that fair? Nevertheless I will prefer this as a reason than a neurological problem.

I am doing well in other areas, especially at work. So I am assuming it is not a generalized problem. Maybe my mind is too occupied. Maybe I feel the need to distract myself frequently, which cause me to forget things that appear in my mind just a minute ago. I do not know. But I will continue to monitor my symptoms and make a mental note to be more in the moment. Being too much thoughtful and distracting myself do not benefit me.

Why am I writing this? Because I wanted to logically face this problem. Writing is the best way to do so for me and I am glad I can look at it from a healthy angle. Maybe I will get better in dealing with my absent mindedness.

 

 

 

 

what a wonderful trip I have had to Rome :)

I have been back from my short trip to Rome and what a beautiful trip it has been! πŸ™‚

I have had a great time away from work and office, and all the ridiculous problems I have been dealing with at work lately. It was a business trip and as such I have had work related activities, but they were rather joyful and successful encounters, and as such I feel good about myself and my work again. This was much needed πŸ™‚

The transatlantic trips are long and inevitably make me tired, but they are so good for my mind. A fresh look at life as it develops right in front of me is a great experience. I tried new things this time and instead of taking the cab, I mostly took the shuttles and bus. It takes more time, but is certainly a great meditative activity – you gotta find out how to get to somewhere and how to get the tickets etc. A great activity that forces you to be in the moment. This is an amazing relief for the mind. And seeing once again that I was capable of overcoming hurdles in a country language of which you do not know (thanks to its residents who know some English) is a boost for my confidence πŸ™‚ And all the money I saved for my organization by not taking the cab is anther plus! I am pleased with myself. A lot.

I gotta go around the city (Rome) the first day and I found myself really relaxing. It is so beautiful with its history and art. I wish I could retire there πŸ™‚ Dreams are powerful and I realized that I have attained some of my dreams of young age; I am in a profession that I loved so much, obtained good credentials and positions, and I am living in Canada, one of the best countries in the world now. Realizing these during my trip gave me some kind of satisfaction that I cherish even today.

Italian food is not my favorite (i.e. pasta, pizza), but I managed to have wonderful lamb and vegetable dishes. I am grateful for making good choices in food and eating all the fresh produce. I ate peaches, my friends! Where I am, it is almost impossible to find – how lucky I have been πŸ™‚

I am back to work and I feel energized. I have a busy 2 months in front of me that will require lots of attention, focus, and hard-work, but I think I will be fine.

Viva Italia! πŸ™‚

 

dreaded chores

I have taken it quite easy today and mostly engaged in activities that I must have done at home; these included painting the wood trims outside the house. Each year I replace them as they usually peel off. Our harsh climate with generous amount of rain and snow necessitate this maintenance. It took me around 3 hours to do all, but I am very pleased with myself. It is one of these things that I must do and it has been on my list since June. I am glad it is done! I still need to stain the deck, but this will have to wait till next week when I hope we will have good weather, like today πŸ™‚

I also opened the windows and have had the house filled with fresh air. I used to do that more frequently in the past, but I think I have got quite lazy lately. I would like to do a couple of more of this activity in September. I truly believe that a house needs good aeration. I also cleaned the window sills and painted two of them. Also the doors from outside are cleaned – I do this twice a year; one in summer and one in December. Done till December πŸ™‚ Β I feel good about all of these!

There is an incredible amount of relief and happiness coming out of doing the chores that I dread. I do not know why I waited till the last minute (ahem.. did I mention I disliked them?), but these were on my to-do-list for so long that they dragged me down.

Now, I am free.

Wednesday morning musings

I got up very early this morning, partly because it was cold. I am glad I have done this, though, considering how peaceful, stress-free, and enjoyable the morning is.

I have been feeling quite well since yesterday evening; a big work is almost done and it feels good.

I have been on and off on work staycation in the last 6 weeks. It has been stressful to do all the work that dragged me down during this time and I was hurt along the way and exhausted, but now things are getting and looking better.

I still have lots of stuff to do but I have a list that shows which works are done in the last 6 weeks and I am glad that I went thru this time; lots of work is done! In my profession 6 weeks is a short time, and all the things I have done are great things. It was a great decision to do this this year. I am very satisfied with my decision and performance.

At what cost, you may ask? And you are right, stress and exhaustion are not worth it within the big picture of life. But I know if I had not done what I had done, things would have been worse for me and I would be looking for a much longer period of agonizing time to finish everything. Finding this positivity and being satisfied with everything are priceless. And feeling well is above all of these; I am very grateful.

This week is the last time that I am able to take vacation time off this year. That means until the holidays in December I will have occasional flexibility to work from home. I should be okay with this, but somehow reacting to it. It tells me that I enjoyed or benefited from working at home. Another positive thing Β to be grateful for!

On my personal life side, this intense work period was also good; I socialized a couple of times and hosted friends at home. More importantly, I broke my routine, even though I longed for my routine life during the last 6 hectic weeks. Life is interesting. Everything has its own proper time I guess…

I have great plans for today! I will complete some more tasks that have been dragging me down. I am looking forward to finishing them and adding them to my tasks-done-list! What a treasure πŸ™‚

I hope you all will have a gorgeous day filled with positivity, satisfaction, great opportunities and solutions πŸ™‚

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pretending

Ok – I cannot tell lies as a brutally honest person, but sometimes I feel like I must pretend in order to prevent a huge negative consequence.

I have had a very stressful 6 weeks and mentally I am very, very close to exhaustion. My body was exhausted 2 weeks go and 3 days of rest had mended it. But mental exhaustion is something else; you must recharge and cool down and excite with other matters. Or, burnt out is inevitable. It certainly is not an easy deal. I was burnt out once quite badly. It took me almost 3 years to fully recover. This is a very long for a professional with a highly demanding job. I cannot be there again.

Today I emailed two colleagues about a work we are supposedly doing where I am the only one shouldering 95% of the things. I said I am almost exhausted and cannot do more now; would they do their part?

We will see how it goes.

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leaving everything behind soon

They say anticipation is more exciting than attaining something.

I truly believe in this – in a few days I will be flying to Europe for a couple of days of business trip and I must say I was not able to anticipate much till this morning, but I guess I am now and it excites me. I will leave everything behind for a couple of day – all the stress of work, work-place, and issues.Β 

I will be free.

Something marvelous at last πŸ™‚

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today’s sourdough was a failure

I thought I could make it, but I was wrong.

Using all purpose flour in this sourdough loaf was a disaster. They say the Canadian all purpose and bread flours have similar protein content and many bakers are successful in getting decent loaves with all purpose flour, but today I proved myself that was not the case for me. Bread flour it is!

Dough was fantastic, but as soon as I took it from the proofing basket, it spread and leveled. I was hoping maybe once it is in the oven things would get better. But the loaf did not rise, usual oven spring was not existing, and it took longer (1 hour 15 min at 350F) to get a browned crust (I suspect because it was such a shallow loaf that its crust was further away from the top of the oven, which made it longer to brown), and as a result is as dry and hard as brick.

I will eat it, but honestly use the bread flour if it works better for your loaves.

 

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Added after the post: On a second thought, this loaf may as well be just over-proved. The first rise was quite long (around 18 hours) and I wonder if this has something to do with this leveled loaf (aka less gluten structure)… if you have any opinion, please do comment.

The X-files: Mulder leaves, Scully becomes Mulder, Doggett becomes Scully, and we get another Mulder, Reyes

I am on Season 9 of the X-files and boy, do I get bored.Β This show is messed up. I can tell you that.

a) without Mulder there can be no X-files; sorry producers – fans were right. Story completely changed and i.t. i.s. b.o.r.i.n.g.

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b) Scully becomes believing in things, even defending them, that Mulder could not convince anyone in the past. Heck, I did not believe him….Poor Mulder. Anyways, beyond that childish (aka innocent) charm and his pain, it turns out he was right after all. But it is strange that after Mulder leaves now we have someone else pushing the E.T. life and supernatural agenda, and that person is noone other than our once-rational and scientific Dr. Scully.. What an arc…. Awkward……

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c) Doggett is more like Scully we saw at the beginning of the show, maybe even better in skepticism as he is colder and more direct.Β I like the Doggett character.

d) And another addition, Reyes, who even is more exotic than Mulder as this character is obviously reincarnated several times (episode 8 – season 9) and can see or feel “things”, like evil. Brrrr…….

Did we need all these switches of behavior among characters aka the polar bodies (believer or not believer in E.T. life and government conspiracy)?

e) what is up with the romance between Doggett and Reyes??? Why do we always have to have this?

Looks like they tried to create a new couple like Mulder-Scully.

Could you not just bring Mulder back??…

What a mess you producers have done.

Truth about sourdough

I see a number of blogs/recipes using commercial yeast in the dough and calling it sourdough.

Sorry to break the news to some of us, but if you use commercial yeast, it is not sourdough. I guess someone started this and it kind of stuck with some other people.

Sourdough is made from levain/starter that is a totally natural culture of yeast (and bacteria). If you do not believe me, please check internet and see for yourself.

It somehow hurts me to hear that sourdough culture and commercial baking yeast are equalized. They both are fantastic, yet different. So let’s give them the place they deserve.

IMG_1952
this is my sourdough culture that I created a year ago from water and whole wheat flour; it is love.

 

 

Saturday morning musings

It is another quiet and peaceful Saturday morning filled with the great scent of freshly brewed coffee and the excitement of all the possibilities that the day may bring.

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It is rainy outside, which tells me that being outdoors today is not a practical option. It will be a day of home-entertainment I guess, including the dreaded house chores πŸ™‚

I am doing something out of ordinary and have the TV on. It has been sometime that I watched TV. Once upon a time TV was very important for me. So was reading books. Things change I guess. In the last 1-2 years, I switched to writing and reading blogs than doing these activities.

The following certainly does not apply to me πŸ™‚

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I think three things influenced this change:

1) My lower back problem that makes sitting in the couch uncomfortable, so I rather prefer to sit or lie down on bed in the evenings. This means I am away from the living room and hence the TV.

2) Shopping bans on books that started as a short term ban, which later is extended naturally. I used to buy 2-3 books every weekend, which was a great pleasure that I always looked forward to. Two years ago I started my budgeting and frugal life journey, which told me that what I was doing was not a great idea, also considering that I have had many books that I have not read yet. The massive decluttering followed the shopping ban showed me this very clearly.

3) The fact that I am resentful towards the cable provider. I have a package involving phone, internet and cable. While I was able to reduce my bill by negotiating with the company, I must say I am pissed that all of these services cost so much. In addition, I cannot cancel my cable because it is a package, and if I do remove it, phone and internet together would cost me more!! Which kind of a mentality is this? I feel like my cable service is a waste and I do not feel great about it.

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But I would like to encourage everyone to call and negotiate with their service providers; I was able to reduce my internet-phone-cable service and another important service in the last one year. For two years in a row I also get my credit card fee to be waived. I will change my credit card sometime to get rid of this fee altogether. Hoping to get a cash-back one because honestly cards with loyalty points are not great; it takes a long time to accumulate the points and when you collected sufficient points, then the service or item you look for may not be easy to get or available. I was lucky enough to get 3-4 plane tickets and a number of great items through the loyalty points so far, but I keep asking myself whether it is worth it.Β 

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Anyways, back to best of life – I hope everyone will have a great Saturday today! I wish we all can get the best of this beautiful day πŸ™‚

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sometimes the time just flies

Today was one of those days; time flied like nothing before. One moment I was eager to finish work and finally in the evening I realized I will not be able to do what I think I would do. That means this weekend will be a little bit busy with work.Β 

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My plans for the weekend are similar to before; clean the house, do the laundry, pick up milk from a store, prepare sourdough, and keep the yard tidy and free of weeds. And of course, some work…..It has been sometime that I have been to anywhere other than home, office, and a nearby store or two. It would be nice if I could visit the thrift stores or others, but I guess this will have to wait till next week.

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Why do I like thrift stores that much?

I shop there time to time. As a matter of fact some of my favorite blouses and fabrics are from thrift stores. It is affordable. More than that, however, I am interested in seeing different things. Thrift stores in my area are large and they contain more stuff and variety than the majority of the stores I know here. It is interesting to go through these diverse items. I particularly like the old stuff; like old metal objects or frames, which I would like to collect over time. I cannot wait till the next visit πŸ™‚

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By the way, I will be away for a couple of days in Europe. There is something great about the airports; they make me feel like I am leaving every issue behind and am ready for an adventure. This anticipation only should give me enough motivation to finish my work this weekend and the next week πŸ™‚

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frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style activities this week

I want to remember the activities that fulfill my interest in frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style this week; I am positive that they will help me see the brighter side in everything and motivate me to do more πŸ™‚

 

Here is the list:

Frugal activities:

1. I messed up with my budget and frugal life-style big time lately. Nevertheless, I managed to walk to work one day (rather than using transportation) saving myself 10 bucks.

2. I did not over-spend on grocery. As a matter of fact, I have purchased much less than regular in order to eat what I already have in my fridge.

3. I used a coupon. Now, considering I am wasting more than 200 bucks a week nowadays I wonder why I have even cared finding or using this coupon. Every penny counts I guess…

Waste-free life:

1. I continued to bring my tote to stores in order to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags in my home. There has been a considerable improvement in this and I am happy to say that I reduced the amount at least by 2/3 πŸ™‚

2. I ate the food in my fridge before they went bad. Some of them still did, though, which I resent…. Next time I will be better.

Simple/self-sustaining life:

1. I baked my own bread.

2. I made my own strained curds/cheese from kefir πŸ™‚ I am straining another batch today. I want to try one from yogurt for a change of taste.

3. I did not unnecessarily made my day complicated by filling it in many different activities (only work).

4. I made sure to do other things than just work after 7pm everyday to give my mind a break and enjoy my life.

5. I did not socialize with anyone, which helped me keep my time and energy to myself (yes, this is one of the benefits of living alone πŸ™‚ )

6. I cared for my yard and removed weeds to make sure they will not take over the yard (a preventive measure for a long-term simple life)

Decluttering and minimalist activities:

1. Nothing particular than regular, except that the unnecessary paper that were on my study table are now dumped.Β 

2. I bought no item (other than personal hygiene products and grocery) for home or myself this week.

slowly slowing down

I have been slowing down the work, and stress as a result, in the last two days. I am feeling good and ready to come back to my regular self. Not yet, but soon.

I developed this fear that the moment I will relax, something else will happen. So I am keeping my guard up for any new events to show up. A tiring feeling.

Next week will be busy with drafting and finalizing a project that I have been working on for some time. Including many people in it is an opportunity for a better project, but managing conflicts and everybody’s interest is not something I am looking forward to. I try to convince myself that this is neither the first nor the last time that I will have to handle such a com