random thoughts

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Queen of all bread; sourdough with kefir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sunday morning musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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random thoughts

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

I am serious 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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semi-annual budget check

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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random thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good, my friends.

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The curious case of…… hang-drying the clothes

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

This I believe is supposed to save money from electricity.

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

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

No.

Not everything that works for one works for the other. 

Problem solved.

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

 

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sourdough bread with beet

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

What do you think?

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

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

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

 

Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bon appetite 🙂

 

 

 

Sunday morning musings

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

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

I am having a rather quiet Sunday.

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

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

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

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

And, I can always enjoy my coffee and reading 🙂

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Have a great Sunday friends 🙂

 

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adventures with kefir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was very easy.

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

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

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

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

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

joy journal – June 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. I m grateful for eating relatively healthy today. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great night everyone 🙂 

 

complete frugality

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

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

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

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

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

Some of these I can handle better I guess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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joy journal – June 12, 2017

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

Here is today’s list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday afternoon musings

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

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

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

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

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

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Have a great Sunday evening and night everyone! 🙂

 

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sourdough with rolled rye

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

a regular Saturday

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

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

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

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

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weekly budget check

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

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

Fun funds expenses: $47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

appliying for a job

I am feeling optimistic nowadays, which is awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

Right…

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

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

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

It is worth it.

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Sunday morning musings

It is a quiet morning.

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

 

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

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

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

Have a great Sunday everyone! 🙂

 

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What I would not do in the name of frugality

I would;

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

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

dream

I have had a vivid dream this morning.

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

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

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

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

Sounds familiar? 🙂

That dream was life. 

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the perfect day

I have got a great day today.

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

Nothing much really……

It was a perfect day.

 

 

random thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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random thoughts

These are what have happened today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cool down those senses and have hope my friends!

 

 

wet sourdough loaf

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

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

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

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

Sunday morning musings

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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on brutality of social media

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

Boy.

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

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

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

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

It depends I guess.

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

keep going onward

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

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

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

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

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

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weekly budget check (belated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

job situation assessment

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

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

What are my choices really?

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

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

Analysis

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

you know it when it is over

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

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

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

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

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

So what is the point in keep going?

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

joy journal – May 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

a brief snap shot of the day

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

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

Kind of feeling like a super girl nowadays 🙂

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weekly allowance

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

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

So what did I do?

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

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

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

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

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

Not bad, eh?

It also does not feel restrictive. 

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

Have a great Friday night everyone 🙂

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weekly budget check

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

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

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

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

Fun funds expenses: $54

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

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

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

Better than spending them, do you not think 🙂

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Mortgage pre-payment: $225.5!

I am so excited about these payments!

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

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

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

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

 

another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

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

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

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

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

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random thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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joy journal – May 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What am I thanking myself for today?

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

today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

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Here is my baby today 🙂

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

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

 

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

I totally improvised this soup:

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

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

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

my kefir grains :)

IMG_0996

My friend who we visited yesterday gave me kefir grains! 

I am so excited!

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

A wish came through.

Unexpectedly.

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

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

I just want more.

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

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

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

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

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cemetery visit

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

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

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

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

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

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joy journal – May 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What do I appreciate myself for today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what a beautiful day

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

How?

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

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

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

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random thoughts

So they say Puerto Rico has declared bankruptcy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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weekly budget check

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

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

Fun funds expenses: $0

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

Other expenses: $31.5 (gift and donation)

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

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

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

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

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

work and summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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joy journal – May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

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What do I appreciate myself for today?:

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

I appreciate myself for making a consistent attempt to eat healthy

I appreciate myself for collecting the garbage in the yard 

I appreciate myself for walking and not spending a dime today

I appreciate myself for being kind to myself today

 

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

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

And what an adventure it has been 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy baking!  🙂

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The first loaf  🙂

on being self-sustaining

Since I started baking my own bread last year, I have been feeling more “able“. 

Bread has always been my favorite food. Strange enough after I started baking my own loaves, the amount of bread I consumed has reduced. How strange… I wonder whether it being a natural product with no additives or chemicals has anything to do with this? Anyways, I am proud of the fact that within the last one year I did not buy any store-made bread; I only consumed my own, mostly the precious sourdough loaves. Talking about the joy of baking and the happiness coming out of it 🙂

Anyways, when I bought my sewing machine last November, I thought it was an additional step towards being resourceful and a self-sustaining life-style. I was planning to sew my own blouses, which I have failed so far, but one day I will do this. This and others, like sewing quilt, doing repairs (which I have), and sewing cloths/placemats to be used around the house (which I have, too) will keep me feel independent and able. It feels good indeed.

We may not realize but there are so many ways that even someone like me, who does not like  house chores, demonstrates the ability to self-sustain. Consider cooking at home and feeding ourselves, cleaning our own houses, taking care of the yard (boy, thinking about cutting the grass… argh… one thing that I really dislike, but keep doing anyhow), dyeing our own hair to name a few. I feel so again when I walk to or from the office, or to the shopping malls, instead of taking the bus or the cab.  By walking I freely transport myself and relax at the same time. Do you not think that we in fact all are, to some degree, independent of others/stores/services and rather are self-sustaining?

I have spent sometime reading posts about homesteading this evening. I have no practical interest in homesteading myself as a single and middle aged city girl, but I sure enjoy reading about the daily lives of the homesteaders, their farming adventures, issues, and relationships with nature. My current life and level of sustainability is no-where near the homesteaders’ life, but I am doing way better than many people living in a mid-size city. I guess even though I do not realize it well, I happen to have a kind of simple, affordable, and sustainable life that I must be excited about 🙂

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walking, gardening, and good night sleep

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I am beat!! 🙂 I walked and went around on foot for 4 hours yesterday evening. When I returned home, my feet and legs were aching and they kept doing so the rest of the day. Thank goodness, in the morning everything was back to normal 🙂

I wondered whether it was like this when I was young. I could not remember for sure. I know I would be tired sometime, but it would be because of working/walking/standing whole day? I had so much energy when I was young that I would not be surprised with this.

Anyways, the physical exercise and activity continued today too. I decided that it was the right time to fix the yard. The back of my yard has uneven surface, which bothers me. I tried to level it a little bit in the past, but there is still so much to do. So I decided today was a good time to have this as a project.

Boy… Ok… Long story short; I probably will have to work on that part of the yard 3-4 more weekends. I could continue after 1 hour of digging, carrying soil around, collecting glass and plastic pieces (previous owners did not do a great job with keeping that yard healthy), but at that point my back was aching from forward folds and all the stuff carried around, so I decided to stop for today. 

The work I have done today is not a huge one, but it is a good start. I think by taking it easy I will be able to handle this without taxing my body and mind. I am really looking forward to finishing it and planting seeds and flowers around. And I am glad that I did not wait till end of May when we usually start working in the gardens 🙂 I feel like I am on time, even early to work on the yard, so I feel relax rather than stressed about it.

One other plan of mine is to have mulch and place it around the trees. There is also a part of the yard that I want to cover with it; this section has currently small rocks/stones to cover it and every year more and more wild plants grow in it. I hope that by mulch I can make it look a little bit better and also help get rid of unwanted plants. Good plan 🙂

It is great to have projects and work on them, and it is great to be out there with nature. I am also happy about the physical exercise I have got. I am sure I am looking at a sound sleep tonite and many weekends to come ! 🙂

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weekly budget check

After 2 months or so, finally this past two weeks I have saved a good sum of my salary and improved my chequing account balance 🙂 This feels good and is highly motivating. I wish to be able to keep doing this so that I can start the summer with a really strong chequing account.

This week I did not take the cab at all; rather I either took the bus or walked 🙂 Walking as usual is a great activity that relaxes my body and my mind. I have never been disappointed by walking. The trick is to be able to “think” about walking 🙂 Once I am in the good mood and decide to walk, then walking just comes naturally.

Those days that I walk to office feels extremely satisfying because that usually means that I have no other expense and as such those days are expense-free. Thus I feel completely self-sustaining 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $54

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54= $66

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $974 !!! 🙂 (next week I hope to reach above 1,000 bucks – this is going to be a milestone for me 🙂

Other expenses: $5.75 (1 thrifted blouse and a piece of scrap fabric)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $65.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc,).

Mortgage pre-payment: none this time

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, chicken, and meatballs from the freezer; canned beans and rice from the pantry 🙂 Hurrah! #endfoodhoarding

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 9-10 food that I have not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are chicken, rice, tofu, beans, beef, potato, apple, oranges, and turnip.

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

Be humble

I have had a meeting with my unit lead this afternoon about my performance.. Hah ha!!! She did not say it was a performance review as I actually report to someone else but she is the head of our unit so she thinks she has a say in it. As someone who is not good about advertising herself and her team, I actually appreciated the opportunity to present myself in paper. So, I was okay to send her, as per her request, my entire CV listing my work and accomplishments, and see her reaction. Well, sufficient to say that now she has a better idea about my capabilities and work. Great! 🙂

I am nevertheless slightly scared because when someone above you asks for performance related information, it may mean one thing. I doubt that the information I presented would be somehow used to fire me, but you never know with people; if they have the intention they can always find something to brag about. I hope that will not be the case. Let’s cross the finger.

It is hard to work in an environment that you always watch your back and cannot trust people’s intentions. I realize that I do that sometime with my team members if their performance is not satisfactory. Glad to say that I am very ashamed of myself for doing this and I hope I will never let them feel such work-place toxicity again.

So the best lesson I have learnt today was to be humble. And it feels good.

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Spring plans

I used to have posts about the things I would like to change or implement in my life. The majority of the time they did work really well and I have implemented them in my life. I do not think I have done this for some time. So let’s roll again 🙂

1. Eat at least 10 food that I have not eaten in the last one week. I keep eating the same things over and over; apple, tomato, onion, herbs, milk, yogurt, beans, cheese, and eggs are the regularly consumed food. While they are more or less healthy, I am afraid I am missing the opportunity to benefit from other veggies/fruits/dry food. In the past whenever I recognized this, I aimed every week to purchase and eat at least 6 different things that I have not eaten within the last week. This time I would like to increase this to 10 so that I can challenge myself (always fun!).

2. Consume the pantry food that are older than a year. I know what they are; rice, bulghur, and wild rice. I am not into rice that much, but I can make an effort to consume more of it. I will get creative with the others. It will be great to use them up so that I can get fresh ones 🙂

3. Thrift shop for blouses and shirts for a renewed wardrobe this Spring :).  I want to budget 50 bucks to keep visiting the thrift stores and buy blouses and shirts. I am happy with my latest purchases and I have been meaning to renew my shirts for some time (many of them have been in use for at least one year). Change is always good and I am discovering that certain styles are fitting me well. It is exciting 🙂

4. Declutter the wardrobe. After I purchase new tops, I want to remove from my wardrobe those that I do not wish to wear; some can be modified (I hope I can make this with my sewing machine),  donate (those that are in good shape), or dump (those that are old and battered). Since this has been a wish of mine for so long, I think it will feel awesome 🙂

5. Clean the yard and plant veggies/seeds. I do not know how the previous owners managed, but the yard is uneven which requires me to fix it. Also there are broken glass bottle and plate pieces everywhere. I cleaned quite a bit in the past but this year I want to do a better job. I also want to grow herbs and other veggies. Spring is almost here, so I can be busy working at the yard the next few months.

6. Lose another 10 pounds. I managed to lose 15 pounds in Fall. I gained 5 pounds back but I am still keen about losing a little bit more of fat. I know morning walks from home to office as well as eating lots of raw veggies and not eating after 8 pm coincided with my weight loss. So I am interested in replicating these behavior and hope that I can lose another 10 pounds 🙂

7. Drink more tea and reduce coffee consumption. I increased my coffee consumption too much. This coincided with me having my weekend breakfast at home rather than at a cafe. I drink around 6 cups of coffee per day now, which does not sound good to me. I do not experience physiological problems like palpitations, but nothing of too much can be good. So from tomorrow on I will focus on drinking 3 cups of coffee per day at most. The rest of the time I can drink tea. Good plan 🙂

8. Get a new hobby or activity that I do not usually do. Whether it is a sitting meditation or hiking the trails, I do not know.  I have read somewhere about “nature bathing” or something like that. Basically it means sitting in a park or around trees, and exposing our body and mind to the natural beauty and freshness around us. I am looking forward to finding a park and doing this this summer.

9. Surprise myself :). I would like to surprise myself by doing things that I would not normally do. I believe this would help me break my routine habits, or see things differently. No idea how I could do this but having it in the list means I will revisit the idea time to time. Who knows maybe I could come up with something interesting 🙂

10. Sew. I could not focus on sewing yet……. I have the machine, notions and fabric, so all I need is a new project that will help me get excited. Ideas?

today’s sourdough

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the end products! look at these beauties! The scoring on boule makes an impression of a face, do you not think? 🙂

I baked two sourdough today; one boule and the other baton-shaped.

The recipe is quite similar to previous ones with:

  • 4/3 cup of whole wheat flour starter fed Friday evening and Saturday morning,        1 1/4 cup water, 3-4 cups bread flour, 2 tbs of sugar, and 2 tbs of salt. It should be slightly sticky
  • mix, rest at room temperature, and stretch and fold 4-5 times with 20-60 min in between (it is quite forgiving; you do not need to time everything. what is important is to fold and strech so that the dough and gluten form)
  • rise at room temperature over night in a mixing bowl with lid and wrap with a towel
  • the next morning (aka today), shape and rest for 10 min. Re-shape if required, cover the loaf with a towel, and place in a plastic bag for a green house effect (I think that works really well) for 4 hours or longer (this week at the end of 4 hours, the loaves had almost doubled)
  • bake at 375 min for 50-55 min (until it becomes golden crisp. I no longer pre-heat the oven or use a roaster/dutch oven to bake. Eventually if the dough is good, the bread comes out wonderful)
  • cool down and make sure to take your time to enjoy 🙂

 

on thrift stores, spring, and gardening

I continue to be excited after the thrift store treasure I hunted yesterday 🙂

I keep thinking; is it becoming more of a normal for me to shop at thrift stores? 

There are two thrift/donation stores at walking distance that I seem to visit frequently only lately. I am not comfortable with the idea of buying shoes, undies, trousers/shorts, sleep wear, or any other personal items (like towels or bed linens),  but shirts, blouses, jackets, sewing notions/fabrics, and books are okay.

I still seem to be reluctant “to be seen shopping at these stores” (talking about social pressure that I need to deal with in my own mind…) and to buy things that will give me an urge of “cleaning intensely’ before use. No offense meant to anyone with the latter point – I know it is just a personal thing; realistically any of the items at this stores can be cleaned and used, and I have not heard of a case that a serious harm occurred because of an item purchased from a thrift store. In contrast, in terms of limiting waste, recycling, reusing, and protecting not only the natural resources but also the unfortunate and poor, I am clear that it is the most responsible thing to do. Also, the variety is much better than any store we have around here and prices are very, very reasonable. I have not passed that “cleaning” stuff just yet. Anyways.

I was thinking; then why did I not do that before and shop at thrift stores?  

I have no answer to that, other than the fact that I think it just fits my current budget and life-style much better than before and I do see an additional personal benefit in terms of the excitement of browsing the stores (there is always something new), finding something that I can really like (and I mean that – the three blouses I purchased lately are incredibly exciting for me to have and wear), and the ability to purchase them without breaking my current lean spending plans (three blouses cost me 13 bucks so far….).

When was the last time I was so excited about something that cost me so little?

You got it.

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It is a kind of gray and rainy day. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a short walk in the morning. The winter has been hard on us but nature is awakening with trees getting greener and the air feeling a little bit more fresh, more Springy… I am really excited about walking becoming so easy and second nature to me. 

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I want to do better with my yard this Spring. I would love to have a herb garden and some nice flowers. We will see how it goes, but today I am proud to say that I planted 6 potato which had sprouted in my kitchen. My mom advised me to cut them in 2 or 4 and plant in the yard 5-10 cm below the surface. I have done this and i hope that I will see them grow into more potatoes 🙂 I have also planted the roots of fresh mint that I had purchased this week. I really would love them to survive and thrive – so far I was only able to grow mint and peas in the last 3 years…..

Let’s cross the fingers my friends 🙂

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thrift store treasures

 I have not written in a while, have I? I feel like I must write, write, write 🙂

A couple of things;

1) I continue to get up at around 7 am… Never in my life have I done this consistently. and with no good reason, like a flight or something.

Is it the end of winter? Daylight? Or plain old age?

Huh… My friends, they say as we age we need less sleep. I guess I am experiencing this. It is a fact! 🙂

2) I made an effort to take the bus this week, rather than the cab. It is working. I still do not feel like walking because of low morale, but I will re-start this sometime in the future. It is gonna feel great – I know it 🙂

3) I have walked two hours again today to a shopping mall. This is, I believe, the 3rd Saturday straight that I have done this. I checked two thrift stores and found myself a nice blouse – just for 4 bucks 🙂 this is the 3rd blouse I have got in the last three weeks from thrift stores that excites me like this 🙂 It is a beautiful thing and I love it 🙂 I tried around 15 other blouses – one of them was really awesome! I wish it was a little bit larger 🙂 Oh, well. next time 🙂

IMG_0848

I found it very interesting today that I am getting more and more comfortable with the idea of buying clothes from thrift stores. I previously had bought books, sewing notions/fabric, purses, a jacket or two, and one or two shirts over many years. What can I say? Sometimes I can find really amazing stuff and they are very affordable. I also help others by shopping at these stores, I would like to think. So I should feel okay. But, see there is something still bothering me about shopping there. I guess I am worried about people recognizing me and then talking behind me. After all I am not poor, and I can afford new clothes, and I would not like to be called “cheap”. But I must admit it is so much fun to go around the thrift stores, look at all the interesting stuff (they have more diverse items than regular store, don’t they?), and find a lovely piece that I can love and use 🙂 

On a separate note, walking was very easy and fun today. I am really grateful for doing this. It is an healthy activity and it makes me realize how fine my body and stamina is. Especially when I compare this ability to before when I had low energy for years and would not want to walk even 5 minutes… To be able to do this now feels awesome 🙂

weekly budget check

I did not post the weekly budget check last week; it is quite similar to this week.

Basically, I keep staying within my weekly allowance and do not make other expenses, such as dining out or purchase of personal/cleaning products unless necessary. Despite my best efforts though, the funds that I can regularly save after my expenses, mortgage, bills, and RRSP/TFSA contributions is not overly significant. This worries me because this is how I increase the money in my chequing account. So far it has been going only up yet slowly, so it must be okay. Yet I wished I could do better, oh well 🙂

Anyways; I am excited to say that I keep making mortgage pre-payments whenever I find a chance. I did one today 🙂 Looks like every month I can do one or two payments with a minimum of 100 bucks. This does not sound like too much, but I would like to think that it is making a positive change in my debt 🙂 

Overall, I am very happy and grateful for my frugal life. It has been somehow rough lately and i have been taking the cab sometimes even though I really do not like the feeling afterwards, but i want to believe that I take the cab because I need to pamper myself. If a 10 bucks ride is going to make me feel better, honestly, there is no need to brag about it. I just am worried that it may become a regular thing – that is all. 

—————————–

Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab rides x 2): $62.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $62.5= $57.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $908 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $42 (personal care purchases, such as moisturizer)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $29 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe).

Mortgage pre-payment: $211 🙂

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And, last; I am happy to say that I keep consuming the food I have “hoarded” in my freezer and pantry (e.g. pasta, beans, frozen meals, frozen bread, canned corn and beans, etc.). I have actually replaced some of the food with fresh batches, which feels real good. I plan to prioritize the food in the pantry more – I have quite a bit dried veggies, wild rice, and cracked wheat still to consume, though! Lucky me 🙂

Happy savings! 🙂

random thoughts

It is quite cold, my friends. We are talking about below 0C. 

Air is fresh and crispy but honestly it just feels like when winter is just starting in December. Déjà vu….. Not so cool. We have had with winter already.

Since my morale is low in the last few days, I try hard to feel okay. I am kind of numb or absent-minded. I feel like if I do not keep busy, all the thoughts and emotions will rush towards me and I will collapse under their weights. I know this is irrational thinking. But it just feels so. So I keep busy – I work and work and work and that feels good.

Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

All my life I worked very hard, except may be a couple of times when I have had personal troubles that kept me from focusing and working a lot. Working seems to help keep my fears and emotions at check and for that I am grateful. It is just that I know that there is no running away from troubling thoughts or emotions, so one day I will have to face my sadness and worries. I hope to gracefully accept them when the time comes, rather than resisting and reacting. I found that not resisting makes it easier to cope with.

Excited GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So, am I kind of saying that I am grateful that I am not retired?

What would I do if I had no work to go to or focus in such a mood? Let me tell you – that would not be nice. So, yes I am so very grateful for my job and not being a retiree right now 🙂

gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/cat-hacker-webs-o0vwzuFwCGAFO;https://giphy.com/gifs/excited-yes-nicolas-cage-RrVzUOXldFe8M

Sunshine Blogger award: nominated and nominating :)

sunshine-blogger

Thank you Corrine at Sew and Sew for nominating me for this blog award!

Corrine and I recently got connected here and we have common understanding about certain aspects of life and importance of support and empathy. Plus, have you seen her projects – she sews! I sure am inspired by many of her sewing adventures and by her warm personality. Have a look at her blog if these features of her interest you.

I am usually skeptical about this kind of blog awards, primarily because I do not know who is benefiting by the circulation of these awards. But I am happy with recognizing and saying nice things about other fellow bloggers, and telling a little bit about myself along the process. So I will go for this one, too.

As usual there are some rules, which I directly copy and paste from Corinne’s nomination post:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award (making sure each one knows they are nominated) and write them 11 new questions to answer.

Here are Corrine’s questions and my answers to them:

  1. Did you have any other names in mind for your blog (if so, what were they)? I cannot remember right now; but I remember initially this was a professional blog where I was planning to write about our job/career. That means it was probably a very boring name!  Boy, am I glad that I switched to a personal blog after realizing that a professional blog was not gonna work 🙂 
  2. If you could choose a language to be fluent in, which would it be? Italian! i always wanted to learn it, especially after I spent a couple of months in Italy when I was young. What a great, magical language. Allora! 
  3. What is the best joke that you know? Hmmm… You have got me there. I am such a serious person that can I say that I cannot come up with a joke right now? How disastrous! Give me a joke book right away!!! 🙂 
  4. When it comes to food, do you prefer sweet or savoury? Savoury. I have no sweet tooth and I would love any salty/spicy food over a sweet one, except the peanut butter which I love and can eat anytime 🙂
  5. Which blog post are you most excited to upload? I like pretty much all of my posts as they come quite spontaneously and are not planned at all (well, maybe with the exception of weekly budget checks, which are quite structured). if I must choose, though, I would say my “joy journal” posts are the most joyful ones 🙂
  6. What is your favourite project that you have completed so far? I believe in the recent years this would be my bread baking adventure 🙂 it has been almost a year and I am progressing quite a bit and it has been literally very electrifying and satisfying experience 🙂 In terms of my sewing projects, I have no excellent product yet but I love the placemats I did for the kitchen 🙂
  7. What was your last search on Google? That was probably the weather forecasts! we are still having quite a chilly weather (today was – 10 C ….You are welcome – I hope now you appreciate the Spring and warm weather more  🙂 )
  8. What song can you not get out of your head at the moment? “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables has been in my mind the entire day. Sad, but beautiful and powerful…..  
  9. What is the best gift that you have received? My mom gave me a gold necklace for my 18th birthday with my initial on the pendant. My mom was working very hard to provide for us at that time. It must have been so hard for her to come up with the money but she had…. I value that necklace more than anything else.
  10. If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower? Heal. I would heal sickness.
  11. What is your favourite day of the week? Friday has always had a special place in my heart! 🙂

And, here are my nominees!

The nominees have a choice of accepting or rejecting the nominations – totally up to them. Of course this list is incomplete as I can only nominate 11 today, but I am hoping there will be other occasions where I will be able to acknowledge and nominate more fellow bloggers 🙂

  1. Deb from https://onceuponahotflash.com/. Her daily grateful posts are a must see! She is really nice and I know that she always has some positive and wise things to say – thanks Deb!
  2. https://quercuscommunity.com/2017/04/18/random-reflections/ here is a nice gentleman with an interest in photography and community work. He is quite fun and wise too – always a delight to follow such bloggers. No nonsense and all beautiful/meaningful posts.
  3. Jessica from https://betweenthreewaters.com/. Jessica always has something funny to say about her motherhood experience and her daughters are two very delightful young kids! I also learn quite a bit about farming and farm life by following her. Take a look at her blog 🙂
  4. https://apparentlyimbipolar.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/normal-is-it-scary/ I recently started following this young lady who is writing about her mental health issues and progress. I applaud her for increasing awareness about mental health/bipolar disease – so well done.
  5. NinaSusan at https://ninasusan.com/. Ninasusan and I have a common pursuit in life – happiness! One of my best friends here at blogger space – always understanding, wise, and supportive. Thanks Ninasusan – one day, we will shine thru that happiness!!
  6. Jennie at https://jenniefitzkee.com/. She is a teacher and always have something wonderful to say about children and teaching/learning. I wish she was my teacher when I was at school. 
  7. https://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/maple-yogurt-multi-grain-rolls/. One of the blogs that I follow which is dedicated to baking bread! So many yummy recipes – check it out 🙂
  8. Cheryl and Becky at https://beckyandchaos.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/spicy-lentil-soup/. These ladies have awesome travel adventures and always great recipes. They  lately started a challenge to try a new recipe every week, which I find very inspiring. Enjoy!
  9. Anne from https://snowbirdofparadise.com/. Anne is one of those bloggers whom I respect quite a lot. She has always been wise in her speech and her comments, and is not afraid to write excellent pieces on social issues and events. 
  10. https://luxuriouslythrifty.wordpress.com/ One of the recent follows of mine; a great and sincere blogger writing about frugal plans/journey, and other stuff. Quite a warm person with honest posts – hard to not like what she needs to say 🙂
  11. Mo from http://devisecreateconcoct.com/. Another great site about frugal life and all bunch of other stuff such as DIY projects. Check it out.

And, here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What do you think is the most beautiful thing about your life?
  2. Do you prefer warm or cool climate? 
  3. If you were to protest, what would it be about?
  4. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  5. What flower do you like most? Please tell us about it.
  6. What do you think about cats?
  7. We all have dreams – have yours materialize in your life? What was your biggest dream ever?
  8. Would you see yourself living in a homestead sometime soon?
  9. Tell us about your favorite dish/food.
  10. Which one is less intimidating – singing or acting in front of 1,000 people?
  11. What would be your advise about being happy?

joy journal – April 17, 2017

I am not writing to feel joyful today.

I am writing today because the best way to heal or to keep the hope is to be grateful.

——————————-

1. I am grateful for waking up early. At around 7 am to be exact. My friends – it is such an unusual thing for me to get up so early. It was a grayish and kinda chilly morning. but nevertheless i got up and prepared myself for the day.

2. I am grateful for catching up the bus. I thought I could walk but as soon as I stepped out I realized how cold it was so i changed into my winter coat and then walked to the stop. It arrived in a minute so I did not even have to wait. What a nice and easy encounter with the bus 🙂

3. I am grateful for changing the fruits this week and eating banana and oranges at the office, rather than the usual choice of apples. I love all fruits particularly apple, but I appreciate giving apple a rest for a while….

4. I am grateful for working really nice and easy. Things are moving well as I have solved some road blocks last week. It is very satisfying to be working like this.

5. I am grateful for taking time to look out of the window several times today; I have looked at the sky, the tall trees, and 4-5 birds across from my building that were either eating something on the ground or were fighting. I thought for a second or two that their lives were harder than mine. What a self-centered life we usually have. I thought that there was a big life and then within it was our live; something that we draw the boundaries around and live intentionally and intimately in. It is our portion of life that we design or protect as much as we can. It can be expanded if external forces/other people allow us to or it can be smaller if we are restricted. But no one or nothing can take our lives away from us, except death. Until then however little or big it can be, we must realize our ownership of life and hopefully make the best out of it. We can do this. Right?

6. I am grateful for having an ex-trainee of mine visiting me! This is always exciting and this is the second time a trainee of mine has visited me this month. This is so nice of them to spare their time and pay a visit. I was very happy and speechless for a minute or two and then we had a little chat and it was great to learn that he was happy and doing really well where he is now (he lives in Norway now, so far away!). May they all be happy and healthy.

7. I am grateful for being kind to myself today. I am taking it easy with myself and I hope that I will keep doing this in the future. I will not let anyone to restrict my opportunity of happiness. I will not let anyone to dictate me how to feel. Whatever the conditions are, I will find a spot or two in my life that will give me a sense of control, serenity, peace, and hope. I will not give up. Neither for myself nor for my family.

8. I am grateful for walking back home from office in the evening. It was a refreshing walk and walking up hill is always challenging and thus quite satisfying once done. I will focus on walking a little bit faster just to challenge myself a little bit further. I think my cardiovascular system would appreciate this 🙂

9. I am grateful for not bothering to cook and eating simple stuff; basically yogurt and my beautiful sourdough loaf that I baked yesterday. what a chewy and tasty bread it is – I am lucky 🙂

10. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. The nights, their quietness, and darkness pacify me….

11. I am grateful for my home, furniture, clothes, shoes, and everything else I have in my house that make my life safe, sounds, warm, and convenient. 

12. I am grateful for my computer and internet connection that allow me to express myself through my blog, read and learn others’ experiences, and interact with others:)

13. I am grateful for taking my time to remember, cherish, and note the things, people, and experiences that made a positive difference in my life today.

joy journal, April 16, 2017

It is a sad day because of something I cared most about crumbled for good today. 

In any ways, a living organism finds a way to entertain its survival instinct. In anyways, it finds ways to survive.

So here is my way for today.

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1. I am grateful for getting up early and having a long day in front of me. It is a challenge to fill a long day with activities. But it is also an opportunity to do things without rushing.

2. I am grateful for the coffee I have brewed at home. It is such an affordable and enjoyable activity.

3. I am grateful for enjoying my morning walk. It was chilly but a bright day and the walk was quiet and lovely. Looking at the houses on the street and assessing their characters is always an interesting activity. A good scenery makes a good difference.

4. I am grateful for not buying peanut butter today! Boy, I love this butter! The trouble is when I buy it, the entire 1 kg bottle is finished in 2-3 days. It is insane! So many calories.. It is not good when I am trying to lose weight. It has been a struggle to not buy it today, but I know that it was the right decision. I congratulate myself 🙂

5. I am grateful for drinking two tall glasses of milk. I have no warm relation with milk really.. Other than the fact that I am making an effort to drink it so that I can get some calcium and vitamin D. That is all. So when I drink not one but two glasses, naturally I feel great about it 🙂

6. I am grateful for the bean dish I cooked today. Friends, I learnt how to best cook beans easily (thanks mom). I am excited about the fact that I am consuming much less of canned bean. Feels awesome.

7. I am grateful for the two sourdough loaves I have baked today. I have had a great dough in the morning. Shaping and baking them was fun – the oven spring was nice and easy and the crumbs are much better than I had expected. what a great sourdough starter I do have! Come to think about it, in two weeks it will be a year that I started baking bread… what an exciting, satisfying, and healthy adventure it has been 🙂

8. I am grateful for speaking with my family and their well being. May they always be happy and healthy.

9. I am grateful for drinking water. I enjoy drinking water especially if it is kind of cool. what a refreshing drink.

10. I am grateful for eating tomato and cheese for breakfast. I am eating tomato quite frequently lately. I have never been a fan of this fruit (I think it is considered a fruit), but it makes a good breakfast material with a dash of olive oil. very tasty indeed 🙂

11. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. It is quiet and I can do whatever I want to do.

12. I am grateful for the movies I am watching and the songs I had listened to earlier. what would I do without the background noise at home? I am lucky to have my TV.

13. I am grateful for shopping my night cream today. It is kind of pricey and i am about to run out of my last bottle. So finding it on sale was an unexpected excitement for today.  

14. I am grateful for thinking and reading about how to be happy. How do we get happy? What is happiness? How do we make ourselves happy? One person was saying on a website that she was happy when she spends time with her husband, son, friends, and while driving. My goodness – I have none of these (no hubby, kids, or car – friends are on the other side of the world so I cannot spend time with them). Joke aside; what is happiness really? How do I make myself happy? How do I become happy with my life? With life? there are so many issues at life and I am so “incomplete” in some ways (being away from my family is the most important reason for that). They say we are responsible for our own happiness. Boy, is it really? Happiness, to me, is not a choice but may be a consequence of choices. Why do we need to choose? because we believe that one option is better than the rest and we take that option. It solves a problem maybe, maybe not, and then time passes and now we are somewhere in our lives where that choice does not matter anymore, yet the conditions are such that we are not, we cannot be happy.  Or may be we can be happy, but we think it is dependent on something that we do not have at that time. I do not know what happiness is but I know what makes me feel good. Perhaps that is what I should be focusing on – to feel good.

15. I am grateful that walking and doing weight exercises make me feel good about myself. 

16. I am grateful for writing these here.

—————————-

What am I appreciative of myself today?

I thank myself for being a resilient person – I may be sick, I may be down, I may fail, but I will always rise back on my feet.

I thank myself for making an effort to eat healthy and have a healthy life-style

I thank myself for making an effort to continuously save and for having a frugal life

I thank myself for loving my family

I thank my body for being healthy

I thank myself for being resourceful

I thank myself for not giving up on hope

I thank myself for still keeping going….

having energy and new projects feel fine

It has been a fine day today. I am kind of bored and anxious about something I care a lot, but other than that, it has been going well.

Today I got up around 9 am, had a light breakfast at home, and then walked all the way to one of the shopping mall’s area. There are a number of dollar and thrift stores in that region, which I really love to visit. I did not buy anything today, but it was so much fun to go around the shelves, look at items that are usually unique, browse the books, and checking the sewing items/notions.

I then walked back home. I estimate that I walked around 2 hours today. I think this is awesome 🙂  I feel strong, powerful, able, healthy, and lighter 🙂 Thanks to all vitamin D and iron supplements that I was prescribed two years ago.. What a difference they have made in my energy levels. 

———————————————–

My interest to consume the food hoarded in the freezer and pantry is going strong. I have consumed quite a bit of the “old” items and have replaced some of them back with fresh ones (like minced beef, chicken, pasta, and legumes). I still have a number of food that I have not touched in the last year or so, including some frozen veggies, wild rice, bulghur, and dried veggies. So I would like to prioritize their consumption in the coming weeks. That is my mental note for today.

My interest in designing new projects continues. Now that I have had all bunch of different projects implemented in my life (decluttering, budgeting, saving money, being frugal, using coupons and discounts, shopping bans, baking bread, taking the bus or walking to go to work, etc.), I am naturally looking for new ones. It excites me, learning about this kind of things, planning, putting an effort to implement them, monitoring my progress, and then improving it if I am still interested in (remember the #superduperleanspendingmonth that I left in two weeks or so because it did not work out for me? 🙂 it is okay every once a while). 

I now am interested in reducing my waste. I have checked a couple of sites and it sounds like I have a lot of extra waste at my hand: I still use paper towel when needed (for cleaning the bathroom for example), wet-disposable clothes for cleaning the sinks and the floor, facial tissue/napkin after meals. I do not compost, though I do recycle paper and other items accepted by our city. I donate what I do not need/use anymore and shop from thrift or second-hand stores as appropriate. I re-use the plastic/nylon shopping bags as garbage liners. I reduced my food waste quite a bit by shopping small amounts (store is 5 min away from me – so it is easy to stop by more than once a week). But I still have waste (1 large garbage bag/week – not too much but it can be less).

So what do I do about it?

I think I should keep reading and continue to be inspired by others’ experience. I will also have a careful look at what my waste and garbage includes. I really want to compost but I will have to see whether I can do this inside the house (no worms or anything) – if I want it to be a continuous activity I must find the most practical way to do so even during our harsh winter.

So these are my new plans 🙂

Shoot a comment if you have ideas to help me reduce my waste/garbage!

random thoughts

The entire week was warm and with blue skies. I think the spring is coming. I think the winter has left us. I think things will be only better after this 🙂

I was at a boring social yesterday with a colleague of mine and I went to office and had a very productive day today. So, if you had asked me which one made me happy, you know it is the day at the office. Honestly, the lack of distraction is the best thing I can have in my office. I left the office feeling quite happy about myself and the work I have done. I think I have resolved a couple of road blocks in this project so far and from now on I can only move faster and better. This feels amazing 🙂  

I am really happy about this.

 

this was not the life I wanted

This was not the life I wanted.

I was supposed to love, be loved, and have a family of my own.

I was supposed to be happy and joyful, smiling and laughing. I was supposed to be with my friends, having care-free and fully supportive relationships without personal agendas.

I was supposed to live in a fair and just life.

I was supposed to work at an organization that valued me and my efforts rather than belittling me because of my gender, where I was from, or what they assumed I believed in.

I was supposed to be comfortable under my own skin, feeling great about my own identity, body, character, and acts.

I was supposed to feel confident and strong against any tides life could throw in my direction.

I was supposed to be free, walk in the weekends in busy streets, see the movies and dance to the songs I have loved.

I was supposed to discover myself in relationships.

I was supposed to have excitement. 

I was supposed to live somewhere else.

I was supposed to be happy.

but I am not.

————————————

I have none of these that I thought I was entitled to. Not because I did not want to. But because I made choices.

I chose to move here and take this position, which now is under too much stress and the environment is getting more and more toxic, with lay offs and people blaming, belittling, or pushing away each other.

I chose to have a secure position that will give me financial stability and a sense of meaning and strength. I chose to do what I once loved to my bones – my job.

I chose to stay even after I realized whatever I was getting was not enough for me to feel good about myself or my life. In contrast, I was in so much stress and pressure that I do not know why I have stayed. Tell me – why did I choose to stay?

I chose to not have trips to see new places or friends to rather save the money for my future.

I chose to over and over take a mental note and saying “there is nothing much here for me to do alone”. A hobby class? A dance/sports club? A cooking class? Poetry? Writing? New language? Anything. I chose to have no such interests.

I chose that instead of having zillion of friends, I would have a few good ones in my life.

I chose to believe in that I was not a good cook so I hardly host my friends at my home.

I chose that the most interesting activity for me at the weekends would be to visit the two shopping malls in my city, browse the stores, and purchase what I may need.

I chose to believe in that at my age of mid-40, I was already old.

I chose to believe that I was not lovable.

I chose to have no future plans. I have tried multiple times. It just does not happen – what am I waiting for?

What is it that drags and anchors me down?

————————–

What am I supposed to change in my thinking, my priorities, my life?

What choices I must reverse and what new choices I must make to be happy?

Tell me.

I have forgotten

poem

—————

I may have forgetten

got busy with work

but pain remains

for not being who I could be

if I were with you

I may have forgetten

got hopeful with future

but my dream remains

hinting how it could be

if I were your girl

I may have forgotten

got down with misery

but my grief has remained

for not being what I could be

if I could be

I would be happy with you

eventually I have forgotten

my heart mended

and mind refreshed

but tears remained

I got cold and void

for not forgivin’

weekly budget check

I continue to take the cab in the mornings this week – one gets used to comfort quite easily 🙂

I had forgotten what a blessing it was to get up whenever I want and not worrying about losing time by waiting for and taking the bus. Taking the cab in the morning sure does give me a warm feeling of being pampered.

Sadly, it also means that I am spending more than I would like to 🙂 

I know this is just temporary so I am not worried, but I wished I had started walking or taking the bus, rather than taking the cab, starting tomorrow. Let’s see how it will go.

Anyways, this week the spending is higher than before because of the extra cab expenses, but other than that I continue to spend consciously and keep saving.

Here is the week’s account:

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab fares): $104

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $104= $16

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $788.5 (🙂)

Other expenses: $84 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to personal care and cleaning product purchases)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $60.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe, not picking up the bill for others at socials).

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Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and bean meal from the freezer;  quinoa from the pantry 🙂 Thank goodness, I am done with quinoa…..

——————————

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts

It has been a long and productive day. If you are like me and have a busy work, please make it a priority to have no meeting or other commitments for at least 2 days a week. Do what is important for you and your work in those days. Nice and easy. And enjoy being independent of others and free of distractions.

I recently started this prioritization and benefiting quite a bit of it. I am also planning to remove further unnecessary tasks, commitments, and activities from my calendar now. We must care for ourselves if we want to be happy with our own performance, and helpful to others. After many decades of reading about time-management, I am curious why now I have come up with this plan for myself. I must have had it…. I am glad I have had it because this is working for me.  

I was bored of being home early (around 5 pm) so I thought I would either sew something or read a book. I oped out for a book and guess what? I re-started reading The Class of Kings, the second book in the A Game of Thrones book series of GRRM. Boy, it has been a year that I left it in the middle as it is one of the most boring book I have ever seen. Would you, would I expect this from this series? Noooo… But it is so true – officially this is one boring book. I have been told that if I can finish it and move on with the third book, things would get better. So let’s hope that will turn out to be true for me. All these things I have done for the Jamie Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa and Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister :))))

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Weather-wise, we continue to have snow and rain and everything else in between. Those of you who have sunshine, blue skies, and warm temperature, please take a moment to reflect how lucky you are. You really are lucky 🙂

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preferences for social activities

I have just declined a social invitation from a nice couple that I happen to like. I have met with them last week for a dinner and I will be meeting with one of them for a breakfast this Wednesday. The social that I refused to take part was scheduled for the next weekend.

This is the second time that I said no to these lovely people. Seeing  them rather frequently is the first reason for my refusal and the restaurant choice is the second. The place they have chosen is an expensive diner with food that does not appeal to me. Honestly I have no reason to spend 90 bucks on something that does not even excite me.

But the first reason re; seeing them lately too frequently is something that I always knew but never voiced before. Well…. It is true. I live alone and am perfectly happy with it 99.9% of the time. When I see people rather frequently I develop negative reactions. I cannot help it.

At least I have been true to them and to myself.  I really like these people. Hopefully next time we will eat at my place.

These friends of mine seem to get me and do not push it, which is awesome. I had friends in Toronto who would get quite upset if I had declined their invitations. It was so weird, so ridiculous that eventually our friendship has ended. I have not talked to them for quite a long time. Honestly I could not care less. You cannot force people to socialize with you whenever you want it. See, I am still angry with those people.

Anyways; I am thankful that I continue to be assertive and say “No” as necessary and I have great friends who totally get it and still be cool with me.

I feel good about myself and lucky 🙂

in awe and in love

You know what I love most about falling in love, or seeing a historic monument/art piece most?

The feeling of being awed.

The admiration  I feel.

The feeling of being how lucky to have this experience.

Getting all the cells in my body energized.

The mesmerisation, excitement, silly smiles I get. 

Forgetting everything and focusing on a great thing, a great person.

With increasing age I found that these feelings are showing up less and less.

One may not be able to fall in love with planning, but one sure can plan a trip to see what they want to do, what they want to see. I hope all of you guys have some plans for the summer.

Today’s loaves

Sourdough loaves are for myself (of course! – since I started baking sourdough in August-September last year, there has not been a week that I have not eaten it 🙂 ) while the bread loaves with commercial yeast will be given to my colleague who gave me a ride last week.

Sourdough loaves were done very similar to previous ones with flax seed and rolled oat.

The loaves with the commercial yeast were prepared similar to this one, only without the milk. I am aware that the shapes are not the best, but we will hope at least  the taste, crumb, and crust are superb 🙂

 

 

joy journal – April 1, 2017

There I am – writing to my joy journal again today 🙂 

It is because in the last one hour or so, I started to feel a lot better. I was reading one of my self-help books that opened my eyes again. The message is that “the more you dwell in negative experiences, thoughts, and emotions, the more they are pronounced in your life.”

How true.

I knew it. Yet, I needed to be reminded it. 

The opposite is also true – the more we dwell in positive experiences, thoughts, and emotions, the more they are pronounced in our lives. I realized that while I am scared of being fired, I actually have no reason to be fired – I am productive, creative, and very well contributing to all aspects of my organization, as expected from me. So why do I have this negative self-suspicion about my own worth? I am worth it; I deserve this job as much as anyone else, even sometimes more than many. I should start pushing away my inner critique and other poisonous people around me.

Very well.

——————————

 

1. I am grateful that I have not given away the book that I am reading when I decluttered my books last year 🙂  This is a book that I bought in 2015 and it seems timeless and very beneficial for me. Thank you whoever wrote, published, distributed, and sold it.

2. I am grateful for waking up early this morning, around 7.45 am. Quite early and that means the day is long and opportunities are limitless 🙂

3. I am grateful for the coffee I brew at home and enjoying it. I like my morning routines – coffee, browsing the news, and checking the emails before I start doing more serious work. Lovely routine 🙂

4. I am grateful for cleaning my home and doing the laundry. This is my Saturday routine and it works well with me. I am lucky that cleaning my home is usually very easy and does not take much time or effort.

5. I am grateful for speaking with my mom and sister and having lots of laughter. I told them what one of my co-workers said to me this week. I was having a stressful and defensive conversation about something that negatively affected both of us and my co-worker said ” life is so big“. He did not continue but when I heard what he said, I knew how I interpreted it “life is so big and this is such a small issue. Like a little point in the entire universe“. What a beautiful thing to say!  Visualizing this little point in a big circle puts everything in a realistic context for me and many little issues lose their importance right away (do you want to give it a try? – see below).

 

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look at this beautiful upbeat life symbolized by the circle and the small “issue” symbolized with the dot; is it really worth focusing on it so much while there are so many other “points” in life? What is this dot’s worth really when compared to the whole life?

6. I am grateful for taking the bus and going to a mall. I broke the frame of my eye glasses and luckily could find the same frame. All I need to do is now to have the glasses fit in a store.

7. I am grateful for buying canned fish (that I snack at the office), personal care products, and canola oil from a store today.

8. I am grateful for preparing two dough today; one sourdough and one commercial yeast dough. Tomorrow I plan to bake 4 mid-size loaves; two for myself (the sourdough) and two plain bread; one for my neighbor and one for a colleague of mine. It was too much trying to deal with both of the dough at the same time, but both are looking very strong and it will be exciting to see them in the morning all fluffy and risen 🙂

9. I am grateful for the healthy meals I have had today; I did not eat for breakfast, but I have had beans and rice for lunch and quinoa salad with greens and turnips in the evening. The fact that I eat a variety of food that are usually prepared in a healthy way (e.g. not fried or so) should be credited for. I should credit and appreciate myself for these healthy choices.

10. I am grateful for consuming up quinoa! My goodness, I am not buying it again. Such a tasteless and expensive grain. Good bye! 🙂

11. I am grateful for trying to fix a collar that I messed up a while ago. Basically I wanted to see whether a binding tape could make it better and it looks like it is not a bad idea. I just need to make sure to stretch it a little bit so that the collar will hold itself well. This is a progress – there is hope, my friends! I will make it! One day! 🙂

12. I am grateful for having lots of smiles on my face this evening 🙂

13. I am grateful for feeling a lot better today; very positive, and content. Even a little bit silly but yes, I am feeling good and this feels fantastic. Feeling good is a birthright – even though I am guilty of being a perfectionist and a worrying type of person, and thus, usually not feeling good. This being said, it does not mean that I do not enjoy and appreciate it when I feel great. This evening is such an evening. After feeling down for a long time, and dealing with one issue after the other since new year, I take this opportunity to breathe well and put a smile on my face. Till next time.

14. I am grateful for having the night to myself and tomorrow. Tomorrow my plan is to get up early again and walk to a store to get milk and eggs. Then I will bake my breads and a cauliflower dish. I also would like to try another neck line to improve my skills. Yes – sounds like a good Sunday 🙂

—————————–

I appreciate myself for the followings today:

  1. I appreciate myself for being healthy
  2. I appreciate myself for having books and benefiting from them
  3. I appreciate myself for re-realizing my worth and the great things about myself
  4. I appreciate myself for taking excellent steps to ensure that I eat nutritious and healthy food
  5. I appreciate myself for not having expensive hobbies or wants
  6. I appreciate myself for constantly expanding my understanding about myself and life
  7. I appreciate myself for smiling 
  8. I appreciate myself for not making unnecessary expenses today
  9. I appreciate myself for being lighter today than yesterday (by one pound)
  10. I appreciate myself for laughing together with my family today

what future is like

I have been working in my field in a very dedicated and intense manner in the last 23 years or so. I worked in 4 different countries, did really well considering that I am a female and have been a “foreigner” in three of these countries (ah, yes I have been insulted, discriminated, and stereotyped many times), and have a great job that I think I deserve and is good for me. Except the stress levels and negative criticism that are inherently high in this line of work and the recent very annoying uncertainty about our future economy, salaries, and retirement benefits.

At one point in my life, maybe 10 years or so, I was again strained like this re; work opportunities and future stability, was having a personally bad time, and questioned how well this line of work was working for me, the efforts I put into it, its negative consequences to my mental and physical health, and what I was feeling like doing (sadly, I had lost my interest, enthusiasm, and dedication to my career and was desperately looking for an exit for a new, better, energizing, and positive life and work experience..).

It took me around 2-3 years to turn things around, by luck I would say (so grateful), but I was so lost (it is hard to figure out everything alone) and so depressed that it really hurt. Eventually, I never re-gained my naturally “extremely intense” enthusiasm towards my career. When such a strong bond, love if you will, is hurt, it is hurt for ever. My sincere verdict.

However, when I got my current job, I was filled with motivation and was still interested in, competitive and hard-working, even though that something was missing. I did really well, accomplished the majority of the things I put into my mind as much as the conditions permitted. Of course, I could do better. I always wanted to do better. And I could not at some points, because of some reasons. Whether they originated from me or from external resources does not matter. What matters is that I have changed, I have got tired of certain things, and now I want nothing but to change many things, including the topic of my work. I am hoping this will energize me and give me yet another push.

At my position, we are free to work on any topic we like (is that not fantastic?) as long as it is a productive and relevant topic. I think as the first step, that is what I will do; try to change the topic. That requires some thinking with a neutral state of mind, so hopefully I will have some time off to just focus on this. A new topic means a new excitement, another shot at an intellectual challenge 🙂 Always exciting 🙂 Problem is I have been meaning to do this for 3 years now; what are the chances of this happening anytime soon? We shall see….

Yet, not even this erases the scary fact that slowly, one thing at a time, my overall interest and dedication to this job, especially with the negative economic climate, are decreasing. 

Previously, I considered resignation from my current position many times because of the fact that it took me quite a while (many years) to adjust to the city and the work place culture, the stress levels it creates, lack of opportunities and support needed for a more successful career, and overall boredom that comes from many little things of life. Just this year I started not reacting badly to being here. But then started the provincial economic problems and the firings…. Talking about low work-place morale… This has had profound effect on me. I really want to get out of this situation and find a better, more secure job. I know the chances to do so is low, but I keep wanting this. It is only normal to want so. It is the human nature.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking; I probably have another 20 years to work before retirement (let’s cross the fingers… hope I will be able to work till then and hope there will be retirement possible at the future economic climate).

Twenty-years…..

Twenty more years I will struggle with the high level stress, criticism, reduced levels of enthusiasm towards my work… If I am lucky enough to keep my job, of course. Constantly I will find myself in the same situation with the need to handle stress, the need to change and improve the things, longing for somewhere new, some organization better.

The idea of constantly trying these has made me feel tired already.

Perhaps it is the best time that I quit this work and start another one/another career, maybe somewhere else with hopefully less stress levels. Will that ever be possible for me? Will I be able to work out and handle the stress better one day? I doubt it, but there is always hope. Will it be a better job? More secure? In a better city?

The more I think, the less it seems possible – status quo may be better than another position somewhere else.

So, what is it that I should be thinking about my future?

Well, unless I am fired from my job, I will keep going and doing my best. I know I can do this. I will focus on having a good life and putting in a positive attitude in my position. I will keep making financial plans and saving as much as possible to somehow help secure my future. I will take it as an opportunity, should they fire me, to listen to inner myself and find out what it is that I want in life and what my next chapter in life is like.

In the mean time, I sure can look for jobs, nothing serious but like a past-time activity, and who knows maybe I will come across one that will be a good opportunity for me. Where I will feel appreciated, valuable, and respected and where my efforts will make a significant and positive impact.

Until then, I am likely to come to this point again and again.

To make this easy, I think I must trust life. As a recent comment on one of my posts said (re-phrasing) “life does not work out the way we predict it to be, sometimes it is hard to understand the turn of events until we realize that whatever happened was only the start of a better life, better experience, better opportunity.”

joy journal – March 31, 2017

I am not good at writing my joy journal this year…… I believe this is my only the second post in 2017.

I am the best person to know that writing this journal is one thing that always made me feel better, more hopeful, and joyful.

So, why is this neglect lately? Was I too joyful so that I did not need to write it, or was I not joyful at all so I did not even bother writing?

The answer is neither.

I was slightly down; that is for sure. Work has had some stressful & pissing moments in February and March. But other than that many great things happened, almost on a daily basis.

I was just lazy, I would say.

Now is a good time to break this pattern and start being and benefiting from being grateful.

——————–

1. I am grateful for being safe and sound in this stormy day. I was not hurt, fell, or got washed out by the rain or pushed around by the wind. 

2. I am grateful for my home standing tall, strong, and safe in this weather. This year we have had quite a bit of winter with lots of wind and snow. And now we are having rain. But the house has been great with no problem at sight. I am very thankful for this.

3. I am grateful for deciding to remove from my work list those that drag me down emotionally. Whether they are the unnecessary tasks or people, I say “no” more often now and it feels good. I will keep doing this as long as it serves me best.

4. I am grateful for all the food I have in my house. 

5. I am grateful for having the night to myself. It is quite peaceful to have no one around. 

6. I am grateful for having the energy and feeling good about myself. 

7. I am grateful for eating fruits today and enjoying them.

8. I am grateful for feeding my sourdough starter this evening. I hope to make a dough tomorrow and bake a loaf on Sunday, as usual. This weekend, I will also have a loaf or two with commercial yeast to give to my colleague who gave me a ride this evening. I do not necessarily like getting favors without giving something back, especially from those people who I have no close friendship. For some reason, when someone who is not a close friend of mine offers me this kind of help/kindness, I have a hard time accepting it gracefully. Old habit… And bread sounds great – I am sure they will enjoy. And I will feel even.

9. I am grateful for the movie I am watching; my internet connection; my computer; my power and heating; my phone line; my furniture; shoes/boots and clothes and everything else I have at home. All is necessary or useful, and well liked. 

10. I am grateful for reading and enjoying reading; whether it is books or browsing on the internet. But learning is the best thing a mind can relax and grow into. I have so many opportunities to do so that I am loving my life very much right now 🙂

11. I am grateful for re-starting my joy journal and being grateful 🙂

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Added after the post:

I forgot – as of Jan 2017, I also would like to note at least 3 things that I appreciate about myself. Here is today’s list:

  1. I appreciate the fact that I am not a cheap person
  2. I appreciate the fact that I can say “no” now
  3. I appreciate the fact that I make an effort to keep a simple, peaceful, healthy, and meaningful life
  4. I appreciate the fact that I am more focused on my own well being at the office
  5. I appreciate the fact that I have simple but effective/meaningful hobbies, like reading, writing, listening to music, or watching movies
  6. I appreciate the fact that I have a character and its genuine – what you see is what you get
  7. I appreciate the fact that I make a good effort to eat at least one type of raw veggie per day – it is essential for losing weight (for some reason, it does work for me..)
  8. I appreciate the fact that I am resourceful
  9. I appreciate today especially the fact that I am writing on my joy journal and also making this “self-appreciation corner” an integral part of it 🙂

Yay!! 🙂

random thoughts

Our storm continues with heavy rain, rather than snow, and with high winds. It has been a wet, cold, gray, and miserable day, but luckily not a snow-day. I worked whole day at the office and one of my co-workers gave me a ride back home. What else do I want from such a stormy day? Maybe a cup of tea 🙂

I am determined to try to sew a collar again this weekend and start a new blouse project. It is the collars that screw everything most – once I do achieve sewing one acceptable prototype, I know I can keep progressing….. But  there were three trials so far and all were fails. I know I should be more patient and keep going. Eventually I will know how to best handle it. After all, there are so many people who can do a collar. Is there any particular reason why I cannot make it?

I did not think so.

Confidence and determinism are rare traits sometimes.

I have watched a number of youtube videos. There are many different ways to sew a neck line. I can do this! 

———————————–

I have not posted my “weekly budget check” this week. It has been similar to previous weeks where I saved by shopping items/grocery on sale, minimizing anything else. The only difference was that this week every morning I have taken the cab to the office. This was partly because of the bad weather and partly because of my need to feel good about myself. For some reason, I am not sorry. Perhaps one or two days I could rather take the bus, but in the other days taking the cab was the right decision. That is why I am not sorry. And the fact  that money is not everything. And the fact that it is okay to prioritize comfort every once a while 🙂

I wonder what the future years will bring. If our economy was not this bad, in the coming years we would expect to get salary increases. This would be nice and help me to make further plans to pay the mortgage off. I have a little increase coming in April, for which I am grateful. But knowing that our salaries will probably not increase, in contrast, may even be reduced after that, I am feeling disappointed.

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The other day I was thinking: what other expense I can reduce in my life? How can I get more income? One of the options is to get a roommate – but this will not happen without sacrificing my comfort and freedom. I wish I had a basement apartment where I could rent. At least that would feel like some kind of freedom. But in terms of the expenses, I cannot cut my cable-phone-internet combo; I sure can walk more frequently to office once the weather becomes more permissive; I cannot sacrifice from my grocery and food any further. None of these can happen without reducing the quality of my life or my life style. I can reduce the expenses related to my social life, but hey it is already not too much. So what do I do?

Nothing much. Cherish what I could achieve so much, aim to save as much as possible (possible is a great word here) while also enjoy my life. That is pretty much it.

2017 has been the leanest year in terms of my spending so far. Since it is March 31st, I thought it would be a good idea to check my finances. I usually do this at the end of each year, but it is good to know how I am doing in terms of budgeted categories.

Notable financial accomplishments/facts are as follows: 

1. I am spending much less money this year than before

2. I am walking in the mornings whenever I can – the first time in winter this year (well, okay this is not completely a financial achievement, but an important change in my life this year – so I will keep it in the list 🙂 )

3. I have made an effort to consume the food in my pantry and freezer and it worked really good for me

4. I started to make mortgage prepayments this year and it has been going well. I am more motivated than ever to keep saving, however  little it can be, and use it to make a pre-payment

5. My weekly allowance (of $120) has never been over-spent so far and I am constantly saving in my fund funds (these are the funds left from the weekly allowance). If it continues like this I will have an extra $2,000 – 2,500 at the end of the year in my fun funds account. This is additional to what I predicted that I could save this year. Maybe I will use it for my enjoyment, or maybe I will use it to invest/pay mortgage. We shall see 🙂

6. Of $6,000 funds budgeted for socials, personal care and cleaning products, hobbies, medications and other health-related expenses, gifts, and all expenses other than my weekly allowance, I spent around $1,000 so far. Considering that it is the 1/4th of the year so far, this number is good. I should keep going frugal in these areas, as I happen to shop a lot during the November-December to take advantage of the sales. I hope to keep within this budgeted amount this year.

7.  My chequing account is healthy, above $0, and as usual, I continue to contribute to my RRSP and TFSA investments biweekly. The only thing is that despite all the frugal life-style, regular savings to improve the chequing account has been quite difficult (because of the increased tax, pension contributions, and mortgage payments) compared to the last year. Nevertheless, since it is in a good shape, I am grateful for whatever I can do and I am determined to keep going. 

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random thoughts

We are waiting for yet another storm in a couple of days and naturally I shopped this evening and stocked up some fruits and veggies.

I am not looking forward to this storm yet; I am not interested in shoveling, not going to office and not taking care of the work, and spending another day inside. 

But what can I do?

Nothing much. So, I may as well choose to enjoy it, should we get another snow day or two. As a matter of fact, I think it will be a good opportunity to try sewing a simple blouse again. We shall see how this will go.

—————————————————–

There are talks about “firings” to happen in my organization. The provincial situation is really bad and it shows itself in the lay offs. The morale is low and the future uncertainty and the fear of being without a job or its benefits are giving me a chill. I feel for the people who are laid off so far. Sometimes I think if that to happen to me, rather than feeling saddened by it, I should gracefully accept, collect myself and my belongings, sell my house, and go for a trip for a year or so. Just to find myself; just to figure out what I want in life. What I need in life. Without too much of thinking – like I have always done. Freedom should feel good. It always does.

This being said though, I would not like to lose my job. I do not wish to lose my job. So, I hope this kind of freedom will have to wait till my retirement. 

Since the current provincial government is pretty interested in increasing the taxes, firing people, and reducing the contributions for important services, such as schools or hospitals, our future looks pretty gray, including pension plans.. One wonders how this government could take such extreme measures and created such a depressing outlook for our current life and the future one? This feels so surreal; not having the safety/security and hope for our future while we put 100% of our minds and hearts in to our works and the daily economy. I am very disappointed. Perhaps it is for the best if they let us go and we find jobs and lives somewhere else. That crosses my mind so frequently. But, I should stop giving the wrong messages to my subconsciousness. I like my job and I would like to stay. I do not wish to lose my job.

Looks like my mental judo about the prospect of bad economy, seemingly impossible retirement, chance of being fried, and a currently secure/safe job, and my need for it and everything else it does bring (salary, benefits, a sense of meaningful life and efforts) will continue some time. I hope the future will bring positivity rather than desperation.

I want to continue to like life.

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when death baffles, again and again

I just learnt today that someone I know only through blogging has died of cancer this weekend. She was young (around early 30s), with a husband and a little son. May she rest in peace.

She was always open about the encounters with life about first survivorship and then being a terminal patient. My understanding was that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, treated and was on remission, only tho find out later that she now had multiple metastases in her body. It was frightening to hear the news for me. I had met her when she was on remission and I never thought that she would become terminal. But she did.

Still in that situation, she kept her chin up and her ordeal open for everyone to learn from. She was so positive and upbeat that it was again hard for me to realize that she was terminal. In one posts, she said “make no mistake, I am dying“. That broke my heart and I guess I started to take it a little bit more serious then. Communicating with someone whose days on this life is limited is a strange feeling…. Thinking that next day, next week, next year, this person will not be here…. How fragile and strange life can be, right?

Right.

Another thing that broke my heart was when she said that her doctor would be removing/or not removing (cannot remember which one and it does not matter really) her breast fillers (which she always hoped that one day would help with reconstructing her breasts). I thought she must have been heart-broken…. How did she stand so tall in the middle of all of these frustration and disappointment? She was a strong girl, but goodness knows, this could not be easy.

And a couple of weeks back, just like that, out of blue, we learnt that she was hospitalized, in pain, in hospice care, and having trouble with eating/feeding tube. And today we learnt that she had passed out last weekend.

I do not know what to think, what to feel for. I am certainly sorry for the family and friends. But I am feeling very weird, very weird.

She was here and now she is gone. She knew she was gonna die, but I never thought that would happen (duh me). What did she feel or think prior to her death in the hospital, the hospice care, right before her death? How did she face (I am sure she was courageous) death? The prospect of death?

Thinking about these nauseates me. 

She is not the first one that I knew and lost to cancer. On facebook I am still friends with a friend of mine who died of melanoma at the age of 40. I now follow blogs of not one but two deceased cancer patients. These numbers, you know are, likely to increase.

 I dislike cancer and what it does to us, directly or indirectly. I hope one day we will really be able to control this diseases.

Until then, all I can say is; please be aware of the risk factors of cancer, limit them as much as you can, see your doctor when you suspect something wrong is going on, take advantage of the screening programs (like colonoscopy, mammography and others), and be active in your own health care.

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sourdough with a touch of rolled rye

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What is a Sunday without a home-baked loaf of sourdough?

You got it right – it is almost impossible!!!!! :))))

Since I started sourdoughing last August, except one weekend and when I was away for vacation/business trip, I baked a loaf or two every…single…Sunday! 🙂

I keep experimenting with the rolled cereals/grains in my sourdough loaves. My recent a couple trials including the soaked rolled oat and flax seed in sourdough (for example, here and here) have been quite successful. I think they help with  the moisture even though they lack the gluten so they take up only a small part of the total dough (other wise the loaf does not rise – I know by experience – unless you want a flat and stiff loaf, do not try to have a loaf with only rolled oat).

Anyways, I saw and purchased the rolled rye a couple of weeks ago. Honestly I have no idea what it could be used for, but I thought it would be a nice addition to my baking adventures and a nice ornament for the crust. I was not wrong.

This is the biggest loaf I have ever baked so far; thus rather than a boule I opted out for a baton loaf (I thought it would bake more evenly). Also, I proved the dough in a large plastic bag that kept it somewhat warm (something like a greenhouse effect). I am glad I remembered to do this as I think it reduced the proving time.

Recipe:

  • tend to the starter and prepare the levain as explained here
  • mix 1 cup of rolled rye with 1 cup of water, soak for 30 min
  • add the rye mixture,  1 1/4 cups of starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar together and mix well
  • add 4 cups of bread flour and 2 tbs of salt. Mix and form a shaggy dough. It will be a little bit sticky dough
  • stretch and fold 4-5 times at 30-60 min intervals
  • cover, wrap with a thick towel, and rise at room temp over night. My kitchen is around 17 C
  • the next morning, take the dough on a floured surface, expand and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over itself to form a baton shape
  • cover and rest for 10-15 min at room temp
  • re-shape if required and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  • cover with a thick towel and place in a large plastic bag; tie the ends of the bag and rest for 5 hours at room temp
  • pre-heat the oven at 375 F
  • wet the surface of the loaf with your hands and sprinkle with rolled rye. Gently press to make sure the flakes will stick. Score the loaf as you please
  • bake for 55 min
  • cool down and enjoy!

Happy baking!