Sunday, November 26, 2017

❄ Christmas Season has Started at my Home ❄

Hello my dear friends.  I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  It was warm here on Thanksgiving day; we set a heat record!  I'm so excited to share with you my latest find. . .

 A vintage 1949 Christmas issue of The Illustrated London Times.  I found it at our local library sale last week.  I was so thrilled to find this.  It's truly from a different time where I think things were more appreciated and classy than today.

As you can see, it was published for the US market at one dollar.  It was a weekly publication up until 1971 and it ceased publication altogether in 2003.

You can see that the insert for the subscription card is still intact in the magazine.  
I loved looking through the pages and seeing the advertisements from long ago.  This was published before I was even born!  (And, my children think I'm ancient...)
There were some beautiful illustrations in the magazine along with some wonderful stories that I have yet to read.
It was interesting to read about the Christmas customs of today.
 Speaking of my favorite time of year, you won't find any bah humbug here on my blog.  I too, don't like the commercialization of this blessed holiday but I ignore it.  It's simple really.  My shopping for Christmas is something that I look forward to do and I get it done early.  We bought the fresh tree for the family room yesterday at Home Depot and as you can see, it's up and decorated with hot pink lights!  It contains all the ornaments that mean so much to me.  The living room tree, which is artificial, will go up in a week or so.  Next up is wrapping presents to the sound of Christmas carols and baking my beloved Christmas cookies.

We have a family tradition that we always get our fresh tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving along with our dear daughter and her family.  Supposedly, there's a shortage of Christmas trees this year due to the recession and drought from years past.  Home Depot's tree lot was half full and many of those were already dry.  This is my daughter's beautiful fresh tree which my dear son-in-law takes care of each and every year.  And, looking at it in awe in the spirit of this upcoming blessed season are my little grandchildren.

Do you have fond memories of Christmas from years past?  I do and I have always tried to pass that onto my children and grandchildren.  Yes, we have gifts but it's not really about the gifts.  It's about family, tradition, worship and all the other wonderful things that go along with this holiday that really has nothing to do with money.

On a side note, I'm a little sad tonight since my dear kitty, Lilly, is not feeling well.  She has what I could call kitty stomach flu.  I will be calling the vet in the morning.  I cried earlier today as I'm so concerned about her.  She 12 1/2 years old and we've had her as a part of our family for over 10 1/2 years.  She is my child that I still have at home.  Please say a little prayer for her if you wish.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best for the upcoming week.

With my best wishes,


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chinese Tea in a Tangerine via NYC

Hi everyone.  I hope your week is off to a great start. It's quiet around here after babysitting my little grandchildren last week.  As you may recall, my daughter Heidi went to New York City last week and brought me...
This little ball of Chinese pu-erh tea, all wrapped up in this pretty little package. 

 She bought it at McNulty's Tea and Coffee in NYC.  They have been in business since 1895 and have a huge array of coffees and tea.

The tea has been cured in a hollowed out tangerine.  As you can see, the peel is completely dried and the top of the tea has some dried peel too.  Inside, there is black tea without any additions.

I was excited to try it.  I warmed my vintage Japanese teapot and put in a spoonful of the tea, added the freshly boiled water and let it sit.  When I poured it into my Japanese teacup, I was amazed at the lovely, deep, golden red color.  The taste was heavenly.  Thank you Heidi!

Speaking of Heidi, she will be hosting our Thanksgiving this year as she has done every year since 2008.  She's already printed out her menus as shown above.  I will be bringing some pre dinner snacks of Scottish sausage rolls along with some giant stuffed olives I found at World Market.  It's our family tradition to play Monopoly each Thanksgiving evening.  It will be a fun, family day.
Heidi sent me a copy of this menu from The Plaza Hotel in NYC from 1899.  Look at those prices! 

She and my son-in-law went to The Plaza to enjoy drinks one afternoon.  Don't you just love the traditional decor?  It's my favorite style!

Heidi's favorite movie from childhood is Home Alone Lost in New York.  I think she has every scene in that movie memorized.  She tells me this is the Plaza hotel lobby where Kevin asks where the swimming pool is located.  

Thanksgiving will soon be here and then the holiday season will be in full swing.  We're hoping to get our Christmas tree on Saturday but in the meantime, we're suppose to high record high temps in the high 80's on Thanksgiving day!

Have a wonderful day everyone and thank you for stopping by.

My best wishes to you,


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Egyptian Foul Medammas & Boca Burgers en Croute on a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Hello my dear friends. It's a quiet, cloudy, wonderful Sunday afternoon here in Southern California.  I love the cool weather!

Yesterday was a glorious day to sit outside under the gazebo and drink a cup of tea and enjoy nature.  Of course, I couldn't sit without my latest project.  It's a large needlepoint scene that I purchased with 96 skeins of yarn.  I soon found out that 96 skeins of tapestry yarn is way too much but at least I'll have some leftover for another time. 

I wanted to fix something fast and easy for lunch so I made my husband a bowl of foul medammes or as you may know them as fava beans.  Foul (pronounced fool) is an iconic food of Egypt; probably Egypt's first fast food.  It can be eaten many ways; in a bowl with seasoned sauce, as a sandwich in pita bread with fresh chopped salad and tahini sauce, or ground and made into taamia as it's called in Egypt or more commonly known as falafel. 

In the old days, I would buy the fava beans in bulk and cook them in my slow cooker.  Of course times have changed and now you can find them already cooked in cans, ready to be heated and seasoned to your liking.  The dried beans shown above are the large fava beans.  The large beans can also be bought without the skins and these type of beans are used for taamia (falafel) or a wonderful dish called  bisara.  Bisara is a popular dish during the lenten fast as it consists of pureed fava beans mixed with molokhia and seasoned with garlic.  

Today I was trying out a new crochet pattern when it dawned on me that maybe I should fix my dear husband some lunch.  I had two frozen Boca burgers (vegan burgers) in the freezer which I browned in a skillet.  I took two frozen puff pastry squares from the freezer and let them thaw.  I them placed the puff pastry on a greased baking sheet, added a little mix of mayonaise and dijon mustand in the middle of each pastry, and then placed the Boca burger on top.  I turned up the ends and added some cheese to my husband's burger.  I baked them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until nicely puffed and browned.  I added some sauted onions (with a little Worchestire sauce as flavor) to the top and served them.  Voila!  A easy lunch entree.

I have always wanted double ovens and now I have them in this home.  I love to use my oven and I use it a lot!  Unfortunately, here in SoCal, our electricity is so expensive and they monitor your use and tell you if you're using too much. So.....

I easily came up with a solution.  My friend has a countertop oven that works so well so I thought I'd give it a try.  This is a Hamilton Beach that can bake, broil, rotisserie and convention bake.  I purchased it earlier this year from Amazon for around $70.00.  It works great!  And, most of all, it bakes great!

I think today is the calm before the storm...I will be babysitting my dear little grandchildren, shown above, for four days starting tomorrow.  Their parents on going to NYC and of course Grandma and Grandpa are here to take over.  It will be fun to have them and make more memories with them.

I hope your are having a good day.  I want to say THANK YOU on this Veterans Day weekend to all our Veterans who have placed their lives in service to our country.  I appreciate and applaud your service.  I'd love to hear from you if you have the time.  Feel free to stop by for a chat!

With my best wishes,

 (PS - if you are interested in any of the recipes I wrote about above, please let me know)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

$ Money Saving Tips $

Hello my dear readers.  I'm writing you today from a beautiful, cloudy, glorious autumn day here in southern California.  Like many of you, I read a lot of blogs.  There are some very popular blogs about living frugal, thrifty, on a fixed budget, etc.  It's great that people share their knowledge as a means to help others.  Lately, I find that some of these "ideas" are a bit short sighted.  You need to give yourself a chance to "think outside the box".  Here's some of my ideas to add to this list . . .

 Everything in life might not be roses, but there are always ways to improve. I worked for a bank for too, too many years.  My husband (and I) still have his original checking account he opened over 45years ago! But, we have numerous checking accounts and we pay no monthly service charges.  If you pay a monthly service fee, ask your bank how you can avoid this.  Many times, it's a matter of keeping a minimum balance.  Also, if you have all your investments in one place, you can quality for a higher tiered account; thus not paying any fees at all for either your account, checks, wire transfers, etc.  And, check with you bank to see if you can get an ATM card with no fees whatsoever.  I have one that doesn't charge me for international ATM fees.  No fees at all!  Last, my number #1 tip for banking is to set up online banking.  OMG, for me this has been a lifesaver.  No more do I have to drive to the bank to deposit my checks.  I pay all my bills via my bank's online bill pay.  There are many of you out there that will say "no way".  I know because I thought this way a few years ago.  But, let me tell you, it's so, so easy.  And, it saves me time, money and it's a lifesaver especially when I'm overseas.  I can pay everything or anyone via my online bill pay from my bank.  And, best of all, it's FREE.
I know that the clouds can sometimes block our "sun" so that we can't see ahead of us.  Credit cards can be a blessing and a curse.  I feel these past 20 years or so, they are a true predatory animal the way they "attack" people to apply and have numerous credit cards.  I was brought up by parents who were raised during the depression.  They always had a little "nest egg" put away for a rainy day.  They were extremely careful with credit.  If you can't afford it, don't buy it.  My husband and I have been fortunate to have the same mindset.  Do I have credit cards? Yes.  My credit card(s) have taken the place of me writing checks at the grocery store, or retail store.  But, the difference is I always pay my balance in full each month.  I never ever accrue interest charges or late fees.  Speaking of fees, there are many cards out there that may have a small annual fee but the upside is they give great points hence for mileage or other.  Also, if you travel overseas, look for a card that doesn't charge you for international transactions.   And, if you are a frequent traveler, you might want to check out American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Both of these cards have great rewards plus free airport lounge access throughout the world.  The bottom line is, use your credit card as if it's coming from your checking account.  Don't overspend since you need to pay the bill "in full" at the end of the month.
Speaking of a rainy day, it's nice to have a little something tucked away just in case you need it.  One of the ways to do that is to take out a "whole life" life insurance policy.  Especially if you are young and reading this blog.  My husband took out one years ago and paid his premium in one annual installment each year.  The policy has grown so that now it pays it's own premium from the proceeds it earns each year.  As you know, the premium is based on your age.  Hence, the younger you are when you take out a policy, the better off you are.  It's great if you are young, take out a whole life insurance policy, pay the premiums, watch it grow and when you get "old", VOILA, you can sit back and enjoy the proceeds!  And, after so many years, your policy will accrue what is called "cash value life insurance", CVLI, which means you can take out this money from your policy.  It's a win/win situation.  Find a reputable company and go from there if you're interested.
 I love getting a bargain on anything!  I hate to pay full price for anything unless it's an item that never comes on sale.  Do you ever get those flyers in the mail for "zero" interest?  Like from Home Depot or Lowes?  I have accounts at both places and seldom use them except when one of my rentals needs something.  The other day I had to buy a new refrigerator for one of my units (the one we're selling and needed it to look updated).  Yup, $1,100 for some fancy refrigerator from the big box store.  The upside is that this purchase qualified for a "zero" interest repayment plan.  Hey, I'm going to save my money and use their money to pay for this.  Hence, I have 6 months at zero interest to pay off this balance.  Of course, I'm paying $200/month payment and it will be paid off before the offer ends.  If you do this, just be aware that you will need to: (1) take your balance owing and divide it by the months of free interest they will give you to come up with the amount you need to pay each month, (2) make sure you pay the monthly payment you figured in step (1) so that you balance will be paid off before the offer expires, (3) their statement will list a minimum balance due, but if you pay this amount, your item will not be paid off within the set time frame,  (4) BEWARE, if you pay the balance off "after" the expiration date, you will accrue all the interest charges and have to pay them! (5) be sure to pay OFF the balance in full before the expiration date!  Lastly, are you needing a new car?   You can shop around for a new car with "zero" interest rate or maybe .9% or even 1.9%.  There's no need to be paying a huge interest fee for a car loan.  There's bargains to be had out there.  Just be credit savvy to save you money!

My favorite time of year is just around the corner. I already have my fairy lights in my kitchen!  Christmas doesn't need to be "bah humbug".  I have a beautiful, small family so I always try and do my best to remember all of them at this special time of year.  It's so different than when I grew up with cousins and aunts and uncles who gave me gifts.  I start my shopping early.  And, yes, there are a couple on my list that want the "name brand" item and that's ok.  They will get their wish but maybe only get few gifts instead of more.  But, you can find great bargains at Marshalls, TJ MAXX and Ross!  Yes, believe me.  And, right now there are some great deals at Nordstrom and free shipping.  The other day I found a lovely shirt for my son-in-law at TJ MAXX but didn't buy it since I wasn't sure of the brand.  I came home and found the same brand at Nordstrom!  I should have bought it.  TJ MAXX and Ross too, carries many  name brands.  The downside is that you never know what you will find there.  But, it's always worth a try.  Also, with the holidays approaching many online stores offer great deals on any given day.  I found some cute items for my grandchildren at Carters with an extra 30% off and free shipping.  Believe me readers, you can find amazing deals at 75% off retail many, many times.  I had bought a Christmas t-shirt for my little granddaughter last year after the season to give it to her this year.  I wanted one for my grandson, too.  Old Navy (which I never shop at) wanted $14.99!  For a t-shirt too thin to ever wear in cold weather and which he will only wear for a month.  I went to and got him one for $6.47 shipped free to my Walmart grocery store!  Sorry folks, but I do not like Walmart except here where I live we have a Walmart grocery which is great for household staple items.  Walmart came into the town where I lived for many years in Eastern Washington and wiped out all the small shop owners.  It's not my kind of store...I know, I did buy the t-shirt though! :(

Wow, I have rattled on too much this morning and I haven't even had my coffee!  Haha.  I just wanted to help if I can and at the same time tell you to enjoy your day.  Each and every day.  We should be so thankful that we can walk and talk.  Life is good.  My heart goes out to all those innocent people who have lost their lives to the horrendous terror here in our country.  Our country truly has to do something to stop this. 

With my best wishes,


(Oops, almost forgot!  Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes you sent to me!)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Another Glimpse of Turkey and my Birthday!

Hello everyone.  I returned home from Turkey one month ago today.  Time goes by so, so fast these days.  It's been awhile since I shared anything about my time in Turkey so I thought I'd take you to one of my favorite places.  The Kale (castle) in Alanya, in the Antalya province of Turkey.

This is the Red Tower on the castle hill.  It dates from 1221 and is still standing, watching over the port after all these years.  It's a popular place for not only tourists but for Turkish people too.  I loved walked along the wall and thinking about those who passed this way hundreds of years ago.

The Turkish people are very proud of their Ottoman history and this shows in the architecture today and even in their food.  This is the entrance to a boutique hotel which is situated on the castle hill. 

We didn't venture to drive our car up this small, narrow street so we parked it at the entrance to this area. I loved walking the cobblestone streets.  It's so quiet and beautiful with the tree lining the streets and walkways.

We had dinner at our new favorite restaurant overlooking the harbor.  Although the menu is in both Turkish and English, we had a few questions for our server.  Luckily, our dear friend Irina was there to translate for us as Irina's first language is Russian and the server, who was from Georgia (the country), spoke fluent Russian.  So, it was easy for us to order the items we wanted.  The second time we came for dinner, the resident cat had had kittens and they were so adorable curled up on the sofa and chairs.  Turkish people love their cats and they are very well cared for.  Along the streets, you will see water bowls and food bowls that people put out for these little creatures.

Walking back down to our car, we discovered this amazing Ottoman style home that was restored by the original occupant's family.

Sorry for the bad photo but here is the history of this home.

And, another view of the perfectly restored residence.  Just across from this area, we toured a "new" Ottoman style villa that overlooks the sea.  It was four floors and probably 6,000 sq. ft. A large home by any means.  I think the price was close to $900K.

Above is a photo of an Ottoman style home that is not restored.  I'm not sure I would feel safe going up there with these old timbers.  But, just imagine the history attached to this place.

I loved seeing these benches made in the form of a boat.

And, how I wanted to go up to these people's yard and pick a ruby red pomegranate from their tree!

There are two sides to the castle area.  I think this side is my favorite.  You have to drive through windy, narrow lanes before you arrive at the beginning of this area.  And, what a view you will enjoy.

Speaking of views, this area is very popular with wedding parties for photos.  Here's a photo of a bride and groom on their wedding day.  I loved seeing the dress; isn't it beautiful?

It was time to go back to our home after a wonderful time at the castle.  When I looked at the photo above that I have in my living room, I was amazed to see how little the area had changed since this photo was taken.  It's a reprint of an old sepia print, probably from late 1800's.

The time we spent in Turkey was so  magical.  I think we finally have some sense of community there.  We have made friends with two wonderful Turkish families whom we shared dinners and outings with.  The one family are our neighbors and the other family is in charge of our complex.  It was so kind of them to invite us into their home and share such hospitality. It was very special to us as we feel if we "live" somewhere, we need to be a part of the community and somehow assimilate.  Hopefully, one of these days, we will stay long enough so that one of us can attend language school so that we can be better versed to truly be a part of this amazing culture.

On a side note, politics is a messy business.  America suspended visas to all Turkish and hence Turkey reciprocated.  I'm hoping that things get settled soon.  From what I understand, if you are American and want to enter Turkey directly from coming from the US, you are out of luck.  If you wish to enter Turkey from another country, there is a good chance you will get the visa to enter.  I hope that it gets worked out soon.  We never felt unsafe, harassed or uneasy wherever we went on this trip.  The Turkish people were always very gracious to us.

I will close with this very poor photo of me today.  My dear daughter took me to a wonderful lunch today to celebrate my birthday. It was one of those "farm to table" restaurants where the food was amazing as was the ambience.  I've had such a great day with lovely gifts from my dear family and good wishes from my friends.

I hope that you too have a wonderful weekend where ever you may be.  

With my best wishes,