Bread making continues…

Even though temperatures are in the high 80’s, it is fall.

I think this is the warmest October I can ever remember here. Still, I’m back into bread making. Bread making is definitely an art form, and in the summer when I don’t make any, I have to get the feel for it all over again by fall.

I’ve been feeding my sourdough starter quite diligently sna it’s doing great. i probably have too many jars going as the counter is often filled with jars in different stages of bubbling. It looks a bit like a science experiment.

This in the jars just fed, so it will double in size.

This is the rye starter.

Yesterday, I made a sourdough sandwich loaf. It didn’t rise as much as I would have liked but it is a softer bread( the crumb that is). It has milk in it which will always make a softer bread.

My favorite so far is the sourdough rye. It is dense and just delicious. Today I’m going to experiment with a no knead sourdough rye. we’ll see??

Yesterday for Sunday breakfast I made sourdough banana pancakes with discard. For some reason, I’m loathe to toss the discard after you do another feed. It just seems wasteful. Besides pancakes, I found lots of recipes like biscuits, and pumpkin bread so I’m definitely going to try and use some of the discard in other recipes.

Today I’m going in to the bank to get the print out of our payment to UHC so LLS can reimburse me.

Today was our no walk day. We had a confrontation yesterday with dog walker. He doesn’t use a flashlight and with no moon it is dark. We try very hard to get out of his way but when he comes around behind us, I shine the flashlight on him. Well, yesterday he flipped out. I think he was partially right that I didn’t need to shine it on him but it does let us see where he is. Anyway, it wasn’t nice. So tomorrow we are going to walk in the opposite direction so we can see him coming. Not sure if that will help but I’ll try. I think we need to try and say good morning although in the past when we have, he just ignores us so not sure about that. I did apologize for shining the flashlight at him but he didn’t seem to want to let it go. It’s an unfortunate series of events because we like being there early and in our almost 9 years of walking in the park we have never had a belligerent person. So this is kinda new and I’m not sure how we will approach it. We could time arriving when he leaves but I actually don’t know that since we only walk for 40 minutes and he does at least an hour so????

Any ideas?? walk later? earlier? ( that would be a stretch since we start at 5:15am. oh well, it was/is depressing.

Unfortunately, there are no other paved trails around us. The closest would be down in Folsom and that’s 40 minutes away.

Five on Friday

We finally got off our asses and drove up to the West side of the lake for a day trip. It was really glorious. The west side( Tahoe City, Tahoma, Meeks Bay is closer so that’s where we headed.

First we stopped along the paved trail that runs along the Truckee river and walked some. Beautiful fall foliage. The trail was pretty empty except for some bicyclists. Nobody else walking.

Then we went on into Tahoe City to our favorite coffee house, Tahoe house. It required everyone to wear a mask and use the lines spaced out on the floor. We got 2 coffees and a danish to share. All their food is made on site and quite delicious. It was cool that they had signs on the tables that showed green for sanitized and then when you left you flipped it over and it was red and said not sanitized. It seemed they were coming around frequently to wipe tables.

Then we went on down to Meeks Bay which is a forest service campground and beach. There were only a few other people on the beach and all a good distance away from us. We ate our picnic lunch and relaxed. the only thing we needed were our beach chairs( which I didn’t even think about) as the blanket was okay to sit on but not really laying down.

This is looking East toward Nevada Beach.

All in all, totally worth it.

I paid the property taxes this week. At least we had the money. There were many years where we had to make payment arrangements because we didn’t have the money. So I am grateful for that. I’d like to plan next year to pay the whole year at once as opposed to the twice schedule. But that wouldn’t be till a year from now. That would give me time to strategize that into the budget.

We also paid our PO Box fee for the year. So I think that is all our annual bills till next spring.

We’ve all voted!! If you get a chance to read the NYT editorial today about voting Trump out, you should. It is a superb write up about how dangerous he is for this country and how we as a democracy will suffer if he is reelected.

Today, I don’t have a whole lot going on. I’m feeding my sourdough starter with rye flour to make another rye loaf. I plan to go in to Target for shower curtains and that’s about it.

A few more random thoughts on creating a minimalist home space.

I was still thinking about this yesterday, as we drove up to Tahoe! It was stunning up there and I shall post a blog about it tomorrow.

Keeping as many surfaces clear off things is essential. I keep my kitchen counters mostly clear. I have a toaster oven, a Britta water pitcher, and my kitchen aid mixer(in the corner) and that’s it. I work at it all day to clean up after I cook or do anything so it remains clear. If I put things on a side table, I limit it to 1-3 things. Such as on the side small dresser in the living room, I only keep the mini google play and lamp on it. In the bedroom, I keep the dresser clear except for a candle or infuser. Of course, there are times I use the dresser as a landing for things( like right now, I have mylar bags of flour) until I move them to their future location. Usually, I keep the dining room table clear except for my beeswax tapers, but right now I have fall items there too. A jar of fall flowers from the garden, some acorns, and the small pumpkins from the garden.

It’s absolutely true, that clutter attracts clutter. It’s a slippery slope of putting one thing on a counter and pretty soon there’s a pile:(

Have a designated place for everything. Also, know where you put things and as I like to say” where they live”. For instance, we have one drawer for batteries. That’s where they live. The same is true for dishes, pots, utensils, etc. It does make your life way simpler than trying to remember where you put something.

Keep like with like. It goes without saying, it just makes life easier to keep things that are similar together. I keep my office stuff( envelopes, pens, post-its, etc) all in one drawer.

Keep pictures on the walls to a minimum or designate one wall for art. Again, too much visual clutter is distracting. In my office room, I have one wall with our most colorful art. A Bob Dylan poster by Glasner, framed Grateful dead records, my favorite Star Trek Poster, and our Woodstock Life magazines. In other rooms, I try not to have a lot of art on the walls. When I did Feng Shui, one thing to always look at in art/wall items, is what message is it sending? Is it a weird picture of ancient relatives, art that is disturbing? It’s things like that to keep in mind. I remember one time doing a consultation with a woman who had very large framed photos of “old” relatives( like from the late 1800″s and early 1900s, all down her hall. It was very scary having those eyes watching every time she walked down her hall. I don’t think she ever took my recommendation, to take them down.

Finally, if you live in a small house, keep yours walls painted the same color( I use Benjamin Moore’s Simple White) to create a homogenous flow from room to room. It really does make a difference, as I can attest too. The onlyroom that is different is my daughters which is lovely light sage green( very wabi- sabi) and the bathroom which is a very pale grey blue, also very wabi sabi.

Everyone’s journey is different. The reasons you want to declutter and have a more minimalist home are different from mine. But do try is create a more simple clutter free space to enjoy, you will be happier for it.

Ideas for becoming more Minimalist

When I started decluttering, minimalism wasn’t quite in the picture.

I started collecting vintage 40’s and 50’s things for about 10 years( somewhere around 2002). That started with the Life magazines I bought at an estate sale. Originally, I planned to cut out ads for like cars, coke cola, etc and then sell those at flea markets. I did that off an on for a few years. I also sold lots of magazines on Ebay. At that time Life magazines were very collectible and I made a good amount of money.

I also started collecting lots of interesting things( to me). My love of Heywood Wakefield was born and a style that was minimal and scandinavian. But I also had collections of thing I loved like vintage buttons, pyrex, old fans, dishes and lots of other things .

I’m not sure what triggered the “aha” moment but it was around 2010. I had too much stuff for this small house. Recently, I found a few pictures of the front room and frankly, I was appalled at how it looked.

So I started selling and giving away tons of stuff.

But there are a few things that really helped me declutter and minimize:

1. There is only so much space in any given area and when that space is filled nothing else can go there. Such as books. When the shelf is filled with books and you have more books than shelves, you must get rid of some books as that is all the space there is. The same is true of drawers, kitchen cabinets, etc. This concept really rung true for me and to this day, is one I still use.

2. In the same vein, one in and one out is also very important to keep clutter from coming back. If I buy a new t-shirt ,for instance, one old one needs to go.

3. Visual clutter clearly affects how you feel in your home space. I think I didn’t realize this for a long time. And it wasn’t till I started clearly stuff out that I made the connection of having too much ‘stuff’ on display and feeling overwhelmed. Even today, when I start feeling overwhelmed, I look around at what needs to be either tidied up or removed from my space.

4. White space. I never knew about this concept in interior design but it fits with minimalism. Basically its space left open and clear. Instead of putting, let’s say a side table somewhere, you leave that space open. I think it reduces what’s in a space but also visually it allows your eyes to not get ‘stuck’ looking over a room.

5. And of course, there’s KonMari. That really came way later in my journey of minimalism but I still went thru each category and did declutter another layer of things that did not spark joy. I think her method is good, but I would definitely recommend starting small like cleaning out drawers, or duplicates of things in rooms, or items you know you haven’t used in a year. Ithink it’s important to think about the why too. For me, I just didn’t want the clutter and wanted my house to look simple and streamlined.

I still have a ways to go and often think about getting rid of even more things but for now it’s a good balance of what we’re using and purposeful and minimal.

It’s a Struggle…

Honestly, it is hard at times to be positive about having cancer. I can compartmentalize most of the time and I do. But then when labs come in and you have to face the reality it is hard.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2005, had the autologous transplant in 2006. I know how lucky I am to even still be here but it doesn’t make it easier. I relapsed in 2010 and actually did great on Revlimid ( aside from it causing severe IBS) for 5 years and then that stopped working. My kappa light chains went up to almost 1100mg/L so pretty high and my ratio was way up at 92mg/L. Velcade or bortezomib is a proteasome inhibitor and worked astonishing well. Within 2 cycles my numbers were almost in the normal range. And that has lasted 4 whole years.

I have no complaints. But the reality is now my numbers are increasing exponentially and I have to deal with it. With my new numbers, I still think it will be January 2021 when I restart Velcade. Since I get my labs every 8 weeks that puts me at the beginning of December, with a doctor visit by the end of the month and then a start date. Velcade means weekly trips to the infusion center. It’s 3 weeks on 1 week off.

It’s depressing but the fact remains I have a cancer that goes in to remission and then re-emerges. It’s never going to disappear. Don’t get me wrong, I am exceedingly fortunate not to be dead from this already, so it’s really just a matter of buck up and deal with it. So many cyber friends with myeloma are long gone with very aggressive myeloma. Mine is always there but so far hasn’t been aggressive.

So here’s the numbers:

Kappa light chains at 382.mg/L up from 239.2mg/L

Lambda light chains at 11.2mg/L up from 10.2mg/L

ratio of the two at 34.11 mg/L up from 23.2

M-protein( SPEP) .4 up from .3

Well, blood doesn’t lie so there it is in black and white. The cancer cells are on the march.

Give me a few days and I’ll be okay with it and be ready to reset. Plus, after thinking about it, I wouldn’t want to start anything till after the holidays so there’s that as well. I’ll see what he thinks when I see him at the end of the month.

Simple Sunday

Another week gone by.

Today it is sunny and a true autumn day. Bright blue sky and leaves starting to get hints of yellow and orange.

We’re still unloading the oak but it should be done today as I’d like to get their trailer back tomorrow.

We’ve both voted!!!! I’m planning on dropping them off at the elections office this week.

I’m experimenting with making a sourdough rye bread. The recipe is King Arthur‘s. I love a good rye bread and can remember when my grandmother, who we called Genna, would bring Jewish rye up from the Bronx. By then we were living in Highland Mills which was an hour or so away from the city, but she continued to live and work in the Bronx. She would also bring up smoked white fish which I love, a chocolate cake that had the thinnish icing like a ganache. Those are some good memories, the few that there are.

This week we are in the bathroom zone. I finished mine early. I always like to do one extra thing each time I am in a zone so this month I will get new shower curtains. Since we have a claw foot tub with a circular rod we need 2 curtains. I do wash and reuse them at least 3 times but then they start to not look great anymore.

I put out my vintage halloween decor.

Well, off to check the bread and do quick tidy up.

Frugal Friday

There have been some frugal things this week so here goes:

* We just returned home from picking up a trailer load of free oak. Beautiful wood that a friend offered. It won’t really be ready to burn right away but it’s lovely wood. There’s a lot more to get but we will need to see if my son can help as a lot of it is on a downhill slope which is too slippery for me.

*We had leftovers for all our lunches this week including today which is the left over chicken and wild rice soup.

*Since we have so many eggs I made egg salad for lunches too.

*I picked up a free pizza and salad for dinner tonight with the coupons from the Holiday market. Each month they have a coupon you can use. It’s a handy thing to have .

*We didn’t really go anywhere this week or do any big shopping just picking up a few fillers. Next week I plan to hit Costco to get a few things. We don’t need a huge amount but some things like cottage cheese and cream cheese are just too expensive at the store.

Overall, it’s been a nice week. I’m slowly getting a few Christmas items together plus asking what people want or could use. My son wants the Witcher books that the TV series is based on. I’m looking at some gardening stuff for my daughter.

I’m halfway thru my fall re-reading of the LOTR trilogy. I’m in the Two Towers. Everytime I read it I love it more and more.

We’re still walking early like 5:10 but I think we may start to go a little later starting next week. Mostly, I’m avoiding the jerk dog walker but he shows up anyway sometimes early too. So maybe there’s no getting around it and we just have to avoid him and when we do it doesn’t bother me. Mostly, I get irritated because he’s not using a flashlight and comes up behind us it is startling. Go figure.

Fall Cooking and tidying

I made a lovely pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing the other day. It was just right for this time of year.

Actually, I couldn’t find pumpkin anywhere even Walmart. So I happened to check Raley’s/Bel AIr and they had their brand on sale for $1.25 a can. I bought 10. Then I forgot the cream cheese so B went to Bel Air and bought 2. Never again. He paid almost $5.00 a package. I can get 6 boxes at Costco for less than $7.00. Well, I guess it pays to have a stockpile of things like that.

I went for my labs Tuesday so I’m guessing I’ll hear the bad news by next week. He also ordered an IGG test which is immunoglobulins. I guess with Myeloma it must show differently but I can’t really say I recognize it. So we’ll see.

Today, I’m making a creamy chicken and wild rice soup for dinner. I have some frozen Borscht for the veg.

We actually have a cool cloudy day and it’s great. I washed all the outside windows with the Windex sprayer that attaches to a hose. Very convenient. I try and do the outside windows 4 times a year generally around the cross quarters. Since I do the inside windows with each zone that gets done in each room about every 5 weeks. I like clean windows.

In the bedroom I added a linen top cover. I love the look and feel of linen. I don’t think now that I have had linen sheets I could go back to regular cotton ones. So I was watching one of my favorite Youtubers, Benita Larsson in Copenhagen and she said in Europe most people only use a duvet cover over the bottom sheet. Then take that off to wash as needed. That wouldn’t work for us but I got to thinking about wanting a linen top cover. I checked everywhere for just fabric but it was all running about $45 a yard. So I happened to think of Ikea’s linen set. I checked and they had the king size duvet. Works perfectly and gives me the look I’m after. Oh, and it was only $79.99.

Linen king duvet used just as a covering for winter. I love how linen looks after it’s washed.

I also use linen napkins for meals and have a white set and a natural set. Sometimes I iron them but mostly I like their crinkleness.

I think I’ll go do some garden stuff also since it’s cloudy and I can get maybe one bed ready for fall planting.

I’m also going to get out my vintage Halloween stuff to put out.

The week ahead…

We both felt really awful yesterday. It seemed like an allergy type thing as we know it’s not Covid. ( no fever, no cough,) But still kinda headachey, and low energy. Sometimes I’ve had days like this out of the blue, but not on the same day as B. He just took it easy all day. I pushed thru and did most of the kitchen zone. I thought maybe it was a reaction to the air quality since we had been out walking but I’m not sure. When were out we always have masks on and we use sanitizer. Plus, everywhere we went people were 99% masked. So kinda a question mark.

We both feel better this morning but I still feel slightly off. I had plans to get my labs this morning but rescheduled for tomorrow. If this is allergy thing, my counts will show lower so I thought better to wait a day. I don’t see my doctor till the very end of the month so I have time to get my labs and results before hand. I don’t like the surprise of waiting. It reminds me of when I was first diagnosed and all the tests and waiting and then the dreaded phone calls. Now I’d rather know before hand and adjust my headspace.

I did make a lovely smoky lentil soup( William Sonoma recipe)( you can get from their website.) for dinner but that’s it. Usually I’ll make grilled cheese or have some homemade bread but that didn’t happen. I put together my monthly meal plan. I write it out but I don’t follow the days exactly. So we had the lentil soup Sunday not the frittata. I just use the template as a guide. Then I check off what we have eaten.

You can see I still have a few squares to fill in. I plan on looking at some cookbooks today. I also try to do one or two new recipes a month.

We are in cooler temperatures today and the air looks good. I keep thinking that maybe walking in the park with the air quality unhealthy affected us. On the other hand we’ve been doing it now since the fires started and haven’t been affected so who knows. It’s a mystery.

I was laughing maniacally( joke) when I read Trump was on Dexamethasone. How funny!! As anyone who has been on Dex,off and on for years, you know it masks aches and pains and other ills because it is such a high dose steroid. The problem is what goes up must come down and when he’s off it, then the problems could resurface especially his coughing. Oh well, he deserves it and more. Honestly, driving around in his armoured car infecting others or at least the possibility, is pure evil. Just for a photo op.

The week has B’s video appt with the nurse practitioner and labs. If the air stays nice we might do that drive up to Tahoe to see the lake. Maybe pack a picnic.

Five on Friday

*Let me be the first to say, Trump and Melania testing positive is just what he deserves for not taking any precautions or even taking Covid-19 seriously. We never go anywhere without masks and sanitizer. We don’t mingle in crowds or go to Target to browse. Nada!! ” So stupid is as stupid does” Forrest Gump!!

*My son is very creative and loves to build things related to movies/props/video games. So using a 3D printer he built this

and another angle

This is from The Portal Game; The Aperture Science handheld Portal Device. ( For us non gamers, this is a video game)

Pretty amazing! and he figured out the electronics so it changes colors,red to orange to green to blue.

Way beyond my comprehension. Maybe all that homeschooling and building projects did something?? nah, I think he’s just super smart.

*Yesterday I made a very yummy applesauce cake with the left over apples I had. It turned out way better than I thought it would.

I dusted powdered sugar on top to make a finishing touch. It’s almost gone this morning!! The recipe also did not use eggs and I wasn’t sure about that but it was fine.

*Budget wise, things are pretty good. Except for the Ikea trip we didn’t spend any extra. Since we do Ikea maybe 2x a year, I’m okay with picking stuff there like extra kitchen towels, pantry jars etc. Plus, if you have an Ikea near your Tuesdays and Wednesdays they open at 9am for over 65. It was great to get in there and there were only a few people in there. No kids! Very worth it! We will need to still pay the AAA fair California bill but we haven’t gotten it yet. I’m guessing it’ll be there any day in the mailbox. Plus the other big expense will be property tax. I’m planning on paying that when we drop our ballots off at the county voting box.

*I spent a little down at the market for milk and a loaf of rustic bread and Guiness Stout for the Welsh Rarebit I made for dinner last night. I love Welsh rarebit. It’s basically cheese sauce on toast. The recipe was form the NYT (mark Bittman). It was a little strong on the stout.

Since we had pizza on my birthday, tonight I will do either breakfast for dinner or a frittata with some potatoes or???? mystery night!!

*BTW, if you follow Flylady this is a 2 zone week. Yesterday started the Entryway/dining room zone. Always a good time, if you have a dining room to declutter,simplify and minimize what you have. I don’t have a ‘real’ dining room. Our table is in the main room. I have the Heywood wakefield hutch which holds my Tepco pine cone ware. So all I do is wash the glass on it and dust. I also make sure the table is clear except for my beeswax tapers and seasonal decor( right now it’s the little white pumpkins from the garden, and our linen napkins in a bowl.

Ok, that was 6 things with a lot mixed in:)