Happy Hanukkah

We are atheists and I’m sure some people would be puzzled as to why we like to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. I think with Hanukkah, it is the meaning of the festival of lights and the beauty of the candles in a menorah. I think religious holidays can be secular if you enjoy the festivities and food etc but not the religious stuff.

Even though we are not Jewish, I really enjoy the beauty of the Festival of Lights. We’ll be lighting our candles tonight for the first night and exchange some little gifts. I always make latkes and we have homemade applesauce too. By the same token, as non-Christians, I still love the spirit of Christmas things, the tree, the lights, and the little decorations. So I do enjoy both without the religious attachment. Strange? maybe!!!

This morning started out with a walk and it was magical with the frosty fields and even frost on the Canada Geese’s back. Then back home to assemble the Christmas lasagna. I did two pans and they are now tucked into the freezer. Then my daughter peeled the potatoes for the latkes and they are hanging out in some water till it’s time to shred them. I plan on doing a spinach quiche too with some gruyere cheese.

This week I plan to swim and also go to the rec center. Hey, B checked with UHC and we can get a free gym membership at a local gym with just the cost of buying the key fob( it’s for the door when no one is there). So he’s going tomorrow to sign up and then I’m going to do it too. Since it’s free with our UHC health care we can take advantage of this. Then I can go when it’s too much to go down to Roseville. That’s exciting news at least.

I was reading an article about the 90/90 rule for decluttering. There are lots of these little hacks to help with decluttering but this one caught my attention. So if you’re looking to declutter things ask yourself:

” Have you used this in the last 90 days? And will you use it in the next 90 days”. it’s a great way to look at why we hold on to things. Exceptions are probably seasonal decor and such. I started going thru each room again with this in mind. I still feel the need to ‘par down to the essentials but keep the poetry”.

Five on Friday

So, I had my oncology appt yesterday, and that all went well except for the horrendous rain going down to Sacramento. I don’t like driving in the rain because of my macular pucker which makes seeing out of my right eye difficult and rain makes seeing worse. But I made it down and back just fine. Dr. L said same old same old, we’ll just keep track of things and go from there which is really all we can do. It’s really when my kappa light chains start doubling that I’ll say let’s do something. We agreed, when the time comes, to go back on Velcade and see if it’s still effective. I’m still hoping for June-ish.

Then this morning I had my follow-up audiology appt and that went as expected. No change and still have less hearing in my left ear. I just mumbled umm ok… that’s what I thought.

Then Safeway had some great deal this week so I went over there which is just down the road from the Sutter Medical Bldg. The deals were $1.97 for 24 Arrowhead water, $1.97 for 1 lb butter, $1.77 for boneless chicken breasts, .87 for Honey crisp apples, and more savings on some other things. The cashier said I saved more than my bill was so that was cool. I think I might pressure can the chicken in a recipe like chicken soup or something. I’ll check my pressure canning book and see what looks good.

It’s pizza night and I will take out one of my frozen dough balls to defrost. My son’s not home tonight so it’s just us and my daughter. I’ll keep it simple.

I have everything out that I plan to have for Christmas and it’s quite pretty and simple. I did declutter all the Hallmark boxes except a few so that left lots of room in the one Christmas bin. I still have the Ikea white storage boxes in the closet but those are not in the way and are on the top shelf.

I plan to either swim tomorrow or do the gym. Usually I swim Saturday, but I feel I need to keep up on doing the weights. So I guess I’ll decide tomorrow.

Living Small

It’s interesting how with intention comes purpose. Our intention was always just to make this house work for us because, well, honestly, it was all we could afford. Now with California prices for houses, rentals, and condos, thru the roof, we are grateful for this place we call home. Our mortgage is less than any rental would be in this area. Most rentals for 2 bedroom 1 bath run around $2200. That’s a lot of money and with only living on SS, it wouldn’t be possible. We have had the very occasional thought to sell and we could get a decent amount for this place, but we couldn’t buy again with the proceeds and then the rental cost would be very high. This August we will have lived here 27 years so I think that this is it for us.

So with intention, we plan to live here until we die and make this work. That gives us the purpose to make this place ‘aging in place’ friendly. We have a step at the front door which could be changed to a ramp if necessary/ and or a rail for support. The house is just one level except for the stairs in my office /catio area. That couldn’t be changed but I suppose some creative solution could be found or I/ we wouldn’t go down to the office area. We plan to change to a propane “wood stove” in the next few years so there would be no wood burning or for B processing wood. All of these things would simplify things and I think as we age we either can’t do what we once did or we don’t want to. I certainly don’t want Barclay using a chain saw when he’s 80!!!

Living in a small house has forced us to be creative and look at things differently. We’ve had to find creative storage solutions and declutter to make this house function. There are still ideas I have about rearranging things but for now, the way things are arranged works.

Probably the biggest asset for me is the outside space. Living in a small house is fine but if there was no outside space, personally, I would find it hard. I need to have outside space and some expansion around me. The main draw to this property was NOT the house which as I’ve said was in terrible condition but the land was amazing even though it was overgrown and had huge piles of crap EVERYWHERE. Being on top of the hill we have sky 360 degrees around( not views but sky thru the trees.)There were multiple buildings that the ‘old man’ had built for his assayer business and we had to tear these down. There was also the barn. This is not really a ‘cool’ barn but a barn he must have put up in the early 50s for his mining equipment. Barclay and my son have worked hard to make the barn more stable and usable. My son has lots of his tools for art and video production out there and it does give us the storage we don’t have in the house for camping equipment, seasonal stuff,etc. Since we’ve decluttered out there so much we don’t have a lot( us meaning B and I) out there. My son is a bit of a hoarder and does have a lot. I’m okay with that since it’s his stuff and he’s an adult and can make those decisions for himself. Plus he sleeps/works in the Tuff Shed Studio that was our original home school. So that’s cool. He likes to build things and has all kinds of tools to do that.

Living small has:

  • made life simpler
  • helped us focus on what’s important
  • made us be creative with our space
  • allowed(forced) us to accept that the house has limits(no, a baby grand piano DOES NOT FIT!!!!!
  • showed us decluttering non- essentials is ESSENTIAL
  • helped us become minimalists( to some degree)

Simple Sunday

A very pretty morning in the park and no one there but us and the Canada Geese.

Today I plan to do some reorganizing in the pantry, closet, and the Heywood in the kitchen. There’s not a great deal to do but a few things I want to rearrange. The closet( our only closet and my nemesis) is almost where I want it. I don’t want food storage in there anymore just clothes and seasonal things. So I know there’s a bag of coffee to move out and a bag of flour. Otherwise, I’m finally getting the closet to a space that’s not so crowded with EVERYTHING.

B got the patio shade cover up and it’s very nice and really covers the whole area. It’s 13×13 so bigger than most patio shade covers. We had some serious wind the other day and it was well anchored.

This week is quiet with not much going on except the normal things like swimming, walking, some grocery shopping( not much), and just house stuff. I’d like to do a library run maybe Thursday. Next Sunday is my darling daughter’s birthday so I need to ask her(again) what she wants to do. It’s hard to believe she is 37 YO and 37 years ago we were waiting for her to arrive. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I loved being pregnant both times. I did have a miscarriage 2 years after she was born as we were trying to have another baby. I was 16 weeks. That didn’t work out and after that, we just gave up on any infertility treatment. But of course, then the miracle child(my son) showed up 9 years later.

This week is Flylady bedroom zone but I did that this week as I had B move the bed and I vacuumed and cleaned under and around the bed. This week I’d like to change the curtains out to some light fabric but I’m not sure what I have around. I might need to go down for a quick trip to Ikea.

Simple Sunday

A lovely morning. We walked a little earlier as on Easter the Christians come out to the park to celebrate some mythical being. Well, actually Jesus was a real person but the other stuff is way too magical for me. Anyway, enough of my sarcasm. We got in our walk before they started singing which was why we went earlier. It’s a nice sunny day but there is rain forecast for the week. I guess we’ll have to see as the tree people are supposed to be here Wednesday.

I made the Salad Lyonnaise last night and it was yummm.

Basically, it is endive( frissee) crumbled crispy bacon, with a poached egg on top. The dressing is shallot that has been sliced thin and barely sauteed with some red wine vinegar and dijon mustard.

Here’s the Daphenoise from the night before.

I booked a spot at New Brighton for October. Not our favorite spot but it’ll do if I can’t get one of the others we like. At least it’s something. Nothing is available at Refugio. I tried again this morning and however their booking is, it’s not working for me. I clicked on book now at exactly 8( I’m using the second hand on my iPhone. But someone must be I stroke ahead of me because it doesn’t come up and is then locked(meaning someone has blocked it).

At this point, I’m fine with not going to Refugio as it is quite a distance and gas would be expensive. But I’ll keep trying for a while. We’re kind of thinking of maybe a bigger trip to San Diego in February so that could be a reason not to do Refugio in November.

Tomorrow I have a dental appt for a routine cleaning and then Tuesday I’ll swim. My inexpensive suit( not a speedo) did show up late Saturday so I’ll wear that. I found a NWT tags Speedo on eBay and bought that so I should get that in a couple of weeks. At least I’ll have 2 suits to rotate and that may help with the chlorine issue. Then Wednesday is supposed to be tree day and I’ll go down to Roseville to the library and Costco. Then that should be it for the week.

I’m planning on BBQing some chicken for dinner and maybe making a macaroni salad.

Flylady zone is the bedroom. I worked on the closet from hell and rearranged some clothes and got rid of a few things I found on hangers that I didn’t remember I had in there like a tank top. I also got rid of 2 pairs of leggings that I never wear(almost brand new) but the legs are too tight and I don’t like that.

Well, that’s a wrap.

Friday Things

The most exciting news is my labs came back and my kappa light chains actually went down slightly INTO THE NORMAL RANGE!!! I’m pretty shocked really. I don’t know if I can remember when I started going out of range( increasing) that it ever went down. Well, I’m thrilled for another month of emotional freedom.

I was going to skip swimming tomorrow since my new suit didn’t show up but decided to just go for it. My current suit is fairly chlorinated and not in good shape but I figure no one is there to look at me and when I get out I’ll put my towel over me. Hopefully, my suit shows up next week.

Today is a home day and just pottering around. My daily chores are done and I might do a quick vacuum. I made the pizza dough for tonight, so that’s done. I have a few new books to read from the library so that’ll be fun.

I’m working on a small embroidery project from Posie in Oregon. I bought a PDF of her March pattern in which all the proceeds were going to Ukraine. I like embroidering but my hands can only do so much until they start cramping. Not much going on in the decluttering world. I’m in a good place with what we have and use. There’s always more but then that takes another level of what I want to keep and what I want to pass on. I have a great vintage turquoise blue typewriter but it’s been shuffled around for years with me thinking ” oh it’ll be a great display”. But honestly, I probably won’t do that, and plus I don’t have any room for it on a shelf. So, I’ll put that aside for the hospice thrift store.

I’m beyond thrilled at Ketanji B. Jackson getting confirmed for the Supreme Court. At least some good news.

We spent @ $400. at Costco which included $50. for lawn fertilizer, beer( $29.00), and something else that was non-food?? Oh, I think it was AAA batteries( $18.00) and gallon freezer bags($ 15). So, I’d guestimate that @$300 was for food.

It feels like it’s been a spendy week. And of course, the tree is going to be $$$$. But what can you do? If we didn’t have the money, I guess we wouldn’t do it. We’ve been there so…Plus, everything seems so much more expensive.

FUCKED UP FRIDAY

FUCK everything. What is wrong with this world.? The war now in Ukraine and DICTATOR PUTIN is beyond words for me. I really wonder what is happening on the planet. We have Putin invading a sovereign democracy, Trump calling him a “genius”. JFC, why??

Then you’ve got all these god damned spineless Republicans taking away woman’s rights, trying to control what is taught in schools, making transpeople out to be some horrible thing, banning books. The list just goes on and on.

I certainly do not want to just ignore the news or not read about things. We don’t have TV so I only read the Washington Post on- line and the New York Times. Still it’s enough to send me over the edge with what’s happening. At least there is a few items of good news, the 3 officers were found guilty of violating George Floyds civil rights and not helping him when they knew he was dying right in front of them. And the racists killing Arbery also found guilty . So at least there is some good coming out confronting the evils in this country.

In other home front stuff, just a nice week of pottering around the house, swimming, and reading some good books. Tonight is supposed to be pizza night but we’re not doing that. We all decided we want some ramen bowls so that’s what I’ll do.

We’ve had extremely cold mornings with the temperatures @ 28 degrees. That’s cold. We do get cold weather here but it doesn’t last too long generally. Lots of frost everywhere.

I’ve been having to deal with kick backs on my credit cards that were stolen that have automatic charges. Our Delta Dental, VSP, etc. So I’m having to go and call or go online to fix them. PITA.

I plan to drop off some books at the pet bookstore and then go the market for a few things. My Frugal Challenge of $100 a week is going well. This week I’m at @ $80 and I will spend that other $20 today or about that. It feels good to be going thru freezer food and pantry stuff. I still need to plan our camping meals for when we’re gone. At Wrights Beach, it’s bring everything we may want as there isn’t a store except for a tiny market in Bodega. But at the Napa campground, we’re in Napa so I’m guessing there will be everything in the way of stores. We added Mumm winery to our tastings but I’m not sure we’ll keep the other. Mumm is one of my favorite champagnes.

Wednesday things

A beautiful walk this morning under the Snow moon. Quite bright and no one showed up whilst we were there. Sunrise is definitely getting earlier now. Venus is very visible too.

I didn’t swim yesterday as the Santa Fe’s window is still not fixed. It should get sorted this afternoon though and I plan on swimming tomorrow. When we went to Costco on Monday, I went to the service counter to get a new card and the person asked where I had my purse stolen. So I said right down the road at the Mike Shellito pool and she said wow, I was the SECOND person in the last two weeks that had their car broken into there. WOW, is all I could say. Nothing new with the claims but it’s early yet.

Yesterday I made sourdough cinnamon/cran bread.

It was good. I think next time I’d use brown sugar and a little more. My favorite is still the jalapeno cheddar.

My pantry challenge is moving along and I figured out breaking down the Costco shop into categories( non -food, food) and then I separated all the food for just this week such as strawberries,half and half) and then all the longer term items like coffee, blocks of cheese, I calculated the cost per week and how many weeks would it take to use and then added those totals. So that was kind of a revelation. So if I broke down just this week’s food it came to $43. Then the breakdown of food for the month(like the coffee) was $20 a week. That’s things like tofu, coffee, cheese, ramen. Then B went to TJ’s and spent $25 on food.( Well,some how two TJ’s chocolate bars ended up in his cart, but that’s ok. So, that’s @$88 give or take a few dollars. I usually round up so, $90 with $10 left over. Our meals have been delicious with tamales one night, Tucson Stew another night, pasta with homemade alfredo sauce tonight.

I still think this $100 a week for 4 people would be very hard if you didn’t have some sort of pantry or freezer back up. I’m not planning on doing any major restocking for the prepper pantry. I think I’ll just keep getting some things that I like to keep extras of and call it good. For some people the idea of a year’s worth of food is comforting. For me, it seems slightly fear driven ( I totally did this too) but maybe the lesson out of it all was FOR WHAT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE, keep some pantry in case of emergency and decide how much that is. For us, I think a reasonable balance is maybe a months worth of stuff. Now remember, I have always ( since 1975) bought in bulk my beans, rice, flour,etc. So that’s nothing new to me. But all the extras was somewhat recent with the pandemic. ( Think extra soup cans, condiments, etc). Well, life is a journey and we can only hope to learn from where we’ve been to where we are going.

Barclay had a good visit with his transplant doctor and the good news is he will go off Jakafi. That’s an anti-rejection drug that runs @ $7,000 a month(OOPS, Barclay said it’s$17,000 a month). Fortunately, he has the grant actually from the drug company and UCD charity.

This month is my renewal for LLS and there is no funding for myeloma so I’m trying to not panic too much. I just keep checking daily as the funding can come in and then be gone quite quickly. Hopefully by the end of February which is my renewal month.

Today I’m planning to drop off the last of my Fiesta ware that I know I’m not going to use at the Hospice Thrift. Then a few other errands like an Amazon return.

Friday things…

I ended up sending a bouquet of flowers from Farmgirl Flowers to Heidi’s family. Honestly, I’m not good at what is appropriate in these matters. But I figured they would at least send a nice message of our thoughts are with them all and we miss Heidi. We haven’t really heard anything but her oldest daughter did write a nice obituary. We found some photos of the fun times we had when she came out. I might try and put them together in an album.

We went to Costco on Sunday and that was a good grocery haul. I didn’t buy any meat but did get the Impossible burgers on sale. We had them one night with all the condiments. They’re good but I’m not really into eating too many highly processed foods like that. Last night I made my excellent spinach mushroom crepes with gruyere cheese sauce. Quite yummy. Tonight is pizza night but none of us feel like pizza so I’ll do something else.

This morning I put together 3 cheese lasagnas for the freezer. I had bought a large container of ricotta at Winco a few weeks back so that’s why I wanted to make the cheese lasagnas.

I plan on swimming tomorrow and then do some decluttering out in the barn. My son is away for the weekend as it’s MLK day on Monday so he has that off. We have a bunch of old posters from our bookstore that need to go the thrift store. Yes, that’s a long time ago but some of them were on the wall in the barn and now they are rolled up. As I’ve said many times decluttering really never ends , it just keeps evolving.

We’ve had some super nice walks this week. Beautiful predawn and sunrise walks.

Here’s a nice picture Barclay took of the table set for dinner.

This is another he took of the sofa.

I haven’t seen any tax stuff come thru so I’m not doing any IRS stuff till it does. It should be easy enough since SS is our only income and we did take some savings for the RV partial payment. I’m guessing whatever we need will be here by the end of the month or early February.

Budget wise, medicare is way up to $170. Even with the 5.9 increase, that pretty much uses that up. On top of that both are Part D prescription plans almost tripled. I probably should have researched other plans but I was too lazy to do the necessary work. This fall I will though to see if we can get it cheaper although the little bit I did check, these plans we stayed with went to no deductible as opposed to the $400 deductible before so maybe that was the difference.

Visual Clutter

I’m not exactly sure when I made the connection between how I was coping with things and the visual clutter around me but my guess is in 2012 although it may have been shortly after I relapsed in 2010 from my STC transplant and was on Revlimid. Revlimid is oral chemotherapy extraordinarily expensive as most of the Tier 5 drugs are. Fortunately, B had excellent health insurance and I believe our co-pay was @ $60 for a 12,000 a month drug. Now it is even more.

I think I felt more stressed and of course, there was the dreaded Dexamethasome weekly as well. Maybe I had just reached a turning point, Who knows? and really I don’t care about the Why just that it started to make my life flow better.

But I had started the Flylady system and was going thru each room in the house and something just snapped. I couldn’t stand to look at all the stuff everywhere. It was all too much. I was working, happily, at the library at the job I LOVED, and I started asking my co-worker if she wanted anything I was giving away. She like Bric a Brac so she became the recipient of many things. At the time, I must have done a hundred trips to the Salvation Army( that was still in Auburn) and Goodwill which had only recently opened. I think it was only Salvation Army at that time that was in Auburn if I’m remembering correctly.

Some of the collections I gave away:

vintage Pyrex

a vintage button collection in 4 jars

Vintage Fans

Navaho Rugs

Excessive furniture( antique trunks, futon, ???

some antique Sterling silver ( some sold on eBay and some given to the Cancer Thrift store

SO. MUCH. MORE.

I’m quite sure that the term minimalism was not in my vocabulary then but decluttering was and Flylady’s system. What struck me about her system was the less you had, the less you had to clean or deal with and that’s what hit the mark for me. Also, she starts with keeping your sink clean, free of dishes, and doing it every day. From there with the 15-minute rule, I followed her zone cleaning and decluttering. Now, I don’t do most of her stuff daily as it’s been done but I do the weekly zone cleaning.

Plus, I make sure daily to keep my counters clear and do a bathroom swish and swipe. On Mondays I do a whole house reset and dust, wash mirrors and the glass on the Heywood, and little things that add up.

I also set Monday as towel day. We each only have one towel and that’s it. Plus I do sheets on Sunday and we only have one set of linen sheets for our bed.

I certainly still have books in the bookcase and other visual decorations but it all has a place and is loved, beautiful or useful.

Probably our most minimal area without any visual clutter is the bedroom. We have our bed, a vintage Heywood dresser, and a Heywood bedside table that holds my nighttime medications. That’s it.

Journeying into minimalism has been one of the best things I have ever done. It has simplified my home and allowed me a different perspective. I am more intentional about what I do and what I bring into my home. I don’t think the journey really ends. It just evolves. There are still things I’d like to change up and make different but for the present it’s fine.