Frugal Friday

It’s almost the end of January and the pantry challenge is going great. I will continue into February. I’ve come in @ $400 in groceries for the month. For the four of us, that’s really good. The pantry and the freezer are decreasing so that’s a good thing. I still have quite a bit to use up.

Last night I made Sole Milanese.(Ina Garten recipe) I made way too much but that’s what was in the freezer bag. Note to self: (portion out the fish better). Tonight is usually pizza night but no one feels like that so I think I’ll just do a simple pasta dish. Here’s the pizza from last week. I’m looking forward to using the Ooni outside when the weather changes.

I have February’s budget done and in place. I plan on looking at starting taxes this next week. It should be quite simple. I think we have all the things I need. We did get a 1099 for the California relief something. I guess that was a taxable amount. Not sure why they’d give you a refund and then expect it to be taxed. Oh well, who knows how anything in the government works.

We had our Date Thursday yesterday at Chipolte. It was ok. It seemed like an awful lot of people getting take out. I guess we don’t go out to eat very often so it’s always a surprise the amount of people doing it. But I am trying to get us to do one thing a week like this.

This was a sunset but my phone didn’t really capture the colors well. It was orangey and pink. this is looking west out our bedroom window.

Well, that’s it for today.

Understanding Myeloma

I thought I would put in a description of myeloma to help people understand what it is how it affects the body. Just FYI.

an, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that make antibodies that protect us from infection. In myeloma, the cells grow too much, crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow that make red blood cells, platelets, and other white blood cells.

Multiple myeloma is considered treatable, but generally incurable.[3] Remissions may be brought about with steroidschemotherapytargeted therapy, and stem cell transplant.[3] Bisphosphonatesand radiation therapy are sometimes used to reduce pain from bone lesions.[3][6]

I’ve relapsed now 5 times, this being the 5th. Last time the Velcade worked practically instantly but disease progression does come into play and the cancer cells get smarter and more resistant. This will be my 3rd time on Velcade so it is questionable how effective it will be. One thing for sure is I am not waiting till my Kappa light chains go to 600+. That’s what happened last time. This time I will say Kappa over 100mg/L let’s start treatment.

Thankful Thursday: I am thankful to still feel good enough to swim and go to the gym. Right now probably the one symptom I have may be decreased energy and I do start to lose more hair for some reason. Other than that, I’m asymptomatic.

Wednesday’s musings

Well, a disappointment with my labs. Kappa went up to 30.7 mg/L so a 3-point jump. And the ratio went up to 1.96mg/L from 1.76 so also a jump. I’m disappointed but such as it is.

The pool was busy but I did get a lane right away. It’s sort of hit-and-miss most mornings. But it’s still worth the effort. I went to the gym yesterday, which was pretty empty although I saw some new faces. Probably new years resolutions kicking in.

Today I’ve been playing around with a spreadsheet I downloaded for the budget. It’s taken me 6 different tries but I think I have it down and I like it as long as it works the way it’s supposed to. I bought it off Etsy on the recommendation of Minimom on Youtube. I do most of my budgeting in a notebook but I wanted to add something new.

After the pool, I went over to Winco for a few groceries. Honestly, you cannot beat the price of things there. It’s a bit of a learning curve because of the layout but I know it well now so I can just go to the areas of food I need. Their bulk area is amazing. Lots of bins of snacks, spices, grains, everything you could want bulk, even honey.

Today I need to vacuum and dust and then fall into a heap depressed about my light chains. It’ll take me a day to regroup.

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.

Frugal Friday

I was going to go down to the Rec center( aka as the gym) today but decided not to being it is Black Friday and HWY65 where I turn on to is right on the way to The Galleria shopping mall and big stores like Walmart. I will go swimming tomorrow. It’ll be early enough that I should miss the shoppers although I might get some traffic heading up to the Sierras on the way home.

We don’t go out to shop on Black Friday but I did find a 25% off deal on Bombas and bought a couple of T-shirts for B and a pair of socks for me. Then Amazon had a good B F deal on a comforter and we need a new one so I got that. It was $20. I think that was 50% off.

I put away the pumpkin and fall things from the table and will decorate with a few Christmas-themed things later. I have some red candles and a few other things to put out. I won’t do a lot yet as it’s a bit early for me.

We all had a good Thanksgiving with lots of good food. I don’t know why eating dinner at 2 pm sets me off but it does and then I don’t feel like eating at all later. I did have some homemade pumpkin pie around 7:30 though.

I’ve been somewhat depressed at my kappa light chains going up 4 points. Even though Dr. Laptalo said, it’s just a small increase, don’t worry, I do worry that now things will start doubling. I mean I know intellectually that my cancer will come back and I’ll need treatment again but maybe it’s just so tiring to think about it all. Anyway, in a few days, I’ll feel better once I process it. There’s nothing I can do about it so…

I’m going to look up a pressure canning recipe for turkey broth or soup and see what it looks like. I may do that tomorrow. I think I’ll make the broth today. and then if I want to do some pressure canning it’ll be ready to do. I might put up our small Ikea Christmas tree this weekend too.

Getting ready for camping 2023

This would have been the week we were in Refugio. We canceled due to the cost of gas. ( gas is around $6.00 a gallon here but in the Santa Barbara area it’s probably higher. We both agreed that we didn’t want to add to the cc right now with the other things that are still on there. Plus, we felt we had done it last year and it was great but we didn’t really feel like we needed to go back there. Santa Barbara is always a draw for us but that’s still 30+ minutes away from Refugio so it’s not like we could just pop in. Anyway, we’re both ok with the decision.

My goal for 2023 is to go to one new place to camp and explore that area. I’d like it to be within 4-5 hours of driving.

So far for 2023, we have New Brighton booked in March and Wrights Beach in April. Both are 5 nights and that’s a nice amount of time. I think we’re going to book Napa at the end of each of these if we can get in. I’ll check that soon. My goal is to not drive more than 2-3 hours a day unless we are on an extended trip. I still have hopes that we can get to the Southwest, and then Pacific North West but with gas prices, we need to be budget-minded. I think I want to have a dedicated savings for travel and then that money will be in there for gas etc. We don’t spend a great deal generally once we’re in a location. So it’s really gas and the campground fees. We love the places we go to regularly so that’s all good. I mean Tahoe is my favorite place and where I want my ashes spread after I leave this earth.

Barclay is off to buy the concrete paint in a different color this morning down at Lowes. We decided to go with an earth tone in darker brown. Let’s hope we like it. Sort of an expensive mistake with the gallon being $50. Oh well… Then he’s going to pop into Winco for a few things. I think shopping at Winco has really helped my grocery budget. I can’t remember the last time I went into Safeway. Also, not running down to the Holiday Market for bits and bobs also is a money saver as it is definitely more expensive. I’m probably spending more at the farm but since it is produce just picked I’m ok with that. Last week I got potatoes, 2 cabbages, lettuce, spring mix, a leek and ?( I think it was some broccoli) it was $20. So pricey but ok.

I’m going to prep more apples this morning and get them ready for applesauce. I’m not sure I’ll cook them today but I’ll see how I feel when I’m done.

This time of year always is difficult for me remembering when I had the compression fracture in T 10 and didn’t know what it was or why. It was November 2003. Then later, in the fall of 2005, I was getting ready to do the SCT in February but was getting heavy duty chemo during this time. So difficult memories for me. Then Barclay’s MDS happened right about now too( early November). It’s an emotional time remembering these periods. Even when my last relapse was hitting numbers way too high, that was November of 2020 and I started chemo in January 2021. So lots of sad and difficult memories. Of course, I’m an optimist so right now things are stable. I’m doing well, Barclay is well and our kids are healthy and happy. So that’s all positive.

Friday things.

I had my consult with my PCP about my slightly higher LDL #. My HDL was very good and the ratio was good but he wanted/needed to tell me to try and cut out some higher fat foods like butter. 😦 I love butter but I told him I will do my best and he said we can test in another year. So that’s that. I will try to cut back on butter and cheese and some carbs. I cook with a lot of butter but usually in combination with olive oil. I’ll just try and be more conscious of using butter like on toast and bagels etc. Also, my thyroid numbers came back normal. Last time when my LDL was slightly high it must have been about 6-7 years ago, I started eating oatmeal for breakfast 4-5 times a week and within 6 months my cholesterol dropped 60 points.

My Myeloma labs came back almost the same as last month. So hurray on that. Another month of freedom so to speak. All my other labs were normal and the same as before. So all in all, it’s good.

Our anniversary is next week and B said I should go buy the Louis Vuitton. I said I’ll think about it. It’s not a cheap purchase and I’m quite happy with my Coach bag I bought that is similar in size to the Neverful. Still, a Louis is a Louis. I think my obsession( sort of) is that it’s French (although not many are made in France anymore) and the quality of workmanship. I only love the LV monogram and the black ones. The others are really quite gaudy in my opinion. Well, I’m certainly not getting younger:( That purchase would definitely NOT fit into Frugal Friday!!!

Today is a home day and I’ve done my morning reset, bathroom swish and swipe, and kitchen tidy. I plan on going to the farm this afternoon for a few things. I also am feeding my sourdough starter and plan on putting it into one jar instead of 3 1/2 jars. I might make some sourdough bagels this weekend. If I’m cutting out some carbs I might make bread with whole wheat as that is better on the glycemic scale.

Tomorrow after swimming I’m planning to go to Trader Joe’s for a few things. I know they have Ezekiel bread which is good and whole wheat tortillas too. I’m certainly willing to switch things up a bit. Besides, I always like a challenge.

Our hot weather continues. It’s very depressing after what seems like forever of 100 degree days. The nights aren’t cooling off hardly at all. Next week temperatures are all in the mid 90s so maybe that will be a little better.

I’m waiting for the next batch of tomatoes to ripen so I can process them. I’ll probably just do the tomato sauce again. I don’t think there’s too much else I’m interested in doing except getting some corn to quick freeze. Last year I did about 12 bags of corn and we used them all. Safeway usually has the best prices. I’ll check their flyer later.

On the spending side, I put an order into Rancho Gordo for 8 bags(1lb). Since they are in Napa they arrived in record time. If you haven’t tried their beans, you should. They are all heirloom and absolutely delicious. I ordered a new one to try called Whipple bean. I also added on a jar of Mexican oregano. When I opened it, it didn’t smell too much different from my oregano. So I’ll have to see how it is in recipes. Let’s see, I ordered falafel mix from Amazon because TJ’s doesn’t carry it in their stores anymore and finding it in the regular grocery store is a PITA. I bought some salad stuff from Holiday Market too. Even with cash envelopes, I’m still spending @ $700 a month on food. I guess that’s just the norm. At Costco, I did mostly cash and then the rest on the debit card. Costco is always more than I think it will be, of course!! Well, B did buy Sierra pale Ale beer but it’s really the best price for it if you drink beer. I also picked a few bulk items like sugar and some more flour.

Friday things

It’s been a quiet week and also an off week. With the 4th of July on Monday, I didn’t go to the gym and then I didn’t swim Tuesday because I didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic on I-80 with everyone traveling after the holiday. So I went to the gym Wednesday and now it’s Friday and I’ll swim tomorrow. But next week is also messed up because Monday I have my annual eye exam and I’ll get my eyes dilated so I need to drive straight home as my pupils stay dilated for hours. Then Thursday I have Dr. Laptalo, so no gym that day unless I went afterward. It’s always a crap shoot if he’s on time (almost never) or really late ( almost always). So if I don’t leave there till 11, I probably will not want to go to the gym at noon. Some weeks are just like that but I don’t have this happen that often.

I’ve been watching some youtube channels using the All Amerian pressure canner. I’m still undecided. I’d like to be able to can low acid foods( you must pressure can), or just stick with the water bath canning which is what I’ve always done. The canner is quite expensive at @$400, so not a small investment. I guess I’ll keep thinking about it.

The herbs I’ve been drying have come out very nice and quite fragrant so I’ve enjoyed that. This morning I’m making some herbed butter to freeze. I mix the unsalted butter with thyme, parsley, and chives and then roll in a piece of parchment to make a log. It’s nice to have in the winter.

The second batch of bagels I made yesterday came out great.

This is after the overnight fermentation in the fridge.

So using the barley malt syrup is absolutely a game-changer. It gives the bagels a nice chewy texture and delicious flavor. I plan on making these once a week for a while. It is a two-day process with a rise in the refrigerator overnight.

I went to the farm stand yesterday and bought some produce for the week. Beautiful lettuce, spring mix, radishes, cabbage, zucchini, and cucumbers. We’re lucky it’s 5 minutes down the road. I’m hoping to find some peaches this weekend to make some peach jam and maybe a peach pie.

I didn’t do any grocery shopping this week but I may go to Winco tomorrow as we need milk and a few other things. I guess I’ll just see after my swim. So the week has bfarm standeen quite frugal.

Other than that same old same old. It’s still hard to see the news and the horribleness of the Highland Park shootings. It’s really just crazy. Just think, you’re out with your family for the 4th of July to celebrate, and see the parade and then the next minute you’re killed by a crazed murderer with an automatic weapon. When is it going to end and we ban assault rifles. How many more must die.?

How I learned to live with an incurable cancer.

This past week marked my 17th year of living with Multiple Myeloma. I was diagnosed on June 15, 2005. But it’s clear that when I initially had the compression fracture of T 10 in November of 2003, Myeloma probably had been roaming around my body for a couple of years. But by the time of diagnosis, it was now a plasmacytoma on T 10. So that’s almost a year and a half from when I had the fracture. The course of treatment was 17 rounds of radiation, followed by 6 months of chemo every 3 weeks. Induction treatments now include Revlimid and Velcade which wasn’t available at my time of diagnosis. I had Doxil, Vincristine, Cytoxan, and dexamethasone. After that, it was preparation for the STC. I had the SCT in March of 2006.

I think part of the shock for me was, that I’d never really ever been sick, nor did I hardly ever use traditional medicine( since I was never really ill). Even at the time of diagnosis, my compression fracture was healing to some degree and I was not anemic, a common symptom of myeloma. In fact then and even now my CBC panel and CMP panel are all normal. But add in a light chain test and Spep test and there you go. At diagnosis, my SPEP was at 3.9. Not terribly high but high enough.

All of this was certainly foreign to me and I felt like a ‘stranger on a strange planet’. The first time I entered the chemo room, I cried. It truly was bizarre to see so many chemo Iv’s and patients ‘hooked’ up. After a time I did better and came to appreciate the hard work of the chemo nurses. Even now, last year going down to Rocklin Infusion, the nurses are just the best and it takes a special person to be a chemo nurse.

The first year was the hardest. The Stem Cell Transplant was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone thru. Some people sail the SCT, but I was pretty miserable. I couldn’t eat( I had to get 1 insure down a day), I had constant diarrhea, and just was barely conscious. But I did get thru it and it took almost a year to recover. But I did. I was stronger and wiser.

So what have I learned?

First, take each day as it comes. We really only have this moment and how we live in that moment takes us to the next moment. I still try to gauge how I feel each day and what I need to do that day or not.

Second, I learned to be more patient. There’s a time for all things and you can’t push time. So when I was in the midst of appts, treatments, etc, there was no rushing or trying to do something before it was time to do it( if that makes sense).

Thirdly, your blood is your blood, and the same with facts. The numbers are the numbers and you can wish, scream, pray, jump up and down but it won’t change a thing. Your blood is your blood. So, of course, be positive but no imaginary person in the sky is going to help you. It might make you feel better for doing it (the praying part) but it’s not going to change your blood or take away the tumors or whatever. This is not to say be reckless, or eat junk food( only occasionally:) ) or whatever but be sensible, eat healthy things and try and do some exercise even if it’s just walking.

Four, around five years into my journey, I started becoming more minimalist. As I’ve mentioned before, I had 4 great years with no treatment and my cancer was in remission. But myeloma just doesn’t go ‘away’. There are always some rogue cells and then you relapse. Flylady jump-started my decluttering and doing a daily ‘tidy up’. I started always having a clean counter and sink. And it really does work.

Fith, it is what it is. Always.

Becoming minimal really changed, although slowly, how I felt about everything. Money, bills, life, buying things, not buying things. and so much more.

When there’s always the “what if, when??”, it’s very hard not to obsess. Early on in this journey, I got a prescription for anti-anxiety medicine. It was a life saver. I stopped obsessing over everything. So, I suppose that obsessing taught me to not worry about what was going to happen but just BE with it. Although in truth, I needed the anti-anxiety medicine just to cope. Now, I don’t and figure, it is what it is.

In some ways, living with incurable cancer, it’s always there somewhere lurking in your mind. ( and unfortunately)in your body. You just have to acknowledge it and get on with living.

Since 2005, I relapsed in 2010, 2015, and 2019. Each time I’ve been lucky the treatments have worked although I suspect each time between relapses will lessen. That’s ok. It’s not my first rodeo.

To quote Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

and this one…

“Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

― Mary Oliver, Sometimes

Simple Sunday

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was 93 and hot. Today it is overcast and 70. We even had a sprinkling of rain. How cool is that and we really need it.

I had a good walk this morning and almost no one was there except the one runner who happened to be walking. At first, I didn’t recognize her not running, and then on my second round I said” oh you’re not running, I didn’t recognize you”. She laughed. So all in all a nice walk.

I had a bit of a setback yesterday from doing the weights on Thursday. I guess the lactic acid build-up or exercise flu hit me pretty hard. I felt pretty lousy all day and figured out it must have been the weights even though I hardly did more than 20 minutes. So when I go next, I’ll need to hydrate and do less. I’m very careful with anything I do physically but I guess it was more than my body could handle. The last time I did weights at the gym was February of 2020 right at the beginning of all the lockdowns. So perhaps even the small reps were too much. I guess there will be an adjustment period.

Today I’ll do the bathroom zone and quick house tidy. Mostly just putting things back where they belong. Since I didn’t feel like eating much yesterday my daughter put together some ravioli and salad. I’m not sure what I’ll do tonight as I still don’t feel like food much. Maybe breakfast for dinner.

I started reading ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman and geez, wow, If you haven’t read go buy it, get it from the library. It is brilliant. Tragic, but brilliant. I’m not sure what the ‘banned book’ thing is about as the story is about his father in Nazi Germany and how he survived in Poland and then eventually was betrayed and was sent to Auschwitz. Maybe the White Supremacists don’t want the truth out there. ( I just looked up the banned book deal. Apparently, it Tennessee that banned because of language(damn) and nudity( I guess the naked men when they were stripped in the concentration camps). WTF, those horrors and so much more beyond our comprehension happened. The world CANNOT forget what Hitler did and was doing to eradicate and entire race of people.

I went to the farm stand Friday and picked up some early zucchini, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and some delicious peaches.

All good news with my labs. No increase and staying almost where they were right above high normal. So I made it to my goal which was to stay out of treatment for a year. Everything else will be icing on the cake. BTW, June 15 is my anniversary of my diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. 17 years later here I am. Hopefully for a while longer.

This coming week should have much cooler temperatures except Wednesday which looks like a 90 degree day.