Looking back at the year… and ahead!

The year that shall not be named, oh F#ck it, 2020, was certainly difficult.

All the Covid deaths, the necessary lockdowns, enormous food bills, canceling all our trips including Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc, and all the rest. Certainly, the election was totally anxiety-filled and still is until Biden is sworn in. The stuff trump is still pulling is appalling. ANd all the GOP spineless idiots. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths is truly mind-boggling. I read in the WP that the idiot( he’s a newly elected representative) that is possibly going to challenge the votes recently said,” he found out that there were three branches of government”. WTF? are you mentally challenged?

At least we’ve been healthy so there’s that. Both of my kids have their jobs, so that’s excellent.

Climate change is worrying with California fires and really no rain. We’ve had a few days but nothing like normal.

Barb, over at “Living Richly in Retirement”, is a great blogger. She recently moved to Texas( very brave in my opinion) and was just writing about going over her budget categories for the new year.

So I got to thinking that I’d like to do that too. I’m going to look back at food( of course the pandemic meant Instacart a number of times), what I spent on Amazon stuff( scary amount), and Home Depot( home improvement). Then I can realistically set some numbers for 2021. Like do we want to set a certain limit? I’m not sure. Basically, I usually look at , Can we afford it? So set amounts might be a good new way forward.

Catagories could be:

home improvements/ this might be just stuff around the house or bigger like the window replacements/

outside/yard stuff( especially in spring and summer we do spend a lot on seeds, plants, dirt/soil.

dining/take out. This isn’t too hard. I usually give us $50. which is pizza night and a taco night.

travel/camping, In a normal year when we go camping, it is paid for in advance, and usually, I bring or give us @ $200 for food or fun. I’d have to add up a normal year but based on 2019 I’d say $1,000.

Annual bills are fixed amounts so I know those numbers.

I’ll keep thinking of other areas too. Clothing etc is generally not a category as we really only buy something if we need it. I need some new Birkies this year and a new pair of jeans. Birthdays, anniversary, we don’t do much but it might be good to designate something.

Medical/ we have Medicare and supplemental plans so those amounts are in the monthly budget. We did get a SURPRISE ( not good) letter from UCD med center saying we still owed $2500 from Barclays transplant. I freaked out. So we’re waiting till she sends what it is in a letter. But I will call and challenge whatever it is as we were told over and over after we reached the deductible it was 100% covered so I have no idea where they are coming up with this. When we did the GoFundMe, $6000 of the 10,000 we got went to that deductible. So???? I’m not as freaked now since it usually takes me a few days to calm down but still it will need to be dealt with and how much going back to that paper work am I going to have to do??? Not happy about this. Plus, WTF, it’s now 18 months later.

Well, I’ll start my list with those things and see what else should be added.

Ideas for 2021

Actually, I never set goals.

What I do is have a running list of things that are of interest to me and then consider setting them as priorities. Goal setting or resolutions, like losing weight or exercising more, just doesn’t work for me. I do better with an idea like ‘walk in the park most days’. Since I’m pretty structured I don’t have a problem accomplishing that because it’s just part of who I am. Or losing weight. I just eat healthily and even though I could easily afford to lose 20 lbs, I honestly don’t give a flying fig. We eat healthy and always have. We eat very little sugary stuff and a good basic vegetarian diet with meat on the side so to speak. So, my idea would be maybe adding new recipes into my rotation at least 2x a month. If I do great if I don’t’ meh.

Now that neither of us works at a job, we live a quiet life with the occasional camping trip(when we’re not in lockdown or dealing with a deadly virus).

I do plan on making some camping reservations so I guess we’ll see how that goes. We had really hoped to buy a newish closed in RV but honestly I’m not sure we feel like we have money to do that. So I guess that’s a goal or at least getting out camping is a priority.

other ideas may include:

Finding some new places to walk.

having coffee dates once we can

update: ha ha, half this blog didn’t post, and of course I can’t find the original so I’ll try and do a rewrite.

Modified edition:

I don’t do RESOLUTIONS as such like New Years resolutions.

I do set some goals such as Just Keep Walking! But putting down resolutions of lose 20 lbs or exercise more ,as I said, doesn’t work for me. Probably, because it doesn’t motivate me or interest me. But when I did the Just Keep Walking Project, I walked EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 5 YEARS. It was only when I ended up with a hairline fracture in my foot I had to stop 😦

I do set FINANCIAL GOALS such as NO CC DEBT which we have kept to in all 2020. Also, trying to add little amounts to our mortgage principal. We,unfortunately, still have a mortgage but such is life. I’d like to reduce the principal. That way when we’re gone the kids( we have everything in a trust) they would have more equity if they want to sell and move somewhere else. But since there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the budget it is small amounts to add to it but still every bit does help.

I read a lot so read more doesn’t make any sense. I would like to be more creative but cooking is my creative outlet so that’s good. I enjoy knitting but my arthritis in my hands kicks in and causes some cramping after a while so I don’t do that often.

Anyway, other goals or things to try and accomplish are:

Replacing the 2 bedroom windows. They were replaced 25 years ago but since redoing my daughter’s windows and seeing how much better they are at insulating I can see those 2 need doing.

Next, a modified kitchen redo. The window, and the sink and counter. That all depends on whether we want to take on ripping all that out. We couldn’t afford to have someone do it so it would be what can we accomplish ourselves. So that’s up in the air.

After weget vaccinations and can travel, I ‘d like to try and go up the Oregon coast again. Just slow and camping here and there. But it all depends on my Velcade shots and how soon I can go do those things. So again, kind of wait and see sort of thing.

Finish the fences in the front and out by the barn. That’s doable and we can budget that in.

So, it’s some goals mixed in with wants and a to do list.

Simple Sunday

A cold but bright sunny day. I don’t think it got barely in the low 50’s. When we walked this morning everything including trees and bushes were frosted over.

I baked the Tartine walnut kalamata olive loaves and they turned out beautiful and delicious.

The above picture is my starter( Tart) and she’s really lovely.

Here’s my December menu plan. I fill in the regulars like Taco Tuesday and Pizza night and then see what is in freezer /pantry. I don’t make the menu on the day except for the regulars so like spaghetti might be listd on the 7th but was made on the 14th. It jsut depends. Holidays I do keep to the menu since that’s different.

Tonight though we’re having a frittata and that’s not even on there because I have an abundance of eggs. So flexibility is the key.

We( California) are on stay at home orders so even going to the big stores seems risky. I went down to our Holiday Market this morning and was going for milk and some other things and totally forgot the milk. Go figure. I guess I ‘ll go again in a few days. I did get 1/2 and 1/2 so that will suffice.

We just found out our neighbor has covid along with his lady friend. So that has me completely freaked as they don’t really go anywhere. He said( on Facebook) he thought it was Costco but I don’t know. Costco is pretty safe unless maybe he went when it was really packed. Scary:( Hopefully they will be ok.

This week we are in the bedroom zone if you follow FL. I did most of it this morning but I still need to dust and tidy up the closet some. I took all the Christmas stuff out of the closet and put it under the tree so the closet isn’t so stuffed.

So tomorrow night is the big conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter. I looked last night and it was behind some big pines so I’m not sure we’ll have a good view. I’m going out tonight to check again. I have an app on my phone that locates stars and constellations so I found them but they were not obvious to me. If you have a clear view I imagine it’s impressive.

This week is low key with Christmas and all. No appts so just the same old same old.

Friday things

Well, let’s see. The week was dark and stormy( kidding … a reference to “Throw Momma from the Train”)! Actually it was pretty dark and stormy yesterday for the morning and then it lightened up by afternoon. Today it’s freezing this morning but sunny and should be a nice day with highs in the mid 50’s.

It was an okay week. I really felt depressed most of it but today I feel brighter.

I didn’t make bread this week so this morning I’m baking a couple of Tartine boules so that will give us some bread for toast or grilled cheese.

I only went to our Holiday market this week for a few things and I think I spent $45. I needed a gift card for our garbage guy and a holder and I bought an inexpensive bottle of Cabernet for him.

I also started writing out a list of projects for 2021 and where we could possibly go camping. Capitola for sure if the SB is open, Nevada Beach also. I’d like to get to Bodega to camp too. That’s usually booked way in advance since it’s right on the beach and all the big RVer’s want the spots. I might check that out today.

Last night I made a polenta lasagna and it was really good. I used the IP to make the polenta and then Rao’s sauce( which is in my opinion the best on the market.) Costco has the best deals on a 2 pack for about $10 something. Then I used grated mozzarella on top. We all liked it and I think because it was so easy, I’ll add to my menu rotation.

When I menu plan, I write up a menu for the whole month and then check off what I made. I also add in space for a new recipe so I can try something new. I also add in 2 nights of takeout. We already had the pizza this month so that leaves one left. Some months, especially with the pandemic, we didn’t do any take out at all.

Tonight is supposed to be pizza night but since we had that Italian polenta last night I’m going to bake the frozen nut loaf. I made some cranberry sauce from frozen cranberries and I’ll do some mashed potatoes and a veggie. that should do it.

Is 2020 over yet?

What we have 15 days left till January 1st. Honestly, some things about 2020 were awful and some less awful. I’m an introvert in a house of mostly introverts(my son is pretty outgoing) so staying home wasn’t a biggie for me. Not being able to go on camping trips was an inconvenience especially with all the reservations I had and that are frankly a PITA to reserve. Going into stores just for a few things is a thing of the past except maybe our market at the bottom of our hill. Literally I could walk down there in 3 minutes. It would be the walk up that would do me in. Our driveway is probably a 45 degree angle. Okay maybe slightly less. I wonder how you could figure that out?? Anyone? with an engineering degree? The political shit was too much to bear and still is with Trump not conceding and still whining like a toddler that he didn’t get his way and the sycophants that should be removed from office for supporting him.

And I guess I can’t ignore that I’ve relapsed and cancer is back. So starting treatment in January 2021 may not be the best start to a new year. 😦

Well, anyway, I find myself somewhat depressed these days. Maybe it’s all the political crap finally taking its toll on me or not sleeping well or who the F*k knows. I’m sure that this too will pass at some point.

We have been having some nice walks in the early morning and haven’t seen the jerk for quite a while. I think he’s just taken to getting there earlier so as to avoid everyone that shows up a little later. That’s fine with me.

I’m half way thru the Obama book and some of the political stuff is a little over my head but some stuff is so poignant and really speaks to how much he cared about this country. The other book I’m reading that I picked up at the little free library at the park is Chris Bohjalian’s book ” the Guest Bedroom” . His books always have a controversial topic and this one is no exception. It’s about the sex slave traffic from Russia of under age girls. Pretty tough reading but well done. Maybe I need a cozy mystery next.

Last night we had chicken tortilla soup made in the Staub. It was quite good. I’m seriously loving this pot and would highly recommend. Actually, I think I saw the sale was still on ($99.00). I’m convinced it has something to do with how the top is made that is keeping the liquid from evaporating and just deepening the flavors.

Tonight’s dinner is unknown right now but probably something easy. I have salad stuff and maybe a pasta? Or I do have some chicken brats, that would work too.

Simple Sunday

We finally have rain!!

We had to use umbrellas to walk but that was fine. Nobody was there but us so that’s always a treat.

I made some sugar cookie dough this morning and it’s in the fridge for a few hours to harden some. So I’ll start those a little later. I used an Alton Brown recipe and it was pretty straight forward.

If you follow Flylady, we are in the bathroom zone. I can finish mine in about 15 minutes as our bathroom is so small. I might add on a couple of extra tasks this week as well. I consolidated the Christmas ornaments into 1 larger plastic bin that B had bought at Home Depot. So that’s most of the Hallmark boxes and some felted animals when I use to put them out at Christmas on the nature table. I don’t do that anymore but they’re cute enough to keep for now. In the future, who knows? right.

So, as expected, my kappa light chains went up over 600,( high normal is 26.4) and the ratio also doubled( It was 74.3 mg/l ) normal high is 26.3. So Velcade will start in January. So since it’s 3 weeks on 1 week off, I’m thinking @ the second week of January and then a break the first week of February and so on. I guess we’ll have to see how it’s working as to how many rounds it’ll be. That’s a wait and see kind of thing. But one would hope, if it works on the myeloma, 6 months of treatment. Again, big unknowns since we don’t know how things will go. Disappointing but reality.

Tonight I’m cooking a roast chicken in my cast iron pan and I think I’ll make some buttered noodles to go with it as we are potatoed out from latkes. i wanted to get down to Krispy Kreme for donuts( you know to keep the cooking in oil thing going for Hanukkah:) but that may not happen.

B is actually going down for a doctor visit this week as I think they want to see him in person. I’m going to write a list of things for him to bring up because they continue to bother him. He is supposed to get his pneumonia shot and soon he will start revaccinating. I never did revaccinations as back in 2006 it wasn’t common then. Now, I think with autos it is. It is absolutely necessary with an allo transplant though as he had donor cells.

Well, I think I’m going to finish my Sunday chores and read some more of the Obama memoir. BTW, it is a great book and so full of compassion and insight. Definitely worth buying . One thing that really stood out to me was how many times he went to Walter Reed to see the wounded soldiers and how he would interact with them. I tried to look up how many times trump did it but I only found the 1 time shortly after his inauguration. I guess he couldn’t handle seeing the soldiers with one leg or arm or whatever. What a guy!:(

Frugal Friday

Happy Hanukkah!!!

We had delicious latkes last night with homemade applesauce and that new tofu recipe which I will link soon. It’s from a famous restaurant back east and it’s marinated in a pickle brine. I know sounds weird but believe me, it is absolutely delicious fried up and crispy.

Tonight we are ordering a pizza, so not really frugal but I will say in my defense, this is the first time we’ve ordered pizza in a few months.

I decided to do a Safeway pickup in Auburn as they just started doing that. It went well. They carry Boars head products which is my favorite deli cheese and sliced meat. I picked up some smoked salmon for a Hanukkah breakfast with bagels. I should have enough groceries till almost the end of the month except for a few odds and ends. So far, I’m at just under $400. for the month so pretty good.

We did a few small gifts for Hanukkah last night and tonight is our family gift of an Easton press ” A Christmas Carol”. I’m hoping we can read it out loud between now and Christmas.

I’m planning on working on a No Spend couple of months except house stuff that’s needed. Since my Christmas shopping is done I started the NS this month. But I did throw in some extras already like Hanukkah candles since I didn’t have enough and a tea strainer for loose tea. Not expensive but will make tea making easier. Mostly, I want to stay away from Amazon. I don’t go out an shop in stores ever but online is convenient and maybe too easy. So that’s my primary reason for the no spend month.

The rain is expected to come in tonight and continue on and off for a week. We really need it so that will be a welcome change.

Spineless Republicans

I cannot believe what is happening to this country under Trump. What is wrong with these people that still believe he won the election.

What wrong with ALL the Republicans that are remaining silent while he stirs up this violence and craziness all based on lies.

LIES! LIES!

There was no voter fraud. This is our democracy we are talking about. IT is threatened by trump himself. Everything America stands for he is destroying. Can we even get to January 20th without some sort of uprising by his sick misguided sycophants.

This is some serious s#*t.

Yesterday, while waiting for my labs, I saw a older man with a big white beard wearing a trump hat. I glared thru my mask. He had a mask on because at Quest labs you can’t come in without one. I wanted to ask him ,”so, you need labs eh, so you need a mask , right?” or “do you not want to get your labs because masks don’t work? right? ” ” And I bet you’re glad you’ve got the ACA(from Obama, thank you) for whatever your preexisting condition is too? right?”

I am just so upset this morning after reading the WP about the Georgia voting official (a woman) who was decorating her house with her 4 yo and outside there were ARMED trump supporters using a bullhorn to harass her. WTF? is wrong with these people.