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Snow Keeps Falling, Snow Keeps Falling, Down, Down

February 10th, 2019 at 09:00 pm

...to paraphrase one of my favorite songs from the 80's. The snow started around 3:00 this afternoon and we already have six inches. It's supposed to snow non-stop for the next few days, too. DH and I were out doing our grocery shop. We went to five stores, but the second to last one had closed early due to the weather. We only missed it by about a half an hour, but fortunately that was Whole Foods, which was just a want, not a need, run for sopprasetta.

Usually I will spread out the shopping over a couple of days, but not when the weather is only going to get worse. So here's what I bought at Safeway:

1 Pepsi Throwback (sugar kind, and bad)
2 Pirates Booty
1 Tostitos Lime
2 Classico Alfredo Sauce
2 packages O Organics Popcorn
2 1/2 gallons of O Organics Milk
1 bag of spinach
2 limes
1 box organic blackberries
1 organic red onion
4 organic roma tomatoes
1 lb deli roast beef
1 lb deli roast chicken

I spent $64.86 there. Next we went to Costco and I got:

1 box shredded parmesan cheese
2 4 packs frozen broccoli
1 bag of six bell peppers
1 box of Kodiak Power Waffles
1 bag of sausage patties
1 2 pack of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 packages of Yangtze pork
1 4 pack Kerrygold Irish butter
2 24 packs of organic eggs
2 3 packs of organic chicken sausage links
1 bag of peeled garlic
1 2 pack of prosciutto

I spent $172.99 there. Our next stop was the food co-op. We were looking for tortillas without soy in them, but there's had soybean oil so I only ended up buying:

1 head of organic lettuce

I spent $2.99. Next we went to Trader Joe's and I bought:

3 5 lb bags of Russet potatoes
2 packages of uncured beef hot dogs
4 packages of flour tortillas (no soy!)
2 containers of sunflower oil
1 box pita crackers (no soy!)
1 box rosemary crackers (no soy!)

I spent $43.97 there. So total grocery spending was $284.81, well under my $400 two week grocery budget.

We did pickup some household items as well. At Safeway we got 2 bottles of body wash for DH for $6.51. At Costco we picked up a case of toilet paper and 2 4 packs of Zyrtec for $98.99 for a total of $105.50. TP and body wash came out of the Household Envelope and Zyrtec came out of the Medical Fund Account.

Now I shouldn't have to budge from the house until the Snowpocalypse is over.

The End is in Sight for the Kitchen

January 28th, 2019 at 11:44 pm

Last night DS and I got the two big kitchen drawers emptied and wiped out and one has been organized. The stuff that was in the other drawer is in a laundry basket at the moment. It is mostly a bunch of containers that need to be nested and a bunch more lids that I need a small box for so that I can keep them contained in one section of the drawer. I am hoping to find something like that soon.

The lower cabinet was cleaned out as well and there was stuff in there that has been there since we moved here in 2009. I don't think we have ever been in that cabinet since we moved here since it had a broken door that made it awkward to use. It was mostly baking mixes, pudding boxes, and canned goods that were bulging. All of it was full of spiderwebs and egg sacks. Ewwww. That's all been disposed off and scrubbed out and the door is now fixed. Entropy is not my friend.

I did the poor man's version of scrubbing the floor, which it to get a towel sopping wet and soapy and put it down on the floor and rub it around with my feet. I had to let the towel sit in two spots for about twenty minutes to get off some tough spots and they came right out. After that, I rinsed out the towel and then did it again to get the soap up off the floor. The floor is now nice and shiny and I didn't have to use a mop and hurt my wrists scrubbing the two spots. It takes a little more time, but I have to work within my limitations.

Tomorrow's goal is to clean out under the utility table and wipe down the fronts of all the cabinet doors. That should be easy as it is mostly paper bags and recycling under the table and they just need to be gathered and dealt with. Once that is clean then the two recycle bins should be able to stay in there without protruding into the walkway and there will also be room for the four 5 gallon buckets of white flour, white sugar, white rice, and whole wheat flour, that have been taking up residence in the living room for a couple of months.

On next weekend's agenda is to pull out the fridge and get the spot between the cabinet and fridge really well and behind the fridge. Our fridge in on castors so it shouldn't be difficult. Then to do the corner floor cabinet. DH will have to do that as my arms are not long enough to reach back there. It is not bad, but I do want to de-cobweb it and wipe the shelves down and make sure there isn't still some of grandma's stuff in the back. I also want him to clean the kitchen window. I want to launder the valance as well.

There are two top shelves that still have some of grandma's stuff on them that needs to be boxed up and given to my mom to deal with and then that leaves two other high shelves to wipe down, plus the tiny cupboards over the fridge that are about the size of cupboards over a range hood. Very small. Then the kitchen should be done for another year before it needs this kind of deep clean again. And hopefully we will manage to keep it organized in the meanwhile, with just the normal daily stuff of washing the counters, the sink, and sweeping the floor, and washing the floor as needed.

I am really loving having a reorganized kitchen with usable countertops. So many things are now put away and the things that are left out are things that I use every day, or would have if I could get to them. Since starting this, I have used the stand mixer and the blender every day, and the kids have been making coffee. I have easy access to the toaster, which is no longer back in the far corner, and the egg sandwich machine is easy to get to and use. The paper towels are finally back on the paper towel holder, which had gone missing. And there is plenty of room to use a cutting board on the counter instead of sitting down at the table to do so.

And it was just clutter. Badly stacked clutter. Way too much stuff, mostly storage containers and lids. And because I was too sick to deal with it, it stayed there, because apparently no one else can ever put stuff away. I just hope I don't go back to being unable to keep up with this stuff. Today is my last day on Prednisone and I am already dreading what tomorrow will bring, although Wednesday, the day we go down to Virginia Mason, is more likely the day I will crash. At least all I really have to do that day is sit in the van and then sit in doctor offices.

I have hit 5000 steps for the past three days. Since my goal is only at 3000 steps, I think it is time for me to up it. I am actually surprised I have done so much walking. I used to struggle to hit 3000 steps. Maybe it is just the Prednisone. Regardless, I want to keep up with the 5000 steps. Maybe it will make me feel better. My strength has seemed to be recovering from December's plague, but I don't know how real that is. I won't know until the meds are out of my system.

The diet is going okay. I am eating a lot more vegetables, mostly broccoli and cauliflower, but some salads, too. I made fajitas for dinner tonight. Well, DS made the fajitas (after I cut up everything and put the marinade together) and I made the tortillas from scratch. It was my first time making tortillas (though I have done pita bread before). I think it needs to have the salt doubled and I might do half white flour, half whole wheat flour to give it a bit more flavor next time. They weren't hard to do and I only made 8. I think in the future I will do a dough that makes 12 and only make 8 so they will be larger tortillas.

DD decided to try the fajitas. It is her first time eating bell peppers in a long time. DS cooked them until they were soft and hopefully that will help. She does onions just fine. We are just trying to get some more vegetables into her without upsetting her stomach. It has been a slow process.

DH's plane gets in in an hour. I will be glad to have him back home where he belongs again.

DH is Off

January 27th, 2019 at 07:06 pm

Here's something I never thought I'd see myself write again. DH is off to Alaska. He'll be back Tuesday morning, though, and this isn't a permanent thing. They just needed someone with up there experience to check something out in Kenai, take a bunch of photographs, and come back with the info. It was all very last minute. They asked him to go on Thursday.

I'm not particularly thrilled about it. I thought my days of worrying while DH flew were over. It was weird to go back to the airport again. I haven't been out there in two years. Things have changed quite a bit.

There is so much going on here with DD's health and my own that I would never want to have him going up there permanently. I have gotten used to us being together every evening. I went through twenty years of us being apart so much and we were used to it and it didn't bother me very much, but now it is feeling like a whole other ball game. Maybe because I'm not steeled against it anymore.

I don't even know if he is going to get paid extra for it. They didn't discuss it. AK is usually hazard pay, but who knows? He doesn't even know if he is going to get paid for travel time, which annoys me, because if he doesn't, it means he'll lose a day's pay. They are paying for the hotel and airplane tickets outright, but he'll have to be reimbursed for food, taxi, etc. It's not a per diem, they just said be reasonable about it and submit receipts.

If it hadn't been so last minute, they would have given him a company credit card and there wouldn't have been any of this use your own card and get reimbursed later nonsense that I dislike so. DH says they are fast about reimbursing though, like a week. Some of the companies he has worked for took six weeks, which is what turned me off on the whole thing. Plus DH has a tendency to lose receipts.

Today has been pretty laid back, otherwise. I am a little tired from all the cleaning so I am taking it a little easier today. DS still needs to do the kitchen floor and we have two drawers left to wipe out and to organize and if that is all that gets done I am happy with that.

Yesterday was a Little Surreal

January 26th, 2019 at 09:57 pm

Yesterday was payday and it was the day of our big two week grocery shop. We got started late. Really late. Normally I hate to do things in the late afternoon and evening because the traffic is nasty and the stores are packed. But due to one thing after the other, we didn't make it to do the banking until 4:00.

I noticed how light the traffic was on the way to credit union #1. As we pulled in, there was only one car in drive-thru, but two lanes open so I was able to pull right up and get my cash out and be on our way. It has never been dead like that on a Friday afternoon before.

Then we went to CU #2, which is where I have my medical fund. I keep it separate from regular banking so there is no crossover. It's a little extra running, but it is worth it to me to have the accounts physically separated. So I had to go in, because for some reason they had a $1000 hold on my account and have done for three weeks. Ever since I cashed that big $5000 check from MIL. It should have come off over two weeks ago. They had some kind of glitch. So the teller took it off.

But anyway, we walk in and there is no one visible. This place is always bustling at 4:30 on a Friday. There are several desks that usually have people at them and you can usually see people in the back offices. As we came forward we could see one teller who had been blocked by a pillar and one person at a desk behind a large potted plant, and then a little further there were a couple of women in a walled off office. But at first glance it was like someone had come and abducted all the people.

Back on the road there was still no traffic. We went to store #1, got a front space for parking, in a lot that was 1/3 full. Got in, didn't have to navigate around a ton of people, walked right up to an empty cashier. We were in and out in 15 minutes. This never happens at this time. We hit Safeway right at 5. I kept waiting for a massive traffic back up, but nothing. The lot was only half full and again we got in and out, even with a lot of stuff, quickly. Now normally at 5:30 it takes about 20 minutes to get out of their parking lot. It is usually just atrocious.

We made it to the Food Co-op by 6. No one in the parking lot. Maybe 10 cars when it is usually wall to wall. Only needed 3 things and we were on to Costco. The huge main road was not back upped even a little. Now the Costco parking lot was quite full, but even so, we got a spot right up near the building. A few rows from the door, but still right up front.

We were in and out in another 20 minutes. Never happens. Not ever. Then on to Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is usually worse than Costco on a Friday, but we were riding the luck. Again, parking right up front and less than 30 minutes in the store.

It took me a while to realize what was even going on. A lot people hadn't been shopping or on the roads to go shopping because they hadn't been getting their paychecks. That has to be it. It is the only thing I can think of that would have made it so easy to travel and shop yesterday. But it felt like a complete Twilight Zone experience.

I did spend right up to my new $500 budget, but I got some really great deals on meat and vegetables. DS and I will be doing more cooking lessons this week and we are both going to be eating a lot more healthy. Some of our go to products have started incorporating soy. These were some of the last few convenience items we were buying, so now we are eliminating the altogether. Sad, but necessary.

I am going to teach him how to make fruit bars and granola bars this week, since they now have soy. They are easy enough to make and then he will have a few safe snack foods on hand. We did find a granola cereal, though, without almonds. It uses pecans instead. I was happy about that. I don't eat granola often because it is not that healthy with the sugar content. This uses maple sugar. Sugar is sugar, so I still won't eat it much, but a little once in a while.

Does anyone have a good club cracker recipe? That's what has soy in it now. I'll take plain, but if there is a multi-grain one, that would be awesome. Just no soy. Even the TJ multi-grain crackers have soy. Soy, last time I checked, is not a grain.

I've got my counters completely cleared off now. I wiped down all the appliances and the knife block. I am just waiting for my husband to get back home so he clean the last two inches in the corner that my fingers are not long enough to reach. There is also a spider there, so there's that. Then everything can go into place and we are going to keep it nice and uncluttered from now on. At least, that is the hope.

I got the pasta shelf and the Asian cooking shelf wiped down and got rid of some soy sauce that was in the back. There were two open bottles, so I dumped those and recycled them. I found out I have more sesame oil and hoison sauce than I thought, so won't need to buy those for a while, but am low on rice vinegar. I don't use it often, though, so probably won't buy more until I run out. I need to get oyster sauce next payday, but I'm good on mirin and coconut aminos for a while yet.

I also found the parts to my Kitchen Aid spice grinder that were missing because someone put them away wrong. I like that one for the heavy duty spices like cloves, fennel seeds, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon sticks and things that scratch because it has a stainless steel chamber and doesn't throw stuff against the lid.

I also found the other spice grinder dedicated to grinding peppers only. If I try to grind anything else in it, it flavors it with pepper flavors. Not fun when you've been making homemade cayenne powder or chili powder. I found the top to the third spice grinder that I use for herbs, but am not sure where the bottom is. Maybe one of the drawers I haven't gotten to yet. I have 3 more drawers to clean out and reorganize. I'll do that tomorrow. Then all the cabinet doors need to be wiped down and the sink and back splash washed down. Then the kitchen should be done.

I threw out the old can opener. We bought a new one a year ago that does the safe rim, instead of the sharp rim. The cutter part was kind of bent out of shape and wasn't opening right anyway, so I don't even know why it was still around. Oh, and I found the toaster tongs. They make it so much easier to get English muffins out of the toaster.

I've only got two more days of Prednisone left, so hopefully I can finish what I want to get done in that time. I know I will crash back down as soon as I go off it, so I am taking advantage of it while I've got it. There are some more shelves that could do with some organizing that are not in the kitchen, but have excess kitchen stuff on them and I hope to get to that tomorrow, too.

I should be exhausted after the last two days, but I'm not. Prednisone is a wonderful invention. I wish I could feel like this all the time. After I am done with my antibiotics, I am going to get my cortisol levels tested. I think there is something wrong with them if steroids will make me feel decent and functional again. I do have a lot of the same symptoms as my daughter when it comes to adrenal issues, so it is worth getting it checked out.

Prednisone Helping Plus Some Grocery Shopping

January 23rd, 2019 at 07:01 pm

I am starting to feel a little difference on the prednisone, quite a bit more energy, which I am taking advantage of, but I made the mistake of eating takeout last night and woke up with a very sore throat. I think someone has changed their recipes and added MSG or soy. Another restaurant to tick off the list of safe restaurants. And yes, I know I was trying to get through the whole month with no eating out. I made it three weeks.

Today I started back on my diet. I bought 2 rotisserie chickens and roast beef slices at Whole Foods to help me with that. The only seasonings they use are salt and pepper, and the beef is a real roast they make onsite, so no fillers. I also got some zucchini. I am going to use my veggie sheet cutter and make some zucchini, roast beef, and cheese roll ups for lunches.

I also got some uncured soppressata and some white cheddar and some sharp cheddar, some soups, and sushi rice (but that was for my daughter, I seldom eat rice). I ended up spending a little over $71.

I have really noticed a change in how my body feels since I quit buying only organic or pasture-raised meat. I was trying to save money to use on paying off debt, but I am not sure it has been worth the trade off to my health. I don't know if anyone else would notice it, but with my auto-immune disease, I think it does make a difference to avoid the chemical fertilizers and GMO fed meat.

I don't think I've been in Whole Foods since we started on Dave Ramsey in April, not that I went there often, anyway. I usually went to Trader Joe's, because it is far less expensive. April is when I started buying conventionally raised meat, too. Now that we don't have to worry so much about medical, since that account is fully funded, I think I am going to raise my grocery budget back to $1000 so we can have organic meat and be fully organic on produce again. That will have us adding $600 a month to the medical account instead of $800. In the long run it is an investment back into my health, which does affect medical.

I have an appointment with the rheumatologist tomorrow. I did finally get the approval for enbrel from my insurance company, but nowhere near enough time for her to see how I am doing on it, because I haven't started it yet. That was the original plan before my insurance company got all stupid. That's going to be fun to explain.

I took DD to the sleep doctor today. Because of the nerve pain medicine, she may not need as high a dose of one of her sleep drugs, so she is going to try to wean down to a half dose of it and see how she does, and if it is okay, then wean off it. Since the nerve pain drug has a sedating effect, the other may no longer be necessary. She'll still have to stay on the other one, though.

I was able to make a double batch of breakfast burritos (2 lbs chicken sausage, 24 eggs, 24 tortillas, 2 cups of shredded Mexi-blend cheese) with the help of my son. I taught him how to do the cooking part. He's helped with the assembly since I first started making them. It will be good for the men folk to have those ready in the freezer for breakfasts again.

I also got about half of the counter on the right side of the sink cleared off and deep cleaned. The crockpots are now being stored on the upper shelf of a lower cabinet next to the sink instead of on the counter. I will be able to put my Kitchen Aid stand mixer back over there now. The other half is mostly clutter from plastic containers that have not been stacked together and put away yet. I did get all the lids organized last night. The Costco protein drink boxes (DS drinks these) are the perfect size for that so I used two of them to organize my lids and measuring cups into. I may end up covering them in contact paper to pretty them up, though.

I saw an idea on youtube on using a shallow drawer to store all your spices instead of on a shelf. We use a lot of spices and I was always having to mix the around to find them. Now they are all laid out flat in the drawer with their labels upright and the ones I use the least towards the back. It was big enough to do three full rows, and then a row in the other direction along the ends. I can already see how much it is going to help.

I'd like to eventually just have the mixer, the Keurig, the lid boxes, the knife block and the toaster on that counter. I just have to reorganize the two big drawers and then stack the containers inside each other like they should be. And if I move the knife block over there, I then have room to put the new blender on the left-hand side of the sink. It is too tall to fit under the counter, but there is just enough space for it to fit in the open area next to the sink.

So, yeah, the prednisone is definitely working.

Lucky Robin's Top Ten Money Saving Tips

January 20th, 2019 at 07:17 pm

In no particular order:

1. Make saving automatic. If it comes out of your paycheck and automatically goes into a savings account each payday, you won't have time to miss it.

2. Don't eat out or save it only for special occasions. Special occasions are not Friday nights! They are birthdays and anniversaries and seeing old friends for the first time in two years (again, not every weekend). If you must eat out, have a restaurant budget and do not go over it. But seriously, don't eat out. It is probably the number one way to throw away your money with no end result other than a full stomach.

3. Meal Plan and then stick to your meal plan. Shop according to your meal plan and what you already have at home. Take an inventory before you go shopping so you are not buying things you don't need. Unless you are restocking your pantry. Then buying extra is okay, but plan for it.

4. Always have a list when you go shopping. While this is especially important with grocery shopping, it is also very helpful when shopping for toiletries, including amounts. Have a rule that if it is not on the list it doesn't go in the cart. No writing things on the list while you are at the store, either.

5. Convenience wastes your money so don't fall prey to it unless you are sick. It is not hard to cut up vegetables and fruit, tear up your own salad, chop onions, peel carrots, and those lovely potato peeler machines are worth their weight in gold and make that chore super fast. It takes time, but you can save time by doing up all your stuff for the week at once. A food processor makes chopping food and shredded cheese go very quickly. Think you don't have time? Stop watching TV. Or do it while watching TV. And learn to cook. There is no excuse in this day and age of youtube instructional videos for you to not know how to cook. They have super simple ones like how to make scrambled eggs or cheeseburgers to extremely complex ones, like intricate pastries and handmade pasta shapes. You will find what you need to learn.

6. Don't let laziness waste your money. Do you have things that you've signed up for and are on autopay and you just haven't gotten around to cancelling them for months, if not years? Stop dragging your feet and get it done.

7. Don't be loyal to brands and corporations or limit that loyalty. You can buy the same ketchup all the time, but you don't need to always get the same brand of shoes, jeans, toilet paper, tissue, etc. Unless you have a reason, like allergies, there is no sense in staying with a brand that is consistently more expensive.

8. Manage your leftovers so you are not wasting the food you do pay for and incurring extra waste disposal fees because you throw more stuff away than you need to. If your family does not like leftovers, learn to incorporate that food into new meals. Leftover chicken? Make quesadillas, enchiladas, stir-fried rice, or chicken noodle soup. If something will go bad before you can eat it, freeze it, but make sure you do use it up and it hasn't gone to the freezer to die.

9. Have a budget and stick to it. Plan for everything, including irregular expenses in that budget, by breaking down how much you need to save for it each month. Do not get discouraged if you don't get it right the first month, or the second, or the third. Keep adjusting your categories until you do get it right. Don't give up.

10. Don't impulse buy and don't buy something when it first comes out. For non-emergency purchases wait at least a month. You may find you don't even want it anymore, or something better suited to your needs has come out since, or that the price has dropped dramatically. Or you may find it used and in very good shape elsewhere, like Craigslist (always be careful when meeting strangers), e-bay (check shipping costs), and thrift stores. I saw 12 different models of coffee makers, 8 blenders, 3 bread machines, 4 crockpots, and 2 food processors, at a thrift shop the other day when I was looking for my discontinued plate pattern. Look around and take your time. Buying new is okay, but try to find a deal and always look at reviews for the product. Doesn't matter how good a deal you get if it is something that consistently gets one or two star reviews.

Not Quite Every Day

January 10th, 2019 at 09:30 pm

I had hoped to be blogging every day this month, but that's a little harder than I thought it was going to be. Most of the time I forget until after midnight, but today I remembered.

Tomorrow is payday and so today I sat down with the grocery ads and went through to see what the sales were. They have been awful for the last 3 weeks, but redeemed themselves this week. I was pleasantly surprised by the meat sales. Boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs are both on sale for $2.99 a pound. New York Strip Steaks are on sale for $5.99 a pound. We usually get the sirloin ones, because they go on sale at $4.99, but when strip steak is just $1 more per pound for a far superior cut, I will go for it. They also have grass fed beef on sale for $4.99 a pound so I am going to stock up.

They have a couple of pork sales going on as well, but I need to see how big they are, whether or not they have bones, and figure out what they mean by half cut chops. I have never seen that term before. They are both really cheap, one was $1.69 a pound and the other was $2.49 a pound, but those prices may even out depending on bones and I'd rather have boneless if it is a roast. If there is bone in a chop it needs to be on the edge. So we'll see on that one.

They have a pasta sauce I like but don't usually buy because of price on sale for 3 for $5, so I am going to check out the ingredients and see whether or not it has soy in it. If it doesn't, than I will go ahead and get some tomato based ones and some Alfredo ones. While I can make Alfredo sauce, it requires having cream on hand, and it is just easier to have jars on hand.

My son's special peanut butter is on a very cheap Friday only sale, so I will probably get four jars of that, too.

We are very low on cheese, so I will have to go to Winco. They have the best cheese prices in town. Since I'll be over there I'll stop at the Dollar Tree and stock up on soup, too. Fortunately all the grocery stores I shop at are on a pretty close loop. Two miles unless I include Costco and the Food Co-op, which is an additional mile, but still easily on that loop.

DH is taking the truck over to get an estimate on repairs tomorrow. They are a body shop that will bill my mother's insurance directly, but also one that is highly recommended in this town. He'll get an estimate on how much it would cost to paint the whole truck, too, since I want to start saving for that and I have not got a clue on how much that will cost. He also has a dentist appointment tomorrow for a cleaning. Good thing he only has to work until 11 a.m.

Still sticking to the meal plan really well. I don't really like the tater tot casserole my family loves, though, so I had tuna fish spread (no bread), a big salad, and finished off the canned pineapple from earlier in the week. Normally I'll make myself fish and chips on a night like this, but I didn't want to put forth the effort after all the cleaning I did today.

I'll clean out the fridge tomorrow before I go shopping. It's not bad, but someone spilled something in there that looks like juice and didn't tell me and it will need a bit of scrubbing and it is easier to do that before all the new stuff goes in and gets in the way.

I'm not sure if I'll do a one day shop or a two day shop. It really just depends on how well my body is doing. My joints have been hurting the last two days so I may not be able to do it all in one go.