Friday, February 21, 2020

No, I Have Not Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

   No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  We have had a lot going on here and to be perfectly honest, it has been taking a toll on me physically and mentally.  I find myself in bed almost daily, having to escape from the world, if even for an hour or two, due to physical pain and sensory overload issues.  I need to withdraw from the world to try and calm my body and mind.  That being said, I have also found myself in tears due to the pain from Fibromyalgia on several occasions and I am one to not cry from physical pain often.  I'm not sharing this to gain sympathy, rather to just document it so that I can look back and trace when I have good and bad times with this and if I can find a pattern.

   Jeff and I continue to wait and see if and when he can have his surgery to repair his knee.  His surgeon is on vacation this week and was so busy last week that he did not get a chance to call the insurance company and advocate for Jeff.  Hopefull this coming week, once he is back in the office, he can do so.

   We did go out to dinner as a special treat.  Jeff, after having a really bad week, wanted to take me out for an early Valentine's dinner and I resisted at first but then realized that he really needed to do something nice and fun.  We went to our favorite Mexican place, had a lovely dinner and yes, we did stop at the thrift store (I know, I need to stay out of those places) and found some movies for .99 each and series on dvd were only $1.99 each.  We got some fun ones to add to our collection and I used some of my cash to pay for them.

   Jeff and I have been trying to purge things in our closets and other areas of the house.  Rachel, Jaysn and Steven came out and got Jaysn's bed from his room so that Steven can have a big boy bed now that he is getting too big for his toddler bed.  Rachel donated the toddler bed to a organization that provides beds for families in need, which I think is an absolutly wonderful thing to do!  Jeff and I also ran a huge bag of old blankets to the Humane Society for them to use and thanked them for the gift of our belated cat Doofy who brought such joy into our lives.  It was our way of giving back to such a great organization that is a no kill shelter.  We also took in a box of purses and coats to the consignment store.  They took most of the coats and purses.  The girl working there fell in love with one of my vintage wool coats that fit her perfectly, so I gifted it to here.  She kept saying she could not accept it and I told her that I was giving it to her, one friend to another, because I knew that she would love it and get lots of use out of it.  The smile and her face and light in her eyes just made my day!

   On a sadder note, some dear friends are going through one of the roughest times in their lives right now and at the moment, the outcome is not looking good.  It has caused me to do some deep soul searching myself since it has brought up some issues from my past also that were life altering and that still cause me great emotional pain to this day.  My heart just aches for everyone involved and I pray that the truth will come out, good or bad, and that there can be healing and forgiveness.  At this point, all I can do is pray, be there as a listening and supportive friend and to be there to help pick up the pieces of shattered lives if things go the way that they are looking now.

   One of the hospitals in Spokane, WA has been designated at one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation to treat highly infectious diseases with those zero pressure isolation rooms.  We had 4 patients who are ill with the Covid-19 virus who were on the Princess cruise ship up there now.  They arrived today to be treated.  I really pray that they will all make a full recovery.  The hospital is well equipped and trained to deal with this, but there were some idiots at the airport who were not wearing any type of protective gear, even though the transport team was wearing full protective gear.  They were in close contact with the ill patients and I really do hope that they all go into a quarentine themselves after that stupid stunt and don't catch it and pass it on to others.  The news stations have film of it and were broadcasting it.  Way to spread fear and panic in this area when there are already people freaking out about even having the patients in the secured and locked unit at the hospital.  Honestly, I was not fearful of those patients coming for treatment but I sure am of the idiots who knowingly did something so stupid.  Time to top off the toilet paper supply since there is a good chance it is going to spread throughout Spokane and beyond now due to the stupidity of others.  Jeff's company, that he works for, does a  lot of business with companies in Spokane so there is a chance of one of the drivers getting infected from someone up there and then it spreading down here too.  People from our town, including some of my neighbors, work in Spokane.  One of them works at the hospital right next door to the hospital where the isolation rooms are and if this thing takes hold in the community, I fear she may be infected if someone comes in not knowing that they have the virus.  Several of my hanai kids also work in other hospitals up there.  This could potentially become a huge mess since it has been proven to spread fairly quickly.  UGH!

   Okay, I am going to end this on a positive note though...Bradley and Isaiah are coming to spend the night tomorrow and I am very happy about that!  We have been promising a sleepover for awhile now and it is finally happening now that the everyone is feeling better.  I would love to be able to have Steven out here too with them, but that is just too much running and yelling for this Grammie at this point in my life.  Hopefully I can get into a normal sleep pattern and out of my "dracula"(sleep in the daylight hours) mode at some point so I can have him come stay too.  We did have a fun time with Steven when he was here yesterday getting his new bed though!  Apparently G-pa is his favorite, that is until Grammie gets him chips or cheese. ;)

   Be blessed all!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

I'm Proud of Us

   


   Jeff and I have been working really hard at trying to save money and build up our savings account once more.  We cut drastically in some areas, one of those being eating out.  I'm proud to say that we have not eaten out in over a month and the money that normally would have been spent there is going straight into our savings.  Yay!!!!  Has it been easy?  No, but I have a goal in mind and to be honest, most of the time, I really do like my own cooking better anyway.

   That really motivated me to find even more areas to save in and the one other area that I know I can cut is the grocery budget.  So, after fixing us a nice meal of meatloaf, saffron rice and a romaine salad, I approached Jeff with my idea of going to cash only for groceries.  Having to part with cold hard cash is much harder for me to do than just whipping out the debit card.  We agreed that any money saved from the $200 a month that I am going to be working with would go to fund either a big stock up and/or a fun trip for the two of us or with our family.  It will help Jeff and I both to think through impulse buys because we both really really want to be able to get away for a weekend and this will help keep us both on track with that goal in mind.  If I used the debit card on a food purchase (like my Imperfect Foods order), that will be deducted from the cash and put back into our account or shifted to the pet food and supply budget since we buy huge bags of dog and cat food along with big buckets of kitty litter every one and a half to two months.

   Once the warmer weather hits, we will be able to cut our electric bill down by drying our laundry outside for the most part and that should cut that down by at least $20 per month.  Plus, who does not like the smell of freshly line dried clothes...that is one of my favorite fragrances in the world!

   I have great plans for this new year to help us not only save money, but also enjoy our lives to the fullest and not feel like we are missing out on anything important.  I want to make our home even more inviting for friends and family and to also make it a safe haven for my husband and I to retreat to and recharge when needed.

   Be blessed my friends!

   

   

   
  

   

   

   

   

   

Sunday, February 9, 2020

It's On....it's Off

   


  


I know is has been a few weeks since I last posted.  We were dealing with trying to get Jeff into see his orthopedic surgeon, who luckily was able to get him in quicker than we thought and he even got his surgery scheduled for this coming Tuesday.  Jeff made the arrangements with his bosses to take the week off on vacation time since he did not have sick leave built up for the time he would be out.  Jaysn and Chris made a plan to help us and ocme get us at the hospital after Jeff's surgery since I could not drive us home.  Jaysn even took the day off work.  Jeff and I went shopping and stocked up on things to last us for that week and the following week grocery wise.  All was set to go and Jeff was so excited to be able to get this done and out of the way.

   Then we got the phone call...the insurance company refused to authorize payment for his surgery because they deemed his torn meniscus being repaired "not medically neccesary". 😡  Seriously, th fact that he is in pain and that the injury is just going to get worse and require a more invasive surgery as time goes on does not matter to them.  UGH!  Jeff was so angry and quite frankly, so was I.

   Our surgeon is going to call the insurance company on Monday and try to get things authorized.  I also have a friend that works for another health insurnace company who said she would help us out with exactly what paperwork and "phrases" along with coding, that will help his case.  She shared that insurance company claims people are trained to find any way they can to turn you down and not have to pay out.  Yeah, she is not a fan of that either.

   Jeff's surgery was cancelled for this coming Tuesday and they are booked up Thursday, then the surgeon is on vacation for a week.  He only does surgery every other week so we are looking at another month or more before he could even get in if it is approved.  

   OK, so now we wait...but there is more that could delay it even further.  Jeff has applied for a different job and passed the first interview.  We are waiting to hear on the second one (hopefully we will hear this week).  If he gets this new job, with the same company Jaysn works for, we will have a cut in income, but we will have much better health insurance with a savings of about $500 a month in premiums costs for me alone.  His will be fully covered.  We will also be able to access the clinic at the work place and not have to pay for each office visit.  They have a partial pharmacy right there and the medication costs are super low.  The other benifits are amazing and we are really praying he gets it.  He will have to give 2 weeks notice at his current job though, so that could stretch things out even further.

   Oh yes, there is one more little thing, and you may think I am crazy for even thinking about this but here it goes.  This Wuhan virus that is making it's way around the world, is scaring me.  I don't want to be at a hospital if it makes it's way to our area.  I'd much rather hole up at home and limit our contact with other people.  I don't get viruses that often anymore since I have quit teaching, but when I do, they hit me really hard and it takes me about 3 times as long as "healthy" people to recover from the virus itself.  It also sends me into a bad flare that takes months to recover from.  We do live in an area that has many international students and business people coming in and out with the colleges and companies that do business with the world.  

   I've been adding to our pantry and HBA supplies to make sure that we do NOT have to go out and shop for up to 2 months if needed.  I did this for two reasons...the cut in income and in case either Jeff or I get ill.  It is a given that with my health limitations as it is, having a stocked pantry is a very needed thing.  It saves time, money and stress for both Jeff and I.  I'm also trying out Imperfect Foods home delivery service.  I got my first order and overall, I am happy with it.  I did have a problem with one piece of fruit and them messing up on one of the items, but was quite pleased with the quick response I got from the company when I contacted them.  They are crediting my order for the lemon and for the item they forgot to include (they put a different item in by mistake and told me to just keep that one also) and gave me another credit on top of that.   I love that they deliver right to my door and I can customize my order to fit our needs.  I really do think they are good value for the money since I can get produce, snack items, cheese, meats, etc, from them.  I can also schedule my deliveries for every week, every other week, or suspend my account at any time.  I love that flexibilty.  If you are interested in checking them out, my link is Imperfect Foods 
By using my link (if you want to order anything) I do get a $10 credit once you place your first order and you also get a $10 credit.  

   Anyway, I am going to try and get back on track here once more.  The stress of the on and off again surgery, plus waiting to hear about the other job interview and dealing with a few more things here lately really did take a toll on me.  Praying for smoother "sailing" ahead.

   

   

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Frugal Friday Wrap Up...Kind of...week ending 1/26/200

  



    So this is kind of a Frugal Friday Wrap Up.  I say kind of because I did not keep a running tally of all that we did this past week.  All I can do at this point is go from my rather foggy memory.

~We met with our banker and made some changes that will save us thousands in interest and  fees.
~I called and got a credit onto our account for our internet service which has been spotty over the last few months.
~I made bread and a double batch of biscuits.
~I made a double batch of sausage gravy.
~A huge pot of potato/corn and chicken chowder was made from the carcus of a deli chicken after we had the legs and one of the breasts for dinner a different night.
~We borrowed more movies and books from the library.
~I found a big bag of oranges for $2 at Walmart.
~Honeycrisp apples were $.79 a pound at one of our local stores so I bought 8 huge apples.
~Jeff found a container of marked down powdered caramel creamer for $1.  He is a very happy camper!
~Caesar's medication dropped in price saving us about $5.
~I mixed up more spice mixes to have on hand.
~After running errands and doing some shopping, we came home and threw a frozen pizza (which we had gotten on sale previously) into the oven to bake while we unloaded and put away groceries.  I made a salad to go with it along with some apples slices.  I also made some salad dressing to go over mine while Jeff chose to use some Ranch dressing that we had in the refrigerator.
~I've been using homeopathic treatments to deal with some infections and ailments.  They work better than perscription meds for me.
~We got more free magazines and a sample of some perfume in the mail.
~We found some marked down hogie rolls so I divided them up and froze them for future meals.
~Jeff called and reduced the amount we are giving in charitable contributions/tithes since we have had a substantial cut in income.


    That is all I can remember at the moment.  It's been a rough week pain and brain fog wise with very little sleep happening.  I've been doing my best to just cook in large batches to keep us fed and trying to keep up on laundry for the most part.  Thank God for my amazing hubby Jeff who picks up the slack for me.  I would be lost without him.




Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Talk with our Banker

 

   Jeff and I stopped in at the Credit Union today to have a talk with our banker about making some changes to one of our accounts.  While there we found out the interest rate on our credit card had gone up.  That was an eye opener for us.  

   Our super helpful and nice banker went over all our options to do something else at a lower rate, which would also pay off the higher interest rate card.  The option we went with was a line of credit that we could access if and when needed for things like Jeff's possible upcoming surgery.  We would be saving a little over 3% in interest rates going this route.  The monthly minimum payment is also lower, so if we get in a bind, we can still make it easily.  Our plan though, as always, is to pay higher amounts on it so that it is paid off earlier.  We also were able to save over $75 a month in a insurance fee that we had been paying on the credit card.  

   Our application was put in and we should be hearing back tomorrow on it.  Our banker seems to think that we should not have a problem at all being approved for it given our great credit and history of no late payments.  This is really going to help us in the long run and we are so thankful we decided to stop in today to talk to them.  Tomorrow we also are making further changes to reduce our costs in other areas.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Budget Cuts and Fibro Flares Oh My!



   Some days are harder than others.  Some days, or weekends, I spend most of my time in bed recovering from having done too much or from other things, like the weather, triggering another Fibromyalgia flare.  Having both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a double whammy and makes life that much more challenging for me.  There are times when I look at where I have been in the past with this compared to where I am now, and I mourn for the loss of my independence, energy, clarity of mind and the days of low pain where I felt almost normal.  I see the changes in myself and rereading this blog, I reexperience so many moments in my life, both good and bad.

   This past weekend was a rough one.  I did not sleep at all on Thursday night into Friday morning.  Jeff was keyed up after getting home Friday morning and could not sleep so I got up and showered.  Jeff and I ran some errands after reworking the budget since his paycheck was less than expected due to some changes going on in the way that they are doing things where he works.  I crossed some things off my grocery list that were not "must haves" and we had to rewrite out a check for a lower amount to put as a payment on our Les Swab account.  We have been trying to make higher payments to pay it off sooner, so this is a big setback for us and not a welcomed one by any means.

   The lack of sleep, combined with the stress of this caused me to go into a flare and put me into bed for most of Saturday and Sunday.  I wish I could say I slept most of that time, but that would not be the truth.  It was rather a matter of napping for one or two hours, then waking and laying there.  At night, when Jeff was sleeping, I would get up and roam around the house or sit in my recliner so that I would not wake him.  My pain levels were extremely elevated all over my body and nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to help alleviate it.  Sunday night I was able to concentrate enough so that we could watch a movie, so I consider that progress.  We also talked about our options and how we were going to handle the changes coming our way both work, health and financial wise.

   Monday found me in the kitchen making two loaves of homemade bread, baking some acorn squash and also making a double batch of biscuits while Jeff slept in the afternoon (I had slept until 11:30 a.m. since I did not fall asleep until around 6 that morning.)  Jeff had called our orthopedic surgeon's office earlier that morning to find that they were able to get him in a month sooner than planned to take a look at his torn meniscus and make a plan for surgery, so now he has an appointment for the beginning of  February.  I love our doctor there, he is opening up the office that day to see Jeff.  It pays to have three generations of our family have formed tight bonds with him over the years.  That was good news and it helped calm my nerves a bit. I rested for the afternoon and early evening before getting up and making a double batch of homemade sausage gravy to put over some of those delicious biscuits.  Try as I might though, I was still unable to sleep once again at night so I was still up when Jeff came home at 5:50 a.m. Tuesday morning.  

   I've been trying to use the time I cannot sleep to be productive though.  I took inventory of our pantry and our supply of flour, sugar, rice, beans, lentils and split peas, along with pasta, that we keep in big food safe buckets and bins.  I also looked at our spices, salt, oils, vinegar, condiments and popcorn supplies.  This got me to planning menus based on what we had on hand and what we needed to use up first.  An example of one of those meals came together for our Tuesday night dinner.  Jeff had pulled a fully cooked rotisserie chicken that we found on clearance at Walmart out of the freezer the previous day.  I cut that up and served it with some wild rice mix that I had in the pantry.  I had some of the cooked squash with mine. This was a quick, easy and semi healthy meal and was a Godsend since I was still pretty tired from very little sleep and still trying to get laundry done along with clipping Caesar's claws.

   Another way I am trying to be productive, especially when I am not feeling well, is to work my points programs.  I got out of that habit and am now returning to it since I can do it while relaxing in my recliner while watching shows on YouTube to learn new skills. I can also do research on ways to lower our bills even further, and find the latest information coming out on both Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hoping and praying that they will find a cure or at least something that will help improve the lives of all of us who deal with this.  I might as well double dip so to speak and earn points towards much needed gift cards now that our budget has been cut.  In the past I was able to earn enough to get Walmart gift cards and cover the cost of the dog food for Caesar and am hoping to be able to do that once again.  We do still have one $25 gift card to Texas Roadhouse, so we will use that for a special treat in the future.

   Looking down the line, there will be more budget cuts to come as life changes and medical bills come in that will need to be paid. Trips to the thrift store will be few and far between because we really don't need anything at the moment and we need to save the money anyway.  Eating out will not be an option as every penny will be needed. I'm not going to get down though as I am looking forward to Spring when I can plant a garden, hang clothing and other laundry out to dry on the line and work on a few projects that have been put on hold due to the weather.  I know that we are blessed with a wonderful family, good friends, fur babies that brighten our days, a paid off home and a full pantry and freezers.  Yes, this is a setback, but we have gotten through worse in the past and we will get through this too.  As long as Jeff and I have each other and our family, we can get through anything. 
   

   

Monday, January 20, 2020

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 1/11- 1/17 2020

 




   Well here I am posting late as usual.  I give up!  I try to get things done on Saturday to post this thread but I spent the majority of the weekend in bed.  One of those days I could not even be around anyone for the most part.  My sensory overload was working overtime and it was bad.  It was so bad in fact that I had showered on Friday morning and did not a shower again until today.  I just could not physically or mentally handle a shower...isn't that just sad (and gross)?  Last night I tried to sleep but was unable to get o sleep until 4:30 this morning.  My sleep habits have adjusted to Jeff's normal work week schedule at this point for the most part which means I am up all night and sleep during the mornings.  Hopefully that will change soon.  Onto the Frugal Doings...





Weekend:
~We got hit hard by another snowstorm so we stayed home except for the early morning work trip Jeff did between our Friday night and Saturday afternoon storm.
~One of our wonderful friends plowed our driveway for us.
~I made a pot of mac and cheese in the InstaPot.  It was delicious.
~We had leftovers for our other main meals.
~I used a service online to help redo a resume and cover letter.  As soon as they were done, printed off and downloaded, I cancelled our introductory trial so we would not be billed the regular rate with automatic renewal.

Monday:
~Jeff got outside and took some really heavy snow off the hot tub enclosure.  The plexiglass roof was starting to bow.  He also unburied my car (it is the one he is driving now in this weather) and cleared the walkways before the next storm hit later in the evening.
~I mixed up some smoked ham with  fixings for a great ham salad.  YUM!
~Jeff pulled more of those sale priced rolls out of the freezer so that we could use them for sandwiches for him at work this week and also in case we lost power.
~With the snow, I did not want to venture out, so I renewed all my library materials online.
In the evening, I was craving something hot and sweet so I heated up some apple cider.  I have so many packets of the apple cider mix and they need to be used up.  It is nice to have them, hot cocoa mix and lots of teas on hand for this time of year.
~Going through my cookbooks again to get more inspiration for different soups, salads and sandwiches.
~I cooked up some prawn chips that I had in the pantry and I saved the oil to cook wontons in later in the week.



Tuesday:
~More snow so I am staying put once again.  Thank goodness for leftover split pea soup since I am not moving well at all.
~I got in on a free sample at Pinch Me and also a free magazine subscription (which I will pass on to my DILs) through Mercury Magazines.

Wednesday:
~Made 2 more loaves of homemade bread.
~While the oven was still hot, I baked up some spicy sweet potato rounds.
~Leftovers for dinner to help clean out the fridge before going grocery shopping.
~Looked through the pantry to see what I needed and what I already had.
~I watched some tsunami videos on YouTube.  Tsunamis have always fascinated me.  Maybe that has something to do with having grown up on an island in the middle of the Pacific  ocean.



Thursday:
~I went through my pantry and refilled my big food safe buckets with some of the multiple bags of rice that had been taking up way too much room on the shelves.
~I found ingredients that I had forgotten I had...bonus.
~Dinner was a pasta salad made with a Suddenly Salad mix that I added fresh veggies, cheese and pepperoni to.  Yum!
~For a snack I had some spicy sweet potato rounds that I had baked the day before.
~Jeff dug out a path to the garage on our back breezeway and also dug out a path all around my car and the driveway.  The snow was pretty deep and since we had high winds last night, it blew it all over the place.  It is now snowing again out there...this is going to be a ling winter.
~Jeff's paycheck was about $93 less than it normally is so we had to rework the budget again.  There were things we crossed off our list for picking up at the grocery store because Caesar needs a refill on his steroid medication for his Lupus and it is not cheap at all.   Thank goodness for a full pantry and freezers.
~My foaming hand wash in the kitchen was getting low so I mixed up some more and added it to the foaming pump container.  I have lots of regular liquid hand soap, but this makes it go further and Jeff and I really like it better.
~Jeff finished off the last of the split pea soup for his lunch.
~Knowing that tomorrow is going to be a busy day, I got the fajita meat and veggie mix cooked and ready to go.  I used some of the venison steaks for the meat.  This way I we will have something good to look forward to having for dinner and will not be tempted to eat out either before or after grocery shopping.

Friday (the no sleep edition):
~I did not sleep at all Thursday night into Friday morning and Jeff was keyed up when he came home from work.  We decided to get dressed and head into town to run errands and do some much needed grocery shopping.  The dog was almost out of his food and the cats were also getting low.  There were some things that we needed too.  We spent a little over $100 for pet foods (the huge bags), paper products (toilet paper, napkins and tissues) along with people food.
~We had the fajita meat and veggie mixture along with some saffron flavored rice for dinner... YUM!
~Jeff was able to do a phone interview while we were in town shopping.  The reception is better there than out here in the boonies.
~I watched some more frugal living type videos on YouTube.
~We received several free magazines and a coupon for a free product in the mail.



   This is a new week.  Last week we had snow galore and set new records.  It is now all melting off and we are in danger of flooding in the low laying areas.  On a more positive note, we are praying that we get some great news this week!  It is much needed. ;)