Year ‘Round Tree

Tucked in the corner of my living room is a table and a four foot high wire ornament tree.  It’s been there for a year now – we decorate it in different ways depending on what’s going on, and I’m very pleased that we actually kept it up for a full year.

I never recorded the changes to the tree last year, so I want to be sure to do that this year.

Beginning with January and the post-Christmas season … here, that still means lots of cold weather as winter settles in, so the tree was decorated with lots of snowflakes (both plastic ones and blue paper cut snowflakes), some white ribbon, a few pinecones and wooden cut outs of deer, and some blue and purple and white balls I held out when I put away the Christmas decorations.  Pulling it all together is a strand of white lights and a lighted evergreen garland.

And yes… a ‘winter’ tree is close enough to a Christmas tree that it looked like we’d just not gotten around to taking down the holiday ornaments, but most people that come to the house know what the deal is by now.

There is a small blue dressed angel at the top of the tree, but it looks like she fell over – I didn’t realize that when I was taking the picture before dismantling it for February.

February’s tree actually took just a few minutes to switch out – the nice thing about seasonal changes is that things flow into one another, so there is some carry over in what stays on the tree.  I kept the everygreen garland and white lights, as well as the white ribbon.  The pinecones also stayed on (mainly because I forgot to remove them), and a few of the plastic snowflakes – the ones that are pink tinted – are still there.  I took most of the glass balls down, but left up the ones that are white.

Then I added in a set of glass heart shaped ornaments I found a couple weeks ago and some pink and brown heart ornaments the family made last year when we first started this project.  These began life as coasters, which we hold punched to hang, then set out markers, glue, magazines to cut up, etc, and encouraged everyone to make a valentine or two to hang on the tree.

The final touch this year is the fairy figurine at the top, donated by my youngest daughter for the month.  All in all, I think it looks great and I always feel happy when it’s time to switch things up with the tree.

February 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm 4 comments

Menu Plan Jan 30 – Feb 12

Money continues to be short – it should ease up soon, but meal planning is about the only wiggle room I have on expenses – rent and utilities must be paid, on time and in full or things like light and heat go away.

The thing that saves the most money, I’ve found, is planning meals – it lets me tuck in one or two higher end food items, because I’m not overbuying items ‘just in case’.

Mind you, when the budget allows, I dearly love having a full pantry and stuffed freezer with lots of easy meal ingredients for those days when I am too tired or sore to cook anything elaborate (meaning, requires stirring or chopping with sore hands), and basic items the girls can prepare without assistance.

Right now, things are a bit light when it comes to emergency pantry stock, but menu planning also lets me filter in days when its my daughter’s turn to cook and let her know with plenty of notice which days are hers to handle.

So here’s the planned menu for the next couple of weeks – the shopping for all this was done today, so we’re pretty committed to it now:

Sat Jan 30

  • Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms
  • Noodles
  • Peas

Sun Jan 31

  • Homemade Chicken and Veggie Pot Pie

Mon Feb 1

  • Shrimp Stir Fried Rice

Tue Feb 2 (Imbolc/Groundhog’s Day/Candlemas)

  • Cabbage and Ham
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • DESSERT: Cream Puffs

Wed Feb 3

  • Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
  • Caesar Salad

Thu Feb 4

  • Kielbasa and Onions
  • Roasted Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Fri Feb 5

  • Take out pizza

Sat Feb 6

  • Spicy Beans and Greens
  • Brown Rice

Sun Feb 7

  • Chili Dogs with Cheese
  • Tater Tots

Mon Feb 8

  • Beef and Potatoes with White Sauce
  • Honeyed Carrots

Tue Feb 9

  • Chicken Wraps
  • Refried Beans
  • Salad

Wed Feb 10

  • Lasagna (from freezer)
  • Garlic Toast

Thu Feb 11

  • Blueberry Pancakes
  • Bacon

Fri Feb 12

  • Tuna Pasta Salad
  • Tomato Soup

January 29, 2010 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

ok, it wasn’t supposed to be that quiet

Whoops, how quickly a habit drops off – I’ve been having myself a nice long flare this week…some ache, but mostly just tiiiired.  I’ll do a bit of work, then nap, then make myself some tea, then nap, then play with my 6 month old granddaughter until she either gets too cranky or too happy (which currently involves a LOT of wriggling and flailing and I’m afraid I’m going to drop her on her head), and then nap…

And while there was little sharp pain happening, there was full body low grade ache that kept me from wanting to type much.

I gave up a couple days ago … it felt like I was on a downward spiral, and for a change I decided to try to stop it before it went to far.  I went back on the @#$! prednisone, and I’m going to lessen dose on the slow path.  This was an experiement, seeing if I could do it fast and the answer is no… at least not in the middle of winter when the weather is wavering between snowstorms and freezing rain, and then sunshine and then more snow…

So… prednisone on, and I’m starting to feel better and I refuse to focus on the disappointment at having to use the drug instead of being glad I have a bit of energy back and don’t feel too fragile to hold a baby.

I also think back to how horribly rotten – I seriously thought I was dying – I felt last year at this time.  Beyond the prednisone, we made a few changes in my medication last spring that are working… I’m dealing with tiredness and low grade ache rather than the inability to get up out of bed without help and needing to avoid clothing with buttons, snaps or zippers because I simply couldn’t use them.

I’m doing BETTER this year… and better is very, very good.

January 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

A Mad Dash to Quiet Time

Plans have been in flux every few minutes for the past couple days – last night, we went out to grocery shop and now my larder is no longer bare, and I feel much more comfortable.

Danny’s sister, who lives about 5 hours away, is selling him her car and was coming out here for the weekend, but then a serious of unfortunate events led to him and Jackie deciding instead to spend the weekend out there.

So – quiet time for me, and I did some rearranging on my menu plan to keep meals simple.  Deanna is likely to be out and about for a good part of the weekend, now that it’s no longer below freezing and nasty outside.

I’m looking forward to some silence.  I plan to listen to my ipod audiobook and do some deep cleaning (the sort I hate being interrupted or having people  wandering around blithly undoing what I’m doing), nap as I like and otherwise enjoy life as a crazy old cat lady in peace.

Menu Plan for this next week:

Friday (today):  Tuna Melts and Tater Tots, Carrot Sticks

Saturday:  Macaroni and Cheese with Ground Beef and Corn, with Salad

Sunday: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Monday: Make Your Own Salad Bar, Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls

Tuesday: Chicken Piccata Florentine, Rice Pilaf, Cauliflower and Cheese

Wednesday: Mixed Bean Chili, Cornbread

Thursday: (Breakfast Dinner) Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberry Syrup, Sausage

Friday: Salmon, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Caesar Salad

January 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm 1 comment

Dinner is….??

Dinner, per menu plan: Black Eyed Peas and Rice with Ground meat, salad (very simple fare.)

10:30 pm last night: “Mom, the money we’ve been waiting on should be in tomorrow -we’d like to take you out to eat ok?  Either Japanese or seafood…”

9:00 this morning: “We may have to hold off…. D might have to work tonight.”

10:45 am: “No, he’s not working – we’ll go.  Either Italian or Mexican…”

12:30… no check in the mail…er, may need to wait until tomorrow or Friday…

1:30 – friend drops in unannounced, and stays and stays and stays.

3:30 – I sneak out to the kitchen to pull down what I need to do dinner later.  After planning to eat out, this looks really really sparse.

4:00 – friend leaves.  I suggest ordering cheap pizza instead.

4:15 – “Mom, we looked over our budget and we can still do dinner tonight.  We can do Italian or Japanese or Mexican or seafood.

4:30 – debate about where concludes when it is discovered that after every suggestion, J is saying “that’d be fine, but what I really want is Japanese.

So, hibachi grill and some vegetarian sushi coming up. I’m pretty sure.

January 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Weathering the weather

Apparently, there are new studies (or is it just assertions?) that weather has no impact on RA, to which I can only laugh in exasperation and mutter “Oh reaaallllly?”  The first time I heard this was, ohhh… way back in the late 80s, I think, from Dr. Dean Adell, smugly and condescendingly responding to a question on the subject by saying that he can predict the weather – if he’s wet, it’s raining… and he was SURE those with arthritis can do about as well.

I’ve hated TV doctors from that moment on with a passion generally reserved for murderers and dictators.

I can’t fund a study – but I can speak with the authority of someone who has had RA for just about 30 years.  I can speak for the fact that every person I’ve known with a joint related disorder also experiences sensitivity to weather.  I’ve also heard from quite a few people who don’t have any arthritis, but do seem to be sensitive to barometric pressure.

I’m not even sure why its a question…. weather is a physical phenomenon… pressure is a physical phenomenon that is experienced in a physical way – why shouldn’t those who are prone to tissue swelling feel changes in atmospheric pressure? Why shouldn’t cold have a physical impact on the body the same way it does on other phsyical items (do you have to ‘believe’ that things swell when it’s cold? ever had a pipe burst?)?

Mostly I’m puzzled at why the very idea seems to threaten medical types so much that they have to keep declaring it a non-phenomenon instead of using it to help assess symptoms?  Is it because there is no magic pill or shot that will prevent pressure caused by an incoming storm?

As for how I experience weather – its the change in the barometer that gets me, so I will experience rain that’s about 24 hours out, and symptoms will increase until the rain/snow/cats and dogs or whatever actually hits, then they will begin to ease up until it goes away – give me a week of rain and I can guarantee you that a few hours before its about to get sunny again, I’m going to be feeling like I’ve been run over repeatedly.

Weather symptoms are different from regular flaring activities.  I get the nearly visual sensation of being flattened by a steamroller or squeezed by King Kong (those are the exact visuals that go along with it)…. pressure, a deflation of energy, massive brain fog and if it is a slow moving system that sits awhile before actually arriving, I can be found curled up in my chair trying not to let any of my parts touch in a half conscious state while my insides are doing a low thrumming.  Not fun, very strange – and then there will be that shift when I can feel it rolling out, and I’ll say “It’s about to rain” and the skies break open.

With the rain, the pressure eases.  It’s a bit different as clouds turn to sun, but it still generally bodes a day where I’m too tired to do much of anything.

So – I’m actually just fine in a wet climate, if it stays that way.  And I adored the lack of symptoms that occured in Arizona, where other than once or twice a year having storms and flash floods, it was ‘sunny, hot an dry’ for 80% of the year.

Here in WV, we get four seasons – we’re known for our beautiful fall days – and I get a lot of weather based symptoms, whether or not I’m experiencing a lot of flare activity or just general stiffness.

I have to wonder how this disease is ever going to be solved with such simple and obvious truths as this are still being regarded as ‘all in our head’.  Look, pseudo experts – if my imagination was powerful enough to create this level of reality, don’t you think it’d be raining men instead of squeezing me half to death?

January 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm 3 comments

Cabin Fever?

I just had the stupidest quarrel with my daughter – she’s been noticing some post-pregnancy hormonal emotional sensitivity, and I woke up worn out, tired and and feeling sharp pains in my hands.   So, I really just wanted a quiet day to rest and not be sociable, and she was feeling combative and taking my lack of desire to converse as a commentary on her…and we limped along like that most of the day.

And then she offered to let me use her computer to play a game that isn’t on mine, while she used the Wii, and I let out a sigh of frustration at using an unfamiliar mouse to play an unfamiliar game and apparently my sigh meant “Your stoopid computer and your stoopid game suck and so do you, you funny looking lint licker!” and I don’t even know what happened after that except that I quickly handed the computer off to her with a dramatic declaration that I would never use it again and she said something about moving out right now if I had such big problems with her and I did NOT say, fine then, get out, but for about 5 minutes, that’s what I meant, and then I stomped off to go do dishes and when that was done she offered to cook dinner, and now we’re both pretending nothing happened.

Probably because neither of us know what did happen, other than each really needing some down time to ourselves and no real way to get it.

Wheee…..

January 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

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