Tuesday, May 1, 2018

TMI #One

My 2003 Chevrolet has decided to bite the dust. Again.  Last time, a local dealer said it needed a motor.  I nearly wept.  With 233,000+ miles, I highly doubt that our friends @Chevy make ‘em as good as ol Bessie. This go round, she croaked on Scott on the way home from work.

He was able to nurse the old girl home in 2nd gear.  She made it, but barely.  He thinks it’s the transmission.  Our son Brandon, thinks it’s possibly solenoids in/on the transmission.  At this point, we can only hope and pray that it isn’t terminal.

Of course, she only acts up when there is another major bill due.  Like you know, tuition.  Of course last time it nearly died, it was two weeks before Christmas and 3 weeks before spring tuition was due.  When is summer tuition due, you ask?  Only in 8 days.

It is the curse of the Thorpes’ and how it normally works in racing.  If it’s gonna break down or tear up, it normally does the day before Scott leaves to go out of town.  Semantics, two days before he goes out of town.  Regardless, we are down to one wore out vehicle.

I know, go buy a new one.  Have you met me?  I’m probably one of the most frugal accountants you’ll ever meet.  I like to plan a purchase and hunt the best price.  80% of our furniture is either 2nd hand or given to us.  I don’t thrift, I just don’t like to shop.  And I especially abhor car shopping.

Note:  We did recently purchase our eldest a brand spanking new 2018 Rav4.  Her previous car was about dead and it too only broke down when Dad was out of town.  Since she is an extremely motivated student and has Zell plus other scholarships and works multiple part time gigs, we decided to go ahead and purchase new.  Plus a Toyota.  She has aspirations of grad school and to become an orthopedic physician’s assistant.  I wanted to purchase a car that she could get 10 solid years out of.

My car philosophy is buy lightly used and drive until they are dead.  Wring all the goody out of them, and then get some more.  I’ve only bought two vehicles since I graduated from college, not counting the Rav4.  Occasionally, when we are going through a breakdown, I get pissed and look.  Then I get even madder at Detroit.  Have you seen those car prices?  Outrageous.

But just in case an overly generous person is reading and feels sorry for me, I want a Tahoe, preferably with a heated steering wheel for my arthritic hands.  Heated seats are pretty standard these days and a backup camera for my achy shoulders.
What I really really, really really want.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Weather or Not?

Does the weather get your rheum all in a twist?  I must say between the psycho Georgia weather and pollen, my rheum has been majorly confused and flaring big time.  Having lived in Georgia 98% of my life, I can say without one doubt, the change in weather DOES affect my allergies and rheumatoid disease.

I’ve had doctors and other health care people tell me the weather doesn’t affect rheumatoid and flares at all. My current rheumy agrees that weather changes can cause pain and discomfort.  Per website Everyday Health, weather is one of seven triggers of a flare.

Fellow Rheum sufferer and writer, Ashley Boynes-Shuck has written several books and blog posts about rheum and noted on WebMD that she also experiences flares as the seasons change.  I follow her on twitter and she has a lot of information that is great for new rheum patients.

This past weekend, I wanted to replant vegetable seedlings.  The crazy Georgia weather report showed a slight cold front and a lot of rain starting on Sunday afternoon.  Yes, I got all of my baby vegetable plants repotted and safely stored on the front porch out of the rain.  I consider my future garden a great method of exercise.

With the rain and wind blowing in, I began to stiffen up.  I knew it was coming and spent the remainder of the day in my warm fuzzy pants and t-shirt, wrapped in a blanket.  I should have broken out with the electric blanket and probably will before the day is over.

Does the weather affect your flares?  If so, do you notice the change more from hot to cold or cold to warm?  For me, it’s basically any change from season to season. Even barometric pressure changes can cause me to flare.  Hurricane season is fun too.

What do you do for your flares?  Personally, I like heat.  I’ll use heating pads, electric blankets and sometimes put my favorite blanket in the dryer to get it warm. Even in the summer, I will use a hand warmer at work when the air condition is too cold.

The weather is going to be nasty the rest of the week.  At my rheumy’s suggestion, I’m going to add to more moderate stretching and some walking to keep my muscles limbered up. Hopefully we will have warmer weather and no rain soon.  Until then, I’m going to try my best to stay warm and get this flare under control.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Vitamins and Supplements for Autoimmune Issues

Sometimes we just never k now.  Is it an infection, it is viral, did the meds cause it? Normally I can tell when a bad day is coming.  They kind of predict themselves, ya know?

I woke up about 3:30 am with the yucks.  I had mouth sores this week and they were much worse.  Were they meds related or viral?  I tried to make the day at work, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  I spend the day in the bed alternating a cold rag, zophran and Excedrin migraine.  Gargling with warm salty water helped the mouth sores, but they are still aggravating the snot out of me.

Just another day in the rheum life, right?  If I had to guess, I’m saying viral.  With two school kids in the house, I get exposed to my fair share of germs.  I’m very diligent about hand washing but I’m not one of those sanitizer freaks.  It’s not unusual for me to catch a bug every now and then.

About a year ago, I began to take vitamins more seriously.  I take a multivitamin dosage each day.  I also alternate extra vitamin D and calcium as well as daily vitamin C.  Unfortunately my skin is to the point that sun exposure is painful, so I felt that the extra vitamin C was important.  The plus side, I’ve had noticeably less colds this year.

My rheumy is great about the vitamins and agrees that the extra D and calcium have improved my blood work.  I’ve historically had very low vitamin D as well as low iron.  I don’t like to take iron, so I try to eat scrambled eggs and spinach about twice per week cooked in an iron skillet.  That seems to be working as well. The iron is lower than the Doc would like, but not to the point of supplements.

So what do you guys do?  How do you try to keep the virus and other germ caused illnesses at bay? Do you use supplements to help keep you well?  And do you take these year round or only in the winter more germy months?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alot Has Changed

In the past four years a lot has gone on in the Thorpe family.  We’ve moved two more times.  The hubs resumed his NASCAR career. DD1 has graduated from high school and is a freshman in college. DD2 will be a senior this next year.  The bonus baby is a teenager.  Oh. My. Word.

Sadly, my rheumatoid disease has also continued to evolve.  It has progressed and not in a positive way. I have a GREAT rheumy doc.  He is determined to get me back to my baseline.  I have hopes that he can. 

A bad flare back in September (thanks to my friend Stress) sent me to the ER.  The Enbrel that has given me so much relief doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard.  I still take methotrexate and Satan’s tic tacs when I have to. I religiously take vitamins and almost made it through the horrific flu season unscathed.

After enduring many sleepless nights or sleeping upright in a recliner, I finally schedule an appointment with an orthopedic shoulder specialist.  You don’t realize how much that slight inward roll of your shoulder means until you can’t do it.  Especially if you are right handed and it’s the right shoulder. Ouch!!

I got to the point that lifting my arm up and over to brush my hair was impossible.  Buttoning my pants became an Olympic jumping sport.  Yes, there should be videos.  And most possibly the most humiliating, was fastening a bra.  OK, at that point you gotta go to the doctor.

At the ripe age of 48, I need a total shoulder replacement.  Then I watched the video. Nope. Nope & no freaking way.  They cut your arm off.  Ahhhhhhh.  I’m still wigging out.

At least the doctor and I agreed that we needed to attempt to kick this can down the road.  Most TSR only last 15 years.  Which could mean I could possibly endure three of em in my life time.  I’m just not ready for all that.   Plus the healing time of 8 to 10 weeks, coming completely off ALL my meds, and the risk of infection led me to hope for other options.

The good Doctor ruled out therapy, noting that it would likely make the shoulder worse.  We opted to begin treatment with a shot into the joint.  It did provide more motion and flexibility.  But not being the brightest thing, I’ve tried to overdo it quite a bit.  Hard to make up that 6 months of slacking.

It’s been two weeks since the shot.  It is still painful to sleep on my side and I have spent a few nights in the recliner.  I revisit the good Doc in two weeks.  If this doesn’t produce enough relief, we will try to scope it next and clean it out a little bit.

I still don’t understand we can’t squirt some spray foam up in there.  That would provide some cushion and be a whole lot cheaper.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My daughter will soon be Fifteen

Or the Post known as…Oh, no…we are going to have to buy another vehicle!!

Yes, she is counting the days.  And it doesn’t help me AT ALL that a few of her friends (and daughters of my heart) have already turned 15 and have given her that learner’s license fever.  It is sooo bad that she wants to skip school the morning of her birthday and go get her learners.  I told her this is Dad’s department, not mine.

Of course she is about batty because the chance of him being nearby is almost zilch.  I bet I can get her roomed cleaned with this one!!  With all of this turning 15 talk comes the “I’ll be 16 and what kind of car am I getting?” questions.

Not only am I a mean parent, I am a cheap one too.  So my answer of “Whatever is in the drive way and available that day” apparently is not the desired response.  She was hoping to hear “Avalanche, or a pick up truck, or a Mercedes…”  I’m like “ummmm if anybody gets a cool new(er) ride, it will be ME!!”


Apparently I’m also a selfish parent.  Not that our decision is final…Mimi could always win the lottery and buy her a new car.  However, right now, our decision is Mommy will get something new(er) and the Suburban (aka…The Tank #2) will become the teenager car.  Because it is big.  And it doesn’t go race car fast.

My parents did not buy me a new car.  I drove a Volkswagen bug one year older than myself when I turned 16 (1968, no clutch, no air…I still love bugs!).  I also was taken down to Cotton States Insurance office and introduced to Mr. Earl Ford and told to write the man a check for my insurance. 

Oh…that’s right I had a Jay Oh Bee slinging burgers out the drive thru at the old Hardees in Camilla.  I also got two fill ups of gas a month at Brooks Texaco.  And wasn’t no way I could slip a third tank in because them Brooks brothers were way too tight with my Daddy and would narc me out.

After the old bug died I drive a 1972ish olds…it was gigantuan and pewkish green, fondly referred to by my friends as The Tank.  I drove said tank until I graduated from high school.  I didn’t get another car until spring of my freshman year in college, it was a Chevrolet cavalier.  I HATED that car.  I also worked at Wal-Mart and waited tables to make its payments. 

Needless to say upon graduation I was simply dying to buy a car…something with air conditioning, a luxury which I had NEVER had in a car.  And yes people this was in 1992…NO AIR.  As soon as I had been gainfully employed, I went off and bought all by myself a brand spanking new Jeep Cherokee. 

It was shiny and red with four wheel drive.  It had the coldest air I’ve ever had in a vehicle.  I loved my red jeep and drove it until our family simply wouldn’t fit into it anymore.  (aka:  paid for, no payments, maintenance only)  It was an awesome little truck that I drove the sheer living daylights out of.  I said I would never buy another jeep because there is simply no way I could get another one that good.

So what am I looking at?  Well…this will probably be the car that the eldest gets to take off to college.  So I want something as new as possible in my price range…which is cheap as possible.  Free maybe?  I would like something extremely safe.  Since a genuine tank is not possible, I am looking at a range of the smaller Car like SUVs.  Everything from the Chevy Acadia, Fords, the new VW (it’s so cute) to BMW’s and yes the Mercedes.

Cost is a major factor.  I despise car payments.  However paying a lump sum of cash isn’t possible for us.  So I pretty much want something that can be paid off in 3 years.  We are most definitely looking in the “used” category, previously loved, or whatever the dealers are calling it these days. 

Fuel mileage is also a major consideration.  I can’t imagine having a car that gets 25 plus miles to the gallon.  The Suburban is great for hauling a bunch of kids and their stuff…but oh, it kills the pocket book at the gas tank.  I would also like something with a 3rd row seat that at least the 5 of us can fit in if needed.

Here is the kicker…nobody will go car shopping with me.  I’m really not all that mean to the salesmen.  I just don’t tolerate their BS really well.  And I kind of tell them not to bug me, let me look.  I have a speech that is very polite.

“I am looking to purchase a vehicle in the next 6 months.  I will be buying used.  Please do not suggest new.  I am determining which make/brand/features that I want and researching the price points.  I do not plan to buy a car today.  I realize that the model I am currently perusing will be gone slash sold off the lot in the next 30 minutes.  Good for you!  If you pester me I will leave.  I won’t come back.”

Now, is that really so bad?  I know y’all can’t wait to hear the updates…I will probably really start looking about once a month after Christmas.  I mean…I have a WHOLE year to look, right?

What’s she is getting!! (Unless anyone cares to donate that Avalanche...call me about this time next year!!)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Cookie of His Season…Snickerdoodle

I first started Christmas baking as a way to share with family and friends.  I was a part-time stay home Mom and graduate student.  Our funds were kind of tight, so gifts for coworkers and friends were going to be homemade. 

I don’t remember where I spotted the BHG Christmas cookie magazine, but I’m pretty sure it was standing in line at Ingles or Wal-Mart.  On a whim I purchased the magazine and decided that I could make those pretty cookies.  How difficult could it be?  I was a chemistry whiz until politely asked to not return to class.  In my defense, I did warn my lab partners to stand back... this might cause a flame.  Since baking is essentially a chemical reaction of ingredients to heat, I figured I could do it.

I bought some buddah, and shuggar and eggs…that was in 2001 and I am still baking.  There have been years when I didn’t bake at all.  The years when I baked just enough for a few friends and families.  And, years when I baked up enough for my family, your family and a few electrical co-ops.

Accounting can make the holidays really suck.  If you are an accountant with a December year end and audit then you get my drift.  And, you might should have started baking a few weeks ago.  FYI:  If you are an accountant and your holidays aren’t awful then I want some of what you are taking.  Or you are either the boss or the underling.  Somewhere in the middle is the poor accountant who hasn’t done their Christmas shopping and might remind you of Scrooge.  She might also say things like, we aren't having Christmas this year and I am NOT putting up a tree.

I digress; lets get back to the baking.  This is the first Christmas in 8 years that I haven’t been full time employed.  And maybe that is why I haven’t felt the urgency to bake until now. Suddenly, the cold weather is up here and  I need to smell some vanilla and cinnamon.  And I’m sure the girls would love to start their sampling.

First Batch of Christmas Cookies: Snickerdoodles

While the oven warms, I thought I would share this simple snickerdoodle recipe.  It is the first that I tried way back in the day.  It is simple, very quick and would make a great cookie to bake with children.
½ cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
Slight pinch of nutmeg or pumpkin spice
1 ½ cups of All Purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Step one: Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds. ( I use my pampered chef mixing bowl with lid.)  Add 1 cup of sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Beat until combined while scraping down the side of the bowl.  Beat in egg and vanilla. 

Add slight pinch of nutmeg or pumpkin spice. (This is Less than a ¼ of a ¼ of teaspoon…you won’t be able to see it in the mixed dough.  It adds a hint of flavor!)  Mix well then add flour ½ cup at a time.  Keep the sides of the bowl scraped down in between adding flour.  Mix only until combined well.  Do not over mix…it will make your cookies tough.  Refrigerate dough for one hour.

While my dough is chilling, I like to wash up all of my measuring cups and spoons.  Then I plan whatever dough to mix up next!

Step two: Once chilled, add two tablespoons of sugar and the teaspoon of cinnamon in a small flat bowl. Or, use a paper plate!  Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar cinnamon mixture.  Place on an Ungreased cookie sheet.  (NOTE:  I use parchment paper…it is the secret to great cookies and less mess!)

Step three:  Bake at 375 degrees oven  for 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Will yield about 36 cookies.  Once cooled, pack in a sealed container and freeze.  Separate layers of cookies with wax paper.  The snickerdoodle freezes very well for up to 8-10 weeks which makes it the perfect first cookie of Christmas baking.

Baking hint:  How well do you know your oven?  If it bakes “hot” reduce baking time.  Also use a timer.  For Every batch!  I use the timer built into the stove.  Most microwaves have a timer also…so you don’t have to go out and buy one.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I NEED to be Baking

Really…like I should be mixing up some cookie dough right now.  But I have nowhere to put my beautiful creations.  That’s right; my cookies are purty to me!  And since I don’t have a freezer up here in the trailer hood, I’m pondering what to do. 

Do I buy a used freezer or find an economical new one?  I really can’t afford a new upright and the chest type is difficult for my 1 ½ arm self.  The upright back in Camilla is old and very heavy.  It also have been moved several times.  From Jasper to Winder, from Winder to Mimi’s and then over to the 285.   The hubby is concerned about moving it again with all the bouncing and jostling around.

Of course, he votes for a brand new freezer.  And I, being frugal, would rather buy used.  (Keep the cheap comments to yourself.) Chest type freezers are much less expensive than uprights.  Of course, I also know that I need to think about the long term rather than just being cheap.  It’s not like my mobility is going to magically improve.  Can’t you just see the girls come skipping in off the bus to find me upside down IN the freezer?  Well I can!

In the mean time, the month of November is marching on and quickly at that.  I need to get the bowls out and the mixer going.  I’ve got to bake myself into the Christmas spirit.  I need to hear some Martina McBride Christmas CD (which has gone missing, again!)  It is the most awesome CD of classic Christmas songs with some of my favorites such as O Holy Night!  Sigh.

Guess I can get in this little freezer and try to arrange things and make me some room.  Maybe I can get a container or two of cookies in there while I think through this expenditure.  First up is the classic snicker doodle with my top secret ingredient.  Y’all want pictures and the recipe?