Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Menu Planning in the time of COVID

Greetings fellow Spoonies, retirees, and various other persons of interesting titles. It’s been a wacky couple of weeks here at Chez Spoons. The weather finally turned cold, with a vengence. Thursday, it was 62f when we went into town. Today’s high was 6f. No that’s not a typo, it’s a 52 degree shift in daily high temps. The north wind blew through here Thursday night, bringing biting cold. Please don’t even ask me about tonight’s projected lows (brrrrr). Alright enough whining about the weather JP, get on with it.

I was preparing to write a post for Paula’s February Love Me challenge about how much I love having a meal plan and how it helps keep me sane, er ah … save me spoons, and figured I’d combine posts (no I am not lazy, the politically correct term is ‘spoon deficient’). Like a lot of Spoonies I have days, a LOT of days (OK most days) when I’m lucky to get in a shower and thinking about what to make for dinner just can’t penetrate the dull grey haze that is brain fog. “JP, what the heck is the big deal about meal plans?”

Well, mostly, they help me save my spoons (energy) for more important things, like figuring out how to adjust the water flow on my shower so the spray doesn’t sting my hyper-sensitive skin, or whether or not I actually swallowed that pain pill, little things like that. Here’s what menu planning does for me:

  • Helps me save my “brain spoons” you know those spoons related to brain fog and general forgetfulness (I am NOT old enough for senior moments, I swear).
  • Saves my normal “energy” spoons, every meal in my arsenal is less than 30 minutes hands on and most are “on the table” 30 minutes or less.
  • Saves me spoons when shopping. I know what I’m having so I know what I need to pick up. I also keep a “master” grocery list that I just check off when I’ve used the last of a staple (all of you stop wadding up those papers to throw at me, put down that rotten tomato). I grant you that’s a little hyper-organized but I really can’t help it (yes I also sort my pills for the week into multiple marked containers) it’s an OCD thing.
  • It saves me the weird looks when I innocently ask “what’s for dinner honey?” Instead I can ask “What day is it?” and get an actual answer.

OK, now you know why, next up is how? Personally, we follow a basic “theme” dinner menu. Monday – Burgers, Tuesday – Tofu, Wednesday – Fish/chicken, Thursday – Bangers (sausages), Friday — Fish, Saturday — Casserole, Sunday — Chili. The side dishes may change depending on produce availability and our ability to grocery shop but I know what I’m working with and that’s just fine. Doesn’t that get boring? No, but we’re that kind of people who can happily eat the same foods every week and I’m a pretty darned good “pantry cook.”

So there you have it. The web is loaded with great “low spoons” meals and meal plans for just about any diet you could follow. Save your spoons for the important stuff. I’m off to do … something … wait a second, what the heck is the car key doing in the refrigerator?

12 super easy meals for chronically ill cooks

Til next time ~Stay wild moon child ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, love and immunity in the time of Covid – part 2

For our JusJoJan and SoCS prompt: Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “close eyes and point.” When you’re ready to write your post, open a book, a newspaper, or whatever is handy and close your eyes and point. Whatever word or picture your finger lands on, make that the basis of your SoCS/JusJoJan post. Enjoy! “Advantages”

One of the advantages of retirement is the extra time you have to invest in those projects you’ve been putting off. Of course, that’s also the greatest disadvantage of spoonie retirement, all that time stretching out before you, time to study subjects long ago forsaken in the name of “making a living.” Time to tackle the lifestyle changes and projects you have planned to do for years but hadn’t the time. And, naturally it also gives you lots of time to lament that spoonie reality of now having time but lacking energy, strength and resources to perform those studies, projects, and lifestyle changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining (well maybe a little *sniffle, sniffle*) I’m happy with my lot in life, although not particularly energetic.

I took some time measurements this week and found out that it takes me every bit of 1.25 hours every morning just to deal with basic medical treatments of a variety of the manifestations of my disease(s), all of which are repeated again at the end of the day. So that’s 2.5 hours out of my day right there. Needless to say anything that can save me a few steps (or a few bucks) or increase my energy level even a bit, I’m game for a try.

Last week I mixed up a batch of immunity tea blend and this week I brewed up a pot, added a touch of manuka honey and used it for an immunity boosting tonic. I cannot really say as to the effectiveness of it but I haven’t gotten sick but I do seem to be recovering from multiple minor injuries better than I expected and hey it tastes good, has no known side effects what’s not to like right? I say bring back the hippy dippy teas of my childhood! Now for those of you who lack the energy or resources to make your own tea blend, there are lots of immunity boosting teas on the market. I don’t generally use them because many include echinacea which I don’t use (autoimmune diseases …. duh). Whether using this blend or a store purchased one, always make sure there are no contraindicated ingredients based on your particular spoonieness. With that said, here is Farren’s “Immunity Tisane” recipe. Yes … Farren is a dear and yes it’s a tisane since it doesn’t actually contain leaves of the Camellia Sinensis (tea plant).

Farren’s Magic Immunity Tisane

1/4 Cup dried hibiscus flower
1/4 Cup dried elderberries
1/4 Cup rose hips (I buy whole and crush them with the flat of a knife)
1/4 Cup dried apple bits (very small)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystalized ginger (is what I had on hand but unsweetened dried will work fine)
2 Tablespoons dried orange peel
2 Tablespoons dried cornflowers

Place all ingredients in a 2 Cup glass jar (I use a wide mouth canning jar), replace the lid and shake until ingredients are well disbursed.

To brew: use 1 Tablespoon of tea per 12-16 oz boiling water, steep for about 5 minutes. Use more or less tea, and/or add sweetener to taste.

Til next time ~Stay trippy hippies ~JP

Spoonie Saturday – The Sky’s the Limit

Well it’s been a week here at Chez Spoons. I’ve just finished off two weeks of steroid therapy to treat my dyshidrotic eczema. Pllffttt ;-p have I ever mentioned how much I dislike steroids? Make me slightly psychotic they do. But I’m done for now and I have to say that my feet do feel much better. Then, in what shall henceforth be known as the “great chinese cabbage incident” I managed to slice off a significant portion of the finger pad on my middle finger, requiring several stitches and bandages, making me look like I’m giving the whole world the bird. I wonder what kind of fingerprint I’ll be left with. On second thought, maybe that’s not such a bad thing buahaha. Perhaps I should now reveal my evil plans for world domination, the sky’s the limit! Oh wait, wait, that’s just the steroids talking, haha (don’t worry that’s not what they really said.)

OK, ok back to Retired Spoonie life. The weather here north of the 45th parallel has finally turned more wintery. Little spits an spurts of snow and cold weather mingled 30-40 degree temperature shifts have my poor spoonie metabolism all out of whack. We moved here because we LIKE the cold. It’s the back and forth that fluster me so. I’m hyper-sensitive to temperature changes right now so we’re implementing cold weather spoon conservation techniques. Why? Well, it’s 69f in my snuggly little home right now, and I’m shivering. Shivering depletes my spoons (energy reserves) very quickly. So, long story short, we implement several strategies to keep warm when we feel the cold.

  • Hot water bottles – Superhubs currently has his wool sock bedecked feet resting on a hot water bottle to keep his feet warm

  • I am currently wearing an extra sweater and an over wrap to keep my core warm and prevent shivers

  • We keep a heated mattress pad and flannel sheets on our bed. The mattress pad is a new addition to our winter regimen and I must say … total score!

  • I am drinking hot water. I drink a lot of water and right now I’m heating it to warm me from the inside out

I’m experimenting with more kitchen based home remedies. This week’s experiment has been an alternative to antacids. I did some research and found a lot of information on fennel. Thus far it’s working really well. When I feel excess acid, instead of reaching for the bottle of antacid, I chew 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds. It works just as well or better than the antacids. I’m going to try a fennel tea and see how that works. I’ll be making a “winter blend” tea this week as well, with dried rose hips from my local coop, for added vitamin C.

linked to JusJoJan # 9

 

Til next time ~Stay trippy hippies ~JP

Spoonie Saturday – JusJoJan – In the Corner

In the corner of a dusty shelf there sat a tiny book, “Kitchen Mystic Spiritual Lessons Hidden in Everyday Life.” A pocket sized paperback filled with everyday insights. I remember the first time I picked it up and knew that this tiny treasure was meant for me. It is battered and wrinkled, with dog-eared pages. I take it down every few years and re-read it, I handle it carefully. You see, I’m a kitchen mystic myself, I see the Divine in a thin slice of red onion shimmering like stained glass. I get the magic in a well brewed cup of tea and the twinkling eye of the Great Mother winking at me from the chips of white quartz along the road. Oh yes, I get it. I am a Mystic Hippie Spoonie, living proof that if you can actually remember the 70’s you didn’t really LIVE them.

This year I’m getting back to my Mystic Hippie roots. I want to live in tune with the rhythms of sun and moon, seasons and stars instead of clocks and calendars. More in kairos, less in chronos. This is my first full year of real retirement and I intend to live it well. Among my goals and intentions for this year is to reduce my use of OTC meds. To that end, this week I made up a batch of “cough tonic.” I’m a life long asthmatic, my first hospitalization came at 6 months of age and I have not had a significant remission since that time (we’re not going to discuss exactly HOW LONG that is). I cough, a lot, all the time, for various reasons most of which medical science has no treatment to offer. So, back to Mother Nature we go.

My paternal grandmother had a recipe for a cough medicine she used and passed along to me, although it is effective, I no longer use it due to the alcohol content. In case you’re interested it was simply:
1 part lemon juice
1 part honey
1 part whiskey
shake well and take 1 teaspoon as required (yeah that’s gonna happen *cough cough*)

That was pretty much par for the course in the 1930’s but I felt it needed an update, a non-alcoholic update, ’cause ya know. After much on-line research and reading up on different folk remedies I was panic stricken intimidated by the boiling and extracting, straining, reducing and … cooking. Did I mention that although I am a mystic witch in the kitchen, I’m like a lazy totally laid back and easy going Spoonie. So, lazy witch creative genius that I am, I concocted a lemon ginger honey peppermint tonic that works pretty well. It’s a little more acidic than I’d prefer but it works. Here’s what I did:

From the Lazy Mystic Kitchen Spoonie:

I heated 6 oz water to a boil, dropped in two Yogi Teas Lemon Ginger teabags, cover and let it steep for about an hour. Remove the teabags, reheat the tea to hot (not boiling). Stir in 1-2 Tablespoon of honey (local raw) and 1 Tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, about 30 drops of peppermint extract and a dab of ginger (the kind in the tube). I immulsified with an immersion blender, let cool and poured into a labeled jar. Take 1-2 Tablespoons as needed for cough. So far so good, I’m off the multi-symptom flu medicine that I’ve used for years for coughs. Please remember that most reliable sources do not recommend using essential oils internally. I used GAIA herbs liquid extract which is MUCH less potent than an essential oil but is pure peppermint leaf extract. There, butt covered.

Well, I’m off to make a hot toddy, errr,, ahhh I mean a cough and cold tonic.

Linked to JusJoJan

 

Til next time ~Stay trippy fellow hippies ~JP

Spoonie Retirement — Life, Love, and Dyshidrotic Eczema in the time of Covid

from my polyvore collection

One of the things I’ve learned about autoimmune diseases (yes plural) is that the dad-blasted things are nothing if not unpredictible. As a lot of you know, Superhubs and I have multiple autoimmune diseases … each. Mostly, I talk (or rant as the case may be) about MS, Diabetes, and Sarcoidosis as those are the “big three” around here. They are like the founding fathers of autoimmune disease they are the Godfathers from which all the minor ailments seem to stem. This week, it’s dyshidrotic eczema. Big words that mean a multi-stage skin affliction that includes liquid filled blisters, hard bumps, cracking skin … yadayadaya. I’ve had it before and it’s a bloody (literally) nuisance, usually flared up by stress. My last go was a couple of years ago when I got it on the tops of my toes. Sore toes, summer, flip flops, life goes on. THIS year (thank you pandemic panic disorder) I’ve got the *&^$%#*& stuff on the BOTTOM of my toes. Here’s the scene.

My Immune System: “Something’s wrong, I can feel tingling in my toes.”

Me: “This is no big deal, a bit of dermatitis, it’ll go away, just stay calm.”

My Immune System: “No, something is definitely wrong, I need to do something.”

Me: “We went to the doctor, it’s OK.”

My Immune System: “No, it’s all wrong! I’m gonna SCRATCH it and see if that helps.”

Me: “Back away from those toes Missy, or so help me, I’ll put gloves on you again.”

My Immune System going into total hysteria: “NO NO NO I have to DO something, I’ve got to destroy this, whatever it is. I’m gonna kill it … with FIRE!”

Me: gritting my teeth and grabbing the prescription steroid cream while my immune system takes a blow torch to my toes, “D***!”

Yeah, that’s pretty much the nightly scene here at Chez Spoons this week.

Needless to say, this is one of those times when a stocked pantry is a lifesaver. Dinner is already decided, all the ingredients are in-house and shortly we’ll be enjoying a quick chicken stirfry featuring canned chicken breast, freeze-dried maitake mushrooms and frozen stir fry vegetables. Voila! The less time spent on my feet right now, the better.

What I’m watching:

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, Love and Diabetes in the time of Covid

We had our first interview with the new Endocrinologist, according to whom Superhubs has type 1 diabetes. OK, I get that LADA is really just a delayed (until adulthood) onset type 1 diabetes. As we began discussing his history and I mentioned that he’d been fairly well controlled until the brain surgery, she kind of back tracked. Apparently when scheduling the phone call, the good doctor was under the impression that SH had type 1 and it became uncontrolled because of an MS flare. Say What? She didn’t know that he was diagnosed with type 2 just 3 years ago, or that he had 2 brain surgeries, strokes, seizures, etc. etc. Long story short, once I told her a little more of his history she decided she needs to see him … soon … in person. So, next month we’ll go in and see the new endocrinologist, until then, we keep the current course of treatment, check blood glucose 4 times per day, keep a food diary so she can get a look at what he’s eating. Dr. indicates she wants to start Superhubs on a new regimen so that he can “eat like normal people.” What does that mean? You mean we eat like abnormal people? That we’re supposed to supersize our fries (not that we’ve eaten fries in like eons)? Do normal people have steel cut oat porridge for breakfast 5 days a week? How about fish for 3 dinners a week? Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant, but IMHO a good deal of the obesity epidemic plaguing this country is from eating “like normal people.” *inhale JP … stepping off my spoonie soapbox*

In other health news, yours truly is again showing: anemia, high vitamin D and high B12 levels (all of which are not unheard of with autoimmune diseases such as mine). Whew, it’s gonna be an interesting holiday here at chez spoons.

Back to the topic of seasonal eating. The local produce is becoming more and more scarce. I’ve kind of swapped for CBB (Community Based Buying) for now as agriculture is hibernating (pun intended). This week’s local purchases consisted of:

    • 1.5 dozen free range chicken eggs

    • 1 pasture raised chicken

    • 1 pint of local honey

I cooked 1/2 of the chicken for dinner, we’ll have the other half next week and the carcass has made wonderful broth for soups and chilis. The eggs are making omelettes and egg salads. The honey is a pantry staple, I use 1/2 teaspoon with lemon juice for a scratchy throat but don’t use it for much more than that. That pint will likely last us through the winter.

I’ll be making a dried fruit compote to accompany our low carb pancakes this week, using more of the dried fruit from the pantry. I use about 1/2 cup chopped dried apple rings, apricots, raisins, whatever I have, cover with cold water and simmer until it gets thick and the fruit is tender. Personally, I add ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger and a bit of lemon juice to the mix. I don’t add sugar or other sweeteners as we find the dried fruit plenty sweet for our tastes.

So that’s it for this week from the wacky world of Autoimmune Warriors in the time of Covid-19. Hoping you and yours have a wonderful week. Up next week, using those dried vegetables from my pantry stores.  🙂

What I’m listening to today



Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Retirement – Life, love and Autoimmune Diabetes in the time of Covid

Last week I kind of got off the Seasonal Eating Theme due to a holiday-stress-induced philosophizing tangent. *snap out of it JP, Winter is Coming* (pun intended). We got word this past week that Superhubs does indeed have LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) or type 1.5 diabetes. What the heck is that? Good question and not a lot of answers. Type 2 diabetes is more of a metabolic disorder where the body cannot properly utilize the insulin that is produced. Type 1.5 is an autoimmune disease where the immune system kills off the beta cells that produce insulin. Both types develop in adulthood and are slower onset than type 1 diabetes. We meet with the endocrinologist next week and will find out then how or if this affects our dietary plan. Superhubs’ primary care doctor has already started him back on insulin and the results are pretty encouraging.

Anywho, back to seasonal/local eating. Last week’s CBA box (Community Based Agriculture) included a local pasture raised chicken which we roasted up for our Thanksgiving feast. It being just the two of us the bird has fed us for a couple of days with plenty of good broth and bits left over for salads and soups this week. Our CBA box this week included:

*Fresh Produce:
1 head of butter lettuce from a local hydroponic garden
1 small head of green cabbage from local farm
*Meat/dairy/eggs
1 Yak sirloin steak (yes you read that right Yak like the big hairy cow)
1 dozen extra large eggs from a local farm mixed brown and white
6 oz local dairy cheddar cheese curds
*dried goods/spices/teas
1 bag dried apple slices from local farms

The uses are pretty obvious this week. The lettuce goes for salads and taco cups, the cabbage will get fried for a side dish and used in soup. Those beautiful eggs will make wonderful breakfasts and some egg salad for lunch. The cheese curds will adorn my luncheon salads (Superhubs is dairy free). The dried apple slices will be used for snacks and some cooked up with left over raisins from the pantry for a yummy pancake topping.

What I’m watching right now:

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Spoonie Sunday – Choices

Spoons

Our prompt for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday was “Choices.” Which got me to thinking about spoonie choices. Now choices are something that every spoonie deals with on a daily basis, I mean really that’s pretty much the definition of a spoonie. Choices are also the bane of many spoonie’s existance. What to cook, what to wear, shower or no? yadayadayada … No relief in sight always choices, everywhere you look. It’s a huge burden for me. Maybe less (or more) for other spoonies. Partly it’s a side effect of brain fog but some days decisions or choices are just impossible for me to manage. Here are a few examples, Continue reading “Spoonie Sunday – Choices”

Spoonie Sunday – Keeping Warm 3 – Layers

Spoons

“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you cry.” ~Unknown

Greetings fellow spoonies and not spoonies. Hope your holidays were/are wonderful and filled with warmth, both the huggy kind and the actual kind. In the part of the country where most of my family lives, it has been unseasonably warm this Winter. Not so here.  Today we have “wind chills” well below freezing which equates to me taking extra precautions to keep warm. Continue reading “Spoonie Sunday – Keeping Warm 3 – Layers”

Spoonie Sunday – Keeping Warm part 2

Baby it’s cold outside! Last week I talked a little about spoonies and temperature sensitivity and ways to keep warm around the house. This week we’re going to talk about personal warmth. No, not the huggie feelie kind of personal warmth. We’re talking getting warm, inside, and keeping that body warmth. In the wintertime, we often feel cold and more dry. Our skin gets dry, our sinuses begin to dry out, and even our joints dry out. Winter is the Vata season, lots of warming foods are called for. Continue reading “Spoonie Sunday – Keeping Warm part 2”