Friday, July 21, 2017

Removing Water stains - old ones

I have a wooden vanity from a bedroom set that was my Grandparents. They purchased it new in the 1940's and it was treated well by them.

After grandma went to the nursing home, my Uncle brought the furniture to me. The vanity wasn't as useful as it could be, and I'll be honest, when I got super sick and was basically bedridden, I didn't treat it as well as I should have. I've left MULTIPLE water marks on the wood.

I wish I had thought to take a before picture, I didn't. But as I show you the top of this in the three shots, after using three different cleaners, I can tell you that all three were equally 'marred' for the first 4-5" of the top (the rest had been covered with 'other' piles while I was sick.

This is an honest opinion that is not being compensated for, I have purchased these products with my own funds.

First I tried an old standby for me - Murphy's Oil Soap.  It's great for immediate cleaning, it can help 'cover up' a mild scratch... but water marks?  Well, here we go:

It's not terrible. But there are several marks that it just didn't do justice to.

Secondly, we tried a cleaner that my husband had felt was really great - Holloway House Wood Cleaner.

Terrible, huh? I will be honest. When I initially did the cleaning, I thought this particular product had looked the best after I walked away. I could barely see any watermarks at all. But the following day, I came downstairs and was really disappointed.

Third, we tried a cleaner my husband bought from the Home Shopping Network thinking he could clean up and restore his kitchen cabinets from the 1950's. (he never opened it, as is the norm with those kind of purchases). Original Regency Gold Restorative Wood Polish.

Of the three, I was most disappointed last night in the end result. It didn't look like it did anything at all.

But the following day?

Yes, there are still two rings one in the center right that is hard to see from this angle, and a bigger one in the bottom left corner. But, this entire surface was every bit as bad, if not worse than the opposite side.

Color me impressed. I'm now working on the remaining watermarks to see if we can't bring this beautiful vanity back to life.

In fact, I think I'm feeling brave enough to tackle the two bed frames I have. At one time, I had been told the Jenny Lind bed was of value, but in poor shape. If I can clean it up, I might see if it has any value left in it.

Identifying Age & Value of an old dresser

Up until this last fall, this has been my dresser since the mid-1990's. My ex-husband had bought it for me for my birthday present one year as I needed a dresser... and he felt that the only way to get a quality dresser at the time was to buy an antique (I would have been happy with old, didn't really want antique).

We couldn't find one I liked. So he bought the one he liked (go figure he's no longer my husband, huh?). "It was an investment.", Yeah, whatever.

I think she told me mid 1800's and that it had been refinished in recent years (probably 80's) which may decrease it's value (which you'll be able to tell from the photographs).

To be honest, now that we have matching dressers in our bedroom set, and this is tied to my ex... I see no reason not to sell it. I just want to make sure I have some idea about value before I try to post it.

It's a highboy, but initially, I couldn't quite find enough similar examples to be sure I know it's 'design'.  (arts and crafts, but the handles and brass works throw me). I'm fairly certain that they must have replaced the handles (?? maybe)... because the style is quite simple lines, but the handles are overly innate.

One of the first things I read was to look at the drawers. In looking at the drawers I find a) dovetails that seem different for each drawer as we go (so thinking not machine made). Some have 4 pins, some 5, some have the normal dovetails which have a bit of a wedge, others have a rounded area where the wedges go in. That looks like poorly made machine made dovetails. Not 1850's but maybe later.

Here are some drawer pics of the same side of one drawer and you can see how 'varigated' they were. There was definitely different woods used between the front and the sides and the backs. Some of the drawer bottoms are 'saggy', and some have mild splits especially where the dovetails are.

In addition, there are some irregularities in the width of some of the boards that might come from manufacturing practices for hand crafting.

Another tip said to look at the 'rails' used to guide the drawers... they had something on the inside of the dresser on each side for 'guides', and then interestingly two wooden pins in the front to help keep the bottom of the drawer 'up', there are no slots or anything attached to the bottom of the drawers to associate with the locations of these pins, so their sole purpose was to keep the drawer in a certain 'height'.

This is a picture of the inside of the dresser after the bottom drawer is removed. The wooden 'pin' is on the right - the left shows a piece of wood added to the frame that acted as the guide. In the tips they talk about the 'rails' used, but I didn't see anything (yet) in my research that talks about these wooden pegs/pins.

The bottoms of the drawers are plywood... hinting at turn of the 20th Century, minimum. So, again, not mid 1850's.

Another interesting thing - all four legs of the dresser is raised and on wheels (which, btw, was SO HANDY)... but those wheels? They are wooden wheels. I did have to glue one back together that had split and they are quite warn with flat 'bits' here and there from use, age, etc. The black metal frame that holds the wheels is quite tarnished, but very solid. One spot said that if it was on castors - pre 1930's, no attached mirror, post 1940's. Um. Well, this can't be both pre 1930's nor post 1940's, so??

Here's a detailed view of the drawer pulls (WTH style is this? Federal?)??

A better view of the top, the top lip is serpentine, though the rest of the dresser is a 'box' frame.

It mirrors the bock cut... but has multiple layers where each subsequent layer below the top one has the same cut, but is cut back a bit.

Side 1 - I also haven't seen any that had these horizontal 'bars', but the placement of these bars aids with the placement of the rails? The top interior panel has a solid crack the entire width of it, but it hasn't harmed functionality and in fact, was there when I bought the piece in the 90's.

Side 2 -

The back which did NOT get refinished and shows what would have been the original patina of the whole piece. Again there are panels, and the panels seem to be of lesser quality wood and have a little bit of sagging to them.

And a close up of a couple of nail heads in the back - which have different size heads and are quite tarnished and black. The one near the middle of the frame, near the bottom, is pretty easy to see, there's also a smaller black nail above the first nail and right on the edge of that vertical  board.

And lastly, the only printing found anywhere on the dresser is a label in the middle, top of the back. It's not SUPER legible, but I think I can make out a company name.

Larkin Soap, Co, somewhere NY 
(I don't read Buffalo, but that's where the company was based)

Wikipedia Entry, If this label is accurate, it places the company timeline between 1875 and 1940's (so definitely not mid 1800's). It was similar to Sears in that it had a catalog, they primarily sold soap. But if you bought x amount of soap, you could cash in coupons to get furniture. It was quite popular in it's day (though not as popular as Sears). And once I found information about the company, it became easier to look for similar dressers online. It does confirm that the piece is made out of oak, which is what I suspected based on some of the oak I own in other pieces.

So, mass produced. That doesn't usually help with maintaining value (sigh)... but the Larkin Desk was EXCEPTIONALLY popular, not as much the dresser based on my searches, it's really hard to find an exact match.  But there were several drawer options (the other highboy style from Larkin had a hat box).

I was able to find plenty of images to help me verify that this looks like other desks claimed to be Larkins (so that helps confirm the label accuracy). It does seem like it's probably early 20th Century (which means, if it wasn't a true antique when we bought it, it probably will be soon). Only one or two pictures show it up on wheels, so that means it probably is original equipment and based on early 1900's instead of mid 1850's that made a lot more sense to n. It also makes sense to me that with the company history, they did do mass production, hence 'factory 13'. smiles... :-)    Brass handles (but I still think these look like they might have been replaced), iron works (the brackets holding the wooden wheels is black, I assume iron or something similar as a hard mettle), quarter sawn white oak, all seems to fit with what I see in the dresser. Interestingly, with each drawer having a slightly different style, might have been representative of how a specific worker who might have made dozens of that drawer in a day handled the dovetailing, whereas someone else might have worked on other drawers, using a slightly different dovetail style.

Figuring out it's value? That's going to take a bit more work. I've found some evidence of pricing on etsy/ebay of $500 (items not sold0. I found something published in 2008 stating that original finish is going for $1,500 or so. Well, mine WAS refinished. I've seen some 'sold' items that sold in and around at the $200 mark, and one sold for $50 (bigger sigh).

So, definitely not something that became investment potential (which is what my ex wanted me to believe, lol). I want to say he paid around $300 or more for it... so I'm going to do a little more digging and see if I can verify if one of the antique keys I have is the one to the dresser (like I think it is), and if all the drawers locking mechanisms work. If so, I'll put it up for sale slightly higher. And if not, well, then a little less. It doesn't seem like it's very high value.

Good news is that I think the feedback was much that if it was mass produced, not to worry about refinishing it, because it doesn't have that much value to start with since so many were made. So much for the $1500 article, I'm betting that's an outlying opinion. I'm thinking I'd be happy if I can sell it for $250. I will post pictures and information online with an asking price of $300. If I don't get any bites, I'll take it into the consignment shop and let them sort it out.

Update: Scammers were the first to offer to buy it for $300, they aren't in town as they are sick - but would send a certified check and ask me to pay their movers. Easy No... huh?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Freezing fresh Iowa sweet corn

We did a little experiment last year with freezing sweet corn when it's at it's prime. My mother had one method, which is a little more time consuming... J's dad had yet a different method that was a little less work. We did both, then decided that mom's method reheated the best the following winter.

First dad's method:

Step 1:

Boil the corn for only 5 minutes (instead of the usual 7); take out and let cool. Take entire ear of corn, kernels, cob and all, into a gallon size freezer bag.

When reheating, boil for 7 minutes.

First issue is that the corn wasn't hot enough after 7 minutes. And while the taste was there, the texture of the corn and the color was off on some kernels.

My mother's method is as follows: Note: it is a 2-day process, but if you break it into batches like I do, it's manageable even with my health issues. My mother used to do 80-100 ears in a day, but I don't have that kind of stamina nor energy. Plus, without a vegetable garden of our own (we live in a townhome), it's just easier to pick up a dozen ears when it's fresh. We do it in batches by buying 12 ears of corn when we can only eat a couple... which lets us spread out the freezing process through out July, early August.

Step 1:

Boil the corn for only 5 minutes (instead of the usual 7 and a nice match to dad's method); take out and let cool. I tend to do 4-6 ears at a time, depending on which pot I'm using; and just set them aside. So, in this case 12 ears of corn on sale for $5; we eat 1,2, 3 ears with our meal... the rest get set aside. Takes me approx. 20 to 25 minutes to clean and boil this much corn. By doing batches, that also allows me to clean the next four ears while waiting on the timer.

Once it has cooled completely, you are ready to do step 2.

Step 2:

Then using either a corn stripper (we liked this one 'ok' as at least it was adjustable to the size of the cob); or a steak knife to just cut off the kernels (my preferred method, it's a little more time consuming, but allows you to get more of the kernel than most of the strippers do). I find it more manageable to break the ears in half before cutting them (less variety between size of cob, more control while cutting... and let's face it - with my clumsiness, anything I can do to improve control, the less likely I am to cut myself). You do NOT want to cut so close that you get 'cob' in with your corn.

I do not take the time to break up any 'slabs' of the kernels. When I was a child, I used to sneak out to my mom's freezer and grab a slab to snack on while it was still frozen. This takes me approx. 15-20 minutes to prepare, cut up and spread out slightly.

Lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and spread the corn out over it. 4-5 ears of corn per cookie sheet worked best for me. 

Step 3:

Stick these cookie sheets as-is in the freezer somewhere they are unlikely to get tipped over or spilled.

Step 4:

Next day, you can 'break' up the frozen corn into reasonably small 'chunks'. My mom, ever frugal, used a 3-gallon sized re-used ice cream container to store her frozen corn in, I found gallon bags work just as easily for us and easier for us to remember we have local corn frozen come picking out something to eat. This takes me usually around 5 minutes. Two cookie sheets fits nicely into a single gallon freezer bag.

Make sure to label the bag, you'll appreciate it if it gets buried with other freezer items and you can't remember if it's from the last summer or five summers ago (I do not recommend eating it if it's been in your freezer for five years, just sayin').

We reheat it in the microwave for around 5 minutes with quite a bit of margarine mixed in (personal preferences), use 1/4 cup of water if you are trying to reduce fats and use less butter.

When you can only eat 2-3 ears of corn in a meal; yet you can find $5 - 6 per dozen ears of corn on the local corner bought from a local farmer... you can buy a couple of dozen ears and we find that it tastes even better in the middle of winter just because it's such a unique sweet flavor, getting to enjoy that out of season is a yummy treat.

Forgot to add, the other benefit of freezing it this way is that you have a little more control over how much corn to reheat. Five guests, take half the bag, just one person, take a lot less.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Simple Bourbon Chicken

OK, so while my husband can be a great cook, he tends toward pretty simple fare.

We both love more flavorful meals, but while I'm spending too much time flat on my back - then I'm not cooking much. Which means more take aways... and we're trying to cut down some debt, so more take aways isn't helping us with that goal.

Add my dietary restrictions of needing gluten free/dairy free, low purines, low fat, non-greasy/fried foods... and well, it's not easy finding new meals.

Add my picky eater son who eats too much junk when he's not eating what we make... and I can HEARTILY announce that I was thrilled with the following meal! THRILLED

1) it met all my dietary restrictions
2) a told us it was DELICIOUS and had a second helping (omg!) AND then proceeded to polish off the leftovers the following day (this mom is really, really happy about that)
3) it was simple to make and my husband, while nervous - was able to make it within 20 minutes (fast and easy? and still YUMMY? oh, yeah... we'll do this meal again!!!!

I don't know how long it was on the market, but we stumbled on it the other day when I went to pick up pasta & tuna for making the kid's favorite Tuna & Noodles.

McCormick Bourbon Chicken Skillet Sauce - yum, yum, yum!!!

OMG! Tag right on it says it's Gluten free which is the first thing that drew my eye to it. The second thing was looking for a make at home Bourbon chicken so I can avoid MSG.

We took 2 1/2 lb of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts out of the freezer which was around $2 a lb (and about 1 lb more than the recipe called for - there was no issue with having more meat). We thawed it out, cooked it on the stove top until all the edges were browned (? ok, white, it's chicken); with about 2 TBS of extra virgin olive oil.   Then added the sauce and let it simmer down.

A few herb & garlic mini potatoes cooked up in the microwave along with some frozen mixed veggies to make a meal... and I am here to say - it was Yummy. It had a ton of flavor without heat. Everyone in the house liked it, everyone.

Adding extra chicken helped make it a bigger meal, there was plenty for a family of 6 (counting my intake as half a serving, Jerry's as 2 servings, and a's as 1 1/2 servings; plus another serving for Jerry and a for lunch the following day).

Next time, we'll dice the chicken a little smaller... our 'cubes were around 1 1/2 inch cubes... probably should be 1" or smaller. Next time I might add some fresh cut garlic chives. It's meant to be served over rice, but honestly, we didn't miss the rice at all.

The package cost around $2 and was about 9 oz of nothing but sauce.

The potatoes were expensive, we buy the ready to bake types with seasonings, so around $5 for that, plus the $1 bag of frozen veggies.  I keep pestering Jerry that we need to sort out the copy cat recipe so we can make the potatoes from scratch for less money.

In the meantime, total for two meals - $5 for chicken, $2 for the sauce, $5 for the potatoes, $1 for the veggies, plus maybe $.50 for the oil and margarine we add to the veggies. Two meal cost = $13.50; $6.75 per meal. I'd love to see that drop down below $5 per meal... so will spend some time today to try to figure out how to make the herbed mini potatoes from scratch.

What we liked about the meal - balanced well with proteins, sauce, veggies and flavor as well as quickness. I was able to microwave both the veggies and the potatoes while Jerry worked the skillet. From thawed chicken to finished meal was  right at 20 minutes, which we think will be even faster if we make the chicken with smaller cubes so that they cook through more swiftly.

We also picked up (yes, I was hungry while shopping) McCormick Herb Roasted Chicken oven bake sauce... can't wait to try it.

Disclaimer: I receive nothing for doing reviews, if I find a product I like (or hate) enough that I feel like sharing an opinion on it? I post a review.

Picky eater win - Tuna & noodles (cheap side)

I haven't been able to eat this meal for several years due to becoming GF, DF.

But both of my sons as well as both grandsons have declared this a Winning meal. And honestly, with the exception of my littlest grandson? the rest are all extremely picky eaters.

It's also hits my SUPER quick and easy requirement for a meal.
Number of ingrediants? 3 - another favorite of mine, I can throw this together with minimal effort.

Only issue now is that one batch isn't enough around this house, my a and Littlest A can both eat a batch in a single meal - remember, these are EXCEPTIONALLY picky eaters, and they can devour with second and third helpings this meal.

Is it super healthy? No, probably not. but... you know what? It's tastier than Tuna & Noodles from a box; its even quicker and easier to make and it's by far healthier than the other options they'll eat - like pizza rolls or mac & cheese. Basically, it's fortified, so there are more nutrients and more protein than the big box brand, but also more sodium, calories, and fat -- so, not a super healthy option.

Super Easy Tuna & Noodles

Knorr's Alfredo Chicken with Broccoli (usually $1 on sale, we'll purchase a half dozen when it goes on sale)
1 pkg tuna in water (usually $1 for the non-brand name package)
1 cup of water

Directions - Follow the Knorr cooking directions with the one exception of adding the tuna into the pan with the other ingredients. Which is basically throw everything in a pot, stirring bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat (still stirring) until the noodles are cooked through.

That's it. Fast, inexpensive and on the plate in under 10 minutes.

Around $2 per serving for the ever growing boys.

Note: I've previously posted this as a $5 meal, with additions of peas and carrots... only, the kids started to reject the extra veggies... so, since this was meant for the picky eater as it was, even though the mother in me would have preferred keeping them in ? The desire to keep them eating something with at least bits of broccoli in it? surpassed the need to keep peas and carrots in the list).

Status Report - Dercum's or some other painful disorder that involves multiple lipomas suddenly growing

Treatment plan from doctor:

Gabapentin - 400 mg x 3 a day (seems to be cutting a lot of pain when I spend the day laying down)
Nortriptyline HCL - 10 mg at bedtime (seems to be helping me get a better nights sleep without pain)
Flexeril - 10 mg at bedtime (have been taking this for years - it really helps with waking up with all muscles cramping and painful - like onset of flu)

Things I found for myself:

1/2 tsp of baking soda in a sweet drink x 2 a day (within 20 minutes can feel a reduction in burning pain that occurs with activity)
Gluten free/dairy free diet - have been following this ever since I learned it was a culprit with a lot of my chronic pain
Epsom salt baths - eliminates a lot of chronic pain - honestly believe I was probably magnesium deficient; however, unable to find a supplement I can take that agrees with me
Low fat/nothing fried/greasy in diet - seems to help with diarrhea (ever since my gall bladder was removed)
Decreased protein intake, low purine diet - seems to keep me from having gout attacks; keep tart cherry supplements around - they are like miracle workers when I do have a gout attack

Things to consider moving forward - Vitamin D deficiency - I know it's low again - I have the oral drops, need to consider adding them.

Activity = pain and lumps... need to figure out how to get back on my feet so I can get back to my job. I've been off work now for about 6 weeks and still have issues being upright for more than about 20 minutes (pre-medication, it was 10).

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How I know being gay isn't a choice

Disclaimer, I am cis female. What this means is that I was born with girly bits, identify as being a girl and am heterosexual.

I have married into a family which is very religious (when I am not). And some members of that family have very strong anti-LGBTQ sentiments. I want to be a stronger ally but I think I need to rehearse my conversation ahead of time. As I know a lot of what I want to say - but I also know that I won't be able to say everything I'd like to say without interruption and other voices. All I've done in the past is to step out of the room where I was a guest in when opinions I strongly disagree with start to be voiced.

I know that what I've done was really cowardly and I'd like to do better. I'd like to BE better.

So, I'm going to take a little time to tell a little story ... here... where I can practice, where I can edit, where I can voice some thoughts that I feel might speak to someone who doesn't understand yet.

I started off not being sure of who I was or how I felt about gay men, about lesbians... being part of a very rural, very conservative family - raised on the farm in the middle of nowhere in the middle of flyover country. ... at that time I knew there were such things, didn't really know there was more than just these two labels. I'm going to tell my story using these two labels, not because they are the only ones I'm speaking to. But because that's all I even was aware of at the time this occurred to me, back in the 80's. I didn't even know there was more to sexuality than hetersexual and gay and lesbian. But, interestingly enough... this story speaks a truth about all forms of sexuality and why I've opened my mind to acceptance.

(well, except rapist, child predators... you are still needing to control yourselves or marry a willing partner who has a willingness and interest in violance and/or semi-eternally youthful appearance because, sexuality needs to stay within the bounds of consent ... and children have no ability to consent).

Back to my story. In the 80's is also the first time I heard people say that gay and lesbians had a choice to 'conform' or to 'be out of the closet'. And to conform means that they 'could' choose to lead 'a normal life' and 'be' heterosexual. I didn't really know any better at first. I wasn't a lesbian. How could I 'know' what choices they have or what decisions they are making? How could I know what spoke to their inner most hearts?

But it still kind of puzzled me. If they risk the prejudice they could face, why would they 'choose' to be a lesbian? It just didn't make sense to 'be out of the closet' and face all of the negativity. People who make choices usually make 'smarter' decisions when they are given a choice. So, I questioned it.

Personally? I didn't wake up one day and 'decide' to be attracted to men. As my sexual awareness grew, I knew what types of men attracted me, what body parts and shapes would draw my eye and my interest. This wasn't a decision that I could make, it simply 'was'.

Well, duh?! Of course men and women don't 'choose' to be gay or lesbian? If you are heterosexual and you take any time at all to think about your own teenage years and how your interest in the opposite sex just 'was'... now think about it really well. Did you look at members of your own sex in the same way? Then choose to 'not be attracted' to that sex? no, of course you didn't.

And so it is with all forms of sexuality. You can't 'choose' who your attracted to. You can only choose your actions that you make after you are attracted. Whether you approach the person you are attracted to, or be shy. Whether you are aggressive about pursuing a relationship (of any form)... or not.

Conversion therapy only SHAMES someone for who they are. And since it's usually done on young men and women, those who want to make their parents proud... it can 'seem' like it works. Only because they are too ashamed to admit it doesn't work and they 'choose' to deny their true selves, their souls, and live a life that is filled with lies.

Conversion therapy wouldn't make me attracted to women, but if you shocked me enough, shamed me enough for who "I am" and if I wanted to please the authorities, I would start lying - because by lying they can stop the torture.

At one time, I said something that was part of my thoughts before, but now I realize that even it isn't true either. What I used to state was that if there was an authority figure telling you that being gay is a choice and you can choose to be straight or gay. I said, that if someone truly believed that, that person must be latent bisexuals - because only bisexuals can choose to be straight or gay. Well, that's not really true is it? It's more they can only choose to try to 'ignore the truth' - because if you are born with the ability to be attracted to both men and women - choosing a life where you try to 'ignore' the attraction you feel towards one sex does not change who or what you are... it's just the choice of the actions you choose to take based on that attraction.

So, in the end... we never get to choose what trips our interest... and that's why this goes beyond just gay or straight or bi - because you can't choose to only be attracted to smart people or only attracted to those that you have a close, committed relationship with. Sexuality is something that just 'is'.

And in the end, if people just 'are' a certain way - just like being born with blond hair, or blue eyes, or brown skin - then it's up to EVERYONE ELSE to learn to choose acceptance and stop trying to throw bible versus at them. And that is a far more critical lesson in the end. It's to learn first, that if you are born heterosexual and nothing could change what it is that you are attracted to? Then everyone who is not heterosexual ALSO were born that way and nothing can change that. So, in the end, it's a matter of just learning how to accept that's who and what they are.


One of the 'tirades' that made me leave the room was against same sex marriage. I don't understand why so many people are against it. It's not like there are only so many marriages allowed in a year and if Bob and Tony get married, someone else can't. And I don't see how it's any business of anyone else's as to what two grown consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home.

I've heard support for bakers who don't want to bake cakes for same sex couples, "but it's against their religious beliefs"... ok, fine. Freedom of religion is something we are very proud of within the United States, but some people don't seem to grasp what it's extent is.

Let's be clear. - YOUR religion should dictate only YOUR behavior and should NOT be used to apply DISDAIN to someone who doesn't have the same beliefs as you... especially when it comes to running a BUSINESS, not a CHURCH.

In english - this means that if you are straight and you are a member of a church that preaches against same sex marriage - don't marry someone of the same sex. If someone else marries someone of the same sex, it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. If they have hired you to bake them a cake, WHY DOES IT MATTER WHAT THEY ARE CELEBRATING?  It's not like baking the cake is going to 'encite' their passions into having sex with you. They are just two people in love celebrating and they don't need your OWN PERSONAL beliefs interfering with a business transaction. Do you bake cakes for heterosexual couples who have sex before marriage when your church preaches that sex outside of marriage is a sin? If so, then why is this an issue?

I'm sorry, but when it comes down to it - trying to refuse service to a same sex couple is equivalent of trying to apply your religious beliefs on them. And that is NOT religious freedom, that's prejeduce and  when pushed further (like MO laws that allow a woman using birth control to get fired???) - that's religious persecution.


OK, got at least one version of this speech out. Now if only I could be brave enough to share this with family.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dercum's Disease

Most of the time, I'm crafting up a storm, but not posting because between overtime, family and work (and way too much time on Facebook and Ravelry), I just don't have a lot of spare time to write.

Well, all that 'busy' hit and I'm now relapsing. :-/

I've thought for a long time that I have ME/CFS and have had POTS (at least in the past, if not now). But I had two symptoms that just didn't 'fit'. One is my frequently dislocated ribs, not just sublaxed, but actually 'out' of place to the point of being dislocated. And the second symptom, my lumps... painful lipomas that would form, shrink, enlarge, disappear, re-appear, etc. Dercum's Disease, also known as Adipose Delerosa. The only symptom on the list of Dercum's that I don't have is Obesity. A rare disease identified in the 1800's by Dr Dercum, it only has a couple of doctors who are knowledgeable about it, none of whom is studying this disease exclusively.  The disease hasn't been redefined since the 1800's, but there has been a study that identifies that Dercum's occurs with all types of BMI's; which means that obesity isn't a defining characteristic.

So, apparently, Dercum's is it. The good news is that while my doctor is 'skeptical' with my Ravelry/google-fu and not willing to diagnose... he is at least starting to treat me with a couple of the recommendations that they have for this, and it looks like the pain meds are starting to help, It's not 100% yet, but as of today, I have finally ramped up to the basic Gabapentin dosage - 300 mg x 3 a day. And the pain is a bit more manageable. However, I am still mostly bedridden, but at least now the pain is more manageable.

I also found an alternative therapy, taking bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). I'm up to twice a day, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp in 2-4 oz of a sweet beverage (usually kool-aid), it's a bit 'chalky' tasting, but interesting enough, my body seems to crave it a bit now. When I start drinking my 4 oz; my body gives a very positive response and it REALLY helps with the burning sensation that comes when my body is forming new lipomas. I can't really tell if it impacts the number of lipomas or not. Just that at least some of the pain is eliminated... not all, but some. And some is better than none.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MTHFR, ME/CFS and relationships

J & I met under unique circumstances.

I knew his family. His family knew me and also knew 'of' my health issues.

He knew a little, but not much - enough to know that I was having health issues.

While I never hid my health issues from him, I also didn't 'unload' a ton of details on him at at once.

During the first few dates I managed my activity levels (pacing) and when date ideas were being discussed or activities that one of us might like, I did talk about the fact that I have to manage my physical activity levels. He took it at face value, and didn't really probe very much.

I did talk about my diet restrictions and being someone who likes to cook, he came up with ideas of things he can make, things he can alter to fit my diet and how he can make meals work better for me.

After a few weeks, J asked if we could 'define the relationship' and if he could call me his girlfriend.

At that point I brought up my health issues (a little) and we talked about why my diet restrictions and energy management was needed briefly.

But it's hard. How much do you tell them? When do you tell them? Do you fall in love and *Hope for the best?*...

He is 1 of a kind, he really is. And he asked that I help him learn as much as possible. But between his ADD & need to take things in small bursts of information that he can spend time thinking about... he asked that I break things into small, short discussions. A little here, a little there. A little more if symptoms popped up.

Add the fact that he's a nurturer & care giver at heart really helped matters.

He notices the symptoms before I'm ready to talk about them. Doesn't like it if I try to dismiss them or wave away his concern.

But it isn't easy being ill and in a relationship... even with someone who seems perfectly suited for me.

1. Energy levels - my energy levels tend towards the I'm-too-tired-to-move to the can-we-just-sit-or-lie-down?

He gets bursts of energy... but he also works nights. Since he tries to switch back to night-time sleeping on the weekends... he also struggles with energy levels. This helps... but there's a lot of times where I can't sleep - and he's sleeping in; or I can't hardly move and he's got energy and things to do.

With compromise and understanding, we seem to be able to make it work - at least for now. I get up when I can't sleep any longer and rest on the couch - then my restlessness doesn't disturb his sleeping and I can get the additional 'relaxation' time I need. When he gets up, I might still lie on the couch, but he can do his chores and errands - and if I'm up for it, I help as much as I can. If I'm not up for it, he goes about and does it anyway. Compromising on resting more and understanding when it's just not feasible to do anything else.

For the most part, we seem to be in a little bit of a normal cycle of neither of us have enough energy/time to do everything that needs to be done. For the most part (while I was in remission) though, there was enough energy between us to get the worst of it handled.

Only now, I'm crashing. My first full-on relapse since we met, dated, fell in love and got married.  I would say it started a little over a week ago... but honestly, that's just not looking closely at things. Things were getting harder and harder for me to do for several months, and I'd cut back here and there and let things slide. He was getting a lot of OT from work, so he wasn't able to pitch in much either.

As of Sunday a week ago though, I hit the wall. I barely managed to get through the work week, and had to break down and go to the doctor. We're trying a med (it's not working) and this week, I've managed a day and a half before I had to throw up the white flag. I am going to try to work tomorrow, but if it gets as painful as it did today, I'm calling the doc again. I can't focus. I'm in pain, and there's nothing right now to help with the pain. If I can lay still and not move, it backs down to I-can-only-just-tolerate-it, but moving, thinking, picking up my cell phone, anything - and I'm nearly in tears and trying really hard not to cry out.

J is trying. But he's also worrying and stressing and trying to sift through his thoughts. He's trying to take care of me (a bit), but I think I crashed so quickly he isn't fully aware that I can't cook right now, let alone deal with planning a meal, let alone verify what's in the fridge because getting up and walking to the refrigerator and opening the door to look takes my pain from a 6 to an 8 and all I can think of is that I need to lay down again.

I'm posting this here, because I need to vent... to sound off.. to whine a little and to sort through my own thoughts.

When I realized this past week that I really was in a crash (not just a couple of bad days)... I had a fear strike me that this relationship could be a dream and he could decide he can't handle this and walk away. I *know* he loves me and wouldn't likely do that. But I also know how chronic health conditions can tear families apart. But I did talk to him about how I was feeling and how I won't push him away but that doesn't mean I won't have a little fear striking me here and there that this isn't as real as I thought it was and that it's just this impossibly perfect dream relationship that won't last in the real, the challenging, the 'oh-fuck, what now' world we're living in.

Add in a teenage boy pushing limits, fighting with me and his teachers, me flat on my back on the couch feeling helpless and frustrated and angry that I'm here again. Things will get tougher before they get better. All I can do is hope that by aggressively resting I can find my way back to partial functioning like I was before.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

But what a ring it is!

I didn't set out to find a good deal on my engagement & wedding rings.

I set out to find a ring that suited me.

I am NOT a fan of the current style of a large square or emerald cut diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds.

I like glitter and I like diamonds... but I'm an amethyst/ruby/sapphire girl at heart. I like COLOR.

And I like flow, curved metal, a flow or a swirl.


I asked my fiance (before he was my fiance) if we could pick out the rings together. So a couple of weeks after he asked and I accepted... we went to the first jewelry store.

I knew what I wanted wasn't necessarily going to be easy to find since it was bucking the current trends. And that, in fact, we might have to find someone to design the ring for me. At that thought, I was a little nervous about the cost of a custom designed ring. BUT... I also knew that my heart wasn't going to be happy 'settling'. I'd settled before on my ring; and gotten divorced twice. THAT was not something I was willing to repeat (either, in case you have doubts).


We walked into the store and when I asked if they had any thing that would have an amethyst and would work for an engagement ring, I got a 'look'... a 'huh'? why on earth? blank stare.  But she dutifully showed me the three amethyst rings that they had on the floor. Yep, nope... not what I was looking for.

Another woman working at the shop picked up on the discussion and saved the day. She got creative and suggested that we look at some pre-set wedding rings which don't have the center stone in them yet - with the idea that we can add an amethyst instead of adding a diamond to the center.

This was closer, but none of the rings they had quite suited the look I was hoping for. They were very rigid and geometric and none of the natural or organic flow to them. After showing me about four or five and asking the right kind of questions... she came back with another suggestion.

She asked the first saleswoman to go get the 'swirly one' out of the clearance cabinet.

Yep... that WAS THE ONE. It's got bling and swirl and organic structure... add a beautiful amethyst in the middle and I was SOLD. AND it was on clearance. AND there was a coordinating wedding band that matched PERFECTLY. And believe it or not, they were both in the size I needed.

My fiance took me to the side, asked me if I wanted to sleep on it. I was pretty sure he was worried I was getting swept away. But ... I looked at him and said I'd be happy to wait to make the purchase official... but I don't need to look at any other rings. We've found the ring that's JUST RIGHT FOR ME.

He couldn't picture the amethyst in the ring... the saleswoman held an amethyst earing near the setting, but he just couldn't see it as a final ring.

They gave us the price for the two rings, plus the cost of a lifetime warranty, plus the cost of adding the amethyst without the actual cost of the stone (to be determined once they found the right stone)... plus the cost of his own wedding band that we found about 15 minutes after we found my ring and while we were working on the paperwork for my rings. That number was about half of what he was thinking it would cost. And about $1k lower than I was thinking I would spend ... lol.

And then they called him and told him that the amethyst itself was $50. Yep ... $50. He was a little floored.

Like I said, I didn't go out seeking a frugal ring. I set out to find a ring that suited me.

I love the dark of the stone and the flare of the diamonds and how they set each other off from each other.