Friday, December 21, 2012


As you all know, I "retired" from working in October of 2011.  I immediately applied for SSDI (Social Security Disability).  As expected my first application was denied...60% of all first time applications are.  Over the past year my health has been declining at a steadily increasing pace. 

These days I am happy if I have TWO GOOD HALF DAYS A WEEK...days where my pain level is as low as a 5 out of 10 (my doctor has told me that there is little hope I will ever see a 0 out of 10 pain level again), when I'm not spending the biggest portion of the day in bed under a doubled electric blanket to combat the severe pain, when my fatigue is not completely debilitating and my neurologic issues are not precluding me from performing fine motion activity with my hands, typing on the computer, holding items with only one hand, turning pages in a book or walking more than a short distance at a time.  As they say, "If it's not one thing, it's another." 

Given the progression of my symptoms and letters from four of my physicians stating that I am not capable of any type of gainful employment, I expected my upcoming SSDI hearing to go well.  If four separate physicians put their names to a statement that I am not capable of working, how could SSDI rule against me?  That many doctors are not, realistically, going to be willing to put their good names and licenses at risk by falsifying facts. The fact is...I'm not able to work.  Period. 

In mid November I received a letter stating that my hearing would be on December 3rd.  Since I am unable to go down to the city on my own, and my husband could not take off that day, I had  my hearing rescheduled for December 10th.  I followed all of the instructions that came with my notification.  I filled out several enclosed forms.  I was told to send copies of all of my medical records since mid March to their office for the judge to review prior to my hearing.  I contacted all of my doctors and managed to get copies of all 25 visit notes.  My wonderful doctors jumped through hoops to circumvent the normal administrative process and make the copies available expediently...and my poor parents ran from office to office to obtain records as they became available if I was not up to leaving the house on that day.  I needed to get them mailed off quickly.  When my large stack of records and completed forms were gathered and collated I rushed to the post office and mailed them overnight (at a cost of $17.10). 

On December 10th my husband and I headed to the city for my hearing.  We fought traffic on a killer expressway, paid through the nose for parking in the heart of the city, and shoved a rotten fast food meal down our throats just prior to the hearing.  As a diabetic, I can't go too long without food and we had no idea how long my hearing would last.  Better to be safe than sorry.  We arrived at the appointed time (actually early) and waited our turn to appear before the judge.  Ten minutes before my appointment time a woman came out and handed me a packet of papers and told me to complete them when I got home and mail them back to the office.  I placed them, unopened, in my briefcase.

At exactly my appointment time we were called into the room.  After a brief introduction the judge informed me and my husband that my hearing will be in April.  Huh?  What?  TODAY is my hearing!  Nope, it's not (despite every paper I received stating that it was).  The judge called me down to tell me that I can get a lawyer if I choose, but I need to get the lawyer now.  If I wait too long and the lawyer can't get the case together in time, there will be NO postponement.  "THIS is your postponement."  Oh, and she is retiring at the end of the year and another judge will be hearing my case.  End of meeting.  We were out of there in 10 minutes.  And the paperwork the lady gave me while I was waiting for my "hearing"?...the same paperwork I had received in the mail (TWICE), had already completed, had mailed overnight and they had received five days earlier!

My husband and I walked out of the building dumbfounded and furious.  He had taken a day off of work, we had wasted our time and money for 10 minutes in front of the judge while she informed me that I can get a lawyer.  Well, duh, it says that over and over during the application process and the appeal process.  I KNOW I can get a lawyer, I just didn't think I would need one since several of my doctors say I can't perform any gainful employment.  But, if THIS is an example of how the system works...maybe I DO need to fork out money for legal representation!

So later on this afternoon I will be speaking with an attorney to discuss the possibility of him representing me at the hearing.  I often wondered why people who were truly disabled got lawyers to represent them.  Now I know.  The system is broken, and the only way to be assured things are handled in a timely, efficient and effective manner is to hire someone who can duct tape the system back together to make sure the decision is made based on the actual FACTS of the case.  For that I guess I will be more than willing to fork out money for legal representation... 


Hi everyone!

I did it!  I finally finished my dad's quilt.  No more worries of wrapping an IOU as his Christmas gift!  Now I can fully relax and enjoy what little time is left before the holidays, lol. Here it is, in all of its glory!  Please excuse the faded out beige pinwheels on the bottom row.  They show up much more distinctly in person than they do in the picture. 

Dad's quilt is made of flannel and faux suede.  The faux suede matches the beige of his leather recliner, while the other colors (the flannel) are pulled from elements in my parents' home.  I wanted something "masculine" for dad, yet pretty enough that it would look okay lying out in the family room. 

This quilt reminds me of flannel shirts and argyle socks.  Since flannel shirts have a placket down the front, I used a double line of stitching in the sashes to pick up the same feel.  And, of course, all flannel shirts have to have buttons on the plackets...which I centered on the intersections of the sashing.  The rectangles of flannel on the border reminded me of argyle I stitched an "X" of quilting into each rectangle.

For the center of each block I wanted a quilting detail that would mimic the round button shape...but it had to be angular enough to pick up all of the other straight lines in the quilt.  I think the quilting pattern I found is just perfect.  Thanks again to my wonderful hubby who bought me a Baby Lock Embroidery Machine for my retirement!  My quilts can still have beautiful stitching, just sewn by machine now that I can no longer sew by hand!

The last detail to be added to the quilt was my label.  I didn't want just a "normal" quilt label showing my name and date, etc.  I wanted something that would communicate to my dad just a bit of the love that went into his gift.  A few months ago he came down with a bug that was making the rounds in our area.  Suffering from a relatively high fever, my father, the man who is NEVER cold, borrowed a quilt I had made 20 years he would have something warm to snuggle into while he watched TV!  I knew then what he was getting for Christmas.

Now he will have his own special "hug" from me... to keep him warm and cozy, always.  

I can't wait to give it to him!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


You know how sometimes in life things just seem to "get away from you".  Well that has been the case with my "frugality" lately.  I've been trying to remain frugal on some of the bigger stuff (like getting multiple estimates for household repairs), but falling off the saddle horribly when it comes to the everyday, mundane things that add up to big frugality!  Our goal this coming year is but an extension of what DIDN'T get done this past year...purge through the entire house, sell any unwanted items that we can, and boost our savings accounts as much as possible...all necessary and Oh So Frugal!

With that in mind, yesterday DH and I decided to start "The Household Purge".  I have still not bought my dear husband any Christmas gifts, and really needed a good close look at his closet to know exactly what it is that he needs... so that I am not duplicating things he already owns (NOT frugal to duplicate by mistake!).  While I sat on the edge of the bed, hubby pulled out clothing item after clothing item...trying it on if he was unsure of the fit, while I looked for stains, rips, and shiny bums.  The items that fit well and still had a good amount of life in them were handed over to me to put back onto the hanger (Why is it that men don't like to hang or fold clothing? Lol) and then were put right back into his closet.

In the process we found several pairs of brand new pants that do not fit.  Unfortunately, in the garment industry your size is not always your size!  It all depends upon the manufacturer!  As they are "new with tags" I will try to return them, or list them on Craigslist to try to sell...and pad out our savings account with the money recouped.  At worst case, I will donate them to our local thrift shop and get a receipt for our taxes.

We found quite a few clothing items that were not in a condition that I would want him to wear to work.  He is, after all, a professional in a large corporation and he needs to "look the part".  Even though his company has gone "business casual" most days, his clothes still need to be well matched and well cared for.    For now, these items are in bags on our garage floor waiting for trash day.  In the "frugal" mindset I really should have pulled off all useable buttons, do-dads and zippers and torn apart clothing that could be used for my sewing and quilting projects BEFORE I put the clothing into bags, but we had neither the time, nor space, for such a diversion while purging yesterday.  I will, if time allows, dive into those bags within the next four days and add some useable fabric and notions to my sewing room stash.  That is how our frugal grandparents would have handled it and it is high time I harken back to their thrift and wisdom!!! 

Today we will sort through DH's chest of drawers to see what "non work" clothing needs to be sold, tossed or replaced.  Since there is a bit more time and space today I will try to glean the useable sewing items before I throw them into the trash bag.

Next week we will begin purging my closet, shelves and drawers!  I just know there are quite a few things that should have made it to the trash bag (post deconstruction for the stash containers) years and years ago.  The time has come to admit that I will never again be that thin.....not even in my dreams!  And, "NO, I really don't need any new clothing, dear" matter how many items are purged from my room.   I am sure I still have WAY more than I need, lol. 

So, after a good day of purging yesterday, I woke up with "frugal" on the brain this morning.  For breakfast I poured the dregs from two different boxes of cereal into my bowl.  Tiny dregs each, but more than sufficient for my breakfast.  I pulled the waxed bags out of the cereal boxes, emptied them good and folded them into a drawer for use when breading meat or coating potatoes.  While I could/should have salvaged the boxes for use in making templates in my sewing room, I have to draw the line somewhere on what I can effectively and frugally store.  Unless they are big enough to be converted into magazine holders, cereal boxes are not useful enough to warrant saving at this time.  It is, after all, a balancing act between keeping what can be reused and adding to the clutter I am trying desperately to reduce! 

I have been doing laundry since soon after I rolled out of bed.  Our laundry is washed in cold water with half the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer.  Stains are pretreated with Shout, or Greased Lightening if they are of an oily nature.  When fighting REALLY tough stains I add a Tide Booster pillow to the wash load.  Even using multiple stain fighters, salvaging stained clothing is much more frugal than replacing clothing!

Since today is laundry day we will be spending all day in the house...and I will stay in my jammies until all of the laundry is done.  Then I will take a really quick shower and get dressed.  My jammies and undies will be the first items in the hamper for next week.  Since we are staying in all day, our meals will all be made and eaten at home.  Hooray for us!  Breakfast was cereal for me.  I'm not quite sure what DH had.  Yesterday we had our usual Saturday breakfast out and the restaurant gives such huge portions that we almost always bring home leftovers.  The leftovers are my tasty lunch today.  DH will be having leftover pizza that has been in the fridge for a few days and really needs to be gone soon.  For dinner I am making a packaged "hamburger helper" type meal.  I am making a boxed garlic beer bread to go with it.  Both items were bought at Big Lots for $1 each and I am using $.98/lb ground beef.  So, with extra ingredients I am figuring dinner tonight is going to cost us about $4.  I really, REALLY need to get a handle on our wasting of money on take out or restaurant food!  I also need to begin purging through our kitchen closet and basement pantry.  I know there are items in there that are getting quite old and I don't want to waste a penny of the money spent to buy them! 

Now that my belly is full from lunch I think it is time for me to work on my handmade Christmas gifts!  Time is flying by and I sure don't want to be handing out IOUs on Christmas Day!  Hopefully I will be checking in over the next few days to continually update my frugal activities!  How about you, are you staying frugal in this holiday season?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I walked into my sewing room this morning, "blurry eyed" and miles away from "bushy tailed" desperate need of a steaming cup of coffee.  After a few sips the room began to take shape around me and my monitor jumped to life in front of me.  OMG, can it REALLY be December 6th?!?  I rubbed my eyes to make sure that the number on my desktop wasn't a 3 masquerading as a 6 just to see me squirm.  No, definitely a 6.  What?  When?  Where did all that TIME go?!?!?  It wasn't even Thanksgiving yet when we left for sunny South Carolina!

My dear sweet hubby and I returned from vacation a mere five days ago.  We knew when we made the reservations that we were "cutting it close" with Christmas preps, but it was the best time for him to be out of the office given the project workload.  But THIS close to the big day already? My palms are getting sweaty just thinking about the things that still need to be done before the big day.  Making my schedule even more difficult,  I have four medical appointments to go to by the end of next week and a Social Security court hearing on Monday! What was I thinking, or drinking, when I made that many appointments in the small window of time between our return from vacation and the holiday?  Somehow I will have to muddle through and try to get the absolute necessities done...and maybe fall very short of my usual Christmas verve.  But Christmas will come, whether I am ready or not. 

However, on a good note, today is the first day since our return that I can honestly say I feel like I have settled back into my home and routine.  I have been extremely fatigued since we have been back, taking several hour naps in the middle of the day...just to survive until I can drop into bed sometime after 6:00 PM.  My pain level has ramped a bit higher now that I am not spending my days sitting on a balcony staring at the ocean.  In the past five days I have accomplished ONLY the absolute necessities. 

But, my steaming cuppa jo' this morning chased away the cobwebs and primed my engine to accomplish as much as possible between now and then!  Time to get the lead out and move my bum!  I still have two handmade Christmas presents to finish (I have pared down my list a bit), a Christmas menu to plan and order, a house to straighten/clean and gifts to buy.  I sure hope my guys are up for a challenge as I will be dragging them kicking and screaming into my whirlwind, taking advantage of any and all help I can get, lol.  Christmas is a time of sharing and caring...and believe me I intend to SHARE the load, and don't really CARE if they like it, lol. In all honesty, though, my guys are really GREAT about helping me around here when I need it.  I just hope there is enough time for all THREE of us to get it all done.

Before I head off to work on my dad's quilt I want to give you a quick update on the things I HAVE accomplished since my last check-in.

A scarf for my aunt (completed):

Dad's quilt (in-progress):

I promise a "completed" picture of dad's quilt will be forthcoming in the next couple of days.  Then I have to turn a pile of miscellaneous parts into a scarf for my mom...I hope...

Off to work on the quilt!