First of all

Monday, March 23, 2020

Can I Speak to The Manager?

This is not the 2020 I ordered. I would like to return it and get a new virus-free version.

How are you doing?  I'm hanging in there. I'm at home this week and frankly, I'd really rather be at work, how about you?  While I currently have all the time in the day to read books, write and listen to podcasts, I'm having trouble focusing to do any of that.

I don't know if I am feeling more general anxiety because I spent the last nine months or so undergoing cancer treatments and now I'm feeling some PTSD or if I would have this same level of anxiety either way. I feel like my stress is higher than it would be if not for my cancer season.  Just a few weeks ago I was enjoying a comfort that had come from making peace with my 'new post-cancer normal'  and now here we are.

 Now suddenly we are living in a time for everyone everywhere to struggle with uncertainty everywhere. Will we have jobs? Will the kids go back to school?  and most importantly, Will I get sick? Will they get sick? How sick? And this one for me personally, is it possible when we were all sick in February that we already had COVID-19?  Will we ever know? How long does this go on?

A bunch of questions and no solid answers. This is why I've been busying myself with cleaning out cabinets and drawers as well as cooking. These are things I can control.  I am actually running out of nooks and crannies to clean. I'm on the brink of ordering paint to paint our bedroom. I should not do this. I'm not good at painting and it makes me cranky.   Today I am pledging to myself to stay away from any press conferences on my TV and to use my time to escape into an urban fantasy book.  If you can, I suggest doing the same.  If you are working please wash your hands as much as you can!

Yesterday, I wanted to use up leftover noodles and it was definitely time for comfort food so I tried to recreate a breakfast my Oma would make.   1. Cut up some thick-cut bacon and fry it in a pan. 2. Take out the bacon and fry a chopped onion in the pan for a couple minutes. 3. Add in leftover baked potatoes that you have cut up.  4. Stir for a couple minutes adding salt, pepper, and some thyme to taste. 5. Take your leftover noodles and toss those with breadcrumbs you have from stale bread. 6. put the noodles in the pan along with the bacon and cook it all together for about 4 minutes.  Then serve.

I used turkey bacon and added in some chopped yellow bell pepper I had leftover from the day before.  I made an egg over easy to top my noodle dish. I used a little oil in my skillet because I didn't have delicious bacon grease.

My Oma's was obviously better than my re-creation. But I will say this dish is a hearty breakfast and a good way to use leftovers!

Stay Healthy. Stay at home!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Let's Talk About Not Being in the Mood

I'm not in the mood to write; but, I figure the act of writing works like eight out of ten times when I run.  If I just start doing it, and stop thinking about doing it, then I'll be in the swing of it in no time.

So here I am! Today I've been listening to Harriet the Spy as my selection as a classic children's book for the 20 in 20 book challenge. Come to find out, Harriet the Spy was an oft banned book. Why?  Apparently a book about a child spying on adults and taking notes about grown ups set a bad example for kids.  The book is slightly older than The Hubs, so pretty, pretty old. (1964)

I have to admit they might have been on to something. When I was a kid and read the books, I wanted to *be* Harriet. These days if I had to pick a career related to spying, I'd go with private investigator.  That being said all my experience watching PI shows on TV leads me to conclude private investigating looks like a lot of sitting in cars and almost getting yourself killed. I guess I will stick to my day job. Lots of sitting at a desk, but none of that almost getting myself killed.

Speaking of  mortality, Coronavirus is closing down events and canceling trips.  Being selfish I think the following thoughts:

1. It's really BS that I finish like 9 months of cancer treatments and then now that I am ready to go out and do stuff, it's not a good idea to go out and do stuff!

2. I hope this is all sorted so Anna can go on her Band Trip and BMO gets to do all the end of the year senior stuff.

3. Back to me, it's 2020- it's  a big birthday year for me, what the heck with a pandemic! I did not ask for a pandemic this is supposed to be *my* year!   *me shaking my fist at the sky* 

Oh well what can you do? 

Don't forget to wash your hands! 

Speaking of viruses, if you'd like to expand your knowledge of all things bacterial and virus check out This Podcast Will Kill You

Happy March 10th!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Is Winter Winding Down?

Gosh I hope so!  One of my goals for this year was to not get too bogged down in my dislike of winter. If I can rate myself here, I give myself a 3.5 out of 5 on not spending too much time being annoyed by all things winter.

This year I did spend all of January doing weekday radiation so that definitely proved to be a distraction from dwelling on the cold. Plus radiation gives you hot flushes, so well timed on my part--better to have one's internal temp rise in January than in July!

Once February arrived, our house spend the entire month with at least one person sick with some virus.  Was it Coronavirus? I don't think so, but who knows! To round out the month, surgery for me.  Medical interventions not winter blues were the order of the day! Now here is March coming in like a warmer than usual lion; so far, our temps have been decent and the sun has been shining.

The nice weather has lead to a certain BFF of The Man tracking mud into the house several times a day.  Keep your fingers crossed for us as we are crunching numbers and hoping to get wood flooring on our main floor ASAP. If  all goes well, 2020 will be the year of home renovations and me having many more celebrations and fest to attend than doctor appointments!

*Accountability* - How did I do with my February Goals?

Not great!  The cold I had really knocked me out for most of the month!
I did reach my blog post goals and I did achieve the most important goal: Lastly, have a very uneventful laparoscopic preventative surgery and celebrate being done with medical interventions for hopefully ever. (not including routine tests)

Actually as I re-read it.  I have not celebrated having a routine surgery w/clear pathology. So I'm due a celebration. Note to self plan some celebrating!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Wanna Get Away? Travel via Book to Sunset Cove!

A Novel Way To Die (Cozy Mystery Bookshop #2)A Novel Way To Die by Tamra Baumann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"A Novel Way to Die" is the second book in Tamra Baumann's Cozy Mystery Bookshop Series. (The first book is called "Plotting for Murder".) If you have already read "Plotting for Murder" I think you are going to love this second installment. I came into "A Novel Way to Die" without having read the first book so it took me a little bit longer to understand our main character and her eclectic community.

Tamra Baumann's does a wonderful job crafting this mystery! There are several points where you think you know who did it and who helped, only to find out there is more to the story. I enjoyed that she uses technology in the main mystery and I found it pleasing to read a Cozy Mystery that had major supporting characters from several different generations.

Not only does this book have a central murder mystery, but it also has some interesting ongoing mysteries that drawn in the reader into Sunset Cove and makes one look forward to future installments. What is going to happen with the bookshop? Will Sawyer's uncle thwart Sawyer? What will we find out about Brittany's mother? The non-murder mystery subplots are almost more fascinating than who killed the person in this book!

As a fan of Cozy Mysteries, this book really has it all- 1. small town, 2. a plucky heroine who can cook, 3. a cute dog, 4. a handsome sheriff, 5 a bookstore with a book club and 6. A witty best friend.

I look forward to going back and reading "Plotting for Murder" ASAP!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Challenges for Challenging Times!

What a week! That might be my new catch phrase.  But really more like, what a month.  The Hamel house has been in the throes of medical stuff all month long! Just as I am recovering from surgery and returned to work yesterday, Patrick came down with some sort of cold virus and The Man had to take him to the urgent care last night! Good news, young P doesn't have the flu. Bad news he is on steroids to curtail his uncontrolled coughing.

 Side note: if you have any surgery that is done through your belly button, I do not recommend wearing pants with a button and a zipper on your first day back to work. Learn from my lesson. If possible wear a flowy dress- no belts!

If the current weather forecast holds, in a few days I can crack a window opened during the day and try and get some of the sickness out of our house. I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to March!

As you all know, I love to read and I also like challenges.  Lucky for me, my public library is doing a 20 in 20 book challenge! I just found out about it and so I am quite behind.  I need to read from the categories listed above  by the third week of March. Eek!  Anyone have any good suggestions for a Classic Children's Book or the Classic book by a Female Author?

I spend time during my surgery recuperation reading Moving Forward and it's a great memoir. Karine Jean-Pierre has that can-do spirit I love to see in people. Spoiler alert- Karine is also a runner!

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and while I don't go to church; I do still enjoy a good Lent. This year I am giving up nothing! Nothing I tell you!  I've given up enough over the past year. Instead, I'm going to use Lent as a reason to focus on cleaning out all the drawers, bins and closets in my home. Spring Cleaning in increments of 15 minutes per day, join me!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Best Day Ever!

This past week was quite long for me.  Tuesday I got to experience a colonoscopy prep. Not because I was having a colonoscopy but because Wednesday I was scheduled for a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. (BSO)

I have to tell you that colonoscopy prep, which you will all be lucky enough to have one day, was in my opinion worse than a day spent having a Taxol chemo treatment. Yes, you read that right. Worse than a day of chemo!

Wednesday I had my surgery. Talk about a long day.  I almost died of starvation prior to the surgery and then after surgery when I finally had sustenance - Belvita crackers- I was immediately nauseous.  How rude!

On the plus side being very hangry prior to the surgery and pukey after the surgery did help keep my mind off the pathology report.  You see because I have the BRCA 2 gene I'm high risk for some cancers - namely breast and ovarian.  Well, we know how the risk of breast cancer turned out. 

The point of the BSO was to remove my tubes and ovaries tout suite to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer is sneaky, while you can have tests like a CT scan, an MRI, or an ultrasound- all of which I had in July and August- even when they come back all clear- that does not mean that you don't actually have cancer.  The only way to be sure is to have your fallopian tubes and ovaries taken out and viewed under a microscope. 

I did as much research as a non-scientist could do to try and reassure myself that I was not likely to have ovarian cancer. I even tried to get my Medical Oncologist to tell me it was not likely I'd find out I had another cancer.  However, she wouldn't tell me what I wanted to hear. Booo. She did tell me that if they found cancer I'd have to have more chemo. Good times!  I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, not that!!!!!

As you can imagine, I spend a good deal of my mental energy on keeping my spirits up.  The thought of another cancer and more chemo was very, very stressful.  I couldn't wait to get the surgery over and I hope that maybe my GYN could give Tom some reassurance that everything looked good.

However, all I got was that one ovary looked fabulous and the other looked a little funky and that pathology results would be back by Monday. Ugh ugh ugh.

Thursday was spent by me sleeping and stressing. I have an app on my phone for my medical stuff and I kid you not, every 15 minutes I was on there looking to see if new test results were up.  I did this even though I know they don't automatically post pathology reports.  Those results were only coming to me from a phone call. 

I'm stressing out just writing about my waiting game. On Friday morning my phone rang and it was the hospital, I jumped on that call with high hopes, and it was just nurse follow up. Which is great, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that they were checking in on me. I hung up that call and tried to bury myself in something good on Netflix, but I could not concentrate and kept checking my phone and trying to figure out if I could find anything from Dr. Google.

Finally and also earlier than Monday I got the call. 12:23pm on 2/21.  The doctor herself called. She had THE BEST news for me!  The pathology was all clear.  I was so happy, she was so happy.

Best Day Ever!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Got a Minute?

I need opinions! Last year shortly after the one year anniversary of buying our house, right when I was ready for a year of home improvements, I found out I had breast cancer and all my fun plans were put on hold for an exciting year of really getting to know our medical system inside and out. It was a real nose-to-the-grindstone just get through each day time for me. 

Fortunately, I am here now, 'new year, new me' and I"m ready to live my best Pinterest life. Too bad I don't have buckets of cash to fund that life. My Pinterest life is going to need to be done on the cheap. We are talking DIY and clearance endcaps. 

This is what I need opinions on, I'd like to put a big plant here in the corner of our master bedroom.  Anyone know what sort of big plant would thrive in a second-floor bedroom with three big southern-exposure windows? The plant needs to be inexpensive to purchase and easy to maintain. Our bedroom furniture is a weathered wood beachy style and I'd like the plant to fit in with that style. 

So what do you think?  It's a great spot for a big plant, right?  Once I've found the perfect plant, it will be time to crowdsource a name for my new pal!

Happy Sunday! 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Hey There, Whatcha Reading?

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I suddenly realized the month of February is just about half over and I still needed to listen to one more audiobook in order to complete the audible challenge and earn a $20 gift card from Amazon. What to do? I previewed a few books and one caught my ear. Our Little Lies is read by a British reader with the most delightful accent--so I downloaded it. has icons you earn for various feats and this book earned me the marathon badge because I could not stop listening.  I had to know how this book ended!

If you choose to read it, make sure you block off quality time.  Don't start reading at 8pm on Sunday when you have to work the next day! You have been warned!

Our Little LiesOur Little Lies by Sue Watson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first third of the book is such a slow-building rise of tension that it is almost maddening. You think you can rely on the narrator, but she doesn't even know herself. Layer upon layer you wonder, will she wise up? Will she believe herself? As the roller coaster starts down its steep incline, you can't stop reading this book. You really need to have time to stop everything else in your life and finish it.

Is there a twist? More than one--and then one big one. I'll be surprised if you figure it out before it happens.

The only issue I had with this book is I thought the villain got some undeserved redemption at the end.

If you are looking for a thriller you can't put down, get this book ASAP.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 13, 2020

You Know What is Super Annoying?

Not being able to talk! That's the new phase of my almost-over cold. I have laryngitis.  If I speak, I sound terrible. I don't feel terrible, but obviously my vocal cords disagree!

I sound more like Bowie when I attempt to speak. It's been rough answering the phone at work, but I'm healthy and I can do all the other aspects of my job so there is no reason to take off work, especially since I have to take off for surgery next week.

Do you realize how difficult it is for me not to be able to yell at The Man?  He can't hear me talking half the time when I am able to speak! How is he to know when we need to leave for work if I am not yelling, "five minutes! we have to leave in five minutes to catch the train!"

And the kids, I can't do my usual questioning of how school is going and make my jokes. Parenting teenagers means bugging them and making them laugh. I can't do either right now.

Poor P keeps asking me if I am ok.  What a good kid. Then I have to croak out, "I'm fine, I just can't talk." Then he says, "What?" as he takes out an earbud. Then I give him a look and shake my head. Then he says "Are you OK? You look upset?"  Then I have to re-croak, "I'm fine. I just can't talk."

I can't even communicate properly with the dog.  Over the last year, I have mastered a special no that I use to get Bowie off the bed when he jumps on it. My no has been very effective up until now.  However, the last few days my no sounds like a Peter Brady voice-changing impersonation, and Bowie isn't falling for it.

Sigh.  The only silver lining I can find is that the laryngitis is great distraction keeping me from getting worried about surgery next week. It's always nice to have a more mundane temporary annoyance to focus one's energy upon.
Yesterday Nothing Bundt Cakes was in our lobby peddling their delicious bundt cakes.  I purchased a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake. I ate the whole thing and it was scrumptious.  I regret nothing!  

Then for dinner, I made steak which is a real rarity in our house; we have red meat about once a quarter. Since I couldn't have a conversation with anyone while cooking, I tried my hand at plating food instead. 

You can't see it here, but that steak has a nice crust and is deliciously rare inside. 

Happy Valentine's Day !!💕💕

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Colds and Flu Woe Woe Woe

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OMG I'm so tired of having a cold.  I suppose I should be grateful I have not gotten whatever Dear Daughter and Oldest Child had since they spent a fun 24 hours vomiting. I hate puking. Hate it!

For the record, guess how many times I threw up during chemo? Zero. Anti-nausea drugs are amazing.  This morning Middle Son texted me from upstairs to let me know his stomach hurt and he thought he was going to throw up. I googled symptoms of appendicitis and I think he is in clear. Which is great, last place he or I want to be on a Sunday afternoon is an ER. Ugh.

Blech, cold medicine. These look innocent but they are hard to swallow. The package said they are smaller than they used to be and I shudder to think how bad they were before.
 Also, my cold laughed at these pills. 

Valentine's Day is coming up on Friday and I set a little goal for myself. This week I'm going to make sure to wear something shades of red every day of the week. Friday I think I might get a dozen Krispy Kremes for the kids or maybe I'll go to Nothing Bundt Cake for me! 

Keep your fingers crossed that this cold decides to leave me ASAP and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't head over to your house!

Xoxo -Victoria