Wasting Food and Money Saving Apps

Hey Everyone!

Over the years, seeing how much food, we, in the industrialized world waste, is very disheartening. It is disheartening, because there are children in this country who don’t have enough to eat. It is also a waste of money, and other resources.

I work in a retail store where we have a food department, that we call “Gourmet”, and I have seen so much product from that department expire and have to be thrown out because it’s past is best by / sell by date. While there are some cases when the food looks like it’s gone bad (primarily the chorizo and some other packaged meats), or it’s something that is better left unchanced, so yeah, write that off and toss it. Other things, like in my case today, bags of whole bean coffee, that had best by dates of the 5th and 6th of this month, and are still completely sealed in their bags, they are still good.

Even though we couldn’t sell them to the customers, I was able to purchase a few, and my parents will use them up. I had sent a picture to my mom this morning of what I had pulled, as kind of a “the amount these are worth at retail value would cover two of my shifts” text, and she asked me if I could pick up a few at a discount. My manager said yes (we have special discount stickers for food that is getting close to their expiration, but I was allowed to use a few for these bags that were a few days past their best by dates). Due to being an employee (not the same liability as a regular customer), and the type of product it was (whole bean coffee still sealed in its bag), it was one of those, “at least it’s all not a loss” situations.

Over the last few years I have tried several money saving apps. Quite honestly, the ones that are beneficial for someone like me, are the store apps for the stores I frequent, like Safeway and Fred Meyer (Carr’s and Kroger in other parts of the country). I have tried fetch, drop, and Ibotta. While I still use Ibotta, I only really use it when I shop at where I work, since there is quite often a 2% back deal. When the day comes that I no longer work, where I work, 2% won’t be worth going shopping at where I currently work any more. I use it, because it’s 2% in addition / after the fact of getting my employee discount and any other percentage off sales that are going on in store. When I no longer have an employee discount, the likelihood that I would shop at any location of the company I work for, would likely go back to the way it was before I began working for the company, which was rarely. Having an employee discount, and on occasion a $10 shopper reward coupon (one of the two coupons we are allowed to use) as well as any in store non coupon based percentage off sale we could use too, has made it so I could pick up a few things in terms of decorations (especially Christmas and Easter decorations), at a reasonable price. Ok, I was talking about “money saving apps”, before I went off on my tangent. So, yeah, once I eventually find a different job, and leave the company I am with, the likelihood I will continue using Ibotta will be slim to none. While there are deals for places like Fred Meyer, most of them are for things I can’t or don’t use, with my food sensitivities and lifestyle. I had been using Ibotta, the first time, under an old phone number, and I had forgotten which one it was so I couldn’t remember my points once I had gotten enough. It had taken me over three years to get to that $20. I started a new ibotta, with my current phone number about six months ago. I am now almost to $15, and more than 95% of that is from shopping at work.

These apps may be great if you do a lot of shopping at the places they will let you earn point for shopping at, but for me, I don’t shop a lot at most of these places. If I do shop at some of these places, it’s not often enough to earn rewards through most of these apps. In addition to that, I really am trying to be more frugal, additionally, I eventually want to move someplace that doesn’t have a lot of these stores, and live a simpler, more frugal life.

I am still going through my closet, and trying to reduce the amount of clothes I have, since I still have a lot that I don’t wear, and I have my favorites that I wear way more than anything else. There are some things that I will be keeping that I don’t wear as often, as they are more for special occasions (or church clothes, and for weddings and funerals etc).

I am / have been doing some spending on myself during this season, since I am working some extra hours, I am still single, don’t have a family of my own to feed, and I am still living in the city. Besides my favorite tea, what I am ordering specifically for myself,bare for accessorizing the clothes I am keeping, and taking them from two half season outfits (late spring & early fall) and making them wearable for three seasons, by having warmer accessories for the cooler temps. Most of what I am picking up at work, are decorations for my future home, so while I am buying them because I like them, I hope they will help bring joy and festivity to my family and anyone who comes to visit.

Creating Lasting Traditions

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On Friday, after I had gotten off work, I decided to make some gluten free, vegan pumpkin muffins.

I have been wanting Pumpkin food for the better part of the month.

Yesterday afternoon, I made a batch of homemade chili, which is fitting for the cook crisp days we have been having.

I also helped my mom make a batch of chocolate chip cookies as well as a batch of chocolate crinkle cookies, which are like brownie cookies.

Yesterday morning, I had to go to an all store meeting at work. Over the course of last week, our Christmas fixtures were set. Our holiday theme / motive is “creating lasting traditions”. Over the time I have worked for the company I am at, as well as other times, I have been slowly building up my Christmas decorations and Christmas tree ornaments collection. I have been adding things as I find things I like. This is the third holiday season I will have been with the company, so I have seen the ornaments for three holiday seasons now. Many of the ornaments are the same, and each subsequent season, has only brought out a few new ornaments. Many of the ones I have liked & bought from work, are the woodland creatures / Nordic / Scandinavian themed ornaments. The deer / reindeer has been a consistent through the three seasons. What is also interesting, is that Scentsy had brought out a holiday warmer with a similar looking deer a year or two ago, which I snapped up, since it fit in with what is starting to be my “Christmas theme”.

When the whole topic of “making lasting traditions” came up at work yesterday, I got thinking about the types of traditions I would want to make, if and when I have a family of my own. Many of which are simple, and won’t cost a lot of money. Things like making Christmas Cookies, and going and visiting some of the elderly, and bringing them some Christmas cheer, and watching “The Polar Express”, while drinking hot chocolate, and coming and visiting my family (as I don’t intend to stay in the Portland metro area), and do things like going to Peacock Lane, and the Christmas event at my parents church. I want to make the Christmas season “magical” for my kids, as well as teach them that Christmas is not about the gifts (even though they are nice), but about the birth of Jesus, and sharing God’s love with others.

What I am Warming Wednesday & Favorite Essential Oil Blends

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Now that I have had a few essential oils for a bit, I figured it was time for an update.

Most of the essential oils blends I am using are from Saje. I am still loving the DoTerra OnGuard as well. I have to say that the Saje Inhale seems to be helping with my allergies, they are usually brutal this time of year. At night, I am using several blends and creating my own nighttime blend, which I am loving. All of these that I am going to be listing are from Saje: 4 drops of be still, 4 drops of tranquility, 4 drops of unwind, and a couple drops of stress release.

This afternoon in my Scentsy Warmer, I have been warming 2 cubes of Eggnog and a cube of St. Nickerdoodle. Both of these scents are from the 2016 scents of the season collection.

To me St. Nickerdoodle smells like overly cinnamon apple pie. Egg Nog is a very sweet creamy scent. I decided to combine them and see what happened. I actually like the combination, it smells more like Apple Pie A La Mode.

While I am well aware it’s well past Christmas, as it is spring now, I am still kind of in a winter-y mood, partly because I spent this past weekend at the beach, where it was cool, and wet part of the time. I am also not a huge fan of a lot of the super sweet floral-y spring and summer scents. I prefer the clean scents and the richer, deeper scents.

I am also trying to get a lot of my Scentsy bars used up. I am trying to simplify my stash. I am trying to get down to two or three scents for year round, and two scents for autumn and two scents for winter/Christmas.

Preparing for Christmas Dinner

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As I am writing this, it is the wee small hours of Christmas Morning. Yes I am still up, and yes Christmas presents can wait until it is daylight outside and I have been to bed.

Yesterday, being Christmas Eve, there was time spent working on doing some prep work for Christmas Dinner. Green Beans were cooked, Cheesy Potatoes were made, Cranberry Salad was prepped for tomorrow, Cherry Pies were made from scratch, and Rolls were mixed up from scratch. I won’t be having any of the Cheesy Potatoes or Rolls. The Cheesy Potatoes have a ton of dairy in them, and with the rolls I am really trying to be careful how much gluten I eat, and I would rather have a piece of pie than a roll or two anyway.

Today we just have to cook the ham, bake the rolls, and reheat the potatoes and green beans, as well as put the cranberry salad together. Finishing up getting dinner ready and served should not be super difficult.

Thanksgiving dinner seems to be the most labor intensive of the holiday dinners, but I love them all. I love cooking these more complex / full meals. I love cooking from scratch and putting a meal together to then serve to those I love and care about.

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Making Hot Cocoa by the Gallon

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Each evening this weekend, I have helped make hot cocoa by the gallon for an event that drew over 5,000 people over the course of the weekend.

We were using the professional (1.75 lb) size bags of Nestle Hot Cocoa mix. We were making batches in large pots on the stove with 3 – 4 bags and the appropriate amount of water for each bag of mix in each batch. So each pot made 3.75 to 5 gallons of hot cocoa.

Over the course of the weekend, 170 gallons of hot cocoa was made. We only had a batch plus a bit left over.

When you are making hot cocoa for such a large crowd, seeing individual serving size packets is weird. Over the course of 3 nights we used 10 cases plus 2 bags from an 11th case of the 1.5 – 1.75 pound bags of cocoa.

There were a few times each evening where I left the kitchen to take a pot of hot cocoa out to the service line, but for the most part I stayed in the safety of the nice quiet kitchen where there weren’t so many people.

As far as timing goes, I definitely hit it right to see a few friends and family who had come, most of whom I haven’t seen in months or even years.

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Thanksgiving Dinner and Preparing for Christmas!

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Wednesday I had helped my mom start preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner. I had made the Pumpkin Pies and mixed up the rolls.

I had made myself a Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie for thanksgiving, and made two regular pumpkin pies for the rest of the family.

This year we had kept Thanksgiving dinner simpler than we have in years past. Now that it is down to just my immediate family, as my grandparents and great – aunt who used to join us for holiday dinners have all passed away, it is a lot simpler.

After we had had dinner and before I had to take a nap before going to work Friday morning, I put up and decorated my little artificial Christmas Tree.

Over the past couple weeks I have been ordering Christmas gifts for those in my life, to make sure I get them in, in time for Christmas.

As I am getting older, what I want for Christmas, is less about just things, or getting the latest and greatest electronics. I have what I need and some of what I wanted in that department. I don’t need the latest and greatest. I have a smartphone, that is a bit older, but still works great and has everything I need. This past year, I have been learning how to be content with what I have.

This year for Christmas and my Birthday I know I am getting some practical things. Well practical to me things. They wouldn’t be practical for everyone.

That is how I am trying to live my life, is more practically, and be more frugal. That is part of the focus of this blog, is Homemaking made simpler. Those who know me, know I love history, especially the era of westward expansion / frontier life / pioneer life / Homesteading as well as the 1950’s. I also have been interested in learning about and diving into Women’s History. While these are two very different periods in history,

In the years since my food intolerances really began manifesting themselves, learning where my food comes from, and the concept of being self sufficient and eventually living on one income, has been something I have been researching. At least with where I am from, living the more traditional lifestyle where the husband works and the wife is a homemaker and raises the kids is all but a memory.

I have always preferred being able to go outside and work on the land, like having a garden, some fruit trees, and maybe some chickens, pigs and goats. I also enjoy cooking and baking, as well as knitting.

I am one of those who wants a home of my own, but I don’t want anything fancy. I want a home to keep, and hopefully one day raise kids in. I also have realized that I am more of a country girl than a city girl. I would also make memories than have a bunch of things that I don’t need and will not use often enough to justify buying them.

As I get have gotten older, having frivolous things is less and less appealing. Which is why when I am asked what I want for Christmas and my birthday (they are less than a week a part), it is getting harder.

Preparing for Christmas

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I am one of those people who waits until after Thanksgiving to decorate. That doesn’t mean that I don’t start preparing for it earlier.

This year, beings that I have been working Retail, in a store that carries Christmas Decorations, I have been inundated with Christmas Decorations for the past month and a half. I have also been slowly working on purchasing the decorations I have liked over the past month or so.

This year, at work, one of the main themes for our decorations this year is “Nordic Lodge”. Beings as it has taken up more than 3 fixtures on Center of Floor, it is a pretty big deal. There have been a few decorations that I have seen every time I have gone to work that I loved, so I have picked them up.

Autumn and Christmas are my two favorite times of year to really decorate for the season. I love decorating this time of year and make where I am living look festive. When I was in college, I didn’t care so much about my first apartment, as it was kind of a crappy apartment, that never felt like my. My second apartment while in college, from the time I first walked into it, felt like home, and I decorated it a lot more.

I definitely want to decorate more when I get my own place again, and make it feel homey and cozy.

Yesterday, the newest Holiday Scentsy Warmer I had ordered (as well as some bars and a holiday brick) arrived. I got the winter stag Warmer, as well as 3 bars of lavender white Balsam and a brick of Silver Bells. One of my favorite scent combos this time of year is Very Merry Cranberry and Silver Bells. On its own the very merry cranberry is a bit to sweet and a bit too much for me. The Silver Bells helps tone it down and add in a light minty, cold & crisp mix to it, which I love.

It definitely struck me yesterday when I had pulled the warmer out of the box to see it in person that the side of the reindeer has a bit of the Nordic pattern similar to what some of the ornaments I had bought at work have on them.