Simple and Homemade

Hey Everyone!

I have been trying to enjoy the few days off in a row that I have had. I was asked to go in on my day off yesterday (which is a normal occurrence this time of year), but turned it down, as I am already scheduled to work 4 days in a row this week.

Yesterday, I was able to get quite a bit done around the house. I got a couple loads of laundry done, as well as making dinner. I made chicken penne, with a mix of whole wheat noodles and black bean penne noodles.

I also baked the reindeer sugar cookies we picked up at the grocery store.

I definitely miss being on my own, having to budget, living frugally, and living a simpler life. I have finally come to the point where I know what I want to be doing, and how I want to be living. I have realized that it’s time to be looking to move away from where I currently am, to an area with a better cost of living. I don’t really mind not having a lot of money, and making due with less. I am also the kind of person who wants and needs to do more for myself and my future family, such as gardening and canning. Homemade, homegrown and home canned food is better than store bought.

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.

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Muffins!!

Hey Everyone!

I have been wanting to be doing some more baking, and get back into Homemaking again. Beings that it is autumn, I have been wanting to make some Pumpkin Muffins.

These pumpkin muffins, are gluten free and vegan. While I am not vegan, I am dairy free, and have had issues with eggs, so when I make stuff for myself, I definitely need to avoid dairy and try to avoid eggs. I also try to limit the amount of gluten that I eat.

Over the last couple of years, I have been seriously considering what I am doing, and how it hasn’t been working out here for nearly a decade. I have also been contemplating what I am supposed to be doing with my life. When I realized I wasn’t supposed to be a teacher, I have never really had normal career aspirations, all i have wanted to do is be a wife and mother. I have wanted to cook, bake and can. The older I have gotten, the more my desires, interests, and lifestyle choices have changed. I realized long ago, that the city life is not for me.

The idea of being solely reliant on others for my food, and not knowing where all my food comes from. I prefer the idea of growing a garden, and raising / hunting / fishing my own meat, or get it from local sources where i know how it was raised. I also love being outdoors, working the earth, a slower pace of life. At this point, I don’t want to live completely off grid, but do want to live a more sustainable and self sufficient life. I am the kind of person who would rather be busy working hard, taking care of house and home, and family, and having less of a need for and time spent using modern technology like phones, and computers.

I love knitting and making hand knit items. So I am able to make some of my own clothing items.

I am definitely looking at moving someplace else, that is more conservative, and where the laws are more favorable for Homesteading, hunting, homeschooling, and more favorable to living a life where the government doesn’t listen to the vocal minority. Some of my issues with the big city life, it’s always on the go, it’s such a fast paced, consumer driven. The commute time, it takes 30 minutes to get to work at 4:30 in the morning, and 45 minutes to get home, and my job is 12 miles away. Crappy / completely inconsiderate / high sense of self entitlement (ie, its all about me, and I can do whatever I want, the rules don’t apply to me, neighbors be damned), and just plain rude neighbors can happen anywhere. In the city they are a stones throw away and living right on top of you, so between dealing with the revolving door of college kids in the party house catty corner to us (that has been such for over 20 years), the neighbor across the street is is the epitome of self absorbed/ it’s all about me / I’m better than anyone else Millennial across the street who runs his business illegally out of his home, not to mention paying over $6000 in property taxes… and having experienced small town life in a more rural area for myself, I have had enough of the city. While I was in college, I learned one of the biggest things I could have about myself, I am a small town / country girl, who needs elbow room and room to breathe. There is so much more to life than the rat race of the city. Sh*tty neighbors can happen anywhere, to me, when their house is more than just across the city street from you, you have more options for dealing with them that aren’t illegal, immoral and doesn’t actually physically hurt any living being.

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have thought much about having to leave for work, by 4:30 in the morning. The homeless / street people / people who rummage through your recycling bins the night you put them out before garbage day, has made me really uneasy. I live in what was a good / highly desirable area, but I no longer really feel that safe. I feel like I am always having to watch my back. Downtown is a no go zone, and it’s a public health hazard, In the time I have been at my current job, just about every time I go to work, I see homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks of the shopping area, not far from where I live. There was one morning, as I was heading out to go to work, between 4:15 and 4:30 in the morning, it was garbage day for those living on the other side of the main (yet not super busy at this part of it) road, and there was a homeless / street person with their bicycle leaning against the stop sign, staring at me. That definitely made me feel unsafe. I definitely made him aware that I knew he was there, without saying anything. Our city government, has done nothing to deal with the homeless situation, the hands of our law enforcement officers are tied in dealing with any situation (whether it’s the homeless or protesters) leaving them ineffective and a joke. Having seen this city go from one that was fairly liberal, but was more live and let live, and the city that wasn’t as horribly run, to a city that is no place to live unless your a liberal hippy, who wants to coexist with the homeless and drug addicts. I have also been the subject of discrimination from the liberal left, here, because I don’t believe what they believe, and choose to live my life differently.

All of this, plus learning what I have about myself, has brought me to the point where it is time for me to move on, find a place that on the whole, is more aligned with my values, and with the way I choose to live my life, and make a life for myself. I realized long ago, that while living in this city, I am just existing. I am making the conscious decision to look for a job else where, in a place that is more aligned with my values, and stop just existing and wasting the life I have been given.

Setting Up a Budget

Hey Everyone!

Creating, and sticking to a budget can be a challenge when you (and by you, and really mean “I”) work inconsistent hours paycheck to paycheck and have had periods of unemployment.

Now that I have hit the six month mark at my job, having made it through the crazy holiday season and got kept on afterward. I still have a job, even though the hours are inconsistent and at times really doesn’t seem worth it to run the gas out there for as few hours as I am getting.

This has made me start thinking long and hard about my own future, and what is right for me. Staying in the city, in a state that has more Government overreach and regulations than it should, is not really an option anymore.

It’s time for me to really start looking for new opportunities, and saving as much money as I can, while I am working, in order to go explore the areas that I feel would suit me and the life I want to live.

Being able to budget now, and determine what are necessities and what are not, will definitely help.

The current trend of young adults becoming homesteaders, or full time RVing is on the rise. My desire to be a homesteader on some level, that doesn’t include Urban Homesteading, has been ever increasing as I have watched the country and economy change dramatically in the years I have been an adult. Being able to provide for my family in as natural means as possible is important to me. I have no desire to be any kind of “doomsday prepper”, I do want to be able to have life carry on as close to “normal” as possible. I want to have a garden, and be able to can and freeze food, and be a part of a relationship where one of us (ideally the him in the relationship), goes hunting, and fishing (that’s an equal opportunity activity), and all around just way less reliant on the grocery store for things we can grow and procure on our own. There are certain things I really don’t want to give up, like running water, a power source of some sort (whether it be grid power, solar power, generator, wind, hydro power or some combination), indoor toilets, and a washing machine. That being said I am all on board with cloth diapers, and other alternatives that would make the lifestyle I want to live possible.

All that being said, I want to live a “simpler” life away from the rat race of the city, where everything costs money, and “fun” / “entertainment” costs money. Life does cost money yes. On the same token, there is nothing wrong with going for a nature walk & having a picnic, or a family baking and movie day, or exploring the property. All of those are a lot less expensive than going to the movies or going bowling, and it’s about finding the joy and then fun in the simpler things.

I am trying to start saving money now, and be better about spending money so I can make the life I want for myself happen. It’s time to trim off the excess and entertain myself the way I did in college – cooking / baking, reading books, going for walks, knitting etc. I want to be able to have to money to buy fresh produce from farmers markets, that I wasn’t able to, or just didn’t grow, as well as being able to get food to can each summer. Having internet, at least fast enough to be able to post regular blog posts is important, as well as amazon orders (especially if I am a bit more remote, and a town / city with more than a small grocery store is a ways away).

It’s Finally Turning into Fall!

Hey Everyone!

This past weekend was Labor Day Weekend. During the course of which I spent with my parents. Saturday we had gone out to Sauvie Island, and had gone to Kruger Farm, since my mom wanted to can pickled beets.

We had picked up 20 pounds of beets as well as a few other things while we are there. I am always amazing and how much less produce costs at farm stores and farmers markets than it does in the normal grocery stores.

This weekend we had also done some cooking and baking. I had made two pumpkin pies, one was the regular kind with evaporated milk and the other I made dairy free with coconut milk.

This is my dairy free pie before I baked it:

Yesterday, being Labor Day, my mom and I canned the beets. We got 9 quarts and 2 pints of pickled beets.

Today I spent some time out in the garden, picking raspberries, tomatoes and starting to trim back the raspberry bushes for the winter. I got just over a pint of raspberries and I got three pints of tomatoes. Our tomatoes have really been taking off.

I also saw this perfect spider web while I was out picking raspberries.

I am not a huge fan of spiders but I thought the web was amazing. I don’t see complete ones like this very often.

Most of the past week or so has been cooler, though we are having a little bit of a heat wave over the course of yesterday, and today. The next couple days is supposed to be hot for us. I am ready for fall to be here in full force. We are in the transition of late summer / early autumn when it still can get hot, but the days are generally cooling off, the nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter. Sunset is now before 7:45 pm! Late August is when we usually start seeing a dramatic drop off and difference of the days getting shorter.

Last Batch of Jam for the Summer!

Hey Everyone!

We have (hopefully) had our last 90 degree day of the year.

The next 10 days at least are looking much cooler, with a slight potential for some more hot weather, but I am hoping we have seen the end of the hot weather.

Today I picked two pints of raspberries to add to the two pints I picked Tuesday. I also picked a pint of tomatoes.

This afternoon I also made a batch of raspberry jam. This is my eighth batch for this summer.

Today was a good 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday, and most of the day was nearly 30 degrees cooler.

I also went to a job interview a couple days. I am still waiting to hear back. If I don’t hear back tomorrow than I know I didn’t get it.

Just your average working class neighborhoods

Hey Everyone!

Today I needed to get out of the house and go do stuff, so I went out.

I got a coffee from black rock coffee, and went on my way. I had also stopped at my local Fred Meyer store and picked up a couple things, including more soothing lotion Kleenex. My allergies are still so bad for the fourth day in a row. For now I should be called sneezy, since I have been doing a lot of that lately.

Part of why I went out today was to do a little checking out of neighborhoods. There are a couple I really like, that is if I were to find a decent job and were able to afford to live in the city. The area I like is over in NE Portland, and was traditionally a working class neighborhood. It is the type of neighborhoods that would have been the type of neighborhoods my grandparents and great grandparents would have been raising families in. They are just normal homes in decent areas without being over the top and fancy. The kind of area where your everyday joe, who went to work and raised a family would have lived.

While I was at Fred Meyer, I found this really cute reusable shopping bag, and I fell in love.

I love anything that even resembles the 1950’s. It’s not just about being a stay at home wife and mother. While there are parts of this era where women were repressed, and didn’t have much say, yet they knew how to do a lot. There are things like being able to cook and back from scratch, canning as well as things such as sewing, needle point, knitting, crocheting, and so much more that isn’t common place much anymore. There was also a sense of class and decorum during that era.

Living in Portland, the whole “green” movement, reduce/reuse/recycle mentality is huge. We have yard debris bins that our compostables, and food scraps go in, as trash service every other week. It is also to the point where Multnomah County banned plastic grocery bags and bringing your own reusable bags encouraged.

Today, I was also able to pick two pints of raspberries as well as quite a few tomatoes. There are still quite a few tomatoes on the vines.

I am definitely not crunchy, nor will I likely ever be. Though there are some “crunchy”/”hipster”/”natural” traits that are also more “traditional” that I have adopted. Some of which include: shopping local as much as possible, cooking and baking from scratch, I love farmers markets – which also ties into the shopping local bit as well. I also like that you can get a lot more fresh produce and such at farmers markets for a good price. It hasn’t had to travel that far, so the product is fresher and hasn’t had sit for a while, and not as much fuel was used in the transport from farm to market, which is a money saver. You can also find more interesting things you wouldn’t normally find at a grocery store. The reusable bag I bought, I would eventually like to use when I am able to go to farmers markets.