Homesteading Goals

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Being able to be a homemaker, has something I have definitely felt strongly about for a while now. Not just a homemaker, but also being able to do some modern-day homesteading / urban homesteading.

Homemaking is more than just keeping a house clean and tidy, and more than just having dinner on the table for a man at a certain time.

To me, it is also about being able to take care of my food intolerances in the best way possible, and make more of my food from scratch, as well as being able to obtain the best product possible to take care of my body. I also want to do more in the way of growing my own produce, and what I can’t grow, or would not be as efficient to grow on the small scale, purchase from local farmers who have grown what I am looking for. Like it would be more cost effective for me to purchase the cucumbers (and dill for pickles), cherries, peaches and pears (and apples until the apple trees I want to have are mature enough to produce enough apples to be able to make pies, and applesauce), to be able to can and eat.

Being able to cook, bake and can from scratch is important to me, and it is a part of history that has been greatly lost over the past 70 or so years.

Having developed food intolerances as an adult has definitely helped me appreciate knowing have to cook, bake and can from scratch. I am better able to take care of my body, and not be dependent on others to take care of my needs.

Besides just homemaking & homesteading, I want to live a more outdoorsy life. I would love to do more hiking, traveling, and knitting.

My generation, of young women, have been taught that once you graduate from high school you go to college and have a career out in the business world, while that isn’t a bad thing if that is what you want. At the same time, among my peers anyway, the art of homemaking, cooking & baking from scratch and canning has been lost, and few of my peers know much about it. Why should they when there is all the processed garbage labeled as food is so readily available to them, that is quick, easy and cheap. Why work for your meal when someone has combined all the right chemicals and called it food for you so all you have to do is a few very simple steps.

I am no expert when it comes to homemaking like my grandmothers, great grandmothers, and women before them did. I definitely want to continue learning more, trying new recipes, can a lot more food, make more jams and jellies, and help preserve this for future generations. I don’t want girls to just read about it in a history book, I want them to be able to meet people who still know how to do all of this, as well as find blogs, and vlogs / youtube videos about it, so they can learn about it if they are interested.

Life has shaped my lifestyle 

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For the past few months really, I have really been envisioning what my future is supposed to look like. Let’s just say smaller house with a good kitchen (and plenty of pantry space), outside of the city with a wood burning stove, solar panels, a garden in the backyard and a Jeep (or a Subaru) to drive. Some place with less pollution, that is still within about a 2 hour drive of the city. Why my parameters are set at about 2 hours of this city is because my friends are here, there is Bob’s Red Mill, countless Trader Joe’s, New seasons, Whole Foods, and other stores that have a good selection of the natural stuff that is better for you and is Dairy and Gluten Free. 

How I got to the point of questioning the mainstream and why I was doing what I was doing, and the motives behind it, then when College was over and I moved back to the city (and the old life I wanted to get away from in the first place), it didn’t take long to be back mainstream for a little over a year, at which point my body crossed a point of no return and I was forced (by my body) to go Dairy and Gluten Free. That was almost 5 years ago. Over the past 5 years I have changed as I have really had to dive into what my body can and can’t tolerate. Then that has progressed to understanding the adverse effects of processed food, environmental pollution, the products we use on our skin and put in our bodies. As it is, the only supplements I take daily are a dairy free probiotic tablet and a vitamin D tablet. 

I have known for a while that when I am able to have a place of my own, I want a garden of my own and be able to take advantage of solar panels to help generate electricity, and reduce the amount of electricity I needed from the grid. While I Really don’t want to live completely off grid, reducing my dependence on it, and being more self sufficient and living a healthier life is my goal. 

Part of this process of living a more natural life (and yes I shower daily), is going from using mainstream products to using more natural plant based products, and reducing the amount of toxic and harmful chemicals I use. This past summer I began the switch from mainstream sunblock to a mineral based sunblock – fewer chemicals yet still protecting my skin. I really don’t want to damage my skin anymore than I already have. 

I began using perfectly posh because I liked the products. As I learned more about the products, I began to see why I loved them and began loving them more. I finally found face products that work, it has taken more than half my life to find a skin care regiment for my face that works. I wouldn’t still be using it if it didn’t. 

I really don’t see myself as being “alternative” or “hipster” or a “hippie”, but seeing who I am today vs who I was 6 years ago, I have changed and Portland is rooted in who I am. I didn’t change because I wanted to be all green and “about the environment”, I changed and become more green and environmentally conscious when my body decided it didn’t like main stream food any more and my skin didn’t like main stream products. 

When life throws you a curveball you adapt without losing the core values of who you are. For me, it has only highlighted those values. 

What exactly is Alternative?

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Beings that the idea, concept, and means of carrying out an “Alternative” lifestyle starts getting complicated really very quickly, I figured I would take some time to talk about it, and how exactly the way I am choosing to live my life is alternative.

“Alternative” lifestyles and culture, is anything and everything that doesn’t line up with what the mainstream culture and lifestyle is. Examples of this include: Indie, Punk, Goth, Emo, Green, Hippie and Hipster. Each of these differ and stray away from the mainstream culture and societal norms. While I don’t identify wholly with any of these subcultures or lifestyles, over the last year, I have definitely adopted more of what I would consider “Historical” way of life. This way of life includes parts of the green, hippie and hipster subcultures.

I adhere to a completely dairy free, limited gluten, limited eggs (I am intolerant to dairy, and sensitive to Gluten and Eggs that aren’t in baked products) and reduced sugar diet. I had picked up a really bad stomach bug 5 years ago, that has since changed what foods my body will tolerate. Due to these intolerances, a lot of what I could eat are what fall within the clean eating category. Clean Eating is all about drinking plenty of water, eating a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables (I prefer local to boot), as well as lean protein, some carbs but limit the refined flours and limiting sugar (especially refined sugar). Before I had to start this way of life, I loved history, especially women’s history and the history of the American West. I am especially fascinated with more the social and day to day lives of those who lived between 1850 and 1965 in the Rocky Mountain states on west. The landscape is a lot more rugged, harsh and unforgiving that one bad winter or with someone who doesn’t know how to be self sufficient and if they made it, it would have been very hard. Over the years, I have learned that some of my distant family members came out west over the Oregon trail, and at least one set of my great grandparents were homesteaders. Having that in my own personal history makes it no surprise to me, why I want to, and feel the need to do more living off the land, growing as much of my own fruit and vegetables that I can. What I can’t grow, I want to buy as much locally grown as possible.

I am also one of these people who is just so done with all the synthetic chemicals that we use to clean, and that are in the foods we eat. It’s no wonder, and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone why all the rates of diseases are through the roof, and why so many people have “sensitive” skin, its because of all the chemicals that are in the products we now use and take for granted every day. I know that is one thing that I am now personally leery of is all the chemicals in the food, and in the products we use to clean our bodies and our clothes. I am by no means an environmentalist, but all these chemicals and all the garbage we produce is not good for the planet. I know this is partially the Portlander in me coming out, who is now used to sorting true garbage, recycling, and compost that is just what we do.

Being more environmentally conscious and “green”, definitely goes back to where I was raised and the alternative / green lifestyle that is very prominent here in Portland. This is one of the things that Portland is known for, and yes there are parts of the city that are more “green” than other parts of the city.

My food intolerances and sensitivities forced me to dive head first into clean eating and the “alternative” lifestyle. My body’s needs has forced me to embrace a part of this city that I knew existed from a young age, but really didn’t have much to do with until I was an adult. Initially I “converted” or “crossed over” because I had to, but as I did more research, and learned more about it, I have come to embrace it more. Will I be doing all my grocery shopping at Whole Foods, New Seasons, Trader Joe’s or the natural section of the grocery store? No. I do frequent them a whole lot more now.

Living here, where I am only a couple hours if even that from the Ocean, and depending on where I am in the valley, I can see both the coast range mountains and the cascade range mountains at the same time. Here, where we grow so much amazing fruit and vegetables,  vineyards for wine, hops fields for making beer, as well as orchards all over the place, This part of Oregon is one of the best (or in my opinion  THE BEST) growing regions in the country. Not to mention that the coast is the best place in the country for making cheese, butter, ice cream (Not to mention southern Oregon as well for Umpqua Ice Cream), and yogurt. Even though I can no longer eat the dairy products, I still know they are good from having been able to eat them all through my growing up years.

Putting it into words

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 As some of you may know, I grew up and have spent most of my life in the city. At the age of 18 I moved off to a small town to go to college, best choice I could have made for myself at that time. It was during that time I really began to become more adventurous and began exploring the area around where I was living. It was during that time that my love of the outdoors really began to develop into what it is now. After college I had to move back to the city and was pretty lost about what to do with my life, after all I had majored in Social Science (with no clear career path associated with it) and minored in literature. Over the past 6 years since I graduated, I have grown a lot, explored a bit, had my ups and downs. I have also spent time outdoors and hiking whenever possible. The mountains and the ocean are in my blood, being outdoors and exploring the world around me is one of the many things that excites me, and that I am passionate about. I find it interesting any way, that my best friend and I both love being outside, but she is the science nerd who just needs to become a science teacher already (cause she’ll be amazing at it), and I am the one who sees the outdoors as someplace to explore and that supports our needs, and sees the practical uses for the sciencey stuff my friend loves. 

This past week hiking, the outdoors, having a home of my own, and living as natural lifestyle as possible have really been weighing on me. Choosing to live a more natural lifestyle as an adult is a choice that has to be made daily when you were raised mainstream,  live with mainstream people, and are surrounded by mainstream people. I made this decision for me. I know I have not heard the end of it for being dairy free and gluten free, and I had to stop caring what people thought, and had to stop feeling guilty to saying no to going out when a group is going someplace I can’t eat at. It’s not my fault my body can’t tolerate dairy and gluten. As for the other changes toward a natural lifestyle, the roots were planted while I was living on my own in college.

While living a life that goes against what is mainstream, for many is a choice, for others it starts with having to start going living this life by force. For me, having to go dairy free and generally avoid gluten was the choice I had to make if I did not want to be sick everyday. Since then it has evolved (from what I remember from my nutrition class in college and doing my own research and the lifestyle I want to live), into knowing what’s in the products I use, and making better choices for myself and my health. It’s also about doing what is right for me, and not listening to what society says is right. While I am not likely to become the crunchy hipster type, I am figuring out what works for me, and it is definitely more natural than most that I know. 

There are more important things in life than caring whether I shave my armpits or not, especially when it’s only been about a century ago  that women in modern cultures (The US, Canada, The UK, Australia, etc) began shaving in the first place. With the whole societal dictates comes a choice to conform and if you conform how so, like whether to use deodorant or not (I do use it), and if you do use it, what kind: drugstore or natural (I prefer the Native brand unscented), and yes it does work. Beings that I was raised very much in a mainstream world, where I had to conform, there are things I am not going to change (like hygiene), rather change the products I use to more natural options that are better for my body. 

That is part of why I started this blog, to document this journey I am on. Why I am doing what I am doing has been in my mind this week and I wanted to share some of what has been on my mind. 

Going more Natural

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Over the course of the last few months, since I began using ItWorks and Perfectly Posh products that are naturally based, I was reminded of something I had really wanted to start doing a while back. That is to live a more natural lifestyle. That started when I had to go dairy free, and generally gluten free.

I have wanted to use naturally based products for many reasons, mostly health related so that I felt better inside and out, and reduced the chances to have a reaction to products. I still have to be careful about the products I use, and reading labels, as some “natural” products really aren’t all that natural.

Having grown up, and spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, in the part of said region that is all about recycling, composting, and is driven primarily liberal politics, at some point some of that “natural lifestyle” was bound to rub off, since I have been saturated in my whole life. Having to go Dairy Free and limit gluten, has definitely pushed my toward it that much more. I have also been trying to educate myself on how bad these man made chemicals really are for our bodies and the environment (every time you shower, brush your teeth, and so much more, you are putting chemicals down the drain then are put into the sewer or septic system and have to be dealt with, and end up in the environment). These chemicals have been connected to causing cancers and other health issues that were not around, or if they were around not as prevalent 100 year ago as they are today.

For the past year or two, I have been using a laundry soap that I mix up myself (it is one of those DIY laundry soaps I found on Pinterest), it uses Borax, Fels Naphtha, and Arm & Hammer super washing soda. Ever since I was little, I (or my parents) had to be super careful with what they used to wash my clothes, as I have broken out in hives with several different brands of laundry detergents, and I can’t use anything that is super strongly scented or I break out.

As for other cleaning products, I like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day and Seventh Generation cleaning products. I am not adverse to keeping some lysol around the house for tough situations or to give the house a good thorough cleaning (especially after having had a cold or something), but for normal day to day, I prefer the natural products, that for the day to day cleaning are just as good and won’t put too many crazy chemicals on or in my body.

While I am well on my way to living a more natural lifestyle, there are many things I am not going to give up, like personal hygiene aka brushing my teeth, showering, using deodorant, doing laundry regularly etc. I am still a firm believer in all of that, I am just choosing to use more natural ways for doing them that are better for me and the environment.

 

Making Changes

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I am making some minor changes to this blog in that I am adding to the scope and depth of what I blog about. I will still be blogging about home, homemaking, decorating, what urban homesteading I am able to do, finding a sense of community in the large city, products I use and like, especially those that are more natural and have fewer chemicals, as well as gluten free/dairy free life. 

Having had to go Dairy Free and generally avoid gluten, has changed my life in more ways than I ever thought it would. In many ways it has forced me to open up to the alternative lifestyles and cultures that have made their home in this city. In many ways I grew up very mainstream, where all my food came from the chain grocery stores, and my clothes came from the mall, and I didn’t think about what was actually in what I was putting in my body and applying to my body. I had to start thinking about it more, and start reading labels on everything. It really started bothering me that there all these chemicals and things I couldn’t pronounce in what I was eating and using on my body. 

It took a couple years to really embrace the whole completely dairy free, mostly gluten free lifestyle that includes way more healthy fresh foods, or at least minimally processed, with the only ingredients being things I can pronounce and know what they are. Then I found ItWorks, and the  products, some of which I love. I love Greens, Greens Chews, Hair Skin Nails, and itsvital core nutrition. Within my first month of being an ItWorks distributor, I came across Perfectly Posh, which a friend of mine is a consultant for. I have been trying some of their products, a few of which I love. I have found that the BFF face wash is amazing (I have combo/oily skin) it dries my face enough in the right places without over drying the other places. I also have been using Smashing Good Pumpkin, which is an anti acne body and face clay. I started using the BFF and Smashing Good Pumpkin when I started using HSN again, as it has made my face break out. I have found that the Facewash and Clay mask have been helping with clearing up my skin. They work, mainly because they are made with natural ingredients that have been around for centuries in the wild, and have proven health benefits. I have come to realize that the First Nations had a lot of knowledge about botany and the healing (and cleaning) power of the right plants, or right combination of plants. 

The past couple of years I have been trying to find the balance of mainstream and alternative culture / products that works for me. 

Neighborhoods with a Small Town Vibe

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When I started this blog, it was solely dedicated to living Dairy Free and generally Gluten Free, and over time has evolved to include Home, which is everything from homemaking, canning, hopefully one day gardening, home decorating, as well as food as it all ties together and is something that is on my heart. One day I want to be able to have a home of my own, and make it an inviting space for myself, and my friends and family to hang out in. Hospitality has been something that has been on my heart for years. 

Since I have had to go dairy free and avoid gluten for the most part, i have been thankful to live in Portland, where I have multiple New Seasons, Trader Joes, Whole Foods as well as Bob’s Red Mill nearby. We even have a Gluten Free / Vegan bakery here which I found out about at my previous job. Having food intolerances as an adult am has made me want to eat healthier and be healthier. While I have no intention of becoming a part of one of Portland’s natural all the way minorities and joining that entire subculture, in many ways I am glad it is here. It makes my life in terms of finding food I can eat so much easier, and it is easier to find products that have fewer harsh chemicals that are bad for you and such. So they haven’t completely converted me (I still eat meat, know the uses and power of bleach and Lysol, and by my clothes from mainstream stores) I am just more aware and conscious of what I put into my body and on my body. 

Speaking of Portland, yes the big city is still overwhelming at times, and there are definitely times being in the city drives me crazy and makes me long for the small town life I had in College. Thanks to the Urban Growth Boundary, the Metro area hasn’t seen the Urban Sprawl that other large cities have seen. It is easy enough to get out of the city. In the past couple of years my best friend and I have been working on exploring more of the city through new places to hike, places to get tea and hang out. A little over two months ago, my best friend and I had gone for a hike for her birthday then went and found the Smith Tea Tasting Room in NW Portland. That was te first time I had really driven in the heart of the industrialy area of NW Portland to go somewhere. 

There are neighborhoods and communities within the city that remind me of being in a small town, and they make me forget for a time that I am still in the city.