Hipster Fancy Pants Grocery Shopping

Hey Everyone!

This morning I went out in search of toilet paper, as we were down to our last package, and toilet paper is a prized commodity at the moment.

I ended up going to four stores, to find toilet paper, as well as other essentials that will last for a few weeks.

My last stop was at new seasons, which is local grocery store that carries healthier and more alternative (ie food intolerance friendly) and is definitely a hipster / fancy pants / organic / local products grocery stores.

I hadn’t been into a new seasons store for at least several months if not longer, and the last time I was in, they had more dairy free yogurt options than your average mainstream grocery stores, but not as many as they had today, I was amazed and happy. Being dairy free, finding dairy free yogurt that I like has been a challenge. I picked up several different brands, mostly vanilla, though one of the brands I am familiar with had black cherry, so I got two of those. I also got more ingredients for making smoothies.

While I am generally trying to abide by the stay at home order, I will go out if I actually need something from the grocery store. While I have yet to use gloves or a mask (though I did order one in case I do need it, especially if it means that I can go back go work sooner), I do try to get out early, and only get what I need, abide by the two meter rule, and get out.

This pandemic, has definitely shown me the need to get debt free, and have an emergency fund with at least 6 months worth of income saved, especially as I struggle with getting unemployment, like millions of other Americans.

Bottle Drop

Hey Everyone!

If you live here in the US, your pop (soda) cans & bottles have bottle deposits listed on them for some states.

Here in Oregon, we are one of the states that has bottle deposits that we have to pay on certain types of cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. Our state has a $0.10 bottle deposit per bottle.

The bottles that have these bottle deposits on them are pop (soda/soda pop/coke) cans and bottles, beer cans and bottles, hard cider cans and bottles, Kombucha cans and bottles, single use water bottles, and that kind of thing.

From the time the bottle deposits were started until more recently (like the last year or two) many of the grocery stores had and have bottle return areas. Over time, many of them became quite dirty, smelly and gross. Quite often, when the machines were working you had to contend with street people who collected cans for the money. Returning cans and bottles has always been a less than desirable task. At least in the part of the city I am from, as well as the other nice areas, a lot of people put their cans and bottles out in the regular recycling, because the 5 or 10 cents wasn’t/ isn’t a big deal to them. Up until the last couple years we never really saw the amount of street people come through digging through people’s recycling the night before and early morning of Garbage day. Now it’s crazy. It makes me a bit unsettled, because they are out quite often at the same time I have to leave for work, which is before the sun is up and most people are awake (before 4:30 in the morning). While I know most would leave me alone, it’s hard to tell who would give me issues and who wouldn’t, so it’s unsettling. There was one instance that made me become almost hyper vigilant, on Monday mornings (garbage day on the other side of the road just up from my house) and Friday Mornings (our garbage day). There was one of these people standing in the corner just up from where I live, with his bike leaned against the stop sign, staring at me. I walked to my car fast and got in, and locked my doors. While it did work out OK, it just unnerved me a lot, and made me feel even less safe here than I already did.

That brings me to what I started this post about to begin with. Within the last two or three years, we have had several bottle drop / redemption locations open up here in the city. All the major cities here in Oregon have at least one. Outside of the Portland Metro area, they can be found in at least: Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Roseburg, Medford, Klamath Falls, Bend and Hermiston. These are the ones that I know of.

I know at one point they were talking about closing down the individual grocery store self serve bottle machines (the dirty, nasty gross ones, where you have to deal with the homeless street people), and just having the bottle redemption centers, but that has yet to fully materialize.

I finally bit the bullet after the new year and set up a bottle drop account, and went in, got my card and bags. I was surprised to see that they also have self serve machines, which is nice to see. These centers are also kept surprisingly clean. Much cleaner than I have ever seen the ones at the grocery stores here in Portland, the one at the grocery store I went to, in the small town I lived in while in college was kept way cleaner. Though that small town didn’t have the homeless / street people problems that the bigger cities do.

Over the last month, I finally filled my first green bottle drop bag, with cider bottles I have been collecting over the past year or so, as well as pop cans, and San Pellegrino cans from last year. I finally had enough to fill a bag, and took it in.

Since I am still learning the process there was a fair amount to figure out, but I got it figured out, and I am set for a bit. The whole green bag system, definitely does make it easier in the long run. Boxes of bags have 10 bags, and cost $2.00 per box that is debited to your account, and each bag costs $0.40 to process, which is also debited from your account. There is also a limit of 15 full green bags that you can take back during a 90 day period, which isn’t really an issue for someone like me, and my family. There is also a daily amount you can take back through the self service, which is like 350 or 360 cans or bottles per day. Though the daily self services amount rules have been in place pretty much since the bottle deposit / returns have been in existence, or at least as long as I can remember so that is nothing new. While there are some other rules for the bottle drops, as far as how much, how often and frequency within that time period, exist and are available on their website, it is pretty reasonable for the average person.

Getting everything figured out in the beginning and the idea of everything you have to do to get started with the program was a little bit like “is it really worth it?” But now that I have gotten my account set up, gotten my first roll of bags and gone through the process of taking my first bag back, it’s not that difficult or daunting.

I wanted to get things set up an squared away while I still have a bottle drop like 10 minutes from my house. I know I am going to be moving away at some point, and unless I move out of state, I wanted at least this to be taken care of, so all I have to do is update my address and stuff in the system. Depending on where I end up moving in Oregon, I would be making fewer trips to a town or city that has a bottle drop, and now I am at a point where I have everything thing I need to make it so that I would only have to go to one of these towns every few months (which I would be doing anyway, to go do some stock up shopping).

Here in Oregon, the cost to have the bottle drop place process the green bags, is the same as the refund value of 4 cans or bottle, and if you figure the cost of a box of bags divided by the number of bags, is the same as two cans or bottles per bag, you are really only giving them or “losing” 6 cans or bottles per bag, which isn’t bad. I’d just as soon pay the $0.60 total per bag, and save myself the time and hassle of the serve and having them do it. About the only time it’s not quite as cost effective is if you have more 2 liter bottles than anything else (as they take up more room than the average 12 – 20 ounce cans and bottles). When you can fit more than 50 cans and bottles in a bag, it’s totally worth it to not do it yourself, especially when you can drop it off as part of running errands, and you still get most of your money back.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

What a year 2019 was. This holiday was particularly rough as well. It’s time to try to recover from the burnout. This season of work, has definitely taught me a lot about myself.

This year, I am definitely going to be working on getting my finances in order, as well as making some life changes. It is definitely time for me to be moving on from where I am, as well as finding a new job. I am also giving up coffee again, and I am also giving up going to coffee shops and Jamba Juice. The real cost of these trips has definitely hit me. There are and will be better uses for the money I have been spending. Even buying tea bags from my favorite local tea company, and making it at home is less expensive then buying it already made.

I haven’t been doing the Homemaking stuff like I used to, I have lost much of the desire I have had to do so, as well as not having much energy to do so.

I am also working on getting projects done, and working on knitting.

Yesterday, I had gone out with a friend of mine for a birthday adventure. We had gone to the Chinese Garden. Even though she lives in Kentucky now, she still picks up some shifts at her old job when she comes to town, so she was able to get a REAP card at work to use to get us into the Chinese Garden for free, which was nice. I also still had some money on my HOP card, so my bus and light rail fare was covered, so, I spent just under $20 yesterday. Though it hit me hard to pay over $6 for two donuts at Blue Star Donut company. It has also been a chilly, damp, dark, Rainy, Portland day. That being said it made me want to get more of the shawls I am working on done, as well as get a pair of rain boots. Being able to be out a bit more this time of year, and living a more rustic lifestyle is what I am drawn to.

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

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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.

Born in the Wrong Era

Hey Everyone!

Earlier I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner since I hadn’t marinated the chicken I got at the store yet.

I knew I had a lot spinach in the fridge, so I decided to make sautéed spinach with yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic and lemon juice sautéed in olive oil. I also decided to cook some of the tricolored quinoa I had in the pantry to add to add to my concoction, for some protein. I had also added a bit of salt as well.

On the side I had broiled some left over rosemary potatoes I had made the other night.

Before starting in on making dinner I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, vegan cherry brownies. I used apple sauce instead of butter, and I really like how they turned out.

After I had dinner and cleaned up the kitchen I went out to the garden and picked raspberries. I also checked the tomatoes and the lettuce. The tomatoes are still very green, and I had picked lettuce a couple evenings ago so there was not anymore ready at this point.

I am working with have I have available to me at this point. I would love to live outside of the city on more property, and have a larger garden. I would love to do more canning, and freezing of what I can grow and obtain fairly locally, as well as freezing meat obtained from hunting and fishing.

Part of this comes from the fact that I was raised in the city, where I have always been reliant on the grocery stores for all my food, unless we went to a produce stand, farm store or farm stand locally. Be even then, most of the meat I have eaten in my life came out of a package.

While there are certain items I would still need to pick up at the grocery store, I am the kind of person who wants to know where my raw food, especially and produce is coming from, how it was raised, and that it was butchered properly. I also want to be doing more to support my local farmers and helping them succeed. I prefer local food, when you buy it from the farm itself, it is a better quality, and has better flavor.

As I have gotten older, the quality of my food has become more and more important, as well as supporting the local smaller farms and such, over the big chain stores. The chain stores have been having so many issues with recalls on food for e.coli and salmonella and other contaminates.

I also love cooking and baking and using the best quality ingredients in what I create. There are times when I feel like I was born in the wrong era, because I do enjoy Homemaking, gardening, knitting, hard work, and all that goes along with it.

What Living in a Small Town taught me about Who I am

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I am loving gardening and being able to go outside and work around after a rough day. There is something about working around the garden alone in the evenings.

Gardening definitely makes me miss living in a small town in the middle of nowhere this time of year. The towns I lived in while in college are college towns, at the same time there are families who live there, and the college is a welcome part of the community. With the exception of some of the freshman (thinking back to my own freshman year and lower division classes), the majority of the student body were there to learn. There were also a fair amount of older / non traditional students who had kids, in addition to the school not being a party school (can anyone say “dry campus”), made for a more family friendly community small town feel. Outside of town limits it was all farm land, whether they were growing grass for hay, hops for beer, or grapes to make wine, it is definitely a farming area. A lot of people who lived outside city limits also had gardens, some had chickens and or goats. There were at least a couple alpaca farms. It took leaving the city and moving there to realize that I am not a city girl.

It took living there to plant the seeds of wanting to live in the country, on some acreage where I can have a flower garden and a fruit & vegetable garden as well as chickens, maybe some goats, and so much more. I personally fell in love with living in the country, not super far from a small town.

Living there taught me how to appreciate the quiet and simpleness of a summer’s evening, and gardening once the sun is past it’s peak (between 5:30 and 7:30 pm), and enjoy watching the sun go down while sitting outside especially if there is a breeze.

Living in a small town where the regular TV stations didn’t always come through clearly, and many businesses closed by 7:00 pm, there wasn’t a lot to do like there is in the city. That didn’t bother me at all. It really helped me to appreciate the simpler things in life like the beauty of a summers evening, and going for a walk for something to do. It fits well with who I am. That slower pace of life, and enjoying the simpler way of life in terms of not having to be going from one store to another, spending lots of money, or constantly needing to go somewhere and do something is what works for me. If I ever have a family of my own, I would love to raise my kids near a small town.

Working around in the garden this week gave me time to think about how much more I want to do and what I want to grow and make for myself. While there is more of a resurgence of the Homesteading / Urban Homesteading Lifestyle out here in this part of the country, it seems like how much of what women did a couple generations ago (and they weren’t all urban housewives), is a chapter in the history books. Homesteading, even Modern Homesteading and urban Homesteading are a lot of work, but I love the way I feel at the end of a long day of work and being tired from actually accomplishing something.

This week I have picked about a pint of raspberries each day, and yesterday I picked some of my lettuce that I had planted earlier this week. I watered the garden, and kept a watchful eye on the tomato plants. It was a good thing that we staked the tomatoes last weekend. They have grown so much in the past week, it’s crazy. As of yesterday there were 11 flowers that I counted between all the plants. If we hadn’t staked them when we did, they would likely be falling over already.

Starting a Garden Journal

Hey Everyone!

Now that I have been getting more into Gardening, and hope to continue gardening well into the future, I decided to start a gardening journal.

I know that moving is in near enough future, and depending on where I move, the longitude and latitude I am at may change a bit or a lot. Unless I am able to move to Alaska, which could happen, in all likelihood I will stay in Oregon, Washington or Idaho, as I love this part of the country and the growing regions we have out here. We have everything I want out here, in terms of agriculture and produce. Not to mention hunting and fishing.

Each year is different, and different vegetables grow differently at different elevations, in different climate zones and at different latitudes.

I decided to start keeping this journal to track all of that on a regular basis (daily or almost daily).

I am only needed to record longitude, latitude, elevation and town / closest town each time I move, just to know where I am at and to be able to go back and look as a reminder.

At the beginning of the season I want to track if I planted anything new, what I planted, and how many plants, as well as what plants returned. From there, when I do maintenance stuff like staking the tomatoes or transferring starts from the greenhouse to the outdoor garden. I also want to track when things first start coming on.

On the daily basis track things like high temperature, humidity, whether it was an overcast or sunny day, if there was rain, or that I watered. I also want to track how much of each item I harvest each day. From there, I also want to document if I was able to make a batch of jam or something like that from what I harvested.

Part of why I am writing it down is so I have it easily at hand to track and look back on, as well as the fact it will be easier to search than my blog. I also feel that I would bore you all and lose followers if I posted all that here on a daily basis.

Not to mention that this blog is more than just about gardening, even though that is taking up a bit of my time in the summer.

I want to keep things as well rounded as possible, with Homemaking, Cooking, Baking, Canning, Gardening, cleaning, budgeting couponing, Decorating, entertaining, and all of that,

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Hey Everyone!

Over the past couple weeks since I have started picking raspberries, I have been keeping an eye on the tomato plants. They are finally tall enough where I really started taking notice and thinking that it was time to corral them.

Last year, they hadn’t been corralled, and by the time I had kind of taken over checking raspberries and working around the plot where the tomatoes are (as they are behind the raspberries), they were an overgrown mess. There were tomatoes on the vines, only a few ever started getting ripe, and most that did either got stepped on or partially eaten by squirrels and birds.

This year, since it is early enough in the season, and I have taken over keeping up with the plants in the garden and trying to tend them, and talking with the family members I live with, I found out that we had the wire tomato cages. With some help, we got the tomato plants corralled in the cages, and hopefully we will actually get some tomatoes off them to enjoy this summer.

I kind of taken over tending the garden plants because I really want a garden of my own, and what better way to get a feel for it than to jump and get my hands (and knees) dirty with what I already have available to me to work with.

I know I will be writing more about the Garden this summer, as well as other Homemaking and Urban Homesteading things. I may not post as many pictures here, but if you want to follow along, I will for sure be posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram. If you on either of those and want to follow my Homemaking and Homesteading journey through pictures and such be sure to follow me on those two platforms as well as following my blog.

Homestead Dreams

Hey Everyone!

For the past several years, Homesteading has been something I have been interested in and something that I have been mulling over.

I grew up in the city, yet it has really never felt like home. As Portland has grown, and is bursting at its seams, the less I want to stick around. The hustle and bustle, the traffic, the lack of work for those not in IT, Engineering or health care, the hipsters as well as other things, makes someone like me disenchanted with being here.

I am someone who wants to work hard, and put in an honest days work. I also like seeing the fruits of my labor, figuratively and literally. I also like getting my hands dirty, and working on the land. I like a balance of indoors and outdoors, as well as living an active and more natural lifestyle.

All that said, beings I am used to things like running water and electricity I don’t want to live totally off grid, rather finding a balance in order to live a sustainable lifestyle. I am not adverse to having solar panels to help offset electricity costs, especially in the summer.

I am one of those people who doesn’t need a huge house, yet wants something bigger than I tiny home. Having a kitchen where I have the room to cook and bake full meals from scratch as well as can and preserve food in the summer, and have a decent sized pantry and a cold room in the basement. Yet, I also want plenty of room outside to be able to garden, have some chickens (and maybe have some other animals as well). If I were to have kids I would want to have enough room to also be able to send them outside to play in the decent weather.

This is kind of what I would like for a cold room:

If I am able to live this sort of life and live in the country, having a cold room would not only allow me to be able to store whatever I canned over the summer, but also be able to make city runs more effective by buying dry goods and canned goods in bulk and having someplace to store them.