Summer of changes

Hey Everyone!

The past year or so, I have really lost momentum for this blog. I am now trying to get the motivation back that I lost.

The holidays, rather the end of September to early January were insanely busy, to the point where I was basically eating, sleeping, working, mainly working and sleeping, all while definitely not getting enough sleep. I should also mention that I somehow managed to fit in a few dates with a guy, that things didn’t work out with, as well as a weekend long (well three evenings over a weekend) of helping with a Christmas event.

So I didn’t have the time or energy to be doing much in the way of cooking or baking. It took a couple more months to finally recover from the holidays, and I have just been unmotivated the past 2.5 months.

I have also been trying to reintroduce dairy into my diet, to see if my body has “healed itself” or gotten to a point where I can tolerate dairy again. That experiment came to a crashing halt real fast. It really looks like dairy doesn’t agree with me.

My goal for this summer is to be able to write one to two posts a week, and actually do some dairy free and gluten free cooking and baking, while tying in being on a budget.

I really want to try making new things and new meals that taste amazing, yet are dairy free, limited gluten, low sugar (at least added sugar) and minimally processed.

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Making Lifestyle Changes

Hey Everyone!

Over the past few months I have been dealing with some health issues and not feeling well.

I am really trying to get my health in check and changing my lifestyle. I am trying to greatly reduce my intake of refined sugar, as well as increasing my fruit, vegetable, lean protein and water intake.

I am also using fewer products on my skin that irritating my skin, since I have been experiencing some skin irritation lately.

A couple days ago I cooked up some Chicken Quinoa Bowls, and made enough chicken and quinoa to make it easier the rest of this week.

This week has actually been pretty great weather wise. Last week was pretty hot and dry, and I didn’t like it. This week has been much cooler, cloudy and rainy. I definitely prefer the cool, grey, wet days.

Homesteading is what I want to do.

Hey Everyone!

After a couple of months where I have been crazy busy, I am getting back into the Homemaking routine. Now that the holidays are over, and work is slowing down, the overwhelming desire to be a homesteader has come back in full force.

While becoming a homesteader as well as hopefully eventually being a Homesteading wife and mother who also homeschools, and so much more is still an unfulfilled dream, it is very much my dream. In some form and fashion it has been my dream for a few years now.

I have loved cooking, baking, canning, and knitting since I was little. The joy of having my own place, and keeping it up came in my early 20’s, while I was still in college.

I grew up in the city, yet it has never felt like home, I always felt like something was missing. Between a couple classes in college that really set my brain in motion of wanting to know where my food came from, how it was grown / raised, and developing food intolerances as an adult, that was the early beginnings of all this. I knew I loved small towns and country life over city / suburban living. Having to cook way more for myself and having to read labels, it has almost become an obsession.

I have had several different types of jobs over the years, some office jobs, a daycare, and working as a stock crew member at a retail store. During this time, especially these past couple summers, I have been trying to do more and more gardening, and jam making and so on. I have loved that. This season working stock crew, while it has been physically demanding for me, and I have been tired at the end of every shift, I really realized that I prefer working hard physically to sitting in an office all day. No, I don’t want to work stock crew forever, but it has helped me realize a lot of things about myself.

I love working with my hands, seeing the fruits of my labor at the end of the day, knowing I did something, and being tired from hard work.

I want, and am pursuing a different lifestyle than the one I was raised with, I never really had a sense of community, and lending a helping hand when the need arises. I want to live a simpler life and I am not afraid of putting in the hard work, day after day in order to know where my food comes from. In addition to that, be able to grow enough fresh produce to be able to go to Farmers Market and help provide others in the community fresh produce and good at a reasonable price.

Today, I baked a loaf of easy artisan bread with rosemary and sea salt, as well as baked oatmeal. I am really trying to eat better, and make things with fewer ingredients that I can pronounce. The baked oatmeal also will make mornings I have to work a bit easier.

Born in the Wrong Era

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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.

Summer Baking: Making Zucchini Bread from Free Zucchini

Hey Everyone!

My mom had gotten a large zucchini for free from someone she works with. She was not sure what to do with it, so I made three loaves of zucchini bread.

I hate wasting good food just because you don’t want to eat it. I always try to remember that there are children in this country who go hungry. So when you have food that is still good, you use it and eat it. While zucchini on its own is not one of my favorite foods, if you grate it up and make zucchini bread, then it is amazing.

As I have gotten older, reducing the amount of waste I create, and using food to create something that tastes good. Part of this is Lifestyle choices, and wanting to live a simpler life, as well as the fact that I have known how much food costs from a young age and am not oblivious to the struggle to keep enough food around. I am more grateful for what I have.

Today I picked about a pint of raspberries, which is a bit more than I have picked each day for the past few days. I am hoping that this is a sign that the second crop of the season is coming on and that I will be able to get more jam made this summer.

First Freezer Jam of the Season!

Hey Everyone!

Summer is in full swing! The raspberries we have growing in the backyard are taking off.

Yesterday I had grabbed a second pint berry container just in case, and I wound up using it and filled it up. Today when I went out to pick berries I had also taken a second pint container with me and I filled both up as well today.

I finally had enough berries to make a batch of freezer jam! So I finally got my first batch of jam of the season.

I used the directions out of the MCP box for making freezer jam, with one alteration, I put Karo Light Corn Syrup in my jam. The old MCP recipe called for a cup of Karo Syrup after you let the jam sit with the lemon juice and pectin, and before adding the sugar. You also want to put the lemon juice in with the crushed berries and the pectin. The directions don’t specify that.

I had made some jam after they had changed the recipe and without realizing they had changed the recipe and the jam came out all gritty and gross.

My mom and I came to the conclusion that the Karo Syrup helps the sugar to dissolve and the jam to not be gritty.

I don’t know if it was just one of those things or if there was any correlation between the two but i had watered the garden earlier in the week and the next day there were so many berries ready.

I will definitely try to remember to pay attention to how many berries I get tomorrow and see if there is more berries ready than usual.

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.