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.

So excited for Fall and Baking

Hey Everyone!

I know it’s only the end of July, but getting the first big wave of autumn stuff in at work, is really making me want it to be autumn already!

There have also been hints here and there that autumn is coming soon, some leaves are already starting to turn. It’s crazy. We have had a relatively cool July, which is likely contributing to it.

We are expecting some hot days next weekend, but I am interested to see what August and September are like this year.

This whole “Fall is coming” mentality, has me in the mood to be baking and making things that taste good.

On my way home from work, I stopped at bob’s red mill, and picked up a couple packages of their gluten free muffin mix, because I am wanting to be making more muffins, and try different kinds of muffins.

I am really wanting to try making lemon lavender poppyseed muffins. I had been hesitant about lavender as a flavor until a few years ago, when I had a cupcake with lavender frosting and it was so good, and now I am a fan.

While I was at bob’s red mill I also picked up a wheat free vegan Marionberry scone, it was pretty good.

I have also made Chili today, for dinner this next week. It just sounded good, and is super easy.

I also finished up a pair of socks today. I am actually happy to have this pair done, and can move on to other pairs of socks.

At least this weekend should be hot so I can get these socks washed and blocked while it’s hot outside.

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).

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.

She Changed Her Mind

Hey Everyone!

I was really craving brownies today, so I made gluten free vegan cherry brownies today. The recipe I used called for the squares of bakers chocolate, but I had cocoa powder, so I googled how to use cocoa powder instead of the bakers chocolate. I figured it out, it called for a tablespoon of butter, oil or crisp shortening per three tablespoons of cocoa powder. I used applesauce instead. I used gluten free egg replacer instead of eggs. While I really wanted brownies I wanted to make them a bit healthier, which is counter intuitive anyway but it is what it is. I had added maraschino cherries, and man the brownies turned out so good.

The past three days have been cooler than the past couple of weeks. With the cloudy mornings and warm but not super hot afternoons have felt more like the end of summer early part of fall.

Between the cooler temps the past three days (it will be heating up again in the next couple of days), rewatching Grimm, Knitting, Baking, and generally wanting to go do stuff, I am ready for Fall to be here.

It has gotten me into the mood for autumn decorating and decorating for Christmas when the time comes. It is also making me want a home of my own to decorate.

As much as I would love to live in Alaska or the country, there is a part of of me that wants to stay living here in the city and have a home of my own here. There are so many things I would miss if I moved too far away, like Trader Joe’s, Bob’s Red Mill, Costco, New Seasons, Market of Choice, even Whole Foods. I would also miss all the craft stores and book stores like Powell’s.

Fresh Picked Raspberries are my Current Obsession!

Hey Everyone!

Now that the raspberries are starting to come on, I am out there picking each evening.

My obsession began last summer when I was home alone for a week, and picking raspberries was left up to me. I was out there picking each evening, even though it was hot and the air was so smoky from the forest fires.

So far our air quality is still pretty good this year, but we have yet to have summer officially start, which will happen in less than 2 days (Thursday morning just after 6:00 am).

This afternoon I had gone out and picked the roughly quarter of a pint of raspberries that was ready.

I didn’t stay out long since it has been in the low 90’s today, and I am not a heat loving kind of person.

Today, I also got the bulky shawl I had finished knitting up a little while back washed up, beings that it was so warm today.

I am trying to maximize my use of the hot weather while it’s here, especially if I am ever able to move to SE Alaska. That is one thing I figured out / realized is that while I am living in the lower 48, I might as well take advantage of the summer weather to air dry my hand knit items outside and they will dry pretty quick. Then the house doesn’t smell like wet sheep for those I live with. Should I be able to move to SE Alaska, I am going to have to find other ways of drying my woolen creations. Living here in the lower 48, summer is the best time to wash new stuff especially. The wet sheep smell seems to diminish a bit after the first wash.