Making Hot Cocoa by the Gallon

Hey Everyone!

Each evening this weekend, I have helped make hot cocoa by the gallon for an event that drew over 5,000 people over the course of the weekend.

We were using the professional (1.75 lb) size bags of Nestle Hot Cocoa mix. We were making batches in large pots on the stove with 3 – 4 bags and the appropriate amount of water for each bag of mix in each batch. So each pot made 3.75 to 5 gallons of hot cocoa.

Over the course of the weekend, 170 gallons of hot cocoa was made. We only had a batch plus a bit left over.

When you are making hot cocoa for such a large crowd, seeing individual serving size packets is weird. Over the course of 3 nights we used 10 cases plus 2 bags from an 11th case of the 1.5 – 1.75 pound bags of cocoa.

There were a few times each evening where I left the kitchen to take a pot of hot cocoa out to the service line, but for the most part I stayed in the safety of the nice quiet kitchen where there weren’t so many people.

As far as timing goes, I definitely hit it right to see a few friends and family who had come, most of whom I haven’t seen in months or even years.

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Dinner and Preparing for Christmas!

Hey Everyone!

Wednesday I had helped my mom start preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner. I had made the Pumpkin Pies and mixed up the rolls.

I had made myself a Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie for thanksgiving, and made two regular pumpkin pies for the rest of the family.

This year we had kept Thanksgiving dinner simpler than we have in years past. Now that it is down to just my immediate family, as my grandparents and great – aunt who used to join us for holiday dinners have all passed away, it is a lot simpler.

After we had had dinner and before I had to take a nap before going to work Friday morning, I put up and decorated my little artificial Christmas Tree.

Over the past couple weeks I have been ordering Christmas gifts for those in my life, to make sure I get them in, in time for Christmas.

As I am getting older, what I want for Christmas, is less about just things, or getting the latest and greatest electronics. I have what I need and some of what I wanted in that department. I don’t need the latest and greatest. I have a smartphone, that is a bit older, but still works great and has everything I need. This past year, I have been learning how to be content with what I have.

This year for Christmas and my Birthday I know I am getting some practical things. Well practical to me things. They wouldn’t be practical for everyone.

That is how I am trying to live my life, is more practically, and be more frugal. That is part of the focus of this blog, is Homemaking made simpler. Those who know me, know I love history, especially the era of westward expansion / frontier life / pioneer life / Homesteading as well as the 1950’s. I also have been interested in learning about and diving into Women’s History. While these are two very different periods in history,

In the years since my food intolerances really began manifesting themselves, learning where my food comes from, and the concept of being self sufficient and eventually living on one income, has been something I have been researching. At least with where I am from, living the more traditional lifestyle where the husband works and the wife is a homemaker and raises the kids is all but a memory.

I have always preferred being able to go outside and work on the land, like having a garden, some fruit trees, and maybe some chickens, pigs and goats. I also enjoy cooking and baking, as well as knitting.

I am one of those who wants a home of my own, but I don’t want anything fancy. I want a home to keep, and hopefully one day raise kids in. I also have realized that I am more of a country girl than a city girl. I would also make memories than have a bunch of things that I don’t need and will not use often enough to justify buying them.

As I get have gotten older, having frivolous things is less and less appealing. Which is why when I am asked what I want for Christmas and my birthday (they are less than a week a part), it is getting harder.

Buying Men’s Razors (budgeting series #1)

Hey Everyone!

With everything I love doing, and the lifestyle I am living and want to continue living (and take it to the next level and beyond), it is time I really start budgeting and learning how to save money / spend less when I do shop, I am working on learning how to maximize my use of coupons, store apps, store rewards programs / money saving programs, Ibotta, and doing way more DIY stuff.

Learning to be Frugal is what I am trying to do.

I still have a lot to learn, especially on which things it’s ok to buy the generic brand or the less expensive option, and on which things you want to buy the name brand or more expensive item, because the quality is better. When it comes to things needing to last, spending a bit more money for a quality item, that you then maintain, will last for a while.

I have know about and used the Safeway club card for years, as well as looked at in store deals and in store coupons when I am looking at, say shampoo or razors. Yeah, I have the ones I like, but when it comes to shampoo and conditioner if one of my favorite brands is on sale or has a coupon to save some money, I would go with that brand. For instance, one of the brands of shampoo and conditioner I bought today were on 2 for $10, when they are regularly $5.99 a piece. I also got a bottle of each shampoo and conditioner of one of the Herbal Essences bio renew line of hair care. I had seen that it was on Ibotta for get $1.50 back on each one, effectively making them $4.49 instead of $5.99.

One of the frustrating things, is that women’s razors are always more expensive than the men’s razors. Seriously, there is no reason we need girly colored razors when they guys work just as well or better, and cheaper. That is why I bought a package of the guys razors instead of a similar product marketed to women. There was also an in store coupon for $2.00 off, which is even better.

This is just the first post in a series I hope to continue in the future.

Over the past few months I have really begun to see why things are really necessary in life and what things are not. Once the holidays are over, I am getting rid of my Hulu Plus and Netflix subscriptions, as that is when the seasons of a couple shows I am currently watching will be over, and I will be caught up as much as possible on The Black List.

Preparing for Christmas

Hey Everyone!

I am one of those people who waits until after Thanksgiving to decorate. That doesn’t mean that I don’t start preparing for it earlier.

This year, beings that I have been working Retail, in a store that carries Christmas Decorations, I have been inundated with Christmas Decorations for the past month and a half. I have also been slowly working on purchasing the decorations I have liked over the past month or so.

This year, at work, one of the main themes for our decorations this year is “Nordic Lodge”. Beings as it has taken up more than 3 fixtures on Center of Floor, it is a pretty big deal. There have been a few decorations that I have seen every time I have gone to work that I loved, so I have picked them up.

Autumn and Christmas are my two favorite times of year to really decorate for the season. I love decorating this time of year and make where I am living look festive. When I was in college, I didn’t care so much about my first apartment, as it was kind of a crappy apartment, that never felt like my. My second apartment while in college, from the time I first walked into it, felt like home, and I decorated it a lot more.

I definitely want to decorate more when I get my own place again, and make it feel homey and cozy.

Yesterday, the newest Holiday Scentsy Warmer I had ordered (as well as some bars and a holiday brick) arrived. I got the winter stag Warmer, as well as 3 bars of lavender white Balsam and a brick of Silver Bells. One of my favorite scent combos this time of year is Very Merry Cranberry and Silver Bells. On its own the very merry cranberry is a bit to sweet and a bit too much for me. The Silver Bells helps tone it down and add in a light minty, cold & crisp mix to it, which I love.

It definitely struck me yesterday when I had pulled the warmer out of the box to see it in person that the side of the reindeer has a bit of the Nordic pattern similar to what some of the ornaments I had bought at work have on them.

Making Cherry Cream Cheese Pie

Hey Everyone!

Beings that this month is my mom’s birthday month, Thursday, I made her a cherry cream cheese pie. Cherry cream cheese pie is one of her favorites. Her birthday is closer to Thanksgiving, which is why I have began the tradition of making it earlier in the month so she can enjoy it, as well as pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and not be overloaded with pie all at once.

It is a super easy recipe and each pie has 6 – 8 servings. All you need is:

•1 (14 oz) can of sweet and condensed milk

•1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese

•1/3 cup lemon juice

•1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

•1 (9 inch) graham cracker pie crust

•1 (21 oz) can Wilderness original country cherry filling / topping – chilled (the wilderness brand also has other fruit toppings similar to the cherry if you wanted a different fruit)

Directions:

•in a medium bowl mix together the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and lemon juice with an electric beater until smooth

•pour cream cheese mixture into graham cracker crust (and putting the plastic cover that comes with the crust upside down to cover the pie)

•chill in refrigerator (also put the can of cherries in the refrigerator) for at least 3 hours or until set. (6 to 8 hours is preferable)

•prior to serving top with chilled cherries

•refrigerate leftovers

Baking For Others

Hey Everyone!

This afternoon, my mom wanted to bake some cookies, so I helped her.

These cookies weren’t made for me, they were made for my dad and brother. So, they have butter, eggs, wheat flour and regular nestle chocolate chips that have dairy in them.

Sometimes being Dairy Free, Egg Free and limited gluten really sucks, and other times I am not at all disappointed that I have to live with food intolerances and sensitivities. I am really working to get back on track with clean eating and living a healthier life, so the fact that I cannot eat these cookies without being sick just means I am not tempted to eat them, and helps me stay on track.

I love baking, and on a chilly, wintery afternoon such as today was, was a perfect day to bake. Even when I am not baking for myself, I enjoy baking and cooking for others.

Eating Venison

Hey Everyone!

To some, eating venison is adventurous. (If you can’t find it in the grocery store than it’s exotic).

Today I had some Venison for the second time that I can remember, as an adult. I may have had some at some point when I was a kid, but I just don’t remember it.

I definitely love trying different meats. I eat so much chicken, and don’t care for beef.

Venison is texturally similar to beef, but isn’t as heavy and has a totally different flavor. I actually like the more gamey flavor of Venison.

Not counting Beef, Chicken, Pork, Shrimp and Salmon from the Grocery Store, I have had fresh caught salmon from the Pacific Ocean, as well as fresh caught trout. I have also had crab, clams, tilapia, cod, lingcod, tuna, bear jerky and wild boar sausage. I have also likely eaten Elk, and other types of seafood that I can’t think of at the moment. The best chicken I have ever had was one that my my cousin had raised on his property. That chicken was definitely cage free, and allowed to roam in a large pen.

Part of my whole goal and desire with simple homemaking is to be more self sufficient and self sustaining in how I live my life. With that, while still in the process of learning about how to live the life I want is trying new things.

While I don’t want to live completely off grid, I am definitely tired of living a completely on grid life style in the city.

I don’t fault anyone who lives in the city, and / or enjoys and prefers city life, that is their right and choice to do so.

I do make some foods Vegan, because I am dairy intolerant, and egg sensitive, but I am by no means actually vegan. If it weren’t for my food intolerances and sensitivities I would still be eating eggs and dairy products (dairy free yogurts and cheese alternatives are not the same as the real thing, and I definitely miss eating Tillamook Cheese and Yogurt).

I am all for ethical hunting and fishing. I also love being out in the Garden, and I would love to raise chickens and maybe some goats.