I wanted another one really bad

Hey Everyone!

I fell in love with the wild blueberry crumble recipe, it is so good, and so easy to make. I wanted more, so I made another one.

I had gone to Trader Joe’s on Thursday, and picked up several things, including a 2lbs container of blueberries, and a bag of organic lemons. I was shocked at how inexpensive the blueberries and lemons were at Trader Joe’s. I got the 2 pound container of blueberries for like $5.99, which was less than the price of a single pound at Safeway. I got a whole bag of lemons for like $2.99 which was a deal. I also picked up four bags of basmati rice for $2.99 a bag.

While I do like the fact that there are so many grocery stores within a close proximity to where I live, it is definitely overwhelming, and I would trade it for only having one grocery store in town, to be away from the insanity that is city living.

Of late, I haven’t been going out more than I absolutely have to, not really because of the pandemic, but because of how crazy it is here, and this lifestyle isn’t for me. I definitely do better / less anxiety with a more rural and slower pace of life with fewer people and more time spent at home. Moving to Alaska is still the dream / goal that I am working towards.

Smorgasbord of All the Things

Hey Everyone!

Oh my goodness! There is so much that I want to share with you all.

Online Shopping can be an amazing thing, especially for those living in more rural and remote places, to be able to have access to things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have, especially for those with food sensitivities. It also comes in useful for books, tools, seeds, homeschool curriculum, and so on, that one cannot get locally.

There are also quite a few drawbacks to it, and it can be a budget killer, and cause financial issues when not used responsibly. I’m talking from a city stand point, and not about things you cannot get in stores. How often, do you forget what you ordered (especially off amazon), and have it show up a few days later, and you go “oh, i forgot i ordered that”. There there is Shipping costs if you only need a couple things and then sometimes there’s “spend x amount and get free shipping”, and all you want/need is just under that threshold, so you spend more money than you need to either adding an extra item or two you don’t particularly need in order to get free shipping, or you spend the shipping costs, which is more than it would have cost you in fuel to go to the store and pick up those items yourself.

I am also still trying to get used to using Ibotta. I tried drop, and quickly stopped, since I rarely shop at the stores connected with drop. I have also found that Fetch also has some good deals, especially on brands I am familiar with and use. Just this year alone, i already have earned 5,095 points, and I haven’t even been scanning all my receipts on fetch. I am still a slow earner on Ibotta, as there are a lot of things I can’t or don’t use. I would use more of them if i had a husband and family, but for just me, there are a lot that go unused. Though there was one that i was able to use, for $2, which is a lot for me, considering most of the ones i am able to use are the small 10 to 50 cents any brand ones. The one i was able to take advantage of today, while not something i need right this second, but it isn’t perishable, and i will use it in the coming months. There was also a $2 off coupon for it on the Fred Meyer app, so in the long run, i saved $4 on this product.

I am still really learning how to be frugal, and live frugally. I am trying to eat at home as often as possible, and save eating out for a treat (especially if i can use a gift card), especially if i can get that gift card by running my normal errands, buying normal things.

Mind you, that Fetch and Ibotta aren’t the only apps that i am using. I also use the stores apps (like Safeway and Fred Meyer), that i shop at the most, to save me money on my actual purchases. The store apps and Ibotta all take a little time to go through the offers and coupons, but the time spent is definitely worth it, in order to save some money.

I finally got my tax refund this past week, so i was able to order a fitbit. I had been thinking about getting one for a while, but never got around to it. Now that I am serious about trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I figured it was time to get one. I have also been wondering, for the better part of the year and a half that I have been at my job, how many steps I take during a shift, and granted every shift is a bit different. The cool thing about having this, is that it tracks it in the app, so I can see what a truck day is like, versus a normal working freight shift, versus a down stocking day versus building new sets. If i am still at my job during the next holiday season, which i really don’t want to think about, it will be interesting to see how that compares day to day, and to the rest if the year.

The fitbit app is actually pretty cool, it also allows me to track my food, and therefore calorie consumption, water consumption, sleep, heart rate, weight, as well as keep track of my cycles. It’s a convenient way to keep track of my health stuff.

Smorgasbord of All the Things

Hey Everyone!

Oh my goodness! There is so much that I want to share with you all.

Online Shopping can be an amazing thing, especially for those living in more rural and remote places, to be able to have access to things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have, especially for those with food sensitivities. It also comes in useful for books, tools, seeds, homeschool curriculum, and so on, that one cannot get locally.

There are also quite a few drawbacks to it, and it can be a budget killer, and cause financial issues when not used responsibly. I’m talking from a city stand point, and not about things you cannot get in stores. How often, do you forget what you ordered (especially off amazon), and have it show up a few days later, and you go “oh, i forgot i ordered that”. There there is Shipping costs if you only need a couple things and then sometimes there’s “spend x amount and get free shipping”, and all you want/need is just under that threshold, so you spend more money than you need to either adding an extra item or two you don’t particularly need in order to get free shipping, or you spend the shipping costs, which is more than it would have cost you in fuel to go to the store and pick up those items yourself.

I am also still trying to get used to using Ibotta. I tried drop, and quickly stopped, since I rarely shop at the stores connected with drop. I have also found that Fetch also has some good deals, especially on brands I am familiar with and use. Just this year alone, i already have earned 5,095 points, and I haven’t even been scanning all my receipts on fetch. I am still a slow earner on Ibotta, as there are a lot of things I can’t or don’t use. I would use more of them if i had a husband and family, but for just me, there are a lot that go unused. Though there was one that i was able to use, for $2, which is a lot for me, considering most of the ones i am able to use are the small 10 to 50 cents any brand ones. The one i was able to take advantage of today, while not something i need right this second, but it isn’t perishable, and i will use it in the coming months. There was also a $2 off coupon for it on the Fred Meyer app, so in the long run, i saved $4 on this product.

I am still really learning how to be frugal, and live frugally. I am trying to eat at home as often as possible, and save eating out for a treat (especially if i can use a gift card), especially if i can get that gift card by running my normal errands, buying normal things.

Mind you, that Fetch and Ibotta aren’t the only apps that i am using. I also use the stores apps (like Safeway and Fred Meyer), that i shop at the most, to save me money on my actual purchases. The store apps and Ibotta all take a little time to go through the offers and coupons, but the time spent is definitely worth it, in order to save some money.

I finally got my tax refund this past week, so i was able to order a fitbit. I had been thinking about getting one for a while, but never got around to it. Now that I am serious about trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I figured it was time to get one. I have also been wondering, for the better part of the year and a half that I have been at my job, how many steps I take during a shift, and granted every shift is a bit different. The cool thing about having this, is that it tracks it in the app, so I can see what a truck day is like, versus a normal working freight shift, versus a down stocking day versus building new sets. If i am still at my job during the next holiday season, which i really don’t want to think about, it will be interesting to see how that compares day to day, and to the rest if the year.

The fitbit app is actually pretty cool, it also allows me to track my food, and therefore calorie consumption, water consumption, sleep, heart rate, weight, as well as keep track of my cycles. It’s a convenient way to keep track of my health stuff.

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.

More to consider

Hey Everyone!

I have been considering ways to cut expenses, and what I can live without. I have also been greatly contemplating ways to work on saving money, and whether what I am spending money on will help me get to my end game, or hold me back a bit from it.

The life I am working toward and feel called to live is more one of simplicity, away from the city life, where I can raise a family of my own, as well as do more to live off the land, and be much less reliant on having to go to town and to the grocery store for food. I am also interested in cottage businesses, and being able to be sustainable from where I live, and that is more unconventional to how I was raised.

I realize that there are those who thrive in the city, and for whom the city is home, and can’t imagine having to grow and raise their own food. That’s fine, and I am not here to shame anyone for how they live their lives. I have just been disillusioned by living in the city and being dependent on grocery stores, when I can taste the difference between home grown / fresh from a local farm and home canned versus store bought. I also love doing it myself. I get a satisfaction at the end of a day from making homemade jam, or the end of a long day canning, or made a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients.

Now that I have far fewer hours at work, and also haven’t felt well for a while, I want to get to a place of better health, and working hard for the life that I know is right for me. I would much rather go to bed tired at the end of a long day knowing that the hard work I put in that day had a greater good than just earning a little money.

As far as cottage businesses go, the things that have been on my mind have been to sell some of the socks I make (that I don’t keep for myself), as well as handmade soap and candles. I definitely want to learn how to make handmade soap and handmade candles.

I also want to purchase American made when possible (like lodge cast iron skillets), when I need to purchase items.

I can live without having Smith Teamaker tea on a regular basis when Stash tea is plenty good enough, and a fraction of the price. I also don’t need to be shopping at work. I have spent more than enough money at work over the roughly 20 months I have been with the company.

Since the season ended, I am back off coffee. I have also made the decision to not drink alcohol any longer, as well as staying away from soda.

Giving up alcohol is not based on any moral sway, it is based on the fact of cost, and the fact that I am not really a fan of the flavor.

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.

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.

Baking Cookies + Life Update

Hey Everyone!

Winter is time of year when Cold and Flu season is at it’s peak. Over I started coming down with my first cold of the season on New Years, and it had cleared up in a week, then I had a busy weekend and had caught another cold along the line and have been sick with that for a week and a half now.

Between having been laid off from the seasonal job I had for the holidays, being sick, and getting older it has given me a chance to reevaluate my long term goals for my life.

What I know is that the City life isn’t for me, and I want to continue doing more of the Homemaking and Homesteading / urban Homesteading stuff, I want to be able to spend more time writing posts for this blog and having content to write about.

I would love to settle down, get married, have a home of my own, have a family of my own. I would love to live I some property where I could have a good size garden, raise some chickens (layers and meat chickens), maybe some pigs and goats. I also would love to be able to be canning each summer and put up meat for the winter.

Last night I had decided to mix up a batch of gluten free vegan shortbread cookies. They turned out amazing, and I had used my Scottish Thistle cookie stamp.

I enjoy cooking and baking. I enjoy being out in the kitchen and making things that taste good.

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.