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

Hey Everyone!

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.

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Eating Healthier because of Food Intolerances

Hey Everyone!

I am not perfect by any means, there are still times when I do eat “junk food”. Though overall, having food intolerances has forced me to eat healthier.

I love clean eating because it’s not a diet, and it’s not hard to follow. It’s all about eating more fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. You can still have breads, grains, as such in moderation, as well as cutting down the amount of added sugar.

When I was able to do clean eating full time, I felt great. I loved having chicken and fish as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. I would also make smoothies using frozen fruit, unsweetened plain coconut milk yogurt and some cranberry juice.

Who need this…..

When you can have this?

This last picture is of what I had for dinner. Beings that I can’t eat pizza without being sick, and the good Lebanese food restaurant is no longer there, this was what sounded good, so I made it.

There is something about a homemade meal (even the easy ones) that are just so good. When I figure out what sounds good and what to cook, I love being in the kitchen, cooking and baking up a storm.

Family Style Homemade Chili

Hey Everyone!

For the past week or so, Chili has been sounding good. By Chili, I don’t mean the already made in a can that you just heat up, I am talking homemade chili that has a few more steps, yet still super easy. It is also variable depending on the type of meat you use and the spicy-ness of the seasonings you use. I prefer mild chili.

This is a pretty easy dinner idea that doesn’t take more than 30 – 45 minutes to make, and will feed a whole family.

To make this chili you will need:

•2lbs ground beef or ground chicken (I prefer ground chicken)

•2 packages of McCormick Chili Seasoning (I use mild)

•2 cans Cannellini (white) beans

•2 cans Kidney Beans

•2 cans Black Beans

•2 cans Petite Diced Tomatoes

•grated cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired for topping

Directions:

1. In a large pot (20qt or larger) cook the meat until it is almost completely cooked. Drain off excess grease.

2. While the meat is cooking, open the cans of beans and drain them, reserving the liquid in a bowl for later.

3. Once the meat is cooked most of the way through, add the cans of diced tomatoes, the seasoning packets and the beans to the pot that the meat is cooking in, mix well.

4. Let Chili heat through until it’s hot and the meat is finished cooking.

5. Serve hot and add cheese and sour cream on top of individual servings if so desired for those who can eat dairy.

Latest Addition to my Cookbook Collection

Hey Everyone!

Recently I had gotten a gift card for Barnes and Noble, so I decided to use it to add to my cookbook collection.

I had ordered Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines.

Having spent my life living in the Pacific Northwest, I am wanting to branch out and try different recipes. I am definitely wanting to find more hearty recipes that fill people up.

I like that this cookbook has practical recipes that aren’t super fancy, and you’d expect to fix for breakfast on a Saturday morning, or for dinner on a summer evening. While there are plenty of recipes I can’t eat or would have to alter for myself, I could definitely see myself using this cookbook regularly for meals to feed a family or if I had company coming over.

Beings that the Gaines’ live on a farm, in Texas the recipes call for real food that one could grow on a farm or find easily in a grocery store. I like that with recipes, simple and that you could get your kids to eat.

I’m not actually vegan but…..

Hey Everyone!

I have never gone vegan or vegetarian, and I have never claimed to have adopted either of these lifestyle’s / eating styles / diets.

There are times (especially when I go out somewhere) when I do choose vegan options, and my favorite bakery is gluten free & vegan.

Let me break it down for you, if I had my way, I would eat like every other “normal” / “mainstream” human being in the western world, who can eat ice cream, cheese, pizza, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and anything I wanted.

That all changed for me when I was 23. I had spent one horrible weekend with a nasty stomach bug, and it changed my life as I knew it.

Up to that point my only real food aversion was that I didn’t and still don’t like the smell or taste of beef.

After I had that bug, I quickly figured out that my body wouldn’t tolerate any amount of dairy, no matter how small (even the slightest traces left behind from washing dishes makes me sick). I also learned over the course of the next couple of years (by the time I was 25) that I had milder sensitivities to eggs (I can forget about scrambled or hard boiled eggs, those have the same effect as dairy), though I found if they are in baked goods, I can get away with it on occasion. Gluten does bother me a bit, but not so bad I can’t enjoy some bread, as long as it is dairy free and I enjoy it in limited quantities.

Though I have wondered if I had milk sensitivities before the bug, as there were a few times in college that I wonder about. It just wasn’t bad enough if it was, to put two and two together. Though, now, years later it does make me wonder.

The eggs and dairy issues are why I choose vegan when I am out, unless I go somewhere I am familiar with and know what I can order. If not, I usually end up with a salad.

I still love chicken, fish, venison, and a little bit of lamb on a rare occasion. I also love honey.

I couldn’t go completely vegan by choice, I would only do it if I was forced to because my body couldn’t tolerate the foods.

I really do miss yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Don’t get me started on how much I miss Tillamook Cheese.

I also have no ethical, moral or religious objections to eating animal products, and I definitely don’t object to others who want to eat meat and animal byproducts.

At the same time, if you choose to be vegan or vegetarian, you are perfectly welcome to do so, just don’t be judging my life, diet and lifestyle and I won’t judge yours.

Lesson Learned; Should Have Used the Cast Iron Pan

Hey Everyone!

Earlier this afternoon I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies, beings that today’s high was 32 degrees cooler than yesterday’s high. I don’t handle anything above 70 very well, and 65 to 70 is perfect summer weather for me. Yes, I know I should live in SE Alaska, and I would if I had a job. So, today, I had the energy to bake.

Most of you probably wouldn’t know that I really don’t like beef. I don’t like the smell or the flavor of it. My brother on the other hand loves it. He bought a steak to cook for dinner.

Beings that I haven’t cooked more than a package or two of ground beef, in making meals for others, in over a decade I didn’t think to grab the cast iron skillet instead of the red copper skillet since he was going to sear it on high heat.

This is what happened to that poor skillet:

It didn’t look like that this morning.

We also had the smoke detector going off and me running around the house opening windows and turning on fans. Between the smell and the smoke it was nuts.

Baking the rest of my gluten free, dairy free cookies was also put on hold during this steak cooking, because his highness is always more important than whatever the lowly peasant (me) is doing.

My cookies turned out really good by the way.

In trying to get the house aired out, I have a pot of cinnamon water on a low heat on the stove. I am not a fan of chemical aerosol sprays or other chemical laden sprays to mask smells if I can help it (I am slowly getting away from Scentsy). I definitely prefer more natural methods. My mom was the one who taught me about the cinnamon water trick to help with smells, so I am giving it a try.

Even though I am not a huge fan of the smell of most meat while it is cooking, there are some that I do like to eat once it is cooked, like chicken and fish. I also enjoy venison on occasion. I have yet to try bear or moose, but if they were cooked in someone else’s kitchen or outside (on a camp stove), I would definitely be willing to try them.

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.