Simple and Homemade

Hey Everyone!

I have been trying to enjoy the few days off in a row that I have had. I was asked to go in on my day off yesterday (which is a normal occurrence this time of year), but turned it down, as I am already scheduled to work 4 days in a row this week.

Yesterday, I was able to get quite a bit done around the house. I got a couple loads of laundry done, as well as making dinner. I made chicken penne, with a mix of whole wheat noodles and black bean penne noodles.

I also baked the reindeer sugar cookies we picked up at the grocery store.

I definitely miss being on my own, having to budget, living frugally, and living a simpler life. I have finally come to the point where I know what I want to be doing, and how I want to be living. I have realized that it’s time to be looking to move away from where I currently am, to an area with a better cost of living. I don’t really mind not having a lot of money, and making due with less. I am also the kind of person who wants and needs to do more for myself and my future family, such as gardening and canning. Homemade, homegrown and home canned food is better than store bought.

Wasting Food and Money Saving Apps

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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.

Creating Lasting Traditions

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On Friday, after I had gotten off work, I decided to make some gluten free, vegan pumpkin muffins.

I have been wanting Pumpkin food for the better part of the month.

Yesterday afternoon, I made a batch of homemade chili, which is fitting for the cook crisp days we have been having.

I also helped my mom make a batch of chocolate chip cookies as well as a batch of chocolate crinkle cookies, which are like brownie cookies.

Yesterday morning, I had to go to an all store meeting at work. Over the course of last week, our Christmas fixtures were set. Our holiday theme / motive is “creating lasting traditions”. Over the time I have worked for the company I am at, as well as other times, I have been slowly building up my Christmas decorations and Christmas tree ornaments collection. I have been adding things as I find things I like. This is the third holiday season I will have been with the company, so I have seen the ornaments for three holiday seasons now. Many of the ornaments are the same, and each subsequent season, has only brought out a few new ornaments. Many of the ones I have liked & bought from work, are the woodland creatures / Nordic / Scandinavian themed ornaments. The deer / reindeer has been a consistent through the three seasons. What is also interesting, is that Scentsy had brought out a holiday warmer with a similar looking deer a year or two ago, which I snapped up, since it fit in with what is starting to be my “Christmas theme”.

When the whole topic of “making lasting traditions” came up at work yesterday, I got thinking about the types of traditions I would want to make, if and when I have a family of my own. Many of which are simple, and won’t cost a lot of money. Things like making Christmas Cookies, and going and visiting some of the elderly, and bringing them some Christmas cheer, and watching “The Polar Express”, while drinking hot chocolate, and coming and visiting my family (as I don’t intend to stay in the Portland metro area), and do things like going to Peacock Lane, and the Christmas event at my parents church. I want to make the Christmas season “magical” for my kids, as well as teach them that Christmas is not about the gifts (even though they are nice), but about the birth of Jesus, and sharing God’s love with others.

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.

Trying a new Chicken Recipe

Hey Everyone!

Last night, I cooked some chicken to have for dinner this week. I was at a loss for how to season it, since I have used all my old standbys a lot in recent weeks.

So, I googled “Chicken Seasoning”, and found a recipe from Allrecipes that I used as a guideline and made my own.

I mixed together:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried shallots
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

I had mixed the dry spices together before I added in the mayo.

This was enough to lightly coat 9 chicken thighs.

I baked them in a sprayed / oiled 9×13 Pyrex at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about 45 minutes. Depending on how much meat you have and how thick it is, the cooking time will likely vary. It is done when the internal temperature is 170 – 175 or is white on the inside.

I do have to say that it turned out delicious!

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.

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.