Summers are so Busy

Hey Everyone!

I have been wanting oatmeal raisin cookies for a few days now.

Today I finally made half a batch. The full batch would have just been way to many cookies to try to eat before they get stale. Being the only person in the house who is gluten free, dairy free and egg free, my specialty food costs more money, and since I am the only one in this house who really needs it, I tend to make half a batch of these kinds of things.

I also was in the mood for gluten free vegan rustic flat bread. So I mixed one up this evening and baked it along with my cookies.

It’s been a while since I felt like baking, and I picked the busiest day to do it on. This afternoon I spent a couple hours working in the backyard and around the garden, picking berries and such. I also spent some time knitting, and then baking and dinner. After all that was done, it was time for a quick shower and off to church.

Summers are short (which is great since don’t like the heat), and we have to pack in all that we can to maximize the growing season and what we can put up for winter. We have to make the most of the long days to get the most done.

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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.

Urban Homesteading

Hey Everyone!

I have been keeping an eye on the raspberry bushes in the backyard garden.

I noticed some red starting to come on, so I went out to check things out.

There were a couple early raspberries, that were ready so I picked them and ate them.

There are many more that will be ready once we get some warmer weather.

The later part of this spring has been cooler than average. Next week is supposed to get warm, which will help ripen up these berries.

The apples are also starting to grow. If they don’t get eaten through by bugs, we might be able to get some apple sauce made this autumn.

I definitely enjoy growing my own produce, and working with the land. I like being able to live off what I can grow, and preserve food for later when it is no longer the season for growing produce.

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.

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.

Country Life is Calling to Me

Hey Everyone!

I hope you all had a good Easter, and Easter Weekend.

The past three weeks or so have been pretty busy for me, and have involved a lot of homemaking / crafting activities. Between the Ladies Retreat I went on, as well as having had family coming to town and then Easter, I have spent a lot of time either in the kitchen or not in the city (or both).

I know I wrote a bit about what I did for the ladies retreat and for when my family came to visit, so I don’t really need to touch on all that again, since I am pretty well caught up on that on the blog.

Easter Weekend… Friday included going grocery shopping for easter dinner and for food for during the week. We had gone to a few stores, including New Seasons which is more of the natural grocery store that carries a lot more of the natural choices, organic food, locally grown, raised and produced foods. That is where we got the Lamb Roast and the Salmon Fillet for Easter Dinner. The Lamb Roast was from a lamb that was raised here in the U.S. and the Salmon Fillet came from a wild caught Alaskan Coho Salmon, so both were delicious.

Saturday, I made a pot of Chili because it sounded good, and wanted something in addition to leftovers for during the week, for meals. That evening I also mixed up a double batch of rolls for Easter dinner, so they could rise in the fridge overnight.

Sunday Morning, I went to church with my mom for Easter Service, and then we came home and made Easter Dinner for the family, before going back to church for the Easter Concert at their church.

Today, I woke up, and remembered that I had stuff to get done, and yet didn’t want to go anywhere, so I pulled myself out of bed, and got ready to go. I had to run to the post office, and mail off some paper work for something I have going, before stopping at the nearest Black Rock coffee stand because I had a full punch card. I got an extra large soy hazelnut latte, because it’s Monday, and after having several busy weeks, I needed the caffeine, even though I gave up my coffee habit years ago. I am definitely wanting to be better about staying far away from coffee and energy drinks and sticking with one cup of black tea a day at most.

Being tired of being in the city, and already being in the car, I decided to go for a little drive. I headed east, and went out through Estacada, and then headed up into the foothills of the Cascades from there. Once I hit snow on the road, it was time to turn around since I only had my two wheel drive car, and no studs or chains (studded tire season here ended two days ago). It was definitely pretty though.

I love not being in the city, I would definitely love to live outside the city, somewhere like this. It’s far enough out that there is elbow room, and not a whole lot of traffic, but not so far out that one can’t come into the city and go to the more specialty stores, like New Seasons, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Bob’s Red Mill, or go shopping depending on what you needed and if you couldn’t find it in the nearest small town. Where I went today was close enough to a small town that has a grocery store, schools, a couple banks a Gas station or two, and some of the essentials for your everyday needs, but is also close enough to the city (30 – 45 minutes) for the more specialty stuff that you would stock up on when you go to the city, but isn’t a regular occurrence.

Since I got home, I have been working on some laundry and just trying to decompress a little bit.