First Week Back At Work

Hey Everyone!

This week has been a busy one. This week I had my first shifts back at work, after four months of furlough.

Since my last post, I have made a total of six batches of jam. I made a batch of strawberry, a batch of Marionberry, a batch of blackberry, and three batches of raspberry.

This week I also made a blueberry crumble, a lemon jello cake, and a loaf of banana bread.

I have enjoyed making all this tasty good stuff.

I have definitely enjoyed the time I have had to work on my homemaking and homesteading skills.

Summer of changes

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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

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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.

It’s Finally Turning into Fall!

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This past weekend was Labor Day Weekend. During the course of which I spent with my parents. Saturday we had gone out to Sauvie Island, and had gone to Kruger Farm, since my mom wanted to can pickled beets.

We had picked up 20 pounds of beets as well as a few other things while we are there. I am always amazing and how much less produce costs at farm stores and farmers markets than it does in the normal grocery stores.

This weekend we had also done some cooking and baking. I had made two pumpkin pies, one was the regular kind with evaporated milk and the other I made dairy free with coconut milk.

This is my dairy free pie before I baked it:

Yesterday, being Labor Day, my mom and I canned the beets. We got 9 quarts and 2 pints of pickled beets.

Today I spent some time out in the garden, picking raspberries, tomatoes and starting to trim back the raspberry bushes for the winter. I got just over a pint of raspberries and I got three pints of tomatoes. Our tomatoes have really been taking off.

I also saw this perfect spider web while I was out picking raspberries.

I am not a huge fan of spiders but I thought the web was amazing. I don’t see complete ones like this very often.

Most of the past week or so has been cooler, though we are having a little bit of a heat wave over the course of yesterday, and today. The next couple days is supposed to be hot for us. I am ready for fall to be here in full force. We are in the transition of late summer / early autumn when it still can get hot, but the days are generally cooling off, the nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter. Sunset is now before 7:45 pm! Late August is when we usually start seeing a dramatic drop off and difference of the days getting shorter.

Last Batch of Jam for the Summer!

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We have (hopefully) had our last 90 degree day of the year.

The next 10 days at least are looking much cooler, with a slight potential for some more hot weather, but I am hoping we have seen the end of the hot weather.

Today I picked two pints of raspberries to add to the two pints I picked Tuesday. I also picked a pint of tomatoes.

This afternoon I also made a batch of raspberry jam. This is my eighth batch for this summer.

Today was a good 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday, and most of the day was nearly 30 degrees cooler.

I also went to a job interview a couple days. I am still waiting to hear back. If I don’t hear back tomorrow than I know I didn’t get it.

Just your average working class neighborhoods

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Today I needed to get out of the house and go do stuff, so I went out.

I got a coffee from black rock coffee, and went on my way. I had also stopped at my local Fred Meyer store and picked up a couple things, including more soothing lotion Kleenex. My allergies are still so bad for the fourth day in a row. For now I should be called sneezy, since I have been doing a lot of that lately.

Part of why I went out today was to do a little checking out of neighborhoods. There are a couple I really like, that is if I were to find a decent job and were able to afford to live in the city. The area I like is over in NE Portland, and was traditionally a working class neighborhood. It is the type of neighborhoods that would have been the type of neighborhoods my grandparents and great grandparents would have been raising families in. They are just normal homes in decent areas without being over the top and fancy. The kind of area where your everyday joe, who went to work and raised a family would have lived.

While I was at Fred Meyer, I found this really cute reusable shopping bag, and I fell in love.

I love anything that even resembles the 1950’s. It’s not just about being a stay at home wife and mother. While there are parts of this era where women were repressed, and didn’t have much say, yet they knew how to do a lot. There are things like being able to cook and back from scratch, canning as well as things such as sewing, needle point, knitting, crocheting, and so much more that isn’t common place much anymore. There was also a sense of class and decorum during that era.

Living in Portland, the whole “green” movement, reduce/reuse/recycle mentality is huge. We have yard debris bins that our compostables, and food scraps go in, as trash service every other week. It is also to the point where Multnomah County banned plastic grocery bags and bringing your own reusable bags encouraged.

Today, I was also able to pick two pints of raspberries as well as quite a few tomatoes. There are still quite a few tomatoes on the vines.

I am definitely not crunchy, nor will I likely ever be. Though there are some “crunchy”/”hipster”/”natural” traits that are also more “traditional” that I have adopted. Some of which include: shopping local as much as possible, cooking and baking from scratch, I love farmers markets – which also ties into the shopping local bit as well. I also like that you can get a lot more fresh produce and such at farmers markets for a good price. It hasn’t had to travel that far, so the product is fresher and hasn’t had sit for a while, and not as much fuel was used in the transport from farm to market, which is a money saver. You can also find more interesting things you wouldn’t normally find at a grocery store. The reusable bag I bought, I would eventually like to use when I am able to go to farmers markets.

Born in the Wrong Era

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Earlier I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner since I hadn’t marinated the chicken I got at the store yet.

I knew I had a lot spinach in the fridge, so I decided to make sautéed spinach with yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic and lemon juice sautéed in olive oil. I also decided to cook some of the tricolored quinoa I had in the pantry to add to add to my concoction, for some protein. I had also added a bit of salt as well.

On the side I had broiled some left over rosemary potatoes I had made the other night.

Before starting in on making dinner I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, vegan cherry brownies. I used apple sauce instead of butter, and I really like how they turned out.

After I had dinner and cleaned up the kitchen I went out to the garden and picked raspberries. I also checked the tomatoes and the lettuce. The tomatoes are still very green, and I had picked lettuce a couple evenings ago so there was not anymore ready at this point.

I am working with have I have available to me at this point. I would love to live outside of the city on more property, and have a larger garden. I would love to do more canning, and freezing of what I can grow and obtain fairly locally, as well as freezing meat obtained from hunting and fishing.

Part of this comes from the fact that I was raised in the city, where I have always been reliant on the grocery stores for all my food, unless we went to a produce stand, farm store or farm stand locally. Be even then, most of the meat I have eaten in my life came out of a package.

While there are certain items I would still need to pick up at the grocery store, I am the kind of person who wants to know where my raw food, especially and produce is coming from, how it was raised, and that it was butchered properly. I also want to be doing more to support my local farmers and helping them succeed. I prefer local food, when you buy it from the farm itself, it is a better quality, and has better flavor.

As I have gotten older, the quality of my food has become more and more important, as well as supporting the local smaller farms and such, over the big chain stores. The chain stores have been having so many issues with recalls on food for e.coli and salmonella and other contaminates.

I also love cooking and baking and using the best quality ingredients in what I create. There are times when I feel like I was born in the wrong era, because I do enjoy Homemaking, gardening, knitting, hard work, and all that goes along with it.

Heading into Late Summer

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I hadn’t been out picking raspberries this past weekend. Saturday was a busy day, and Sunday was just to hot to be out.

Today I went out and picked berries, and I found about a pint’s worth of raspberries. The raspberries that were ripe were quite ripe.

We will be seeing more come on in the next couple of weeks. I hope to get a few more batches of jam.

I have been keeping an eye on the tomato plants we have in the backyard. I always thought they were yellow cherry or grape tomatoes. The size of the tomatoes is making me think they are yellow Roma tomatoes.

This year we will actually have tomatoes to eat, and possibly have enough to make some homemade tomato sauce.

Since I started keeping track of sunrise and sunset ten days ago, we have already lost twenty two minutes of daylight.

While it has been so hot, the fact that we have lost so much daylight already, Autumn is coming.

My mom and I had gone to Joann’s on Saturday. They actually have autumn decorations already. It is making me excited for autumn to be here.

Urban Gardens

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The past few months I have been becoming more and more obsessed with gardening, and urban gardening. I would love to have a home and yard of my own that I could turn into a garden. I want to be able to grow more of my own produce. That being said I have no real desire to turn full on crunchy.

One of the great things about living in Portland is all the nurseries around as well as stores that carry canning and preserving supplies, and all the farmers markets we have.

While I was out and about scoping out neighborhoods I kind of like, I ended up in the area where I worked a few years back. Just down the street from the gluten free vegan bakery that is near where I used to work, there is this little garden center place that is so cute.

As much as this city can be annoying, and I am not a fan of all the traffic or how expensive it is getting, there are many good points about it, like all the Homemaking resources we have nearby.

I love that whatever I couldn’t/ didn’t grow, are available within a couple hours drive.

They Got Too Heavy!!!

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This morning I only got about 3/4 of a pint of raspberries. This caused me to do some research. I know that our bushes are of the ever bearing type of heirloom red raspberries. My research indicates that there are two seasons of crops each year, one in July (that we are coming off of), and one later on in the summer, like August / September. Beings that the bushes still have buds on them and flowers I am hoping that if I just wait it out that I will be able to get more batches of jam.

I knew it was only a matter of time, even with having staked the tomato plants, that they would start to topple over.

I had been watering the garden a bit and over they went. I don’t want to chop the vines off yet since they have flowers on them.

The vines that toppled over are part of the biggest grouping of tomatoes that are staked, so I am not surprised. I am just hoping to get tomatoes off the plants this year.