2019 Pantry Challenge #1

Welcome, February–I kind of took the month of January off for several reasons. First off I really needed a break from creating content. I refused to just put up blog posts just to put up blog posts. In my mind, I’ve always wanted my blog to remain as good as the really good blogs I follow. I’ve always been like that when it comes to blogging. Admittedly I’m not perfect and I know some of my content could have been better over the last ten years. So my goal for 2019 is to produce stellar content. I’ll be honest that before coming to this decision I thought long and hard during my holiday break about not blogging anymore. I’ve been working hard to promote my business over on IG. But by the end of the year the answer was clear to me–no I did not want to quit blogging. I’m a writer and though not perfect in my sentence structure or grammar, I feel compelled many times a year to write. And so my blog goes on. Some things will change. I may integrate some vlog information and a chance for my readers to see me in action rather than just word. So, I will be sharing a video here and there in my blog posts. I want to engage more with my audience. I have found that making videos can be a great way to accomplish that.

I have many different projects to complete this year. I want my content to be informational on my blog as well as include the lifestyle that goes with it. So I will be focusing more on food, food sourcing, safety, storing, and lifestyle.

Pantry Challenge #1
In January one of the first things I do is take stock of everything. So– an inventory of food on hand, household goods, a new budget created, appointments scheduled, areas decluttered and cleaned and so on. I decided that completing a pantry/freezer challenge was a great thing for my family because it would accomplish several things at once. First, it would help me to put together a menu for the entire month. Because I was taking inventory of food on hand, creating a 31-day menu would be fairly simple. Second, it would allow me not to have to make a big shopping haul this month when I am quite busy with other things (first of the year, tax season, bad weather). Lastly, we could save some money? Possibly $3-400.00 worth of money (win-win) The video below is how I started my pantry challenge and I also have one up about the success of my pantry challenge. With two fill-in shops, I still managed to save $200.00 this month on my grocery budget. I would encourage anyone looking to clean out their freezer, fridge, or pantry to give this a try. I do this four times a year and then take the saved money and buy household items as needed– preferably when they are on sale.

I’ve had a productive start this new year and hope you have had one too. Soon–container garden planning and I’ve got a lot of new ideas for that as well. Until next time—Take Care!

Here’s my pantry challenge YouTube video!

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What’s New for 2019!

I started a YouTube channel here

It’s almost time to start thinking about my container garden–this year I’ll be making videos!

Since last fall I’ve lost nearly all of my houseplants due to lack of sun. In our apartment we get most of our sunlight from the west. In winter we get almost no sunlight from the north–and all year round no sun from the south or east. It is extremely hard to grow anything in this apartment. Add into this we’ve had three periods since fall where there was no sunlight at all for nearly two weeks at a time. Everything withered, rotted, and died. Either they ended up being overwatered because they weren’t totally drying out between watering times, or they turned yellow, brown and then died.  I still have my opuntia, and several of my succulents, and thank goodness my sansevieria. I’ve decided that as long as we live here–which I hope isn’t much longer, I will grow succulents and sansevieria only for my indoor plants.

Besides my YouTube channel, nothing will change for my blog posting. I hope to continue to post every week. I created 60 posts in 2018, grew my blog by 51 followers, and my most popular blog posts were about my container garden. Thank you to everyone who follows my blog.   I hope to produce just as good of posts about my gardening and more this coming year. Until then–some of my next posts will be my container garden plans and a post about my current pantry challenge. Have a fabulous 2019 everyone!!

2018–A Year in Review

(All figures approximate)

# of hours I worked–2500 hrs

# of hours my spouse worked–2500 hrs

# of meals I made– 720 meals

# of lunches I packed–500 lunches

# of loads of wash–1440 loads

# of times I vacuumed and dusted–104 times

miles hiked-50 miles

miles biked-80 miles

miles in a car– 20,000 miles

# of books read–55 books

# podcasts listened–100 podcasts

# theater movies watched–24 movies in our local theater 

# new customers I served in my business Living Simply-30 new customers

# hours volunteered–120 hours

# of times I hosted a dinner party/meal/gathering–6 times

Thinking about things like this really puts into perspective how I spend my time and how much of my time I spend doing certain tasks or daily things in my life. In a perfect world I would volunteer more and work less–this I know. Perhaps when I retire that will be an option. This year my husband and I are going to be looking at changing a lot of things we do in our day to day to cut down on how much wash I do, and whether or not I need to cook every day & perhaps try freezing meals ahead? Those are two of several things we are looking at because whether I want to believe it or not I am 1/2 way to 60 years old. I work way, way too hard and sleep or rest way, way too little.  Ideally, I would like to retire from accounting when my business Living Simply is closer to being a full-time business. I would still do some form of accounting and for certain would take care of all business/admin aspects of my business.

I think jotting down information like this is very crucial to good time management–at least it gives you a starting point. The hours don’t have to be exact but should be fairly close to as accurate as possible.

A social media detox is something I am willing to try this year! I don’t have any issues with my phone but I do check IG more than a couple of times a day.

 

Well, that’s a wrap for 2018–I hope you’ve all had a good year and here’s hoping that 2019 brings you and yours good health and lots of happiness!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Before we get to the holiday baking, I thought I would take full advantage of all the pumpkins and make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I bake cookies every week for my husband’s lunch and use Martha Stewart’s Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is from Delish.com and they are/were delish. At the present time, they are almost gone—just two left for the hubby’s lunch through Friday! Hence why no picture, but I do have a lovely photo of my Martha Stewart Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on my IG feed.

The last few weeks of autumn have been busy as usual. There is always a lot of planning of my time. Thankfully my health has been great though I cannot say the same for my husband. Every year he gets allergies from ragweed–which is what we thought he had six weeks ago. Turns out he had something like a bad allergy, but not quite the flu, and it has really held on. It really is impossible not to get sick when your co-workers come to work full of sick. He has now been given a large bottle of sanitizer and a can of Lysol because neither one of us want him sick for his vacation–he takes 10 days every November and a week in December and that’s all the time he takes off from work–no sick or personal days in over 20 years. We’ve got a lot planned for his vacation time. This year we are going to be having an old-fashioned Christmas which I will be blogging about soon. I will also be blogging what products I use to stay healthy and keep a strong immune system going. Until then enjoy your family, Thanksgiving week and weekend if you celebrate it, and be well.

Happy Anniversary Finn!

A decade of blogging about good food! #livinghealthy #healthylifestyle #goodfood

Where do I start? Just the other day I was discussing how many years I’d been blogging–18 years to be exact. My first blog was on LiveJournal and I blogged about my daily life. My posts were like something you would share in your personal diary, only not as personal. I suffered greatly with trying to regularly update my journal, and also to join other community’s to share my journal. After about eighteen or so months I gave it up..

I can’t remember if it was Blogger or WordPress that I joined next but I began blogging again about selling on eBay and living in the Midwest in 2004. In 2006 I started this blog, but didn’t make public any of my posts. I blogged about health, and food, and life changes. In 2008 I began to make public some of those posts and I’ve been blogging here ever since.  Along the way I’ve been asked maybe fifty times what initially inspired me to write about food, food safety, and lifestyle changes. Because there were always so many answers to that I usually threw out my concerns for my husband and I and our health, my strong desire to live a better life, and the beginning of my journey of a sober and smoke-free lifestyle. All of which is very true to this day. Something that I have failed to share because I hadn’t probably thought of it at the time is the person who started me thinking about living a healthier and happier lifestyle.

That person was and still is Suzanne Somers. I picked up her book called 365 Ways To Change Your Life in 1999 and then in 2003 I bought her book The Sexy Years. I knew who Suzanne Somers was, I’d watched Three’s Company —but I’d never looked at Suzanne Somers being who she portrayed in the television series as who she was in real life. At some point I had watched her give an interview and she really impressed upon me that she was pretty good at leading a healthy life. And let’s be honest she’s fabulous looking–who wouldn’t take a bit of advice from someone as beautiful and obviously healthy as her?  I’d like to insert it here I am so not a self-help book type of gal. Nothing wrong with other people buying them but I would rather try something on my own then follow someone’s advice from a book. However, I have enjoyed and found very helpful several self-help books Suzanne Somers has written.  In 2008 I found a book written by Suzanne  called Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness, and it changed my life. Page by page her words, her thoughts, resonated with me and where I wanted to take my life.

Suzanne became a public voice and in many instances, what I would consider, a pioneer in using health treatments not supported or advised by the medical community. There has been a lot of controversy about things she has done and has gone on record to say. I won’t go into them. It’s not because I don’t support her, because I wholeheartedly do, it’s because things have been said for years about people who take a different route or stance with their healthcare other than the conventional route.  Most of what is said is said to slander the person that is trying something different, or make them out to be reckless or dangerous, or cuckoo. I’ve been there myself. Every time I tell someone I haven’t been sick with a cold or flu since 2004 they look at me like I’m either lying, or living under a rock. For years my husband and I were teased about eating organic food, now he and I both have co-workers asking almost us weekly where we shop, if this is safe, is there organic this or that at the store? A couple of years ago I had a physician ask me to write down my health regime- foods I was eating, antibiotic use, otc drug use, and my health history because she was impressed with how strong my immune system was and also my ability to recover quickly from surgery.

So, with that said I feel pretty blessed to be in such good health considering I didn’t start out life in good health and really lived like a rock star until I was in my thirties. Luckily just in time, and thanks to Suzanne, I was inspired to turn it all around after reading Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness.

In 2008 organic food wasn’t even sold in our local grocery stores. Physician’s were not prescribing clean diets, or healthier lifestyles, or preventative medicines/treatments/tests. I don’t even want to get into how I was treated by the mostly male dominated physicians at the clinic in the town we lived. I’ve been told things like my hormone “troubles” will work themselves out to hot soapy water soak for a severely infected toe that ended up having surgery to remove a nail, which then ended up having surgery at a different hospital to fix podiatrist #1’s ineptness to now having to have surgery #2 to fix podiatrist #2’s ineptness.   And hormones–you need  a doctor that is invested in you and wants you to feel better not a doctor that just treats the symptoms (prescription) and then is out the door and on to the next patient.  I avoid, like the plague, male doctors age 40-60+ and never ever take what little nutritional advice any doctor tries to give. Med school doesn’t offer courses in nutrition.

I guess the point I am trying to make is fully invest yourself in you. If you aren’t into self-help books and if anything medical intimidates you ask a friend how they feel about their physician. Listen closely as they describe their doctor/patient relationship (doctor listens/helps/family doctor vs. doesn’t listen to me/just prescribes pills)– and if that doesn’t work seek out a naturopathic physician.

As this time I’ll add in the disclaimer that I don’t try everything I read or see online. Even though Suzanne Somers speaks highly about the use of bioidentical hormones, I’ve never used them. I’ve handled my menopause through change in diet and lifestyle. I’ve used certain foods to help balance hot flashes, moods, and sleepless nights.  What Suzanne Somers has inspired me to do is think outside the box. Not necessarily follow her regimen, or prescribe to her lifestyle, but rather positively become an advocate for my own health and try things even if they are not supported by the rest of the universe. I was the first person I knew eating organic. Local grocery stores now sell it–but it took them until 2012 to gain enough customers in this area to make it financially viable to stock. It never ceases to amaze me that as time has gone by many well known clinics and hospitals, as well as researchers and therapists, have released “new” information, treatments, and therapies long ago discussed in one of Suzanne’s books. Thank you Suzanne Somers for starting conversations about wellness, and women’s issues, and empowerment at a time no one else was discussing them.

My husband and I have saved thousands and thousands of dollars over the last twenty years eating better and living a healthier lifestyle. Personally I wasn’t blessed with good health and hereditarily my chances for getting anything from cancer to alzheimer’s to heart disease were pretty big. So I had to do something that would better my odds.

At the end of the day do you. Take care of you and take care of your loved ones and do whatever you need to do to be fully informed on your health, your care, your wellness, and your life.

My journey to becoming a foodie!@

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Before I was introduced to all the wonderful chefs of Food Network back in 1999 there was Jamie Oliver–the Naked Chef. I admit that the first time I heard the title of his show on BBC I thought “I wonder if they’ll show it here on American TV seeing as how he is naked”.  Much to my surprise the title of his show was just that and not to be taken quite so literally. Previous to my love for American chefs, and American cooking I was also highly influenced, and still am, by these British chefs also- Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay, and Delia Smith. Of course before Jamie there were the fabulous French chefs on PBS every afternoon at 4pm. Now those chefs have been in my life for many years starting with Julia Child (American chef) whom I still watch today (DVD collection). I love the cooking shows and documentaries on PBS – to this day PBS is still my favorite television station. Some of the very first blogs I read, way back in the late 90s, were foodie blogs. My favorite to this day, that I’ve followed for twelve years, is Sarah Cooks .

So to continue my journey’s beginning- my favorite cookbook of Jamie’s is Jamie at Home. My favorite recipe is Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad. I love that Jamie was one of the first chefs to create and promote healthy recipes/living. At the same time I was watching Jamie’s show I was also watching the first of Martha Stewart’s cooking shows.

From Jamie, the Naked Chef and Martha Stewart’s food segment’s on the Martha Stewart Living shows in the early nineties to Ina Garten, Tyler Florence, Mario Batali and Paula Deen. I became utterly and completely smitten with Food Network and its cooking shows. Eventually, I began collecting cookbooks and instead of just watching the chefs cook or bake something– I began cooking or baking their dishes. From that came wanting to source the best ingredients and the beginnings of a love affair of ordering exotic ingredients or hard to find ingredients online. From that came my passion for building a beautifully stocked pantry and purchasing the best pots and pans and cooking gadgets available on the market. Finally all of it led to my ambition in 2004  to cook and bake with whole foods, whole food ingredients- which is were chef Alice Waters and documentarian Michael Pollan come in. From this ambition and life-changing way of living came this blog which started in 2008.

After having sourced most of our food from farmer’s markets for so many years, I eventually became quite interested in homesteading. Which is were following blogs like those listed under my I heart homesteading blogs come in to play. From my absolute love of farming, growing my own, and living a more sustainable life, has come the desire to buy land and grow my own food.

Relocating has been something we’ve talked about for quite some time. It was always going to be something we did by our retirements. Finally, the stars have all come into alignment and we’ve decided to return back to the country I was born and raised for some time in and buy a piece of land. I am still a citizen of that country so our relocating there is a lot easier for me (and my family) to do than it might be for others. Our plan is to purchase the land very soon and then start the moving process shortly after. We hope to be settled by this time next year.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey on becoming a foodie. Until next time–do your body a big favor and choose to eat good food!