Simply Getting By

Simplifying my life & taking back control of my choices, possessions, lifestyle, and nourishment in order to salvage my finances, the environment, and my sanity.

Changes January 21, 2009

Filed under: career,change,fitness,Uncategorized — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 3:28 am

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the past few months, and I haven’t had much time to blog. I’d debated whether or not to keep updating, because I know that doing so would probably mean some changes in the content and overall tone of things.

I’ll try to keep things more honest, rather than holding back as I tend to do. I try to keep a positive attitude not not to make posts that will drag people down, but that means I tend to censor myself and not to write about emotional turmoil or issues that are bothering me. I don’t mean that I’m going to start blogging all bad moods and depressing news from here on out, just that I’m going to try to be more real and share both the highs and lows of life, and probably a few more personal opinions as well.

As far as the life changes, they’re mostly in the career field:
My husband lost his job at the beginning of November – they day after the election. He’d worked there one year and one month, after being laid off from his previous job of 13 years due to the plant shutting down. He works in the furniture industry, which has been in steady decline for years, and is looking for a new job, but not having a lot of luck.
Two weeks after he was laid off, the real estate office I was working at announced that they were closing their doors, with very little notice. I am keeping my license active as a referral agent for another office in our company, but am no longer actively engaged in the real estate business. I don’t know if I will try to go back into it when the economy picks back up or not – I liked parts of it, but am not sure how well I’d like it as a career.
I have re-discovered my passion for cooking, and my husband is encouraging me to go to culinary school. I realize it’s a little crazy for my to consider a career in that field [long hours, low pay, probably having to move, and at least several years before I could look for any sort of advancement], but I feel like I’d be happier cooking than I am at the prison or doing office work. I guess the only way I’ll know for sure is to do it.

As far as some of my other goals, I got pretty far off track on everything during all of the changes and turmoil this winter. I pulled my chest wall while running towards the end of August, took some time off to heal, and never got back on track with the exercise program. I gained the weight back, plus some, and let the house get pretty rough again too. I did get some nice kitchen things for Christmas, which inspired me to clean it pretty well, but the rest of the house is in need of serious work. Same for the finances – I had a budget and was starting to pay down the debts when Billy lost his job; now we’re just trying to make ends meet until he gets another one. I’m sure this is just one of those cycles in life, and I already feel like I’m getting back on track but, in many ways, I’m back to where I started.

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Birthday Dinner for the Hubby November 16, 2008

Filed under: cooking/recipes — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 3:40 am

I’m one of those people who tends to cook or bake when under stress or trying to make decisions, and it seems like the more that is on the mind, the fancier or more complicated I tend to get with the recipes. Well, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and my husband’s birthday is coming up [this is the closest weekend to it I’ll have off], so I ended up going a little fancier than normal with dinner. The funny thing is that I did it to showcase the cake [torte] I made, but then I forgot to take a picture of it, but here’s the main dinner:

Basically, it’s bacon-wrapped filet, which I cooked by roasting a little garlic and onion in a pan with olive oil, then added a bit of butter and tarragon to saute the filets in, sprinkled them with a touch of seasoned black pepper and grey sea salt when done, and they were ready to go. The pears were poached and served sprinkled with walnuts and drizzled with a reduction of honey in apple cider over chopped walnuts and pecans, then topped with strips of proscuitto and slices of shaved gouda. Add some fresh baked French bread drizzled with oilve oil & herbs, and a glass of Pinot Noir, and there’s a restuarant-style meal that only took about 10 minutes longer than I’d spend on every day family fare.

Desesert was my take on a sachertorte, which did take a while to fix but, like I said earlier, baking is one of my ways of relaxing and allowing myself to think and de-stress. In mine, I substitute white chocolate for dark for the icing/glaze, and use rasperry jam with a touch of mint in the filling, rather than apricot, but I am giving the original recipe I go from, in case anyone is interested in the real thing. [Notes and numbers in brackets are my “close enough” translations of the measurements – I use grams because I tend to bake by weight rather than measurement]:

Ingredients

  • 225 g [2 bars] dark chocolate[for baking]
  • 1.5 dl [5 oz] almonds
  • 225 g [2 sticks]butter
  • 3 dl [300g or 10 oz] sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1.5 dl [150g] white flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 6 egg whites

Icing and filling

  • 200 g [1 used 2 bars again, 225g, of white chocolate instead of dark] dark chocolate
  • 1/2 Tbs cooking oil [I used canola, but prefer liquified coconut oil for sweets]
  • Apricot jam [I used raspberry Pollander all fruit, plus fresh mint leaves]

Procedure

  1. Set oven to 175C [350 degrees F].
  2. Melt chocolate.
  3. Blanch, peel and grind almonds. Mix with the flour and baking powder.
  4. Blend sugar and butter until white and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, to butter-sugar mixture.
  6. Stir in melted chocolate.
  7. Stir in almond mixture.
  8. Whip egg whites to hard foam and fold in.
  9. Pour batter into baking pan lined with baking paper.
  10. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
  11. Let cool. Split in two and spread apricot jam in between.
  12. Melt chocolate and spread over cake. Let cool.
  13. Serve cold with whipped cream [freshly whipped heavy cream is awesome].
 

Cheap & Easy Compost Bin November 11, 2008

Filed under: diy,garden,green — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 9:25 pm

It seems like our compost pile always ends up getting spread out and hard to manage, and then given up on because it turns into a hard to manage eyesore. For several years, I’ve been saying we “should” get a bin or turner, but always ended up looking at fancy pre-made deals that were fairly expensive and still pretty ugly.

I’m sort of cheating right now by using an old Rubbermaid tote with a bunch of holes drilled in it as a mini worm bin. It works pretty good, and does look better, but is pretty small for the amount we really will be composting [we typically garden about 1/10 an acre, and are slowly adding fruit trees and other edible plants to the yard, and we have a big yard with trees all around, so there are lots of leaves and grass clippings, plus trimmings from the kitchen].

I’ve decided the best solution for this is going to be to build a 3-bin compost bin out of old shipping pallets. I found a good site with photos and directions for this here, and a plan for building the 3 bin type here, if anybody is interested.

The finished project should look something like this ,
but lined up 3 wide, like in this drawing .

 

New Look October 16, 2008

Filed under: free — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 10:57 pm

After realizing how plain my blog looked compared to many of the really cute layouts on other pages I’ve been reading, I decided it was time for a facelift.

I got this new layout from http://thecutestblogontheblock.com/, and there are a bunch of other free, cute backgrounds, and a few headers, available there to download for free.

 

Menu Plan Monday October 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 4:52 pm

Monday:
tuna casserole
green peas & mushrooms
rolls

Tuesday:
fried chicken
garlic mashed potatoes
corn on the cob

Wednesday:
black bean chili
salsa conrbread
guacamole & chips

Thursday:
salmon patties
steamed broccoli
herb & butter rice

Friday:
greek salad w/ orzo & grilled tofu
bruschetta & seasoned olive oil

Saturday:
[hiking/backpacking]
sub sandwiches
crackers, summer sausage & cheese
apples

Sunday:
lamb gyro wraps
lentil stew

 

Homemade Laundry Soap & Fabric Softeners October 3, 2008

Filed under: diy,frugal,homemaking — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 4:21 pm

I finally broke down and made some homemade laundry soap last week.

I’d seen recipes online for a while, but was hesitant to use them because most were liquid/gels and looked sort of gloopy and messy [I don’t even like commercial liquid detergents].

I found a recipe for a powdered laundry soap, made from the same ingredients, minus the water, and thought it looked good. I’ve done 3 loads of laundry since, using homemade fabric softener as well, and the clothes are coming out clean and good-smelling, so I consider it a success.

The homemade soap powder recipe I used was:

2 parts [3 cups total] SOAP I used 1 bar Octagon & 1 bar Ivory, because I couldn’t find Fels Naptha or Zote
1 part [1 1/2 cups] *Washing Soda
– Couldn’t find this either, made by heating baking soda for 2 hours @ 375°
1 part [1 1/2 cups] Borax

*Just a note – WASHING SODA IS NOT THE SAME AS BAKING SODA!!!
Several people have tried similar recipes with baking soda, and it does not work. They are different chemically. You can make a washing soda by heating baking soda in the oven for an hour or two at 350-400°, but do not use this for other household uses afterwards. It is still best to find and buy “Super Washing Soda” [Arm & Hammer brand] in the laundry aisle or online.

This is so easy to make – grate the soap on the fine side of a cheese grater, then powder and mix together in the food processer, and just add to water to do your washing.

I also added 2 scoops [about 3 Tbsp] of generic Oxyclean, and some leftover Tide detergent [maybe 1/2 – 3/4 cup]. I’ve been using 1 heaping Tbsp for most laundry, and 2 Tbsp for the dirty stuff, and this is working great, even in our cold water washer.

I had trouble finding some of the ingredients at Wal-Mart & Food Lion , but soapsgonebuy.com sells a kit with everything included, or you should be able to shop around and find it all locally.

I also added a homemade liquid fabric softener made from vinegar, baking soda, and water. The recipe I used for this was:

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups baking soda
4 cups water

Mix the vinegar and baking soda in with 1/2 the water each & add the soda/water very slowly to the vinegar water, giving time for it to fizz up and then die down before adding more [use a very large container, to allow room for the foam]. When it’s settled down, por into an airtight container, and use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. I poured mine back into a fabric softener bottle, with about 1/2 an inch of softener in the bottle to add scent, and am just adding a cap full to the laundry.

Another fabric softener recipe is:

2 cups hair conditioner [one regular size bottle is almost 2 cups – close enough]
3 cups white vinegar
6 cups water

Mix these together and use as you would store-bought softener. You can also put this in a spray bottle or baby wipe container and use to soak or spray and saturate a clean rag or squares of flannel, then toss it in the dryer with your laundry for easy homemade dryer sheets. [Several homemade sheets can be left soaking in the container, ready to use, or just use the spray bottle to saturate a new rag/cloth each time you dry them].

 

Front Table Decorations September 25, 2008

Filed under: diy,homemaking — Raine @ Simply Getting By @ 3:34 am

This table is one of the first things you see from our front door. I thought it looked plain, and I wanted some of those cinnamon scented pinecones, so I came up with some decorations.

The top photos are before & after. The bottom shows the supplies I bought to put it together.

Total cost- under $16
Wicker basket $2 on sale @ Dollar General
Ribbon $1 per spool @ Dollar General
Table Runner $3 @ Dollar General
Scented Pinecones $3.33 @ Rose’s
Mini Flower Arrangements $2 [$1 each] @ Rose’s
Coffee Cups $2 [$1 each]
Candles $2 [$1 each]