About Ashlin

Join me as I start down the path of mini-homesteading! Mistakes will be made, and obstacles conquered as we navigate this adventure.

Not your typical 9-to-5

It’s been a little less than a month of no longer working for eBay. Some days it still feels like this is just a holiday and I’ve got to go back to work in a couple days. Another part of me is starting to feel like this is the new normal.

I get up at 4am every day to teach classes for VIPKID. I open my schedule from 5am through 8am but usually I just have classes that are booked from 5am-7am. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Classes are 25 mins each. The kids are pretty cute for the most part and eager to learn. Of course, I also get kids who clearly don’t want to be there. Or, I don’t know, maybe they had a hard day or are tired, but I don’t enjoy those kids nearly as much.

And really, I hate getting up that early. I felt like by not having a typical 9-5 job I’d have more time with Jesse and the boys, and I do get to be with Leo all day and Ez after school, but I generally go to bed right after we put the boys down, so around 8:30 or so. It doesn’t leave a lot of “us” time with Jesse.

I passed my notary exam and am in the process of getting that all sorted. I just heard back that they officially granted my commission so now I have to go get another paper notarized and then email that to a company to produce my stamp and then I can start notarizing things! I am also going to take a certified agent training course so I can branch out. Technically I don’t need further certification to do mortgage loan closings (in my state, other states are different about the rules) but I’d like to have more of a background before I jump in. I’m hoping I can start to make enough where I don’t need to do the online teaching. I don’t mind teaching the classes themselves, it’s just the early hours are killers to me! Theoretically if I could do 10 signings in one month that would be enough.

I’ve also looked into some things like photo site inspectors where you are literally contracted to just take photos of sites/locations and upload them back to the person who contracted you. Usually it’s for insurance stuff and sometimes it’s more involved but otherwise it could be somewhat lucrative for a little side work. Of course I’m driving around my van which is a gas hog. If I ever started getting full time with the mobile notary stuff I’d probably want to get a more fuel efficient car. I don’t know if that means I’d get a little Nissan Versa and Jesse would get a motorcycle to ride in the fair weather seasons or what. I will also probably need to invest in a better printer, as in a dual-tray laser printer that auto feeds from both a regular size and legal letter size tray.

I legally created my business name of Ultimate Notary Utah LLC and leased a couple domains. I am trying to figure out if it will be easier to just build a little website by hand or use a premade template. I’ve used premade in the past and the whole drag/drop thing is pretty easy but a notary website probably won’t have too much information on it so I may try my hand at designing the whole thing. We’ll see.

I was sick for a week when I had a cold and lost my voice. All in all it was fairly mild aside from losing my voice. Jesse came down with it next and it seems to have hit him fairly hard, poor guy. The kids are holding strong so far.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. My no-knead bread turned out well and the molasses ginger cookies were amazeballs. The lemon bars were awful, simply awful. I don’t know if it’s how I made them (I did use lemon juice from a bottle that had been open for awhile) or the recipe itself. I made great lemon bars a few months ago but couldn’t recall which recipe I used. I made stellar cinnamon rolls, that recipe was a keeper. I made Jesse a lemon blueberry cake with lemon cream cheese frosting that turned out pretty well. It was a little dense and next time I will use fresh blueberries instead of frozen (or at least much fresher frozen berries) because there wasn’t much blueberry flavor. Currently I’m working on a sourdough bread. I’ve been nurturing the sourdough starter for over a week and this morning started the bread process. I’ll probably finish the bread either tonight or tomorrow morning. *fingers crossed*

We’ve been looking at puppies again. I know, I know. Some of them are so frickin’ cute and now would be an appropriate time to get one, what with me being home all day. I keep going back and forth. I am still working with Benny on things like walking nicely on a leash and the basics like sit and down. He knows sit and down but unless I have treats isn’t inclined to perform immediately. I started to use a front-clip harness that Dad and Dani gave us and it’s been working quite well for leash work.

I keep thinking of all these things I’d do differently with a puppy. Mainly leash skills early on as well as a lot of feet work. Trimming Benny’s nails is a nightmare. I’m retroactively working on his feet work. It’s a LONG process and nowhere near the finish line. He is really receptive to canned tuna (as opposed to regular training treats) and I hope that if I work on his feet often enough he will develop good feelings about it because it will remind him of eating tuna.

Ezra has recently discovered he likes canned tuna. He randomly asked for some as a snack the other night and proclaimed it was delicious! I always forget about the canned tuna and chicken we have. I have those pickled red onions that would be superb in a tuna salad. Must try that some time.

 

 

September 2017 keto log

9.11.17 – Well, after weeks of rampant gorging, I started back keto on 9.7.17. You, those first days truly ARE the most difficult. Leading up to them I was eating sweets or ice cream (or sweets *and* ice cream) and the first two days I kept wanting to go to Sonic to get a peanut butter master blast. They are freaking AMAZING. Especially with toffee bits mixed in. But, I held true and it’s been four days now. Not so long in the grand scheme of things but just long enough that it’s starting to get easier. I’ve been making fat bombs and have been looking to make some keto cheesecakes to make the transition easier. I’ve also been drinking a fair amount of diet soda throughout the day. All that will probably taper off a bit as things get into full swing.

I think the weather is cooling down slightly so you know what that means…soup season! I was thinking another reason it’s been so difficult to get back to keto was because I was not getting enough fat. Eventually you can taper off on the fat consumption so your body will use its own storage but in the beginning I really need that satiation value. I’m looking to make my cheeseburger soup and the sausage/kale soup and the cauli/ham chowder. All use heavy cream and assorted cheeses. Yum!

I guess a nice thing is that when I started a year ago (August 28, 2016 to be exact) I was at 274 lbs. And when I started back up a few days ago I was at 246 and today I am at 243. It seems the 240s are my new normal and I’m very grateful my body isn’t fighting tooth and nail to get back to the 270s. A small part of me is disappointed I didn’t have the discipline to lose more than 30 lbs in the course of a year, but maybe baby steps?

A lot can change in one month

I now work from home. Yes, you read that correctly. I no longer work for eBay. It feels totally great and unreal at that same time. I’d worked there for over eight years and even though it’s been three days I still feel like I’m going back to work tomorrow. I suspect it will take some time to get used to it.

That’s not to say I’m no longer working. I work part time for VIPkid where I teach English in the wee morning hours online to Chinese kids about to turn in for the night. It’s kind of brutal in that I have to get up 4am to be showered and ready for my 5am starting classes, but it means that I have the rest of the day to be home with the kiddos.

Leo no longer goes to daycare while we figure out what the finances look like over the course of a month. The tricky thing is, my income is not static. My pay depends on how many classes I book over the course of a month. So some months I might bring in $400, some may be over $1k. I would like to get regular students so I could depend on that income, but so far there haven’t been any repeats, just new kids. I am hoping that I will be able to bring in enough so that Leo can go to daycare at least two days a week. I think the social aspect was really beneficial to him for the few weeks that he went. And honestly it’d be great to have a couple days to myself where I could focus on other things, like writing, making soap, or shopping for things to resell.

I had been thinking awhile now of trying to find other work. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing but the catalyst really was when Leo was sick for a couple days. I had to stay home with him and in our department there was only enough PTO assigned for 16 hours a week. On both days I was out I wasn’t able to schedule PTO early because one person on the team had scheduled 8 hours and one person had scheduled one hour! So even though there were seven hours available, I needed 8 and because there wasn’t “enough” time available, I had to take an occurrence for those days. At this time in life, Leo seems to get sick pretty often. I need the flexibility to be able to stay home with him (or Ezra) when he needs me.

Monday was my first official day not working at eBay. It was good timing, really, because Ezra had a fever that day and had to stay home from school.

I think I’m also going to look into becoming a notary. When we signed the papers for our house refinance, we were able to have a mobile notary come to us and she made it sound like she brought in a fair amount of income for limited work. Looking into it, it seems like it could also be a good fit for me. Wish me luck!

End of summer 2017

Holy potatoes, this summer just flew by! We finished out summer vacation by going on our annual Salisbury/McFarling trip.

This year it was to the Sun River resort in Oregon and it was fantastic! I told Jesse I wouldn’t mind living there. At the resort. They had the most amazing bike trails and I just LOVE the way Central Oregon smells.

Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls

I don’t know how to explain it because the climate is very much like Utah in that it is arid but the scent is definitely different. More sage and juniper berries.

We purchased a bike trailer for the boys to ride in while we were there, even though we don’t have bikes at home. One more thing for the shopping list. I was a bit nervous to get on a bike because I legit hadn’t been on a bike ride in at least 10 years but I’m happy to report the saying really is true, you never forget how to ride a bike. By the end of the week I was pro style again and jonesing for a bike of my own. Of course, SLC and the surrounding areas aren’t as bike friendly as Oregon and we’ll need to get a bike hitch for the van.

 

We camped for one night close to Crater Lake. I was excited to see the lake again because the photos of it online are gorgeous and I hadn’t been there since I was a child but it was just our rotten luck the surrounding area was having major fires and it basically was a smoke pit.

No sparkling views for us, unfortunately. And it was reaffirmed that mosquitoes love me. No sooner were we out of the car that I got a few bites. Y’all, I got bitten on the ass while using the restroom at the camp site. Talk about your most vulnerable position. And I seemed to have had an allergic reaction to all the bites because I wanted to saw off my feet for about a week.

After that reunion we headed over to Aunt Ginny’s house for the Baugher reunion. We took our time and meandered across the coastal highway for a bit. The boys were able to play on the beach and Leo was knocked over by waves twice. He was completely soaked and sandy by the time we were ready to go but he didn’t care.

We ate dinner at a great little seafood restaurant, all of it fresh caught. I’ve lately thought I would love to live close to the ocean, within an hour or so. Inland enough so a tsunami wouldn’t get us but close enough we could do some great day trips.

We stayed in Ginny’s camper for that first night and it was so nice not to have to pitch our tent and squish in. We didn’t have to fight mosquitoes although Leo is always a handful when getting put to bed in a new location so we had to deal with that situation instead.

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and the rest of the family starting rolling in. It was wonderful and I was able to visit with family I hadn’t seen in several years. Tawnya brought a karaoke machine and we all rocked the joint! Super fun times! We barreled through straight home on Sunday and sleeping in our bed never felt so great.

We still had to figure out what we were going to do with Leo during the day since Brenda was no longer able to watch him. I reviewed a couple childcare places online and then on Thursday we all went first to Ezra’s new school to get oriented and show him around and then we checked out the childcare place. It was nice in that it had really positive reviews online and it’s also probably less than half a mile from Ezra’s school. The place checked out so we figured we’d give it a month, see how it goes.

The boys had their first day of school/daycare yesterday. I was able to modify my work schedule by 15 minutes so I’m able to pick up Ezra right as school ends. He did so well in waiting for me yesterday, he was just hanging out with a group of kids until I got there. He’s gotten so big! He’s in an advanced first grade program that is dual immersion Spanish language to boot. I think he’ll do fantastic. I’ll definitely need to brush up on my Spanish skills myself. I purchased some Spanish language flash cards and I told Ez that we’d be practicing at home. He seems down with it.

After I picked up Ezra we went to get Leo. It seems like he had a great day as well. One of things I like about this situation is he’s around more kids in his same age range so he’ll get to learn more social skills. It seems to be kind of a preschool style daycare where they have structure and some learning practices in place. It’s only been one day but so far so good.

I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do as a career and am coming up blank. I’m really not enjoying my current position. I mean, some of the things I like, others I don’t, but I don’t want to be here for another five years, you know? I also don’t want to spend a lot of money on schooling when I’m not sure what I want to do. I’m thinking of managing properties, becoming a realtor, re-skinning apps, the list goes on. Ideally I’d like something I could do in my spare time that would bring in some money. The problem is if I didn’t work full time things would be pretty tight and with two incomes we can get some luxuries.

Like the new KichenAid mixer we bought last night! I have been drooling over the mixers at Costco for quite some time. We got our KitchenAid when we were married so it’s about nine years old now. It runs more slowly and it’s a smaller bowl size with a lesser engine. We bought a professional series mixer yesterday and I’m VERY excited to try it out. Of course, we’re trying to eat less baked good so it’s the perfect time to purchase, right? Oh well, we all have to go sometime.

Minor irritants

Jesse discovered our drip line hose tubing was separated and probably has been since they installed the rocks in the grape area.

So most likely the grapes have been getting their water from the grass watering system. Fairly irritated about that. Also mad that we have tons of weeds in our yard and the guy who owns the landscaping company said it’s not their problem. He went on to list a litany of steps they took to prevent weeds and Jesse and I are pretty sure none of those steps actually happened but we don’t have any proof either way. We also have random dead patches where we’re thinking we may just sprinkle some grass seed there and see what happens. The company we had do all the work basically seems like they are done fixing their own problems. I am not going to leave them a shining review. In fact, it will be fairly scathing.

We tested out our new battery-powered lawnmower and it works a treat.

We need to sign up for a green waste yard bin. We pretty much filled up our regular garbage can with grass trimmings from the front and back yards and while we don’t usually have enough trash to take it to the curb weekly, I still think it’s a good idea to keep green waste separate.

We bought a new pooper scoop and I love it!

I don’t have to bend over to use it, it’s effective, and I can use those plastic grocery bags that just seem to multiply. I highly recommend this model if you are looking for a raking scoop system.

We bought the best cherry pitter!

I haven’t eaten cherries in forever because I hate dealing with the pits but I’d been thinking about canning some cherries lately so bought this pitter and then bought some cherries at Harmon’s. Those cherries were fantastic!

You just load up your stemmed cherries into the tray, one goes into the shoot, depress the plunger where a steel rod pits the cherry and the pitted cherry rolls into the bowl! Easy peasy! We have noticed that it’s not 100% reliable as a few of the cherries still had the pit but overall it’s a very useful tool and I’m happy we purchased it. Ezra has been on a cherry-eating crusade so we bought more cherries are Costco. Fingers crossed they are as tasty. A part of me thinks I wouldn’t mind having a cherry tree but then you have to deal with all the birds snatching the goods before they are ripe, or they fall to the ground and make a mess. Probably no cherry trees in our future.

I got a call the other day that Ezra made it into the gifted/Spanish dual language program!

He will be going to a brand new school full time this year. I think he’s excited but I am pretty sure after a couple weeks he’ll be all, oh man, I have to go AGAIN?! I’ve told him he has to go everyday of the school year until he graduates from here on out but I don’t think he can fathom that far in time.

We’ve also decided the kids need to eat better so I’ve told Ez that after all the fruit snacks and chips are gone we won’t be restocking. I’ve told him he’s going to get more snacks like fruits and veggies and that he’ll be eating dinner with us. He seems on board so far but I know when it comes down to it he’ll be resistant. Every night I tell him about it (at his request, he always asks to know how we’ll be eating) so hopefully when it actually starts we won’t have to fight him too much.

Leo eats ok but could be better. We got rid of his high chair so we don’t have a way to force him to sit at the table now. Generally he eats a few bites and then gets up and runs away. I figure by simple lack of other food they will be eating what we eat in short order.

I made a low-carb tortilla recipe that ended up turning out more like crepes. Not sure why it was so much thicker but I definitely wasn’t able to pour the batter and swirl it around the pan like she could. They were still pretty tasty, though, so I used them for bacon and egg wraps.

There is a new documentary out called What the Health that I kind of want to see but mainly don’t want to waste my time as I understand it’s filled with either junk science or manipulated data taken from bad studies. I mean, if you want to eat a vegan lifestyle, go for it, but don’t expect to convert me with bad science. I agree feed lot animals are a poor choice of protein but until more ranchers read about managed rotational grazing and how it can reverse dustbowls and methane gas production, I’ll just have to be more cognizant to choose from conscientious producers.

I want to have some movie under the stars nights, so we purchased this projector to try out.

We bought a drop cloth and Jesse is going to build a frame so we can hang it on the deck posts. We are going to have movies outside! Now we just need to buy a speaker set so we can hear the audio. Because, you know, audio is important when watching a film.