Archive | April 2018

Grocery Shopping Inside a National Park

In February, sometime before my last roommate moved away, she mentioned a budget software that her son bought her. Well it got me checking for budget apps to download onto my tablet. Found one that I had enough space for. Its called “Spending Tracker”. It seems pretty easy to use and was an eye-opener when I posted the income that I had actually brought home in January (not the gross pay). I kept looking at the total I brought home “VS” the amount in my bank account at that time, and the realization hit me that I really do need to stick to a budget more then I had thought.

Lately I have seen a few blogs around the internet and some comments in facebook groups where different people post what they spend at a grocery store. Usually it’s from people who live in locations with more than one store, which allows them to shop around and compare prices. Well in my tiny community outside of the national park there is only 1 store, with 1 bigger store inside the park. Stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway, are in Flagstaff which is about 90 minutes away. Without a car, they might as well be across the country. Thankfully I can order some food online from Walmart and Amazon, to be delivered to my post office box.

So with my new spending tracker app, I want to see exactly what I spend in a month for: #1. Starbucks, #2. Dining out (restaurants) #3. Groceries at store (both inside and outside the park), #4. Schwan’s food truck delivery. #5. Foods ordered online. The idea is to find out exactly what I am spending on all the food and drinks that I consume and then figure out a way to save money. This should be an interesting month, as myself and all the other locals like to complain that it’s expensive to shop and eat here.

Sure there are days where I don’t care about a price and will go eat out at one of the local buffets. My last buffet was for Easter dinner. Then I become a Scrooge for a few days after my big-spending moments and refuse to buy anything.

(Saturday) for lunch I finished up a bag of frozen broccoli and cheese sauce that I had gotten from the Schwan’s truck last week, and I mixed it with a mini Minute-Ready container of red quinoa & brown rice. My lunch is technically not on my diet, but it’s what I had ,easy access to today before I get ready for work.

Around 5:30pm, I started feeling kinda BLAH. Got an ice cream sandwich during my lunch break and felt better afterwards. It normally cost $1.79 but with my employee discount, it cost me $1.43. I didn’t really eat much all day which is probably why I wasn’t feeling my best.

(WEDNESDAY) 4/25/2018

I came up to the store to buy a couple avocados, bag of spinach, shredded cheese, and some junk that I didn’t really need. So what does the produce section look like in your store? My total (with my employee discount) came to $14.34.

Now I am heading back home to have a huge salad while I do laundry.

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Beautiful Weekend

While warming up some of last night’s chicken, I noticed some elk in the campground nearby. So I went out to see if I could get some pictures with my tablet.

One of my housemates saw the elk early in the evening on the other side of the campground but I didn’t go chasing them down for more pictures.

But I did get to see a beautiful sunset, when I went to take out the trash. I have been here off & on for 11 years, and I am still in awe everytime I see the elk or a gorgeous sunset. I swear that you would think that I have never seen them before.

This week at work, it was fun to watch one of the international girls get excited over snow and the sunset. She ran outside to get pics of both while we were at work. Now for her, snow really is a rare sight. You never know what to expect here. One day it’s windy & snowing, and the rest of the week the temps have gotten up to the 70’s.

Yesterday one of the housing guys, came to tell me and Elsie that we would both be getting roommates on Thursday (tomorrow). So at the moment, I walked up to work to buy some avocado and check my mail…and obviously post this blog. But then I need to get home to finish cleaning my room.

I Ain’t Sugar-Coating Nothing Today

I have been told many times that I can be harsh, and I need to tone down my sarcasm. Well my response to that is “I don’t work at Dunkin Donuts, so I ain’t sugar coating anything”, or I will repeat one of my dad’s sayings “Use your head for something besides a hat rack”. Usually it’s my response when someone asks something for a zillion times or says something that makes absolutely no logical realistic sense. I used to ask my mother “do you want me to give you an HONEST answer or a NICE answer…cuz they won’t be the same”. So because some people can’t handle my comments in public forum diet groups online I decided to post them on my own page here.

Sooo if you are on any diet (and it doesn’t matter which one) the diet rules and guidelines say “eat foods #1,#2,#3 and don’t eat foods #4,#5,#6”. I really don’t wanna hear that you have no idea on what to eat, because if you had read the rules before you announced that you were on the diet than you would already know what to eat. Yeah you get bored with foods #1,#2 and #3 or you are addicted to food #4 and wake up in the middle of the night craving it. Well then eat the damn thing but then don’t tell me that you are following the diet because you ain’t.

And if giving in to your cravings makes you gain weight, don’t come whining to me saying that you have no idea why you gained. Some people can’t handle any diet without a scheduled cheat day. They need a yummy treat to look forward to. Well if any diet is any good, then why would you cheat yourself of its rewards…lost weight, better health, smaller clothes?

I stopped buying bags of sugar many years ago. I don’t even know what sugar costs in the store, where I work. I have a container of honey that I bought in January when I was sick, I thought I would use it in my tea, but nope I never opened it. Now if you raise bees and collect fresh honey from your own beehives then I would say you got real honey. That stuff I bought is just man-made crap. I grew up in New England, where people will tap trees every year to make their own maple syrup. While it’s all sugar, it’s also REAL. Not like the watered-down crap full of mystery ingredients that you find in alot of stores.

Most diets tell you to cut down/ limit processed crap…usually it means, stop stuffing your face with sugar, bad carbs and things full of man-made chemicals. Basically learn to eat real food. How can you live without some items that come packaged in a Box? Well, the same way your great-great grandparents did.

EAT REAL FOOD!

But, you claim that real food is bland and boring. So what? Get used to it! Your taste buds will survive. Quite a few members of my family are diabetic and during one of my pregnancies my doctor was worried about me developing the disease. Doctors usually tell people with diabetes to limit sugar or use some fake alternative. Have you ever done a Internet search for “Sweet & Low” or “Equal” or “Splenda” or any of the other mysterious artificial sweeteners? OMG, that stuff can be worse than sugar.

Something from that list above can be found in most packaged food. I have noticed that the above list missed a few sweeteners, Oh well hopefully you get the idea.

I have worked in nursing homes, some restaurants and now I work in a general store. Sometimes it amazes me what some people call a meal. I can’t understand when I see huge obese people load up plates or shopping carts with what I call junk and then they feel the need to top it off with a super sized diet soda. I just can’t wrap my brain cells around it, to understand why they are eating like that. As if a giant diet soda will make all their other crap alright. Hey, I might be a weirdo for slicing up lemons to put into my water bottle and then adding a couple cap-fulls of apple cider vinegar. But I will take my weird drink any day over any diet soda. I have never liked the taste of diet sodas, on the rare times that I tried them years ago and they made my stomach hurt for hours.

At this time, I am following quite a few diet groups on facebook and even more diet groups on Sparkpeople. I now have about 3 dozen books downloaded onto my tablet about those diets. I’m not sure how to really classify my eating. I usually just tell people that I am picky, without explaining any diet.

Like most people, there are sugary food items that I like the taste of: ice cream, junior mints, mentos, and reese’s pieces. But I can’t even say half the ingredients in those and if you looked up all the side effects of each ingredient then you would see how toxic they really are. So if you are wondering what’s my go-to snack item now….well its, Pork Rinds with Guacamole. Yes, I went from sugar to salt & fat. The plain pork rinds have NO sugar/NO carbs…but lots of salt. My last roommate used to complain about my pork rinds alot.

Why does food have to contain artificial anything…artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and artificial sugars? What ever happened to eating real food? I haven’t done enough research to figure out why or when our groceries started looking like they came from a science class instead of a home economic class.

As Dad used to say: “You are what you eat. You eat junk, you become junk.”

Life…What’s it for?

After checking the time on my phone a few times during the night, I finally got up to make coffee at 5:30am. Around 9am, I decided to do laundry and make a small salad to eat ( yes I skipped eggs today).

While waiting for the laundry, I sat on my bed trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the next 5 hours before I had to leave for work. I still need to clean off the spare bed in my room and I have a scarf that I need to finish crocheting. But wasn’t in the mood to do either of those. So instead I just laid down to rest until laundry was done.

I don’t really sleep much, but even if I am awake then I have no energy or motivation to do anything productive. Someone needs to wave a magic wand over my head and turn me into the energizer bunny. Otherwise I could literally just lay on my bed all day playing backgammon and canasta on my tablet. When the highlight of a day and the only reason to wake up is to have coffee and play a game with a computer for 5 hours, then it’s time to find a new way to spend my day…or start taking sleeping pills again in the middle of the night just so I only wake up for work.

It’s days like this that I actually miss being homeless in Georgia. I am almost tempted to call the Twins at “The Well” to get the latest gossip from the neighborhood. Even though I spent a lot of time on my phone while I was at The Well, I got to see other people every day. The twins used to drive me crazy sometimes but they still get excited to hear from me and always ask if I am ever going back there. Weird how you can be homeless but have lots of people around to talk to or help in some way if you needed it, I miss walking around Norwich Street and the park by the river…but I am living in a house across the country with nobody to talk to and no place to walk to except work/starbucks and nothing to look forward to except coffee and backgammon.

People always think that if a homeless person gets a job and moves into a house, then they are moving up in the world. Well sure they will have money as long as they keep the job. But isn’t money supposed to be the root of all evil? What good is having money if you just turn into a hermit hiding in 1 bedroom all by yourself (except when you are working to make more money). What good is money if you have no way or no time to enjoy it. If having money equals happiness, then does that mean only rich people are Happy? Hmm, some rich celebrities don’t always seem so happy on the covers of all those trash papers that you can find by the check out lines in Walmart or some news site on the Internet. So if money doesn’t guarantee happiness, then what the hell does? I have money now, but looked forward to most days more when I was living in my broken-down car in Georgia.

Well I have wasted enough time today (Sunday) I need to get dressed for work. I get out of work tonight at 10pm and have to be back at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Won’t get much sleep tonight. But I like Monday mornings, cuz the store is always busy with deliveries. Actually I would not mind if they had me work from open-to- close. If I am awake anyways, then I might as well be at work doing something productive.

Breakfast and another schedule change

I had 2 cups of coffee and opened a bag of pork rinds, before walking up to the post office. I didn’t get the package that I was expecting from Amazon. I got a message from Amazon saying that the package needs my signature, so I really hope that UPS driver doesn’t come by until I am at work today.

I traded my morning shift with one of the kids from Ecuador. She got a 2nd job at the local Mexican restaurant to work nights, so she needs to work the morning shift in our store. It will only be on Friday-Sunday, so I will keep my morning shifts on Monday and Thursday. The kid will only be here another month, and after that the boss said he will give me back all my morning shifts. I like going in for morning shifts better.

While I was in the store checking the mail, I did a little grocery shopping and bought another carton of eggs, a package of salad greens, cherry tomatoes, and more pork rinds. I don’t know what eggs cost in your store but in my store they are $3.19 for a dozen. We don’t have a variety of sizes either..it’s all 1 price for eggs. Yes I think $3.19 is expensive but I bought them anyways because I like eggs for breakfast. I did good…I skipped Starbucks today. I had their steak and egg wrap for breakfast couple days ago.

Anyways after walking back home, I made another cup of coffee and put 1/4 scoop of chocolate whey protein powder into it. I cooked 2 eggs in the microwave and also had some broccoli with cheese sauce. It’s about 11:30am now and I don’t have to be at work until 3pm. I doubt that I will be hungry by the time I leave for work.

It was cold and windy all last night. I had to dig the portable heater out of my closet to keep my room warm. One of the housemates turned the main heater for the house off. So it’s cold in the rest of the house when I got up this morning. I think our high temps for today will be around 40 degrees. So I know that by the time I get out of work tonight at 10pm, that I will want to grab a cup of tea.

For now my schedule looks like this:

Monday 8:30-4

Tuesday: off

Wednesday: off

Thursday 8:30-4

Friday 3-10

Saturday 3-10

Sunday 3-10

Living Near a National Park

Living in a national park and working for one of the concession companies that run hotels, gift shops and restaurants at these locations can be a good way to see the country. It can be a great way to meet people from other countries that you might never get to see. Where can you work and get to talk to someone from your hometown (on the other side of the country) and 10 minutes later be talking to someone from Iceland or Belgium…and your coworker is from Ecuador? Well, at any national park obviously.

If anyone reading this wants to work around the country in a national park then do a google search for “Xanterra”, “Forever Resorts”, “Aramark Parks”, or “Delaware North”. Those companies also have jobs in places all over the country and some jobs that are not in national parks…but if you need employee housing then you will need to look for the jobs in remote places that are usually just in parks. At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon you would look for Xanterra and Delaware North. On the quieter North rim of the Grand Canyon you would search for jobs with Forever Resorts. You can transfer to different locations within the same company or switch to other companies..depending on where you want to be. Unfortunately they all usually force you to share living space with total strangers.

At the moment, I have a bedroom to myself (my last roomie left in February). I am trying to organize my room before I get assigned another roomie…still hoping that won’t be for awhile. At this moment I have a bunch of my stuff thrown onto the other bed while I figure out what to do with it. While I have the room to myself, I get to watch movies late at night or get up super early if I want, without disturbing anyone. When you share a room you need to be considerate of someone else’s space and their need for sleep. (I don’t sleep much which can mean that I am a terrible roommate).

I get to use half a closet and 3 drawers in the dresser. I should order some bed risers to make more space underneath my bed to store boxes. I will need the extra space to store my craft supplies. I have more craft items arriving in the mail later this week.

Every so often, I ask myself, if I had to leave tomorrow then what would I take with me. Well that’s easy..my phone, tablet, and few pictures fit in my purse, my camera would hang around my neck (I tell airport workers that it’s just a huge necklace) and whatever work clothes that’s needed will fit into my one small suitcase. Actually I have noticed that my suitcase is pretty beat up, so eventually I will need a new one, but everything else I could live without. I have had lots of practice walking away from most material things. No matter how much I like something and no matter how much money I spent on it. They are all just things and are all replaceable. But seeing as I know that I ain’t really leaving anywhere tomorrow I am hanging onto more stuff then I really need.

Took this picture about a month ago, while walking home. I live in the 2nd home where Emma’s white jeep is parked. We are just outside the campground in Tusayan. You would think that living close to a campground near a national park would be noisy with tons of traffic, but so far this area is not bad. Actually I like seeing all the different types of rigs that people camp in and travel around with.

Today is a day off and I should hop on the shuttle to go grocery shopping in the bigger store inside the park and get some new pictures of Mather Point, but I don’t really feel like dealing with a crowd of people today. Beside I slammed my foot into the edge of my bedroom door this morning, when I was trying to get into the bathroom before anyone else got up and my toes still hurt when I tried to put my sneakers on.

So instead I will be having a lazy day at home. Lunch was nothing fancy, not even worth a picture. But it was yummy. Now I will relax with DVD movies and crafts.

OH, OH, one of my housemates came home from work today and started packing. Sara works in the post office inside our store plus she got a 2nd job at the pizza place next door. Not sure if she is just moving into another house and will keep both jobs. I am sure I will find out later when I return to work on Thursday.

It’s April…but no Spring Showers

My schedule got changed again this week because one of the international kids from Ecuador, wanted to go on a rec center trip to Walmart. So we traded days..she is working this morning for me and I will be working Wednesday night for her. I went shopping in Flagstaff with Robin last week. Robin was nice enough to take me to the bank so I could walk in and get a temporary bank card, as I still had not gotten mine in the mail.

According to the weather app on my phone, I don’t expect rain until the middle of May. But Utah and Colorado might get rain and even a bit of snow in the mountains, this month. But as usual that could all change next week. Today it’s about 63 degrees and windy in Tusayan.

I am typing this on Monday but probably won’t post it until Tuesday, when I go out to for breakfast. Last night I went to a dinner buffet at one of the local hotels. It was yummy but rather expensive (in my opinion..$28 is expensive). Being Easter, I ate lots of ham and spare ribs. Cheesecake isn’t on my diet but I had some anyways. Guests will usually come into the store and ask me about different restaurants in town. I had only tried breakfast here at the “Canyon Plaza Resort” before, and now I can honestly tell people that their dinners are helluva lot better. I was stuffed by the time I walked home. I fell asleep before 7pm, and got back up around 2am.

The above picture was taken last week..I was pretty excited because I don’t remember seeing the 160’s since May 2015 (according to what I could find posted online). While I was in Flagstaff I bought some pants to wear to work. All my size 18 pants were to big..I had actually started wearing a belt everyday. I had given up belts years ago, but now they were a necessity. The belt came with a pair of pants I bought over a year ago. Even though the pants fit at the time, the belt was to small. Now I can buckle the belt into the third hole. Anyways I am now wearing size 15/16 pants.

Today (Monday) I am finally getting around to putting away the stuff that I bought last week. Good thing I still have a room to myself…so far. Seeing as I bought a view movies from a thrift store I will also take time to watch a dvd movie that I had never heard of, “Eternal Sunshine..of the spotless mind”. It stars Jim Carrey and usually I like his movies. Ok this has got to be his strangest movie ever.

Last week, I ordered some craft supplies online. They should start arriving Thursday. I can’t wait to be able to create stuff again. I am hoping to create things to sell later. Not sure if that means I have to register for a business license in order to do this but I will figure that out later.