Thursday, October 27, 2016

Girls' Day In

I managed to get a lot of the items on my list accomplished yesterday.  I didn't get the voting done, but I have scheduled for Saturday morning.   I also didn't get the dog bathed.  Not too bad.

Mama and my sister are spending the day with me and we will be doing a girls' day in.  Lunch is going to be  simple meal of pancakes and fruit.  For supper my daughter has requested beef and broccoli over rice.  Since both of them are meat eaters as well this will work out.  I will either make myself a baked potato with broccoli or perhaps a salad or maybe both.

For simplicities sake I am baking vegan chocolate cupcakes and I have a variety of crackers and things like that for snacking on.  Lunch will use things I have on hand.  Supper will be using freezer assets cooked in the crockpot and rice from the pantry, which I will cook in the pressure cooker.  Aiming for ease and maximum time visiting.  The plus for me -- I am only using items on hand so I do not have to do any mad dashes or expensive shopping.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What day is it?

I crawled out of bed this morning thinking it was Wednesday, but I'm not so certain. I guess I am having a midweek Monday. I'm feeling much better after my iron infusion and I was up well before the sun was up.  I knew I had a quiz left to finish out my week's work for my history class.  No big deal.   I opened it up only to find that it is basically three more essays that are due by Sunday.  I already have a full end of the week shaping up.  I have overnight guests coming on Thursday, a school event to attend Friday with my daughter, a civic event obligation for Saturday morning, a slew of errands for Saturday afternoon, and family obligations on Sunday.  Since I am a "let's get it over with" kind of person......I wrote the first essay, edited and did what I thought was saving it.  Notice the thought.  I'm using a new to me system or rather the school is using a new to me system.  The system saved the first essay, marked the quiz as complete and locked me out.  So I am sitting here with two more essays that need to go on that quiz and I cannot figure out how to submit them to save my life.  Needless to say I've emailed the professor and I'm awaiting and hoping she will reopen the quiz.  Since it is not due until Sunday at midnight I am feeling confident she will.   On the upside -- I am officially finished with this week's writing until Friday night when next week's assignments open.  (I both like and hate the overlap So far today I have finished my basic chores, cleaned the guest bathroom, planned out the meals for guests, and worked on school work.  Not too shabby, but I still have things left on my to do list.  I'll work on getting as many of them done today as I can. To do:
  • Run one load of towels
  • Go vote
  • Vacuum downstairs 
  • Scrub my daughter's tub
  • Wipe down the kitchen counter
  • Give the dog a bath
  • Prep for paying the bills on Friday
  • Make a short grocery list out

Frugal Happenings for Last Week

Last week's frugal happenings went something like this (in no particular order):
  • I hung all clothes (except for towels and one "emergency" load) up to dry.
  • I packed snacks for our trip and bought tea from Sam's Club to save on costs.  I paid for the huge package what I would have paid for three teas at a convenience store.
  • I reused the back of papers from school for scratch paper.
  • I rescued yarn and started a project from yarn my mom was going to donate to goodwill.
  • While we ate out for two meals -- planned -- I did use coupons for each.  Reducing one by 1/4 and one by 1/2.
  • We used the library.
  • I made sure we didn't have food waste.
  • I used the slow cooker whenever possible, ran the a/c only when necessary, and encouraged my family to help me watch for hidden power draws.  (Our electric bill dropped $60 between a combination of those things and using the counter top oven.)
  • We tried the kitty litter from Aldi and actually prefer it.  The price is better and I can pick it up much easier.
  • We picked up two boxes of toilet paper from Sam's Club and saved $3.00 in the process.
  • Daughter and I finally found a store brand of feminine pads that we can use without irritation.
  • I called about an overcharge on a medical bill and the difference is on its way back to me.
  • I've asked my family to work on their Christmas list of three items.  I always request a list of one practical, one educational and one frivolous item. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Somedays I Just Have to Cook

Somedays I just have to step back from my busy-nesss and center myself again.  Cooking usually helps me do that. After yesterday's stresses of school and other issues beyond my control, today seemed to be started out on the wrong foot.  (Or at least the same foot as  So far today I have: 1.  Had an iron infusion. 2.  Cleaned out the fridge. 3.  Taken care of the floors and detailed the kitchen. 4.  Worked on a second revision of a history essay. 5.  Folded all the laundry I had hung to dry. So accomplishment wise it wasn't going to shabbily, but I found myself feeling a little stressed.  So I stopped and refocused myself.   Since my husband is coming home tonight, I decided to cook one of his favorite meals.  We'll be having vegan burgers.  Of course, we would need buns.  So a quick batch of bread dough was in order. While I was at it I decided to make a big enough batch to have extra for a quick pizza for lunch tomorrow.  While I was getting that going I decided I needed to use up the last bits I found in the fridge when I was cleaning it out.  A quick hash came together and I now have nothing other than olives, condiments, and "cheese" left in the fridge.  Since I had a cup of pumpkin in there I decided to go ahead and make a batch of pumpkin muffins for tomorrow's breakfast.  The toaster oven made quick work of that and by the time I had pretty much finished that the pizza crust was going in.  Hopefully saving energy.  (By the way my electric bill dropped quite nicely!). Since I was in the kitchen anyway, I decided to pull together a corn and black bean salad to go with the burgers tonight.   A lot of "sinces" in there -- but since I did all that I feel decidedly more grounded.  Somedays I just have to cook -- to clear my head.  

Freezer assets

A few weeks ago I put a couple of bags of soup/chili starter in the freezer.  With my class work level picking up it has turned out to be a wonderful thing.  Yesterday I spent 8 hours working on history assignments.  In between I kept the laundry going and did the vacuuming.  That was the extent of my day.  Of course, I knew we would need supper.  I pulled out a bag of the butternut squash and lentil starter and rounded it out with a few more veggies for a hearty soup.  I tossed the ingredients in the bread machine and let it bake a loaf of whole wheat bread while I worked.  The results were an easy, yet tasty, meal.    

Continuing to Use Up

Cooking for one or two people is kind of hard for me to get used to doing.  I've learned that in order to shop in bulk (like I like to do)  I really have to be able to eat the same ingredients for several days running.  The asparagus was a good example.  I had the soup, but still had a decent amount left.  (My daughter won't touch asparagus if she can help it.)  I had just a few chickpeas left in the fridge.  A quick potato, chickpea, onion, and asparagus "stir fry" hit the spot.
While I was chopping I cut up an entire onion. The leftovers from it went into the quesadilla I had for supper.  I used 1/2 of one of the chipotle sausage links, some of the peppers, and red onions along with Daiya cheese to make myself an easy meal. 
A quick potato hash. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cereal Bars

After some consideration I decided that since we would be traveling this weekend I would make some kind of bars for us to take with us.  I still had my cornflakes lingering and thought perhaps I could come up with something to use them in.  A quick peruse of the cabinets produced a partial bag of dried cranberries and a partial bag of coconut.  Perfect for the fruit portion....and then I had a partial jar of creamy sunbutter.  A few squirts of agave and I had the perfect consistency for a refrigerator cereal bar.  I shaped them into a square and sliced into bars once they had refrigerated for a while.  I'm not worried about the temperature while traveling because we will be taking a cooler with us.  A sealed container for these will work just fine.

I used up every package of ingredients I took out except for the agave, which is mostly full.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

My daughter had a meeting at school and I ended up being the only one home at meal time.  I had a pretty large amount of asparagus in the fridge that I wanted to use up.  (I used half for this meal and saved half for another.). 

I didn't really want to dirty up a lot of dishes so I decided to go with soup.  

These are my pithy directions:

Cut up 1/2 onion
Cut your asparagus into bite sized pieces.
Put in a saucepan.
Cover with water and add salt.
Cook until tender.
Spoon out veggies and put in blender.
Drop in 1/4 of a block of extra firm tofu.
Blend well.
Slowly add in reserved boiling water until desired consistency.

That's it.  (I just saved a few pieces to go on top for presentation.)

This was delicious!  Very fresh flavor and very filling.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Baked Mac and Cheese Success

This week I have tried to spend some time testing vegan dishes that I think my husband will like.  He loves baked mac and cheese and I wanted to find a creamy version.  This recipe by Robin Robertson is going to be a hit with him.  As usual I altered the recipe some.  First I started by cutting it in half.  Then I used coconut milk to avoid the sweet taste of soy, used Daiya cheddar instead of monterey jack that she calls for, substituted whole wheat noodles for white flour, omitted the miso paste, and then used homemade wheat bread crumbs.  Instead of saying I didn't follow instructions I prefer to say I improved upon  

In the process of making this I used up a partial box of noodles, some of my bread crumbs, and the rest of a package of cheese substitute.  Not too bad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Planned overs

Earlier in the week I baked two loaves of French bread even though I knew I'd only need one for that meal.  I love French toast made with homemade bread that has sat for a day or two.  This was my first time trying this vegan recipe for French toast and I loved it!  

I cooked the entire loaf's worth so that I could store some in the freezer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday's Tidbits

My day went something like this. I was up before the sun and did a little paperwork and online upkeep on things.  By 7:30 I had finished my three miles on the exercise bike -- my goal this week is three miles everyday -- with right many interruptions from the dog and my  Still not bad timing for three miles.

After daughter left for classes I worked on my schoolwork -- wrote and edited a history paper. Somewhere in there I cooked lunch for one. Basically I cobbled together any leftover ingredients in the fridge.  Brown rice, chickpeas, red onion, a chipotle vegan sausage, and a little Greek olive oil made for a tasty meal.

Afternoon found me finishing the knitting of a sweater. Now I just have to seam it.  I also ran a load of laundry and was able to hang it to dry.

Supper was the last leftovers from lunch with the spinach stirred in and some turnips. Once again it was only me at home so an easy meal was nice.  Bonus is that I now only have about 1/3 cup of chickpeas left to use up in the fridge.  However, I do still have the second loaf of French bread that I either need to freeze or use to make French toast.

Winter Wardrobe

While I cannot justify tossing the items that I have that are not animal cruelty free I can make sure anything that comes in is.  I had several pairs of boots that had reached their wear limit at the end of last season.  While we were traveling my husband found these. I fell in love with them immediately and they are all man made materials.    I was actually able to get them on sale, which helped cushion the clothing budget some.  However, no matter what new boots are rarely inexpensive.  They come to the right height on my leg and are neutral enough I am certain I will get a lot of wear out of them.  I've tried them with pants, skirts, and dresses with good results.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Using Up

OI didn't get everything used up on my list, but I made a good dent in it.  My husband didn't want scrambled tofu for breakfast.  We opted for coffee cake and fruit instead.  Lunch was a taco casserole. I served the leftover garden salad to round it out.  Supper had me using up two lingering veggie hot dogs in a pot of beans and franks.  I don't know why I didn't put those on my list.  My daughter went with leftover brown rice and some toppings.

Then Monday I opted to use up some of the brown rice and some of the pasta sauce. Not a traditional breakfast, but it was what I wanted. I used the tofu for lunch and made a tofu and chickpea salad sandwich.  Finished off half of the spinach and the ciabatta roll.

Supper was gnocchi with pasta sauce and homemade French bread for me. Since we were having company over I used the crockpot to make a cheesy chicken casserole for my daughter and our guests.  For dessert we served whole wheat vanilla cupcakes with fresh raspberries.

That literally leaves the lingering spinach, but I've added half a tin of chickpeas to the fridge.

Last Week's Frugal Happenings

Last week’s frugal accomplishments included:

1. Baking two coffee cakes from scratch.  Coffee cake is great because it has a little less sugar, uses ingredients I keep on hand, and my family feels like it is a treat.  Win, win, and win!  Far less expensive than buying treats and coffee out.
2. I took advantage of sale prices to add some more canned items to our food pantry.
3. I hung clothes to dry and only ran full loads.
4. I requested that my doctor do a 3 month prescription to reduce the  amount of times I have to run to the pharmacy. (He did.)
5. I know we will need a new printer soon…mine sounds like it is at death’s door…given that it is 10 years old I have gotten my money’s worth.  It has survived multiple high school and college courses, plus all my household printing and some of hubby’s work printing.  I have researched and know what I want.  My goal now is to combine either sales or coupons to reduce the cost.
6. I combined all shopping trips on the day I had the doctor’s appointment to reduce gas consumption.
7. We had guests over for dinner and I utilized the crockpot to make chili, the pressure cooker to make brown rice, and added a simple salad for sides.  It used less energy, pantry staples, and simplicity – but we all had a good time.
8. I batch cooked brown rice twice for use over the week.
9. I put small amounts of things I cooked into the freezer for my husband to take with him for the next week.
10. We combined a trip to the library with a few errands my husband needed us to run.
11. We used the library resources to checkout some books to help my daughter with her physics and calculus classes.
12. I created a “use up list” rather than a menu and this seems to work better in helping me make sure we avoid food waste.
13. I spent about 15 to 20 minutes re-organizing the pantry and updated my master list.  Saw a few items we really need to incorporate into our meals more often so that is on my to do list for this week.
14.  We took advantage of beautiful weather and went for a walk along the river front in a town near us.  We stopped and picked up an apple and a bottle of tea because my blood sugar had dropped.  (Failure to plan on my part.) However, we were able to keep our "date" cost down to less than $2.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday's Meandering Life

I was up bright and early this morning to get a head start on my day.

Since I do my best thinking in the quiet of the morning, I worked on my history lessons.  I typed two papers, read 3 sections, and emailed the teacher a question about one assignment I haven't completed.  While I was doing that I enjoyed my pumpkin coffee.

When I had finished all that I took the dog for a quick walk and by the time I came back my daughter was up.  We did some quick spruce up chores -- dusting, vacuuming, cleaned the guest bathroom, made the beds, etc.  All the little daily things that need doing.

My husband doesn't do well with white flour products and requested I bake a pumpkin coffee cake for him for this weekend.  (He's not due to be in until late tonight.). I found a great recipe on this site for a pumpkin coffee cake.  I made a few changes.  I used fresh ground pastry wheat flour, vegan butter substitute, and soy milk.  It only took 30 minutes to cook in my toaster oven.  While this was baking I spent some time talking to my son.

I sat down to read some new to me cookbooks and after a bit decided I was hungry. I'm really hoping the freezer cookbook will help me when tax season begins again.

Breakfast was a simple meal of grits with vegan cheese substitute, dill pickles and the last few lingering tomatoes.

I decided to take the time to really get the pantry straightened up.  I had kind of tossed some last minute items in for my daughter before we left and then in preparation for hurricane Matthew she had added some more.  While I was at it I decided to update my master list of what was in there.  I see no reason that we couldn't eat well for a month or more just based on what we have on hand.  I'm going to ask my daughter and husband if they are up to the challenge.  I also realized I have an abundance of pasta and rice that I need to incorporate into more meals.

Lunch was a simple plate of seasoned potato wedges.

Supper was homemade pizza and a glass of wine.  

All in all not a bad day of using things on hand.  Other than the cheese on the pizza everything came from our food storage. 

Menu Planning

I've tried and tried to come up with an exact menu plan for us and it just doesn't seem to work out.  No matter what I do daughter has last minute things pop up, we have guests, or we have cancellations.  Such is life.

So given that now for most of the week I am only cooking for two people and often two totally different items -- since daughter is not eating a solely vegetarian diet.  I will give her credit for eating several vegan meals a week though -- I have decided to try something a little different this week.

I'm creating my "use up" list and seeing if by the end of the day see if I can have those things used.

Sunday's List
1/3 of a block of extra firm tofu
1/4 of a package of spinach
1 cup of leftover garden salad
4 kiwi
1/2 chopped onion
1 package of strawberries
1 package of blueberries
1 ciabatta roll
A cup or so of cornflakes

So the plan is:
Sunday brunch will be whole wheat bagels with scrambled tofu.  I'll use the leftover salad, spinach and onion to add to it.  I'll serve a fruit salad of kiwi, blueberries and strawberries.  I'll make my daughter a sausage and cheese roll on the lingering bun.
The cornflakes are a little harder, but I think I will make sunbutter balls with them.

Also in the refrigerator are a couple of items to go with my husband this week.  He'll be taking the jarred chili, the pasta sauce, and some of the brown rice.  I'm leaning toward making a taco casserole for a meal and if so I may use some of the brown rice in it.

Trying to get in Extra Veggies

I'm trying to get in extra veggies today.  I ate well yesterday, but woke up with a slight sore throat.  Sadly it is that time of year.  I'm hoping the extra veggies will help naturally boost my immune system.

I started out the morning with a cup of pumpkin coffee with soy milk.  Then I made myself scrambled tofu for breakfast. A yummy mix of carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spinach to round it out.  This is such an easy meal to prepare and is really quite tasty.

For mid morning snack I went with an apple.  Easy to grab and go.
Lunch had to be a quick grab and go kind of thing, too.  Daughter requested Boca Chick'n Patties and we went with that.  Not as good for me, but I still feel like it is better than grabbing something out.

I planned supper to maximize time savings and up the veggie count.  I used the crockpot to continue with my theme of cook once and eat twice.  I put on an Italian pasta sauce to go over zucchini noodles.  I went heavy on the tomatoes -- 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, 1 can of diced, and 1 can of sauce.  I added in sautéed onion, bell pepper, and garlic.  A tablespoon or so of dried Italian seasoning blend and a drop of olive oil finished it off.  Spiralizing the noodles and lightly cooking them won't take long at all.

My daughter got up this morning and announced that today was National Dessert Day.  Who comes up with these things?  LOL. Anyway, we decided to bake some muffins in honor of the day....because any excuse will do.

Friday, October 14, 2016

My Latest Digital Art Projects

I am trying to make time to do something creative each day.  Creativity fuels my soul more than anything I know of.  Sometimes I let myself get too busy and don't do the things I need to do for myself.  This week with the chaos of school starting I decided I really needed to make sure I took the time to do the things I need.

High school friend.

Life long friend.

An attempt at a self portrait.

Big Kitty

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In My Kitchen Today

This coffee was a splurge for the month and when it is gone it is gone.  So far no one has wanted any but me so it may last me a while.

Pumpkin Bagel with vegan cream cheese and what will be the last of the fresh strawberries for this year.  Sigh.

Cinnamon rolls from the can -- my daughter didn't eat these while we were gone so I made them for her today.

I tried my hand at making vegan corn dogs.  They aren't bad, but I had just as soon have mine separate.

I ate some for lunch with my leftover pumpkin chili, which in typical fashion was even better the second day.

Then for supper I tried my hand at frying tofu.  I used seasoned whole wheat flour and cornstarch with smoked paprika and poultry seasoning.  This made a delicious sandwich.

My daughter didn't want to touch the tofu so we made her some quick pizza bread.  We both used the rolls I picked up from Aldi.

Stocking Up

Yesterday I had to pick up a few perishables and as always I am on the lookout for good items for our pantry storage and freezer storage.  In addition to fresh fruits and veggies I came home with several items.

From Fresh Market I brought home the following:
3 bags of ground beef substitute for the freezer
2 bags of vegan cheddar shreds
2 bags of vegan mozzarella shreds
1 package of vegan sandwich cheese

These items are things that my husband really likes.  They've helped us transition to a vegan diet.
From this I will get 6 meals from the ground "beef" and many add ons to meals from the cheese.

From Aldi I bought these things for our storage:
12 cans organic garbanzos
12 cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
12 cans organic tomato sauce
12 cans of black beans
8 cans of organic diced tomatoes

Each of those was on sale from .49 to .79.

I also added a few other things to our pantry storage.
2 cans of chipotle peppers
3 jars of marinated artichoke hearts
2 boxes of golden raisins
2 boxes of wheat crackers
4 packages of gnocchi (8 meals worth)
1 jar of organic salsa
1 container of chili powder
2 jars of Kalamata olives

Each of the things added to the pantry are easy to work into quick meals.  I find that having things on hand keeps me out of the store.  I've also found that eating a vegan diet has actually simplified my shopping.

For the perishables we bought:
2 bags of bagels (time wise I just don't have time to make my own right now)
Ciabatta rolls (a splurge)
2 bags of honeycrisp apples
6 kiwi
1 container of blueberries
2 containers of strawberries (from here on out frozen will have to do)
6 bell pepper
4 zucchini
1 container of organic spinach
1 container of organic grape tomatoes
A bag of yellow onions
A bag of red onions
2 containers of soy milk
4 lbs of shredded cheese for my daughter

I think we are set for the next few weeks and my pantry is beginning to fill back up.

A Gift

I came home from vacation to find these waiting for me.  Anyone think my husband is trying to give me a hint?

We've already tried one of the cookie recipes and they were great.  I'm leaning toward trying a cupcake recipe next.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Chili (Recipe Linked)

My first day of school happened to coincide with what I consider to be our first day that truly felt like autumn.  Nothing says autumn like pumpkin and chili to me.  Since my daughter and I had already invited my sister and her boyfriend over for dinner pumpkin chili seemed to be in order.  (My sister loves pumpkin chili!). Of course, since it was the first day of school I wanted something I could put in the crockpot.  

In the past, my go to pumpkin chili has used a jarred sauce.  However, it contains milk and is definitely not vegan.  This would never do for this fall, so I began a search for a vegan version.  I found this great recipe.  Healthy Pumpkin Chili found on The Glowing Fridge.

I used Aldi products to make it and only made one change.  I used 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika for a portion of the paprika.  I sautéed the onions and bell peppers for just a few minutes.  Then I put it all in the crockpot, stirred it, and cooked it on high for about four hours. 

This was my sampling to see if the seasonings were right.  It was perfect as was.

I let it cook while I worked on school work and near time for our meal I cooked a second (double) batch of brown rice in the pressure cooker.  I served the chili over brown rice with assorted toppings and a simple side salad made of spinach and veggies.

The meal was a success and I still have a quart jar leftover to use this week.  I think perhaps with cornbread to vary my whole grains.   This is a recipe I recommend trying.  Even the non vegetarians liked it.

Cook Once and Eat Twice

School has officially started back for me.  I'm trying to plan my lunches around my previous evenings suppers -- cooking once and eating twice.

Tuesday night I used brown rice I had cooked before.  (I used the pressure cooker and I doubled what I needed when I cooked the "chicken" fried rice.). I added pinto beans and homemade cajun seasoning blend      for a quick and simple meal.  I deliberately cooked extra of this dish, too.

Last night's leftovers became today's lunch.  I layered leftover beans and rice with Daiya vegan cheese shreds, salsa, and guacamole on a whole wheat tortilla.  A quick microwave and I had a yummy vegan burrito of sorts.


We were gone a total of nine days....traveled across NC, across Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky.  Came home to hurricane flooding, but no damage.

Our travels took us to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Graceland, The Opry Hotel, a show at the Grand Ole Opry, 5 shows in Branson, numerous natural site visits, etc.

While we had a great time, I am glad to be home.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Home Again

We've only been home a few days and I have been cooking up my own storm.  I am so glad to be home in my kitchen.  We needed a simple, quick meal when we first came in Sunday night.  We went with Gardein "beef" tips served over mashed potatoes with gravy and green peas.  A high starch meal, but I was kind of hungry for some substance.  Monday we got up to everything cancelled around us due to flooding and I decided to make some whole wheat and oat pancakes.  Midday I baked oatmeal raisin cookies for my husband to take with him.  For lunch I made bean burritos (not shown) and we went with "chicken" and veggie fried rice for supper.  (I love using the food storage items to make this and most of the ingredients (except for the chicken and my sauce) come from my dried goods.). This morning we got up to most things being cancelled still.  We decided to start the day with an autumn favorite -- fried apples on whole wheat biscuits.

Vegan Travel

Eating vegan meals on the road was not as hard as I thought it would be.  However, avoiding nuts and peanuts was a little more difficult.  Still i didn't do too poorly.  I only had one reaction to a cross contact and a huge dose of Benadryl took care of that.  I had a lot of meals where I cobbled together from side dishes, but that was okay.  This is just a sampling of what I ate. I was also able to find baked sweet potatoes which were a nice addition to a lot of meals. We were gone nine days and this is a sampling of some of the dishes I ate.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


My region of NC has taken a pounding. We are safe.  Our daughter was home while we were on vacation.  It took a lot of back roads and detours, but we made it in from Tennessee.  Please lift the folks up here in your thoughts.

My back yard and I live nowhere near the water.

Those lumps are cars stranded.

This was a restaurant.

YouTube Creator Tag

This just shares a little bit about me and how/why I set up my YouTube channel.