All posts by Ater Imber

Ater Imber became interested in writing fan fiction in 2013 after being talked into giving the Deviant Art website a chance. Ater began posting to the delight of Supernatural fans and continues to write new fan and non-fan fiction stories with regularity for an eager personal following. Ater also currently has four novellas available for purchase. 'First Try' is Aters’ debut, non-fan fiction novella, and is the newest released. It’s a collection of short stories Ater wrote during school after getting serious about becoming a writer, book-ended by the two ‘long’ first stories Ater ever wrote, published November, 2018. Ater’s third fan fiction novella, 'Holiday Treats', is about the holidays, forbidden love, and what can go wrong when the two collide, published in December 2016. Ater’s debut fan fiction novella, 'Don’t Get Caught', is a collection of short stories centered around a love theme, published in February 2016. Last, but certainly not least, Ater’s second fanfiction novella, 'Melting Hearts, Sunburns and Tanlines' is a collection of short stories with a main theme surrounding going on vacation and love, published in August, 2016. All three of Ater's fanfiction novellas are based on the T.V. series Supernatural. If you’d like to check out Ater’s books, you can do so here: http://aterimber.com/writing/books/ Ater Imber lives in Toronto, Canada.

WFH: Time Management

*This article was written 20.04.29th, when the corona-virus lock down was beginning to go into full swing in Canada. Please excuse any reference/comment that is no longer applicable.


Now that everyone is pretty much forced to work from home*, you may be scouring the internet trying to find ways to make it work. After all, you’ve always had a physical separation of your work space from your home, so how are you supposed to focus on work while wearing pj’s, and being so close to the dirty laundry?

Maybe you have set work hours from your job, or maybe you’re trying to start a work from home business and the line is a bit blurrier. Either way, you’ll need to know when to close your laptop and switch from Work Mode to Home Mode.

Walking the line between getting work done and having time to relax can be difficult for those who aren’t use to it. Fortunately for you, I’ve been working from home since I started my writing career, which was around 2016, and while I’m not a master, I’ve definitely picked up a few things.

The best thing tip I’ve found is learning how to time manage. Without time management, you’re pretty much lost in the sea of work and relaxing.

But, never fear! Below are the best tips to help you with your time management, so you can take some practical steps into getting things rolling.

 

Tip #1: Have Clear Work Hours

Scheduling your work hours is probably the #1 most important tip for being able to pull this off. If you don’t draw the line in the sand of when Work Mode begins and ends, you’ll constantly be feeling like you could be working when trying to relax, and trust me, feeling guilty for not working 24/7 is not conducive to a good work environment.

Whether you have set hours from your job, or you’re making it up as you go, set yourself work hours. I personally work (about) 10am-8pm. This will help ease your planning of say, knowing when to take a break and do some chores, or when to get dinner ready.

And don’t forget to allow yourself to take breaks within those work hours! You get breaks in the office, and your home office shouldn’t be any different. It’s okay to take a quick coffee/smoke/pee break during your work hours. Or, if you have an unexpected knock at the door? (Which you shouldn’t unless you’re getting stuff delivered) Get up! Don’t feel that just because you’ve set work hours, you need to be glued to your chair.

That’s actually not healthy at all! If you’re able, get up and stretch every few hours, or stand at your desk so you aren’t sitting all day. This will also help you feel less like you’re ‘stuck’ doing work. Just because it’s ‘business hours’ doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick break.

If you worked in an office and used to take regular breaks, do that at home! Try to keep as much of your routine the same, so it’s easier to stick to.

And, once the scheduled Work Hours are up? Get off your computer. I’m serious, especially if you’re starting your own business, I know how tempting it is to keep going. But then the next time you look up it will be 3am. Detaching yourself immediately from your computer once work is done is a big help in mentally keeping those work boundaries straight.

 

Tip #2: Schedule/Make a To-Do List

I know, I know, not everyone is great at scheduling, and not everyone likes to-do lists. But, scheduling stuff is honestly not as hard as some would make it seem. You can schedule literally as much or as little as you want/need to. If your brain will explode at the near thought of having to plan out your whole year (or week), start smaller!

Start with a to-do list for just today. Or, you could break it up even more by making a morning/afternoon (or hour by hour) to-do list. Everyone loves checking/crossing things off a to-do list – it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so go ahead and make one!

Now, again, if you are working a regular job from home, you may have clearly marked things to do, but if you’re a blogger, or similar ‘not real’ job person, this may be more essential to you.

As a blogger (and author!), I’ve found it imperative that I schedule my posts. Back when I started really getting into blogging and making my website functional, I would post 5-10 posts in a few days, and then wouldn’t touch it for a few weeks/months. That’s not exactly a good business model, neither for gaining fans, nor for your sanity.

Having a set schedule will take a lot of pressure off, so you don’t feel like you have to do everything right now, and it will give your fans a dedicated time to check in. It’s hard to see what’s new with someone you like if they post sporadically.


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I’ve found it helpful to list out everything you want to eventually get posted/done, and then organize from there what takes priority. For me, when I’m deciding on what posts to do, it’s actually kind of easy. Since I have a bunch of different interests, I cycle through them.

The way that works the best for me, is to list all the posts I want to (eventually) post, and then fill them in (rotationally) to an editable calendar. This helps keep me organized, since I plan out the entire year, and it takes the edge off my anxiety, because I know it will all get done.

For example, this post is scheduled for publishing August 3rd, but I’m writing it April 29th.  (Hello from the past!) That kind of advanced planning doesn’t happen by accident! Since I have the entire year planned out, it allows me to schedule posts as far in advanced as I need, thus giving me more time to do other things I enjoy. (Like starting the next book, or working on merch, or even just relaxing/having time to spend with family)

Being organized and scheduling my shit actually feeds my lazy side. If I don’t want to do any work at all and take a day off? Sure, I’m scheduled till August, so why not?

The one downside to this method is that you will eventually have to kick your own butt to make sure things are getting done. Which actually leads us into the last tip:

 

Tip #3: Discipline

Not everyone can thrive while working from home. I understand this kind of not-as-structured lifestyle is for everyone. But, I also think one of the main reasons why so many people fail is because they lack the discipline.

Having the ability to kick your own ass is a dying art, but it’s something you’re gonna have to learn to do if you want to succeed.

A lot of people in my life have complained to me about being ‘stuck’ working a job they don’t like, and thus they don’t have the life they thought they would. And, not to sound like a privileged white lady, all I can think is nobody forced you to get that job. Sure, there may have been people who forced you to get a job – but other people can’t force you to make decisions.

They can try to manipulate you either emotionally or some other way, but ultimately, it’s your life, and you just need to find the inner strength and courage to stand up for yourself and say ‘hey, this is my life. I’m going to do whatever I want.’ And if they don’t like it? Well then maybe you need to analyze what it is they’re adding to your life.

If you’re unhappy with your life, take some time and really think about why. Where did things go wrong and what steps can you do to change your life? It’s your life, you have the power to make yourself happy. Do some soul searching and think about what you want your ideal life to look like. What way of life would make you happy?

Once you see the figurative light at the end of the tunnel, start thinking about how to connect yourself from where you’re at now to there. What steps can you take – even if they’re small – to get yourself to your ultimate life? It’s never too late to make yourself happy, you just have to try.

Honestly it is that simple.


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Son of a Bitch! (#2, Summer Edition)

Written: 20.08.01

Words: 549

Gen.

Written for the SPN Amino Heat Wave Weekend Challenge.

Yes, this is an ‘extra’ fic, that doesn’t fit into the 1 fic every 2 week posting schedule, so you better enjoy it. 😛


“Son of a bitch!”

Sam bolted upright, jumping off the bed, snatching his gun from the bed side table, slowly stalking toward the open motel room door, “… Dean?”

At the lack of response, he stiffened, bracing himself as he came up to the door. He took a deep breath and ripped it all the way open, nearly shooting his brother in the face.

“Whoa! Dude, what the hell?” Dean  swiftly disarmed his brother, tucking the gun into the back of his pants, “Are you crazy?”

Sam shook his head as he was instantly hit with a wall of summer heat. The kind that makes you feel like you can’t breath, “Oh my God.”

“I know, right?” Dean shook his head before walking back into the motel, “The first day we get off in how long and it’s this gross out?” He let out a heavy sigh as he grabbed a beer from the fridge, “So much for a day at the beach.”

Sam closed the motel door behind him, easily catching the beer his brother tossed at him, making his way over to the small table his brother had stopped at, “Alright, so what’s Plan B?”

“Well I don’t know what you’re gonna do,” Dean shrugged as he crossed the room, grabbing the laptop off the night stand before nearly throwing himself down on his bed, “But I’m gonna sit here, drink and, uhm…” He adjusted his sitting position as he settled against his pillows, “relax.”

“Yep, got it,” Sam nodded, swallowing down a gulp of beer before snatching his phone and key off the night stand, making his way to the door, “I’m gonna go to the library.”

Dean snorted, raising an eyebrow at him, “You are allowed to have fun once in a while.”

Sam shook his head, hand pausing on the door, “Text me when it’s safe to come back.”

“No promises.”

 

 

Ugh, Sam pulled at his sweat soaked t-shirt, doing his best to unstick it from his chest as he made the way back to the motel, how is it still so hot out? He checked the time on his phone and shook his head, it definitely should’ve cooled off by now.

He continued down the sidewalk as the motel came into view, glad it wasn’t too far away from the library. I never thought I’d be looking forward to a motels’ AC. He took his key out of his pocket, unlocking the door just as he heard his brother swear.

He opened the door, hope dashed as he didn’t feel a temperature difference between the street and the room. He raised an eyebrow as he saw his brother, sitting on the floor, face twisted in despair, disassembled AC unit laying in front of him, “Uh, Dean?”

The blonde wiped the sweat off his forehead with one arm, desperate eyes flicking up to the giant, “I-it just stopped working. I tried to fix it, but,” he kicked it, face falling further, “Stupid thing is too old.” He got up, giving the thing another kick, before turning his eyes to the giant, “What are we supposed to do now?”

“Well,” Sam couldn’t help the smirk he felt split his face as he made his way toward the freezer, “I’d start with removing the flannel.”


Like this fic? Check out more (regularly scheduled fics) here!

Also, I was thinking of possibly making a series of fics that start with ‘Son of a bitch!’ because I think it’d be fun, and I have a lot of ideas for fics to start that way. Let me know below how you’d feel about that. Love it? Hate it? Would you read them if I did decide to go ahead and make them a series? Or, do you think it’d be too confusing? Let me know!

So Close

Written: 20.04.22

Words: 584

Inspired by the song So Close from the movie Enchanted. Listen to it here!

NFF, Song!Fic, Fluff


You take in a sharp breath as he extends his arm to you, raising an eyebrow as the music starts. I can’t believe it, you take his hand, unable to pry your eyes away from the look on his face, I’ve never seen him look so… happy.

He pulls you in, eyes not leaving yours as the two of you begin to move. He leads you backward, and you’re surprised at yourself you don’t fumble and fall on your ass. We’re both secretly bad-ass ballroom dancers… who knew? You try to swallow your smile at your own dumb joke as you move in perfect time to the beat – definitely more graceful than anything else you’ve ever done – and you can’t help but momentarily think of all the grand dance scenes in rom-coms you’ve seen as the two lovers finally get their happy ending.

Is this what that feels like? You resist the urge to glance at the guests, heart beating so loud you can barely hear the music over it. You feel as though you’re flying around the room, barely registering what your body is doing, and part of you hopes someone was smart enough to bring a camera, as if anyone would believe this happened without video proof.

Your breath catches as he flashes you that soft smile of his – the one reserved for sleepy mornings and staying in bed cuddles – and you can’t help but beam back at him. I never would’ve thought I’d be in the middle of a scene like this. You make a brief mental note to write down your emotions so you can recall them for later needs, and continue dancing. He twirls you then, and as your hand finds his again you swell with pride, after everything we’ve been through… I can’t believe we’re finally here.

An overwhelming wave of love surges through you and you can’t help but pull yourself in closer, so you’re barely a hair apart. You rest your head against his chest just as the music begins to fade, and you can’t help but smile as you feel his heart beat is synced with yours. Guess it’s true what they say…

A deafening roar of applause breaks you out of your moment and your eyes focus on the crowd of family and friends. You feel your cheeks heat up as you’re suddenly pulled back into the now and give them a sheepish smile. He leads you to your table, that soft smile slipping off his face in place of his usual social mask and you find yourself wishing your dress had sleeves to hide your goose bumps, I can’t believe everyone saw that…

“Wow!” Your best friend swipes at her eyes as you come closer, “I never knew you were so… I mean,” she turned to your other bridesmaids, at a loss for words, for once. She sniffed and shook her head, “I take back everything I’ve ever said about you not being romantic. That was just… wow.

You chuckle and wave a dismissive hand at her, eyes on his retreating back as he goes to greet his own family, “Yeah, well, don’t expect to see anything like that again anytime soon. I should be good until I’m dead now.”

She shoves you in a playful way before crushing you against her, “You’ve gotta write that down for me.”

You smile at her as the two of you take your seat, heart fluttering as your eyes catch his from across the room, definitely.


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Surprising Vegan: Frozen Treats

This article was written 20.05.06, so please excuse any reference/comment made about the corona virus lock down that is no longer relevant.


Just because we’re still stuck inside, doesn’t mean you can’t buy yourself some treats. And what to treat yourself with during these hot summer days than something refreshing and on a stick?

That’s right, I’m talking about surprising vegan treats.

Now, I know over the last few years there’s been a whole whack of vegan ice creams coming out from various companies, but, sometimes you don’t want ice cream, or you may not be able to find them where you are. Then what are you supposed to do? Sit in the corner and cry?

No!

You can head on over to your local store website (since y’know, we can’t exactly peruse in person), and check them out to see if they have any of the (much easier to find) products below.

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Starting in the top left-corner, going clockwise:

  • Chapman’s Lolly Fruity
  • Chapman’s Banana Lolly*
  • Chapman’s Orange, Grape, Cherry and Fruit Punch Lolly
  • Chapman’s Soda Pop Lolly*
  • Chapman’s Triple Treat Lolly
  • Chapman’s Fruit Juice Twist Twister
  • Chapman’s Fruit Twist Twisters*
  • Chapman’s Stacked and Twisted Twister*
  • Chapman’s Mango Sorbet*
  • Chapman’s Rainbow Sorbet*
  • Kisko’s Mr. Freeze Jumbo Freezies
  • Kikso’s Welch’s Lemonade Freezies
  • Kikso’s Electro-Ice Sport Freezies
  • Kikso’s Tropics Freezies
  • Chapman’s Tropical Wave Sorbet
  • Chapman’s Triple Berry Sorbet
  • Popsicle Orange, Cherry, Grape Pops
  • Popsicle Tropical Paradise Pops*
  • Popsicle Firecracker Pops*
  • Popsicle Cyclone*
  • Maynard’s Fuzzy Peach Ice Pops*
  • Kikso’s Kids Sour Freezies*

There are also a few other treats that are vegan that I wasn’t able to find good pictures of. So, the other products I found that aren’t included in the above picture are:

  • Kisko’s Crush Giant Freezies
  • Kisko’s Welch’s Premium Juice Bars
  • Popsicle Jelly Belly

*As I said in my Surprising Vegan Candy (and a few other) posts in this series, the above items that are starred (*) are made with those food dyes that aren’t vegan.

I e-mailed Chapman’s and Popsicle to ask them about their products (Kisko actually says which select products use the food dyes on their website!), and the following is what I received as feedback:


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The struggle is real! Check out this and some of my other vegan merch here!


Chapman’s

Their website says ‘Whenever possible natural flavours and colours are used in production, and will be identified on the package label.’ (This statement was found here) So I e-mailed to ask if that meant all the other products that don’t list ‘natural colour’ use the food dyes, and they replied simply ‘that is correct‘.

Popsicle

So, I don’t want to knock any brands, but since I’ve started doing this series and have had to e-mail out multiple companies, I’ve noticed that the ones I e-mail that just so happen to be owned by Unilever either never answer me, or never give me a real answer.

I sent both companies the exact same e-mail, listing the specific products I was asking about, the food dyes I was wondering about and started both of them off with ‘I checked the FAQ and ingredients listed on the website, and I still had some questions.’

Anyway, this was Popsicle’s official answer: Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us at Popsicle.

All of the ingredients for out products are available on our website popsicle.ca. Just select the product you are interested in and click on the nutritional values, and you will scroll down and there is where you will find the ingredients. We hope this helps.

I did e-mail them back and restated I already checked the website and wasn’t able to find the answer to my question, but I have yet to receive an answer. (If I receive a real answer, I’ll update this article)

So there you go! Who says ice cream is the only frozen treat you can enjoy in the summer?


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Believing

Written: 20.04.22

Words: 581

DeanxReader, fluff


You stumble as you hit a crack in the sidewalk and nearly face plant. You luckily catch yourself and look around, feeling your cheeks heat up, stupid heels. You shake your head, before digging your compact out of your purse, checking to make sure you didn’t dislodge any of your carefully placed hair curls. Oh thank God. You sigh in relief as you see you didn’t mess up your hair and replace the compact, would’ve sucked if I did all this just for it to get messed up five minutes before he sees it.

You turn up the driveway and feel a small knot begin to form in your stomach. What if he doesn’t like it? You resist the urge to chew your lip as you climb up the porch steps, don’t think like that. He’s the one who suggested dressing up, remember? You shake your head at yourself as you go to knock, hand pausing in mid-air.

Why are you psyching yourself out? You know you look awesome. Don’t forget what that guy at the bus shelter said. You look smokin’! You swallow down your chuckle at the memory and take a deep breath before knocking.

“I got it!” You hear some rustling and hurried footsteps before the door swings open, revealing the wrong brother.

“Hey, Sam.” You give him a small smile and lean slightly to see around him, “… Is Dean ready?”

Sam gives you a once over, sly smile creeping up his face and he steps aside, “Almost.”

The knot in your stomach grows and you wonder if in your three hour getting ready routine you remembered deodorant. You go to take a step over the lip of the door and nearly face plant again, “Fuck!” You glare at it, “Stupid door.”

Sam catches your hand easily and chuckles, eyes on your shoes, “You sure that was the doors’ fault?”

You feel another blush creep up your face and try to remember what you usually do with your hands, “So, uhm… h-how’ve you been?”

“Eh, y’know,” The giant closes the door before walking the few steps over to the stairs, “Dean, c’mon! Quit dragging ass!”

“It’s called style, Sammy!” You hear a door slam before the blonde appears at the top of the stairs, wearing a three piece suit, “You know, you could actually learn a thing or two ab-” he stops mid-sentence as his eyes land on you, “Wow.”

You smile at him, smoothing your hands down over your dress, “H-hi.”

He stares at you for another moment, mouth still agape, before shaking his head, coming down the steps. You shift your weight under his gaze and try to calm your racing heart, unable to help but notice he’s yet to smile. He comes up close to you – close enough you can smell his cologne – but doesn’t touch you, opting instead to reach around you to grab his shoes.

Shit, you swallow thickly as you watch him slip them on, unable to hold back thinking the worst, he hates it. What was I thinking? Suddenly feeling foolish, you silently wish the floor would swallow you whole as he shrugs on his jacket.

He opens the door for you, wordlessly, and gestures for you to go ahead. Being so wrapped up in mentally berating yourself, you fail to see Sam toss a ring box at his brother, and the wink and thousand-watt smile the blonde sends over his shoulder as he follows you out, “Don’t wait up.”


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Chao Creamy Original Cheese Slices Review

*This post was written 20.04.15, when the corona virus lock-down was in full swing. Please excuse any references/jokes that are no longer applicable.*

We’re officially into summer now, but who says quarantine means you can’t have a barbeque? You can have your very own self-isolated BBQ party, and one of the best things? You wont’ have to worry about your vegan patty sharing the grill! (Also, anytime you randomly smell BBQ on the breeze is a good time. Sooo, if not for yourself, do it for your neighbours!)

One of the best things about a BBQ-ed burger? The cheese. But just because you’re vegan (or veg-curious), doesn’t mean you need to eat a naked burger! There are tons of vegan cheese options available, and today I’m gonna be reviewing one of the best candidates for a burger topper: Chao Creamy Original.

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Now, to be fair, I haven’t actually tested this cheese on a burger, but I did try their Tomato Cayenne cheese on one, and that was pretty good, so I imagine this one would lend itself well, too.

I personally tried this cheese on a homemade naan pizza (posted on my Instagram), and cold out of the fridge. Because if it doesn’t pass the Alone Test, is it really worth it?

I’m happy to report this cheese definitely passed! My brother even tried it, and said ‘if I didn’t know this was vegan cheese, I wouldn’t be able to tell’. (He mixed it into a scrambled egg sandwich, though)

It has a very soft consistency, even to the touch. I felt I had to be gentle with it. This cheese is made out of tofu, but doesn’t have that typical ‘tofu’ taste. Straight out of the fridge, it actually doesn’t really have much of any taste, kind of like tap water. You know it has a taste, but it’s not very distinctive. Which is great, because that means it’ll blend in to whatever you make with it, instead of it overpowering the dish. Especially on a burger, the cheese should be in the supportive role to the patty, not the other way around.

This cheese also melts pretty well.

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It doesn’t stretch like cow cheese does, but it doesn’t puddle melt either, like some other vegan cheeses. The flavour also gets more intense when it’s cooked, so if you want to really taste it, I’d definitely recommend cooking/melting it.

When it’s been melted, and then cooled off, it has a slight rubbery consistency, and the whole piece of cooled-melted cheese will slide right off whatever it’s on, so it’s definitely best to eat it when it’s still warm, but not burn-your-mouth hot.

A down side to this cheese is the price. It comes in a pack of 10 slices, which is good, but it being $9+ (both at Vegan Supply and Good Rebel), it makes it one of the more expensive cheeses. Comparatively, a 10 pack of Earth Island ( that’s Follow Your Heart, to you Americans) slices is $7.95 (at Good Rebel), or even $6.99 at Loblaws! (I checked their online store, and didn’t see a result for Chao)

I know I basically complain about this every time, but it still pisses me off! We’re supposed to be wanting more people to go vegan, right? So why are the vegan substitutes so much more expensive? I understand that perhaps they’re not as big as others, and vegans shouldn’t rely on the pre-made packaged stuff as much, but damn! How can we expect people to even begin to give it a chance with such steep prices?

A pack of 22 Kraft cheese slices is $4.49 (at Loblaws), and that’s for double the amount! And yes, I realize they probably (definitely) aren’t on the same quality line, but just… you see what I mean, right?

This cheese is pretty awesome, but many people won’t know or give it a chance because of the price, and I think that sucks! Give it the due it deserves!

I’d recommend going out and trying this cheese, if you can find it. It’s pretty good, and especially if you don’t like the overwhelming taste of Daiya, or the potato-y taste of Earth Island, you’ll definitely like this one.

And, being in self isolation is probably the best time to try new foods, just in case they don’t agree with you.


Like this review? Check out more here!

NM: On-Grid vs Off-Grid

So you’ve decided to make an effort to save the planet – that’s awesome! One of the recent trends of saving the planet is realizing you don’t need a 4,000 sq. foot mansion for just yourself. That’s super impractical and actually pretty selfish, if you think about it. (No offence if you currently live in a mansion)

But before you get too swept away in the Instagram aesthetics of living tiny, you’re gonna have to make some pretty hard decisions. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, and it’s true. You can’t 360 your lifestyle overnight. Not only is that not practical, but even if you had giant gobs of money to do that with, you would fail miserably because you’re trying to do everything all at once, and that isn’t good for anyone.

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to take the plunge, and that’s because this is a life changing decision. You’ll want to do as much research as you can before diving all in, because no one wants you to waste your time (or money) or something you aren’t really feeling/are unsure about.

So, first things first: why are you wanting to change your current lifestyle? Figuring out your motivations for changing will be a big tell on what you are and are not willing to change. The next big question: what does your end goal new lifestyle look like?

Do you want to end up full ‘hippie’, living off grid, having your own garden and using as many mason jars as possible? Or are you thinking more of wanting to save the planet, minus the inconvenience?

One of the easiest/smallest changes you can make for yourself right now is to stop using single use plastics: grocery/produce bags, water bottles, straws, etc. They all suck major balls for the ocean, and unless you’d like to swim in garbage, maybe you should stop contributing.

Instead of using the plastic grocery bags, buy (or diy) a tote bag, that you can use again and again for shopping. Think about investing in a reusable (metal!) water bottle, instead of buying the cases of plastic ones every week. Maybe even get yourself a filter so you can drink tap water? (Seriously, growing up in Toronto, I’ve been drinking the tap water every day for years and I’m fine.) I realize not everyone may have the option to drink tap water, but then again, those people most likely also don’t have internet access. You I’m sure could at least try one of the above without exploding, so why not go ahead and try? (I 100% guarantee you won’t explode)

You came here to find out how to save the planet and live more in line with your core values, right? So go ahead. It may seem weird/foreign at first, but trust me, you’ll get used to it.

Okay, now that we’ve spoken about small ways to change your lifestyle, let’s look a little farther down the line: what do you want your life to look like in the future? Your ‘ideal’ life, if you will.

Probably something you wouldn’t be ashamed to post on Instagram, am I right?

All joking aside, if you’re going to be in this for the long haul, you’ll definitely need to think about whether or not you want to continue to live on grid, or explore off grid options. (Especially if you want to become a traveler)

Okay, okay, quit starring at me like I have three heads, I get it, you have no idea what I just said. But that’s okay, you’re here to learn, and I’m here to teach.

So, first things first: what the heck do ‘on grid’ and ‘off grid’ living mean?

On Grid means living ‘plugged in’ to the system: your water comes from the city (or towns’) supply, you’re connected to hydro lines, and you’re connected to sewage. Basically, you’re ‘plugged in’ to the systems used by the city. This is probably the way you’re currently living.

Off Grid means you aren’t connected – you use alternative means to get what you need, and are cut off from the citys’ supply. This could mean you use solar panels for your electricity, have a well for your own private water supply, have a septic tank for your toilet, etc. A much more hands on way of living.

Depending on how far down the saving the planet/hippie rabbit hole you want to go, you’ll have to think about which of these options would be best for your future. One of the greatest advantages of being on grid is since you’re tied into the system, you personally don’t have to worry about your resources, and they’re all pretty immediate and hands off.

One major downside though, is if there’s a black out, you’ll be left without until the issue is fixed. Another downside of on grid living is getting a bill each month for using the services. You also don’t have very much freedom in terms of moving around/leaving. (Unless you get the world’s longest extension cable, or [again] have a massive pile of money somewhere you can use on plane tickets, in which case, why are you reading this?)

Okay, now that we’ve kind of established the pros and cons of on grid living, let’s take a look at off grid:

One of the best advantages of off grid living is not being tied to one spot, and being completely (or mostly) mobile, not having to pay a monthly bill. A downside though is there are usually a lot more up front costs, and the services are more hands on: you’d have to get your own water, chop firewood to keep yourself warm, empty your toilet by hand, etc.

As you can see, both lifestyles have advantages and disadvantages, which is why it’s important to think about the type of life that’s right for you. Maybe the call of travel supersedes the ick factor of having to be hands on with your waste, and that’s awesome! If you think you can do it, I say go for it.

But be realistic.

Figure out what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and see which would be a better fit for you. Even better, figure out what you’d like, and see if it can be adapted to fit either the on or off grid capabilities. If getting a bucket toilet is too gross for you, but you like the idea of being off grid, look into having a black tank for your waste instead. It’s more of a hassle to empty (in my opinion), but maybe you won’t mind having to drive to find the designated dumping grounds.

Another thing to consider when wanting to live off grid: will you have internet access or continue to use your cell phone, or be completely remote? Where will your mail go? The post office can’t deliver to ‘the van in the middle of the forest’. (Though how convenient would that be?) Do you have family that would let you use their address or will you pay for a P.O. Box? What will you do for money while traveling? Will you work on the road, or save up and take a more vacational approach?

I’m sure some of these things you never even thought to consider, but that’s okay! You’re just learning right now, so that you’re prepared when the day comes to make the plunge. It’s much better to figure all this stuff out now before you’re in your van 3 countries away with no idea what to do.

I’m going to list some of the other big things you’ll want to figure out before going too much further. This way you can turn the info over, research, and see what feels right for you.

 

Off Grid options

Electricity:

  • Solar Panels – these are one of the most popular options as it’s a renewable resource, and they’re relatively easy to find/install. The only downside is they can be pretty expensive up front.
  • Wind turbine – another great option using a renewable resource, though wind turbines would be easier to build if you didn’t plan on using a vehicle. I’ve only seen a small number of van lifers using a wind turbine, and the ones who are, are using it in addition to the solar panels

 

Water:

There are many ways in which to get water. You could get water tanks and fill them up so you have a small stash while you’re travelling, or if you’re not planning on being on the road often, you could keep the van/bus water-less and just bring in bottles with you. Though I’d only recommend this option if you were only looking into part time travel, such as excursion weekends.

Or, if you’re not planning on living in a vehicle, you could dig your own well to have water on your property. You will of course also need to think about whether or not you’ll want a water heater so you can have hot water, or if you don’t mind having to boil water using a stove, or will you be able to deal with cold/room temperature water?

While on that note: how are you going to get your water from Point A to Point B? Will you fill up a bucket from your reserve/well and carry it to wherever you need it? Will you have a water pump to push the water wherever you need it, so you can just turn on your tap and have it, or will you consider using a foot pump, to help control the flow of water?

What will happen to the ‘used’ water? Will you get a grey water tank to hold it, or build an elaborate set up to irrigate the used water into your garden/plants? What about rain water collection? (Fun fact: collecting rain water isn’t legal in every province!)

 

Heating:

  • Real Wood Burning Fireplace – will you be able to keep up with the maintenance and needing to go out to chop firewood? Will you have enough clearance for a stove and to store the wood so you don’t accidentally set your curtains (or couch, or anything else) on fire? Do you want to be able to heat your home and cook on the fireplace, or would you rather have a separate stove for cooking?
  • Gas fireplace/stove – do you want to deal with propane on top of everything else you need to take care of? Do you feel safe having propane around, or would you rather not risk the potential explosion? Do you want to feel more like camping, with having to set your stove burners alight using matches, or do you just want to turn it on and have it work, no fuss?
  • Electric – yes there are electric fireplaces (and stoves), though like most other things on the off grid list, they’re a bit more of an up front cost. And, you need to think about whether or not you want to heat your home using your electricity. Will you have a big enough solar panel (or wind turbine) set up to handle a fireplace/stove as well, or would you rather not have your heating pull from another resource?

 

Make sure to check in with yourself, and ask which of these options will fit your lifestyle best or what are you willing to try changing so you can live the life you want?

For example, if you’re someone who takes really long showers, if you want to live off-grid, you may have to try to cut your showering time down to 5-10 minutes, or look into military showers. Also, ask yourself: would you realistically be okay with not showering every day in an effort to conserve water? Or will you need to include water tanks big enough to hold enough water for you to shower everyday?

Will you get your drinking water out of the same reserve as the water you use to shower, (and wash dishes) or will you have a separate system/holding container? Are you the type of person who could walk up to random businesses and ask them if you could refill your reusable bottle/water tank, or are you uncomfortable with that?

Okay, I’ll ease up now. I’m sure that was a lot of info you may not of even thought about, but that’s okay. Take some time to do your research, and keep these questions in mind while you continue to plan to make changes.

Remember: Helping the planet does not have to be an all or nothing! If all you can do is switch to a reusable water bottle, (or some other small change) that’s still 10x better than the guy who’s not doing anything. The planet will thank-you as long as you’re trying. Everyone can always be doing more to help save the planet, but you gotta start somewhere, right?


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High Tide

Started: 16.08.08 (Originally written for Melting Hearts)

Rewritten/Finished: 20.04.15

Words: 1,128

Sabriel, Fluff


“Sa-am!” Gabriel bounded down the stairs toward the front door, “Come on!”

“Will you relax?” Sam came out of the kitchen, lifting the bag of snacks onto his shoulder, “I’m almost certain the beach will still be there.”

“What if it’s not?” The shorter man fake pouted as he slipped on his flip flops, “Do you really want another bowling alley fiasco?”

Definitely not, Sam chuckled at the memory as the ball of energy adjusted the duck floaty he had around his waist, “Why are you so interested in going to the beach anyway?”

“I… have my reasons,” Gabriel winked and wretched the door open, narrowly hitting the giant in the face.

“Gabriel-”

“To the beach!”

 

 

Gabriel smushed his face up against the glass of the bus, eyes wide with excitement as they passed the sandy shore. He pulled the string so hard Sam was worried he was going to break it.

“Okay, c’mon,” Sam stood up with the bag, extending his hand out to the angel.

Gabriel took the hand and stumbled behind the giant to the back door, slamming his shoulder into the pole as the driver stopped the bus, asshole.

“Gabriel, you can’t say that to the driver,” Sam hissed as they got off.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gabriel brushed off as he hurried off toward the sand.

“Hey,” Sam caught his arm before he could get away, “you can’t call the driver an asshole. You don’t want to say the wrong thing to the wrong guy.”

“I didn’t say anything, Sammy.”

“Gabriel, please.”

“What? Sammich, I’m not lying. I didn’t say anything.”

Gabriel bounded off toward the beach, leaving Sam standing on the sidewalk confused. Why does he keep saying that? He didn’t say anything, I heard him, Sam shook his head and started off toward the shorter man, trying to put the pieces together, He didn’t say anything…

C’mon Sammich. Put it together so we can have fun.

Wait a minute…

“Gabriel that still doesn’t make it okay,” Sam smacked his arm as he finally got what his boyfriend meant.

Gabriel just smirked and took the blanket out of the bag, “Here Sammich, you sit and get some sun. I’m gonna go swimming.”

“You’re actually gonna go swimming wearing that?”

“Don’t say that,” Gabriel covered the fake duck’s ears, “you’ll hurt Harold’s feelings.”

Sam chuckled, “You named your duck floaty?”

“No, he told me his name.”

“Of course he did.” The giant reached into the bag and pulled out the sunscreen, “You should probably-” he cut himself off as he saw his better half was already racing toward the shoreline.

I hope angels don’t get sunburned. He shook his head as he watched the man jump at the wave that was racing toward him, getting knocked back on his ass. Good thing he has that floaty. Sam dropped the sunscreen before picking up the crumpled blanket off the sand, flicking it out. He sat down before reaching for the sunscreen, beginning to slather himself as he watched the angel get knocked back by another wave, giant smile on his face. At least he’s enjoying himself.

He replaced the sunscreen before stretching himself out on the blanket, reaching into the bag for his book, time to relax.

 

 

“Ow, ow, ow, ow!”

Sam shook his head as he helped the fire-red angel down the street, “We gotta get you home.”

“But it hurts!” Gabriel whined and slumped over in the giants’ arms, nearly knocking him off his feet.

“Gabriel!” Sam huffed in annoyance, adjusting his grip on the too-hot skin. He closed his eyes for a moment as he took in a deep breath, “Since you’re too injured to flash us home, we have t-” He cut himself off as he felt himself hit the ground. Confused, he looked around and deflated as he saw he was standing in their bedroom, “You couldn’t of did that before we tried getting on the bus?”

Gabriel shrugged, making his way over to the bed, “I didn’t think it’d- ow!”  He glared at the mattress as he struggled to sit up, “Traitor.”

Sam did his best to keep the smile off his face as he watched, “It’s not the mattress’ fault.” He walked over to the dresser, digging out the aloe vera before joining the angel, “I thought angels couldn’t even get sunburned.”

“Apparently we can.” He shook his head, eyes skyward, “Thanks, Dad.”

“Alright, well, c’mon.” Sam held out his hand as he placed the aloe down on the nightstand.

The angel raised an eyebrow at the retired hunter, holding out his too-red arms, “Where exactly do you think I’m going?”

The giant smirked, pulling him up by the wrist, “The shower. We have to stop your skin from cooking any further.”

“Whoa, what?” The angels’ jaw dropped as he followed, “My skin is doing what now?”

Sam chuckled, closing the door behind them as they reached the bathroom, “The sun cooked your skin, that’s why it’s red. The longer you’re out, the deeper layers of skin it reaches.” He leaned into the tub, turning on the cold water.

Gabriel gave him a disbelieving look, “And you’re an expert on human cooking how, exactly?”

Sam chuckled and shook his head, before beginning to peel off his shirt, “It’s quite common, actually. Luckily, it’s also simple to treat.”

Gabriel winced as he touched his stomach, “I-it is?”

“Yep.” Sam pointed at the shower, “The cold water will help your skin stop cooking, and then I can rub aloe on the burn.”

“That definitely sounds like my kind of treatment.” The angel winked before getting into the tub, letting out a yelp as the water hit his skin. “What the hell is… ooohhh,” he let out a breathy sigh as he felt his body relax, “this is actually nice.”

“Glad you’re enjoying it, cause you have to stay in there for at least ten minutes.”

“Pfft, no problem!”

Sam chuckled and shook his head, reaching for the door handle, “Let me know when you’re finished.”

“Wait!” The angel poked his head around the curtain, frowning at the giant, “You’re not gonna join me?”

Sam blinked at him in momentary surprise, “No… the waters’ too cold for me.”

“B-but,” he pulled the curtain back a bit, raising his arm over his head, before wincing at the movement, “I need you to do my back.”

Sam rolled his eyes, unable to keep the smile off his face, “We’re supposed to be cooling your skin down, not getting you steamed up.”

“Fine!” Gabriel huffed before sliding the curtain closed again, “But we’re gonna have to do something to distract me from the pain!”

Sam shook his head as he reached for the door knob, smile growing, deal.


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Store Crawl #2: Metro (Online Edition)

Welcome to second store crawl in my new series.

I want to start this off by saying that at the time of writing this post (20.04.07), the COVID-19 shut down of practically everything is still in full swing, so this store crawl is going to be a bit different.

Since I wasn’t actually able to go through and crawl the physical store, this will be a crawl of Metros’ online store. This means that not only may there be vegan items not listed, but that due to the virus and panic buying, they may not list items that are sold out, either.

I actually debated about scraping this post and doing a different one altogether, and to maybe back burner this series until things get back to normal, but then I figured in the midst of what’s happening, it may be more important now than before to keep the series going, as you may not be able to get groceries delivered from your favourite store, and knowing what other stores are offering without doing the research yourself (which takes hours, btw) would probably be helpful.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - Store Crawl: Metro Online Edition - vegan, vegan food, shopping, vegan food reviewer, vegan food blogger

Also, I want to note: Since this is an online version, instead of listing the foods by section, I’m going to be listing them by brand.

I’m also not going to list the fruit, veg, grains or most snacks that are vegan friendly because seriously, how long do you want this post to be?

Earth Balance

  • Soy Free Traditional Spread
  • Original Traditional Spread
  • Creamy Peanut Butter & Flaxseed
  • Creamy Coconut & Peanut Spread

 

Yves

Lunch Meat:

  • Salami
  • Turkey
  • Bologna
  • Ham
  • Pepperoni (I know it’s not technically a deli meat, but the official Yves website lists it here)

Not-Dogs:

  • Jumbo Veggie Dogs
  • Meatless Veggie Dogs
  • Yves Mediterranean Harissa Sausages
  • Spicy Italian Veggie Sausages

Ground Round:

  • Original Ground Round
  • Italian Ground Round
  • Mexican Ground Round

Other:

  • Veggie Burgers
  • Souvlaki Veggie Skewers
  • Veggie Chick’N Tenders
  • Veggie Breakfast Links
  • Veggie Breakfast Patties
  • Broccoli Bites
  • Falafel Balls

 

Lightlife

  • Original Veggie Bacon
  • Veggie Chicken Tenders
  • Smoked Veggie Hot Dog Sausages
  • GF Vegan Burger
  • Beyond Meat Beyond Burger (don’t know why, but online they were listed together)

 

Tofurky

  • Italian Sausages
  • Polish Style Meatless Kielbasa Sausages
  • Marinated Roast Ham
  • Holiday Roast and Gravy

 

Daiya

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - Store Crawl: Metro Online Edition - Daiya Foods Collage - vegan, vegan food, shopping, vegan food reviewer, vegan food blogger

Cheese/Sauce:

  • Plain Cream Cheese
  • Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
  • Mozzarella Slices
  • Cheddar Slices
  • Smoked Gouda Block
  • Cheddar Block
  • Mozza Style Cutting Board Shreds
  • Cheddar Style Cutting Board Shreds
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Cheddar Sticks
  • Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Alfredo Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Veggie White Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac
  • Deluxe Cheddar Style Sauce
  • Deluxe Alfredo Style Sauce
  • Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
  • Homestyle Ranch Salad Dressing
  • Blue Cheeze Salad Dressing

Frozen:

  • GF Supreme Pizza
  • GF Margherita Pizza
  • Cheeze Lovers’ Pizza
  • GF Classic Pepperoni Pizza
  • GF Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza
  • Crunchy Chocolate Fudge Ice Bar
  • New York Cheezecake
  • GF Chocolate Cheezecake
  • Key Lime Cheezecake

 

Amy’s Kitchen

Frozen:

  • California Veggie Burger
  • Roasted Vegetable No Cheese Pizza
  • Thai Red Curry
  • Pad Thai
  • Organic Veggie Loaf While Meal (listed as Veggie Loaf and Vegetable Meal)
  • Black Bean Enchiliada Whole Meal (Enchiliada with Spanish Rice and Beans)
  • Quinoa & Black Beans with Butternut Squash & Chard
  • Dairy Free Bean & Rice Burrito
  • Black Bean Vegtable Burrito

Cans:

  • Organic Split Pea Soup
  • Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
  • Organic Vegetable Barley Soup
  • No Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Organic Medium Chili with Vegetables
  • Organic Spicy Chili

 

Silk  (All Silk products are vegan!)

Soy:

  • Organic Unsweetened Soy Beverage
  • Organic Original Soy Beverage
  • Chocolate Flavoured Soy Beverage
  • Soy Beverage For Coffee

Almond:

  • Original Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Unsweetened Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Almond Beverage
  • Dark Chocolate Almond Fortified Beverage
  • Berries and Acai Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Peach Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Vanilla Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Strawberry Flavoured Dairy Free Almond Yogurt
  • Hazelnut Flavoured Almond Beverage For Coffee
  • Dairy Free Almond Coffee Whitener

Coconut:

  • Original Coconut Beverage
  • Unsweetened Original Coconut Beverage
  • Almond and Coconut Blend Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Unsweetened Coconut Beverage
  • Original Coconut For Coffee
  • Vanilla Flavoured Coconut For Coffee
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Dairy Free Cultured Coconut Yogurt Alternative
  • Unsweetened Plain Dairy Free Cultured Coconut Yogurt Alternative
  • Berries and Acai Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt

Cashew:

  • Original Creamy Cashew
  • Unsweetened Creamy Cashew Beverage
  • Vanilla Flavoured Creamy Cashew Beverage

 

Gusta:

  • Vegan Montrealaise Wheat Sausages
  • Vegan Espanola Wheat Sausages
  • Vegan Italiana Wheat Sausages
  • Pizzaroni Vegan Seitan Stick

 

Gardein

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Chicken:

  • 7 Grain Crispy Tenders
  • Crispy Chick’n Patties
  • Chick’n Sliders Mini Burgers
  • Chick’n Fajita Bowl
  • Teriyaki Chick’n Bowl

Beef:

  • Sweet and Tangy BBQ Wings
  • Beefless Ground
  • Beefless Tips

Patties:

  • Chipotle Flavoured Black Bean Patties
  • Spicy Breakfast Meat Free Saus’age Patties
  • Breakfast Meat Free Saus’age Patties

 

Sweets from the Earth

  • GF Flourless Cashew Flavoured Cookies
  • Nut Free Cupcakes
  • Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Chocolate Fudge Cake
  • GF Vegan Chocolate Cake
  • GF Vegan Espresso Cheesecake

 

Ben & Jerry’s

  • Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Half Baked
  • Non-Dairy Cherry Garcia
  • Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Non-Dairy P.B. and Cookies
  • Non-Dairy Coffee Caramel Fudge

 

Okay, I know that seems like a lot, but considering they’re a pretty big grocery store, this actually isn’t that much. It just looks like it all listed out.

Anyways, I hope you found this helpful, should you need to do some digging around your non usual digs for vegan food, at least this way you know you’ll be able to find some pre-made stuff.

Which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, and I’m actually trying to move away from it, myself, but it’s better than starving.


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Everything You Never Expected (Preview)

Started: 17.07.20

Rewritten/Finished: 20.04.14

Words: 2,045

Samifer, Destiel (Implied)


“Remind me again why you thought doing this in the time it took him to shower would be a good idea?”

“Because he’d definitely be surprised.” The giant smiled triumphantly as he got the streamers untangled.

Cas looked down at the bag of balloons, tilting his head in confusion, “What am I supposed to do with these?”

Sammy?

Dean rolled his eyes, “You don’t have to breath, I figured you could blow them up faster than we could.”

The giant froze, eyes immediately going to the kitchen door, … yeah?

You’re not going to join me?

He pushed the decorations to one side, climbing up onto the island to hang the streamers, join you…?

Where do you think?

Oh, right, sorry, he shook his head at his own stupidity, I ugh, I can’t right now. His brows creased in confusion as he reached for tape that wasn’t in his hand, what the…? He looked back over the island and dug it out of the pile of decorations, won’t you be done soon, anyway? Not really a point in joining the shower if you’re already clean.

I guess…

He blew out a breath of relief and taped the corner of the streamer.

 I changed my mind, by the way.

His hand faltered and he nearly dropped the tape on his brother, it luckily landed on the kitchen island.

“Dude, watch it!”

“S-sorry.” He scooped it back up and turned his attention to the other corner of the streamer, as Dean got out from under him, … What?

I’m taking a bath instead.

Oh, okay.

Sooo…?

So… what?

You gonna join me or what?

Oh, right. He shook his head again before reaching for another streamer, sorry Luce, but I showered while you were out, so I’m already clean.

Who said anything about cleaning ourselves?

That made Sam burst out laughing, hand sliding off the wall, nearly making him fall off the island, startling the other two. He caught himself just in time, and tried to keep the embarrassment off his face.

Dean gave him a concerned look, “Whatcha doing up there, Sammy?”

“Ugh, nothing, sorry.”

“Hey, uh,” Dean took a cautious step toward him, “maybe you shouldn’t be so… elevated.” He raised an eyebrow at him, “Y’know cause of the thin air, and all that.”

“I’m fine.” The youngest waved a dismissive hand, before turning back to the streamers, “Besides you’re too short to reach up here.”

“Well maybe we could get Cas to use his-” the blonde turned back to the angel and groaned, as he was still starring at the bag of balloons, “Dude, what the hell?”

Cas turned confused eyes to the hunter, “I don’t…”

Dean rolled his eyes before grabbing one out of the pack, blowing it up, before tying off the end, raising an eyebrow at the angel, “Think you manage the rest of them?”

The giant taped the last corner before taking a small step back to admire his handy work. He nodded once to himself before carefully getting off the island.

I guess that means you don’t want to get dirty either?


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