Monday, February 13, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 1/30 - 2/12

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
Gardening:
* I found seeds at the dollar store and bought tons. They were $1/4! I got: radishes (4 types), basil, thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, parsley, sage, eggplant, kale, spinach, mustard spinach, chives, scallions and several packs of flowers. Even if germination isn't great, at that price, it was worthwhile.

Cooking/Groceries:
* Trucker was having trouble sleeping one night and decided to get up around 2:30. At 4:00, he woke me up with breakfast in bed: scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. It was the absolutely perfect way to start the day before heading to work.
* One evening, Trucker made a quick dinner of pasta and tomato sauce with onion. Another, we ate slow cooker lasagna from the frig.
* I made popcorn for a snack. I flavored mine with a zesty dip mix that was really good ($.05/ pack at salvage grocery; I use about 1/8 the packet each time).
* I found some manager's specials: a huge ham for $14 (usually $18), cereal for $1, pasta for $.50.
* Trucker made me a lovely dinner one evening: leftover ham, green beans (from storage), baked potato and salad. It was so wonderful to walk in and get to eat a yummy dinner.
* Trucker bought some manager's special muffins for me to use as work breakfasts/lunches. It was such a sweet thing. I am constantly thankful for him.
* We stopped by a salvage grocer. We found some great bargains: $3/12 oz decaf coffee, $1.50 for 12 oz coffee or coffee/chicory blend (5), 10 packs of zesty dip seasoning for $1 (I use this for my popcorn), 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes for $.20 each, 3 cans of pigeon peas for $.20 each, 5 bottles of BBQ sauce at $.25 each, 1 bottle of tartar sauce for $.25, a 2-litre of Nicaraguan soda for $.79 (we don't often have soda at home, but when we do I like to try something different), 2 jars of caviar for $4.98 each (the price has gone up at this salvage grocer, but we still consider it an acceptable price for a luxury item we enjoy and stretch), 2 bottles of magic shell chocolate sauce for $.50 each, 4 jars of pasta sauce for $.99 each ($1.25 is the sale price of the thin, weird store-brand pasta sauce; this sauce was a moderately good brand), 3 jars of pickled peppers for $.79 each, 1 can olives for $1.19, meat tenderizer for $1.99, 2 jars of dijon mustard for $.50 each and 1 can corn for $.50. We have found that sometimes items are much higher than at regular stores, sometimes we can get nicer brands for the same price as cheaper items are Aldi, and sometimes we find outrageous deals. The important thing is to know our prices well enough to know whether to stock up, or even buy an item at all.

Fun:
* We went on a few coffee dates.
* We met up with some of our friends one evening. We had a wonderful time talking with everyone. When I was at the farm, I worked every Tuesday evening, so we weren't able to go out with everyone. I'd forgotten just how refreshing these evenings are.
* We went out for sundaes McDonald's one day, $2.79 date.
* We took a day trip. I had to go out of town for a job interview. Trucker decided to come out with me. Sometimes part of the interview can happen in the morning, then more happens later in the day, so he didn't want to miss out on our entire day off together. He went to a Tim Horton's for the 3 hours I was in the interview and read a book. After I got back, we went to a small town that I'd been wanting to visit with him. We explored two antique stores and a thrift store. Trucker got a pair of pants for $2.50 and I got a bunch of cookbooks to read. We used our Entertainment book to get BOGO pizzas at a local shop ($10 for two). It was a frugal trip and we had a great time, as we always do.

Nature:
* One evening we went for a stroll in a historic neighborhood and oogled elaborate porches, stained glass and landscaping. It was ridiculously warm for February  (almost 60) and it had rained earlier so the air was fresh.
There really aren't words.

Frugality:
* Trucker bought some shorts at a thrift store for $2-3 each pair. He is now set for summer clothes. He also got a t-shirt for his daughter (as a gift later this year; new with tags $5). I got a flannel for $.75.
* I used the rewards balance from buying the furnace to pay down the credit card. The return was around $50 back.
* I bought a popcorn popper at a thrift store. Ours broke years ago, so I've just been making it on the stove top. That is all well and good, but we are concentrating on our health more now, and stove top popcorn uses a fair amount of oil to pop, and then we add butter so our flavorings of choice stick. I decided I wanted to get an air popper to save calories/fat. I found one for $2. The handle on the measuring cup is broken off, but it seems to work okay.

House and Home:
* Trucker painted the ceiling in my step-daughter's bedroom. Next step is the walls and trim. Then we can start setting it up!

Work:
* I packed a lunch each day I worked.
* We have some extra days off scheduled for the year. They are optional days off. If you chose to work, they have you do some pretty boring work, but you get paid. We talked about it and decided that i will take most of them off. It has been a rough adjustment to me being home for 60 hours a week after working a half mile from home, so this will give us somegood time together. Also, I am.earning more than I have in a very long time so even with a small loss of income, we wil be ok.  It really comes down to the whole 'whoever died regretting they didn't work more?' thing.
* I had a job interview for a better position at my company. It went well and I have a conditional offer. It can take up to a year before you get the position, or it can happen in two weeks. We will see. If I do get the job, it is more money, but I go to second shift. If I don't get it for awhile, I'll make less money, but get more time with Trucker and get to keep my team longer. Either way, I win.
* My dad and I helped Trucker out at his job (his boss was out of town and said he could hire other help if need be) since it was so overwhelming and he was hurting.

Preparedness:
* I took a free Krav Maga self defense class. My friend is training to be an instructor and he was helping with the class. It was a great way to get a little training and start building that muscle memory. The class happens every month, so I plan to go more often.

Health:
* Trucker is struggling a lot with being extremely sore from his job. His work load has tripled and at this point is far beyond his sustainable level. We will get him into a chiropractor. He also talked with his boss about the reality of how he feels after his accident. Hopefully the job situation improves.
* He has also started dealing with the emotional side of his accident.The first month after the accident, he was bed ridden. The next month he was struggling physically and trying to get back into life. Only in the last couple of weeks has he been really facing some of the mental aspects of the ordeal. He's struggling with driving (although he is driving now) and thoughts resulting from coming close to death. I am encouraged that he is working through things, even if it isn't easy.
This doll obviously has evil intentions.
* Updates...Trucker went to the chiropractor and got his x-rays and, well, things aren't too good. He apparently has a broken jaw (How? I don't know. They said it has healed wrong), his spine is a bit of a wreck, his hips are off, and he has arthritis in his neck and back. They don't want him to go back to work because of how messed up everything is after the accident, and now two months of extreme strain from the job. So, for now, we have him set up on a chiropractic schedule and I'm going to research arthritis care. We have more work to do, but I think we are at a good place. Trucker was having a really hard time, and seems to be better now. I think knowing the cause of the pain and knowing that there are things that can be done to help has to be encouraging after being afraid that he was always going to be feeling like this. My mom is awesome and is making phone calls to friends of hers with arthritis who have been able to recover their quality of life.

Setbacks:
* Obviously, we have some real changes coming financially due to Trucker's work situation. However, we have had a good talk about finances and frugal tactics to implement.  He will also work more at business things now that he has time and hopefully that will make up a good portion of the difference. I also have another job lined up for him if/when he recovers.

Community:
* My dad came out to help us at Trucker's job one day.

How was your week?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Veggie Snack Box

Trucker and I are both prone to rampant snacking. Generally this is when we are either bored or hungry but too lazy to cook anything. During those times, it is all too easy to grab chips, candy or cookies. And we all know how easy it is to snarf down a while tin of Pringles in one sitting (just me?).
Daikon and watermelon radishes,
celery, purple/orange carrots
As a preventative measure I've started prepping vegetables for easy snacking. This takes the effort out of prep during those lazy moments. Simply cut everything into an acceptable snack-sizes pieces. I like to do this while doing meal prep since I already have all the tools out and am in a groove. It takes an extra minute to wash a few extra stalks of celery or chop a couple extra carrots into coins.
Tiny French Breakfast radishes can be kept whole after trimming

I use whatever I grow or whatever I find cheap. At farmer's markets and farm stands, the best bet is to get whatever is in peak season. If everyone has it, the price will be lower than if it is an early harvest. Aldi often has great bargains on produce (I often find $.25 cukes). A "foodie" grocery in my area is kind of pricey, but they have outrageous produce bargains to get you in the door (things like $.50 bunches of radishes). Sales at the regular grocery store can yield good results. If your store has a manager's special produce rack, definitely check it out; just make sure the items aren't too far past their prime. Also check the prepped produce section. I often find fantastic prices this way and the work is already done! Buy items however they are cheapest. Sometimes I find that baby carrots are half the price per pound compared to full carrots; other times it is the opposite. Sometimes the cleaned, topped and bagged radishes are cheaper than the bunches with tops; other times I buy the bunches and use the tops in my cooking greens. The important thing is flexibility. Use whatever is cheapest that you like and get a good variety so you get a broad spectrum of nutrients.
Hakurei turnips, purple carrots
white radishes

We use a wide variety and the mix is always changing: radishes, celery, cherry/grape tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, hakurei turnips, cucumbers, certain summer squashes, sweet peas, young green beans (this was my favorite snack as a kid on the farm. My parents always planted the green beans next to the corn. My friend and I would hide in the cornrows and sneak the beans as soon as they were a few inches long. My parents never knew why all their beans did well except that one row, every year), broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, fennel, mushrooms, baby corn, scallions, kohlrabi, winter squash (I still don't know why more people don't snack on this raw. It has great texture and incredible taste), parsnips, or even chioggia or touchstone beets (don't use the traditional red beets as they stain everything, including your fingers).

Cherry tomatoes, vine ripened, are the ultimate snack food.
I keep most items mixed together in a container in the refrigerator. The exception to this is tomatoes. I refuse to use tomatoes larger than a large cherry since those require refrigeration after cutting and refrigerated tomatoes are an abomination. Tomatoes are washed and then kept in a cute shallow bowl on the counter.

It is more convenient to grab one of these containers and head back to the desk rather than to get a bag of chips (which I conveniently keep at the very top shelf near the ceiling so it can barely be reached without fetching a step stool). If we are going to take a road trip, we grab a large container and will easily hit our 3-5 servings by the time we arrive at our destination. Sometimes we will pile a bunch of items on a plate and watch a movie, while munching on crunchy snacks that aren't loaded with salt and fat. It also helps if I am making dinner in a hurry. The veggies are all chopped to roughly the same size, so it is nothing to toss into a skillet to saute and  serve over rice or pasta, toss into stock for an easy soup, or toss with olive oil and seasoning for a quick side of roast veg.

Our epic date night snack while playing board games:
 lunchbox peppers, Hakurei turnips, purple carrots,
 pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers, watermelon radishes,
cheddar cheese,  some caviar we found for a whopping $1.99
at the salvage grocer and  some store brand crackers.
This has helped us get a lot more produce into our diet, while at the same time reducing the unhealthy snacks that are too easy to indulge in. I've also found that since we use items we grow or find cheaply, it is much cheaper than any other snack food. We love the convenience and knowing that we are actively creating a healthier future with lower medical bills.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 1/23 - 1/29

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
 Cooking/Groceries:
* Trucker made sausage and spaghetti one night.
* I made tacos for dinner one evening. We used ground pork ($1.50/lb) and saved over half for another meal. I added sour cream (sale) and some pickled veggies (seconds from the farm).
* I made another slow cooker lasagna/eggplant parmesan hybrid for work lunches this week.
* Trucker bought me a couple packs of seasoned peanuts from the dollar store. They are great snacks for the drive home when my appetite is ravenous.

Fun:
* A few weeks ago, I ordered an Entertainment book, $20 with free shipping. We have already used a BOGO coupon when we went out with my sister and her boyfriend (Saved $7). This is a great way to save money throughout the year. We keep it in the car so we don't forget about it. We
* I got off work a little early on Friday. We had decided we wanted to make it a special weekend since it has been exhausting for the last few weeks. We talked about getting out of town for a couple days, but decided to take a day trip on Saturday instead (thus saving hotel cost). Friday night we went out for dinner at a local pizzaria using BOGO coupons to save $15 and had enough leftover for another dinnner. Early Saturday morning, we ate breakfast then headed out of town. We ended up two states over and ran around Pittsburgh for a bit. We brought coffee and snacks. We went to Randyland, a magical art garden. Afterwards, it was to Bicycle Heaven to see the biggest collection of bikes and bike accessories, scattered with some random weird stuff. We didn't have cash to donate (free admission; donations accepted), but purchased a couple of items. I had been wanting to get a walking stick and had been passively shopping for awhile. I found one for $15 that was simple and funky (it has two faces carved into the handle). Trucker was entranced by the fern fossils, and had never had one, so I bought him a small one for $5. After that, we went next door to Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff and Music Museum. Afterwards, we went to a local sub shop. We spent around $15 for two subs. We ate at around 3, so had one meal out instead of two. It was quite a cheap trip and was almost as good as a long weekend.
* We went out for ice cream with BOGO coupons.
* We went on a couple of coffee dates, using our travel mugs.

Waste Reduction:
* I put bones and veggie scraps into a container in the freezer to use for making stock later.
* I composted random things.

It's the Hoppy trike! I squealed when I saw it.
House and Home:
* Trucker's boss gave him a stool that he wasn't able to sell. It needs to be assembled but will be a nice addition to the kitchen for now and will eventually end up in a work space at the next house.

Work:
* I worked a bit of overtime this week, but not an excessive amount. One thing I really like about this job is that I get paid overtime when I hit 8 hours in a day, not when I hit 40 hours. So we went home early two days, and worked over the other three days, but I got a fair amount of overtime.
* My boss and coworkers are all really great people. I've loved the discussions I've been able to have. I see a lot of people sharing coupons with each other, and some people have given me recommendations for service companies as we work to fix up the house. One of my coworkers is a pretty awesome single dad to two boys (one adopted). He mentioned that he realized that his boys were getting older and he decided to take them out for a special outing twice a month. I brought him coupons from the Entertainment book to use to save some money (There are lots of kid-friendly coupons that we weren't going to use, so I brought those, plus a few others for places in his neighborhood. Once it gets to be about 2 months until expiration, I'll pull out any I think we might use, and I'll bring the rest of the book to the break room for everyone). I love being part of this community. In general, for the last few years especially, I have found that I go into my jobs and expect to find a good situation, and gosh darn it, I always do. Reminds me, again, of that silly joke of my dad's and, again, makes me hopeful for my future.

Health:
I absolutely love this piece from
Bicycle Heaven. I would love to
some similar projects for the house.
* I have maintained my practice of stretching frequently-on the drive to work, during morning meeting, whenever there is a few seconds in between tasks, on the way home. When the health aids came to check up on me this week, I was happy to report that I had no real issues. There is some light soreness at the end of the day, but nothing like I was afraid of experiencing.
* I am continually so proud of Trucker quitting smoking. We are coming up to a year since he quit and he hasn't had so much as a drag. Kicking tobacco is such an overwhelming feat, and I am so proud of how hard he has worked.

Community:
* There is a cafeteria in between my and my sister's work departments. She works two days a week, so we have lunch together those days. It is a nice thing to look forward to and I enjoy getting some sister time. My sister and I also met after work one day to get hot chocolate and talk for a couple hours.
* For Valentine's day last year, Trucker got me a box of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle kids' Valentines and on each, wrote something he loved about me. He hid them around the house for me to find. It was by far the sweetest gift I've ever received. Especially as someone who struggles with depression (and all the lovely feelings that entails), they were so encouraging when I was having a rough day. Since it meant so much to me, I decided to do the same for him. He had had a really rough couple of days, so while he was at a meeting, I hid a few dozen post-its around the house with things I appreciated about him. He is still finding them. This is seriously the best frugal Valentine's/Anniversary gift. Costs little more than time, and creates a cherished keepsake.
* I found my gift for my stepdaughter for Valentine's Day. There were some buttons for "our" show that were $3-5 online. I found them for $1.25 and bought several, some of them matching for us.
How was your week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 1/9 - 1/22

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

Cooking/Groceries:
* Trucker made an amazing Hawaiian rice dish. I pulled a tiny ham out of the freezer (it had been BOGO, so $1.50 each for about a half pound) overnight. He diced it with pineapple and some veggies from the frig and served over rice with sweet and sour sauce. So yummy.
* I made banana bread each Sunday for my work-day breakfasts and for Trucker to snack on. Whenever bananas get too dark for Trucker to eat (I don't like eating them fresh, so it's all him), I toss them into the freezer. Then I use them for baking, smoothies or chocolate peanut butter banana shakes (which are basically milkshakes that I get to pretend are healthy).
* I mentioned making lasagna last week, but I used it for lunches this week. I figured out the cost per meal and thought i would share this here. I like figuring out the cost per ingredient and per meal as it gives me a starting point to reduce the cost of the meal, often while improving nutritive benefits. To make, I layered into a slow cooker pot, tomato sauce (1 jar, $1, plus some leftover chili and the dregs of another jar of sauce ), 1/3 box of lasagna noodles uncooked ($.69/box, so $.23), eggplant noodles (I alternated layers of lasagna noodles and eggplant noodles. dehydrated slices of eggplant, free from the farm), cottage cheese (manager's special for $.75), TVP ($1.99/lb; about $.50 worth, if that), leeks (frozen, free from the farm), garlic (from the garden, free since I save my own seed), peppers (frozen, free from the farm), Italian seasoning mix (free, dehydrated from herbs I grow), and a sprinkling of mozzarella ($1.50/12 oz; so about $.25). All of this is cooked on high for 4-6 hours in the slow cooker. Total: $2.73 for 7 meals, for a per-meal price of $.39. Of course, this does not include energy costs for freezer, dehydrator or slow cooker. The biggest cost savers: using only a light layer of shredded cheese on top, using cottage cheese instead of ricotta and adding tons of bulk in the form of free produce (from the farm or garden; but you could also use produce preserved when you found an awesome sale at Aldi or on manager special), using dehydrated veg in place of noodles. Three of these tips also significantly improve the healthfulness of the dish, which is always top priority.
* Trucker made a quick dinner of grilled cheese (Mine with a jalapeno spread inside) and tinned soup on a night we had a lot of errands to run.
* We found chicken leg quarters on manager's special for $1/lb. We cooked half one day for dinner (with baked potatoes) and with the leftovers we made chicken salad sandwiches for another day. The other half was baked another day, then diced into a chicken pesto pasta dinner (pesto was free with basil from the farm, diced chicken, sauteed onions, peppers and leeks (free seconds from the farm; frozen) pasta from the salvage grocer and manager's special cheese).
* I made pasta salad for work lunches using a variety of items from the frig.
* We had BLTs one day. I saved half of the bacon for other uses (such as mixing into pasta salad to add some umph).
* I made a pineapple strawberry crisp with some fruit I got for free while temping at the restaurant for the holidays (I'd frozen it). I made a crumble topping out of some salvage-grocery hot cereal (Trucker didn't like the texture of it cooked, but it is fine in this), flour, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and butter. It was perfect for snacking and breakfasts.

Fun:
* We went out on a couple coffee dates.
* One evening we were exhausted, so we popped popcorn, watched a movie and were asleep by 7:30.
* We took a day trip up north one day. Trucker had a class, but on the way, we sang to the radio, stopped at a local coffee shop, used bookstore (where Trucker found 3 items on his wishlist for $2.25 each!), and a thrift store. We used a gift card for a dinner out and split the meal.
* One day we want for a couple mile walk around the campus neighborhood, then got donuts from a fantastic little shop. The weather was perfect and we had a lovely time.

Nature:
* We went on a winter hike at a park an hour or so away from home. They had a bean dinner with hot chocolate in the middle of the hike. It was a little crowded for us, so we likely won't go next year. However, it was 60+ degrees and lovely, so it was nice to get outside.

Frugality:
* We replaced my car battery. Trucker used two coupons to save $25 total. He helped me replace it so I didn't have to worry about my car on those frigid 4 AM starts.

House and Home:
* We had to replace our furnace since it was frequently not working for several hours straight, then would randomly turn on. We didn't consider repairing it because it was 40+ years old and wasn't up to code. We also had a 34 year old water year, that didn't work well, and again, wasn't up to code. We decided to see if we could get them both replaced. We will eventually be selling this place and were certain that with half-a-century-old appliances, no one would buy the house (or rent it for that matter). Trucker was amazing. He called in 6 places for estimates. He found one place that was cheaper than the others, but couldn't do the water heater. He found another place that could replace the water heater, but charged more for the furnace. Finally, he found someone that could do both and when he mentioned that he was getting estimates, the guy said he would match the lowest price we had on the furnace and charged less for the water heater than any other company. We researched them thoroughly online and they had fantastic reviews and not a single negative incident with the BBB (but 13 positive reviews). When they got there to replace it, they realized that they had quoted us for a larger water heater, but a smaller one costs more (30 gallon rather than a 40 gallon) and we didn't have room for the larger one. They replaced it with the more expensive heater at no extra cost to us. The service included: replacing the water heater and furnace and getting both up to code, a new thermostat (a really nice one), a carbon-monoxide detector (which had been on my list of items I needed to get for the house), a 10 year warranty for the units, 2 year warranty on labor and a 2 year service contract with spring and fall tune-ups. They both work great and we are much more comfortable. I also assume we will have cheaper energy costs. Also, one of the workers also does plumbing and told Trucker how to fix a couple problems we were having.
* Trucker was able to fix some water pressure issues we were having in the sink in the bathroom. He found a piece of metal that was blocking the water. It took him 5 minutes to take care of.
* He also replaced our leaky kitchen faucet. He bought a kit for $30 at Lowe's and it took him about an hour to replace.

Work:
* I love my new job. Everyone was really friendly and helpful. One woman was so excited to see me; she said she's been waiting a year for another woman to work in this department. The job is really exciting and I feel so tough doing it. Also, this area gets out a little early most days, so I'm pulling out of the parking lot before the other 4k people get out. I timed it and I get home in 30 fewer minutes since I miss the parking lot traffic, that means I miss rush hour in the city, so I'm home 40 minutes early. In my old department, rather than get out a couple minutes early, I'd work an hour overtime each day, so I would hit traffic badly and it would take an extra 45-75 minutes to get home, so I'd get home really late. This is great.
* I brought breakfast on the road and packed a lunch each day. I want to make sure I keep with this habit. One girl I talked with said she was spending $6 a day on breakfast and lunches are $7-12 (the $12 meal is what a salad from the salad bar usually rings up at!). So buying both meals would cost over $3k a year! I spend around $.25 on breakfast (usually it includes a lot of free, preserved items and homemade baked goods), and $.50/packed lunch including sides, so this is $184/year~.
* Trucker worked a lot of extra hours (and has for the last few weeks). He is pretty tired, but making good money.
* I think the most important thing about my job is that I have been asking advice and tips from everyone. Every single person has been great about sharing their tips to shave seconds off each job (which matters when repeating hundreds of times) and to avoid soreness and injury.
* (written a week later) I love this job. I have great conversations with people, including one guy that worked with my dad to start a new line at the factory 30 years ago. I am taking to it quite well and enjoy the work. I basically have no stress, plenty of time for pleasant contemplation, get a gentle workout (now that I've figured out a few things, such as the position of my body to avoid straining certain parts), and the day flies by. I can totally see myself being here in 10 years. 30 years.

Future:
* Trucker's acting class was this week. I am so proud of him. He also had a couple of auditions.
* We went to an event put on by an acting school Trucker hopes to attend this spring.

Health:
* I feel pretty good. In general, I have a nice tiredness to me that comes from getting a good workout. We alternate workouts each day: M-W-F is yoga and arms/weight lifting; T-T is calisthenics and hands. Each day, we walk for a half hour and do stretches for 15 minutes. It ends up being an 1 1/2+ workout. I did this each day for the first week. The second week I did this, then worked on the line for 6 hours.

Community:
* We, along with several friends, served dinner at a homeless shelter in our area.

How was your week?

Monday, January 9, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 1/2 - 1/8

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
Cooking/Groceries:
* I made breakfast sandwiches with bagels I got from the restaurant. I added eggs ($.99/dozen jumbo, on sale at Meijer), cheese (sale, store brand), and some pickled veggies (on mine, Trucker doesn't like pickled veggies as much as I do)
* I made a quick and easy dip for us one evening as our snack. I mixed together some sour cream, a bit of cream cheese and a good amount of salsa with a bit of a flavoring packet I got at a salvage grocer. I served with tortilla chips I got on sale for $.50/bag (75% off Christmas clearance. They were green and red).
* I made a weird but yummy apple dish. I thawed a baggie of applesauce from the freezer (put up last year from seconds apples) and spread in a thin layer in a baking pan. I had some tad-stale sugar cookies in the freezer. I thawed them and crumbled them up. I added some flour, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of melted butter, then topped the apple sauce. The toaster oven was occupied, so I let it sit for a half hour, then baked at 350 degrees for a half hour. The result was nice. The top was crisp, then a middle layer that was cake-like and a thin layer of thick applesauce/apple butter at the bottom. It wasn't overly sweet like my apple crisp usually is, so it will be in regular rotation as we look for ways to indulge our sweet tooth without increasing our diabetes risk.
* We had pan-fried pork chops and roasted veggies for dinner one day. I used turnips, carrots, beets (all from the farm), potatoes (Aldi; $.30/lb for multicolored fingerling), radishes (Aldi; $.69/lb) and onions (from the stores; Aldi for $.33/lb), tossed with vegetable oil and some ranch seasoning that I got at a salvage grocery. It was absolutely fantastic. We had one pork chop and a serving of vegetables left over, which I used for breakfast one day.
* I made Colcannon with collards (from the farm) and potatoes (Aldi; $.25/lb). I used little milk and no cream.
* I made a slow cooker lasagna to use for work lunches. I used a box of lasagna noodles (realized as I was finishing the last layer that I forgot about my eggplant noodles. Boo. I'll just have to make lasagna again soon), the last of a jar of tomato sauce in the frig, plus another jar from the pantry, a small bag of leeks from the freezer, half a baggie of frozen peppers, a container of cottage cheese ($.75 on manager's special), about a cup of TVP granules, a handful of cheddar (store brand) and herbs from the indoor garden.
* We got some good manager's specials: eggnog for $.50/half gallon, cottage cheese for $.75, one-pound bags of cheddar for $2.25.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated more basil, oregano and sage from the indoor garden.
* I put up 2 gallons of beet pickles. It is the last of the cold storage beets.

Fun:
* I took 4 days off between jobs just got a bit of a break. The first say, Trucker suggested we get out of town. We went to a town about a half hour away and ran around a huge antique mall for awhile.  We had a lot of fun looking at everything and finding awesome, weird and quirky old things. I bought two things: a big yellow plastic box with a handle. It looks really funky and fun. I plan to use it to hold either crafting projects downstairs (to hide and to keep the cat from eating the yarn, as she does) or to hold pillowcases. It was $4.50, on sale 20% so $3.60. The other item was a large screen. I'm not sure exactly what it was a part of, a door to something. I am going to use it to organize my jewelry. Trucker and I were just talking about needing something for my earrings last week. He has been looking out for something and this is perfect. It was $16, on sale for 40% off, so $9.60. So much cheaper than buying a new jewelry organizer and so fun.
* We went out on a few coffee dates and got a lot of writing and reading done.
* We had a couple stay-in dates with popcorn and movies from the library.
* Basically, it was the perfect mini vacation before I start the new job.

Frugality:
* Trucker got his first hair cut since the accident. He has been wearing bandanas and hats since because parts of his hair were shorter and one 1.5 inch diameter circle said bald. Finally, the hair in that section has grown out about a centimeter and a half, except directly over the scar. It did not grow in as thick as the rest of his hair, but we were hoping it would at least grow back. He used a coupon for Great Clips for a $6 haircut.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things, as always.
* I mended some socks that had torn at the heel. They are comfortable, warm socks, so I didn't want to waste them.

House and Home:
* I got off of work an hour and a half early one day, so I decided to work on the house for that amount of time. As soon as I got home, I turned on Spotify and started working. I wiped down the front door on both sides, then wiped all the walls in the entrance-way and down the hall towards the kitchen. I made a vinegar-water solution and used it to wipe down all of the door handles and knobs everywhere in the house. I got out the spackle and filled in all the little bump marks on walls throughout the house. I also filled in some weird holes on the ceiling in the bedroom we are working on. I'm assuming some of them were from hanging posters, not sure of the others. The previous owners had patched some parts of the ceiling in the living room, but had done a rough job. I sanded down the rough spots and spackled in any low spots. I had some melamine foam that I bought a long time ago (generic version of Magic Eraser), but hadn't tried yet. I started scrubbing the kitchen-frig handles, frig front, front of stove, floor around the stove (when we moved in there was some kind of sticky thing that I hadn't been able to get up no matter what cleaners I used or how hard I scrubbed). Melamine is pretty much the best thing ever. With barely any effort, it took off everything. Then I opened up the front of the frig and vacuumed out the coils. I wiped off the coils and the vent cover. Since I was still super excited about the melamine, I tackled the bathtub. Again, this stuff is the bomb. I ended up calling my mother to tell her about its wonders and we ordered 60 on amazon ($6.49 with free shipping).
* We worked together on my stepdaughter's room. We had previously used it as a craft room/storage room. We got everything cleared out. I organized all of my craft items into boxes and threw away some stuff that was just clutter.
* We donated two boxes worth of old clothes/random household items to the thrift store. Their warehouse had burned down this week, so they were going to be low on items. These items were not fashionable enough to sell on consignment, but are in good condition and I'm sure someone will buy them.
* We gathered up some items that didn't sell at the booth that we didn't want to keep. We dropped them off at a cancer charity shop that operates on a consignment basis. If your items sell within 4 weeks, you split the proceeds 50-50. If it doesn't sell by then, it becomes property of the shop (they mark it down 50% to move it). Since we would otherwise have donated the items anyway, it was nice to have the chance to earn a little something, and even if it does earn us anything/much, we will be helping the Columbus Cancer Clinic.
* It was warm enough a couple of days to turn off the furnace and open the windows. Granted, it got a little chilly, but we loved the fresh air.

Work:
* I worked 3 days at the restaurant. I worked longer shifts so I got a decent number of hours in. I took 4 days off in between jobs to recoup and get ready for the new beginning.

Future:
* I feel really good about the decision I have made about the job. We will finally make a salary that we can be stable on, and within a year will get health insurance (in case the ACA gets repealed). While part of me wishes I had done this years ago (thinking of how close to retirement I'd have been if I just bit the bullet and went here right out of school), I think the timing is right. I would have missed a lot of exciting things and I'm glad I spent my 20s being a vivacious wild wanderer. I'm glad I got to meet Trucker. I'm glad I got to move around. I'm glad I got a chance to try my hand at all sorts of fun jobs: banking, accounting, baking, farming, and package throwing. Now we have settled. We know where we want to grow old, we are stable, we have my stepdaughter in our lives (who is basically just the coolest human ever), we have dreams for a few acres in the country with a fishing pond and maybe a couple head of cattle. If I'd gone into this job when I was young, I would have wondered what I could have been or could have done. I also would probably have been dumb with the money. Now, I know why I'm going and I know where I'm using it to get me.

Health:
* Trucker went to the doctor about some dizziness he was experiencing and the doctor said it was benign proximal vertigo. Basically, nothing dangerous, he just has to avoid doing the head movements that cause dizziness and be careful about falling. It cost us our copay to go, but I would rather be out $30 than not catch something until it was too late. This past year has been hard, but a probably healthy result is that it has made me realize that we are getting older. We need to be more mindful of risks and start taking care of things before they become issues.
* One day while Trucker worked, I basically relaxed around the house with Ray. It was a perfect evening.
How was your week?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 12/19 - 1/1

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

Cooking/Groceries:
* We had the last of the pulled pork from the freezer as BBQ sandwiches.
* I made tacos one evening using ground beef (from Aldi) sauteed with onions and garlic (from the pantry; onions from Aldi @ $.33/lb and garlic from the garden), store brand tortillas, sour cream, pickled beets/radishes/peppers/onions, and homemade hot sauce (using free peppers from the farm). I served with slices of fresh radish ($.69/lb at Aldi).
* I pulled a container of taco soup from the freezer. So delicious and a perfect quick and easy dinner.
* Trucker made dinner for me one evening: penne and tomato sauce. He had it finishing up when I walked in the door. I love him so much.
* We snacked on fresh veggies a lot. I love having them sliced and ready for noshing.
* We made BLT's one evening. We used half as much bacon as usual and I made a veggie side to go with it. That allowed us to use the bacon in other meals throughout the week.

Fun:
* Since we don't really celebrate Christmas, we have our own little ritual. We go out for Chinese buffet, go hiking at a metropark and catch a movie at the discount theatre. We had a great time and had really good talks. Dinner was $25 with tip (we called around last year and found the best meal for the cheapest price; we drank water). We watched Sully and bought no snacks. All told, we spent $$28.50.
* I took my sister and her boyfriend out for coffee one afternoon. They are both the sweetest people and I always have a great time. We ended up talking for almost 4 hours! I gave them some financial advice (they are both young and at the point in their lives when they are contemplating starting out on their own) and they gave me some good advice as I start working in a new department at the factory.
* Trucker and I went out on a few coffee dates, using our travel mugs.
* We went out with our dear friends, Daisy and her hubby, for NYE. We went to a local pizza place that was surprisingly empty. Trucker and I got a happy hour drink (they still had happy hour prices even though it was the holiday) and split two appetizers instead of getting meals. We ended up laughing and talking for 3 hours. Our bill was $30, which is not bad for an evening out with our besties on New Year's Eve. We exchanged gifts. We gave Daisy a couple books (from a library sale), including a vegan cookbook she didn't have, and salt and pepper shakers (which she collects). We gave hubby a couple Star Wars themed hygiene gift sets we got on after-holiday sales at Meijer. They gave us crackers and this incredibly delicious cheese dip and kombucha (which I hadn't tried before and was really excited about). We absolutely adore them. They are the kind of people that you get excited about hanging out with (which says a lot coming from two people with social anxiety) and miss as soon as you leave.

Nature:
* We took a lovely 2 mile out and back hike at the metropark on Christmas. It was right in the middle between the Chinese buffet and the movie theatre, so it took no extra gas to get there. There weren't a lot of people there, so there was much more bird watching to be done and the squirrels were everywhere.

Frugality:
* Trucker was on the way to work when his brake line broke and he got a flat tire. Fortunately, he was right by a gas station. We used our roadside assistance (I believe we pay $2 per car, per month) to get it towed back home. Dad and my mom's cousin came out to fix it for us. Cousin doesn't usually go out of town to fix people's cars, but does for us when we need him to. He charged us $50, plus parts. Not too bad for having a flat changed, new brake line installed, new thermostat and temperature gauge.
* We bought new tires for both vehicles at once. Since we were buying 8 tires at once, Trucker asked for a discount. It ended up being 12% off. They didn't have the tires I wanted, so they got a nicer tire and gave it to me at the same price (with a 65k mile warranty instead of 50k). It handles really well on the snow, which is great since I'll be driving a lot more now.
* I bought new socks since a lot of mine are worn beyond darning. I found them BOGO at Meijer and bought two packs of plain black ones so I can have an easier time of sorting. Also, when I do have to throw out worn socks, I can just mix pairs, stretching my purchase out longer.

House and Home:
* We are continuing to work on my step daughter's room and Trucker found the perfect thing! I wanted to get a trundle bed since the room is on the small side. I knew we wouldn't have enough room for both a dresser and a desk, and since she is an artist and writer, she needs a desk. However, the cheapest I've found one is around $200. Trucker has been looking at auctions and finally struck gold: a nice black trundle bed with 3 drawers under it for $60! We have to assemble it, but he saved $140!
* Trucker bought a new mattress off his boss for $10 ($160 retail). He also got a set of sheets ($3; $40 retail) and a comforter ($4; $30 retail), both in blue (her favorite color), at online auction. It has been so fun putting together her room and daydreaming about visits.

Work:
* I temped for the fruit arrangement place for two days. It was fun. I really like everyone who works there, especially the owner, so I like being able to help. I put in 12.5 hours over two days and made some nice money from it while getting to eat as much mistake chocolate covered fruit as I liked. Win-Win-Win.
* I worked full-time at my friend's restaurant. She was really awesome to help me out of a bind like that. I made sure to do right by her. I tried to do my job well (even when it meant ignoring rude comments from customers) and whenever it was slow, I tackled a cleaning project to help get ready for a big corporate visit. I got a super discount on food. I sometimes brought home a bagel for Trucker and I got my meals for $.75-2.
* I got my start date at the factory! I start next week. I am really excited. I will be 1st shift at the factory I wanted. This will be the highest paying job I've ever had. We have made a solid plan to get our finances where we want them. The main goal is to not upgrade our standard of living, beyond things that are needed. For example, I want to start buying pastured meat from a farmer I know rather than whatever junk we find on sale at the grocery. I will likely buy a half hog and perhaps some whole chickens for the freezer. This will cost more, but be worthwhile in health benefits. Within the next year, we would also like to buy a newer car that would be more reliable (and sell the van which gets terrible gas mileage). Otherwise, we want to continue our frugal ways so that we can get the money saved up for our property in the country.

Community:
* Trucker gave my parents a "new"/unused vintage rug he got at auction. Value: ~$300-400. He paid $5 (it was an online auction house that typically doesn't sell vintage, but did an estate auction. Their typical clientele didn't bid much on it). They needed a new rug so they were happy.
* Trucker's coworker gave us a gift card to Chipotle. She said she knew we had had a rough 6 weeks and she wanted us to not have to worry about dinner for a couple nights. It was so kind of her.
* I took part in a secret santa gift exchange through an online frugal community I take part in. I won't say what I got, since it is secret, but I was frugal and got some fun stuff for the $10 limit. My gift was a lovely shoulder wrap and hat, handmade in an lovely cream color, and a Canadian cookbook. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes and the warm clothes have been perfect now that the temperature has dropped so much.
* I helped my dad work on the house they are moving next door for my sister and BIL. It was a warm day, but muddy. He had a lot of gravel that needed to be moved around the foundation. My sister, dad and I moved over a ton of gravel though mud that was a foot deep. We lay down boards that we would run down, then turn down the next side of the house, then run until the wheelbarrow got stuck, dump out the gravel at that spot, dumping out a little bit on the ground to make the path longer for the next runner, then pull the wheelbarrow out of the mud and go back to shoveling. It was really hard work, but we had a lot of fun, in a weird way. It was important to me to help dad since he is doing so much work. To move all of that gravel by himself would have been really disheartening. Afterwards, I took him out for ice cream at McDonald's ($2 total). We totally rationalized that we'd burned sufficient calories to justify it. Afterwards, we went out to the house to do some work to prepare it for moving.

How was your week?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 12/12 - 12/18

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
Gardening:
* I have been harvesting herbs from the indoor garden. So wonderful!
* I regrew scallions in water. They are starting to peter out, but I'm hoping to get another harvest or two.

Cooking/Groceries:
* I've been absolutely loving the chai concentrate in the morning. Yummy.
* I made tacos a couple nights using leftover pork from the slow cooker, with sauteed onions and peppers, homemade hot sauce and pickled peppers and Aldi brand tortillas.
* I made Colcannon with the last of the potatoes, two big bunches of turnip greens, leeks and 2 slices of crumbled bacon. I served with a pat of butter and some chopped scallions on top. It was absolutely amazing. I didn't realize until hours later that I hadn't thought to add cream, sour cream or milk. I will no longer add that since it didn't need it. This will keep the cost and calorie count low. I think the key was that I didn't drain the water, I boiled it away, so it didn't lose any of its flavor.
* I stopped by the farm stand to see one of my friends. It was the end of the day so she sent me home with everything that was leftover: a bunch of scallions, a bunch of winter carrots, 2 bunches of collards and tons of turnips with greens (turnip greens are by far my favorite greens). We left a donation, but got a fantastic deal (and since it was going to be so cold that night, the items wouldn't have survived).
* I got a couple good deals at Aldi: $.99/fancy cereal, butter for $1.89/lb and ground beef for $3/lb.
* I tried (and failed) to make fudge as a gift for my stepdaughter. I will make it again later another time (She got me into a TV show and there is a joke about fudge, so I thought it would be cute). The fudge never set up and I didn't have time to try again. However, it has turned into a fantastic thing in itself: I can mix with ice cream, use to ice a cookie, etc.
* I made a "dump soup" to use for meals next week. I put some leftover pork in the pork cooking liquid. I added 2 bouillion cubes, some seasoning, a couple handfuls of dehydrated tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra and celery. I let that simmer until the veggies were soft. It was really good.
* We always have a tub of veggies prepped in the frig. These are veggies for snacking or cooking with: carrots, radishes, turnips, celery, etc. Great, healthy snacking and convenience food at its best.

Fun:
* We went on a couple coffee dates ($3.38 with travel mugs).
* After my interview, I met up with my mom. She needed to go shopping for a Christmas tree and a recliner for my grandpa. We had a really nice time just hanging out and talking. I was reluctant to spend. I bought two things while we were out: a bag of bird seed at a fantastic price (We got some bird feeders and wanted to take care of the little fellows this winter) and a can of holiday icing, marked down (I hate putting icing on baked goods, but Trucker likes it. Every now and then I get a bit for him to use. $1 here and there and a bit of gross sugary fatty-ness isn't going to kill either of us).
* I had orientation at my dad's factory location. He went to work early so we could have breakfast together. I always enjoy that.
* One evening we had planned on going out, but the roads were really icy (cars were wrecked everywhere). Instead, we ordered takeout pizza (picked up on the way home from work, using a coupon code. Points earned towards a free pizza) and watched a movie from the library.
* Trucker got a pool cue. He had been wanting a nice one, as he used to be really into playing. He found one at auction for $4.50 (regularly $50+). He will look for a place that has free pool on slow nights.

Nature:
* It is so cold that I've been a bit of a baby. The extent of my nature-loving has been watching birds through the window while wrapped in a blanket and sipping something warm.
* I bought some bird seed to take care of the little guys this winter.

Frugality:
* I checked my credit score on my bank's website. They make your score available to check anytime. They pull your credit score periodically and update the website with the most recent score, as well as a timeline to show your score over the years. My score has improved by 100 points this year!
* They also had a little calculator to enter your debts and income to see if you are at a good debt to income ratio. I am not sure whether you were supposed to include the mortgage (considering if I didn't have a mortgage, I'd have to pay rent), but I did. Even so, I was solidly in the middle of the "good" ratio (granted; this does not include the medical debts coming). I was proud of the work we have done in the last year.
* I got my oil changed using a coupon: $15 plus tax and fees.
* I bought two pairs of shoes at the thrift store. One pair (a pair of tan casual sneakers) is lightly worn; the other (a pair of Nike running shoes) doesn't appear to be worn. All shoes were half off that day, so I paid $2.50 and $7.50 respectively. I do have a pair of casual brown and running shoes now, but I have a hard time finding shoes that fit at thrift stores. I try to find shoes before I need them so I have a backup pair. I don't want to hoard, so I try to just have a single backup of each of the types of shoes I need: running/exercise shoes, brown boots, brown casual, brown dress, brown summer, black casual, black dress.
* I found a Carhartt coat at a thrift store. It was marked $10 AS IS, but the tag color was half off. I checked it over and the only issues were: it had a company logo on the front and there were a couple grease stains on the front. However, I just needed a really warm coat for wearing into work at the factory, but since I can often come out dirty, I didn't want to ruin a good coat. Also, I couldn't care less if it has a logo on it, since I am using this for utility not fashion. Can't beat Carhartts for $5!
* Our furnace will need replaced this coming year (if not sooner), so I am trying to be ok with lower temps for now. I am wearing slippers and lots of layers and covering up with a blanket whenever still.

Waste Reduction:
* After I made fudge, I couldn't let all that chocolate left in the pan go to waste. I added milk and whisked thoroughly while heating over low heat. It wasn't strong enough for good hot chocolate, so I added some black cocoa but no more sugar. It was without a doubt the best hot chocolate I've ever had. And really, it was an important waste reduction measure. I had to make hot chocolate.

House and Home:
* I've been paying attention to little details around the house. When I am done with the kettle, there is usually a little water left. I open the lid and spout to let that steam evaporate. I do the same with pots of boiling water, removing the items, but not immediately dumping the water down the drain. My thinking is that this will humidify the air just a tiny bit and it costs nothing to try. I also open the toaster oven door after I remove the last item to let that little bit of warm air out. I turn off the burner a few minutes before I need to since I use cast iron and that retains heat quite well.

Work:
* I went to my interview with the factory. It went really well and he is calling me later after my drug test and background check come through. He said he is going to try to get me in at the next round of hiring (in a month), otherwise I'll be in the following round (5-6 weeks from now). He said he will try to give me as advanced notice as possible. I contacted a couple people from my old department and they are going to let management know that I am coming back. One person is friends with the person in charge of hiring for the department, so I'm hoping that I can get back into my old area since I got along with the coworkers and managers and enjoyed the work. That being said, the common theme in all of my jobs is I love all of my coworkers and managers, so even if I go somewhere else, I'm hopeful that it will be a good situation.
* I've been thinking a lot about the job/career situation. I had hoped that something else would come up, but ultimately, I decided that I have to be realistic about what my family needs. I'm too old to keep floating job to job or working jobs that don't pay a living wage. We have both had more health issues and our finances are getting more complicated. My stepdaughter is a big part of this decision. We don't know what the coming years will hold, but we do know that we want to have a stable place for her in our lives. We can't do that well if we are on the ragged edge. It was one thing to be more transient when we knew we were scrappy and if need be could survive on foraged foods and cook outside with salvaged wood. We cannot and will not do that to her. This new job will provide a very solid pay rate (with periodic pay increases, by the end of two years, I'll be making 165% my current pay rate), attendance bonuses that equal $1200/year, 15-16 paid holidays, 1 week paid vacation (after 1 year) and after 2 years, I can get hired on permanently, with the most amazing benefits package I've ever heard of. This will give us the stability we need as we age and to welcome my stepdaughter and help her get a solid start to her adult life when the time comes.
* I had to quit the part time job. There was no heat and I ended up getting hypothermia one day. It was a windchill of -10 and air was blowing in from outside. By the second half of the day, I started taking my clothes off (not as scandalous as it sounds; hat, neck warmer, gloves, etc). One of my coworkers asked me where my gloves had gone and I told her I felt too hot. That's when I realized how absurd that sounded. I remembered talking about hypothermia with a coworker at the farm and she said "You only really have to be afraid once you start feeling hot." I feel really bad about it, but it was taking me 4-6 hours after each shift to be warm enough that I wasn't in pain (I have all the symptoms of Reynaud's, although I haven't been to my doctor to confirm). By that time, it was time to fall asleep. That's no way to live. Trucker was also worried about me and pretty much insisted that I find something else.
* My friend offered me a job at her restaurant. She knows it will be short-term until I start at the factory as is fine with it. Uniform is nice jeans and a polo shirt. I picked up two polos from the thrift: $.90, $1.50. I have a pair of jeans that is nice, but not my style, so I will wear those (since I'm just trying to look nice enough for work, not trying to express my personal style).
* Trucker picked up an additional shift at work. It was a short shift, but it worked out okay. I dropped him off, ran errands in the area and he was done by the time I finished.
* I went through orientation at the factory and am very excited to start. I found out that after a year, we can get health insurance! Overall, it seems that if anything, things have gotten better since I left technically (We will see what it is like once I start, but some of the things I remember the full-time contingent workers complaining about have changed). I am optimistic.
* I got free snacks and coffee during orientation.

Preparedness:
* Trucker bought some home security items at auction for pennies on the dollar.

Future:
* Trucker signed up for an acting class in February.

Health:
* I took the Holmes and Rahe stress test. It was terrifying to see my score. I knew that I had been under a lot of stress, but hadn't realized just how bad it was. I felt like I've been a failure for not being "better" lately, but when I saw how absurdly high I tested, I started giving myself permission to not be perfect. I've been allowing myself to not accomplish "enough", to have more lazy days, to feel sad when I do. I think that this permission from myself to not be perfect is much needed and very helpful.
* It is very cold at work and a couple times I've felt a cold coming on. When I feel icky, I start gargling with salt water several times a day and chewing lots of vitamin C tablets and drinking emergen-c (I got a bunch of these on special for 75% off, so it is a couple pennies per serving). So far so good.
* At orientation, they encouraged us to use both our dominant and non-dominant hand while working so that we wouldn't wear out the dominant hand/elbow/shoulder. My left hand is extremely weak compared to my right hand. I went to a sports store and bought a hand resistance tool to build my left hand. I found that my right hand could easily compress it completely and my left hand struggled to barely move it. I carry it with me and do reps of 20 or so with just my left hand throughout the day. I overwork my right hand as it is, so the left one is the only one that needs the work. I also switched my mouse to my left hand.  I'm hoping that by the time I start, it will be somewhat useful.
* I had issues with my limbs/extremities getting too cold while at work at the old job. After the day I got hypothermia, it took a few days before I felt alright.

Setbacks:
* We found out that the medical bills from the accident are far more than anticipated, although we won't know for awhile how much. I was quite upset about it for a day. I am still nervous, but determined that we will get through this as we have every other struggle. I have a great partner, and we have survived when things were worse than this ($850 rent while making $1250 a month?).

Community:
* Trucker bought me a print from an artist we found on Facebook. She sells prints for $10 apiece. We found one that I absolutely loved and he bought it for me as a just-because gift. I was thrilled with the print and quality of the work. We also loved being able to buy directly from the artist. This is one of the nice things about frugality. You scrimp and pinch pennies when it comes to things that don't support what you believe in (I don't care to spend extra with the horrible electric company we have or to support big oil) or that aren't important to you, and then you have a bit more money to put it where you do believe (for us, local farmers and artists are high on the list, as a lot of our friends are included in those groups). I love having my home filled with a wide variety of artwork. In general, many of my pieces have come from auctions and thrift stores, so I am totally fine with spending some money to support artists trying to make a living with their work.
* When I first left the farm, my friend told me if I needed a job, I could come to her restaurant for as long or short a time as I needed. I was so touched by her offer and am so thankful for having such a good friend. She is definitely saving me over the next month.
* My coworkers from the farm stopped by to give us cookies. It was so thoughtful of them (and they were absolutely delicious).
* Trucker's boss gave me a free backpack that he couldn't sell. I will use it as my BOB.
* Mom gave us each a pair of slippers. They are really warm which is quite welcome this weekend (temps have been in the low single digits with windchills in the -10 range)

How was your week?
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