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.
* I potted up 4 pepper plants to overwinter and plant again next year: one of the Jimmy Nardello plants, 1 serrano pepper, 2 jalapeno. These were my top performers. I did not pot up one of the unnamed hot peppers. While they were all wildly prolific, they didn't taste that great.
* I forgot to open the blinds a couple of very busy days and all of the lettuces indoors died. I replanted the container to: arugula, kale, lettuce, spinach, mustard, swiss chard and basil. As of Sunday night, they have sprouted nicely. Hopefully I don't murder this batch. I need some winter greens.
* Harvested a few dozen carrots (most of them little finger), several radishes, 4 cups of mixed salad greens and edible flowers, dozens of small peppers, some green tomatoes to allow to ripen on the counter, 1 c green beans of various types.
Cooking and Groceries:
* I redeemed my birthday coupon for a free half gallon of store-brand ice cream from my job. I got Chocolate Moose Tracks. Awesome birthday gift from my boss. LOL
* I bought a couple of pepperoni rolls from my job for $.44 each. These have pepperoni, cheese and spices are a filling lunch by themselves. I used these for a day that we would be gone from the house from 5:30 AM til 6:30 PM. $.88, plus a couple apples from the orchard makes for a $1 lunch for two. Cheap, relatively healthy and keeps us from scary fast food.
* I bought more apples (at the 300lb mark now!). My mum and sister went to an orchard I love. They had seconds for $14/bushel (so about $.31/lb). Looking at them, I have no idea why they were seconds. They are beautiful and unblemished. They are Rome's which is my favorite apple so I'm thrilled. Rome's are great for crisps, which I make like crazy during the autumn.
* I had a coupon for $1 off $5 worth of produce from the grocery. I found celery on manager's special for $.75 each (marked down from $1.80) and got three. Potatoes were $1.88 for a 10-lb bag. Two heads of lettuce were bagged together for $.99. Total for produce: $4.12. I also had a coupon for a free loaf of bread with $10 purchase.
* We went salvage grocery shopping. Got lots of great deals and stocked up to help keep winter grocery bills manageable without the garden.
* One night we had stir fry with 100% veg from the garden. I served it with rice cooked in homemade chicken stock. By cooking the rice in stock instead of water, it's more nutritious, more filling and we are perfectly content with no meat in the stir fry. Saves a lot of money.
* Dehydrated a load of apples. Dehydrated crab apples for crab apple candy (which are absolutely awesome!). All you do is quarter and core them (very labor intensive, just warning you), toss in sugar and dehydrate til chewy. Wow!
* For my mum's birthday, we bought her canning supplies and two Butternut trees. Practical, and she'll love it.
* We had dinner with my parents, sisters and Grandpa. It was a wonderful evening.
* I went for a run late one night (10 PM). It had rained hard all day, so the air was clean and perfect. It wasn't hot, but it wasn't cold. I loved watching the tree branches float across the low-hanging clouds drifting by the stars. I fell absolutely in love with everything.
* One day was just absolutely perfect so we worked out in the garden just as an excuse to be out there.
* There were several evenings that were just so perfect we had to go out for walks. So lovely.
* I passed up "deals" that weren't really deals. I found a pack of the pretty green canning jars. It was a six pack that was missing 3 of the jars....marked down 20%...seriously? Also, there was a sale on bacon that made it $1 cheaper than I usually find it if you bought 5. However, if I bought it, I would have to drive back home across the city, before driving back past the store to go visit my parents that day. It would have saved $5 on the bacon, but cost me $5-6 in gas, plus the wasted time. Not worth it.
* Trucker needed new socks. We darn socks and mend holes while they are small as long as possible, but his current set was getting pretty old. I bought a few 10-packs of the same socks (store brand that was $3 less per pack) so that when we do laundry it's easy to match. As they wear out beyond darning, we can throw away one sock (or get creative with it!) instead of a pair. In this way, we can stretch socks out for years.
* Trucker makes cash tips at his job, so we use that for general living expenses instead of using the card or stopping at the ATM. As he's been giving me cash, I've been squirreling it away for savings. I had $160 saved up that I deposited this morning into our savings account.
* While we walked, twice we found piles of change. I don't know why people do that, but I'm fine with snagging it. Once we found 22 pennies; the other time we found 16 cents. Yes, picking up change isn't going to drastically change our lives, but it's still worth doing. It takes about an extra second to reach down and pick up a penny. You could do that 60 times a minute. So, hypothetically, if you picked up pennies every second of every minute for an hour, you'd make $36/hr, tax free. That's more than I make at my job, so I consider it worthwhile. The time I found the 22 pennies, it took about 5 seconds to pick up the extras. I could have done that 12 times in a minute, so my hourly rate that time was $158/hr. We save our change all year for a special weekend trip, so we are always happy when we find change.
* Used the library extensively. Checked out several books and two movies. We got a brand new branch this month right down the road from our home. It's a bare-bones branch as an experiment. If it gets used a lot, there's a chance they'll expand it in a few years, so we are trying to do our part to see that they do!
* I keep a blanket downstairs for covering up while at the computer. Since I work in a bakery, I get chilled rather easily when not directly in front of an oven. I've also gotten out the nice thick socks. In this way, we can avoid turning on the furnace.
* Planned so as to avoid wasting any leftovers.
* When I dehydrated the apples, I used my apple peeler-corer-slicer gizmo (purchased for $2.50 during a half off sale at a thrift store). I was left with a lot of peels, so I dehydrated those to use in teas in winter.
* I worked overtime 1 hr this week to help out a coworker. Not a ton of money, but a little something. The extra pay is earmarked to get out of state to visit an ailing relative.
* The uniform at work changed. While we used to be able to wear nice jeans, it is now khakis or black pants. Before hitting the thrift stores to scoop up new pants, I checked some boxes in the closet and found 2 pr of black pants and 2 pr of khakis that I can now fit in (I've lost 25 pounds since I started running). No need to buy any, and I saved myself $10 (at least) on the uniform.
* Trucker got two free cinnamon rolls from his job that were a bit dry and therefore weren't able to be sold. We made a bit more icing to drizzle on them and they were delicious.
* When he closed one night, he was able to take home some things that didn't sell: 2 english muffins (that I used for two mornings' breakfast sandwiches), 2 muffins, a couple cookies and a scone. We took the desserts with us to my parents house for dinner.
* Heavy stockpile for the pantry from the salvage grocery store. Between the best-price store buys and the food from the garden we preserve, we never have less than a 6 month supply of food, even right before the harvest starts coming in. Granted, if we were eating exclusively from the stockpile, by month 4 it would be getting boring, and by 5 months it would be positively bland, but we wouldn't starve.
Future: (New section....anything that is getting me closer to where I want to be on my 5-, 10-, and 20-year plans)
* I went with a friend, my mother and sister to a talk on urban homesteading at a local library. It was a free event. It was given by a local urban farmer/homesteader that I'm familiar with. I've visited her beautiful property and loved it, so it was great to get to hear her talk. I got to ask a few questions to help me as I answer some questions for myself about where I want to go from here while I am still living in the city.
* I'm taking a free permaculture design course through the Regenerative Leadership Institute. It's unaccredited, but I'm taking it for the education, not for credits. I listened to one of the lessons and took notes.
What did you do this week?