Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 12/8 - 12/14

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.

* Nothing big to mention with the indoor garden. There are aphids on the pepper plants (this didn't happen last year), so I need to find a non-toxic recipe for killing the little...ahem...buggers.
* Harvested 1/4 c of microgreens. Ooh buddy. I got a late start this year and am very impatient.
* While I was working in the garden, I found a radish under the leaves. It was split but tasted fine. I used it in our stir fry mix along with the greens. It's the little things. :)
* Harvested green onions regrowing from scraps.

* I made apple crisp with some apples from the orchard that were getting a little on the old side. I filled my vegetable bin with the best apples, and we will eat those over the early winter. I dehydrated most of them and only have a few left now. I used stale baked sweets from Trucker's job to make the crisp. Delicious and frugal!
* Made sausage gravy for dinner one night. I reserved half of the sausage to use in other recipes for the week. I served the gravy over bread-sliced bagels because I had those in excess and didn't have time to whip up a batch of biscuits. There was enough gravy leftover from dinner for breakfast the next morning.
* Made colcannon to use up some mustard greens from the frig, some leftover baked potatoes (We'd already dressed them up but got full so this included some sour cream, cheddar and butter), and a couple slices of bacon leftover from another meal. Added in some green onion from the windowsill.
* I bought three pepperoni rolls from my job. They are usually sold out by the time I do my shopping, so when I see them I scoop them up. They are $.49/$.44 after my discount. They are filling for the size and very flavorful.  I use these for Trucker's work lunches instead of a sandwich just to switch it up and supply something a little special. I sent him with one and froze the other two.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated 6 loads of apple slices.
* I cooked down 15 lbs of apples into apple sauce. I'll dehydrate some of it to rehydrate later or to snack on as a leather. We'll also have apple sauce as a side dish sometimes in the coming week.

* We went out for a couple of coffee dates. These have been among our favorite dates for 8 years. Sometimes we go to a little hole in the wall coffee joint with perfect brew and great ambiance and talk and read. Sometimes we go to a place with free refills and sit for hours while working on our latest projects. There's always plenty of time to laugh and talk with each other either about dreams and politics or brainstorming ideas for something one of us is working on. It never costs over $5 and we enjoy it. Once, we went to his job where we were only charged $1.29 for two coffee refills. Pretty cheap date.

* Got outside for a few short excursions and worked a bit in the garden on one warmer day (It got up pert near 40!)

* Avoided stores as much as possible. Especially since we'd just hit some thrift stores while on our trip, we didn't need anything, so we didn't go near any stores.
* We were able to turn off the furnace for 6 hours one day.

Waste Reduction:
* I wasn't hungry enough to eat an entire scone for breakfast one morning. The muffin that Trucker brought home from work got smooshed in his backpack. There were lots of crumbs in the bottom of the sack of baked goods we got while on our trip last week. I crumbled it all up and used as the topping on a crisp. Saved a little money and reduced a lot of waste. This is a tip I'll use a lot in the future.
* Composted a lot of "stuff": kitchen scraps, dryer lint, junk mail, receipts, floor sweepings, etc

* Trucker brought home a big bag of treats from his job: 2 scones (these are seriously the best scones ever), several bagels, a muffin and two thick slices of pumpkin chocolate chip bread. The scones are breakfast some mornings, the bagels are good for breakfast sandwiches (And I'm going to get in the habit of cutting the leftovers into chunks to use in bread pudding, stuffing or crumbs), and the pumpkin bread and muffin will make good snacks.
* Worked 3rd shift for a few days to train on a new position. This will not be my regular position, but if I learn all of the positions in my department at least basically, I get a raise. I'm okay with sacrificing a few days here and there to earn more money every hour I work every shift from here on out.
* Twice during the week there were samples (one of chili, the other of pretzels and dip) in the break room. I took a sample each day and used that as my lunch to hold me over until I got home. Lunch break for me is around 3:30-4, so I'm hungry, but want to be able to eat with Trucker when I get home. I'll usually eat something small like an apple.
* We both drank free coffee from our jobs. One day I got a free (alcohol-free) ginger beer.

* More home-dehydrated food went into the pantry. There's still some of last year's produce left to eat through (it was my first year cooking with dehydrated foods, so the first half of the winter I barely used any). I'm putting all of this year's produce up in the storage room. All of last year's produce is in the kitchen. I'm not allowed to bring down any jars of this year's stores until all of last year's is used up. That means I don't get to eat any tomatoes or strawberries until I get through these last jars of cukes and mushrooms (I think some mock pickles are in order!)

* On our day off together, we went out for coffee and both wrote for a few hours. Sometimes getting out of the house helps to switch gears from facebook surfing/"research" to actual drafting.
* Trucker asked me for the materials list for a chicken tractor so he can price everything. We want to get it built by early spring so I can buy chicks right away.

* Went out for short walks around the neighborhood as I had the chance. It's not strenuous exercise, but better than sitting inside. Took a couple short runs around the neighborhood. Since it was so cold, I didn't want to be out long, so I did a variation of 30-20-10 training (30 seconds jogging, 20 seconds running, 10 seconds sprinting) to make every minute count.
* Drank water kefir daily. We definitely have fewer digestive complaints when we do. I made cream soda kefir this week and it's phenomenal. After a 12 hour second ferment it was perfectly carbonated without being too sour. It was just sweet enough to be an adequate "soda fix" but not so much sugar that it was overwhelming (we both prefer our drinks on the less sweet side).

* On a day I knew Trucker would have a rough day at work, I wanted to do a little something special for him. I decided to get him flowers. They were regularly $4.50, or $4.05 after my discount. There was a peel-away sticker for $2 off, so it only cost me $2.05 for the bouquet. He loved it. I put it in a mason jar in the front window that he walks by every time he goes to the kitchen for a coffee refill.
* Trucker ordered a jewelry organizer for me. He'd made me one a couple years ago that is hanging in the bedroom, but it was very full. The new one has pockets for items that can't be hung from the homemade organizer. This will free up a lot of space on my dresser top. I am not crazy into fashion, but I like to wear fun antique/vintage/costume jewelry, and have built up a pretty decent collection of bargain pieces.

What did you do this week?

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