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.
* Harvested 1/4 c greens from the indoor garden. They are growing nicely and I'm amazed by how much I get from three little containers (I need to plant more...maybe my next day off). For those with no yard, do strongly consider growing salad greens in a sunny window. You will not regret it.
* I pulled out my big box of seeds and sorted everything by vegetable/fruit and then by variety, then by age. I made a list of all of the seeds I have including a rough estimate on number and likely germination rates. I'll use this to figure out what seeds to buy this year. I realized that I do not need to buy any radish seeds (I have 20+ packs of 12 types, 2 of which are variety packs as it is). Maybe I'll just try one new radish variety. Or two. I like radishes. :)
* Lunch break means one thing now: Me + seed catalogs + highlighters. It is a beautiful thing.
* I put a five-gallon bucket of coffee grounds onto the garden bed. I'm desperately looking for any good organic matter to work into my soil for an optimum growing season.
* Leftover stuffed peppers were reheated, sliced and put into tortillas with greens from the indoor garden. Just putting it into tortillas switched it up so it wasn't "leftovers again".
* One day I had to go to work really early (woke up at 2:30) on Trucker's day off. When I'd gotten home, he'd made chili for lunch using lots of random things from the freezer/frig. It was fantastic.
* One nice evening, we grilled out: sausages and squash. We had half of the squash (2 small) leftover.
* I made a huge batch of pasta salad for the week's work lunches. I used: 1 lb jumbo elbows, the two leftover grilled squash, the last of a jar of pickles, a bell pepper from the frig (Manager's special: 5 bell peppers for $1), a can of black olives (salvage grocer, $.59), the last of a bag of shredded cheese, some canned roasted peppers (salvage grocer, $.99/jar; I used 1/10 the jar), and the last of a bottle of salad dressing.
* We rarely make hamburgers at home; we usually try to stretch a pound of ground meat into as many meals as is possible. However, Trucker loves a good hamburger and we've given up fast food, so he doesn't get a greasy hamburger fix anymore. So, every now and then I make them as a special treat. This time, I had half of a bacon cheddar scone leftover from breakfast that I crumbled up to use in place of crackers or bread crumbs along with an egg and the last of some "grill master" seasoning that I got for free with sale+coupon awhile back. I cooked them in bacon grease on the stovetop just to make them over-the-top fantastic. Topped with cheese and all the fixins (all purchased on manager's special or at the salvage grocer). I served it with roasted vegetables: 1 delicata squash, 1/2 a large butternut squash and half a bag of baby carrots (was $.50/lb). We had two hamburgers left and half of the roasted veggies. The other half of the butternut squash will be mashed and served as a side or soup later this week.
* For breakfast one morning I made one of my favorite comfort meals: grilled PBJ sandwiches. I used a cranberry blueberry bread (from my bakery), all-natural peanut butter (salvage grocer, $1.49), and blackberry jam from my mum (almost out of the last jar!). Fantastic.
* We haven't had a lot of free time this week, but made time for a few coffee dates for talking, laughing, reading and writing. For one of our dates, we used the last of our free $5 gift card (from buying $25 gift card during the holidays), so our date only cost $1.36. Most of our hobbies are outdoorsy, but we are both big babies when it comes to the cold. We need to find some new things to do in winter, but for now it's a lot of coffee dates.
* On a particularly nice day, I spent a few hours outside-gardening and walking.
* One day it got up into the upper 40s so I turned off the furnace all day and opened the windows.
* Our favorite thrift store had their 50% Winter Clearance sale. We each bought a few items of clothing quite frugally. I found a few shirts that I had been hoping to find at a thrift store. One, I've been looking for for six years and had never found in my size so I was thrilled. I also found a metal mixing bowl for $.75. I want to get rid of all plastic mixing bowls and stick to glass and metal, so I was happy. It's an industrial bowl that I use in my work kitchens so I knew it was a great deal at that price.
* I used the last of a jar of pickles in my pasta salad and had a half jar of brine leftover. I'd dehydrated some big, ugly cucumbers from my parents garden last year. I tossed in a handful of the cucumbers and am letting them rehydrate in the leftover brine for mock pickles. I've done this often with dehydrated peppers; hopefully the cucumber pickles will be just as good.
* I had just a tiny bit of bubble bath left in a container. I added water and shook it up to get one more bubble bath out of the container.
* When I cooked the squash, I saved the seeds. I roasted them with sea salt as a snack.
* I saved some veggie scraps from cooking for stock making. The rest, along with dryer lint, floor sweepings and other organic material went into the compost.
* Steve hasn't closed for a week or two, so we hadn't gotten his goody bags of leftover baked goods. This week he had a closing shift, so he brought home yummy things: 2 chocolate chip scones, 1 bacon cheddar scone, 1 blueberry muffin and 2 morning glory muffins (kind of a kitchen sink muffin). These are fabulous for snacks or breakfasts. On days that I'm running out the door in a hurry, sometimes it's lunch.
* On my day off, I packaged up several meals for our work lunches. Trucker has been opening more often and doesn't have time to make something to bring with him. Now he can just grab a container and run.
* Trucker brought home a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds from his job for me to put on my garden beds.
* We are discussing a new business venture. Trucker checked out 20 books from the library and we've both read a couple so far.
* One day Trucker had to work very early and I didn't go in until much later. I went to his job for free coffee and wrote on my book for a few hours.
* Trucker went to the new doctor. This doctor was a lot better (aka less mean and more professional) than the one we had to go to with the old insurance. We are very happy with the new plan.
* I went for a long walk one day. Unfortunately, it's been raining or snowing almost every day that I have time to get out, but as soon as a nice day presented itself, I made the most of it. I know I need to just kick myself in the butt, bundle up and go out in the snow...but...