Monday, March 23, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 3/16 - 3/22

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.

* Harvested green onions almost daily. This is great!
* Still waiting for germination on the tomato and pepper plants. This is the worst part...waiting...waiting.
* Trucker is a peach. While I was at work one day, he cut down the three evil poison sumac trees. There's a foot-tall stump now that we need to work at cutting out. He's so incredibly sweet! Every year I've been breaking out terribly and it lasts all season long. I think I finally figured out that those three trees were poison sumac and planned to cut them down myself. I told him I was waiting until a bit after I started the new job because I didn't want to have a weird first impression (the allergic reaction I get leaves me disfigured). He instead took care of it because his reaction is much less severe than mine. He's a good partner.

* We made tacos one evening. Before we seasoned the ground beef, we put half of it in the refrigerator. We made tacos with the remaining beef, lettuce, dehydrated tomatoes, onion, sour cream and cheese.
* The next night, I made eggplant parmesan, using three mini Thai eggplants and the last of a box of whole-grain spaghetti. I cooked a whole head of garlic, minced before adding the store-brand sauce. This brand of sauce is decent, but a little on the thin side. So I crumbled in a large handful each of dehydrated peppers and tomatoes. As these rehydrate in the sauce, it thickens it while making for a good, chunky sauce (how we like it) and only adds nominally to the cost since we grew the veggies ourselves. I also crumbled in 1/3 of the beef we'd pulled aside. Served with a piece of garlic bread.
* The rest of the ground beef used for stuffed peppers. The stuffing was beef, a can of refried beans (I'm still nervous to try making them from my rehydrated bean powder), the last of a jar of salsa, a whole head of minced garlic, green onions from the indoor garden, some black olives, and a small handful each of dehydrated tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), and cukes (because I'd put up lots when my parents gave me their overgrown cukes and haven't been able to use them all). I also added some green powder (made from dehydrated radish and carrot leaves, as well as more traditional cooking greens). I poured enchilada sauce over the peppers and sprinkled a little cheese over it. I baked for about 45 minutes until the peppers were fork tender and the cheese was browned. We had some peppers leftover.
* We had bacon sandwiches one evening for dinner. I reserved half of the bacon to use the next day. I made bacon gravy like one would make sausage gravy. We served it over bacon cheddar chive scones from Trucker's job with a salad on the side.
* I had a big batch of chicken stock in the frig that needed to be used up. I made a very basic, non-flavored vegetable soup using up veggies that needed used up: a bell pepper, a few banana peppers, several small eggplants, a few summer squash, a head of garlic, and some onion. I cooked it until the veggies were tender. That night we added Italian seasoning and a bit of Italian dressing (it was tasty). The next night we added some stir-fry sauce (that one wasn't so spectacular). One night we added some hot sauce and salsa and served over torn corn tortillas (purchased at the salvage grocer for $.10/pack, but they were too crumbly to use for tacos). This was the best one. I like the idea of eating more soup to fill us up cheaply while getting more veggies and stock into our diet for health reasons. This works out well. As I start figuring out easy ways to flavor the soup, this will be great to make one day a week, then ladle out each night for dinner without getting bored of the exact same soup daily. During garden season, this will be a fantastic way to use up a surplus of veg.
* We regularly have stove-top popcorn as our snack. It's cheaper than almost any other snack, and we love it.

* We had a coffee date at Trucker's job so we were able to use his discount.
* Had a coffee date at our regular spot. I earned a free coffee on my loyalty card.
* Checked out movies and books from the library for free entertainment. I checked out audiobooks to listen to while I commute to the new job.
* I mentioned in a previous post that I bought Trucker a Victrola for his birthday. We found the greatest score this week. He won in an online auction a box of records, including some 78s, most of them Decca records. He was thrilled. He paid $11 for 15-20 records that he is going to keep and quite a number to sell. There were even a couple that I wanted!

* Took a few walks on nice days.

* We sold our old tube TV for $25 to a kid who is going to use it as a monitor.
* We went to a moving sale to scoop up a few items for our new venture. There was a free section and we got: a psychology book that Trucker wanted to read, a hand saw, a Kate Spade eyeglasses case, a cord bike lock and 3 coat hangers.
* Ray needed a bed and I just haven't been able to get around to making one. She currently sleeps on an antique chair and gets hair all down in it. While we were at a thrift store, Trucker found a pet bed for $4 in great condition that matches the living room. Perfect! She was wary at first so we put it on the chair to encourage her to associate it with sleep. Still waiting to see if she takes to it; she's currently sniffing it.
* Line-dried clothes one day.
* My uncle worked on our new-to-us car. We got it tuned up, the brake line changed and an oil leak fixed. He charged us $90.
* My new job has a gas station for us to use. The prices don't usually line up with prices at regular gas stations; they can be lower or higher, depending on the price when they filled the tanks. This week they were $.40 lower so I filled up each of the vehicles (including my parent's as a thank-you for helping us out as our car was in the shop).
* I use swagbucks daily for searches and surveys to earn Amazon gift cards.

Waste Reduction:
* At my new job, they have restrictions on what hygiene items we can use due to interaction with some of our materials. Unfortunately, most of the items I'm using were on the banned list, but I didn't throw them away. I can use them on days off (since I'll only be working 2-3 days, there will be 4-5 days I can use those items) and Trucker can use some of them. I dug around in the stockpile and found that I had all the items I'd need in the stockpile (I buy whatever I can get at the cheapest price when combining sales and coupons), so I didn't have to buy anything else.
* Composted lots of random things.
* Saved clementine peels to use in syrup making.
* Made stock out of leftover chicken bones and vegetable scraps. Got about a half gallon.

* I started the new job. While it is really too early to know for sure that I love it, I think it will be a good fit. For one thing, I know my schedule. My two mandatory days are set in stone, so I know my schedule for the rest of the time I have this job. Saturdays are optional for me (but I get paid overtime), and I get the Saturdays schedule each quarter. So I have my schedule for the next three months. This is fantastic!
* The job is very physical, so for the first two weeks they pay me to work out with a trainer for 1.5 hours. While it is really exhausting (I hadn't realized just how atrophied my abs were!), I'm choosing to see the huge benefit of getting a good boost on getting shape after a winter where I slacked a little in that department. Can't get a better job benefit than getting your health back! Already my arms are more toned.
* While I'm looking forward to getting extra time off later, I'm working a lot for three weeks. There's some intense training to learn the job completely. There is a mandatory two weeks of full time for training. Since my position is for the hardest-to-learn department (and my two jobs are among the hardest in the department), they offered to let me work another week full-time if I would like. I said yes. Since it's only three weeks and then I never get a chance to work this many hours again at this job (if need be I may look for a one-day-a-week job), I thought I would take the opportunity and bank the extra money. I also volunteered to work a Saturday. Six days this week was a lot, but it isn't a bad place and I actually enjoyed it (and the day before I go back for another 5-6 days, I'm looking forward to it!). Two more weeks of full time and then I'll go to 2-3 days a week (and they are not able to make me work any more than  days; I can say no with no repercussions if they ask).
* Trucker brought home a bag with lots of yummy things, like my favorite: bacon cheddar chive scones.

* Got our cars tuned up and had some maintenance done. We are trying to be more on top of maintaining our vehicles to prolong their life, reduce risk of incidents and eliminate costly drastic repair bills.

* Working at the new home-business venture on a regular basis.

* Working out with a trainer for an hour and a half, 5 days a week. My abs have finally stopped burning quite so badly after the core workout days.
* Took a couple short walks around the neighborhood.

* We were going to go hiking with a friend, but it didn't work out, so we decided to go out to a restaurant. We had a coupon for 20% off, and we decided to order appetizers instead of meals. Holy moley! It still cost us $25 after tip! We did bring home two rolls, some flavored butter, half an order of house-made potato chips (this was an appetizer with a cheesy dip) and one potato skin. I can't believe it cost so much! We again reaffirmed to have our friends over for dinner/lunch/drinks/grilling/dessert instead of going out to eat. We also decided to stop our one time a week outing with friends at the pizza joint/bar. The friends we are closest to we'd feel fine having in our home, and we can do that much cheaper!

* My parents let us borrow my dad's beat-around car while our car was in the shop. It was low on gas when we got it, but we made sure it was filled up before we returned it and we threw a little something to them as a thank you. I also extended an offer to help with a couple of remodeling projects they'd like to undertake this summer. Now that I will work fewer days, I'll have time to drive out for a few days to help. I like that. They've helped us a lot as we got established, and I'm glad to be in a part of my life where I can return the favor.
* My sister got the job at the new kitchen. I gave her my slip resistant shoes so she doesn't have to buy a pair right away. She's getting married this summer, so any savings she can build is good!
* Trucker sets up the coffee every night so I can just push the button in the morning. He wants to make sure I get a cup o joe before I leave since it's a long drive really early in the morning.
* Trucker mentioned awhile back that he really wanted a pour over coffee maker. However, even with his discount, the ones at his job were too expensive. I decided that I would buy him one at some point as a surprise gift. I found one at a thrift store for $4. He loved it!
 How was your week?

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