Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 5/18 - 5/24

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 harvested 4 cups of greens from the garden.
* Frank the bunny is doing great. I make sure he always has access to pellets, but I feed him a lot of green matter. He hasn't gotten diarrhea, so I'm not feeding him too much plant matter.
* I've been emptying the bunny trays onto the back garden bed. It is planted to tomatoes and beans, so nothing that is touching the ground will be eaten. Hopefully this fertilizer will ramp up my soil.
* As I work in the garden, I can tell a big difference between new beds and older beds. The older beds are easier to work and the soil contains much less clay than new beds. Every year I dump lots of compost and mulch onto each bed and it's encouraging to see it making a difference.

* I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work. It seems that a lot of the things I like end up on clearance at this store. I lucked out this week. Pints of buttermilk were $.14 (yes, you read that right!), cups of heavy whipping cream were $.15, and pints of soy creamer were $.20. Butter was on clearance for $1/half pound so I bought 5 containers. I bought a bag of manager's special bell peppers: $1/5. They also had corn on the cob for $.10 an ear. I bought 2 dozen ears. We'll use some when we have company over and I'll freeze the rest.
* Trucker made taco dip for me one evening. He added leftover taco meat as well as a bunch of veggies. The lettuce was all from the garden. It was delicious and made for 3 meals.
* We had company over one evening and grilled out. I made hamburgers using 3 lbs of ground beef (on sale for $7), 3 slices of crumbled bacon (leftover from other meals) and 2 small sweet red peppers. I bought store-brand hamburger buns and put out a wide spread of condiments and caramelized onions. All of the lettuce came from the garden. I grilled a dozen ears of corn (planning for leftovers to freeze or use in recipes this week). I made a flavored butter to go with the corn made with a few minced hot chile peppers and the zest and juice of one lime. For dessert, I served grilled bananas with slightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream (I used one half of a $.15 container of heavy cream), drizzled with goat's milk caramel ($1/bottle on clearance) and a dusting of cinnamon.
* I used leftovers from grilling out for taco night. I crumbled up the hamburgers, added taco seasoning and heated. I had leftover lettuce and tomato. I cut the corn off one leftover cob and added that to the tacos as well as the rest of the caramelized onions. I served with homemade sour cream.
* With the leftovers from taco night, I made stuffed peppers. I just chopped up the rest of the veg, added some more grilled corn, added the meat, mixed in some homemade sour cream and breadcrumbs and stuffed it into green bell peppers ($1/5 on manager's special). I poured a can of enchilada sauce over the top ($.49 from salvage grocer) and sprinkled a little cheddar on top before baking until the peppers were tender. I like to use leftovers creatively so it doesn't always feel like we're eating leftovers, but they still get used up. Food waste is a major issue, and proper planning can do wonders for reducing or eliminating it. See your leftovers as ingredients. Hamburger patties get crumbled and now it's just ground beef. Taco meat is just seasoned meat that can be added to soup, chili, omelets, casseroles, or stuffed peppers. Some people pay to get their food pre-processed/cut/cooked. See your leftovers as a convenience item.
* I had several oranges that needed to be used up so I made orange curd. It turned out absolutely perfect and I kept going back in for another spoonful. For breakfast, I've been enjoying cranberry orange scones from Trucker's job spread with a heavy layer of curd. Absolutely phenomenal.

Food Preservation:
* I made some of the heavy cream into creme fraiche and sour cream which will extend the life a little (although not a long time). And it's awesome. :)
* I made orange curd out of oranges that need to be used up. Kept well refrigerated, it can store for up to a month in the frig, although I doubt it will last that long.

* I bought Joel Salatin's Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal for $2 at Half Price Books. This book has been on my wishlist for a long time.
* We had a couple cheap coffee dates.
* I went exploring out of town one afternoon. I packed coffee and a snack, so it was a free day other than the gas.
* One day during my run, I went off the beaten track and explored around the trainyard.

* I spent an afternoon at the arboretum. I walked through the woods, through a swamp, explored a primitive cabin, climbed trees and went wading in the lake, with fish swimming all around my legs. It was absolutely fantastic.
* I've been working in the garden most days and going for walks or runs outdoors every single day. I've noticed that the more I do this, the more anxious I get being trapped inside. I've stopped using the internet as much and prefer to take multiple walks in a day than check Facebook (sorry to any Facebook readers who've noticed I'm not posting as much anymore). My mood is much better, and I'm sure that the sunlight is a big part of that.

* Printed postage online and sent the packages with the postal worker to avoid gas and time going to the post office and get a small discount by printing ourselves. As always, we wait until they are done with the street and take it to them so they don't have to lug all our stuff all over.

Waste Reduction:
* I processed down old, dried bread and bagels into plain bread crumbs. I also processed down a few sweet scones and cookies that we didn't eat into sweet crumbles. These sweet crumbs can be used as an ice-cream mix-in, muffin topping, or in a bread and buttermilk fudge recipe I just found.
* I used bread crumbs in stuffed peppers to use them up and stretch the filling.
* I composted lots of weird things.

* I worked a total of 1.25 hours of overtime.
* I got my first raise of $1.50/hr. Yay!
* Trucker brought home a bag of bagels and several scones. We've used the scones for breakfasts. Any bagels we don't get to will be sliced to use for bagel chips or made into bread crumbs.

* We refilled our tank for the grill so we're prepared for the next power outage. We were going to buy another one, but it cost $50 extra if you didn't have an empty one. We'll be on the lookout for one on the used market.
* I stocked the cars with snacks just in case.

* We continue to list new items on our store and research, research, research.

* I've continued to get some sort of exercise every day I don't work. Even on one of the days I worked, I went for a 2.5 mile walk late at night. Some days I go on multiple walks.
* I went trail running for the first time. It worked me a lot harder than running in the neighborhood. I'll have to try this more this year.
* I had to buy some new workout clothes since the ones I got when I first started running were too big. I bought them on a half-off sale at my favorite thrift store. I paid $1.50-3 each for 3 pairs of shorts and $2 each for 2 shirts. One of the pairs of shorts was the same design as my favorite running pants that costs $25 new, with tags still on it. It's reversible and has a hidden pocket for my key.

* I talked with lots of people while running. I really love my neighborhood. This summer, I plan to take produce to more people, just to get those community ties forming.

How was your week?


  1. What grocery store has those deals?

    1. I've never seen such a good score before, but it was at a Meijer. I guess I was just at the right place at the right time. I always check when I'm there.

  2. What a wonderfully frugal week. These posts always inspire me to make conscious choices. I have been thinking about the "7 things in 7 days" initiative Streetbank is showcasing. I have been quite intrigued and impressed by Mark Boyle ( The Moneyless Man) and Streetbank is part of the work he does. This week I shared and gave away many things and in return things ( free and cheap) come my way. Like you I always try to share produce amongst other things and it is great to see you will use your vegetables as a way to get to know your neighbours :)


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