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 my first green beans! About 1/2 cup, but it's something!
* I harvested 5 cups of greens.
* I harvested 2 cups of edible day lily petals.
* I planted 3 packets of radishes and 2 packets of beets. Because it's raining all the time, I don't have time to carefully scrape out rows or carefully plant in grid formation. I just broadcast the seeds. Those too close to each other will be thinned to add to salads. Bare spots will be planted with whatever seeds I have on hand. Also, since the discovery of poison ivy everywhere, I don't garden like I used to. Now I am largely hands off, so broadcasting and a gentle raking is good enough for me.
* The bunnies are doing well. Growing fast, especially Nurse Ratched. She will eat whatever greens I give her, but prefers the pellets. In the future, I need to perhaps feed her half as much twice a day, giving her abundant greens to fill up on before she gets pellets. Hazel-ra is putting on some weight, so I'm happy with her. What I love is that she doesn't really care for her pellets. She goes right for the greens and will eat pellets only if she's hungry and greens aren't available. Her babies will hopefully do well on pasture. Frank loves his greens, but eats pellets too. He seems to go back and forth between the two until the greens are gone. He's getting bigger, but has a lean frame to him. I'm about halfway through the bag of feed I got, so soon I'll need to stop at the feed shop.
salvage grocery store. We scored some great stuff. I have never seen much in the way of baby items at this store, but this time, there was baby stuff everywhere. We found lots of organic baby foods. One type that usually costs $1+ each jar, was $.33. Other kinds (also organic) were 4 for $.99. There were also baby cereals for $.19/box and other items. I was really happy that she scored well her first time there. My great scores were: beef jerky for $.49, 54 protein bars for $8 ($.15 each; these are great for snacks, road trips or to keep in the car in case we forget lunch), instant mashed potatoes with truffles for $.39/box (While I don't regularly use instant mashed potatoes, it was cheap and is an item with a good shelf life for our preps), hot sauces and salsas for $.49/bottle, a couple dozen cartons of soup for $.29 each (these are good for quick meals on busy nights, or for Trucker when I'm gone for the day), 4 boxes of packets of hot cereal/granola for $.49/each (these are for Trucker to bring with him to work; he can steam milk there and have a quick meal on longer shifts).
* Trucker and I stopped at a farm stand while on our day trip. I found some great deals. I wanted to get some peaches, and they were $3/qt. I was going to buy one, but by the checkout, I found a "seconds" table. There was a quart basket piled high with peaches. Only two in the container had a small bruise; the rest were fine. I bought that for $1 instead. I also got a peck of zucchini squash, 1 onion and 2 large, slightly overripe tomatoes for $3. I got 2 lbs of bananas for $.50 because they were separated from their bunches. I also bought three small summer squash for $1 and 1 lb of rhubarb for $2/lb (dipped in sugar, it's the best snack around!). They were giving away garlic scapes, so I took about 1/2 lb since I've used all of mine.
* We had a cookout for July 4th. We had 20-25 people. People brought their own beverage and meats. One friend brought asparagus to grill and everyone loved it. I pulled some extra meat from the freezer to serve when we ran low. I put out a variety of pickles and condiments that I got at the salvage grocery, lettuce from the garden and buns that I got on manager's special that morning ($.75/8 pack). I made potato salad with hard boiled eggs, mock pickled green beans (rehydrated green beans in leftover pickle juice), pickles (from Stites, $7 value, for $.99), celery, garlic scapes, mustard, mayo, and relish. I topped with my salad topping seasoning I got awhile back for $.25. I chopped up half of the squash that we got in Amish country, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with half a packet of grill seasoning from our salvage grocer (pennies a packet when purchasing a big bag full of them). I made sweet tea.
* Ate popcorn for our snacks.
* Froze three bananas that were getting dark on the counter. I usually just toss them into the freezer, peel and all. However, sometimes when I make my chocolate banana shakes, I only want a little bit, and always make too much if I have to use whole bananas. I cut them into pieces and froze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen solid, I bagged them up. I'll keep adding to the bag for a bit until it's full. That way, I can remove just what I need.
* I made popsicles from some yogurt that needed to be used up.
* I had several oranges that needed used up. I zested and juiced them, then added an equal amount of sugar and cooked it down into a very thick syrup. I added some to the popsicles. This will last quite a long time in the refrigerator and it is amazing.
* Trucker and I went on a couple cheap coffee dates.
* My good friend and I went out of town for the day. We hit up my favorite salvage grocery store and shopped together. We scored big. Afterwards, we went out for lunch at a local pizza place that I loved as a teen. $6 for pizza buffet. After that, we drove back to the city and went to a thrift store that was having a half off day. She found some shelving sets to hang in the new kitchen for her canned goods storage: $1.50 each! I found a couple of summery tops for $.50-.99. In general, I bought things I needed, so the cost for the day was $6 for lunch and $10 in gas, although the gas would have been spent to go to the store eventually anyway. Not an expensive day, but enjoyable. While grocery shopping isn't typically seen as something fun to do with friends, it really is!
* My sister came out one evening and we went to the mall together. This was my first time in a mall in years. I bought a shirt on clearance for $4. After that, we went to a thrift store together. I bought a couple of dresses ($1-2 each) and a couple of shirts $.50 each). We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant in the city for their BOGO tacos al pastor. We each got 2 al pastor tacos and an horchata=$3.11.
* My parents and all of my sisters work for the same company I do, so we all had our vacation at the same time. This is the first time that has happened in almost 10 years. We had planned on taking a fishing trip together, but the company that owns the boat we were going to rent said that the constant rain had left the lake so muddy that no one was catching any fish. So instead of making the 6-hour round trip drive, we decided to have fun locally. We went fishing at a couple ponds owned by friends and played frisbee golf. Then we went to a state park nearby. My sister's fiance and two of my sisters fished while my other sister, dad and I biked around the lake. Then we drove an hour away to a dairy agritourism destination for ice cream, petting zoo and driving range. After that, we went to yet another park that had several small ponds for fishing. While everyone else fished, I ran around the ponds, stopping only to take photos and then continuing my run. Finally, we stopped at a reservoir in my hometown. While the fishers fished, Dad, my sister and I biked. We went to a park that my mom played at when she was a kid. I convinced Dad to play on the playground with me. We rode the rocking horses. We bounced on the four-seated rocker and acted like we were in a rodeo, riding the wild broncs. We were laughing until tears were streaming down our faces. It was a really fun day. Dad brought a cooler full of soda, gatorade, water and sandwich fixins, so we didn't purchase anything except the ice cream and driving range buckets.
* One day, Trucker and I took off on a picking trip up north to a location we've had good luck at in the past. While a lot of it was work, mostly it was fun. It's always great getting to hang out with him. We went yard saling, thrifting and got to pick a guy's shed. We ate lunch at a local restaurant, sang in the car to the radio and made jokes.
* For the 4th, we had 20+ friends and family members over for a cookout. My parents brought hillbilly golf and cornhole. Everyone had a good time.
* We went on a 2.75 mile hike at a local metro park. We watched lots of woodpeckers, bees, monarchs, and squirrels. Got some sunlight, fresh air and lots to look at in the woods and meadows.
* While my family fished at one park that was a series of ponds, I ran around the ponds and took photos. It was beautiful, especially since there were some wicked clouds in the sky.
* I lost a lot of weight over the last year and a half. Also, when I was in baking, I rarely went anywhere other than work and home, so I didn't bother buying much clothing other than jeans and the occasional t-shirt. As I've been getting my health under control, I've been enjoying getting dressed up more. So I have been concentrating on getting some nicer clothing that fits well. While we were out thrifting at half off days, I got a lot of nice, summery shirts and a few warm-weather dresses. I found a couple cheap dresses ($1.50-3) for winter and a running jacket to use in cold weather.($2.50).
* Got a refund check for $34 from our old internet provider. This will go into savings.
* Composted lots of random things.
* I used up random items from the frig in the potato salad.
* I made popsicles out of ingredients that needed to be used up quickly to prevent spoilage.
* We reused newspapers for packaging materials for sales we made online.
* This is our vacation week for July 4th. I got 10 days off straight. No pay for me since I'm part time.
* My bosses asked me if I wanted to work the last day of break to help get things ready for everyone coming back. I said yes. Since it was a Sunday, I got paid double-time. We only ended up working 4 hours, but that meant that I got paid for a full day.
* Trucker worked an extra day.
* Bought some good storage items for our pantry.
* We went on a picking trip one day. We got lots of good things for our stores. We got to talking with one guy who was having a yard sale and he ended up letting us pick his sheds. Farm fresh goodies!
* We scouted an antique mall that we are considering applying to.
* Continue to run most days (I do take the occasional rest day).
* I had a rough week food wise. I didn't eat the most nutritious food. I'll work at being better on this next week.
* It has rained 19 days straight. Covering my vacation. This messed me up emotional because I'd had elaborate plans that would have kept me outside almost constantly. I got frustrated halfway through break, but snapped out of it and ended the week well.
* I won't get a paycheck next week because of our break. However, the next paycheck will be larger than usual.
* My friend had a bunch of curtains that she no longer needed and she gave them to me. I was thrilled. We haven't hung curtains in the entire upstairs of the house yet, so now we have pretty sets to go everywhere. They are even a good fit for our color scheme. There was also one thermal curtain in the mix. We are going to save that for winter. The front door is leaky (it's on the to-fix list), and lets all the warm air out of the living room where we work most of the time in winter. We'll hang a shower curtain rod in that entraceway and hang the curtain to conserve the heat. It'll be a few dollars for the rod and we'll get a great fix for our chilly house come winter.
How was your week?