Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 9/14 - 9/27

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.

Life gets in the way of life sometimes, it seems. Last week was crazy, I worked every day and barely recognized what day of the week it was because all I thought of was which job I was working in the morning. Phew. This week, Trucker and I had a much needed talk, ran the numbers on our bills and income and decided that it was not necessary for me to be working this much. So starting this coming week, I'm limiting myself to no more than 4 days at the farm or factory. Considering that I still have writing to do, etsy listings to post, and pricing and cleaning the booth in preparation for the big party next week, this will still be a lot of work, but manageable. Hopefully. Sorry I wasn't able to get the blog post out last week. By the time I realized it hadn't been finished, it was Thursday of the next week so I decided to combine the two weeks.

* I continue to feed the bunnies tree trimmings. They love them. Nurse Ratched was the slowest to warm up to eating greens, but now, when I give her fresh food and water, she'll still beg for greens and devour them before eating anything else.
* I harvested 2 cups of lettuce.
* I harvested a cup or so of snap beans.

* We had tacos one evening made with 1/2 lb ground pork (I cooked the rest and saved for later), greens from the garden, salsa, sour cream and black olives. I also served pan-fried corn with jalapenos and garlic (peppers and garlic from the garden). Delicious meal.
* One busy evening, we used our rewards to get a free pizza from a chain (the points would have expired in a couple days). We ate half the pizza and the other half was lunch (with roasted brussells sprouts and peppers on the side).
* Went on my major grocery shopping trip for the month. I had some great scores for the week and to preserve for later: 6 poblano peppers ($.61), a huge bunch of turnip greens ($.89), 2 3-lb bags of onions (BOGO, so $.33/lb), 4 lbs of popcorn ($1/lb), 2 3-lb bags of carrots ($2.39, so $.40/lb), chicken breasts for $1.10/lb, ripe bananas (4 lbs for $.29/lb), 10 lb bag of potatoes ($2.49), a pound of bacon (free with coupon), a gallon of cider ($2.99), 3 lb of ground beef ($8.49). I got a coupon for $1 off the produce.
* I made a wonderful chicken noodle soup one day when I wasn't feeling well. I cooked all of the chicken breasts (about 7 lbs) in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours. I added some chicken bouillon cubes (I don't usually use them, but I'd gotten them for almost free awhile back. I keep them on hand for days when I need soup, but don't have homemade stock). At this point, the meat was quite tender. I removed the breasts, shredded two with a fork, and froze the rest for future meals. I strained the cooking liquid. I sauteed 2 small onions, a whole head of garlic (lots of alliums to help my immune sys), a banana pepper, half a zucchini, 2 ribs of celery and 2 large carrots. I cooked 1/2 lb of fettucini, broken into thirds in the chicken cooking water, and added the shredded chicken and veggies. I seasoned it with italian seasoning and garlic salt. It was fantastic. It cost about $2.25 and made enough for 7 meal-sized portions. It was dinner that night, with plenty of leftovers for the coming week when we'll be working some opposite shifts. Neither of us likes to cook for just one (but love cooking for each other), so we tend to just nibble instead of eating real meals on days that we work opposite shifts. By putting in a little effort on my day off, we can just reheat a real-foods meal for a healthy, but easy meal.
* I had friends over for dinner one evening. I grilled: bacon cheeseburgers, bacon wrapped stuffed hot dogs (stuffed with sauteed peppers, caramelized onions and chipotle jack cheese), zucchini and bell peppers. One friend brought a hot chicken dip and chips. The other friend brought a loaf of cinnamon bread and a jar of pickled garlic scapes (which I've just been nibbling straight out of the jar). For dessert, I made grilled bananas with whipped cream, a dusting of cinnamon and a drizzle of goats milk caramel.
* I caramelized 4 lbs of onions. They are so fantastic to put on everything, but take awhile to make. I needed them for when I had company over, and since it would take the same amount of time to make a huge batch, I did. They last a long time in the refrigerator.
* I made an apple crisp for breakfasts.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated lots of peppers from the grocery and garden and tomatoes from the garden.

* We got a free date at our regular coffee spot. I had a free pastry from my birthday and they had a promotion for free refills with a travel mug. Score!
* My friend took me to a meadery tasting and tour. She won the passes at a charity dinner raffle earlier this year. It was so sweet of her to take me, and I always have a great time hanging out with her. The mead was amazing, the tour fascinating and the company perfect. After the mead had worn off, we went out for tacos al pastor at this fabulous hole-in-the-wall taqueria she introduced me to. Fantastic. I got three tacos that pretty much filled me up for $4.50. Afterwards, we went to a thrift store. I got three items for the booth and a pair of winter boots ($6, new with tags, adorable black booties). Overall frugal day out.
* We went out to see a movie with our Movie Lovers Meetup group. Since we got the group rate, it was only $6 each (about matinee price around here). While we usually wait and go to the second run theatre or try to score free screening tickets, we were both really excited about this particular movie and are trying to make more friends. We really enjoy the discussions with this movie lovers group.

* We went hiking at a lake we love. The trail is a 4 mile loop that goes through meadow, grass, and forest. It's perfect!
* Another day we went walking around a park of Native American mounds.

* I got gas at my job where it was $.20/gallon cheaper.
* When I went thrifting with my friend, I talked myself out of every purchase I could. I only ended up buying 3 items that I knew I could easily sell with a good margin and just one pair of winter boots (even though I tried on 10 pairs).

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of weird things.

* Trucker brought home goodies from his job. We used these for breakfast most mornings.
* I worked over 1/2 hour one day.
* I picked up an extra shift at my regular job.
* I worked 3 days at the farmers market over the two weeks. I think this may have been my last week at this job, but I'm not sure yet.
* I was able to bring home an overripe cantaloupe, 2 busted zucchini and several peppers with bad spots. Cut out the bad spots and it's still delicious.

* We went out picking one morning and found the yard sale to end all yard sales. Lots of great vintage finds and everything was $.25. I scored some great stuff for the booth and etsy.

* I made some tinctures with vodka and herbs from the co-op.
* I haven't been running as much since I started working 6 days a week (both of my jobs are physical; the farm more than the factory, but I'm tired after a day at either). I ran two days each week. I'd planned to run more, but got sick the second half of the second week. I pretty much lay in bed for 3 days.

* I got sick at the end of week 2 and wasn't able to work any extra days that week.

* I had brought a cookie to one of my coworkers for her birthday last week (bought at an ethnic bakery on my trip). When I worked with her this week, she brought me a couple cookies she'd baked at home for my birthday. They were delicious!
* My parents gave me 5 plastic grocery bags filled with apples from their garden! Have to get cooking!
How was your week?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 9/7 - 9/13

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 a few cups of green beans and a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
* Harvested tons of basil to everything!
* I picked up a couple pine cones and threw them to the bunnies. They seemed to enjoy nibbling them. I fed them leafy twigs.
Mustard seeds harvested from my shade garden.
* I'm thinking that for winter, I'm going to move the rabbit hutches as the weather permits.  As soon as the first bed is bare for winter, I'm going to lay cardboard to cover the bed to smother weeds (I barely touched the garden this year, so there are lots and lots of weeds). I'll position the hutches over the bed on cinder blocks and let the waste fall directly onto the beds. I'll cover occasionally with crumbled leaves raked this autumn. As it gets a good covering, I'll move it to another bed. This will save handling the waste and get it breaking down in place.
* My mustard patch went to seed a bit ago and the seedpods were pretty dry. I pulled up three plants and took them inside. I let them dry for another couple days. I popped open the seed pods over a bowl. I ended up with about a tablespoon of mustard seed. Obviously, this will not save me a fortune or greatly contribute to our food needs for the year; however, it was still worth doing. It took 5 minutes, used something that would otherwise have just gone to waste (the rest of the plant will still go in to the compost), and will give a bit more flavor to our winter's meals. A thousand small savings add up.

* I bought a container of salsa with part of my pay from the farmers market. It is perfect and lovely. My farmer friend makes it himself, and it is seriously the best salsa I've ever had.
* We grilled out one evening. I made bacon wrapped hot dogs (Oh my!), green bell peppers, cherry bomb peppers, a yellow tomato (not the best thing ever), and corn on the cob. It was a lovely meal.
* I've been snacking on overripe/damaged cantaloupes from the farm constantly. One day I got a watermelon that had a bad spot. I was still able to salvage half of the flesh. Low-calorie, high-nutrient and free. Best guilt free snack ever.
* I went to the grocery and spent $12. I got: 3+ lbs of organic bananas ($.45/lb!), a container of sour cream, a pack of 6 crab cakes (marked down to $2), a lb of prepped Brussels sprouts and red peppers for roasting (marked down to $2; I don't usually buy pre-prepped foods, but if it is cheaper per pound, I will sometimes), a loaf of bread (marked down from $1.50 to $.79), a dozen extra-large eggs (It cost $.10 more to get XLG than LG eggs, but gives an extra 3 oz of egg per dozen. I don't know why this matters. LOL) and a pound of shredded cheddar cheese.

This monster zucchini weighed over 5 lbs!
Food Preservation:
* I put 8 containers of plain tomato sauce into the freezer (made Saturday before our trip). Each container is enough for one meal of tomato sauce over pasta or a meal of tomato soup with grilled cheese. Not too bad. This will pack a lot of nutrition into our winter meals.
* I froze 3 large containers of tomato juice strained from the tomatoes as I cooked them into sauce. These will be used for a nutritious drink, added to bloody marys, or used as a soup base (I save the rinse water from tomato sauce containers as the base for my Trash Chili).
* I grated and froze 17.75 pounds of monster zucchini (free from my farmer friend) in 2 cup portions. This will be used for baking all winter long.

* For my birthday, I like to get out of town. Need to get out of town. I get really antsy if I'm stuck in one place for too long, and my birthday gives me the perfect excuse to go. Sometimes we take a day trip and just jump on the highway and drive til we see something worth stopping. This time, we went to our old city to explore and to visit my in-laws for two days. We were able to do it on the cheap and still had a ball.
* I booked the hotel on I use them because I get a free night's stay after 10 nights. I booked a hotel that was cheaper, but not seedy (the last time we stayed at a seedy hotel, we were given the key to someone else's room twice and one time ended up walking in!). We stayed out of the city limits and saved $30 that way. Because we were going to be very busy both days, I didn't get a hotel with gym/pool like I usually do. It did have a free breakfast which we enjoyed. We got waffles, bananas, milk, juice, cereal and coffee. It filled us up enough to not need to eat a big lunch.
* Our first day there, Trucker's family took us out for dinner. It was nice getting to catch up a bit.
* It was Labor Day weekend, so three thrift store chains in the city were having half off days. We hit a dozen. I'm such an easy-to-please girl. Some guys have to buy expensive jewelry, plan elaborate dates, etc. Me? All I want is to go thrifting. We got items for our booth and a few things for the house. We didn't spend much, but got some cool things.
* We stopped at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria for tacos al pastor and Mexican coke. Because yum.
* I bought some produce out of a truck: 1 lb tomatillos, 6 peaches, 2 ears of corn, a huge beefsteak tomato, and a few peppers: $3.
I had been needing to get some new
art for the house. I got two farm
paintings to go in the hallway
downstairs. I also got an ocean and
sunset painting for the bathroom.
The pink of the sunset matches the
color of the bathroom walls.
* We FINALLY got out to a metropark this week. After work one day, we were discussing how we should spend our evening and Trucker said he really needed to get out into nature. We drove to a metropark 2 miles from home and did 3.5 miles.

* I bought gas at work since it was $.30-.40 cheaper than the gas stations in my city.

Waste Reduction:
* Composted lots of weird things.
* I strained off tomato juice from the tomatoes I was cooking down. Not only did I save the liquid from just evaporating, giving me a nutritious drink, but I reduced the amount of cooking time and thus the amount of gas needed to make the sauce thick enough.
* I took home unsaleable produce from my farm gig (with permission, of course).

* I worked at the farmers market 3 days this week. I brought home 3 overripe cantaloupes, 2 cracked bell peppers and 1 soft tomato.
* Trucker brought home sweets from his job, including some chocolate almond biscotti that rocks my world.
* We were shut down on the holiday, but I worked an extra day on Friday to make up for the loss in pay.
* I worked an hour overtime one day.

* Put lots more food into storage.

* We got our second paycheck from the booth. We increased our sales over the last period by 78%. We ended up making a profit over the booth rent and the purchase price of the items that sold. This does not factor in the amount we spent on shelving and the items that haven't sold yet. However, if we were to move out of the booth, we would still have the items to use/sell. We're learning a lot. There were a couple of items that we tried out just to see. Some of them sold immediately and so we look out for them every time we go out. For example, chicken figurines. Heaven knows why, but I can't keep them in stock. Three days between placing and selling, every time. Also, suitcases. We have had good luck finding some really nice ones.

* I've been watching what I eat and drink and am back to my normal weight.
* I wear ear plugs at work to protect my hearing.

* I wasn't able to work Monday because we were shut down for the holiday. However, I was able to pick up another shift that week to make up for it.

How was your week?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 8/31 - 9/6

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.

This week was crazy busy, so this won't be the most complete list of events. Frankly, I've worked 70+ hours at the various jobs this week, and it's been so long since I had a day off that I can't remember which things I did this week and which were last week. However, this is a short term situation that is going to get us where we want to be, so I'm sucking it up. Hopefully next week's post will be more detailed.

* I harvested sauce tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, snap beans, basil, and peppers.
* I fed the bunnies weeds and leafy twigs.

* I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast one morning. I froze half of the rolls to use another time. Less for us to snack on in the next couple of days, and saves money later.
* I made eggplant Parmesan with the eggplant I got for free from my job (it had a scar on it, so was unsaleable). This is one of my favorite meals.
* Trucker found a steak on manager's special. One day when I got home from work, he'd made dinner: steak, baked potatoes and roasted veggies. Delicious and so sweet of him to do for me after I'd had a rough day.
* I made stir fry with 1/4 of the steak leftover from Trucker's dinner. I also used 2 summer squash, 3 cherry bomb peppers, green beans from the garden, snow peas from the manager's special rack, two ribs of celery, and garlic. I served over rice with sweet chili sauce ($2.50 for a huge bottle at the ethnic grocery).

Food Preservation:
* I preserved more tomatoes, all of the peppers from the flea market (Hungarian Wax and jalapeno), jalapenos from home, some poblano peppers from the manager's special cart and green beans from the garden. I didn't have enough of any particular thing to do an entire load, so I just mixed them all together. The tomatoes and beans might soak up a little bit of heat, but that won't be a problem.
* I froze more bananas from the manager's special cart.
* I dehydrated 20 pounds of tomatoes as pizza chips.
* I froze more tomato soup for later.

* We took a trip to our old city for my birthday and to see Trucker's family. Since it was on Sunday and Monday, I'll talk about the trip on next week's post.

* I redeemed $25 in rewards points on my credit card. I used that money to pay down debt.
* I received a shampoo and condition sample set. I was able to stretch it for a week's worth of hair washing.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of weird things.
* I made tomato soup with the scraps leftover from preserving tomatoes.
* I cooked with bacon fat.

* I worked at the farmers market three times. Someone gave me a free bag of kettle corn at one market and life was good.
* My farmer friend sold me canner tomatoes at just over half the going rate. I got 53 lbs of tomatoes (regularly $35) for $20.  So for that 4.5 hours I worked, I came home with $35 worth of tomatoes, $30, and a cantaloupe that was a tad overripe (which is perfect for me. $67.50 total, for an hourly rate of $15 (and the produce was a bargain at that!)
* I worked over 45 minutes one day and a half hour the next.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked.
* Trucker brought home a huge box full of biscotti from his job. It is the end pieces that are too small to cut into salable pieces. Instead of throwing them away, the baker gives them to us. I cut them down and bake them the second time. They are incredible (almond and cinnamon? What could be better). This time there are so many that I will freeze some for later.

* Put up more food for winter.

* I went picking one day when I was way early for work at the farmers market. I was very picky, so I didn't spend much, but got good pieces.
* We still have a week until our next paycheck at the booth, but I saw a lot of holes when I stopped to restock and freshen up.
* I listed more items on my etsy store. After 6 months, I've figured out what sells for me and that's all I'm listing at present. Maybe I'll try more things later, but this is it for now. Etsy brings in some sales, but it isn't going to be a living wage, so it is lower priority than the booth.
* Trucker got some good items for our booth at an online auction.
* Trucker got a few articles accepted, two for a very popular website.

* I went running a couple of times, and once for a 1 hour 45 minute walk.
* Focused on drinking more water.
* I wore ear plugs at work each day.

* When I was running one day, a neighbor ran out of the house and stopped me. We chatted for a bit and she said that she wanted to start exercising with me. We went out for a power walk one morning for an hour and forty five minutes! It was great chatting and having a workout buddy. Hopefully this works out.
* I brought snacks to the farmers market to share with the girl I was working with.
How was your week?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 8/24 - 8/30

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 several handfuls of fresh basil.
* Harvested several cherry tomatoes.
* Harvested 1/2 cup of green beans.
* Harvested several peppers.
* Fed weeds and twigs to the bunnies. I fed them their pellets one day, refilled their water bottles then broke off some green twigs from the rowdy treeline. When I brought them to the hutches, Nurse Ratched actually squealed before devouring the leaves and gnawing on the twigs. Too cute! She's growing on me, due in large part to the fact that she hasn't drawn blood in two months.

* I made beef stew out of random items from the frig: the last half of a steak, the leftover mashed potatoes, the last of a carton of mashed potato soup (from the salvage grocer) that we didn't quite care for but wasn't bad enough to toss, carrots, peppers, cauliflower (never would have planned to put that in, but it needed used up. It was an incredible addition), corn, and lots of garlic (from the garden; because everything I make needs to have garlic in it). We had it two days as is, and the last of it was served over egg noodles. The leftovers of the noodles and stew was Trucker's lunch for work one day.
* I stopped at my salvage grocer. I got lots of goodies: .75/lb bag of jerky for $5, 10 oz bags of coffee for $.99, a huge jar of tomato sauce for $1, cans of buffalo chicken for $.49 (for 1/2 lb), toilet paper (100% post-consumer material, $.99/4 pk), pickles ($.49/jar), bag of 40 protein bars for $4 (these are great for work-day breakfasts and after work snacks for the 1.5 hour drive home).
* I got some produce off of a manager's special cart: 1 lb of snow peas ($.99), a huge bag of cherry bomb peppers ($.99), a bag of green medium heat peppers ($.99), 2 lbs of yellow summer squash ($.99). Not too bad. I'll likely preserve some of the peppers for later.
* While at a flea market, I got two big bags of peppers: Hungarian Wax (one of my favorites) and these lovely huge jalapenos. Each bag was $1 for about 1 1/2 lbs.

Food Preservation:
* Continue to dehydrate tomatoes.
* Froze 5 bananas that were getting a little too dark (I stock up every time I find them below $.40/lb and freeze whatever we can't use for making my chocolate shakes or smoothies).
* I froze 2 portions of tomato soup that was leftover from another meal. These will go into work lunches.

* Trucker and I are on a mailing list to get free movie screening tickets. This week we were able to respond in time to get two tickets. We got a free date one evening.
* Another night we went out to a free movie. This one we got on our coupon sheet from finishing the summer reading program at the library. This coupon was expiring this week, so we wanted to use it up. The other coupons are good for another movie. We got to see a movie we were really excited about; tickets usually cost $10. We didn't buy any snacks and we even found free street parking.
* We had my family out for dinner one evening. I made a nice dinner. I served bacon cheeseburgers (clearance-price beef, clearance-price bacon, store-brand american cheese) on wheat hamburger buns (manager's special for $.39) with lettuce (from the garden), pickles (salvage grocer) and tomatoes (free from my second job). I grilled summer squash (manager's special), potatoes (on sale for $.20/lb), and peppers (manager's special). We drank coffee and koolaid. Afterwards, we took my parents to see the antique booth. We'd waited to surprise them until after it was set up. They were excited to see it.
* We had one of our friends over for breakfast one morning. I made fried eggs and bacon, and served it with bacon cheddar scones from Trucker's job. We had orange juice ($.90/from concentrate) and coffee (from the salvage grocer) to drink. Afterwards, we went to a flea market together. He has been asking us to go for months, but we never had a free weekend day available. We had a good time.

* I curb shopped a stool while on my run. It has an ugly top, so I plan to make a little cushion that matches the kitchen.
* I paid off one of my medical debts, the biggest one. Now I just have a little one left to go!

Waste Reduction:
* I made another batch of tomato soup from scraps from dehydrating.
* I composted weird things, like dryer lint, junk mail, and cat hair.
* We shipped items we sold online using all salvaged materials.
* I crumbled up some of the scones that we didn't get a chance to eat to use as breadcrumbs. I picked out the bacon and cheddar from the scones and added it to a pot of soup. Sounds weird, but waste not, want not!

* Packed lunches.
* Worked at farmers market 2 days.
* I was able to bring home some produce that would otherwise have been thrown away: a cracked watermelon, a split pepper, and an eggplant with a funky spot.
* Trucker brought home a big bag of goodies.

* At a yard sale I found some window insulation/plastic kits for $.50 each and bought two. We want to weatherize the whole house before winter this year, so I've been storing up supplies.

This picture is from early on at the booth. We've since replaced
the two small shelves behind the black end tables with taller
shelves, moved the linens over to the top of a trunk and have the
crate hidden away for now until we can use it better.
* We got our first paycheck from the antique booth! The booth was pretty bare the first 10 of 15 days in the pay period (I'd say we are just now getting to be fully stocked). Even so, we made half of rent, and there is a definite learning curve to this whole thing. So, while I still am not expecting to become rich off of this, we aren't losing money! And that is about as solid of a start as you can hope for.
* We went out picking together a lot. We've been going out for all morning picking trips. We bring our travel mugs of coffee and I pack a lunch. He's so fun to just be around, so it's really a date, even though we're working.
* We brought lots of items up to the booth. It's so fun getting there, rearranging things, looking for holes, stocking, talking with people. Love it!
* Trucker's article was accepted to a major magazine! I am so excited for him and insanely proud. I first got to know Trucker all those years ago through his writing, and I still get to learn about him through it now, after being together over 8 years.

* I've been continuing to run on a regular basis.
* My diet was a wreck this week and I'm feeling it (I am also certain I'm looking it, although Trucker tells me otherwise. Lovely man). Definitely reinforced my determination to eat better.

* My parents let us borrow their truck to move things up to the booth so we didn't have to pay $65+gas to rent a truck for 3 hours. It was at 1/4 a tank when I got it; I filled it up all the way. Even with the extra gas, it was still half the price of renting.
* I got Trucker a just-because gift. While I was at the library, I saw a book for sale that was by his favorite author. If I'd ordered it online, it would have been $8 including shipping. I paid $2.25.

How was your week?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...