Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 11/16 - 11/22

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.
* I weatherized the rabbit hutches simply. I rolled the foil-backed bubble wrap insulation up one side, across the top and down the other side, tucking the edges under the edge of the cage. I ran a length across the back and overlapped the sides. I didn't insulate the front so they can get some fresh air. I used duct tape to cover the seams. I took an old blanket and laid it over the top and covered the whole thing (all four sides) with a tarp to keep out rain/snow. I am thinking of getting some straw bales to pack around three sides. They would provide insulation and in spring, they would have started decomposing and will make a fine mulch for the garden.

* Beans and toast is a fine breakfast (although Trucker would disagree with me). Garlic toast with baked beans...I don't think it gets much better.
* I pulled a package of frozen first-baked biscotti from the freezer. Once thawed, I sliced and baked it to have for snacking and breakfasts in the coming week.
* I used a baked spaghetti casserole for dinner one night. I mixed together the leftover spaghetti, leftover grilled peppers and onions, the cherry tomatoes that have ripened on the counter and a package of 1/4 lb of ground beef and enough tomato sauce to thoroughly coat it all. I packed it into a baking dish, added more tomato sauce (it gets too dry otherwise), topped with the last of a bag of cheese and a thorough coating of bread crumbs (saved in my bread crumbs bowl of items that would go bad, so I dry and powder them). I seasoned liberally with garlic salt, Italian seasoning and black pepper and baked at 350 degrees until the top was golden. Delicious, easy and really cheap.
* I used leftover breakfast sausages to make sausage gravy, with pop and bake biscuits I got on sale for $.29/can.
* We had BLTs with some fantastic $8/lb bacon that I got marked down to $2.50 (we saved half for other uses), lettuce and tomatoes from the garden (harvested green and ripened on the counter).
* We made breakfast sandwiches one morning. I used two leftover biscuits and made two sandwiches from bread, used the leftover bacon from BLT night and 4 eggs.
* At a barn sale, I found breakfast cereal on sale for $1/box or 6 for $5. The guy through in an extra box for free since it was badly crushed (but the bag was still intact). I gave one box to my parents.
* While at a flea market with my parents, we found a store that had half off everything except the jars. I got gelatin for half the price I usually pay ($1.50/lb), $.25/can tomato soup, $1.50 for daiquiri mix, $.25 bars of chocolate and...get this 100 protein bars/power gels/packages of cookies/snack packs of nuts. The last items were all in a bin marked 10 for $1, but were also half off, so it was 20 for $1. This was half the price I usually pay at the salvage grocer and I got to choose what I wanted. I grabbed all of the power gels they had, and Dad and I split all of the power bars and snack packs of nuts (he ended up getting 40 or 60 items). Since we all work in a factory, these will be perfect for carrying in the lunch box for break time snacks. Dad said that he had started slipping and buying a soda on break because he needed something to get him through the second half of the day (he works in a much more strenuous department), so he'll use the power bars to give him a boost and just drink water instead. So for him, he saves $.80 over buying a soda (so saves over $100 a year).

* We went out for a couple $3.18 coffee dates at our place that has a discount for bringing travel mugs and free refills.
*  Our local zoo puts on a huge Christmas lights display. It costs the same price to go in from 5-10 for the lights as it does to get in any day ($15 each per person, plus $8 parking). Needless to say, we haven't gone in over 5 years. However, this year we heard about a special benefit day for the local food bank. Anyone bringing in 5 non-perishable items would get free admission, and if you showed a can on your way in, you got free parking. I had bought items to donate to an annual benefit for the food bank we go to every year, but this year we'd both been working and had to miss it, so I already had the food. So basically, we got in free ( I got spices, chocolate syrup and some baking mixes as well as the typical tuna/canned veg items to add some variety). I brought coffee from home so we didn't have to buy anything while we were there. It was a great night. We laughed and talked a lot and got to see a lot of animals (others were indoors for the season/time of day). We got to go to the reptile house, the aquarium, the manatee exhibit, see the polar bears, reindeer, and the nocturnal animal house. Since we got in for free, I decided to splurge and got us tickets to ride the carousel for $1 each. I hadn't ridden in 20 years. It was so fun!
3D wood carving at a homesteader's store
* We'd had a lot going on for awhile earlier this fall so I hadn't been able to do anything for my mom's birthday. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I took her and my dad to Amish country on Saturday. It ended up being a really fun and frugal day. I found apple fritters on sale at the grocery store the day before, 4 for $2.50. I left one for Trucker's breakfast and used the other three for my parents' and my breakfast. For lunch, I took them to my favorite restaurant in the area. We each drank water and ordered off of the Just Right menu (the regular meals are too big for two people!). It was $25 plus tip. We went thrifting, antiquing and stopped at roadside sellers (My mom got a beautiful handmade basket at a good price  bought from a guy selling in the parking lot of the restaurant). We got some great food at great prices at a flea market and a barn sale (see above). My parents got some of their Christmas shopping done and I got some items to sell at our booth. We were leaving a flea market at closing time and the pretzel shop called out that we could get BOGO on the pretzels that were left, then offered buy one get two free. So for $3 we each got a huge soft pretzel. We brought travel mugs to get discounts on our coffee/hot chocolate on the drive. Not including groceries, I spent around $50 and $35 of that was dinner. The only items I bought for myself were a pair of earrings ($.50), a pair of sunglasses ($.75) and a Fiestaware coffee mug in my color (cobalt, $1).

* We drove around Amish country and loved seeing the leaves, the livestock, the hills studded in corn shocks and hay stacks and the beautiful colors of the sunset.

* While I was thrifting, I found a fitted sheet that fits our bed. Since fitted sheets wear out much quicker than top sheets and pillowcases, I end up with partial sets. Stores don't seem to sell fitted sheets alone anymore (probably to force you to buy a whole new set). It is a white sheet and don't go with any of my sets. I'm going to look out for a dye kit on a good sale to dye it a color that compliments my current sets.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of weird things.

* I worked an extra shift at my regular job.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked.
* Trucker found out that his job gives him free food! Score! He can make whatever he wants (with the exception of a few very high priced items) to eat and can drink free soda/tea/coffee. We won't have to pack lunches for him anymore.

* I actually went for a run one day. It was only a mile, and I have definitely lost some conditioning, but at least I got back out there! I also went on a couple short walks.
* I haven't been making stock lately because the meat we've found on sale has been boneless. So to get my supply of gelatin, I've been drinking hot gelatin. My grandma used to feed it to me when I had a tummy upset, and it's as lovely now as it was then.

* One day at work I was really tired. A coworker offered me a couple chocolate covered espresso beans to give me a little kick to get through the shift. It was so sweet of him. We got to talking and he mentioned how his wife buys them for him in the city when she goes shopping with her friends, but because of the road construction, she hasn't been able to get any lately and he's running low. Since I drive right by the store she gets them at, I offered to stop and get some for him. It didn't take much extra time since I was able to do some grocery shopping there anyway, and he was able to get some to last him until the construction is done. I love having community like this!
* Trucker made me a beautiful jewelry organizer for my necklaces. He made it out of some old wooden frames we had in the craft room. Is this not the best gift?
 How was your week?

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