Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Fine Art of Line Drying

I don't know what it is, but I feel like the perfect little housewife when I line dry clothes. It's really the only chore that I absolutely, thoroughly enjoy. And why not? I get to be outside on a perfect day in the sunlight and fresh air while burning about 70 calories in a half hour. Perfect! It saves money on gas/electric if using a machine you own or the stacks of quarters needed for a pay-machine. Dryer lint is basically just your clothes shredding, so line drying helps your clothes last a little longer. There's every reason to line dry your clothes. Here are my tips and tricks for efficiently and easily line drying all of our clothes.

Buy clothespins from the dollar stores. A big pack of wooden ones costs $1 (for 36 at Dollar Tree) and lasts just as long as more expensive ones. Keep an eye out for clothespins at thrift stores too. You can really never have enough.

Don't buy the cheap rope clotheslines that the dollar store sells. They are a little cheaper, but they do not last as long as a nice, plastic encased line. Worse yet, they will start shedding and will leave fuzz all over your clothes. As it is, the price difference is negligible: $1 for a cheap line, $4-6 for a nice line. When you consider that you'll go through 2 (at least) in the first year if you leave them in the elements, whereas the nicer ones will last for years, it's a no-brainer. Plus you don't have to try to dust off the fuzz from your hubby's favorite t-shirt without him noticing.

When you hang your clothesline, stretch it as tight as possible and leave a tail when you cut off the excess. As you hang clothes, the line with stretch a little or a lot depending on the quality of the line. If you leave a tail, you can pull it tight and retie as needed.

You can use as clothespin bag to hold your pins while you work, or keep them all in a clothespin apron (basically a half apron with a giant front pocket for holding the pins). I don't have either. I have a pretty basket that I put on my patio table (right next to my line). I pin a dozen or so pins onto my shirt, grab a handful of clothes and go hang. It's not pretty, but it works until I get around to modifying one of my aprons.

If you have your choice of weather, go for a warm, low-humidity day with a good breeze. This will ensure that your clothes dry quickly. Also, windy days make for softer clothes which makes for happier families.

If the weather is uncooperative (as I write this, we've had rain 28 of the last 30 days), you can still hang dry clothes, you just have to hang them inside. Get creative with this. Hang light items from hangers on the shower rod (don't hang too many or too heavy items or it will fall). Use clothespins to hang items from a wire shelf (again, stick to lighter items) or a thin towel rod. If your wire shelf is securely fastened to the wall, you can hang some lighter items from hangers slid in between the wires. Hang items from door handles or bathrobe hooks. Hang items from the oven door handle. Drape items over the back of wooden chairs. Drape items over stairway banisters. Lay items such as sweaters or shirts flat on a table, counter or the washing machine. Or you could go conventional and get an indoor clothes drying racks. Whatever.

In my old apartment, there were hooks in the basement where we washed our laundry. We strung up a clothesline and were able to line dry regardless of the weather. This basement wasn't very musty or humid, so this worked well. Clothes took longer to dry than outside, but it was a workable option, especially in winter.

If you have a "hang dry" setting on your washer, use it. This will spin the clothes longer to get them a bit dryer before you line dry them. If you don't have the option, simply set your dryer to spin dry a second time. In fact, this is a good tip even if you use the dryer as you can run the dryer for less time.

Make allowances as necessary for family bliss. Trucker is all for my efforts to save money and act in an environmentally responsible manner. What he's not a fan of is crusty jeans, towels and socks. Fair enough. I don't want to force him to wear uncomfortable jeans and have him snap and declare that all of his clothes much be machine dried. Instead, I line dry everything, then take down the items that are very rough, and toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes. It softens them just enough to be comfortable for him, but not long enough to make much of an impact on our energy bill. I soften our towels, jeans and socks; nothing else is crunchy enough to need it.

If you have to pay for use of a dryer, the above tip won't help you, since you'd still have to pay $1.50 for the 10 minutes. Instead, wait until you have a few loads of laundry to wash. Wash all the loads at once, then separate out the items you want to dry in the machine from the ones you are okay with line drying. Usually, you can consolidate three or four loads of wash into one load for the dryer. Line dry the other 2-3 loads and you'll save $3-4.50. This was my method when we lived in an apartment with pay-appliances.

I generally sort my clothes as they come out of the wash into my large basket. I put heavy items on the bottom, then have one corner of shirts, one corner of underwear, one of socks and one of dish towels/wash cloths/rags. This makes it easier and more efficient when hanging the clothes. Also, my clothesline will hang two medium-large loads of laundry, but I usually end up washing three loads. I start by hanging the light items from the first load, then work to the heavier items. I do the same with the second load. By the time the third load is coming out of the wash, the some of the lighter items are dry and I can remove them and start hanging items from the third load. Yes, I am aware that my OCD is showing. But it works.

As you pull damp clothes from the bin, give them a good snap. This will make for softer, less-wrinkled clothes. (This tip is also good for machine drying as it prevents tangled up messes that take longer to dry).

On sunny days, turn jeans and dark clothes inside out to prevent fading. Make sure to remove dark items as soon as they are dry. For whites that need brightening, leave them out in the sun as long as you please as the sun acts as a nice, natural bleach.

On really windy days, overlap an inch of fabric from each piece over the line and put the clothespin over both layers. This will keep the clothes from blowing off onto the ground.

If you are running out of space or clothespins, you can run a row of dishcloths or other lighter items together. Overlap the corner of the two pieces and use one clothespin to hang it. You can run this as long as you'd like. This saves enough space to add a couple more items and uses one less clothespin per item. This will take a little longer to dry, but helps in a pinch. You can also hang them using just one clothespin, but I find this tugs them out of shape, so I prefer this method. If you have plenty of space and pins, use two pins per piece. Hang dishtowels with a button-closure hanger by fastening over the line. This saves space and clothespins.

Towels are draped over the line. After awhile, if I remember, I flip them around. I'm not sure if this speeds dry-time, but I do it anyway. To dry them faster, hang in a single layer horizontally, fastening with 3-4 clothespins.

I drape sheets in half across the line and fasten a few pins along the length to keep it from blowing off if it's breezy. Blankets are draped in half also, and flipped after an hour or so.

I hang socks by the cuffs. Most people have told me the proper way is by the toe, but Trucker thinks this makes the toes wear out faster. Again, family bliss. I hang them by the cuffs. You can hang pairs together if you'd like to save hands-on time, although it may increase dry time.

Underwear is hung using two pins if I am trying to dry items quickly or by one if I am running short of space and/or pins. I hang boxers by the waistband with two pins. I drape bras over the line and fasten the clasp.

I hang t-shirts and tank tops by the bottom, using 2-3 pins per piece. I button dress shirts, then use 3 clothespins, one on each side and one in the middle.

Dresses can be hung from the top using a 2-3 pins depending on the dress. I often hang them on a hanger and hang these either on the line or inside.

I hang pants/jeans by the legs. Some people hang them from the waistband saying it dries them faster. However, the weight of the waistband gently tugs the pants down, eliminating wrinkles.

When the items are dry, I bring out two baskets, 1 large and 1 small. I first take off every piece that I want to fluff in the dryer: jeans, socks and towels. I toss these into the small basket and take it all in immediately to the dryer. I toss it all in at once and set for 5-10 minutes. Then I go back out to the rest of the laundry. I take down items by type, jeans/pants first, then t-shirts/tanks, then underwear. I fold each piece as I go and place Trucker's items on one side of the large basket and mine on the other. When all other items are removed, I drape dress shirts and dresses over the top so they don't get wrinkled before I have the chance to get it on a hanger. By the time I'm done removing and folding these items, the dryer is done and I can fold those items.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips to share with everyone?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 7/20 - 7/26

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 2 cups of greens.
* Harvested 1/2 lb of snap beans-Dean's Purple podded, Blue Lake, Appaloosa and Jacob's Cattle.
* Harvested 80+ heads of garlic. Most were on the smaller side compared to last year. This was for a variety of reasons: I planted them closer than last year, the weather has been terrible, that garden bed wasn't fertilized before planting, I planted new varieties that were smaller than the variety I grew the previous year, and I bought random heads of garlic from various farmers instead of buying "growing" garlic. I'm not sure what combination of those things lead to the smaller heads (except, of course, the smaller varieties), but I still got a nice sized harvest overall. I planted 80+ heads in the same space I planted 40 in last year. Even with them being smaller, I got a larger overall harvest per square foot, so I consider it a success. Also, I planted mainly hardneck garlic and got a huge harvest of garlic scapes this year. I may space them out a bit more in the coming year, but overall I am happy.
* Continue to feed weeds to the bunnies. They get so excited when I come up with the greens. Also, all of the bunnies, including the Nurse, have gotten more comfortable with me petting them.

* I made colcannon and sausages for breakfast one morning. I fried sausages in my cast iron skillet. I harvested kale and lettuce from the front-garden container, added garlic and leftover mashed potatoes with some frozen and thawed yogurt (that had a weird texture after thawing but is safe). I fried it all in a bit of bacon fat. This is one of my favorite dishes ever. It's delicious, flexible, a great way to use up leftovers and it is a great, filling meal.
* I made frozen mochas for us one day. We had some instant mocha powder that someone gave us but we never got around to using. I added some to a couple frozen bananas, some yogurt and a bit of ice with a squirt of chocolate syrup. Delicious and much healthier than frozen mochas that you can buy at a coffee house.
* I had a good day of grocery shopping. I shopped exclusively from the manager's specials. I got 8 cans of organic cat food for $.25/can, a box of Chex for $.99, over a pound of ground chicken for $1.88, 1 pound of pork for $1.40, 2 packs of pita bread for $.49/each, a loaf of pickle rye for $.39 and a loaf of baked-in-store 100% whole grain bread for $.39. I froze all except one loaf of bread.
* I made chicken tacos one evening using 1/2 of the chicken, lettuce from the garden, salsa, the last of the tortillas and plain yogurt since I had no sour cream.

Food Preservation:
* Froze another 3 dozen ears of corn. I'm set for winter!

* Trucker and I went to see Shakespeare in the Park, put on by a local theatre troup. Free event. We brought bottles of homemade iced tea and a bucket of popcorn I made right before we left.
* I went out to lunch with a couple of friends from an old job since one of them was visiting from out of state for the weekend. I got the cheapest brunch they had ($6). I parked at a meter that had 3 hours left on it, so parking was free.
* My friend took me out for coffee one afternoon since she had a gift card. We had a great time catching up.
* A friend and I went to the summer film series showing of Young Frankenstein at a nice theatre downtown. I'd bought a strip of 10 tickets for $25 at the beginning of the season, so I treated. Cheap little outing, but we had a blast. She is also a fan of Mel Brooks, so it was perfect.

* I got gas at my job and saved $.30/gallon.
* I got Trucker's oil changed while he was at work one day. I had planned on going to the antique mall to talk with the manager a bit and measure our booth, so I looked up oil change services within walking distance. Then I looked up coupons online. I found that one had a coupon for $17 oil change. I dropped off the car, walked to the antique mall and by the time I was done, so was the car. That saved gas since I was able to combine trips.
* I hand washed a bunch of linens to decorate our booth and to sell. I line dried two loads of laundry.
* I line dried a few loads of laundry.

Waste Reduction:
* Curb shopped for decorating our booth.

* I worked 45 minutes overtime this week.
* We both packed lunch each day we worked.

* Froze more food for the winter.

* I went out thrifting and yard saling for items for display and decoration for our booth. I needed to get some good lighting. I wanted to keep all of the lighting vintage so I could slap a price on it and keep with the overall feel. I scored big! I got a so-awful-it's-great lamp of a lady wearing a lace dress. There's a light on her head and under her dress.  At a yard sale I got a wood and milk glass lamp and 3 wall-hanging glass lights. I found two giant fruit baskets (these are the perfect size to line with the burlap coffee sacks Trucker gets for free from his job), a large basket with a handle, a three-tier wire basket with chipped white paint , and a large, flat wooden box with Japanese writing on it.
* We are spending a lot of time pricing items for our booth. One afternoon, I went to the antique mall to see approximately what others were pricing like at this location. We are racing the clock now. Less than a week til move-in! The kitchen is full of items needing to be washed on one side, and drying items on the other (on towels draped over every flat surface). The living room is full of items that are awaiting pricing or that are priced and packed into boxes. Phew.
* We curb shopped a lovely old wooden ladder. We'll put this over the top of the booth and hang items from it.

* Continue to run most days. I'm able to run farther than I imagined I would a year and a half ago. Very exciting.
* My weight has stabilized at roughly where I want to be. I would ideally like to lose another 5-10 pounds, but feel I'm at a fair weight for me. My focus is mainly on getting more fit rather than just seeing that number on the scale drop.

* My friend's friend is moving and was going to throw away some things. Instead, he offered them to my friend. I drove her over to his place to pick up the boxes and helped her move them. They gave me a pressure cooker/canner since they knew I was wanting to learn to can this year! So sweet.

How was your week?

Monday, July 20, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 7/13 - 7/19

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 fed the bunnies lots of weeds. I've noticed a bit of a problem. Now that I've been better about mowing as often as my neighbors would want (haha), the weeds don't get as big, so it takes me a lot longer to harvest what the bunnies need. I may need a wild area that I seed to dandelions and plantains and leave to grow lush. Or start poaching from some of the abandoned properties I run by.
* Harvested 3 cups of green beans.
* Harvested 3 baby radishes.
* While I was at a thrift store, I found a rabbit water bottle for $2. I have three for my breeding trio, but need a few more for when the babies go into the tractor. These usually sell for $5-7. My total cost for the bunnies is now $127.
* Harvested 8 cups of greens-6 types of lettuce, radish microgreens, kale and mustard.

* For lunch one day, we had quesadillas and a can of tomato soup from the pantry (salvage grocer, $.49)
* We bought 2 heirloom tomatoes from a local farmer for $2. They were fantastic.
* We had BLTs one evening with bacon from the freezer ($1.49/lb on sale), tomato (from the farm stand), lettuce from the garden and some clearance-priced bread ($.49/loaf). Delicious.
* I went to the grocery store. I spent $8 on groceries. I will make this last the whole week. I bought: 3 heads of broccoli (Clearance, $1.49), 2 heads of cauliflower, one purple (Clearance, $1.49), 3 dozen ears of corn ($1/12 ears, loss leader sale), 2 2-litres of soda (We don't drink much soda, so this will last a long time; mainly got it for use as a mixer for parties; coupon+loss-leader sale, $.45/each), 10 oz package of cherry tomatoes (mine aren't close to being ready because of the weird weather; $1 loss-leader sale).

Food Preservation:
* I parboiled 2 dozen ears of corn and cut the corn off the cob. I packed them into 11 freezer bags. I have two dozen more ears to preserve.
* I am drying the corn silk to use as a diuretic tea. I may also try experimenting with giving the bunnies a small amount in winter. I've found mixed reviews of such use online, but I don't think it would be a bad thing to give them a little bit with lots of other things. As always, I'll start out with a very tiny amount and see how it goes.
* I cleaned out the frig of lots of random items: leftover chorizo, leftover rice, the last of a jar of salsa, half a can of pork and beans, the last of a tub of sour cream. I mixed it together with a packet of mac n cheese seasoning (My friend went to a dairy-free diet, and gave me the packets from her boxed mac n cheese) since I usually make my mac n cheese from scratch. I stuffed this into banana and small sweet peppers. I froze all of these. Now we'll be able to pull a several small peppers out for dinner, or a couple to use as a side dish on taco night.

* We met up with a big group (~25) of our friends for pizza one evening. We split a one-topping pizza that cost just over what one entree would have cost and got a small pitcher of beer to split. Since we're only going out with friends once a month, it was a reasonable amount.
* We met up with some of my coworkers for drinks one evening. We each only had one drink, for $13 with tip.
* My friend had a bonfire one evening and grilled our ribs. It was a great evening. I brought a couple of beers from home and a dozen ears of corn ($1/dozen) to grill.
* We had a reward for $1 off a drink at our regular coffee date spot. We used that in combination with our travel mugs for a total of $2.18 for our date. Free refills.

* We went hiking at a new-to-us park. It was absolutely beautiful! Partially wooded with rock walls jutting up from the earth, a river, meadows. It was less than 50 miles from our home, but there were a lot of plants and insects that don't grow further north where we live.

* I line dried 2 large loads of laundry.
* I ran/walked to the library to return two items that were due. I got my miles in, returned them without a fee and didn't use any gas.

Waste Reduction:
* I am drying the corn husks before I put them in the compost so they'll act more like a brown than a green (I'm assuming that since corn is a grass, it would behave the same as lawn-grass in the compost?).

* I worked 10 minutes overtime one day and 30 minutes another.
* Trucker brought home a huge bag full of goodies.
* I packed a lunch every day using leftovers.
* One day, Trucker got called in to work 4 hours early. Since he rushed out the door, he forgot to grab the lunch I'd had ready for him. Since it was going to be a long day, I knew he'd be hungry. I was grocery shopping on the way home. The store had 7 oz containers of popcorn chicken on their 11 for $10 sale ($.91, which brings the price to just over $2/lb) so I bought him one and got a bunch of discount bananas and gave him one. I also keep shelf stable foods in the car for work days (since I work a manual job, some days I'm famished when I get off work), so I also gave him a protein bar and a package of fancy mango-coconut crackers ($.36/box of 10 packages). I drove by his job on the way home anyway so it didn't take extra gas.
* I picked up a gig helping out my farmer friend. Not only did I get paid a fair amount for the work I did, but I got some good experience setting up a farmer's market booth (the girl I worked with had lots of experience and knowledge on the best ways to set things up). For breakfast, we ate an ear of sweet corn, raw (had to be able to tell the customers how it was).

* Froze a lot of food for winter.

* We got a phone call from the antique mall. They bumped us up on the waiting list. We have signed a lease for a booth. It is a good booth  with one extended wall (more space for hanging things!) off the main stretch right off the entrance. We are really excited. We bought our tags and are going to start getting our items priced.
* After our lease signing, I went to a thrift store to pick up items for staging. I got two lace tablecloths for $3 total. We'll toss these over a couple less-pretty tables to fancy them up for display.

* Continue to take long walks and run frequently.
* Trucker and I went on a 3.5 mile hike together.

* I gave a bag of salad greens to the neighbor who gave me plants earlier this year.
* I stopped by another neighbor's house to give her some lettuce. We talked a couple weeks ago and she mentioned that she'd had to give up gardening. She said she doesn't eat much lettuce, but invited me in for coffee. I ended up sitting and talking with her for an hour and a half.
* When I was at the farmer's market, I worked with a childhood friend I haven't seen in 6-7 years. It was wonderful catching up, and we exchanged numbers with promises to do a bit of adventuring together-hiking, biking or running. She also brought some oyster mushrooms she grew to give me! So sweet!
* One of the farmers at another booth brought over cookies for us because he said we looked hungry.
How was your week?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 07/6 - 7/12

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.
* Continue feeding weeds to the bunnies. I used to dehydrate my radish leaves to use in my veggie powder. They aren't tasty, but I felt bad wasting them. Now those go into the bunnies' rations also.
* Bunny Weigh-In: Frank the bunny was 1.5 pounds when I got him at 6 weeks old (approx; they said he was older but based on his size, I doubt it). He is now 4 pounds. He's smaller than the girls, but bucks always are. Hopefully he'll continue to grow. I didn't weigh the girls when I first got them (which I regret), but visibly they've grown substantially. Hazel-ra was the smaller of the two and still is, weighing in at 5 pounds. However, she loves her greens and is growing nice and big. Nurse Ratched is ridiculous. She was born within a day of Hazel-ra, but she weighs an astonishing 6.25 pounds! I can hardly believe the difference in their weight. Generally, I love that the Nurse puts on weight so fast, but she eats more pellets than either of the other two rabbits (while still eating all the greens I can give her). Hazel-ra doesn't grow as fast, but she prefers greens and never finishes her pellets, while still managing to gain. I'm hoping that her kits will take readily to a rabbit trailer moved around the backyard. Overall, I'm still really happy. I'm waiting until autumn to breed them so they have time to grow properly before kitting. I'll get one kitting in, then wait until spring for more. So far, my expenses for the bunnies have been: $80 for the cages/water bottles/feeders/carrier/scale/toenail clippers, $30 for the rabbits, $15 for feed, for a total of $125. Some people spend that to adopt a cat. This is totally reasonable for the startup costs to start supplying my family with all of the meat we eat in a year (we have an arrangement to barter rabbit meat for beef and venison when the time comes, so bacon will be our only purchased meat)
* The broadcast radishes germinated well and are pretty evenly spaced. The beets are starting to germinate.
* I broadcast 1 more packet of beets and 3 more packets of radishes in other empty spots in the garden. This is lazy gardening all the way, but what with the poison ivy and near constant rain and mosquitoes, it's what I can do this year.
* Harvested 4 cups of green beans
* Thinned the garden beds and ended up with a cup of edible thinnings: basil, carrots, radish, beets.
* Harvested 3 cups of mixed greens: lettuce, kale and mustards.
* I planted Little Finger carrot seeds among the tomato plants.
* I planted a spare container with Scotch Kale seeds.
* All of the orange mint that germinated was all in one corner of the window box I planted. I transplanted some of the plants throughout the planter. Hopefully they'll be okay.

* I used leftover hot dogs from the cookout for perhaps my trashiest meal ever: hot dog gravy and toast. Out of sheer desperation to use them up before they went bad, I sliced them and pan fried til crispy. I made a gravy, like I would for sausage. I served this over bacon cheddar scones that Trucker brought home from his job. It is not something I would plan into the meal rotation, but I'd make it again to use up leftovers. The key is to make a really good gravy, because the meat cannot be the shining light of this dish.
* We went to the grocery store and had a great store. They had a ton of pork products marked down to $1.88/16-18 oz package. We got 8 packages: 2 of ground pork, 2 ground Italian sausage, 2 ground country sausage, 1 package Italian sausage links, and 1 meatballs. They had a clearance cart of $1 personal watermelons. Trucker doesn't eat much watermelon, and I can't eat a huge one alone. I love watermelon, so this will get me my summery fix without waste. Pineapples were $.75; I got two. Any I don't eat fresh will be grilled (because oh, my!). 1 lb containers of baby arugula were on manager's special for $.50; I bought one. I bought a package of organic baby portabella mushrooms, $.50. A package of prepped veggies for roasting was on sale for $.50/lb. While I'd never usually use these, I got one because it contained a good mix of veggies to use at a price that would have been acceptable for any of them: summer squash, zucchini, winter squash, carrots, onions.
* We had big salads for dinner one night: arugula, tomatoes (the last of the toms from the farm stand), onions, zucchini, summer squash, carrots (all from the roasting veggies package). I pan fried some chicken breasts to top them (I froze 2/3 of the chicken for later)
* Trucker made his incredible french toast with bread that was getting a bit stale and made enough for me to use for breakfasts later (pop in the toaster instead of the microwave and it's *almost* as good as fresh).
* We had just a little ice cream left, not enough for us each to have a serving. I made a batch of brownies as a special treat for us one evening and served them hot, each with a scoop of ice cream on top and a drizzle of chocolate bourbon sauce.
* I walked to the Save a Lot near me. I spent $3.50 on a loaf of bread, 2 10-packs of tortillas and a canister of cake spice ($.10).
* We used half of one package of meatballs (so $.94 worth), with spaghetti and tomato sauce (added garlic scapes-free, mustard greens from the garden). Topped with basil microgreens from weeding the garden. I served with slices of bread and White Russians (Trucker found coffee liquor half off and I had bought some fat free "half and half" for $.50/qt).
* I made a peach crisp with the last of the peaches from the farm stand. It was perfect. Absolutely. We ate some warm from the oven, some cold and some as part of a parfait.
* I made two batches of cookies, reserving half of the dough in the freezer for another time. I made a batch of peanut butter shortbread and a batch of chocolate shortbread. Some of the peanut butter cookie dough I made into PBJ thumbprints. These were probably the best cookies I've ever made. Not too sweet. And there's peanut butter for protein and the grape jelly counts as a fruit, right? Health food (according to my Grandma's logic for giving me ice cream for dinners...counts as dairy).
* Made stir fry with lots of random veg from the garden, grocery and farm stand. Served over rice with pumpkin seeds for protein.

Food Preservation:
* I froze some leftover meat to use in meals later. We are still plowing through cookout leftovers as well as a couple of good deals I bought, so I'm putting chicken breasts, hamburger and hot dogs into the freezer. Later, I can pull out a container and have quick tacos or toss the hot dogs (these were already grilled, then sliced) into a casserole with potatoes.
* After each ate a brownie, I froze the rest of the batch in 2 brownie portions.  I also froze two half batches of cookie dough. Whenever we want to have a sweet, I can pull a container out.I am absolutely loving this deep freeze!

* Cheap coffee date= $3.18 with our travel mugs.
* We went to Sonic Drive-In for their half-off ice cream cones one day=$2.89 date.
* One evening after I worked late, we redeemed our free pizza from Papa John's. I picked it up on my way home, and we enjoyed it while watching a movie from the library. Free date.
* Awhile back we bought 10 tickets for the summer film series at our favorite local theatre. It's really fun to get dressed up a little to see a movie in a posh theatre. We enjoyed it a lot last year, so decided to get the discount for a bulk-lot this year. We paid $25 for 10 tickets, normally $4 each. We invited a couple of our friends to come with us to the theatre to watch Key Largo (which I hadn't seen yet).

* Went out for frequent walks.

* I replaced the furniture pads on the bottom of my desk chair so they don't scratch up the floor in front of my desk and prematurely age my hardwood.
* I line dried three loads of laundry.
* I walked errands one day (5 miles) instead of driving. This didn't save much money, but every bit counts. Mainly, it was a great excuse to spend a couple hours outside on one of the few days it didn't rain all day. And I got a fantastic workout since I was carrying heavy bags for 3 miles of it!
* At a yard sale, I spent $1 on: a blue and white pottery bowl (that matches my kitchen), a pack of outlet sealers and 5 packs of matches.

Waste Reduction:
* I turned an almost-empty bottle of shampoo upside down and got 5 more shampoos out of it. After that, I shook water in it and used it as bubble bath.
* Composted lots of random things.

* Trucker brought home a big bag of goodies from his job.
* I worked 2 hours overtime this week.
* I was expecting not to receive a paycheck this week because of the vacation the previous week (although next week's check will be larger due to the extra day I picked up at the tail end). However, I received my attendance bonus for the month, which was 10% of what my check usually is. Small, but something.

* I bought extra matches to have on hand. I'll put these in a plastic bag and put them in our bags.

* We are officially on the waiting list to get a booth at one of our favorite antique malls in the city. They have good advertising, we see people buying every time we're in, and we've talked with vendors who have good things to say. We're so excited!

* Continuing to run frequently. I want to race this year, so I thought maybe I should try to run with shoes on. Convention, you know. It was terrible. Immediately my form was off and everything ached. I hadn't realized how much I depend on that sensory data from striking the earth to adjust my form. I may just have to overcome my nerves and race barefoot. I did look online at prices for Vibrams Five Finger shoes. I'll probably buy a pair to use for winter running. For now, I just need to find a good, short answer to the question I get five times each run: "Where are your shoes, girl?"
* I ran a few times this week.
* One day I rode with Trucker to his job and then walked home 5.6 miles, running about a mile of it. Got some much needed vitamin D and fresh air. The next day I walked 4 miles on errands, 3 miles of it carrying heavy bags.

* I didn't get a full paycheck this week because of the vacation. I did get about 1/10 my usual check because my attendance bonus came in. Next week my paycheck will be larger because of the extra production day I voluntarily worked (for double time pay)

* A couple of friends gave us an air conditioner that they were no longer using (that another friend had given them when she no longer needed it).
* My mum's friend helps a group of people with special needs make crafts to sell. She asked me to look out for some supplies while I'm out picking. I found a few things cheap and gave them to her.

How was your week?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 6/29 - 7/5

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.

* I took my friend to my favorite 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.

Food Preservation:
* 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.

Waste Reduction:
* 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?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This Week...Beyond Money 6/22 -6/28

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 5 cups of greens from various spots: mustards from the shade garden, lettuce microgreens from the garden beds and front-garden containers, kale from the front porch container.
* Harvested some baby radishes.
* Ate thinnings, about 1 cup's worth.
* Harvested a couple of garlic scapes that grew in late.
* Some horrible green caterpillars are eating my kale down to nothing. I've been killing them as I find them, but it is heartbreaking. I'd been getting such good kale harvests!
* I was going to attempt to clean out some of the poison ivy in the flower beds, but it was overwhelming. Instead, I mowed everything down (and then ran inside to wash clothes and shower). I will lay down some cardboard over the beds before winter to smother things out and then put on some compost/soil and fresh mulch. I'll start fresh, with the exception of a few plants I'll leave alone.

* I made Chinese buffet for us at home one evening. I like to do that sometimes when we are good and resist the siren's call. I made: fried rice made from leftover rice cooked in pork stock, vegetable stir fry with sweet chili sauce, spring rolls, crab Rangoon and egg drop soup. All of it is pretty simple once you know what you're doing. I had the whole thing pulled together pretty quickly. I had leftovers for lunch the next day.
* We grilled out one evening. I had purchased some kielbasa burgers on manager's special for $3/lb (25% cheaper than regular ground beef in these parts). We ate 3 of the 4 (the remaining burger will be used for stuffed peppers or a lunch). I also grilled an eggplant, a sliced potato (tossed in oil and grill seasoning purchased for $.05 at the salvage grocer) and two heads of garlic (incredible! I squeezed mine onto my burger...sigh). For dessert, we had grilled banana splits made with the three bananas that were getting kinda dark on the counter.
* We had popcorn for snacks.

* I'm enjoying books, audiobooks and movies from the library. I listen to audiobooks on the way to and from work which I love. I'm currently listening to The Elegant Universe by Brian Green.
* Cheap coffee dates with our travel refill mugs.
* I went to see my sister bowl in a tournament. She won second place for her division. I was very proud of her.
* After my sister's bowling tournament, my parents, my other two sisters, one of my sisters' fiance, and I went to a local park. We walked around, bird-watched and ran the obstacle course a few times. I love being able to work out with people.
* It was my best friend's birthday, so I went out with her and some of her other friends. I didn't spend a lot of money. We went to an arcade that had free play and she taught me how to play the games (that I really don't have the skills for, but I had fun). I gave her a vintage cookbook I found while picking, a steamer basket (on her kitchen wishlist) and a big jar of apple chips.

* I got outside almost every day to just enjoy life.

* Walked to the library instead of driving.
* I bought a pair of new-to-me dress shoes since my brown pair was worn out pretty bad. They are leather and wood with metal heels.

Waste Reduction:
* Composted lots of weird things.

* I worked over 1.75 hours of overtime between my two days.
* I brought my lunch to work each day.
* Thursday started my break from work for July 4th. We get the week off. I volunteered to come in on the Sunday before break ends to help get the place to start up again the next day. I will get paid double time.
* Trucker brought home a bad of cookies, scones and muffins from his job that would otherwise have been thrown away.

* Trucker encouraged me to start a fun challenge. I've been talking about writing an ebook, but life always gets in the way. While I'm on break from work, I'm going to write a short ebook. I need to write a minimum of 1400 words a day. First day in, I wrote 1572 before 6:30 AM.

* I've been running the obstacle course at a local park a couple times a week. Monkey bars, over-unders, balance beams, stomach crawls, rope climbs, wall jumps, log runs, tractor tires. It's a blast. And I hurt.My parents, sisters and I went to the obstacle course together one afternoon when they were in town. We kept it pretty easy and fun.
* I've been running daily, at least a mile. Sometimes I go out two or three times.

How was your week?
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