Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 1/18 - 1/24

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
* I bought a 25 lb bag of feed for $8.99. This brings my total cost to $196 so far. I've gotten no meat yet, but loads of fertilizer.

* Trucker got a huge tub of mixed greens for $2.50 (usually $5) on manager's special, Special K cereal for $1 box (4 boxes), milk for $1/half gallon (great for here). He also wanted to treat me, so he got a container of fancy hot chocolate($1.50, usually $4) and a container of cajun mix which is my current favorite snack ($1.99 marked down from $6.99).
* I hit the mother load one day at the grocery store. I stumbled upon the meat section right as they were marking down breakfast and lunch meats. I got: 4 packs of bacon at $1.50 (usually $6.19; $2/lb), 2 small packs of olive loaf for $1 (usually $1.99; $2/lb), 1 pack of maple sausage patties for $1.50 (usually $4.99; $2.50/lb), a pack of mesquite turkey for $1.09 (usually $3.49; $2.18/lb), honey roasted turkey breast for $1.39 (usually $3.99; $2.47/lb) and a 1 lb tub of chicken breast for $2.89. Quite a fantastic score!
* On day while Trucker was at work, I made colcannon with fried eggs for dinner. So good and so cheap.
* Sunday morning I made fried eggs, maple sausage and toast for breakfast.
* I made apple galettes one evening with maple syrup under the apples and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon sugar before baking. I used the leftover dough to make rugelach.
* I made toffee nuts. I used Amy Dacyzn's English Toffee recipe and tossed in a container of peanuts at the last minute and tossed to coat before the candy seized. I sprinkled some chocolate chips on top and covered with a plate to melt the chocolate. I spread the chocolate roughly over the peanuts and after it had set I crumbled it up. Delicious.

Food Preservation:
* I filled the freezer with discount meat.

* We went out for a couple $3 coffee dates.
* We went over to our friends house one day to visit. He had surgery and has to stay in for a bit. It was great getting to catch up with him.
* Trucker took me on a nice date. He bought a groupon for a German restaurant we had never been to. For $13, we were both able to eat their lunch buffet. They had two types of sausage, fried cabbage, two types of potato salad, two types of soup (including a lovely broccoli beir cheese soup that was simply to die for). So our date cost $23 total after cash tip. Not too shabby.
* We went out with our movie lovers group to see Bridge of Spies. We went to the discount theatre on their $1.25 day. We didn't buy snacks there, so our outing cost $2.50.

* We went for a chilly walk at a multi-use trail on the site of an old railroad track. There were cardinals everywhere. So cool.

* One day that it was warm, I turned off the furnace, bundled up and opened windows throughout the house. The air gets to stagnant and polluted in winter, especially after weatherproofing. I loved having the chance to freshen the air.
* We payed extra on two debts. Two are very close to being paid off.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of weird things. I am being better about composting non-glossy paper to get my greens and browns in better balance.

* I worked 2 extra days this week and 3 hours of overtime.
* Trucker packed my lunches and breakfasts each day I worked. He ate for free at his job.

* We freshened up the booth together one afternoon.
* We had a good sales week at the booth.
* I had a trunk sale for a friend who is starting a baking business and hooked her up with some great cake and cupcake pans.
* I sold my first article ever. I've been published in a variety of magazines and websites, but it has always been free work and I won some writing contests that paid, but this will be my first check for selling a piece. I'm beyond excited.

* We went on a couple walks together.
* I've been a lot more mindful of what and how much I eat and drink.
* I checked my blood pressure and it has dropped significantly over the last few months since I made some lifestyle changes and implemented some things to drop my stress levels. My levels are now closer to what they were when I was 17.

* My coworker gave me a dozen eggs to say thank you for picking him up something from the city (where I live, 45 minutes from him). He raises his own chickens in the backyard. The eggs were incredible.
* Trucker got me an unbelievably wonderful hat. It's a penguin. It is perfect.
* I surprised DH with flowers one day ($3 from the grocery). He liked them and has them on his nightstand.

How was your week?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 1/11 - 1/17

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 greens for the bunnies while taking a walk. It wasn't a lot, but I'm sure they enjoyed them. I also picked up pine cones for them to play with/nibble on to beat winter boredom.
* Due to the cold weather, I haven't been interacting with them as much, just feed, water, and run into the house to get warm. Now they are a bit more nervous around me. I'm going to make sure to pet them a little each time I go out, after all, I'll have to get them to trust me enough to get them out of their cages for breeding!

* I stopped at the grocery store in my parents' town. It is more expensive than our grocery stores generally speaking. However, they had a section of manager 's special meat. There were hams priced at $1.49/lb. In the city, it's $3.99/lb and almost never goes on sale. I bought two and tossed one in the freezer.
* I made ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch one day.
* I used the last of a jar of split peas, a big container of homemade chicken stock and 2/3 lb of ham to make soup. While split pea soup isn't our favorite, it was cheap and used up the last of the split peas (we probably won't buy more, but wanted to use the ones we'd gotten for almost free).
* I made tortilla pizzas one day, heavy on the peppers and sauce and light on the cheese.
* Trucker packed me PBJ sandwiches for breakfast and ham sandwiches for lunch when I worked.

* I went over to my parents' house for dinner one evening. My dad and sister had just returned from Panama the night before and we all gathered around to hear their stories.
* Trucker and I had a couple coffee dates.
* We went out for dinner with our friends one evening. We decided to split a sub instead of getting a pizza. It cost $7 and with the fries that came with it, it was filling for both of us.

* We went out to a local Metro park for a 1.5 mile walk. The second half of the walk it was snowing. It was very pretty. Since it's been warm, the mushrooms have been popping up all over the fallen trees. So beautiful.

* At a thrift store I found a sea shell decorated toothbrush holder. Since I am decorating the bathroom slowly with a beach at sunset theme, it was perfect. It only cost $2.
* I walked to the library to save money on gas and get a little exercise.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things.
* I used the last of a bottle of hand soap that was too little to pump out for a bubble bath.

* I worked two extra days at my regular job.
* We had a pizza party at work one day for having a good safety month.
* Trucker ate for free at his job.

* I went running one evening. I got home after work and then dinner at my parents, so I'd been gone for 18+ hours. I wanted to run, but knew if I went inside I wouldn't come back out since it was so cold and nasty. So I hopped out of my car and ran a quick mile in my steel toes and factory whites uniform. I'll tell ya, if I trained in steel toes, my calves would be wicked. Hehe
* Trucker and I went for a 1.5 mile walk.

How was your week?

Monday, January 11, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 1/4 - 1/10

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.

* The lettuce is growing nicely. I'll harvest some soon.
* One of the pepper plants put on a fresh batch of flowers. I plucked them all off so it put it's energy into growing a strong plant instead of peppers for now.

* We had spaghetti for dinner one night. The next night, I baked the leftovers with more sauce, vegetables, spices and a cheese/bread crumb topping til it was warmed through and the cheese melted. It isn't the most fabulous meal ever, but it was an easy way to use up a lot of leftovers or items that would otherwise go to waste.
* Ate more chicken noodle soup (leftovers).
* I ate peanut butter and toast for breakfast most mornings.
* We snacked on stovetop popcorn.

* My friend and I went out for coffee and chatting one evening.
* Trucker and I went on a few coffee dates ($3.18).
* I took my sister out for dinner after work one day for a belated birthday present. We had a great time talking and catching up.
* My mom came over for lunch/dinner (linner?) with Trucker and I one day after driving my sister and dad to the airport. We decided to order Chinese food. We ordered it at 2:45, just making it to get the lunch special price. We got two entrees and split them between the three of us. Total cost: $11.
* Trucker took me on a date to a Cajun restaurant for blackended chicken. Delicious! I brought enough chicken and fries home for another meal.

* I got gas at work to save ~$.10/gallon.
* I avoided going into stores so I couldn't spend money at them.
* Trucker hung up plastic to all of the windows/vents to the outdoors to keep the warm air in. It made a noticeable difference immediately.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of weird things.

* Trucker brought home a free pizza from his job that hadn't been picked up.
* Trucker ate for free at his job. I packed lunch each day I worked.
* I picked up 2 extra days at my regular job.

* We took more items up to the booth.
* Since we rearranged the booth, we've started making many more sales. We will try to be more proactive about freshening the layout and rotating stock.
* Trucker has another audiobook in production.
* Trucker got a few more articles published.
* I worked on Etsy listings. It has been doing great for me lately. I'm trying out some new types of items to see if I can branch out a bit.

* We went for a few longer walks around the neighborhood.
* I went for 2 short runs.
* I'm being better about eating less and I'm drinking water.

* I spent the evening/night in the hospital with my mom when my sister got sick. They drove an hour to the city where I live since it's a better hospital. I brought snacks and coffee for Mom since we didn't know how long we'd be there and if Mom had to drive home that night (which she did at 5:30 in the morning!) I wanted her to be caffeinated.
* I bought Trucker a couple of gifts at a thrift store. One was a silly board game gag gift. The other was a like new coffee travel mug. His good one broke and he's been stuck using the backup mug that doesn't work as well. He really wanted another, but we didn't want to spend $20+ to buy one that would break just as quickly as a thrift store one. This one was a porcelain cup with silicone lid and a beautiful wooden handle. It had the label on the bottom still. Cost: $.90
* Trucker gave me what very well may be the sweetest gift anyone has ever given me. He ordered a box of 32 kid's Valentine's Day cards featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (my very favorite comic book characters). On each card he wrote one reason that he loves me. He then hid them around the house for me to find. So far I've found about half. Best gift ever.

How was your week?

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Monday, January 4, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 12/28 - 1/3

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.
* Ray cat discovered the cilantro plants. I now have loads of cilantro stems, minus the leaves.
* The lettuce isn't quite ready to harvest yet.

* One morning for breakfast, I made a dish I hadn't made in 6-7 years. It was one of my "decadent" meals during the recession. PBJ tortillas. I spread peanut butter and jelly (use a very small amount as it melts) on a tortilla, topped with another and browned each side over a medium heat. So delicious, and so cheap.
* Trucker made me French toast one morning. So yummy. He's the best.
* I stopped at the salvage grocer, but kept my spending to $24. I got: 1 4-pack of toilet paper (100% post consumer recycled materials; $.99), 1 large jar hot salsa ($.99), 2 jars of peanut and coconut butter (This stuff is incredible! $1.49/each), 1 jar chocolate hazelnut butter ($1.49; this is the same kind I saw for sale at the grocery store for $14.99 a jar!), 2 4-oz bars of Baker's premium white chocolate (I personally don't consider white chocolate to be chocolate, but Trucker loves it, and I love him, so I bought it. $.99), 2 small jars of mayo ($.20 each), 2 11-oz bags of 8 o'clock coffee ($2.49/each), 2 6-oz bags of french vanilla coffee ($.99/each; I would have gotten more of this coffee and not the other, but we don't drink a lot of flavored coffee. We will cut this in with unflavored), 2 1-lb bags of pasta ($.69/each), 1 can of refried beans ($.59), 9 cans of soup (Trucker sometimes uses these on days I work; about half of them were organic brands).
* I made caramel apple galettes. I made my yummy pie crust (the one I use for homemade pop tarts is based on a recipe from King Arthur), rolled into rough circles, spread with goat's milk caramel (on manager's special for $1 a bottle), and spiraled apple slices in the middle. I folded up the edges, dusted with cinnamon and baked at 325 til golden on the bottom.
* I cooked 10 pounds of chicken in the slow cooker. I strained the water off to use as broth for soup making. I divided the meat up into meal sized portions to make for a lot of good meals.
* I used all the bones, skins and other weird bits along with veggie scraps for stock making. The fat from the top of the broth was saved for cooking. While it is not super healthy to eat in large amounts, in reasonable amounts it is fine and it is free.
* I made chicken pot pie. I covered the bottom crust with shredded chicken, then a very thick layer of mixed veggies gotten through various frugal means (Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bell pepper, potato), then poured on a can of turkey gravy (got last year on an after-Thanksgiving sale for $.10/can; I got a dollar's worth for days I'm trying to pull dinner together quickly, since that is the same price or a little lower than it would cost me to make). I sprinkled some cheese and seasonings over that, topped with the other crust and baked at 425 til golden brown. This is a great way to use up leftovers of all sorts.
* We made stir fry one night. We used some of the chicken and cooked the rice in chicken broth. I used a variety of veggies from the frig.
* The next day I made tacos to use up leftovers. I used the rest of a container of chicken (about 1 cup total), the leftover rice and an orange bell pepper ($.25 on manager's special). I served on flour tortillas with sour cream and the last of a head of romaine.

Food Preservation:
* I froze a lot of chicken in meal-sized portions.

* We went on our $3.18 coffee date and got a reward for a free bagel. We will save that for another day.
* The first snow that was more than a light dusting was on New Year's Eve. Even more reason not to go out. Last thing we needed was to drive with drunks trying to remember how to drive in the snow.
* I went bowling with my parents, sisters, and sister's fiance. Everyone brought their own shoes (I found a pair for $2.50 at a thrift store; rental was $3). We rented two lanes for an hour for $20, instead of paying for two games each for 7 people at $3. Afterwards, we went out to eat at a hamburger place that had HUGE meals. We split meals and were full.

* We rearranged the booth. The shelving we had there didn't work because they were plastic and not sturdy enough to support all of those heavy glass pieces. So, we cleared off three sets of shelves from the house and used those (saved $90 over purchasing shelves at Big Lots, plus two were even bigger than the Big Lots ones). Then we brought back the two plastic shelves from the booth and used those for storage for cake pans I sell on etsy and other items.
* I organized my baking cabinet. It had gotten a little crazy. Now everything is organized and I know exactly how many of each item I have (and I can definitely stop opening containers of baking cocoa now that I know I have three open!). I also found some things I didn't realize I had, so I can use them soon.
* I walked the 3 mile round trip to the library to return items on time (and avoid fees), to save a tiny bit of gas money, and to get some exercise.

Waste Management:
* I saved veggie and meat scraps for making stock.
* I composted lots of weird things.
* We reused items for shipping items.

* No work for me this week since we are on holiday. How will I ever get used to waking up at 4 AM again?
* Trucker ate free meals at his job.

* I worked a lot on both my Etsy store and the antique booth.
* Trucker got a few more publications.
* I submitted another freelance article.

* We took a few walks around the neighborhood.
* I took a 3 mile power walk one day while carrying a bag full of books each way.

* I brought my family apple galettes for dessert after we went bowling together.
* My dad fixed the window on Trucker's car since the arm had worn and it would not close all the way.

How was your week?
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