Thursday, March 17, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 2/29 - 3/13

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.

Sorry for the delay again. The last couple of weeks have been intense. There was a death in the family, so we drove out of state for the memorial. As soon as we got back, my mother was hospitalized. Needless to say, the last week has been a blur.
* Now that it is warmer, the bunnies aren't eating as much. Soon I'll be able to start feeding them yard wastes (tree trimmings, weeds, tall grass) and my feed costs will drop significantly.

* I made a big batch of zucchini bread. I made two regular sized loaves, 6 muffins and a large round loaf. I didn't have enough shredded zucchini thawed (I always forget how much water drains off), so I shredded two apples from storage. To half of the batch, I added a cup of dried cranberries and a half cup of chocolate chips.
* We made tacos one evening with a manager's special steak ($3).
* I made jalapeno poppers a couple times. I'd gotten a huge bag of jalapeno's for $.50 on manager's special. I cut the peppers in half longways, and cut out the seeds and membrane. I mixed together a few pieces of crumbled bacon  (leftover from another meal) with some cream cheese and cheddar cheese. I stuffed that into the pepper halves, topped with seasoning salt and pepper and a light sprinkling of cheddar. Delicious! Health food this is not, but oh my. The second time I made them (well, I had to prevent those other peppers from going to waste, now didn't I?), I didn't have enough cream cheese to fill them all. I had some low-fat sour cream veggie dip that substituted just fine. In general, I try to always use up bits from the refrigerator. It reduces food waste, saves money over having to buy more ingredients, and saves a trip to the grocery store. Plus, sometimes it ends up tasting better than the original recipe, as it did this time.
* Trucker grilled out one evening. We grilled potatoes and a steak that he found on manager's special for $5 (usually $10). It was enough for both of us to eat some for dinner that night and we had some leftover. So, it was $1.25 per meal, still more than we usually spend, but not unreasonable, so far as splurges go.
* The next night, I sliced the leftover steak as thin as possible. I caramelized some onions (because those make everything better). I made a pizza crust (using my favorite recipe, Valentino's), used ranch dressing in place of sauce, and layered on steak, caramelized onions and canned roasted peppers (from the salvage grocery). I used cheddar cheese because it was what I had. Trucker loved it, so I will put this in our rotation.

* Last week, my favorite singer/songwriter, David Ramirez, came into town. He was the musician we drove out of state to see last summer. We did pay for tickets this time, but the $13 each was much less than a 20 hour round trip drive. It was a fantastic show. We rarely pay for shows, but make exceptions for our faves sometimes. Years ago, Trucker was a concert promoter and ran a successful music review website. During that time, we went to shows 3-5 times a week, so after awhile, we got pretty burned out on frequent concerts. Now, we go less often, but enjoy them much more.
* We had a coffee date, $3.18. Another time, they gave us our coffee for free with our travel mugs.
* Our dear friends took us out for a wine tasting at a winery outside of the city as their Christmas gift for us. We had a wonderful time, as we always do with them. We had a tasting of 8 wines with a cheese plate. After the tasting, we went back to our place for dessert. I'd dipped a bunch of fruit in chocolate. I had some chocolate covered strawberries from my job, and also served pineapple, apples and clementines. I topped the apples with chopped peanuts and the pineapple with bourbon smoked sugar (I bought this on a trip a year or so ago. I spent $2 on a baggie of it, and since I use just a pinch at a time, it has lasted a long time).
* Trucker's birthday was this week. With everything that was going on, I hadn't gotten to make plans (our original plans fell through a few days before everything else went down). He said that what he really wanted was just a day to hang out with me and go picking out of town. So after I got out of work (the girls insisted I leave a little early so I could take him out), we drove an hour or so out. We did some good picking and had a lovely time together. We went out for Chinese buffet  (his pick). They had a pretty epic sushi bar, so I was thrilled. It was a simple day, but lovely. Also, one of the girls from work sent me home with a big basket of chocolate-covered strawberries ($45 retail) that were expiring that day and would otherwise have been thrown away. Nice little gift for him.
* We went out with our movie group to see 10 Cloverfield Lane. I loved it, but I always love alien movies.

* Paid extra on a couple of debts.
* I got gas at work to save $.10-.25/gallon.

* We got out for a 2 mile walk at a nearby metropark.

Waste Reduction:
* I scraped out the fond from the skillet when making tacos into the Trash Chili container in the freezer. Since I often make my Trash Chili with TVP instead of ground beef, every bit of extra flavor is important.
* My new job is okay with me taking packing supplies that will otherwise get thrown away. We have all sorts of boxes, bubble wrap and padding that gets thrown away each day. Everyone saves it for me, so each day I bring home lots of material. We try to always use salvaged materials in shipping our online sales, both for financial and environmental reasons.
* I composted lots of random things.

* I called off one day from my regular part time job. We had gotten in late from Chicago and I knew I wouldn't be able to do a good job. It was my first time calling off, so I really hated it (although, I'd saved up 5 days in my bank). As it happens, my mom went to the hospital that morning, so it was good I was off to go with her.
* I worked a couple hours of overtime at the regular job. I also worked an extra 2 hours one week at the second job. One day the delivery driver called off, so I got a crash course on delivery. No one yelled at me and I got chased by no animals, so I suppose it went well.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked the regular job. The second job I work short enough shifts that I don't need to pack.
* The second job has a lovely perk: I get to take home fruit scraps. I took home a half gallon of pineapple and cantaloupe scraps. Score! I'm thinking of freezing or dehydrating some scraps in the future. I made a crisp one day from scraps, which turned out well. I like to give jars of dehydrated snacks to friends and family, so this might be a fun addition to the regular apple chips and bananas.

* We went picking often the last two weeks.
* Our sales have been really good. I can envision us branching out into other malls and doing this as a bigger part of our lives. We are learning so much and our sales improve as we do.
* I received the issue of The Dollar Stretcher that I am published in. It is my first print (and paid!) publication.www

* I haven't had a chance to check my blood pressure this week, but I can't imagine it is at a good level considering.

* Trucker's uncle died this week, so we drove out to for the memorial service 6.5 hours away. Fortunately, we'd had money saved up to cover the costs. I used to book the room and saved 30% (plus earned towards our free night; $80 after tax). We drove our Honda, so the gas costs were minimal (I believe it was around $50 total). We packed snacks and drinks from the salvage grocery (at $.05-.10 each, they were much cheaper than anything we could buy on the road). Our hotel had a pool, so we went swimming in the evening in lieu of other entertainment. It offered a decent free breakfast, so we didn't have to pay for breakfast or lunch. We got an early dinner on the way home at a truck stop I love (incredible fried chicken despite the horrible service). We split a 4-piece meal, so including tip, the meal for two was $12. It was the only time we went out to eat on the trip.
* My mom got sick this week and ended up in the hospital. She had to have surgery. Thankfully, she is recovering well. I took one day off work and the next day was a regular day off so I was able to be with her for two full days.

* I realized something when my dad and I were sitting with my mom in the recovery room. From the beginning in the ER til she was released, there was laughter. At every moment we were making jokes and telling stories to keep spirits up. This was the first time either of my parents has been seriously sick, but we all pulled together. My sister drove her to the hospital, then I helped my sister get back to take her fiance to see his dad in the hospital. My other sister took my uncle to his doctor's appointment (Mom usually drives him, but it was the day she had her surgery). I spent two days with her at the hospital. Dad spent the night with her and then drove to work at 5 AM each morning. One day her phone died and she didn't have a charger, so I stopped by on my way in to work at 4:30 to give her my charger so she didn't have to spend the whole day isolated (this was the only morning she was alone as we all had to be at work. I knew it would just kill her to not be able to talk with anyone all day, as she is a very sociable person and hates TV). My sister drove her home when she was released so she didn't have to wait til 4 when Dad got off work, then made her lie down and rest (my mom is not a lie down and rest kind of person...ever). My aunt brought dinner to the family the day mom was released (Because mom would honestly have fought to make dinner otherwise). It was really encouraging to see how we do under that kind of pressure.
* I gave my coworker at the kitchen job some of my apple chips and pizza tomato chips. She loved them.
How was your week?


  1. I wondered where you were last week :) It sounds like an intense time full of emotion. Take care of yourself! Thanks for the updates. Your partner's birthday is my ideal birthday ! My partner has a milestone coming up and we have been looking at things to do such as staying away and spa treatments but it runs into serious $$$$. We may stick closer to home, I mean we can be seriously frugal too. We will see. I have just returned from the first recycling centre market in our town. Lots of unique stuff. I love the tip shop...recycling at its best! We got 2 small toys, 2 books, a stool for the kitchen and a glass bottle all in a cool cloth bag for $3! My daughter got to make an upcycled picture frame and easter basket for free. A picnic and play in the park afterwards. A cheap day!

    1. Good to hear from you, Vicki!

      Sometimes staycations are perfect. Without lodging or high transportation costs, you can splurge in some other areas (spa treatments, meals, activities) that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.

      Fantastic score at the recycling centre! That sounds like an awesome day!


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