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 did something I swore I would never do. I used Roundup in the front garden. I hated to do it, but the poison ivy was totally out of control. Trucker has been pulling it up, but I can't expect him to keep going out there constantly. Last year I was barely able to go into the garden because of the sheer volume of poison ivy and the horrible disfigurement I experience when I am exposed. I finally after a lot of thought and delay, I decided that I would spray as little as possible as infrequently as possible so I could get back into the garden. I love spending time in the garden, and want to be able to keep up on both gardens, lawn and tree line this year. I made the dilution a little lighter than it called for and sprayed once on a still day. The poison in one bed is pretty well dead; the other may need a second spray. I will not spray more than I absolutely have to. Hopefully after that second spray I will be good.
* I planted some Little Finger carrots. I wasn't planning on growing them this year, but just decided to go for it. We'll see if I get anything.
* I fed the bunnies radish greens from the seconds bin.
* We had tacos a couple of nights. I found ground beef on sale for $3/lb. We used half a pound each night. I added lettuce (free from seconds bin), peppers (fried; manager's special), black olives (on sale) and cheese (on sale). I strained off a large amount of fat and saved it in the refrigerator to use in cooking. While some people are squeamish about animal fats, I've always preferred them to margarine or shortening. I use them in moderate amounts, so I'm not overly concerned with saturated fat content. Plus it's free!
* Trucker made his amazing french toast to use some bread and eggs getting a little past their prime. Seriously the best breakfast ever. He always makes extra for me to have for breakfast for a couple days after (I just pop it in the toaster and it's almost as good as fresh).
* For our anniversary, Trucker made dinner. He made steak (on sale, $6), baked potatoes ($.15/lb at Aldi) and green beans (canned since we are out of our dehydrated stores for the year).
* I cooked some chicken with Thai seasoning that I got on manager's special ($2/lb). We used it to make wraps for lunch one day, with leftovers.
* I made beef stew with some leftover steak, carrots (manager's special), broccoli (manager's specialstant), radishes (seconds bin), turnips (seconds bin), Swiss chard (seconds bin), a can of corn, and a box of instant mashed potatoes (salvage grocer; I would have used regular potatoes, but didn't realize we were out. I got these for $.40/box, so I had two boxes to use in a pinch). I served it over pasta. We had lots of leftovers for lunches.
* I went to the grocery store for a cheap shop. I only bought items on manager's special: $.88/loaf bread, $1 fancy hamburger buns, $1.50 for a giant bag of mustard greens (I will likely get some greens from work, but I can eat a lot of greens. Also, I don't think I will get any mustard greens for free and I like them enough that that matters. hehe), and $1.50/8 oz brick of cheddar cheese (usually $2.50).
* I made tuna salad for lunch one day that Trucker worked. He will eat tuna if there is nothing else to eat, but he won't be happy about it. I have some in my stores that I got at a fantastic price at the salvage grocer. I added a rib of celery, several grated radishes and baby turnips and served it on a manager's special hamburger bun.
* We went on a couple of coffee dates. We brought our travel mugs.
* My friend messaged me one day and asked if I wanted to go with her to a salsa class at a nearby restaurant. It was starting in 20 minutes. I have always wanted to learn to dance, but have been hopelessly nervous and awkward about it. I remember one awful time a friend took me dancing and my feet never left the floor. I decided to go for it this time. The class was amazing. I am not good (yet???), but had so much fun. I was able to dance a little bit by the end of the class. I want to go more often as I can. The cost was only a $5 donation to charity.
* This week was our nine year wedding anniversary. We went on a cheap date the day of, and had a nicer date the next day. On our anniversary, we went to the second-run theatre for a cheesy-as-heck sci-fi movie. Cost: $4.50. Afterwards, we went to Steak n Shake with a BOGO coupon for milkshakes. It cost $4 before tip.
* The next day was our fancy date. We went to a bar downtown known for cheap prices. Afterwards we walked around downtown and along the river, laughing and talking. That night the symphony was putting on a concert with $10 tickets (for the bad seats). It was a smaller theatre than the one we usually go to, so even being in the back half of the second balcony, we were still able to see really well. The concert was beautiful.
* My friend, Daisy Duke, came over one afternoon and had coffee with me. It is always so nice to be able to just hang out and talk with a good friend.
* We went hiking at a metro park near us. It was a hot day, so we only went for a couple of miles, but it was nice.
* I made a double payment to a credit card.
* I haven't been driving to and from work. The beauty of this is unbelievable. I save $8.50 a day over driving to my factory job, plus reduce my need for 4 oil changes a year, for a savings of $180/month. This translates into a "raise" of $1.05, tax free. This means that even with technically getting a lower wage than at the factory, I break even. Plus, my work day is 8 hours and 15 minutes from the time I leave the house til I get home. The factory kept me away for 13 hours each day.
* Now that I don't work at the factory, I can wear whatever hygiene items I want. At the old job, the chemicals in certain products could interact with the paint, causing problems. Unfortunately, most of the items that were acceptable were really expensive (during that time, I wore the expensive items on work days and cheaper items on off-days). Now I can use whatever I find affordable. This means $1 shampoo instead of $6, and $2 deodorant instead of $5.
* I donated 8 large boxes of random items that were cluttering up the house. Better to donate them to a good cause rather than let them languish in my house. Some of the clothes I thought maybe I'd use for a craft, but after a year if they hadn't been used, they probably wouldn't be.
* I composted lots of weird things.
* I used the last little bit of shampoo at the bottom of the bottle as bubble bath.
* I returned my uniform to my second part time job. Even though I didn't have to, I thought since I'd barely worn them, it made sense to let them use them for someone else. I brought one of my coworkers some apple chips since she and her daughter loved them. She knew I had to come in for my last check so she had saved several boxes and some bubble wrap for me. So sweet. I'll miss them all a lot.
* I got to take home seconds from harvest day. I got two bags: one of lettuce and Swiss chard, the other of radishes and turnips with greens. We got a few meals out of it.
* I was off on Saturday, but stopped by the second farm site for the kick-off for a little bit to volunteer. It was a smaller event than the previous week. We got in potatoes and onions. My boss teased me a bit for planting onions in heels, but I was on my way to another event and forgot to bring a second pair.
* I found a pair of muck boots at a thrift store for $5. I hadn't used the ones I bought from Tractor Supply, so I will return them this week.
* I started taking my permaculture class again. They've upgraded the program so I'm starting over. It keeps track of what I have taken and what I haven't. This is nice so that, even if I don't pay for certification, I could always screen save the course list to show how many lessons I've taken.
* Trucker got another table for flea marketing at a fantastic price.
* We went walking a few times. I've also been working really hard at the farm which is lovely. When harvesting, planting and weeding I'm basically doing squats all day. I also went dancing which worked muscles I didn't know I had.
* We realized (again) this week that we have to be better about staying hydrated. Especially since we are both working as laborers now, it is very important. My problem is forgetting to drink anything; Trucker's is that he drinks coffee all day and forgets to drink anything else.
* While I was working in the yard one afternoon, I met my neighbor that lives catty-corner from my backyard. She is an adorable 88-year-old who still gardens and tends her house and yard. We had a good talk. I hope to get to know her better this summer.
* Trucker gave a huge box of chips to my coworkers. He had got them on auction for $3 for a box of 30 bags (value $30+). He is so thoughtful. Everyone was telling me I had a keeper.
* My friend and I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity at a Women Build clinic. We helped to build door and window headers while playing with power tools.
* I let Daisy Duke borrow some of my garden tools so she can put her garden in. Considering I won't need them for another week, it costs me nothing to let her borrow them and saves her the cost of having to buy all the supplies just for a small patio garden.
* My boss said during our weekly meeting that she wanted to plant a pollinator garden, but we didn't get the grant for it. That same night, I found a thrift store selling seeds for $.25/pack. I bought 17 packs of flower seeds, focusing on flowers that were both pollinator-attracting and self-sowing. I also brought in all of the extra flower seeds I had in my stash (this is my cleanout year). So we will be able to get that garden in.