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 some scallions from the windowsill. These were regrown from scraps.
* Daisy came over for dinner one evening. Since she is vegan, I made vegan tacos. My boss gave me this super simple recipe that was absolutely amazing. You put raw beets (You don't even have to peel them), carrots (optional, but I put some in since I had them), onion, and garlic into the blender (I also added sweet peppers since I had them on hand). Chop into small shreds (I had to do this in a few batches). Cook down in a little oil until the water evaporates and add taco seasoning (I also added the last of a bottle of salsa verde to use it up). Serve in tortillas with all the usual fixins. We had pickled radishes (homemade using farm seconds; my coworker has gotten me hooked on this), pickled peppers (salvage grocer), tomatoes (from the farm), lettuce (from the farm), hot sauce and sour cream (for me). I had leftovers to use for another meal.
* I put some chicken in the slow cooker one morning. We used a piece to make BBQ chicken sandwiches, served with homemade radish pickles (from farm seconds) and carmelized onions (farm seconds). On the side, I served colcannon (made with potatoes and beet greens from the farm) and candied carrots (also from the farm).
* We realized we were out of BBQ sauce, but Trucker made up a very basic sauce using ketchup, Worchestershire sauce and mustard. I don't plan on buying more unless I find it very cheap at the salvage grocer and will just make sure I have those 3 ingredients on hand.
* I made garden veggie soup. I used a jar of dehydrated tomatoes from last year and the last of a jar of zucchini. I covered them with water. While it came to a boil, I chopped up a half a leftover cucumber, a few mini eggplants, and a soft tomato and added it to the pot. Then I chopped up some onion, sweet peppers, jalapeno and the last of a bulb of spring garlic. I pureed the boiling mixture and put it through the Food mill. I sauteed the onion and pepper mixture, cooked a tablespoon of flour in the oil, then slowly mixed in the pureed mixture. It was fantastic. I plan to make this more often to freeze for winter.
* In general, I have been trying to use up items from the pantry, freezer and leftovers. Having a decent pantry-eat-down helps in a few ways. It saves money in the short term, since we don't have to buy as many items. It reduces waste because it items don't get shoved to the back of the pantry and forgotten until they are questionable. It clears clutter. It allows us to get more creative in our cooking because we have to try to find ways to use items that I bought on a deal, but don't use often or to combine random items for an edible, and ideally delicious meal.
* I hung up some basil to dry.
* I cooked a bunch of beet greens and froze them for winter.
* I dehydrated a bunch of oversized okra. I will use this for soups and stews this winter. I also dehydrated several pounds of tomatoes and 3 large sweet peppers.
* I froze more beets and carrots.
* All of the preserved produce was farm seconds, so they were free.
* We went out for a cheap date. Trucker donated blood a few weeks ago and received a BOGO coupon for a local pizza place. We each got a small pizza (with enough leftover for lunch the next day) and got a soda to split for $8.50.
* Daisy came over for dinner one day. The meal for two was about the cost of coffee for just me if we had gone out.
* We went to another film at the summer film fest at the theatre downtown. This time we saw Blazing Saddles. We brought snacks from the dollar store and paid for 2 hours' parking, so the total cost of our date was $9.
* We went for a 2.5 mile hike at a local metro park. I went barefoot, which was fine, until the .5 mile of gravel path!
* We went for a few miles another evening after it cooled down. We walked through a meadow and around a pond.
* I used swagbucks for all of my searches so I could earn points.
* I used my grocery store points to get $.10 off per gallon.
* One of my tank tops's straps snapped in the dryer. I was debating whether or not to mend it, but decided not to since I didn't really like the tank, it didn't look good on me anymore and it looked a bit worn. Instead, I cut it into rags. Since it was jersey material, I didn't need to hem them.
* I composted lots of things.
* I got a good amount of farm seconds this week: tomatoes, okra, peppers beets and greens, carrots, basil, eggplant, cucumbers, and lettuce.
* I worked a bit of overtime.
* Trucker only worked one day at the auction house. However, he did get some other work.
* Trucker had filming for a television show this week. This was his first paid gig. He was in two scenes. He had a great time. He drove 3 1/2 hours to the next city, but even with his cost of gas, made a fair amount. He said the buffet lunch they provided was far more extravagant than any wedding he has been to. He is hoping to do this more in the future.
* Trucker has been having some indigestion problems, such as trouble swallowing. The doctor said it was indigestion and to take a pill. My dad had the same symptoms and said that once he started eating a bowl of bran flakes every day, they went away. I bought him some bran flakes; hopefully this will help. We figure that taking medication could cause other side effects, while eating a higher fiber diet would provide a good number of other health benefits. Of course, we will get some OTC medication if we don't see improvement with lifestyle and diet modifications. Generally, I believe that for us, lifestyle and nutritive changes are more effective and safer than just popping pills, at least, when it comes to chronic/low-risk issues (but if more serious issues arise, I'm the first to insist on a doctor or hospital visit). It is also much more affordable, which is of great importance for working class folks.
* Trucker has been tobacco-free for 5 months now. The effects on his health have been amazing. He doesn't need his emergency inhaler at all when outside of the house and only uses it occasionally when home (the cat dander is the culprit here). He used to need it nearly constantly. He is also able to exercise now without feeling like he is dying. His mood is much improved now that he has broken that nasty anxiety/nicotine/nic-fit cycle. He hasn't been getting sick as often (which means I haven't been getting sick as often). Then there are all those lovely long-term affects to come: reduced stroke, cancer and heart disease risk. And of course, the financial savings. Assuming $7/pack, a pack a day costs $2555/year. So assuming one would put that money in a retirement plan, after 20 years at let's say 3% interest, the balance would be $70,741. For those wanting some good motivation for quitting, check this out.
* My parents got us a bike rack at a yard sale for $5.