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 green onions every day. I get so many harvests from regrowing the stumps. All it takes is a little water every day or so. I drain them into potted plants so the water isn't wasted (and perhaps any leached nutrients will benefit the potted plants).
* I made tacos one day. I browned a pound of beef with onions and peppers (onions from cool storage and peppers from the freezer). In another skillet, I added some leftover rice (cooked in stock), taco seasoning (Aldi, $.35; used 1/3 the package), black bean powder (dehydrated and powdered cooked black beans) and some water. I let that cook for a bit, then added 1/4 of the beef/veggie mixture. I served in tortillas with sour cream (store brand), salsa (salvage grocer), homemade hungarian hot wax pepper sauce (made with store brand vinegar and free seconds peppers) and tomatoes (ripening on the counter). We used the leftover meat in other meals.
* For breakfast (or rather, midnight snack as it is now...), I often had rice (leftover), beans (canned, salvage grocer) and perhaps a little leftover meat. It was simple, quick and kept me full during the shift.
* I made cookies with frozen dough ($.25 after holiday sale).
* We snacked on stove top popcorn a couple times.
* I got a pork shoulder from Aldi for $8 ($1.29/lb). I tossed it into the slow cooker one day when I went to work. I strained off the cooking water to use in making soup later. I shredded the pork and use for many meals of BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. It has been a busy week, so while this didn't make for the most balanced diet, it was better than fast food. I used lots of pickled peppers and caramelized onions in my mix. I served a few different ways: wraps, on hamburger buns (from the freezer; manager's special for $.25) and over grits (box from salvage grocer; $.10).
* I made grilled BBQ pork pizzas one day. I used a box whole grain pizza crust (At $.10 at the salvage grocer, it was less than the cost of the yeast to make from scratch). To grill, I just spread some oil over my cast iron skillets, pressed the dough into the bottom and pressed some corn meal into the top. I grilled over medium heat until it was done on the bottom then flipped over. I immediately added BBQ pulled pork, pickled peppers (free seconds from the farm), caramelized onions (free seconds from the farm; batch made and frozen in ice cube trays for the perfect amount to add to dishes), and cheddar cheese. I turned the heat to low and allowed to cook until the bottom was golden and the cheese melted. This is super easy and so good. It is also a perfect way to enjoy pizza in the summer when you don't want to heat up the kitchen.
* I fried leftover grits. I'd forgotten how good this is.
* I found pumpkin spice items on manager's special: $1/bags of Lindt's chocolates, $1/pumpkin spice latte concentrate.
* I froze more scallions.
* We went on a couple coffee dates.
* We used the library to check out books, audio books and movies. We really save so much money with the library system.
* Often, our evening entertainment was just watching a movie (from the library) at home before I attempted to fall asleep.
* Our friend took us out for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. It was so good to get to hang out with him for the afternoon.
* I had a couple no-spend days. This was due to the fact that I was pretty much passed out, but the financial effects are the same!
* For my stepdaughter's Christmas gifts, we gave half books (because she is a book nerd), and the rest was warm clothes and a couple of fun items. We shipped the books out separately by media mail. It takes longer to get there, but the savings on shipping was astounding. It would have cost $41 to ship otherwise, but with media mail was a little over $9! Definitely worth the inconvenience.
* We kept the furnace turned down lower and bundled up in warm clothes and blankets. We also had a Ray-cat that liked to cuddle often.
*I composted some items, but not as much as usual. I think mostly this was due to not cooking as much as usual.
* I used the last little bit of a bottle of shampoo as bubble bath.
* We used repurposed or reused materials for shipping items.
House and Home:
* Trucker is working a lot on the house and it is looking great. He is organizing our library (we have thousands of books between us two).
* We had a good long talk about our plans for the future and I decided to go back to my job at the factory full time. I enjoyed working there when I was a part-timer, and still liked it when I was working extra days (enough that I asked about becoming full-time). The plan all along was to go back to the factory after the farming season ended (since I had to be gone for 90 days to reapply as full-time). I applied this week and go in first thing next week to finalize everything and get on the waiting list. They said since I have worked there before and left on good terms, I'll get bumped up to the top of the list. I will be gone longer hours during the week, but I will get more days off than I would at other full-time jobs. In addition to some paid vacation (after a year) and call-off days, I'll get 15-16 paid holidays (including 2 week-long shutdowns). The pay rate will, after 30 days of training, be starting out at the highest I've ever made, and I'll get a raise every other month. This is technically a temp job, but there are people who have done it for 20+ years and it does lead to permanent placement within a couple years if you want to (main issue is that becoming full time requires second shift for several years; we will discuss this later). It is the same factory my dad works at, and while the pay and benefits won't be as good for me as they were for him (he was grandfathered in with a super high pay rate and a pension), it will be better than I've ever had before.
* I helped a friend out one afternoon. She and her husband run a party business and I got to help them at an event. I manned the craft table and helped kids make snow globes. It was fun, I made some money and got to hang out with good people. Plus there was hot chocolate!
* I think Trucker is glad to be back to work, overall.
* Trucker is taking a class online.
* I did something I never do: nothing. In fact, I spent a whole day doing it. I got off work at 9 AM and Trucker was going to be working late at the warehouse. It has been over 5 weeks since life got crazy and I feel like I have been so busy taking care of everything and everyone else, that I forgot about me. So I crawled into bed and took a couple hours long nap, then read a good book, took a bubble bath and drank a lot of water. It was perfect. Everyone needs a mental health day every now and then.
* I successfully avoided the donuts that someone brought in at work.
* I have recently gotten out of the habit of drinking plenty of water, so I've been more mindful of it now. I'm trying to chug half a glass, then refill to take back to my desk. I have an easier time drinking seltzer than regular water, so I've been bringing cans of that with me to work (The cans cost $.04 from the salvage grocer).
* I am pretty sore from the job. I need to get in the habit of stretching.
* My blood pressure and heart rate have dropped significantly! Blood pressure was 117/80 (down from 142/93) and heart rate was down to 67 bpm (from 90). This is so encouraging to know that my efforts to control my anxiety and workout my heart more have been fruitful. A year ago I started a medication that often raises blood pressure rates pretty significantly. Since my blood pressure was already high, but the medication was really helpful, I decided to focus a lot of energy on getting it under control. I was so pleased with the results.
How was your week?