Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 7/18 - 7/24

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 bag of rabbit feed for $10.
* I am contemplating getting rid of the rabbits. I made the mistake of "saving money" on breeding stock, which in hindsight was a bonehead move. Nurse Ratched has some defects that I'm really sure are cause to cull. Still debating whether to give it another few months. Everyone at the farm agrees that rabbits are one of the most troublesome ways to raise meat and opt for chickens. Has anyone successfully (or unsuccessfully) kept rabbits for meat? Thoughts?
* I got some leftover Swiss Chard and lettuce starts from the farm. I planted them where I had pulled garlic.

* We had baked potatoes for dinner one night. Simple and it kept us from being tempted to eat out.
* Trucker made steak (manager's special) and potatoes one night.
* We had tacos a couple of times.

Food Preservation:
* I put up another 3 ice cube trays of pesto.

* We went out to my parents' house for dinner one evening. We had a great time talking with them, my sisters and Grandpa.
* Trucker got us concert tickets to see Joan Jett, Heart and Cheap Trick (groupon; half off). We spent the night in a nearby town. It was a lovely historic hotel. They had elaborate gardens and a walking trail through the gardens into the woods. The breakfast was phenomenal. I booked the hotel through to earn towards my free night's stay. We packed a lunch for the first day so we didn't have to eat out; the second day we ate a big breakfast and then got a late lunch.
* I took my sister out to see Giant (her first time) at the theatre downtown. I had bought a strip of 10 tickets for $25, and I bought us each a box of candy from the dollar store on the way (they are fine with outside snacks). Total cost for a girls afternoon out: $7.

* We enjoyed a lovely stroll through the garden at the hotel.

* It has been a hot one at work. 90+ degree days, and there's still high tunnel work to be done. The boss has had us come in an hour early so we can work less in the heat. Very considerate of her. I LOVE the 6-2 shift because I feel like I have the whole day when I get off and I don't have to go to bed super early.
* I picked up some extra hours to cover my day off.
* A couple of months ago, Trucker had bought us concert tickets for a show out of town. We had planned on just heading out after work, and I'd try to sleep on the way home so I could go to work the next morning. When I asked the boss whether I could pick up greenhouse duty that week so I could leave early that day (On days we aren't working at the farm, one person gets greenhouse duty to tend to the seedlings and gets to leave early one day that week), she insisted that she would cover the farmers market so I could have a weekend away with Trucker.
* I took a few seconds home, but not a lot since we would be gone for the weekend.
* I packed my lunch each day, except Friday when the boss brought tacos.

* I finally went to the doctor for my annual physical. I figured after 14 years it was time.
* Trucker had a cyst on his eyelid removed. While two different doctors both said it was just a cyst and not dangerous, both a family friend and Trucker's uncles had had what they thought was a cyst that turned out to be cancer. It ended up costing a lot more than we expected. However, I have been paying down the credit cards significantly, so I put some of it on one credit card, that I am continuing to pay down aggressively. I will pay off that portion with my next paycheck.

* Dad let me borrow his chainsaw so I can tackle the unruly tree line.
How was your week?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 7/11 - 7/17

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.
* It was an insanely busy week and we have both been feeling poorly, so we ate out a lot. I have to get back in the swing of prepping meals.
* I boiled a few grocery sacks full of beets and carrots.
* I stopped at Save-A-Lot, which I don't usually like, but it was on the way home. I found a couple decent sales: $.99/tortillas (bought 4), $.89 hamburger buns, and coffee ($5.99/35 oz decaf, $4.99/31 oz regular)
* I made a plum crisp, using some oatmeal/hot cereal packs that Trucker didn't like for breakfast as the crisp topping.
* We grilled out one afternoon. Trucker made his fantastic hamburgers (used 1/4 of a 5 lb chub I got for $6 at Aldi) and we also grilled corn on the cob ($1 from my farmer buddy), sweet peppers ($2 for 15 or so; we used about $1's worth), zucchini (free from farm), patty pan squash (free from farm), fairy tale eggplant (free from farm) and nectarines for dessert ($.58 from Aldi). We served the burgers with tomatoes and onions from the farm (free) and homemade refrigerator pickles (made from free veggies). So including condiments, we spent $5 and had enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Food Preservation:
* I made another batch of radish pickles.
* I dried bread heels to use for crumbs.
* I made a huge batch of pesto for the freezer.
* I froze some boiled beets and carrots.

* We went hiking at a lovely state park about an hour away. It had been so long since we've been able to get out for a hike. We did a four-mile loop. It was a lovely park, with lots of waterfalls. Afterwards, we went to get ice cream at a agritourism mecca nearby. I also got to pet some goats and calves, so I was pretty happy. We ate well before we left, and brought drinks with, so the only cost was $8 for ice cream and $8 in gas to get there.

* We loved getting to see all the waterfalls at the state park. It was a little too crowded to get to see much wildlife besides some squirrels. However, we did off-trail a bit to the river to watch fish and crawdads. Plus, it is always wonderful to get away from the city and get lost in the woods.

* We looked at mattresses when we went out for household items with part of our tax money. I shopped around while shopping with my friend and knew the place that had the cheapest. Trucker was mortified when he saw the price (it's been a solid decade since we bought a mattress and that was at our salvage grocer, so it was cheap). One queen sized mattress was on sale for almost 50% since it was the floor model. It did show a fair amount of wear, more than I typically see on a floor model (I usually suggest buying display models. This may be the exception since so many people hop on it to try it out, while no one tries baking a cake in the display ovens). We decided not to buy it because it was a queen and we currently have a full. To buy that, we would still have had to spend $130 on a box spring and buy all new sheets (and I've just recently got us fully stocked with a variety of both summer and winter sets). Trucker looked around at some online auctions and found a really nice full-sized mattress for $50. He listed our mattress on OfferUp for $35 and sold it the next morning. So basically, we paid $15.
* I made a credit card payment on the last card that was 4x the minimum payment. This will not be my only payment this month.
* I did use this card to buy some household items that we had budgeted from our tax refund. I had planned to spend about $350 on household repairs/materials. I put that money on the balance as soon as I got the money so I wouldn't pay interest on that $350 for those few weeks. However, we ended up only spending $286. We shopped around to get the best prices. We bought 2 interior doors to replace crummy ones that have needed replaced for years. We bought a new screen door for the patio doors since Ray-cat tore down the last one. We paid an additional $10 to get the heavy-duty one that was reinforced at the handle; this was the exact area where the old screen was bent from the previous owners, warping the entire door and making it difficult to open. I also found a metal wire theft-prevention cover that is half the height of the door. We plan to put that in front of the screen to keep her from clawing at it. If that doesn't work, we will spend $10 to get special pet-resistant screen. Trucker has wanted to put window frames up in the master bedroom since we moved in. Admittedly, it is a boring looking room. He figured out what he wanted and we comparison shopped. Some of the stained oak pieces were on sale for just $1 more per 7-foot piece than the unstained pine ones. The 4 accent pieces were $1.50 more each, but we figured for a total of $9 extra, we don't have to buy any stain or mess with it. That was acceptable for us. We also got several tools that Trucker will need for these (and a few other) projects, and will then have for future projects. We also got a new mailbox since the one that came with the house was too small for the volume of mail we get, and part of it fell off on a near-daily basis. We got the cheapest one that suited our needs. We ended up buying a lot of small things that we hadn't planned on (small projects and tools), but since we had shopped around and found incredible deals on the doors, we still came out spending $64 less than we had budgeted for the three doors.
* When we first decided to buy a house, Trucker told me that he was fine with buying a home, as long as I understood that he was not handy and had no intention of becoming handy, so I would have to hire out all work. Turns out, he is quite handy. He is constantly doing minor repairs, maintaining the house, and adding lovely touches, such as the Mid-Century medicine cabinet he installed last month. He even learned how to fix our furnace and water heater! He is absolutely amazing and I am so thankful I have him as my partner.
* I used Swagbucks for searches to earn points. I'm saving these points because we have some big changes coming in the next year or two, and I want to have lots of things prepared. While this is a small earnings, but leaving it alone, I may have a couple hundred dollars worth by then (currently at $25).
* I am using my rewards credit card for almost all of my purchases. I earn 1-5% cash back. I am currently letting them sit in my rewards account because I am not sure that I wouldn't lose control of spending and use it for...something. I do need to set up a savings account at a bank that is ridiculously inconvenient so it makes it harder to spend savings.
* I got two month's worth of mileage reimbursement and put it towards my credit card.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things.
* I used old newspapers, bubble wrap and boxes to ship packages.
* I have started a bin in the kitchen for non-glossy paper waste so that I get more browns in my compost and further reduce my household waste.

* My boss has been wonderful at letting me make up hours as needed to take care of my family. Trucker needed to go to the doctor and I needed to be present. My wonderful boss encouraged me to take whatever time I needed and they would make it work on their end. I made sure to get him in to the doctor on a slower day rather than the next day when it was a busier workday.  I was able to pick up a few hours throughout the week and made up for the lost hours. I am so thankful that I have found myself working with a team that treats everyone as a person. It certainly makes life more pleasant, and keeps morale high.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked except Friday. Every Friday we have a cookout. The boss made hamburgers, someone else brought chips and salsa and I brought some cookies. It was so much fun and so delicious.
* Trucker ate for free one day at work.
* Trucker got Sunday off work since it was a slow week. We enjoyed getting a day to spend together.

* Our alarm clock started running fast. Trucker bought another one and made sure it took batteries so when the power goes out, we don't lose the time (especially important since I work early in the morning).
* I put up lots of food for winter.

* My insomnia got really bad this week and I ended up getting 15 minutes one day before going to work.
* Trucker started to have some scary side effects, so we had to go to the doctor to get things all fixed up. The doctor strongly encouraged him to cut back on the caffeine and increase the cardio. These are things both of us need to do, so it will be good to help each other. We bought some decaf coffee to cut in to the regular to reduce the caffeine in each pot (He usually drinks just shy of 2 pots a day).
* I have been better this week at drinking more water while at work.

* Both of our farm stands went fabulously well! We were super busy both days and I got to meet so many fantastic people. I am blown away by how lovely people are. Many of them are concerned with my personal safety, or watch over the farm while we are away. I got to talk with one fabulous woman for awhile this week after the farm stand.
* I met the moderator of a fantastic local Facebook group. She is a veteran who is passionate about food security. She started a page to let other vets know how to get access to healthy food and it just sort of grew from there. Locals that are interested in finding about getting affordable, healthy food can check her out: Free Food Soldier.
* I helped my friend another day to get all settled in.
How was your week?

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 7/4 - 7/10

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.
* I've slacked off on keeping the bunnies in greens every day. I always make sure they have a surplus of pellets, but they love the greens and it saves me money on store-bought feed.
* I harvested two small volunteer garlic bulbs.

* I went home for lunch one day. Trucker had made an amazing lunch for me: pork chops and rice with gravy. So sweet of him.
* I made stir fry a couple of times with pork chops (one divided between the two of us), beets, spring garlic, carrots, radishes, turnips, and assorted greens over rice. All of the vegetables came from the farm.
* I've started doing shots of pickle juice after work. It is one of the most refreshing things after a hot, sweaty day. I'm not even concerned about not having brine for mock pickles because it is so good.
* I found lots of great sales at Aldi, most unadvertised: $.60/dozen eggs, $1.69/gallon milk, $.20/nectarines, $.14/lb bananas, $2.18/lb ground beef, and $.25/lb potatoes.
* I cooked down all of the baby beets and carrots I had so we can use them as ready-to-go sides or additions to other dishes with no prep.

Food Preservation:
* I froze more baggies of greens.
* I made more refrigerator pickles.

* Trucker has wanted to go to a certain conference for several years, but it is out of our price range. This year, he arranged to drive several speakers to and from the airport. In exchange, he got free full admission and some meals. He also got to drive one of his favorite authors, who signed a book for him. He also got the courage to give him a copy of a book he published; the guy started reading it on the way to the hotel. Trucker was on cloud 9!
* My family came out one evening to go hiking (this week is the week they all get off work at the factory) and stopped by afterwards to go out for ice cream with us. We had a great time.
* My parents invited me to go biking with them after work one day. They got us lunch at a fried chicken place (using BOGO coupons from their coupon book and dropping the extra dinner off to my Grandpa). Afterwards we went up to the lake and biked around. Dad wanted to do putt-putt golf, so we stopped at a bait shop that has a course in back. He had a BOGO coupon, so it was 2/3 off. We had a good time and laughed a lot. At the last hole, Mom noticed that none of us had hit a hole-in-one yet. She hit her ball and it didn't go in. I step up, hit mine and knock hers in, effectively giving her a hole-in-one. We had a good long laugh at that until we counted the score. She and I had been tied, but that hole in one made her win by one stroke!

* We went for a short hike at the metropark by our house. The mosquitoes were bad and we'd forgotten our bug spray, so we cut it short. It was a nice hike, however and we got to see a couple herons.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things, especially focused on non-glossy junk mail and other brown material.
* I put veggie scraps in the freezer to use for stock making.

* I took one day off of work to go to a funeral. I picked up several hours throughout the week to make up for the pay.
* Trucker's boss gave him a day off so he could go to the conference for an extra day. So kind of him.
* We had a potluck at work on Friday, otherwise I packed my food. Trucker ate for free the day he worked.

* I met someone who is putting on a men's health conference. We talked about the possibility of me speaking at the event. While I'm not getting my hopes up, I was proud of myself for having the courage to put myself out there. Trucker has been getting on me for years to get into speaking and generally not undervaluing myself, and I am trying to take his advice, no matter how scary.
* Trucker has a new position coming as a new chapter of an organization he is involved with is starting a branch in our city. The conference allowed him to meet a lot of important people for this new journey.

* I have been having really horrendous insomnia for a couple weeks now. As such, I have cut back on both the alcohol and caffeine I consume. The hardest part of this is the chocolate, honestly. Hopefully I can get back to the days when a tiny little chocolate seems the most decadent thing in the world. I'm hoping this will help on the weight loss front also. Growing older certainly happened fast; I always silently judged people who said they couldn't have coffee after 11 AM. Now here I am.

* I have overstretched myself a bit. It's time to take a week or two to decompress, slow down, spend some quality time doing nothing. I have found that I have become my parents: always wanting to help everyone and having a hard time pronouncing that "no" word. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do need to recognize when I'm getting close to my breaking point. I think part of the issue this particular week was being away from Trucker for so many days and not wanting to be home alone, so I committed to too many things.

* My uncle passed away last week. The funeral was this week. It was a hard day, especially watching my aunt and cousins experience this much pain. Almost everyone in the family was there and comforting each other and I was grateful for the kind of family that is there for each other. I did learn one shocking thing about him that day, something I'd never could have suspected. Apparently, my 75-year-old uncle was really into Zumba! In hindsight, I should have known. My mom and I talked and in the coming weeks plan to go up to visit my aunt (3 hours away) and take her out for lunch/shopping.
* While Trucker was at his conference, he needed me to pick up something he won from the auction at his job. He usually takes them donuts every week, so I decided to bring them a little something. I found 4-packs of apple turnovers on sale for $1.79. They were really excited. Reminds me that it doesn't really take all that much to brighten someone's day.
* My dear friend and her children recently moved back from Egypt. Her husband is still there and once they are all settled, will follow. I spent the weekend helping her get settled. The first day, she had bought a really nice dining room table and chairs set ($700, on sale for $500, but was a return, so it was $275). We couldn't fit it in our car, and delivery would be $100, even though she lived .4 miles from the store. So after securing the permission of an employee, we made a mad dash down the street, barefoot (both of us had been wearing backless shoes so we kicked them off onto the cart), pushing the cart with dining set down a posh neighborhood street. We were laughing until we were crying. She was able to negotiate free delivery (phew). After that, my dad let me borrow his pickup truck and we were able to get her a coffee table, love seat, sofa, and random kitchenwares. We visited around 25 stores and checked our prices well. We had to take the door off the frame to fit the loveseat in, but we got it! She brought us some delicious treats from Egypt (this amazing shortbread like cookie with a honey filling that was the perfect amount of sweet, very rich, but just mildly sweet). She also treated me while we were out to some traditional drinks and cheeses we found at a couple of stores we stopped in. It was a lot of fun.

How was your week?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 6/27- 7/3

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.
* I put scallion bottoms into water to regrow them.
* I fed the bunnies farm seconds and carrot tops. While I know the carrot tops are technically edible, I don't enjoy the texture (I don't mind the bitter taste so much). The bunnies adore them though.
* We had extra seedlings at work so the greenhouse manager said we could take what we wanted. I took (and planted in my own garden): sage, rosemary, zinnias, okra, lunchbox peppers, purple bell peppers, jalapenos, marjoram, parsley, oregano, Greek oregano and basil.
* I planted my large containers  (yes, quite late) with okra and a variety of herba and a couple zinnias.
*i spread out the rabbit manure where i had had the hutches to make a full bed. I planted this area to peppers. I'm not sure if it is composted well enough to grow in, but I figured it didn't hurt to try. Of course, I planted peppers rather than lettuce or root crops since I didnt want anything I'll eat directly coming into contact with the manure.
* I made a blackberry crisp from some blackberries my parents had given me that had lived in the freezer too long. I used bread crumbs saved from heels of loaves, together with flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter to make the topping.
* We found a new salvage grocer that is, quite possibly, better than our other one. We got some great deals: $.10 seasoning packs, $.35 cans of beans, $.50 packs of tortillas, $.50 chocolate bars, 20 lbs of rice for $5, cat food $1/3 cans.

Food Preservation:
* I cut and froze a large bunch of scallions. I will transfer them to a baggie when frozen. Another day i froze another two bunches.
* I made a batch of pesto starter using 2 cups of basil (from the farm seconds), pine nuts (manager's special), garlic (from last year's harvest) and olive oil (salvage grocer). I poured it into an ice cube tray. When needed, I can thaw and add Parmesan, if desired.
* I steamed and froze three bags worth of beet greens and kale, with scallions and/or garlic scapes.

* My parents had offered to let us borrow their kayaks whenever we wanted. We finally took them up on the offer, and are we ever glad we did! We went out in the late morning one day and kayaked through the canals at the state park that used to be my family's land (great grandfather sold it to the state). We enjoyed the herons, geese, ducks, fish and water beetles along the way. A dragonfly landed on the front of my boat and rode with me for awhile. Fortunately there were no snake sightings. We went to a hidden beach that few people know about. We didn't swim much but lay half on the sand, half in the water and talked for a good half hour or so before paddling back. It was a lovely day, although we forgot to apply sunscreen to our now-lobster-red thighs. Oops. Afterwards, we went to a McDonald's that had $1 ice cream cones. We sat on the pier and ate our treat while watching the ducks (and ducklings!) swim about. It was a perfect, frugal date.
* We went out for more free coffee dates using our Panera travel mugs. We used the mugs 15 times in June. This saved us $3.18 each visit, or $7.70. We paid $20 total for the mugs, so we saved $27.70 and ended up with free travel mugs to use when our others break.
* our friend had a bbq on Sunday. We brought crackers and a garlic herb spread (crackers on sale, spread on manager's special) and bread and spinach dip (both on sale). Total cost : $5.25.

* While we kayaked, I was completely blissed out. Especially since we live in the city, there is something magical about being someplace where you can't hear cars, there's no pavement in sight and everything around you is vibrant and alive.
* Trucker hung up a couple more bird houses. The birds have already been checking them out.

* We got our tax refund. I put the entire balance to pay down the last credit card (over half the remaining balance). We do need to get some work done on the house as we are planning on putting it on the market within 2 years. I will use a portion of the refund for those repairs. However, I figured it made more sense to pay that money down on the credit card and then use the credit card for those purchases since the interest I'd pay on the credit card for a few weeks would be more than interest earned leaving it in a savings account. The repairs will only be about 1/4 of the refund amount.
* Trucker bought some car parts for his Civic at auction for around 80% off. These are parts he will likely need with 6-12 months.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things.

* I got tons of seconds produce: turnips, carrots, beets, kale, lettuce, scallions, spring onions.
* I packed lunches for work most days. One day I forgot lunch, so I texted Trucker saying I was on my way home. By the time I got there, he had lunch and fresh coffee waiting for me. He is so perfect.
* Trucker ate for free at his job one day.
* Trucker picked up an extra day at his job to help his boss out.

* Trucker's boss took us out to lunch after his extra shift. It was filling enough that it was all either of us ate the entire day.
* I gave my sister some of the herb seedlings for her garden. She was excited as she hasn't grown herbs before.

How was your week?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...