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 made breakfast sandwiches with bagels I got from the restaurant. I added eggs ($.99/dozen jumbo, on sale at Meijer), cheese (sale, store brand), and some pickled veggies (on mine, Trucker doesn't like pickled veggies as much as I do)
* I made a quick and easy dip for us one evening as our snack. I mixed together some sour cream, a bit of cream cheese and a good amount of salsa with a bit of a flavoring packet I got at a salvage grocer. I served with tortilla chips I got on sale for $.50/bag (75% off Christmas clearance. They were green and red).
* I made a weird but yummy apple dish. I thawed a baggie of applesauce from the freezer (put up last year from seconds apples) and spread in a thin layer in a baking pan. I had some tad-stale sugar cookies in the freezer. I thawed them and crumbled them up. I added some flour, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of melted butter, then topped the apple sauce. The toaster oven was occupied, so I let it sit for a half hour, then baked at 350 degrees for a half hour. The result was nice. The top was crisp, then a middle layer that was cake-like and a thin layer of thick applesauce/apple butter at the bottom. It wasn't overly sweet like my apple crisp usually is, so it will be in regular rotation as we look for ways to indulge our sweet tooth without increasing our diabetes risk.
* We had pan-fried pork chops and roasted veggies for dinner one day. I used turnips, carrots, beets (all from the farm), potatoes (Aldi; $.30/lb for multicolored fingerling), radishes (Aldi; $.69/lb) and onions (from the stores; Aldi for $.33/lb), tossed with vegetable oil and some ranch seasoning that I got at a salvage grocery. It was absolutely fantastic. We had one pork chop and a serving of vegetables left over, which I used for breakfast one day.
* I made Colcannon with collards (from the farm) and potatoes (Aldi; $.25/lb). I used little milk and no cream.
* I made a slow cooker lasagna to use for work lunches. I used a box of lasagna noodles (realized as I was finishing the last layer that I forgot about my eggplant noodles. Boo. I'll just have to make lasagna again soon), the last of a jar of tomato sauce in the frig, plus another jar from the pantry, a small bag of leeks from the freezer, half a baggie of frozen peppers, a container of cottage cheese ($.75 on manager's special), about a cup of TVP granules, a handful of cheddar (store brand) and herbs from the indoor garden.
* We got some good manager's specials: eggnog for $.50/half gallon, cottage cheese for $.75, one-pound bags of cheddar for $2.25.
* I dehydrated more basil, oregano and sage from the indoor garden.
* I put up 2 gallons of beet pickles. It is the last of the cold storage beets.
* I took 4 days off between jobs just got a bit of a break. The first say, Trucker suggested we get out of town. We went to a town about a half hour away and ran around a huge antique mall for awhile. We had a lot of fun looking at everything and finding awesome, weird and quirky old things. I bought two things: a big yellow plastic box with a handle. It looks really funky and fun. I plan to use it to hold either crafting projects downstairs (to hide and to keep the cat from eating the yarn, as she does) or to hold pillowcases. It was $4.50, on sale 20% so $3.60. The other item was a large screen. I'm not sure exactly what it was a part of, a door to something. I am going to use it to organize my jewelry. Trucker and I were just talking about needing something for my earrings last week. He has been looking out for something and this is perfect. It was $16, on sale for 40% off, so $9.60. So much cheaper than buying a new jewelry organizer and so fun.
* We went out on a few coffee dates and got a lot of writing and reading done.
* We had a couple stay-in dates with popcorn and movies from the library.
* Basically, it was the perfect mini vacation before I start the new job.
* Trucker got his first hair cut since the accident. He has been wearing bandanas and hats since because parts of his hair were shorter and one 1.5 inch diameter circle said bald. Finally, the hair in that section has grown out about a centimeter and a half, except directly over the scar. It did not grow in as thick as the rest of his hair, but we were hoping it would at least grow back. He used a coupon for Great Clips for a $6 haircut.
* I composted weird things, as always.
* I mended some socks that had torn at the heel. They are comfortable, warm socks, so I didn't want to waste them.
House and Home:
* I got off of work an hour and a half early one day, so I decided to work on the house for that amount of time. As soon as I got home, I turned on Spotify and started working. I wiped down the front door on both sides, then wiped all the walls in the entrance-way and down the hall towards the kitchen. I made a vinegar-water solution and used it to wipe down all of the door handles and knobs everywhere in the house. I got out the spackle and filled in all the little bump marks on walls throughout the house. I also filled in some weird holes on the ceiling in the bedroom we are working on. I'm assuming some of them were from hanging posters, not sure of the others. The previous owners had patched some parts of the ceiling in the living room, but had done a rough job. I sanded down the rough spots and spackled in any low spots. I had some melamine foam that I bought a long time ago (generic version of Magic Eraser), but hadn't tried yet. I started scrubbing the kitchen-frig handles, frig front, front of stove, floor around the stove (when we moved in there was some kind of sticky thing that I hadn't been able to get up no matter what cleaners I used or how hard I scrubbed). Melamine is pretty much the best thing ever. With barely any effort, it took off everything. Then I opened up the front of the frig and vacuumed out the coils. I wiped off the coils and the vent cover. Since I was still super excited about the melamine, I tackled the bathtub. Again, this stuff is the bomb. I ended up calling my mother to tell her about its wonders and we ordered 60 on amazon ($6.49 with free shipping).
* We worked together on our extra room. We had previously used it as a craft room/storage room. We got everything cleared out. I organized all of my craft items into boxes and threw away some stuff that was just clutter.
* We donated two boxes worth of old clothes/random household items to the thrift store. Their warehouse had burned down this week, so they were going to be low on items. These items were not fashionable enough to sell on consignment, but are in good condition and I'm sure someone will buy them.
* We gathered up some items that didn't sell at the booth that we didn't want to keep. We dropped them off at a cancer charity shop that operates on a consignment basis. If your items sell within 4 weeks, you split the proceeds 50-50. If it doesn't sell by then, it becomes property of the shop (they mark it down 50% to move it). Since we would otherwise have donated the items anyway, it was nice to have the chance to earn a little something, and even if it does earn us anything/much, we will be helping the Columbus Cancer Clinic.
* It was warm enough a couple of days to turn off the furnace and open the windows. Granted, it got a little chilly, but we loved the fresh air.
* I worked 3 days at the restaurant. I worked longer shifts so I got a decent number of hours in. I took 4 days off in between jobs to recoup and get ready for the new beginning.
* I feel really good about the decision I have made about the job. We will finally make a salary that we can be stable on, and within a year will get health insurance (in case the ACA gets repealed). While part of me wishes I had done this years ago (thinking of how close to retirement I'd have been if I just bit the bullet and went here right out of school), I think the timing is right. I would have missed a lot of exciting things and I'm glad I spent my 20s being a vivacious wild wanderer. I'm glad I got to meet Trucker. I'm glad I got to move around. I'm glad I got a chance to try my hand at all sorts of fun jobs: banking, accounting, baking, farming, and package throwing. Now we have settled. We know where we want to grow old, we are stable, we have my stepdaughter in our lives (who is basically just the coolest human ever), we have dreams for a few acres in the country with a fishing pond and maybe a couple head of cattle. If I'd gone into this job when I was young, I would have wondered what I could have been or could have done. I also would probably have been dumb with the money. Now, I know why I'm going and I know where I'm using it to get me.
* Trucker went to the doctor about some dizziness he was experiencing and the doctor said it was benign proximal vertigo. Basically, nothing dangerous, he just has to avoid doing the head movements that cause dizziness and be careful about falling. It cost us our copay to go, but I would rather be out $30 than not catch something until it was too late. This past year has been hard, but a probably healthy result is that it has made me realize that we are getting older. We need to be more mindful of risks and start taking care of things before they become issues.
* One day while Trucker worked, I basically relaxed around the house with Ray. It was a perfect evening.