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 forgot to water my house plants for a bit and may have killed a basil plant. The rest seem to still be okay.
* I spent a good amount of time flipping through seed catalogs deciding what varieties to grow this year. I am not going to go as all out as usual, and may look for more lazy methods, but I am excited to grow. Trucker has said he will help me work it this year since I'm working so much more than usual.
* Trucker found an online auction for a restaurant going out of business. He got a HUGE box of oyster crackers, another large box of saltines, and a box of 4 giant bags of decaf coffee. Each box was $1!
* I made a big pot of beans for the work week. I used the last of the ham, two pounds of beans (pinto and kidney), 1 large onion, sauteed, 1 little freezer bag's worth of leeks, and a mix of random spices and condiments (I had a bottle of BBQ sauce that was almost empty, so I added a little of the cooking liquid and shook it up). I plucked some fresh herbs from the indoor garden to top each serving. It was quite nice.
* Trucker made pork stir fry for dinner one night, using broccoli (on sale $.99/lb), celery (half a bunch, at $.69/each at Aldi), baby carrots (half a bag, $.69/1 lb bag at Aldi) and onion. He served it over white rice.
* We had popcorn a few times as our snack. I love the air popper! There are fewer widows and we use so much less oil!
* Trucker bought a loaf of rye sourdough bread on manager's special (large loaf for $1.50). We enjoyed big slices toasted with butter and fried eggs for dinner one day.
* Trucker made me French toast for breakfast one morning. It was amazing. He made extra and cut them into dippers for a work-day lunch.
* We went out for a coffee date.
* We went out with a new friend. She taught a philosophy class Trucker took a few months ago. We had a wonderful time and have already been making plans for thrifting and biking.
* When we went out of town for an audition, we stopped at a local coffee house to read for awhile.
* We enjoyed cuddling and watching movies from the library on a couple of lazy evenings when I was exhausted after work. Trucker surprised me by checking out Fern Gully, one of my childhood favorites. It was great to watch it and seeing the origins of certain parts of my personality. The Lorax and Fern Gully were two of my favorites, and as an adult, I have always been conscious of environmental impacts of wanton consumerism.
* We found out about a health talk and free dinner in the suburbs at a restaurant I'd wanted to try. It was put on by a chiropractic practice. It was quite entertaining and informative. The dinner was good. We each had the Angus burger with blue cheese and jalapeno-pineapple glazed bacon on brioche bun with french fries and caesar salad. We got to meet some new people and had a really nice time.
* My parents called one day to say that they were in town with my aunt. The hospital had a ceremony for all the people who had died from cancer at their hospital in 2016. After the services, they met up with us for dinner. It was great to get to talk with them.
* We went out for a walk at a park near our home. We did a 2-mile loop, with a few diversions to check out the river. It was perfect weather and we had a wonderful time. We didn't see any animals, but the wild garlic and onions were everywhere! I am always excited when I see that! Another day we did a mile loop on the other side of the park.
* We took a quick, 1 mile out and back late one evening. We may have gone out a little too late, as it was getting dark by the time we got back to the car, but we needed it. We got to see lots of deer along the tree line. It is so magical to watch them.
* One day it was 74 degrees which is terrifying, really, for late February in Ohio. However, we decided to get outside since it was so nice and sitting inside worrying about the future wouldn't change a thing. We went to another metropark near our house. This one is relatively new, so it was still fresh and interesting. We enjoyed walking through the woods along the river. We got in a good 3 miles.
* I needed new jeans, since all of the comfortable and nice pairs I had had been worn to death. I went to a decent thrift store. I got three pairs: $2.99, $1.99 and $1.25. They are all comfortable, fit with my current style and in good condition. I plan to get rid of a few pairs this week, particularly the ones I find uncomfortable or frumpy.
House and Home:
* At the auction, Trucker also got a newspaper stand. After cleaning it, we will use it as a place to store our sheets and pillowcases.
* We bought a really awesome gate at auction. We will likely eventually sell it, but for now it
* We painted the walls in my step-daughter's bedroom. It is a fantastic shade of blue (her favorite color) that is absolutely perfect. A common problem I see with smaller rooms is sticking to white or very light shades, so the room has no character. That is almost as bad a problem as having it too dark and seem smaller. This is a great in-between color and once the furniture and decorations are in, it will be perfect. I remember when we moved in, we didn't have time to paint the living room. It was a dark olive color that I thought looked bad, but once we got our stuff in, I realized that it made my favorite painting pop in a way that no other home had. I am so glad we didn't paint it, as we would have chosen a light color that would have lost that coziness I adore about our living room.
* We spent a whole evening at home working on organizing. We got something to sip on, played Spotify, cleaned and took frequent breaks to laugh, talk or hug. It was a really nice evening.
* I filled out my forms for background check and had my physical. Now comes the hard part...waiting for the phone call (it can take several months or longer).
* Trucker quit his job. He is so upset and hated to make things complicated for his boss since he liked him so much. However, given his spinal health state, he had no choice. Let the healing begin!
* Trucker bought us a safe. It is a heavy duty one that is fire and water safe. The regular price was $100, he got it for $20 at auction. We have another that is not as good, but we can use the heavy duty one for the most important items and less important, but still valuable items can be kept in the other one.
* I am feeling really good about the new job. When my stepdaughter came into my life, it got me thinking about what exactly I really wanted for my future. Before, I'd always had this vague idea of simply wanting to be happy with Trucker. However, since that is such a vague concept, it is hard to grow. I started really thinking about the specifics. Basically, I came up with: enough money to not have to be scared all the time (although certainly a six figure income is not necessary), good health insurance as we age, freedom to explore, travel and try new things, and stability. Beyond that, a lot is still flexible and vaguely thought out. However, this job will provide a living wage, health insurance for both of us (some changes in the political world will likely make this cost more, but at least I won't be facing the loss of health coverage), 4 weeks of paid vacation and 15-17 paid holidays a year mean that I will still have time to travel and live, and while the job is less stable than it was when my dad started 35 years ago, it is still more stable than any job I've had previously.
* Trucker is going to be in his first movie! He is an extra, but this director often pulls out extras he likes to give them roles. He is really excited.
* He also auditioned for a commercial and said he felt it was his best audition yet. I am so proud of him.
* Trucker took an acting class at the art college. It cost more than any class he has taken before, but was an in-depth class put on by all of the big people in the industry in the state. There were a lot of casting agents in attendance as well. He said he took lots of notes.
* We went to the booth a couple times and reworked displays. We have noticed an increase in sales since Trucker has been able to go up more often.
* The doctor at my physical said I was in great shape and had an incredibly flexible spine (I stretch so much at work in any spare moment that my nickname is Stretch.) She also said that she was proud of all the changes I've made to prevent future ills. It is great to know I am on the right track.
* My resting heart rate was in the upper 80s years ago before I started running. At the physical, it was 74, so I'm doing something right.
* When we went out of town, Trucker insisted on driving (a total of 4 hours on the interstate) so he could make himself get comfortable behind the wheel again.
* Trucker ran with me in 3 or 4 short bursts while we were at the park. He said that by spring he wants us to be jogging together. I really hope this happens. I am always happier with myself when running regularly and I think that some light running would have a great benefit on Trucker's pulmonary and cardiovascular health. (Update: each time we go out for a walk/hike, at some point he takes off running and we go for a short jog).
* Trucker got a Planet Fitness gym membership. We looked into options and decided that this will be a good expense for us. Of course, you don't need a gym membership to get in shape, so it was something we delayed doing for awhile. Here is why we decided to do it: Trucker is at home alone all day while I'm at work. I'm gone for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week (soon, possibly 6). He is struggling some to adjust to being alone so much, but won't go out anywhere because he doesn't want to spend money. We are hoping that the gym membership will help by getting him out of the house and the exercise will help him with mood and motivation. The gym membership is $20/month (and a $40/year fee, so essentially $23.34/month). It is just 2 miles from home, so hopefully he will be able to go often to get out of the house. He has done so much in the past year to improve his health, despite some challenges and now that he isn't working at the auction house, he wants to make sure he doesn't lose fitness. Of course, he won't push himself past his limits. The perks to the membership are: unlimited gym use at any location (so he can use it when we travel as well), unlimited use of a massage chair (this will be nice as he continues to heal from the accident), and free hair cuts (at $12/month for a hair cut, this drops the effective price to $11.34/month. Also, he is able to take 1 guest a day for free, so I will basically get a free membership. My time is very limited these days, so I wouldn't go by myself anyway. We plan to meet up after work some days, and one day each weekend start our morning out with a brief workout. I am excited to be able to run without fear.
* Trucker is still going to the chiropractor. He was going 3 times a week for 3 weeks and will go twice a week for the next two weeks, then monthly after that. He seems to be improving physically, and it seems that is helping him emotionally.
* We learned a lot at the health lecture/sales pitch. I don't know that we would go to that practice, but we get a good amount of information to think on. Since then, I've been more conscious about my posture, and how it changes throughout the day (my posture is perfect the first quarter of the day, then diminishes as the day progresses) and have been stretching even more. We have had some discussions about when in particular we struggle with depression most. One thing we noticed was that we both tend to struggle more on days when we work at home on the computer, regardless of whether we are online and thus being exposed to the news. We talked about posture and whether hunching over as we work impacts us. I know if we go out for coffee and work on our computers, I don't struggle as much with the mood issues. However, when we are in public, I don't slouch as I do at home. These are very interesting things to consider.
* I made a silly goof that had me incredibly stressed out for a bit. The day before my physical and drug test, I pulled an Elaine Benes. I ate a lemon poppy seed muffin for lunch. As I took the last bite, the scene flashed in my mind. I pulled up a government website that said that poppy seeds....can totally make you fail a drug test. Oh no! My boss ended up calling medical and they said I didn't have anything to worry about since I hadn't eaten enough. Phew, but sheesh.
How was your week?