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 fresh herbs from the indoor garden.
* It looks like the two thyme plants in the outdoor planters are coming back. One held up well over winter, but the other had gone quite brown. However, they are both looking nice now. I am waiting to harvest them until the cold spells are through.
* We had an easy (to prepare and on the stomach) meal of tinned chicken soup (manager's special; large can for $.49) and toast (bakery clearance, $1.50/big loaf).
* I made popcorn for our snack one evening.
* I went to the salvage grocer when I was in town visiting family. I got some great deals: Kraft mac-n-cheese for $.25/box, instant flavored grits $.10/box, toilet paper $.99/4 pack, kombucha $1.99/24 pack, tortillas $.50/10 pack, chai tea concentrate $.50/quart, espresso $8.99/5 lbs, some nice dish soap $1.50/large bottle and organic cereal $.99/box.
* I made a giant batch of homemade hamburger helper. I used one pound of ground beef, 2lbs of elbow macaroni, a large onion, a bag of diced sweet peppers (frozen, free seconds from the farm), a bag of leeks (frozen, free seconds from the farm), half a bag of scallions (frozen, free seconds from the farm), the last of two bags of cheese, the last of the sour cream and milk. I made a lot extra to use for lunches during the week.
* We went on a couple coffee dates, using travel mugs.
* Trucker's 40th birthday was this week. I took him out for an adventure. We went to the Mansfield Reformatory, where Shawshank Redemption was filmed. Tickets were usually $12 each, but I got a Groupon for $11 for two. When we got there, we had the option of adding an audio wand for $5 (BOGO), making our cost $8/person. They said it was 25 degrees colder inside the cell block than outside, and it was 33 degrees outside. Fortunately, I had some work clothes in my car, so I grabbed my work shirt, an extra flannel, jacket, work hat and my cut sleeves from the trunk. We bundled up and were reasonably warm. We bought a pair of gloves since it was so cold ($5 well spent, and we are going to give them to my step-daughter as we like to send her little gifts from our adventures). We got to learn some interesting little facts about the prison's history. We had a great time exploring and taking loads of photos (1000 between us). Before we knew it, 3 hours had passed. It was positively frigid, and I'm sure we would have spent another couple hours there if it had been warmer. I can't wait to go back!
* Afterwards, we went into town. We got pizza at a local spot ($11 for a very filling medium), walked around a book store and antique store, then got coffee at a local spot. It was a really lovely day.
* We enjoyed a couple evenings of movies from the library and popcorn.
* The day before his birthday, we went out to eat with a big group of our friends. We had a really great time.
* We went out for ice cream with a bit one get one free coupon he got in his email for his birthday.
* I took my grandpa and mom out for breakfast one day. It was great to spend a couple hours talking with them.
* We went to the gallery hop. The first Saturday of the month, an entire neighborhood becomes an art fest. The galleries offer refreshments, pop-up galleries show up in banks and street performers line the streets (as well as a group of people in raccoon and bear costumes...). It was a great, frugal night. There is something magical about walking around with other art lovers and checking out new talent.
* We went out on a couple hikes. On one, we ended up walking through some flooded areas. We were over halfway through the loop and couldn't get through another way. It ended up being pretty incredible. We found four deer lying close to the trail. They watched us for a bit, then ran off, but walked just ahead of us for awhile. Later we found a freshly killed deer. It looked like a coyote got her. It was a quite interesting little hike.
* I bought Trucker's birthday gift on Etsy. Awhile back, I found a Friday the 13th clock. I wanted to get it for him then since it is one of his favorite movies, but it was quite expensive. I looked around at several different websites and found one that was much cheaper than the original find. It is also made to order, so I was able to chose the material, paint and clock hands. He loved it. I liked being able to support a small-scale artisan rather than a big chain.
House and Home:
* I bought a used laundry basket for the bedroom. We have plastic ones in the laundry room, but nothing upstairs. I wanted something nice and this is perfect. It will look nice and help me keep things looking organized.
* We spent a couple hours together organizing the store room. We consolidated a lot.
* We took more items to the consignment store.
* I took two bereavement days and had one sick day. The day I was supposed to be back from bereavement, there was a problem at the factory and we didn't run. I've missed 4 days in two weeks. We will have a couple weeks of small paychecks, but we will make it.
* I packed a lunch each day I was hungry and didn't buy a single meal at the cafeteria.
Gym visits this month:
* Trucker - 8
* Me - 2
* Welp, we got ourselves a bit of food poisoning. I had to call off of work (and thus lost my attendance bonus), but we are well on the mend. We felt pretty crummy for a couple days, but honestly, the 30+ hours straight we spent in bed was kinda nice. I mean, obviously, food poisoning is a pretty awful thing, but we survived! I was thinking that even though we were sick, we were able to spend a good amount of time just lying in bed talking, watching movies and cuddling. To be able to do that pleasantly, it means that we are fortunate to have such companionship with someone we like so much. We have a bed, with warm covers, and indoor plumbing! We are financially stable enough that, although it is frustrating, we can survive the loss of income. If that is one of our crummiest days, it is a good life.
* We were rather active, except when we were sick.
* Trucker's grandma died. She basically filled the role of mother after his mom died when he was 10, so it has been especially hard on him. She was an amazing woman and the best mother-in-law I could have asked for. I was granted bereavement given the situation and we were able to go out for two days. We packed food for the road and got free breakfast at the hotel, so we only had to pay for one meal. We got a hotel outside of the city for about half the rate if we had stayed closer.
* My coworkers were happy to see me back at work. They told me a few times over the next couple days how much they'd missed me. They all signed a card for us.
* My mom came with us on our trip out of state for the funeral. That meant a lot to all of us.