Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 4/10 - 4/16

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.

This week was our ten-year wedding anniversary. I am so thankful for Trucker's presence in my life. He is my best friend and a great partner. I couldn't ask for more. 

* I'll confess, I'm terrible about taking care of the front gardens. I haven't mulched them once since we moved in. Needless to say, they looked terrible. A big problem was that that first year we lived here, I was very intense about weeding, but didn't realize that the entire front garden was filled with poison ivy. I'm terribly allergic, so the terror of touching it has pretty much kept me from doing anything there since. Last year, I sprayed some round-up (I know; however, it is much too rampant an invasion for someone with my level of allergic reaction to try to dig up all of those roots). I killed out a good portion of the poison ivy, but of course, the surrounding flowers are gone as well. This year, I decided to get it looking good again.
* I bought 19 bags of brown mulch at Menard's. It was on sale for $2.25/2 cu ft. I had a lot of rebate cards, so I got all 19 bags, 1 bag of grass seed (to reseed where I had to spray round up on the poison that had spread into the sod) and 3 bags of organic fertilizer (the same kind we used at the farm; usually $8/bag, on sale for $2.29) for free/no money out of pocket.
* I wasn't perfect about the mulch, mainly because I'm still terrified of the poison ivy that I know is lurking under the soil, just waiting for me to expose a bare ankle or a wandering elbow so it can strike. Gotta watch out for that jumping poison ivy. I basically went around and mulched somewhat carefully around the plants I wanted without touching anything (Trucker did come out and help me with some parts that were particularly poison ivy prone last year). Then I filled in around those plants, covering some that i wasn't too keen on. I raked in some flower seeds in the blank spots ($.25/pack from the dollar store). I don't expect they will do wonderful, but they are cheap enough to get and I'm really just looking for the bare minimum effort.
* I harvested herbs from the indoor garden.
* I went back and got 8 more bags. I used 5 more to finish the main front gardens, and have 3 bags leftover to fill in spots as weeds grow and to start on the next projects. I want to also mulch down the corner of the yard/driveway to the tree in the front yard. There are a lot of flowers growing around that area, so it is hard to mow it properly without decapitating blooms. I'll also mulch around the back of the house and along the back fence line.

* We made stir fry one evening. We used a leftover pork chop, 1 1/2 medium onions, 3 ribs celery ($.69/bunch at Aldi), 2 carrots ($1/lb at Aldi), several cabbage leaves ($.29/lb during St. Patty's; rather than cut at the head, I remove individual leaves and the head lasts a very long time), a handful of green beans ($.99/lb on sale) and served it over rice cooked in homemade stock.
* Trucker made steak one evening for dinner. We saved about 1/3 of it for another meal. He also served canned wax beans and mashed potatoes. I made a quick appetizer of  pepper poppers (I mixed the last of a package of cream cheese, some salsa, hot sauce and cheese, piped into seeded and frozen jalapeno and padron peppers, then baked til the peppers were soft).
* The next night we used the leftover steak to make tacos. I sauteed onions, sweet peppers and garlic scapes, then added the steak and seasonings. I added half a can of refried beans. I served in tortillas with sour cream, tomato, pickled peppers, pickled beets and pepper jack cheese. We only used about 1/3 of the meat mixture. I added the rest of the can of beans, the last of a jar of salsa and a generous dousing of hot sauce. I will use this for work lunches in the coming week. To prepare ahead, I put sour cream, cheese and pickled veggies in containers and pulled a pack of tortillas from the freezer. I'll bring all this to work and leave it in the cooler.
* One evening after we spent the whole day cleaning, we ordered a pizza. We had rewards points that were expiring in a couple of days that got us a free large 3-topping pizza.

Food Preservation:
* I froze some extra raw hamburger that I didn't end up needing for the party.
* I froze some of the party leftovers for a taco soup later, when we aren't sick to death of tacos.
* For our party, I was able to use a lot of food from the freezer. I'll have to remember to always throw a party as a way to use up items to make room for the new growing season.

* Instead of going out for coffee one day, we stayed at home. The weather was perfect, so we ate dinner outside, then grabbed our laptops to work out on the patio. The air was crisp and there was a gentle breeze. It was absolutely perfect. Trucker pointed out that each time we have our coffee date here instead of going out, we save $3 (approximately, since we sip on whatever we have at home). If we do that twice a week for the next six months, we will save over $150. Also, I found myself much more at ease since it was a lot quieter.
* We went out for pizza after spending the whole day working on the house. I used a coupon from our entertainment book, making it $7 with tip.
* We went to a free event at a local theatre.  A locally based stage actor made a documentary about his experiences on the road. It was quite entertaining. Afterwards there was an ice cream social, serving ice cream from a local maker. We had a really nice evening.
* We used the library for books, audio books and movies.
* For our anniversary, we had a nice date. We went to a local German restaurant, for which we had a coupon. We got the buffet since it was about the price of a meal and were able to try lots of yummy dishes. Afterwards, we went downtown to the park for a free ballet dress rehearsal. We got to listen to the director, fencing consultant and some of the dancers talk, as well as watch several of the dances from Romeo and Juliet. We finished up by heading north to a local meadery (since Trucker had never tried mead), and took a stroll around the neighborhood. It was a lovely evening.
* We had a party at our house to celebrate our anniversary. We had my parents, sisters and grandpa as well as many of our friends over. I made an absurd spread, as I do. We had a taco bar with ground beef, al pastor, cilantro lime rice and Mexican pinto beans. For sides, I made pan fried corn, cheese dip (with tortilla chips and corn chips), and stuffed peppers. For toppings, we had two kinds of lettuce, tomato, olives, raw and sauteed sweet peppers, raw and sauteed onions, two kinds of cheese, salsa, cilantro, limes, and sour cream (full-fat and fat-free). I had slices of radishes and cucumbers for nibbling. I made cookies using mixes from the pantry (usually I prefer to bake from scratch, but there was not enough time and the mixes had been purchased for pennies) and bought churros from Aldi. I had soda, homemade iced tea, coffee and horchata to drink. I made a slideshow of the best photos from the last 10 years. It was filled with important, sweet and absurd photos and got many laughs. My parents brought corn hole and hillbilly golf. The forecast had called for rain, but it ended up being a lovely day. We had so much fun catching up with old friends. We really have the most lovely group of friends and I love getting to see them. A couple of our friends drove from over 3 hours away! I added up the cost of all the food and, once you subtract the things we didn't use, it was basically the cost of going out to eat twice.

* We went on an amazing hike on one of my days off. We first hiked for a bit at a state park. We got to watch a family of Canadian geese for a bit. It was pretty muddy, so we took off for a national park, Hopewell Culture. It is the site of a lot of burial mounds. There is a museum on site filled with artifacts from the mounds.
* We went for a couple mile walk at a park near our house. We usually walk into the woods then down to the river to explore, but this time took the trail in the opposite direction. We got to enjoy a swamp and the sunlight was the perfect balm for my soul.
* We went hiking several times. One time was at the Audubon. We loved watching the herons coming in to roost, the fish swirling about, the turtles basking in the sun. This time of year is perfect.

* I took my car to my cousin to fix an exhaust leak. It wasn't terrible, but would need done sooner or later. Since I drive so much, I'm trying to keep ahead of the game to prevent a breakdown and subsequent call-off. He charged $40 to fix it.

House and Home:
* I had a lovely mustard footrest that I got at a thrift store for $1. The bottom was coming undone and it was leaking a little dust. Instead of throwing it away, since I really liked it, I decided to put some fabric on the bottom. I couldn't find any material in the scrap bag (because when I decluttered, I threw away most of the scrap bag...I knew I'd need it if I did), so I hit the rag bag. I was able to use two rags cut from an old t-shirt. I super glued one to the bottom, then cut the other into pieces to cover the rest of the bottom. After the glue dried, I trimmed away the excess. So far it is working great.
* I used my generic magic erasers to clean up the bathroom. They are amazing for removing soap scum.
* We made another donation to the thrift store.
* Trucker moved some shelving around and we were able to get the kitchen better organized.
* We made a huge amount of progress on the house. Over the last couple of months, we have drastically reduced our belongings and eliminated clutter and organized everything else. We touched up paint throughout the house. We organized our bookshelves, kitchen cabinets and tools. We fixed things that needed repaired, threw away things that were beyond repair and donated or sold many things that we no longer needed. We mulched the front garden and killed most of the poison ivy (I hope!). I think the house looks the best it has since we moved in. Most of it was a result of Trucker's endless efforts. He is such an asset.

* I picked up a shift and took a no-pay day. We have some non-production days scheduled (when we can work on projects or take the day off without pay or using a call-in day). I took the day off (and scheduled a doctor's appointment, allowing me to hoard my days in case of emergency) and have scheduled off the next one in two weeks as well. I then worked an extra shift on the weekend, so I got paid overtime. I worked a 9-hour shift, so I essentially got paid for 13.5 hours. Basically, once you consider the commuting cost I save for the shift I didn't work, it is the equivalent of working 7 hours each of the no pay days, but I get an extra day off.
* I packed my lunch each day. I have bought a lot of items at the salvage grocery that are perfect for tossing in my bag as I run out the door.

Gym visits this month: 17
Trucker: 11
Me: 1
* I've been drinking flavored seltzer a lot instead of high-calorie beverages. I need to get a water purifier because our local water tastes bad, but for now this works. I get it for around $.05/can at the salvage grocery or $.50/liter at Aldi).

* Trucker spilled water on his computer. We have it in rice for a few days to hopefully get it working again, as he had three books almost ready to publish that weren't saved to the cloud. I did buy him a laptop just in case. I shopped around online, then we hit two stores in person. We ended up getting a basic one. It was the third cheapest, but the others had no disk drives and very little storage space. As it was, we decided those features were worth the extra $25.

* Daisy gave me a few jars of homemade flavored vinegar. I can't wait to try them! I am thinking of using with my greens and to make salad dressing. For our anniversary, she gave us a beautiful bronze wine cooler/ice bucket and some items she made for our house. She is an amazing friend.
* Daisy's hubby looked at Trucker's computer when they came over and was able to help him get to his files! He is a lifesaver! We were both so distraught about the possibility of losing months of work. We are so relieved.
* We were really touched by how many people came over for our party. Nothing is as wonderful as being close to friends.
How was your week?


  1. It's always nice to put a face with words. I've been reading your blog for a while now, as well as your forum posts. I enjoy them and get a few new ideas. Keep up the good work kiddo, you are doing exactly what you should be.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy the blog. :)

  2. Congratulations on your ten year anniversary!! Wonderful picture of the two of you at the end - lots of happiness and blessings for the next ten years!!


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