Sunday, April 9, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 3/27 - 4/9

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.
Gardening:
* There are mason bees in the bee hotel. We are really excited.
* My spider plant is about to have babies!
* I harvested fresh herbs almost daily. This is great! My sage plant looks like it could be heavily harvested for drying.
* The garlic looks good. A couple of weeks ago I found several garlic shoots in the grass. Apparently I dropped a bulb of garlic during the harvest last year. I dug them up, separated them and planted them with the rest of the garlic. They seem to be doing well.

Cooking/Groceries:
* I made another batch of homemade hamburger helper for work. I make this frequently because it is easy and reasonably healthy. I make a triple batch, but use less hamburger than a single batch. I make up the bulk with loads of vegetables, whatever I have in the freezer or that needs used up. It always has an extremely high volume of alliums (onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, garlic scapes). I use less cheese than required and cut the milk with stock.
* Trucker made steak, fried potatoes and green beans one evening. The next night we made stir fry with leftover steak, random vegetables from the frig/freezer and leftover rice.
* I made grilled pizza again to use the other half of the pizza dough. I topped with leftover bacon, leftover steak, caramelized onions (frozen, free from the farm), sweet peppers (frozen, free from the farm) and mushrooms (manager's special, only on mine since Trucker is allergic). I served it with a small salad (I purchased the lettuce at Kroger. It was a baby head sold at the same price per pound as larger heads. Since it is just the 2 of us, we have a hard time getting through a large one sometimes, so we save money by not wasting. The lettuce head cost around $.50).
* I made popcorn to snack on.
* We stopped at the salvage grocery. We spent around $50 total and got a heaping cart full: organic cereal ($.50/box), random items for work work lunches such as packages of crackers (worked out to $.05-.20/pack; these sell in the vending machine at work for $1), 2 cases of coconut latte drinks (they aren't fantastic, but they are incredibly refreshing on hot days at work; $1.99/12 pack), spring roll wraps ($.10/pack), mac n cheese ($.25/box which makes it cheaper than making from scratch), salsa and enchilada sauce ($.50 each), mayo ($.10/jar), packing tape ($.50 roll), popcorn ($.50/14 oz; the pantry is officially restocked) and instant horchata mix which I love for summer and plan on serving for a party later this month ($.10/big bag).
* I made bean burritos one evening. I sauteed some garlic scapes (frozen, free from the garden as an edible trimming) in a little grease, then added some water and dehydrated peppers (free; farm seconds) and cooked until the peppers were rehydrated. I dumped in half a pack of taco seasoning and a can of refried beans ($.50 at the salvage grocer). I served in tortillas ($.50/12 pack from the salvage grocer) with a little cheese and sour cream. I also pan fried some padron peppers (free, seconds from the farm) and corn (frozen when I found it on sale for $.10/ear), well seasoned with some zesty seasoning ($.10 from the salvage grocer) and cheese powder (Amish grocer) with a little buttermilk ($.99/half gallon on manager's special; usually I would use sour cream or milk, but I used what I had on hand). I had just a little of each left, so I mixed them to use for work lunches.
* I made breakfast Saturday morning: buttermilk pancakes and fried eggs. I had half of the batter left and didn't want to make too many extra. I put it in a little freezer bag and tossed it into the freezer. Now I can just toss it into the frig to thaw, then clip the corner and have virtually effortless breakfast.
* I made another batch of stock. I reused the marrow bones with fresh veggie scraps. I added some herb stalks as well and it came out quite fragrant. It didn't gelatinize, but it will make a suitable soup base.

Fun:
* We went out for ice cream using BOGO coupons from our entertainment book.
* We went out for a couple coffee dates, travel mugs in tow.
* We went to another gallery hop. We had such a lovely time. We ended up buying a piece, the first time either of us has purchased from a gallery. It was a beautiful piece done by a student at the art school near us. It was very reasonably priced and we were happy to be able to support a local artist. The show goes through the end of the month, so I will post a photo once we can pick it up.
* We went to the Big Book Sale at our local library. They were having a bag sale. You saved $3.50 if you brought your own bag, bringing our cost to $5 for tons of books. I got a few cookbooks, some homesteading books that were on my wishlist, a couple books on string theory and two audio books for my commute (including Wicked Bugs!). Trucker got several as well.
* My cousin got married. She was a lovely bride. I am trying desperately to get my sister and her incredible boyfriend engaged. I successfully got her to catch the bouquet (which I got photographic evidence of and told everyone was legally binding). When it came to the garter toss, the guys all stood in a half circle and watched it drop to the ground. I ran over and grabbed it and threw it at my sister's boyfriend. Should work, right? :) I took some photos at the end after the photographer had left. I got some good candid photos of my grandpa talking with my cousin about his and grandma's wedding. It is so nice to be with family.
* One day we walked around the antique mall. We spent $1 on a book for Panda, but otherwise nothing. We had a lot of fun and found some really weird things.
* We read a lot from the library. I am especially enjoying audio books on my way to work.
* We went on a double date with Daisy and hubby. We went out for pizza at a local joint during happy hour, then went to the theatre downtown for a free symphony performance. It was a lovely show, as always.
* My mom took me out for dinner one day. We had a great time talking and laughing. We went grocery shopping together as well.
I love the naturalized Grape Hyacinths.

Nature:
* We went for a 2.8 mile walk at a metro park a few miles away. It was a rather warm evening. As we neared the end of the loop, we entered the pine forest. The sun was setting and shining through the trees and the scent of pine was intense. It was perfect.

Frugality:
* I mended a few items of clothing, including a house dress I love.
* We got our taxes done. Phew. So glad to have it done and over with (finally). We went to the same place as last year. They have a policy of not increasing your fees beyond 10% of last year's. Since we had a series of job transitions, business and health insurance switches, it would have cost almost $1000, so with the discount we saved over $500. We try to work it out so we get a tiny refund. A large refund just means you gave them an interest-free loan for the year, whereas owing at tax time is not fun.
* Trucker got some cat litter on auction for cheap. We have been finding really good, less dusty litter for the price of the cheap stuff.
* I returned some items to Menards that I didn't need. Since it had been awhile (several months...oops), I got a check to use in-store, which is fine with me since we are working on fixing up the house.
* I used a Menard's rebate to cover half the cost of a new grill cover. I still have about $60 left between the returns and other rebates.
* I redeemed my rewards points on my credit card to pay down the furnace. I made a double payment on a credit card.

Waste Reduction:
* I got rid of a purse that I have had for 7 years. It finally wore completely out. I am always satisfied when I use an item to its end.

House and Home:
* I touched up the paint in the stairway.
* I touched up some little dings in the walls from moving furniture. Whenever I notice a ding, I'm never in a position to take care of it. Finally, I grabbed the spackle and walked around the house examining all the walls. I'll touch up the paint later this week.
* We spent the better part of an afternoon working on the house together. We played some music on Spotify, sipped some tea and talked while we worked. I was astonished by how much organizing we got done. We work well together. Trucker is a fantastic partner and makes even the boring stuff better.
* Trucker rearranged the store room to free up a shelf to move into the kitchen. He put all the big kitchen appliance, such as dehydrators, slow cookers, and popcorn maker on it. This was really helpful. Previously many of those items were on top of the cabinets, so whenever I wanted to use them, I'd have to climb onto the counter (short people problems). This will be quite handy. I may line the tops of the cabinets with some of my less frequently used cookbooks.
* Trucker bought us a lot of paintings at auction. We will sell a few of them. One mixed-media piece is perfect for Panda's room. It is a musical piece with sheet music incorporated. The color even perfectly matches her room.

Work:
My grandpa was so happy to see
another grandchild get married. He
was joking and running around
hugging grandson-in-laws and laughing.
I love seeing him this happy.
* I am enjoying my job a lot. I have so much fun with my coworkers. They are really just the most lovely, kind, helpful people you could ever hope to work with. Whether it is helping with paperwork when I'm on a busy job or sharing recommendations for home repairs, they are quick to offer help. They are so fun to talk with. One of my coworkers and I have had an ongoing, in-depth conversation about the zombie apocalypse.

Future:
* Trucker got an extras part in a major movie. They had him go up north this week to get fitted. We are really excited. It's not a speaking role, but it is still his first movie. Filming is next month.
* Trucker is almost finished with another book.
* I contacted my loan officer to explore options for our eventual move. With the murder rate in our city getting very high, we are wanting to expedite our transition to the country.

Health:
Total gym visits in March: 25
Gym visits this month:
Trucker: 4
Me: 1
* Trucker's health has noticeably improved since he started going to the gym. He is even able to run now. His breathing seems to have improved and his muscle tone is better. I'm so proud of him for continuing to work so hard at his health.
* My shoulder was hurting a lot, but I started working it out again and the pain is better. I'm still super sore by the end of the week, but the pain is gone by mid-day Saturday and I'm good after that. Hopefully with continued work, I will be good as new soon.

Community:
* Daisy got a lovely gift for Panda's room. She found a lovely, large painting at a thrift store. It is beautiful and I'm so touched at how she wanted to do something special for her. Panda is going to feel so loved.
How was your week?

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