Tuesday, May 9, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 4/24 - 5/7

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:
* Trucker helped me in the garden for a bit. While I dug out some weeds that had popped up in one of the beds, he used the hand-tiller to work the soil up. I planted several things: Detroit Red beets, turnips, Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce, White Icicle radishes, Cherry Belle radishes and a row of scallions. Immediately after planting, one of the stray cats started digging. I buried some plastic forks to hopefully deter him. This will be an interesting year for the garden.
* I planted some starts. I'm a little late, but I think it will be ok. I planted Sweet Banana peppers and Christmas Tree peppers, Detroit Red beets, scallions and chives. I had a couple broken seed trays from the farm that were going to be thrown away. A friend of mine gave me some display trays years ago. They were in my attic ever since. I used them for condiments at the party last week (condiments and veggies went in little bowls and I filled in around them with ice). I decided to see how the seed trays fit. They are perfect! They fit in my windowsill perfectly and will keep stray soil from getting everywhere.
* I harvested a lot of sage and some basil from the indoor garden to air dry.
* When I was passively weeding some garden beds, I discovered that a lot of herbs came back strong this year. The rosemary is doing well, a thyme plant is putting on some major growth and I found a massive oregano plant. I'll harvest some of the herbs to dry soon.

Cooking/Groceries:
* We ate a lot of leftovers.
* We made taco dip to use up some leftovers. We layered mashed beans, shredded pork, fried corn, the last of the stuffed pepper filling mixed with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed peppers, onion, cheddar cheese and black olives. We served with tortilla chips.
* I used some of the leftover pork to make BBQ pulled pork wraps. I served with the last of the fried corn and a few stuffed peppers.
* I made some more cilantro lime rice and served with pork and sauteed onions, peppers and scallions. It was a nice basic meal.
* I used the last of the cheese dip and vegetables to make a hamburger helper style dish, using some of the leftover pork (the rest went into the freezer).
* One evening we were both exhausted and I hadn't pulled any meat from the freezer. I was tempted to order out, but stopped at the grocery instead. I found pre-cooked stuffed chicken breasts on sale for $3.99 (for a pound). I went home and tossed that into the toaster oven to reheat, put some grits on the stove top ($.10/box from the salvage grocer) and put a can of green beans on. It all finished up around the same time. It was a simple meal, but satisfying and at $4.48 total (with leftovers!), it was cheaper than any take out option.
* I made sausage gravy and biscuits. I used store brand sausage and canned biscuits. I sauteed a healthy amount of onions and scallions in the grease before making the bechamel. It tastes amazing that way and I rationalize the meal since it has a good dose of veggies.
* The farm stand is open for the year. I stopped by and got some radishes, salad mix and some purple asparagus. I donated what I would have paid at the grocery store. I like getting fresh food (does it get more local than .4 miles from my door?)  and knowing that the money I donated goes to helping feed those in the neighborhood who can't afford to pay.
* I made breakfast one morning before we went out for coffee. I fried a couple of eggs and sliced sausage (1 sausage from a pack of 2 for $1, store brand on sale) and pan fried some grits with a light layer of cheese on the bottom to crisp up. We also had a slice of maple streusel bread ($1/loaf on manager's special) and coffee. It was really good. Several hours later, out of the blue, Trucker mentioned what a nice breakfast I'd made.
* I made stir fry one evening. We brought some pork on manager's special for $4. I cooked rice with a little bouillon since I didn't have any stock. I stir fried random veggies I had on hand: onions, scallions, cabbage, radishes, carrots, green beans and celery. We had enough leftover for two lunches.

Fun:
* Trucker is on the board of a nonprofit organization. They had a meeting at a coffee house. I came with and worked on some projects while they met.
* We did a couple of coffee dates, using our travel mugs.
* I booked a vacation for us for this summer. I can't wait! More details to come.
* Daisy and I went out one evening while Trucker was out of town.
* We used the library a lot. Since we got internet at home, we no longer use the library for internet. Our new city doesn't offer museum passes like our old one did and we listen to spotify instead of checking out CDs from the library. That being said, we still get around $9,000+ value from the library each year. The library is one of the most enriching frugal life hacks imaginable. When we lived in Chicago, we used museum passes, internet, magazines and CDs. Our annual use-value back then was over $30,000 (considering we made $15,000/yr, this was amazing).
* We had Daisy and her hubby over for a movie night. I grilled pizza using a boxed pizza crust mix (salvage grocer for $.10/box; used 1 1/3 box), pepperoni, sausage (leftover from breakfast), sauteed onions ($.33/lb from Aldi) and black olives. I par-cooked the crusts in a cast iron skillet on the stove top and let everyone assemble their pizzas as they liked. Then I grilled them with the asparagus from the farm. They brought chips and salsa which we devoured during the movie. We had a great time. I love them so much.
* The antique mall had a party. We spent 4 hours wandering the mall, laughing at weird finds and gasping at the amazing ones. We bought a few items that were useful and affordable.

Nature:
* We had a glorious day in the woods. We went to a lake down south a bit (the one we hiked around for a bit a couple weeks ago). Trucker spent the afternoon fishing. I brought a chair, blanket and book. It was perfect. I loved having the excuse to spend several hours curled up in nature reading. I loved watching insects scurrying around, listening to frogs splashing into the water and eavesdropping on a couple of birds fighting. It was one of the nicest days I can remember.
* I spent a little time worming. I went out after a rain and was able to catch a dozen or so.
* We had so much fun, that two days later we went back down to the lake to fish again. I packed a picnic and drinks. We froze the fish after cleaning.

Frugality
* Trucker got a rebate from a website he signed up with. He put the $22 into savings.
I have a collection of dinosaur toys. I displayed them by
my Ray Bradbury books. I think he'd be pleased.
House and Home:
* We had our furnace tuned up. We get free spring and fall tune ups for two years as part of one package when we purchased the furnace.
* At the antique mall, I got a large metal school trash can for $7 and a rugged old feed bucket for $3. We will use the trash can to hold recycling, as our tiny trash cans aren't practical for that. The feed bucket will be hung in the utility room to hold rags.

Work:
* Trucker got a new job. I found a listing on a local homesteading and farming group. He is working in the kitchen for a local food business. They ferment and can a variety of vegetables that they get from local farms. He will learn how to can while he works there, so that will be a good skill for us to have. He makes the same pay rate he got at the old job, but this job won't destroy his body like the other one did. It is a set schedule for one day a week. This is perfect. All we need is something to act as a bit of cushion for months when his royalties are lower and to get him out of the house regularly. He doesn't do too well when he is alone 12 hours a day for 5 days a week. He seemed to get along well with his coworkers.
* I took a no pay/penalty day off of work. I'd worked an overtime shift a couple weeks ago and worked some overtime this weekend, so I basically don't lose any pay.
* I ate a packed lunch every day. I brought taco fixins and a bag of tortillas. I kept it in the cooler in the cafeteria (they clean it out every weekend, but it is fine to leave stuff overnight during the week) and heated up what I wanted each day. It makes it much less likely for me to succumb to the cafeteria food if I don't have to think about making lunch at 4 AM.
* Trucker picked up a short shift one day this week.

Future:
* Trucker had another audition.
* Trucker filmed this week for his first movie. The director liked him, so he is in a lot of scenes and has prominent placing. We can't wait to see it! He left at 2 in the morning, filmed from 6 AM til 10:30 PM, spent the night at a hotel, then drove 3 hours back and worked a full shift at his job before coming home. Phew!

Health:
* Trucker went to the gym fairly frequently and I went a couple of times (I lost track exactly).
* Trucker came down with a cold. He had just finished his round of antibiotics to get rid of a chronic ear infection. It had started to feel OK after several months and now he has an earache again from the cold. Sigh.
* We have both been watching how we eat and drink better.

Setbacks:
* Our dryer is fried. We aren't sure what caused it yet (and I haven't had the time to investigate further). The electrician said that it may have been struck by lightning. We will replace it relatively soon, but for now we are line drying clothes. While it is frustrating, it is encouraging to see how far we have come. This won't kill us financially and we have the ability to line dry clothes so we aren't having to cart our clothes off to the laundromat.

Community:
* We picked up our piece from the gallery this week. It was so exciting to pick it up and we were glad to buy a piece from a local art student. The gallery framed it for us, which made it an even better bargain. I love this piece. Trucker hung it by the front entrance.

This picture doesn't do it justice. It is an amazingly vibrant piece.
How was your week?

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