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.
There was another active shooter event in our metropolitan area again this week. I really don't have adequate words. All I can say is always be aware of your surroundings and if your city/county offers citizen response training, do it.
* I harvested several springs of oregano from the outdoor garden. The leaves are huge and so fragrant.
* I went out with mom to buy seedlings. Transplants were packs of three for $1.99 or a flat of 12 packs for $14.99 ($1.25 each). We each picked out what we definitely needed first. I had 11, so I grabbed an extra pepper pack. Mom had 7, so for $1 more, she ended up getting 5 more packs. She got one more pack of tomatoes, 2 more packs of peppers and two packs of flowers that she loved. Mom got three strawberry plants ($2.99 each) and 5 lbs of seed potatoes ($.99/lb). We had looked into buying seed potatoes from a catalog. It was going to cost $12/lb, plus $7 in shipping! Dad had only planned on getting 3 lbs at that price ($43). By buying locally, she got 37 seedlings (one of the tomato packs had a freebie), 3 strawberry plants and 5 lbs of seed potatoes for $28.91.
* I planted all of my tomatoes and peppers. I spaced them out a little more than usual and added some organic fertilizer (usually $8/bag, found on clearance at $2.29). Hopefully I'll get a decent yield this year.
* We went to the farm stand one day and got a bunch of radishes. The radishes are amazing. They have great texture and aren't as spicy as your typical store-bought ones. Trucker and I walked to the farm stand to save gas, get exercise and enjoy each other. While there, I got to see one of my old coworkers and talk for awhile. I miss her. I miss the farm. I will have to try to get out to volunteer at some time.
* The next time I went I got strawberries (The first of the year!), sugar snap peas (half of which I ate while driving home) and two bunches of radishes. I always donate a fair amount to support the farm and my community members who can't afford to pay, but considering what produce of this quality goes for, I feel I'm getting a good deal.
* I made grilled pizza one evening.
* Trucker made spaghetti with tomato sauce and polish sausage. It was so good.
* We got more fish for the freezer. The only cost was for the fishing license, which I basically consider an entertainment cost, so it was free. We caught 15 bluegills large enough to bother with. I buried the heads and guts in the garden.
* I pulled some pork from the freezer (leftover from our party) and used to make BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. I added BBQ sauce (store brand on sale), mustard (salvage grocery) and sauerkraut. I served on store-brand bread (on sale) and added a sprinkling of cheese and a heavy serving of kraut on mine.
* I made taco soup to use up the rest of the party leftovers. I added some seasoning to the containers from the freezer and cooked in some pork stock. Trucker said it was one of the best soups I've made.
* I went to Aldi and got some bargains: shredded cheddar ($1.99/lb; at Kroger the cheapest cheese ever goes on sale is $1.79/12 oz and this is rare), eggs ($.59/dozen!) and bread ($.49/loaf, manager's special).
* We went to the Amish grocer in my hometown. We were quite lucky. They were having a customer appreciation day and were giving away free homemade ice cream (A real serving size too!) and samples of their bakery's fry pies and brownies. They were also having a 10% off sale. We bought 2 packages of cheddar cheese powder, a package of BBQ seasoning, a package of honey mustard powder, some trail mix (a gift left for mom) and chocolate covered peanuts (a gift for Grandpa).
* Trucker made an amazing breakfast for us one morning. He made french toast (I sliced strawberries, banana and mango over mine) and ham and egg omelets. Perfect start to the day.
* I made beef stew with some beef from the freezer (manager's special). I used random veggies from the refrigerator and pantry: carrots, onions, scallions, radishes, celery (dehydrated) and beets (dehydrated). I also tossed in some leftover sauteed collards and seasoned with herbs from the indoor garden. I cooked it in the slow cooker while at work so it was ready when I got home. It turned out really good.
* We made a pesto pasta. I fried a couple pieces of bacon and sauteed onions in the grease. I tossed with cooked pasta, diced tomatoes (canned) and pesto from the freezer. It was amazing.
* I air-dried oregano, sage and basil.
* I met up with Doodles for coffee at a local diner. It was nice to catch up with her.
* I took Mom out one day. She drove out to the city and we went to a local nursery to get all of our gardening stuff. Then I took her out for Greek food at a local restaurant we love. We went shopping a little, but I didn't spend anything. It was a wonderful day. She is so sweet and fun.
* We went out on a couple coffee dates.
* We went on a date to a local restaurant. A couple of our friends had given us a gift certificate for our anniversary. We had a wonderful time. We split a burger and fries and a flat bread (happy hour special for $5) and drank water. We have a little left for a discounted second date. Afterwards, we took a stroll through a historic neighborhood and talked. We thought about going out for ice cream, but opted to buy some to take home. We got a gallon of ice cream for 2/3 the cost of going out.
*Our movie group went out to the discount theatre to see La La Land. Tickets were $1.50 each and we did not buy concessions.
* We enjoyed nature...by killing it. We went fishing one evening at a pond at a park near our house. We couldn't keep the fish off of our lines! We caught around 50, but only 15 were big enough to bother cleaning. It was a lovely evening. The humidity was low, it was warm enough to not need a jacket and the geese and ducks were everywhere. It was a quite peaceful way to spend an evening.
* A state park near us opened two new trails for the first time in 50 years! We went down for a late morning hike. It was a really pleasant day, although the return trip involved a lot of climbing! It was a great workout.
* I got some mud on my jeans when we went hiking and fishing one day. After washing, they were still pretty stained up. Fortunately, we are line drying now so the stains weren't set. I used some stain remover and after some scrubbing was able to save them.
* I found an awesome purse at the thrift store. It is cyan and brown and goes perfectly with the rest of my clothes (all of my other purses are leftover from previous styles, but I won't get rid of them til then wear out). It only cost $1.50! There is a small scuff on the bottom, but I think it will be easy to remove. Even if not, it is barely noticeable.
* We returned a couple items that we didn't end up needing. We got $24 put back on our card.
* We sent away two rebate for items we would have purchased anyway.
* We went to a community yard sale in my home town. We did really well. I got a nice dolly for $4. It only needs to have the wheel tightened a bit. I also got a chippy coat rack for $1, a fish skinner for $.25 (I'd been thinking of getting one the last time we cleaned fish), cute produce baskets (a stack of 10 for $.25) and a pair of jeans in my size in a free box.
* The next weekend we went to a community yard sale in a neighborhood near us. I only bought one item: a lunch box with my company info on it. It was insulated and very cute. It cost a whopping $.25. I also grabbed two nice glass bottles in a free box. They were from a fancy juice place down the street, but will be great for bringing drinks with us when we go out to concerts, festivals and plays in the park.
* I got my hair cut when Great Clips was having a $5.99 sale. Even after tip, it was quite affordable and I am happy enough with it. I cut it a little on the short side so I can go longer between cuts.
House and Home:
* We continue to line dry clothes. I am enjoying it, honestly. I get an excuse to go out into the yard during perfect afternoons. It definitely takes more planning, but that is the only downside.
* Trucker picked up an extra shift at his job.
* Trucker gets an amazing job perk. He is able to take home sauerkraut on jarring days. He brought home two jars. They retail at $9 each. It is some of the most tasty kraut I've ever had. I am so delighted. I already crave it each day and plan to make sure we consume a little each day.
* I took a penalty-free day off. It is nice to get a little time to relax and take care of me. This was the day I took Mom out, so it was time well spent.
* I packed food each day.
* I worked a fair amount of overtime the days I did work. My department doesn't work a crazy amount compared to other departments, so any overtime I do get is welcome to compensate for my days off. The way I see it, each hour of overtime I work funds an hour and a half of time off.
* Trucker had another acting job. He is in a commercial for a local grocery store chain. I am so proud of him!
* Trucker had another audition and he thinks he did well. I'm proud of him.
* Trucker was still fighting his cold, so he didn't hit the gym hard the first week. The next week he went more often and we went a couple times together.
* I am finally running a little on the treadmill at the gym. I wore a different pair of sneakers and these slide a little less. I do not enjoy running on the treadmill, but I am just trying to get my endurance back. Once I get my endurance back and a little more strength, I hope to return to running outside, where I enjoy it.
* We are eating kraut every day. It will be interesting to see how we do getting daily probiotics. I've already told Trucker he is never allowed to quit this job.
* There were some pain relief patches that the dollar store sold for $1/20 pk. They worked well and were a great price. Then the local stores stopped selling them, although a different chain started carrying them at $4.50/20 pk. Trucker suggested I look online. I was able to order a case of them for $1/pk and will be set for a long time.
* My cousin got married this week. It was a beautiful wedding that fit them perfectly. They are both musical, and the ceremony involved her singing to him when walking down the aisle, her dad singing, the couple singing a song together at the end of the ceremony and her mom playing the trumpet as they walked back down the aisle. The location was at an opera house. It was great to get to talk with family.