Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 9/4 - 9/17

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.

* Turns out that all that coriander I bought will not germinate. I'm gonna try again, but it looks like I'll have to find out how to use 10 bags of coriander! Word to the wise: Try a small amount of a grocery-store seed you want to grow into microgreens before investing in a bulk purchase! Fortunately, those ten bags cost $5, so the loss was quite small compared to buying catalog micro seed.
* The mustard germinated nicely. However, I have noticed that half is growing slower than the other half, so I'll have big and small micros in the same cuttings. It wouldn't do if I was growing to sell, but for personal use it is fine. Besides, the cost is about 10% of catalog seed.
* Update: Exactly two cilantro micros sprouted. I will try again, but I think mostly I'll use the coriander as a spice rather than seed.
* I harvested lots of peppers, some cherry tomatoes and a few baby carrots.
* The basil has all succumbed to some sort of wilt or blight. Therefore, there was not basil to freeze for the year, but I did get a goodly amount to use fresh.
* I dropped the container of carrot micros while trying to rotate them. There goes 2 weeks of slow growing. About 1/4 seem like they might survive.
* I planted some old wheat berries. I'm not sure if they will germinate, b.ut it can't hurt to try since I have them. My cat loves to nibble houseplants, but if I have grass available for her, she leaves mine alone. It would be much cheaper to grow my own wheat grass than to buy it at the pet store!

* I made sausage gravy and biscuits.
* We made tacos one night.
* I made a big batch of beef vegetable soup using tomato juice, a manager's special steak and a random assortment of veggies that needed to be used up.
* We had air popped popcorn as a snack frequently.
* I made Colcannon again with collards from the freezer. I added some leftover ground lamb.
* There is an organization that arranges produce giveaways throughout the city. Farmers donate food that is unsalable for whatever reason. I know a lot of the organizers who said that at the end of the day, food leftover is usually thrown away. I stopped by in the last ten minutes of one event. They said that there wasn't as many different items left at that point, but I was okay with that. I got two huge cabbages (cracked), 10 lbs of potatoes (each potato has a bit of damage that keeps it from storing well), 5 lbs of apples (I honestly can't figure out why they were there; they were perfect and delicious), 12 lbs of onions (all of them had either sprouted or the skins had burst, meaning they needed to be used soon) and 4 dozen (!!) small eggs. While ugly produce needs a little more prep work and has to be handled quickly to prevent spoilage, I was excited that the food was diverted from the waste stream.

Food Preservation:
* I made salsa and froze it in small baggies for later use. I used tomatoes (parents' garden), peppers (parents's garden and mine), onions (free from Kroger because of a wrong price), garlic (from my garden) and cilantro (Aldi for $.69). In all, I made around 2 gallons of salsa!
* I froze about 8 lbs of tomatoes whole because I didn't have time to make more salsa and the tomatoes were dead ripe.
* I chopped around 10 lbs of sweet peppers and froze on cookie sheets. Then I bagged them up. Last year this was one of my top 3 favorite preserved items (Other two are caramelized onions frozen in ice cube trays and basil pesto).  It makes it a snap to add veggies to darn near anything. I can add just what I want directly to the pan. This ease of use meant that I added veggies to a lot of quick meals that might otherwise have been lacking in nutrition.

* We went out for coffee, using our travel mugs.
* We went to my company's family festival. They rent out an amusement park and we only had to pay $10 each to get in (and $10 parking). Tickets are usually $54 each with $20 parking, so for $30 we got a $128 value. While we would never spend $128 for one day at an amusement park, It was a fun day. It was my birthday weekend, so we had allotted some money for eating out and such. I'd wanted to take Trucker to a certain Amish restaurant. They had a buffet so we ate there before going to the park. That filled us up so we didn't need to eat for quite awhile. The server even sent me with a free cupcake as a birthday gift. My parents packed a huge picnic, so we ate a light dinner later. My sister made a cake for my birthday. We carried a bottle of water and didn't purchase anything at the park. We had a really fun time. We spent a good amount of time with my parents, two sisters and future-bro-in-law and a good amount of time just the two of us. My sister's boyfriend was a hoot. It was his first time riding roller coasters and he was making jokes and screaming maniacally the whole time. I like him. We also took part in a "treasure hunt" the company put on to tell us about new benefit information. We didn't win any prizes, but got 8 cooling cloths for working out. I'll definitely use those next summer at work. Including the buffet, we spent $60.
* The next day was my birthday gift from Trucker. One of my favorite old-school bands had a show in another city about 2 hours from us. He used a Groupon to get BOGO tickets, so it cost $40 total (Possibly less; he bought the tickets over six months ago and can't remember the exact cost, but know he wouldn't have spent over $40 total). We stopped for BBQ (I am always up for BBQ).  I ordered just a sandwich.He ordered a meal and we split the side and drink. They had free ice cream for dessert. We were able to bring in bottled water to the concert (which we already had on hand) so we didn't have any other costs. Total cost for that day (not including gas): $53.
* All in, my birthday weekend cost $113, plus around $15 in gas. We budget $150 for birthdays (Some from our joint account and some from my birthday checks). I always want a trip of some sort rather than an item. We came in under budget and it was still a lot of fun.
* We went out to see It with Daisy and her hubby. We had BOGO coupons from the summer reading program at the library, so we hooked them up as well. Each pair paid $10.75 for two tickets. Not too bad for a weekend evening showing. It was so fun to hang out with them.
* We went to the art museum for their free Sundays. I have missed the last several gallery hops due to travel or weather and was starting to need some culture. We only went through about half of the museum this time, but plan to go back again soon.

* We went for a couple mile hike at a local metro park.
* We went on a hike at a nature preserve down south.
* There is a city park nearby that has a topiary landscape of George Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. It was a short excursion, but was fun.

* I put 3% of my paycheck directly into my savings account. Another 6% was taken out for my 401k, with a 100% match and an additional 2% that my company contributes.
* I paid my credit card bill the first day of the cycle, with a little extra beyond the minimum payment. I plan to make more payments throughout the month, but by paying as soon as possible, I minimize the interest paid for the month. While it won't be a game changer, that little bit of interest saved will mean that next month a little more of my payments will go towards the balance, expediting the payoff. I've heard of some people paying their mortgage semi-monthly or weekly, dividing the payment by 2 or 4 to match their pay cycle. That makes it easier to budget and reduces the interest charged. I plan to talk with my credit union about having my car payment taken out of my paycheck instead of once a month from my checking account.
* I spent an hour on my company's health website updating different challenges I am a part of. I earn points to get discounted insurance and can earn gift cards just for being healthy and trying to save money.
* I played around with some calculators on my retirement account website to see about how I am doing. Their assumptions are a little faulty I think, but it looks like I'll be ok.

Waste Reduction:
* We composted a lot of random stuff.

House and Home:
* We needed to touch up the paint in our bedroom but didn't have any paint from the previous owners. I went to Menards and found a color that matched. I only needed a quart and found a decent brand on sale, marked down from $16 to $9. Menards also had their 11% rebate going on through that day (I made a stop on the way to work on Friday so I didn't miss it). I also bought some fall bulbs to plant to make the landscape look decent in case we do sell next year.

* I work a half hour of overtime most days.
* We got sent home early one evening. Given the amount of overtime I worked, it was a wash pay wise, but I got to get home in time to hang out with Trucker for a bit before he went to bed.

* Trucker bought a new-to-us jack to put in my car. The jack that came with it was so small and weird that it was really hard to use. This one was $11 at auction.
* I put a bottle of water and a jacket in my car now that it is getting chillier. Soon I'll need to get my snow gear in there!

* I got back into the habit of hitting the gym before work. I particularly enjoy swimming. I feel so invigorated after swimming some laps, then relaxing in the hot tub for a bit before work.
* Trucker is playing softball on a league at the park.

* One of my coworkers is just the sweetest. She brings in snacks for people. She gave me a lot of delicious tomatoes from her garden. One day we were sharing recipes and she told me about this epic salad she makes and I said it sounded amazing. The next day she brought in a salad kit for me. She had all the veggies, seasonings, croutons, a good mozzarella and a homemade dressing. It was without a doubt the best salad I've ever had. I told her so the next day. Later she told me how much it meant that I told her how good the salad was. I felt like that was so little compared to how kind she has been to me, but it made her feel appreciated. It was a great reminder that it doesn't take a lot to make someone happy.
* I brought her some Filipino snacks I got at the salvage grocer.
* Daisy gave us some cotton candy grapes. Have you tried these? They are the most incredible things. They are as sweet as candy but not as cloying. Daisy, you have ruined me for any other grapes!

How was your week?


  1. Happy Birthday and thanks for the tips on freezing onions. I will be trying them out.

  2. I look foward to your posts and always learn something new. Thank you!


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