1st Quarter Progress Toward a Better Me

The first quarter of this year is almost in the books, and though Spring is officially “sprung” and the Redbud trees outside our apartment are in full bloom, I still find it hard to believe we are already on the cusp of April. I’d ask the age old question “where does time go?” but I already know the answer. Time, like money, goes exactly where you spend it.

Though the fickle weather kept us indoors more often than we wanted, I’d like to think that we spent the first 3 months of this year at least somewhat wisely. Our goal toward being a “better me” was to Live simply. Prove that we can live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life with less. To do that, we came up with a few objectives. Here’s how we progressed this quarter:

  • Set a budget and stick to it. Strive for no unplanned spending.
    • We received $2,195 in extra (unexpected) income in February so we had to adjust our original budget a bit. This income excludes side hustles, which we won’t see any profit from until April. The largest portion came from our tax refund, but another part was a surprise gift. Of this amount, $1,385 went directly to savings and retirement. The remainder paid for our annual CSA subscription ($295), a new tent ($192), and a trip to the Smoky Mountains.
    • We had four unplanned purchases: a mini greenhouse at Tractor Supply that was marked down to $11.99, $26.22 in personal care items from God’s Green Earth, $14 in gifts, and $11.44 for a lamp (needed, but still unplanned) and cake pan (for my Mom) at Goodwill.
    • In February, we added a charitable giving category to our budget. For every month that we come in under our $250 grocery budget, we’re giving the remainder to one of 3 food-related charities in our area: Society of St. Andrew, Nashville Food Project, or Presbyterian Mission. So far, we have donated a total of $40.60.
  • Buy used when possible.
    • We gave it our best shot when sourcing supplies for our rain barrel project but sadly, we couldn’t find any used gutters at the Habitat Re-Store. We did purchase our bedroom lamp at Goodwill  for $4.99.
  • Eat a mostly plant-based diet, with no more than 10% of meals containing meat.
    • We had 65 completely meatless days (out of 90) or 244 meatless meals. We prepared only 2 meals at home that contained meat (actually seafood). The remaining meats that were consumed were at dinners hosted by my Mom. In total 9% of our meals contained meat.
  • Do something active 3 times a week.
    • Depending on how liberal the definition of “active”, we may or may not have met this goal. When it was too cold to play outside in January, I knitted 3 hats. That’s active, right? Angie, of course, continued to work out several times a week. Together, we went on a couple of hikes, a few walks outside, and a whole lot of walks inside buildings (did you know you can easily walk 2 miles or more inside Walmart while doing side hustles??). We played on the gym equipment at the park once. And we’ve worked in the yard/garden at least twice a week since mid-February. As the weather improves, so will our achievement of this goal (or at least that’s the plan).

Food Waste Update

No food finds this week. Our dumpster is now hidden behind a construction fence and we don’t really want to be caught snooping around behind it. I can’t imagine trying to explain to the police that we’re only interested in the oranges, not the stacks of expensive materials and construction equipment lying about. 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 50 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

October Recap

Seriously, where did October go?? It seems like only yesterday we were packing for our trip to Canada and now, Halloween is over and we’re sitting smack dab in the middle of November 2nd!

When I looked at my bullet journal last night, the month of October was pretty sparse. We didn’t track much of anything during our vacation, except for miles walked. We went “off leash” on our eating…meaning, we enjoyed a bit of bacon with our oatmeal breakfast every now and then, sank our teeth into a lobster roll in Maine, and had a real soda…a blueberry soda at that. We also gave ourselves permission to enjoy afternoon froyos from the ice cream machine on the cruise ship. I suppose, we might have gained a few pounds this trip if it weren’t for all the walking. We walked 196.2 miles this month, bringing our total for the year to 797.8 miles.

A few other milestones for October include:

Having dinner with Angie’s grandma and aunt in Toledo, OH. This was the first time she had seen either of them in more than 20 years!

Taking Ticky (and her parents) to Trunk or Treat at Bledsoe Creek State Park. This was our first family outing since my niece moved back in with Ticky’s father. Everyone had a great time, though it was hard to keep the little one in costume.

We made 1.5 year’s worth of laundry soap. That’s 320 loads of laundry. At 4 loads a week (which is generous around our house – we usually average 2-3), that’s enough soap to last 80 weeks or more.

We had our first frost, but not before harvesting our last eggplants. My mom planted two eggplants in late June just to “see if they would grow” and lo and behold, they did. We ended up with 6 late season eggplants.

I finally started writing about our trip in our experience journal. The first entry is called Glamping in Niagara Falls. I always mean to write about our trips in real time but I’m usually too tired at the end of a fun day (or too far removed from the Internet) to do that. And besides, it’s probably better to focus on enjoying the experience rather than worrying about chronicling the journey anyway. There are plenty of cloudy days (like today) for writing. Or reading.

Speaking of which, the craziest thing happened last week with our library. I’ve been on a waiting list since July for Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and since September for At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. When I checked the queue, I was still weeks away from checkout for either one so I checked out two other books I wanted to read and started both of them. Somehow, the very next day, both of my books on hold automatically checked out to me. I have 4 books to finish (now 3) in the next 2 weeks! Challenge accepted! I suppose this means I won’t have time for other people’s drama…I mean requests for my time…this month. Oh well 🙂

Ah, drama! Avoiding drama was the key reason why we wanted to do a happiness project this year anyway. The goals we set were specifically geared toward sharing experiences with one another; experiences that nourish our souls. And for the most part, we’ve done well with our project .

  • We’ve already read 54 books, exceeding our goal of 26 each.
  • We’ve cut back on eating meat, averaging 13.5 completely meatless days per month.
  • We’ve gone outside a lot more than last year to camp, hike, paddle, letterbox, garden, or just relax.
  • We’ve traveled to new places and experienced new things.

Though the year is not over, I can’t help but start to reflect on what all of this has meant so far. Has it decreased the amount of drama in our lives? Not at all. In fact, the drama is worse than ever. The holidays are approaching, after all. What it has done though is to help us better respond to the drama…and even that is still a work in progress. I’ll talk more about this in the remaining months of this year but in the meantime, we’re thinking about and planning for a new project in 2018. Stay tuned for more on that front too!

How was your October? Are you still on track with your goals for the year?