April Recap

April should have come with a warning label. At best, you could say it was an unfortunate month. At worst, I’d call it a downright disaster!

We shot out of the gate, armed with good intentions, and for a few days we were on a roll. We went to a festival, ate tacos from our favorite food truck, had a picnic, went letterboxing, and walked/hiked 31.6 miles – all within the first five days of the month. Then things went downhill fast. My niece was admitted to the hospital with a severe kidney infection. The doctor said that if she had gone just a few days longer she might have done irreparable harm. Most of that week we had the baby. She’s a wonderfully sweet 22-month-old ball of energy and we love her to pieces but she will wear you out. Needless to say, it took several down days afterwards for us to recover. Then the little one got sick too. She was in the ER twice in a 12-hour period before being diagnosed with Strep.

In the midst of all this, we celebrated Angie’s birthday. I use the term “celebrated” very loosely here. The eggplant lasagna that I made for dinner turned out to be largely inedible. I’m not sure what went wrong but I’m thinking the eggplant itself must have been bad (though it looked and felt fine to me). Our plans to go for a nice long walk were thwarted and we found ourselves at the mall instead. Note: when you try on every hiking sandal in 3 stores and still can’t find what you’re looking for, chances are very good that you don’t need hiking sandals.  And by being at the mall, we missed my mom dropping by to deliver a slice of strawberry cake from Chef’s Market, the most delicious bakery in all of Middle Tennessee. (We later went to her house to retrieve said cake.)

Despite our setbacks we managed to eek out a few small victories though.

  • We removed 112 items from our home and shed. This brings our decluttering total up to 329 item for the year.
  • We both read 3 books. You can check out my page or Angie’s page on Goodreads for more details.
  • We had 11 no-spend days again. I’m beginning to wonder if counting no-spend days is even an accurate measure of success though. When I know that we’re going to spend money, I simply try to combine all spending into that one day so the next is a no-spend day. But $50 spent in one day is still the same as $25 spent on two consecutive days. And when you’re actually working within your budget, isn’t miscellaneous spending already accounted for anyway – no matter how many days that spending is spread over?? What are your thoughts on no-spend days?
  • We made $155.30 in side-hustles, almost all of it from selling clutter on OfferUp.
  • Angie scored another month of free bagels from Panera, of which we only missed 3 days of picking up our newest obsession – Sprouted Grain Bagel Flats.
  • Our meat consumption was up just a bit but we still managed 9 entirely meatless days (64 meatless meals). This was due in large to part to rescuing 9 pounds of unopened, in-date, deli-sliced turkey and ham just as they were being tossed out (for reasons unknown).
  • We hiked 24.4 miles and walked 56.6.
  • We went on our first official camping trip of the year, during which time we completed our letterboxing goal. We found 24 boxes in Murfreesboro, Manchester, and McMinnville (TN) bringing our total to 56 for the year.

Today is the 2nd day of a brand new month and we plan on making a few changes to the way we’re tracking our progress toward our happiness goals. We also plan to make a few changes to the way we approach this whole pursuit of happiness. After reading Erin Loechner’s book Chasing Slow, I’ve come to realize that chasing anything, be it happiness, a career path, sustainable living, better relationships, or early retirement, is counterproductive. To chase is to run after and to run full tilt toward anything, no matter how noble, almost always guarantees you miss the scenery along the way. I, for one, feel like it’s time to just slow down.

How was your April? What one thing would you change to make May a better month?

March Recap

Today, we made a major life-changing decision. We’re going to buy a house – and not just any house. It’s a 3,000 square-foot Colonial in the ‘burbs with a pool and a 3-car garage, on a full 3-acre lot. And guess what! It has a white picket fence! Sure, we know we’ll both have to go back to work full-time to pay for it but man, it will be sooo worth it to have our own piece of the American Dream. Who cares about travel anyway?? We can do that when we get this thing paid for in 30 years. After all, we’ll only be in our 70s.

Yeah, right!! April Fools!! 

March might have been a crazy month but we didn’t loose our minds completely LOL. We’re pretty content to live off one income in our nice-sized 750-square foot apartment, where our only debt is a rapidly dwindling student loan. So how crazy was March, you might wonder. Let me just tell you.

On the positive side…

  • We had two major goals for this month – renew my passport and pay off our car. I’m happy to say, we did both.
  • Angie and I both read 3 books. One of mine, The China Study, was a beast to get through and I thought for a while it might be the only book I read in March. If it had, it would have been worth it. We gained a lot of great information on the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet from the book.
  • Speaking of eating plants, we had 17 entirely vegetarian days this month (or 78 meatless meals, if you break it down that way). Every meal (but one) that we ate while on vacation was meatless and we even dined at 7 different restaurants. Our “new” food of the month was brussel sprouts.
  • On the topic of vacation, we made progress on a few things from our Happiness Project Bucket List during the week we spent in Georgia and Florida, including finding 11 letterboxes. Though we camped twice, I’m reluctant to mark that off our list since we were mostly just stopping for the night rather than camping for the sake of being outdoors. One of our overnights was quite the adventure though. You can read about it here.
  • We were able to log several great walks and hikes in March. We hiked 26.8 miles and walked 68.2. We even found two new trails in our area.
  • We watched 4 documentaries, including A Place at the Table (Amazon Prime) and Sustainable (Netflix).

On the other side…

  • I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to. I think I only had 5 posts for this month.
  • Our trip to Florida was wonderful but it made me a bit sad (which is not exactly what we were trying to accomplish). As much as I love my family here in TN, walking our beach and seeing our friends made me very homesick and I think the few weeks following our return were unnecessarily hard (ie. busy) because of that.

On the fence…

  • I can’t decide whether we had a good month financially or not. We had 11 no-spend days, which seems like a great accomplishment but we went over-budget on groceries/household goods by $180 and spent an extra $142 on miscellaneous stuff. However, we also saved $566. So…maybe I’m just being hard on myself for the added spending and it really was a decent month. Yeah, let’s go with that.
  • Side hustles were down. We only made $20.65, mostly off of Easy Shift, but I’m not ready to call this a complete negative. We spent more time doing other things besides side-hustling (some were good, like our vacation and hiking, and others just plain busyness).

If you’re keeping up with our food finds, here’s our March tally. Note – these finds represent only 10 visits to the dumpster. We shared this month’s food with 3 other people.

  • 3 pounds Fuji apples + 22 mixed apples
  • 11 plums
  • 6 limes
  • 40 navel oranges
  • 21 blood oranges
  • 7 Cara-Cara oranges
  • 4 – 5 oz. containers of mixed greens
  • 1.5 pints blueberries
  • 6 oz. raspberries
  • 6 zucchini
  • 3 heads of cabbage
  • 1 head brocolli
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 4 pounds grapes
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 8 red potatoes
  • 10 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 3 quarts strawberries
  • 1 bag brussel sprouts
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 2 bell peppers (red & yellow)
  • 3 dozen + 3 eggs

Here are a few of the highlights from March:

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How was your month?