A Little Game of Catch (Up)

The first month of this fabulous year is now over and if you’re like 80% of Americans, so are your New Year’s Resolutions. Thankfully, we didn’t make any for ourselves. Instead, we created a bucket list of fun things we wanted to do this year. Had we made any resolutions though, we would not have kept them. I know this because I made a chart at the beginning of the month to track our income, dumpster finds, and hikes. The only word on that chart right now is “oranges”.

So, if we weren’t hiking or rummaging through the dumpster in January, what were we doing?

I experimented with a few new side-hustles. Scrolling through Indeed.com one afternoon led me down a rabbit hole to a world of new side-hustle services for retail merchandisers and mystery shoppers. Yes, mystery shopping is a real thing and no, you don’t have to pay to get in on it. Just check out 8 Side Hustles That Really Pay. The new companies I found don’t all have apps but they do pay well. I earned $95 doing 90 minutes worth of work for a company called Customer Impact and $60 (without ever leaving my house) on a job I found on Presto Insta-Shops. I also signed up with a service called Set and Service Resources (SASR) that allows you to choose the jobs that you want to work. Most of these jobs are 5-8 hours long and pay an hourly wage. I completed my first one last Friday – a grocery store reset just 2 miles down the street from my home. I have another scheduled this week.

Angie experimented with a few new recipes. The Mexican Lasagna was out of this world! She even made the tortillas and the enchilada sauce from scratch. My mom, who usually balks at every vegetarian recipe we create, loved this one just as much as we did.

We cancelled Misfits Market. We received only one additional box after I wrote about our experience. Why? Because the 2nd box was a mistake, a misappropriation of our grocery budget. They obviously misinterpreted what we asked for and included a few mispicks. We also didn’t like the fact that some of our items suffered a mishap (they were broken in half!). We now consider this whole experiment a misadventure. See what I did there? 🙂

I painted my mom’s kitchen ceiling (and subsequently thought I was having a heart attack). When one has not used their shoulder and pectoral muscles in a long time and then spends an entire day holding a pole with a roller attached to it, the pain it creates is so similar to the symptoms of a heart attack (as described in the pamphlet my mom once gave me) that it’s downright scary. Thankfully, my resident exercise guru (Angie) was there to inform me that it was only a muscle strain.

Angie blew up our $4 bread machine and set the oven on fire. In her defense, the breadmaker was 21 years old (and it did make a dozen loaves of bread and some awesome pizza crusts in the short year that we owned it). The last bread came out looking like this:

And the oven. Well, that happened on Friday. Angie was preheating it to bake a potato when she saw flames through the window. The coil had burned in two and the control panel was fried. Maintenance brought a replacement stove that same afternoon but they neglected to bring a clean one, so we spent the afternoon cleaning someone else’s ketchup and grease off of our “new” stove. It could have been way worse, I suppose.

We found a bit weaponry. Who on Earth would leave a cache of weapons just sitting by the dumpster of an apartment complex full of children?? Crazy people, that’s who! We don’t actually have a need for these things, nor will the Goodwill take them, but in the interest of not finding our neighborhood children bleeding to death in the parking lot, we put them in our garden shed.

I filed our taxes (incorrectly). It’s been a minute and a half since I filed self-employment taxes so I’m still getting back up to speed. Luckily, I just left out one form and that can easily be remedied by amending our return.

Angie’s mom gave us the most amazing laundry ball we never knew we needed. We finally used up all of our DIY laundry soap and got to test the laundry ball that Angie’s mom gave us last year. I was super skeptical. How could a ball full of “bio-ceramic elements” clean clothes?? I still don’t know the answer to that but I do know that it works. My mom is forever picking on us for using homemade laundry soap that has no smell. Sometimes she even sniffs my clothes – with me in them! I washed our jackets with the Wash Wizard and in the middle of giving me a hug, my mom burst out, “You must have run out of that stuff you call laundry soap. This jacket smells clean!” And actually it did. With a shelf-life of 1,500 washings, I love this laundry ball.

And we put a few puzzles together.

How was your January?

Since the title of this post contains the word catch-up, Angie says that I should also include the fact that she made fermented ketchup this past month. Unlike her fermented onions, which smell like feet, the ketchup smells and tastes just like store bought ketchup. She got the recipe from Off Grid with Doug and Stacy.