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The Prudent Homemaker Blog

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August Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

I picked red noodle beans, butternut squash, Armenian cucumbers, grapes, Swiss chard, and a few tomatoes from the garden.

Oregano Drying The Prudent Homemaker

I cut oregano and basil from the garden to dry. My drying process is simple: I rinse the herbs and lay them to dry on a cooling rack. Our climate is very dry and the bit of the humidity that we have had from the passing storms is gone, so our humidity runs between 5 and 10%. I let these air dry and it takes 1 to 2 days for them to be completely dry. In a more humid climate, it may take up to a week before your herbs are dry this way. It uses no power and is very simple, which I love!

I canned a batch of dill pickles with the cucumbers. I added a grape leaf from the garden to each jar to help them to be crisper.

I was given some onions and some bell peppers that were past their prime. I used them with cucumbers from my garden and spices I had on hand to can sweet pickle relish. The timing was perfect as we had just used our last jar of relish in tuna melts the previous week.

I cooked meals in my solar oven every day.

Baby Lizard The Prudent Homemaker

Wren caught a baby lizard in the garden this past week.

I took cuttings from my Boxleaf euonymus and Greenspire euonymus bushes and started them to root. I took several as I know they won't all take. I lost several bushes in the garden due to the extreme heat and sun this summer. I know it will take 4-5 years to get the bushes large enough to replace the ones that died, but it will save me the money on new ones. I will move any that any take root into the garden sometime in November or December when the weather cools.

I saved $6 in electricity over the week before last. The electric company had estimated my bill to be $415 for this month. With 4 days left, they're now estimating it to be $375. I always challenge myself to make the number much lower than they predict. This is our highest electric bill for the year.

I made a pair of earrings for myself using beads and findings I had on hand.

I mended and modified a hand-me-down dress that my girls received a few years ago.

Making a Casting The Prudent Homemaker

For a merit badge, my husband taught my son how to make a mold, and then to make a casting from it. Before we were married, my husband was a mold maker for the movie industry; it was fun to see him teach Ezrom this process We had all of the supplies on hand..

I had a couple of date nights at home with my husband.

My husband worked from home two days, saving gas to drive to his office and back.

I used Recyclebank points to renew a subscription I got for free from them last year to Cooking Light magazine. Now I have another free year to enjoy reading.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Lowe's gift card. I am saving up cards to use to purchase supplies for some projects at home.

After watching the short video, "The Potential of the Piano" as a family this week, my eldest found a free pdf of the sheet music here. (You can also download a free MP3 of this pretty song at the same link).  Winter likes this song so much she is considering using it as a recital song.

We went swimming at my sister-in-law's house. On the way home, we stopped at the library, where we enjoyed the art exhibit (I shared a photo over on Instagram), checked out books, and made note of some upcoming activities that we are interested in attending.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

 

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Italian Pittosporum The Prudent Homemaker

My daughter brought home some leftover greenery and two roses for me from a floral arranging class she took because she knew I would like it. She also brought home an arrangement that we enjoyed on the table all week. She learned how to make a simple arrangement and a boutonniere. The woman who taught said that if the girls in the class could make their own boutonnieres, they could save the cost of buying one for their dates for any future dances by making their own.

I used a free print offer from Sam's Club to print free invitations for my son's upcoming Eagle Scout ceremony. A lot of places offer you 100 free 4 x 6 prints when you start shopping with them. I never used these as I was printing 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 images before. I was glad to use some of them this time! Almost all of these will be handed out in person, so we don't need envelopes nor do we need to pay to mail them. (I know several readers asked about his project. I'll have a post up with photos later; I still have quite a few photos to go through).

I planted some seeds a reader shared from her garden in my garden.

I cut grape leaves from the garden for a meal. I also harvested a few red noodle beans, Swiss chard, garlic chives, basil, and a few tomatoes.

I collected hollyhock seeds from my garden.

I collected several gallons of water from the air conditioning drip and used it to water potted plants on my patio.

Every morning where we had a low of 79º and a few mornings where it was 80º, I turned off our air conditioners and opened the windows for an hour. I keep the house at 79º, and the air conditioner will run in the mornings too, but this way I can air out the house. According to the report from the power company, I saved $9 this week doing this (plus my house smelled fresh!)  I wasn't able to do this every day; half the week it was too hot, with lows around 86º. We run the air conditioner here until mid-October generally, when our highs drop down to 83ºF.

I took stock of my garden seeds and began making plans for what I will plant this fall. It's too hot to plant cool season vegetables until October, which is when I plant my fall garden here.

Solar Oven Roasted Chicken The Prudent Homemaker

I used my solar oven to cook a pot of pinto beans, to roast a couple of chickens, and to roast potatoes. I made large amounts of beans and cooked two chickens at once so that I could just reheat leftovers in the microwave. I didn't have to use any power to cook those meals nor did I have to heat up the house (which is really wonderful when it's 109º outside!)

My son helped me repair the trellis in the front yard where it had fallen from the weight of the Lady Banks' roses that I had growing there. I had cut the plants to about 2 feet high and will probably move them to another location at some point, as they do not flower almost at all where I have them because of the lack of sunlight (and this type of roses only flowers once a year as it is).

I took cuttings from my star jasmine and am attempting to root them to plant on this same trellis in place of the roses. It's probably too hot for this, but the plant needed a trim anyway. If they don't take, I'll try again when the temperatures go down.

My son accepted a brand-new pair of tennis shoes from a widow on our street whose late husband no longer needed them.

I took apart my dishwasher filter and gave it a thorough cleaning so that it will run better.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

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Vintage Reproduction 1940's Overalls

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Vintage Overalls The Prudent Homemaker

 

Winter was wanting to make herself some 1940's style overalls. I ordered this printable pattern for her. She made the first pair out of some dropcloth that I had  (that painter's cloth you buy from the hardware store to put down while painting) and made the second from some denim that my sister-in-law gave to me several years ago.

Vintage Overalls 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I had purchased some large buttons on a sale from Wawak years ago and she used those for these two pairs.

Vintage Overalls 3 The Prudent Homemaker

The blue blouse is a garage sale blouse she made over to be short-sleeved with a Peter Pan collar cut from the sleeves.

Vintage Denim Overalls 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The green shirt is a t-shirt. She added a Peter Pan collar to it using fabric I had on hand. She really wants to wear Peter Pan collars, so she recently added them to three t-shirts. This green one came from a recent thrift-store purchase. It was a long-sleeved t-shirt, but she shortened it to make it better for our climate.

Vintage Denim Overalls 1 The Prudent Homemaker

She loves how they all turned out.

Her shoes are these (affiliate link)

We were at Hobby Lobby looking for some fabric for a project she was doing recently and while we were there I noticed there was a new Simplicity catalog out for fall. It turns out that this is the 90th anniversary of Simplicity Pattern Company, and they have a large vintage reproduction section up towards the front of the catalog. They are offering a very similar pattern, and if you could get it at on sale at Joann's or Hobby Lobby during one of the 5 for $5 sales you would have quite a deal! It's pattern 8447, and it looks like you can order a printable version from Simplicity's site too, which would be a help if you live far from a store (watch their site for sales on the actual printed pattern, too; sometimes my stores are out of the pattern I want to purchase.)

Vintage Denim Overalls 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I have to say that I'm loving that my eldest daughter is loving vintage clothing and vintage reproduction clothing just as much as I am! 

Tagged in: Sewing Winters Sewing
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Zinnia Arrangement in Blue Jar The Prudent Homemaker

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I reconfirmed that we don't need to buy any school supplies this year (except printer paper, and I'm good for a while). I thought I might need one thing, but my son informed me that we had 4 or 5 of them in the drawer. 

I collected over 25 gallons of water from the drip from the air conditioner, as we had humid weather. I used this water to water potted plants in the garden.

We had an unexpected rainfall! I put out buckets to collect water, and turned off the sprinklers and drip system for the next two days. You can see a little video of my white garden during the rain on my Instagram account.

Al Fresco in August The Prudent Homemaker

The weather cooled down over 25 degrees that evening, so we enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the backyard.

My daughter's youth group had an extra activity this week to learn how to decorate cakes from a woman who makes wedding cakes. As piping icing has been eluding me for years, I decided to stay rather than dropping her off (I would have had to drive home, stay home for 10-15 minutes, and come right back, so staying made sense gas-wise, too.) As it was, only one other girl ended up coming (over 10 had signed up!) and I figured out what I was doing wrong. Obviously, I'll need to practice to make things perfect, but I can now finally ice cakes and cookies! I know a cake decorating class is pricey, and I was starting to think I needed to take one after my sister-in-law worked with me last week and we still couldn't figure out why I couldn't ever get icing to come out of the bag. She came over, we made her icing, and we put it in, and neither of us could get it to come out! My biggest mistake? Using a ziploc bag instead of a regular icing bag. From now on I will use the right tool! I also learned my other major problem: in our heat, you cannot make an all-butter buttercream; it will be liquid. The same goes for Swiss meringue and Italian meringue frostings. They are liquid in our weather here. Frosting needs to be American buttercream with shortening and no more than half-butter, or it will be a liquid that will run right off your cake (and definitely won't work for piping!) I had tried all of those recipes this year and they ran right off/melted off my cakes. (This is also why I haven't shared any birthday photos this year!) 

So now I can do this, which I've wanted to do for years:

Pink Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased two pairs of shorts for my son for $3 from a Facebook garage sale page and two pairs of jeans for $5 for a daughter. It's a little higher than I usually pay but both needs were able to be fulfilled for less than buying new, and they were all in very good condition.

Armenian Cucumber and Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I picked the last of the figs, a few tomatoes, 3 Armenian cucumbers, and a handful of red noodle beans from the garden.

I cut basil from the garden.

My husband mended his office chair. A new one would have cost over $200. He paid $4 for parts.

 Neopolitan Cake The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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Polka Dot Dress 3 The Prudent Homemaker 

Last fall, my eldest and I were invited to someone's house to check out the clothing she was giving away. Her mother said she had told her daughter to narrow down her clothing and wondered if we would like her hand-me-downs. This young woman is always impeccably dressed and we went over there a bit giddy with the prospects of finding something "new." We met up with another young woman as well who had been invited over.

As it turned out, what she had decided to get rid of wasn't really what Winter or I were looking for (I keep a list of items we need on my garage sale list). But before we left, she also brought out a bunch more clothes that she had been given by a woman we know. We looked through these as well, and again, came up short.

Polka Dot Dress Before The Prudent Homemaker

There was a skirt, though, that had a couple of elements that I know my daughter had been looking for. It was mustard colored (something we had been discussing after seeing lots of mustard-colored pieces over on this blog) and it was polka dotted, something we both loved. Winter isn't really into maxi skirts; she looked at it several times and thought about shortening it, but still wasn't sure.

I pointed out that the rather large waistband was doubled over, and there was enough material in the skirt to make a dress.

With that thought, Winter snapped up the skirt. 

It's been sitting in the sewing room, waiting for the right moment.

Polka Dot Dress 1 The Prudent Homemaker

Winter used the existing skirt part from below the waistband down to make the skirt part of the dress, and cut off the bottom and the waistband to make the sleeves and the top of the dress. There was just enough fabric to make everything.

She copied a sweater dress she has to make the bodice

She didn't want any darts in the dress, and as it is a knit fabric, it could go on over her head without needing a zipper.

Polka Dot Dress Back The Prudent Homemaker

Oxford Shoes  Book  (affiliate links)

 Polka Dot Dress 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 Now she has a fun everyday dress to wear, and all it cost was her time!

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 Cucumbers and Basil The Prudent Homemaker

My freezers are packed full of frozen fruit from both our garden and from deals I found earlier this year. There's some meat in there, somewhere behind all the peaches, blackberries, figs, strawberries, and blueberries. There's lemon juice from our lemon trees too.

The garden has started producing Armenian cucumbers. I'm hoping for enough to can pickles this year. I planted loads of them in several places in the garden and the vines have reached the tops of my five-foot trellises and started producing female flowers.

We have Swiss chard, red noodle beans, and green onions in the garden.

Yellow Pear Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The tomato plants are still producing (especially the Yellow Pear tomatoes), though they are winding down because of the heat (they are not longer producing flowers).

I've got butternut squash growing and will have a few to pick this month.

I have 5 zucchini plants. None are producing for me at the moment, but the overcast days in July led to cooler temperatures and I can see a combination of male and female flowers at the base of them. Hopefully, they'll be open on the same days to be pollinated and we'll have some zucchini too!

Bartlett Pears on Tree The Prudent Homemaker 

The Bartlett pears are ripe this month. There aren't many, as the trees have never grown very large in 10 years, but we'll still have a decent number.

The table grapes are ripe (the birds have gotten a number of them though). We'll have some to eat (they have seeds) and some to juice. When they're all done, I'll pick the leaves to cook. They have a lemony flavor and are delicious in all sorts of recipes. I'll stuff some this month too.

Bucket of Zinnias and Sunflowers

The zinnias I planted in the backyard are opening! I know they're late but I'm happy to have them! I have a few small sunflowers too (about the same size as the zinnias).

I've got a decently stocked pantry

And I'm not planning to go shopping at all during the month of August for food or toiletries.

We're having a lower income month along with increased expenses. We're adding life insurance to our bills this month and in September we hope to add some online college classes for my eldest, which will mean tuition and book expenses. These will mean increased expenses every month, so hopefully, our income will increase to cover the difference. 

With an irregular income, I never know what our income will be. I try to plan a month ahead for expenses whenever possible, but that isn't always possible. This month, I'm waiting to see what else will come in. Our first priorities are our mortgage, utilities, and insurance. Should anything come in past that, I'll save it to put toward's September's bills.

Whether or not I'll go shopping in September is yet to be seen. If I do, it is certainly to be a reduced amount. We were very blessed last year to make more money and be able to increase our grocery budget. This year, our income has been lower, and if it continues as it has been, we will make 1/3 of what we made last year (Last year was a blessing! We were able to repair several things and purchase some needed furniture. Before that, things had been much lower, like this year, for the 8 previous years). Consequently, it's possible that I'll go back to a $100 a month budget. I know we can do it, as we have in past years where we've made this amount, and we managed to build our food storage while doing so. It's been nice to have had the money to buy other things we like to eat, including more meat and cheese, but we can certainly eat more soups, oats, rice, and beans going forward. I'm collecting lettuce seeds from the garden this week and I look forward to planting them in my fall garden along with other seeds I have on hand. I'm feeling really grateful that when our income was higher last year, I bought a couple of years' worth of seeds, and that I'm growing almost all open-pollinated seeds, which allows me to collect seeds from my garden to plant every year.

Here's some of what I'll have on the menu this month:

 

Breakfasts:

 

Oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins, and almonds

Crepes (I still have some eggs and I'll use powdered milk)

Whole wheat waffles with fruit from the freezer

Smoothies and toast with cinnamon sugar 

Bread and jam (I've got homemade strawberry, apricot, and fig jams, plus apple butter on my pantry shelves)

 

Summer Pasta Salad The Prudent Homemaker

Lunches:

 

Black beans and rice with tomatoes and corn

White bean dip with pita bread, cucumbers, and tomatoes (produce from the garden)

Macaroni and cheese with sliced tomatoes (on the side!) and cucumbers in vinegar

Tomato Basil Sandwiches

Pasta Salad

Leftovers

Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

 

Snacks:

 

Fig Tarts

Cookies

Peach Pie Popsicles

Popcorn

Grapes

Smoothies

 

Dinners:

 

Black Bean Burgers with Steak Sauce and tomatoes from the garden

Turkey Curry over basmati rice with peas and chapatis

Pork Roast with fig sauce and mashed potatoes, Swiss chard, and butternut squash

Baked Potatoes with a corn and tomato salad

Stir fry with pork or turkey and vegetables from the garden and bean sprouts

Pinto beans and rice with onions and tomatoes

Spaghetti with red noodle beans

Stuffed grape leaves with homemade pita bread

Ham with Rosemary potatoes and red noodle beans

Ham sandwiches with tomatoes from the garden and home-canned dill pickles

 

 

If you're living from your pantry this month, check out my two weeks' worth of pantry meals here.

If you need more bean recipes, check out my post on How to Eat Beans Every Night.

If you're looking for a frugal summer menu, check out a month's worth of summer meals here.

 

Are you planning to go shopping in August? What deals will you be looking to purchase?

 

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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