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Roses on Black Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy inside. 

I worked in the garden all week pruning, fertilizing, and planting.

I sowed seeds for poppies, spinach, larkspur, Swiss chard, green onions, nasturtiums, Bells of Ireland, and snow peas in the garden.

I dug several more bushes that I started by tip layering and transplanted them to other places in the garden to form a hedge. I also put two in pots that I already had; I hope to grow these into two ball-shaped plants.

I dug out the two Lady Banks' roses from the white garden in front and transplanted them to my garden in back, where they should be able to grow along the wire trellis there and provide a green backdrop in a place that previously was barren. These vines grow very quickly and were growing onto my roof after just three years of being planted (they only started out about 2 feet tall), so they should cover the trellis within two years (I cut them down to three feet tall a few months back). They only flower once a year and rarely flowered for me in the spot they were in, as they were in constant shade (they require sun to flower). In their new spot, their evergreen leaves will be welcome. They will get direct winter and early spring afternoon sun, so I may also get a spring flowering from them as well, starting next year.

We enjoyed a bit of rain this week (1/4 inch, which is a lot for here!) It helped soften the ground and made it easier for us to work at digging out the roots of our dead peach tree that we needed to pull, as well as a grapevine that we took out. 

I put out buckets to collect rainwater for the garden.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

My husband and I had a date night at home. 

My eldest son was helping a woman clean out her house as part of a service project. The woman was giving away lots of unused things that were cluttering her house to the helpers. My son accepted three boxes of Christmas lights that were brand-new in the box. Our old Christmas lights were having trouble this past year, so this was perfect for us!

My husband was given a box of candy from a work associate. It came in a fancy reusable lidded box. He brought the box home and I added it to my stash of reusable lidded boxes.

I watched a couple of cake decorating videoes on YouTube (this one and this one). I have a child's birthday every month from January through May, and I'd like to try making some fancier cakes.

We enjoyed more tomatoes from the garden as they ripened, as well as frozen fruit from last year's harvest and lemons that I picked last week. I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

My husband used an engine hoist to pull out our dead peach tree, rather than renting a stump remover (which are about $100 a day, and we have two more trees to pull).

I was offered tickets to the Philharmonic at the last minute from someone who could no longer go. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't feeling well enough to go after pulling the tree out. Instead, I took my 12-year old son, and he and I were able to enjoy the concert. I didn't look at the tickets until we arrived; we had the nicest seats (orchestra level, right in the middle).  

French Lace Rose in Blue and White Vase The Prudent Homemaker

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Lemon Branches and Lemons The Prudent Homemaker

I worked pruning, weeding, and tidying the garden. 

I cut branches from the garden to enjoy inside.

I picked more Meyer lemons from our trees.

I dug and transplanted several new "bushes" from one place in the garden to another where I am starting a hedge. These only have one rooted stem, but it is well rooted and they should do well in their new place. After they have been growing in their new spot for a while, I will cut the single branch on each to force them to send forth new branches. It will take about 5 years for them to grow into a hedge.

I sowed seeds for larkspur, poppies, bells of Ireland, and lettuce in the garden.

I resisted the temptation to buy more flower seeds online. I put everything in my cart, looked at the total, decided it wasn't in the budget, and closed the browser. I have plenty of seeds to plant already.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

I purchased the vitamins I had on my list at Target on sale, plus used an additional 5% off Cartwheel discount to get the price lower. I brought my own bags for $0.05 off my total per bag.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Sam's Club gift card. I'll use this towards my grocery purchases this month.

My husband and I used the last two movie passes we received for Christmas of 2016 to go on a date.

A neighbor threw out a men's bicycle in great condition. It was missing only a few bolts (it was in pieces). We rescued it from the trash. We will either use it (after getting new bolts) or use the pieces on our existing bicycles. (The sun disintegrates seats here, so a new seat is always welcome!)

My husband repaired our side gate.

My son replaced a broken valve connector in the garden.

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used it to water our potted plants.

We enjoyed tomatoes from the garden. The green ones I picked in December have been ripening, and they are wonderful! 

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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My Goals for 2018

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My most important goal for 2018:

Octavius Baby Foot The Prudent Homemaker

Have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby in late spring!

 

 February Rain in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Garden Goals:

1. Take out dead our peach tree and replace it. We may take out both peach trees in the back, as the other appears to be dying as well. I learned in my extension service classes that peach and apricot trees only last around 10 years here. We've had these trees for 10 years. They are the two above covered in pink blossoms, The one you see on the right died last year and the one on the left is the other we will most likely take out too.

2. Plant many more flowers for cutting and enjoying in the garden. I want to grow thousands of flowers in the garden this year for arrangements thorughout the year.

3. Plant more Swiss chard, lettuce, green onions, snow peas, Armenian cucumbers, alpine strawberries, squash, and beets than in past years.

4. Fix sprinkler issues and reseed the lawn in the bare spots.

5. Find and fix all leaks in the drip lines.

 

White Embroidery Detail The Prudent Homemaker

 

Sewing Goals:

 

1. Sew curtains for my bedroom. I bought the fabric over a decade ago, shortly after we moved into the house. I need to buy lining and something to hang the curtains (I think we will need to make boxes). I want to get this project done this year. We've had shades hanging for years, but they broke last year and I'm ready for my curtains to finally be up!

2. Sew the decorative bed pillow that I embroidered a cover for last year (pictured in-progress above).

3. Sew baby clothes using patterns and material I have on hand. I gave away almost all of our baby clothing, save a few favorite things I had stored in one box.

4. Sew four dresses for myself. (These have been on my list for a few years now; this year I want to finish the ones I've started and sew two more, and I already have the fabric to do it).

5. Sew birthday gifts for the children using fabric I have on hand. My girls have requested several things and I already have a list of what they want.

 

Purchase Goals:

These are my planned purchases for the year. While I'm sure we'll have other needs, these are ones that I already know will be part of my purchases for the year:

1. Purchase a few baby clothing items for the new baby. I've already registered at Target so that I can get a 15% off coupon to use towards baby purchases the last two months of pregnancy (they let you use one towards what is left on your registry at that time, but the 15% is only good for ONE purchase. I'll definitely buy diapers and possibly purchase some onesies and socks at that time). I also will look at garage sales for needed items. I was recently gifted enough hand-me-down 0-3 month onesies that I don't need any in that size.

2. Purchase a car seat for the baby.

3. Buy the following clothing items for myself: sandals, black flats, nursing bras, and a few more maternity items (I'll look for those in thrift stores) for warm weather wear. It gets warm here early in the year. I am needing new-to-me maternity clothing in a smaller size; I donated all of my old maternity clothing last year.

4. Purchase new shoes for the family.

5. Purchase tarragon and tomato plants for the garden. I'll also buy more dirt for the garden; removing tree roots will mean I'll need dirt to fill in those spots.

 

Financial Goals:

1. Refund emergency fund. This was depleted last year after some hospital bills.  We have other goals we'd like to add to this category, but this is the first and most important one, and we won't do any of the others until after this one is accomplished.

 

What are your goals for this year?

 

 

Tagged in: Goals
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Lemonade 2 The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

This year, our grocery budget is $200 a month (down from an average of $300 a month last year).

Our income in 2017 was half what it was in 2016. We also increased our expenses significantly in 2017, as we added life insurance, we had some hospital bills, and we started paying for online college classes for our eldest.

With a variable income, we never know what our income will be each month or for the year. Because we have increased our expenses, we need to cut from other areas of the budget. We don't have a large discretionary income, so cutting the grocery budget and the clothing/garden/miscellaneous budget are the two places we can cut.

Here's how I intend to make $200 a month work for our family of 10 this year:

I intend to grow even more in the garden and do a better job with our fruit harvest. I wasn't always fast enough on everything last year and the birds got to most of my grapes and a large number of figs. I intend to use paper bags on my grapes earlier in the season to keep the birds away. I also will be spraying the grapes a couple of times early in the spring (i.e. January and February) with neem oil, before they leaf out, to keep the powdery mildew away that has posed a problem (and destroyed part of the fruit) the last two years.

I am planning to grow even more Swiss chard, green onions, lettuce, and beets. My children went from not liking canned pickled beets much to suddenly welcoming them at the table. I'll plant lettuce seeds (which I've collected from my own open-pollinated lettuces) every two weeks for a continuous supply of lettuce from March through late April/early May (at which point it get too hot here, as it is well over 100ºF).

I will plant my warm-season seeds shortly after our last frost date (which is February 15th). Sometimes I get these in later than I hope and it is too hot by the time they are large enough to flower for them to put forth any flowers. If our warm weather keeps up and no frost is predicted, I may plant earlier and cover the ground with glass jars to warm the soil (I already took a chance with some cucumber seeds last week this way, so I'll see if they come up).

Last year, I rearranged the garden beds and added some concrete mesh we already had (I unrolled 5-foot tall cages to make them flat)  and my eldest son and I put them in the garden so that I can grow more vertically in the same space. This will be an advantage this year. I already have snow peas coming up under most of these trellises. I'll plant Armenian cucumber seeds under the others come February 15th.

I also changed up a bed along one whole side of the garden, which gave me more space to grow lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and squash last year. I will use the same space for lettuce, poppies, squash, and herbs this year (the tomatoes will be grown in another space).

My garden budget is separate from my grocery budget. It includes things like replacement valves, drip lines, sprinkler heads, grass seed, manure, organic fertilizers: bone meal, Epsom salts, soil sulfur (to lower the ph, as our soil and water here have a ph of 8.2), and blood meal, vegetable seeds, flower seeds, fruit trees, vines, bushes, other plants, etc. 

I already have flower seeds and vegetable seeds to plant this year, both from collecting seeds in my own garden and seeds I've purchased in the past. I don't need to buy any this year (though I may add a few new varieties of both to try). This is a blessing as I am decreasing the garden budget this year. I have also planned for a lowered budget, as I have been buying open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, and collecting them to plant in my own garden.

We'll continue to eat from the freezers and pantry, and I'll stock up on items as they get low.

We'll continue to practice the principles from when I had an even lower budget of $100 a month. You can read those tips in my Eat for $0.40 a Day series.

 

Here's how I'll spend my $200 this month:

 

Winco:

Canned tomatoes. I am completely out of canned tomatoes. I used to buy 28-ounce cans of these, until Sam's Club started carrying 102-ounce cans of these for an even better deal. Sam's Club no longer carries them in this size (and Costco doesn't either), so I will be comparing prices of the store brand of canned tomatoes (I'll start with buying some at Winco). I use these in lots of recipes (especially soups), and I cannot grow enough tomatoes to can them (I have tried!) Update: After a year of not having these, it looks like my Sam's Club might be bringing them back, but as a store brand instead. A reader's suggestion to look at another Sam's Club in town had me looking online. They didn't have these in the store when I was there last month, but it says online that they have them now, so I will check!

Canned pineapple. These go on sale for $0.99 a can from November to January at Winco. I will stock up on these to use in fruit salads and on homemade pizza (and in the occasional carrot cake).

Canned olives. These also go on sale at Winco from November to December for $0.99 a can. We use these in pasta salad and on pizza. I will stock up on these for the year.

Potatoes. Winco carries russets around $0.25 a pound all year. We eat even more in the winter. and can easily go through 50 pounds a week in winter. You can see how we like to eat potatoes here.

Broccoli. Broccoli is in season in January and February. My whole family loves broccoli. I will look for a price of $0.99 a pound or less (I'm hoping for $0.77 a pound) and I will blanch and freeze broccoli to use for months. I will also watch the store ads to see if I find a lower price elsewhere. However, Winco sells just the crowns, which means I don't end up with a lot of stems for the same price (or less) as I find elsewhere.

Onions

Spreadable margarine

Eggs

Milk

Vegetable Oil

 

Target:

Vitamins.  There are always sales on vitamins in January, and Target usually has additional Cartwheel offers on top of sales prices to get them even lower. I will look for both multivitamins and individual supplements of the store brand that we use.

 

Walmart:

Dish soap

 

Sam's Club:

Mayonnaise

Toilet Paper

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

Flour tortillas

Canned tomatoes in the 102-ounce (#10) can

 

 

In the garden this month, I'm harvesting Swiss chard and Meyer lemons. We're also eating fresh tomatoes from the garden that we picked green and have ripening in baskets as well as butternut squash and pumpkin from the garden.

 

Some of the meals we'll have this month:

 

Crepes 500

Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds

Crepes

Eggs and toast with canned fruit salads (including home-canned fruit and frozen blackberries and pomegranates from our garden)

Homemade yogurt with jam and granola

Cheese grits with eggs

Fried diced potatoes with onion

 

Minestrone Soup The Prudent Homemaker

Black beans and tomato rice

Minestrone Soup with French Bread

Rosemary White Bean Soup

Swiss Chard Soup with Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Pasta e Fagioli

 

Butternut Squash Soup ingredients

Pizza

Spaghetti with green beans on the side

Enchiladas with Swiss chard

Butternut Squash Soup, Herb Roasted Chicken, Swiss Chard, and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Baked Potato Bar

Pumpkin pasta

Turkey Devan

 

For more frugal winter menu ideas, check out my winter menu here.

 

Note: If you're new to my site, you should know that my grocery budget includes food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies for my family.

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
Last modified on

The Last Frugal Accomplishments For 2017

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Pansies in Black Urn The Prudent Homemaker

I spent all week working in the garden each day, tidying it for planting. I pulled out dead plants, pulled weeds, spread manure. and pruned.

I planted seeds in the garden for beets, green onions, snow peas, Armenian cucumbers, spinach, and lettuce in the garden.

I began my birthday gift list for 2018, starting with moving several items I didn't make for Christmas to the birthday gifts list. I already have fabric for these.

My efforts to save energy and water resulted in my utility bills (water, power, and gas)  all coming in significantly lower than normal for this month. Our warmer winter should mean a lower heating bill too; it's been 10 to 15 degrees warmer than usual, which means we're rarely running the heater. It was so warm last week that I even opened the house for a few hours several days.

My daughter downloaded six free songs from the library.

I downloaded and read four e-books from the library.

What did you do to save money for the last part of 2017?

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Christmas Home Tour

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Welcome to our home!

Christmas 2017 Entry The Prudent Homemaker

In the urns by the front door, I added some free Christmas tree trimmings and free pinecones. Many places that sell Christmas trees will give free Christmas tree trimmings if you ask.

I hung some wreaths I bought several years ago.

This year, I added the two lanterns by the door. The black one I bought used for $5 earlier this year (it turned out to have a broken hinge, but it still works fine). The red lantern has faux candles inside that don't light up and a crack in the bottom; my mom found it for free at someone's trash last year after Christmas and picked it up for me.

 

Christmas Entry Table and Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

We were gifted this poinsettia a couple of nights ago by some friends who came caroling at our door. I took out the roses and basil from this arrangement (which were done) and put the poinsettia in the middle instead with the dusty miller from our garden and the free Christmas tree trimmings.

Christmas Entry Table and Mirror The Prudent Homemaker

The wreath was a $2 garage sale find in October. I used a ribbon that used to be the drawstring to a pair of flannel pajama pants. The pajamas wore out years ago but I kept the ribbon. The urn was an $8 garage sale find in October.

Christmas 2017 Piano The Prudent Homemaker

 I bought our Nativity set 16 years ago with my husband at Walmart for our second Christmas together.

I hung the star music garland that I made for another Christmas. I used a vintage fur collar from my grandmother on the bust, and I added pinecones to the urns.

The Christmas book is one from which my daughters are currently playing. We sing Christmas carols every night as a family starting the first of December, and sometimes one of my daughters will play for us when we sing. I have been enjoying hearing them practice their Christmas music all month.

Christmas 2017 Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

A woman who works with my husband gifted him the beautiful live wreath that is hanging in the large window. I have two small wreaths in the end windows,  but I wanted another in the middle window. One day I hope to purchase a large faux wreath for this space.

Our tree is a beautiful faux one that we bought 11 years ago from Lowe's. It was the display model and they couldn't find the box. They charged us only $80! (This style of tree retails for $300 to $400).  We have it in a tree stand that is bolted to a little table (the table was free and my husband cut the legs down to make it a bit shorter). Having the tree on the table gives the illusion of a taller tree, and it keeps our toddler from reaching too much of the tree. He can reach the bottom two branches, so we don't have any ornaments on those branches this year. We have eight children, so this arrangement has worked well for us for years to keep the tree and ornaments save from toddlers.

The ribbon and ornaments on the tree are ones we have had for many years.

I made the tree skirt this year from some drop cloth that I had on hand. 

Christmas Gifts Under the Tree The Prudent Homemaker

 I have been wanting reusable boxes for years. I had a few velvet covered ones that were gifted to us years ago. I added the brown ones and the two white and gold ones that are on the table last year (I found them at Target in the gift wrapping section). This year I was very excited to see that Target was offering more reusable boxes in the Christmas section, and they were very similar to the boxes I bought last year. I bought several. I can use these every year for Christmas, as well as for birthdays, without needing to use wrapping paper. Since I hand make gifts and purchase many gifts at garage sales, I don't usually have boxes for my gifts. This will make wrapping so much easier for me every year. 

Christmas Gifts The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased a few spools of ribbon to tie the boxes closed. I also have lots of ribbon that I've saved from gifts we've received in years past that I use to close boxes.

I bought the gold and burgundy faux berries this year from a local Facebook garage sale page for $3 for 12 of them.

I bought some large and regular sized jingle bells this year as well to add to the top of the boxes. They still don't disguise the sound of Legos in the boxes, but they are a fun addition that I can reuse every year.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The small wreaths I have in the windows at the end of the room are faux ones I bought for $2.99 each (on sale at Michael's) several years ago.

The pinecones were gathered from the side of the road.

The faux greens on the table are ones I bought years ago. This is my first year using them on the table; I usually place them on the piano.

The lanterns are ones I bought early in our marriage. The candles I've had for years, as I like the look of them during the day, but we don't use them at night.

The silver-plated bowls and urns are ones I've picked up for $5 and under each at garage sales over the last couple of years.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner The Prudent Homemakerjpg

 I purchased the clementines on sale for $1 a pound, which is a good price here.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner 3 The Prudent Homemakerjpg

The Meyer lemons are from my garden. The beautiful silver reindeer were a surprise gift from a reader who inherited them and didn't have a place for them. She didn't know it, but I had been looking at faux mercury glass deer very similar to these last Christmas. I was so excited to find these in a box from her as they are even better than what I had looked at!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

 

Merry Christmas!

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