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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Concord and Table Grapes The Prudent Homemaker


It's the middle of summer and temperatures here reached 114º (45ºC) last week. We're mostly staying indoors, but we did get some things picked from the garden, including table grapes and Concord grapes. I've had a Concord vine for many years, and this is the first time I've harvested from it. I have 2 more Concord vines that I grew from cuttings from my other vine. All are fruiting this year. I'll be cutting more from the garden this week and making grape juice with them.

We picked figs from the garden. I have a Mission fig tree. One of the reasons I chose it is that it fruits twice a year. It's wonderful to get fruit twice from the same tree! I froze figs to use later.

I sliced and froze the last of the peaches from the garden.

I cut rosemary and Swiss chard from the garden. I picked our second zucchini for the year.

I canned strawberry jam. I also made strawberry popsicles and strawberry shortcake from the strawberries I purchased for $0.87 a pound.

I made yogurt in the crockpot.

I mended a bed skirt, hemmed a pair of pants, and mended 2 pairs of sandals.

I cut pomegranate branches from the base of my potted trees and put them in a vase on my entry table.

I found more free resources for foreign language learning for the children (in addition to Duolingo, which we have been using every day). is one and French With Alexa on YouTube is another. Alexa has a paid option, but she also has several free videos on her YouTube page for beginners. 

We watched several children's television programs on YouTube.

What did you do last week to save money?

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Apple Branches on Table The Prudent Homemaker 

This post contains affiliate links.

I spent a lot of time organizing this past week. We moved furniture around in the house to other rooms, filled several bags to donate (and dropped them off at the thrift shop), sold furniture on the local Facebook garage sale page (and put a price tag of $0 on the chairs above that we couldn't seem to sell--and then had a taker), and threw things out.

My parents closed down their storefront several years ago and were planning to be retire, but they have continued to work from home. However, they recently told us they will be actually retiring by the end of this year. I had been planning to buy some more furniture through them before they did that, and while we weren't planning on doing it this year, I would save a lot of money by ordering it through them and buying the furniture wholesale (plus tax and freight), so it made sense to purchase what we wanted this year, if we could afford to do so.  We only buy things if we have the cash to pay for them. Our furniture arrived last week, and I have 12 chairs now. Two will go in the library unless we have company for dinner. Another will go in the library as well until the baby is old enough to use it; the space is blank now but I'll bring out the high chair when he is old enough to use it.

Their decision to close up also meant that I should order the bookcases for the other side of the library. Again, we would only commit to do this if we had the cash to do so. Our income varies, since it is sales based. Thankfully, the housing market has been improving here this year after a decade of poor sales, and purchasing the bookcases was something for which we could budget. I sold two of our old bookcases (the cheap pressboard kind with stickers that look like woodgrain) and moved the one I bought from a Facebook garage sale a year or more ago to my sewing room.  We've called it the library even though it was an empty room for many years (the previous homeowner used the room as a dining room), and now it is a library.

Our piano bench broke last week. It was a rather inexpensive bench  (we paid $25 for it brand-new) that wasn't an actual piano bench (it didn't open). We had repaired it before, but this time it was past being able to be repaired. I ordered this one from Amazon and used my Swagbucks gift card to pay for part of it.

We picked peaches, apricots, a few tomatoes, and figs from the garden. I cut grapes and Swiss chard from the garden. I also cut our first Armenian cucumber and first zucchini from the garden. (The cucumber was larger!) I hope to see some more this year. The cucumber is from seeds I planted back in March. 

I bought strawberries on sale for the amazing price of $0.87 a pound. I also bought ice cream for Cyrus' birthday on sale; they were $3.49 for a gallon pail (regular price $5.79). A normal sale is $1 off; I was very excited to see this price. 

I cooked several meals outside in my solar oven. This kept the house cooler, which ended up being extra helpful when one of our air conditioning units broke and it was 111º (43ºC) outside. (Thankfully the repairman was able to come in just a couple of days, and thankfully it was just a couple of parts that needed to be replaced, rather than the entire unit.)

The children used and last week to practice typing and foreign language learning for free.

I sewed a pair of pajama shorts and a handkerchief for Cyrus from some hand-me-down fabric.

I mended an apron. Winter sewed buttons on two items of clothing (that were missing buttons) using buttons from my button jar.

Sweet Potato Vine The Prudent Homemaker

Our local nursery had potted fruit trees on sale last week. They aren't usually on sale in summer, but they wanted to clear out some inventory. My plum tree is dying (no obvious reason) and I wanted to replace it with something else. I bought a Stella cherry on sale. I also bought 2 pomegranate trees (I have 2 potted pomegranates already; these 2 will most likely be potted as well). I will plant these in the fall when temperatures are lower.

My passionfruit vine has grown for several years and flowered well, but it is not fruiting. I pulled it out. It is invasive, so no doubt I'll be pulling it out from many places for some time to come. I bought a small star jasmine to take its place for $2.98 on sale. 

I also was planning to buy some sweet potato vines for the pots by the front door. Nothing likes this spot well, as it is in full shade all day. I have been able to have some success with changing it out with different annuals. Last year sweet potato vines did well for me (they don't produce potatoes, though). They will grow until after Thanksgiving. I went to the store and they had an unadvertised store special; they were on sale for $0.98 instead of $2.98.


What did you do to save money last week?


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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Table Grapes The Prudent Homemaker

We picked peaches, apricots, and grapes from the garden.

I canned 4 quarts of applesauce, 10 1/2 pints apricot vanilla jam, 9 quarts of peaches, and 9 quarts of grape juice from our garden produce. I canned 4 quarts of cranberry juice and 4 1/2 pints of cranberry sauce with cranberries I had bought in November and froze.

I sliced and froze several quarts of peaches and two quarts of apricots from our trees.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.

I combined coupons, sales, and Target cartwheel offers to save on toiletries.

I needed some new cooking pots after 16 years of marriage. I decided to see if they had what I needed while I was at Target. To my surprise, they had the pots I was wanting to get on sale, so I was able to save $22 on 3 individual pots.

I went through several items in the house and found several bags' worth of items to donate to the thrift store. I love that such a simple thing can bring more happiness and peace by making our lives less cluttered.

We rearranged some furniture in the house. 

I returned two shirts that my husband bought that he didn't like the fit of.

I cut apple branches for a simple arrangement on my entry table. I also cut a single dahlia for an arrangement in the house.

My girls accepted some hand-me-downs from a cousin.

Picking Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money last week?


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Goals for July

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Cafe au Lait Dahlia 2 The Prudent Homemaker

With so many fruits ripe in the garden all at once (which are normally spread out from June through August) my first priority is to take care of the fruit in the garden. I need to cover grapes from the birds, pick apricots, peaches, and grapes. I'll also be canning.

Because so much has been ripening at once, and because life has a way of changing what has to be done, I still haven't been able to sew dresses for myself. Last month I sewed a blouse for Elsa (a super-quick project) and sewed a couple dozen merit badges on the boys' sashes. This month, I really hope to get the dresses done--but the fruit will come first, as ripe fruit does not wait.

I'm also struggling to get out in the garden to fix some drip lines that need to be redone. It's so hot that I find it best to go out between 5 and 6:30 am (the coolest time of day; I got out once at that time last week, when it was 92º out) or go out between 7:30 and 8:00 pm, as the sun is setting and right after. Going out during these times has been tricky with a baby; it always is! So these items are still on my to-do list.




1. Can grape juice

2. Can peaches

3. Can grapes, if I have enough ripe that we can't eat them in time

4. Can cranberry juice, with the cranberries I froze back in November for this purpose

5. Make peach pie

6. Make popsicles and smoothies

7. Cook a turkey from the freezer



1. Sew dresses for myself. I want one of these to be a dressy one to wear to Octavius' blessing 

2. Sew blessing outfit for Octavius. The one I made previously that my other two boys wore for their blessing has long sleeves and is lined. I'd like to make a short-sleeved linen/cotton blend outfit for him using the same pattern.



1. Cover grapes with paper bags to keep them from the birds while they're ripening

2. Pick apricots

3. Pick peaches

4. Cut grapes

5. Weed the garden

6. Mend and replace several old drip lines; add new lines where needed

7. Plant seeds where they haven't come up

8. Tidy the garden


What are your goals for July?

Tagged in: Goals
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Grocery Shopping Plans for July

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Garden Grapes 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Peaches and grapes are ripe in my garden, albeit a few weeks earlier than normal. This year, the mockingbirds have appeared in my garden, and they have figured out that my green grapes are ripe. I'll be covering as many grape bunches as I can with paper bags to allow them to continue to ripen before they are all eaten.

My Concord grapes are ripening too (also earlier than usual). I've never harvested more than six individual Concord grapes in a year, so seeing so many bunches this year is exciting! They are small bunches, unlike my other varieties of grapes. I have several vines now, as I took cuttings from my vine several years ago to make new vines. These vines are now producing.

I've seen the ads for this week and though it is the season for peaches and grapes, the stores are listing them at $2.99 a pound! I did see one store that had peaches for less ($1.48 a pound). I have never seen prices so high for these. This month should bring better sales for these items; I have seen them in years past for $0.99 a pound. Usually grapes are on sale several times for that price, and peaches only one or two weeks of the summer at that price. I used to buy 80 pounds of peaches to can when I saw them at that price. Now I just pick them from my own trees to eat fresh, freeze and can.

I've got one Armenian cucumber  ripening in the front yard. The seeds I planted last week for more plants are up. I hope to have a fall harvest that allows me to can pickles this year.

I still have apricots on the trees, oddly enough. We'll be picking the last of them this week.

I'm moving our budget back up this month as we are able to do so. My budget for this month is $400. This includes food and toiletries.

This week is a great time for American readers to stock up on holiday sales that are out for barbeque foods for the Fourth of July.

I've already been to Walmart this month; it was an unexpected trip while I waited to have a new battery put in and get a new key made (my key broke and my battery died on the first; batteries die often here in our high temperatures and replacing them is prorated under the length of your warranty).



Canning lids (I'm slowly building up my supply of reusable canning lids, but with fruit ripe and needing to be canned now, I picked up some lids).

Mrs. Wages dill pickle mix (in anticipation of cucumbers later in the year)

Oxi Clean stain remover spray (the refill bottles)


Washing soda


Sam's Club:

Flour tortilllas



Mozarella cheese




Vegetable oil (it's currently $4.98 for a gallon)

Potatoes (currently $0.25 a pound)

Oats (a 25 pound bag; I ended up not getting these last month)



Vons:   I was busy canning yesterday and missed these sales. I'l look for more this month on these items.

Whole chickens (on sale for $0.67 a pound)

Gulden's spicy mustard (on sale for $.99 each when you buy 4)



Ice cream (I'll look for a sale later in the month)

Pasta, if it goes on sale for $0.49. I see this price about 3 times a year and if it comes this month I want to have money earmarked for it. If not, I will look for a sale on it another month.



Sunscreen (there's a good deal right now listed here)

Toothbrushes for my husband (his favorite kind is on sale buy one get one free)

Salon Graphix unscented hairspray. I have a couple of coupons for $1 off (thanks to a reader!)


I'll also visit Target for back to school sales on school supplies later in the month. I'll look for other good toiletry sales there this month too, as well as watch the grcoery ads for any other great sales this month.



Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 1 The Prudent Homemaker

Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

My 14-year-old daughter, Winter, has been working on a sewing project for the last couple of months.

She participated in a Pioneer handcart trek, and everyone was supposed to dress for the time period. This is a living history event where groups of people recreate a Mormon pioneer handcart trek across the plains. Many Mormons crossed with handcarts instead of covered wagons from the 1840's to 1860's.

 Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 6 The Prudent Homemaker

Winter has been researching period clothing and underclothing, down to the smallest details (including what kind of buttons were used). The more she learned, the more determined she was to sew something accurate. Having studied and modeled historical clothing myself (I used to model for a historian while I was a university student), I have a strong love of historical clothing. I wanted her to make something accurate, but I didn't want her to feel obligated to do so. Seeing her get excited on her own about the project the more she studied what people actually wore during the period thrilled me. 


Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 9 The Prudent Homemaker

She used old sheets to sew the split drawers, the corded petticoat, the second petticoat, her chemise and her corset.

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek Drawers The Prudent Homemaker

She edged the chemise sleeves and the drawers with a bit of lace that I had in my stash (which I'm pretty sure came from my grandmother or my mother-in-law's stash).

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek corset The Prudent Homemaker

The corset boning is actually zip ties, with the buckle part cut off. They were just the right size and less expensive than boning, and about the same stiffness. She sewed the holes for lacing it by hand, using a buttonhole stitch.  She laced it using a method called spiral lacing, which she says is easier to lace by one's self. At this period in time, the corset was more of a support garment. Winter says it is really comfortable, and she loves the back support it gives her. 

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 5 The Prudent Homemaker 

The corded petticoat is two layers of fabric, with cording (she used a thin cotton yarn for the cording) sewn in between. The more cording  in the petticoat, the fuller it is. It was amazing to see how the petticoat stood out more and more as she sewed in each section of cording, just like a hoop skirt. In doing her research for the project, Winter learned that precorded fabric was available to purchase for women of the era, but she did not have that option. She also learned that in the 1850's, when hoops became more common, that women still wore a corded petticoat over their hoops. The corded petticoat goes on first, with all other petticoats on top. A nice feature of the corded petticoat that Winter discovered is that the corded petticoat means plenty of air flow, as it keeps your skirts away from your legs.

She made stockings, using some jersey knit I had on hand. She tied them up with ribbons from my ribbon box.

She also made and embroidered several handkerchiefs.

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 4 The Prudent Homemaker

The dress itself was made with a cotton plaid that she bought at Hobby Lobby for $3.49 a yard. She used this Laughing Moon 1840's pattern (view A). The measurements for the dress are taken over underclothing, so she made the dress after making all of her underclothes.

She made her piping using the same yard as cording.  She made bias tape for her piping using this tutorial and a bias tape maker.

This is the first dress that Winter has ever sewn. She learned several new techniques making this project, including cording, making bias tape, making piping, covering buttons, making pintucks, cartridge pleating, regular pleating, flatlining, making a mock-up, and adjusting and following a pattern.

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 3 The Prudent Homemaker 

She made her apron and collar using unbleached muslin from my stash (inherited from my grandmother's stash). You can purchase unbleached muslin from Joann's in the quilting section. 

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 2 The Prudent Homemaker


The straw bonnet is quite amazing. She used this pattern to make the hat. She first started with a straw hat that she bought at the thrift store for $2. It had lace hot glued onto it that she removed before she unstitched the hat.

Straw Hat Before 

She then cut the straw braids and sewed them together into the new hat, before lining it with buckram and pleated muslin. She tied it on with a brown satin ribbon from my ribbon box.

 Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 7 The Prudent Homemaker

To keep her cool, I ordered her a wooden folding fan that she can keep in the pocket of her dress. She also made a large bandana--more like a shawl--from an old sheet to tie around her neck. She took a Sammy cool n'dry with her that she said was very effective in keeping her cool (we use them at home and they are wonderful). 

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek Silhouette The Prudent Homemaker

The project has been fun for her (it was all her idea!). It's been fun for me, too, to watch her confidence in her sewing abilities increase, even as she had to use the seam ripper to take seams out and fix things again. What I see now is that she feels like she can sew anything!

Winter Pioneer Handcart Trek 8 The Prudent Homemaker

If you're looking to make clothing from the same time period, here are some of the tutorials and patterns she used:


Seamed stocking tutorial

Split drawers tutorial

Chemise tutorial

Corset tutorial

Corded petticoat tutorial

Bonnet pattern and Lining Inspiration The bonnet can also be made from cloth.

Dress pattern

Apron tutorial

Bias tape tutorial and bias tape maker

Fan (purchased)

Brown Plaid fabric


Additional Reading:

The Transitional Dilemma: Dressing Teen Girls

Quick and Easy Way to Mark Cartridge Pleats

Buttoning Down the Past: A Look at Buttons as Indicators of Chronology and Material Culture

Winter also searched online for photos of women and teens from the 1840's, which helped her ultimately decide on several aspects of her project, including the fabric she chose. Here is her Pinterest board for the time period.

She has already planned several other ways that she can use her dress, including volunteering in some local elementary schools to go into classrooms and read works from an author from that time period (Louisa May Alcott!)



Tagged in: Sewing
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