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Brandy

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I spent many, many hours up late each night this week canning. I am grateful to my mother-in-law for teaching me the basics of canning. I had a newborn at the time (my second baby) and she came to my house and taught me to can peaches. 

With lots going on during the day (and another newborn!), I always find it easiest to can at night, when no meals are being prepared in the kitchen and no one needs anything from me.

Using cucumbers picked from my friend's garden, I canned a batch of sweet pickle relish, a batch of bread and butter pickles, and a batch of giardiniera.

Concord Grapes The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut concords and another seeded grape from my garden and canned several quarts of grape juice. I also canned the grape pulp; instructions in the canning book say to strain and discard the solids so that you have clear juice. I don't mind having unfiltered juice with a little pulp. Some of my jars were just juice, some were pulp and juice, and some were more just the thick pulp (like blended grapes) which are perfect to use in smoothies and in popsicles.

Green and Red Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested figs, seedless grapes, green onions, Swiss chard, miniature bell peppers, a couple of peaches from the white garden, and red noodle beans. 

We collected eggs from my friend's hens and picked tomatoes and green beans from her garden.

I used YouTube to show the children about many things mentioned in their schoolbooks. We saw videos about giant grouper, Niagara Falls, and Amsterdam.

My husband cleaned the dryer vent lines and removed the front lower panel of our front-loading washing machine and cleaned out the drain. These two things will help our clothes to dry in a timely manner. I had noticed them coming out of the washer wetter than normal and also taking longer to dry even after I did an extra spin cycle, so they will now be able to dry in one cycle, rather than taking twice as long as they had started to do.

I collected water from the air conditioner drip all week long and used it to water potted plants. I also used shower warm-up water to water potted plants.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Grapes in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I collected eggs from my friend's chickens and picked cucumbers, a few green beans, and tomatoes from her garden.

I canned a batch of dill pickles from the cucumbers.

July Harvest The Prudent Homemaker 

I harvested grapes, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and figs from my garden.

In the garden, I sowed seeds for red noodle beans, red zinnias, white zinnias, Genovese basil, Thai basil, Dark Siam basil, carrots, Chinese lanterns (hoping that this time they grow!), and parsley. It's much later than I normally sow seeds in the garden for these things, but many of my seeds did not come up earlier, or came up only to be eaten by bugs, so I am trying again. 

While weeding, I found a few carrots that had grown in one spot from seed dropping from carrots in my garden. I carefully dug them and replanted them where they could grow larger.

Grapes in Basket 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I took cuttings from two sweet potato vines to root in water to make new plants. These are a decorative vine; they do not make sweet potatoes. I took short cuttings from the tips of the plants (about 4-5 inches long) and took off the bottom leaves. Where the leaves were, the plants began to root in water after 4 days. Later in the week, I took additional cuttings from the other type of sweet potato vine to root as well. I plan to transplant these to pots in my white garden. These are an annual that does better in  more mild and humid climates than here (I saw them growing quite large and beautiful in the sun in Missouri a couple of years ago) but here they need a bit of protection from the sun to keep the leaves from burning to a crisp.

We had a very humid week. This is "monsoon season" here, but I think it would be more appropriately named, "cloudy season" as there is not much rain. We got a tiny bit of rain on Monday night, but it was enough that I was able to leave the drip irrigation and sprinklers off on Tuesday. The clouds bring lots of humidity, and they brought the temperature down below 100° for several days. I took advantage of the cloudy, cooler (only 96°F/35°C and humid!) days and worked in the garden doing lots of weeding. I put an ice cream bucket under the drip from the air conditioning; when it is humid like it has been this past week, I can collect several gallons of water from it each day, which I used to water pots on my patio along with water I collected in a bucket while waiting for the shower to warm.

I purchased some dahlia tubers online on 50% off clearance with free shipping.

I purchased some children's clothes online that were on sale and clearance that were not much more than local thrift-store prices.

I gave my two older sons a haircut. My husband and I cut his hair.

I went to purchase chicken on sale earlier this week and the store was out of it, so I got a raincheck.

Tomato Salad The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

This month from my garden we'll harvest grapes, grape leaves, figs, Swiss chard, herbs, green onions, a few tomatoes, and a few peaches (from the tree in my white garden). 

I'm taking care of a friend's garden and chickens for two weeks this month, during which time we'll harvest cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few possible other items. We'll also 11-14 small eggs to bring home every day. 

I'm able to increase my budget for the month to $400, so I will stock up on some items.

I'm trying out Sprouts for the first time. They're a bit further than I normally drive to go shopping, as I usually stay within 1 to 2 miles of home to do my grocery shopping (except for one trip to Sam's Club, a whole 5 miles away).  They have cherries for the unbelievable price of $0.95 a pound; I've never seen cherries priced this low in my life, so I am definitely planning a trip.

Here are my planned sale purchases from the current ads, all of which are incredibly low prices right now:

 

Sprouts:

Cherries $0.95 a pound

Corn 6 for $1

 

Albertson's:

Whole chickens and chicken thighs $0.77 a pound

Boneless pork sirloin chops $1.47 a pound (I have never seen them this low)

Sour cream $1 a pound

Whipping cream $1 a half-pint

 

Target:

Diapers. There is a spend $100 on diapers get a $30 gift card deal this week. I buy the store brand in the bulk boxes. These will last me a few months.

 

And what I'm planning from Winco, Walmart, and Sam's Club:

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

Ground Almonds (a small amount for a dessert)

Onions

Bell Peppers

Spreadable margarine (3-pound tub for $2.27)

Milk

Lettuce

Carrots

Great Northern Beans

 

Walmart:

Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix

Spray oil (I use my refillable sprayer for most cooking, but I found it doesn't work well in the waffle iron)

BBQ sauce

 

Sam's Club:

Tomato sauce in a #10 can

Popcorn 50-pound bag

All-purpose flour 25-pound bag (I will buy 100 pounds)

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound block

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound grated

Goat Cheese

Feta Cheese

Toilet paper

Pinto beans 50-pound bag

 

I'll also look for a sale at Smith's on ice cream in the gallon-sized buckets.

 

Pickles in Process The Prudent Homemaker

I plan to make dill pickles and sweet pickle relish with the cucumbers we're picking from my friend's garden.

I'll make pasta salads, Caprese salad, corn and tomato salad, grape juice, smoothies, popsicles, rice and beans, tomato pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, pork chops with fig sauce, stuffed grape leaves, tomato and cucumber salads with Italian dressing, grits with fried eggs, fried potatoes with fried eggs, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, cherry clafoutis, Pavlova with cherries, brownies, and more this month.

 

What sales are you looking for this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden? Do you have any favorite frugal summer meals?

 

 

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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July Garden Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

It was really wonderful to hear from so many readers this past week in the comments! So many of you have been reading for years and I didn't know who you were. I loved reading your frugal accomplishments and was very, very touched to hear how much my site has helped so many of you over many years. I hope that you will consider commenting again in the future. I learned several things this past week in your comments. The most surprising idea I learned in the comments was one I had definitely never thought to do before: it was a reader's idea to sell four pieces of her vacuum cleaner on ebay since the motor on her vacuum had died. She said she sold two pieces within 48 hours! 

One of the most meaningful commenters from a first-time commenter was the following comment: "I have been reading here for a year and love the gentle joys found here! I love the fact that everyone is so supportive of each other in the pursuit of making do with little. In real life, if I talk about my frugality, the response is pity and offers to help! What I want to be met with congratulations for hard work and ingenuity is met, instead, with sympathy. Here, I love that we can celebrate each others' efforts. . . "

I love the excitement that comes from learning a new frugal living skill, saving money on something I need and/or want, finding a great deal or a new low-priced recipe, and making what I have work. I agree that when we share that excitement, people often respond with pity. I enjoy reading everyone's comments here, celebrating with you and learning from all of you. Having more people comment certainly makes frugal living feel less lonely, and I came away from reading your comments feeling more encouraged and having learned new ideas to save money.

Here are my own frugal accomplishments for this past week:

 

I hemmed two pairs of pants for a friend of ours who is leaving soon to serve a mission.

I checked out an e-book from the library.

The children watched several shows on our free trial of Amazon Prime.

I tried a couple of new recipes. No one loved them and I won't make them again, but we went ahead and ate the dishes anyway.

I took advantage of a Fourth of July sale to purchase some replacement plates to replace some of our broken plates. The company has started making the same pattern in melamine. I bought a few of the salad plates (which is what we use for the children) in porcelain and a few in melamine. The melamine ones can't go in the microwave, but they may be a solution for most of the time to keep so many from being broken. I got 20% off the plates on sale, plus free shipping--and my items arrived in a day and a half!

I harvested New Zealand spinach, chives, and green onions from my garden.

My second son and I will be taking care of a friend's chickens and gardens while they are out of town. We'll get to collect eggs and pick tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans while they are gone (and anything else that is ripe). This is the friend who has the cooled greenhouse who shared produce with us last week. Several of you asked if she would share photos of her greenhouse. She agreed to let me share, so I will take some photos of it to share in a post! The photo above is taken in her greenhouse.

Before she left, she gave us two plastic grocery bags of tomatoes and two of cucumbers. 

We then picked more tomatoes, cucumbers, and some lettuce from her garden after she left (lettuce in July--the wonder of a cooled greenhouse!) and collected two dozen eggs.

What did you do to save money last week? Please share in the comments!  Keep encouraging one another in your celebrations of frugal living; I love the support you give to one another!

 

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Floral Arrangement Tutorial

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How to Arrange Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

I took a floral arranging class as a university student. I often say that that class and my public speaking class are the two most practical classes I attended.

Floral arrangement styles have changed over the years. I follow several florists on Instagram (who have styles I love but that are very different from what I learned), many of whom are also the growers of those flowers, and they have inspired me to grow flowers I have never grown before. I find myself really drawn to very full arrangements, and in order to achieve those, I need to be able to cut more flowers at once from the garden. In the past, my arrangements have been smaller, because I had fewer flowers in bloom at the same time. Changing the layout in my garden beds has allowed me to plant more flowers.

Want to grow more flowers in your garden without spending a ton? Check out my article on Growing Flowers for Less.

Earth Angel Roses The Prudent Homemaker

When cutting flowers from your garden, it's important to cut them early in the morning to reduce wilting. I find that the closer to dawn I cut, the longer my flowers last. This is even more important in summer when dawn temperatures are quite warm.

Cut your flowers at an angle with sharp shears, and remove any leaves that will be below the water line to keep the flowers lasting longer.

Floral Arrangement 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I like to use chicken wire balled up inside a wide-mouthed urn to hold my flowers in place. Chicken wire will rust after a few uses, but it's still useable. I prefer to use it inside a container where it won't show for that reason. In a clear vase, I'll use a flower frog.

You can use floral preservative, but you can also use an aspirin in the water, or just change out the water each day to keep disease from taking hold in your vase. At the very least, add water to your arrangement each day (which is usually what I end up doing). Fresh water each day is best, as it gives your flowers needed oxygen.

 Floral Arrangement 2 The Prudent HomemakerI started my arrangement with any long greenery that I want to use on both sides. Here I'm using Bells of Ireland, which I grew from seed. These are a long flower that usually grows tall, but mine grew more sideways with our constant wind, so I decided to use them this way instead. Often I'll use vines here, such as honeysuckle.

Floral Arrangement 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I use the chicken wire to hold the stems in place. I prefer chicken wire over floral foam for many reasons: it's less expensive, it can be reused, and you can move your stems if you don't love where you first put them.

Floral Arrangement 4 The Prudent Homemaker

The next thing I added is a large Cafe au Lait dahlia on each side. A large flower or three are easy to add at the beginning. If you have several large blooms, the general rule for flower arranging is to have an odd number of them. In this case, I only had two dahlias in bloom, but on each side of the table, only one will be visible.

Floral Arrangement 5 The Prudent Homemaker

 Next, I added in several roses from the garden. These are a combination of David Austin and Kordes roses.

Floral Arrangement 6a The Prudent Homemaker

 Lastly, I added short bits of honeysuckle in bloom. 

Floral Arrangement Tutorial 6 The Prudent Homemaker

In my garden, I try to always have something ripe to eat throughout the year. I am now working to also always have flowers in bloom to be able to cut flowers each week for the house. It means doing a lot of succession planting and also seeking out flowers for each season of the year. Erin at Floret has a great article on succession planting; it's designed for flower farmers, but you can apply the same technique in your own garden.

June Floral Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

This is the other side of the arrangement. Having enough flowers in bloom in the garden at the same time  for this full of an arrangement is a challenge for me, but I am planting more flowers each year so that I can make arrangements this large more often for our home.

Looking to learn more? Here are two great floral arranging books from two of my favorites:

Tagged in: Flowers
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June Cucumbers The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate and referral links.

 

Ten years ago, I sat at my computer and started creating this website. My plan was to create menus and recipes for those who were living, like us, from their food storage and garden. At the time, we had been living on our food storage for over a year. I had a newborn baby, my fifth child, and my eldest was eight years old. 

At the time, I didn't want a blog. I wanted something easily searchable, with static pages (static blog pages weren't a thing then, at least not on the blogs I read).

I wanted to encourage those who were struggling to put food on the table.

Over time, I shared fewer recipes and more of our day to day efforts to save money. The recession has been a long one and the recovery hasn't felt like a recovery to many.

I have so many things I want to share with you! My family's needs have to come first, so many plans and ideas have sat, unfinished, on the backside of my website, waiting for the chance I have to share them with you. I truly hope that this year I can find a way to share them with you, along with the projects that I hope to make and share. Be sure to check in often throughout the month; I will be sharing as many posts with you as possible!

Now for this past week's efforts to save money:

I said yes to the offer of cucumbers and green beans from a friend's garden abundance. She brought over a few tomatoes from her garden as well. She grows inside of a cooled greenhouse that is cooled with a swamp cooler, so she has the humidity and cooler temperatures that my garden lacks. Her entire garden is watered (and cooled) with grey water and the swamp cooler is powered by solar and wind power (as is the rest of their house).

I mended a hole in two pairs of shorts (one for my son and one for my husband). I turned three pairs of the girls' jeans into jean shorts.

I hemmed two pairs of pants for my husband. It was my first time cuffing pants. I was a bit nervous about it, but I watched a video on YouTube a couple of times with instructions and then I cuffed both pairs. 

We harvested tomatoes, blackberries, and chives from the garden.

I transplanted a few zinnia plants and a basil plant which had all self-seeded in the grass into the garden.

I transplanted a tomato plant which had self-seeded at the edge of the garden into another spot in the garden where it will have room to grow.

My girls watched a movie on YouTube. 

I signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime. We'll use it for the month (and then I'll cancel) to watch some things we haven't seen before. It's too hot to play outside during the day (107°F/42°C is the average high, with the lows at 79°F/26°C around 5 a.m. ) so the children watch more tv during the summer. I found several things, including several Amazon original series, for them to watch.

My husband and I had a date night at home playing Rummikub and Sequence.

I accepted two used Cuisinart ice cream freezer bowls. Now I can have several bowls cold and ready in the freezer at a time!

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 gift card to Chili's. My husband and I will use it on our anniversary next week for a lunch date.

I saved warm-up water from the shower and used it to water potted plants in the garden.

 

What did you do save money this past week? If you've never shared before but you read each week, I'd especially love it if you shared one thing you did this past week to save money, no matter how routine it is!

 

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