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Frugal Accomplishments for the First Week in July

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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Comments

  • Kim July 09, 2018

    We have sprinklers for the grass area and the flower beds are on drip. It may be a combination of a lot of things.....I simply don't know what I'm doing, we're not watering long enough, not enough tree coverage, or the type of flowers I'm planting.

  • Mary July 09, 2018

    It took us awhile to figure out... we researched what is best in our area and asked a lot of ?s. Re the soil, zone, how much water and also direction of sun, etc and finally got it right.
    Our nursery has been a big help. Good luck!

  • Kim July 09, 2018

    Your photo today is gorgeous, Brandy. I love the arrangement you and your friend have made. It sounds like a win-win for both of you. Her greenhouse sounds fascinating and I look forward to learning more about it.

    Frugal accomplishments here this past week are as follows:

    - Our neighborhood puts on a fabulous fireworks display right at the end of the street. It was wonderful to walk down there and not have to fight traffic.
    - We will be moving later this year after 19 years in this house. I have been donating and taking unwanted items to consignment shops. I received a check for $40 from one shop and $170 from another. I also sold two items on Ebay for $50 each. It is such a good feeling to edit our possessions. It's amazing what can collect behind closed closet and attic doors through the years. I look forward to living with much less. Retirement is just around the corner for my husband and I so I am looking forward to new experiences, friendships and travel.
    - Soon we will be putting our house on the market. The stager for the realty company didn't want any potted plants on porches and patios. I have transplanted a few of the perennials that I had in a porch pot into smaller pots and have tucked them into the landscape hoping to take them with me when I move. Our new yard will be super tiny. Currently we are on 3/4 acre. I am hoping to still be able to grow some edibles in my smaller yard. I have been reading Brandy's gardening tips and love the idea of tucking them in amongst the flowers and shrubs.
    - I picked lettuce and parsley from my small raised bed.
    - This season I didn't purchase any annuals for my garden. Instead I am taking good care of the plants that are already in my gardens. Trimming, weeding and watering to keep everything looking it's best for marketing the house.
    - I love the idea of hanging laundry on an outdoor clothesline. It is prohibited by our HOA. Instead I hang my gentle load from every available towel bar, door knob and hook in my bathroom :). Most other loads are still damp when I take them out and hang them on hangers to finish drying.
    - Yesterday I was able to open the windows for the morning to let in fresh, cooler air. Here in NC the heat and humidity in the summer are generally much too high to make open windows desirable.
    - We have been watching Planet Earth on a streaming device that my son recommended to us. It is so interesting.

    Wishing everybody a good and frugal week!

  • Jen G July 09, 2018

    Frugal Living from Urban Seattle -
    I also appreciate this community and agree that frugal living can feel isolating, especially living in a big city! I haven't shared lately - it has been an intensely busy time for our family. We sold our Seattle townhome and we're preparing to move down to Portland later this month.

    We had some bumps in the sale of our home. We had an immediate offer, but the buyer pulled out his offer due to a personal issue. It took almost three more weeks to sell the house after that, as a number of homes went up for sale on our street at the same time. I realize that really isn't a long time to sell a house, but we had been told over and over that it would sell within a week...so we had to adjust our expectations. Some things we did to continue to live frugally during this time:
    - I premade meals in one sitting for most of the week in an effort to keep the kitchen clean.
    - We ate lots of picnic dinners at nearby parks because we had to be out of the house for showings in the evenings (so much cheaper and more fun than going to restaurants and luckily the weather cooperated for us!)
    - I work remotely from home - so when I had to leave the house for a showing during the day, I rode my bike to the library rather than a coffee shop to continue working.
    - I got tips from my interior designer sister and read online how to "stage" a house, rather than hiring a professional stager, saving at least a thousand dollars. Staging homes for sale seems to be standard here. I did buy new towels, a new shower curtain and a few other items that were recommended, but I'll be able to use all of those things in our new home. Our realtor said that feedback from buyers was the house looked great. Those who initially passed on the house had issues with things we couldn't control (like the noise from our street). I also learned a lot about decorating a house that I hope to use in our future homes.
    -We rented a small storage unit to store things during the sale of our home. When the introductory free month ended and we still needed a storage unit, we spent part of a Saturday moving our things to a nearby storage unit with another cheap introductory offer.
    -We did all minor repairs, painting and cleaning ourselves in anticipation of the sale. This may seem obvious but our realtor thought we were crazy.
    - I am meal planning from our pantry - trying to eat everything up before we move to save money and avoid waste. Anyone have any suggestions for a ton of canned applesauce my mom gifted us that we are not eating very quickly?

    Sadly, we haven't been able to find a house in Portland to buy - at least in an area that we like at a price that is reasonable to us, but we found a great rental house with everything we were looking for and a nice backyard with a beautiful garden. The house is owned by a neighbor and beautifully cared for. I noticed it had been sitting for awhile so I negotiated the rent down another $150/month for us. Another frugal bonus is that there is an ADU on the property so all utilities plus Internet are shared costs, rather than all on us.

  • Terri W July 09, 2018

    Jen, applesauce can be used as a substitute for oil in baking. As a bonus, it makes the baked goods lower in fat.

  • Rhonda A. July 11, 2018

    Hi Jen. Here are some recipes we've enjoyed that uses applesauce in them:
    https://www.chef-in-training.com/applesauce-snack-cake/
    https://www.momontimeout.com/chocolate-banana-applesauce-cake/
    http://homegrownandhealthy.com/applesauce-bran-muffins/
    http://www.keeleymcguire.com/2011/11/food-for-thought-applesauce-bread.html
    Also, you can add applesauce to smoothies (I have been making smoothies and freezing them in popcicle moulds for a healthy summer snack), or blend with other fruit to make fruit leather (if you do not have a dehydrator, you can look up instructions on-line to do it in your oven). Hope this helps!

  • Janet July 13, 2018

    Regarding the large cans of applesauce:

    I have sliced a few apples and then added applesauce to pies, I add applesauce to pancakes , waffles and any cake in exchange for the oil. I serve applesauce for a side dish all of fall skipping chips . I have saved some of my large cans for pot lucks . I would put the applesauce in a pretty dish add some sliced apples and a small piece of mint to the top. This would be my side dish to a pot luck.
    I hope this helps

  • Yvette Thillens July 09, 2018

    Hi Brandy,
    I was out of town last week and not able to comment. I have followed your website for several years-even before you began the new platform. Your blog/website/accomplishments are amazing- you have done so well! It is hard to find such encouragement from so many people in one spot :) Thank you for putting it together to touch so many of us!

    I do have a question... I've noticed that you often plant seeds at various times (whether they are the Armenian cucumbers, herbs, tomatoes, etc). We, too, are in a hot zone (8b or 9 depending on map you look at); however, my seeds often will grow to a seedling and almost immediately bolt as it gets large enough to harvest. I would have thought it was the heat, or I planted out of season... Is there a trick that I'm missing? I've just got my garden up this year for the first time (we've moved a lot) in So Cal desert mountains. I've had some success with lettuce, radishes, and snow peas, but I tell you gardening in the Midwest was much easier! However, if you got it down in Las Vegas (similar zone), I know I can eventually get it too!

  • Yvette,

    The planting schedule is different in zone 9 versus zone 5 :) It sounds like you are planting things when you are used to planting them in zone 5, so it's too hot and they will bolt.

    In a hot climate, you really need to look at cool season vegetables and warm season vegetables. Broccoli, for example, is a cool season vegetable, so it won't grow in summer here. Same with peas, radishes, and lettuce. Cool season vegetables are planted fall and winter here. Snow peas, for example, can be planted in October for a March-April harvest.

    I have a garden calendar that you can read up under the Garden tab that can help you with when to plant.

    I've also been replanting my cucumbers because they were all eaten ;) It's still warm enough to do so and they can go until first frost, which for us is in December. I sometimes plant squash mid-summer so that when October comes, it is cool enough for the plants to start flowering and for me to get a harvest. It also helps avoid squash bugs, planting later in the season. It's too hot for zucchini to flower right now anyway, but if I plant some this month (direct seeded in the garden), I may get some in October/November.

  • Cindi July 09, 2018

    I, too, love reading the comments of others and learning from them. Everyone is so encouraging.
    My big frugal project this week was refinishing my dining table and chairs. My dad made the table and I inherited it when he died 12 years ago -- but the finish was a light blond that has never matched anything in my house. The chairs he paired with the table – and which we have been using -- were also light blond, and felt too big for the table. I have four chairs that belonged to my grandmother that are smaller and plainer and more comfortable – so I decided to refinish them. I stripped and sanded everything and painted each piece with milk paint, then applied two coats of finishing wax. It was a huge, messy job that took all week. I spent about $75 on supplies (including 4 cushions for the chairs), but the results is a set that looks great in my house and has deep meaning for me. We kept two of the old chairs we had been using with the table and donated the other two.
    I made cherry jam from cherries bought on sale (but my sale price was $1.66 a pound.)
    I’ve been on the lookout for sale meat to restock the freezer and this week hit the grocery store just as my friend’s husband, the butcher, was filling up the half-price case. I snagged some grass-fed beef and organic chicken, as well as B1G1 London broil and a package of salmon fillets. This will last us for a while.
    We attended two free concerts and packed picnic dinners for both.
    My husband went with a friend and cut about a cord of firewood from downed trees on a neighboring ranch.
    I harvested lettuce, chard, onion, sage, parsley, mint, some raspberries, and my first carrots from the garden.
    My generous friend (the wife of the man my husband cut wood with) is still cleaning out her closet and brought over a bag with a number of very nice fall tops for me. Before I put them in my closet, I went through my clothes and pulled out a bag full to donate.

  • mable July 09, 2018

    Cindi--our cherry sale price is $3.99. I swooned with envy when I read that your sale price is $1.66!

  • Lilli July 09, 2018

    My week started off great but became quirky as each day passsed. My son was sent home from the Army after 1 day to a lab glitch. 600 others as well. Today these young people should have left but once again we are being told there are issues and maybe tomorrow ? I would have thought the process would have been smoother. I have used up way more gasoline driving into the big city for all these pickups and drop offs . I hope tomorrow will be a smooth day for him. I have discovered my two year old car does not want to accelerate. Apparently this model has a huge issue with this problem. Worse case scenario is it stays parked and I find a junker until it can be resolved. There is a recall and it may be covered under warranty. I will have to explore the options and it seems there is even a class action lawsuit. I just took it this week and had the tires checked , rotated and balanced. Got that super duper fancy oil changed too. Sometimes there just is no winning. The bright spot is that I have an old ranger my dad owned and people ask to buy it all the time. I will easily pick up a quick 1000 that will end up in savings or spent on a put put car. I told my son a 1971 yellow Volvo would suit me fine.
    I redeemed 110 Coke caps this week.
    Ordered a parenting magazine for a soon to be mom that doesn't have much sense. Hope she gleans something useful from it. Two years of Parents courtesy of rewards.
    Used Visa gift cards bought with Swagbucks to pay this month's bills.
    Bought college daughter 30.00 worth of birthday gifts using Swagbucks and will receive 75.00 back. She will be delighted and it is a money maker for me.
    Found a brand new still wrapped Dave Ramsey financial peace series at thrift store for $1.00. Guess I will be learning how to sell online now.
    Princess puppy and I spend most of the time in our bedroom. House is shut down and I am looking forward to seeing next month's bills. Friends, send me a good thought. The harder I try, the more I have to carry. Thankfully I have plans A, B ,C ,D and a few more to fall back on if needed. In a weak moment, I can read Brandys post on encouragement and it uplifted me. Meanwhile sugar cookie calls frequently and is having a wonderful time seeing all her extended family. Love is a beautiful thing.

  • Becky July 09, 2018

    Lilli,
    Hang in there. Sometimes, no matter how positive a person you are (which you are), it is normal to feel the stress of trying to figure out everything when life is hard.

    If there is a recall, they should fix the issue in your car for free. Can you drive that Ranger while they fix the car? Or ask for a loaner or rental from the mechanic's shop? That's the hardest part of my car being really broken and in the shop for the past few weeks--not having it!!! Seems obvious, doesn't it, but I have a car because I need to go places:), and so do you. My husband drove up to see his friend, the mechanic, who is finally back from his vacation (can't grudge him that--he works all the time), so hopefully, some news on that later today. I've been lurching around in my nephew's old Mazda--quite funny, and I choose to stay home more often than I go anywhere because my other option is our 15-passenger van. Can you say "gas money" 10 times fast, because that's how long it takes to use a tank up in that beast!

    It will be so fun to see your lowered bills. Your daughter is having a good time with her extended family. Your son will get himself into the Army:). You have a lot of very positive thoughts and things going on. It sounds like you have a lot of good plans and are amazing at Swagbucks. Keep us all posted!

  • Becky, our only vehicle is a 15-passenger van. We do all that we can to save gas--combine errands, make fewer trips whenever possible, have the older children take their bikes places, keep shopping close, etc.

  • Lilli July 09, 2018

    That silly ole truck is so sentimental I may never get rid of it. We actually have 2 brand new bikes in the boxes that need to be put together. Grocery store is a mile away and the roads are safe to walk or bicycle. I am more annoyed that I not only have to deal with it but that I anticipate the dealership giving me a hard time. The truck needs a tag and insurance but 50 dollars will put it on the road. I am blessed to have a commercial diesel road side service mechanic living next door and I imagine MR.R will get me going. Battery probably is dead but the little things really aren't a problem . I get real insecure thinking about not having reliable transportation with sugar cookies cancers. I made sure I bought the newest car I could buy with the settlement check from my insurance replacement check. 2016 was just a random bad car for Nissan.

  • Rhonda A. July 11, 2018

    Ok, Lilli, here is my pep talk. Recently, I started a weaving project at work. I am making a tea towel on a 4 harness table loom, similar to the loom I have at home. This was my first solo project on a 4 harness loom and it felt very overwhelming with all the steps I had to do. One of my co-workers helped me get the project going. What I learned was that even though it was overwhelming when I looked at the big picture, it was much easier to work through getting it started if I did everything one step at a time. I know you are feeling overwhelmed by the car issue and your panicing by making multiple plans in preparation. However, it might be easier and less stressful if you tackle the problem one step at a time. Contact the dealership and find out what you need to do to fix the recall. Be ready to ask questions, such as how long it will take to fix it, will they allow you to have a rental at no cost while it is being fixed, etc. Since it is a recall, there should be little to no cost to fix this problem. If they quote you a lot of costs, and the manager is insistant that is the price, call around to other dealerships and/or ask for a number to call the company directly and discuss the issue with them. Once you get the info and know where you sit, you can better decide what your next move will be.

    In the intrim, putting together that bike might be a good way to spend your time while the kids are away. Using it is good for environment, excellent exercise for your health and saves you gas money regardless of the car issue! You are very confident in making hard choices in life, Lilli, as you have already demonstrated many times over. So remember, you've got this...and we believe in you!!!!

  • Denise July 09, 2018

    Hi Brandy,
    I have been reading your blog for many years. I love your blog and all the frugal ideas everyone has. Everyone is so understanding and helpful. When I first found the blog we really needed all the tips, we are doing better now but I take after my grandmothers and I will always be frugal. You have a beautiful family and a wonderful attitude. This week I found a new dress at JCP for 14.00 on sale with coupons. My daughter had a swim party to go to and after years of shopping with me went to the bakery clearance section of Walmart on her own and found a cookie cake to bring that was marked down. It would have been cheaper to make our own - and she bakes a lot of cakes for these weekly parties but teenagers sometimes like to bring "store bought" instead of home made. I found a loaf of french bread for .50 and was able to make 3 sandwiches for those of us who stayed home and still have enough slices to freeze for a french toast breakfast.

  • Rhonda A. July 11, 2018

    My teenage daughter always thinks store bought is better, too. When I was a kid, I had a friend who always brought homemade baked goods to school. Her family didn't have a lot of money, so her mom always baked things to put in her lunch (for the record, it never occurred to us kids that she was poor...nor would we have cared). I remember being so envious of all her home baked treats. My mom only baked occasionally and her homemade treats looked so good! Sometimes I have to remind DD that even though I bake frequently, not all kids have parents that do...and they are even more envious of all her homemade goodies than she is of their store bought stuff!

  • Kim July 09, 2018

    Several years ago I pressed some flowers and then purchased tiles which I glued the flowers to and then put several coats of sealer and felt on the back for coaster sets as gifts. I gave a set to my best girlfriend all those years ago and I guess she still has them on her coffee table. Her daughter in law came to visit recently and was commenting on how much she admired the coasters.

    My girlfriend asked if I would make a set for her daughter in law as a Christmas gift. I went to the Habitat for Humanity store and purchased 4 tiles for $1. I saw some interesting slightly larger tiles so I bought 4 of those for another $1. I had a $5 credit coupon for Ace Hardware so I used that to purchase my sealer. I already have some felt I purchased at the thrift store some time ago.

    I pressed daisies and placed them on a very light grey/blue tile. They turned out really bright and cheery looking. They look very professional and a set of 4 coasters cost me $1. I picked the daisies out of my garden.

    Then as an experiment I took the other tiles and used a stencil on them. These tiles were a matte brown color and looked aged so I used a french inspired stencil design in white and when dried, I sanded it a little so the stencil design looked aged as well. Finally, I sealed it with 3 coats of sealer. These turned out awesome! They look like a french antique. Cost again was only a $1 as I have had the stencil for ages and have used it a million times.

    I am now inspired to make up several sets of these as Christmas gifts. I am going to press some Queen Anne's lace flowers because I have used those in the past successfully. I also pressed some dog wood flowers and will experiment with those. I will be going back to the Habitat store for more tiles-they have a huge supply.

    I am so very thankful to my girlfriend for reminding me of this great gift idea. They look really nice, are useful and very frugal gifts. Who knows, I might even keep a set for myself. This will really help out my Christmas gift budget!!

    I have another batch of parsley ready to harvest and dry. Unfortunately, my basil crop was a total failure this year so I have asked my husband to ask around his office and see if anyone has an abundance of basil in their garden that perhaps we could purchase. I like knowing it is organically and locally grown. I wanted to make more pesto to freeze for pizzas throughout the year. It is too pricey to purchase that much quantity in my grocery store. They charge $3 for one stem! I have to buy two of those to have enough pesto for one pizza.

    My husband picked enough wild blackberries (foraging with permission) for two pies.

    We enjoyed a wonderful, free concert in the park yesterday- the only cost to me was purchasing a snow cone for my grandson to enjoy while listening to the concert. He is 5 years old and greatly enjoyed every bite of that snow cone. Perfect summer day!

  • mable July 09, 2018

    Kim, when I make basil pesto, I use 50% basil and 50% of either chickweed or young dandelion leaves or spinach. The basil taste is strong enough to mask the fillers and it makes pesto much cheaper. I also don't use pine nuts, but the cheapest nuts available. Really, try it with greens substituting and you may find you like it. It sure saves me a lot of money.

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