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Frugal Accomplishments For the First Week of 2017

 Black Bean Soup The Prudent Homemaker

Black bean soup topped with tomatoes harvested green (and ripened off the vine) from the garden in early December.

I made a large pot of black beans in the crockpot. We had taco soup with them one day and black bean soup three days.  

I harvested beet greens, lemons, and Swiss chard from the garden.

I pruned grape vines to make for a productive grape harvest this year.

I pruned rose bushes to keep my roses healthy and to help them produce well this year.

I dug euonymus plants from ones I started by tip layering and moved them to where I am starting a new hedge in the garden.

I also started some new plants from cuttings from other bushes for the same hedge. 

Following my plans for a more productive garden this year, I planted seeds this past week for spinach, 2 kinds of lettuce, 2 kinds of snow peas, turnips, Swiss chard, 3 colors of larkspur, and Danish flag poppies. 

Because of rain, I was able to not water the grass for the second week in a row. This time of year, we are allotted 1 day a week to water grass. It is rare to have enough rainfall to be able to not water. and I am grateful to have been able to turn off the sprinklers and drip irrigation.

My mom found a very large candle lantern for free out by the trash and gave it to me. It has a small crack in the base, but looks great still.  I'm not sure if I'll use it for a decoration, a large terrarium, or if I should use it as a huge cloche in the garden.

I watched the Call the Midwife Christmas special on I don't have time to watch a lot of shows, but it is nice to be able to watch a few things online from time to time!

Finlandia The Prudent Homemaker

My eldest needed some new piano music for her lessons. About 13 years ago, shortly after we got our piano, I had purchased a couple of piano books full of music for the time when we might need them. I was able to pull out this book and my daughter began using it for her practice (and I didn't have to buy anything new).

My husband and I had two date nights at home.

My husband cut my hair.

I mended a sheet.

Our silverware drawer broke in the back. In December, my husband contacted the company who made our cabinets and they sent him replacement pieces to fix to the drawer at no cost to us. They came this week and my husband fixed the drawer.

I found simple contentment in putting things away (including all of the Christmas decorations) and making the house tidier and less cluttered.


What did you do to save money and find joy this week?


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  • Lorna January 09, 2017

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) .

    Our frugal accomplishments for the week are -
    - Banked more money into our saving for our home with cash fund.
    - Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    - Topped up on tinned mangoes rather than lychees that were more expensive when our grocery budget was tight.
    - Our thoughts have turned to bulk meat buying for the year ahead and we compared prices and found another butcher whose hindquarters of beef were $1.45kg cheaper than other butchers.
    - Cleaned the house all week with citrus vinegar, ammonia, bicarb and dishwashing liquid & used the last of our stock of commercial cleaners.
    - Washed out clip seal freezer bags for reuse for other produce that needed blanching and freezing from the gardens.
    - Used solar lanterns to light our home at night rather than turn on any mains powered lights.
    - Used saved vegetable washing, steaming, boiling and blanching water to water newly planted seedlings in the gardens.
    - Picked 1.6kg of snow peas and blanched and froze 1kg for advanced food stores in the vegetable freezer.
    - Mulched the gardens with shredded dried leaves , spent pea vines, and corn plants rather than buy any hay.

  • Becky January 10, 2017

    I am glad you are able to steadily keep saving towards your house. I also love hearing about your garden. Snow peas sound wonderful. It won't be long until I can plant those around here--a couple more months, because they like the cooler weather. We have been having some unusual snow this winter, though, and so no planting for now!

  • Lorna January 10, 2017

    Becky thank you for your encouragement we have now reached 17.08% of our saving for our home with cash which is exciting :) .

    We are indeed in opposite seasons at the moment and I have seen all the snow some areas of the States have been having, which will no doubt mean a really cold winter for us coming up. I am amazed that the snow peas are still producing since we are having 40 - 41oC days here at the moment. They are planted in a microclimate under the canopy of a large Eucalypt tree though and they seem to love it there.

    No doubt I will be looking at your posts when you are in the height of your garden being in production whilst we are having frosts too. It will be exciting when you are able to plant your garden out though :) .

  • Lynn from NC OBX January 13, 2017

    Lorna, I too have enjoyed following your steady savings for buying your house with cash. Congratulations! You are coming right along. I'm amazed by all you and your husband do. You are quite inspirational. Using solar lights at night in the house is so clever. I never would have thought of that. Thank you for your posts and your ideas. Wishing you the best.

    And Brandy, thank you so much for your always enlightening, lovely and inspiring posts and for making this community available to us all. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

  • Lorna January 15, 2017

    Lynn and thank you for your encouragement, I am glad I gave you some extra ideas ways to save too. I know that electricity over in the States is so much more expensive than here so any way we save on all of our household expenses can help.

  • Kim January 09, 2017

    My week was not frugal but more of a giving week.
    I made a grocery basket for a young woman for Christmas. She called this week and told me how much she appreciated it and how she had used the ingredients to make a taco dinner for that night's dinner. She was very grateful for the gift of food and used it to bless not only her family but others as well. Her birthday is today and I asked what I might get her and she said nothing so I asked what she needed and she said a Safeway gift card would be wonderful and then she went on to say that by combining her coupons with sales she can really stretch her money there. I will be dropping by after work to wish her a Happy Birthday and to give her a Safeway gift card. I have been mentoring this young woman for a few years now and I enjoy seeing her grow and learn.

    My daughter had a frugal week so I will share some of her successes. She hosted a small birthday party for her 4 year old son. He wanted a Charlie Brown/Peanuts themed party. She found 2 rolls of Peanuts Christmas wrap for 75 cents each and that provided all the theme for the decorations. We used it as table coverings and it looked awesome! Her husband then made small versions of Snoopy's doghouse out of scrap wood for the children to paint and take home. The only cost was two bottles of red paint and a few disposable brushes which she got on sale earlier at Joanne's for 40% off.

    She is very diligent about using the comparison shopping app at WalMart and saved up her money to buy a needed item for the home with no out of pocket expense. She is getting really good at living a frugal lifestyle.

    Tonight they are coming over to our house for a family birthday dinner. I asked my 4 year old grandson what he wanted for desert. I was prepared to fix something special. He asked for a plain white cake with plain white frosting. Couldn't be easier or more frugal. I made a few little decorations for the top of the cake out of paper and ribbon. I'm sure he will enjoy it.

    We have learned from you Brandy that birthdays do not have to be expensive to make the birthday child feel special- just giving them time and attention and love is by far the best birthday gift of all.

  • Jenifer January 10, 2017

    The Snoopy house was a really neat idea. So smart!

  • Juls Owings January 09, 2017

    We have been eating from the pantry and basically stayed home. Tonight there is a winter weather advisory, snow, sleet, freezing rain from 10 pm(ET) to noon tomorrow so definitely not going outside unless I have to. Wed it's suppose to by almost 60°, guess it will be Ohio's Jan thaw. I read everyone's posts and made notes of things I would like to do to help save money this coming week...thanks for letting me pick your brains for the wisdom :)

    Rest of my week is here...

  • Roberta in So. Cal. January 09, 2017

    Happy New Year, everyone. The holidays were hectic but very pleasant. Still, it's nice to be back into the normal routine.

    Frugal Efforts 1/1/17-1/7/17

    * Ate home-prepared meals all but two times. (Ate out once w/ Hubs as a lunch date and used a gift card that he'd received from work. Ate out a second time, and used a coupon, to celebrate good news from my oncologist.)

    * We're participating in the Pantry Challenge over at

    * Hubs harvested the last of our eggplants. Used it for Eggplant Caponata (recipe from

    * Made wheat bread, banana-pecan bread, cranberry-pomegranate compote, and a batch of Brandy's granola.

    * Spent only $5.97 (OJ and sour cream).

    * We've had several days of rain lately, so the sprinklers have been off for a few weeks and our rain barrels are full.

    * Paid bills online, and our gas company is offering incentives for cutting natural gas usage so we signed up for the program.

    All in all, I think we're off to a pretty good start to 2017.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  • Debbie in Florida January 09, 2017

    I took advantage of the cold weather and cooked a bag of lentils. With that, I then made a pan of stuffed cabbage with lentils and brown rice, a lentil “meatloaf” with onions and oats and Isa Chandra's lentil Snobby (sloppy) Joes. We had the stuffed cabbage 3 nights in a row and there is enough for 1 more lunch for me. The meatloaf and Snobby Joes went into the freezer.

    It was the first time in a long time I did batch cooking like that. I need to do it more often – it is so much more efficient since everything used lentils, tomato sauce, garlic, onions, etc. and just had to wash the pots/pans once. While I was home for the day, I also had a crockpot full of dried chickpeas cooking which I froze and they are ready for recipes.

    We worked on cleaning out the storage unit and decluttering the house. We donated a load. I listed some things on ebay and some on the local Facebook Garage sale page. The money is going into our date night account and our gift account.

    Got a Family Circle magazine free in the mail.

    Read some frugal blogs for motivation.

    Have a great week everyone!!

  • Cindy in the South January 09, 2017

    We had ice Friday night, a rare occurrence this far South. I thought it had thawed by mid day Saturday, and I tried to go to work because I had a jury trial on Monday. I slipped on ice on the steps. I then could not get my still frozen car door open. I decided if I could not get out of my yard without issues, I needed to stay home...duh. On the plus side, no gas Even the dog and the car did not want to go outside to use the bathroom. Onviously, we are all wimps in the cold. It is supposed to climb back into the 70's by Thursday. I am glad because my heat ran constantly this weekend. I made vegetarian chilli, and a homemade pizza. I took the pizza to work today for lunch. I dyed my hair this weekend, and trimmed it myself. I did my nails at home. I listened to bluegrass music on public radio Saturday night. I cleaned my house. I also find it gives me joy to have a clean house, especially when I am stressed about other issues in my life that I have no control over. I have a lovely country drive into work every day and I find joy in observing the sun rise over the farms on the way into work in the morning, and the sun setting over the catfish ponds, and the cow pastures on the way home. I am thankful that my commute is a joy, and not a traffic clogged highway, although I did see a very large cow walking along the side of the road this evening! I also have to watch for deer. Last week, I almost hit a skunk scurrying across the road. Can you imagine what my co-workers would have said if I came to work with that aroma?

  • Lachellie January 10, 2017

    Hello to Brandy and everyone from NW Louisiana!

    I did an almost no-spend week, only $5 for balloons and wrapping paper from the dollar store for my granddaughter's birthday It was just for family and we did a rainbow/butterfly theme. My adult daughter (her aunt) also lives with me and made a rainbow cake with the freebie white cake mix we got last month from Kroger, used Lisa Frank rainbow unicorn tablecloth and napkins bought on clearance last year, and had hotdogs and chips for the meal (my granddaughter's request). Her presents from us were ordered from Amazon, sets that expanded her Mega Bloks, and some Baby Lit books. She LOVES both and I prefer toys which she can learn from also.

    We had temps dipping into mid teens for two nights, very cold for here, and I covered my broccoli, kale and spinach with paper sacks and brought my containers of cilantro and lettuces onto the porch near the house and they all seemed to have weathered the cold well.

    Thanks everyone for your welcome and encouragement. Hello to Candace, nice to see someone else here from the Ark-La-Tex and also to Heather from LA. I enjoy all the blog posts and comments a lot.

  • Becky January 10, 2017

    It sounds like you had a lovely party--very kid friendly! The kids in our family love chips so much, it's become a family joke that my aunt always has to bring chips to almost every gathering!

  • Rhonda A. January 10, 2017

    Happy Birthday to your granddaughter. Sounds like she had a great birthday this year. How old is she now?

  • Lachellie January 10, 2017

    She is 3 and adorable. That's the grandmother coming out in me.

  • Gabrielle January 10, 2017

    Hello Brandy!

    Sorry to be so late on the post..I was sidelined with a sinus infection.

    We had a near loss this week but a happy ending. Our chicken coop caught on fire. The heat lamp came dislodged ( a screw fell out). the lamp hit the floor of the coop and burned a soda can sized hole in the floor! Luckily, this happened when all our girls were outside in the run and the coop was damp from snow. I just happened to go out early and caught it. I'm thankful for that! My birthday is this month, so my husband has started work on a better coop (using lumber we already have).

    I had an amazing sewing week. I made 6 sweatshirts (our house is cold in the winter, we keep the heat at 64 during the day) using material we already have. My husband's family likes to give my kids fleece blankets. I personally do not like them and my kids leave them all over the house. They aren't much good for warmth when a child is dragging them around so I turned most of them into sweatshirts using a pattern from MADE everyday, I had ribbing material in my stash. Now the kids are cozy in their sweatshirts, the blankets aren't on the floor and I didn't spend any money. win, win. I'm adding ribbing to the feet of PJ sleepers this week (the feet have worn through).

    It's cold here and we are supposed to get a layer of wintry mix tonight. I adapted a recipe for split pea soup to eat on this frosty night. I make it in my instant pot (electric pressure cooker) but you could use any type of pressure cooker or do it on the stove the old fashioned way.

  • Jenifer January 11, 2017

    Funny I "turn" my fleece blankets into blanket dresses (wrap it around at tuck at the side bust) to stay warm as I wander/lounge through the house. Some days I wish blanket dress had sleeves. I can't with a Snuggie.

  • Jen@FrugalSteppingStones January 11, 2017

    I used an Amazon gift card to buy Epi-pen pouches for myself and our youngest. I have tried homemade yogurt in the slow cooker many times and it has never firmed up well. I made it in my Instant Pot that I bought on Black Friday online and in 8 hours it made perfect yogurt! I will be doing this regularly now. I saved a cup of homemade to use as a starter for the next batch.

  • Cindy in the South January 11, 2017

    Does anyone known if you can flavor yogurt? I like vanilla flavored yogurt, and I hate to seem dumb, but all the recipes I see are for plain yogurt, which I do not like. Do you add the flavoring in when you add the other ingredients (if you can even flavor homemade yogurt) ???

  • Margaret @approachingfood January 11, 2017

    You can definitely flavour yoghurt! I add in vanilla flavouring when I add the starter culture to the heated milk, but my favourite way to flavour yoghurt is to stir in homemade jams before eating. I just had some blueberry yoghurt for dinner -- yoghurt with some homemade blueberry jam stirred in! My blueberry jam was just equal amounts of blueberries and sugar and then boiled to the gel stage, so very pure.

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