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Frugal Accomplishments For The First Week of August

Zinnia Arrangement in Blue Jar The Prudent Homemaker

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I reconfirmed that we don't need to buy any school supplies this year (except printer paper, and I'm good for a while). I thought I might need one thing, but my son informed me that we had 4 or 5 of them in the drawer. 

I collected over 25 gallons of water from the drip from the air conditioner, as we had humid weather. I used this water to water potted plants in the garden.

We had an unexpected rainfall! I put out buckets to collect water, and turned off the sprinklers and drip system for the next two days. You can see a little video of my white garden during the rain on my Instagram account.

Al Fresco in August The Prudent Homemaker

The weather cooled down over 25 degrees that evening, so we enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the backyard.

My daughter's youth group had an extra activity this week to learn how to decorate cakes from a woman who makes wedding cakes. As piping icing has been eluding me for years, I decided to stay rather than dropping her off (I would have had to drive home, stay home for 10-15 minutes, and come right back, so staying made sense gas-wise, too.) As it was, only one other girl ended up coming (over 10 had signed up!) and I figured out what I was doing wrong. Obviously, I'll need to practice to make things perfect, but I can now finally ice cakes and cookies! I know a cake decorating class is pricey, and I was starting to think I needed to take one after my sister-in-law worked with me last week and we still couldn't figure out why I couldn't ever get icing to come out of the bag. She came over, we made her icing, and we put it in, and neither of us could get it to come out! My biggest mistake? Using a ziploc bag instead of a regular icing bag. From now on I will use the right tool! I also learned my other major problem: in our heat, you cannot make an all-butter buttercream; it will be liquid. The same goes for Swiss meringue and Italian meringue frostings. They are liquid in our weather here. Frosting needs to be American buttercream with shortening and no more than half-butter, or it will be a liquid that will run right off your cake (and definitely won't work for piping!) I had tried all of those recipes this year and they ran right off/melted off my cakes. (This is also why I haven't shared any birthday photos this year!) 

So now I can do this, which I've wanted to do for years:

Pink Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased two pairs of shorts for my son for $3 from a Facebook garage sale page and two pairs of jeans for $5 for a daughter. It's a little higher than I usually pay but both needs were able to be fulfilled for less than buying new, and they were all in very good condition.

Armenian Cucumber and Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I picked the last of the figs, a few tomatoes, 3 Armenian cucumbers, and a handful of red noodle beans from the garden.

I cut basil from the garden.

My husband mended his office chair. A new one would have cost over $200. He paid $4 for parts.

 Neopolitan Cake The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Jamie @ Medium Sized Family August 07, 2017

    The cupcakes are beautiful! I find that I have to use half shortening in things sometimes, too. (Though we don't have your heat here.) I actually caught your rain video on Instragram. I'm not on there super often, but I was so happy for you to have that small gift!

    Here are the ways we saved last week: http://www.mediumsizedfamily.com/5-ways-weve-saved-money-week-88/

  • Libby August 07, 2017

    Brandy I think you are in the running for Star Baker on The Great British Baking Show!
    Seriously – how satisfying to finally “crack” a skill. I can’t wait to see how you work your beauty magic on baked goods in the future.

    • Made daily swag goal x 5
    • Updated monthly net worth spreadsheet – this is a huge motivator for me when I want to spend on wants.
    • Bought OCC school supplies at Staples on sale. Also bought 4 spiral notebooks for 25 cents each to use as daily planners.
    • Hung 3 loads of laundry up to dry.
    • A friend is going on vacation and asked if I wanted her CSA next week. YES! I’ve always wanted to try this but it is too expensive for me. Email came on Sunday saying the box will contain: blueberries, lettuce, corn, green peppers, and garlic.
    • Bought 10 jars of PB on sale at my stock up price
    • Bought 9 pounds of chicken thighs on sale for 98 cents per pound, which is a good price for where I live. Made 12 quarts of chicken stock from 6 pounds and froze the remaining 3 pounds.
    • Colored my hair at home.
    • For the first time ever, I decided to try a three day fast. Obviously it saves money as the only thing going into my body is water, however, I’m really doing it because I’ve been so exhausted and so congested from allergies. Today (Monday) is day #3.

  • Sharri August 07, 2017

    How did the fast work for you? I have been reading so much lately how good they are for mind body and spirit....

  • Heidi August 07, 2017

    And the waistline

  • Isabella August 07, 2017

    How nice you learned the tricks for cake decorating suited to your climate. You are off to a good start with your cupcakes and cake. Brandy, I love that you take the time to make meals a special occasion in your home--flowers on the table, tablecloths, pretty desserts etc. Even if you are serving beans and rice, it always looks so nice! Your children will certainly remember that fondly.

  • Laurie in AZ August 07, 2017

    I agree with Isabella, Brandy, about your table setting. And your children WILL remember. My Mom was the queen of "romancing" the humble dinners we had. I am one of 8 kids and when I was little, I remember once when it was close to pay day, the dinner we were served was Egg Noodles with ketchup. And my Mom set the table with linens and lit some taper candles. We never realized it was a cheap dinner!

  • reet August 07, 2017

    Your cupcakes look wonderful! Cake decorating is one of the things I cannot do in the kitchen, too - but my kids are happy when I just use gummy bears or some other candies and/or fruit to decorate their cakes. I remember my mother and grandmother making all-butter buttercream for my birthday cakes back in the 80s, but in January here in Estonia we have often -4'F outside and no more than 66'F indoors, so the cream stayed where it belonged.

    Two weeks ago I shared our roof story here. Last week it turned out that because of a miscalculation we have to pay about 2000 € extra for the works. My husband was able to negotiate it down (because the miscalculation was partly the builders' fault, too) to 1500. This is still more than we had, but a friend offered to give us a short-term loan that we plan to pay back by the end of the year, probably sooner. Taking a loan is not a good idea but at the moment this was our best option.

    I picked snow peas, carrots and salad fron the garden. I also picked redcurrants to make juice (for the winter) and gooseberries for a cake. There will be more currants and gooseberries to pick, I plan to freeze them.

    I gathered mushroomes (mostly chanterelles) and wild blueberries from the woods close to our home. Gathering edible mushrooms and berries is very common here and unless the woods are private property, everybody is allowed to do it. Since we already live here for 15 years, I have "my" spots in the woods where I always find something.

    My mother asked me to pick and to use all the raspberries from her garden since she cannot do it herself anymore. I cooked a lot of raspberry jam. :)

    As a family, we enjoyed a free open-air symphony concert performed by professionals. This concert happens every summer in our hometown and it was originally paid by a businessman so that everyone can listen to a live classical music performance once a year. The weather was nice and since it is held in a big park, we sat on the grass and the kids were free to move around a bit.

    My husband bought a football for the boys for 4.99€, usually a ball costs over 10€. Now the boys have been playing football all week unless it rains.

    I read some good books from the library. I would like to buy when we have paid back all our debts. I will look for them on used-books markets.

    Sorry about the bad English - this is not my first or second language.

  • Jean August 07, 2017

    I think you do s wonderful job and you are so brace to try! I enjoy reading about frugality in Estonia, it is important for us to see life in different countries! By sharing it gives us a chance to see what you are doing and enjoying!


  • Paula Kennedy August 07, 2017

    Your English is lovely!

  • Mari August 07, 2017

    Reet, there is absolutely no need to apologize for your"bad English". Your writing, grammar, and punctuation are all excellent.

    I am sorry about your roof cost increase. I had some major home reoairs this past year and paying for them is bad enough. To be tolld the cost will be significantly higher must be very frustrating.

  • Ellie August 07, 2017

    Your English is WONDERFUL! :)

  • Mommarosie in Georgia August 09, 2017

    I don't usually leave comments but today I must. Your English is better than most. We live in Georgia-USA (we nearly speak a different form of English here

  • Darcy August 07, 2017

    What a beautiful cake and cupcakes! I love finding new ways of doing things that work. My older cookbooks call for shortening in the frosting recipes and I remember my mom and grandmother always had a can of Crisco shortening in the pantry.

    I made Greek yogurt to eat with honey and fruit. I also use it in place of sour cream.

    I made applesauce from apples that were starting to go.
    I made beans and rice.
    We ate lentil soup from the freezer with fresh-from-the-garden tomato sandwiches.
    I froze green beans and basil from the garden.

    Our electric bill was higher last month, which is normal this time of year but I want to bring it down if possible. So this week I have been more diligent about unplugging reachable outlets everyday before going to work. I also programmed the thermostat to reach an even higher temperature during the day when we aren't home.

    We were given a dozen eggs by my husband's coworker who raises chickens.

    My daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons visited my mom in Tennessee and she sent back some tomatoes, okra, lemon cucumbers, garlic, and chili peppers from her garden.

  • Athanasia August 08, 2017

    Darcy, does your utility company have a program for giving you credit for not using your electricity during peak hours? We have a box on the house and it can shut off our A/C up to 4 hours at a time or 15 min out of every hour. There is a maximum amount of time they will do it over the summer and we get a credit on our summer electric bills.

  • Marybeth August 08, 2017

    That is great. I wish they did that here.

  • Darcy August 08, 2017

    Hi Athanasia, our utility company used to have a program every year very similar to what you are talking about that we would sign up for that saved us $40 over the summer months but they don't offer it anymore. Fortunately, our daytime temperatures haven't been too high lately so we have been turning off the A/C and opening windows.

  • Athanasia August 09, 2017

    I think it is about $40 credit. They should let us know soon.

  • Jenni@DitchingOurDebt August 07, 2017

    I have always had a hard time with frosting cakes as well - I will try your trick the next time I make birthday cakes for my sons, which is not too far off!

    This past week we traveled to visit my sister in Texas. It was our first family road trip that lasted more than a couple of hours - this time it was 8! We went there because we wanted to visit my sister (she used to live in Alaska), but also because we sometimes fly to California to see other family there and this time we just wanted to drive somewhere. We packed lunches for the road to avoid eating out as much as possible.

    My sister also had some outgrown clothes from her son and a practically new homeschooling curriculum and other homeschooling books which she was done with that she gave me to take home. They even gave our oldest son an old bike that they didn't need anymore. My oldest son had been thinking about saving some of his money to purchase a bike, so this was a huge blessing for him. I was grateful for how God provided those things and how my son got to see how God is aware of our needs.

    We are cutting our food budget to make more progress on our debt but I want to make the menu as creative and filling as possible. Now that we are back, I am trying to buy more at the store every couple of weeks and shop less. Milk was only $1.77/gallon this week so I purchased enough for 2 weeks, and eggs were only 47 cents a dozen. I also cleaned out our refrigerator a couple of weeks ago and found that when things are clean and organized I tend to use my food more wisely.

  • Athanasia August 08, 2017

    Jenni, how nice you were able to travel and be with family and pick up so many useful items as a bonus.

    Just a question out of curiosity, and please excuse me if you think it rude, but is there a reason you choose for your son to buy his own bike? I guess I see bikes as a functional part of day to day life...exercise, family bike rides, freedom to get around without parental effort/driving. Unlike a scooter or skateboard or ipod etc etc which to me would be something I would expect child to spend his/her own money toward. And of course I don't know all the details...for example if a child was careless and lost the bike or damaged it due to foolishness, then of course I would expect them to earn a replacement. That was the case of one of my brother's...he left his bike leaned up against the back of pickup, he was about 10 or so, and the driver hopped in the car and backed up right over it. He had to earn a new one himself.

  • Becky Pratt August 08, 2017

    Jenni, I am not who you asked this question to, but I thought I would share my reason. When my children were young and wanted something that was not a need they had to earn half the money for the item. We then went to buy the item. I gave them the money and they purchased the item with great pride that they had worked for it. I thought it taught them to be more responsible with money. It also taught them that not all wants were something they continued to want if they waited a little while before getting them.

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