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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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  • Athanasia August 09, 2017

    Becky, you kind of repeated what I said as regards need versus want. I guess I put a bicycle into the need category not a want/luxury item category. Of course, if someone wanted the deluxe version I could see paying the difference themselves.

  • Holly Dearmon August 09, 2017

    Your reply sounds like a bike is used as transportation. I do not know Jenni's situation, but in my area of the United States kids no longer use a bicycle to ride to school or the store. It is basically ridden in the neighborhood. So, instead of an using it to get around it is basically a toy. It is sad that most kids are driven where they go and do not explore as we did as kids.

  • Athanasia August 19, 2017

    Yes, Holly, in our world a bicycle would be transportation not a toy.

  • Sarah Bienvenue August 07, 2017

    Brandy, those cupcakes are amazing! I love learning new skills. Yesterday we had 30 people over our house for a joint birthday party, it was more frugal than having 2 separate ones and we kept the meat dishes fewer in number. It also pushed us to get stuff done around the house and yard that we've been putting off. You can read the rest of it here:

  • Cindi August 07, 2017

    I've missed your birthday party posts, so I'm glad we can look forward to more. Wonderful about the rain, too.
    We started off the week with a hike, and enjoyed the beautiful wildflowers and mountain scenery. While hiking, we came across a lot of edible mushrooms and picked 3 ½ pounds of wild porcini mushrooms (King Boletes). Back home, I sautéed them in butter and sherry and froze 4 cups of mushrooms for use in stew, stroganoff, spaghetti sauce, or pizza.
    I turned some leftover baby flannel into face cloths to use to remove my makeup. I made a mesh bag to keep them in – when the bag is full, I can throw it into the wash. Once I use up the box of disposable face cleaning wipes I have, my intention is to not buy any more. A money saver and less trash being thrown away.
    My dear neighbor moved. Before she left, she gave me everything that was left in her refrigerator – all the condiments, potatoes, watermelon, and onions, and some chicken breasts. She also let me harvest some seed heads from the blanket flowers and Shasta daisies in her yard. I’m hoping these will grow when I plant them in the spring.
    We ate tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, collard greens, two peppers, and a handful of raspberries from the garden.
    We attended a free outdoor concert – the last one this summer. We packed a picnic dinner and enjoyed the free music.
    I picked sunflowers from the side of the road. They look so cheerful in the house.
    I saved tomato seeds to plant next year.
    I added some new, frugal recipes to my repertoire -- I made red beans and rice (my husband said when we married that he didn't like red beans, but my neighbor gave me a bag and I was determined to use them. Turns out my husband loved them the way I made them). I also made Brandy's white bean Alfredo, which we also liked.

  • Debby in Kansas August 07, 2017

    Our wild sunflowers aren't in abundance yet. I love when they're wild all over. I always try and get a big bouquet every year. I cut them long so it looks even bigger!

  • Athanasia August 08, 2017

    My uncles grow sunflowers and the field is right across the road from cheerful and happy to see everyday.

  • Cindy in the South August 09, 2017

    I love sunflowers and sunflower seeds, so pretty and so delicious.....a double win!!!

  • Linda August 07, 2017

    I was able to use up almost all of out leftover foods last week. We only threw away a few pieces of meat and a small amount of mashed potatoes that weren't eaten before their safety became questionable. This is much, much better than we had been doing previously. I'm learning how to not purchase or make too much food at a time.

    I kept my grocery shopping for the week pretty low at $38 for some milk, eggs, breads, and fresh produce since I'm going on vacation with my oldest for a few days and then a work trip for a week.

    I've written out dinner meal plans from items we have in the freezer and pantry for my husband while I'm away before he leaves for his vacation with our two youngest kids, so expenses should be low unless he opts to eat out.

    I picked up a dress for myself and a set of 4 packing cubes at the thrift store for $10 for my travels.

    My husband was able to window mount an air conditioner we got for free using supplies we had on hand. And we got a second window unit from a friend for free yesterday.

  • Laurie in AZ August 07, 2017

    Linda, I keep a container in my freezer and when I have small bits of meat, beans or veggies leftover I immediately put them in the container so they don't go bad. Once the container is full, I make soup. I also rinse out my tomato sauce cans, spaghetti sauce jars, etc and add the tomato water to the container. I make sure that I add flavors that compliment each other. I usually add some bouillon and Italian seasonings (basil, oregano and garlic). I usually end up with a minestrone type of soup. Delish! And practically free!

  • Teresa August 07, 2017

    Excellent tips! Especially the tip on the rinse water for the tomatoes - I usually put that in my compost bowl, but if I can get a soup out of it - it's better! I'll have to find a "frozen misc soup" container to use; I'm sure there's one in the kitchen somewhere!

  • Laurie in AZ August 07, 2017

    I use a reused extra large cottage cheese container (like you get at Costco.) I find this size is just right for making a crockpot's worth of soup. I add water and bouillon to the contents to soup it up.

  • Natalie Dyson August 07, 2017

    I rinse out my containers and add them to gravy, soups or stews.

  • becky in central iowa August 08, 2017

    great idea on the sauce cans i will use that and we all need the reminder to build a soup container in freezer thank you

  • Jessica August 07, 2017

    Those look stunning! I decided that I enjoy cooking so much and sharing the photos that I would find something like Shutterfly (I'm taking suggestions for other places as well!) To create a cook book of sorts using my photos and then putting the recipe in it, too.
    We have a few things going on budget wise: we just purchased a new vehicle for me which was a necessity as I commute and needed something that put up with the elements ( I live in Oregon). We are also ---- close to paying off a credit card. I'm trying to save as much as possible to have a few car payments in savings when my husband's winter work slows and make extra payments.
    This means working extra while our son is away and making groceries go further since it's just the two of us.
    My MIL graciously offered to purchase our son an OMSI High Desert Survival Camp this year for his birthday so we will be prepping for that soon. I think the only thing he needs is a sleeping pad; it makes a difference in those old bunks if I remember correctly!
    I'm going to try and comment on here more often. I love this blog Brandy! I just read When Queens Ride By the other night for some encouragement.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 07, 2017

    Jessica, I've done exactly what you're talking about, taking photos and recipes and putting them together in a cookbook! You will LOVE the finished product, and it's such a wonderful memory and resource! I've often thought of putting together a family cookbook like that.

    To get the photobook for the cheapest possible price, I signed up for all photobook sites, and then kept an eye out for months for the free deals that they sometimes send out, like a free small photobook but you pay for shipping. You do have to wade through all the emails every day/week to eventually get a freebie, but for me it's worth it,! I actually do this every year to put together a mini coffee table book of my year's memories/family photos, and then, at the back of the book, add in recipes and pictures. I originally did it to fill up the pages, since those books can have a lot of pages, but it's such a fun thing to do, that now I do the cookbooks on their own. You'll seriously love it! :)

  • Cindi August 07, 2017

    I know Shutterfly often has coupons for free photo books around Christmas and again around Mother's Day and Father's Day. They make wonderful gifts.

  • Jessica August 07, 2017

    Great ideas! Thank you!

  • Lilllanna Pickles August 07, 2017

    My local Ingles was spitting out shutterfly coupons two days ago. I Have One For A Book If Someone Wants To Message Me.

  • Jenifer August 07, 2017

    Full honesty here. I seriously want a taste of your piped frosting. Stick my finger to the monitor and get some. It is wonderful when you have an opportunity to learn how especially when one has been trying and trying.

    By loosely tethering my zucchini and yellow squash plants so the plants that were now underneath could get some light, I killed the zucchini/squash plants. I am thankful because each plant produced so much while they were alive, but am also thankful that with my mistake, I have room to plant kale, carrots and beets in their vacant spots.

    I hemmed a long skirt to knee length.
    A good friend who teaches at a gym gave my husband and I a free pass to his class.

    I said no to myself a lot this past week, and by the end of the week was sleeping better.

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