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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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  • PJGT August 07, 2017

    I take off the leaves that are shading the other plants and that usually works.

  • Marcia August 07, 2017

    The cupcakes looked amazing.

    This was an expensive week. We returned from vacation with an empty fridge.

    So the grocery budget was not my friend.

    We did Save money.
    - I baked hubbys birthday cake. And badly decorated it.
    - Our big town Fiesta was this week. We didn't go. No games, rides, parades, food. In fact, We barely left the house.
    - Neighbor has a banana tree and cut off a stalk. We have at least 20 ripe mini bananas. These will be great for camp lunches and smoothies.
    - We switched our older son's camp for this week. It cost money and lost registration fees. But still saved us $40. The new camp is cheaper.

  • Athanasia August 08, 2017

    Marcia, a "badly decorated" homemade birthday still tasted great, I expect.

    I would love a banana tree but that will never happen here! Brandy, could you grow bananas where you are?

  • tadpole August 07, 2017

    Lovely photos. My mom is an icing diva but that gene did not get passed to me. I have a hard time getting plain old icing on to a cake. We are also looking forwards to rain. The weather people say next Sunday. I have my fingers crossed that it will come to take the heat off the weather and to help with the forest fires.

    This week I benefited greatly from the generosity of my friends and families. They all have abundant gardens and they have been sharing their bounty with me. I also learnt how to pollinate my zucchini plants and I used up most of my stash of old tshirts making myself some new undies.
    Have a great week every one!

  • Sandra August 07, 2017

    Thank you for sharing pictures and text on identifying male and female zucchini flowers. Oh, and good job with the t-shirt undies. They turned out so cute.

  • Mandy August 07, 2017

    I saw the lovely rain video, what a blessing! And the cupcakes and cake look delicious :)
    Last week: My daughter and I went to the library to exchange books and movies and got there just as story time was starting. I let her participate in that and she made a pigeon during craft time. A little boy that goes every week gave the other kids small goodie bags for his birthday.

    -There was no shopping at all last week, grocery or otherwise.

    -I made milk (from powder), soup, pork tenderloin with baked potatoes and carrots, meatloaf with baked potatoes and peas, ground turkey burgers, fried potatoes and peas, we ate oatmeal for breakfast most days, banana bread, brownies from a mix, salads using lettuce from the garden and dandelion greens and lambs quarters from the yard. I made a homemade honey/lemon salad dressing to go with it. We also had smoothies for breakfast or snacks that I portioned

    -I picked two Bartlett pears from my tree but didn't get out to harvest any more due to rain, schedules, etc.

    -I made more cleaning solution (vinegar and essential oils and water) for my reusable cleaning wipes.

    -I only used my dryer once last week, otherwise my laundry was hung on the outside lines or my indoor racks. I did use the air fluff option twice for 15 minutes to remove the cat hair and lint from our dark work clothes.

    -I kept all lights off when not needed, unplugged everything possible when not being used, used the small little battery operated light in the bathroom when only a small amount of light was needed. We were able to keep the air conditioners off half the time last week. When it reaches over 85 degrees in the house we turn them on.

    -My husband's friend gave us two arm chairs and a large fan that he no longer wanted. They were all brand new and never used. We were able to replace our broken down couch with them (we don't have enough room to keep 4 chairs and a couch in our house).

    -I used reusable menstrual products rather than buying disposables. We also continue to use family cloth for *most* needs.

    -I saved shower warm up water, water from cups at the end of the day, veggie rinsing water, etc and watered the garden beds and potted plants. I also used saved shower water and some borax to soak a couple of items of clothing for my daughter and was able to get some stains out that would have otherwise ruined the clothing.

    -I mended a pair of my shorts and turned a pair of pants my daughter had with a hole in the knee into a pair of shorts.
    Have a great week everyone!

  • Jean August 08, 2017

    I also pick lamb's quarter and purslane from my garden patch. They are wild and I let them grow there along with my regular garden stuff. Once my regular greens like kale and cHrd have gone to seed I just used the LQ and purslane for my greens. I salute them and use them in my smoothies. They are nutritionally superior to what I grow, and it is free!

    like kale and chard had bolted and seeded I just used them alll summer for my greens.

  • Paula Kennedy August 07, 2017

    Tell us about the cake layers, please, Brandy! Food coloring or three distinct flavors?

  • Linda Higgy August 08, 2017

    Looks like chocolate, vanilla and banana. Yummy!

  • It's an eggless chocolate cake (recipe on my site; I need to update my desserts page because I don't think it's on there, but you can find it under the recipe index page), a one-egg vanilla cake (A recipe I need to share), and a one-egg strawberry cake with real strawberries in the cake as well as imitation strawberry flavoring. I want to work on the strawberry one by making it again and probably up the amount of strawberries before I share a recipe.

    The icing is half butter half shortening with real strawberries and imitation strawberry flavoring.

    I didn't add any food coloring to any of it, but I think the imitation flavoring probably contains some as it is red. But the strawberries themselves turned the icing and batter pink.

  • Laurie in central NC August 07, 2017

    Cake decorating is a skill I've never attempted. In fact, the few times I've made layer cakes, I've been happy if they didn't list to one side :). How wonderful that you were able to take advantage of her knowledge, and she had another interested person in the group. Your results are beautiful!

    I have both dark and green fig trees. I'd been thinking that the largest fig was a dark one, but I realized this week that I had some ripe green figs! I've picked 8 so far, which we've been enjoying fresh. It's been several years since we had any figs, so I'd forgotten. For some reason, the few we had always began too late to ripen before first frost. I'm delighted to have some this year. Though I don't have an Instagram account, I believe I can still view things there, so will head to see your rain shower. I'm happy to be joining in here: http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2017/08/this-and-that-frugal-accomplishments.html

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 07, 2017

    Is that cake a Neapolitan one? It looks delicious! And, I'm glad that you got some rainfall!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    - Made and canned 4 jars of cherry pie filling. I will likely use this as a yoghurt stir-in for my breakfasts.
    - Made No Churn Rum Raisin Ice Cream (http://approachingfood.com/no-churn-rum-raisin-ice-cream/) using some of the cream that I bought on sale a little while ago, some raisins bought at the bulk store, some leftover condensed milk, as well as some of the rum raisin liqueur that the DH and I bought on vacation a few years ago.
    - Took a bed pillow that I didn’t like (not fluffy enough) turned it into a square pillow form by bunching the fill into a square, then folding over the excess fabric, and sewing three stitches to hold the fabric in place. If I ever need to, I can take out the stitches and fluff the pillow back into its original shape, but for now, I used my new pillow form to stuff a pillow case for my couch. I was inspired by reading comments on this blog, so thank you!
    - Made cheddar potato perogies from scratch for the first time, to use up some potatoes that were aging, and used green onions from my garden as well. Ate some for dinner and froze the rest. The DH loved them, so am very pleased!
    - Went for drinks with a friend, and split a single large sangria between us. Healthier for each of us, and half the price of any other drink
    - Traded items on my local trading app to declutter my house, and ended up with a Costco-sized container of salsa. I then used that salsa, as well as some rice and beans from my freezer, and some homemade tortillas, to made my Easy Enchiladas (http://approachingfood.com/easy-enchiladas-a-20-minute-weeknight-meal/). Easy to put together, and super-frugal. (Rice, beans, spices, flour, salt, oil, salsa, and cheese – the only ingredients that you need to make this dish from start to finish, including the tortillas!). Even my meat-a-tarian husband agreed it was tasty. Plus, I used some regrown green onions for garnish!
    - Got a small bonus at work and applied it straight to the mortgage.
    - Saved eggshells, ground them, and added them to the dirt around my tomato plant.
    - A friend gave me some peaches and a bottle of cider after I dog-sat for her.
    - Redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks
    - Made Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt using homemade yoghurt, and homemade strawberry jam, and mandarin frozen yoghurt with homemade yoghurt and some mandarins.
    - I canned a quart of peaches and a quart of strawberry peach jam. Frugal fail: I broke a can of peaches while canning because I let it cool too much after filling it so that when I put it into the boiling water bath, the jar broke. Ah well. Lesson learned!
    - Traded a set of three wooden boxes (got them free from work where they would have been recycled, and was going to use them to redo the décor in my bathroom, but decided against it), for a box of Wilton decorating bags (I had run out of decorating bags, so this was perfect timing). Brandy, if I lived in your neck of the woods, I totally would have loved to give you some! :)
    - Traded some items that I didn’t want and a cake I baked, for a bottle of Bailey’s and 5 cans of mandarins. The Bailey’s I will use to make fancy-pants cupcakes at a future date, and the mandarins will be for salads for next little while.
    - Planted more Swiss chard and nasturtium seeds.
    - Traded half a dozen chocolate chip peanut butter cookies for a vintage romance book to give to my mum. She’ll get a big kick out of it!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  • Yes it is, and we recieved a half-inch, which is wonderful for here!

  • JENNIFER Brown August 07, 2017

    Brandy, your layered cake and cupcakes look beautiful.

    This was the 3rd week in a row where we received free food, which we joyfully accepted. This week a neighbor dropped a bag of various summer squashes. I am a Facebook member of a local "buy nothing yourcity" a member mentioned last week a box of various free food items, this was a porch pick up about 2 miles from an errand I had already planned for.

    I submitted an electronic rebate offer, had an error and emailed for support instead of forgoing the rebate out of frustration.

    I made 2 birthday cakes. One ice cream cake and one Blueberry pound cake.

    I collected 9 lbs of blackberries, basil, oregano, blueberries and tomatoes from the garden.

    I disputed a medical charge and then asked that they resubmit to insurance, only saved $11 but I am thankful.

    I shopped through ebates before making a planned purchase.

    I painted 2 pieces of furniture with previously purchased on sale chalk paint.

    I picked up Children's summer reading prizes and borrowed books from the library.

    I hope each and every one here has an abundantly blessed week.

  • PJGT August 07, 2017

    I continue to do the regular frugal saves; however the biggest frugal savings shout-out goes to my inlaws. They continue to do our laundry and buy groceries as we struggle to get back on our feet. :D

    I received free tickets to an outdoor production of La Boheme for my daughter and I. We brought a picnic like everyone else. It was a delightful evening!

    Everyday is a gift from God and I continue to remind myself of this. August will be a long month but, when my job starts in late August, things will start to improve.

    I really am uplifted by this community! Thankful always!

  • Athanasia August 09, 2017

    PJGT, how nice your inlaws are able to assist you right now.

  • Mari in Maryland August 07, 2017

    I haven't posted here in months, probably a couple years, but I need to get back into frugality big time if I'm going to retire in 3-4 years.

    I earned points through a health app sponsored by my employer and cashed them in for two $50 Walmart gift cards and one $47 Visa gift card. I used about $70 of the Walmart cards to purchase everything from a new hose to food. I'll save the remaining money for next month or when another need arises. I'm waiting for the Visa card to arrive by mail.

    I've lost a lot of weight through another program sponsored by my employer. The cost of these various plans and apps is worth it to them because it lowers our health and insurance costs and my employer is self-insured. Like Brandy, I've found I don't need to join a gym to exercise. I just do a LOT of walking, including stepping in place while brushing my teeth, folding laundry, cooking, doing dishes, etc. The program supplied a scale and exercise band for strength training, too.

    Since my food plan is basically low carb (well, on most days - Sunday wasn't quite low carb), I made sloppy joes from scratch. I bought peppers, cucumbers, celery, spinach, and broccoli. I have already cut up all 6 peppers and one cucumber and will do the other cucumber and celery tonight and make broccoli salad with bacon, cheddar cheese, and onion. As long as the veggies are prepped, I will eat them. I store them in my canning jars so they are easily visible. I'm not canning jelly or fruit this year due to the high sugar content (that just doesn't fit with low-carb) so I have the jars available. I also cooked bacon for the week and shredded cheese; again, both are stored in glass jars.

    I cleaned out the freezer that is part of my refrigerator and made room for some items from my large standup freezer, which I have now started cleaning out. I'm not really using it and things in there were 2-3 years old and freezer burned. I will finish taking everything out this week will then unplug it, defrost it, and try to sell it at a yard sale at the end of this month or through our Facebook yard sale page. It works, but now that I live alone, I just don't need it.

    I also wrote out the budget for each month between now and the end of the year. Now I just need to stick to my plans to make sure I meet my savings and car and home repair/improvement debt payoff goals.

    I found out that my electric/gas company has an option where I can download my day by day usage for the last two years of bills and for usage through the previous day for the current billing cycle. Once I download these to an Excel spreadsheet, I can total up the cost and compare the current cycle to last month or last year. So far, I've used $10 less of electricity and gas combined this month than I did last month over a 12 day period. Our weather will be cooler this week and I don't think I'll need to turn the AC on at all.

    Finally, this is the first time in 17 years that I have not had to buy school supplies or pay tuition and other university costs. My daughter graduated this past May and is now supporting herself. Unfortunately, I'll no longer be able to claim her as a dependent on my taxes, but I made the necessary withholding adjustment in January so it won't be a huge tax bill surprise next spring when I file my taxes.

  • Athanasia August 09, 2017

    Mari, congratulations on the weight loss. Those sound like some very nice benefits offered by your employer.

  • Stephanie N. August 07, 2017

    Hello Brandy and all! I enjoyed hearing about your week.
    This week included beginning of the month expense planning. We have an Excel spreadsheet that we use to track our bills and expenses. In the past we have always used a credit card to pay for most of our bills and day to day expenses and then paid off the entire balance at the end of every month. This card gives us 1.5% cash back and since we pay the full balance every month we don't have any interest fees. This month we've decided not to use the credit card for expenses to help decrease our overall credit usage on our credit reports. This led us to reviewing the automatic bill charges that occur on that card to see what needed to be changed or cancelled. I found $35 in miscellaneous recurring subscriptions that we managed to cancel- thus saving us $35/month going forward.

    I have my paycheck set up to have a set amount of money automatically drafted to my savings account each pay period. This previous pay period I increased that withholding by $5. I know it isn't much but my way of thinking was that we almost always manage to find a way to waste $5 some way or the other so I might as well take that $5 out of the playing field straight away. Will it keep us from unplanned splurges? I don't know. So far we haven't even noticed the difference. I plan to make a small increase to my withholding every third or fourth paycheck until we reach a point where it feels like a stretch. I have a high interest savings account through Capitol One 360 and it isn't linked to my regular checking accounts so there's no risk of pulling the money out in a weak moment. To anyone interested in high interest savings, the account I have has no minimum balance and accrues 0.75% interest so even putting in $25 a month will see a small interest return.

    I did almost all of my weekly shopping at Aldi. Last week I took a longer drive (about 30 minutes without traffic) to the closest WalMart Supercenter to see if I could get some of the household costs down. I was dismayed to find that most of the groceries on my list had prices the same or even slightly higher than Wegman's or Target. I live in a very expensive suburb north of DC and I'm battling the cost of living tooth and nail. From my front door to the front door of Target it is less than 800 steps and only 1500 steps to the front door of Wegman's. Safeway is 1/4 mile away. So wasting gas to drive 30min to WalMart chapped me a bit. Aldi's is about 15 minutes from my house depending on the traffic but I have been enjoying the prices.

    This week I found large white eggs for $0.89/dozen. SO prefers brown eggs but since they cost $4/dozen and we hardly ever have just fried or scrambled eggs he'll just have to learn how to deal. Most of my eggs are used in baking and I use about a dozen and a half a week.

    I picked up two extra shifts at work and the money will help out a lot.

    I moved to this area from Pennsylvania and since coming down here I've been less than thrilled with the lasting power of my dairy purchases. I've never had issues with the expiration dates of milk, heavy cream, yogurt or sour cream before but now I'm having to think hard about when and how I purchase. Previously those four things I would buy on a monthly basis but since moving to this area I have noticed that everything I've come across has an expiration date that is a week to no more than ten days out. And coming up on those dates the milk and cream definitely start looking and smelling a little funky. I went to pour the cream into my coffee yesterday and noticed that it had curdled, wasting my cup of coffee. The quart was almost empty anyway so I didn't lose more than a couple tablespoons but when I pulled out a second brand new quart that still had 4 days left on the label it was entirely curdled. So my major fail of the week was losing a brand new quart of heavy cream to spoilage :(.

  • Stephanie,

    I had the thought as I was reading your comment that your fridge is not cold enough, and that is why you are losing your dairy products to spoilage so early. They like it really cold. If they're on the door, move them to a shelf (and preferably in the back). A colder fridge will keep them longer.

    I don't know if you are using the same fridge you had before or not, but this thought came to mind and it's an easy thing to change that could make a huge difference for you.

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