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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 07, 2017

    Stephanie, I would agree with Brandy as re' the temperature issue. We had an older refrigerator that had warm spots and cold spots and we kept a small thermometer on each shelf. Also, if you store your dairy products upside down when possible, like yogurt and cottage cheese, they will last longer.

  • Juls Owings August 07, 2017

    I agree with Brandy with your dairy items. Our repairman also told us to put things that like it cold lower and not on top shelf or doors. He even shifted our shelves around and showed me what should go where. Also if it's an older frig it might need some maintenance done. Our coils are enclosed and they froze up due to the moisture not getting away fast enough during the defrost cycles. Cost me $100 plus trip costs but save me the cost of the new frig not mentioning the food I was losing.

  • Mari in Maryland August 07, 2017

    I agree with the others. I live just outside Baltimore on the west side of Baltimore County so not that far from you. I had to put the milk and things on my bottom shelf, adjusting the shelf heights to accommodate it. I don't know if it's the humidity making the fridge work harder, but it's only an issue for me in the summer.

  • Ellie August 07, 2017

    Brandy, thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures from your cake/cupcake decorating. I am so glad you learned the "secret" of making frosting in a hot climate. I took a cake decorating class over 20 years ago, and I still enjoy making make cakes look pretty. The price of the class was worth it just learning to do a crumb coat on cakes. I am happy that your lesson was free. What a blessing!
    Ways I saved money this week:
    Air-dried all laundry, except for sheets. (Had to use the dryer for these due to allergies.)
    I watered my neighbor's garden and flowers and gratefully received lots of tomatoes and a few cucumbers.
    Ate all meals at home, and packed snacks to take with me while out and about.
    Purchased laundry detergent during a 3 day special and used coupons on top of the sale price.
    Began soaking citrus peels in vinegar to make organic "cleaner".
    Tried making French bread. It came out ugly, so I used some as a pizza crust and have enjoying the rest as toast.

    Thank you so much for your posts. They encourage me to be a better steward of my resources. I enjoy them very much.

  • Gardenpat August 07, 2017

    This week when I got free discard greens at the grocery store for my chickens, there were also a dozen large orange and yellow organic bell peppers! I brought those home too and after washing and inspecting them and not even finding so much as a wrinkle in the skin, cut them into large chunks and froze them for use later when I need bell peppers in a recipe! They filled 6 quart size ziplocs! This is how I was able to make my 13 jars of pickle relish last week- cucumbers from my garden, dried minced onion from my food storage, cider vinegar from my food storage and bell peppers from my freezer!!! So basically, free pickle relish!! But any time a recipe that will be cooked needs bell peppers, just take them from the freezer!!
    I harvested more tomatoes from the garden as well as enough Serrano hot peppers to fill a quart size freezer bag! I do the same thing with all my peppers- those that i don't use right away fresh, I freeze for use in the year when peppers are widely expensive!!
    I made, flash froze and individually packaged mini pizzas and heroburgers. Some I used to refill my fridge container of grab and go lunch choices and the rest I packaged into gallon ziplocs and free so that I can mix and match them into the grab and go fridge container with other options (leftovers, etc) so that no one is eating the same thing day after day! The bread were odds and ends cut pieces of baguettes, focaccia,etc that we were given! Used ingredients that were all at home so basically, no outside cost for these lunch fillers!!
    We got a Costco membership through Livngsocial - paid $60, but were given a $20 Costco gift card and a 12 pack of paper towels and a 24 pack of flavored water and a large everything pizza!
    Zaycon was offering $25 off $75 orders for new customers. We ordered from them in the past but since it meant that their October BLSL chcken breast 40 pound box would be $50.36 after the discount ($1.26/pound) , I referred 2 of my daughters and a couple other friends which got them the $1.26/pound price and gave me $20 in referral cash to use on an order! I am actually getting 20 pounds of that chicken from two of my daughters , so I will still get 40 pounds for the $1.26/pound price!!!
    We had friends over Snday night and roasted marshmallows over the fire pit and watchd our chickens free range in the yard! When the sun started to set, all 5 chickens marched back into their coop and up the ladder to their nesting area! Great entertainment for just the cost of the marshmallows!!
    Was able to freely cater a wedding reception for a friend's daughter with 125 attendees with finger sandwiches- 4 kinds- for only $30 OOP ! There were Apple Rosemary focaccia, cocktail appetizers, cucumber sandwiches and Ranch Turkey bacon pinwheel wraps- made with homemade dry mixes added to cream cheese and other things that were already in my pantry! It was a great feeling to share!
    A friend gave me 3 bags of fabric yardage because she decided not to use it and "knew" that I would make good use of it or pass it on to some activity group or person who would!
    I made extra payments on my hospital bill which when it is paid off leave us with just 2 small cc balances and $45,000 mortgage left to pay off in order to be totally debt free!! The goal is in sight!!!

  • Marybeth August 08, 2017

    Good luck on becoming debt free. We only have our mortgage left. We are currently funding college for our kids so we don't have any extra to throw at the mortgage. But in a few years we will.

  • Jessica August 07, 2017

    That cake looks amazing!
    Here are our frugal accomplishments for the week:
    -We paid extra on our mortgage - so now we've paid 5.2% of the principal down since February.
    -I combined several errands with a doctors appointment that I had in a town 45 minutes away.
    -Ate dinner at my grandparents one evening. My mom and dad took us out for supper one night.
    -Turned off AC and opened windows when it cooled off here.
    -We have received quite a bit of rain recently, so I haven't had to water the garden for about 2 weeks now.
    -I picked 2 butternut squash, 6 cantaloupes, some sweet corn, and one canary melon from the garden.
    -Canned 16 jars spaghetti sauce, 13 pints green beans, 3 pints ketchup, 4 quarts dill pickles.
    -Used coupons to save $4.50 on cleaning supplies I needed.
    -Listed some items on a facebook buy/sell/trade site. They were left over from our yard sale (which made us some extra cash!).
    -DVR'd several shows for entertainment.
    -dehydrated some tomatoes for sundried tomatoes.
    -picked enough cucumbers that I should be able to make several more quarts of pickles (that's on the to do list for today).
    -picked 6 more zucchini to shred up
    -Froze 14 ounces of Hungarian Wax peppers
    -Froze 6 Sweet peppers
    -Picked 4 onions from the garden
    -Made hot sauce using serranos, hot chilis, and cayennes from the garden.
    -Made bread
    -Made croutons out of bread that was starting to get hard.
    -Picked up a couple of shirts for my husband at half price.
    -Continued to be diligent about light and AC usage.
    -We have a cap on the gigabytes of internet we can use each month without going over. This month, we are very close to the limit. We've really been limiting the use of our internet. I had to come to my parents today, so I am actually using the internet at their house (which has no cap) to do some things I've been needing to do online.
    -My mom traded me 2 dozen wide mouth lids & rings and 2 dozen regular mouth lids for some pickles.
    -My husband and I ate brunch yesterday and then ate supper - that allowed us to just have a small snack instead of a whole meal in between.

    This week, I have to drive about 40 minutes each way to a conference - 3 times. I hate to spend the gas, but the hours of continuing education I will get will help me move across the pay scale at work. There is no immediate benefit, but as time goes on, the hours accumulate and I get raises.

    I'm hoping that we won't need to do any more grocery shopping for a couple weeks (maybe just eggs). We are pretty well stocked up. I spent some time last week rearranging the pantry. I can see what we have a lot better now. I will spend some time this afternoon meal planning for the week. I also need to spray my garden, as squash bugs have killed another pumpkin vine. I will pick the pumpkins on it that are ready and can them. But I need to get the squash bugs killed before they kill all my plants. I will can more pickles, shred zucchini, and pick tomatoes. I'm hoping to pick tomatoes for chili base and pizza sauce.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  • Avon Lady TJ August 07, 2017

    Pretty baked goods! Cake decorating is but a distant memory for me. In fact, I just recently gave away all those tools since I felt it was out of my system and I'm trying to declutter a bit. My mom went through a period of cake decorating as well when we were young. To this day, I can hardly stand frosting as we ate our fill of it back then, haha!
    The memories of melted, leaning towers of birthday cakes came flooding back while reading this as well. Oh my! Fun times.
    Thanks for (triggering) the memories Miss Brandy!~TJ

  • Jenifer August 07, 2017

    I have done cakes for years. I live in Virginia and one of the first things I learned was the heat and humidity will always effect your frosting. I always use the shortening /butter mix. However I use the butter flavor shortening. It doesn't seem to be as greasy. I also use heavy whipping cream vs milk. And if I going to be piping with a very fine tip I will thin it out even more with vanilla flavored corn syrup. Check craigslist for cake supplies. People will always be getting rid of them.

  • Thanks Jennifer. There are some specific tips I want and I am going to add them to my garage sale list. Now that I can get the icing to work for me, I'll be looking to try some specific flowers and things that I want to make. In fact, I went a little crazy pinning cake decorating ideas and tutorials since my class on my Pinterest board. I am wanting to make some fun things for my children!

  • becky in central iowa August 08, 2017

    we had girls so i made the cake in a bowl and put the plastic doll in top and did flowers in frosting they loved them

  • Kim August 08, 2017

    For years I made and sold cakes including wedding cakes and even worked as a Wilton instructor for a year. When making wedding cakes that might sit in the summer heat (in South Georgia, that means inside and outside), icing made with butter simply wasn't an option because it would have to be kept refrigerated. What you sacrifice in taste, is made up by the distinct design and durability of the shortening based icing.

  • Julie Biddle August 07, 2017

    Your out door dining table is BEAUTIFUL. My son and his wife have purchased a large home. Some rooms do not have curtains yet. I bought a nice pair of sheets from Salvation Army, and sewed up a set of curtains for the guest bedroom. No more will I have to hide in the walking in closet while changing clothes. lol

  • Thanks! It's just two grey plastic folding tables that we got for free, along with some white plastic folding chairs we bought years back at Sam's Club. The tablecloths are from Sam's Club. Then I just used our regular plates and glasses and flowers from the garden in blue Ball jars. I used white nakins (also Sam's Club) but everyday I use dark colored napkins so that I don't have to use stain remover.

  • J August 07, 2017

    I love the blue Ball jars. They are so beautiful.

  • Marcia Parmeley August 07, 2017

    I grabbed red bell peppers on sale at one of our local stores. Dehydrated them and now I can use them later when the price goes up. I also grabbed summer squash and zucchini. I had summer squash for dinner one day and zucchini the next. I had intended each of those to be a 2-day affair but they tasted so good, I ate each for only 1 dinner and practically licked the skillet clean. I had dehydrated some chopped garlic a while back and had it sitting around in an airtight container. I was low on garlic powder which I use often so I threw that dried chopped garlic in an old coffee grinder and made garlic powder. Now I have a good supply for a few months to come. I bought green seedless grapes on sale. I've frozen them for later use. I'm hoping to find a recipe for jam using them but, if not, they'll be good snacks. I needed a new bra. Turns out the style I chose was about half Target's price on Amazon. Snapped up that bargain right away. I'm continuing with my green smoothies. I bought some dehydrated kale which has no stems, and won't go bad in the fridge before I get to use it. Now that I know how it's done professionally, I'll be doing the same once the price goes down hopefully in the fall. I had cooked garbanzo beans to throw in the green smoothies to add some protein. I wasn't able to use them very fast and I was afraid they'd spoil, so I chopped them up in the blender with some water and made "garbanzo cubes". I can just throw these in the smoothies.........I think that's it.

  • Janet M Horn August 07, 2017


    In order to Mourn the mourning we light candles and say prayers in their names. Anytime they go through a rough patch (especially in the case of the 16 year old) We do it again.

  • http://Erika @ The Make Do Homemaker August 07, 2017

    It's 9:30 am here and I am now starving for cake! Lol!

    This was a week of blessings around here. I really felt God's love this week through others and even just finding money in the budget I hadn't planned on!

    My list for the week can be found here...


  • Teresa August 07, 2017

    This time around there was very little frugality. My mother passed suddenly so there were a lot of expenses associated with travelling to our home town, meals, hotels, and everything else that comes with arranging a funeral. Because some of my immediate family couldn't afford rooms, travel, etc. we did what we could to make sure everyone could be there for the funeral.

    We rented several rooms so we were able to get a discount that saved us about $25 a room a night. I was able to cancel one room reservation for 2 nights. We paid the room expense for us, my brother, my son, my step-father, my daughter.

    My step-father's family came in and I was able to use this discount for them (they paid for their room). We were also able to use this discount for my husband's mom and dad who drove down from Ohio, they paid for their room as well.

    My husband works at an airlines, so we were able to use his passes to fly one brother and his wife into town (no expense as it was for bereavement). They rented a car so that saved me having to figure time and who to pick them up, taking them to funeral home, church, family home, etc. We were also able to use his pass to send another brother back home to Kansas, but he had to wait a few hours before he could be picked up. Still cheaper than getting him on a bus.

    We provided a family dinner for about 50 people (forgot the exact number) at a local restaurant. This was not frugal at all but was necessary for my grieving process and I felt it was important for the family. Excellent company, excellent meal and service.

    We bought food, toilet paper, snacks, etc. for 2 niece's families that would be staying at another brother's house. He's been out of work so in exchange for helping with a place to stay for the 2 families, I provided this for them. I tried to be as frugal as I could in what I bought. Lots of sandwich meat, bread, PB&J.

    My son bought BBQ fixin's one night for a backyard meal for the family.

    The funeral had a package deal that was very nice and seemed to be in line with what I had heard a funeral would cost. It included the service, casket, casket flower spray, the cards, book, and they helped coordinate a lot of things I had no clue about, including getting mom from Fort Worth to our home town. Mom had a very nice casket and the flowers were very lovely and I think matched her personality. Having everything done through the funeral home package helped ME a lot.

    The church coordinated a lunch after the service and they had a donation jar that was quite full by the time everyone left. The donations are then used to provide a lunch for the next funeral.

    Most of the leftover food we bought for the house was sent home with my nieces and their families. What we had in the hotel room was sent home with my daughter. We all had left over BBQ for breakfast the next morning so there was very little waste. Molly (the dog) got the bones.

  • J August 07, 2017

    My condolences to you, Teresa.

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