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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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  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 07, 2017

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Teresa.

  • Mary August 07, 2017

    I am sorry to hear of your mother's passing.

  • Holley August 07, 2017

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. It sounds like you handled everything with such grace. I'm sure your whole family appreciates what you did for them. Don't forget to take some time for yourself. Hugs!

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

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is so hard.

  • Mari in Maryland August 07, 2017

    My sympathies, Teresa.

  • Athanasia August 07, 2017

    Teresa, I am sorry for your loss. It was fortuitous you were able to step in and fill so many shoes and keep things organized.

  • Marybeth August 08, 2017

    I'm sorry for your loss.

  • Cindy in the South August 09, 2017

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a mother is especially hard.

  • Laurie in AZ August 07, 2017

    I love your outdoor table setting! Beautiful!

    My frugal accomplishments this week:

    * Brandy, because of your heads up last week re: pasta sales, I kept my eyes open for them. Our local grocer had American Beauty on sale for 88c each. I printed 2 coupons from Coupons.com and had 1 already had one, each for $1 off 2. Also the grocer was having a sale, buy 5 and get 1 free, so I got 7 packages for 34c each. Cheapest I had gotten in a while. And I was able to get penne and rotini styles on this. Pretty happy about this one!
    * I watch my grandson 2 days a week and my daughter packs his breakfast and lunch for him. He had a couple of days where he didn't finish his banana, applesauce and milk, so I put them in my smoothies the next day.
    * Listened to Amazon music for free (well, as part of our Amazon Prime membership.)
    * Turned off all unnecessary lights whenever possible, including not turning on the bathroom light when I shower.
    * Kept AC at highest temps I could stand and still be comfortable.
    * Did water aerobics for exercise. Also danced with my grandson. He is 20 months old and loves to dance, so I dance with him and copy all of his moves. Pretty fun!
    * Returned an item I had ordered through Amazon that didn't fit. Made sure I did it in time that I get the refund.
    * Used free hotel toiletries.
    * Drank free coffee and tea I got from work.
    * Ate free oatmeal I got from work.
    * There is a pink grapefruit tree in the house we are living in and in January I had juiced 5 gallons worth and froze in gallon ziplocs. I gave my daughter 2 of the bags, but the other 3 have been just sitting in my freezer. I don't care for grapefruit juice and my husband can't drink it due to a med he is on. So I defrosted 1 of the gallons and refroze in ice cube trays. Now I can use them in my daily smoothie. When mixed with other ingredients, I don't really taste it. Also, I had gotten a bunch of single serve jellies from work, so I have been using one of those in each of my smoothies. It adds just the right amount of sweetness and a tiny bit of fruit too.
    * Got blueberries on sale for 88c a pint. Bought 3 and froze.
    * Got strawberries on sale for 98c a lb. Bought 3 and froze. Was happy to see an article this year about the strawberry leaves being a good thing, so now I just rinse and freeze then use the whole strawberry, leaves and all in my smoothie.
    * Got bananas for 39c a lb. Cheapest I have seen them.
    * Referred 3 people to Ibotta and they signed up. Love that app!
    * Reused ziplocs and saved an English muffin bag and the bag inside a box of cereal.
    * Got 3 shirts on clearance at the local Kroger marketplace store. They were reduced in price, then 60% off, then 15% off of that.
    * Hubby's birthday was Friday. Instead of going out and paying also for daughter and her husband, he requested homemade carnitas tacos, beans, chips with salsa and guacamole - a Mexican Happy Hour. I had to pay full price for the pork butt, but it was only $13 anyway. I pressure cooked it and got a ton of meat. Enough for at least 2 more dinners and a few lunches. Hubby liked it so much he had me pack his lunch this morning with it. This is unusual, as Mondays are the days he doesn't like to take his lunch due to meetings, etc. Since we are all trying to watch our weight, he just requested a twinkie instead of a cake, so I obliged. I used birthday candles that were already used once.
    * Hubby mentioned that he wanted a couple more plants for indoors. I asked him if we could do cuttings from the philodendron? Save money? He said he would buy with some money that is "his." A while back I told him that he gets $10 for lunch every day. If he brings his lunch or spends less, he could keep it to get extras that he wants for fun (DVD's, etc.) So he was going to use that. While at the store on his birthday, there was a plant on clearance for $3.99. I got it for him for his birthday so he doesn't have to spend "his" money. (He had already received the big gift he wanted - a heavy duty cooler that he can take with him hunting.)
    * Drank koolaid I had gotten for 10c and sweetened with sugar free sweetener I had gotten free from work. One tip, if you are going to drink a beverage over ice, keep the beverage in the refrigerator and you will use less ice.
    * Ate leftovers for lunch.
    * Put some leftover spaghetti sauce and a few leftover green beans in my soup container in the freezer.
    * Ran only full loads of laundry and hung all but one load on the clothesline.
    * While out shopping, I forgot my water bottle. Got pretty thirsty, but instead of ordering a fountain drink, I just took a drink out of the drinking fountain.
    * Was tempted this week to eat lunch out, but I didn't and ate at home instead. Except for Sunday, when we went to Buffalo Wild Wings so Hubby could use his free birthday wings coupon. We go to BWW to play trivia and is an activity we both enjoy a lot. We have been trying to keep it to once a month now.
    * Cut up a shirt that had holes in the front to make disposable rags for the kitchen.
    * Got a can of chili on clearance. Forgot to check my receipt and once at home, found they had charged me full price. Lesson: Always check your receipts before you drive home! I went back and made sure I got the clearance price. This was 90c back in my pocket. Combined the trip with our drive to BWW so I didn't waste any gas to do it.
    * Made sure I returned my library books on time so that I wasn't charged a late fee. Am reading the 4th book in my quest to read all of Agatha Christie's books in chronological order. The library didn't have the 5th book and it will cost $6 to get it through Interlibrary Loan. They do have a digital copy though. Hubby will help me figure out how to get it onto my Ipad so I don't have to buy it.
    * Let my hair air dry instead of blow drying.

    Have a blessed and frugal week, everyone!

  • Juls Owings August 07, 2017

    Thanks for the reminder of printer paper... we are almost out and it's not on the list. I checked ink at the same time.

    Brandy your cake looked really good. I have done cakes professionally and have used cheap sandwich bags as my frosting bag. My tips are put in the bag first then a screw ring on the outside. I have used a bit of tape if I cut the hole for the tip too big to take the bag to the tip before putting on the screw ring. I use fondant during warm months but it I am using buttercream I add cornstarch or meringue powder to it along with butter Crisco. I also freeze the cakes to crumb it before the thin layer of frosting to seal the cake THEN frost the cake. I store it in a cool place or frig until serving. Craftsy has some decent priced online classes. I bartered time with a self employes wedding cake baker and she taught me in exchanged of me helping bake the cakes.

    Frugal activities today does NOT include me using the clothesline even though it is beautiful out I just can not get the arm that high since surgery. Hubby has been running the kitchen and I've done my best to keep my mouth shut about a couple things even after polite reminders of needing to prep fruit for meals and he decided to do it this morning..lost about half. He realizes you can't wait until you want with fresh fruit...lesson learned and he acknowledged I had politely reminded him it needed done.He will be replacing it out of his spending money and not be going to the local restaurant with some retired coworkers for breakfast this weekend.It's something they do once a month to stay connected. We have been eating from the pantry and he has gotten good at remembering to prep whatever I need that day for food...except for the melons and pineapple...:p

    We (as in Hubby picked while I kept my slinged arm out of the gardens and just stood to carry the harvest baskets to the pull wagon) harvested storage onions, scallions, bell peppers , the last of the cucumbers (got squash worm in cucumbers and summer squash) cherry tomatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. I am thinking of a tomato pie if I can talk Hubby into doing a pie crust for me.

    I did a count of what I need to finish Christmas so I can work up a routine to work on it when I can use both hands. One present I am making is more expensive that I do normally and I am guessing that it will take a good 4 hrs a day to just do one. I need 12 . I been shopping for the items and waiting for sales and got the best of what I could fine today.So that's ordered. By time it comes in I should have full use of my right arm. And except for the gift cards/cash we give finishes most of the buying for Christmas presents. I have most of the ingredients I need for the Christmas candy and cookies...might need peanut butter for the buckeyes.
    Hubby's health ins through his employer is changing...He had put off retiring until this coming Jan thinking we would be covered better with the ins...several of the doctors and hospitals in this area is no longer going to be in network due to refusal to compromise on pricing. The battle has been going on for over a year between the medical people and several insurance companies. Figures all my specialists are part of that group.I see both sides but really figure if you can accept 1/2 of the price you charged for a service when you run it through ins...then you shouldn't be charging that price to begin with when you are making people that pay cash pay the full price. So I will be changing doctors if I can find ones to work with my issues that are under the new ins let alone within an hour's drive.

    I have started taking some of the older home canned tomato juice and cooking it down for pasta sauce to be recanned.Then I can make tomato juice out of the fresh tomatoes coming in.

    It's been wonderful reading your posts and those that comment also. I learn or get reminded of a frugal things each time.
    It's a blessing

  • The woman who showed me does wedding cakes. She freezes them the night before and then puts them in the fridge for every layer. Her house was real cold when I went over; I didn't think much of it (I just figured she liked her a/c lower) until she told me that another baker she knows turns her a/c down to 50ºF to keep her icing from melting, and just wears sweaters while she decorates! I don't know how that woman transports her cakes in our climate!

    I was using a ziploc heavy-duty freezer bag and it wasn't working. I have heard they would work with tips just like you said and EVERY time the icing would never come out the bottom. No one could help me figure it out; they always exploded out the middle on me. But we have solved my icing difficulties and I will be using a piping bag from now on. She had a nice trick with the icing rolled up inside plastic wrap inside the piping bag, which saves a ton of time, soap, and hot water with washing--plus you can change colors without having to have a new bag for every color!

    We have 5 to 6 months above 90º here and 100 days over 100º, so it's all warm months! (One of my cakes fell apart this year in January! And I keep my house at 65º!) So all shortening or half-shortening will be my go to from now on. It's too bad; I like the taste of the meringue frostings but they just wouldn't cooperate. Now I'm excited to make some cakes for my children! (Reading that sentence makes me laugh; I've never really liked cake much but now I'm enjoying it!)

  • Rhonda A. August 07, 2017

    So glad you were able to participate in the cake decorating with your daughter! It's always such a pleasure to learn a skill for free, especially when you've been wanting to learn this skill for a long time.

    We've also been experiencing a cool front in our area. In fact, one day it felt like fall temperatures! We are enjoying the relief from the heat and humidity of summer. Anyways, our frugal accomplishments this week included:
    *Meals made at home included homemade chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce, flavoured rice and broccoli, make-your-own pizzas, chicken low mein stir fry with spring rolls, cheese tortellini pasta with choice of sauce, chicken fingers with mashed potatoes and green beans, roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob and caramel brownies for dessert (box mix from pantry).
    *I was getting kind of tired of eggs for breakfast and needed a change. So I pulled a package of chicken bacon from the freezer to cook in the microwave each morning. We've had it for a while, so it should be used up anyways. Love my freezer stash of meat!
    *Did my bi-weekly grocery shopping this week. We needed potatoes, but the big bags were not on sale. Found a small bag of clearance potatoes (had "flaws" but otherwise fine) at Walmart for $1 that will work perfectly until the next sale. Other deals this week included celery for $1 (it's been $1.50 or more per bunch!), 4 bunches of brocoli for $1/bunch (I will try to get some of it blanced and frozen for winter use), 4 jars of roasted peanuts for $3/700g (the cheap bags were $3.50/500g), 12 tubs of DD's favourite margarine for $1/tub (just recently bought 2 not on sale for $1.50/tub because we were out), and 4 packages of breakfast sausages for $2/pack.
    *Hubby was kind enough to go to the farmers market on Saturday and pick up 2 dozen cobs of fresh corn, since I had to work. The last batch was so good, I want to put lots more in the freezer, plus enjoy it while it's fresh!
    *On my way out from work on Sunday, there was a huge basin filled with fresh dug, new potatoes on the table with a note saying "Please take some potatoes" (they had been dug up from the gardens). I helped myself to some of the free produce and now have a bread basket filled with fresh potaotes to feed my family! Also grabbed an almost ripe tomato from the garden for my mom.
    *Managed to fall down and scrape my knee at work one day. The wound was big enough that typical bandaides wouldn't work. I searched through my massive supply of bandage material that I bought for only $1 at an auction and found adhesive telfa pads that worked perfect! So glad I bought those medical supplies. They really come in handy!
    *Not frugal, but had a date night with hubby. We went out for dinner, just the two of us, then saw the movie "Dunkirk". Wow, was that ever an intense movie! Really well done, too. Highly recommended if you like history, but be prepared as it is a very emotional war movie, based on true events. My husband, who loves to learn about WWII, said the Germans could have won the war at Dunkirk, had they continued to advance their tanks. Really scary to think about what our world would have been like had this happened.

    I'm looking forward to reading everyone's comments. They really make my week complete! Have a wonderful week everyone.

  • Margie From Toronto August 07, 2017

    Rhonda, if you bought the broccoli at "No Frills" then I would recommend processing it quickly. I bought some on Saturday and started using it today - it wasn't quite as "fresh" as I would have liked - but I roasted it right away and it's fine.

  • Rhonda A. August 08, 2017

    It was from No Frills. I just bought more yesterday (Monday) and processed almost all of it the same day (saved 2 bunches for fresh use). We had three bunches from the week before, which we processed for the freezer as well. They were starting to go, but will be fine in the freezer mixed in with the rest.

  • Mary August 07, 2017

    Hi all! Great photos, Brandy! I am terrible with frosting-my husband is good with that.
    We finally received furniture, dishes, etc. there were some nice surprises. So now our new home is looking better. We do not have blinds or curtains, so are working on that soon.
    How we saved last week -
    - Cooking the majority of our meals at home
    - Using up food before spoilage
    - Combining errands
    - Donated items that replaced with items movers brought
    - Paid two bills by phone, so saved stamps and envelopes
    - ishopped alone most of the week
    - I was asked what I wanted for a housewarming gift from my sister. I told she did not have to - her response "if you do not tell me, then expect a surprise!" So, since we are in a new house - there is a lot to do. So I told her a Lowes card for cabinet handles. - she sent a $100 card! I'm blessed since we need a lot and are slowly getting them.
    - My husband and I reviewed bills to be sure we are paying what we should and figure out college tuition

  • Wyoming Gal August 07, 2017

    This week we finished the gravel removal and prep work for our side yard. The landscaping company put in the irrigation system and the sod. It looks great! We are watering away from our water tap (the irrigation is tied into the community system and only waters once a day) for the first couple of weeks. The only frugal part was our work. The landscaping company cost $2000.

    We have been very sick with norovirus. There has been very little eating in our household for about four days and we both lost weight. I would not recommend this as a way to be frugal. I bought 2 paperback books for an upcoming vacation/car trip for $1 from a library sale - but ended up reading them while I was sick. One was a J.A.Jance book, which are always riveting. The other was a Hamish McBeth whodunit (Marion Chesney), which is definitely a "cozy".

  • Athanasia August 07, 2017

    Wyoming, I hope you are all feeling better now. I just read MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz. I am not sure you could find it in a used paperback yet, but I had my name on reserve for it at the library and it finally came in. If you like mysteries it is a take off of the Agatha Christie style murder mystery, very clean also.

  • Margie from Toronto August 07, 2017

    Just read it myself and really quite enjoyed it! Loved the take off on Agatha Christie.

  • TerriC August 07, 2017

    How nice to have cool temperatures so you could eat outdoors. And the cake decorating is lovely...As always you inspire me to put more lovely into my life!
    Here's what I did to save last week: https://bluehousejournal.blogspot.com/2017/08/living-frugally-and-well.html

  • Marivene August 07, 2017

    It has been insanely busy here the last couple of weeks. I brought back bottled blueberries & blackberries from our middle daughter to our oldest daughter when I drove back from "girls weekend" that my 3 daughters held at our middle daughter's house in WA. Although I do not usually go for girls weekend, this year I went to help with Little Atuff. Her mother had to work the day they planned to go to the zoo, & did not think Little Stuff would go with the aunts if Grandma was not there, so I went, too. I picked blueberries from her patch & bottled a bunch for her & for her sisters. I also picked some early blackberries & bottled those, too. Our middle daughter is expecting & is not supposed to lift, so canning is out of the question for her (but not for me). I brought back a long set of mini-blinds the middle daughter sent for the oldest. I picked peaches the evening I arrived home, since the birds were already starting to peck on them, & let the peaches finish ripening in two half bushel boxes on the floor of the dining room, well out of the reach of the birds.

    One of my young teen granddaughters came to visit this past week, & while she was here, we bottled a canner load of sliced Red Haven peaches from those that were ripe enough, made two batches of blackberry/ gooseberry jam, & dehydrated elderberries. When I took her home, she took the peaches she had done, dehydrated elderberries, & most of the blackberry/ gooseberry jam back to her family at my suggestion. I kept back a few jars of the jam for ourselves, & our other daughters.

    I have continued to dehydrate elderberries, blueberries & gooseberries. I have been picking & stemming enough elderberries to fill the dehydrator every day this week. There are more gooseberries than I can use right now, so I am dehydrating those, too, but they take longer to dry, being larger berries, so I freeze them first to rupture all the cells, so they will dry faster.

    Harvested yellow pear & early girl tomatoes. Removed 2 more western yellow jacket nests from the gooseberry patch & continue to pick gooseberries. The western yellow jackets have been really bad this year. I suspect that there are more than a few nests in the hollow trunk of the elm tree in the pasture behind us, but the owners are not inclined to remove it.

    I have bottled two more canner loads of the Red Haven peaches as they have ripened, & probably have about 7-10 quarts more to put up, in a day or two, when they are completely ripe.

    Pruned the larger peach tree that will ripen in Sept, since there is far more fruit on it than it can ripen, & my choice was to remove some of the upper branches, or let them break. I had previously thinned what I could reach, & when the upper limbs bent down far enough for me to reach them, then I could remove them.

    One of the limbs on the larger of the two young Red Haven trees had started to break, but since I picked all the fruit, it did not completely break. Some of the peaches were the size of softballs. I do not intend to prune that tree until fall, to let the leaves continue to add strength to the tree before I remove that limb.

    Pruned the spent canes in the blackberry bed, & topped the new canes at my height, to force the laterals on which the fruit will be borne next year.

    Cut a 2 foot section from an 8"x8" post we had, to stabilize the base of the grape arbor. One side is completely stabilized now, & I am working on cutting another section to,do the other side. I use hand tools for this, so it takes a while to cut thru the post.

    Picked up grounds at Starbucks to fertilize the grapevines, tomatoes, pole beans & corn plants.

    Pulled at least 2 tree tubs full of weeds every day except Sunday.

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