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Frugal Accomplishments for the Second Week in December

Christmas Urn in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I used free tree trimmings and free pinecones to decorate my garden urns for the winter.

Christmas Urn on Entry Table The Prudent Homemaker

I cut Thai basil. dusty miller, and roses from the garden for my entry table. I used free tree trimmings in this arrangement too.

I made mini pavlovas for dessert one night with pomegranate arils and berries I pulled from the freezer.

I picked basil and cut chives from the garden.

I mended a broken drip line in the garden.

We attended a free play of "The Christmas Carol" in which two of my children had roles. You can see a few seconds from the play on my Instagram.

We attended a church Christmas dinner.

We enjoyed watching several Christmas videos on YouTube.

I accepted some hand-me-down clothes for a child, and I was able to give the giver some sweaters that are too large for me (I donated most of my sweaters earlier this year, but had kept a few just in case I didn't find any used sweaters in my new size.)

Two of my daughters had requested charm bracelets for Christmas. I thought I had two charm bracelets in with some of my childhood jewelry (most of which is broken odds and ends). There were two bracelets there, so I wrapped those for my daughters.

I wasn't planning another trip to Target this month, but it became very apparent that my fourth daughter was in need of new socks, having worn all of hers completely through (I'm thrilled they lasted through so many girls!) I went to Target, as it was close (I went in the morning to avoid long lines). I took back the unopened dish soaps I had previously bought and returned them (everyone disliked the fragrance; we'll use the opened soap until it is gone). I noticed that the winter hats were 50% off this week, and when I was there the week before, I had bought myself a hat (not on sale) that was just what I have been looking for for years. When I got up to the register to pay for the socks, I asked if they would give me the sales price on the hat that I had purchased the week before. I had my receipt, since I was returning the soap. They agreed and had me "return" the hat (which I was wearing), and repurchase it at half off. I was able to use the money saved on my hat towards the purchase of the socks.


What did you do to save money last week?


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  • Ellie's friend from Canada December 17, 2017

    How lovely to have mini pavlovas. Your dry climate surely helps in making the meringues.That was great for Target to give you the 50% off the hat. I'm happy because I found my favourite hat. I also found a stash of fine Italian scarves with labels still on them that I had bought on sale some time ago. I lacked a gift for my nephew's wife so put a scarf in with their presents for her. I may send another one to my sister in law. A friend's sister is driving to the same city as my nephew's family so will take all of their gifts from me to them. My friend had the gift certificate that I won and was using for groceries so she offered to buy my groceries with the card. She delivered them to me this afternoon. That meant that I didn't have to brave the crowds. She helped me move the patio table around to the back yard. I have to say that my friends have rallied to help me, beyond my wildest imagination! When one asks for help, it is amazing to see the response. I am so thankful. I gave my friend a beautiful bluebird photo I had taken. (It is one of my finest bird photos to date). She wrote back by email that she will treasure it forever.
    That means the world to me. Late yesterday afternoon, I went outside to take bird photos. When I came in, I left it out of its camera bag so it could warm up. I fell asleep and didn't go get the camera and put it in its camera bag. Today I had forgotten about the camera. As I was carrying out the doll's cradle and other gifts, rather awkward to carry, I accidentally nudged the camera and it fell and hit the floor tiles hard. It had the telephoto lens on it. The lens no longer works, the inbuilt flash doesn't work. What happens when a telephoto lens is knocked when it's on the camera body is that it torques and wrecks the metal ring on the camera body. That is a very expensive repair. i will have to get an estimate and see if it can even be repaired. So disaster struck. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it is a small disaster but still...sigh! Ann

  • Holly December 18, 2017

    So sorry about the camera. Are you the one who just bought the lens?

  • Ellie's friend from Canada December 18, 2017

    Hi Holly:

    Thanks for your comment about the camera. Yes, I just bought A new lens but it is not the same kind as the one that was just damaged. In fact, I haven't yet picked up the new lens (which only cost $50 and is nowhere as expensive as the lens that was just wrecked). It was my well-loved telephoto lens that was wrecked. Ann

  • Heidi Louise December 18, 2017

    How frustrating! if you bought the lens recently and on a credit card, check and see if you have any warranty protection from that. (Guessing Canadian credit cards might have the same perks as in the U.S.).

  • Ellie's friend from Canada December 18, 2017

    Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, the lens that was broken is not the same as the lens I just recently bought. I'm not sure a credit card warranty would cover damage from dropping. I do have insurance but how it all sorts out reamins to be seen.

  • Holly December 19, 2017

    Pawn shops sometimes have cameras for sale.

  • virginia December 17, 2017

    Your garden is beautiful, and I'm sure your daughters will love the charm bracelets.

  • Becky December 17, 2017

    I really love the arrangements you have made. I always do, but forget to tell you sometimes.

    We were pretty busy last week, finishing up school before the holiday, both for the homeschoolers and the public schoolers, including my husband, who works there. I also had gifts to put together and wrap. I was able to use gift bags recycled from other years, and wrapping paper purchased cheaply 3 years ago. I used some of the fig jam I made during the fall from our figs in some of the gifts. I was able to sew a couple of stockings I needed out of fabric I had on hand.

    I finally found a few patterns that I wanted on sale at the 2nd JoAnn's store I went to. They were all out of the sale ones at the first store, so when I was going right by another one for another purpose, I stopped in on the 20+ minutes I had to spare, and they were there. There is only one JoAnn's in the entire city of Salem, and once I had time to go there at 8pm Thursday night, all the ones I wanted were gone. Parts of the store looked like a hurricane hit it. I overheard the clerks talking about now they were slammed with customers and had never seen it looking like that! Wow! They had a big job to do before they could go home:)

    I cooked plenty of food to have on hand. I made lasagna, roast beef, and roast pork. We celebrated Christmas with our oldest daughter on Saturday, and she made us a nice ham dinner. She sent me home with the leftover baked potatoes, and I made some hash with the leftover roast and the potatoes. What's left of the pork will go into some enchiladas or tacos. However, my usual plan of cooking lots of food and just warming it up is not working very well this week, as my microwave broke and we still haven't replaced it. I need to do some shopping and comparing, and have not had time to do that yet. So for now...I'm frying things in pans and putting other things in the oven to warm them up

    More than any of that, though, I've taken some time to really reflect on all the blessings I have received this past week. I'm loving the small tree my friend gave me--it fits perfectly in the living room--no more tree in the garage! I just have to say, it didn't work for me last year at all. This is so much better. I've had some time with friends the last couple of weeks--those times are rare and I appreciate them. I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends...I have more blessings than I can count right now.

    We took our little friend to the library for craft and story time. She had a blast. I am noticing that our library near me has a bunch of special events during the holiday break. I will have to see if I can take my nephew to any of those.

    That's pretty much how the week went--it was a good one, filled with Christmas cheer and ordinary, everyday activities that make up so much of life.

    Pictures are on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/weekly-update-and-saving-money-december-17-2017/

  • Athanasia December 18, 2017

    Becky, you can reheat in a double boiler too.

  • Becky December 18, 2017

    That's a good idea, too! Thanks:). I think most of the issue is that it's a habit--so I'm needing to just get my mind wrapped around the fact that the microwave isn't there right now.....I hadn't processed how much we use it on a daily basis until now.

  • sue December 18, 2017

    Becky do you have a microwave in your camper?
    We are all creatures of habit aren't we? I remember years ago worrying about how I was going to heat up baby food & bottles at the cabin without a microwave!

  • Becky December 20, 2017

    There is one built-in out there, so I could technically run out there with food....it had crossed my mind, and I may need to resort to that. So far, I've been able to thaw hamburger by putting it in a pan in the oven that has been used for another purpose so is turned off, but is still warm. I've also melted butter in a frying pan on the stove, warmed things up in the oven and in pans on the stove, fried things in a pan to warm them, and even tried putting a little bit of butter in a glass dish on top of the popping popcorn maker to see if it would melt(didn't work). Someone mentioned using the instant pot, so I may try that. I agree, I'm a creature of habit. I seriously didn't realize how much I used it until it was gone! I was thinking, our family got our first one when I was in junior high school, so I've always used one:). We are making out--it's just a thinking exercise sometimes!

  • Erika @ The Make Do Homemaker December 17, 2017

    The arrangements are beautiful! Great "frugal radar" on the hat sale and being able to save some money that way :).

    This weekend I attempted (with help from the kids, of course) to make my first gingerbread house completely from scratch (before I always bought kits, but that was still years ago) and I have to say I am proud of how it turned out (a picture is at the link provided here). The rest of my list for the week can be found here...


  • Sarah December 17, 2017

    Hi Brandy! We've had good luck with Target too, when I go I frequently have lots of coupons and cartwheels and they've always been great if anything doesn't ring up as expected and have given me the benefit of the doubt. As usual, your house is beautiful! Joining in here: https://frugalfive.com/2017/12/18/frugal-five-12-15-17/

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood December 17, 2017

    I always love your arrangements, and you manage to do it all in such a frugal way, too! And it sounds like you're having a lovely Christmas season with your family.

    I had a pretty productive week, which I was very happy about.
    - I made candy-cane bark using candy canes leftover from last Christmas, as well as some white chocolate wafers bought on sale and some coloured candy wafers leftover from the previous year. (http://approachingfood.com/candy-confections-white-chocolate-candy-cane-bark/)
    - I love giving gifts from my kitchen! (http://approachingfood.com/5-last-minute-holiday-gifts-you-can-make-in-your-microwave/) I made caramel corn from pantry ingredients, as well as spritz cookies. I packaged them up in cellophane bags from the local bulk store. I used my calligraphy set to write ‘Merry Christmas’ on some rustic-ish tags (the calligraphy ink had dried out, but I added some water and it made a good enough ink to write with), and tied the tags on to the bags. Then I put the bags of sweets (candy cane bark, caramel corn, and spritz cookies) into the Christmas-themed cloth baskets that I had sewn over the past couple of weeks. They turned out really, really nicely, and the only OOP cost (aside from my pantry ingredients) was the cellophane bags (less than $2). I made four baskets, two large and two small, and gave them to my bosses and colleagues. You can see a photo of the baskets on my blog!
    - I also made up some Bailey’s Chocolate Fudge, and wrapped those up for the rest of my colleagues. I used chocolate chips bought in bulk, a can of condensed milk purchased on sale, some (leftover from another recipe) Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur that I had traded for a few months ago, and the wrapping was the last of some self-sealing cellophane bags that I had bought online using money from doing online surveys. A nice little gift for very little OOP, and my colleagues appreciated it.
    - I wrote Christmas cards using up the cards from my stash. Not my favourite cards (leftovers from several years), but it’s the sentiment that counts. Now I need to restock in the January sales!
    - I bought some items on sale: all-purpose flour since I accidentally bought bread flour last time. It was even cheaper than the advertised brand for sale, so yay! I found a bottle of on-sale detergent that was apparently sold out, on top of the shelves, in the restocking top area. It was hidden behind several containers of a non-sale detergent, so I was pretty pleased that I found it. Clementines were on sale for $1/lb, so I bought some, as well as 10 lbs of potatoes for $2, and a bunch of other sale items. Aside from milk, I think we’re stocked until January. My mom and sister and I all car-pooled together and my mom then stayed to dinner.
    Using my local trading app, I traded a soap that I didn’t want, for several stamps to the U.S., which I used to mail cards to friends and relatives there. I also traded a heating pad that had been gifted to me, for a stack of take-out boxes. I’ll use them to put some treats in when I have friends over for my annual holiday get-together of my non-profit sector friends. I’ll give them a box and tell them to pack up whatever they want from the goodies table before they leave. A nice bonbonniere type gift for them, and since that’s the last holiday get-together I’ll host, it’ll get all of my holiday baking out the door instead of on my hips. Everybody’s happy! They’ll go home with cookies, fudge, rice krispie squares, banana bread, candy cane bark, and meringues, all homemade, and all done frugally.
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gift card to Starbucks, and bought items using it, to maximize a promotion they had. Then I redeemed the Starbucks points I had earned spending that $5, for a free vegan lunch bowl worth $10. Free makes healthy taste even better!
    - I made enchiladas from scratch, including the tortillas and the enchilada sauce. I made refried beans from black beans, some leftover taco-flavoured rice from my freezer, some taco spice, and some tomato bouillon, and used that in the enchiladas. A very frugal meal, especially if you use cheese sparingly (I just used whatever grated cheese I had in the freezer and stretched it out as part of the filling in the enchiladas). It was a completely pantry meal, and I used things like my homemade tomato sauce, peppers that I had bought on sale and frozen, and organic celery that I had traded for, chopped, and frozen.
    - I gave a colleague a meal from my freezer that I didn’t want (faro with roasted tomatoes). I got to clear out some freezer space, and she got a dinner she didn’t have to cook. Then she gave me a container of tomatoes that she thought she wouldn’t get to eat before they went bad. That became my dinner!
    - I made some buttermilk biscuits using homemade yoghurt instead of buttermilk, and brought them to work, where they were appreciatively received.
    - I made nearly 8 cups of breadcrumbs from bread crusts in my freezer (my mother gave them to me at Thanksgiving). I froze half and made a tomato dish with the other half. I packed it away for lunches for several days, and gave a container to a colleague as well.
    - I added water to an empty bottle of detergent to make sure I got the last dregs out.
    - I took home several gift bags from my workplace, to reuse, as well as a brand-new cardboard box, which I used to package some clothing in, instead of buying a shirt box from the dollar store. I used the bags and box to package up gifts in, wrapped them in paper given to me by my mom years ago when she was minimizing, and used labels I got free in the mail. The presents look great, and it didn’t cost me a thing!
    - A colleague was having a rough day, so I bought her her favourite warm chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks, using my gift certificate from Swagbucks. She was so touched, and there was no OOP cost for me.
    -I redeemed Pinecone points for $5 to my paypal account
    - I made spinach lasagna, salad, rosemary focaccia, limoncello, and tiramisu for a dinner party that I hosted. I packed up the leftovers for work lunches for the week. The spinach, lettuce, and lemons were on sale, and the rosemary I had grown myself. I used some leftover coffee that I had frozen over a month ago in the tiramisu. I turned the eggs whites leftover from the tiramisu into several platters of meringues for the second and last holiday get-together I’m hosting. My dinner guests also gave me a container of homemade cookies, and I put those out for the holiday get-together too. One less thing for me to make!

    So a busy week, but a productive week! Can't wait to read about everyone else's week and learn from you all!

  • Lorna December 17, 2017

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) .

    How wonderful Brandy they let you have your hat for 1/2 price even though you purchased it the week before and glad you were able to purchase some additional socks, it is truly something I would not have thought to ask. As my depression era grandmother who brought me up said "if you ask there is only two answers they can give you yes or no" and another "if you don't ask you have no possibility of getting" . Your garden urns and entry floral and trimmings arrangements look beautiful, you are so talented with doing arrangements :) .

    Here is our frugal accomplishments for the week -

    Service -
    - Was able to donate a huge amount of Canna Lilies from our gardens to add to our garden makeover at the chapel. DH & I also put in 3 hours with a few other member who donated some plants to clear old plants and add garden and potting soil to garden pots and 2 gardens and plant lovely new plants. It looks really lovely now.

    Blessings -
    - Was offered a loaf of bread and half a packet of bacon leftover from our church gardening breakfast to take home which we gladly said "yes" to. After packing the bacon it gave us two meals for the two of us for the freezer and the bread we used over a 2 day period as well.

    Groceries -
    - Purchased 2 boneless pork shoulder roasts weighing 3.42kg on special for $5.99 kg saving $6.87 on usual prices.
    - Bought a small 1.8kg boneless leg ham on special saving $3.38 on usual prices. This we sliced up ourselves and made around 20 meals for the freezer.
    - Purchased 6 months worth of toilet paper in a small independent supermarket on special saving $4.76 over usual prices we pay in Aldi.
    - Purchased 10 x 10lt food grade storage buckets with lids on eBay saving $27.45 over purchasing them locally here.
    - Purchased some much needed filters on eBay on special saving $56.04 over purchasing locally.

    In the kitchen -
    - Made all meals and bread from scratch.
    - Made 1kg of pasta salad from pasta in our storage, capsicum from the gardens and tinned corn saving $6.56 over purchasing it.
    - Made a double layered chocolate mud like cake for DH's birthday with a homemade filling and topping of chocolate buttercream icing saving $6.72 over purchasing.

    In the garden -
    - Raked up dried leaves from beside the garage and used grass clippings run through the ride on lawnmower to mulch a number of garden beds saving $60 over purchasing hay locally.
    - Purchased 10 large strawberry plants from the local garden centre saving $3.50 over buying elsewhere.
    - From two different plant nurseries we bought 8 x strawberry plants, a dwarf Imperial mandarin and Lisbon lemon tree saving $41.25 over purchasing them at the local garden centre.
    - Bought ourselves a special early joint Christmas present being a 3mt cantilever umbrella on special saving another $21 over prices elsewhere.

    Have a fantastic week ahead everyone :) .

  • Jen G December 18, 2017

    Love the photo, as always. Christmas greenery is one of my favorite parts of the season. You were so smart to ask for the sale price! I tried to do that with a gift on Amazon I bought last week that is on sale this week, with no luck. At least I tried!

    Some frugal accomplishments from urban Seattle:

    - I resisted the urge to buy any more gifts at the store. I always have this panic-y feeling right before Christmas that I didn't gift generously enough, especially for my kids. Instead, I made them a couple of gifts with materials I had at home, including bow ties to wear to church from dress shirts made from holiday fabric that they had outgrown.

    - I also made Christmas cards from blank cards and leftover scrapbooking paper from an earlier scrapbooking phase and free paint chips from Home Depot. I got the idea off of Pinterest, and although they didn't turn out quite as good as the Pinterest examples, I still think they looked really nice. I mailed the out-of-town cards and will hand deliver the rest.

    - I tried to strategize my holiday baking using recipes of ingredients I mostly already had at home.

    - Free holiday activities: a Hanukkah party with my husband, walking around our neighborhood looking at light displays and then home for hot chocolate.

    - I took my sons swimming at our community center pool on the night that is free for them when they show their student ids.

    - Since we are visiting family for Christmas, I meal planned for the rest of the week to use up food on hand and had a very minimal grocery bill this week.

  • Mable December 18, 2017

    I loved your idea of using old card supplies and paint chips to make cards---we recently repainted several rooms and I have a lot of those chip cards that I could not stand to just throw away. I tried looking it up on Pinterest but cannot seem to locate it---can you give me a name or some other way to look it up? Thank you for any help.

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks December 19, 2017

    Hi Mabel. I googled "diy cards with paint chips" and it took me right to Pinterest and many creative ideas for making cards with chips. Try that and see if you find it. Good luck.

  • What a smart idea to ask about your hat Brandy. It never hurts to ask and it sounds like it helped out with the price of the socks.
    We have been busy cleaning up the snow we received the last couple of days. Instead of what was on the menu we just had soup and sandwiches instead of thinking of eating out. You can read the rest of my frugal accomplishments here:

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