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Frugal Accomplishments for the Second Week of January

Roses on Black Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy inside. 

I worked in the garden all week pruning, fertilizing, and planting.

I sowed seeds for poppies, spinach, larkspur, Swiss chard, green onions, nasturtiums, Bells of Ireland, and snow peas in the garden.

I dug several more bushes that I started by tip layering and transplanted them to other places in the garden to form a hedge. I also put two in pots that I already had; I hope to grow these into two ball-shaped plants.

I dug out the two Lady Banks' roses from the white garden in front and transplanted them to my garden in back, where they should be able to grow along the wire trellis there and provide a green backdrop in a place that previously was barren. These vines grow very quickly and were growing onto my roof after just three years of being planted (they only started out about 2 feet tall), so they should cover the trellis within two years (I cut them down to three feet tall a few months back). They only flower once a year and rarely flowered for me in the spot they were in, as they were in constant shade (they require sun to flower). In their new spot, their evergreen leaves will be welcome. They will get direct winter and early spring afternoon sun, so I may also get a spring flowering from them as well, starting next year.

We enjoyed a bit of rain this week (1/4 inch, which is a lot for here!) It helped soften the ground and made it easier for us to work at digging out the roots of our dead peach tree that we needed to pull, as well as a grapevine that we took out. 

I put out buckets to collect rainwater for the garden.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

My husband and I had a date night at home. 

My eldest son was helping a woman clean out her house as part of a service project. The woman was giving away lots of unused things that were cluttering her house to the helpers. My son accepted three boxes of Christmas lights that were brand-new in the box. Our old Christmas lights were having trouble this past year, so this was perfect for us!

My husband was given a box of candy from a work associate. It came in a fancy reusable lidded box. He brought the box home and I added it to my stash of reusable lidded boxes.

I watched a couple of cake decorating videoes on YouTube (this one and this one). I have a child's birthday every month from January through May, and I'd like to try making some fancier cakes.

We enjoyed more tomatoes from the garden as they ripened, as well as frozen fruit from last year's harvest and lemons that I picked last week. I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

My husband used an engine hoist to pull out our dead peach tree, rather than renting a stump remover (which are about $100 a day, and we have two more trees to pull).

I was offered tickets to the Philharmonic at the last minute from someone who could no longer go. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't feeling well enough to go after pulling the tree out. Instead, I took my 12-year old son, and he and I were able to enjoy the concert. I didn't look at the tickets until we arrived; we had the nicest seats (orchestra level, right in the middle).  

French Lace Rose in Blue and White Vase The Prudent Homemaker


What did you do to save money this past week?


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  • Florence January 14, 2018

    Hi Brandy,

    I started some thyme seeds in an indoor planter today and continued watering my chamomile seeds that I planted a little while ago. I'm hoping to plant a few more things and have a nice window garden going to supplement my regular garden patches (one in my yard and one at our local community garden).

    My husband also pulled a dead bush from our front yard and put in both fiberglass and spray foam insulation on a pipe in our laundry room that was not well-insulated. Hopefully this will save us another burst pipe (and the accompanying $400 we had to pay the plumber) in the future.

    Thanks for writing a great blog! My New Year's resolution has been to comment on more of the blogs I follow and be a more active part of those online communities. :-)

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 14, 2018

    Beautiful roses! And AWESOME that you were able to go to the Philharmonic! What a nice treat!

    My week was pretty busy, although no gardening here in sub-zero temp Toronto.
    - I had some leftover pesto from a jar that was given to me, and I have about 50 lbs of flour, so I made Pesto Swirl Bread (http://approachingfood.com/pesto-swirl-bread/)! Perfect with a bowl of soup for cold winter nights.
    - Using my local trading app, I traded a high-end face-cream kit that was given to me and that I can’t use, for a pair of hand-knitted children’s mittens in the shape and colour of reindeer. I’ll set those aside for a gift. I also traded some lightbulbs that my mom gave me that neither she, my sister, nor I could use, for some coloured pencils. I’ll add those to the pencil cases that I made last week. And, I traded some individual sachets of tea (some gifted to me, some collected from hotel stays) for two notebooks that I’ll give along with the pencils. Lastly, I traded some tea gifted to me for a pair of new earrings.
    - I made mesquite BBQ sweet potatoes for dinner one evening. I half-baked the potatoes in the microwave, then sliced them in wedges, sprinkled some mesquite BBQ seasoning that my sister gave me on them, and finished baking them in the oven. I served it with my Carrot Ginger Stew (http://approachingfood.com/carrot-ginger-stew/) with Quinoa (the quinoa provided the protein). Frugal and tasty! I packed leftovers for lunch.
    - I did yoga at home using Youtube videos. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, and can already see a difference in my arm strength (plank position is my nemesis) and overall flexibility. I took ballet lessons for years when I was a child/teen and have always tried to keep up that level of flexibility. Lately, I felt I was losing some of that, and paid yoga classes are a) not convenient and b) not cheap so youtube yoga is my new bestie!
    - I made laundry soap for the first time, using Brandy’s recipe! I’m very pleased about this. I don’t have scent allergies but I am sensitive to laundry detergent (at least when the scent comes out of the washer as it washes, and permeates my condo) so am hoping this will help. I bought the ingredients (all except the bar of soap – I just used one from my supplies) at Costco last week, after pricing them out at other places. I now have enough oxy-clean for several years, I think. Does anyone know if it expires?
    - I boiled up several cups worth of white beans, and froze some. I used the rest to make Brandy’s white bean Alfredo sauce. I’m always in search of ways to add vegetarian protein to my diet, plus the DH liked it, so I plan to use this recipe regularly! I added in a splash of white wine from a bottle I had in the fridge (probably from a family dinner months ago).
    - I made potato cheddar soup to use up the last of some sour cream, packed remainders for several lunches and grated and froze the rest of the cheese while I was at it.
    - I made some blackberry sauce using berries from my freezer, but got distracted by blogging and scorched it. Eh, it adds a ‘caramelized’ note to my morning yoghurt stir-in!
    - I took home a jar of apple caramel jam from my workplace (someone had gifted it to us) and put the paper box aside to use as a cupcake box when gifting a cupcake in the future. I also took home a pack of gum (also gifted) and a nail polish (promo item) to give as gifts.
    - I baked two chocolate chip banana loaves, and traded one for an organic, grass-fed etc. pea-meal bacon roast, which I’m pretty pleased about. I’m vegetarian, but my DH is ecstatic to have some meat in the house. I served some with eggs and the above-mentioned pesto swirl bread which I toasted, and chopped up most of the remainder to put on pizzas in the future. The person who I traded with also included 5 packages of skittles with the trade, just because. V. sweet of her! I’ve added them to my baking supplies.
    - I made homemade pita, rosemary white bean soup (I made it vegetarian, and added a splash of regular balsamic vinegar), and chocolate loaf cake (made with a splash of cherry balsamic vinegar and a pinch of cayenne pepper). Frugal, healthy, warming, and delicious! I shared the pita, soup, and cake (I made sure they were all vegan) with a vegan friend who just lost her father. Another friend kindly delivered it for me.

    And that was my week! Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  • Camille January 16, 2018

    Hello :) I am interested in knowing more about your local trading apps please? I am also close to Toronto and would like to join some groups. Thank you, Camille

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 16, 2018

    Hi Camille! I use an app called Bunz; there's also a facebook version of the same group. I know it's spread to the commuter/bedroom communities outside of Toronto, although the primary use is still in Toronto. But hopefully it's a great resource for you! I think there are also buy/sell/trade fb groups, and probably also similar ones on kijiji. Best of luck!

  • JoannaT January 17, 2018

    Thanks for mentioning Brandy's white bean alfredo sauce. I have been trying to figure out what to do with pasta this week for a dinner, and my daughter loves alfredo sauce. I looked up the recipe and we have all the ingredients on hand.

  • Bobbie January 14, 2018

    This week I sold some old jewelry that has no significance to me in order to purchase concert tickets for my husband's birthday in March. It will be a surprise- we share all finances, so managing to purchase the tickets without him knowing was a bit of effort! He will love it!

    Our family has a Friday night movie and pizza night tradition that has morphed over the years from my husband and I going to the theatre, to now us either watching a Redbox or Amazon prime show with the kids. This Friday, instead of picking up a pizza, we made our own and the kids loved it. We will be doing that from now on- as long as I remember to plan ahead and make the dough before I go to work!

    We kept the heat down to 60 during the nights, which has helped immensely with the power bill.

    Had one brick of cream cheese in the fridge that I didn't know what to do with. I ended upaking a cream cheese applesauce cake, and it was quite good! And nothing was wasted. My son's also helped make homemade bread twice. My eldest is 4 and is really starting to do chores and help out- and it's so great! He feeds the chickens now, as well as helps me fold clothes. It's great to see him become such a good helper! Now if I can get the 2 year old to help we'd be in business!

  • We have a family movie night on Fridays at my house, too. We have tried to do it with homemade pizza each week, but as pizza is a more expensive meal to make, we don't have pizza real often.

    What a great way to surprise your husband!

  • Peggy January 15, 2018

    Whenever I fry a lb. of hamburger I scoop out 1/4c. and put it in a ziploc bag in the freezer,it doesn't matter if it has onions & peppers in it and when it's full I have pre cooked hamburger to sprinkle on pizza ( my husbands favourite)I also add mushrooms or extra onion & pepper or chop up in small pieces ham or pepperoni . Homemade pizza sauce is very easy to make from tomato sauce or paste plus spices or I sometimes use spaghetti sauce that I buy on sale with any kind of cheese.The precooked hamburger meat is also great to use with anything you make with hamburger.

  • Kim January 18, 2018

    Brandy, I don't know if your family would go for it, but because of health/allergy reasons, I cannot have tomatoes or cheese anymore but love pizza. So now, I make sauce out of beans, a sort of hummus. I put beans in the blender with seasoning and a clove of garlic or garlic powder and make it creamy. I spread that on a prebaked crust then top with sliced/chopped veggies and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic powder and bake till hot.

  • Kim, this is more like foccacia. Have you tried it with carmelized onions on top and rosemary in the dough?

    My family likes foccacia, but for pizza, it needs to have tomato sauce and cheese.

  • The cheese for three pizzas (using my pizza recipe) is the most expensive part. With 10 of us, we eat all three pizzas. I make homemade pizza sauce and dough. I grow the oregano, parsley, and basil from my garden for the sauce. I buy a #10 can of tomato sauce for around $3 (which will cover many more pizzas!)

    I can make soup for a tiny fraction of that and have leftovers for another meal. Beans and rice or potatoes and a salad from homegrown lettuce are other meals that cost so much less. Pizza is an expensive meal in comparison.

  • Becky January 19, 2018

    That's why lasagna rarely makes it on our menu plan. We do have it, and pizza as well, but not often. The other thing that makes our lasagna so expensive is that it has to be gluten-free. Gluten-free noodles are at least $3/box. I have used zucchini instead of noodles at times, but people around here don't like it that way as well.

    To bring down the pizza cost a little, I've been buying a 3-pack of gluten-free crusts from Costco, and making one of those up for myself with gluten-free toppings. They are around $5 each plus the cost of the toppings, and it lasts me for several meals. My husband found some of those ready-made crusts at Grocery Outlet for around $1 for a 2-pack, so he used those to make pizzas for the rest of the family. I used to make my own crust for much less, but cannot even have wheat flour in the house, as I get very sick if anyone lets it fly around while cooking and I accidentally ingest any. (After being sick for 3 days the last time a kid cooked a few years ago, I got rid of it all. I will buy wheat bread, etc., but don't bake it here.). I find the toppings are expensive, as well, the way we like it. By the time you add olives, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, or whatever, it can really add up. So, it's a treat around here. I only make pizza once a month or so, sometimes every couple of months. Same for lasagna.

    Another thing I've made at times is macaroni pizza. You just boil some macaroni (gluten-free or regular) and mix in a little Parmesan cheese. Layer it in a pan and put tomato sauce with Italian seasoning mixed in on it, then sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese on top. You don't need much. Add whatever toppings you would put on pizza, such as meat, sausage, hamburger, peppers, olives, whatever. Bake until warm. It can be stretched quite a bit with extra macaroni, a small amount of cheese, and choosing only a couple of toppings instead of all the choices. It still gives the pizza flavor, but because it's basically a casserole, and no one expects it to be as loaded with cheese as a pizza, it seems to go over well.

  • Cindi January 14, 2018

    When I make pizza dough, I make a double batch and freeze half. If you remove the frozen dough from the freezer in the morning and leave it to rise and thaw all day, it should be ready to roll out when you get home. (My house is on the cool side -- if you life where it's really warm, maybe put the pizza dough in the refrigerator the night before.)

    Nachos are also a fun movie-night food. You can make a sheet pan full with chips made from corn tortillas cut into triangles and fried, homemade refried beans, cheese and peppers.

  • Juls Owings January 15, 2018

    We used to and the girls now do make pizza with Tightwad Gazettes pizza dough, homemade sauce (pasta or pizza) and parm cheese out of the bottle sprinkled (not even a solid coating). What ever veggies was available was sometimes added. I have diced up peperoni in very small dices and added that occasionally..about 1/3 of a cup per pizza. We fed up to 10-15.We had salad and fruit...salad was ate first so they would be fuller before eating the pizza.

  • Allyson January 15, 2018

    Thanks for the idea of dicing pepperoni! We have a tradition of Friday night pizza night too, and always do homemade. This is getting more complicated since I have to be grain free for the next month or so, but I am just making a larger salad and adding hardboiled eggs or salmon/tuna to make it a meal for me.

  • Juls Owings January 16, 2018

    Allyson I haven't tried this but several of my diabetic clients says it's good.

  • Cindy in the South January 18, 2018

    I do the Tightwad Gazette pizza dough, and use tomato paste doctored up with spices, and parm cheese out of bottle sprinkled also. I sometimes, if I have it add olives and mushrooms. If not, I sometimes add ham and pineapple for a Hawaiian pizza. I think my pizza comes in at about a dollar for two large pizzas, if I just use the parm cheese and whatever leftovers I can. I know Amy said that hers was a dollar a pizza, but I am sorta very conservative with my cheese use.

  • Rhonda A. January 15, 2018

    You could also make "party foods" like fancy little sandwiches, fruit and veggie platter with dip and/or little appetizers like mini quiches. You don't normally have these foods unless you attend a "party", so they can make the evening a little more special and fun!

  • Laurie in AZ January 16, 2018

    This is a great idea!

  • Nancy January 14, 2018

    Brandy..your posts are like a breath of fresh air!
    I was down for a week with stomach flu. But better now
    A few frugal accomplishments the past few weeks:
    . Able to purchase a dozen eggs .50 each at Meijer picked up 13.
    . Able to purchase 10lb potatoes at grocery .99 each
    Bought 8 bags
    . One grocery in town has word of the day and gives away a free item for each person. Have enjoyed cake mixes..cinnamon bread..frozen items
    . Strawberries were .99lb. Bought 8. Cleaned and froze
    . My husband helped demo a house. They gave away
    Large farmtable in need of tlc.. He is working on this to
    Prepare for our home.
    . He also brought home an antique dresser we turned into a front hall piece to hold winter gloves ..hats
    . Open the windows for fresh air due to one warm
    60 degree day.
    . Able to make winter soups with pantry freezer summer
    Garden and meats.
    . Grandgirls made Valentine's with 1 poster board. 60
    For the front window.
    . Able to paint living room and move it around . Paint had a rebate to save.
    . Moved curtains into a different room for a fresh new look.
    . I mended a few items in my wardrobe.
    . Going to try and make some burp cloths for baby gift
    . My sister gifted me a pretty tea towel I hope to make into a pillow.

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