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Frugal Accomplishments for the Third Week in February

Snow Pea Vines The Prudent HomemakerSnow Peas in Bloom

I picked lemons from the garden.

I cut a few spears of asparagus and a little lettuce from the garden.

I cut Swiss chard from the garden.

Apple Blossoms Buds The Prudent Homemaker

Dorsett Golden Apple Blossoms

We removed ten non-producing apple trees from the garden.  I have one remaining apple tree now (Dorsett Golden, pictured above).

We bought some new dirt in bulk from the nursery to put in the bed. We picked it up ourselves in our trailer (the one my husband made) and lined the trailer with a free tarp my husband had (via Craigslist). Picking it up ourselves saved the delivery fee.

We dug up and moved the previously espaliered Asian pear tree to the bed to grow as a small (but no longer espaliered) pear tree. The pear was being overshadowed by the fig tree and had stopped producing; it should give us some fruit in the new spot next year.

Almond Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

Garden Prince Almond Blossoms

I purchased a self-fertile almond (that only gets to 15 feet) on sale to plant there too. It will take about 3-4 years before I can harvest a good-sized crop from it.

I received two free bags of fertilizer at the nursery using their coupons for free fertilizer with the purchase of vegetables and herbs (I purchased some larger pepper plants and tomato plants this year, with the hope of having more to harvest before the heat comes in and the plants stop flowering).

I purchased a lemon verbena plant for the garden at the nursery. This is a perennial plant and it will grow quite tall, giving me lots to harvest. I picked a few leaves and made herbal tea with it. 

I made some plans for this bed, in order to make it more productive for us.

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day at home. It was one of two dates at home this week. We played a board game one night and a card game another night.

I bought some strawberries on sale for $0.99 a pound.  I also picked up the avocados (6 for $2) for which I had a raincheck.

I went to the library to check out some books with the children. They had a book sale and I was able to pick up a few books for our personal library for $2.25.

I listened to music on Pandora.

I studied French every day using free online sources.

We received some rain. I turned off the drip irrigation and put out buckets to collect water from the roof. I won't need to water the grass next week and I can use the water I collected in buckets to water plants in the garden. 

Two things that brought me joy this week: I saw a violet-crowned hummingbird in the garden while I was working; I also enjoyed watching the baby take his first steps!


What did you do to save money this past week? What joy did you find in the everyday?

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  • Mariana February 20, 2017

    Go, Octavius, go! :) what a joy to watch the baby's first steps. Looking forward to some more children's photos here on your blog.
    We had a very frugal week, this weekend we are loving hearing the birds sing. Spring weather in February in NYC feels great. :)
    My weekly update is up as well

  • Amie February 20, 2017

    I thought Brandy meant she watched a baby hummingbird take it's first

  • K February 20, 2017

    Hi Brandy! Your garden looks so lovely! The weather has been warmer recently (40F) so I was able to open the windows for a few hours this weekend to help air out the house. That certainly brought joy to my weekend! Here are our frugal accomplishments for the week:

    * Had date-night in for Valentine's Day. I made lasagna and garlic bread and we watched a movie. It was nice to just spend some dedicated us-time together.

    * Brought my car in to get looked at and they didn't charge me to fix anything- hopefully the issue I was having doesn't arise again! This was cancelled out by my SO's car having engine troubles, though, which cost $250 to fix.

    * Used a coupon to purchase gas for 10c off per gallon. It's not much, but it helps!

    * Made two different bean dishes for dinner this week- enchilada casserole and a taco skillet. Both were delicious and will be going on the menu again!

    * I purchased some bell peppers for $0.54 for a three pack (after Checkout51 rebate) and some mushrooms for $0.79 per 8oz pack. I'll be freezing the peppers and dehydrating the mushrooms for future dishes.

    * I started doing things on mTurk and mPoints again- they're not great profit generators, but with academic surveys on mTurk, I can usually earn ~$2 for maybe 20 minutes of my time. I also spent some time on Swagbucks and InboxDollars.

    I also looked into hourly rates for tutoring for when I move to my new campus this next year. My stipend is increasing, but so are my costs of living, so I'd like to pull in a few hours of tutoring where I can. As a plus, I should be able to charge at least $20/hour as a person with a Master's degree for the high-demand field I'd be tutoring in. However, I'm not sure how exactly to market myself, so that's something I want to look into.

  • Chris M February 20, 2017

    K -- I would suggest two things to help with tutoring: (1) contact support services for students with disabilities as they'll probably keep a list of possible tutors, and (2) contact the department in your specialty area and leave your contact information. When a professor identifies someone who might need your services, they can at least point them in your direction. Of course, this all depends on the university/college's policy. I would definitely have flyers, which you can probably post (with permission). Good luck on that!

  • Marcia February 20, 2017

    I used to do library research for grad students, and I got most of my business from work of mouth but I also put ads in the school newspaper. My upstairs neighbor was a grad student/research assistant at the time so her friends started me off.

  • Kathy February 20, 2017

    Hi K - I don't know where you are living but $20 an hour is lquite ow for the Akron,OH area.As far as marketing yourself, introduce yourself to (professors? Are you at a college?) as well as any resource center. Tell them your background and provide references - that should do the trick.

  • Athanasia February 20, 2017

    K, all 5 of my children have tutored over the years. Most often the students needing tutoring were brought to the attention of my children by the professor or the adviser and they were asked if they were interested. In our system the students pay a set fee.

  • Lea February 20, 2017

    Something to be careful of - tutoring may effect your stipend and your entire graduate package, depending on your state laws and/or department policies (the university I teach at doesn't allow tutoring on campus because each assistant has to do 2 hours a week of free tutoring in a dedicated room that's available to everyone, tutoring high school students is okay though), so just be careful and look into what you can do before putting your name out there. And I will agree that $20/hr is low, depending on your field. Here the going rate is $20/half-our or $40 for the hour.

    Best wishes,

  • Laurie in central NC February 26, 2017

    I was interested to hear about your mTurk experience. A friend had suggested it to me, but I'd never heard mention of it anywhere else. $2 for 20 minutes is certainly more than I get on Swagbucks, so I may just check it out.

  • Darcy February 20, 2017

    What a blessing to watch a baby take his or her first steps!

    My joy for the week:

    My daughter cut my hair and made dinner for me that I got to eat with her and my two granddaughters. Whenever she cuts my hair I go to her house after work and spend a couple of hours at their house. After my hair is done I play games with my granddaughters.

    Frugal Accomplishments at our house this week:

    I live in Indiana and for the last few days we have had temperature in the 60's with beautiful sunshine. Friday the weatherman said that the last time it was that warm was in the 1880's. To put it mildly, we are enjoying this weather! We are saving money too because the heat has only kicked at night. That should save on our normally higher utility bill.

    I baked bread and ate all breakfasts and dinners at our house.

    I made Greek yogurt.

    We took our lunch to work everyday except one. My company provided pizza and beverages one day for Valentine's Day. Employees brought a dish or dessert to share. I had a cake mix from the dollar store in the pantry that I made. I frosted it and sprinkled little candy hearts that I had over the top.

    Our tree was taken down on Saturday and now I have a nice pile of wood shavings that I can use for mulch. The company that took it down gave us a 300 dollar discount because we paid in cash. This morning I am enjoying the sun streaming through our living room window when just a few days ago there would have shade. I'm looking forward to planting some herbs and other plants right outside my door where I couldn't grow much before.

    I cut my husband's hair.

  • Laurie in central NC February 20, 2017

    Your garden photos look heavenly! We're just getting our first blooms here... snowbells, daffodils, forsythia and anemones. We planted peas 9 days ago, so I'm hoping they'll be poking up in the next day or so. I'll have to look up a violet crowned hummingbird, as I don't know those. Our first hummers usually arrive right around Easter. Lemon verbena smells heavenly. I've managed to keep one alive, though it's not thriving. I think I'll relocate it this year and see how it does. Octavious' first steps brought a big smile to my face. I can imagine the joy it brought you. I'm joining in here:

  • Sarah Robinson February 20, 2017

    I have been wanting to put in espaliered fruit trees as inspired by you, but it now sounds like you are taking yours out? Do you still recommend espaliers in general or would you say it is not worth it?

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 20, 2017

    Sarah, I would consider them if you have self-fertile types, and/or if you live in a colder climate. Mine did not grow as I had hoped. They also grew away from the wall and into the center of the bed. I don't know how to prevent that; I had them growing along and tied to wire mesh and stakes, but they came forward a couple of feet anyway. I have seen beautiful photos of them laden with fruit, but that was never my case with the apples--the Asian pear, which I kept and transplanted, had lots of fruit until it was overshadowed by the much larger fig (its location was just poor planning on my part). It should do well in its new location, but I want more fruit from it than it can give as an espaliered tree, so I will allow it to grow into a new shape in the new location. That won't be too hard, as it lost several branches two years ago, most likely due to my overcrowding from the fig tree.

    The few apples we did get from mine were mealy, and no one wanted to eat them. There are other fruit choices that would be better to espalier in a hot climate than apples.

    The one apple we are keeping is ripe in June, and is a sauce apple. Crisp apples, which we prefer for fresh eating, are not easily grown in our climate. Apples don't even turn red here; cold is what makes apples turn red, and most apples ripen in summer here.

    For the space, I would have gotten more fruit from grapes or blackberries than I did from the apples. We took out the mesh and I now will have other trees there with other food beneath. While the trees are small I can plant even more under them than I can once they are large, but even once they get bigger, I should be able to grow more in the same space, as I won't be having to deal with mire mesh in the middle of the bed (instead of the back where it should have been). I've been planning that bed all weekend and I think I can really maximize the space to add a significant amount of food to our plates.

  • Andrea Q February 20, 2017

    Will you need to plant another apple tree to fertilize the one you're keeping? We have a few feral apples trees around here, and I 'd been on the fence about chancing just one tree. Then my neighbor planted two trees which means I can definitely get by with just one! Indecision is sometimes the frugal choice, LOL. ;)

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 20, 2017


    The apple I am keeping is self-fertile. It is a Dorsett Golden. It ripens here in June and is a good sauce apple, but not so great for fresh eating.

    Apple tree pollination is rather complicated. Some apples are self-fertile, but most are not. An apple cannot be pollinated by its parent tree. Jonagold, for example, is a cross between a Jonathan and a Golden Delicious, and neither of those trees will pollinate it. It cannot pollinate itself, as it is sterile. It can be pollinated by Granny Smith (which is self-fertile) and also by White Winter Pearmain, as well as a few others. You will need to find out which apples your neighbor has to see if they will pollinate the one you want to plant, or else you need to plant a self-fertile apple.

    Not all types flower at the same time, and therefore they cannot always pollinate another tree for that reason, either. I planned my espaliered apples to pollinate one another, but then they did not all flower (lack of chilling hours being one reason) and then of course if the one needed for pollination didn't flower it couldn't pollinate the other, so it just became a big problem with a bunch of trees that couldn't help one another.

  • Andrea Q February 20, 2017

    Because we have so many "wild" apples around, plus pig apples, crab apples and antique apples on old farmsteads in our neighborhood, plus two commercial orchards within a mile of our house, we shouldn't have a problem. I can see how you'd have to be very careful to get compatible trees of self pollinators since apples don't normally grow in your climate.

    Unfortunately, my neighbor lost the tags from his trees. Planting two compatible trees in my yard would probably increase my yields, so there's still that to consider. If we continue to be in drought as we are now, I probably won't plant this year anyway, as outdoor watering is likely to be prohibited. It's still fun to think about though in the dreary cold of winter!

  • Marivene February 22, 2017

    Just an FYI, when you purchase a fruit tree from Stark Bros, they send you a care booklet that includes a pollination chart. Apples produce either A, B, or C pollen. Self fertile apples produce the type of pollen the tree needs, but most trees produce either A and need B, or vice verse. Winesaps produce C, which is basically useless, since it is not self fertile & no other strain utilizes the C pollen. Crabapples are also useful to other apples as a pollinator. I have a Golden Delicious tree, which is self fertile, but when I planted the crabapple, the yield was higher on the Golden Delicious. I also have 2 columnar trees & 2 other dwarf trees, none of which had borne much, until my crabapple began to bloon, then the fruit yield improved dramatically.

    If you make sure you have both an A and a B pollinator within 1/4 mile, your trees should be fine.

  • Jamie @ Medium Sized Family February 20, 2017

    The baby is already taking his first steps! How exciting. :) Our weather was unseasonably warm this week, and once the family finally got healthy I was able to get outside and turn my raised beds a bit. I hope to get back to them soon. I'd like to get an early lettuce crop out.

    Here are the ways we saved last week:

  • Rhonda A. February 20, 2017

    Wow, your snow peas are really coming along nicely! I love the idea of having a nut tree in a garden. In fact, I was looking up what nut trees will grow in our zone (5b) earlier this week. Nuts are so expensive to buy, but are a great protein source. As for your joyful moments this week, both would have made my list too! Thanks for sharing, Brandy.

    This week, our frugal accomplishments included:
    *Baked a dozen double chocolate zucchini muffins using up some frozen shredded zucchini from 2 years ago and a dozen banana blueberry muffins using up some ripe bananas & frozen wild blueberries I bought last summer. One recipe called for buttermilk, so I mixed up some powdered buttermilk I have in my pantry. Both are healthy breakfast, school lunch or snack options for my daughter, and plenty for the rest of the family to enjoy as well.
    *Meals made at home this week included pasta with choice of sauce and leftover sausage optional, chicken fingers with homemade fried rice (using leftover rice from last week) and veggie spring rolls, taco bake, chicken souvlaki with leftover fried rice and salad, breakfast sausages with homemade seasoned potato chunks and corn, hamburger helper with green beans and garlic bread, and roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw and carrots.
    *My daughter took leftover homemade beef barley soup (from last weekend) in her lunch 2 days this week, but there was still a lot left over. I divided the last of the soup into 2 freezer baggies (approx. 2 cup portion size per bag) to avoid waste. This will be especially useful as a hearty lunch option for when I'm working this spring/summer.
    *I bought a huge 5L jug of dish soap on sale for $8.88. We have been buying our dish soap in bulk since last summer and just refill our smaller soap bottles for easier use. The same dish soap in a regular sized bottle (just under 1L size) is usually $1.97 on sale, so this definitely saves us money!
    *Finally bought 2 huge packages of BLSL chicken breasts on sale at Costco ($2.50 off per pack - bought the cheapest packs I could find). Upon bringing them home, I cut up all the breasts into bite sized chunks and had my husband mix the chicken with homemade marinade to make souvlaki. After it marinated for a day, I packaged it up into family sized servings and froze for future meals.
    *I found 175g bags of foil wrapped, milk chocolate hearts marked clearance after Valentines day. Normal price was $3.50/bag and I bought 7 bags for $0.50/bag...a $21 savings! We enjoyed one bag and I tucked the rest into my candy/chocolate stash to use for Easter baskets, another special occasion or a "just because I love you" treat. Chocolate hearts are good for any occasion!
    *Some other amazing grocery deals I picked up this week were 4 dozen eggs on sale for $1.77/dozen (best price normally is $1.97/dozen), 2 Cinnamon Raisin Loaves and a pack of hamburger buns, both on sale for $2 but found some marked as 50% off making them $1 each (short dated so I froze them immediately) and a 1lb bag of Kiwi fruit on sale for $0.50/bag! I don't recall ever seeing kiwi this cheap before, so I've always just bought a few every once in a while. I've started researching kiwi recipes on Pinterest. If I can find some excellent recipes my family will eat, I may buy a more! (note: we're not really huge smoothie fans)
    *I saved the paper that my valentines roses were wrapped in to reuse for a craft, wrapping paper or another need.
    *I got more free exercise chipping away at the thick ice build up on our driveway and pathways this week.
    *My daughter enjoyed a game of lazer tag, free through our Autism Ontario membership. She could have done a second game but opted not to.
    *My mother did some calls this week and significantly reduced the monthly bills for T.V. and phone.

    My joyful & beautiful life moments this week are:
    *My husband bought me a dozen red roses for Valentines day (I think I'm supposed to share them with my daughter and mom, but that's OK). As it so happens, I bought some store bought cookies for a Valentines day treat (a huge treat at our house these days). We don't normally do anything for Valentines...too ironic that we both decided to do something for each other this year!
    *My cat brought me his catnip stuffed heart on Valentines day to let me know he loves me. He actually does this almost every day, but it was still special! He cries as he walks into the room with heart in mouth to get my attention, then drops his heart by my feet to await a cuddle. I tell him I love him too and he's ever so pleased with himself. He's such a love!
    *The temperatures soared to unseasonably high, spring like weather this weekend, which helped melt away some of the large accumulation of ice and snow. Still snow on the ground, but....WhooHooo!!!

    Looking forward to reading my weeks worth of inspiration from everyone! Hope you all have a lovely week!!!:D

  • Athanasia February 20, 2017

    Rhonda, you should be able to grow filberts (hazelnut). We are 4b so you are warmer. Our trees on the property have been going since the late 1880's. They'll produce for about 50 years but they can grow pretty big. A couple of my cousins tend to them and then divide out the harvest between the 5 farms. One year our share of the crop was 44 lbs. They do need another tree to cross pollinate. If there are varieties that don't, I am not aware. Hickory is another nut. They grow all over up here in our woods. That's a good nut for foraging, if there are places you can do that by you.

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