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Frugal Accomplishments for the Third Week in July

I spent many, many hours up late each night this week canning. I am grateful to my mother-in-law for teaching me the basics of canning. I had a newborn at the time (my second baby) and she came to my house and taught me to can peaches. 

With lots going on during the day (and another newborn!), I always find it easiest to can at night, when no meals are being prepared in the kitchen and no one needs anything from me.

Using cucumbers picked from my friend's garden, I canned a batch of sweet pickle relish, a batch of bread and butter pickles, and a batch of giardiniera.

Concord Grapes The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut concords and another seeded grape from my garden and canned several quarts of grape juice. I also canned the grape pulp; instructions in the canning book say to strain and discard the solids so that you have clear juice. I don't mind having unfiltered juice with a little pulp. Some of my jars were just juice, some were pulp and juice, and some were more just the thick pulp (like blended grapes) which are perfect to use in smoothies and in popsicles.

Green and Red Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested figs, seedless grapes, green onions, Swiss chard, miniature bell peppers, a couple of peaches from the white garden, and red noodle beans. 

We collected eggs from my friend's hens and picked tomatoes and green beans from her garden.

I used YouTube to show the children about many things mentioned in their schoolbooks. We saw videos about giant grouper, Niagara Falls, and Amsterdam.

My husband cleaned the dryer vent lines and removed the front lower panel of our front-loading washing machine and cleaned out the drain. These two things will help our clothes to dry in a timely manner. I had noticed them coming out of the washer wetter than normal and also taking longer to dry even after I did an extra spin cycle, so they will now be able to dry in one cycle, rather than taking twice as long as they had started to do.

I collected water from the air conditioner drip all week long and used it to water potted plants. I also used shower warm-up water to water potted plants.


What did you do to save money this past week?


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  • Elizabeth M. July 26, 2018

    What a good idea for saving on gas prices.

  • Kitty B (Calgary) July 22, 2018

    Hello all, Always enjoy reading everyone's comments.

    Opened doors to let in cool air in the mornings
    Worked one day at my occasional office job
    Made a combined total of $357.75 selling on local facebook groups. We have been successful at selling and are accepting some commission for selling friends and neighbors items also.
    Redeemed $40 in points towards groceries
    Redeemed $50 Amazon giftcard from Swagbucks
    Made swag goals 5x
    Made a birthday card from supplies on hand
    Used Service shuttle instead of having my husband drive me to dealership
    And all the little "usual" frugal things I do mindlessly.
    Enjoy the week ahead!

  • Jane July 22, 2018

    Hi Brandy, you are an inspiration as usual. Just interested to know if you have solar panels on your roof to help pay for your electricity? I hope you have a more restful week.

  • We do not. The solar company offered incentives here for people renting them--but then took them back. Also, unknown to most people, the electric company technically has the right to charge you for anything you put back ON the grid!!!:o!!! Our friend who is off-grid completely (the one who has the swamp-cooled greenhouse) knows all the rules and after learning about it a couple of years back when we were seriously considering it, the only thing that makes sense is to be completely off-grid concerning electricity. That's a huge chunk of money to come up with (like $60,000) so no, we don't have solar panels.

  • jestjack July 23, 2018

    I couldn't agree more about "going solar". I studied this long and hard as well. It seems that our utility "buys" the power produced at "wholesale" but sells us power at "retail" when it comes to solar. And as you point out....can do what they want...when they want. I could never get the "numbers" for solar to work for me...

  • Kara July 22, 2018

    I made Gluten-free fig bars today. It used 2# of figs that really needed using. We pick some every day. Also picking tomatoes from our garden, and Armenian cucumbers.
    Making fabric gift bags, burp cloths and pajama pants all from fabric scraps I had.
    I’ve been cutting 3” squares to make a quilt. All of these squares are from scraps. I have a net hamper that I put all my scraps in. When this got too full (after about 12years) I sorted all of the bits that were big enough to cut a square from. Eventually I’ll make a queen size spring/fall weight quilt entirely from scraps.
    Mending some clothes. My daughter has been inspired to mend/alter some of her clothes.
    I had one cutting of a houseplant (golden pothos) that I’d successfully rooted. I’m giving it to a friend for her birthday today. I have started 5 more cuttings from the same plant, since it worked so well.
    Keeping up with food leftovers. Since I have a long list of allergies, many of the items in the fridge I can’t eat. Other members of the family are not good at seeing what’s leftover, and eating it up. But they are very willing to eat it if I tell them what needs used.

  • Becky July 22, 2018

    I have spent SO much time canning at night, or early (like really early) in the morning over the years. Even though it's hard, there is such a peace about having the calm kitchen to yourself. I used to worry that kids would get burned if they were underfoot, not to mention being asked for something every few minutes. I agree it's tiring, but worth it. I hope once this batch of items are canned, you can rest up a bit for the next batch of produce that comes along. In the meanwhile, bask in the beauty of those full jars and the popping lids as you finish each batch! It's one of my favorite sounds in the world.

    I've been getting small batches of a few things preserved--zucchini dill chips, 2 jars beet pickles (wish it was more there, but that's what there was), several batches of various jams, and frozen berries. Our family is smaller now, and I'm getting older and so my energy is less than it was, so it's all working out. We still use many, many more jars in a year of home-canned produce than many people do nowadays, so my idea of less is relative. I plan to get some New Haven peaches tomorrow from my sister when I go up there to help her can green beans. I hope to make jam and freeze a bunch. Later, I will get Elbertas from her to can.

    This week, I pulled some very old turkey drumsticks and pork chops out of the depths of the freezers and made them into good dinners. I'm glad they were still usable. We've been doing all of our cooking and eating at home, except for one meal at our oldest daughter's house yesterday(she wouldn't let me bring anything--what a day off), and family Sunday dinner at my sister's today (all food pre-cooked and taken there). I've been spending hours cooking from scratch to best use our garden produce and other food items. I brought our grocery budget down a little this past month (mine goes from mid-month to mid-month) and would like to bring it down more this month. We've had lettuce, snow peas, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and a few potatoes so far. Other things are coming along nicely.

    My husband has been hitting yard sales. He bought a few items and has listed and re-sold them, making a little money. We both are working with our niece and nephew.

    He found a couple of clothing items for our daughter at yard sales. He got about 20 jam/jelly jars for free. I plan to give jam as Christmas gifts, as usual, so I'm super happy about that, as giving away my jars depletes my supply in a hurry.

    I've been doing a little extra cleaning around here, which brings me peace. It saves me money as well vs. paying someone to do it. Truthfully, I would not pay anyone to go though my things at this point, but still....

    We've been utilizing the library, both for children's programs and for books and movies.

    I, also, have been looking things up on the internet when a child asks a question--to show them a picture of the answer to their inquiry.

    I continue to water, water, water with the water from the well in our back yard. If it wasn't there, I would let the lawn go brown, but would still have to water the garden. We are having another bout of temperatures in the 90's after a few days in the 80's. For us, that's really hot. (Don't laugh too loud). I did put some weeds in the weed bin on the cooler days and we got the lawn mowed and some weeds in the garden pulled. I'd love to fill it each week, as they haul it away each week, included in our garbage service. It's just been a little too hot for me....

    My car is still broken and in the shop. I am still driving my nephew's old Mazda stick shift, with no air conditioning, and lots of quirks, and am very thankful I have something to get around in. Still, it's condition discourages me a bit, so I stay home more. There are times, though, when my work requires me to go somewhere with those kids or I have doctor's appointments or therapy for mine.....it's saving us gas when I drive it or stay home, but the van is costing us more since we are using it more....needless to say, I'll be glad to get my car back.

  • Becky July 22, 2018

    I forgot. The post on the zucchini dill chips is here: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/zucchini-dill-chips/

    They came out really good and I will make more as the zucchini keeps producing. I hope to get enough to add to Christmas baskets. I like to make them for certain relatives when I want to give a little bit of love to someone so they know I remember them without spending a fortune. I also put in jam, sometimes embroidered dish towels, etc.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada July 22, 2018

    Brandy, I used to can late at night, too. I admire your efforts and you must surely be pleased with your results. It is so satisfying.

    It is too bad to throw away the pulp from the grapes, especially seedless grapes. I wonder if you could make jam with them by mixing them in with something like apples?

    A friend picked up groceries for me. I got a good deal on mini cucumbers, tomatoes, and ground beef.
    We picked up bottled water for $1.99 for 24 bottles. It is for our Historic Calgary Week talk.

    We have had forest fire smoke from B.C. but this afternoon it cleared for awhile. I enjoyed a quiet, peaceful sit outside. I changed the hummingbird feeder but none showed up today. It will (hard to believe) all too soon be time for them to migrate southward.

  • I didn't throw away the pulp--I canned it. I don't make juice from seedless grapes; we just eat them.

  • ellie's friend July 24, 2018

    Hi Brandy,
    Sorry, I misread your post and realized it later. Sounds good! Ann

  • Tammy July 22, 2018

    Concord grapes are my favorite! Yours look wonderful!

    We continue to try and save money. Hubby helps cook. Use computer. Library movies and books. Entertaining ourselves on the farm. Watching chickens, Sunrises and sunsets. Enjoying seeing deer in the evenings. Gardening. Need to pickle peppers and some gifted cucumbers.

  • ellie's friend July 24, 2018

    So nice to hear that things are going well for you.

    I find there is so much for entertainment online.

    We had a terrific rainstorm last night so I won't have to water things for quite awhile. Alas, I have to hire my window washer
    to clear out the gutters/eavestroughs. Alas!

    best wishes, Ann

  • Jlg July 22, 2018

    Living in a small tourist country town I don’t have a lot of shopping choices. The nearest city is an hours drive. I do have a Rite Aid 14 miles away and I get all my prescriptions filled there. That really adds up and I have what they call gold member status which means I receive 20% off all purchases that are not on sale. Some things can be a real deal, most not, you just have to do the math.

    This is a hot, dry climate and most homes have evaporative coolers. I have lived in the same house for 21 years and my cooler has always been sufficient to keep me nice and cool even in 100 degree plus weather. About 10 days ago it started getting up to 80 and 81 inside which it has never done before. I’ve had two of my children plus a maintenance service come inspect it and they say everything is working correctly. New pads were installed, the water lines checked and bearings greased. The maintenance guys told me this is normal for our heat (and it has been 100+ every day). Does anyone else with this kind of cooler have any advice, I accept that it’s working correctly I just can’t understand why the change all of a sudden.

    Other than babysitting some grandkids a couple evenings a week while one daughter plays on a softball league I’ve just been staying home and out of stores and away from temptation to spend. I haven’t done much cooking in this heat, mostly cold meals that require minimal cleanup. I hand wash what few dishes I have including washing and reusing ziploc bags, you can get so many uses out of them if cared for, just like anything.

    Brandy, thank you for this blog. I look forward to reading your weekly report and usually read one page of comments nightly so I can spread it out over the whole week. I love hearing about your family life and of course your photography is gorgeous.

  • Cindi July 23, 2018

    Is it warmer than usual where you live? I know we have been having temperatures 15 to 20 degrees above normal this summer.

  • I know people here who have both swamp coolers and air conditioners. They cannot use the swamp coolers in summer--only in spring and fall. When it's too hot, it just doesn't get cool enough.

  • Rhonda A. July 24, 2018

    Jlg, I do not know anything about these coolers, as I live in Canada. However, just a thought I had...are you experiencing more humid weather than in the past. If the cooler works on the premise of evaporation and the air is more humid, then the cooler won't evaporate as much because the air is already heavily saturated with moisture, thus the cooler will not work as well. I'm guessing that is why we don't have such cooling mechanisms in Canada. Our high heat is always in conjunction with extreme high humidity.

  • http://Melonie K. July 25, 2018

    Jlg - could it be that the insulation of the house is settling? Even if the home was brand new when you moved in, 20 years could do it. Might be worth discussing with a professional. A couple of years back my parents had insulation added to their attic crawl area and it immediately made a difference in how warm and cool the house is.

    Our last home was almost 50 years old and you could tell there was little to no insulation left in the walls. The end of the house where the sun set, the interior walls actually got hot to the touch on long summer days and cold in the winter. I used pillows to create a headboard as we don't have one and our bed was at that wall. It never occurred to me before that house - but now I understand why all those tapestries in castles helped!

  • Gaila in the NW July 22, 2018

    Hi Brandy and all, I too have been canning and freezing sometimes into the night. So far I have 16 pints and 4 half pints of green beans with more picking cone Tues. Grated and froze 4 gallons of zucchini for use in soups, spaghetti sauce etc. Next is plum jam as there is more on the tree I will be doing a lot of plum and plum berry jam for the pantry and for gift giving. My Mom has concord grapes and pears that will be ready in a few weeks so no rest for the canning crowd! I inventoried the pantry and freezer so that I know what I need to put up and or buy to stock up. SCORED a play school play house for the grandkids $20 in great shape ...That was THE BEST buy of the summer as far as they were concerned! We enjoyed a day with family at our family reunion yesterday it was such a great time hearing stories of the old days and sharing pictures of family gatherings and life in the past. Have a wonderful week and thank you for all the inspiration!

  • Ms. Flathat July 22, 2018

    I retired from a career management position 3 months ago. We relocated to a small furnished rental apartment in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley (from the Rocky Mountain area) just for the summer. I am working a full time seasonal job with the National Park Service and my husband is working part time. We rented our house to someone we know for about 2/3 of the time we will be gone.

    I have learned a lot of things from this - such as how much I appreciate our very nice mattress and our kitchen appliances at home. We feel that the best way to make the most of this one time sojourn away from "home" is to travel when we can. Since we have 3 days off every other week, we are using that time to visit family and friends on the East Coast, visit National Parks, beaches and mountains. (We use the days off in alternate weeks to do basic household type tasks - cooking and baking, laundry, etc.) In one sense this is not the least bit frugal, but we are getting to have a lot of experiences while we are close to these things and we have and will stay with family and friends as well as tent camp for some of the travels. We also are using rewards points for some of the times we stay in a motel and taking picnic breakfasts and lunches with us. We are visiting sites/friends/family in MA, NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, OH, NC and SC as well as a number of places in VA. Next summer we will probably try to work a seasonal job again in some new place, but it will probably be in the west or the Midwest.

    I have enjoyed visiting the local frugal possibilities -the different grocery stores, farmers markets, thrift stores and just the regular stores, as well. We have bought very little stuff - just food, rent, gasoline and the costs of travel, so we actually are building up our emergency fund and checking account.

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