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Frugal Accomplishments for the Third Week of January

January Garden Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

I cut and dried oregano from the garden. I also harvested beets and lemons.

I dug and planted more tiny bushes started by tip layering in new spots in the garden.

January Iceberg Roses in Entry The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden before pruning the rose bushes.

I juiced lemons from the garden and made a double batch of lemonade.

We enjoyed lots of produce from our own garden, including butternut squash that I grew and harvested last year (I love that it keeps for several months), peaches that I froze from our trees, tomatoes that we picked in December that have been ripening, and herbs that I dried.

January is our coldest month and I usually have the highest natural gas bill in January. It's been so warm that I haven't had to run the heater almost all month, so even though our natural gas rates are higher in the winter, I will have a very low bill.  We even opened the windows for a few hours each day to let in some fresh air. (December's bill was akin to a bill I pay in summer!) Friday was the nicest day at 69ºF/21ºC. A storm blew by over the weekend, bringing cold air and lots of wind, but it was still plenty warm in the house.

I collected shower warm up water in a bucket all week and used it to water potted plants on my patio.

I downloaded and read an e-book from the library.

We cut my husband's hair and all three sons' hair.

My husband used two very used 2 by 4s that we've had for years and nailed them to the walls in the shed using nails that someone gave us some time ago. He used more of the same nails to make places for me to hang our garden tools. This is a project that I've been wanting for years; it took 20 minutes to complete and cost us nothing out of pocket.  Last fall my eldest son rearranged the shelf units in the shed (his way made more sense that what we had before) and now the shed feels much more spacious and it is much easier to access everything. Every time I opened the shed door this week (which was often, as I worked outside almost every day) I was delighted!

We removed two dying trees from the garden ourselves.

I mended two holes in my drip irrigation using supplies I had on hand.

My husband's work insurance was up for renewal. He shopped around and found another company that has a deductible that is half what our old coverage was, and the insurance itself is $1000 less than what we paid last year! 

My second son made phone calls to have materials donated for his upcoming Eagle Scout project. He had all the steel donated that he needed for his project.

Two of my children downloaded 6 songs each from the library through Freegal.

My two eldest went to a free swing dance. They've been getting together with other teens every week for a few months to learn new swing dance steps and dance. My eldest provided the swing music, which included the songs she downloaded from the library (she's been adding new ones for months, so with that and the ones I already had, she has quite a collection of swing dance music).

Iceberg Roses in Entry The Prudent Homemaker

What did you to save money this past week?


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  • Luba @ Healthy with Luba January 20, 2018

    Congratulations on the warm temperatures, Brandy. It was freezing in the Midwest and warmed up to the 30's today.

    I cut my husband's hair at home as well. It's a skill I have been learning with an increasing better attitude.

    We have been eating a turkey I baked a week or two ago.

    One of my friends was selling her dad's grass-fed beef, and we were excited to be able to buy it for half off.

    Oranges and spinach were on sale, and we are gladly eating more of those this week.

    My husband avoided a pizza outing that would have cost extra money and came home sooner after an outing with friends.

  • Holly January 20, 2018

    We have been eating out of the pantry except for one splurge when I thought I was going down with a cold, pizza delivery.
    I tried making yogurt from diluted evaporated milk, a bit of leftover yogurt, and acidophilus supplements. The heating pad would not get the milk warm enough. But my big mistake was to stir the thin "yogurt" at the wrong time in an attempt to distribute the cultures. This batch is going to be used for cosmetic purposes only. I tried warming it for two days but it never got thick enough-and after more than 20 hours out of the fridge, I am afraid to try eating it.
    I divided a cake mix in half and made both a small cake and two trays of cookies from it. A large sheet cake gets really boring before it is finished by two people. This way, we have enjoyed two different desserts. Just one piece of cake and a few cookies are left for us to finish off tomorrow.
    We had to rechedule a doctor's appointment because ice made it impossible for me to open either front door of the car. It has thawed so we will take advantage of the break in the weather to restock the refrigerator. I think I am going to tape painter's tape over the gap between the car door and the frame so we aren't kept out of the car after our next freezing rain event.
    I am glad you have been enjoying both the lower gas bills and your garden's harvest, Brandy.

  • Rhonda A. January 21, 2018

    Holly, it might be more advantageous to put a tarp over the car windshield and up over the front doors. You can weight the tarp down on the top of the car with "sandbags" of some sort, use the wipers to hold it in place on the windshield and perhaps tuck the corners of the tarp into car door to hold it in place there. The tarp is reusable, and will make ice removal on windshield much easier as well as protect the doors from freezing closed. I've never tried this, but they do sell tarps to put across windshields to protect against freezing rain here in Canada. I think would be an easier solution than taping all the cracks of the doors closed.

  • Holly January 21, 2018

    I have until Tuesday very early evening to figure things out--tarp and/or taping one seam. Ice on the windshield doesn't worry me except that I need to remember to lift the wipers.

  • Rhonda A. January 21, 2018

    They are predicting freezing rain for the next 2 days here. I feel your pain.

  • mable January 21, 2018

    Spray your door frame with a Pam type cooking spray and it won't freeze shut. Works for me at 40 below zero in Alaska.

  • Penny S. January 21, 2018

    Spraying the door frame with WD40 also works. Penny S.

  • Holly January 22, 2018

    WD40 and a silicon spray we have. I will spray one of them on the doorframes, keeping the spray away from the aging gaskets. The storm is forecast to weaken now, as it heads east. So we might see little ice. I might try out the tarp idea too, on the driver's door.

  • Libby January 21, 2018

    I've used vaseline on the rubber gasket that runs around the door frame. It also prevents ice from freezing the door shut. Same on the gasket that runs around the trunk enclosure.

  • Laure January 21, 2018

    Auto stores sell silicone spray for this too — don’t know if Pam might be cheaper. Open each door and spray all around the edge of the doorframe (both on car and door) and really get a lot of spray into the hinge and the part of the mechanism that connects to the door. Plan to use at least half the can. Works for us in Chicago!

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 20, 2018

    Your photography is stunning, as always, Brandy! I love this week's photos especially much.

    I can't garden at this time of year, although I was talking with my sister today about all the different things I want to grow on my balcony. Big dreams, but little steps! And speaking of little steps, here are my frugal accomplishments for the week:
    -cUsing the packages of skittles that I received in a trade last week, I made Tutti-Frutti Popcorn! (http://approachingfood.com/skittles-tutti-frutti-popcorn/) I managed to use only pantry ingredients (plus butter), and it turned out GREAT, plus it’s so pretty! I also ate it all, so I need continue to do yoga via youtube to work it off.
    - I made some cherry jam using cherries from my freezer, to stir in to my (homemade) morning yoghurt.
    - I made a cellulite-fighting body scrub using coffee grounds from a hotel stay months ago, a very little bit of honey (bought in bulk), and a dash of vanilla extract (to make it smell good in the shower). Very effective way to get rid of dry winter skin, especially when followed up with a moisturizer (I often use pure coconut oil – bought at a local bulk store, and using a coupon - as a moisturizer, especially for my hands and nails). While I used fresh coffee grounds (I rarely drink coffee), you could use used coffee grounds to make it even more frugal.
    - I got another free month of Amazon Prime. I’ve written the date to cancel in my agenda, and also signed up for a reminder email.
    - I made Brandy’s Tomato Basil soup, but made it vegan by using vegetarian stock and leaving out the milk; made mesquite sweet potato mash (essentially just sweet potato mashed with a mesquite spice mix); and some of my vegan spice cake (http://approachingfood.com/vegan-spice-cake/), in muffin form. I packed up several servings of each, and gave it to a (vegan) friend who had a loss in the family. Another friend kindly delivered it for me.
    - I redeemed points from Pinecone Research for $5 to my Paypal account.
    - I baked basic muffins and added in a jar of caramel apple jam given to me (not very tasty by itself, but perfect to add to baking). I glazed the tops of the muffins with homemade apple jelly, and brought them in to work as a treat. I had enough batter to make one in cake form too, which I stuck in the freezer for future snacks/breakfast.
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 giftcard to Starbucks, twice. (There was a sale on $5 cards, but not on the $10 card.)
    - I made pineapple and Canadian bacon pizza, using my homemade dough recipe, homemade sauce (previously made and frozen), and cheese (bought on sale, grated, and frozen). The Canadian bacon had been traded for last week. My husband LOVED the pizza! I also enjoyed it, albeit sans the meat. I packed leftovers for lunch the next day.
    - I tried out a new cookie recipe, and added some chopped chocolate bars that had been given to me, and used fewer chocolate chips. I sent them into work with my husband, after sampling them (*cough*inhaling a few*cough) myself.
    - I used a coupon when buying myself lunch, and got a full meal for the price of a (the cheapest) sandwich. I also caught an error when the cashier cashed me out, saving me $1.50.
    - Using my local trading app, I traded some cupcakes for a 1kg jar of unpasteurized local honey (I use this medicinally), traded some tea that was gifted to me (which I packaged in a recycled glass jar) for a box of graham crumbs and a bottle of mint extract, and traded two banana loaves for two organic, grass-fed etc. pea-meal bacon roasts (which I will use sparingly, and mostly to flavour things with). The cupcakes (some chocolate, some spice cake) were ones that I set aside when baking at various times in the past two weeks, and frozen. I just pulled them out, iced them, and packaged them up in take-out containers previously traded for. I had run out of eggs to bake the banana loaves with, but googled replacements and used some agar-agar from my pantry and some boiling water. I still prefer to bake with eggs (unless it’s an eggless cake) but this was useful in a pinch.
    - I bought oranges at 67 cent/lb, along with bananas at 59 cents/lb, and popcorn kernels.
    - I had my sister over to dinner and served Tomato Basil soup along with my pesto focaccia made with homemade pesto from my freezer. We played card games, drank flavoured teas gifted to me, and laughed a lot. Frugal fun!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  • Rhonda A. January 21, 2018

    Your skittles popcorn caught my eye, Margaret. My MIL just told me at Christmas that her favourite candy is skittles. This popcorn sounds like a lot of work, but might be perfect for a gift! Thanks for sharing, I pinned it on my pinterest board.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 21, 2018

    Thanks, Rhonda! I'm actually eating some as I'm typing this. Soooo yummy! And definitely more frugal than buying it from a store, especially since it makes about 10 c. worth! The good thing about this recipe is that I've developed it to last a while. Some homemade caramel corn becomes stale or soggy after a while, but this should stay crisp as long as it is kept in an air-tight container.

  • Athanasia January 22, 2018

    Margaret, what is pea-meal bacon roast?

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 22, 2018

    Pea meal bacon is also known as Canadian bacon. It's pork (back bacon) rolled in ground cornmeal (historically, it was rolled in ground peas, hence the pea-meal name). If you've ever had eggs benny in a restaurant, they probably used pea meal bacon. Hope that helps!

  • Athanasia January 30, 2018

    Thank you for the answer, Margaret.

  • Mari at the Jersey Shore January 20, 2018

    What a lovely combination of herbs, veggie & fruit with vibrant colors in your basket. A feast for the eyes and taste buds. I also grow oregano & love its scent. I love all that you harvest & accomplish in your garden each week Brandy.

    I price comparison shopped in several grocery stores, including a super Walmart that's a 45 min drive (in each direction) from me and at my local grocery, Shop Rite, and it was quite a revelation. Super Walmart had somewhat lower prices on frozen foods & bottled/canned juices & packaged breads, but not low enough to make the trip cost effective since I rarely buy bottled /canned juices; buy only some frozen veggies. Fresh produce was slightly less expensive, less of a variety & the quality not as good. Lesson learned: to stock up during the twice yearly can-can/packaged goods mega sales that Shop Rite has for items we will need in the next 6 months as those seem to be the best prices for this area.

    Purchased Friskies cat food, large can at .41 a can when you buy 24 cans for my local Animal Rescue. This was the lowest price I found (at shop rite) during my tour of grocery stores! The kitties will be happy.

    I wish you all a fun & frugal week.

  • Lorna January 21, 2018

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) .

    How wonderful to enjoy your own produce and have had your shed better organised using what you had on hand without spending anything.

    In the gardens -
    - Harvested 2.2kg of Australian white garlic, 250g of brown onions and 1.9kg of cherry tomatoes from the gardens saving $70.82 over purchasing the equivalent amount.
    - Made our own white oil from a recipe we found on the internet to spray our fruit trees saving $4.43 over purchasing it.
    - Picked French lavender from the gardens and hung them upside down in bunches to dry as I am starting a new product line and income stream by selling this on the internet.

    Earnings -
    - DH made $50 from a impromptu gardening job of mowing and trimming the neighbour's lawns. The neighbour insisted on paying him as he usually hires a gardener to do it so we banked this into our house deposit account.

    Purchases -
    - Bought 2 x new pairs of dressy decent length shorts on special saving over 60% off usual prices saving $99.90.
    - Purchased 10 more solar lanterns on special on eBay saving $24 on usual prices.

    Grocery savings -
    - Purchased gift cards online for our groceries from our roadside assist club saving 5% off face value which saved us $10 off groceries.
    - DH noticed thickened cream close to it's use by date for half price so we purchased 3 and froze 2 for later use and we also found vegemite on sale and purchased 2 saving in total $5.87 on usual prices.

    In the kitchen -
    - Made a 3kg batch of chocolate pudding and 620g of chocolate fudge syrup from food storage saving $19 over purchasing.
    - Processed half of the Australian white garlic previously grown in the gardens in the food processor with olive oil for the freezer making a years worth of minced garlic for the two of us and saved the other half of the garlic bulbs for replanting in our gardens.

    eBay listing savings -
    - By taking up a free listing promotion I saved $16.50 in listing fees for listing 10 handmade items.

    Electricity savings -
    - Saved $7.50 by using solar lanterns to light our home at night and only turning on our hot water system once this week.

    Have a fantastically frugal week ahead everyone :) .

  • Jody S. January 21, 2018

    Doesn't it feel wonderful when our children "take over" to help (like your son did with the shed)? My big frugal accomplishment this week was to replace the bake element in our stove myself. And by "myself," I mean my eldest son (13) took over and replaced it all by himself! I was very proud.

  • Margie from Toronto January 21, 2018

    Not as frugal a week as I would have wished - but better than anticipated. Didn't go to one outing (just too cold to gather the energy to go out late at night) so saved two transit fares - and then a friend cancelled a coffee date as she wasn't feeling well (and it was my turn to treat). We will reschedule for this week though. An unexpected get together was pricy but worth every penny for seeing friends. We went to tea at the Art Gallery yesterday and since we were a party of 6 they put us into the library at The Grange. The Grange is the original historical home on this site and has been preserved as the members lounge & restaurant. The library is usually only available to be view through glass doors but we got to eat in there and it was wonderful.
    I also overspent a bit on groceries - buying pork chops & dessert for a luncheon today. However, it's still cheaper than eating out plus there will be enough left over for a lunch with another friend on Tuesday. It's her birthday so I will do lunch and then treat her to a movie and popcorn - we all try to do "experience" gifts now rather than "stuff" and she wants to see the latest Star Wars film. We are going to a Tuesday afternoon showing so it will be a wee bit cheaper than usual. So a bit of an up and down week.

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