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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Roses in Enamel Buckets The Prudent Homemaker

It's been a very busy week here, and on top of everything we've had our foreign exchange student here. I wasn't sure ahead of time how much English he spoke, and so while we help him to learn new words in English, we've also needed to converse quite a bit in French. I've had a lot of French study this week! I especially used Word Reference to look up words for both of us, and I've pinned a good number of French language pins on my Pinterest board. My French comprehension skills have really increased this week; there were only a couple of times I didn't understand, and that was usually because something was said too fast or too quietly.

I enjoyed a couple of video chats with friends in France. It continues to amaze me every time that video calling exists, and I love that it is free!

I cut peonies and roses from the garden.

I harvested lettuce, spinach, snow peas and Swiss chard from the garden.

Several of my children (and our houseguest) enjoyed climbing and rappeling on my nephew's climbing wall. It's pretty amazing that he has a climbing wall in his backyard, and it was great fun for everyone.

I downloaded a free Photoshop app to my phone to use to edit pictures on my phone.

My husband cut his own hair and a son's hair this week.

I turned a pair of torn jeans into jean shorts by cutting them off and hemming them.

I had a number of teens over for dinner. I made a large pot of minestrone soup and some French bread for a frugal meal.


What did you do to save money last week?


Note: I misplaced my camera battery charger recently, which is why there was no post last week and no additional posts this past week. Now that I can use my camera again and we've worked out a "new normal" with an additional teen in the house, I should (hopefully!) be able to get back to projects and more posting this week! If you want to see more photos, check out my Instagram account, where I have been sharing photos from my phone during the week.



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  • Hilogene in Az April 24, 2017

    Brandy, glad to see you post again! I went over to instagram and looked at the photos, they were great. Is that Octavius? If so, he looks so grown up.

    Frugal activities last week:
    -Baked bread and ate most of our meals home.
    -Made fabulous turkey noodle soup from a turkey carcass I had stored in the freezer...froze two large portions for other meals.
    -Finally bought an immersion stick blender (I had lived years without one using my blender and food processor so I put it on a wish list...and a year later I still wanted it so I got it). Will use it next week!
    -Made a huge batch of meatballs and a large batch of mashed potatoes, divided into meal size portions and froze for future meals.
    -Continued to add to a list I started in January where I note any item which is costing me less this a way to track this year's savings. Latest additions were a monthly reduction is our electricity bill (we pay a level amount each month based on usage, so it meant our usage has dropped over last year) as well as a change in prescription cost for a recurring medicine. It is inspiring to see good news since it is easy only to remember bills and not savings.
    -I'm amazed at how I learn more about frugality. I re-read one of brandy's blogs about learning how to make meals less expensively. The first time I read it I thought it was interesting. This time, the light bulb came on. I have lowered our monthly grocery bills to about $300 a month but seem stuck there! Brandy, thank you, your article was exactly the light I needed. If i want meals to cost less, the nature of our meals needs to change. I haven't thought in terms of cost per meal before, but see that is my next step to identify the big cost items.S

  • Some meals are just more expensive! When I need to cut things, it really helps if I make the less expensive meals more often.

    Yes, that is Octavius. He is almost a year old now!

  • Margaret @approachingfood April 24, 2017

    Hilogene, you will LOVE your immersion stick blender! Makes life sooo much easier!

  • Your flowers are so pretty Brandi. Spring has sprung here as well finally. I have been helping the neighbors trim the grape vines and getting ready for the gardening season.
    Here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments:

  • Marcia April 24, 2017

    I thank you also--I had ordered a new shrub by mail and received 6 free ranunculous along with them. Now I have a better idea of what they look like, although I won't know what colors I have until they bloom, which will be late this summer.

  • Laura April 24, 2017

    May I ask what kind of peonies you are growing? I am in Houston and thought we could never have peonies in the South because it doesn't get cold enough. Is that not true? Do you have a blog post on how you grow peonies? Do you think I could grow them in a pot? Thanks, Brandy! Love your blog.

  • Laura, I am growing Festiva Maxima.

    In a hot climate, you need to choose early blooming peonies. These are not the earliest ones but they are an early one; there are earlier ones and I am interested in getting some that open a bit earlier, when the weather is cooler. The very earliest ones are only single petaled, not the big ruffled petals that are the stuff we all dream of with peonies.

    I have also learned in a hotter climate that they should be planted even shallower--rather than 1-2 inches deep, they can be planted as shallow as 1/2" deep. This will keep them more exposed to cold in the winter. You can also put ice cubes on them in winter to increase your chilling hours. They still need full sun. Our much more mild spring that unsual has made for blooms that opened instead of burning, but one of my buds on another plant in the backyard is burning and not opening at all :(

    What I don't know yet is how to keep them from wilting once cut. I cut some for the table early on Sunday morning, as flowers should be cut. By noon they were completely wilted, before I even had a moment to take pictures. I was very bummed! Roses don't seem to have this problem, so I am glad that I have been adding more roses to the garden the last two years; that should help me to have lots more blooms on my table (once the bushes get bigger and they start flowering!)

  • Athanasia April 24, 2017

    Brandy, I can think of a plus for growing peonies in a desert. It never fails that as soon as our peonies are in bloom we get a huge rainstorm and they get beat down. Growing in cages helps some. Peonies are a wonderful flower. It'll be another 1 1/2 -2 months till ours bloom.

  • Becky @ Becky's Place April 25, 2017

    I use that as my "excuse" for cutting them and having the blooms in the house!:D

  • Holly April 27, 2017

    When I was a kid and the peonies were blooming, a bad storm nearly always occurred to knock down the flowers Ours were usually covered by ants so we never used them as cut flowers. I almost bought some inexpensive ones to plant this year because they'd bloom after some of our flowering shrubs and before the lilies and hybiscus, I believe. I am happy to read the latest blog post this week and how everybody saves money.

  • Athanasia April 28, 2017

    Peonies and ants just go together.

  • cathy April 29, 2017

    I learned through my master gardening program that ants will benefit the peonies when they are opening. It is best to leave them and let nature take it's course:)

  • Traci April 25, 2017

    We have found that cut peonies don't like a warm room. It helps to keep them in the refrigerator at night too. I don't usually have enough room for them in our fridge, so I just enjoy them while I can.

  • Athanasia April 25, 2017

    We don't usually cut peonies to arrange in a vase, we just clip the head off and float in shallow bowls of water.

  • What works best when cutting peonies for arrangements is to cut them when the buds have just opened. They will open beautifully in your vase and you will get a chance to enjoy them a little bit longer. Ones that are already open don't do well in vases. That's been my experience.

  • K April 24, 2017

    Brandy, I have a question for you: Do you make your own hamburger buns? I'd love a recipe if you do! Also, I remember when my German exchange student visited my house- it was so fun to see the cultural differences!

    Our frugal accomplishments for the past 2 weeks:

    * Had two beautiful Easter celebrations (one with each side of the family), which left us with plenty of leftovers. I brought deviled eggs, peanut butter cookies, and mac and cheese, which altogether cost under $10 to make, and were greatly appreciated. Good food doesn't need to be expensive, it just needs to be delicious!

    * I made enchilada pasta, using some leftover cooked pasta and enchilada sauce I had in the fridge, a single chicken breast, and some black beans and onions. I topped the whole thing with a bit of cheese. It was great in lunches, plus it used up leftovers that needed to be used!

    * We purchased a large easter cake for 50% off (only $4.50) to have as a treat. I sliced it into small slices and froze most of it, so we can have it in the future.

    * I made a large batch of spaghetti and sauce, plus I put together some homemade garlic and herb dinner rolls to eat with it.

    * I loaded a coupon onto a card for a local grocery store to get a free pound of bacon. I had my SO pick it up, as I wouldn't be in that part of town at all before it expired.

    * I made red beans and rice using pinto beans, a sausage I bought on sale and froze, some celery that was on sale, and some onions. It made a huge batch of food and was delicious.

    * I used the ham bone from Easter to make ham stock for split pea soup. I pulled the remaining meat from the bone to add to the soup as well. I served it with peasant bread (from Alexandra's Kitchen). (The recipe is here: for those interested).

    * I made Brandy's black bean burgers for lunches for the week. My SO tried them and liked them so much, that he requested that I make a triple batch next time! I did edit the recipe slightly because I forgot that I was out of breadcrumbs until I had already had the beans in the food processor. I used only one egg to keep the mixture from being too wet. They crumbled a bit but they were still delicious!

    We're continuing to eat down our pantry. I'm currently working out meals to freeze for a friend of mine who's pregnant, so that she and her husband won't have to cook for a while when the baby comes. It will help us clear out our pantry for the move and provide them with much needed assistance.

  • Athanasia April 24, 2017

    K, the Budget Bytes blood today mentions Alexandra and a baking book. I think that must be the same.

  • Athanasia April 25, 2017

    Blog, of course, not blood.

  • Jeannie April 24, 2017

    This week has been better than last week. Well, anything would be better than last week. There has been a tiny bit of improvement in my health, just enough to make my spirits soar, so I have returned to some of my usual nonsense. I shared a new word I learned "Petrichor", it is something we all know but don't name.

    Because I was feeling better, we got out and I met some new friends, working friends and shared details of their profession. Yes, they are goats and sheep but I live in the country. I don't get the chance to meet new friends often.

    On the frugal front, I have continued to use up food that is about to expire in the pantry. In years past I worked at stocking it full, then the boys moved out in January and everything changed. I have been forced to completely rethink everything I do. One change that has helped has been to move everything about to expire to the kitchen cabinet I use the most and placing it at eye level.

    We tried to work in the garden this week, hubby began plowing but then it started to rain. It has not stopped. Four inches as of the weather report this morning...and still counting.

    Life will get better. I now believe it will.


  • Mandy April 24, 2017

    I am glad to hear your health has improved, even if it is just a little :)

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