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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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  • http://Erika April 24, 2017

    Beautiful flower picture! Envious as the ground here is still frozen and there are piles of snow scattered over the yard.

    The last two weeks...well week before last was just depressing and my husband and I finally realized it's time to leave Alaska in favor of Iowa and better resources for my son. My good friend and Alvah's current speech therapist is dying of cancer, so it's been hard emotionally on top of being able to find no speech therapists without a huge waiting list in the area. Combine that with a drug rehab clinic going in literally in my back yard and a state that is quickly running itself into the ground...well March was a terrible month around here. We are hoping to move in a year (we need to save money to move, sell things, etc). Wish us luck and send up a prayer to send us in the right direction if you could. I feel anxious and unmoored at the moment.

    Anyway, last week was more "normal" and just busy, so yay for that anyway!

    My list for the week can be found here...

  • Athanasia April 28, 2017

    Glad to hear you are thinking of a move. I hope it goes speedily and without any major problems.

  • Cindi April 24, 2017

    We have been traveling for the past month, and because of weather and travel schedule, have ended up staying in campgrounds much more often than usual. We did manage 2 free nights in a free Forest Service campground, and one night in a free Corp of Engineers Park, and 10 days ‘camping’ at relatives’ houses, but the rest have been state parks – very enjoyable, I might add. We used the Gas Buddy Ap on our phones to save money on gas – one time we saved over $13 on one tank by buying gas 6 miles further down the road. We visited my half brother and he and his wife sent us off with 2 dozen fresh eggs, 2 pounds of shelled pecans from their trees, two boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and a dozen Danish shortbread cookies – yum! At my in-laws, we searched their attic and found a camera tripod – we have been on the hunt for one for our spotting scope, which we use for watching wildlife. My MIL also sent us off with three jigsaw puzzles she has already completed. We like to do jigsaw puzzles while we listen to baseball games in the evenings. This morning I picked a quart of little green plums to pickle as mock olives. I have never tried this before, but I read about it in a book and we saw the trees while we were hiking and I figured it would be fun to try. This is our last week on the road. I am looking forward to getting home – where it will be time to plant the garden!

  • mable April 24, 2017

    I don't know where else to turn, as Google has not been very helpful.
    1. I baked the fatty ham remains (except for the bone, which I saved for soup) so that I could salvage any meat and use them for treats for our dogs. I now have a large can of the fat that was left behind. Can I use this like lard, for pie crusts and such?
    2. I was given four wonderfully sturdy cookie sheets but they are really a mess in terms of baked on stains. I don't want to use oven cleaner, as one site suggested. And my self-cleaning oven, which another article suggested, won't work because it will not function if it senses anything is left in the oven, even the racks.

    Any help from more knowledgeable members of this group would be most appreciated. I hope it is okay to post this since it is only sort of related to saving money.

  • Mable, for the cookie sheets you can put them in a large black trash bag ( outside) and fill them with ammonia. Leave them outside on a warm day. I tried this for some things and it made scrubbing them easier. It's a bit tricky to do but it loosens a lot of the stuff on it. It's not perfect; oven cleaner will work much more quickly and easily if you change your mind, but it works better than anything else I've tried (including baking soda and vinegar).

  • Athanasia April 28, 2017

    I'd agree with the oven cleaner method. You can buy fume free kind if that is the problem. I use this method for the oven racks and for the racks and pans off the the gas stove. The ovens are electric but I have never used the self cleaning setting.

  • Alice April 24, 2017

    I don't think that you can use the ham fat for pie crusts. You should be able to use it to season savory dishes, but I would imagine that it is pretty salty.

  • Deb April 24, 2017

    Mabel, I would suggest a product called Barkeepers Friend to clean the cookie sheets. I buy it at Walmart and it costs about $1.25 for a large cannister. It cleans and shines all kinds of things, including copper bottom pans.

  • You can make dripping pastry with the fat left behind. It was a really popular WWII alternative to traditional pastry in WWII because fat was rationed so much that women had to get creative to feed their families.

    I found this recipe. Sorry, it's in metric, but you can look up metric to standard conversions if you need to. It'll at least give you an idea of how it works...

    With the cookie sheets, I second Bar Keeper's Friend as it's a pretty good cleaner. It might take a few applications and some scrubbing, but it does get the job done.

    Good luck!

  • Athanasia April 28, 2017

    I just throw out the fat from cooking up the ham. I would think it would add a smoky salty taste to the pastry. Not what I would want for my pies.

    I use the metal scrubbing pads to keep my cookie sheets, kettles etc. shiny and clean. They are all un-coated pans naturally. I think they are made by Scotch. If you have non stick I have no idea.

  • Rhonda A. April 29, 2017

    Just a thought to add to this...if you were making pastries for meat pies, that smokey salty taste to the pastry might be quite tasty! Maybe cut the amount of added salt, to offset the saltiness of the ham drippings.

  • Lilllanna Pickles April 24, 2017

    This blog has become my most favorite thing to read each week. Having a French speaking house guest is exciting. My former French speaking skills are now downgraded to reading only. My mother always said to use it or lose it . This has inspired me to look into several topics that I am interested in. It is amazing that you can learn almost anything you want by traveling around online. The internet is an incredible source of skills. I am looking into gardening. I am thinking square gardening may be in our future. Sadly, the price of dirt is out of my immediate budget. My yard is He red clay with tons of pine trees. As a child I crocheted . I saw a beautiful crocheted Afghan that looks like peppermint candy. I think it is doable and know my daughter would love it. My children are 18, 21, and 29 but still love blankies! I have always wanted some of the Great Sources books I have seen advertised on magazines. I recently tried a free one on Audible. Now I have discovered a free 30 day trial of streaming programs from them. I am loving it . So many things to learn. I stick my pantry each week with loss leaders and all meals are planned from my pantry. This week I purchased 20 cans of Campbell's Say Yes soups for a quarter . Soup and grilled cheese on some nights and others will be used in cooking . We are fortunate to have several salvage stores in my area. These stores usually have banana boxes ( boxes that bananas come shipped in to the grocery store ) stuffed full of random grocery, health and beauty items. Some are scratched, dented, close to expiring, damaged and opened.( Think a pack of diapers, with one missing ) Recently one of the stores has changed sources. They now are bringing in these huge boxes from Wal-Mart that have everything that customers have returned to the store. These boxes are 4 ft square and 3 feet high. It is incredible what you find in them. They have a pricing system but it doesn't seem to be working well. It appears that the day before a new shipment is due in that he lets you have everything for a quarter or 2 for a dollar. Oh my gosh this is incredible. I bought 20 packages of 18.00 razor blades. I bought 2 Brita water purification systems for the sink and two pitures. I got a curved metal shower curtain bar and will be looking for the hooks to match it. There are multiple busted packs of copy paper laying around. The owner told me if I gathered them up, we could have them. I must have 10 teams so far. I am looking forward to my next 25 cent day.

  • Lillianna, I am so happy to hear of this blessing for you! What an amazing find, just when things are so very tight.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC April 26, 2017

    You might want to consider raised beds instead of dealing with your clay soil. Watch Craig's list or freecycle for the dirt, boards for raised beds or even old tires for the beds. It's amazing what people will give away. Also, stables for free used bedding and manure. The Tightwad Gazette recommended getting soil from cemeteries.

  • Lilllanna Pickles April 26, 2017

    Thank you for your suggestions. I think we are going to do a few containers this year. It is looking like the square method is what we will do. The mass amount of info is amazing. Honestly I am surprised the cemetery here doesn't hurt everyone here on raised platforms. I drove by a farm the other day and saw orange mules/donkeys. It took this city girl a moment to figure it out. They were white/cream colored and had been rolling around on the ground I am quessing. Only in Georgia do we have orange dyed animals. Oh and we are going to start composting.

  • Holly April 27, 2017

    We had clay soil (as in a brickyard used to be about one mile west and another giant one less than three miles to the northeast), lovely blue clay under the topsoil. It would crack when it dried out in the summer. My dad started a compost pile with leaves and grass clippings and started working the year-old compost into the garden. It made a huge difference in garden soil quality in just a few years. You might be able to collect leaves and lawn clippings from friends and start a compost pile of your own to reduce the cost of your garden soil in the future.

  • Athanasia April 28, 2017

    Orange donkeys! Haha.

    Raised beds could work as long as the clay soil that would be the base percs enough to allow drainage. Otherwise the clay could just seal it off. They use clay to line man made ponds around here. It can be pretty water resistant.

  • Rhonda A. April 29, 2017

    Lillianna, I'm planning on creating a raised garden this summer, too. You are right, the cost of buying dirt to fill one would be very expensive. However, I've decided to take my time creating this. I am going to fill the bottom of the raised garden with compostable material (food scraps, shavings from our guinea pig cage, leaves, etc.), this summer and fall. We also plant in containers each summer, so the dirt from them at the end of the year will be dumped in too. Next year I will see how full it is and top with cheap soil if it is almost full. So it might take me a year or two to create. But the soil should be really good for growing if everything works out well and it won't cost me much to create it!

  • Janet May 23, 2017

    Lilllanna Pickles can you tell me what area of the country you are in. These deals sound outstanding. Also, If it is not too forward I'm 60 and considering nursing school just wondering if you think i'm too old. I would love your opinion.

  • Pam April 24, 2017

    You remind me of my mil who worked for a teaching hospital in a research department. She would often host doctors from other countries and sometimes they did not know each others language. Imagine playing Monopoly with someone who can't speak English? From what I understand fun was had on all sides.

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