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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Pears in Silver Bowl The Prudent Homemaker

 

Thank you, everyone, for your kind and encouraging comments and emails last week. I really enjoyed them!

Here's what we did to save money last week:

My husband cut my hair for me. It took all of 3 minutes--less time than it would have taken me to gather my purse and keys and get in the car to go somewhere to have it cut--and it didn't cost me anything either!

I gave the baby a haircut.

My husband cut his hair.

I harvested basil, green onions, Armenian cucumbers, Swiss chard, a handful of almonds from our new almond tree that I planted in spring (it's tiny still),  a few tomatoes, and pears from our garden.

I canned a batch of relish.

I planted seeds from the Armenian cucumbers I picked to replace a bunch of vines that died this past week. It's still hot enough to pick come November, so I may be able to harvest again around November. I'm hoping it's not too hot for these to germinate; it may be.

Olive branches and pears The Prudent Homemaker

We had a small bit of rain, right during the eclipse! I put out buckets and collected over 5 gallons of water from the roof runoff. I used this to water my potted plants in the garden. 

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used it to water potted plants as well.

The rain brought a return of humidity and cooler temperatures for a few hours, allowing me to turn off the air conditioner for a few hours. Once the air conditioner was back on, I was able to collect more than 10 gallons of water from the air conditioner drip.

I reprogrammed our thermostats to 80ºF (26.6ºC) at night. I had them set at 79º. This will make a slight difference in our electricity usage. We'll be using the air conditioner well into October; it's going to be well over 100º all of September (it was 109º here Saturday and 113º (45ºC) here Sunday).

We enjoyed swimming at my sister-in-law's house. 

I went to the library book sale and spent $4 on several used books for the children (several of which will be used for school). I love building my library inexpensively!

There is a local play audition that is a collaboration between two churches here. Several of my children want to audition. Before auditions, they are hosting two free workshops for children to learn how to audition (which my children attended this past week) as well as one on acting, which my children will attend next month.

My husband and I enjoyed two dates out using gift cards that we were given.

What did you do to save money last week?

 

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Comments

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 28, 2017

    Gorgeous photos and great post as always, Brandy!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    - Redeemed a Starbucks reward for a super healthy salad. Normally costs $10, but free with my points! Free makes a yummy lunch taste even better!
    - I picked a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes from my garden. I love fresh tomatoes!
    - I made some Sesame Garlic Stir-Fried Kale! I used kale that I had traded some bath products for, some garlic that my sister had given me, so the only thing I used from my pantry was splash of veg oil and sesame oil, and sprinkle of hot pepper flakes.
    - I saved the gold ribbon from a box of chocolates, to add to my gift-wrapping supplies.
    - I cut some greenery I saw while walking home after work, and arranged it in a mint julep cup, with my floral frog, a la Brandy. I see it every time I walk by the door, and it’s so pretty! I only cut branches that were overgrown from some bushes in front of an office beside my workplace, so the office got some free hedge trimming, and I got some free greenery – win, win!
    - After Brandy posted about cake decorating (LOVED that Neapolitan cake, btw!), I realized that not everyone knows how to ice a cake. Also, as I’m working my way through the assignments for a blogging course that I’m taking, and one of my plans was to do a post about how to ice a cake, it just reinforced for me that I’m on the right path with evolving and growing my blog. So, I present, how to ice a fancy-pants cake, aka Cake Decorating 101! (http://approachingfood.com/cake-icing-101/) As I’m all about not wasting food, I added in some leftover cappuccino buttercream icing that I had in my freezer. Also, I didn’t have cream at home, so I used evaporated milk plus some oil with chocolate chips to make a sort of ganache. Cream would definitely have made it better, but this was still good!
    - I was able to take a 4-day vacation last week with my husband and some friends! The DH and I are lucky enough to have a leetle extra income (plus we deliberately live below our means, in a condo and using public transit, as compared to most of my friends with their huge homes and multiple cars. No judgement though – we all of us are happy with our choices!) We went to…Vegas! I was able to find us some good deals online plus we had saved for it. On vacation, I was able to do some things to try to be as economical as possible. We bought food and kept it in our hotel room, as opposed to eating out all the time, plus we ate out at places like McDonald’s or a mall food court as opposed to fancy restaurants. We were able to visit the Grand Canyon (something I really, really wanted to do), via bus tour (I booked a tour to the west rim of the canyon, which was cheaper than any of the other locations. Also, it included a box breakfast, a hot lunch, and a bottle of water). All of the other people we travelled with took a helicopter tour of the Canyon, but by taking a bus tour, we saved $500. I used my phone to take photos, but didn’t buy a data roaming package and so didn’t have access to email or anything (and didn’t need to), so that saved $15 right there! I brought a water bottle (that I got via my local trading app) and kept filling it up at our hotel, and so didn’t have to buy drinks to stay hydrated (which as Brandy knows, is important in that heat!) The DH and I were able to get a free breakfast plus free tickets to go on a ride (a giant ferris wheel type thingy like the Eye of London), by sitting through a time-presentation, so that saved $75. We don’t gamble, so the only money we spent in a casino was a total of $1. We took overnight flights to maximize the amount of time we could spend on vacation, and also to decrease the cost of the flight, plus we only packed carry-on luggage to avoid paying for checked baggage. I downloaded e-books from the public library onto my e-reader to read on the plane, instead of paying for in-flight entertainment or buying books or magazines, plus I read my friend’s book on the way back. While walking around, a lot of stores were handing out skin cream samples, so I accepted them. I plan to either give them to my sister or mom, or trade them on my local trading app. And of course, I took the hotel shampoos, etc. back home with me. Most of our time on vacation was spent walking around looking at things, which doesn’t cost anything. We did buy a bus pass to use for a few hours, and then passed it on to my friends to once we were done, saving them the cost of buying one. For souvenirs, I walked to a souvenir shop off the strip (cheaper) and bought postcards and pencils for my family, for a total of $1.50. The only souvenirs for ourselves are the photos that we took. The DH wanted to bring something in for his office, as most of his colleagues bring in candy or souvenirs for everyone when they travel, so we bought some coin and card-shaped chocolates. I then came home, baked a chocolate cake, and stuck the Vegas-themed chocolates on the top. I took a photo for my blog, and sent it in to work with my husband. Everyone loves cake, and this was a way to bring a Vegas-themed souvenir-type gift to his work without breaking the bank! I feel very lucky to have been able to take the trip, but was also thankful to come home to my condo. The glitz of Vegas is not really my thing; although the beauty of the Grand Canyon (and the gorgeous hills and the bright sunlight of Vegas) totally was! Again, Brandy, I am so impressed with how you keep your water and a/c bills so low, while still growing so much food and all your flowers and greenery. Seriously impressive.
    - A client at my workplace gifted me some Chocolate Martini tea – very nice of her!
    - I cut open a hand cream container to use up the very last of it.
    - Made a white wine cream sauce for some pasta, using some white wine leftover from a past family celebration, as well as some leftover evaporated milk. The DH loved it (and I rather liked it myself).
    - I picked some mint from my parents garden, and dried it for tea.
    - Frugal fail: I picked a whole basket of apples from my parents garden, peeled them, and simmered them up for applesauce. And then burnt the applesauce! I was so annoyed at myself. Ah well. No use crying over spilt milk!
    - Made a batch of tea from some tea bags leftover from a camping trip in the winter. I sweetened it with leftover ‘light syrup’ from some canned mandarins, as well as the syrup from some home-canned peaches. I also used some of the syrup to sweeten some homemade lemonade.

    And that was my week! Looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  • mable August 29, 2017

    I burned my apples once and ruined a batch of applesauce. Now I either use a crock pot, with the lid propped up about half way through to evaporate some of the liquid, or I bake the peeled sliced apple pieces in a shallow pan at about 350 degrees, stirring every 20 minutes or son until I reach the consistency I want. If you are using sour apples, mixing some sugar in before roasting will lead to a nice and tasty caramelization.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 30, 2017

    Hi Mable! I love using my crock pot with apples, especially for apple butter! And thanks for the recommendation to roast apples with sugar for a lovely caramelization -- it sounds delicious!

  • Rhonda A. August 29, 2017

    I just had the privilege of visiting Las Vegas (we're not gambling people either) and the Grand Canyon a couple years ago. Pretty impressive, but rather scary standing near the edge with no guard rails! We also did the Skywalk, which was definitely panic inducing (I have a hard time climbing a tall ladder). How was the heat when you were there? I had always heard a dry heat wasn't as bad as humid weather. My experience taught me that over 100F it just still insanely HOT, dry or not! Don't know how you deal with that all the time, Brandy.:p

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 29, 2017

    Hi Rhonda! I absolutely loved the Grand Canyon, but was also struck by how easily one could fall. I got quite close to the edge, which made my husband worry, but I was still quite safe. And, I also did the Skywalk! My husband is like you, and not a fan of heights, but once he walked off back to the exit, and I (and a new friend we made on the tour) had fun jumping up and down on it (albeit gingerly). I skipped the professional photo souvenirs that the attraction sold though. They were way overpriced, and also, the memory of it is enough for me.

    The heat was HOT while we were there, but not as bad as I was expecting. I took a super-wide brim hat with me, and between that and drinking lots of water, wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts, and popping in and out of air-conditioned places, I was absolutely fine. I really think my wide-brimmed hat helped a lot, as my husband and friends definitely felt the heat more than I did, and I'm usually quite sensitive to heat. I can totally understand how hard it would be to grow a garden in that heat though, and why roses would grow smaller. Definitely different than gardening in more temperate zones.

  • Athanasia August 30, 2017

    Margaret the cake sounds delicious and festive. I am glad you enjoyed your frugal vacation despite the hot weather. I suppose it is also cheaper to visit this time of year, too, rather than cooler times.

    I still am not able to read your blog. The side banner of 6 downward symbols on the left side blocks the beginning of all but one row of text, so I would have to read one line at a time, then move to the next. I have tried it on my desk top and my kindle and it is the same. So I am always glad that you put all your doings right here so that I can read them.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 30, 2017

    Hi Athanasia! Thanks for your feedback re my blog! I've checked with the company that provides the social share plug-in (which is what those symbols on the left side of the text are), and they've confirmed that it's installed correctly. I've checked it on different laptops, and both apple and android phones and it shows up correctly. I suspect that it might be the device you are viewing it on, or the program that you are using to access the internet, that is causing the problem. Are you viewing it on a kindle? If you are, try viewing it on a laptop or desktop computer at one point -- it should show up properly then. Again, thanks for the feedback! :)

  • Marivene August 31, 2017

    Margaret, the six symbol banner blocked me the same way as Athanasia, on both my husband's Ipad, which is an Apple device, & my desktop. I went to your blog to check, because this happens to me frequently on blog sites & new sites. My solution is simple. I read other blogs, or other news sites.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 31, 2017

    Thanks so much for letting me know, Marivene! I'll talk to the tech company again. :)

  • Janet September 01, 2017

    Sometimes that happens to me if my text is too enlarged, making it smaller.

  • Janet September 01, 2017

    *try making it smaller

  • J August 28, 2017

    Brandy, it is great to hear that you were able to enjoy some date nights with your husband.

    The highlight of my week was that the weather cooled off slightly AND I have lost about 60 pounds postpartum. This combo meant that I was finally able to fit back into some of my jeans and feel like a human. I still want to lose about 10 more pounds. I'd love to share my weight loss secrets but I have none. With both pregnancies I ballooned into a human marshmallow with severe swelling for no apparent reason. Both times the weight slowly faded away...although I still feel like a human jelly roll. Ha!

    I thought of so many of you ladies this week because I read an article about how Martha Stewart organizes her day, and it mentioned several habits I've read about here such as coffee grinds and eggshells in the garden, Scraps for hens, etc.

    We saved money this week by stretching our groceries, eating from the garden, etc. I made what I call Poor Man's Tuna Helper by boiling a bag of egg noodles and mixing it with sour cream, ranch mix, and tuna, then baking it for 40 minutes. It's one of those emergency pantry meals :).

    Other ways we saved can be found here:

    http://www.lifefreedomfamily.com/2017/08/how-have-we-saved-money-this-month.html?m=1

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 28, 2017

    60 lb weight loss -- so impressive!!! Go, you!
    And your tuna casserole sounds delicious!

  • J August 29, 2017

    Thanks Margaret! Your trip to Vegas sounds awesome. I'm glad you got to visit the Grand Canyon. I will definitely make good use of your post about cake decorating !

  • Rhonda A. August 29, 2017

    Congrats on the weight loss, J. Loved your Poor Man's Tuna Helper idea. Wondering if it would work with leftover chicken.

  • Athanasia August 30, 2017

    J, how nice about the weight loss! You must feel just great. I am glad.

    We make a similar casserole but when we saute the onions and celery we also add in chopped zucchini.

  • Jlynn August 28, 2017

    I decided to quit coloring my hair. I'm 51 and have mousey brown hair with quite a bit of gray at the temples. Salincomiring and/or highlights is too expensive and because of the highlights (put in over a year ago) home coloring doesn't take well.

    I'm going cold turkey (no highlights, lowlights or blending colors) and will keep my hair chin length until the last of the highlights and chocolate brown grow out/get cut off.

    Made a revised budget.
    Cut more from grocery budget so now will spend no more than 75 per month for food, cleaning supplies and paper products for my household of one.
    By maximizing errands I can spend only $20 per month on gas for my car (including to and from work)

    Temps have been in the upper 60s/low 70s during the day so no a/c needed. Windows wide open when I am home and st night.

    Unplugging tv, toaster, microwave when not in use.

    Charging cell phone in carbon wsy to work.

    Those are my most recent frugal activities

  • Becky @ Becky's Place August 30, 2017

    While I've not colored my hair for a few years now, I, too, am letting my mouse-brown hair with a bit of white at the temples go natural for good. Although two of my friends keep suggesting that I color my hair, ha ha. But I work with a couple of women that have gray hair and I think it is so beautiful, I am keeping my fingers crossed that mine will look as great. So, kudos to you!

  • Mable August 28, 2017

    I knew I would be expanding my garden for next spring. Husband has been scavenging suitable wood and for two years I have been working three compost piles, to the point of soliciting grass clippings from neighbors who don't use herbicides on their lawns. Today we "harvested" the compost piles---we filled our three wheelbarrows a total of five times each. This was enough to fill two huge raised beds with no money expended for dirt. Two years of planning finally paid off---now I cannot wait for next spring, even though I am not done harvesting this summer's bounty!

    I cut husband's hair. He cut mine.

    Took three boxes of books, puzzles, DVDs and CDs to a non-profit resale place that supports literacy. Tax receipt plus reduced clutter

    Canned roasted tomatoes, made sauerkraut, made and canned jams from raspberries, blue berries and honeyberries in our yard.

    Have not purchased any groceries but milk for three weeks now, to eat down some of the older stuff in freezer and cupboard. Amazing what I have unearthed in both those places!

    Had guests over twice and each time made the entire meal using things I already had, instead of rushing out to buy special appetizers or such. People seemed to like the meals, even without fancy, expensive cheeses or crackers.

    Someone left three gigantic warehouse store sized jars of peanut butter in the staff room, with a sign to take them. I took one, waited a week and no one took the others. So, at a staff meeting I asked if anyone wanted them and no one did. I have enough peanut butter to last a year now!

  • Rhonda A. August 29, 2017

    Haha! Those jars of peanut butter would last maybe 2 weeks at our house! Great score, Mable.;)

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