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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

 Yellow Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

We celebrated a daughter's birthday at home with a simple party at home and a homemade cake. I have pictures that I hope to share soon in a birthday post.

I used the leftover icing to decorate cupcakes as a snack one afternoon. I had some rather old quarts of canned pears that, while still fine to eat, weren't as tasty had they been newer. I blended them and used those in the cupcakes in place of the liquid and oil. I think this is how I will be using the rest of those canned pears in the next little while (in baked goods, but not necessarily cupcakes with icing).

I harvested two Armenian cucumbers, some Swiss chard, a few cherry tomatoes, and basil from the garden.

September Arrrangement The Prudent Homemaker

I spent some time tidying the garden to get it ready for fall. I had a large dusty miller plant die. It was so large, that I have decided that in its place I can plant 2 artichoke plants, 2 Swiss chard plants, and a zucchini plant (all of which I have seeds for already). This is a plant in the front yard in my white garden. After removing the plant, I fertilized the apricot tree it was growing under with fertilizer I had received for free with a coupon earlier this year.

I took every opportunity to open the windows in the mornings to cool the house. It is still rather warm here (we had days above 100º) but in the mornings it was 79ºF and even a little lower a few days. We kept the windows open as many hours as possible each morning before closing up the house and turning the air conditioning units back on.

My eldest started her first online college class this week. Her first class is one that has the book available to download online for free, which made for a less expensive start to school. 

She will take 24 credits of BYU Independent Study online classes (which we researched to make sure that they all transfer to her school of choice for her major) before going off to school. We'll save money by having her stay at home for the next 16 months while she takes online classes.

I started a list of everything she'll need for her first apartment. The apartments are furnished (and generally have 6-8 women in each), but she'll need kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom supplies, laundry supplies, warmer clothing, and food. We started researching prices and I will look for some items at garage sales over the next 16 months (Garage sale season is beginning again in earnest now here). We'll also purchase many items new, looking for sales and coupons to keep costs low. I noted that Walmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond have the same costs for several of the basic supplies on our kitchen list, but Bed, Bath, and Beyond regularly has 20% off coupons (you can use their expired coupons and use one per item with as many per transaction as you have items). I have a stack of these coupons that have come in different things, including with the free magazines that I get; one even came this week with one of my free magazine subscriptions--and I will put them aside to purchase some items for my daughter's apartment. I also researched prices at Target and Ikea; at some point, we'll definitely be making the drive to Ikea in town when we're ready to purchase a large number of items. I'll also look at Sam's and Costco for their holiday sales for pots and pans. Basically, we'll compare prices to make our money go as far as possible while getting her some good quality items to fulfill her needs.

We learned that there are two grocery shopping options in the city where she hopes to attend school: a grocery store and a Walmart. She has cousins that attend the same school and they all said that the grocery store is pricey and that Walmart is where everyone shops. We found that there is even a free shuttle that goes to Walmart! So, I took her to Walmart near us, and we talked about shopping and prices. We talked about her favorite meals, and I also typed up a basic pantry list of items as well as fresh items she'll need to start cooking once she is on her own. 

We noted that there is a stop near the thrift store in town near one of the free shuttle stops, too!

Dishes and Napkins The Prudent Homemaker

After we made this list, I bought Winter's choice of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 2 mugs, and 4 glasses at Walmart. The plates, bowls, and mugs were all $0.88 each, and the glasses were on clearance for $0.75 each. Winter will take silverware from our old set. She sewed herself 6 matching napkins from an old pinafore that used to belong to her grandmother.

We went to the thrift store, where I dropped off our donations (and received a receipt for taxes). We compared prices there on kitchen items, and noted that the thrift store prices were high on most kitchen items (plates were $1 each), though I did pick up a tiny whisk for Winter for $0.50.

I found 2 pairs of jeans for myself there ($4 each) and a sweater ($5), plus $1 for a shirt for another child. 

My eldest son attended a free ACT prep class again, and practiced taking the English section of the test this past week.

I picked up two pamphlets on Federal Student Financial Aid that were free at the local library.

Thanks to a reader letting me know that the city of Henderson has free symphony performances, we were able to attend an outdoor symphony performance with our children for free about 40 minutes from home.


What did you do to save money last week?





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  • Sarah September 17, 2017

    Hi Brandy- I love the prep that you're doing and the savings of online courses! My nieces were able to graduate from college a year early because they completed their first year while still in high school. They also both did blended majors and graduated with a Master's degree in 4 years. I'm so proud of them! Things are as crazy here as ever. Joining in for the past 2 weeks here- https://frugalfive.com/2017/09/16/frugal-5-friday-91517/

  • Mandy September 18, 2017

    Our school district staggers the starting and ending times for the schools so it's much easier on the parents with more than one child. Maybe you could suggest that to your school district? I hope you find a routine soon and it gets easier! :)

  • Athanasia September 19, 2017

    Sarah, I was not sure what Mandy was asking so I did click on your link. Is pre-school mandatory? It seems easier on all to maybe just let her be at home? She is 3? 4? It is very interesting that you have to cross a covered bridge to get to your house!!

  • Patty from the NW September 17, 2017

    Hi Brandy~ Everything you touch is beautiful! The center piece and cupcakes~ so petty. I used to do cake decorating many many years ago when I was a new mom and had sold some of my cakes for extra income at that time. This inspires me to make pretty cupcakes for my husband like you! If they turn out nice like yours, then I will give some to a couple of our neighbors and their families.
    So happy for Winter as she is preparing to start college. This is such a big step into studies and adulthood. What will be her major? Wonderful that she will later live near her cousins as well. I am sure with your help, she will be richly prepared for this exciting new journey.
    This last week I was able to get a new Fall blouse for free from Kohl's with a $20.00 store coupon. I also had another $5.00 coupon for a local Bible store in our area so I was able to have new bible marking pens for free for my new study class. So excited to start this Fall with a women's group again.
    I harvested from our tiny garden several yellow summer squash~ these I will grate and freeze to use for your zucchini potato pancakes and muffins , lots of cherry tomatoes, basil, thyme, chamomile flowers, 2 bell peppers and tiny grapes from our 3 y/o vine. Hopefully next year they will be bigger. I'll have to research to see if I should cut them back for winter or if they need fertilizer next season. And, I need to learn how to make tea from the chamomile flowers. So excited! Our 2y/o apple tree yielded 5 lbs of apples. It is a grafted self pollinating tree. I was surprised that I had so many this year. I will make pie filling tomorrow and will can these for wintertime. I harvested enough green beans to free 3 quart bags and had planted 8 more bush bean seeds which have come up and look great! The Farmer's Almanac sends me a monthly reminder of what I can sow and this was one of type. I think in our area however, it will be too late to start more lettuce seeds. My kale is doing well and I plan to harvest this week and make soups to freeze. This year has been a very good year with my 3 y/0 garden. I am learning more each year.
    We had our first measurable rain today~ out of about 90 days here in the Puget Sound. We sure needed it since there has been so many terrible fires, here in Wa, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Just terrible this year and a couple of weeks ago we had ash covering everywhere, so I stayed indoors. It's been a very unusually warm Summer for us. Thankful for the coolness and rain now. Glad to hear it has cooled a bit for you as well, even though you have much higher temps than we do. You can still harvest quite a bit which is a blessing.
    My husband , puppy dog and I will be going on our last camping trip for the season. It is an inexpensive 3 day weekend get away for us and I love to camp. We love to hike a bit and enjoy God's beauty~ his artistry.
    Have a wonderful week~
    Blessings, Patty from the NW

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 17, 2017

    So glad you got some rain. I've been reading about the fires.

    I linked to her major on the college's website in the post :) It's just perfect for her.

  • Stephanie N. September 17, 2017

    How exciting for Winter!
    This week was quiet and I had many opportunities to get some household tasks done.
    -I spent several afternoons reading a book in an armchair next to my living room window. I had plenty of light from outside so I had the house lights off. I managed many hours of entertainment without needing to go anywhere or spend any money.
    -I made a huge pot of hamburger soup and froze four meals worth as well as kept enough in the fridge to give us two suppers and several lunches for me. I love this cheap, easy soup that allows me to use up a bunch of odds and ends
    -I unclogged the drain in the bathtub
    - I started two more online classes this week (bringing me up to three classes that I'm carrying right now), they're both interesting and I'm excited to learn new things. I've been so busy with school I don't have time to go out and spend money lol!
    -I returned items to the store that we bought but didn't need for a refund.
    -I have been having trouble getting the cartwheel app to give the appropriate discounts at the registers and have had to go to customer service for a correction almost every trip I've made to Target in the last month or so. The other day I wasn't discounted $4 in coupons that I had activated on my app so I went to the service desk on my way out for a refund. When the lanes are quiet I'll ask them to correct it directly at the register if they are able to but the other night there was a line 10 people long behind me and I felt bad holding them up.
    Have a good week everyone!

  • Jo September 17, 2017

    Reading your book next to the window sounds delightful!

  • Mary September 18, 2017

    If you do mind sharing, can you post your hamburger soup recipe?

  • Stephanie N. September 19, 2017

    I don't use an exact recipe, I just kind of throw what I have on hand in a pot and season it until it tastes good but I'll post what I did last week.
    -a pound or so of ground beef browned and drained (I actually used a blend of ground beef and pork because thats what was in the freezer that needed using up)
    -a large onion diced
    -A few potatoes cubed to about bite size or slightly larger (I used yukon golds and I left the skins on. Peel if you like)
    -four carrots dices
    -four celery stalks diced
    -a can of diced tomatoes not drained (I used italian seasoned because that's what was in the pantry)
    -I did 14 cups of water seasoned with beef bullion
    -season to taste (I used rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper, and a couple bay leaves) I didn't add any salt because it tasted plenty salty with the bullion
    -a can of tomato paste
    Simmer on the stove until ready
    A few notes: I've seen a lot of people also throw in a bag of frozen mixed veggies but I don't because I think the soup is plenty hearty as is and it keeps the cost down. I don't know exactly how many potatoes or carrots I used because I added a few more after getting everything in the pot because it looked a little thin. I think rice could be subbed out for the potatoes really well and was considering doing that instead next time. Rice is usually cheaper, and IMO stretches further, when thrown into a soup. Potatoes are hardly ever on sale around here. If I had worstesheir sauce I would have added that too but I was out so we did without.

  • Mary September 19, 2017

    Thanks for posting! I will have to experiment, I have just found out I should not eating certain things. So I'll have to use some different spices but everything else looks ok.
    Thanks again.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 17, 2017

    So many good things in this post! I love the cupcake decorations, and the flowers, and it is very exciting news about Winter. I'm very impressed that you're planning this far in advance. Regarding IKEA, there's always an 'As Is' section in IKEA that has discounted items. If you're able to go often enough (or have someone close by who can), you can find almost anything there.

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    - My husband and I went to spend some time with my dad while my mum was out of town. We took over take-out food (cheaper than a restaurant), and my dad sent us home with the leftovers, so I made croutons out of the leftover falafel. I was pleased with finding a way to use stale food. (http://approachingfood.com/baked-falafel-croutons/)
    - Using my local trading app, I traded a batch of cupcakes and an unbaked pear galette, for a $50 gift certificate to a super fancy restaurant in downtown T.O. I kept some of the batter back, and traded four cupcakes (iced with leftover coconut buttercream and leftover ganache, and with sprinkles given to me from a colleague) for 2 containers of sour cream, two lemons and two limes, an organic green pepper, and a head of organic celery. The sour cream was just expired, but I’ll just use it up quickly in my baking and in meals. I also traded some tea that was gifted to me, for a 2 kg package of split peas. Anyone have a good split pea recipe?
    - I asked my manager at my workplace if I could buy some cupcake boxes leftover from a fundraiser several years ago, and she told me just to take them. Made my day!
    - Using the recipe suggested by J (thanks, J!) I made Tomato Basil Roasted Garlic Simmer Sauce, using all the herbs from my balcony garden (parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and lots of basil), and canned it for the winter. It’s SO delicious! Am very proud that I grew all the herbs myself on my little balcony.
    - I made some vegan spice cake cupcakes for a friend of mine going through a rough time, and packed them up nicely in the cupcake boxes I got free from my workplace. I placed the boxes in a pumpkin themed bag that I got in a trade, and added in some dog treats I received as a promotional item, as well as a bottle of cherry vanilla coke I received in a trade. I added in a note on a postcard that I’d had for years, and dropped it off at her place. The package turned out rather nicely, and I was pleased that I was able to make a useful gift, and so inexpensively too!
    - I bought pears on sale and canned 5 pints of pears and 3 pints of pear sauce. For the pear sauce, I added in all the peels and simmered them down too. The only bits of the pears that I threw out were the stems and the seeds.
    - I used the leftover syrup from canning pears to sweeten a pitcher of iced tea.
    - Redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 Starbucks gift card
    - I bought red peppers for under $1/lb, sliced them, and froze them for stir fries over the next few months. To keep things compact and fresher, I sucked the air out of the package using a straw.
    - I zested the lemons and limes I had traded for, and froze the zest. I set aside the juice to use to make lemon poppyseed muffins at a future date.
    - I made a vegetable pasta salad using the green pepper and celery that I had traded for, some herbs and baby swiss chard from my balcony garden, and some random leftover veggies in my fridge.
    - I made sour cream ice cream using some leftover cream from several weeks ago, as well as the sour cream that I had traded for. Yum!
    - I made ranch dressing using my homemade ranch dressing mix, and some of the sour cream that I had traded for.
    - I used a time-sensitive credit on my loyalty card at Chapters/Indigo and was able to buy a fancy lip balm for 59 cents OOP. I’ve set it aside as a stocking stuffer.
    - I bought 10 lbs of carrots for $2, and plan to blanch and freeze at least 5 lbs. I had also wanted to buy onions and beets for the same price, but the store was sold out and they don’t do rain checks.
    - There was a special on at a store that I don’t usually go to, where if you bought a bag of specialty mini cheeses, you would get a 2 litre carton of milk free. I bought two bags of mini cheeses and got two cartons of milk free. I used $10 in Air Miles rewards, so I only ended up paying about $2 and change out of pocket.
    - I was able to buy some more canning lids, on sale for half price.
    - My husband switched our anti-virus software from Norton to Sophos, saving us about $100/year. He said that the free version of Sophos is still superior to the paid Norton version, so hopefully this tip will save others some money too!

    And that was my week. Looking forward to learning from everyone else this week, as usual!

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 17, 2017

    We might end up buying a ton of stuff at Ikea! Or go to some closeout store like HomeGoods or Ross for a few items (maybe pots and pans) and then buy most things at Ikea. They opened up the store here last year and I still haven't been; it's a bit of a drive and I understand you can't easily leave without spending at least a few hours there! So I don't want to head over there until we have a bit mroe to spend, and until after we are able to see what we can find at garage sales first. I'm really impressed with the prices we've seen in their catalog, though. Several items are MUCH cheaper than what we've seen anywhere else.

  • Beulah September 19, 2017

    I own some kitchen items from there and have been very impressed with the quality overall. I especially love my chef Santuko knife and bamboo cutting board. When you consider the value, it's even better. It's just another option to keep in mind while you are looking for pots, pans, etc. I've seen very good deals on stainless steel pots and pans. The other kitchen items are routinely on sale as well. They have an Ikea Family discount card. You can sign up for that online. There are exclusive offers each month in addition to sale prices with one. It will also get you on the email list for deals. Generally our Ikea has a sale once every month or two where your café meal is deducted from your merchandise purchase as long as you spend a certain amount (generally $75-$100). It makes the meal free, a nice added bonus for the trip. I think free coffee and tea in the café is another Ikea Family perk. They also have great deals on home décor items for that personal touch.

  • Rachel September 25, 2017

    I have a stainless steel skillet and a pot set from IKEA and they were so affordable. The pot set was like $10 and it included three pots with glass lids. IKEA is great for utilizing a small space well. They have basic furniture for very little money. A lot of it is not my style but if I was just starting out I would consider it.

  • Heath September 18, 2017

    Margaret, What is the name of your trading app? It sounds wonderful

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 18, 2017

    Hi Heath! I'm local to Toronto, and it's called Bunz. I don't think it's spread out too much from there yet, but I think there are fb trade groups around. I like the app as I can get rid of things that I don't want without tossing them out, but I do know that for some people, kijiji or such works better. Hope you're able to find something that works for you!

  • Rhonda A. September 18, 2017

    Margaret, what store did you find the canning lids on sale? I'm watching for canning items on sale right now.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 18, 2017

    Hi Rhonda! I found them on a clearance shelf at Metro, so I think it was just that particular store. I was excited to find them though, as I had decided just the other day that I needed more lids, so it was very serendipitous!

  • J September 18, 2017

    I'm so glad the recipe turned out. We love that sauce and use it on homemade pizza too ! I never got around to using my extra loyalty points at Chapters this weekend. I hope they offer that again sometime soon :)

  • Heidi helmandollar September 17, 2017

    How exciting for your daughter and college. Just a heads up, she will be coming to one of the coldest areas in our state. Flannel sheets will be a great investment, as well as a warm coat. Walmart has inexpensive but decent coats.
    There is a COSTCO in Pocatello, which is on your way to her school, and a Sams Club in Idaho Falls, just in case you want to stop in on your way through.

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