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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

White Garden in Late September The Prudent Homemaker

I mended an item of clothing.

I harvested pears, a handful of tiny tomatoes, garlic chives, chocolate mint, and basil from the garden. I dried some basil for us to use throughout the year.

My mom and I went through her kitchen drawers for duplicates and unused items, and found several things that Winter can take with her to college, so we packed those away in the box I have started for her.

I used warm-up water from the shower to water potted fruit trees on the patio.

I try to make sure that all of my garden purchases are made at the lowest prices. Our local nursery has lower prices to start with on items than the big box stores (typically $1 to $2 lower per 1-gallon plants and $10-$15 lower on 5-gallon plants) and then they have sales on top of that. I watch their ads online (their sales run Fridays through Wednesdays) and I also know when things are generally on sale by month as well. I purchased some fruit trees on sale to replace those that have died in the garden. I purchased grass seed on sale to fill in the bare spots in the yard, which I can do when it cools down some more. I also purchased manure on sale to add to the garden and to use on the grass.  When I was there, the manager told me they would be having a Saturday in October where they will be giving a free viola plant to anyone who comes in! I typically don't shop there on Saturdays (I like to go during a weekday when it's quieter), but I will watch the ads online and make sure to stop by for my free plant (update: It's a buy any item get one free viola on October 7th).

I wear sandals here more than half of the year. I purchased two pairs of sandals on clearance; they should last me two years. I signed up for their app in the store to save an additional $10 off my purchase.

The aerator in our kitchen faucet completely disintegrated. My husband called the company to order a replacement. They said they would send him one for free!

My son changed out the air filters in the house so that the air conditioner run more efficiently.

Another son attended a free robotics class at the local library.

Fall gave us a beautiful preview by showing up on the first official day of fall! Temperatures will go back up starting on Monday, but for two days we were able to turn off the air conditioning completely and even turn off the fans those two days. On the other days, I opened the windows at 5 am and was able to keep them open until 10 a.m. each day before it reached above 79º in the house (we keep our air conditioner set at 79ºF).

I read the expected weather forecast for the next three months for the U.S. (you can read it here).  I'm planning my garden planting a little differently as it should be warmer here than usual (we normally don't even see a frost until December, so I'm not sure what this means for us this year). I'll plant more chard first and wait a bit longer for lettuce if I have to (I read the weather online each day and also check soil temperatures so that I can plant). I typically plant my fall garden the first two weeks of October, so I will watch and see what soil temperatures are to make sure it's not too hot to plant so that I don't waste seeds.

I resisted buying items I don't need that weren't part of my planned purchases. With one of the items that I was tempted to purchase (it was $2), I stopped to think about what I really wanted to buy that cost the same amount of money. This made it easier to walk away.

My husband and I enjoyed a date night at home, playing a card game together after the children were in bed.

I studied French online for free.


It's been a while since I've shared what I did to find joy during the week. This past week, my greatest joy was serving a refugee family in my city (I am SO glad that I have been studying French, as one member of the family speaks French--as a fourth language--and it has been invaluable to be able to communicate with this family.)  If you're looking for a way to serve others in your area, check out justserve.org.


What did you do to save money and find joy last week?



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  • Linda Higgy September 27, 2017

    The ad was in the paper, don't remember which day. I will check my papers and get back to you...ok, got it. Sale starts today, Wed 9/27. Mini blender, mini chopper and the slow cooker. Towels are $2.99 each and also big bed pillows. Also, twin size flannel, fleece or microfiber sheets 1/2 off. Wow, Hamilton Beach 6 qt slow cooker for14.99 after $7.00 rebate. Kohl's Lowest Prices of the Season flyer. Good until Sunday, 10/1.

  • Mable September 26, 2017

    Cooked a pumpkin up to get puree for pumpkin bread for a potluck. Used the leftover puree to make peanut butter/pumpkin dog treats. Toasted the seeds for snacks. Used the guts to make two loaves of pumpkin guts bread. Threw the skin in the compost. Was pretty proud of myself for using 100% of the pumpkin!

    Cut husband's hair

    Husband cut my hair

    Spent no money on groceries except for milk for two weeks. Ate some odd combinations to use up stuff in freezer and cupboards but we survived.

    Got an oil change free by doing a mystery shop

    Got a pumpkin latte free by doing a mystery shop at a bookstore

    Planted garlic for next summer's harvest

    Forced myself to wait until a book I wanted arrived at the library, rather than buying it. That was hard!

    Thing that gave me joy this week: Months ago I tracked down the address of my 4th grade teacher and sent her a letter telling her how huge an impact she had on my life. My parents were going through a terrible conflict-ridden divorce and she took me under her wing. She is in an inpatient hospice care facility and I received a letter back telling me that my letter was the best thing that had happened to her recently and that she often wondered if her life as a teacher had been worth anything. Tucked in the same envelope was a note from the facility, saying she had died before being able to mail the letter but when they found it and read it, they wanted to be sure I received it. I cried like a baby---I am so happy that I took the small amount of time to tell her how much she meant to me.

  • SheilaS September 26, 2017

    Mabel, that was so sweet and kind that you got to let her know she touched your life. How about that staff that forwarded her letter to you? This story has brought tears to my eyes.

  • Shirley September 26, 2017

    Mable...I have tears streaming down my cheeks after reading your post. It is so wonderful that she got your letter in time to know that she did make a difference, one that has been treasured for a number of years! It must have been an amazing comfort to her, doubly so in her last days. It's a good reminder to let others know how much they mean to us while we still can.

  • TJ ~ TJ's Sweet Home September 26, 2017

    Miss Mable, what a sweet story about your teacher! We may never know the impact we have on others lives sometimes with our words or deeds. I learned that long ago when someone told me that something I had long forgotten saying, had stuck with them and made a positive difference in their life.

    I used to love doing mystery shops! I miss doing them but life's circumstances have changed so I haven't done them in a long time. I also miss doing product demonstrations at our local Target and Sam's Club, but taking care of hubby is my priority these days. Seasons.

    Do you have a special recipe for your dog treats? Those sound like something my Dollface would love. I make her food (which isn't necessarily inexpensive but I feel better feeding her real, good food) and have been toying with making her treats once these store bought ones run out.

  • Becky September 26, 2017

    How special! You will be forever grateful that you wrote that letter!

    I read occasionally about you (and others) doing those mystery shops. How do you sign up for that? It has occured to me that I live in town now, so that might be something I could actually do. When I lived so far out, I just disregarded the idea because of all the driving that would have been involved.

  • Jenny September 27, 2017

    Oh man, even I'm feeling teary over this.

  • kim September 27, 2017

    This made me cry! Im glad you wrote her also. My parents also divorced when I was 10 and it was very rough. Teachers do make a difference as they provide stability that isn't always there :)

  • Chris M September 27, 2017

    Mable ... so happy you could connect with your teacher. As a teacher, your caring act really touched my heart as I know it did hers! Blessings ...

  • Marivene September 26, 2017

    I finished dehydrating the last of the prune plums. Dehydrated a few beets, & am continuing to work on dehydrating the rest of the apples. I am on the last box of them. I also dried several bananas that were turning brown.

    Harvested Early Girl and Yellow Pear tomatoes, as well as green beans. The green beans have tapered off now that the night temps are below 50 degrees, & they are no longer setting blossoms. Harvested the onion seed that has been drying in the heads on a plate, along with the seed peas & the seed pole beans. I plant heirloom (open pollinated) seed & save my own for the next year. Began to shell the dry corn seed, into a glass pie plate, so it can continue to dry thoroughly. I planted about a tablespoon full of the seed this year, to rejuvenate it, & picked 37 ears, some of which were small, but others were good sized. I estimate that I will have between 3-4 cups of seed when it is all dried.

    I picked up 2 more apple boxes at Fresh Market, and cut them down to hold quart jars. I use the trimmings to make dividers, like those that used to come in boxes of jar, to keep the jars from knocking into each other. Since we live near several fault lines in earthquake country along the Wasatch Front, this protects the jars from breaking.

    Watching the destruction in Puerto Rico, my husband & I had a conversation about the challenges of sanitation after various natural disasters, & I decided to purchase some of the Gerber reusable baby wipes from Walmart. I have saved several of the rigid plastic containers from regular wipes, & after washing them, I will fan fold the flannel wipes into these containers. They will then "live" in the 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat topper, on a high shelf in the garage. I will continue to hem more flannel wipes from scrap flannel, but this is something we decided we wanted "done" now.

    I bought a boiled wool cape on clearance for over 60% off.

    I redid the blackberry bed, & made a "fence" in front of the canes using two t-posts & some old metal tomato supports that are curled, heavy metal, then pruned the blackberry canes to a manageable height, and to force the laterals come spring.

    Utilized some local sales to stock up on various dish soaps & laundry items.

    I made some comfrey salve.

  • Heath September 28, 2017

    Marivene, I really enjoy your comments and always look for them.

  • Marivene September 29, 2017

    Thank you, Heath. That is nice to know.

  • Athanasia September 26, 2017

    Joy is everywhere, but we did especially enjoy our dinner Friday night at our oldest son's house. We went over as soon as I finished at school and everyone had fun swimming in their pool. The weather was way above normal, 90 F, which on the first day of Fall was warmer than we had all Summer. We ladies had the pool first with the 3 little children (granddaughters Anna Joy and Dora and nephew Henry) and it was a lot of fun. (We all have modest swim outfits but normally don't swim in mixed company) The men started the cookout, got the meat grilling, then while we finished up dinner they took over the pool. I brought carrot cake cupcakes with the rosette frosting on top in yellow and orange. I used shredded zucchini instead in the recipe, but it was my carrot cake recipe.

  • Athanasia September 27, 2017

    Oh, here this is. I start and then run out of time and I am not good at saving my post.

    We were celebrating my older son's father and mother in laws birthdays. They are only a couple days apart so they always celebrate together. My daughter in law and her parents are all really that is of that family. There are distant relatives in China but no one else in the country...no cousins, aunts etc and she is an only child. They are included along in everything we do. Also there was my husband's youngest sister and her husband and son Henry. They often join with us as she was only 7 when we got married and she is more like a big sister to my children then an aunt. At times she has lived with us.

    We did all the usual of composting, recycling, hanging out laundry, gardening, canning, using up leftovers, mending, eating at home, cooking and baking. Took my car in for it's 20,000 mile checkup and it was covered with no extra charges. Received a $36 rebate back on typing paper. At the grocer 3 of the last 4 times I checked my receipt the register rang up an item wrong from the shelf and advertised price. I had to get money back at customer service. I have been picking up the free Friday items but they are always kind of too too...too overproccessed, too artificial, not things I would even consider buying. The shelf stable items are all going into the food donation bag for when the Boy Scouts come around before Thanksgiving.

    Our missionary Patti that we had for the summer had a nice send-off and arrived safely back for her new school year. She was able to sew 7 new dresses, bought probably 2 years worth of underwear. She found 5 pair of sandals at various rummage sales or from church members. She went to the dentist while here and his office gave her a dozen each of toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes. She also was able to update her glasses. She wanted a new pillow and some linens so that was also bought for her by church members. She packed everything into her carryon piece that was allowed so as to not worry about loss or theft. It was nice for her to be here for the almost 3 months...her father is here but in a nursing facility and unwell and her brother and his wife are here. She lived with us as we had the room the others did not. She's closer to my age than my daughter but they did have fun in their free time and an extra pair of helping hands is wonderful.

    Some of the things made the last 2 weeks were the zucchini cupcakes with frosting, lemon meringue pie, white bread, zucchini pancakes, plum kuchen, oatmeal raisin cookies, banana mini muffins, coleslaws, cucumber salads, tomato basil and mozzarella salad, tabouleh, tuna macaroni salad, fresh rolls with rice paper wrapper and sliced vegetables and cilantro and fake crab meat inside. When we were not having our record heat wave last weekend and it was normal Fall temperature earlier I made 8 quarts of vegetable wild rice soup. We had fresh corn on the cob, green beans, tomatoes at almost every meal. Grilled cheese twice, hot dogs on the grill once, BLTs twice.

    The pole beans have been extra productive this year. Finished all the green and wax bean canning earlier so these, besides eating steamed and raw, I have made dilled beans, used in the vegetable soup, I froze 27 quarts. We are still canning tomato, making tomato juice and salsa, making jalapeno poppers for the freezer, stuffing bell peppers for the freezer. Our zucchini is still producing. Our sweet corn canning is done but now freezing by the quart and have 21 of those. Made 7 more pints of corn relish. Picked up pears and plums from an aunt and a cousin. All the pears are in the refrigerator and will take them out as I want. Made plum sauce and plum jam. Oldest daughter cleaned out another bed and found a good 15 pounds of beets we missed. Our tenants have been putting in a lot of help and are getting and enjoying their share of the produce and learning to garden and can.

    We received a surprise from the tenants, very nice one. They had only planned on renting for two years, then buying a house. They have asked if they can stay indefinitely so they can save even more and they now want a rural property. We said yes, of course. It is only a one room, one bath and kitchenette over our old garage, but they seem very happy up there. My husband and I lived up in that apartment after we were married so I have many good memories of the place and I am glad someone else feels the same.

  • momsav September 28, 2017

    Athanasia, I always love reading your comments;you have so much going on! (Much like the fabulous Brandy!)
    I like that you used zucchini instead of carrots in your carrot cake! I thought I was clever using it in my husband's brownies. Yesterday, I added a bit of shredded eggplant to the spaghetti sauce. Neither of us like eggplant. (It came in the CSA basket.) Now that all of this hiding vegetables in plain sight is on my radar, I plan on doing this as often as possible. Have a fabulous day!

  • Cindy in the South September 29, 2017

    I always love your comments!

  • Terry calkins September 26, 2017

    Still working on a pantry challenge that has gone on all year. There is so much gone out of my pantry and freezer, but still lots left. I cook all meals at home. Our chickens keep us in eggs so breakfast is pretty much free.
    I bought a cookie jar recently at the thrift store. This morning I baked cookies using a cake mix and filled that jar. I wrapped it in an orange tablecloth I made. I folded it so it looked like a pumpkin. Then I made a ring of silk autumn leaves and paddle wire that can be used as a candle ring, and used that to decorate the top. I took it to town and dropped it off for a birthday gift for an adult grandson.
    Garden is winding down but we are still enjoying lots of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and the first of the winter squash. Weather is perfect. We have so much to be thankful for

  • Cindi September 29, 2017

    Your cookie jar pumpkin sounds so cute -- and a great gift!

  • Terry calkins September 26, 2017

    Still working on a pantry challenge that has gone on all year. There is so much gone out of my pantry and freezer, but still lots left. I cook all meals at home. Our chickens keep us in eggs so breakfast is pretty much free.
    I bought a cookie jar recently at the thrift store. This morning I baked cookies using a cake mix and filled that jar. I wrapped it in an orange tablecloth I made. I folded it so it looked like a pumpkin. Then I made a ring of silk autumn leaves and paddle wire that can be used as a candle ring, and used that to decorate the top. I took it to town and dropped it off for a birthday gift for an adult grandson.
    Garden is winding down but we are still enjoying lots of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and the first of the winter squash. Weather is perfect. We have so much to be thankful for

  • Gardenpat September 26, 2017

    Here in Ohio we have been experiencing the unseasonably high temps- in the 90's this week!
    But I still was able to can 9 pints of hot pepper mustard, 8 more pints of Rotel and refashioned several leftovers in the fridge into totally new meals ! I resisted going the take-out route and instead found easy and quick meals that were not same-old, same-old!
    A friend came over today to see my food storage and see the mixes (dry as well as canned ) that I make. She has an incredible food storage and with her husband out of work for the past 19 months, they have been able to live on their food storage and still have enough to last longer still! I was humbled that she wanted to glean ideas from me!! I gave her my home canned teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, Sweet and Sour sauce,pineapple chunks, hot pepper mustard, sweet chili sauce, enchilada sauce and salsa verde! My dry mixes- French onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix,Italian seasoning mix, zesty Italian seasoning mix, garlic bread seasoning,taco seasoning, chili seasoning, cream of chicken soup mix, cream of mushroom soup mix , Jiffy cornbread mix, brownie mix, cookie mix. Most of the others I use, she also makes! I hadn't realized just how many "shortcuts" I have to make using my food storage cheaper and easier and faster than take-out on a day that I'm worn out!! Coupled with freezer meals, canned and frozen meats that are already cooked and ready to use, I feel pretty blessed!!
    We are still getting 6- 7 eggs/day and after researching found that in the fridge, these eggs with unwashed shells can stay fresh for several (6 - 7) months! This is exciting to us because everyone has told us that our hens will really slow down on egg production when winter comes!! We can just hold back eggs in our basement fridge to get us through!!! I already have a rotation system where I'm always using the oldest eggs first, so the ones that get saved will always be the newest ones!!

    We are doing well with our side business and are grateful for all the orders that we've had! We continue to have unexpected good "luck" with acquiring supplies for free or at greatly reduced costs! Of course, we know that there was no "luck" involved with this at all- it was all tender blessings and opportunities given to us by a living Heavenly Father!
    A friend called today to ask if I would like several bags of fabric!! Certainly I would!!!

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Guest September 24, 2018

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