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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Yellow Pansies The Prudent Homemaker

$0.56 worth of pansies cheer up this pot and I can see them from inside the house.

I began sewing a birthday gift for a daughter using fabric and a pattern I had on hand.

My dad had leftover scraps from his back patio/deck (which runs right into our matching stairs between our backyards) to redo our stairs. Last year, a leak developed in the water line underneath the stairs. The only way to get to it was to take the stairs apart (and redoing it would be difficult, as the screws strip the boards when being removed). My dad cut holes in the stairs and my husband repaired the leak. My dad will redo the stair treads using his scraps this week.

We celebrated a fun Valentine's Day at home. I used some mini heart-shaped cake pans that I inherited from my grandmother to bake lemon poppyseed muffins for breakfast.

I used a small amount Rit Dye I had to dye a table runner pink. The table runner was ordered online years ago and was supposed to be a cream color, but was more orange, and I never really liked it. Dying it pink made it perfect for Valentine's Day and upcoming daughters' birthdays. You can see a photo over on my Instagram feed.

I spent some time organizing things indoors. While I organizing, I was able to find a place for some things I had been keeping in a basket. I didn't want to buy another basket, but I also needed a place to put the items that were being stored in the basket. The basket will be repurposed to what I used to use it for (diapers for a newborn). 

I asked my 11-year-old to go through the baby girl socks that I have. I figured most of them (if not all) were too old and had the elastic shot, and that if I have a girl I would need new socks. She went through them all, threw out the ones that were no longer any good and any that didn't have matches, and I still had socks that were good left, so if I have a girl, I'm set for socks (plus, I gained some space in the drawer where the other socks were being kept).

I got rid of some things I no longer needed, which made my existing storage space in my closet more effective.

I was wondering if I could get rid of enough items for a garage sale. I decided to clean out several closets (with family help) and we reorganized the linen closet and the games/dress up closet. I went through the girls' clothing boxes from sizes 6 to 12, keeping only the nicest items that would fit in each box and that were liked by the girls (I had enough in some sizes for more than one box, so they needed to be narrowed down in order to fit in the storage space I have). We put several things aside for a garage sale in March.

I still don't have enough of my own things to sell, but my mom was going through her closets this week as well, and she has a ton of stuff she no longer wants, so we piled her items on a table in my entry (with my stuff filling in under the table) to prepare for a sale. This next week, we both plan on going through more closets and cupboards and getting rid of things we are no longer using. I plan on using whatever money I make from the sale to go to the community garage sales in April to get things we need. I recently updated my garage sale list, so I am ready to go shopping with specific needs and wants in mind.

We cleaned the inside of the dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner so that both will run more efficiently.

 Pansies in White Garden The Prudent Homemaker


$1.13 worth of pansies to fil in my urn.

I went to the local nursery to purchase some more drip line for the garden. While there, I noticed they were clearing out their pansies for $0.25 each (regular prices is $0.98 each). Pansies grow here from October through April/May. The manager came over to talk with me, and he told me I could have a flat of pansies for $3 (saving an additional $1). I purchased 16 pansy and viola plants for $3 ($0.1875 each), which will fill in a couple of spaces in my garden until warmer weather will permit me to plant something else in their place. I had specifically been looking for annuals (as well as the drip line) to go in the center urn for my white garden, but most of what I wanted would not be available until mid to late April. This filled in the spot nicely and gave me flowers for a couple more spaces in the garden. This was the only money I spent all week.

I harvested garlic chives and green onions from the garden.


What did you do to save money last week?




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  • Margaret @ApproachingFood February 18, 2018

    Wow, what a great deal on the pansies! By the way, what sort of chocolates did you make for your kids for Valentine's? Oh, and I love the pink table runner!

    My week was pretty good, I think:
    - I made Lemony Pan-Fried Green Beans (www.approachingfood.com/lemony-pan-fried-green-beans/), using some lemon zest from my freezer. A nice way to add some sunshiney flavour to a winter meal!
    - I purchased a picture frame for a piece of needlework that was given to my husband and I for our wedding. It had a frame, but it didn’t match our décor – this one is so much nicer! I paid for it using a credit on my Indigo account that was given to me for having a package arrive late at Christmas time.
    - I made sticky sesame cauliflower, and served it with (homemade, of course) sushi-style rice (I’m not a fan of regular rice). The DH loved it, and it was easy to prepare, so I’ll keep an eye out for cauliflower on sale from now on.
    - I used the leftover sushi rice to make a two servings of vegetable sushi, using some cucumber and a single sheet of nori (seaweed sheet) I had in my cupboards.
    - I took home a box from my workplace, which I re-used to wrap my Valentine’s Day gift for the DH in.
    - I figured out how to get my Christmas cactus to re-bloom; I keep the temperature in my condo a few degrees colder, and I keep the cactus closer to a cold window, and now the plant is full of buds. The DH is a little bit colder, but I just tell him to put on another layer. Tee hee!
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 gift card to Amazon. And then I used that gift certificate to buy some Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner (I’ve been using the same cleaners that the DH and I had when he moved in, and they’re still not finished, but I find them harsh and wanted a more environmental and less chemical-scented cleanser) and a large pack of ginger ale cans on sale. The ginger ale I set aside and use to deal with nausea. As I am just finishing up a free trial of prime, I received free shipping, and only paid $1.10 OOP.
    - A client brought several boxes of heart-shaped cookies to my workplace. I took one home and wrapped it up in cellophane and recycled ribbon and gave it to my husband as a Valentine’s Day gift. He appreciated it!
    - Using my local trading app, I traded a batch of vegan meringues for three large bags of specialty popcorn. I made the meringues using bean water (aka ‘aquafaba’) from a can of beans I used two weeks ago, plus a pinch of cream of tartar, some white sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract. I sprinkled the meringues with some candy sprinkles that were given to me, and wrapped it all up in a catering box previously traded for. I also gave a box of tea gifted to me, to the trader, and wrapped it all up in a clear bag I reused from my workplace. So, for about 25 cents (or less) worth of ingredients, I’m stocked on snacks for a while! I also gave some to my mum when I visited her.
    - I received a $5 credit to a bookstore chain as a promo, so I used it to buy a card for my husband’s birthday next month. We’ll be on vacation, but a fancy card is something that I can easily pack in a suitcase and makes a day a little more special.
    - I made a batch of crepes, using Brandy’s recipe as a jumping off point. I made some sage and pan-fried mushrooms crepes (the sage was from a trade many weeks ago), and sugared crepes for dessert. I also made some spinach and cheese crepes to use up some fresh spinach before it went bad (I drank the cooking water from the spinach, once it had cooled down, because it’s full of vitamins!). And, I made ham crepes for my husband, using some cooked ham from the freezer (the ham was from a trade a month or so ago). I still have a bunch of crepes left, and will use them throughout the coming week.
    - I spent some time working on an e-book I hope to publish at some point via my blog. Frugal in that it only costs me my time, and will earn me some income down the road.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  • Melonie K. February 19, 2018

    Looking forward to reading your e-book, Margaret!

  • Margie from Toronto February 19, 2018

    My mom used to do the same thing with cooking water from veggies - I try to save it to use for future pots of soup, Good luck with the book!

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood February 19, 2018

    Thanks, Melonie and Margie! :)

  • Kara February 18, 2018

    I am a long time reader, but hardly ever post. I’m challenging myself to join in this year! I visited my daughter out of town. Took all my own food on the plane. Was able to pay for her to fill up her gas tank, and then my dad filled up my gas tank when I got home! So lovely.
    Watching the Olympics on our TV with only a roof antenna. I have seen plenty.
    It has been warm enough to keep the heat off for all but the first hour of the day. Since it’s only 2 of us at home now, we won’t heat the whole house, but will use a space heater for the room we’re actually using.
    Used beans from the freezer that I had cooked from dry.
    Did a yard sale with a friend yesterday, I didn’t have enough to have one of my own. Some of the leftovers went to the thrift store and the rest I will list on eBay. So nice to have more space and a bit of cash. We can now park both cars in the garage!
    I flew Southwest for my visit to my daughter. She did not have space for a chair that she had moved with. I was able to pack the chair (it comes apart) and check it as my 2nd bag (2 bags for free) coming home, freeing up space for her.

  • Melonie K. February 19, 2018

    Smart move with that chair - I love this idea!

  • FrugalStrong February 19, 2018

    Thank you for flying Southwest. You're keeping my husband employed!

  • Marilyn in MD February 18, 2018

    I love the pansies! I could plant them here in a few weeks if I wanted to do so but by then the crocuses will be out followed by the daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, violets, lilacs and irises, not necessarily in that order.

    Thanks to everyone for all the support and suggestions when I posted last week about possibly having my work hours reduced by 25%. Presuming it’s approved by the contracts department, that won’t happen until at least the end of May and possibly/probably until September. Having this lead time is very helpful and I’m using it to save more money. I’ve figured out what I think my net pay will be after losing the hours (if I lose them) and using the difference to bulk up my savings and take care of some plumbing projects that need to be handled. I’m also much less stressed than I was last week knowing that I can do this and remembering to be thankful for all I do have – health, a home, few bills, a child who is supporting herself now that she’s out of college, etc. Two years ago, tuition bills would have made this much more problematic.

    I FINALLY painted an unfinished pine nightstand that I bought about 18 months ago and put it in my bedroom. It has 3 drawers and a lot more storage room than my old nightstand. I’m now in the midst of cleaning my bedroom from top to bottom. So far I have washed every fabric item in my bedroom from bed linens to rug to the cushions my cats sleep on (which I made several months ago from a worn out comforter), dusted, swept, cleaned the fan blades and light fixtures, washed the baseboards, etc. Now I need to declutter the room by taking out anything that doesn’t belong there and putting it where it belongs, donating it, or recycling/trashing it. It will be so peaceful when it’s done; it already looks much nicer. This might not be strictly frugal except that being at peace makes me less likely to go out and waste money.

    I cooked most meals at home except for Chinese takeout for lunch and dinner one day and a half-price pizza that I bought on Friday when I could use a code because my hockey team won and scored at least 4 goals on Thursday night. I wanted it for something quick to heat and eat on Saturday when I painting the aforementioned nightstand. I didn’t need anything from the grocery store so I didn’t do any shopping this weekend and even with the $25 spent on take-out I am within my budget for the month.

    I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but my neighbor and I are sharing space in my upright freezer. I wanted to keep some items in there but don’t have nearly enough to keep it full. She has a lot to freeze since she cooks in advance for her family (herself and two teenagers) and freezes food. Several months ago, her refrigerator died and she moved the backup she had in her basement to her kitchen. It’s an old one and much smaller than her previous frig, so she really appreciates being able to use my freezer. We live in a duplex (two separate homes joined at one wall for those who might not be familiar with this) and are very good friends to the point that we do not have the railing that divides our shared porch so we can just go back and forth to each other’s kitchen doors. I am helping her and she is helping me because the freezer runs more efficiently when there’s not as much open space that needs to be cooled down.

    Everything else frugal is just what I do almost without thinking – washing out plastic baggies, hanging half-dry clothes in the laundry room and keeping the thermostat low to save on utilities, renewing library books online to avoid fines, reading books and magazines from the library rather than buying them, etc.

  • Melonie K. February 19, 2018

    I am so inspired by the silver linings you share here, how you are less stressed by keeping your eye on the good parts of planning just in case those hours are cut. A positive attitude makes such a difference! Kudos to you!

  • Marilyn in MD February 20, 2018

    Melonie, thank you so much for those kind words. There's only so much I can do about this so I'm working on accepting the possibility. When I see the problems that others have (such as Gina and Ed on the Home Joys blog with the returning growth of his glioblastoma multiform tumor). My potential income cut is not minor to me, but I'll be able to cover all the bills and still save some money, just not what I want or think I need. We shall see.

    Finally, I let go of the stress this morning by putting my specific concern (not saving enough money) in my "God Box" (actually a ceramic heart that I painted at a pottery store during an outing with my daughter a number of years ago). I saw the idea online and have placed several problems in there when they really bothered me and it gave me a lot of peace to do so. It doesn't mean that I don't need to plan for it or make sure I control my expenses, it just means that God will give me guidance and strength and take the stress from me IF I remember to let Him!

    For anyone who wants to make their own box/basket/bag, the saying that goes with it is:

    I am God.

    Today I will be handling all your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours. Once the matter is placed in the box, do not hold on to it.

  • Melonie K. February 20, 2018

    What a great idea! Thank you for sharing it, Marilyn. This sounds like just the ticket for when I get myself all worked up at night and can't drift off. Sometimes you can't turn off the brain due to all the worrying. Going to try this - I know just the container I have on hand too.:D

  • Janet February 21, 2018

    I need to make a God box , I have said out loud many times when people ask me how I manage "God takes care of all of this" and it is soooooooooooooooooooo very true. I think sometimes I forget and hold on to some of it.

    I need the God box to help me remember that I do not need to attempt to solve it and that God will handle it in his own time, not mine and that I need not hold on to it.

    What a great idea!

  • Allyson February 22, 2018

    Thank you for this! God has really spoken to me through your post. This is exactly what I needed this week!

  • Samantha February 19, 2018

    Hi Marilyn,
    I have had friends that have had great luck with work from home jobs on temporary contracts or at part time hours. Some have used flexjobs, although I don't know much about it. I have gone on Indeed.com and typed 'work from home' or 'telecommute', and I've had luck this way finding part time jobs this way as needed, from home. I also have neighbors who clean one or two houses, a neighbor who scoops yard pet waste, and another neighbor who does household errands for families. Just a few ideas in case they might be helpful. I like your idea of sharing freezer space! I am thinking about starting a neighborhood swap service this summer for skills, trade, and barter to see how it pans out, and freezer trades would be a great idea!

  • Marilyn in MD February 20, 2018

    Samantha, thank you so much for the idea. I might try that this summer; right now, with my income, I would get killed on taxes. However, if my income is reduced... It won't hurt to take on more. I'm going to suggest it to my daughter, too. She works between 25-30 hours a week at a lower wage job and is looking to take on a second one or get a full-time one.

    Good luck with the neighborhood swap! The freezer thing is really easy for us since we are side-by-side and we have keys to each other's houses. I help with her autistic 13 year old son after school one day a week. Neighbors helping neighbors. I highly recommend it.

  • Mari at the Jersey Shore February 18, 2018

    Hi Brandy. It sounds like it was a super busy week for you - sorting, organizing, getting ready for a garage sale, gardening. The pansies are lovely; our nurseries will begin carrying them next month. You're so fortunate to have your parents live close by, i'm sure they are a huge help and it's so good for your kids to have grandparents nearby.

    I had a good week; I did no shopping whatsoever all week which is truly a first for me. Will of course make up for it this week as all out of fresh fruit & produce now. We had several days of heavy rain with temps in the high 50s. The rain washed away all the good soil from my asiatic lilies to the point that the bulbs were exposed; I replanted them 4" deep and will buy more soil this week.

    Prepared several of your recipes including your lemon poppyseed muffins (in a regular muffin tin - not heartshaped like you did)! They were very good. We attended a concert by a local band on Saturday night to celebrate Valentines Day (purchased the tix last month).

    Wishing everyone a lovely week.

  • Rhonda A. February 18, 2018

    The flowers and the runner are all so lovely, Brandy. I hope your yard sale next month is very profitable!

    Despite an emotionally exhausting week, I was able to stay pretty frugal. Frugal accomplishment for our family this week included:
    *Meals made at home this week included breaded fish with choice between french fries or sweet potato fries (used extra tartar sauce from the last time we bought take out) and corn, pancakes with sausage and fruit (for pancake Tuesday of course!), ham & cheese sliders (new recipe, see below) with raw veggies and dip, breaded stuffed chicken breasts with noodle side kicks and green/waxed beans, lasagna (freezer meal), ham steaks with mashed potatoes and cauliflower with homemade cheese sauce, and homemade beef stew with dumplings.
    *I had not been to my regular grocery store in about 3 weeks. So by the time I went on Monday, we were in serious need of replentishing. While at the store, I found some really good stock up deals on items we use regularly (e.g. I bought 6 bottles of DDs shampoo for $1.50/bottle, normally $2 or more/bottle). Total came to just under $160. Being the frugal shopper that I am, I cashed in my loyalty points, scoring $100 worth of free groceries... so only paid just under $60 to refill our fridge and cupboards again. Whoohoo!!!!
    *With groceries, I bought a box of frozen breaded fish, to add another meal option. The box, however, was $10, only had 8 pieces in it and the pieces weren't very big! When did fish get so darned expensive? I made 4 of the pieces that night for dinner. DD (who absolutely loves fish) and husband, complained about the small serving. I explained why, and they grudgingly accepted their dinner. Unless I see a massive sale on fish, I think this will have to remain an occasional meal from now on.
    *I made my version of eggs florentine this week for breakfast. I cook scrambled eggs with spinach mixed in (sauteed onions could also be added), scoop them onto toasted English muffin halves topped with slices of swiss cheese (could use another type of cheese, grated or sliced), then hollandaise sauce over top (I keep powder mix packets in my pantry, but homemade is also fine). You can use fried or poached eggs instead, if you wish. This meal also makes an excellent meatless lunch or dinner meal.
    *For my lunches, I cooked up a can of chick peas in BBQ sauce and used it in a wrap with lettuce, grated cheese and a bit of ranch dressing. One can makes several wraps. Healthy, filling, very frugal and so yummy!
    *I tried making ham & cheese sliders this week for the 1st time (recipe link: https://www.gracefullittlehoneybee.com/ham-swiss-sliders/). I recalled someone commenting that Hawaiian sweet rolls are expensive. So I substituted a package of sausage/hot dog buns that I bought 50% off, used shaved ham from my freezer (cut from cooked hams bought on sale) and swiss cheese slices. It basically made a tasty hoagie type sandwich instead of tiny dinner roll sized sandwiches. I thought they tasted pretty good! Hubby & DD were less impressed. One stated it was just a sandwich and the other didn't like the "soggie bread". Sometimes I just can't win.
    *My mom made a homemade lemon meringue pie for dessert on weekend. It stretched over 2 meals. Yum!!!
    *I cut up a large tray of fresh chicken breasts and had my hubby make homemade souvlaki marinade from pantry ingredients. Packaged it up (uncooked) into 4 family sized servings and froze for another easy meal option.
    *I was gifted 3 back issues of a magazine called "Piecework" from one of the weavers & spinners guild members. Brandy, I'm positive you and Winter would LOVE this magazine! The content focuses on historic textile crafts (weaving, knitting, crochet, needlework etc.) and includes modern patterns based off of historic designs. One of my issues features articles on historic ladies undergarments, which I'm really looking forward to reading when I get a chance. Another features articles on different types of historic lace and includes some beautiful knitted lace patterns that make me wish I was better at knitting! For those who do knit, I'd highly suggest searching for knitted lace patterns on the web. It would make an stunning gift for someone...if you could actually make yourself part with it. These magazines were gifted to her, so they are certainly doing their rounds in our guild. If you like classic style and/or historic crafts, I highly recommend looking for this magazine at your local library.
    *Spotted 2 foxes running through our backyard fenceline. Always a pleasure to see wildlife.
    *While at the pharmacy, I noticed an adorable kitten throw pillow DD would love. It was with the Valentines Day clearance stuff, marked down from $14.99 to $3! At that price, I absolutely grabbed it to add to my gift stash. Perfect for either her birthday in May or Christmas next year.
    An Update on my DD: I want to thank all those who left supportive comments last week. The situation was to upsetting and raw to comment back, but I do appreciate your kindness. DD had become so anxious (terrified actually) over school, when she slipped and fell on some ice, it triggered a fight or flight response (a basic and automatic defence system all of us have). Unfortunately, it was a fight response. She managed to punch 3 people, 2 innocent students and the VP she's had problems with in the past, before they could get her into a safe place. Police were called for a 2nd time since starting high school. They were very understanding of her disability, but she was mandated to go to the John Howard Society or she would face assult charges. At our meeting at John Howard Society, I realized why the policeman sent us there. This was a way to help protect our daughter legally if she ever has to go to court over this or another future incident. We have also been refered to a Canadian Mental Health worker (still awaiting their call) through the John Howard Society, another legal protection. As for the school, they are finally changing their attitude towards DDs disability. The "big wigs" at our school board were called for advice. The school had a huge meeting with many of the school "specialists" who have been involved with DD over her school career asked to attend or to contribute their professional opinions on DD. We were then asked to attend a meeting, which included the head to Special Education for our school board. I think they are finally really listening to DDs cries for help and trying to better address her needs with proper support. She starts back 1/2 days on Tuesday. I'm feeling cautiously optomistic...I'll wait to see what happens.

  • Becky February 18, 2018

    I hope this society can find your daughter just the right place to be, with the right help she needs. I know how it is when autistic kids get scared of something. My niece is terrified of snow of any kind. Ice would send her over the roof, too. She, however, melts down differently, which helps. She just cries and sobs loudly, which is heartbreaking, but easier to handle. Today, I got an inch of snow at my house, early this morning, the first of the year. She didn't get any until they were on their way to church. They got a few blocks when it began to come down hard. My sister just gave up then and there, and turned around and took her home. Snow is one of her triggers. I'm sorry your daughter had a hard time. It's hard to watch for a parent (or auntie). Thankfully, for us all, the snow is gone already, and there is no school tomorrow, so.....we dodged that bullet pretty easily.

  • Rhonda A. February 19, 2018

    Your niece should be glad she doesn't live in Canada. Otherwise she would never leave the house for months! Though I personally prefer hibernation, too. Winter is not my favourite time of year.

    The John Howard Society helps people with anger management issues and other stuff like that, who have had proplems with the law. I think they are like social workers who work with people to help them deal with personal issues that are causing them to lash out. In our daughter's situation, they don't have much to offer (her lashing out is because of her autism), so have refered her to a Mental Health Worker. By doing all of these things, if DD had to go to court, it shows that we are seeking help to deal with her issues.

  • Becky February 19, 2018

    It sounds like a good idea---to protect her that way.

    Yes, Michaela would never leave the house. Last winter was hard on her because we had a lot of snow. This year has been easier, but if they even hint of snow on the news, or on a weather app, she has high anxiety for several days. Usually, thankfully, we rarely get any here. Whew!

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