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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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  • Lilli February 19, 2018

    I love the beautiful pansies. We have continued to have rain here for almost two weeks now. Everything just seems to be sticky and damp. My heat is completely off and the children seem to be better at keeping the lights off. I continue to unplug any electrical cords as soon as I am finished with any appliance. I hope to see a big change in this coming electric bill. I cleaned the refrigerator out last night and have realized we are throwing away food too often. From now own, I will reduce the size of the meals I prepare. College boy can eat at work for free and that seems to be what he is doing. Sugar cookie received a box of 6 Sherries berries last week. She didn't care for them and I truly enjoyed them. Apparently they run about 30.00 a box. It was a generous gift but that price made me cringe. With no money to spend this month our trips out have been minimal. Sugar cookie had a visit to the doctor and those co payments have left me with pennies. I am so grateful for the stocked pantry. Having the discipline to be frugal at all times has made this current hardship so much easier. I have enjoyed finding new shows to watch on tv including two new cooking shows that are from two of my favorite cooking magazines. I saw the most spectacular sight when we went to the doctors office. As we drove down a dirt road, I came across a swarm of red birds. Maybe 30 of the brightest red ones I have ever seen. I have a pair at my house but have never seen that many at one time. All male? Cardinals? I don't know much about these things. So uplifting.

  • Pegg G. February 19, 2018

    Loved reading your post Brandy! My husband and I have been sick most of January & February. We took this long Presidents Day weekend to get our house back in order. While, we didn't necessarily save money, the money we did spend was for things in sale & will save us time, money & hassle over the coming year. We started a chore chart where we do one task each night after work, saving us a full day on weekends to enjoy instead of clean. I made a beach themed birthday basket for our friend's son's first birthday, of which all was purchased at 75% off sales. I started my Christmas list and purchased seven gifts at an 80% off sale as well as one birthday gift and two Mother's Day presents. I also purchased my cousin's shower & wedding presents

  • Samantha February 19, 2018

    Brandy, it sounds like you had another productive and beautiful week!

    I wanted to share how much your site has meant to me over the years. I don't always comment, but your writing and the community has genuinely improved my life. Thanks to your ideas here and leadership, I was able to leave a job that was making me very ill and forcing my home to be an after thought. I've been able to work from home now part time, and slowly start a small family business that we hope can one day be our main income source. In this time, our home lives have improved immensely and we feel more calm and peaceful. I attribute a very large part of this to you, your work, and the positive community you have fostered. Thank you.

    Our frugal wins this week included a nice, relaxing Valentine's day celebration with a home cooked meal (and dessert); one warm day (50 degrees) in the garden for some prep work; preparing our taxes ourselves and for my parents; nearly finished our 72 hour kits; used trade-in credit at a game store to purchase two 'new' games; started organizing to also plan for our garage sale in May; started thinking about next year's Christmas gift list (homemade and at the store)- never too early to budget!

    Thanks again for this great community, and all the sharing and openness that takes place here.

  • Maxine February 19, 2018

    Brandy, your pansies are beautiful! I am so looking forward to spring planting. It was 7F last night--supposed to be colder tonight--and we are struggling to keep warm with just a gas fireplace for heat. (Thank heavens for long johns, LOL).

    The biggest way I saved last week was by staying home. Thus, I had 4 no-spend, no-gas days.

    We cooked and ate all meals at home, except for going out to dinner in honor of my birthday.

    I only spent $33 on groceries last week. This didn't include any meat unless you count two 12 ounce packages of bacon.

    I continue to finesse our TV streaming plan. Last week I dropped down from direcTV now's $50 to $35 plan. The difference was mainly ESPN and other sports channels, which we don't watch. DH hasn't noticed that Science and Sundance are gone, too, but he didn't watch them often and hasn't noticed. At our old home, we were paying about $120 month for satellite TV--now we're spending about $54 and have more channels available.

    I paid $4 for a like-new Black & Decker mini rice cooker for DS and DDIL.

    I bought several Kwik Sew books a couple of months ago and I have been working on a master pattern. I traced the blouse pattern over the weekend and intend to try it out on an old sheet. I'm going to start just by sewing the fronts and back together and checking for fit before I go any further.

  • Stephanie N. February 19, 2018

    Beautiful Pansies! My mother always bought pansies every year and would tell me about how she never cared for them but it was something her mother always insisted on planting. She kept on doing it once an adult because it was tradition.

    Last week I tore into the budget, finding places to skim the fat and looking for the areas where we've grown lax. The weather has been variable this past week with some days freezing cold and others in the 60's. I put the furnace down and we've been bundling up on the colder days instead of moving the setting up and down. I Picked up a few extra patients on Saturday at my second job. It only took me a couple hours to complete the work and will bring in almost $200 extra.

    I found a nice sweater for work on clearance and when I went to pay found it was an additional 40% off. Work clothes can be a challenge for me because business casual is not allowed for my position and it can be tough to be that formally dressed all the time- especially when dressing on a budget. SO and I went to Ikea to look for a new bookshelf for the living room. I didn't find one I liked but did buy new toilet brushes for both bathrooms for .99.

  • Pat February 19, 2018

    Everything is beautiful Brandy! I will be so glad when things start growing here!
    We had a pretty good week.
    Paid all bills online or thru the checking account.
    Ate all meals at home except for yesterday. We celebrated Valentines Day yesterday with our 18 year old son and 12 year old grandson. We had Krispy Creme donuts for breakfast and Mc Donald's for dinner(their choices). We spent $30 total for the 4 of us.
    Did not have any errands to run till Saturday ,so only left the house to babysit my grandson once. Combined grocery shopping with my 12 year old grandson's bowling league Saturday morning.
    Spent $50 on groceries and only bought fresh produce and stocked up on bagels for the next month or more, $1.46 a pack.
    Have a great week everyone!

  • anonymous February 19, 2018

    This is off topic, but does anyone have suggestions for beginning sewing for a mom and dughter to do together. I have no sewing experience, but i picked up an old singer machine from the 60,s from an estate sale.

  • Holly February 19, 2018

    To the person who just bought a sewing machine and wants to learn to sew with her daughter:

    I don't have children but I bought these books anyway: http://www.bunkhousesewing.com/sewing-books

    Some of the projects are old-fashioned but a careful choice of fabric, color, and print can work wonders. They include multi-size patterns. There is a book directed towards boys. And matching patterns for 18-inch dolls are available.

    The Kwik-Sew books are also classics that make learning to sew simple.

    Burdastyle.com is an excellent resource too. Their magazine has dozens of multi-size patterns in each issue and tends to be leading fashion, not following it. But you will probably want to have a few simple projects under your belt to enjoy making the clothes in that magazine.

    If your sewing machine is missing its manual, you should be able to find a copy either free to download or very inexpensive to purchase.

    Sewing.about.com is another source of information and projects along with YouTube.com.

    Have fun! And be patient.

  • Maxine February 19, 2018

    When I took home ec (Eisenhower was President!), the first thing we learned to do was to sew straight seams/make hems. The first thing we made was a square tablecloth and matching napkins. The next thing was an apron that only required straight stitching and hems, but had us attach a pocket (sew a seam) the whole width of the apron as well as make a casing at the waist for the ties. Our next project was a gathered skirt with zipper and waistband.

    I think the anonymous person who wants to learn to sew along with her daughter would do well to start with cloth napkins. Use old sheets, tablecloths, etc., so there is no cost for fabric that you're basically using for practice. Start with a 16" to 18" square piece of fabric. Go around all 4 edges (easiest if done one at a time) and turn under 1/2 inch. Pin in place and press. Then remove the pins, measure and press under 1/2 inch again, and pin. This is the basis for a finished hem--1/2 inch turned under, then the length of the hem itself. Now thread the machine and sew along the edge of the hem (eyeball the left side of the presser foot to sew straight). You can sew right over the pins. When you get to a corner, leave the needle in the fabric and pivot the fabric to continue sewing. When you get all the way around the square, sew backward a couple of stitches so the stitching doesn't come out.

    After this, look for simple patterns and how-tos on the internet. Just the ability to sew a straight seam and hem will allow you to make potholders, curtains and tote bags. After you've made a few, look for patterns that only have a few pieces, and give 'em a go!

    Tip: A sewing machine made in the '60s probably has guide lines on the right side of the metal plate to help you sew straight lines. Most seams are 5/8 inch, and that line will probably be the most prominent. When you are sewing seams, mark the line with a piece of masking tape so you can easily see it. Just line up the fabric edge with the tape! This is especially important when you are first learning to sew and if you are sewing a different amount than 5/8 inch. If I'm making a 1/2 inch hem, because I'm not used to it, I always put a piece of tape on the guide line.

    Look on the internet for learn to sew sites and read them before you start. If you had home ec in school, most of the basics of using the machine and sewing straight seams will come back to you. Good luck, and have fun!

  • Maxine February 19, 2018

    I would like to second Holly's suggestion to get one of the Kwik Sew books. You can find used copies on bookfinder dot com. Make sure you get books listed in very good or better condition, or if it says the master patterns are included. The most basic book is Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way. Besides the master patterns, which you can use over and over, the book contains very detailed instructions for the beginning sewer, every step of the way. Easy Sewing contains patterns for T-shirts, a basic shirt, and elastic-waist skirts and pants. Although the pictures may appear dated, these are classic styles that can be varied with different sleeves, collars, etc., and the patterns tend to have fewer pieces. I haven't sewed much in the last 30 years--and I was always only average--so I am using the shirt pattern to try and get something that fits that I could easily sew. Kwik Sew seems to fill the bill. PS, others may disagree with me, but I find sewing with woven fabrics, particulary cotton, easier than T-shirt knits...at least in the beginning.

  • Samantha February 20, 2018

    To the mother-daughter sewing pair: how about matching (or complimenting) aprons? They are fairly straightforward and there are so many beginner patterns online. I have aprons in my closet that I've used for years that my mother made for me, and they're very special. Depending on your daughter's age you can make a child size apron, and later give her the adult apron you made for yourself- passing the tradition onto her children, should she have them! Another option would be a rice filled heating pad, or perhaps some 'un paper towels' (a google search will get you many patterns). I also recently discovered that Days for Girls, a nonprofit providing feminine hygiene products to girls worldwide, asks for sewing donations. Their site has more information if you'd prefer a service type project to do together. Happy sewing!

  • Rhonda A. February 22, 2018

    My suggestion for beginner projects is to pick something that only requires straight lines to start, so you can get used to the machine, how it works, and work on the developing the basics of getting the sewn line relatively straight. I would pick a very simple project, that is useful, but if it looks wonky it doesn't have to be seen by other people (practice projects...we all have to start somewhere). Project suggestions I would look into are simple pot holders, pillow cases, simple throw pillow for a bedroom or a simple tote bag.

    Once you feel more comfortable with the machine and your sewing abilities, you could try tackling a slightly bigger project, like a very simple skirt with an elastic waist, an apron or a very simple nightgown. These are easy to make for a beginner, but you'll feel more confident if you've practiced sewing first or you may be unhappy, disappointed and/or discouraged with your final project. If you look on Pinterest, you could probably start a board dedicated to simple sewing projects to try (many include step by step tutorials), that you could work on as your skill and confidence develops. Honestly the best and only way to learn to sew is to get over your fear of failure and actually start sewing. The more you do it, the more your skills and confidence will develop.

  • Libby February 19, 2018

    Decluttering is certainly in the air! Hope you make pots of money when you have a yard sale:D

    • One day the temp was 50 outside so I turned off the heat for the day
    • Sold five items on eBay and packed them using recycled packing materials. One item sold was a set of Harry Potter trading cards which I had bought at a yard sale for 50 cents about 12 years ago. The cards sold for $6.50 plus shipping!
    • Donated two large bags of books to the library and got a tax donation receipt. Not sure if I’ll be able to use in on my 2018 taxes but decided it was worth the effort to itemize and request the receipt.
    • Was sick for most of the week and ate a lot of previously cooked food from the freezer
    • Bought two pounds of asparagus on sale and returned old cans for a total weekly grocery spend of $4.26
    • Made apple crisp, stuffed shells, cauliflower au gratin, hollandaise sauce from scratch for the asparagus, and blueberry muffins
    • Paid a bill online.

    Thank you for the advice/comments last week regarding multiple steams of income.

  • Nancy February 19, 2018

    I so look forward to your post! You inspire me and challenge me. Love your table runner. I picked up some lemons on a great sale yesterday so will try your poppy seed recipe. Love your pansies and reorganizing.
    Here are a few frugal accomplishments for this week;
    . Made a sale roast go for our dinner. One to give away by making roast with pepperchini.
    . Took a gift card someone gave to me..bought another
    Small one with it to give as a gift.
    . Used a little olive oil to polish a few tables I have that get roughed up by my sweet grands.
    . Was able to make all meals using things from freezer.
    Bought a few produce items. Milk.
    . Used elbow grease on a corners of floor after I mopped
    Fresh n new looking for Spring.
    . Brought out a few items stored away for Spring around the house. Zero cost.
    . My daughter gifted me a small bouquet of tulips I put on the dining,room table during our snowy days.

  • TJ @ TJ's Sweet Home February 19, 2018

    ANOTHER BABY?! Wow! How did I miss that news?! Best wishes for a healthy little one, Miss Brandy! Do you not let them tell you the sex of the baby when you have your ultrasounds? When I was pregnant with my boys (a hundred years ago) the ultrasound techs wouldn't commit to whether they thought the babies were male or female. And I couldn't make heads nor tails of the images so...surprises! Both. With my daughter, same deal but I had a feeling it was a girl because the tech told me what we were seeing was a bottom shot and I didn't see anything that looked like it belonged to a boy. I think the element of surprise was fun though. Are you feeling well through it all? Have you shared your due date?!
    My Five Frugal Things are here: http://tjssweethome.blogspot.com/2018/02/five-frugal-things-february-16-2018.html
    Hold on all our cold weather friends~Spring is right around the corner!~TJ

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 19, 2018

    Tj, I announced my pregnancy on my first post of the year.

    My babies are born at home, and an ultrasound is not part of the package. I have only had an ultrasound twice before because we chose to go have one done. My insurance doesn't cover home births, so we pay for the birth, lab work, and ultrasound out of pocket. At this point, I have not had an ultrasound, and we are still discussing it. We think it would be fun to do this time, but it's still an outlay of funds, so we haven't done one yet.

    All of my babies have been born between 42-44 weeks, so a 40 week due date is kind of pointless to me :) The baby should be here sometime in April--or May!

  • Jenifer February 19, 2018

    I love how you made that flat of flowers work.
    This past week I took a very small side job of helping a friend with some sewing for her job. Her employer is paying me for this help.
    The weather is flip flopping between the 40s and 3 inches of snow, on one of the good days a friend picked me up to go walk a trail. It was a great 5-mile walk.
    A few of my friends and myself are feeling the winter blahs. I took the quote that you posted Brandy, a few weeks back, and water colored the saying onto 3x5 pieces and mailed it to each of them as a pick me up. I used my cheap little 10-year-old water color kit, paper and mailed with old stamps (before forever stamps came out) that lot of stamps I purchased for a quarter. Kept myself entertained, brightened others mood. (Thank you for posting that quote!)
    With leftovers – concocted a “white chili rice bake” and it was so good.
    I took time to pin more easy vegetable recipes of the future vegetables I cannot wait to grow. Sometimes I end up with 7 zucchinis at one time and lose ways to keep it fresh. (I do can). I made sure the recipes used only pantry staples.
    Wishing everyone a content week!

  • Susan February 20, 2018

    Jennifer what quote did you used. I went back over old posts but couldn't find it. Love your idea. I am not artistic but am going to try to do this. Any advice?

  • Jenifer February 20, 2018

    The quote is “The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting the happiness from common things.” - Henry Ward Beecher
    Brandy had posted this on the prudent homemaker Facebook page.

  • Marivene February 19, 2018

    *Decluttered some of the decorations I have not used for over 10 years, as I took down the Valentines Day decorations & put up a mix of St. Patrick’s Day & Easter decorations. Our oldest daughter was visiting, so I let her have any she wanted, & the rest went back to Deseret Industries, which is where most of them were bought years ago.

    *Our oldest daughter was here to visit for a few days. We went shopping at Deseret Industries, among other things, & found 2 lovely dark green dresses and 1 red one for my granddaughters, in perfect shape, for a couple of dollars each. My daughter emailed me a photo of the girls in the dresses. She also took home the mats I brought from her younger sister, for her to use for camping & scouts, & she brought the 23 volume set of Value Tales that her children have outgrown, for me to take back to her younger sister on my next trip.

    *I worked on pruning more off the pear tree. For a while, I thought I would have to kill it & cut it down, and during that couple of years, it was not pruned as I should have done. Now it has to be done in stages.

    *Bought 3 hams that were originally priced $21 - $23 each, marked down to $5 each. The meat manager had received them as fresh hams, three days before their expiration date, so he marked them all down. There were six when I got there, & I bought 3: one for dinner that night, one for the freezer & one for our daughter (which also had to fit in the freezer for a few weeks). If I had more space in the freezer, I would have bought more of them at that price.

    *My husband & I both went thru the bookshelves & decluttered some of the things we no longer need or use, making space for the things we do use.

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