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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

1930sWomanCooking

What a busy week! 

I am finding that my new schedule means school all day with my children who are at home, and then just as we are done, I am helping with homework all afternoon until late into the night (10:45!) The baby nurses at 11, 2, 3, and 4 since school started (before that it was 11, 2, and 5), and I have to be up at 4:45 to make sure my two oldest get out the door by 5:20 a.m. for their 6 a.m. class, so I am still not getting much sleep at all and I am awake from 4 a.m. (and often 3 a.m.) on. Finding time to make meals from scratch for 10 people is a challenge, let alone doing laundry and cleaning. I usually start making dinner at 4:00 to eat at 6:30 p.m., and now I am trying to help with homework at that same time and supervise before-dinner chores as well. I had hoped Saturdays would be at least easier, but my children still have a lot of homework.  Consequently, accomplishing all that needs to be done is extremely challenging. I am striving continuously to be more efficient with my time; I'd certainly like us to all get back to getting to bed on time!

To that end, I have been using my solar oven to cook several times this past week. 

While my husband held the baby on Saturday, I cut up an old burgundy sheet of my mom's to make new toddler-sized bibs for my 2-year-old. I used one of my old, worn-out bibs as a pattern. I had previously made them from the pillowcases from the same set and other old pillowcases that she had given to me. I cut out five bibs from a queen-sized fitted sheet, which I hope to sew up this week. I will use buttons from my button jar to close the bibs.

I cooked a quadruple batch of banana bread into mini-muffins to use at breakfast and in lunches this week.

Despite my time being very limited lately, I have had the chance to do one thing for me, which is to read e-books while I am nursing the baby. I started reading a new series of e-books from the library that a reader just recommended to me called The Darling Dahlias. It's a mystery series set in the 1930's that includes gardening, cooking, making do during the depression, and of course, 30's clothing and car descriptions. (It's like this series was made for me!) Recipes are included at the end of each story as well as interesting information about the time. I used to read news and blogs while nursing, but changing to reading stories in e-book form has been really wonderful for me. It's also been easier; this baby tends to kick and squirm while nursing, making it hard to read the computer at my desk, lest he bonk his head or feet on my desk. I can put my phone down on my bed and read it while I sit on my bed to nurse him or put it on my ottoman while I sit on a chair in the living room. I nursed babies 5-8 while often working on my website, but I haven't been able to with this baby, so I am happy to be reading something still.

(A note to those who asked: my older children are already helping, I am making doubles of things (which means cooking for 20), but that is something I already did, and there is not much more that can go; the house has been let go quite a bit but schoolwork cannot be ignored. My husband is helping my children with homework and so am I. They just have a lot of it and the curriculum is different than what they are used to. I like the assignments that I am seeing come home from their teachers, but they are challenging!)

I download a free e-book on growing dahlias. They're a challenge to grow in our climate, as they are prone to being sunburnt, but I grew a few earlier this year (now all fried in the sun, they are attempting to grow back from the tubers) more successfully than past years, as they are in a place with afternoon sun.

I ordered some dresses for my daughters using a 50% off coupon code for the entire order and also got free shipping. My second and third daughters wear the same size, and I really needed more clothing in that size, so now they have a couple of casual dresses in a knit, in a solid color with short sleeves that are also knee-length. Finding dresses that met those specifications this year was no easy feat, as the styles are very different. I found them as uniform dresses from Land's End, and the sales code made the price reasonable. As a bonus, they have pockets, which thrills the girls to no end! I only wish they came in a few more colors. My girls have been loving jeans for a few years (and in that size, my eldest daughter wore jeans all the time) but since Winter has switched to wearing beautiful dresses every day, they all want to wear dresses more often, and as a dress-lover, I couldn't be more thrilled. Since my time has been so limited, I knew I needed to buy something rather than make it right now, so these were perfect. I went through Ebates first to get cash back on the purchase.

I purchased some Aveeno lotion on sale at Sam's Club for around 40% less than I could buy it on sale and with a coupon elsewhere.

I purchased a few pairs of pants, including thin sweat pants/pajama pants for the baby at a used children's clothing store that is next door to my husband's office (so I didn't have to make a special trip).

I set up free Duolingo accounts for my two elementary-school-aged children who are homeschooling with me so that one can learn French and one can learn Spanish. Duolingo is free to use and has lots of language choices from lots of language choices. If you use the classroom option, children who don't have an email address can still have an account (you need to create a classroom for each language).

I continued to open windows between 5 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. to cool the house, making sure to turn off both a/c units while the windows were open. It was 5-7 degrees cooler outside during those hours. It's still quite hot here (106°F/41°C) during the day and I expect to run the air conditioners until at least the middle of October, if not longer, but I am grateful that the mornings are cool for a short while, not reaching 80°F until 8:00 a.m.

I looked over my budget for the rest of the year. It looks like I will need to make some large cuts to the budget (home sales are down all across the country, including here), so I'm evaluating where they can be made. I'm also trying to figure out if there is any way I can find time to make Christmas gifts this year, using what I have on hand. I already have the supplies for several things for my girls, but I have no idea yet how I can find the time to sew those gifts. I am taking every moment I can to organize things at home that have become disorganized since school started in hopes that I will be able to spend less time picking up and more time doing some needed sewing.

My daughter who started school needs black pants for two orchestra performances (which are part of her grade). Rather than purchasing pants for her, I took out a pair of her brothers' outgrown pants in her size from the clothing box, which she can wear for those few hours.

We put up outgrown children's clothing in boxes in my closet.

I harvested green onions, New Zealand Spinach, red noodle beans, basil, and mint from the garden.

I used the water from steaming the beans and collected from the shower while the water was warming to water potted plants in the garden. I also used shower warm-up water to rinse the shower floor after I scrubbed it with borax.

What did you do to save money last week?

 

Just a note: I would like to thank all of you again for your well-wishes on my new baby. I received a few gifts a few months back but had no way to contact some of the senders. I just want to say thank you.

Also, I appreciate everyone's prayers for me. In addition to having my days change to being much longer than normal lately, I went to the doctor's this past week for a biopsy to see if I have skin cancer. I'll know the results in a couple of weeks; in the meantime, I have stitches and some places of missing skin that are rather large and deep. It's been an interesting learning experience; I was about half the age of the people in the waiting room, but I've since learned that many people develop skin cancer starting in their late thirties and early forties. Last year I learned that a childhood friend of mine, who was a year younger, died a few years ago (in his 30's) of skin cancer just 4 months after being married. I had been putting off having some questionable spots checked, but no longer. This is one cancer that can be removed rather simply if you find out early. Wear sunscreen, wear a hat, wear long-sleeves when you can, and garden in the early-morning hours when the sun isn't yet high in the sky! And please--go to the doctor if something doesn't look right. 

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Comments

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    Kara, sounds like a very good budget plan method.

  • Shelley September 10, 2018

    Brandy! I missed your post last week. After reading this post I totally understand. Life can be so overwhelming at times. I wish you rest, grace, and health. Praying for you. I wish I had savings to report but no an out of control spend week. News I need a dental crown....life just doesn't let up sometimes. But I keep swimming.
    Until next week

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 10, 2018

    Shelley, I posted on Tuesday. I spent Monday working around the house as much as I could.

  • Sara September 10, 2018

    I don't know about in your state but in many locations, there are limits on the amount of homework that can be assigned. Around here and many surrounding states, depending on age, it ranges from 5-10 minutes to 90 minutes for an average student. Gifted and accelerated classes are excluded. If the late nights continue regularly, I would consider talking to the teachers. Some teachers can be overly enthusiastic early in the year. Sleep is just too important for growing children.


    Most things are the same here.
    I was extra careful about shopping around on mail order prices for household items.
    We continue to eat all meals at home.
    I haven't bought any groceries in 6 weeks.
    I'm batch cooking, every chance I get, to be assured the home meals stay budget friendly. It's easy to "overspend" when I am too tired or work too late.

  • Lisa from Maine September 11, 2018

    My school district also has homework guidelines based on their grade level. The HS sets aside time during the day to work on homework so they do not have much left to do at home. My daughter spends more time on homework since she has traditional classes, vocational ed classes in the afternoon and college classes. This year is a stressful one for her since she also works. My 4th grader reads 15 min daily & sometimes a worksheet. I mostly just help her understand what the instructions are and help if needed. I have, in the past, emailed the teacher to find out how much time they estimate the homework should take from their point of view (I had an overthinking perfectionist in my bunch). At the elementary level when the homework was too excessive I stopped my child from going further and included a signed note that Mom is responsible for the incomplete homework since it went way past the allotted homework guidelines for that child's grade. I have always said that the teacher could contact me if there was any questions etc regarding my actions. This only happened 2 or 3 times with 6 children. It was no use frustrating the child.

  • Jerri September 10, 2018

    I am praying for you and your family. Hopefully the new schedule will become smoother and a little less time-consuming. I'm hoping your test results are back quickly and are negative for skin cancer.

    I shared the grapes from my garden with a neighbor who adores grape juice. I don't have the time/energy to deal with grapes this year. I was feeling bad about them possibly going to waste until I remembered this neighbor's love of grape juice. I reminded myself that I have successfully preserved apples, peaches, tomatoes, and cucumbers this year for our family. Gotta focus on the positives! The garden is winding down, a bit earlier than usual. I'm thinking an early fall may be on its way from how my garden is responding. We'll have about a dozen pumpkins for carving or painting for Halloween, which is something my grandson really enjoys.

    I cooked all breakfasts and lunches this past week as well as four dinners. My daughter-in-law cooked twice and I ate dinner out with friends one evening. A friend asked if we could make bread together on Friday; sure! We made a loaf of bread for him as well as a batch of rolls that we split. I enjoy sharing my breadmaking skills with my friends and neighbors.

    I found hard white wheat on sale and replaced the 100 pounds I've used since I retired last November. We use wheat or other whole grains for most of our cooking and baking. My son brought the bags of wheat into the kitchen so now I need to get it prepped and put away. I am using the last of the wheat I bought in 2010. I'm grateful I have it and have a place to store it. After the canning/preserving it'll be time to inventory the pantry. I know I need to replace the oats, but I need to know how much to buy. It's a busy season, but I like knowing what's in my food.

  • Jeannie September 11, 2018

    Jerri, I, too, buy wheat in bulk but I get 50 pounds. Mine comes from a feed store so it is extremely cheap. It isn't treated since it is for animals but does contain chaff. I winnow it on the porch poring it from one bowl to another in front of a fan. Then I freeze it to kill anything else I might have missed. It has saved us a fortune and tastes much better than anything store-bought and it keeps forever.
    Jeannie@GetMetoTheCountry

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    I enjoyed the "picture" of you winnowing your wheat :D

  • Marivene September 10, 2018

    I have not posted for several weeks, some time. This summer was challenging due to high smoke volumes from a fire burning close to us, and high temps combined with drought, which made it difficult to be outside for long enough to properly water. On the frugal side, we saved $ on the water bill. We picked 3 bushel of peaches from our tree & shared those out with family, being processed in multiple ways. We picked 2 bushels of apples from our CandyCrisp tree, & also shared those out within the family. I was not able to properly thin the trees this year back in April after my gallbladder surgery, and so many of the apples were small & wormy, but our oldest daughter took those to be “training treats” for the steer calf they are raising for beef. Come to find out, apples can also be a regular part of the feed diet for this animal, which is good since hay prices are sky high this year due to drought, & the farmers only getting 2 cuttings instead of 4 from the fields. She had also taken some of the Maypole crabapples, but there are plenty more on the tree, which will go back with her in the next week or so, since they are 2-3” across, & will also work for feed. Converting small wormy apples to beef is quite frugal in my book. One of the neighbors shared some vine ripe tomatoes that us that were delicious. In my last post, we had picked a bushel or so of the green pears. Those have since ripened in the box inside the house. I dehydrated quite a few of them, made a little pear sauce, & we shared out the rest among family. The “new” Concord seedless grapevine bore for the first time this year, & we were finally able to harvest some grapes from the 4 year old vine. They are delicious, with a very different flavor than the Red Reliance grapes we pick from the mature grapevine over the arbor. I would expect that in subsequent years, when we have more volume, they will also produce juice & raisins with a different flavor than the Reliance grapes.

    My husband had back surgery 6 weeks ago, & I continue to receive chemotherapy for appendiceal cancer. With my greatly reduced energy levels due to chemo, I have been quite pleased to see that the fruit trees & berry bushes we have planted continued to produce fruit at nearly the same capacity, in spite of much lower watering. We do not have a sprinkler system, & dragging a hose around has not been within my energy levels this summer, so we decided that this would be a “Jubilee” year for our garden, where we would not plant, but would pile up the grass clippings, compost, coffee grounds from Starbucks, & leaves, allowing the soil to rejuvenate. That has worked fairly well.

    In dealing with these health issues, we have both been grateful to have excellent insurance, which has minimized the cost to us. We have also been thankful to have a deep pantry. I have learned just how valuable potatoes in any form other than fried are with a compromised gut. A decade ago, the WHO used to send potato flakes to areas where people were starving, because they could be absorbed by a severely compromised gut. At present, what is now sent is an Ethiopian porridge mix called Atmit, containing finely ground oatmeal & milk powder, with added vitamins & minerals. After spending 3 of the last 4 weeks unable to keep anything down, and spending 3 days in the hospital, I have learned that a chemo gut is similar to a starving gut, and that oatmeal & potato soups are actually absorbed better than clear liquids, which took a while for a retired RN to wrap her brain around. Having plenty of both oatmeal & potato everything in the pantry has made our lives both easier & more frugal.

    My prayers are with you & your family as you await your biopsy results, Brandy.

  • Linda Higgy September 10, 2018

    I'm so glad you wrote, Marivene! I have been worried about you and now I know it was with good reason. I pray for a quick and complete healing and your strength to return quickly. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Becky September 10, 2018

    Marivene,
    I'm sorry to hear of your health issues this summer. It sounds like you are getting an amazing amount done when you and your husband are both laid up to some degree. I've never heard of potatoes and oatmeal being the best food for stomachs like yours, but I'll remember that for the future. I did know that potatoes always go down easy when I don't feel good for any reason:).

  • Marivene September 10, 2018

    I forgot to add that I ordered a photo book from Shutterfly, using a free coupon code good until midnight on the 11th September: FREEAND40 It will be a Christmas present for my grandson. All I had to pay was the shipping, which was under $9.00, so well within my budget per person for Christmas.

    Also, when I make up dehydrated potato soups, like Bear Creek or Auguson Farms, I add a 1/2 teaspoon of bacon fat from my jar in the fridge to the boiling water, which adds just the hint of bacon taste to the soup, making it even more yummy! When I am done frying bacon, I always strain the grease thru a paper towel into a half pint jar & put it in the fridge for this type of use.

  • Marivene September 10, 2018

    Thank you for your prayers, Linda & Becky. Much of the work has been done by my daughters & the picking has been done by grandchildren. I have been blessed to feel,very supported by our family.

  • S. CO Mary September 10, 2018

    Marivene, sending thoughts and prayers to both you and your husband. Two comments - when I am sick I only want potatoes - any form but fried! Sometimes just microwave baking one and adding a little butter and salt and pepper. Second - when I was in jr. high (many, many years ago - lol) we lived on a little homestead. We had a cow, Caboss, that my dad milked. She was the sweetest little Jersey who was in total love with my dad. One night he came in and called to my mom that he was afraid Caboss was really sick. We all went out and she was literally weaving her way to the barn to be milked. She made it and my dad milked her and as he milked her he said "her milk smells odd". We took it in (no pasteurizing or homogenizing - just used clean jars and bleached out cheesecloth) and when it was a cooled off my dad took a sip. He said "it tastes like apple cider!". He went back out and she was heading back out to under the apple tree that was on the side of the pasture. She was apparently eating dropped apples that had fermented and was a little tipsy! He called the vet who said that it was very possible as cattle love apples. Dad fenced off the area under the tree and all was well afterwards!

  • Marivene September 10, 2018

    According to what I found in the beef magazines, all cattle love apples, and they also like the alcohol from fermenting apples as they spoil. As long as the volume is controlled, they can digest it just fine. It does make me curious as how the meat will taste, tho.

  • Rhonda A. September 10, 2018

    The sheep at the pioneer village I work at also got drunk from the fermented apples that had dropped from the apple trees in their field. Who would have guessed livestock liked to booze it up and have field parties! Haha

  • Jo September 11, 2018

    We have a pear tree that sometimes over-produces so we let some of the drops stay on the ground, and we can smell them ferment. We've seen wasps crawling all over the fermenting pears, then flying off in lazy, crazy, patterns, with occasional minor crashes. It looks like even wasps get drunk.

  • ellie's friend from Canada September 12, 2018

    Jo, LOL! I saw a bumblebee drunk on something fly into my glass door, hit the ground. I felt so sad for it but about 10 minutes later he picked himself up and flew off!

  • Jeannie September 11, 2018

    A drunk cow! Good thing she didn't try to drive.
    Jeannie@GetMetoTheCountry

  • Debora September 11, 2018

    Loved the story about the tipsy cow. When I was in jr high or high school, my dad had some piglets that we were raising for the summer with the plan to slaughter one for our own use and the rest were to be sold. One elderly man in the small town that we lived close to had an apple tree that each fall he would pick up the apples that had fallen and would give them to us to feed the pigs. By the time we would get the apples, they had already fermented. Let's just say that a pig with a hangover is NOT a very nice pig.

    Haven't thought about that in years. Thanks for reviving that memory. The last few days have been hard on me emotionally and I needed the giggles.

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