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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments


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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  • Rhonda A. September 11, 2018

    Funny you should mention that. Hubby just said he thinks he should just bring a couple t-shirts to start out, then buy new ones as we visit different areas. He wanted to buy some Canadian t-shirts to bring, though. Most of his current t-shirts are from the various places we visited in the states. Sorry, but Trump has made it that most countries are not fans of Americans right now, and he didn't want to be mistaken as an American tourist.

    As for myself, I take a larger, plus size. In my experience, it is difficult to find my size of clothing in touristy areas. I'm better to bring my own clothing. It's much more comfortable and will be much less stressful. I will be taking some of my used clothing. I'm just buying a few things that are new, so I have enough nice looking clothing to last between laundry days. Since we are going for a month, we will have to find time to do laundry all while keeping up with a very busy itinary.

  • Maxine September 11, 2018

    We travel with one small roller bag each. It can be carried on, but some airlines will allow you to check luggage free if you have their branded credit card. I highly recommend this--getting the suitcase into the overhead bin gets harder every year. In Paris, I found a coin laundry right around the corner from our hotel. I had packed some laundry detergent tablets and a few dryer sheets in a zippy sandwich bag. This was a godsend as we had already been traveling for 10 days and everything needed washing. A few years later, traveling through Italy, I washed out a few items every night in the bathroom sink and hung it to dry in the shower. I just used whatever bar soap was there. We always had clean clothes. Washing clothes when traveling isn't a big deal--there is always a way. Also, I always have a couple of plastic grocery sacks stuffed into my bag, and a few safety pins pinned to the lining. Learned that one from my late MIL when I inherited her luggage (really ugly flowered bags that absolutely won't wear out, LOL).

  • Rhonda A. September 12, 2018

    We bought good quality backpacks that have a detachable day pack we can use as we explore the different cities. We will be moving around quite a bit with this trip and needed something we could easily slug on the buses, trains and airplanes as we travel from city to city. I anticipate I will find a way to wash clothes as we go along. I've already considered the possibility that I may need to wash some items in the hotel sink. Considering taking some sort of "clothes line" that I can hang them on, but haven't decided if I will do that or not. Might take too much precious room in the bag. I'm pretty innovative, so I'm sure I will figure out something as we go. I ALWAYS take Ziplock baggies when I travel, as well as a couple plastic grocery or garbage baggies. We use them for packing lunch/snack items for the day and/or fill with ice for ice packs to keep food/drinks cold. The grocery/garbage bags are perfect when we need to pack up wet/damp items, like swimsuits that are not quite dry. I do like your idea of safety pins, though. I hadn't thought of it, but will be using that idea in the future! I'm a pretty seasoned traveller...I'm just not familiar with these countries, so don't know what will be easily available.

  • Fiona Chain September 10, 2018

    Hi Dear Brandy,
    I pray that you get the all clear on the skin cancer front, it is a very scary thing to go through, you gave excellent advice regarding sun protection. I am in awe of your strength and loving care of your family. You so inspire me to be more patient, giving and kind.
    Kindest regards

  • Nancy September 10, 2018

    Hello Brandy..
    First I want to say how great of a job you are doing with the changes in your days. I stopped and prayed for your skin cancer test! I had a regular mammogram this summer and they found something. Had a small surgery and no cancer. Always good to keep check on ourselves.
    I know you organize so well so as your re grouping things they will soon fall into place.
    I love how you love and care for your family and home.
    Just a few frugal things in my life.
    Bought eggs .80 Dozen. Bought 10
    . Making meals somewhat simpler healthier
    . Make ahead breakfast egg muffins.
    . Bought a few things from dollar store for Fall decor but mostly use what I have to create warm n cozy.
    . Organizing my home more creating peace.
    . Baked some Fall things to give.
    . My daughter took several dresses from thrift and we made for my younger grand daughter. Pretty
    . Went to library for free books to read
    . Still enjoying fresh tomatoes from plant and picking lavender n roses from my garden

  • Sarahelisabeht September 10, 2018

    Brandy, you seem so busy and sorry to hear about your health problems. You will be in my prayers. Is there anyway that you can rejuggle things? Can your eldest help her siblings with their homework, for example?
    We aren't having a frugal week as we are away. However, we are making our own food which is so much cheaper than eating out. Back to proper frugality next week!

  • Debby in Kansas, USA September 10, 2018

    Brandy, I also started on the Darling Dahlia series and have really enjoyed what I've read so far. I had such a giggle over the story of Lizzy, her mom, & the house across the street! I can imagine how beautiful all their gardens are.

    Add me to the long list of your readers that have had skin biopsies. I've had several since my 30's. Growing up in Southern Cal, it almost seems unavoidable. We spent so much time in the sun at the pool and at the beach. There were summers when we were out by the pool from 9am until 5pm every single day. Plus, my family loved to go boating and water skiing. And I know that I wasn't careful about sunburn at all and I'm a redhead.

    I'd love to offer up some ideas to make your life a little smoother, but you know much more than I do. So, I'll wish you well!

    I got my porch in the mood for fall. The cooler weather really helped get me in the mood. Lowe's had mums for 5/$5 last weekend so I got five. We had rain all week so I just left them in the border garden all week and I can't believe how much they grew! I took some time yesterday and put them all in pots and put those in baskets & such. I have a wreath I made with painted wood apples & sunflowers on the door.

  • Juls Owings September 10, 2018

    Brandy... boy do I remember the years going without sleep with my youngest that nursed every 90 min...she was a preemie with the other 5 kids.

    I have had a couple rounds of skin cancer, worse was on my nose even with 100 SPF sunscreen, ended up with plastic surgery to fill the hole in. I started seeing a doctor for it when both of my parents had treatment for it.

    Tonight we had potato soup and lunch meat ham with cheese grilled. I've only went to the store twice in last month. Once was for milk,bread and a few veggies.

    Still not completely in our new home but don't ever go over to the old place without filling the car completely to bring back. Still checking gas prices on GasBuddy for the lowest prices.

    Ordered fabric through Joann fabric using coupons,sales and ebates to fabric to make the winter curtains. I couldn't find anything in the size of the windows that wasn't running close $40 for one window.
    Rest is here...

  • Lorna September 10, 2018

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) .

    Brandy you will be in our prayers for a good outcome to the biopsies they took for your skin lesions :) . Such sound advice on keeping yourself protected from the sun and yes I encourage everyone to get checked by the doctor if they see a skin lesion. Being a redhead myself with really fair skin I tend to do all of my outside garden and other work in a broad brimmed hat, jeans and a 50+ UV rated long sleeve shirt.

    I hope Brandy that the housing market picks up in your area so your budget can increase. You have done so well in all that you do and are an inspiration to many of us here. We all have seasons in our lives some busy and some not so I hope and pray yours will settle down for you so you can have a little more "you" time.

    Our savings for last week added up to $485.97 :).

    Here is what we did and accomplished this week and how we saved -

    Blessings -
    - A friend had too many eggs from her chickens and gave us 3 dozen free range eggs saving us $12.

    Finances & free internet listings -
    - Banked more money into our saving for our home bank account bringing us to 28.49% of the way there.
    - Listed 58 free listings on eBay taking advantage of a free listing and final auction value fee promotion saving $95.70 on usual listing fees.

    Earnings -
    - Earned $35.35 from the sale of dried thyme picked and dried from the gardens and a handmade A4 notebook cover which we banked some of and purchased other needed items for the home with.

    Purchases -
    - Purchased 123 x 50ml unused glass amber bottles from the tip op shop for .10c ea saving $61.50 on usual prices. We will save some for us to use for vanilla extracts and other extracts as well as essential oils and sell the rest on the internet so ours will be free.
    - Whilst at the op shop I picked up a lovely book on herbs and herbal remedies for .20c saving $4.75 on the cover retail price.

    Firewood and in the gardens -
    - Cut a cubic metre of Ironbark firewood from a friends farm saving $200 over purchasing it locally.
    - Divided off 4 new thyme plants from thyme in the gardens saving $18 over purchasing them in the local nurseries.
    - Harvested lots of French and English lavender from the gardens to dry for home use and for sale.
    - Planted 2 x 2 mt rows of turnip seeds in the gardens.
    - Used saved dish rinsing and shower warm up water to water fruit tree pot plants and newly planted vegetable seeds in the gardens.

    In the kitchen -
    - Made a double batch of choc chip and coconut queen biscuits weighing from items we had here saving $11.77 over purchasing the same amount and similar quality in the shops.
    - Made or started 600 ml of vanilla extract from vanilla beans I purchased on a 16.66% price discount using our $240 for $200 Woolworth e-voucher saving $46.90 over purchasing it in the local supermarket.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  • Signerjack September 12, 2018

    Hi, I am in Australia too and love to garden. Mine is so tiny, but I still make and sell things from it. How big is your garden? It sounds huge. My growing area is only 2 raised beds, each 2 meters by a meter. I added up what I sold last year and it came to about $1,100 of which about $700 was profit.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 12, 2018

    Wow! That is amazing from the two small raised beds. Truly inspiring!

  • Lorna September 13, 2018

    Hi Signerjack and well done on making so much money from your gardens too, it all helps with the budget :) .

    We have 133 square metres of vegetable, herbs and berry gardens planted here currently and we grow enough vegetables for us to feed us all year round as well as sell our herbs and lavender which we dry on the internet too. There is another 50 square metre garden bed we don't have planted at the moment due to the drought and water restrictions.


  • Marybeth September 10, 2018

    Good luck Brandy. Sending you prayers and hugs. My mom had skin cancer on her leg and my dad had it on his head on his bald spot. Both had it removed and are fine now. I am super aware and always take precautions.

    Does your library have online homework help? Ours does and it is wonderful. The kids can go online to the library and ask for help with a question. It is great.They do Math much different then I did in school. I took french and my kids took Italian. It has saved us many times. Great for older kids when the homework is very hard.

    I have been using the garden produce up. Tomatoes in everything. I also canned more sauce, made more pickles and made hot sauce for the first time. I have cooked all meals at home except for a lunch date Hubby and I went on. Work on our new driveway started and my youngest daughter started back to school. She has her licence now so I am no longer a chauffeur and she can run herself where she needs to go. It is very strange. The rest of my list is here: https://mcoia.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-frugal-list-week-of-september-3-2018.html

  • Megan B September 10, 2018

    Picked another gallon freezer bag full of blackberries (this time at my husband’s work)!

    eBay sales this week = $0. Hopefully this coming week will be better!

    Had leftovers or quick thrown together meals a couple of times when we were tempted to eat out!

    Went camping (RVing) this weekend and took snacks/drinks for the two-hour drive (normally we would stop at the gas station on the way out of town). While at the KOA my husband decided he wanted mustard (which he had said to not bring while at the house). I went to buy a bottle in the camp store, and they were out. But they gave us some to-go packets and wouldn’t let me pay for them. Worked perfectly for what we needed! Used my KOA membership to get 10% off each night’s space rent and then our rewards to discount the bill by $10.

    Hoping everything comes back as healthy with your test results Brandy, and that you get some rest!

  • Caroline September 10, 2018

    I wish you all warm wishes and hope you find a calm among the storm. I also hope you do not have skin cancer but as you said it is very treatable if you go find out. Continuing to pray that you all get back to your schedule or find a new norm. Take care!

  • KellyK September 10, 2018

    Hi Brandy! I don't have any frugal activities to add. Just wanted to stop by to let you know that I'm praying for your family with the new routine and also that your skin biopsy comes back benign! Many prayers from me to you!

  • cherie September 10, 2018

    Brandy sending prayers for your health and support for your efforts! You are doing so beautifully, as always, balancing and prioritizing - you're always an inspiration, even in your honest struggles

  • Tabbie September 10, 2018

    My goodness, you have so much going on and yet always seem to get so much done for your family. So glad you are taking things seriously and not ignoring them. Will be hoping for quick results for you and that you heal quickly.
    I am having to put on my frugal hat now more than ever. My husband and I are about to sign on our first home together. While we have calculated out the numbers every way possible and purchased a modest home for far less than what we were told we could afford, it's still such a large purchase and we want to be smart about things.
    We have been living in an rv and traveling for his job for 4 years so we have almost no furniture so that will be an expense as well. The good thing is that neither of us are in a hurry and are perfectly ok taking our time to shop around at garage sales etc to find deals and what we like.

  • Becky September 11, 2018

    What an exciting time for you! You will feel like you are in a palace after living in the RV, although I know from experience that can be fun, too. (We only lived in ours for 3 months, but there were 5 of us, so even though we moved into a small house, it felt good to stretch out). Congratulations!

  • Tammy September 10, 2018

    I hope your test results come back healthy. I said a prayer for you.

    Made all meals at home and when we went to town brought our cooler with food in it and water in a mason jar to eat and drink. Used internet for recipes. Buying only things we absolutely need. Nothing extra.

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