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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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  • Jennifer September 10, 2018

    What a hectic schedule-hopefully, things calm a bit as the school year goes on! I hope your test results are clean!

    Dahlias aren't easy but worth the effort.In Minnesota, we have a good climate for them. My mother belongs to a group of women who collect and trade coveted dahlia tubers and call themselves the dahlia daises.:) The display at the state fair was beautiful. Some of the displays and winning flowers: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MinnesotaDahliaSociety/photos/?ref=page_internal. I love the variety and colors.

    Lands End frequently has great clearance/off season sales (when you have a promo code). If you need more dresses for the girls, it might be worth checking back.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 10, 2018

    I think nutmeg is a seed not a nut. No harm in being super safe and omitting it for school lunches, though.

  • Rhonda A. September 11, 2018

    It's definitely in the allergy inducing family. I learned about this from a teacher who brings her class every year for our Christmas program at my work. The teacher is severe, life threatening allergic to all nuts, including nutmeg. We now omit nutmeg from our gingerbread cookie recipe and no longer have it in our baking supplies there, because of her request. Our historic houses have nuts on display, as this was a common treat they would consume at Christmas time. She refuses to even step foot in the houses that have nuts. I think that is a bit extreme, but I don't live with a life threatening allergy, so I don't have a right to judge.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 11, 2018

    It is great that you respect her allergies and recognize the seriousness of anaphylactic reactions. People can wrongly be dismissive of the gravity of the allergy and just wrongly think it is like hay fever. She undoubtedly is allergic to all nuts and also to nutmeg. Most allergists will say nutmeg is not technically a nut but she can still be extremely allergic to it. I am severely allergic to tree nuts and to peanuts (which aren't nuts) but I've never had problems with nutmeg. I will not go to any restaurant that serves peanuts and bread is a problem because of cross contamination of the slicing machine withe nuts and peanuts. Alas, now the flour used at certain bakeries can contain traces of shellfish of all things and peanuts. My favoutie Cobbs has a few products like that and I can no longer go there. I don't think it is extreme at all for her for not to go into the houses where there are nuts. very, very wise. I myself am extremely allergic to ginger. I don't go out to restaurants because of the severe reactions I have. Another problem is that in some cities (not in Italy) restaurants like to put Worcestershire sauce in the pizza and lasagne sauces. I feel sorry for your teacher and really sympathize with her.

  • Rhonda A. September 12, 2018

    I do understand this is a life threatening allery, that she needs to be mindful of. However, I also have a daughter on the Autism spectrum that has limited food preferences due to all her sensory issues. Limiting what we can send to school also creates a bit of a headache for parents like me who deal with these issues. Yet we often don't get much sympathy for what we go through. Always seem to be fighting these double standards in society.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 12, 2018

    It is tough to have life and death allergies and which are activated almost instantly. It is bad enough to react to something you've eaten, but it is awful to react just from being around something. I am grateful that I only developed really serious food allergies as an adult. When I was growing up, there was no awareness of the seriousness of the peanut allergy.

    I can sympathize with how hard it is to find food for your daughter to send to school. There is a lot more awareness of the autism spectrum now than several years ago but undoubtedly there's a long way to go..

  • Melissa Brown September 10, 2018

    I had a basal cell carcinoma cut off my neck/shoulder in August. It was really deep with a lot of stitches and it still hasn’t healed I have taken a round of antibiotics for infection it is finally healing after about 6 weeks. My doctor saw the growth and immediately told me she was 99% positive it was basal cell she cut it all out so now I get skin checks every 6 months.
    My mini daschund she is 3 years old had to have emergency surgery last Sunday she had a herniated disk and was suddenly paralyzed. We picked her up 6 days later and she isn’t in any pain but still paralyzed. The vet said it can take several months for her to get back to 90 % function. We drove her 2 hour away to Texas A & M in College station they were the only surgeons available over Labor Day weekend. They charged us $3400 where Austin vet clinic said $6,000 but there doctor was on vacation. We have to tighten our belt for sure now but I couldn’t imagine my life with out my baby Charlee.

  • Debby in Kansas, USA September 11, 2018

    Best wishes for your Charlee! Many years ago, my little Doxie mutt went into heart failure and our vet told us it was beyond his skills, but he knew where to send us and it wouldn't be cheap. An hour later I was sitting in a waiting room at a Doggy Cardiologist in Beverly Hills!
    First time I ever saw a vet's office with valet parking. Probably one of the few times they ever parked an old Ford pick up with a little mutt for a patient! It was worth every penny. :)

  • Melissa Brown September 11, 2018

    She seems to be getting better a little each day. She is the sweetest little dog we have ever had.

  • S. CO Mary September 11, 2018

    Oh Melissa, I so identify with you. We adopted a little doxie that had been dumped on a country road. She was limping (and continues to limp) and the initial vet exam had them thinking her front paws had been broken at the "elbow". We took her to a specialist and it turns out she had poly-arthritis. So she's on a special med and doing so much better! Yes, it is expensive but I have to say I just adore little Cara so much. She's the sweetest little dog and has a sense of humor (yes, it is true!). So, some fun things planned have been put on hold and we've battened down the hatches.

  • Athanasia September 12, 2018

    We have a dachshund named Lulu and she is wonderful. Things to know about this type of dog is to always keep their weight at ideal. The roly poly dog is not a healthy dog. Also they damage their backs very easily and even jumping off the sofa or bed should not be encouraged, or even out a high SUV or truck. Doggy stairways are useful for them to get on and off your bed if they sleep with you. Lulu is a senior dog now but she is just as perky as Freya, her little sister German shepherd. I am so glad you rescued Cara!!

  • Lillianna pickles September 10, 2018

    I love modern technology. The Army base has photographers that take endless photos and post them according to company and platoon on Facebook. My skills have become advanced. I stream Facebook to the large screen tv and search for my son. I then can download photos and take them to the drugstore and print them. I have collected quite a few great photos of him and I am one happy mother. I have had no letters or phone calls from him so this makes my heart swell with joy. Of course I used a coupon for my prints. There is no savings left due to medical and car emergencies this year. I have been collecting swagbuck s like crazy to cover our trip to see him graduate. I will use my gift cards to pay my utilities and take the cash allotted for that to travel. The trip will be very hard on my recent back surgeries. I have booked the cheapest hotel available so I can recover a day before and an extra day after the two day event. We will pack food and the crockpot. Puppy will happily travel with us. The best thing about this cheap place is that the dog is welcome. My worries are heavy. I will just be able to cover my property taxes in 10 weeks. We have everything we need but the stress and pressure is constant. It is very tiring. I constantly am on high alert. I am so sorry to hear that so many others are also enduring rough times. My thoughts are with you. Brandy, I think I sent you an email.

  • Lisa from Maine September 11, 2018

    my son joined the marines last year and I, too, was grateful for all the pictures online. I was part of a facebook group for marine moms while he was at boot camp. I did not hear from him for most of his 3 months at Paris Island. He got some of my letters but not all and not in the order that I sent them (I numbered them). I'm glad you are going to his graduation. I was unable to since my husband did not want to go. I did not want him to be alone while others were surrounded by family but we were blessed that my SIL and her husband went down to share in his celebration (they are his godparents). I will continue to keep you in my thoughts & prayers during this difficult time.

  • Debora September 12, 2018

    Lillianna and Lisa from Maine - Please thank your sons for joining the military. If it were not for the service men and women, we not be enjoying the freedoms that we enjoy today. Also, thank you to the parents, spouses and other family members who wait at home for their loved ones. The military personnel and their loved ones never seem to receive the recognition and respect that they should. Just know that every time the military is mentioned a prayer goes up that the person is able to return home safe and sound.

  • Lisa from Maine September 12, 2018

    Thank you Debora for your kind words. My 19yo son has wanted to join the military since he was 4. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather who was in WWII and his 2 uncles who were in Vietnam. I am proud of him. He deploys this November so all prayers for his safety will be appreciated!

  • Christie September 10, 2018

    We made a new recipe that was so delicious and frugal. Chicken Adobo--a Filipino recipe our hospital cafeteria makes and I asked for the recipe.
    -4 to 5 pounds of chicken thighs
    -1/2 cup white vinegar
    -1/2 cup soy sauce
    -about 5 garlic cloves, crushed
    -3 bay leaves
    -some grinds of black pepper
    Place all ingredients in a big pot with a lid and simmer on low for 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. A slow cooker or instant pot would work well too. Serve over rice.

  • Terry September 12, 2018

    Can you substitute boneless chicken thighs? Recipe looks delicious and easy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ava September 13, 2018

    Thank you for this, it sounds delicious and I can't wait to give it a try.

  • Elisabeth September 11, 2018

    Morning !

    You are getting through pretty rough days ! Prayers from France.

  • Katrina September 11, 2018

    Praying for you! I think wives and moms need a 36 hour day sometimes.

    Penny at Penniless Parenting had what I think she called a "child helper", she hired a neighbor's older girl who kept the younger kids occupied so she could work around the house as needed. Any way something like that could happen with you? It'd free up some time maybe.

    Praying for God to lighten your load!

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