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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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  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 10, 2018

    Thanks for the recipe for the pasta. I have lots of organic broccoli that I need to use up. I'm going to blanch some but
    then would love to use some in your pasta dish.

    I found your comments about rev.com really interesting and was going to try it out myself but I decided not to do so.

  • Rhonda A. September 10, 2018

    The pasta salad was perfect timing. I have been looking for a simple pasta salad with ingredients I like to eat on Pinterest. This one will be easy to modify to my liking and sounds delicious! Thanks for posting the link!!!

  • Juhli September 11, 2018

    Another thanks for a timely pasta salad recipe! I need a side dish for a potluck lunch meeting later this week and was thinking pasta or fruit salad. This is going to be it.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 12, 2018

    Yay! Am so glad that people are liking the recipe! It really is so easy and everyone from kids to adults seems to like it. Plus, it sneaks in a few veggies along the way. :)

  • Samantha September 12, 2018

    Thank you for the Rev suggestion! I had recently tried driving for Lyft or Uber, but my car isn't up to their standards-it's over 10 years old and has 205k+ miles on it- although it's very safe and reliable still. I am working through Rev's application process today, and very grateful for a side gig I can do for home. This work will pay for our homemade and on sale Christmas gifts this year (we have BIG families). I'm also really enjoying your website and recipes as well!

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 12, 2018

    Yay! Thanks so much for the website feedback, Samantha! Am glad the rev.com suggestion helped. While the on-line transcription tool isn't second nature to me yet, I'm sure with time both you and I will become very proficient at it. Best of luck earning your Christmas money! :)

  • Luba @ Healthy with Luba September 10, 2018


    I will be praying for you concerning your new schedule, for you to get more rest, and for your health.

    Last week I stayed home as much as possible, took walks for exercise, and cooked a big batch of chili the we ate for three days and shared with friends.

    I also signed up for two vendor events and turned down one that is not in our budget right now.

    I baked two loaves of bread for a meal with friends and more bread just for us.

    I sent out electronic invitations to a fun pampering event I am hosting for women.

  • Cari September 10, 2018

    Hi, Brandy, thank you for sharing the new book series that you are reading, my library has the first two available for e-books and the rest at the library so I'm excited to find more free books. Praying that your health is okay and for your schedule to ease up a bit so that you may all get some rest. Thank you for sharing your tips and for this community. Best Regards, Cari.

  • Patricia Koernig September 10, 2018

    Prayers to you, Brandy. Immensely, grateful for your blog, and the varied sisterhood it provides. May God bless you.

  • Natalie September 10, 2018

    Lands End was started in Oakham, UK. I used to work next door to them about 25 years ago (a small firm then). Best wishes for your health.

  • Athanasia September 10, 2018

    Natalie, Lands' End has been here in the Midwest USA since the very early 1960's. I have been buying swim suits from their catalog for at least 30 years as I am able to find modest swimwear from them. I know they started along Lake Michigan as a sailing equipment company and then expanded into clothes. Possibly your 25 year old store is an expansion? It's a nice store for everyday, not fad-ish clothes, like the dresses Brandy picked out for her girls. They also sell adaptive clothes. They have good customer service, too.

  • Natalie September 11, 2018

    Thank you Athanasia. I never knew that!

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    You're welcome.

  • Jennifer O. September 10, 2018

    Went for a massage at a massage school. Cheaper price for me, and students there don’t pay student loans because they “pay their way” with the massages. Used a giftcard found in my purse for groceries. Did a pot luck meal with my lady friends on Sunday and, like usual, each of us took home a couple of meals of leftovers. A colleague cut my bangs. Dyed my own hair. Put off a pedicure for an extra week. Ate from the fridge most meals. It rained, so I didn’t wash my car. Picked up some super cute Snoopy holiday hand towels, but used a coupon to get them for almost half price. Attended a Women’s Veterans Conference at the BFW. Very informative, and they provided both breakfast and lunch.

    Filled by car with diesel once the prices went down from Labor Day, but before they went up for the hurricane. Score! Bought gift cards with my credit card (and then paid it off) so I could get both credit card points and gas points. Then I used the gift cards to purchase a generator that can run my whole house and a very large propane tank… just to have the hurricane turn northward this morning. Its ok, I’m sure there will be another one.

    The new house jacks come in today so they can start fixing our foundation. I am on the schedule to get the AC replaced this week (Thank you Florence for turning) and my new washing machine should arrive the same day.

    The skylight in the RV leaked (where my husband is living for school). He fixed it with items on hand, but needed a new mattress, so he went to Ikea and got a good deal on a return (still in the plastic).

  • Heidi Louise September 10, 2018

    Best blessings to you while you wait for results! Waiting is so hard.

    (This has been a tough time for blogger-women. Mrs. Frugalwoods, at The Frugalwoods, just wrote in depth and very descriptive detail about her postpartum depression and anxiety. I had not realized that it can also affect fathers and adoptive parents. As you did, she reminds everyone to act quickly to take care of their health, and that cannot be done alone!)

  • Margie from Toronto September 10, 2018

    I honestly don't know how you do it all Brandy - you are amazing. I have had a few friends who have had bouts of skin cancer but all got in to the doctor quickly and all had good results so I pray that your results are just as positive. Once your children are more into their school routine might it be possible for some of the older children to assist with homework - just to give you a bit of a breather for an hour or two?
    I have also started reading "The Darling Dahlias" and would like to thank the reader who recommended these books - just finished book 1 and the next 3 are all sitting at the library waiting for me to pick them up tomorrow.
    After doing my stocktake last week and realizing how many servings I had on hand I stuck to not buying any meat last week and I am rotating my way through what is on hand,
    I froze more peppers and think that I now have enough on hand to get me through the Winter.
    I "saved" 2/3 of a bag of carrots that had started to turn slimy - I had no idea as it was a new bag and normally they last for ages but the heat & humidity got to them. I cleaned and cut up the saveable bits, and cooked a large batch with some brussels sprouts and then wrapped the remainder in paper towels and into a ziplock bag for the fridge and they seem to be fine. If I'd waited one more day I'd have lost the lot!
    I found nearly $3 in change when going through some clothing and purses while starting my seasonal changeover.
    I used a $3 off for every $10 spent coupon at The Bulk Barn store - needed nuts & almond extract.
    Found mouthwash at the lowest price I'll see just as I opened my last bottle - stocked up for the next few months.
    Can't wait to read everyone's comments - but please take care of yourself Brandy.

  • I September 10, 2018

    I too was wondering Brandy if there could be a redistribution of some of the chores in your household to ensure a nursing mother gets her rest. Is there anyway to alternate late homework nights and early morning get the children out the door with your DH-or are the older children old enough yet to get them selves out the door for the early class. On a side note perhaps I am old fashioned( and need my sleep) but it does seem quite a lot for children to have classes at 6 a.m. and homework until 10:45 p.m. JMHO. You are amazing in all that you do-including this blog. Blessings for a more restful week. I do hope your test results are negative for skin cancer and that real estate and your family income pick up. Take care.

  • stargirl September 14, 2018

    The early morning class is likely seminary--a scripture study class for high school students. I'm pretty sure it's an admission requirement for the school Winter is going to, and her siblings may follow her there. It's also a church obligation that Brandi and her family feel is important. I did it myself. It is tough, but it was worth it for me. I stayed up very late finishing homework in high school as well. It's hard to say what the answer is to the sleep dilemma, because it will be different for every family/child.

  • Maxine September 10, 2018

    Brandy, I'm glad you had your spots checked. I have had several pre-cancerous spots (the operative word here being PRE-) removed, so I kind of know how you are feeling right now. Also, hope your schedule relaxes a bit.

    The good news is that I didn't spend anything on or for the house this week! I cooked cheap and did all of the usual frugal stuff, plus the following--

    Didn't renew my subscription to Consumer Reports, saving $20. I don't need to buy anything (new house, new car) so I don't need it.

    Gratefully received a hydrangea and a few perennials from a friend who over-planted and now has a jungle to clear. I also divided my peonies to make more plants.

    The raised planting bed was finally built this week with leftover and salvaged lumber = $0. It's 4x10 with a 4x4 L. We were able to fill it completely with half-done compost, soil from my fencepost holes and all that alpaca poop = $0.

    My credit union is giving members $1 for every day this month that they use their debit card. I've made $5 so far.

    Made a batch of Miracle Spray, which is the best and cheapest cleaner I've ever used. I used it to pre-treat some spots in my laundry last night and it worked.

    Returned two items to Costco for a refund.

    I am using up duplicate products. I'm alternating some half-bottles of shampoo with the regular stuff. Haven't noticed any difference.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 10, 2018

    Our public library subscribes to Consumer Reports so perhaps yours does too. If you need to look something up,
    perhaps go through your library.

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