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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

  • Elizabeth September 14, 2018

    How do you make Miracle Spray?

  • Jeannie September 10, 2018

    Oh, Brandy, my heart goes out to you. I, too, fought cancer a few years ago. The diagnosis was devastating. My world stopped turning. It felt like a death sentence but it is no longer so. The medical breakthroughs are amazing and it appears you have caught it in time. You are doing great, making wise choices, and changes as necessary and will do great. No one will complain if you cut back on the time you spend on your blog. Do not feel guilty. Take care of yourself. We all understand.

    As for money saving this past week I chose to keep a list of my activities because I haven’t felt as if I was making any progress. It seemed the more I worked, the more there was to do. I also copied the style of others posting here and it helped me see even more money saving accomplishments.

    Recycling
    *Took glass jars to be recycled while running errands.
    *Composted all leftover kitchen scraps (what Scooter won’t eat) in the garden compost pile.
    *Organized garden seeds and put the “too old to plant” seeds in the bird-feeder.
    *Raked grass after mowing and put it on the vegetable garden.
    *Recycled aluminum foil by washing and reusing some pieces again.
    *Washed out baggies.
    *Re-perked coffee by adding one spoonful to the pot. My husband refuses to drink it because he can taste the difference – I can’t – so FREE pot for me!
    *Added more things to the “donate to the thrift store” bag. I add things as I clean.
    *Our county sponsored a hazardous waste day on Saturday. We took a load of old paint, light bulbs, and chemicals.

    Finances
    *Paid credit card online to save stamps.
    *Charged two new cell phones on husband's Bass Pro Shop credit card so he can earn points and buy bullets for free. (Used quite a few bullets this week)

    Purchases
    *Made a trip to the Amish to get milk ($2.00 a gallon) and eggs ($2.00 a dozen). It isn’t frugal after driving 50 miles one way but it’s for our health. Shared pictures of the houses and fields on my blog. No face pictures since they don't allow it.
    *Bought miracle grow potting soil to try and use to start seeds for the winter garden. I haven’t been pleased with any other brands so this is a first time trying this kind.
    *Got 5 outdoor cushions for chairs on the porch on clearance ($6.99) from Loews. Don’t like the color, but for the price, I can live with it especially since my swing sits much more comfortably.
    *Bought two new cellphones since we are dropping our landline. It will be about the same cost each month.
    *Filled up the car at the cheapest place, which was Kroger this week, and used my preferred customer $.03 discount. I didn’t have any points because we haven’t bought many groceries. I am still cleaning out the pantry.

    House maintenance
    *Repaired front porch roof: tall son Dustin power sanded the ceiling, I stood on a ladder and caulked, tall husband, painted it.
    *I painted the porch floor using leftover paint from last year. There wasn’t enough and I ended up needing to buy more. Of course, they didn’t have the same kind so I had to buy another new can and start over. Very irritating
    *Hubby made a dump run. We don’t pay for trash pickup but choose to haul our trash away ourselves. Scooter did NOT ride with us because he threw-up on me in the car the last time.

    House organization
    *Cleaned and sorted another small part of the basement pantry. I have managed to pull most of the canning jars from all of the closets, under the beds, and throughout the house. Every time Dustin walked up or down the stairs this week, he had to carry jars. (He is young, strong and has good knees.) The entertainment center in the living room is still stuffed. We don’t have a TV in there so it is fine.
    *Sorted one drawer which held odd paperwork – it is the place to throw paperwork until it is handled or filed. Evidently, I haven't organized it in two years according to the oldest dates.

    In the kitchen
    *Packed lunches and coffee to be used when running errands.
    *Cooked all meals at home.
    *Received even more food from my Mom’s pantry. Evidently, we didn’t get it all when we cleaned her house when she moved in with my sister. She came back to visit her house last Labor Day weekend and there was more food stuffed in other places I didn’t know about. Now I see from whom I inherited the trait of storing food in empty spots all over the house.
    *Focused on using expiring food from my pantry, food from Mom’s house, and the garden.
    *Canned salsa and green beans from garden produce.
    *Took Scooter’s canned dog food away from him. He has gotten snooty, picky, hard to please and is turning his nose up at everything except bites of meat from Pack Leader (my husband, Scooter’s hero). He will get dry dog food only until he learns to be more cooperative. Everyone is frugal in this house and that includes him!

    In the garden
    *Harvested: WATERMELONS!!!, tomatoes (Big Beef, White Ox Heart, Aunt Ruby’s Green, Yellow Stuffer), green beans, Yard-Long Beans, Lima beans, bell pepper, a small handful of potatoes, a few carrots, lettuce, Rat-tail radish, kale, cabbage, unknown Chinese something from saved seeds, wild dandelion greens (for high blood pressure).
    Herbs: lemongrass, lemon verbena, parsley, chives, dill, thyme, oregano, basil (assorted kinds)
    *Began seeds for winter garden in cups using leftover or saved seeds. I will only need to purchase onion sets for this winter's garden.
    *This week the garden was first invaded by a groundhog who wiped out half of my green vegetables in less than an hour. One of these can completely destroy a garden in no time at all. We set up a stakeout, rotating turns, it returned and Bill (my hero) shot it!
    *The next night hubby continued checking the garden and at midnight caught an armadillo churning up the dirt under plants looking for grubs. This time Dustin shot it! His first kill and what better prize than a dangerous armadillo. Their blood may carry the leprosy virus which can be transferred to us. It died in the middle of the garden, now that area is quarantined for a while, may lose the food, but no chances will be taken.

    Gifts
    *Collected herbs and vegetables and gave a gift basket to a friend.
    *Gave extra quart jars discovered while cleaning out pantry to another friend whose family is growing. We are downsizing.
    *I accepted kitchen towels from a friend. I don’t care if the colors don’t match my decor.

    Sewing
    *Cut the hooks off of a bra that fits horribly, tossed it, and will use the closure to repair an old one that does fit comfortably.
    *Ironed Dustin’s suit for a job interview this week (fingers crossed). Yes, I know he should do it himself but that would require me letting him touch my precious (expensive) sewing iron.

    Misc.
    *Husband and son both gave themselves a haircut.
    *Dustin’s computer got hacked with a dangerous virus. He does online banking and was worried. He traveled one hour, spent the night with his brother in Nashville where he took advantage of a friends expertise in computer repairs (He is as a professional computer repairman.) Dustin could do the programming himself but didn’t have the reboot disc keys or super fast internet to download updates. All it cost him was take-out meals for everyone - pricey, but much cheaper than paying a technician.

    UnFrugal
    *Purchased two new hummingbird feeders (paid full price, didn’t wait for sales). It appears we have a large flock migrating through and I can’t resist feeding them all. They are emptying at least one feeder every day. I suppose I should put this in an entertainment budget since I love watching them while washing dishes.

    FAILS
    *Received our phone bill and it appears since Mom moved to another state, our calls are now long distance!!!!!!!!!!! I ran over the free minimum last month and, oh dear, we will be dropping our landline and going to unlimited cell phones.

    Shock! After diligently keeping a time consuming a list all week, it appears I am more awesome than I thought! I have accomplished quite a bit, saved an abundance of money, and will not feel guilty anymore when I sit down to rest. Way to go self!

    Pictures of the houses on my trip to the Amish.
    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2018/09/amish-summertime.html

    An older post of a successful, non-throw-up-in-my-lap trip to the dump with Scooter.
    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2018/07/scooter-gets-dumped.html

    I look forward to hearing about others successes. It encourages me.

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  • Margie from Toronto September 10, 2018

    I can't believe that you didn't think you were doing well - this is a very impressive list.
    The photos of the Amish are lovely. We have Mennonites who live in communities just northwest of the city and I used to see families in the foodcourt when I worked right downtown. The used to bring produce and baked goods to the St. Lawrence Market - their baked goods were very popular!

  • Jeannie September 10, 2018

    I do things then forget what I have done. I look ahead and only see the future, or what needs to be done. My son Dustin and husband Bill, both look backward and see what has been finished. I base my decisions on what I think will happen in the future, they make choices based on what has worked for them in the past. We realized this when we were once making a big decision together and explaining our reasons for what we thought would be best. The same thing has happened over and over. We are very different personalities. A long explanation to say, I have felt like I was not doing anything productive. Now I feel better.

  • Athanasia September 10, 2018

    Jeannie, hummingbirds are indeed entertainment. We are keeping the feeder full right now as it is recommended to boost them on their way to migration.

    I did not know that about armadillos. Very interesting. We don't have those up here.

  • Jeannie September 10, 2018

    Athanasia, I have 4 feeders up at the moment. I think there are so many because my next door neighbor is selling their house and has moved. She always had a feeder up so I think her hummingbirds have "migrated" to my yard. I don't mind feeding the whole neighborhood.

    Tennessee didn't have armadillos either until a decade or so ago. They are moving north. I hate how they easily destroy a garden during the night. You wake up to find it churned up like a construction zone. It is heartbreaking. I will give them our whole woods and fields and won't care at all. Just leave my garden and the lawn alone!

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 11, 2018

    Jeannie,

    I did not know that the armadillo carries the leprosy mycobacterium. I was inspired to research that a bit. As it is not a virus, it is highly treatable through a special class of antibiotics and sometimes the same drugs used to treat tb are used to treat leprosy. I read a lot about leprosy when I was treated for tb (although it turned out I did not have tb). My mother for most of her life donated to the leprosy foundation. I'm not sure why as we don't have it here. How did you or Dustin dispose of the carcass? I believe the leprosy mycobacterium may be able to live in the soil. Vinegar might be useful to spread on your soil. I'm not sure it would work against it but vinegar is a good germ killer as would alcohol be. Even o, I would wear a mask and gloves when drenching the soil... I too am impressed by all you did!

  • Jeannie September 12, 2018

    It is good to know leprosy is treatable but I don't like the idea it might live in my soil! Bill carried the carcass on a shovel to the far back corner of the yard, a place Scooter never visits. The buzzards arrived at sunrise and enjoyed the buffet.
    This morning I avoided the area but I wonder when it will be safe? Vinegar would ruin the soil and make it too acidic. When we killed one last year, I waited about 2 weeks and threw all of the vegetables away into the burn pile, not the compost.
    Jeannie

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    Jeannie, I read a bit about the armadillo. Said they used to be hunted for food when they were still down in South America and they just keep migrating north by changing their habits. They might need to be hunted again. They have even made it to southern Wisconsin apparently.

  • Jennifer O. September 11, 2018

    Almost all southerners (95%) are immune to leprosy and ""Most people are immune to becoming infected with Hansen's disease, and most armadillos don't have the bacteria that can cause" the illness, said Dr. David Scollard, director of the National Hansen's Disease Program Laboratory Research Branch, who was also involved in the study." (https://www.livescience.com/52792-armadillos-leprosy-bacteria-spreading-southern-us.html)
    no need to kill them as they also eat bugs that can eat your vegetables.

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    The article said that armadillos dig their food out of the ground and will seldom eat a surface big or insect. So ripping up the ground under your plants to get worms, grubs, nematodes etc is not going to be beneficial to the plant in question.

  • Jeannie September 12, 2018

    They also dug up my carrots. They didn't eat them but left them broken into small pieces on top of the ground. I think it might have gotten tangled in the netting I have over the tomatoes to keep the rascally racoon from eating them. If another returns, I might get more netting and use it to make the garden irritating to enter.

    It is always something.

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  • Jennifer O. September 14, 2018

    We had bugs and such eating the roots of the plants, so once they came into eat once I didn't have a major bug problem for several years after that.

  • Jeannie September 15, 2018

    One time visiting the garden, I could handle, every night is devasting. Another one has appeared and is tearing up the ground every evening. Jennifer, imagine finding about 20 holes one foot wide and one foot deep scattered throughout your garden. Then imagine it happening every evening - that is the destruction I am facing. If only they would stay in the woods behind my house or in the fields or if they would only dig in the garden area that is lying fallow. They are welcome there but instead they prefer the soft, tilled soil under my vegetables. I would prefer the grubs and bugs to armadillos any day.
    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  • Jeannie September 12, 2018

    In the fall of 2016, they destroyed 40% of my garden. I was devastated because I had worked so hard and we needed the food.
    It was the first time I had encountered them and did not know what I was up against. I shared the horrors and pictures in this post.

    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2016/11/something-pretty-something-putrid-and.html

    Jeannie

  • Alicia Grant September 10, 2018

    Good luck with everything! Definitely take care of your health, you don’t want to wait until chemo is the prescription. That is difficult for everyone! Hopefully school will settle in to a routine that won’t consume your entire day very soon. As a mom of 9 I can empathize and know how difficult, overwhelming and most of all, WONDERFUL this crazy life is!

  • Becky September 10, 2018

    There have been a few times lately when I feel God has laid you on my heart to pray for, so I have each time. It makes more sense now. I will continue to pray for you--both for your skin, and also for your daily life.

    I agree that going to school and homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. I have walked that road several times. It is daunting enough to get dinner on the table for such a large amount of people, cooking from scratch because it's so much more economical, and then the dishes.....not even to mention the laundry, tidying, sweeping, and yard work. Then you add evening homework when it used to be done by afternoon.....yikes!!! It's brutal. I didn't even have a baby. Ever. All mine were older when I got them. So, I feel for you. Hang in there.

    I love Land's End. For many years, I have bought my swim suits there, as it is the place I found that they fit me correctly and modestly and lasted for a long, long time. They run great sales during off season for swim things, and probably other things as well. I hope you can find some more great bargains for your daughters from there or elsewhere, because I agree, it's just not sustainable to sew it all or even spend enough time at yard sales. When you are that busy, something has to go.

    This week at my house both my husband and I worked many, many hours with my niece and nephew. They went on vacation this week, so we needed to get in 2 weeks worth of hours--busy, busy. My husband took my niece to her volunteering and I took her to the zoo on another day, using our zoo pass. That was a super frugal trip, as we could re-fill previously purchased cups with soda for $1 each and one order of fries was consumed. Otherwise, we took our food. We spent several hours getting them into the school routine, which means going through a list of chores and activities in the late afternoon/early evening. Although my niece is done with school, routine is still her friend. I still needed to get some canning done, so I did it early and late. Thankfully, that project is winding down a bit. The garden is, too.

    We went camping at the beach for a very short time, and was able to take one of our daughters with us who really wanted to go, but has had to work during our other camping trips. She took us out to lunch, which was really nice of her, and the rest of the food was cooked ahead at home to make it easy. We used our park pass, so it was very economical, again. I did some extra cleaning in the camper, while I was there, as I don't anticipate taking it out again for quite a while.

    Some friends dropped off a trailer of firewood for us while we were gone. It is cut and split. We are very thankful, as we need to burn that during the winter to save money.

    We, too, are looking at a reduced budget this coming winter. There are some health issues that my husband needs to have addressed (his left hip is shot and he probably needs surgery). We have 9 doctor's appointments in the next 2 weeks between 3 of us, and most are his. He's going to be working part time, as I am, and between the two of us, we will be living off what amounts to 1 fairly small income. I'm quite excited to have him home more, and am praying that they can find a way to fix this issue in a timely fashion. He's in tremendous pain, which is getting worse and worse, so now's the time. It cannot be put off any longer. Sometimes things are what they are, and I feel so blessed that God has provided a way for us to still make it and still thrive during this tough time. He has gone through the budget with a fine-tooth comb and found some ways to reduce it. I've been working with the grocery budget, and it's lower than it was, and we are doing fine. It will be exciting to see how the next year unfolds. Hopefully, he will be a much healthier man in a year.

    I put pictures on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-september-9-2018/

  • Athanasia September 11, 2018

    Becky, we pray your husband can receive timely correction for his hip problem.

  • Becky September 13, 2018

    Thank you. We need all the prayers we can get. He had a shot yesterday that should alleviate the pain partially while he waits for other treatments. I hope it works. He's a little better today, but they said there are mixed results from the shots--they may last 2 days, they may last several months!

  • Laurie in central NC September 10, 2018

    I'll be praying that your biopsy results come back with good news. We've begun getting much needed rain, ahead of the storm, and were finally able to open windows last night after several weeks of being closed up. Fresh air is so delightful. I made an amazon purchase through here last week. I know you only get pennies each time I do, but hopefully other readers who enjoy this wonderful blog and community do so as well, and the results will assist you in buying needed items or Christmas presents. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-september-garden-frugal.html

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