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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Hamish 4 months The Prudent Homemaker

Hamish sat up a couple of weeks ago at 4 1/2 months old. Now he wants to sit up all the time.


I sewed 5 toddler bibs that I cut out from an old fitted sheet of my mom's.

I turned a pair of my son's pants with a torn knee into shorts.

I turned a pair of my daughter's jeans with a torn knee into shorts, and I turned a pair of boot cut jeans into shorts. Since I buy the girls' jeans for $0.50 to $2 a pair at garage sales, I'm not out a lot to start when they quickly wear out the knees in their jeans. Shorts are more practical here for most of the year, so they wear the shorts until the fabric wears out.

I opened the windows in the early mornings when it was below 79 to air out the house and keep from running the air conditioner for a couple of hours each morning. We need air conditioning here during the day through October, so it was nice to be able to open the windows just for a short while before we reached triple digits this past week.

Some of my agapanthus plants died over the summer (they burnt in the heat, a common problem here for many plants). The local nursery was having a sale on them, so I purchased some new ones while they were on sale. 

My husband gave our eldest son a haircut.

My husband and his brother fixed our back door, which has not been closing properly for some time.

I read several e-books from the library. I paid $62.32 a year in taxes for the library this year, and I have gotten more than my money's worth (One likes to think of the library as being "free," but it isn't really free.) The library recently purchased several e-books that I requested, so I've been able to read books that I really wanted without having to purchase them.

I enjoyed two magazines that I have a free subscription to, thanks to Recyclebank.

I cut red noodle beans and Armenian cucumbers from the garden. We used the beans in a dinner of fried rice (along with eggs, onions, and carrots) and the cucumbers with white bean dip (along with purchased carrots, cut into sticks) for a lunch. I also cut chives from the garden.

I cooked a large batch of pinto beans in the solar oven, which I used to make bean burritos.

I saved some old raisins that were becoming rather dry by using them to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. The recipe calls for soaking and slightly cooking the raisins with water to make them plumper, so even if your raisins are super old, they will still work well in this recipe.

I made a bottle of anti-static spray using store-brand witch hazel and water in a $1 travel spray bottle. A reader suggested this in the comments a couple of months ago and my eldest said it works great. She used about 60% witch hazel to 40% water (the original comment said 50/50, I believe).

I repurposed a beautiful blue and white gravy boat that a reader sent to me to hold flashcards that we are using every day.


What did you do to save money this past week?








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  • Cindi September 25, 2018

    What a beautiful boy!
    We’re home from a two-week camping trip in Utah. We try to keep these trips as frugal as possible – we bring all our food from home (or buy it at grocery stores along the way) and do most of our camping in free forest service or BLM sites. We did pay for camping for three nights, but were able to take advantage of a senior discount for two of those nights. We hiked, fished, visited free or low-cost museums, and read and relaxed a lot. I hand-washed clothes and hung them to dry at our campsites. Most of the trip expenses were for gas.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 25, 2018

    Brandy, I wish I lived close to you. I have fallen in love! HAMISH! I would come over and babysit him or cook or do dishes for you but we are separated by thousands of miles. Hamish is stealing
    all of our hearts! Ann

  • mrs.p September 25, 2018

    Our local salvation army had all there clothes for 69 cents and after you check out they gave you a flyer that stated to comeback the next day and clothes will be 50 cent and everything else 50 percent off. Clean out the cupboard and need to use some can goods. Was able to open the windows and let the fresh air in. Made homemade bread instead of buying it. My daughter has a dance using the shoes from last year prom.

  • Elizabeth September 26, 2018

    1. My daughter started using a free class run by ASL university to learn sign language for one of her foreign language credits (she has been taking sign language classes for three years at our co op, but this one is more in depth and will bring her quickly up to an intermediate level)
    2. Found great deals on walmarts clearance aisle: two 24-count granola bars for $2 (slightly squished) and sushi rice for $1.50....**making sushi is not as hard as I imagined it to be, but making the perfect rice is very challenging!
    3. Saved $90 on new tires and an oil change by stacking coupons
    4. Picked up library books for school and "just for fun" reading
    5. Found the second season of Victoria at the library for my daughter...she was very pleased:)

  • Kiki September 26, 2018

    Cute little guy! Well, of course, our taxes pay for the public libraries! And they also pay for the roads we all drive on, our public schools, police and fire depts. etc. The taxes in my large city also pay for the many, many beautiful public parks and beaches that we enjoy. It has to be paid somehow. It's not "free." We all know that!

  • Maxine September 26, 2018

    Which is all the more reason to use our libraries, parks, etc.--we're paying for them. I went to a Master Gardener presentation at my library last night and checked out a book I'd reserved through interlibrary loan. The book would have cost me $30 to buy (well, not really, because you all know that I'd buy it used), but it doesn't take too many of those to more than make up for the taxes.

  • Ava September 26, 2018

    Daily habits I continue to try to cultivate: Caught water from shower warm-up and rinsing produce, etc, and used it to water the herb garden and potted plants, added produce scrapings to the composter, and used herbs from the garden in cooking as well as bouquets. I used the clothesline as often as possible, took advantage of cooler temperatures to shut down the air conditioner (hoping to leave it off now that fall has arrived), washed and reused zip-lock and sandwich bags. My husband and I “refreshed” several rooms by switching pictures around. He sold a few items on eBay, and we added the money to our vehicle repair fund. I’ve begun unpacking autumn decorations so I can decorate with what we already own, which always serves to lift my spirits.

    I inadvertently snipped a beautiful squash vine that has greeted me with gorgeous gold blossoms all summer long – I was so upset. I hastily put it in a pitcher of water, where it began putting out new roots almost overnight. I’m hoping to replant it? The sweet potato I sprouted and planted has practically taken over the garden – I can’t believe how hardy it is. It, too, has been putting out pretty blossoms (delicate lavender) for weeks. I don’t think either the squash (which was a volunteer that popped up next to the sweet potato) or the potato will produce gourds or tubers, but the leaves make beautiful and abundant greenery in bouquets, and also, I’m enjoying them both very much and that counts for something (or so I tell myself).

    Unexpected: We were asked to make a very long drive (nearly 700 miles) at the very last minute. It was not an emergency or catastrophe, but we decided the situation warranted the effort. I tried to economize where possible, including putting together a last-minute snack cooler using what we had on hand (there was quite literally no time to shop anyway) – hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, applesauce, fresh berries, bread, peanut butter. I had brewed sun tea a day or two before so poured that into reusable bottles, and froze half a dozen water bottles which, along with zip-lock bags of ice, served to keep the cooler cold and tasted good during the warm parts of the drive. I sliced a lemon for the water and the tea.

    We had enough loyalty points for a free stay at our hotel, but we booked less than 24 hours in advance and weren’t able to use them. I was unhappy about that, but the price was at least reasonable, and we collected points for future use. And at 11:30 p.m., after a 13-hour drive with “rest stops” that included wrangling two extremely large, unruly/untrained dogs (they were the reason for the sudden trip), we were just grateful for a clean bathroom, hot showers, and clean comfortable beds to fall into. A full breakfast was included and we took advantage of it, including adding yogurt, fruit, and cookies to the cooler for the return drive. I refilled the zip-lock bags with ice from the hotel as I re-packed the cooler. I filled out the satisfaction surveys emailed to me after checkout, which added more points to our account.

    Gratitude: 1.) We felt very thankful that our situation allowed us to make this unexpected trip. 2.) We were so grateful to my mother, who insisted we take her SUV to save wear and tear on our vehicles. (It was my late father's, and Mom keeps and maintains it so the family can use it as needed.) 3.) The trip involved driving through some areas that were new to us both, so in spite of the suddenness and tension involved, we agreed to appreciate seeing new and beautiful places.

    Notes (and more gratitude): My husband and I have not always been in accord regarding what it means to be frugal. Some years ago, we went through a rough time, which included a great deal of criticism directed at my attempts to be conscientious. We have both worked hard to change things (many things) for the better. Last night at dinner, my husband laughed and said, “I love it when you go to the ‘fridge, say, ‘What can I do with what's here?’, and pretty soon there’s this delicious meal. It’s so cool – it’s really a gift.” His words meant a lot to me and I wanted to pass on my gratitude to this community, where I’ve found ideas, encouragement, and good humor to help me “keep on keeping on”.

  • Heidi September 27, 2018

    Ava - I know what you mean about your husband saying, "I love it when you go to the fridge and say 'what can I do with what's here'..." My husband once bragged to the kids that I could make a three course meal with a tomato and some moldy cheese. We laugh about that a lot, but I really do love the challenge of cooking meals with whatever is laying around.

  • Maxine September 27, 2018

    Ava, I love your post.

  • Ava September 28, 2018

    Heidi - you're right, it's a challenge but a fun one, and it definitely helps to get the "props" from the husband. "...a tomato and some moldy cheese"...love it. ;)

    Maxine - thank you for your kind words. That means a lot to me.

  • Heidi September 26, 2018

    Hello everyone!
    We've had one of *those* falls! Last week I think I shard that a car broke down, the water softener died and my kindle stopped working. This week our downstairs bathroom upflush pump died and poured freezing cold tank water into the finished basement which is carpeted and the toilet tank is also cracked and needs to be replaced, one of the other commuter vehicles is acting up and we discovered that a cat had been peeing in one spot on an area rug which is on top of a wooden floor with beautiful cherry trim which is now...yup...black. Of ALL the things I was most frustrated by the floor part made me cry. Have I mentioned that these cats have destroyed every single piece of fabric furniture in our house? Every single one.
    HOWEVER. :) I have a job interview for a part time position this week which, if I get it, will help to alleviate some pressure. Our youngest homeschooler is in highschool and pretty much independent in terms of schooling and the position is very part time and VERY early (5am start) so I'll still be able to manage homeschooling situation.
    My husband can fix both the toilet and install the new pump which we're trying to locate on the cheapcheap.
    The car that's in the shop is fixable and not dead as feared so we'll get that back for less than we anticipated spending.
    I've harvested rosemary, basil, parsley, squash, chard and kale from the garden.
    I redid our budget and think that I might actually have a handle on it and made it so that I can manage it with fewer steps. Simple is best for me. :)
    We've been taking advantage of the warm weather by not using the woodstove but when the basement was wet from the bathroom leak we also had a few chilly days and I ran the woodstove all the time to dry out the basement and the carpeting. The woodstove is in the basement, which is actually open to the backyard and only partially underground but we still call it the basement. This and spraying a bleach mixture has hopefully acted as a preventive against any mold growth. That would be all we would need right now...
    My husband is shaving his own head so no more haircuts. My son is growing his hair out so no more haircuts. (Let's not go there...) and my daughter's are continuing to grow their hair out as well. I'm just sticking mine up on my head all the time so I don't have to think about haircuts. :)
    I've been cooking many more vegetarian meals which is saving us money since it's mostly some form of bean. We're at meat once a week, maybe twice.
    I canceled my PayPal account and when I did I saw that there were SEVERAL charges which were just automatically renewing! I also moved all of our cell phone plans to one account so that I could assess which plan might work best for us at this point.
    My husband bought an inexpensive new router and installed it and canceled the router rental. Installing and owning our own should pay for itself in one month.
    Since we installed the solar panels last year our electric bill has been cut down to less than one third of what it used to be. I'm so grateful that we were able to do that when we did.
    I line dried several loads of laundry.
    I cooked everything from scratch.
    My husband made bread.
    We're doing without eggs because the hens are on hiatus and I've decided not to just go buy a dozen or two.
    Have a great week!

  • Patricia from Canada September 27, 2018

    Heidi, I stretch my meat by using less in meals such as stirfrys - ton of vegetables, rice or noodles and a bit of meat. It, at least makes my family feel they aren't vegetarian :) Also, in any of my casseroles that call for ground beef, I always stretch it with beans. For example, a cabbage roll casserole dish, I add lentils along with the beef and rice which cuts down on the amount of ground beef I use. Chicken quesadillas - more beans than chicken and even then, the chicken is diced fairly small. When I make homemade soup using chicken meat, I always repurpose the meat into a "pulled pork" concept on buns, or in pot pies with lots of vegetables. It's a great use for meat that I otherwise would toss because I simmer the stock for a few hours and the meat basically falls apart into shreds. But in both of the aforementioned dishes, the texture of the chicken works okay.
    Just a few ideas to stretch that meat!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 27, 2018

    Heidi and Patricia,

    I too have been stretching ground beef by using a can of lentils ($1.10) along with oatmeal and breadcrumbs in it. I made meatloaf this way. I need to improve the flavour a bit but I think some ketchup and perhaps a dash of soy sauce would do it. I am also planning on using textured soy protein to stretch the meat out a little bit. I think some of Brandy's meatless recipes sound really delicious –– the chicken fried chicken and the black bean burger sound good!

    Sorry to read about all of the things that have gone wrong, Heidi. I love that your husband makes bread!

  • Rhonda A. September 29, 2018

    Perhaps try adding some Worcestershire sauce to your meatloaf for some added flavour as well. I find it really adds a nice flavour to many beef based dishes.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada September 30, 2018

    Hi Rhonda A. Thanks for your suggestion! Unfortunately, I am severely allergic to fish and real
    Worcestershire has anchovies in it. I am smiling because Worcestershire sauce is the bane of my existence because here it is added to the tomato sauce on pizzas and in lasagne and barbecue sauces....

    I thought about using Maggi but some of it may have been in contact with seafood/shellfish and it adds salt. I am going back to my salt free ways.(right after the Thanksgiving maple flavoured birch smoked ham!) Good for blood pressure control! thanks for the thought!!!!!

  • Athanasia October 01, 2018

    Ellie's friend, Annie's Organics brand makes vegan Worchestershire sauce. No anchovies.

  • Marybeth September 28, 2018

    My son has grown his hair out many times. Other family members have made comments about it. My opinion, it is hair. Jesus had long hair so why can't my son. It is not a piercing or tattoo. I will take the long hair over many other things.

  • Heidi September 26, 2018

    Wow...sorry about all the typos. I was typing too fast!

  • Heidi September 26, 2018

    I just saw that your surgery is later this week Brandy. Good luck to you! I'll say a prayer for a speedy recovery.

  • Rebecca September 26, 2018

    Hugs - you have a lot on your plate lately. I will be sending prayers for your surgery.

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