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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Fall Harvest 2018 The Prudent Homemaker

With beautiful weather this week, it was perfect to plant a fall garden.

I planted the bulbs I ordered back in July from Van Engelen, a wholesale supplier of bulbs. As long as you make the minimum order requirement, you can purchase bulbs from them for personal use at great prices. I planted peonies (of the earliest blooming type, planted at soil level here in zone 9), lilies, calla lilies, and anemones from them.

I sowed seeds in the garden for green onions, beets, lettuce, parsley, spinach, and arugula. 

Patty Pan Squash The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden, I harvested Swiss chard, basil, pears, patty pan squash, a zucchini, an Armenian cucumber, and a few pomegranates that split early.

I used produce from the garden and the store to decorate a table runner for our table for fall.

I read an e-book from the library on my phone.

I've had a cell phone for a year and a half now, since the local phone company raised taxes to equal the lowest cell phone rate I can find with service in our area. I got a "free" android phone (I had to pay the sales tax on it of $79; it's a ZTE) and I have a month to month deal with Metro PCS that is $30 a month--but actually we pay $25 a month, as my husband also has his phone (which is his work phone) there and they give you a $5 discount on each line for additional lines.

When I got a cell phone, we cancelled our home phone. My husband also no longer has an office phone, and all calls to his office come straight to his cell phone.

Our children do not have cell phones, but my eldest son chose to get a free Google phone number, and he makes and receives calls through our home wifi using a headset and his computer (he also texts with this number, using the wifi at home and free wifi when he is elsewhere and takes his computer with him). His computer is an old laptop that my brother gifted to him. As my son is on the phone a lot, helping people with their genealogy, he enjoys having his own number.

While running errands this week, I charged my phone in the car and listened to music using on Pandora. My eldest showed me how to turn on the Bluetooth in the car (seriously so easy but I had never done it) so that I can listen to my music stations on Pandora through the car's speakers. My husband was so excited about it that he did the same--and then just switched to directly plugging in the phone with a cord to the radio, so I did the same the next time I used the car. We don't have a data usage problem as we are usually on wifi at home (my husband works from home some part of every day and often the entire day several days a week) and our data for the month is 4 GB, but then it just slows down; we are not charged for going over.

I downloaded a free music flashcard app on my phone to help my daughters cement their knowledge of music notes while I brush their hair. 

We continued to use free sites for school, including typing.com, duolingo.com, tonictutor.com (a music note site)  and xtramath.org.

I took 8 of our 9 children to a free orchestra concert at the high school.

While I wait for the shower to warm up (collecting water in a 3-gallon recycled icing bucket in the meantime) I have time to do 25 -35 repetitions of arm-toning exercises using hand weights I purchased at a garage sale for $3 several years ago. I had gotten out of the habit of doing this while I was pregnant and I am trying to make it a regular habit now. It's not much time, but I think every little bit that I can work into my day is a good thing and will add up, just as the tiny things I do to save money add up to thousands of dollars saved each year. I use exercises from this video.

While doing early-morning laundry, putting on makeup and curling my hair, I listened to The Book of Mormon in French using the free Gospel Library app.

I did more French study using free online sources and looking up some words using the free Word Reference dictionary. You can use their site or download their free app. I use the app a lot while messaging friends in France.

I made a batch of spray leave-in conditioner/detangler using a tiny squirt of regular conditioner in a large spray bottle of water. This saves me $8 a month over buying the large bottle of Infusium leave-in conditioner. 

I have been thinking it was time to spray the house again for bugs. It is very common to have a bug service here come to spray for bugs every month for between $30-$55 a month. We don't do that; instead, I purchased three 1-gallon containers of spray at Walmart about 4 years ago for $15 total and I spray the outside perimeter of the house on occasion. When my 8-year-old was sweeping under the table after dinner and found a large scorpion Tuesday night, I killed it (I had to stomp on it 6 times to kill it!) and then I decided that there was no time like the present and immediately went outside to spray for bugs, finding (and stepping on) a huge wolf spider right outside my front door when I started to spray. 

I am so glad it is cooler and soup is welcome on the menu again! This week I made Tuscan tomato bread soup, roast chicken, squash soup, mashed potatoes, paninis, bean and rice burritos (with pinto beans purchased in bulk and cooked outside in my solar oven), granola, yogurt, and crepes. I made large batches of most of these so that I didn't need to cook every day; lunches were leftovers almost every day this past week.

My husband and I had a date night at home. We had ice cream and played several games of Sequence.

Careful watching of my electricity usage (and nice weather!) brought in the amount $27 less than the week's projected amount from the electric company. 

Fall Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker 

What did you do to save money last week?




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  • Janet October 23, 2018

    When buying at Home Depot you can use Harbor Freight coupon for 20% off one item. I have done this several times in the last few weeks to get things we needed and it was easy. (no hassle or problem)

  • Terry October 22, 2018

    Went to the thrift store today for their 1$ yellow tag sale. Got 59.95 of clothing( at thrift store prices) for hubby for 5$. A pair of banana republic jeans, 3 flannel shirts and a fleece pullover.
    Only spent 10.02 last week on groceries for milk, bread, ice cream and sour cream. Used up lots of leftovers. Today I repurposed the last of the pumpkin custard into muffins for tomorrow. Made beef stew from some leftover steak, garden veggies and frozen tomato sauce.
    Wrapped a birthday gift for a granddaughter in saved wrappings from last year's gifts.
    Stayed home and caught up on some household chores while hubby did yard work. The garden is done. We have lots of winter squash and apples in the garage.
    My daughter sent half a gallon of Vermont maple syrup for my birthday. I bought a new waffle iron at the thrift store for 1$. We've been enjoying banana pancakes and waffles made with frozen bananas.

  • Roberta in So. Cal. October 22, 2018

    What a lovely floral arrangement! Thanks for posting the info for the music note practice site/app. I may have my son check it out.

    Our Frugal Efforts

    * Ate mostly home-prepared meals including burrito bowls; chicken pot pie; omelettes; broccoli cheese soup; sweet potato, red onion, kale and rosemary pizza; and leftovers. We also had one meal of hot dogs, salad, and chips at a scouting event.

    * Made 5 loaves of bread and some peanut butter.

    * Harvested bell peppers, two kinds of other peppers (don't know the varieties), three tomatoes, green beans, and another butternut squash.

    * Continued to process apples, making applesauce and apple butter. (Frugal Fail: When putting the newly processed apples into the pantry, I pulled out some jars of applesauce that had been canned in 2015. They were pretty scary and went straight out to the garbage cans. It was sad enough to lose the food, but the worst part of the situation was losing the jars. Still, I didn't want to risk food poisoning, so they were tossed. Lesson learned: Be sure to rotate your stock!)

    * Gave all non-scary food scraps to the chickens or the compost pile.

    * Let out the hem of a pair of pajama bottoms for my son. He's grown about 4" in as many months.

    * Cleaned a sluggish drain w/ baking soda, vinegar, and the hot water left over from canning.

    * Saved the seeds from a cantaloupe.

    * Made homemade "iced vanilla latte" for son to take with him to a school event so he didn't have to buy the expensive items from the snack bar.

    * Brought home two salad dressings, catsup, mustard, hot dog buns, 4 hot dogs, and a partial jug of OJ from the scouting event.

    * Hubs mended a spoon rest that I managed to break.

    Have a great week, everyone! I'm off to read the others' comments.

  • Cindi October 24, 2018

    I'm so sorry about the loss of canned food. If the jars aren't cracked, you can empty, wash, and sterilize them and use them again. Glass doesn't harbor nasty organisms as plastic might.

  • Maxine October 24, 2018

    Next time you find old canning, open the jars and pour it down the drain or the garbage disposal. If you don't have a disposal, or canned the fruit with pits, pour it through a strainer and discard the solids. Rinse the jars and then wash in the DW, or in hot water with a little bleach added. There really is no need to throw away the jars.

  • Athanasia October 24, 2018

    Roberta, can you still maybe rescue your canning jars?

    Applesauce can go dark and blotchy especially if something like "fruit fresh" wasn't added. I wonder if it was still good. I occasionally find a missed older (high acid) product and after checking it out will still use it in a dish that is well cooked.

  • Roberta in So. Cal. October 26, 2018

    Cindi, Maxine, and Athanasia,

    Thanks, ladies, for your advice. It's too late to rescue the jars, sadly, as the trash was picked up on the 23rd. I had it in my mind that the jars shouldn't even be opened, and in the busyness of life didn't bother to reread my Ball canning book and realize that apples are high acid foods. Sigh. "Haste makes waste" as my mom used to say.

    Well, more lessons learned: seek advice from knowledgable friends and read instruction manuals. :p

  • tadpole October 22, 2018

    The thought of scorpions gives me the screaming heebie jeebies! I have enough problems squishing spiders; I think I would burn down the house if I came across a scorpion! Good for you for being brave enough to dispatch it without loosing your home.

    Last week, I:

    traded my mending services for two nice steaks! It's rewarding to do a favour for the local butcher.
      worked on reducing our energy consumption using some of the items from a free energy saving kit I ordered from our electrical provider [list]brought in the last of our firewood (I hope!) [list]and made a cake using an on-sale cake mix and a can of pop I had in my fridge. It sounded crazy so I had to try it. It was pretty good and I saved the cost of butter and eggs.

    We are really having to tighten our belts over the next couple of months, so I really appreciate the tips and advice I find here.
    Have a great week everyone!

  • Athanasia October 24, 2018

    Tadpole, is that a picture of your downtown on your blog ? Very picturesque. I also liked the black and white apple pickers with just the red color on the apples.

  • Becky October 22, 2018

    I love the arrangement. I recently used a squash just like that. I just sliced it into thin wedges and stir-fried it along with some other veggies. It was great.

    The week was odd, with many doctor's appointments of various sorts for my husband. We managed, but ended up juggling some of our work hours, which always throws my schedule off.

    It was out turn to feed the college-aged kids at church. We made our own giant sub sandwich, using 5 loaves of French bread. Pictures are on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-october-21-2018/. I was pleased at how it came out, and it's a great, inexpensive idea for a party or when feeding a group.

    I worked in the garden every chance I got. It sounds like you did, too, Brandy! I'm appalled at your spider/scorpion story. We don't have a lot of those kinds of critters here, thank goodness. Scary! However, Sunday morning, extremely early, our yard light kept coming off and on, off and on. When I went and investigated, I saw a skunk in our semi-enclosed back porch, tearing up a bag of bird seed. Who knew? I'm very glad it didn't spray, and cleaned up that bird seed completely after church.

    I've picked and canned the last of the ripe tomatoes into pizza/pasta sauce and pulled most of the bushes. I still have the green ones to make into Salsa Verde.

    We've needed hardly any regular groceries for the past 2 Fridays, so I ordered some bulk items from Azure Standard, and we went to a farm stand and got a bunch of produce, including 25 lbs. of onions, cauliflower, potatoes, and peppers. I cannot believe we have used almost ever single onion I grew, either in canning I did, or in meals. I felt like we had grown quite a few! I froze 16 quart-sized bags of cauliflower from 4 enormous heads of cauliflower we bought, and we still have some to eat fresh in the fridge from those same 4 heads!

    My daughter went to the homecoming dance on Saturday. She wore the dress I sewed, and it fitted well and looked nice. I was asked to post pictures, and we finally got some good ones the day of the dance. So they are on: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/patsys-dress/
    I'm really happy it turned out.

    We also helped at a 4H bake sale fund-raiser. The kids had fun, and we have now met our volunteer requirements for the entire year.

  • Susan October 23, 2018

    I love the dress. Your daughter looks so happy with it. I love the lace overlay.

  • Marcia R. October 23, 2018

    I agree. One of my daughters has always been a little chubby, especially in the pre-teen years and I remember making a bathing suit into a size 16 1/2 from a size 14 pattern. She always wanted two patterns put together, from a brocade and velvet Christmas outfit to her actual wedding dress, which I made for about $65 (tea length) and a lot of sweating! It was organdy over a taffeta slip dress, with four different laces if I remember correctly. The sleeves were gorgeous--deep pleats down the sleeve, with lace inside the pleats. I loved sewing but I haven't done much of it lately!

  • Becky October 24, 2018

    It sounds like you have done quite a bit of altering, as well, so completely understand that I was really sweating it for a while, until I was sure it was going to fit!

  • Becky October 24, 2018

    Thank you, Susan. I was a little worried it would be too delicate, but it all worked out once I put the edging on it, and basted it to the underlay. Whew!

  • Diane October 24, 2018

    Beautiful dress, beautiful girl! Love the color!
    Thanks for the huge sub sandwich idea!! I work for a youth pastor and feed the middle school and high school groups on Tuesday nights. Always looking for fun new ideas and I’m doing this next week!

  • Becky October 24, 2018

    I'm so glad you can use the idea for the sub sandwich. The kids really loved having it that way--it seemed special to them. I'm sure you find that kids are a joy to cook for--they eat it all up and tell us over and over how much they like even the simplest thing! Because we wrap all leftovers and the kids take them home for lunch the next day, I left the extra fillings out--only put in the meat and cheese and they could add the toppings they wanted at the dinner, and take extras for later. That way they would not be soggy the next day. It didn't hurt my feelings at all that there were only about 7 little pieces left over in the end:). Now, I need to enquire if there are actually more kids to cook for in the future, or if this group really likes sandwiches...always good to know.

  • Diane October 25, 2018

    How smart!! I am going to put the vegetables on the side now as well. Thanks!
    You’re right - nothing is more gratifying than cooking for teenagers. (Especially hungry middle school boys!

  • Athanasia October 25, 2018

    Becky, the dress turned out just lovely and your daughter looks perfectly happy in
    her pictures. The blue color is perfect for her pale skin and red hair.

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks October 26, 2018

    Patsy looks so pretty and happy and I love the dress! Well done. That was a LOT of alterations, but with a great outcome. Very pretty and I love the color.

  • Rhonda A. October 22, 2018

    Brandy, so glad we don't have scorpions and deadly spiders around here. I sure hope that bug spray helps, and quickly too! I'm sure that making extra is quite difficult for you, considering the quantities you need just for one meal. However, I hope by having leftovers for lunch the next day is working well for your family. Having food ready to go for school lunches must be a huge time saver for everyone in the morning! I hope your children all enjoyed the free concert outing.

    This past week was a whirlwind of appointments and scheduled events. We made it through. Now I have a list of things I need to do at home for this week, like preserving the apples, pears and pumpkin before they go bad. Hopefully I don't burn the pumpkin purees this time! This week, our family's frugal accomplishments are:
    *Meals made at home included canned soup from the pantry with homemade garlic bread (hubby request), breaded chicken fingers/burgers with Kraft dinner and corn (DD request), chicken low mien stir-fry with veggie spring rolls, eggs Florentine (mom & I home alone...daddy took DD to McD's), boiled eggs with baked beans, white rice, and leftover corn (mom and I home alone again...DD volunteered at Spaghetti dinner and hubby working), and homemade macaroni & cheese casserole.
    *Stock up deals this week included: Soy sauce 4 @ $1/bottle (normally pay $1.88/bottle), broccoli 8 @ $0.98/bunch and 4 @ $1.27/bunch (needed more for freezer), Cheeze Whiz 8 @ $2.77/jar (hubby & DD request), carrots 2 @ $0.88/3lb bag (for fresh eating/Guinea Pig), ladies deodorant 12 @ $1.99 (stock was low), Kraft Dinner $5.97/12 box pack, potatoes $1.97/10lb bag, Gobstoppers candy 4 @ $0.50/box (added to candy stash for stockings & Easter baskets), and cream cheese 5 @ $2/tub (assorted flavours).
    *My mom prepared 4 regular sized and 1 smaller sized unbaked apple pies for the freezer. We pull and bake these as needed for holidays or other occasions throughout the year.
    *Cut, steam blanched and froze 11 bunches of broccoli. Broccoli is being requested a lot lately, so when it went on sale, I stocked up again!
    *Frugal fail: I burned the pumpkin while trying to cook it into puree. So mad it happened! At least I was able to roast the pumpkin seeds without burning them.
    *Reorganized the shelf of home-canned goods in the basement, took mental note of what was there, and moved some to the kitchen cabinets for easier access.
    *Attended my monthly Weaver's and Spinner's guild meeting. Enjoyed learning about a weaving technique in the weaver's study group (we meet before the general meeting). Afterwards, we had fun creating Christmas ornaments that will be used to decorate a charity Christmas tree (the trees are auctioned off as a fundraiser).
    *Had my eyes examined this week. It was covered under our health care, as I am diabetic (diet controlled). I only paid $20 OOP for a special photo they take of the back of the eye. My "cheater glasses" prescription (for reading fine print) has changed, but all I need is a set of cheap reader glasses from the dollar store.
    *When to "teacher's night" at DD's school. She only has 1 credit course this semester with the rest of her class time in LLS (life & learning skills class). DD still has things she needs to work on, but everyone is well aware of her disability. We are grateful DD's credit course art teach also has a daughter on the autism spectrum, so she really gets what we are up against. All her teachers understand these issues are difficult to change and will need time & consistency to address them. I talked to DD about some things that came up, so we will see if it helps with her more aware of the issues (at least one can hope, anyways). Huge difference from last year, though!!!!
    *We attended a baby shower on Sunday for a family friend. My mom went a bit crazy with buying things, some on sale, some not, but all various sizes the baby can grow into, plus a nice blanket. I restrained myself and spent close to $10 for my portion of the gift...a really beautiful tunic style dress, 12-18 month size, on clearance for $5 and a cute giraffe plush baby toy for $3. I would have considered making something, but I've been just too busy to carve out the time to do it. We decided to package it all up in 1 gift with all our names on it (mom, DD and I), instead of buying multiple cards and bags. It was a nice afternoon of visiting with friends.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

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Guest November 16, 2018

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