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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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  • S. CO Mary October 23, 2018

    Rhonda, so glad to hear that your DD is having a much better year at school. The events of last year were traumatic for all of you. Mary

  • Rhonda A. October 23, 2018

    Thank you, Mary. DD's art teacher made a comment that I thought was really interesting. She said they were doing "Autism training" and that some of the teachers "think they get it...they don't...but they sure think they do". First of all, I believe the "Autism training" is a direct result of the situation we experienced last year. Regardless, I'm glad there are active efforts to educate the staff in this school board. Second, it was good to hear a teacher, with an Autistic child, expressing exactly what we have seen and experienced too. You are right, it was extremely traumatic, what our entire family went through last year. I hope this never happens to another family...but in all honesty, I won't hold my breath.

  • Heather in L.A. October 22, 2018

    I’m sure you already know, but the LibriVox app will allow you to down load whole books or chapters to listen on your phone. I listen while driving through the Bluetooth on my car also. When I finish the book, I delete it. By downloading and deleting over the WiFi at home I do not incur data usage.

    I cooked down chicken thighs in the crockpot. When leg quarters go on sale around .35-.40# I purchase a few #10 bags. When I get home I separate the legs from the thighs and throw the legs into ziplock bags with various marinades(buffalo, Lemon pepper, bbq..) and the thighs in other bags. I am lazy and thighs only have one bone so by slow cooking then for shredded chicken it is easier and I am rewarded with a rich stock as well.

    The last of the tomatoes are being enjoyed. It is time to put in the fall veggies. I am taking a master Gardner’s class through my Parish’s (Louisiana does not have counties) extension office. I learning so much. It’s like a college course with the information, well worth my time and the $150.

    Have a great week everyone!!

  • I know I need to exercise and I like your easy way of finding time. We went on a color tour and went down 300 steps to a waterfall on Sunday. I have been in pain every since. Exercise is key!
    I have been watching our electrical use after reading your post and only use the one bulb in the bathroom instead of the large 4 bulb lighting. I'm also starting to use our toaster oven again instead of the big oven.

    Here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments: https://www.vickieskitchenandgarden.com/2018/10/my-frugal-ways-this-week-102118.html

  • PJGT October 23, 2018

    Our oven has decided to not cook evenly now, so we are using to the toaster oven. However, since it is only 2 of us, it works!

  • Tanja Brattinga October 23, 2018

    Tough woman you are, dealing with all those scary insects. Luckily we don't have those here in the Netherlands. And no hurricanes and earthquakes either, actually a very boring country, hahaha ! Lucky me for living in this boring country!
    - My husband chipped 1000 traditional yellow bricks clean. They were leftover from building our veranda 2 years ago. We put them on the internet to sell, a little under the price and sold them the same day. (that is the first pocked money for my husband to celebrate carnival in February).
    - Also put some winter tires on the internet. Somebody gave them to us to use on our own car but they don't fit. (I am planning to put my husband's boxing gloves and skipping rope for sale too, as his boxing days are over. He turned out to be not so talented ....no... it was just for fun that he and his buddies did some boxing years ago)
    - In our family chat group I asked one of my sisters about the Bukashi Bucket they use to make compost (about how to use it and where to buy it), she offered us one of their two buckets. It is to make compost of your kitchen scraps, as we do no longer have chicken to eat our scraps I want to try this. It also gives you a liquid manure to use in the vegetable garden.
    - Mended jeans of two of my kids, and made shorts from a pair of jeans for my brother in law.
    -Went to an organic butcher on a market on our way home from a dentist appointment to try some of his products.
    - tomorrow my husband an I are going on a day trip to Amsterdam to the Rijksmuseum. We both been there once with school a long time ago. We'll take coffee and sandwiches with us and eat a snack on the AlbertCuijp market (very famous). Husband sorted out what the cheapest way is to park and go into Amsterdam with public transport. So we'll park outside Amsterdam, as parking in the city is very expensive. We won the tickets on a lottery so entrance is free.
    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  • Heidi Louise October 23, 2018

    Tanja: And wildfires! I am learning about my own country from reading about the extreme (to me) challenges some of the people who write on this blog have to face. I now live near the middle of the United States, south of the Great Lakes, which are the border with Canada. I grew up farther west and north on the Canadian border, in blizzard country in Minnesota. My husband is from almost the exact center of the U.S., Kansas, which is known for its tornadoes.
    How fun that you have the museum trip! I recognized the name, Rijksmuseum, as the place where Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" is displayed. A story of how Rembrandt shockingly painted an action-filled picture, instead of just rows of men as was traditional, was included in a story book I had as a child. I hope you have a good time.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood October 27, 2018

    A fun thing : Google "flash mob the night watch Rembrandt". You'll see a fabulous recreation of the painting, live in a shopping mall in Breda. It's quite fun to watch!

    I would add the link but I'm typing one handed on my phone from a hospital bed. (Post-delivery complications). But using free WiFi, so frugal! :)

  • ellie's friend October 29, 2018


    best wishes for a speedy recovery. Hope the baby is fine, too. Ann

  • Rhonda A. October 23, 2018

    Tanja, I hope you will share what you saw and did on your Amsterdam trip. I'm still researching what we want to see/do when we visit in April. Your experiences would be very welcome and helpful information!

  • Tina S. October 23, 2018

    Rhonda, what kind of suggestions are you looking for? And how long will you be in Amsterdam?

  • Rhonda A. October 24, 2018

    We will be there for 5 days, but at least 1 day will be spent on a day trip to Rotterdam, where my husbands grandmother was from (she was a war bride). We obviously want to see the Ann Frank museum, which we know requires booking the tickets months in advance (we're on it!). Other than that, we're trying to keep our schedule open, so we can choose what we want to do. I'm just interested in hearing about experiences, so I have some ideas of what is worth going to see and what is just over-hyped attractions for tourists.

  • tanja October 25, 2018

    Rhonda, Wauw I did not know that you had to book your tickets for the Anne Frank house one month in advance. I went there (again) with school when I was younger, still remember what it looked like insite. As my father and mother also lived during the war and told us some things, it made quite an impression on me. Because my parents lived in the north there still was food avalable, so they had a lot of childeren in there home that came from the west part of the netherlands. Because there was no food there. Even though they were from big familys themself. (father one of 16 and mother one of 12)

  • Rhonda A. October 25, 2018

    My husbands grandmother was from Rotterdam. She passed away several years ago, so unfortunately we can't ask her questions before we visit. I don't know a lot about her life before she married (his grandfather was a Canadian soldier who fought there during the war, which is how they met), but I believe she was born and raised there. I think my MIL said she was only 20 years old when she moved to Canada. I have been told her family hid a Jewish family in their home during the war. This was, of course, very high risk, as her family could have potentially been killed if the Nazis had discovered what they were doing. Can't help but have great admiration for her family for their bravery. I know that Rotterdam was pretty much destroyed during the war, so we know that most of what we will see there is not the city she grew up in. However, there are a few old sections that survived the war, which we plan to visit when we do our day visit.

    Very few of his family have gone back to visit the country his grandmother was from. In fact, his mother has never been (I think she's a touch envious we are going without her). I am so looking forward to my husband connecting with a part of his heritage through this trip!

  • Rhonda A. October 24, 2018

    I should also mention we will be staying in a small town outside of Amsterdam, as it is cheaper, and using transit to get around. I don't know the name of the town, but hubby did say there are windmills in the area. We'll be looking into possibly visiting those when we get there.

  • Cara October 24, 2018

    It's worth taking the highlights tour at the Rijksmuseum. We really enjoyed Rembrandt's house and an unexpected favorite was the costume museum with all the folk costumes from different areas in the Netherlands. The embroidery and complicated smocking and other needlework were impressive, as were the variety of costumes.

  • Rhonda A. October 25, 2018

    The costume museum actually sounds really cool! Thank you for the sugestion. I might not have considered it, had you not mentioned it.

  • Tina S. October 25, 2018

    Rhonda, one place that you might enjoy is Rembrandt's house, where he lived and worked. https://www.rembrandthuis.nl/en/
    It is set up much like it was when Rembrandt worked there in the 17th century.
    There is a flea market very near this, on Waterlooplein, that is fun to visit too. Lots of interesting things to see, and great people watching as well.
    It sounds like you will be in the Netherlands during tulip season (end of March to mid-May), so you could also visit the Keukenhof to see beautifully laid out gardens of tulips and other flowers. https://keukenhof.nl/en/
    It takes a bit of effort to get there, so you might be better off taking a tour if this interests you. I've been several times, and it is well worth it.
    You said you are staying outside of Amsterdam in a place that has windmills, I wonder if it is near Zaanse Schans. This is a great place to visit too. https://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/

  • Rhonda A. October 27, 2018

    I think we will just miss the tulips, unless they are early so some reason. We start our trip the beginning of April in Ireland (I believe around 10 days total there), then fly over to Amsterdam. So we will be there around mid-April, staying for 5 days, before heading over to Poland with a couple days in Berlin, Germany on the way there to break up the long train ride. This trip is going to be a LOT of moving from place to place, but we will be checking off a bunch of "bucket list" places that we really wanted to visit!

  • Jo October 27, 2018

    My husband and I went to Amsterdam last April and it was prime tulip season. :) I would also highly recommend Keukenhof, it is breath-taking!

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