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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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  • Heidi October 25, 2018

    ...and my husband's family is related to Isaac Allerton! Hello Mayflower neighbors! My side of the family came over with the Winthrop group and I've just started the research into that and is it every a blast!
    Brandy! You were so productive this past week! And your table arrangement is gorgeous! I'm so happy for you that you can grow such beautiful things throughout the year but, if I may say, I'm not so happy for you to have scorpions. In your house. I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that. I think I might actually keel over if I saw one of those in my house. The trade-off, of course, is that we're already burning wood and are pretty chilly in the early mornings and the snow will be here soon soooooo...scorpions or snow...hmmm...LOL!
    We continue to stack our firewood and have only turned the heat on once, in spite of temps in the upper 30s and low 40s in the mornings.
    I start my job which gives us a little extra cash and helps us to save on our Y family membership. Something like $60/month! We're using as many of the services that they have available for our exercise program and my high school aged homeschooler is part of a Youth and Government Debate group that meets there every week.
    I cooked everything from scratch; bean and greens, breads, soup, curry chicken, everything. I didn't go to the market once in the last two weeks but just used up whatever was in the fridge, the pantry, the garden and the freezer.
    I started studying French again using Spotify's podcasts. They have at least two that I like; one is Coffee Break French and the other is Slow French. I'm resigned to never speaking French well but am also resolved to keep up my reading and listening skills. We have a $9.99/month subscription and with the Sling ($25/month) subscription consider that to be our entertainment. We do not have Netflix (the programming started to go in a direction we didn't like) or Hulu and we only have Sling during the fall and winter months. We start the subscription in October and cancel it at the end of March.
    I also like to listen to scripture and sermons while I'm cooking or driving and have found lots of online resources for this purpose.
    I harvested the last of my garden produce. A groundhog ate all of my kale and collards and most of my brussels sprouts so...that's that. Better fencing next year!
    I'll be going to our library book sale this weekend. I have gotten fantastic finds at this sale. People come from all over the country for it; last year there were campers from Wyoming and Alabama! Anyway, the library makes thousands of dollars from this sale and I'm happy to spend my $10 on great books.
    The cars are mostly working. This is a wonderful development since we really thought we were going to be either down a car or shopping for a car. Which we really, *really* don't want to do.
    I'm planning for a possible economic downturn since I think we are due soonish and my husband's work follows the economy pretty closely. I realized that I really need to be thinking about the possibility of layoffs in the next year or so and want to get our financial affairs in order. That has been fun/not fun. If you know what I mean. ;)
    Have a great weekend everyone!

  • ElisaB October 25, 2018

    Hi Heidi, I am a direct descendant of Stephan and Giles Hopkins of the Mayflower. Many of my and my husband's ancestors came on the Winthrop fleet...strangely enough they were on the same ship. Geneology is so much fun for anyone that loves history.

  • momsav October 27, 2018

    Heidi, All signs point to another recession. How soon is anyone’s guess. I’m also trying to get better prepared. I’m mostly worried about my husband’s IRA which is tied to the stock market.
    I so wish we still had book sales. The friends of the library had a sort of falling-out. Now, I drive to other towns or visit the thrift stores. I must have my book fix!

  • Stephanie October 22, 2018

    Gorgeous fall decorations!

    This week, I cooked all my beans from dry and made a big batch of veggie soup that cleared out some needed-to-be-used veggies. I bought a 50lb sack of bread flour and bulk peanut butter, along with a huge bottle of imitation vanilla (I just can't bring myself to spend what they're charging for real right now; fake will have to do!), and I found a bunch of packages of Field Roast meatless hotdogs for $1.19 each- that made me really happy! I've been doing yoga via YouTube; it's free and I don't have to spend gas going to a class (plus I can do it while my daughter naps).

    We went to a free Halloween balloon show at the library; my daughter loved it, and the next day we participated in our town's downtown Trick or Treat, which was fun (but windy and cold!). And I finally got around to making a batch of breadcrumbs out of the bread ends I'd kept, and along with it, I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. :)

    Have a great week, everyone! :)

  • Heather in L.A. October 22, 2018

    A few years ago Cook’s Illustrated did a comparison of real vanilla and fake; they had to reluctantly admit there was not any distinguishable difference between the two regarding flavor performance. I realize the fake stuff has chemicals and the real is natural, but for me there are times that I will grab the immitation over the real. I gift handmade vanilla sugar cubes during the holidays and I could not afford to gift them if I strictly adhered to the real.

  • Susan October 23, 2018

    Can you tell readers how you make the vanilla sugar cubes?

  • Heather in L.A. October 23, 2018

    Sure, I mix regular granulated sugar and vanilla to resemble wet sand. Then I use silicone mini ice cube trays as molds, I let that sit for a bit.. around 30 minutes then unmold and let sit out to dry overnight. I live in the humid south.. Louisiana to be specific so it takes over night for them to harden up. I do not store them in air tight containers as they can soften. You can use vanilla flavoring, water, lemon or orange extract, hazelnut or almond flavoring and even a bit of food coloring. I have used these for gifts and wedding favors, they are always well received at showers also. A 5 lb bag of sugar makes a ton and I get the trays from dollar tree.

  • Lisa from Maine October 24, 2018

    I love this idea!

  • Anne October 24, 2018

    I haven't done it myself yet, but I have friends who have had great luck with making their own extracts, vanilla included. The "My Frugal Home" blog had a whole series of various varieties awhile back--might be worthy a try!

  • Cindy in the South October 23, 2018

    I use the fake vanilla also. I just cannot afford the real stuff at this stage in my life.

  • Laura Skokowski October 23, 2018

    I purchased my own vanilla beans. By putting them in cheap vodka (extract is mostly alcohol), I am making a lot of real vanilla for cheap.

  • Lynn from the NC Outer Banks October 23, 2018

    I have enjoyed making vanilla extract from the beans as well. I gave it as gifts and it was always well received, and I love baking with it. But the beans that were $20 before are now $115!! Yikes. I keep hoping maybe the prices will moderate a bit, but so far that hasn't happened over the past couple of years, so I'm using my remaining homemade extract very sparingly...

  • Margie from Toronto October 24, 2018

    I'm now making my own as well - have two batches going, one in vodka and one in some rum that I'd had sitting around for ages! The beans were incredibly expensive but I got a bit of a discount at the Bulk Barn and it's still cheaper than buying bottles of the real stuff. I do plan on gifting some to friends who are bakers as part of their Christmas presents and I will reuse the beans - but do have some in reserve.

  • Athanasia October 24, 2018

    I am making my first batch of vanilla extract now. It should be ready soon. I just followed the instructions from Ina Garten on line. I have plenty of vodka now...it was a 1.75 litre bottle that my mother and brother brought back from out of town. That is almost 1/2 gallon so I have enough for 4 pints. I use a lot of vanilla just every day in baking or puddings. I have always used real vanilla, not the artificial. I bought the vanilla beans from Amazon seller.

  • cherie October 22, 2018

    This was all so lovely except for the creepy crawlies LOL - does the spray do anything to keep the scorpions away? [I'm sorry, I'm a NYC girl - I have never laid eyes on a real scorpion - shudder]
    I printed up a new savings card to avoid the giant copays on my needed prescription
    I bought a large amount of chicken thighs on sale [.78/lb - my lowest price here] and deboned them and removed the skin, freezing the now boneless/skinless meat. I made bone broth with half the bones and froze the other half for another time, it's soup weather here too!
    I watched a free video course [floret farm] about how to lift and split up the dahlia tubers in my garden when we finally get our hard freezes so I can spread some about to the backyard bed next spring.
    I cut flowers from the garden for my two vases inside
    I took clippings from junk mail and free magazines for my artwork
    Thank you for always being such an inspiration to me Brandy - I hope you're settling into the new school routine and feeling less pressed!

  • Mary in AZ October 22, 2018

    Hi to all!

    Thanks to all on sewing machine recommendations. I have not decided yet but I should say that it will have to be light as the best place for me to use it is my kitchen table. So I will keep looking.

    Our garden is looking great after all the water systems we used ... now finally back to sprinkler. Spinach should be ready soon...

    We finally had some cool days and turned off our ac but it got back to 90 so the ac is back on for now.

    Frugal attempts for last week
    - husband took lunch 4 days but only ate them 2 days ...
    - washed clothes in full loads and hung clothes to dry
    - shopping with a list and shopping alone!
    - looked for plane ticket for early Dec for me and found a great price ( someone is paying for my ticket - In May I took same trip and it was $1000 this one is $500!)
    - using up what we have
    - washing ziplocks to reuse

    That’s all I can think of.
    Have a great week everyone!

  • Laurie in central NC October 22, 2018

    I love Pandora, and especially enjoy listening to it while driving. It took me a minute to realize the fruits are pomegranates. Do they split before harvest sometimes, or did you perhaps open them to show what they are? I have two dwarf pom's, and they have put on some growth this year. One has had a good amount of blooms, and I'm hoping for my first fruit in the next year or two. I smiled thinking of you doing arm exercises while waiting for the shower to warm. We fit it in where we can, don't we? Though my life is busy, I can't imagine having all the little ones you care for. It has finally cooled off here as well, and I'm very thankful for that. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/10/feels-like-fall-frugal-accomplishments.html

  • Becky Pratt October 22, 2018

    I have been staying home except for picking the grandbabies up from school.
    My busy season is ending and it looks like I made about $3000.00. Sewing costumes...who knew?
    I paid all of my bills on time....saving any late charges. I didn't do this in my younger years. What was I thinking?
    I ate all leftovers.
    During a cold snap I baked a chicken to warm the kitchen.
    I got a pork loin and cut it into "boneless pork chops". The pork cost about $14. and I got 14 chops cut the way I like them.
    I have turned the heat off in all rooms but the bathroom at night.
    My daughter buys me panties for Christmas. She buys expensive ones (something I won't do). The elastic started coming off one leg of a cute pair that I really like. I sewed the elastic back on...saving them.
    I'm sure there's more, but I can't remember right now.

  • Margie from Toronto October 24, 2018

    Congratulations on the success you had with making the costumes - that's amazing!

  • Marcia R. October 22, 2018

    What a beautiful table arrangement you made--the darker colors are fall like and different from the usual lighter colors.
    One frugal accomplishment this week was buying the wrong razor blades for my husband ($20.99!) and forcing myself to take them back even though he had opened the package. He didn't remove any from the package so I taped it closed, found my receipt, and was allowed to return them --I paid another $3 and got twice as many in the 2 new packages I bought. (I hate to ask for money returned when I'm being a general pain, so bought 2 packages.)
    Invited to meet three other couples at a pricey restaurant for Sunday dinner--we both went for specials and managed to keep the total as reasonable as possible, even if it meant eating prime rib. (Normally I stay away from fatty meats but I only ate 1/3 of the portion there and brought the rest home. I plan on making it dinner for two tomorrow night!) It was a good deal as it included soup, salad, rolls, prime rib or strip steak, and a small sundae for dessert---a good deal if your appetite is larger than mine, that is. I ate little of the soup and salad, although it was all very good. The company was very enjoyable also.
    When you mentioned making larger amounts while you were cooking this week, I started thinking about what a challenge that must be for you. Since I'm only cooking for two, I do this quite often. Tonight's dinner was an exact rerun of Saturday's, even to the formerly frozen green beans, but that's simple to do for two. Making leftovers for your family involves much more energy expended than mine does. In fact, I rarely manage to cut recipes down to just enough for two, although some meals do allow that. For me, it means at least a couple days a week I just reheat leftovers, sometimes adding a new salad or vegetable. For you it must mean even more savings of time. Of course, with all those growing young bodies around, you might have some leftovers disappearing between meals too, unless snacks are limited to those "scheduled" for that day.
    I also have other little economies of time which I employ regularly. About once a month I throw the non-slip tub mat in with the towels. Every week I try to find one extra load of laundry in order to keep up on the little things--washing jackets, dust mops, throw rugs, curtains, or something to prevent having a backlog to catch up on in the future.
    Of course economies of money are nice also---I will still grate my own cheese if it's less expensive that way, and I frequently find myself grating mozzarella because one of the store brands is $4 a lb or under on a regular basis--great exercise for the biceps on a box grater. I imagine you might pass that job onto a sous chef in your kitchen, if you have time for grating at all.
    One stage I suspect you will do better at later in your life: the exchange of leftovers. My Mom and I used to swap sometimes the one time I lived close enough to her to do so. Now I do it with my daughter who is less than 2 miles away---if one of us is going to the pharmacy or Sam's Club, etc.-we always ask if the other needs something picked up. We have also swapped leftovers (sometimes you just make too much and are tired of it before it's gone) and also our baked goods. There are two of them and two of us, and we often share half a cake or half a batch of cookies, as we are all past the age of eating those things without limits!
    Just thought I would share some of our more unusual economies this week!

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