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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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  • Sam's Club's grated mozzarella in the 5-pound bag is usually under $2.30 a pound. I won't pay more than $2.50 a pound for mozzarella. I don't know if you've looked at it, but you can freeze what you won't use for 2 people and save a lot more money on your cheese bill!

    We have a gratee attachment for our Kitchen Aid, and we use it almost every day. It goes very quickly and is much easier than using a box grater. Today I am using it to grate soap for laundry detergent.

  • Marcia R. October 23, 2018

    I will look at it again--there was an ingredient in it I didn't care for so I haven't used it in a couple years. I did used to buy it regularly. Don't recall the offending ingredient at the moment. Going to Sam's tomorrow, I hope!

  • Athanasia October 24, 2018

    Marcia, it has food grade cellulose (wood pulp) which may or may not be acceptable according to your views. It is sprinkled all over to keep the pre grated cheese from sticking. I personally grate all our cheese either with a box grater for a small amount or with the attachment to the Kitchenaid if I am doing a whole block. I also use the grater for the Parmesan and Romano as those are harder for me to grate by hand. I grate one Parmesan block and 1/2 Romano block together and store in the refrigerator in a shaker top container. It keeps. We are lucky to be able to buy some of our cheese direct from a family owned cheese factory and those come in 5 pound logs.

  • Heather October 22, 2018

    We have recently moved to a new city and that move has come with many expenses. We have been in our new home a month and trying to find our footing with our bills. I am in a time of use electric plan so we have free electricity from 8pm-6am. I wash and dry our clothes during those hours, run my crockpot, charge my phone and husband's phone and an additional 2 small USB battery banks. During the day we turn everything except the fridge off, open the blinds and use as little power as possible.
    I have been trying to conserve on our water as well, using shallow tubs of water for bathing children.
    I have been considering what gifts I will need to prepare for Christmas and mindfully watching for great deals.
    I have accepted clothes for three of my children from two separate friends.
    I have purposed to really try and eat down food we already have before buying more groceries. This has led to some creative combinations but nobody seems to mind. I water my children's juice way down and buy cans of concentrate.
    I made a batch of laundry detergent this week and cut my softener in with vinegar.

  • Shelley October 22, 2018

    So happy at everyone's frugal adventures! I am having a very unfrugal month indeed. My daughter who is 10 had a dental issue...baby teeth trapped by adult teeth...this cost us $727.50...our dental insurance paid $98...seems fishy so I will work on this next week. I was able to score 10 bags of Halloween candy for less than $10.

  • Lisa from Maine October 24, 2018

    The insurance company may be treating it as a cosmetic issue. This could be a reason for the small payment. You should be able to dispute this directly with the insurance company by filing an appeal. If this insurance is provided by an employer they should be able to provide assistance with this dispute.

  • S. CO Mary October 22, 2018

    Brandy - your photographs are always wonderful but I have to say these are remarkable. Could be an oil painting!

    All the usual stuff plus trying to eat down the freezer. Need to stop and get some storage onions from the farm stands. I think I've found a spot that I can store them in.

    I do have a question for you and for readers. I am wanting to increase my stock pile of veggies and am wondering about freeze dried versus dehydrated. I have some canned and of course will use the froze first. I won't be able to do the drying myself so will buy in bulk commercially. I bought dried carrots, red peppers and onions a few years ago and found them to be a great resource when making soups, casseroles, etc. I am looking to add celery, leeks, potatoes, other peppers and buy carrots and red peppers again. Even a little adds so much color and flavor which then makes the food more appetizing. They are also light weight so when we are travelling in our RV I can keep them on hand. Any preference to how they are dried? taste, storage length, etc.

    Thanks so much for any insight.

    BTW - I think it is great that your oldest son is helping people with their genealogy. So many folks aren't computer savvy and therefore have difficulty finding information.

  • Three bears October 26, 2018

    I really like the dehydrated best. WinCo has a nice soup mix we use in lots of things. It's salt free and adds lots of flavor.

  • Maxine October 22, 2018

    Brandy, I thought you were a brave soul to take 8 kids from 2 to 17 to a concert, but then I read the part about the scorpion and wolf spider and concluded you are REALLY brave!

    You are right that the little things add up to big savings. I've always said that it's easier to save $1 a thousand times than it is to save $1,000 once. You reminded me of one of mine: I have normal to dry hair and I wear it short. After I shampoo my hair, I put a drop or two of conditioner on my palm, rub my hands together and rub it through my hair. Works great! I've been using the same bottle of conditioner for 5-6 years and it's still half-full!

    I finished shopping for my two Operation Christmas Child boxes (boy and girl, both 10-14). I used a JoAnn's coupon on my phone for Dritz and Singer sewing notions @ 50% off for the girl’s shoebox. I'll be splitting up the products to make a mini sewing kit in an Altoids tin for the boy. I made a simple gathered skirt (with elastic waist) for the girl, using fabric that was gifted to me

    I shortened a pair of Ikea curtains, bought for our old house but never used, and they now hang in our dining room. Bought so long ago it was like getting them free!

    Little boy dog (the same one that barfed on my bedspread) dug up a daffodil bulb and ate it. Daffodils are 100% poisonous. We fed him about two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up. This saved the cost of a vet visit, but more importantly, we got it out of his system quickly. Then we found the bulb in the backyard where he had spit it out….! Fortunately, he did not hold a grudge. We got the peroxide down with a baby spoon, the kind with a hollow handle for administering liquid meds, and we did it in the bathtub for easier cleanup.

    I made menus for the week. Eating cheap and using what's in the freezer and pantry. Knowing what's for dinner...priceless!

  • Jenny October 24, 2018

    Poor dog!!!! Made me laugh though

  • Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry October 22, 2018

    Brandy, your fall arrangement is lovely and cheerful. What a great frugal week you have had!

    I promised to share how my husband's stem cell transplant went this week. It was easier than I imagined. We arrived at the office one hour early for fear we might have car or traffic problems. The cells are only good for 24 hours so there are no refunds. If you miss the appointment, you lose your money. The doctor said the needle contained a painkiller so it numbed the area ahead of it and lessened the pain. (Why don’t they do that with all shots!) Bill said it felt uncomfortable, but not painful. The anesthesia in his hip lasted about 36 hours so he was able to walk out of the office. He walked not hobbled! It looked good to see him walking again. The pain medicine has since worn off and now we are holding our breaths waiting for an improvement.

    My oldest son Joshua reached his 30th birthday this week and I think did some soul searching. His preference is to work more hours and make more money to avoid being frugal. Never has he listened to my money saving advice. He told me he emptied out his checking account and put all of his money in the stock market. He had been researching and decided it was time to invest; however, he invested almost ALL of his money. Now he is broke. Since he feels broke, he feels motivated to save money by packing lunches and forgoing frivolous activities. It is certainly NOT how I would do it, but if it works for him, I suppose it is a frugal win.

    My middle son Dustin accepted a job in Iowa (which is 700 miles from us) and is leaving tomorrow. I have been sad and crying. As many times as all three of my sons have left, returned, left, returned, why can't I get used to it? I still get upset. It is like they are leaving for kindergarten again, and again, and again. Scooter posted the announcement because I am too emotional.


    Becky from the website https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/ sent me a care package full of her delicious canning treasures. They were AWESOME! We opened the jars and had a special dinner before Dustin left. She is a great cook. Her family is lucky. It was just the thing I needed to cheer me up and eating lots of food always makes Dustin happy.



  • Margie from Toronto October 24, 2018

    So glad the treatment went well for your husband without too much pain. Best wishes for it to do the trick and allow him more mobility.

  • Jeannie October 25, 2018

    Thank you, Margie. We are ready for some good news.

  • Athanasia October 24, 2018

    Jeannie, how nice Becky sent you that delicious food!

  • Jeannie October 25, 2018

    Athanasia, she was so generous! I have saved the second jar of tuna fish so my third son Reese can taste it when he comes home to visit. It is too good to be true and an opportunity to be able to taste it is rare. We will have a second taste-testing dinner for him. The few drops of leftover plum sauce is hidden in the refrigerator.

  • Elizabeth M. October 22, 2018

    I tried to order a sweater from Landsend, but missed the 50% sale, and got a 40% off sale instead. When I went through the checkout, there was no shipping, but taxes and customs duties brought the total to $71.00, much more than I was prepared to pay. I left the order without submitting it. A few days later Landsend offered me 50% off, which saved me $20, until I looked at the checkout. The new price did not trigger free shipping, so it was only $10 less than previously. I left that order without processing it too. I need other clothes as well, so I'll make a trip into the city, pay $32 for gas, but have a chance to visit the thrift stores and get a number of items I need either there or at more reasonable prices at a variety of stores.

    I went to a meeting, where supper was served. They have moved the time of this monthly meeting an hour earlier, which means our meal is earlier than I am used to eating. I get home and want to eat again. I may start skipping the meeting meal, so I don't overeat.

    Today I had a meeting in the city that went from 9 until 3:30. That gave me time afterward to go to the fabric store and pick up supplies to make repairs on my winter coat, including a zipper and thread and some cord for buttoning on the hood. The meeting was held in Edmonton's Government House, a beautifully renovated heritage building that was the former home of the province's Lieutenant-Governors. We had a good training session for college and university board members, with interesting people to listen to and talk with. We also had a lovely lunch, and fruit as snacks.

    I am preparing to lead a book club meeting early next week.

    After a month of winter, we finally have a few beautiful fall days to enjoy before the weather turns colder again.

  • Lulutoo October 22, 2018

    I looked at it the other way around. I thought you were pretty brave with the scorpion but when I read you took 8 children to a concert, I knew you were REALLY brave! :D

  • Thanks. I too thought the concert was scarier! They were pretty good but my two-year-old decided he was bored at the same time the baby got fussy. (I left the 13-year-old home to do his homework.) Normally I wouldn't attempt that as I find it rather daunting, but they were great!

  • Tejas October 22, 2018

    That is wonderful that you took 8 kids to a concert. These days, too many parents won't even try, and thus lose the opportunity to teach young kids proper concert ettiquette. We found that, with planning, talking about it beforehand, and a good bit of effort on our part during the event, preschoolers and even toddlers could learn the benefits of good behavior in quiet, formal events. People were amazed, and the kids were proud of themselves. Kids learn by doing.

  • Tina S. October 22, 2018

    Your flower arrangement is so beautiful. It makes my heart feel so joyful.

    For the person who asked a couple of weeks ago, I live outside of Seattle, in Washington state, the top left corner of the contiguous US. Canada is to the north (approx. 150 miles) of our state, and the Pacific Ocean is to the west. It is very beautiful here, with mountains to the east (Cascades) and the west (Olympics), and many evergreen trees as part of our landscape, along with Puget Sound and other bodies of water. Seattle has the reputation for being gray and rainy, which it is during fall and winter, but we also have beautiful summers (and sometimes spring and fall are nice too - it depends). It was "Seattle hot" this year - 90 degrees F - for multiple weeks during the summer, which is not normal. Only about 30% of people have air conditioning here.

    Frugal things I did:
    - Sewed two tops out of fabric I already had, using patterns I already had. I am enjoying adding to my fall wardrobe to replace some tops that no longer fit.
    - I planted tulips and daffodil bulbs for next spring. I also refreshed a few other planters. I am enjoying the fall arrangements I planted several weeks ago.
    - A coworker gave me an unused card that I admired. She had it displayed on her desk because someone gave it to her, but she said she actually didn't like it very much. I was happy to take it. The front features a quilling design that is very beautiful.
    - At the CSA farm where I have a vegetable share, we area allowed to pick a large amount of greens each week (chard, several kinds of kale, mustard greens, collard greens, etc.). I usually pick some, but last week I picked a three big bags full. We ate some, and I'm going to freeze some. This week is the last week of the CSA season, but we can keep coming back to pick greens as long as they are alive. The farm is only 4 miles away, so it's very convenient.
    - We live in a small condo, so I don't have a good place to store potatoes. So I have been using a homemade potato bag, which is a large paper bag with holes punched in it with a hole puncher. I put the potatoes in it and close it with a clothespin. It sits in our entryway, which is not fancy, but it works great.
    - I used a $5 Staples reward coupon to purchase something I needed.
    - On Sunday, I attended a Meetup event for a group I belong to. I enjoyed an interesting discussion and it was free.
    - My boss had a milestone birthday, and his wife threw a party at work on Saturday night. Dinner and drinks were provided. It was a lot of fun, and I got to spend some relaxed time with my coworkers.
    - One of my coworkers put together a gag gift for my boss and we split the cost. We also made a funny video for him, which he loved.

    That's all I can think of now. Hope everyone has a great week!

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