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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Larkspur and Rose arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

It was another windy week, though there were some still hours in which I managed to get outside to do some work in the garden.

I picked mulberries from my neighbor's tree. The wind and birds had aleady claimed quite a few. It was too windy to risk picking on the extension ladder, so I only picked a small amount. I froze what I picked to use in smoothies.

I planted basil, vinca, zinnia, borage, and portulaca seeds in the garden.

With permission, I took cuttings from my neighbor's honeysuckle plants and planted them in my garden.

I cut flowers, branches, and vines from the garden for indoor arrangements.

I bought a beautiful bookcase off a Facebook garage sale page for a wonderful price (and paying for a third of it from money I've made selling items on that same site). I had intended for this to go in the boy's room, but it was too tall to fit through the hallway to get into their room, so we added it to the library. Because of the original plan to put it in the boys' room, I ended up doing some bookcase switching anyway. I moved the cabinet with shelves (that has doors on it) to one girls' room, and the boys other short bookcase to the other girls' room. I moved the taller bookcase from one girls' room to the boys' room. The switch ended up being just what they all needed to be more organized.

Our vaccum died last week. Having to replace a vaccum doesn't seem like a frugal thing--however, this vaccum started giving us trouble several years ago--it is an upright that would even break in half on a regular basis!  We worked on it before and made it keep working for us. When it first started looking like it was time for a new vaccum, I researched and added the one I wanted to my Amazon wish list. My husband suggested we keep using the vaccum (we would put it back together each time it fell apart) and I put off buying the new one--for four years! Now that I had to replace it, I was able to not only get a great price on Amazon, but they also had a bonus $20 off coupon; all I had to do was click the button and the $20 off was applied to the total!  (I must have hit just the right day for the coupon, too, because it wasn't on there the next day when I went to look at it online again). After four years, I saw that the model I researched still has high reviews. It is also bagless and the filters can be washed. 

My husband cut his hair.

My husband and I went out for lunch on my birthday to Firehouse Subs, since they have a free birthday 8" sandwich. I had never been there before; I thought their options looked delicious and my sandwich was very good! We both had water to drink and my husband bought himself a sandwich (we didn't get any sides) so our lunch was just the cost of his sandwich. It was a nice date.

Dill Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

I collected dill seeds and snow pea seeds from the garden.

I cut lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and parsley from the garden. My lettuce is usually bolting and turning bitter this time of year, but I continued to plant every couple of weeks, and so I have newer lettuce than usual this time of year. In addition, the hot temperatures that we had at the beginning of the month were blown away by the colder wind storms that have come through, which has been a blessing in keeping the lettuce growing well.

I picked white and red strawberries.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  • Dawn April 27, 2015

    It is nice that you were able to keep your old vacuum going for so long and got a good deal on a replacement. We have a pieced together second washing machine that just needed a simple repair this past week. More on that and my other savings in my post: http://ahomeinthecountry.blogspot.com/2015/04/weekly-savings.html

  • Rebekah April 27, 2015

    Dear Brandy - I have planted Borage, but I do not know what to use it for. I planted it for my bees because it is a recommended bee plant. How do you use it? Also, I have lots of herb plants, but I do not know the best way/time/schedule to harvest them. I tend to only use them fresh and then feel bad when they go to waste in the fall. Any information you could provide would be awesome. Thanks so much! Love your blog!

  • Rebekah,

    I primarily grow it for the bees. I have some blue borage in the backyard and some that reseeded itself that is coming up right now. Last week I planted white borage out front. It's supposed to flower later than the blue. The zinnias and vincas will quickly fill the lower border by the street but I think the borage in front will fill in the space in the middle until the zinnias are blooming. I could be very wrong on this, though--the zinnias grow rather quickly.

    On borage I only use the flowers, as it is so spiny, and I mostly use it as decoration on things. I like the blue borage at a party in the punchbowl or on the dessert. I did see a recipe on Sunday Suppers blog where they used a TON of blue borage flowers on chicken. You would have to grow a lot to have that many. Otherwise, it is for the bees.

    For harvesting herbs, it is best before they are flowering, but can be done even if they are flowering. I like to cut a small bunch, rinse them, tie a bit of twine around them, and then hang them up somewhere to dry. In summer I might just put them on a cooling rack instead of hanging them, on the kitchen counter under the fan. They're dry by the end of the day then.

    If the herb grows year-round, you don't have to cut all the time, but if it will die before it freezes or when it freezes (like basil, or a dormant herb like mint) then I cut all of it back before then and make lots of bundles to dry.

  • Jennifer April 28, 2015

    My mother grows plants to encourage bees. Also, I'm interested in the use of herbs in a medicinal way (obviously, heeding medical advice:)). When I looked up the old uses for borage, sites indicated the young leaves can be used in salads and the older leaves have a light cucumber-like flavor that is good for flavored water. Interesting.
    I really enjoy and appreciate your website Brandy! Homemaking has it's own store of wisdom and I never know what I may learn here!
    P.s. The "mock" chicken fried steak is great!

  • Sandra April 27, 2015

    I made all of our bread and meals last week. I canned the ground beef I bought on sale the week before. I got seven quarts which will be seven meals plus leftovers. I will use this ground beef for special meals because it is still so expensive even on sale. Wal-Mart had avocadoes on sale today for 33 cents each. I bought three. This is another special treat. They also had hams on sale for 99 cents per pound. I had a pretty good week but I plan to do much better.

  • TerriC April 27, 2015

    Brandy we broke down and got a vacuum this past week too. We'd ordered replacement parts for ours over the last 8 years. For a $45 vacuum it really did hold up very well. Our choice this time was the Bissell Clean View, also another bagless vacuum. We felt our old one had not been cleaning as well as it might but wow were we shocked when we used this new one for the first time. It pulled up loads of stuff and we're the sort who vacuum three times a week (no kids/no pets) and had vacuumed daily when the kids were home!
    Here's what I did this week to save: http://bluehousejournal.blogspot.com/2015/04/this-week-in-my-home-destination-savings.html

  • Tina in the NW April 27, 2015

    That’s amazing you were able to make your old vacuum last four years after it started breaking down. I think you will be happy with your new purchase – we used to have a similar vacuum and it worked great.

    My frugal accomplishments for this week:

    I dried a few clothes outside! While this is technically not allowed in our condo complex, it was a very sunny day and I couldn’t resist. We do dry some things inside, but it’s quite damp here, and we already have a problem with mold and mildew in our condo, so I don’t want to make things worse. I have a second, smaller drying rack that I found at a thrift store, and I realized it was shorter than the hedge that surrounds our patio, so people likely wouldn’t notice if I dried a few clothes outside. I was very pleased I was able to do this. :)

    I have a couple cast iron pans, but I have never mastered cooking with them (everything ends up sticking, and I can never get them clean without stripping the seasoning layer). Several weeks back, a friend gave me a lesson in using and cleaning cast iron. I decided to try cooking in my pans again. I successfully did this twice last week, and plan on continuing.

    My sister gave me a summer jacket that someone had given her. It’s a nice neutral color, and I will get a bunch of use out of it.

    When ordering supplements online, I searched for an additional promo code, and got an extra $10 off my order.

    And I did all the things I normally do: made water kefir and kombucha, read books from the library, ate from the freezer and the food I canned last year, washed out plastic bags, used my worm composting bin, etc. I also started collecting eggshells for the garden.

    Now, I have a question, and I am hoping someone could offer me some tips or advice. Every few months, our bath towels start smelling sour. We have a front loader, but this also happened in the past when we had a top loader. It is much worse if we use bath towels more than once or wash in cold water. So, what I do now is: use towels once, wash in hot water, add baking soda to each load, do a second rinse, and dry them in the dryer. I make sure the towels are completely dry before I put them away (it’s quite damp where we live). When they start to smell sour again, I put them through the sanitizing cycle on our washer, and that helps for a while. But does anyone know what causes this? Any ideas how to eliminate it completely, or is this just a normal thing that happens?

    Now I look forward to reading about everyone else’s week.

  • Tina,

    I have heard your towel problem is a common one in the Pacific Northwest. You can also try vinegar in the load. I think the sanitizing cycle will just have to be a regular thing for you.

    Here it is not a problem because it is so dry. I can wash in cold and we can use towels all week without a problem. Every area has its challenges, and in your climate that is one of them. Best of luck to you!

  • Tina in the NW April 27, 2015

    That makes sense, thank you. I always felt bad about not using cold water for laundry, but warm/hot loads just work so much better for getting clothes and towels clean around here.

  • Cara April 27, 2015

    I live in Ohio and have similar problems beginning in early Spring through early Fall. Very humid where we live. Like Brandy mentioned, using vinegar helps and always hot water. I use Arm and Hammer Washing Soda with each towel load...works great!

  • Nicole April 27, 2015

    I have never tried vinegar but will have to do it. I find the only way I can get rid of that smell is to bleach them as soon as I notice it which is maybe twice a year

  • HeatherKee April 27, 2015

    I'm not sure what causes it but we have the same problem here. I've taken to buying white towels and using bleach in my water every couple of washes. It allows us to use the towels more than once and not have to wash as often. It keeps the towels looking bright and they don't get to smelling sour. I also "clean" my washer using vinegar and hot water for cycle with no laundry in it every couple 3 months or so to keep the washer from having a smell in it too. Hope this helps.

  • Lisa April 27, 2015

    Tina, we had the same problem when we lived in Florida. As newlyweds, my husband and I selected pretty green bed sheets and bath towels for our new home. They quickly soured, and I wasn't sure what to do. I then learned it is best to just buy white bed sheets and white towels, and bleach them. I have continued this practice while living in GA, and we no longer have sour-smelling linens! Lisa

  • Laurie April 27, 2015

    Hi Tina: Is sounds like you need to go buy a dehumidifier from Lowe's or Home Depot. I have one in my basement and run it all spring and summer. It pulls all the moisture out of the house. I have never had mold, water in the basement or any other problems. I would buy a large one and if you have a floor drain in your basement there is tubing that is hooked onto the back and you just place it on your floor drain so you do not have to worry about emptying it all the time. A lot of people say, but I have a dehumidifier on my A/C. That is not good enough. You see a huge difference very quickly. For instance when it rains a lot, my garage floor becomes very wet. I put mine out in the garage and within 12 it is dry.

  • Tina in the NW April 27, 2015

    Laurie, I have considered the dehumidifier option, but we are in a 900 square foot bottom-floor condo. I'd have to put it in the middle of our living area. I've heard dehumidifiers are pretty loud, and I'm not sure we or the neighbors would be happy with the noise. And the rules don't permit running any noisy appliances at night. So I'm not sure if this would actually be a good idea for us.

  • Deidre April 27, 2015

    We've had this problem in the past, a cup of vinegar in the wash has always helped.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada April 27, 2015

    Tina - I had this same problem occur when I tried to line dry my towels, either inside or outside. It took quite a few washings with vinegar to finally get rid of the smell. Now, I throw my towel into the dryer for 20 minutes after each shower and wash the towels about every 3rd day. I also keep the door to my front loader washer open all the time and run the 'clean washer' cycle every week. Since I started doing all of these steps consistently, I have eliminated that smell.

  • Maria April 27, 2015

    We live in the South and this is very common. Here's what I do. Put towels in washer. Add one-half cup baking soda and one cup white vinegar on top of the towels. Wash in very hot water. Wash a second time with hot water and your regular soap. This works every single time with me and the towels stay fresh for a month or more even in the summer

  • Tina in the NW April 27, 2015

    Thanks to everyone for their helpful ideas. Much appreciated.

  • Sharon in CT April 27, 2015

    Tina, I have had similar problems with my towels smelling musty/sour, at least from late spring until fall (I live in CT, so that's when it gets humid here)--including the clean ones in the linen closet. After a bit of trial & error, I've found that washing the towels with hot water, using white vinegar as a rinse, and doing a extra rinse cycle (I have a setting for that on my washer) helped quite a lot, but it still was a problem in really humid weather. I tried putting Damp-Rid in my linen closet, and that seems to do the trick. I started out with the little Damp-Rid plastic tub (with the basket inside for the crystals), but now use the more decorative ones (they're meant to be seen, so they look nicer (not that that matters in the closet!) and have a sort of lid on them). I would imagine the kind that can be hung up would probably work well, too. It's an extra expense, but I buy them in multi-packs at BJ's, so that (with coupons) isn't too bad. It's worth it to have fresh-smelling towels!

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