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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments and Garage Sale Finds

Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

Most weeks I save by making do at home and not shopping. This week involved a lot of saving on items I needed and wanted while shopping:

I love the symphony. Starting from the time I was 13, I used to save all of my babysitting money (and most people paid me $2 an hour) to be able to buy season tickets for myself and a parent to purchase season tickets to the symphony every year. I did this for years as a teenager and I loved going. 

My husband and I went to the symphony once--on our first date. It's been over 17 years since I've been. The Las Vegas Philharmonic has been sending out coupons in the local ValPak for individual performances for several months. I looked online, saw what pieces they would be performing, and decided that the one I really wanted to see the most was their last performance for the season in May. I waited until the coupon deal came: 25% off tickets--and I bought two of the least expensive seats they have. I am very excited to get to see the symphony again!

I even have a dress to wear! The week before last, I decided to check out the Dillard's clearance center after three people told me about it. I found a formal dress there (and dresses were on additional markdown that week) and paid $54.06 with tax (the original price was $238!) I'll be able to wear it on other occasions as well--and hopefully to the symphony again next season! (Apparently, the sales were even better at the clearance center this week: on top of the clearance prices, dresses were buy 1 get 2 free! For Las Vegas readers, it's the Dillard's in the Meadows Mall that has been turned into a clearance center. It's one floor only, and they are open Tuesday through Sunday, 12-7 Monday-Saturday and 12-6 on Sunday, and you can get their app to see what additional markdowns they have each week.)

My husband dropped off our clothing donations while out running an errand in the same part of town. We always try to combine errands (even close ones) and by so doing are able to use under 10,000 miles a year (and often under 6,000 a year) on our vehicle.

I started another group of bags to take to thrift store to donate. As the children are outgrowing clothing and I now need a smaller size, I continue to make up bags of clothing and other items to donate. 

I planted three tomato plants that I started from cuttings from another tomato plant. I had broken off the lower branches to plant the plant deeply. I've had them in a cup of water on the kitchen counter for a few weeks and they have rooted. Hopefully they will all take.

I planted seeds in the garden for Armenian cucumbers, red noodle beans, and Hubbard squash.

I cut Swiss chard, lemon verbena, lettuce, green onions, and arugula from the garden. I also pulled radishes and picked snow peas from the garden.

I accepted some free Dutch iris bulbs from someone who was dividing them. I shared Swiss chard and nasturtium seeds with her.

I am making a diligent effort to use up food from the freezer to make room for this year's harvest and some great sales that I can find. As part of this, I made some fig tarts using frozen figs. I've never used the figs this way before and almost everyone in the family liked them this way. I have a number of frozen figs to use up, so I'll try measuring the next few times I make these so I can share a recipe.

I took in a dress that was too big to make it fit me. 

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Sam's Club gift card, that I will use towards our groceries this month.

My boys continued to sell camp cards for Boy Scouts. This is the first year our troop has opted to have boys sell camp cards to earn money for camp. As Boy Scout camp is fairly pricey (around $400 per boy, depending on the camp), it can take a lot of odd jobs to earn the money for camp. (This was a great deal for the buyers: the cards cost $5 and the buyer gets a $5 off coupon for a grocery store, plus many other discounts at other businesses (including a free oil change--user just pays tax and the disposal fee).  Half of the money from each card goes to the boys to pay for their camp. If boys sell a certain number of cards, they can even earn a free week of camp at a local camp and a free day at a water slide park!)

Swinging The Prudent Homemaker

I went garage sale shopping with my parents at the semi-annual community garage sales in my area (there were at least 6 community, i.e. neighborhood, sales in my area and we went to 5 of them). I found several items on my list, including jeans, pants, and shirts for several family members for $1 each. I found a tie for my husband for $0.50. I bought a dress for a daughter for $2. I bought several history and science books for the children for $0.25 and $0.50 each. 

My dad always find it amazing that my mom and I make a garage sale list and actually find items on our list! Eventually, I usually do find items on the list, and this time I found a few items that had been on my list for a while: some wooden children's hangers (several for $1) and some 5-pound hand weights ($1). I found a small glass bowl that matches another I found at a garage sale a couple of years ago ($1).

I bought a couple of mirrors; one was $3, and the other, a long, beveled mirror, was $20. I found a small bulletin board with a fancy frame for $3 and a large picture in a nice frame for $7. As much I liked the framed bulletin board as-is, it was just about the right size for a picture that I needed framed, so my dad took the bulletin board out and added a piece of glass and a mat that he had (one of his scraps, as they closed down their framing business last year) and framed the picture in it for me. 

One of the sales we went to was an estate sale (where we bought several items). The family had 3 large #10 cans of tomato puree out with the other items in the house. We asked if they were selling them and they said we could have the canned tomatoes if we could use them. As these were items on my grocery shopping list this month, I was delighted! They also gave use some other pantry food items that were in the house, including two containers of juice, a box of cake mix, a container of icing, two boxes of pudding mix, 4 bags of pasta/rice mixes, and a bottle of tabasco sauce.

What did you do this past week to save money?


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  • Cindy in the South April 13, 2017

    Lorna, Congrats!!!!

  • Hilogene in Az April 12, 2017

    Congratulations! As many have already said, it has been wonderful seeing the progress you have made over time, and how diligently you kept after it. I enjoyed reading your posts because they helped inspire me to keep focused and looking forward.

  • Lorna April 16, 2017

    Hi Hilogene and thank you for your encouragement and kind words as well, it means a lot :) .

  • Juls Owings April 22, 2017

    Lorna your posts have been an encouragement to us as we are saving for a new home also. So proud of the work you have done.

  • Toni April 11, 2017

    You are such a good steward! It's great to hear about all the ways you are saving! Yay for cleaning out the freezer - I am doing this too and trying new recipes. We had snow last week but it was in the 70s for the last 2 days - my first round of cold-hardly seeds are in and the radishes have just sprouted. I rescued some large plastic corrugated panels from the garbage at my office - they had been used as wall-type dividers, and have great plans for cold frames! MANY years ago I played in an orchestra, and we always had an open door policy for rehearsals. If you don't mind a possible occasional break here or there in a piece, it is a free way to enjoy some top-notch music if your symphony will allow.
    Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas!

  • K April 11, 2017

    Our frugal accomplishments for the week:

    * I bought 5 dozen eggs for 55c a dozen. I had to buy a 5-dozen box to get that price, but we'll go through it before they go bad, especially with Easter right around the corner.

    * I got a head of celery for 77c, tuna for 49c a can, frozen vegetables for 53c a lb, and 4 packets of taco seasoning for free from a local grocery store. The last two combined sales and coupons for the best savings!

    * I made a delicious (though not entirely healthy) dinner of homemade garlic bread and marinara sauce. I made a second batch of garlic bread the next day to use up the remaining sauce, so we got 2 dinners for 2 people for under $2.

    * I also baked 2 loaves of your french bread recipe, though I let the dough sit in the fridge all day before baking. It really helps the crust texture, plus I can make the dough before I leave for work and it's ready to bake when I get home (I just have to wait a little bit for the dough to warm back up!).

    * I did laundry at my mom's house, saving me at least $10 compared to doing it at our apartment complex. While I was there, I worked on grading and homework, so I was able to be frugal with my time too.

    * I made a large batch of Budget Bytes' jambalaya in my instant pot. This will feed us for several meals, plus the whole thing cost about $4 to make, since I used bell peppers that I had previously chopped and frozen, used cooked black beans instead of chicken, and used a sausage I had bought on sale.

    It's hard to believe that Easter will be this weekend already! I'm planning on bringing a couple dishes to my family's dinner, including a baked mac and cheese and some peanut butter cookies. I'm also debating deviled eggs, because they're always well loved and super cheap to make.

  • Jennifer April 11, 2017

    I don't do nearly as well as some of you ladies, but trying.
    I turned off the AC due to the torrential rains here and the cold spell afterwards.I actually remembered to return my library books on time! Amazing feat for me. I wrote the due dates for the new books in my planner, in my phone calendar and in my electric work calendar. Maybe I can do 2 times in a row!
    I ate all of my meals out of the fridge/freezer and pantry. Spent $14 for groceries so far this month. It is my turn to bring meat for our staff potluck. We one every other week, we eat off the collectings for 2 days, and it works out that once a quarter I have to bring meat. I did a survey after my last grocery trip and got a $5 off a $40 shopping trip. I will go this afternoon to pick up 2 hams, a cabbage (to make cole slaw), yogurt, and some fresh fruit. One ham will be for the potluck with the any leftovers and the bone coming home for soup, the other is for the freezer. That will last us a year.

    Went to replace a makeup brush and they had a sale that if I bought the bronzer the brush was free. The bronzer was $1 more than the brush, so for $1 I got make up too.
    Refreshed the reusable cleaning wipes. Bought fabric to make more mop covers. Fabric was 50% off plus I bought the end of the bolt so I got an additional 10% off and at the register they do a 10% military discount. Less than $6 for enough fabric to make more than a dozen new mop covers.

    My favorite work pens were on sale for half price, so I bought 2 packages. I can wait until they are on sale again for the price I was willing to pay. Found a new box of my favorite golf balls and a new gold glove (new in package) at the thrift store. I needed them for a charity golf tournament I'm playing in this weekend. Also found an Easter dress for $5 at the shop.

    Less than frugal - bought a new leather motorcycle vest a to wear to a (different) charity fundraiser this weekend.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher April 11, 2017

    Oh wow, those fig tarts look heavenly! We just planted a fig tree of our own so hopefully in, oh, five years I can make my own homemade fig tarts. :) And great job with the symphony thrifting! Mr. Picky Pincher and I have always talked about going. I personally LOVE ballet but haven't been to one since I was a kid. Unfortunately Mr. Picky Pincher hates ballet, so it might be another few decades before I go again. :)

  • Chris M April 11, 2017

    Hi Brandy,
    We have a fig tree, too and it is prolific! I make a lot of fig chutney, fig butter, fig jam, and a mock raspberry jam using figs and raspberry jello. I then use the fig butter or fig jam to make jam bars with an oatmeal crumble for the bottom and top layers. Those are absolutely delicious. I've also created fig crisps. I don't have a recipe written down, but basically I cut up the figs, add brown sugar and some cornstarch plus spices -- I'm going for a fig newton in a bowl. Then I add my usual crisp topping and bake. This is truly heaven on a spoon. I love your tarts -- the crisp is easier, though and will serve a crowd. Our variety (Brown Turkey) doesn't dry well, so I definitely go with more canning/freezing options. We also put cut-up figs in oatmeal and smoothies. Chris

  • Athanasia April 17, 2017

    Your fig uses all sound delicious!

  • TerriC April 11, 2017

    I had a lovely week last week. I think my favorite frugal accomplishment was using an indoor/outdoor tablecloth to recover tattered patio chair cushions. I even managed to get a café table cloth from the leftover fabric. I am now thinking of using the second table cloth to recover four other cushions I have had for a while. I'd spray painted two of them last year and they held up really well but I'd have to buy paint and I have the tablecloth on hand.
    Brandy so happy you bought the ticket for the symphony. I hope your savings soon allows you to routinely purchase a season's ticket so you can enjoy your music.

  • Athanasia April 11, 2017

    What a nice long post you had this week Brandy. You can certainly tell it's your busy time of the year what with gardening and rummage sales. Things are slowly waking up here. Our tulips and other bulbs are starting to bloom, but no leaves on trees or growing grass yet. We have had some warm sunny days that we enjoyed spending outside. We are in the 30s again and snow (the icky slushy mixed with rain kind) was hinted at by the weatherman. We do have tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers and eggplant started in the greenhouse. A couple more days and we will direct seed the peas. They don't mind cooler soil. The asparagus and the rhubarb are showing. Hung clothes outside a couple times.

    This will all be for 4 weeks again. Did all the usual of recycling, composting, cooking and baking at home, packing lunches for work and school. Mended holes in socks, a torn seam, an unraveled waistband. Restocked the root cellar with cabbages at .09 lb at the St Patrick sale, carrots .49/2lb bag, yellow onions .99/3 lb. enough to last into summer. Memorial day will be another big sale. Bought 100 lbs of potatoes at .99/10 lb bag. My daughter did this for me as this store is close to her school. They only allowed 1 bag per person per purchase so she went through 10 times. My cousin went to Sam's and I didn't have time to go so I told her we needed tortilla chips. The bag she brought back was big, at least 5 pounds worth and was only 5.85 or so. They were the restaurant style, good, but unfortunately a lot of broken chips. That didn't matter to us much as we use tortilla chips mostly for nachos and the cheese just holds it all together anyways. Cucumbers have been .49/ea for a couple weeks so keep buying those and red and yellow peppers have been 1.49/lb so bought those too. Bought milk each week along with sale butter as much as allowed. Bought 25 pounds of cheese at the factory. Bought white shelled eggs at the grocer for dyeing for Easter and farm eggs for general use. Bought iodized salt, ramen noodles, large can of chow mein noodles. Did go to Aldi and bought the cheap cream cheese, marzipan. They did not have the spekulatius cookies husband wanted. Bought 3 boxes of grape tomatoes.

    Youngest daughter had her birthday sleepover and invited 15+ girlfriends and cousins. We let them have the house. Her dad helped her get all the lawn furniture out around the fire pit and built up a good size bonfire ( it was about 20 F that night) . I bought 10 loaves of fluffy 1.00 bread at the gas station and mixed butter and oil. (Any bread leftover I just break up and dry for future stuffing use). They wanted to make pudgie pies so we did up fillings like taco meat and grated cheese and vegetables, sliced ham and some cooked bacon. They had brownie ice cream sundaes for dessert. She wanted the big party as they are getting to the age of graduation, some are getting married, they feel like their free days are ending soon. My husband and son in law and oldest son went over to brother in law's house to finish up inside work in the addition they built and husband stayed over there. I stayed over at oldest daughter's house and we had the 2 pregnant ladies over, my sister in law and daughter in law. We did fun oldest girl soaked their feet and gave them pedicures, we made 4 containers of homemade baby wipes...took 2 rolls of paper towels sawed in half, baby oil and baby wash and some water. We also stamped some thank you cards for baby presents, meals etc for the girls to use. We had soup and my daughter brought us in some pudgie pies they made for us and we also had brownies and icecream.

    Over the last 4 weeks made corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread with currants, spaghetti sauce, veggie burgers and hamburgers for grill, German potato salad, baked beans, 4 bean salad, coleslaw and cucumber salads several times each, white bread and rye bread, corn bread, biscuits, bean burritos and grilled vegetable quesadillas, Mexican rice, nachos several times, banana pancakes, corned beef hash, toasted open face cheese sandwiches a couple times, grilled fish, macaroni and cheese, scalloped corn, banana bread. Made a cherry crisp, molasses cookies, rice crispie treats, brownies, baked apples, egg and sausage breakfast bake, giant baked pancake with raspberries from freezer and whip cream. Those are the main things I can remember.

    We had 2 funerals with luncheons to attend. I brought the 4 bean salad to one. We had a progressive dinner at church. Our family signed up to bring some toppings for the salad course...I brought the tomatoes and crispy noodles for toppings, my oldest girl brought craisins and sunflower seeds. After the dinner they had a spicy food eating of my brother in laws participated and came in 2nd. We had a Fine Arts festival at church and I displayed a small angel wall hanging that I started 23(!!) years ago and finally finished. My youngest did a humorous reading. We had our every month community hymn sing. Our tenants invited us over for dinner and they discussed plans for the garden again. They have enjoyed being able to have the room to grow food and trading their help for produce. Dropped the rice crispie treats off at church for the youth group meeting. For our 1st Sunday church meal (potluck) I brought coleslaw using the copy cat KFC recipe from the internet.

    As I mentioned my son and his wife had their first baby and named her Anna Joy. She is 2 weeks old already. Time goes so fast. Baby Dora is already 5 months! It is hard to believe we are already planning up coming summer events. We will probably add a deck onto our 4 season room this summer. My husband has drawn the plans, gathered some of the supplies and is putting out feelers to find out when friends and relatives are available to help. We are planning a little trip for our anniversary this year so checking around to see what relative or friend has a cabin available that weekend. If none, we might camp. We'll take along our canoe and fishing things of course.

    Looking forward to this weekend with Easter Breakfast put on by the youth and then church service then our family gathering. We are going separate ways for Easter dinner as my mother, my younger son and his friend Christie are joining with my older son's family and the rest of us are going over to my husband's side so my middle girl will be there as she lives in that town. My sister in law will tell me what to bring, it is usually pies. Happy Easter!

  • Becky April 12, 2017

    What a fun birthday party! I''m sure they all enjoyed it. And, what fun for you, getting ready for new babies.

    It sounds like you are busy cooking up delicious foods, as usual. I, also, love to cook, and love hearing about what you've come up with.

    Have a happy, blessed Easter.

  • Cindy in the South April 12, 2017

    Everything sounds delicious and the fellowship sounds so lovely!!!

  • Linda Shields April 11, 2017

    Brandy, As a natural scavenger myself, I am delighted to hear of your wonderful finds! Today I took a handmade pottery vase and filled it with beatiful pink silk flowers (both found at a thrift store, and tied a lovely pink ribbon around it. I put it in a nice gift bag with tissue papers that I already had. It will make a perfect birthday gift for a friend tomorrow. Last week I was searching for a particular packing box for my Ebay store and discovered a nice box sitting right on top, filled with packing peanuts and two objects inside. I brought it home and discovered that the items were a brand name vase and a whale sculpture, each of which is now listed in my store for $125. A friend went to a thrift shop with her daughter last week and bought a womens wallet. On the way home she discovered a $100 bill inside! It seems to be raining unexpected blessings.

  • Linda Shields April 12, 2017

    I forgot to mention where Inwasn"searching"--in a dumpster! Haha

  • Becca April 11, 2017

    Thanks for writing. It is inspiring to read.
    I am still spending too much on food. I've joined a group to help keep myself on track more with that.
    This week's accomplishments: I accepted hand-me-downs from a friend. I kept 65 pieces for my youngest and donated 2 bags worth. I kept track in my clothing inventory. I have a smaller storage area, so I try to keep things minimal.
    I made all but one meal at home. I keep finding rotisserie chickens on manager special for $2.50. I can stretch it into 2 meals plus broth or soup. I made jambalaya with the broth today. I didn't have Cajun seasoning but made do and it's good.
    We borrowed books and movies from the library. I am in a book club and used inter-library loan to get the book.
    I used fuel points to save $7 on gas.
    I bought some seeds for the yard. I'm unsure where I will plant them but greens, beans and zucchini will be welcomed in the summer. I tried tomatoes in a place that was questionable last year and that worked very well, so I'll squeeze some more garden space from the yard. We mostly have shade and walkways on our small lot, so I'll be keeping an eye out for small lumber so that I can make a small fence so the children don't trample on the new garden space.
    We attended a free Easter event as a family on Saturday. We walked there and the weather was PERFECT. The children got candy, coloring books and other small items. We attended another community event tonight and had supper there.
    I'm excited that we can go to a camp and stay at a cabin for free through work. We'll be there for two nights for Spring Break. We've planned to eat out the evening we travel. I have bagels, eggs, pancakes, that jambalaya and sandwich and snack items ready to pack so that we don't spend other money on eating out.
    I planned a birthday party with my son. An at home bonfire party will be fun and affordable.
    My mother sent money for an Easter gift for the children. I was able to buy frisbee golf sets for each of them and I was so surprised that my husband had the same idea. That will be a fun, active, free family outing this summer!

  • Becky April 12, 2017

    You can't even buy a raw chicken for $2.50, at least around here, so that's great you can get it already cooked for that!

  • Becca April 12, 2017

    I know it's irresistible! Here on sale the best I can do is $4.

  • Rhonda A. April 13, 2017

    Boy, at that price, I'd be buying several and freezing the meat in portions to use as needed for various meals (chicken ranch tacos, casseroles, soup, hot chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, meat pies etc.). I'd then put all the bones in a pot and make a big batch of broth to freeze in measured portions (good for soups, chicken favoured rice, gravy base, etc.). Not only are they useful, it saves on hydro and time to cook them!

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