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Pavlova For the Fourth The Prudent Homemaker 

My budget for food and toiletries for our family of 10 for this month is $200.

July is one of our highest utility months, as we are using more water in the garden and using the air conditioners (our house has 2 units, plus a window unit in our pantry) and ceiling fans all the time, as our highs between 105 and 118ºF. Normally summer bills are matched by an increase in income (and lower utilities in the winter for us are matched with a lower income, as fewer people move during the winter), but not this year. Consequently, I'm lowering the budget this month. I am also considering keeping it at the same amount in future months, as we will have a new regular expense starting in August.

With an irregular income, I pay my bills in this order: mortgage, then utilities and other bills (like insurance; we have no consumer debt), then food, and lastly anything else (clothing, schoolbooks, etc.). If our income doesn't cover everything, then we can eat from the pantry, freezers, and garden. 

The grapes and peaches are ready in the garden. I'll be picking 3 kinds of grapes (Red Flame, Thompson's seedless and a non-named seeded grape) as well as Early Elberta peaches. We're also still picking apples from our Dorsett Golden tree.

Red and Yellow Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

There should be a few tomatoes ripe. Usually, once it heats up they stop flowering and don't flower again until mid-October, but for some reason, there are flowers on several of my plants right now. We love tomatoes, so I'm very grateful! We've been picking about two colanders full a week for the last 3 weeks.

I have some Swiss chard ready in the garden, as well as several herbs, including basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

I am hoping for some zucchini--but will have to see if they flower much, due to the heat. One of my plants looks promising with plenty of female blooms ready to open in the next month, but there are no male flowers, so it may go unpollinated. Another plant has no flowers whatsoever. I had several other plants die, so I replanted and am currently waiting for them to get larger. Usually, they won't set flowers during the summer, though mid-July, should the monsoon season come upon us with a few overcast days and one day with a few hours of rain, the temperatures may drop enough for flowers. (Last year this mid-July rain never happened and the temperatures kept rising--and my garden burned worse than normal).

I'm hoping, too, to see some pollination on my Armenian cucumbers, which I haven't seen yet. I've not seen any female flowers yet. I have several more seedlings that are up but still small; hopefully, they will grow large enough to flower and produce in October when the temperatures drop (like the zucchini and tomatoes)  and if they decided to produce before that I will be delighted. I'm really hoping for some cucumbers now, but so far I haven't seen any. I've realized that in this heat about all I want to eat are cucumbers and tomatoes every day. With this in mind, I planted several more seeds for Armenian cucumbers during the month of June. It will be a few months before I see anything from those, but hopefully, we'll have enough to eat every day and also use to can pickles and relish.

I have a bit of lettuce in the garden still, surprisingly. It is bolted lettuce (it's gone to seed) and usually turns bitter, but in a sandwich, it is just fine. I also have a bit of arugula; mine bolted and self-seeded, and I'll be able to harvest it this month.

Ice cream is at the top of everyone's wish for just about every meal, but isn't exactly practical! Nevertheless, I will be looking for sales on the large gallon store-brand containers of ice cream at Smith's and Albertson's. At the lowest price, I can buy a full gallon for $3.99 on sale at Smith's (and Albertson's has in that size container, with sale prices at $4.49 a gallon; they carry mint chocolate chip in that size and Smith's does not; we usually buy fudge swirl and cookies & cream on sale at Smith's). 

I started having a date night at home with each child last month that included ice cream and three games of Sequence after their siblings were in bed. I haven't had a date with all of the children yet, so I'll make sure to get ice cream to continue that this month.

I'll look for sales on pasta. We've been eating ours down in an effort to rotate through all of it. I'm down to only angel hair pasta in the pantry. I'd ideally like to purchase fettucini, rotini, macaroni, and shells on sale. In the past, Smith's has had a $0.49 pasta sale on American Beauty pasta in the past (some areas of the country get the same sale on Ronzoni), but they have been slowly getting rid of that brand on the shelf and now mostly carry it only in a few shapes at the nearby stores (shells and rotini are no longer ones they carry for this brand). This means I'll have to pay more; I've seen sales for other brands (like Barilla) in these shapes at the lowest prices of $0.69 and $0.75 a pound. If I don't find a good sale on this, I'll wait. If I do, pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing and fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden is sure to be on the list. I can add green onions, New Zealand Spinach, basil, and tomatoes from the garden right now, and if I get cucumbers, I'll add those too. There is a coupon on coupons.com right now for $1.00 off two bags of American Beauty pasta. I printed two this week (the limit) and then the coupons reset and I printed two more. If the sale comes, I should be able to get 8 bags of pasta for free.

I'll cook some chicken (more of the legs I bought on sale for $0.44 a pound a few months back) and cook a turkey from the freezer to use in several meals, including some turkey salad (with grapes and apples from the garden), some enchiladas, in sandwiches, and to serve over rice with a lemon dill sauce.

July Fruit Salad The Prudent Homemaker

My meals will be simple this month.

I'll make Greek yogurt in the crockpot and granola for breakfasts (and we'll add homemade jam and/or fresh fruit and leave out the cranberries).  I'll make smoothies, eggs, and toast. Eggs have been wonderfully low-priced and I stocked up last month.

Lunches will be pasta salads, turkey salad, green salads (with tomatoes from the garden and sometimes hard-boiled eggs), sandwiches, quesadillas, tomato cheddar cracker sandwiches, and leftovers.

I'll make lots of smoothies and popsicles using frozen fruit and peaches from the garden for snacks.  We'll also enjoy fresh fruit from the garden and make a few batches of popcorn. 

Dinners will include at least bean burritos (I bought tortillas last month), barbecue chicken, beans and rice with tomatoes, homemade pizza, turkey enchiladas, lemon dill turkey, and some more ideas from my summer menu.

Desserts will be ice cream, tarts, fruit crumble, and individual pavlovas.

  

Here are the items that are for certain on my list this month:

 

Winco:

Potatoes ($0.25 a pound )

Milk

La Victoria Salsa (I have coupons)

La Victoria green enchilada sauce (I have coupons)

 

Albertson's:

Ice Cream (mint chocolate chip at $4.99)

Frozen Petite Peas (16-ounce bags are on sale for $1 each through Tuesday)

Corn on the Cob (on sale for 8 for $1, limit 8, through Tuesday)

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)

 

Smith's :

Ice Cream (on sale through Tuesday for $3.99)

Blueberries (on sale through Tuesday for the unbelievably low price of $0.88 for a 6-ounce container--that's crazy low-priced for here. NO LIMIT. )

Whipping cream

Lettuce (Red leaf on sale for $0.99 a head)

Milk

Celery

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)

 

Vons:

Sweet cherries (on sale for $1.47 a pound. This price is so low my jaw dropped when I saw the ad. Sale through Tuesday. Normal sales prices are $2.99 (lowest) or more usually $3.99 a pound. For this price, I am buying cherries!)

 

Target:

Salon Graphix Unscented Extra Super Hold hairspray

Playtex Sport Tampons (there are $1.50 off coupons on coupons.com right now and like the pasta, I printed 2 before and 2 after the month changed over, so I can buy 4 boxes for my eldest. This should last her quite some time as she normally uses these washable pads normally but wants to have something for when she is swimming).

 

Sam's Club:

Toilet paper

Milk

Mozzarella cheese

Cheddar cheese

 

I let my Sam's Club card expire last month. Rather than renewing it right away, I always try to put off renewing it by several weeks. The new membership starts from the time I pay, so this buys me a few weeks each year.  I'll wait until a bit later in the month to renew my card.

 

What are you planning on purchasing this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden?

 

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Pavlova The Prudent Homemaker

Pavlova with peaches and blackberries from the garden (that I froze) and the strawberries I bought on sale and froze earlier this year. Recipe here.

I picked more apples from our tree and canned applesauce, using resuable canning lids. (I shared a few photos on Instagram).

I harvested Swiss chard, basil, garlic chives, chocolate mint, two colanders of tomatoes, three red noodle beans,  a single red pepper and a single green pepper, and a single zucchini from the garden.

I cut seedless Red Flame grapes and Thompson's Seedless green grapes from our grape vines.

I harvested Early Elberta peaches from our trees.

June Arrangment 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I keep looking for places to sow more seeds in the garden so as to harvest more from the space that we have. I really want more cucumbers, and I realize that in order to have the amount we're wanting, I need to plant even more seeds. I want to eat more fresh vegetables from the garden. I also want more flowers to harvest from the garden to make bouquets; right now it's so hot that most of the flowers have stopped blooming and those that do bloom burn to a crisp by noon. So, this past week, after evaluating my garden space, I sowed seeds for more zinnias (which like the heat and sun, even here!), Armenian cucumbers, parsley, basil, spaghetti squash, cosmos (a test; though these should be easy to grow I've never had them germinate in the past), Bells of Ireland (which seem to like a little shade in our climate and are growing 1/3 the height they should be but are not burning), miniature white pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash. (I purchased a seed packet from Burpee for the Bells of Ireland, zinnias, and cosmos for $3.97 at Walmart; it's a nice combination for summer flowers in the same color range that should make for nice bouquets in purple, white, green and lavender. I shared a photo of the packet on Instagram.)

I collected warm-up water in the shower in a bucket each day and used it to water plants in the garden.

I took my eldest to the thrift store. (This is kind of tricky now that she and I are the same size and her style has become quite similar to mine! It kind of feels like a race to find things first in the racks!) She was needing a couple of new shirts. What she really wants is Peter-Pan collared shirts. She decided the least-expensive way to do that would be to start at the thrift store, so we went there. Using some fabric I had on hand, she drafted collars for an existing t-shirt. We then bought her two more t-shirts at the thrift store (for $2 each) and she drafted collars for both of those as well. One was a long-sleeved t-shirt, so she shortened the sleeves.

We also found her a beautiful cardigan for $3 (that I actually picked for myself, but it was too tight in the lower arms--but it fit Winter perfectly) and a dressy black dress ($6) while we were there.

I picked up three t-shirts for myself while there. I'm not really a t-shirt person, but I do need something in my new size to wear while working in the garden. These will work well in fall when I can wear them with jeans. One of them was a t-shirt for my alma mater, which was fun to find, as I haven't had a university t-shirt for 20 years! At $2, it was a much better buy than purchasing it new from the university bookstore!

Winter and I also collaborated on ideas for her to make some things for her secret sister for camp. Each of the young women was assigned a secret sister at camp. I put together a Pinterest board for her with ideas that she could make and things that she could print for this particular young woman. (The other girl likes chrysanthemums and bunnies and her favorite colors are maroon and plum). There was a spending limit assigned to each girl (no more than $10) but rather than buying anything, we used what we had on hand. We got really lucky on one thing as well; there were several questions about favorite candies, and one of them was one that my daughter also likes and had already bought for herself to take to camp (wintergreen Life Savers). My daughter just used some of the package that she had already bought (they are each individually wrapped) and gave some to the other girl. The other candies she listed were all chocolate, and as it's expected to be 105º at camp, chocolate would not be practical to bring anyway. Winter and her friends said their favorite things to receive were the notes from the secret sister, and one of her friends said she has kept all the notes from her secret sisters over the years. Their other friends agreed. 

Winter had met this particular girl last week when the girls were all together on a kayaking trip (the other girl, Victoria, is from another congregation). She found out that Victoria had just recently visited London.

With this knowledge, Winter made the following items for her with things we had on hand:

Secret Sister Gifts The Prudent Homemaker

 

A bookmark with a hand-drawn and painted chrysanthemum (using watercolor pencils)

A notecard (that she'll write a note in, of course) with a hand-painted chrysanthemum

A maroon felt chrysanthemum pin (using this tutorial)

A necklace using a Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) charm that I already had and a camera charm

A tiny change purse from the London fabric I had leftover from making this apron, a zipper from my grandmother, and lined with fabric from a red sheet (that my mom gave me some time ago). Winter chose to pick the part that said "Victoria" right in the center, since the girl is named Victoria.

Wintergreen Life Savers in a paper bag that she cut down and cut with a fancy edger punch

 

My husband decided to cut his office phone at work. All of his agents use their cell phones and so does he, so there really isn't a need for an office phone. This saves us $50 a month in business expenses.

It got down to 77º in the mornings. Since I keep my air conditioners at 79º, I was able to open the house up from 5 to 7 each morning and turn off the air conditioning and air out the house.

I listened to free music on Pandora while I was sewing.

I listened to classical music on You Tube while I was cleaning the kitchen and canning.

I printed online coupons for some things I will buy in July.

 

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

 

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It's incredibly hot here this week. We started on Sunday with a high of 112º, and the thermometer just kept going up.

Tomatoes and Basil The Prudent Homemaker

I picked tomatoes and basil from the garden for a caprese salad.

Caprese Salad The Prudent Homemaker

I cooked a ham, which we sliced for sandwiches using my meat slicer.

I cut grapes from the garden, which we enjoyed alongside sandwiches for lunch.

I worked on my embroidery project quite a bit while sitting inside in the air conditioning, under the fan.

While sewing, I listened to several free French lessons online.

I sowed seeds for more zinnias, basil, red noodle beans, and pumpkins in the garden.

My eldest son helped me put in stakes and a trellis in the garden for beans using materials I had on hand. My husband had picked up several stakes for free several years back from someone who was getting rid of them. It has been nice to have them to use in the garden.

I made a double batch of laundry soap.

I attended a church social and accepted the leftover food that I was asked to take home. Several people were able to take leftovers home.

I went to Target for a few necessary items. I was considering purchasing a few more things (and had Cartwheel discounts for several of them), but I decided against them and to save my money instead.

Before I went to Target, though, I decided to stop in at Ross. I don't usually shop there but felt like I should go in. I was able to find a dress for $15 that was just what I was wanting (solid navy blue, with sleeves, and somewhat vintage-styled). I'm working to build a new wardrobe in the smaller size that I am without spending much money. This dress was in the budget. 

My daughter and her friends were going to the thrift store. I had them take my donations with them and they got a receipt for me for my taxes.

Dorsett Goldens The Prudent Homemaker

I picked apples from my tree.

I cut the shirt sleeves down on four more shirts for my husband to turn them into short-sleeved shirts. He had been needing some new shirts when all of these hand-me-down like-new long-sleeved shirts were given to us (by a stranger!) and since our weather is usually warm or hot, turning almost all of them into short-sleeved shirts has been perfect for him.

I mended an item of clothing.

I turned a pair of pants and a pair of jeans that were torn at the knees into shorts for the children.

I listened to swing music on Pandora while cutting apples and sewing.

Change Purse The Prudent Homemaker


I made a little change purse to hold my quarters when garage sale season comes back around in October. I was wanting a little quick project that could be completed after I had done my other sewing, and this was quick to make using fabric scraps I had on hand. I added a little British telephone box charm that I had on hand (I bought 6 of them for a small amount on Etsy for gifts a few years back)  with a jump ring and a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

 

I just want to thank you all for your comments. It's nice to know that others in the world are working to live within their means. It's not a conversation that I get to have with women nearby, and I truly enjoy reading each of your comments and learning from you!

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Roses in Blue Vase The Prudent Homemaker

I cut flowers from the garden for the house and put them in some garage sale vases.

I picked the last of the blackberries from the garden.

Apples and Flags The Prudent Homemaker

I picked apples, lettuce, basil, tomatoes , and three zucchini from the garden. 

I cut and dried parsley from the garden. 

I sowed seeds in the garden for zinnias and Bells of Ireland. 

I collected spinach seeds from the garden.

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used it to water pots in the garden.

My mom picked up a bag of top soil on clearance for $0.65 for me. I used it to top off the pots in the backyard that were needing a bit of dirt.

I opened the garage door in the early morning just a few inches and let the heat out of the garage. I also opened the windows for a couple of hours early each morning to freshen the house, during which time I was able to turn off the air conditioning (with lows at 83º next week and highs above 110º, I won't be able to do that then, though I will let in at least a bit of fresh air still each morning to freshen the house, and then close the house back up.) Monday and Tuesday we had unseasonably cool weather, and I was able to turn off the air conditioners! That changed quickly as temperatures were 110º F /43ºC by Thursday, which are normal temperatures for here this time of year.

I ordered some homeschool books while they were on sale and also used a free shipping code, which saved me a total of $48.63.

I listened to swing music on Pandora.

I studied French using free sources. One of my children studied French using free sources as well.

My husband gave one son a haircut.

My son and my husband mended the wheelbarrow.

We had an online video call with friends in France.

Gladiolus and Grape Vines The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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Early June Flowers The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut flowers from the garden for the house for several arrangements.

June Arrangement 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I picked 1 basketful of figs, two and a half colanders full of blackberries, and apples from the garden. We've never had such a large blackberry harvest. I will be covering our bushes with sheets every year from now on to protect them from the burning sun.

I froze figs and blackberries to use later in the year.

Tomato Medley The Prudent Homemaker

I picked tomatoes and basil from the garden and made a Caprese salad

I harvested lettuce, oregano, and Swiss chard.

I sowed seeds for zinnias, Armenian cucumbers, basil, and sunflowers, in the garden.

I collected seeds from my larkspur plants.

I wanted some flowers in a bare spot in the garden. Instead of buying some seedlings, which I was really wanting to do, I dug and moved some seedlings that I had growing in another part of the garden. They may or may not make it through this shady spot in the summer (they were Johnny Jump-ups, which are more of a winter flower in our climate) but they should give beauty to that spot for a little while. I will plan on planting more Johnny Jump-up seeds (which I already have) in this spot in the fall should these die, to make for some pretty winter and early spring color.

I took off leaves from my succulents that were bolting and put them in pots to dry, with the hopes of making more succulents. I have had minimal success with this so far, but I have had some success, so I should get at least one new plant to replace the bolted ones.

I collected warm-up water from the shower in a bucket each morning and used it to water potted plants on my patio.

Our lows this week were 75ºF/24ºC. As I keep the air conditioner set at 79º, I was able to turn it off for a few hours in the early morning each day while I aired out the house before turning it back on around 8 a.m (our highs were around 105ºF/41ºC.)

I studied French using free online sources.

I listened to music on Pandora.

I earned points on Recyclebank and redeemed points for a free magazine subscription.

I made yogurt, roast chicken, steamed Swiss chard from the garden, several salads from the garden, and bean burritos.

I mended an article of clothing. I shortened and hemmed a thrift-store skirt that I bought several years ago. I cut off a daughter's pair of pants that were torn at the knee and hemmed them for shorts. 

June 2 Arrangement Detail The Prudent Homemaker

I looked over the information about the new symphony season. They have several different purchase options available to save money, including a four-performance purchase instead of the full season purchase (where you pick the four concerts you'll attend). I had been hoping to purchase this four-performance option, and they even sent me an email with an additional 10% off discount if purchased by June 5th. Unfortunately, this is not in my budget right now, so instead, I looked over the different pieces they'll be performing for each concert, decided which concert would be my favorite to attend, and decided to wait. The symphony has been sending out ads for 25% off tickets the month before each performance (in the ValPak for Las Vegas readers). If the budget allows that month, I'll purchase the least expensive seats for that performance using the coupon (should they offer this option again). With an irregular income, I don't know what our budget will be yet at that time, so waiting is the most sensible option for now.

My husband welded our trampoline frame, which was in need of mending.

June Arrangement 2 The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

Note: To those who have asked, I will be writing a floral arrangement post. I'm just waiting for some more flowers to be ready in the garden!

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Blackberries 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested 3 colanders full of blackberries and 6 baskets full of Mission figs from the garden.

Mission Figs in basketThe Prudent Homemaker

I canned fig jam with figs from the garden. I froze blackberries and figs to use late in the year.

I harvested New Zealand Spinach, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, oregano, lemon verbena, and a couple of tiny bell peppers from the garden.  We had several salads from the garden.

I planted seeds for Thai basil, Armenian cucumbers, Hubbard squash, acorn squash, miniature white pumpkins, red noodle beans (this is a try yet again as the bugs have eaten almost every one of my previous seedlings), and zinnias in the garden.

I ordered some dress patterns online that were on a Memorial Day sale for my eldest and myself. I hope to make myself a few new dresses in my new size using fabric I already have on hand. My daughter will be able to use the same patterns to make some dresses for herself.

My daughter repurposed a long pillowcase to make a nightgown for herself.

I redeemed some grocery store Monopoly coupons for two free 8-ounce sour creams, a free salt, and a free pound of pasta. While there, I purchased 2 dozen eggs for $0.88 a dozen (there was a limit of 2).

My husband and I cut his hair.

I gave the baby a quick haircut. 

I shortened the sleeves on a long-sleeved dress shirt that my mom picked up for $0.50 at a garage sale for the baby.  He'll wear this shirt every Sunday and it will be nice for him to have a short-sleeved one.

We needed to replace a ceiling fan in one of our children's rooms. In our climate, a ceiling fan is essential to keeping cool, unless you're willing to spend $200 or more a month to keep the air conditioning lower (a difference of 2ºF/1ºC on my programmable thermostat is $200 more; I keep my thermostat set at 79ºF). My husband and I found a low-priced fan that came with a light kit on sale that only uses 3 lights (the previous fixture had 4). Rather than buying a new rod that matched, he spray-painted the old rod to match.

I cooked a large pot of pinto beans in the crockpot and used them to make bean and rice burritos.

I made a batch of laundry soap.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

 

 

 

 

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