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I enjoyed plenty of fresh air this week as I worked in the garden, planting the bulbs that I ordered back in June that have been prechilling in my refrigerator since October. 

I trimmed some bushes and used some of the clipped pieces to (hopefully!) start some new bushes by pulling off the bottom leaves and sticking them in the ground. I've rooted new plants in the past by doing this. (It takes 4-5 years to have a full-sized plant this way).

I decided to make some changes to part of the white garden. In the winter the garden is in full shade (for months)  and in summer the hot sun has been burning plants to a crisp. My original plan for that part of the garden is not working well as the plants I put there are dying in our intense summer sun and 110º+ temperatures. I went to the nursery and bought some new plants for the garden on sale--some annuals that will last for 5 months and a few bushes on sale. I still need several more bushes for this area, but they did not have enough in stock. I'll watch for when they have more and purchase them on sale. In the next few months, the nursery usually mails out several $10 off coupons, so I'll combine those with sales to purchase the remaining bushes as they become available.

I went through Ebates to get cash back on a purchase I made through Overstock. I signed up for Overstock's email to get a 10% coupon to use on my purchase. When I checked my email, they sent a 12% coupon! I used that to make my purchase and I will get 2% cash back through Ebates.

Green Earrings and Bracelet The Prudent Homemaker

I made myself a new pair of earrings using some inexpensive findings I had and some beads I bought years ago at a garage sale. These match the bracelet I made for myself in September.

I cut iceberg roses from the garden for the house. I've left a few buds on to finish opening to cut next week when I started pruning the roses back this week.

I cooked a turkey which we enjoyed for several meals.

We're having a simple celebration at home this evening, playing a card game while the children are asleep.

 

What did you do to save money for the last week of 2016?

 

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Christmas Table The Prudent Homemaker

Here's what we did to save money this past week: 

Poinsettia The Prudent Homemaker

I bought two beautiful poinsettias marked down to $0.99 each. I gave one to a neighbor and put one on our table.

Chocolate Pretzels The Prudent Homemaker

I sewed some more gifts for the children while my husband watched the children. I used fabric I had on hand, including fabric that was passed down to me from my grandmother and mother-in-law.

I mended holes in two sweaters.

I hemmed a pair of pants.

I picked a lemon from the garden. 

I cut rosemary, parsley, and chives from the garden.

I reused old ribbons to tie gift boxes closed.

Winter made herself a Christmas dress using some hand-me-down fabric.

My husband cut one son's hair.

My husband and I went to a movie for free. My parents gave us two free movie tickets that they received for donating blood.

Christmas Table 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 Directions to the Christmas Tree napkins can be found here.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

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Skirts The Prudent Homemaker

This was a sewing the inherited stash project. The plaid came from my mother-in-law's stash (a heavy fabric that was a home decorating scrap) and the pinwale corduroy came from grandmother's stash. Both women have passed away (my grandmother this year and my mother-in-law 3 years ago) and I am happy to be using the fabric that I chose from their vast amounts.

Both of these are warm skirts that should be great for everyday wear and play. I made them long enough to go just past the knee cap. 

For each skirt, I simply used the full width of the fabric (from selvage to selvage). I sewed the selvage ends together using a French seam (wrong side to wrong side, sewn together using 1/4" seam, then trimming the seam to 1/8", turning, ironing, and sewing right side to right side using a 3/8" seam).

I turned under the hem at 1/4" inch and ironed it. I then turned it under again (an inch and a quarter for the green skirt and a couple of inches for the plaid skirt; I cut the plaid one longer to allow for a deeper hem on the heavier fabric).  I pinned the hem and sewed it.

I did the same thing along the top, only I folded it over 1/4 inch and ironed, and then 1 1/4 inches and ironed it. I pinned this top seam. I sewed the top seam, leaving about 2 inches unsewn.

I pinned the end of my piece of elastic (cut slightly shorter than the child's waist measurement) through with a safety pin. I used the safety pin to thread the elastic through the casing I just made. Once I had it through, I overlapped the ends by an inch and sewed them together with a zig zag stitch. I then tucked the elastic into the skirt and finished sewing it closed along the seam line.

Headbands The Prudent Homemaker

 

Supplies for each:

2/3 yard of each fabric (more if you want a longer skirt, and twice as much if you want a fuller skirt)

2/3 yard elastic (depending on size of waist you may need a bit more or less)

headband fabric to match ( 2 1/2 inches wide by 16 inches long)

fabric for headband (a piece cut 2 1/2 inches wide by 16 inches long)



Tools:

Sewing Machine

Iron

Sewing pins

Scissors

Large safety pin



Time: Approximately 1 1/ hours per skirt, and 25 minutes per headband. 

Skirts and Headbands The Prudent Homemaker


Cost:  $0.34 each for the skirts (for the elastic) and $0.17 each per headband

My fabric was free, and the headbands were bought at a garage sale earlier this year. I removed the fabric covering to recover them to match. I purchased the elastic in bulk on sale from Wawak. The thread came from my grandmother.

 

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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A Gift a Day 2016: Day 6: Checked Blouse

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My sweet little baby sidetracked my Christmas sewing completely. I had forgotten how hard it is to accomplish one's goals when there's a baby in the house!

But this week, I've got a chance to get in several hours of sewing each morning while my husband watches the children for a few dedicated sewing hours. I'm working on completing as many Christmas presents as possible during this time. Here's the first:

 Checked Blouse Detail The Prudent Homemaker

 

Earlier this year I came across this tutorial via Pinterest on how to use a tracing wheel to make a pattern from existing clothing. I've taken apart clothing before to make a pattern, and not having to do so to copy something I already like is so much nicer!

I copied an existing blouse that one of my girls has (minus the darts) and made it out of some fabric scraps I was given from a reader a few years ago. They were narrow pieces and I wasn't sure how I would use them at first, but they are super soft, quality cotton scraps from a shirt company.  There was just enough width in part of it to cut a back, and the other pieces were just narrow enough to cut the front pieces, sleeves, and collars of a girl's blouse. The fabric scraps were just wide enough.

Check Blouse The Prudent Homemaker

 

The original blouse seams were serged seams that were only 1/4" wide. Since I was not planning on serging the seams (I made the blouse with French seams instead to prevent unraveling and make for a smooth finish), it was necessary to add additional seam allowances to the pattern before cutting it out. I drew them on the tissue paper around the traced lines and then cut out my new pattern.

 

Supplies:

Fabric (I used scraps; the total amount for a girl's size 10 blouse was approximately half a yard/meter)

Buttons

Tissue paper

Existing blouse to copy


Tools:

Sewing Machine

Iron

Sewing pins

Tracing wheel

Scissors



Time:

About 2 hours


Cost:

$0.40

The only thing I purchased for this gift were the buttons, and I had some in my supplies that I had purchased at Joann's for 60% off.

 

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Iceberg Rose in December The Prudent Homemaker

Iceberg Rose in the white garden at sunrise

 

The weather has been beautiful and warmer than usual. I enjoyed being out in the garden. I planted seeds in the garden for spinach, radishes, and lettuce.

I picked up the free nuts and candy that I had loaded to my grocery store card last week. I also added another freebie to my card this week that I picked up as well (a free 2-liter bottle of soda). When I was at the store, I couldn't find the chewable version of the candy that the website had listed as the freebie. The cashier told me it also included the hard candy, which is what my husband prefers, and they had plenty of those in stock. I'm glad I asked! I used the candy for a stocking stuffer for my husband (it's one of his favorites).

I returned a small item I bought but did not use. I had waited to return it until I needed to go to the same store again.

I used a $10 off coupon that I received in the mail to buy my son a shirt for a Christmas gift. I spent $5.40 out of pocket for a new shirt.

I contacted a company about their one-year-growing guarantee for my rosebushes that died. Replacements will be shipped to me early next year for the plants which didn't make it. Also, one plant did fine, but it was mislabeled. They will be sending me the correct plant next year, but I now have another rosebush! (This is their normal policy for mislabeled roses). 

My husband and I had short 2 dates at home. We played card games together after the children were in bed.

I accepted a small 2017 calendar from my mom that she received as a free promotional item. This will save me the expense of buying a new small planner (and it was just about the same size as the one I usually buy!) for my purse. I'm a paper and pen planner (I don't have a cell phone) and this is perfect for my needs.

I watched some free French language videos to improve my French on the Comme Une Française blog.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

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Harry Potter Christmas Baby Shower

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Harry Potter Baby Shower 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I hosted a baby shower last week for a soon to be first-time mom who is a huge Harry Potter fan. Since I seem to have a Harry Potter birthday party for at least one of my children every year (and have for the last few years) this meant I already had several items that I could use for the party, and that some of the items I purchased could be used for future parties.

I had several people ask what they could do to help, so I assigned out paper plates, bowls, cups, napkins, soda, salad, and the Happy Christmas banner. This saved me money as well as time.

We hung the Harry Potter house banner that I had made several years ago. Underneath it we hung a Happy Christmas banner that one of the guests made (using this tutorial and glittered poster board. I didn't even know glittered poster board existed before I asked this guest if she was willing to make the banner, and she told me that she already had glittered poster board to make it!)

On the couch I put the Harry Potter pillow that I embroidered several years ago.

HP Party Flying KeysThe Prudent Homemaker

In the entry way over the table, we hung flying keys with fishing wire. I purchased the keys and we downloaded the wings, which I printed on vellum. My 11-year-old son,Ezrom, cut out the wings, taped them to the keys, and hung them.

 HP Party Flying Keys 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Harry Potter Baby Shower The Prudent Homemaker

Over the dining table, we hung snowflakes, a nod to the enchanted snowflakes that fall over the Christmas table at Hogwarts. Winter made the snowflakes and ironed them on low before hanging them with fishing wire. She also cut the curling ribbon and hung it. 

Besides decorations, a large part of a Harry Potter party is the themed food. 

Since we were having the party on a weeknight and many women would be coming from work, I served dinner. Knowing how inexpensive soup, salad, and homemade bread are to serve, I made pumpkin soup and rosemary olive oil bread. When someone asked how she could help, I assigned her to bring the salad, since I don't have much lettuce growing in the garden right now (despite planting several times). The pumpkin soup was a mixture of butternut squash from our garden, acorn squash I bought on sale (which decorated our table all fall), and mini pumpkins I had also bought as fall decorations.

HP Mini Chocolate Frogs The Prudent Homemaker

I made most all of the desserts in miniature, which made it possible for people to try several things without feeling like they had too much dessert. I used my miniature chocolate frog mold and a tiny snowflake mold to make these chocolates.

HP Chocolate Snitches The Prudent Homemaker

I used a half- sphere mold to make these snitches. My 11-year-old put them together, piped the design over them, and added the wings.

HP tarts and cookies The Prudent Homemaker

I made miniature treacle tarts (Harry's favorite), snowball cookies (about double the size of normal, which was only because I had not made them before, but in the future I will make them smaller), and chocolate wafer cookies.

Harry Potter Party Hogwarts Letter Cookie The Prudent Homemaker

I made some envelope cookies with red fondant Hogwarts seals (affixed with white chocolate). These were a bit larger and though delicious, I think they were too large for a baby shower where all the women want just a little dessert. At a children's party I think they will be eaten without a problem.

Harry Potter Mandrake Cupcake The Prudent Homemaker

The biggest hit among the Harry Potter fans in attendance were these miniature mandrake cupcakes. I made the cupcakes in miniature and bought the smallest terra cotta pots I could find. The mandrake label is a free printable (see sources below). The cupcakes were topped with melted chocolate and chocolate cookie crumbs. We then put in the baby and added a bit of melted chocolate to his head, which we used to affix oregano leaves from the garden.

The second largest hit were the cheese and pretzel broomsticks. We made them last minute so that they cheese would be fresh. I didn't get a photo of them, but I've included a link to the instructions below. I think everyone enjoyed having a savory choice in addition to the soup and salad.

All of those who had soup loved it. It was just the right thing on a winter evening.

 HP food The Prudent Homemaker

The white pumpkin is one I bought at Lowe's that has graced my table all fall since I purchased it at Lowe's in early fall. The floral arrangements were apple branches, Thai basil, dusty miller, and euonymus from the garden.

Being Christmastime, we had up our Christmas decorations as well. We set up a trunk that I had (a garage sale purchase years ago) under the tree, and the gifts went into that as well as around the tree.

For drinks, I served water with a lemon from the garden. Another guest brought butterbeer, which she made by mixing up a few different recipes that she had found on Pinterest. It was delicious!

There were about 30 people in attendance.

The best part, after everyone else had left, was when the recipient told me that it was just the kind of shower she wanted: we had food, sat and talked, and opened gifts.

 

Resources:

Mini Chocolate Frog Mold

Snowflake Mold

Sphere mold

Keys

printable wings

vellum (opaque paper for printing wings)

Hogwarts seal

Happy Christmas banner template

plastic babies: Hobby Lobby

mini cupcake wrappers: Joann's on 50% off sale

mini pots: Hobby Lobby. They come in a package of six for $1.99. I bought them on a 50% off sale.

red fondant: Hobby Lobby.  I used a 40% off coupon to buy the small package.

Free printable customizable invitation

Wilton melting chips: bought 3 for $5 on sale at Michael's

Pretzels: I bought just a small amount (enough for the party) in the bulk bins at Winco. It was much less than buying a whole bag of pretzels (as well as cheaper per pound)

String cheese: Sam's Club in bulk (around $2.56 a pound)

chives, oregano, and centerpiece greenery: From the garden

 

 

Recipes:

Pumpkin soup

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

White cookies

Chocolate cookies (also used for crumbs on top of cupcakes)

Chocolate cake

Snowball cookies

Treacle tart

Cheese and pretzel broomsticks

 

Looking for more Harry Potter party ideas? Check out my Harry Potter party board on Pinterest.

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