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Recent blog posts

Meyer Lemon Meringues The Prudent Homemaker

I used lemons from the garden this week to make lemon curd, which I used to top homemade meringues, along with pomegranate arils. I'll be sharing this recipe later this week.

I dug up and moved several plants to help them to get better sun exposure/less sun exposure (some were burning in the sun and others were failing to flower). Moving the plants made it feel like I've put new things in the garden. (You can see some recent pictures of the garden over on Instagram.) I planted two bushes that were started by tip layering several years ago to the pots by the front door.

We have been working on making our raised bed smaller. About half of it was on the east side of the house. It wasn't getting enough sun, and we want the space for bicycles. I ran new drip irrigation to the remaining part of the bed (the old irrigation had become clogged with calcium and salt that is prevalent in our local water). As I evaluated the bed, I saw that I could install the lines closer than they had been before, allowing me to almost double the number of rows in the remaining space. My lettuce and green onions can grow closer together than they have in the past.

I planted seeds for lettuce, spinach, green onions, snow peas, radishes, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and pumpkins in the garden. We're expecting record high temperatures this week (70F/23ºC), and with our normal last-frost date only two weeks away, it's warm enough for warm-weather crops to germinate in the garden.

I transplanted parsley seedlings from where I started them in a pot in the white garden to several shady spots in the garden. Parsley will burn here completely in the sun come April, but will grow year-round in the shade.

I covered vegetable seedlings with jars to protect them from being eaten and to speed up growth. Glass jars act as miniature greenhouses in the garden, and I've found that the seedlings grow three times faster when covered than when not.

I updated my garage sale list. I usually print my list and take it with me. Now I have the list on my phone, so I'll have it with me always, and I can update it more often as I both find things and think of things we need. Garage sale season usually starts in March here (and is at its peak in April and again in October, when HOA's have their semi-annual community sales).

Meyer Lemon Crepe Cake The Prudent Homemaker

I made a crepe cake for my son's birthday (my children choose the meals for their birthdays, and this was his request). He asked for a crepe cake with lemon curd, Nutella, and whipped cream for breakfast. I still had heavy cream left in the fridge that I bought a few months back that was good (whipping cream lasts months, unlike milk) which was perfect to top the crepes.

I checked out and read four e-books from the library.

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I made homemade hair detangler/leave-in conditioner. A small squirt of conditioner in a squirt bottle and water work just as well as Infusium leave-in conditioner.

I said yes to some free clothes hangers.

My husband cut my hair for me.

Meyer Lemon Crepe Cake 2 The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money last week?

 

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What I've Been Reading

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Ebook The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

Shortly after Christmas, a reader wrote to me about a shopaholic relative who decided to spend $1500 on one of her children right after Christmas. This relative lives on a fixed income and the reader knew that the relative was unable to afford the purchases (she was charging everything). She and I were discussing how to talk to her child about the relative, and I thought immediately of the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic. My whole family enjoyed the movie, and it has been a good point of discussion at our house about buying on credit (my husband and I have never been ones to use credit cards for shopping, and we often discuss saving up for things that we want).

As I looked up the movie on Amazon, I found a number of negative reviews about the movie. My husband, my eldest, and I were surprised; we thought the movie was great and that it had a great message about not overspending. 

The reviews mostly were negative because the movie was so different from the books that it was based on.

I looked up the author of the books, Sophie Kinsella, on my library's website. Since everyone was saying that the movie was so different, I thought I'd try reading some of her other novels, and there were quite a few in addition to her Shopaholic series.

Ivory Musketeer The Prudent Homemaker

It was Christmas break, so while the children were playing with their new Legos, playing board games and endless rounds of dress-up, I decided to read. I had already downloaded the free Overdrive app on my phone, so I decided it was time to start using e-books (I've had a cell phone for less than a year now). I checked out the first book at night, when the library would have been closed. I loved that I didn't have to drive to the library and that I could get something new to read immediately.

Octavius Pirate The Prudent Homemaker

I found the books to be funny (I was laughing out loud several times). so I read each of her books that my library had, downloading them to my phone. I read some while the children played, during our naptime/quiet time while I laid down with my toddler to get him to sleep, and at night after the children were in bed. We don't have cable, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, so I don't watch a lot of tv, but I often work on the website or read other blogs during the evenings. Being Christmas break, most blogs were quiet, and it was nice to have some downtime and just read. 

It took me around 4-5 hours to finish a book. I stayed up late reading several nights, so I usually read 3 hours after the children went to bed and a couple of hours during the day (usually during naptime, while my youngest napped and the others played Legos, did genealogy, and sewed). 

When we started school again a few weeks later, I continued reading at night and during naptime. 

I decided to read the Shopaholic series last. The reviewers were right in that the movie was quite different than the books in several major aspects. At the end of the movie, you're left with the feeling that the main character has learned to control her spending. In the book series, however, she never does. It was very different reading about someone who lives such a different way of life, constantly charging very expensive purchases that she can't afford. 

I liked the main character's optimism about herself, her caring and concern for others, and the fact that despite her weaknesses, she had some great strengths. It was a good reminder that everyone has good qualities, even if they have large weaknesses.

A few things about the author's books that I didn't like: her use of swear words was something I'm not used to reading, and a few scenes were a bit risqué. I also noticed that most of her main characters were women working in entry-level jobs who ended up with multi-millionaires who were heads of companies. While that's a fun thing to imagine, it's definitely not how things work out for most people. 

Despite this, I did enjoy reading her books. I also loved the ease of downloading e-books from the library to read, saving me time and gas (I checked out most books at night after library hours, which was nice, too!)

The last New York Times best-selling author that I read was John Flanagan. My husband, my four eldest children and I have enjoyed all his novels immensely!

I'm thinking that I should check out the New York Times best-seller list to see what other authors' works I may enjoy reading. Reading library books as e-books has been simple, convenient and a great source of free entertainment. 

Have you read any great fiction recently that you can recommend?

 

Tagged in: Frugal Fun
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January Garden Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

I cut and dried oregano from the garden. I also harvested beets and lemons.

I dug and planted more tiny bushes started by tip layering in new spots in the garden.

January Iceberg Roses in Entry The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden before pruning the rose bushes.

I juiced lemons from the garden and made a double batch of lemonade.

We enjoyed lots of produce from our own garden, including butternut squash that I grew and harvested last year (I love that it keeps for several months), peaches that I froze from our trees, tomatoes that we picked in December that have been ripening, and herbs that I dried.

January is our coldest month and I usually have the highest natural gas bill in January. It's been so warm that I haven't had to run the heater almost all month, so even though our natural gas rates are higher in the winter, I will have a very low bill.  We even opened the windows for a few hours each day to let in some fresh air. (December's bill was akin to a bill I pay in summer!) Friday was the nicest day at 69ºF/21ºC. A storm blew by over the weekend, bringing cold air and lots of wind, but it was still plenty warm in the house.

I collected shower warm up water in a bucket all week and used it to water potted plants on my patio.

I downloaded and read an e-book from the library.

We cut my husband's hair and all three sons' hair.

My husband used two very used 2 by 4s that we've had for years and nailed them to the walls in the shed using nails that someone gave us some time ago. He used more of the same nails to make places for me to hang our garden tools. This is a project that I've been wanting for years; it took 20 minutes to complete and cost us nothing out of pocket.  Last fall my eldest son rearranged the shelf units in the shed (his way made more sense that what we had before) and now the shed feels much more spacious and it is much easier to access everything. Every time I opened the shed door this week (which was often, as I worked outside almost every day) I was delighted!

We removed two dying trees from the garden ourselves.

I mended two holes in my drip irrigation using supplies I had on hand.

My husband's work insurance was up for renewal. He shopped around and found another company that has a deductible that is half what our old coverage was, and the insurance itself is $1000 less than what we paid last year! 

My second son made phone calls to have materials donated for his upcoming Eagle Scout project. He had all the steel donated that he needed for his project.

Two of my children downloaded 6 songs each from the library through Freegal.

My two eldest went to a free swing dance. They've been getting together with other teens every week for a few months to learn new swing dance steps and dance. My eldest provided the swing music, which included the songs she downloaded from the library (she's been adding new ones for months, so with that and the ones I already had, she has quite a collection of swing dance music).

Iceberg Roses in Entry The Prudent Homemaker

What did you to save money this past week?

 

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Roses on Black Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy inside. 

I worked in the garden all week pruning, fertilizing, and planting.

I sowed seeds for poppies, spinach, larkspur, Swiss chard, green onions, nasturtiums, Bells of Ireland, and snow peas in the garden.

I dug several more bushes that I started by tip layering and transplanted them to other places in the garden to form a hedge. I also put two in pots that I already had; I hope to grow these into two ball-shaped plants.

I dug out the two Lady Banks' roses from the white garden in front and transplanted them to my garden in back, where they should be able to grow along the wire trellis there and provide a green backdrop in a place that previously was barren. These vines grow very quickly and were growing onto my roof after just three years of being planted (they only started out about 2 feet tall), so they should cover the trellis within two years (I cut them down to three feet tall a few months back). They only flower once a year and rarely flowered for me in the spot they were in, as they were in constant shade (they require sun to flower). In their new spot, their evergreen leaves will be welcome. They will get direct winter and early spring afternoon sun, so I may also get a spring flowering from them as well, starting next year.

We enjoyed a bit of rain this week (1/4 inch, which is a lot for here!) It helped soften the ground and made it easier for us to work at digging out the roots of our dead peach tree that we needed to pull, as well as a grapevine that we took out. 

I put out buckets to collect rainwater for the garden.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

My husband and I had a date night at home. 

My eldest son was helping a woman clean out her house as part of a service project. The woman was giving away lots of unused things that were cluttering her house to the helpers. My son accepted three boxes of Christmas lights that were brand-new in the box. Our old Christmas lights were having trouble this past year, so this was perfect for us!

My husband was given a box of candy from a work associate. It came in a fancy reusable lidded box. He brought the box home and I added it to my stash of reusable lidded boxes.

I watched a couple of cake decorating videoes on YouTube (this one and this one). I have a child's birthday every month from January through May, and I'd like to try making some fancier cakes.

We enjoyed more tomatoes from the garden as they ripened, as well as frozen fruit from last year's harvest and lemons that I picked last week. I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

My husband used an engine hoist to pull out our dead peach tree, rather than renting a stump remover (which are about $100 a day, and we have two more trees to pull).

I was offered tickets to the Philharmonic at the last minute from someone who could no longer go. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't feeling well enough to go after pulling the tree out. Instead, I took my 12-year old son, and he and I were able to enjoy the concert. I didn't look at the tickets until we arrived; we had the nicest seats (orchestra level, right in the middle).  

French Lace Rose in Blue and White Vase The Prudent Homemaker

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Lemon Branches and Lemons The Prudent Homemaker

I worked pruning, weeding, and tidying the garden. 

I cut branches from the garden to enjoy inside.

I picked more Meyer lemons from our trees.

I dug and transplanted several new "bushes" from one place in the garden to another where I am starting a hedge. These only have one rooted stem, but it is well rooted and they should do well in their new place. After they have been growing in their new spot for a while, I will cut the single branch on each to force them to send forth new branches. It will take about 5 years for them to grow into a hedge.

I sowed seeds for larkspur, poppies, bells of Ireland, and lettuce in the garden.

I resisted the temptation to buy more flower seeds online. I put everything in my cart, looked at the total, decided it wasn't in the budget, and closed the browser. I have plenty of seeds to plant already.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

I purchased the vitamins I had on my list at Target on sale, plus used an additional 5% off Cartwheel discount to get the price lower. I brought my own bags for $0.05 off my total per bag.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Sam's Club gift card. I'll use this towards my grocery purchases this month.

My husband and I used the last two movie passes we received for Christmas of 2016 to go on a date.

A neighbor threw out a men's bicycle in great condition. It was missing only a few bolts (it was in pieces). We rescued it from the trash. We will either use it (after getting new bolts) or use the pieces on our existing bicycles. (The sun disintegrates seats here, so a new seat is always welcome!)

My husband repaired our side gate.

My son replaced a broken valve connector in the garden.

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used it to water our potted plants.

We enjoyed tomatoes from the garden. The green ones I picked in December have been ripening, and they are wonderful! 

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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My Goals for 2018

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My most important goal for 2018:

Octavius Baby Foot The Prudent Homemaker

Have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby in late spring!

 

 February Rain in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Garden Goals:

1. Take out dead our peach tree and replace it. We may take out both peach trees in the back, as the other appears to be dying as well. I learned in my extension service classes that peach and apricot trees only last around 10 years here. We've had these trees for 10 years. They are the two above covered in pink blossoms, The one you see on the right died last year and the one on the left is the other we will most likely take out too.

2. Plant many more flowers for cutting and enjoying in the garden. I want to grow thousands of flowers in the garden this year for arrangements thorughout the year.

3. Plant more Swiss chard, lettuce, green onions, snow peas, Armenian cucumbers, alpine strawberries, squash, and beets than in past years.

4. Fix sprinkler issues and reseed the lawn in the bare spots.

5. Find and fix all leaks in the drip lines.

 

White Embroidery Detail The Prudent Homemaker

 

Sewing Goals:

 

1. Sew curtains for my bedroom. I bought the fabric over a decade ago, shortly after we moved into the house. I need to buy lining and something to hang the curtains (I think we will need to make boxes). I want to get this project done this year. We've had shades hanging for years, but they broke last year and I'm ready for my curtains to finally be up!

2. Sew the decorative bed pillow that I embroidered a cover for last year (pictured in-progress above).

3. Sew baby clothes using patterns and material I have on hand. I gave away almost all of our baby clothing, save a few favorite things I had stored in one box.

4. Sew four dresses for myself. (These have been on my list for a few years now; this year I want to finish the ones I've started and sew two more, and I already have the fabric to do it).

5. Sew birthday gifts for the children using fabric I have on hand. My girls have requested several things and I already have a list of what they want.

 

Purchase Goals:

These are my planned purchases for the year. While I'm sure we'll have other needs, these are ones that I already know will be part of my purchases for the year:

1. Purchase a few baby clothing items for the new baby. I've already registered at Target so that I can get a 15% off coupon to use towards baby purchases the last two months of pregnancy (they let you use one towards what is left on your registry at that time, but the 15% is only good for ONE purchase. I'll definitely buy diapers and possibly purchase some onesies and socks at that time). I also will look at garage sales for needed items. I was recently gifted enough hand-me-down 0-3 month onesies that I don't need any in that size.

2. Purchase a car seat for the baby.

3. Buy the following clothing items for myself: sandals, black flats, nursing bras, and a few more maternity items (I'll look for those in thrift stores) for warm weather wear. It gets warm here early in the year. I am needing new-to-me maternity clothing in a smaller size; I donated all of my old maternity clothing last year.

4. Purchase new shoes for the family.

5. Purchase tarragon and tomato plants for the garden. I'll also buy more dirt for the garden; removing tree roots will mean I'll need dirt to fill in those spots.

 

Financial Goals:

1. Refund emergency fund. This was depleted last year after some hospital bills.  We have other goals we'd like to add to this category, but this is the first and most important one, and we won't do any of the others until after this one is accomplished.

 

What are your goals for this year?

 

 

Tagged in: Goals
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Spring Gardening

 
 
 
  
 
 
 

 

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