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A Little Announcement

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Apple branches and Figs The Prudent Homemaker

I spent some time this past week writing down all of the blog posts I'd like to feature between now and the end of the year. I have a lot of projects on my to-do list that I'm excited to share with you. I also am planning to share more photos of our home on the blog.

I've had several requests over the years to share pictures of our home. I've hesitated to share in the past for several reasons, the biggest of which being the state of our living room furniture. About 12 years ago, we purchased a custom couch, loveseat, chairs and ottomans for our living room. Prior to that, our living room furniture consisted of an old green futon with honey-stained wooden arms and a broken skinny recliner with wooden arms in light oak. When guests came to visit, we would let them sit on the futon and we would pull in chairs from our kitchen table to sit on--grey plastic folding chairs with a mottled fabric for seats.

We kept that old furniture until we had paid off the last of my husband's graduate school loans, and then, we had saved enough money, we went shopping to buy something nicer. Once we started looking, we realized that we hadn't saved anywhere near enough, so we saved some more. In the meantime, we went to every furniture store in town. No one had anything we liked, and finally, we decided to have something made to our specifications. 

I chose the fabric for our pieces, as it was 1/4 the cost of buying from the place that made furniture, and I could buy something thicker that would last longer. I purchased all of the fabric 50% off at Joann's from the upholstery section  and they used it to cover our furniture.

As time went on, however, the fabric begin to wear, starting with the ottomans. I recovered the top of my husband's ottoman and it wore through again. 

The fabric we chose for our couch and loveseat was really thick, and it held up for a long time. Eventually, though, it wore through, and for the last few years, we've been living with furniture that has looked like this:

Living Room Chair Before The Prudent Homemaker

Because our house is a great-room style, where all the main rooms are open to one another, you can see these from almost every room.

Granted, I had throws we could use for 2 pieces of furniture, and so we covered up 2 pieces while we could, always looking forward to the time when we could have them recovered.

Earlier this year, we had saved enough money to have them recovered.  I made new throw pillows for them.

Another reason I've hesitated is that there was so much more to do in the house, and my home decor budget for the last decade has been pretty slim. And by slim, I mean $0 to $100 a year most years. I made little changes, like printing some photos for free when Walgreen's had an offer going, and buying a few picture frames for $0.50 to $1.00 each at garage sales. I haven't even put out most of those garage sale frames yet (they've been in a box in my sewing room), but I've been hanging them this last week. Now I just need to take some new photos for them.

Our income has increased this year, as the real estate market is seeing sales here in numbers it hasn't seen since 2006.  If things continue as they have been, we may make half of what we made when we purchased out home in 2006. We haven't seen this much income in years, and it is a blessing to have a change.

We've been purchasing some needed furniture and rearranging some things we already have. I'm planning on making some more things for our home, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

I realize that some of you are living frugally, to accomplish your dreams, and some are struggling to hang on, as we have done for a long time. It is for those who are in the latter situation  that I have hesitated to share. I love reading home decor blogs, but I have had to limit myself over the years, as what is "budget" decorating to many people was out of my reach completely.  

There is sometimes a strange belief that those who live frugally must have nothing beautiful, and that those who go through a loss or decline of income should own nothing nice from before a job was lost or an income declined. Neither is true. We all crave beauty, and long to enjoy it in one way or another. There are ways to have beauty on every budget--even the $0 budget, I have found. I saw a blogger pick weeds from her yard to put in vases on a table the other day. If she hadn't said they were weeds, and then showed a close-up (it was grass going to seed!), I would have never guessed! 

All of the organizing and decluttering we've been doing has also made it possible for me to focus more on making some things. I'm looking forward to not only doing some more sewing, but sprucing up a couple of things in the sewing room (which we just rearranged the week before last, bringing in a piece of furniture from another room). When those projects are done, I'll be working on my Gift a Day series in November.

Is there anything else you'd like to see me feature on the blog? Let me know in the comments below!


P. S. I won't be sharing my monthly goals for a while. Instead, I look forward to surprising you with my completed projects!



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 Peach Salad with Feta The Prudent Homemaker

It's not often that I have a good supply of lettuce from the garden in May, but thanks to a later planting of lettuce (I sowed every couple of weeks including some later than I have in years past) and some unexpected cooler weather than normal, I still have lettuce in the garden now. It's beginning to bolt, but it's still sweet (bolted lettuce will turn bitter, the taller it gets). 

It's also time for my first peach harvest of the year. Our Desert Gold peach tree has a low number of chilling hours (250) and is one of the first fruit trees to ripen in my garden.

I put these together in a simple salad this week. The combination of ripe peaches, sweet balsamic vinaigrette, and feta cheese was immensely satisfying.

You can find the recipe here.


If you have a Costco card or know someone who does, they have feta cheese on sale until May 17th for $4.99 (24 ounces, 680 g).


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Thankful: November 14th

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Thankful Series


Today, I am grateful for Richard Sparks. He was a huge help in moving the blog over to the website, helping me to make the change to a website that would work on mobile devices, and working out all of the little details that I could not have done on my own on the website. I highly recommend him!

Thanks to Richard, my Rss feed is now working on the site! I've also got a blog archive up, for those who asked for it.

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Welcome to my new site!

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White Roses The Prudent Homemaker


Here are a few things to note:

First, of course, is that my blog is now integrated into my website. It wasn't a perfect transition; it appears that we lost some comments and all of my photo were shrunk. I'm going to work at putting every photo back in, but that will take a bit. I'm also having to fix each link within posts to other posts. Please bear with me as it will take a while. I'm certain there are more things to fix; I'll be searching for them and working on them.

Second, the menu bars have changed. Things have been moved around. Because of this, your links from Pinterest may or may not work. All posts to individual blog posts will no longer work. You can use the search button at the top of the blog or at the top of the site to find any posts that you need to update.

Speaking of Pinterest, the blog came with that built in Pin It button, but it isn't working correctly (it only lets you pin the first photo). I'll have to learn how to change that.

Third, there are some new things on the website, including a new recipe.

Fourth, the site is mobile compatible. If you're looking at it on a phone or other device, the layout will change from the version you see on the computer.

I'm planning some great posts for every day in November, so visit often! 


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Swiss chard soup The Prudent Homemaker
Swiss Chard (Silverbeet) Soup

This tip works regardless of where you live. This last week I've received letters from women in Denmark, Brazil, and Australia. I know that not all of the things that I am doing to keep my grocery bill as low as possible will work everywhere in the world (buying in bulk, for instance), but this is a tip that works for everyone, in every country. It's something that has been done for thousands of years.

The tip is simple: Eat more soup! Not just once in a while. Having soup once a day really helps us to keep our grocery bill down.

There are all kinds of soups, including very expensive soups, but the least expensive soups are the ones I strive to put on the table at my house.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Most of them are meatless. If they do have meat, it is a very small amount, and I serve those soups less often.

Soups can be cold or hot. They can be made ahead of time and you can eat from them for several meals. If you're single, a large pot of soup might be your lunch for the week. If you want variety, you can freeze several servings of the soup to pull out for a quick meal for another day.

Minestrone Soup The Prudent Homemaker
Minestrone Soup

Most days, our lunch is where we have soup. It's easiest for me to start a pot of soup in the morning while I'm making breakfast for us to have at lunch. This is the beauty of soup as well: it can cook while you're doing something else. You can make a batch of soup while you're preparing another meal, and it can cook while you do something else (like make bread!)

Pea Soup

"But Brandy, wasn't it 105º at your house today? I don't want to make soup when it's hot outside!"

We had soup for lunch today anyway. Of course, when the weather is colder soup is more welcomed. Perhaps for your family, you will find that you can serve soup every day when it's colder and everyone will be thrilled (especially if you make homemade bread to go with it!) In the springtime, I can serve soup with a salad from the garden. Occasionally, we'll have soup with a sandwich, which usually means I'll have leftover soup for another meal.

There are days when we have leftovers for lunch and soup for dinner.

And while we don't always have it every day, it's on the menu at least 4 times a week, and often more. I find that when I get away from having soup as often, the cost of our menus rises significantly. Soup is the best solution for quickly lowering our costs.

Tuscan Tomato Soup
Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup

If you're looking for a few low-cost soups, check out my soups page.

See how I incorporate soups into our fall menu (and our spring menu, for those of you who are reading from the other hemisphere!)

I'd like to take this opportunity to announce that my recipe for Swiss chard soup is now available on my website! You can find it here.

What are your favorite frugal soups?

(We're not talking about lobster bisque here! Make sure they're inexpensive.) Share the soups that cost you very little to make! You can post links to some of your favorites in your comments.

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Homemade Crackers

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Today I'm bringing you two new recipes on the website. These took a while, because I kept making new batches, testing variations in the recipes, until I was satisfied. Plus, my family wanted to eat them as soon as they were done, which often left no chance to take pictures!

One is for saltines. These are great for making tomato cheddar sandwiches.

The other is for wheat crackers. For these, I wanted a wheat cracker that tasted like Keebler's Toasted Wheat crackers (in other words, not at all like Wheat Thins). I think these do that.

They're great with some cream cheese and hot pepper jelly!

If you like softer crackers, roll them a little thicker. If you like crispy crackers, roll them super thin.

I think crackers are one of the most overpriced items at the market. Go make your own and save yourself a few dollars per box!
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