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Recent blog posts

Mission Figs in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I picked five baskets of figs from my Mission fig tree.

I canned rosemary fig jam.

I used the water from rinsing figs to water potted garden plants. I also collected water from the air conditioner drip and used it to water potted plants. 

I picked tomatoes from the garden. I also cut rosemary, garlic chives, and Genovese basil from the garden.

I collected Danish flag poppy seeds from the garden to plant next year.

I used the whey from making Greek yogurt last week in a batch of crepes in place of the water I would have used in with powdered milk. I used some powdered milk as well (just no water) resulting in crepes with a higher protein content and no waste of the whey. 

I used 8 $1 off 2 packages of pasta to buy 16 pounds of pasta for $0.38 a pound.

I started turning the printer off for days and times when no one is printing. Several people print from it (including my husband for work) but no one needs it on unless it is being used.

My husband cleaned the dryer coil out. It wasn't very dirty, but my loads seemed to be taking a bit longer to dry than normal and I know a blocked vent can cause trouble in that way. We have a gas dryer, which costs very little to run, but time is an important factor for me as well. After the coil was cleaned loads went back to drying in their normal time.

My husband welded a handle on our side gate to make it easier to open.

We attended a free health clinic where my children received free immunizations, vision checks, and dental checks. If you're looking for something like this near you, search your city name, 2017, and "health clinic", "health fair", or "back to school fair." Some of these include free haircuts;  (if you don't already cut your family's hair at home; you can also search for back to school free haircuts). This was our first time attending a health clinic like this; I had heard about them in the past but always remembered about them a week or two after they actually took place, as while I'm thinking about school supplies sales in July, I didn't think about these other things as being in July as well.  A few internet searches turned up several of these throughout the country in August and even one in September, so you may be able to find one near you!

I took photos of my son in his Scout uniform for his upcoming Eagle Scout ceremony, rather than paying a photographer. 

July Zinnia Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

I cut flowers from the garden for an arrangement in the house.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

Please check back later this week for my August Shopping Plans post and a refashion post featuring a maxi skirt my daughter turned into a dress!

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Vintage Inspired Pillowcase Nightgowns

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Vintage Summer Nightgowns The Prudent Homemaker

I love a loose-fitting cotton nightgown for summer.

Winter wanted a summer nightgown, and so she set forth to make one using a pillow case we had. It was a hand-me-down from my mother (the sheets had worn out) and was rather long, being a king-sized pillow case.

It wasn't a vintage-embroidered pillowcase, but she was able to give it an even older look by doing her own hand-embroidery.

She laid the pillowcase flat and cut a rounded neckline in front and back.

In the back, she gave it an additional slit down to allow it to open large enough to go over her head.

She undid the side seams just enough from the top down for armholes. When worn, it looks like a raglan sleeve.

Vintage Nightgown Front Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Around the raw edges that she cut at the neckline and armholes, she sewed a scalloped hem using the scalloped setting on the sewing machine. She trimmed around this with a pair of sharp scissors.

Vintage Nightgown Back Detail The Prudent Homemaker

She added hand-embroidery to the front and back of the nightgown.  For the back, she used an old pattern that you can get for free here.

To close the nightgown in back, she added an elastic loop on one side and a button from one of my button jars. I had a covered button that matched perfectly!

Nightgown Hem The Prudent Homemaker

One of her younger sisters wanted a nightgown like hers, so she chose a vintage pillow case (embroidered by my grandmother) and made one for her sister. She added some hand-embroidery to the top to match the embroidery colors and design on the bottom.

 Vintage Nightgowns Front Embroidery The Prudent Homemaker

Since I had everything on hand already, these cost me nothing additional out of pocket. Pillowcases often out last sheet sets and are a great source of fabric. Don't have a pillow case but have a leftover top sheet after the bottom one has worn out? Cut out a pillow case length from it and sew it into one using an existing pillowcase for size, making the top hem your bottom hem, so that you have an already finished hem.

Looking for free embroidery designs that you can use on your projects? Check out my Embroidery board on Pinterest.

 

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July Garden Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I've been seeking new ways to save money all month, as our finances are particularly tight at the current time with a lower income, increasing expenses, and an emergency trip to the hospital earlier this month. I have found that if I look closely, there's always another way or two to save money in addition to what I normally do.

Here's what I did this past week to save money and make the most of what we have:

Concord Grapes The Prudent Homemaker

I harvested two Armenian cucumbers (these are quite large if you've never grown them; they're easily like having 2-4 regular cucumbers a piece depending on when one harvests them), a zucchini, a handful of red noodle beans, two colanders of tomatoes, five baskets full of Mission figs, bay leaves, garlic chives, rosemary, Genovese basil, 2 baskets of Concord grapes and a basket of table grapes from the garden.

I used water collected from the a/c drip (a couple of gallons a day) and from shower warm-up water to water pots in the garden.

We had a few minutes of rain on Monday. I saw the storm clouds and I know that mid-July is usually one of the two days a year where it normally rains here. I put out buckets and pans to collect water off the roof (houses here have no rain gutters as our annual rainfall is 4 inches a year). I collected about 20 gallons of water this way and used it to water potted plants in the garden. I even put out trash cans (several of which are actually buckets) which were needing a good rinse. The rainwater cleaned them out and I reused it on potted bushes.

I sowed seeds for zinnias (if at first you don't succeed . . .) and vincas in the garden.

We changed the filters on our air conditioner. We use really inexpensive filters and changing them means using less electricity, as the air conditioner won't have to work as hard. Our lows have been around 89ºF, so the air conditioners (our house has 2)  are running all the time.

We had one exceptional day on Wednesday where a storm was south of us. We got a few drops of rain but it was overcast and temperatures dropped to 81º for a large portion of the day. I turned off the a/c units for a good part of the day, which saved us $4 for the day. (I saw the results on the weekly report from the electric company. I receive an email each week showing how many kilowatts I used and how much it cost for the week).

My husband had our insurance agent reshop our auto insurance. We were able to get better coverage for $400 less per year. 

We cut my husband's hair and two daughters' hair at home.

I read a borrowed mystery book.

I cooked chicken pieces using a free sample of seasoning that came in the mail. I used the bones to make broth and made chicken soup with Swiss chard, bay leaves, and basil from the garden and some garlic, an onion, and white beans.

I canned applesauce, fig jam, and grape juice using produce from the garden. I dried figs in my dehydrator  (affiliate link) as well. 

I made cupcakes from scratch for a party my daughters had with their friends. I cut flowers from the garden for the table (I shared a photo over on Instagram, along with three others from the garden this week) and we hung a cloth bunting that I made years ago from scraps.

I accepted some hand-me-downs.

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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Why I Don't Mind Being a One-Car Family

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One Car Family The Prudent Homemaker

 

Twelve years ago, after our third child was born, we sold both of our vehicles and bought a single vehicle for our family. We needed something that would fit three car seats and have rear air conditioning and tinted windows. In our heat, it can easily get to 140º in a car in the summer, so having these features in pretty essential in making sure that passengers in the back don't overheat; we run the air conditioning in our vehicle eleven months of the year.

After our seventh child was born, we needed a larger vehicle that would fit our larger family. We sold what we had and bought a used van for $500 over what we sold our previous vehicle.

 

Why I Love Being a One-Car Family:

 

1. We only have one car to register.

In our state, registration for a vehicle is pro-rated by the vehicle itself as well as the age of the vehicle.  It's several hundred dollars a year, even for older vehicles.

2. We only have one car to insure.

This easily saves us hundreds of dollars a year.

3. We don't have car payments.

Not making payments on multiple vehicles saves us a ton of money.

4. I have plenty to do at home.

Being home more often rather than running around gives me more time to do the things I want and need to do

5. I am happy at home.

I have been asked if I don't feel "stuck at home" with just one car. I have never thought of being in my own home as being stuck. Home is not a place I want or need to leave and get away from in order to feel complete each day. I try to make my home a beautiful place to be where I am surrounded by the people and things that I love.

 

The practicalities of living with one car: 

 

1. Most of the time, I don't go further than a two-mile radius.

Within that distance, I combine trips to save time and gas. We have a lot of stores within that distance. Once a month I'll go to Sam's Club (which is 5 miles) and a couple of times a year I run an errand a bit further out. 

2. I will make a trip to the store usually very early in the morning or late in the evening.

Stores are blissfully empty early in the morning, making it easy to check out quickly without a 20 minute time spent waiting in line. Late evenings are good for that as well, depending on the store. 

In our summer heat, running an errand during the day will literally wipe you out. Sure, it may only take 5 minutes to get to the store, but your vehicle is 140º inside and it doesn't cool down by the time you've gotten to the store. Then you get back in on the way home. This makes a person exhausted and in great need to cool down when they return home--and leaving you too tired to accomplish much for the rest of the day. In the summer, I try to go shopping less frequently. No matter the time of year (but especially important during the summer) I'll try to go super early (like 6 a.m. if the store is open then, or right at 8 if it opens later) or go after the children are in bed, so I can come home and go to sleep afterwards. Going shopping during those hours means I don't interrupt our day and my husband has our van to take to work.

3. I don't go shopping very often.

I try to limit my trips to the store. I keep a well-stocked pantry, which means I don't have to go to the store every week and can wait to find the best deals.  Staying out of the store also makes it easy to stick to my grocery budget.

4. I do my shopping research online ahead of time.

If I know what I need but I'm not sure where to get it, I'll look at several stores websites before venturing out to see if the stores have what I need. This saves a ton of time and gas. It's much faster to "go to" 10 stores online and figure out if they have what I need before I go. Another bonus of looking online ahead of time is that I can often find out if the store has what I need in stock.

5. I shop online when possible.

This saves time and money. I look for free shipping deals whenever possible.

6. My children use bicycles.

My older children get to where they need to go on their bicycles. Last week when my husband was at Scout camp with one son, my daughter attended a swim party and my son attended Boy Scouts. They took their bikes where they needed to go. They learn independence.

We bought used bicycles and solid tires for their bicycles to keep costs down and keep them from getting frequent flats.

7. We carpool when possible.

When my eldest has a church dance she wants to attend, she'll go with a group of friends all together and one of them will drive or one parent will drive. They have more fun being together in the car. We'll likewise do the same for church activities for our younger girls.

8. We have piano lessons at home.

We have a piano teacher who comes to our home every other week. I don't need to drive my children to lessons. (Bonus: I get to accomplish more things at home while they have lessons!)

9. I homeschool my children.

Driving them to school and picking them up isn't something on my to-do list. This alone gives me a ton of time in my day which I can use to do other things.

 

We generally put between 8000 - 10,000 miles a year on our only vehicle. We save not only gas, but wear and tear on our vehicle.

 

I know being a one-car family isn't practical for everyone, but if you can make it work for you, it's a great money-saver!

 

Are you a one-car family? How do you make it work for your family? Do you have great public transportation where you live and go without a vehicle?

 

Tagged in: Frugal Living
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Yellow Pear Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

We harvested grapes, peaches, tomatoes,  chives, basil,  chocolate mint, New Zealand Spinach, arugula (which had self-seeded!) and apples from the garden.

I made a turkey salad (aka chicken salad, but with turkey I cooked last week) using apple and grapes from the garden, a few pecans, two stalks of celery, and some homemade Greek yogurt (instead of mayo).

Summer Pasta Salad 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I made a pasta salad using tomatoes, basil, chives, arugula and New Zealand spinach from our garden (and a couple of cucumbers I decided to buy within our $200 budget for this month). I'm down to just angel hair pasta in the pantry so even though that's not what I normally use for pasta salad, I used it. (I'm still hoping for the $0.49 pasta sale to come around soon!

Summer Pasta Salad The Prudent Homemaker

I cut and froze peaches from our peach trees.

Our normal less than 10% humidity changed this week with large passing storm clouds that brought humidity to our area. I was able to collect a gallon of water a day from the drip off the air conditioner. I used this water to water potted plants. Our water here is like our soil with an  8.3 ph,  plus it is high in salts; I'm always happy to have this water that is neither super alkaline nor salty to use to water my potted plants.

I saved warm up water from the shower and used it to water potted plants as well.

I made yogurt in the crockpot.

I cooked a pot of beans in my solar oven.

I hung several garage sale picture frames in the house this week that I've picked up for $0.50 and $1.00 each. I also hung a couple of frames that used to be over the dining room in the sewing room with some old calendar pages in them (the calendar was given to me last year when I was admiring it at someone's house; she said since I liked some of the images, I could have them when the year was done. I've had them since  January and am finally getting them up.)

I continued to work on my embroidery project.

I watched a few videos to improve my French for free.

I mended a hat.

Gallery Wall Detail The Prudent Homemaker

I hung new photos this week that I printed at Sam's Club and paid for with a Swagbucks gift card. This has been on my to-do list for a year and I've had the gift card about that long; I'm excited to have it done!

 Gallery Wall The Prudent Homemaker

I cut small sunflowers from the garden for arrangements on the piano.

Grapes and Branches The Prudent Homemaker

I cut apricot branches for an arrangement inside.

Our van broke down this week in the middle of the desert.  I was at home at the time (my husband was on his way to take my son to Scout camp) and my mom and I went to the auto parts store and bought him a new alternator. We asked for and received a discount after shopping two auto parts stores next to one another; the first was considerably less and also gave us an additional discount when we asked. My husband was surprised when we told him which store ended up being so much less, as he said that store is usually more money! We were able to save the cost of having it towed and repaired, and my husband was able to get up to camp, albeit much later than expected. I would not normally have had a way to get it to him, as we are a one-car family, but my parents had to stay home from their planned trip this year due to my dad's health and my mom was able to take me. We were also able to bring him some lunch (leftover pasta salad that my mom had made and had ready in the fridge).

My son attended Scout camp without having to pay for camp; he sold enough camp cards to earn him a week of camp (including food) (our council offers a free week of camp to those who sell a certain number of cards. He could then use the money he earned from camp cards to pay for another camp, which he and my other son left to today. They earned all of the money for camp from selling camp cards). He was able to earn rowing, kayaking, canoeing, basketry, archery, and rifle shooting merit badges.

My husband gave one son a haircut.

I figured out some present ideas for upcoming birthdays and Christmas for my daughters using items I already have on hand and added them to my list. Keeping a list helps me know what they will like and what I can make when I start making gifts.

I went through my closet to see what else I need to have in my new size. I added those items to my garage sale list and I will try to make over a few things to fit me that are currently too large. I most likely won't go garage sale shopping again until fall  (the semi-annual community sales are usually the second Saturday in October when it starts to cool down enough to finally shut off the a/c; this week was 108ºF to 112º). I put aside some items that I will try to sell on a local Facebook garage sale page. I will use the money from the things I sell to do my garage sale shopping. 

I accepted some hand-me-down clothing for a daughter.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

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July Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

We harvested red and green seedless grapes, peaches, tomatoes, and apples from the garden.

I cut chocolate mint for a large batch of herbal tea.

I went to the Joann's on the 3rd of July to buy a few items on sale, including some broadcloth in black, white, and navy at 50% off at $2.49 a yard and some ribbon by the spool at 60% off. 

My husband replaced our garbage disposal himself.

We used solar lights at night in our bedroom instead of turning the lights on. I bought a two-pack of these at Sam's Club in May for the same price as one from Amazon. We've had problems with other solar lantern batteries burning in our heat in the direct sun. We put these inside the window and they worked without any problems. They were bright enough to use for reading at night.

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

We celebrated the Fourth of July at home. I hosted and food was combined with my mom. We watched fireworks from our yard--they weren't real large, but we were able to see what several people were setting off nearby from our yard and we didn't have to spend any gas to go anywhere.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 gift card to Lowe's.

I looked over the grocery ads when they came. There were some good deals--but not the pasta sale that I'm hoping to see. I threw the ads out. I also received some catalogs with summer clearance sales. I glanced through them--and then quickly tossed them. There were some things that I liked but that weren't in my budget nor were they priorities or planned purchases. Throwing them out removed the temptation to spend money I need to use for other things.

I organized three drawers. It took a bit of time but was a no-cost way to add some peace to my life.

I organized my garden seeds. I have plenty of vegetable seeds to plant for my fall garden without having to purchase anything.

My husband and I chose to celebrate our anniversary at home with a meal for the two of us: caprese salad with tomatoes and basil from the garden.

 

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

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