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Frugal Accomplishments for the Fourth Week of January

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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  • Jamie | Medium Sized Family January 29, 2018

    I'm looking forward to that lemon curd recipe! I made homemade lemon curd with crepes a couple of years ago and it was SUCH a treat. I'm curious to see what you use in your recipe. And I LOVE following you on Instagram. Your photography is just beautiful.

    Here are the ways we saved last week: https://www.mediumsizedfamily.com/5-ways-weve-saved-money-this-week-108/

  • Sandra January 29, 2018

    Last week was the start of the BIG purge. I have been mentally working up to it for months. Storage areas need to be reorganized and it will involve getting rid of things we are no longer using. Of course, some still have monetary value and others are just sentimental=, but whatever the case if they are just taking up space then I want to get rid of them. The easy thing would be to just clear it out and give it away, but I have trouble with that scenario. That is why it has taken me a long time of mentally purging before I actually start boxing things up to give away. I know how good it will feel when I see tidy organized storage areas again. I can hardly wait.

  • Trudy in MN January 29, 2018

    The last couple weeks have been hard on the checkbook - our truck needed repairs and even though it is an old truck, it was still cheaper to repair than to replace it. Unfortunately, it wiped out our emergency fund and now I need to focus on building that back.

    We have new insurance through my husband's company this year. A little bit more out of his checks and I'm having money taken out for an HSA account. My husband was/is able to complete health assessments, etc. to add $$ to our HSA and he completed one of them last week which earned $75.

    Our energy bill was $60 higher this month than last which was all due to heating. Everything in our house is electric except the furnace and the water heater. It was bitterly cold here last month.

    Have been keeping steady on the grocery budget and making more meals from scratch. Offered to pay for my daughter's books for college since it is her last term - lucky me, she doesn't need any books this term (I didn't know that before I offered).

    Love hearing about your garden - sounds so lovely (and warm!).

  • Becky January 29, 2018

    70 degrees in January! You will get things to come up with those temps! And, maybe it will give some things a long enough time to make fruit/flowers before your super hot summer comes. It's been quite warm around here, too. (Pacific Northwest). So, I got out and trimmed and pruned another "greenie" bin full of clippings to put out. I'm trying to fill it each weekend, but it was a challenge to get it done this weekend.

    Several people got very sick with the bad kind of flu and other things. So, I spent a lot of time making soup, smoothies, etc. and washing extra blankets.

    I cleaned and shopped for the 20-25 people who were supposed to come through here this weekend--2 sets of visitors. None of them came because people got sick, but we have enough food for the week, for sure:). I did not buy groceries at all last week, but instead saved my weekly grocery budget. Thank goodness. I used all of that, this week's and some more. I got citrus, orange juice, soda, and quite a few items for my autistic niece and special needs nephew who were spending the weekend.

    Before he got sick, I took my nephew swimming at the YMCA, where he loved the swimming and playing with a Mr. Potato-Head they had there. They gave him a free book, too. He was thrilled. I read many chapters of 2 books to him. We finished "Betsy's Little Star", and continued reading "Little House on the Prairie," which I finally found in my swimming bag (after looking for a solid week for it--how did it get in there?). That's how it's been going around here:). Because chapter books are a new thing for him, he is still exalting in the fact that we were on page 140, 165, etc. He's very proud of us, and has decided he "loves" Mary and Laura.

    I sent my husband back to school this morning on the little special needs bus he rides as part of his job. He has been so sick. When he tried to go back last week, he had to be picked up at school mid-day. I'm hoping and praying that he can make it today. I'm going to clean up the train wreck of a house that I have here, due to the weekend we've had. I'm going to wash a bunch more bedding to discourage germs. Every square inch is covered with either a discarded toy, a dropped blanket, some unfolded laundry, some bones cooking in the crock pot, dirty dishes, clean dishes, shoes, and game pieces. We have cancelled home school today, as one is still running a fever, and so I'm going to tear into this mess this morning, and go to work this afternoon. I'm expecting my husband will be wiped out this evening, so I'm going to make a casserole to leave for his dinner. Obviously, the greenhouse didn't get finished. He will work on it this coming weekend.

    I put pictures on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/weekly-update-saving-money-what-we-ate-january-28-2018/

  • Laurie in central NC January 29, 2018

    Both the meringues and your crepe cake look beautiful and yummy! I tried a new recipe for a pomegranate cranberry compote, inspired by one of the commenters here. I put a glass cloche on a celery end I was trying to grow in the garden. I usually only plant them in the warm months, so I need to get out there and see if the cloche worked. I may try planting some parsley in shady spaces here. I rarely seem to have enough of it. This weekend, we finally went through our seeds, and ordered the few things we needed. I'm looking forward to getting back to digging in the dirt. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/01/late-january-frugal-accomplishments.html

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks January 29, 2018

    Laurie, do you let the celery ends root a bit before you plant them in the garden? I have tried this unsuccessfully several times and would love to figure out what I'm doing wrong. Since I'm in NC too, I figure I've got the climate to do so if you can. I had tried in warm months as well, but no success. They did great while I was rooting them and then died almost immediately when planted in the garden. Any advice you can share would be gratefully appreciated!

  • Laurie in central NC January 30, 2018

    I have not let them root first, Lynn. It amazes me how quickly they start leafing out... a day or two in warm weather. I just stick them in the ground straight out of the bag. I cut and use the celery, and leave something like 1 1/2" of the bottom intact, and bury it only 1/2 to 1". Definitely not an exact science :) There was some new growth on the one under the cloche. I hope you'll be rewarded with new growth next time.

  • Tina S. January 31, 2018

    Lynn - If you root a plant or start a seedling inside, it will need to be hardened off before you plant it outside, otherwise it will die. This may be what is happening to your celery. Here's a link that explains how to harden off plants:
    Hope this helps!

  • Holly January 29, 2018

    I came across a late post-Christmas sale of canned cranberry sauce and boxes of 12 candy canes at Dollar General for 10 cents each. Two dozen fruit-flavored candy canes soon will be heading west in a box along with a get well card to a sweet great niece who, shortly after recovering from the flu, broke her arm badly (bone through the skin) on her trampoline. While even the littlest flat rate priority mail box costs over $7 to send now, it is much cheaper than the most inexpensive gift basket. Her mother prefers kids' gifts that don't stick around long-term.

    We almost had run out of chocolate candy in this house. Horrors! But our local grocery store came through with over 15 ounces of individually wrapped Ghirardelli dark chocolates for less than $5, about 1/3 the current cost on Amazon.com. We bought just one package but, if we can, we will be buying another two or three later this week after the snow ends. Mom likes to enjoy a little piece of dark chocolate daily.

    We shopped infrequently this month because of the snow. Fortunately, our nearest Walmart has lowered its prices on many of the groceries we buy, and our local grocer had a sale on the fresh vegetables we needed. I had thought about driving 30-miles roundtrip to our nearest Aldi but decided the drive wasn't worth it. I am happy that I put off buying items that weren't on sale at our nearest grocer this weekend because, after the shopping trip, I looked over the ad for the sale that starts today, and several of the things we wanted are on sale now. Patience pays.

    I almost forgot the thriftiest thing I did this week. The latch on my walk-in closet broke in a stuck-shut position. I took the knob off but couldn't get the insides to budge no matter what I tried. I also couldn't unlatch the door by inserting a putty knife. I tried sawing the latch with a metal saw blade by hand but made little progress. However, a couple of years ago, I had bought a set of "cute" cordless 12-volt power tools. I went to our wonderful family-owned hardware store and they sold me just one very short saw blade (even though it comes five to a package) for the oscillating saw attachment for $2.50 and tax. The blade supposedly could cut an i-beam. I had put shims between the door and the doorframe to widen the gap enough for a saw blade. Finally, after just a minute or so, the latch was sawed through and the door opened. A little sanding and some paste wax will fix the one-inch or so of the edge of the closet door that the saw scratched. I still need a new door knob to replace the fifty-year-old one. But $2.50 is over $75 less than what the local locksmith would have charged for a house call.

    I enjoyed reading all the book suggestions posted this week.

  • Jennifer O January 29, 2018

    I attended a fundraiser mystery dinner with a friend whose husband couldn’t attend. We each won a door prize (she a gift basket, and I a $25 visa gift card).
    Had friends in for Sunday dinner (ingredients mainly from the freezer). My guests brought the wine. I sent home leftovers, but still have plenty for myself for several lunches/dinners.
    I attended the high school talent show/ scholarship content for free (faculty privilege).
    I attended a wine tasting event. It cost $15, but it included heavy appetizers, a lovely selection of high-end wines presented by the winemaker, and fellowship time with friends. Not frugal – I ordered 3 bottles.
    Went to the VFW once for a drink and dinner (again, a fundraiser).
    I used my chick fil a calendar card and a free fry on my app for an inexpensive dinner one night.
    I am looking forward to a slower, quieter week at home this week before my mother arrives for a several week visit!
    Got a letter from the IRS saying we owe more money. Contacted the school (the issue is an education tax credit) for documentation and sent the whole thing to the tax attorney. It isn’t much money, but it is the principle of the thing.
    Groceries were kept under $30 for the week.
    Only ran full loads of laundry and dishes and hung one load of towels as a test.

  • Elizabeth M. January 29, 2018

    Applied for a free $25 gift card that a Canadian grocery chain is giving out because it participated in long-term price rigging on bread with a number of other chains. (Other Canadian posters mentioned doing the same thing.) I'll use it for stocking up on sale items.

    Bought four whole chickens on sale, which filled up the small freezer in my fridge. I like to cook one once a month and then get creative with the leftovers.

    Bought a new travel mug, so I can take coffee with me as I drive to other places. (The last one lost its lid.)

    Reading lots of library books, including one for my book club that meets this week.

    Bought a $10 ticket for a fundraiser for the local regional college's food bank. Students run out of money at this time of year and for many of these rural students, this means no food on the table. The students get their meal free and other community members pay for their meal. We are all encouraged to sit with people we don't know, so it will be fun to meet some new people in the community. I also will buy some items on sale to bring for the food bank stocks.

    The hard drive on my computer failed, so I had that replaced. I'll have to start putting money into savings to bring my emergency fund up again after all the repairs I've had done.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC January 30, 2018

    Thanks for the tip. I just applied for both the Loblaw's and SaveOn gift cards.

  • Elizabeth M. January 30, 2018

    What a lot of grocery money from just two of the grocery chains, though SaveOn says it didn't participate in the price-fixing.

    There are some others who ought to step up. I can remember the moment I realized how expensive bread had become and that I couldn't just automatically include a loaf of bread in my grocery basket without checking the price. I am thinking about adding my name to one of the class actions suits as well.

  • Libby January 29, 2018

    Both photos just speak "SPRING!" to me. The colors are gorgeous.

    • Drove 7 hours RT to have lunch with a friend. Totally not frugal but very rewarding. I brought homemade lunch for us to eat. I also brought snacks and water for sustenance during the trip.
    • Kept the heat down and worked with a blanket over my knees.
    • Had an interview which was a 2 hours RT drive. Brought snacks and water for the trip. Also remembered to have parking ticket validated.
    • Went clothes shopping in two stores and didn’t buy anything.
    • Made swag goal x 2.
    • Redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.
    • Made butternut squash soup in slow cooker, baked goat cheese & leek tart, lemon squares, almond shortbread cookies, blueberry muffins, knockwurst & sauerkraut, pommes dauphinoise, and zucchini chips.
    • Spent $18.59 on groceries this week.
    • Frugal fail – I have cat food on automatic delivery with Chewy.com. They were recently purchased by Petsmart. Chewy used to be the cheapest source for both the wet and dry cat food I use. I let the January delivery happen without realizing the HUGE price increases that Petsmart has put in place: 12% increase on wet food and 28% increase on the dry food price. What used to cost $25 a bag now costs $32. The search has begun to find a new place to purchase cat food.

  • Stephanie N. January 29, 2018

    Thanks for the heads up on the Chewy price increases! Our bags of cat food last us a while so I haven't had to order any in a few months- went to check and saw that our brand has had a $5 price increase :o.

  • Mari in MD January 30, 2018

    Oh, I need to check my Chewy prices now. How disappointing!

  • Athanasia January 30, 2018

    We buy our dry dog and cat foods at the feed store. It's cheaper than any pet store and they carry all the better brands.

  • Mari in MD January 31, 2018

    I checked this a bit more. Most of my food has stayed the same all year, which makes sense because it turns out that PetSmart took over chewy.com several months ago. The canned cat food went up a little bit but really not that much, less than $0.05 on each large can. My one cat requires a special diet for urinary tract crystals so all three of the cats are on the kibble that he eats. I live in a suburban area as well and we don't have that many feed stores. It would take a few miles of driving. Finally I can get everything I need from chewy.com, including the prescription food, and have it delivered to my door the day after I order it. The convenience is amazing for me and I just order a lot on a recurring auto-ship basis and get most of the items at 5% discount. For instance the eight and a half bag of dry kibble is about $4-5 cheaper than it is at the vst. Although I'd rather chewy.com was still independent, I am more than willing to keep using them at this time.

  • Athanasia February 08, 2018

    Yes,I'm glad I am able to support a local business but I certainly am in farming country, not suburbia.

  • Holly January 29, 2018

    When I wrote "our wonderful family-owned hardware store," I meant "our town's wonderful family-owned hardware store."

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