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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Octavius Summer The Prudent Homemaker

I turned a pair of jeans into jean shorts and mended two dresses. 

I harvested Armenian cucumbers, red noodle beans, and cherry tomatoes from the garden.

I took seeds from one of my Armenian cucumbers and planted them in the garden.

I made Ranch, Italian, and Balsamic Orange Vinaigrette dressings to go on our salads. This time of year I have to buy lettuce as it won't grow in our heat, but including homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers on top is great!

I purchased some items using coupon codes at two different websites (30% off on one site and 20% off on the other), going through Ebates first to earn cash back. I had free shipping with both of these codes as well, saving me time going to the store as well as gas to get there and back.

I used a free shipping code to order two math books for homeschooling, one of which was on sale for 28% off.

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

The early morning temperatures cooled down to 72 for a short while, enabling me to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows between 5 and 7 a.m. It's still over 100 here during the day, but the nights were 85 last week and I am grateful for some fresh air in the early mornings to open up the house. I always feel like a fresh burst of oxygen is helpful to get going in the morning (plus it makes the house smell nice!)

My 15-year-old son attended the free first workshop of a three-week ACT workshop taught by an ACT tutor.

I read three e-books from the library.

I redeemed 2200 points on Swagbucks for a $25 Lowe's gift card on the thirty-first. You can only get one $25 gift card a month for the discounted rate of 2200 points, so I redeemed for another one on the first of September for $25. 

My husband and I used a buy one get one free coupon to have a date out for $9.

What did you do to save money last week?




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  • Tejas September 04, 2018

    What a joyful picture to see this morning! Thank you!

  • Cindi September 04, 2018

    It sounds like a lovely week, Brandy. And that is a gorgeous picture of Octavius (I hope I got the name right.)
    I baked sandwich bread. We ate all meals at home.
    I picked the last of the green beans from the greenhouse and transplanted broccoli seedlings in their place.
    I picked a bunch of Echinacea (Coneflower) leaves and starting drying them, in preparation for making a tincture to use this winter.
    From the garden I harvested green beans, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, chard, collards and celery. I cut flowers from the yard to decorate the house.
    My husband and I ran errands in a town about 45 minutes away. We packed a lunch so we wouldn’t be tempted to stop at a restaurant.
    My husband repaired a leaky gutter, and glued together a wooden trivet that had split.
    We stopped by the library to return books and next to the dumpster in the parking lot was a big pile of cut plywood – a lot of 3’ X 4’ and 2’ X 4’ pieces, 5/8” thick. We were able to bring home quite a few pieces in the car – my husband estimates about $50 worth. He is always doing projects that require plywood, and added this to his wood stash.

  • Tammi September 04, 2018

    Hi Brandy, I was just wondering about the free ACT program. Could you please give the name? Is it something exclusive to your area? Also, a while back you gave a link to a free online test prep program that your daughter was using. Could you please list it again? The reason I am asking is because other than Khan Academy , we have not come across any good free programs. Another issue is that most programs in our area require that the student be an incoming junior or senior. We are looking for something that a High School freshman could use. Thanks!

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 04, 2018

    Yes, this is just in our area. It's an individual man who is teaching the class locally. I will have to ask my daughter about the free testing material that she used, but you may be able to find it by searching online for free ACT tests. She found it that way. She found a number of tests on several sites.

  • Tammi September 08, 2018

    Thank you for responding. I was able to find the free online tests by using the search words you suggested. Who knew it was so easy?! Thanks!

  • tcr September 04, 2018

    Check your local public library. Ours has some online and checkout freebies for studying for ACT. I have friend whose son increased his score by 8 points just by taking prep course. He already had decent scores but had excellent ones after prep course. Colleges were knocking on his door to offer scholarships after the new/improved scores. Also here the local community colleges have some sort of ACT prep offerings but no idea if they are free or not.

  • Libby September 05, 2018

    Our library also offers free SAT prep classes. Love libraries!

  • Debra September 05, 2018

    Tammy, do like was suggested and check your library. i am on our county's library board, and this is what your millage money helps support. Not only books, internet, video's/DVD's, some have paintings, free lessons, etc. Our library also has devices for those who have a difficult time trying to read even large print books. Your library is your friend and actually saves you a lot of money. You can also ask you library to purchase certain books or magazines if it's in their millage budget. Our library even had the county transportation bus service to pick up individuals once every 2 weeks to bring them to and from the library (there were designated dates and times the bus service did this at no charge).

  • Jess September 04, 2018

    The garden is about finished here, which is a little earlier than usual. But we had a record hot summer, which definitely took it's toll on the plants. I harvested another 30 pounds of potatoes this weekend, bringing my total to 65 pounds. I also harvested 3, 5 gallon buckets of bell peppers and 12.5 pounds of carrots. I have some tomatoes left - enough to make another batch of spaghetti sauce. Then I need to freeze some of the jalapeno peppers. After that, I'll just wait until right before first frost to harvest my sweet potatoes.

    Last week was apple week. We picked tons and tons of apples. I canned 10 quarts of apple pie filling, 24 quarts & 7 pints of applesauce, 10 jelly jars of apple pie in a jar. We crammed apples into every spare space in our fridge, filling 2 crisper drawers plus some. Then we took the rest and made apple cider. I was recently given my great-grandpa's cider press, so I was very happy to be able to make some cider with it.

    I didn't have to work yesterday, which saved a trip. But my husband and I decided to do a little day date. We took advantage of a half price appetizer at the restaurant. We won't have another free weekend until October 20th, so we decided to spend a little quality time together before the craziness hits.

    I was able to work a few extra hours last week, which will add to my paycheck. We are continuing to add extra payments to our mortgage, which helps save interest.

    That's about it for this week. I need to get back to freezing peppers! :)

  • Laura September 07, 2018

    Please share your spaghetti sauce recipe. Also, I can my jalapeno peppers...very easy and are wonderful to eat or throw in a recipe.

  • Megan Z. September 04, 2018

    I love opening windows in the morning! We’ve had some cooler days so I’ve opened my windows too. The ac is going on less which is always nice.

    I haven’t commented for a few weeks. I haven’t felt like I have had many frugal days but that is also because haven’t gone anywhere or spent much $$.

    I stocked up on hot sauce with Kroger’s weekend deal. I calculated we saved around $7. I also used the chick-fil-a app and had several free meals. Those that have the app should have a free entree good through September.

    I continue to harvest green beans, eggplants and tomatoes. I planted some fall vegetables but nothing has sprouted yet so not sure if too hot still. My autumn beauty sunflowers are flowering. I still have dahlias blooming as well.

    I pickled and canned several batches of jalapeños plus made homemade salsa with my tomatoes. The rest have gone in the freezer to use up later.

    Hope everyone is having a good September so far.

  • Ann September 04, 2018

    We harvested tomatoes and even more basil and made pesto to freeze. We ate some of the tomatoes in salads. We roasted some of the tomatoes and froze them. I shredded and froze batches of zucchini in the amount needed to make zucchini bread. I decided not to bake the breads this week in order to reduce using the oven and trying to keep the house cool. I sorted through our drawers of school supplies and art supplies. I found items that my daughters can use for school, items I can donate to their teachers and some items we will not use that I donated to a local organization. I packed up some outgrown clothing to pass along to a friend who has a younger daughter.

  • Allyson September 06, 2018

    What's your process for roasting the tomatoes and freezing them? I often freeze tomatoes when I don't have time to can, but love the fire roasted ones for chili or our favorite pita and egg sandwiches.

  • Becky September 04, 2018

    I have been canning a lot. My husband has been helping for hours, sitting patiently outside on our covered porch, watching the pressure canner. We don't like to leave it alone, and it needs constant adjustment on the propane stove we are using for canning. The items we have been canning take a long time.

    We slipped down to the beach for a few days, using our camper and our free park pass. Our food was taken with us and our entertainment was outdoor activities such as clamming, crabbing, fishing and walking. We caught both crab and clams and enjoyed eating part of them and I froze the rest. We will need to use them soon, because they don't keep for long, but I'm excited about putting them into my meals. I did make gluten-free clam chowder, which is a real treat for us, and will use the one small package of frozen clams to do that again, soon.

    I got a lot of rest, which is good, since the garden, canning and work is taking up so much time here at home. I had renewed energy when I returned, and plunged right into what needed to be done. We purchased tuna from the docks and canned it the very day we got home. This year, we bought a little more than we did last time, and got 40 small jars, which made it necessary to do 2 canner loads for 100 minutes each.

    I made and canned beef broth from 2 packages of soup bones that had been languishing in the freezer for some time. I got 7 quarts. Then, I took the rest of the broth, a few tomatoes, and the bits of meat and made vegetable beef soup. I went through the garden and picked all the odds and ends--a small bowl of green and yellow beans, a few ears of corn, a few carrots, etc. I added every single little potato that was left from when we pulled them, onions, and sent Rob and Jake out to buy celery and made 2 huge pots of soup. Yesterday afternoon, Rob canned that soup. It took until late last night, as there were 2 batches and they took 90 minutes each, plus time to cool the canner down in-between.

    There are pictures on my blog of part of the canning we have done: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-september-2-2018/

    I have also been working on fruit cocktail and finished it yesterday as well. We had picked the peaches and were given the pears by my sister. They were stored in the fridge drawers while we were gone and lasted well.

    The oddest thing I did to save money was to pick pears from my pear tree that had fallen down a few weeks ago. I knew pears ripen off the tree, so wondered if any of them would be ripe, and although many were rotten, or too green, some did ripen. I did need to trim out some bad parts, but used some of them in the fruit cocktail as well. I hope to make pear butter from the rest. I am slowly cutting the tree up with pruners and putting it in the weed bin, then my husband will use a chain saw to finish the rest.

    I bought school supplies for the sale prices and hopefully got enough for the year.

  • Laurie in AZ September 04, 2018

    Your pantry looks amazing! I wish I was able to can that much!

  • Becky September 04, 2018

    Thank you. One of the reasons that I can so much is that I get almost all the fruits and vegetables for free, either from my garden, my sister's farm, or people who don't want this or that, from the wild (blackberries), the crab I canned last fall, etc. The rest, we sometimes buy from u-pick or farm stands, although we did not have to buy any fruit or veggies this year. I will likely buy some more apples this fall, though, as I made applesauce from the ones I got from my backyard tree. If I had to pay for it all, I still would can, but probably would not have as much room to be creative as I do now. We did, however, buy the tuna, chicken, sugar, pectin, spices, etc. and put in a great deal of our time.

    We are very new to canning meat--this is my first time for chicken. The tuna has been something I've done for about 4-5 years. It is by far the most expensive thing I can, but I love having it. The quality is amazing. I'm hoping to have some options to substitute for purchased lunchmeat.

    Having all of these canned and frozen products saves us a tremendous amount of money each year. Because I anticipate a lower grocery budget this coming winter than I've had in a long time, I actually canned more than normal this summer, as the produce became available to me for free. In the past, we have sailed through hard times easily with all the canning to turn to on weeks with less to spend.

    I also love having so many organic items on my shelves, and love knowing what's in the jars--no frogs in my jam! (We live in an area with canneries and have heard many horror stories through the years.). I can keep my jams lower sugar, and my products lower salt. I can have variety to serve during the winter by making pickles and relishes. Canned fruit is something that is available to any child at any time--all they want. I jokingly call my canning shelf "My McDonald's" as it is my convenience food. That's why I'm starting to do meats, and also the soup--I want some meals fast when I work until 6 and get home late several nights per week. I also really enjoy the process, and finding new things to can.

    I also plan to give some canned food as gifts this Christmas, as our Christmas budget will likely be quite low, and I still have people that I want to know that I am thinking about. So, I did extra jam and pickles to that end.

    I did pear butter today, and just finished it. The kitchen is a mess, and I need to work tomorrow, and I will be away from here, taking my autistic niece to the zoo. That's just how it is this time of year. One of these days, I'll pick it all up, clean up, and be done....at least for a while. I do love to can:)

  • Stephanie September 04, 2018

    Good morning!

    I did a pile of mending yesterday. Some of it has been sitting for quite some time, but it was waiting for me to get my basement cleaned up (all my sewing stuff was down there, and I really disliked going down there before it was clean. It's awesome down there now!). I now have a shirt to wear and my daughter's wardrobe has expanded by several articles of clothing. :)

    I cooked lunch for my mom when she came up to watch my daughter, instead of going out. I finished knitting a Christmas gift with yarn that I've had forever, and started another one with scraps of yarn that I used for a different Christmas gift years ago! My daughter and I enjoyed some play time at a neighboring town's library, and my son and I attended a production of a student-directed play at his school (tickets were three dollars each, and it was a great show). I turned a bunch of our garden tomatoes into sauce, and that all went into the freezer for later use.

    I cleaned my dishwasher (IT WAS SO GROSS!!!!!), so hopefully that'll make it run more efficiently and clean better, thus saving us money. I already have the next cleaning scheduled in my phone calendar, so hopefully next time it won't be so disgusting.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  • Jennifer O. September 04, 2018

    Thank you for reminding me to clean the dishwasher! I'm sure mine is gross.

  • Debby in Kansas, USA September 04, 2018

    Stephanie, aside from the filter, I always find the area inside the bottom front to need a good toothbrush scrubbing with baking soda. Carefully, so as not to mess with the seal, but mine gets pretty icky right there.

    In case you haven't noticed lol, the area right under the rubber flaps in the garbage disposal can get pretty BLEGH, as well!!! I thought everyone knew that, but my friend replaced her disposal last week and she said she nearly gagged when that came off. She said she was embarrassed that she had never thought to clean it. I can't remember how I learned, but I'll pass it on just in case!!

  • Penny S. September 05, 2018

    How exactly did you clean your dishwasher? What product did you use? Mine is not cleaning like it use to either. My son and I worked on it Labor Day but it still seems to leave dried on bits of food on the "clean" dishes. Thanks

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