Zinnia Arrangement in Blue Jar The Prudent Homemaker

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I reconfirmed that we don’t need to buy any school supplies this year (except printer paper, and I’m good for a while). I thought I might need one thing, but my son informed me that we had 4 or 5 of them in the drawer. 

I collected over 25 gallons of water from the drip from the air conditioner, as we had humid weather. I used this water to water potted plants in the garden.

We had an unexpected rainfall! I put out buckets to collect water, and turned off the sprinklers and drip system for the next two days. You can see a little video of my white garden during the rain on my Instagram account.

Al Fresco in August The Prudent Homemaker

The weather cooled down over 25 degrees that evening, so we enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the backyard.

My daughter’s youth group had an extra activity this week to learn how to decorate cakes from a woman who makes wedding cakes. As piping icing has been eluding me for years, I decided to stay rather than dropping her off (I would have had to drive home, stay home for 10-15 minutes, and come right back, so staying made sense gas-wise, too.) As it was, only one other girl ended up coming (over 10 had signed up!) and I figured out what I was doing wrong. Obviously, I’ll need to practice to make things perfect, but I can now finally ice cakes and cookies! I know a cake decorating class is pricey, and I was starting to think I needed to take one after my sister-in-law worked with me last week and we still couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t ever get icing to come out of the bag. She came over, we made her icing, and we put it in, and neither of us could get it to come out! My biggest mistake? Using a ziploc bag instead of a regular icing bag. From now on I will use the right tool! I also learned my other major problem: in our heat, you cannot make an all-butter buttercream; it will be liquid. The same goes for Swiss meringue and Italian meringue frostings. They are liquid in our weather here. Frosting needs to be American buttercream with shortening and no more than half-butter, or it will be a liquid that will run right off your cake (and definitely won’t work for piping!) I had tried all of those recipes this year and they ran right off/melted off my cakes. (This is also why I haven’t shared any birthday photos this year!) 

So now I can do this, which I’ve wanted to do for years:

Pink Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased two pairs of shorts for my son for $3 from a Facebook garage sale page and two pairs of jeans for $5 for a daughter. It’s a little higher than I usually pay but both needs were able to be fulfilled for less than buying new, and they were all in very good condition.

Armenian Cucumber and Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I picked the last of the figs, a few tomatoes, 3 Armenian cucumbers, and a handful of red noodle beans from the garden.

I cut basil from the garden.

My husband mended his office chair. A new one would have cost over $200. He paid $4 for parts.

 Neopolitan Cake The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. Brandy I think you are in the running for Star Baker on The Great British Baking Show!
    Seriously – how satisfying to finally “crack” a skill. I can’t wait to see how you work your beauty magic on baked goods in the future.

    • Made daily swag goal x 5
    • Updated monthly net worth spreadsheet – this is a huge motivator for me when I want to spend on wants.
    • Bought OCC school supplies at Staples on sale. Also bought 4 spiral notebooks for 25 cents each to use as daily planners.
    • Hung 3 loads of laundry up to dry.
    • A friend is going on vacation and asked if I wanted her CSA next week. YES! I’ve always wanted to try this but it is too expensive for me. Email came on Sunday saying the box will contain: blueberries, lettuce, corn, green peppers, and garlic.
    • Bought 10 jars of PB on sale at my stock up price
    • Bought 9 pounds of chicken thighs on sale for 98 cents per pound, which is a good price for where I live. Made 12 quarts of chicken stock from 6 pounds and froze the remaining 3 pounds.
    • Colored my hair at home.
    • For the first time ever, I decided to try a three day fast. Obviously it saves money as the only thing going into my body is water, however, I’m really doing it because I’ve been so exhausted and so congested from allergies. Today (Monday) is day #3.

  2. How nice you learned the tricks for cake decorating suited to your climate. You are off to a good start with your cupcakes and cake. Brandy, I love that you take the time to make meals a special occasion in your home–flowers on the table, tablecloths, pretty desserts etc. Even if you are serving beans and rice, it always looks so nice! Your children will certainly remember that fondly.

  3. Your cupcakes look wonderful! Cake decorating is one of the things I cannot do in the kitchen, too – but my kids are happy when I just use gummy bears or some other candies and/or fruit to decorate their cakes. I remember my mother and grandmother making all-butter buttercream for my birthday cakes back in the 80s, but in January here in Estonia we have often -4’F outside and no more than 66’F indoors, so the cream stayed where it belonged.

    Two weeks ago I shared our roof story here. Last week it turned out that because of a miscalculation we have to pay about 2000 € extra for the works. My husband was able to negotiate it down (because the miscalculation was partly the builders’ fault, too) to 1500. This is still more than we had, but a friend offered to give us a short-term loan that we plan to pay back by the end of the year, probably sooner. Taking a loan is not a good idea but at the moment this was our best option.

    I picked snow peas, carrots and salad fron the garden. I also picked redcurrants to make juice (for the winter) and gooseberries for a cake. There will be more currants and gooseberries to pick, I plan to freeze them.

    I gathered mushroomes (mostly chanterelles) and wild blueberries from the woods close to our home. Gathering edible mushrooms and berries is very common here and unless the woods are private property, everybody is allowed to do it. Since we already live here for 15 years, I have “my” spots in the woods where I always find something.

    My mother asked me to pick and to use all the raspberries from her garden since she cannot do it herself anymore. I cooked a lot of raspberry jam. 🙂

    As a family, we enjoyed a free open-air symphony concert performed by professionals. This concert happens every summer in our hometown and it was originally paid by a businessman so that everyone can listen to a live classical music performance once a year. The weather was nice and since it is held in a big park, we sat on the grass and the kids were free to move around a bit.

    My husband bought a football for the boys for 4.99€, usually a ball costs over 10€. Now the boys have been playing football all week unless it rains.

    I read some good books from the library. I would like to buy when we have paid back all our debts. I will look for them on used-books markets.

    Sorry about the bad English – this is not my first or second language.

  4. What a beautiful cake and cupcakes! I love finding new ways of doing things that work. My older cookbooks call for shortening in the frosting recipes and I remember my mom and grandmother always had a can of Crisco shortening in the pantry.

    I made Greek yogurt to eat with honey and fruit. I also use it in place of sour cream.

    I made applesauce from apples that were starting to go.
    I made beans and rice.
    We ate lentil soup from the freezer with fresh-from-the-garden tomato sandwiches.
    I froze green beans and basil from the garden.

    Our electric bill was higher last month, which is normal this time of year but I want to bring it down if possible. So this week I have been more diligent about unplugging reachable outlets everyday before going to work. I also programmed the thermostat to reach an even higher temperature during the day when we aren’t home.

    We were given a dozen eggs by my husband’s coworker who raises chickens.

    My daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons visited my mom in Tennessee and she sent back some tomatoes, okra, lemon cucumbers, garlic, and chili peppers from her garden.

  5. I have always had a hard time with frosting cakes as well – I will try your trick the next time I make birthday cakes for my sons, which is not too far off!

    This past week we traveled to visit my sister in Texas. It was our first family road trip that lasted more than a couple of hours – this time it was 8! We went there because we wanted to visit my sister (she used to live in Alaska), but also because we sometimes fly to California to see other family there and this time we just wanted to drive somewhere. We packed lunches for the road to avoid eating out as much as possible.

    My sister also had some outgrown clothes from her son and a practically new homeschooling curriculum and other homeschooling books which she was done with that she gave me to take home. They even gave our oldest son an old bike that they didn’t need anymore. My oldest son had been thinking about saving some of his money to purchase a bike, so this was a huge blessing for him. I was grateful for how God provided those things and how my son got to see how God is aware of our needs.

    We are cutting our food budget to make more progress on our debt but I want to make the menu as creative and filling as possible. Now that we are back, I am trying to buy more at the store every couple of weeks and shop less. Milk was only $1.77/gallon this week so I purchased enough for 2 weeks, and eggs were only 47 cents a dozen. I also cleaned out our refrigerator a couple of weeks ago and found that when things are clean and organized I tend to use my food more wisely.

  6. I’ve missed your birthday party posts, so I’m glad we can look forward to more. Wonderful about the rain, too.
    We started off the week with a hike, and enjoyed the beautiful wildflowers and mountain scenery. While hiking, we came across a lot of edible mushrooms and picked 3 ½ pounds of wild porcini mushrooms (King Boletes). Back home, I sautéed them in butter and sherry and froze 4 cups of mushrooms for use in stew, stroganoff, spaghetti sauce, or pizza.
    I turned some leftover baby flannel into face cloths to use to remove my makeup. I made a mesh bag to keep them in – when the bag is full, I can throw it into the wash. Once I use up the box of disposable face cleaning wipes I have, my intention is to not buy any more. A money saver and less trash being thrown away.
    My dear neighbor moved. Before she left, she gave me everything that was left in her refrigerator – all the condiments, potatoes, watermelon, and onions, and some chicken breasts. She also let me harvest some seed heads from the blanket flowers and Shasta daisies in her yard. I’m hoping these will grow when I plant them in the spring.
    We ate tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, collard greens, two peppers, and a handful of raspberries from the garden.
    We attended a free outdoor concert – the last one this summer. We packed a picnic dinner and enjoyed the free music.
    I picked sunflowers from the side of the road. They look so cheerful in the house.
    I saved tomato seeds to plant next year.
    I added some new, frugal recipes to my repertoire — I made red beans and rice (my husband said when we married that he didn’t like red beans, but my neighbor gave me a bag and I was determined to use them. Turns out my husband loved them the way I made them). I also made Brandy’s white bean Alfredo, which we also liked.

  7. I was able to use up almost all of out leftover foods last week. We only threw away a few pieces of meat and a small amount of mashed potatoes that weren’t eaten before their safety became questionable. This is much, much better than we had been doing previously. I’m learning how to not purchase or make too much food at a time.

    I kept my grocery shopping for the week pretty low at $38 for some milk, eggs, breads, and fresh produce since I’m going on vacation with my oldest for a few days and then a work trip for a week.

    I’ve written out dinner meal plans from items we have in the freezer and pantry for my husband while I’m away before he leaves for his vacation with our two youngest kids, so expenses should be low unless he opts to eat out.

    I picked up a dress for myself and a set of 4 packing cubes at the thrift store for $10 for my travels.

    My husband was able to window mount an air conditioner we got for free using supplies we had on hand. And we got a second window unit from a friend for free yesterday.

  8. Those look stunning! I decided that I enjoy cooking so much and sharing the photos that I would find something like Shutterfly (I’m taking suggestions for other places as well!) To create a cook book of sorts using my photos and then putting the recipe in it, too.
    We have a few things going on budget wise: we just purchased a new vehicle for me which was a necessity as I commute and needed something that put up with the elements ( I live in Oregon). We are also —- close to paying off a credit card. I’m trying to save as much as possible to have a few car payments in savings when my husband’s winter work slows and make extra payments.
    This means working extra while our son is away and making groceries go further since it’s just the two of us.
    My MIL graciously offered to purchase our son an OMSI High Desert Survival Camp this year for his birthday so we will be prepping for that soon. I think the only thing he needs is a sleeping pad; it makes a difference in those old bunks if I remember correctly!
    I’m going to try and comment on here more often. I love this blog Brandy! I just read When Queens Ride By the other night for some encouragement.

  9. Full honesty here. I seriously want a taste of your piped frosting. Stick my finger to the monitor and get some. It is wonderful when you have an opportunity to learn how especially when one has been trying and trying.

    By loosely tethering my zucchini and yellow squash plants so the plants that were now underneath could get some light, I killed the zucchini/squash plants. I am thankful because each plant produced so much while they were alive, but am also thankful that with my mistake, I have room to plant kale, carrots and beets in their vacant spots.

    I hemmed a long skirt to knee length.
    A good friend who teaches at a gym gave my husband and I a free pass to his class.

    I said no to myself a lot this past week, and by the end of the week was sleeping better.

  10. The cupcakes looked amazing.

    This was an expensive week. We returned from vacation with an empty fridge.

    So the grocery budget was not my friend.

    We did Save money.
    – I baked hubbys birthday cake. And badly decorated it.
    – Our big town Fiesta was this week. We didn’t go. No games, rides, parades, food. In fact, We barely left the house.
    – Neighbor has a banana tree and cut off a stalk. We have at least 20 ripe mini bananas. These will be great for camp lunches and smoothies.
    – We switched our older son’s camp for this week. It cost money and lost registration fees. But still saved us $40. The new camp is cheaper.

  11. Lovely photos. My mom is an icing diva but that gene did not get passed to me. I have a hard time getting plain old icing on to a cake. We are also looking forwards to rain. The weather people say next Sunday. I have my fingers crossed that it will come to take the heat off the weather and to help with the forest fires.

    This week I benefited greatly from the generosity of my friends and families. They all have abundant gardens and they have been sharing their bounty with me. I also learnt how to pollinate my zucchini plants and I used up most of my stash of old tshirts making myself some new undies.
    Have a great week every one!

  12. I saw the lovely rain video, what a blessing! And the cupcakes and cake look delicious 🙂
    Last week: My daughter and I went to the library to exchange books and movies and got there just as story time was starting. I let her participate in that and she made a pigeon during craft time. A little boy that goes every week gave the other kids small goodie bags for his birthday.

    -There was no shopping at all last week, grocery or otherwise.

    -I made milk (from powder), soup, pork tenderloin with baked potatoes and carrots, meatloaf with baked potatoes and peas, ground turkey burgers, fried potatoes and peas, we ate oatmeal for breakfast most days, banana bread, brownies from a mix, salads using lettuce from the garden and dandelion greens and lambs quarters from the yard. I made a homemade honey/lemon salad dressing to go with it. We also had smoothies for breakfast or snacks that I portioned

    -I picked two Bartlett pears from my tree but didn’t get out to harvest any more due to rain, schedules, etc.

    -I made more cleaning solution (vinegar and essential oils and water) for my reusable cleaning wipes.

    -I only used my dryer once last week, otherwise my laundry was hung on the outside lines or my indoor racks. I did use the air fluff option twice for 15 minutes to remove the cat hair and lint from our dark work clothes.

    -I kept all lights off when not needed, unplugged everything possible when not being used, used the small little battery operated light in the bathroom when only a small amount of light was needed. We were able to keep the air conditioners off half the time last week. When it reaches over 85 degrees in the house we turn them on.

    -My husband’s friend gave us two arm chairs and a large fan that he no longer wanted. They were all brand new and never used. We were able to replace our broken down couch with them (we don’t have enough room to keep 4 chairs and a couch in our house).

    -I used reusable menstrual products rather than buying disposables. We also continue to use family cloth for *most* needs.

    -I saved shower warm up water, water from cups at the end of the day, veggie rinsing water, etc and watered the garden beds and potted plants. I also used saved shower water and some borax to soak a couple of items of clothing for my daughter and was able to get some stains out that would have otherwise ruined the clothing.

    -I mended a pair of my shorts and turned a pair of pants my daughter had with a hole in the knee into a pair of shorts.
    Have a great week everyone!

  13. I think you do s wonderful job and you are so brace to try! I enjoy reading about frugality in Estonia, it is important for us to see life in different countries! By sharing it gives us a chance to see what you are doing and enjoying!


  14. Cake decorating is a skill I’ve never attempted. In fact, the few times I’ve made layer cakes, I’ve been happy if they didn’t list to one side :). How wonderful that you were able to take advantage of her knowledge, and she had another interested person in the group. Your results are beautiful!

    I have both dark and green fig trees. I’d been thinking that the largest fig was a dark one, but I realized this week that I had some ripe green figs! I’ve picked 8 so far, which we’ve been enjoying fresh. It’s been several years since we had any figs, so I’d forgotten. For some reason, the few we had always began too late to ripen before first frost. I’m delighted to have some this year. Though I don’t have an Instagram account, I believe I can still view things there, so will head to see your rain shower. I’m happy to be joining in here: http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2017/08/this-and-that-frugal-accomplishments.html

  15. Is that cake a Neapolitan one? It looks delicious! And, I’m glad that you got some rainfall!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – Made and canned 4 jars of cherry pie filling. I will likely use this as a yoghurt stir-in for my breakfasts.
    – Made No Churn Rum Raisin Ice Cream (http://approachingfood.com/no-churn-rum-raisin-ice-cream/) using some of the cream that I bought on sale a little while ago, some raisins bought at the bulk store, some leftover condensed milk, as well as some of the rum raisin liqueur that the DH and I bought on vacation a few years ago.
    – Took a bed pillow that I didn’t like (not fluffy enough) turned it into a square pillow form by bunching the fill into a square, then folding over the excess fabric, and sewing three stitches to hold the fabric in place. If I ever need to, I can take out the stitches and fluff the pillow back into its original shape, but for now, I used my new pillow form to stuff a pillow case for my couch. I was inspired by reading comments on this blog, so thank you!
    – Made cheddar potato perogies from scratch for the first time, to use up some potatoes that were aging, and used green onions from my garden as well. Ate some for dinner and froze the rest. The DH loved them, so am very pleased!
    – Went for drinks with a friend, and split a single large sangria between us. Healthier for each of us, and half the price of any other drink
    – Traded items on my local trading app to declutter my house, and ended up with a Costco-sized container of salsa. I then used that salsa, as well as some rice and beans from my freezer, and some homemade tortillas, to made my Easy Enchiladas (http://approachingfood.com/easy-enchiladas-a-20-minute-weeknight-meal/). Easy to put together, and super-frugal. (Rice, beans, spices, flour, salt, oil, salsa, and cheese – the only ingredients that you need to make this dish from start to finish, including the tortillas!). Even my meat-a-tarian husband agreed it was tasty. Plus, I used some regrown green onions for garnish!
    – Got a small bonus at work and applied it straight to the mortgage.
    – Saved eggshells, ground them, and added them to the dirt around my tomato plant.
    – A friend gave me some peaches and a bottle of cider after I dog-sat for her.
    – Redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks
    – Made Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt using homemade yoghurt, and homemade strawberry jam, and mandarin frozen yoghurt with homemade yoghurt and some mandarins.
    – I canned a quart of peaches and a quart of strawberry peach jam. Frugal fail: I broke a can of peaches while canning because I let it cool too much after filling it so that when I put it into the boiling water bath, the jar broke. Ah well. Lesson learned!
    – Traded a set of three wooden boxes (got them free from work where they would have been recycled, and was going to use them to redo the décor in my bathroom, but decided against it), for a box of Wilton decorating bags (I had run out of decorating bags, so this was perfect timing). Brandy, if I lived in your neck of the woods, I totally would have loved to give you some! 🙂
    – Traded some items that I didn’t want and a cake I baked, for a bottle of Bailey’s and 5 cans of mandarins. The Bailey’s I will use to make fancy-pants cupcakes at a future date, and the mandarins will be for salads for next little while.
    – Planted more Swiss chard and nasturtium seeds.
    – Traded half a dozen chocolate chip peanut butter cookies for a vintage romance book to give to my mum. She’ll get a big kick out of it!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  16. Reet, there is absolutely no need to apologize for your”bad English”. Your writing, grammar, and punctuation are all excellent.

    I am sorry about your roof cost increase. I had some major home reoairs this past year and paying for them is bad enough. To be tolld the cost will be significantly higher must be very frustrating.

  17. Jessica, I’ve done exactly what you’re talking about, taking photos and recipes and putting them together in a cookbook! You will LOVE the finished product, and it’s such a wonderful memory and resource! I’ve often thought of putting together a family cookbook like that.

    To get the photobook for the cheapest possible price, I signed up for all photobook sites, and then kept an eye out for months for the free deals that they sometimes send out, like a free small photobook but you pay for shipping. You do have to wade through all the emails every day/week to eventually get a freebie, but for me it’s worth it, because…free! I actually do this every year to put together a mini coffee table book of my year’s memories/family photos, and then, at the back of the book, add in recipes and pictures. I originally did it to fill up the pages, since those books can have a lot of pages, but it’s such a fun thing to do, that now I do the cookbooks on their own. You’ll seriously love it! 🙂

  18. Brandy, your layered cake and cupcakes look beautiful.

    This was the 3rd week in a row where we received free food, which we joyfully accepted. This week a neighbor dropped a bag of various summer squashes. I am a Facebook member of a local “buy nothing yourcity” a member mentioned last week a box of various free food items, this was a porch pick up about 2 miles from an errand I had already planned for.

    I submitted an electronic rebate offer, had an error and emailed for support instead of forgoing the rebate out of frustration.

    I made 2 birthday cakes. One ice cream cake and one Blueberry pound cake.

    I collected 9 lbs of blackberries, basil, oregano, blueberries and tomatoes from the garden.

    I disputed a medical charge and then asked that they resubmit to insurance, only saved $11 but I am thankful.

    I shopped through ebates before making a planned purchase.

    I painted 2 pieces of furniture with previously purchased on sale chalk paint.

    I picked up Children’s summer reading prizes and borrowed books from the library.

    I hope each and every one here has an abundantly blessed week.

  19. I continue to do the regular frugal saves; however the biggest frugal savings shout-out goes to my inlaws. They continue to do our laundry and buy groceries as we struggle to get back on our feet. 😀

    I received free tickets to an outdoor production of La Boheme for my daughter and I. We brought a picnic like everyone else. It was a delightful evening!

    Everyday is a gift from God and I continue to remind myself of this. August will be a long month but, when my job starts in late August, things will start to improve.

    I really am uplifted by this community! Thankful always!

  20. I haven’t posted here in months, probably a couple years, but I need to get back into frugality big time if I’m going to retire in 3-4 years.

    I earned points through a health app sponsored by my employer and cashed them in for two $50 Walmart gift cards and one $47 Visa gift card. I used about $70 of the Walmart cards to purchase everything from a new hose to food. I’ll save the remaining money for next month or when another need arises. I’m waiting for the Visa card to arrive by mail.

    I’ve lost a lot of weight through another program sponsored by my employer. The cost of these various plans and apps is worth it to them because it lowers our health and insurance costs and my employer is self-insured. Like Brandy, I’ve found I don’t need to join a gym to exercise. I just do a LOT of walking, including stepping in place while brushing my teeth, folding laundry, cooking, doing dishes, etc. The program supplied a scale and exercise band for strength training, too.

    Since my food plan is basically low carb (well, on most days – Sunday wasn’t quite low carb), I made sloppy joes from scratch. I bought peppers, cucumbers, celery, spinach, and broccoli. I have already cut up all 6 peppers and one cucumber and will do the other cucumber and celery tonight and make broccoli salad with bacon, cheddar cheese, and onion. As long as the veggies are prepped, I will eat them. I store them in my canning jars so they are easily visible. I’m not canning jelly or fruit this year due to the high sugar content (that just doesn’t fit with low-carb) so I have the jars available. I also cooked bacon for the week and shredded cheese; again, both are stored in glass jars.

    I cleaned out the freezer that is part of my refrigerator and made room for some items from my large standup freezer, which I have now started cleaning out. I’m not really using it and things in there were 2-3 years old and freezer burned. I will finish taking everything out this week will then unplug it, defrost it, and try to sell it at a yard sale at the end of this month or through our Facebook yard sale page. It works, but now that I live alone, I just don’t need it.

    I also wrote out the budget for each month between now and the end of the year. Now I just need to stick to my plans to make sure I meet my savings and car and home repair/improvement debt payoff goals.

    I found out that my electric/gas company has an option where I can download my day by day usage for the last two years of bills and for usage through the previous day for the current billing cycle. Once I download these to an Excel spreadsheet, I can total up the cost and compare the current cycle to last month or last year. So far, I’ve used $10 less of electricity and gas combined this month than I did last month over a 12 day period. Our weather will be cooler this week and I don’t think I’ll need to turn the AC on at all.

    Finally, this is the first time in 17 years that I have not had to buy school supplies or pay tuition and other university costs. My daughter graduated this past May and is now supporting herself. Unfortunately, I’ll no longer be able to claim her as a dependent on my taxes, but I made the necessary withholding adjustment in January so it won’t be a huge tax bill surprise next spring when I file my taxes.

  21. Thank you for sharing pictures and text on identifying male and female zucchini flowers. Oh, and good job with the t-shirt undies. They turned out so cute.

  22. I agree with Isabella, Brandy, about your table setting. And your children WILL remember. My Mom was the queen of “romancing” the humble dinners we had. I am one of 8 kids and when I was little, I remember once when it was close to pay day, the dinner we were served was Egg Noodles with ketchup. And my Mom set the table with linens and lit some taper candles. We never realized it was a cheap dinner!

  23. Hello Brandy and all! I enjoyed hearing about your week.
    This week included beginning of the month expense planning. We have an Excel spreadsheet that we use to track our bills and expenses. In the past we have always used a credit card to pay for most of our bills and day to day expenses and then paid off the entire balance at the end of every month. This card gives us 1.5% cash back and since we pay the full balance every month we don’t have any interest fees. This month we’ve decided not to use the credit card for expenses to help decrease our overall credit usage on our credit reports. This led us to reviewing the automatic bill charges that occur on that card to see what needed to be changed or cancelled. I found $35 in miscellaneous recurring subscriptions that we managed to cancel- thus saving us $35/month going forward.

    I have my paycheck set up to have a set amount of money automatically drafted to my savings account each pay period. This previous pay period I increased that withholding by $5. I know it isn’t much but my way of thinking was that we almost always manage to find a way to waste $5 some way or the other so I might as well take that $5 out of the playing field straight away. Will it keep us from unplanned splurges? I don’t know. So far we haven’t even noticed the difference. I plan to make a small increase to my withholding every third or fourth paycheck until we reach a point where it feels like a stretch. I have a high interest savings account through Capitol One 360 and it isn’t linked to my regular checking accounts so there’s no risk of pulling the money out in a weak moment. To anyone interested in high interest savings, the account I have has no minimum balance and accrues 0.75% interest so even putting in $25 a month will see a small interest return.

    I did almost all of my weekly shopping at Aldi. Last week I took a longer drive (about 30 minutes without traffic) to the closest WalMart Supercenter to see if I could get some of the household costs down. I was dismayed to find that most of the groceries on my list had prices the same or even slightly higher than Wegman’s or Target. I live in a very expensive suburb north of DC and I’m battling the cost of living tooth and nail. From my front door to the front door of Target it is less than 800 steps and only 1500 steps to the front door of Wegman’s. Safeway is 1/4 mile away. So wasting gas to drive 30min to WalMart chapped me a bit. Aldi’s is about 15 minutes from my house depending on the traffic but I have been enjoying the prices.

    This week I found large white eggs for $0.89/dozen. SO prefers brown eggs but since they cost $4/dozen and we hardly ever have just fried or scrambled eggs he’ll just have to learn how to deal. Most of my eggs are used in baking and I use about a dozen and a half a week.

    I picked up two extra shifts at work and the money will help out a lot.

    I moved to this area from Pennsylvania and since coming down here I’ve been less than thrilled with the lasting power of my dairy purchases. I’ve never had issues with the expiration dates of milk, heavy cream, yogurt or sour cream before but now I’m having to think hard about when and how I purchase. Previously those four things I would buy on a monthly basis but since moving to this area I have noticed that everything I’ve come across has an expiration date that is a week to no more than ten days out. And coming up on those dates the milk and cream definitely start looking and smelling a little funky. I went to pour the cream into my coffee yesterday and noticed that it had curdled, wasting my cup of coffee. The quart was almost empty anyway so I didn’t lose more than a couple tablespoons but when I pulled out a second brand new quart that still had 4 days left on the label it was entirely curdled. So my major fail of the week was losing a brand new quart of heavy cream to spoilage :(.

  24. Brandy, thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures from your cake/cupcake decorating. I am so glad you learned the “secret” of making frosting in a hot climate. I took a cake decorating class over 20 years ago, and I still enjoy making make cakes look pretty. The price of the class was worth it just learning to do a crumb coat on cakes. I am happy that your lesson was free. What a blessing!
    Ways I saved money this week:
    Air-dried all laundry, except for sheets. (Had to use the dryer for these due to allergies.)
    I watered my neighbor’s garden and flowers and gratefully received lots of tomatoes and a few cucumbers.
    Ate all meals at home, and packed snacks to take with me while out and about.
    Purchased laundry detergent during a 3 day special and used coupons on top of the sale price.
    Began soaking citrus peels in vinegar to make organic “cleaner”.
    Tried making French bread. It came out ugly, so I used some as a pizza crust and have enjoying the rest as toast.

    Thank you so much for your posts. They encourage me to be a better steward of my resources. I enjoy them very much.

  25. This week when I got free discard greens at the grocery store for my chickens, there were also a dozen large orange and yellow organic bell peppers! I brought those home too and after washing and inspecting them and not even finding so much as a wrinkle in the skin, cut them into large chunks and froze them for use later when I need bell peppers in a recipe! They filled 6 quart size ziplocs! This is how I was able to make my 13 jars of pickle relish last week- cucumbers from my garden, dried minced onion from my food storage, cider vinegar from my food storage and bell peppers from my freezer!!! So basically, free pickle relish!! But any time a recipe that will be cooked needs bell peppers, just take them from the freezer!!
    I harvested more tomatoes from the garden as well as enough Serrano hot peppers to fill a quart size freezer bag! I do the same thing with all my peppers- those that i don’t use right away fresh, I freeze for use in the year when peppers are widely expensive!!
    I made, flash froze and individually packaged mini pizzas and heroburgers. Some I used to refill my fridge container of grab and go lunch choices and the rest I packaged into gallon ziplocs and free so that I can mix and match them into the grab and go fridge container with other options (leftovers, etc) so that no one is eating the same thing day after day! The bread were odds and ends cut pieces of baguettes, focaccia,etc that we were given! Used ingredients that were all at home so basically, no outside cost for these lunch fillers!!
    We got a Costco membership through Livngsocial – paid $60, but were given a $20 Costco gift card and a 12 pack of paper towels and a 24 pack of flavored water and a large everything pizza!
    Zaycon was offering $25 off $75 orders for new customers. We ordered from them in the past but since it meant that their October BLSL chcken breast 40 pound box would be $50.36 after the discount ($1.26/pound) , I referred 2 of my daughters and a couple other friends which got them the $1.26/pound price and gave me $20 in referral cash to use on an order! I am actually getting 20 pounds of that chicken from two of my daughters , so I will still get 40 pounds for the $1.26/pound price!!!
    We had friends over Snday night and roasted marshmallows over the fire pit and watchd our chickens free range in the yard! When the sun started to set, all 5 chickens marched back into their coop and up the ladder to their nesting area! Great entertainment for just the cost of the marshmallows!!
    Was able to freely cater a wedding reception for a friend’s daughter with 125 attendees with finger sandwiches- 4 kinds- for only $30 OOP ! There were Apple Rosemary focaccia, cocktail appetizers, cucumber sandwiches and Ranch Turkey bacon pinwheel wraps- made with homemade dry mixes added to cream cheese and other things that were already in my pantry! It was a great feeling to share!
    A friend gave me 3 bags of fabric yardage because she decided not to use it and “knew” that I would make good use of it or pass it on to some activity group or person who would!
    I made extra payments on my hospital bill which when it is paid off leave us with just 2 small cc balances and $45,000 mortgage left to pay off in order to be totally debt free!! The goal is in sight!!!

  26. Linda, I keep a container in my freezer and when I have small bits of meat, beans or veggies leftover I immediately put them in the container so they don’t go bad. Once the container is full, I make soup. I also rinse out my tomato sauce cans, spaghetti sauce jars, etc and add the tomato water to the container. I make sure that I add flavors that compliment each other. I usually add some bouillon and Italian seasonings (basil, oregano and garlic). I usually end up with a minestrone type of soup. Delish! And practically free!

  27. That cake looks amazing!
    Here are our frugal accomplishments for the week:
    -We paid extra on our mortgage – so now we’ve paid 5.2% of the principal down since February.
    -I combined several errands with a doctors appointment that I had in a town 45 minutes away.
    -Ate dinner at my grandparents one evening. My mom and dad took us out for supper one night.
    -Turned off AC and opened windows when it cooled off here.
    -We have received quite a bit of rain recently, so I haven’t had to water the garden for about 2 weeks now.
    -I picked 2 butternut squash, 6 cantaloupes, some sweet corn, and one canary melon from the garden.
    -Canned 16 jars spaghetti sauce, 13 pints green beans, 3 pints ketchup, 4 quarts dill pickles.
    -Used coupons to save $4.50 on cleaning supplies I needed.
    -Listed some items on a facebook buy/sell/trade site. They were left over from our yard sale (which made us some extra cash!).
    -DVR’d several shows for entertainment.
    -dehydrated some tomatoes for sundried tomatoes.
    -picked enough cucumbers that I should be able to make several more quarts of pickles (that’s on the to do list for today).
    -picked 6 more zucchini to shred up
    -Froze 14 ounces of Hungarian Wax peppers
    -Froze 6 Sweet peppers
    -Picked 4 onions from the garden
    -Made hot sauce using serranos, hot chilis, and cayennes from the garden.
    -Made bread
    -Made croutons out of bread that was starting to get hard.
    -Picked up a couple of shirts for my husband at half price.
    -Continued to be diligent about light and AC usage.
    -We have a cap on the gigabytes of internet we can use each month without going over. This month, we are very close to the limit. We’ve really been limiting the use of our internet. I had to come to my parents today, so I am actually using the internet at their house (which has no cap) to do some things I’ve been needing to do online.
    -My mom traded me 2 dozen wide mouth lids & rings and 2 dozen regular mouth lids for some pickles.
    -My husband and I ate brunch yesterday and then ate supper – that allowed us to just have a small snack instead of a whole meal in between.

    This week, I have to drive about 40 minutes each way to a conference – 3 times. I hate to spend the gas, but the hours of continuing education I will get will help me move across the pay scale at work. There is no immediate benefit, but as time goes on, the hours accumulate and I get raises.

    I’m hoping that we won’t need to do any more grocery shopping for a couple weeks (maybe just eggs). We are pretty well stocked up. I spent some time last week rearranging the pantry. I can see what we have a lot better now. I will spend some time this afternoon meal planning for the week. I also need to spray my garden, as squash bugs have killed another pumpkin vine. I will pick the pumpkins on it that are ready and can them. But I need to get the squash bugs killed before they kill all my plants. I will can more pickles, shred zucchini, and pick tomatoes. I’m hoping to pick tomatoes for chili base and pizza sauce.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  28. How did the fast work for you? I have been reading so much lately how good they are for mind body and spirit….

  29. Pretty baked goods! Cake decorating is but a distant memory for me. In fact, I just recently gave away all those tools since I felt it was out of my system and I’m trying to declutter a bit. My mom went through a period of cake decorating as well when we were young. To this day, I can hardly stand frosting as we ate our fill of it back then, haha!
    The memories of melted, leaning towers of birthday cakes came flooding back while reading this as well. Oh my! Fun times.
    Thanks for (triggering) the memories Miss Brandy!~TJ

  30. I have done cakes for years. I live in Virginia and one of the first things I learned was the heat and humidity will always effect your frosting. I always use the shortening /butter mix. However I use the butter flavor shortening. It doesn’t seem to be as greasy. I also use heavy whipping cream vs milk. And if I going to be piping with a very fine tip I will thin it out even more with vanilla flavored corn syrup. Check craigslist for cake supplies. People will always be getting rid of them.

  31. Stephanie,

    I had the thought as I was reading your comment that your fridge is not cold enough, and that is why you are losing your dairy products to spoilage so early. They like it really cold. If they’re on the door, move them to a shelf (and preferably in the back). A colder fridge will keep them longer.

    I don’t know if you are using the same fridge you had before or not, but this thought came to mind and it’s an easy thing to change that could make a huge difference for you.

  32. Your out door dining table is BEAUTIFUL. My son and his wife have purchased a large home. Some rooms do not have curtains yet. I bought a nice pair of sheets from Salvation Army, and sewed up a set of curtains for the guest bedroom. No more will I have to hide in the walking in closet while changing clothes. lol

  33. Thanks Jennifer. There are some specific tips I want and I am going to add them to my garage sale list. Now that I can get the icing to work for me, I’ll be looking to try some specific flowers and things that I want to make. In fact, I went a little crazy pinning cake decorating ideas and tutorials since my class on my Pinterest board. I am wanting to make some fun things for my children!

  34. Laurie,
    Excellent tips! Especially the tip on the rinse water for the tomatoes – I usually put that in my compost bowl, but if I can get a soup out of it – it’s better! I’ll have to find a “frozen misc soup” container to use; I’m sure there’s one in the kitchen somewhere!

  35. I grabbed red bell peppers on sale at one of our local stores. Dehydrated them and now I can use them later when the price goes up. I also grabbed summer squash and zucchini. I had summer squash for dinner one day and zucchini the next. I had intended each of those to be a 2-day affair but they tasted so good, I ate each for only 1 dinner and practically licked the skillet clean. I had dehydrated some chopped garlic a while back and had it sitting around in an airtight container. I was low on garlic powder which I use often so I threw that dried chopped garlic in an old coffee grinder and made garlic powder. Now I have a good supply for a few months to come. I bought green seedless grapes on sale. I’ve frozen them for later use. I’m hoping to find a recipe for jam using them but, if not, they’ll be good snacks. I needed a new bra. Turns out the style I chose was about half Target’s price on Amazon. Snapped up that bargain right away. I’m continuing with my green smoothies. I bought some dehydrated kale which has no stems, and won’t go bad in the fridge before I get to use it. Now that I know how it’s done professionally, I’ll be doing the same once the price goes down hopefully in the fall. I had cooked garbanzo beans to throw in the green smoothies to add some protein. I wasn’t able to use them very fast and I was afraid they’d spoil, so I chopped them up in the blender with some water and made “garbanzo cubes”. I can just throw these in the smoothies………I think that’s it.

  36. Brandy,

    In order to Mourn the mourning we light candles and say prayers in their names. Anytime they go through a rough patch (especially in the case of the 16 year old) We do it again.

  37. Thanks! It’s just two grey plastic folding tables that we got for free, along with some white plastic folding chairs we bought years back at Sam’s Club. The tablecloths are from Sam’s Club. Then I just used our regular plates and glasses and flowers from the garden in blue Ball jars. I used white nakins (also Sam’s Club) but everyday I use dark colored napkins so that I don’t have to use stain remover.

  38. I agree with Brandy with your dairy items. Our repairman also told us to put things that like it cold lower and not on top shelf or doors. He even shifted our shelves around and showed me what should go where. Also if it’s an older frig it might need some maintenance done. Our coils are enclosed and they froze up due to the moisture not getting away fast enough during the defrost cycles. Cost me $100 plus trip costs but save me the cost of the new frig not mentioning the food I was losing.

  39. This time around there was very little frugality. My mother passed suddenly so there were a lot of expenses associated with travelling to our home town, meals, hotels, and everything else that comes with arranging a funeral. Because some of my immediate family couldn’t afford rooms, travel, etc. we did what we could to make sure everyone could be there for the funeral.

    We rented several rooms so we were able to get a discount that saved us about $25 a room a night. I was able to cancel one room reservation for 2 nights. We paid the room expense for us, my brother, my son, my step-father, my daughter.

    My step-father’s family came in and I was able to use this discount for them (they paid for their room). We were also able to use this discount for my husband’s mom and dad who drove down from Ohio, they paid for their room as well.

    My husband works at an airlines, so we were able to use his passes to fly one brother and his wife into town (no expense as it was for bereavement). They rented a car so that saved me having to figure time and who to pick them up, taking them to funeral home, church, family home, etc. We were also able to use his pass to send another brother back home to Kansas, but he had to wait a few hours before he could be picked up. Still cheaper than getting him on a bus.

    We provided a family dinner for about 50 people (forgot the exact number) at a local restaurant. This was not frugal at all but was necessary for my grieving process and I felt it was important for the family. Excellent company, excellent meal and service.

    We bought food, toilet paper, snacks, etc. for 2 niece’s families that would be staying at another brother’s house. He’s been out of work so in exchange for helping with a place to stay for the 2 families, I provided this for them. I tried to be as frugal as I could in what I bought. Lots of sandwich meat, bread, PB&J.

    My son bought BBQ fixin’s one night for a backyard meal for the family.

    The funeral had a package deal that was very nice and seemed to be in line with what I had heard a funeral would cost. It included the service, casket, casket flower spray, the cards, book, and they helped coordinate a lot of things I had no clue about, including getting mom from Fort Worth to our home town. Mom had a very nice casket and the flowers were very lovely and I think matched her personality. Having everything done through the funeral home package helped ME a lot.

    The church coordinated a lunch after the service and they had a donation jar that was quite full by the time everyone left. The donations are then used to provide a lunch for the next funeral.

    Most of the leftover food we bought for the house was sent home with my nieces and their families. What we had in the hotel room was sent home with my daughter. We all had left over BBQ for breakfast the next morning so there was very little waste. Molly (the dog) got the bones.

  40. I love your outdoor table setting! Beautiful!

    My frugal accomplishments this week:

    * Brandy, because of your heads up last week re: pasta sales, I kept my eyes open for them. Our local grocer had American Beauty on sale for 88c each. I printed 2 coupons from Coupons.com and had 1 already had one, each for $1 off 2. Also the grocer was having a sale, buy 5 and get 1 free, so I got 7 packages for 34c each. Cheapest I had gotten in a while. And I was able to get penne and rotini styles on this. Pretty happy about this one!
    * I watch my grandson 2 days a week and my daughter packs his breakfast and lunch for him. He had a couple of days where he didn’t finish his banana, applesauce and milk, so I put them in my smoothies the next day.
    * Listened to Amazon music for free (well, as part of our Amazon Prime membership.)
    * Turned off all unnecessary lights whenever possible, including not turning on the bathroom light when I shower.
    * Kept AC at highest temps I could stand and still be comfortable.
    * Did water aerobics for exercise. Also danced with my grandson. He is 20 months old and loves to dance, so I dance with him and copy all of his moves. Pretty fun!
    * Returned an item I had ordered through Amazon that didn’t fit. Made sure I did it in time that I get the refund.
    * Used free hotel toiletries.
    * Drank free coffee and tea I got from work.
    * Ate free oatmeal I got from work.
    * There is a pink grapefruit tree in the house we are living in and in January I had juiced 5 gallons worth and froze in gallon ziplocs. I gave my daughter 2 of the bags, but the other 3 have been just sitting in my freezer. I don’t care for grapefruit juice and my husband can’t drink it due to a med he is on. So I defrosted 1 of the gallons and refroze in ice cube trays. Now I can use them in my daily smoothie. When mixed with other ingredients, I don’t really taste it. Also, I had gotten a bunch of single serve jellies from work, so I have been using one of those in each of my smoothies. It adds just the right amount of sweetness and a tiny bit of fruit too.
    * Got blueberries on sale for 88c a pint. Bought 3 and froze.
    * Got strawberries on sale for 98c a lb. Bought 3 and froze. Was happy to see an article this year about the strawberry leaves being a good thing, so now I just rinse and freeze then use the whole strawberry, leaves and all in my smoothie.
    * Got bananas for 39c a lb. Cheapest I have seen them.
    * Referred 3 people to Ibotta and they signed up. Love that app!
    * Reused ziplocs and saved an English muffin bag and the bag inside a box of cereal.
    * Got 3 shirts on clearance at the local Kroger marketplace store. They were reduced in price, then 60% off, then 15% off of that.
    * Hubby’s birthday was Friday. Instead of going out and paying also for daughter and her husband, he requested homemade carnitas tacos, beans, chips with salsa and guacamole – a Mexican Happy Hour. I had to pay full price for the pork butt, but it was only $13 anyway. I pressure cooked it and got a ton of meat. Enough for at least 2 more dinners and a few lunches. Hubby liked it so much he had me pack his lunch this morning with it. This is unusual, as Mondays are the days he doesn’t like to take his lunch due to meetings, etc. Since we are all trying to watch our weight, he just requested a twinkie instead of a cake, so I obliged. I used birthday candles that were already used once.
    * Hubby mentioned that he wanted a couple more plants for indoors. I asked him if we could do cuttings from the philodendron? Save money? He said he would buy with some money that is “his.” A while back I told him that he gets $10 for lunch every day. If he brings his lunch or spends less, he could keep it to get extras that he wants for fun (DVD’s, etc.) So he was going to use that. While at the store on his birthday, there was a plant on clearance for $3.99. I got it for him for his birthday so he doesn’t have to spend “his” money. (He had already received the big gift he wanted – a heavy duty cooler that he can take with him hunting.)
    * Drank koolaid I had gotten for 10c and sweetened with sugar free sweetener I had gotten free from work. One tip, if you are going to drink a beverage over ice, keep the beverage in the refrigerator and you will use less ice.
    * Ate leftovers for lunch.
    * Put some leftover spaghetti sauce and a few leftover green beans in my soup container in the freezer.
    * Ran only full loads of laundry and hung all but one load on the clothesline.
    * While out shopping, I forgot my water bottle. Got pretty thirsty, but instead of ordering a fountain drink, I just took a drink out of the drinking fountain.
    * Was tempted this week to eat lunch out, but I didn’t and ate at home instead. Except for Sunday, when we went to Buffalo Wild Wings so Hubby could use his free birthday wings coupon. We go to BWW to play trivia and is an activity we both enjoy a lot. We have been trying to keep it to once a month now.
    * Cut up a shirt that had holes in the front to make disposable rags for the kitchen.
    * Got a can of chili on clearance. Forgot to check my receipt and once at home, found they had charged me full price. Lesson: Always check your receipts before you drive home! I went back and made sure I got the clearance price. This was 90c back in my pocket. Combined the trip with our drive to BWW so I didn’t waste any gas to do it.
    * Made sure I returned my library books on time so that I wasn’t charged a late fee. Am reading the 4th book in my quest to read all of Agatha Christie’s books in chronological order. The library didn’t have the 5th book and it will cost $6 to get it through Interlibrary Loan. They do have a digital copy though. Hubby will help me figure out how to get it onto my Ipad so I don’t have to buy it.
    * Let my hair air dry instead of blow drying.

    Have a blessed and frugal week, everyone!

  41. Thanks for the reminder of printer paper… we are almost out and it’s not on the list. I checked ink at the same time.

    Brandy your cake looked really good. I have done cakes professionally and have used cheap sandwich bags as my frosting bag. My tips are put in the bag first then a screw ring on the outside. I have used a bit of tape if I cut the hole for the tip too big to take the bag to the tip before putting on the screw ring. I use fondant during warm months but it I am using buttercream I add cornstarch or meringue powder to it along with butter Crisco. I also freeze the cakes to crumb it before the thin layer of frosting to seal the cake THEN frost the cake. I store it in a cool place or frig until serving. Craftsy has some decent priced online classes. I bartered time with a self employes wedding cake baker and she taught me in exchanged of me helping bake the cakes.

    Frugal activities today does NOT include me using the clothesline even though it is beautiful out I just can not get the arm that high since surgery. Hubby has been running the kitchen and I’ve done my best to keep my mouth shut about a couple things even after polite reminders of needing to prep fruit for meals and he decided to do it this morning..lost about half. He realizes you can’t wait until you want with fresh fruit…lesson learned and he acknowledged I had politely reminded him it needed done.He will be replacing it out of his spending money and not be going to the local restaurant with some retired coworkers for breakfast this weekend.It’s something they do once a month to stay connected. We have been eating from the pantry and he has gotten good at remembering to prep whatever I need that day for food…except for the melons and pineapple…:p

    We (as in Hubby picked while I kept my slinged arm out of the gardens and just stood to carry the harvest baskets to the pull wagon) harvested storage onions, scallions, bell peppers , the last of the cucumbers (got squash worm in cucumbers and summer squash) cherry tomatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. I am thinking of a tomato pie if I can talk Hubby into doing a pie crust for me.

    I did a count of what I need to finish Christmas so I can work up a routine to work on it when I can use both hands. One present I am making is more expensive that I do normally and I am guessing that it will take a good 4 hrs a day to just do one. I need 12 . I been shopping for the items and waiting for sales and got the best of what I could fine today.So that’s ordered. By time it comes in I should have full use of my right arm. And except for the gift cards/cash we give finishes most of the buying for Christmas presents. I have most of the ingredients I need for the Christmas candy and cookies…might need peanut butter for the buckeyes.
    Hubby’s health ins through his employer is changing…He had put off retiring until this coming Jan thinking we would be covered better with the ins…several of the doctors and hospitals in this area is no longer going to be in network due to refusal to compromise on pricing. The battle has been going on for over a year between the medical people and several insurance companies. Figures all my specialists are part of that group.I see both sides but really figure if you can accept 1/2 of the price you charged for a service when you run it through ins…then you shouldn’t be charging that price to begin with when you are making people that pay cash pay the full price. So I will be changing doctors if I can find ones to work with my issues that are under the new ins let alone within an hour’s drive.

    I have started taking some of the older home canned tomato juice and cooking it down for pasta sauce to be recanned.Then I can make tomato juice out of the fresh tomatoes coming in.

    It’s been wonderful reading your posts and those that comment also. I learn or get reminded of a frugal things each time.
    It’s a blessing

  42. So glad you were able to participate in the cake decorating with your daughter! It’s always such a pleasure to learn a skill for free, especially when you’ve been wanting to learn this skill for a long time.

    We’ve also been experiencing a cool front in our area. In fact, one day it felt like fall temperatures! We are enjoying the relief from the heat and humidity of summer. Anyways, our frugal accomplishments this week included:
    *Meals made at home included homemade chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce, flavoured rice and broccoli, make-your-own pizzas, chicken low mein stir fry with spring rolls, cheese tortellini pasta with choice of sauce, chicken fingers with mashed potatoes and green beans, roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob and caramel brownies for dessert (box mix from pantry).
    *I was getting kind of tired of eggs for breakfast and needed a change. So I pulled a package of chicken bacon from the freezer to cook in the microwave each morning. We’ve had it for a while, so it should be used up anyways. Love my freezer stash of meat!
    *Did my bi-weekly grocery shopping this week. We needed potatoes, but the big bags were not on sale. Found a small bag of clearance potatoes (had “flaws” but otherwise fine) at Walmart for $1 that will work perfectly until the next sale. Other deals this week included celery for $1 (it’s been $1.50 or more per bunch!), 4 bunches of brocoli for $1/bunch (I will try to get some of it blanced and frozen for winter use), 4 jars of roasted peanuts for $3/700g (the cheap bags were $3.50/500g), 12 tubs of DD’s favourite margarine for $1/tub (just recently bought 2 not on sale for $1.50/tub because we were out), and 4 packages of breakfast sausages for $2/pack.
    *Hubby was kind enough to go to the farmers market on Saturday and pick up 2 dozen cobs of fresh corn, since I had to work. The last batch was so good, I want to put lots more in the freezer, plus enjoy it while it’s fresh!
    *On my way out from work on Sunday, there was a huge basin filled with fresh dug, new potatoes on the table with a note saying “Please take some potatoes” (they had been dug up from the gardens). I helped myself to some of the free produce and now have a bread basket filled with fresh potaotes to feed my family! Also grabbed an almost ripe tomato from the garden for my mom.
    *Managed to fall down and scrape my knee at work one day. The wound was big enough that typical bandaides wouldn’t work. I searched through my massive supply of bandage material that I bought for only $1 at an auction and found adhesive telfa pads that worked perfect! So glad I bought those medical supplies. They really come in handy!
    *Not frugal, but had a date night with hubby. We went out for dinner, just the two of us, then saw the movie “Dunkirk”. Wow, was that ever an intense movie! Really well done, too. Highly recommended if you like history, but be prepared as it is a very emotional war movie, based on true events. My husband, who loves to learn about WWII, said the Germans could have won the war at Dunkirk, had they continued to advance their tanks. Really scary to think about what our world would have been like had this happened.

    I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s comments. They really make my week complete! Have a wonderful week everyone.

  43. Hi all! Great photos, Brandy! I am terrible with frosting-my husband is good with that.
    We finally received furniture, dishes, etc. there were some nice surprises. So now our new home is looking better. We do not have blinds or curtains, so are working on that soon.
    How we saved last week –
    – Cooking the majority of our meals at home
    – Using up food before spoilage
    – Combining errands
    – Donated items that replaced with items movers brought
    – Paid two bills by phone, so saved stamps and envelopes
    – ishopped alone most of the week
    – I was asked what I wanted for a housewarming gift from my sister. I told she did not have to – her response “if you do not tell me, then expect a surprise!” So, since we are in a new house – there is a lot to do. So I told her a Lowes card for cabinet handles. – she sent a $100 card! I’m blessed since we need a lot and are slowly getting them.
    – My husband and I reviewed bills to be sure we are paying what we should and figure out college tuition

  44. Stephanie, I would agree with Brandy as re’ the temperature issue. We had an older refrigerator that had warm spots and cold spots and we kept a small thermometer on each shelf. Also, if you store your dairy products upside down when possible, like yogurt and cottage cheese, they will last longer.

  45. This week we finished the gravel removal and prep work for our side yard. The landscaping company put in the irrigation system and the sod. It looks great! We are watering away from our water tap (the irrigation is tied into the community system and only waters once a day) for the first couple of weeks. The only frugal part was our work. The landscaping company cost $2000.

    We have been very sick with norovirus. There has been very little eating in our household for about four days and we both lost weight. I would not recommend this as a way to be frugal. I bought 2 paperback books for an upcoming vacation/car trip for $1 from a library sale – but ended up reading them while I was sick. One was a J.A.Jance book, which are always riveting. The other was a Hamish McBeth whodunit (Marion Chesney), which is definitely a “cozy”.

  46. I use a reused extra large cottage cheese container (like you get at Costco.) I find this size is just right for making a crockpot’s worth of soup. I add water and bouillon to the contents to soup it up.

  47. It has been insanely busy here the last couple of weeks. I brought back bottled blueberries & blackberries from our middle daughter to our oldest daughter when I drove back from “girls weekend” that my 3 daughters held at our middle daughter’s house in WA. Although I do not usually go for girls weekend, this year I went to help with Little Atuff. Her mother had to work the day they planned to go to the zoo, & did not think Little Stuff would go with the aunts if Grandma was not there, so I went, too. I picked blueberries from her patch & bottled a bunch for her & for her sisters. I also picked some early blackberries & bottled those, too. Our middle daughter is expecting & is not supposed to lift, so canning is out of the question for her (but not for me). I brought back a long set of mini-blinds the middle daughter sent for the oldest. I picked peaches the evening I arrived home, since the birds were already starting to peck on them, & let the peaches finish ripening in two half bushel boxes on the floor of the dining room, well out of the reach of the birds.

    One of my young teen granddaughters came to visit this past week, & while she was here, we bottled a canner load of sliced Red Haven peaches from those that were ripe enough, made two batches of blackberry/ gooseberry jam, & dehydrated elderberries. When I took her home, she took the peaches she had done, dehydrated elderberries, & most of the blackberry/ gooseberry jam back to her family at my suggestion. I kept back a few jars of the jam for ourselves, & our other daughters.

    I have continued to dehydrate elderberries, blueberries & gooseberries. I have been picking & stemming enough elderberries to fill the dehydrator every day this week. There are more gooseberries than I can use right now, so I am dehydrating those, too, but they take longer to dry, being larger berries, so I freeze them first to rupture all the cells, so they will dry faster.

    Harvested yellow pear & early girl tomatoes. Removed 2 more western yellow jacket nests from the gooseberry patch & continue to pick gooseberries. The western yellow jackets have been really bad this year. I suspect that there are more than a few nests in the hollow trunk of the elm tree in the pasture behind us, but the owners are not inclined to remove it.

    I have bottled two more canner loads of the Red Haven peaches as they have ripened, & probably have about 7-10 quarts more to put up, in a day or two, when they are completely ripe.

    Pruned the larger peach tree that will ripen in Sept, since there is far more fruit on it than it can ripen, & my choice was to remove some of the upper branches, or let them break. I had previously thinned what I could reach, & when the upper limbs bent down far enough for me to reach them, then I could remove them.

    One of the limbs on the larger of the two young Red Haven trees had started to break, but since I picked all the fruit, it did not completely break. Some of the peaches were the size of softballs. I do not intend to prune that tree until fall, to let the leaves continue to add strength to the tree before I remove that limb.

    Pruned the spent canes in the blackberry bed, & topped the new canes at my height, to force the laterals on which the fruit will be borne next year.

    Cut a 2 foot section from an 8″x8″ post we had, to stabilize the base of the grape arbor. One side is completely stabilized now, & I am working on cutting another section to,do the other side. I use hand tools for this, so it takes a while to cut thru the post.

    Picked up grounds at Starbucks to fertilize the grapevines, tomatoes, pole beans & corn plants.

    Pulled at least 2 tree tubs full of weeds every day except Sunday.

  48. The cupcakes look so cute, but that cake, oh that cake looks so delicious and pretty! I haven’t piped much frosting, but I’m glad I read this post — I live in the deep south, so I would probably need to use shortening, too.

    My husband has the start of macular degeneration which is luckily not progressing so far. He also had diabetic retinopathy somewhat. Our doctor recommended an AREDS formula of vitamins for his eyes, and CVS had a BOGO at 50% off sale on these. I also had a $5 manufacturer’s coupon good for purchasing two packages of these vitamins, and a $1 off anything coupon from CVS . I bought two packages using the sale and coupons, which sounds great, except Walmart carries the same thing for $6 less per package all the time. So in reality, I only saved around $7 over what I would have paid buying 2 packages at Walmart with the manufacturer’s coupon. I’ll take it though — it’s money saved, and he needs to take these.
    I finally have some sunshine in which to hang out my clothes. The humidity was 88% all day yesterday, and 99% in the early morning and night, but the sun has finally reappeared after days of clouds.
    Along that line, I’m using vinegar to clean off the black mold trying to grow on my clothesline in this humidity.
    I visited a yard sale, but saw nothing I needed and bought nothing.
    Free entertainment: I went to the library and watched a friend of mine show her gorgeous artwork and explain a little bit about how she does it.
    I need a bedspread for a guest bed, but I have refused to buy one at the prices I’ve seen. I’ve not found a used one in decent condition that would match the room, not even off-white, which would be just fine if I could find it. I also discovered bedspreads are hard to find unless you want matelassé, which I don’t, because it can be heavy. I find comforters and quilts galore, but this is Florida, and I want a lightweight spread that I can wash and dry easily and that the cat won’t want to pick at it, which also crosses chenille off the list. So I saved money by not spending it.

  49. Wyoming, I hope you are all feeling better now. I just read MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz. I am not sure you could find it in a used paperback yet, but I had my name on reserve for it at the library and it finally came in. If you like mysteries it is a take off of the Agatha Christie style murder mystery, very clean also.

  50. This list is from the last couple of weeks:
    -no grocery shopping last week. All meals out of pantry and freezer
    -neighbors gave us: zucchini, blueberries, cucumbers, peppers
    -picked up more zucchini and cucumbers from a roadside stand for free!!
    -harvested parsley, tomatoes and a single zucchini from my garden.
    -froze zucchini, both shredded and chopped
    -completed 3 pinecone surveys
    -downloaded my Free Friday Kroger coupons
    -saved $28.75 using coupons at Kroger during a shopping trip
    -a friend is moving and let me look through her purses. I took a lovely, Fall/Winter Vera Bradley bag. I am happy to have it and she was happy to get rid of it.
    -one of my neighbors went to the U.P. in Michigan for vacation and brought back gifts for my children and gave us some local strawberry jelly.
    -I have turned off the A.C. many days in the last few weeks. It’s been unusually cool here, especially at night. I am so glad to have the windows open and air off.
    -school shopping is done and I stayed in budget. My husband and I started saving in January for school shopping and I am SO glad we did. It was so nice to have an envelope of cash for my children’s back to school needs this year.
    -attended water aerobics at my neighbors house for free. Every summer, she has weekly water aerobics in her pool. It’s a great time to socialize and get exercise! 🙂
    -said ‘no’ many times. Sometimes this is the hardest thing for me to do, but it usually pays the biggest dividends.
    -continued with all my usual: library, turn lights off and unplugged cords when not using (I am trying to make this more of a habit), donated unwanted items, made-do with what I have, stayed out of stores, etc.

    Have a great week, everyone! Love the encouragement I get from this community.

  51. I know Shutterfly often has coupons for free photo books around Christmas and again around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They make wonderful gifts.

  52. Our wild sunflowers aren’t in abundance yet. I love when they’re wild all over. I always try and get a big bouquet every year. I cut them long so it looks even bigger!

  53. The woman who showed me does wedding cakes. She freezes them the night before and then puts them in the fridge for every layer. Her house was real cold when I went over; I didn’t think much of it (I just figured she liked her a/c lower) until she told me that another baker she knows turns her a/c down to 50ºF to keep her icing from melting, and just wears sweaters while she decorates! I don’t know how that woman transports her cakes in our climate!

    I was using a ziploc heavy-duty freezer bag and it wasn’t working. I have heard they would work with tips just like you said and EVERY time the icing would never come out the bottom. No one could help me figure it out; they always exploded out the middle on me. But we have solved my icing difficulties and I will be using a piping bag from now on. She had a nice trick with the icing rolled up inside plastic wrap inside the piping bag, which saves a ton of time, soap, and hot water with washing–plus you can change colors without having to have a new bag for every color!

    We have 5 to 6 months above 90º here and 100 days over 100º, so it’s all warm months! (One of my cakes fell apart this year in January! And I keep my house at 65º!) So all shortening or half-shortening will be my go to from now on. It’s too bad; I like the taste of the meringue frostings but they just wouldn’t cooperate. Now I’m excited to make some cakes for my children! (Reading that sentence makes me laugh; I’ve never really liked cake much but now I’m enjoying it!)

  54. Cake decorating is a skill I will never have. Not because I don’t think I can, but because I LOVE homemade buttercream and I would end up eating it all and getting sick!! Since it’s just the two of us, when one of us has a birthday, we buy a little cupcake from the market bakery and share it. While the money saver in me knows that a scratch cake would be cheaper, in the long run, it really won’t!! So, I will continue to marvel at the cake decorating talented from afar!! I love the pink roses. They’re gorgeous….and look pretty tasty!!

    We had a very frugal first week of August, for which I’m very grateful. I’m determined to keep the grocery bill under $100! I know I can, I know I can!!! I do have a small market trip planned tomorrow for some milk and fresh produce, but that’s all.

    Our weather has been unusually cool so we haven’t been turning on the a/c until 5 pm or so. That’s been great to open up and air out the house, plus save on the electric. We got a soaking rain storm on Sat. so that saves us a week of watering and it filled up the rain barrels. All that water does a lot of toilet flushing!!

    I bought some lightweight white denim for 50% off. I’m planning to line my patio curtains so they block more heat. The doors are in the SW corner of the house….I call it the ‘Beef Jerky Room’ because of how hot it is. I’m going to make the liners snap-ons so they’re removable when we don’t want to use them. I need to hurry up and take advantage of the cooler weather to get them done. I have no doubt that the normal August heat is coming!

  55. This week I went to my favourite produce farm and stocked up on corn, blueberries, golden plums, peaches, and tomatoes.

    I now have a freezer full of fruit that will be used in the year ahead for baking, treats, smoothies, and conserves.

    I made Southern Style Creamy Corn. I do love corn on the cob, but I find this is they way to stretch the corn the most. I serve it as a side, over cornbread, with beans, with fish, with turkey, and I use 3 cups to make a batch of Corn Chowder (yum!!!). Now, this is for 4 people. It would not stretch quite so far with a larger family!

    My son inherited a bag of superhero toys from his cousins. He has been playing with them non stop all week. It makes me laugh how excited he is about them because the only movie he has ever seen is Winnie the Pooh – yet is loves all the superheroes and knows who they all are. Lots of Captain America and Iron Man in our house this week.

    I did a survey that was sent to me by my alma mater and received a $5 gift card to Indigo Chapters. I used the gift card to order a National Geographic book on polar bears that will go in my nephew’s Christmas gift. The book was $4.76 on clearance. Polar bears are his favourite animal and he is really getting into reading which I love.

    We are getting ready to go on vacation – this year we committed to only go on trips that were staying with family or that we could use points for (although this isn’t really unusual – we have not gone on a “paid” vacation since July 2013 when we went to North Carolina after finding a great hotel for $50/night. Amazing trip by the way, we loved North Carolina and enjoyed visiting my husband’s uncle there). So, next week we will be going to visit family. We are not sure yet which day we are leaving, we want to get some things done around the house before we go.

    We are finally finishing up the renovations and getting the house reorganized. I wrote a bit about it here:
    It is not a DIY post if that is what you are looking for. Just some notes about the materials we used and life in general ; )

    Finally, Brandy I have been thinking about the life insurance, especially this week. I am so glad that you got it. On Thursday last week an old friend of mine from high school died suddenly. He had a small cut that became infected (unknown to him) and by the time he got to the hospital he was septic, he died within 12 hours. He was only 35 years old and leaves behind a wife and two small children. Incidentally, his father in law owned an insurance brokerage so I know he was well insured – but even still – the prospect of raising two kids (11 months and 3 years old) without a principal income earner is a massive financial undertaking (without even mentioning the emotional loss involved). Many friends are contributing to a future education fund for his children. We just never know what tomorrow will bring.

    I hope you all had a great week, and as always I am working my way through all the comments and learning from everyone.

  56. Good news: Husbands truck tire did not fall off while we were in it. Bad news it is one of a couple repairs costing 1400 dollars. Just feel blessed that he heard a noise and took it in. Another drive could have resulted in tragedy. God does watch after us. So unfortunately we had to get a credit card to pay for it. Glad it is 0 percent interest for 6 months. I know, credit cards are no good. However; we really need our vehicles to get to work and to drive a son to appointments and get groceries. Also, we could not have drove the truck off the lot. The tire literally would have fallen off. So we are stuck with putting it on credit.
    My husband still has a job. We are happy about that. He is doing his best to keep it as long as he can. In the meantime, I am going to do more writing. My husband is going to help me put a children’s picture book out on Amazon. I have a lot of story ideas. So If this one goes well, I plan to do more. We had hired a really talented artist to do the illustrations. Now hubby is helping me in hopes of some income, as well as just being a sweet man.
    Cooked all meals at home. My husband’s favorite meal was BBQ Runzas. Today, because I am sick, I just opened a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup for dinner. My husband was still happy! My husband was so happy that every time we would think about eating somewhere, I would say, “I will cook something.” I was happy as a well.
    Turned thermostat up. Turned lights off. Used natural light from windows.
    Had a romantic picnic at our farm and watched the sunset. We literally used the tailgate of his truck as a table. I love frugal dates.

  57. I am so sorry to hear about your friend!

    My cousin just died a couple of weeks ago. She was 39. She wasn’t feeling well. Her mom (a retired nurse) thought she was dehydrated and needed to go to the hospital. She went in and they kept her “for observation.” Two hours later my aunt received a call saying her daughter had died. She is buried now and we still haven’t received the results from the autopsy. She died 6 weeks to the day after our grandmother died.

    She leaves behind a 16-year-old son.

    Adding life insurance to our bills at this time is making for some great stretching, since this is a (much) lower income year, but if something happens to my husband, it would be MUCH more difficult to make ends meet. I’m glad we’re doing it.

  58. Thank you so much for sharing!
    I hope you can pay off the repair in 6 months. I’m glad you were able to get a credit card to pay for it, and even better at 0% interest for 6 months! Right now that sounds like a great blessing for your family. While it may not be what you wanted, it was what you needed, and now your husband can continue to go to work.

    Good luck with the book! That sounds like a great project!

  59. Hi Brandy. I’ve been doing flour frosting lately. It even held up to our 100 degree, super high humidity weather. It got soft but never melted. I wonder if it would be suited to your weather?

  60. I learned something this evening that may keep me from buying any more food from Dollar Tree unless it is a major brand name. I bought a bag of chips that, to my mother and me, tasted stale despite having a date several months in the future. I tried to get store credit for the purchase, bringing in a nearly full bag of chips and a receipt. Two clerks and the store manager told me they would not accept food as returns. I asked them to sniff the bag and they refused, even after I sniffed it to prove it wasn’t dangerous. So I am stuck with a bag of chips we won’t be eating. I might use the chips as bird feed. I am so disappointed. I had written to Dollar Tree a few days ago about the chips and they had not responded, at least they hadn’t before I headed to the store this evening. Was this “No food exchanges rule” unique to the local Dollar Tree in the next town over or is this a company-wide policy? Now I wish the new store being built in town was an Aldi instead of a Dollar Tree.

    After a really big frugal fail this week, when I threw out three packages of Kroger shredded cheddar cheese because mom had left it on the counter overnight, mom having read the package instructions as the cheese needing refrigeration once opened, I am now wondering if I was the silly one. I erred, if I did err, on the side of caution because mom is very elderly and I don’t want her to get hit with food poisoning. Is Kroger shredded cheese shelf stable like the Velveeta blocks of cheese?

    I admire everyone who is busy canning and preserving during this year’s harvest season. I hope to do some pickles and relishes this year.

  61. Oh how lucky you were to get an icing class! It pays to show up!

    We’ve been busy here. My husband is building a shed outside to house all the outside tools like the lawn tractor etc… This week I replanted peas and carrots for Fall harvest. We are beginning to pull in tomatoes (this is the wettest summer in since 1962). I was gifted gladiola from a friend’s garden and a rhubarb.

    We’ve been eating a lot from our pantry. as soon as I can, I will start canning salsa. We were also gifted a lot of peaches so it is time to start working on canning those as well. This week, we have Toby Keith tickets (so excited). The last time I saw Toby was in an airport hangar in Iraq. My husband gets a discount on concert tickets through his job.

    My dear friend is getting married and I did a little work on sewing for the reception. I wrote about that here: http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2017/08/wedding-planning/ and I was gifted some left over tartan for a rosette. It will look very nice when it is done and it is our city tartan colors.

  62. It has been a rough week in our little town. A young mother of three was run off the road by a drink driver and killed. She was 26 and had no life insurance. Mothers should have this when babies are born. It is so incredibly sad.
    My children’s favorite cake was the one I baked for my son’s birthday. It was beautiful. Then a crack appeared. Then another. Then it just kind of self served itself into sections. I took some crumbled Oreos and tossed in too with a couple of small monster trucks. May have been my best artistic endeavor. Sugar cookie begged to go out for a while. We spent 2.00 at Little Caesar’s for bread sticks , her favorite. I ran into McDonalds to get a soda because the drive thru was awful. The man gave me two cups and said not to worry about it. I Like Free DRinks. We Bought Two DVds AT the thrift STore For 50 Cents A piece. Sorority GIrls PUppy COst 150.00 at the vet. Ouch…… Thankfully the freezer had many surprises in the bottom. 3 beef roasts, 6 pks chopped beef steak, and a huge pack of shrimp. I have 6 months of chicken. Dressing and rolls and broccoli. Happy to see this. Surgery scheduled tomorrow. Please send prayer s.

  63. We went thru the same thing and had to get one of those cards. Thankfully we were able to pay it off within those 6 months.

  64. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother. It sounds like you handled everything with such grace. I’m sure your whole family appreciates what you did for them. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Hugs!

  65. Rhonda, if you bought the broccoli at “No Frills” then I would recommend processing it quickly. I bought some on Saturday and started using it today – it wasn’t quite as “fresh” as I would have liked – but I roasted it right away and it’s fine.

  66. Thank you all for your many tips and experiences. Even an old lady like me learns something new everytime. Today is my dh and I’s 53rd wedding anniversary. We have had ups, downs, money troubles, etc. but always came out on top. I have always been frugal even when we did not have to be. My frugal ways came from watching my Mother and my Grandmother make everything work out and enjoy all of lifes’ blessings.

  67. I had some investment money come due and used a good chunk to pay off one CC entirely and another to pay some back taxes. I’ve also put aside my “allowance” from now to the end of the year and allocated other monies for almost the next year.
    I’ve also figured out a monthly grocery amount – slightly under the Low Cost amount from the USDA (taking into account that Cdn. $ is about 80 cents to the US $) – it’s actually probably closer to the Frugal amount as our groceries tend to be much more expensive. The only thing left to buy this week is some sweet potatoes – otherwise I won’t be back in the store until Sunday at the earliest. Trying to eat down my freezer and concentrating on just buying fruit & veg for now as there is plenty of meat & fish.
    Joined a friend for a yard sale and made $176.00. I need some items for the apt. so used this money to purchase a standing lamp at IKEA for a dark corner in my living room and a small side table at a flea market yesterday for the bedroom – (the friend I was with is a great bargain hunter and she got a third of the original cost knocked off)! Still have some funds left and may buy another small lamp for the dining room.
    I also bought 3 Christmas gifts today! I often pick a theme for gifts and this year it’s going to be a puzzle for many friends. By sheer chance I was in INDIGO today and their puzzles were all reduced. Bought 3 (that was all I could carry) but will check out another location later this week and probably get another 2 or 3.
    Also received $250 in gift cards for INDIGO as a retirement gift from my former manager (but I am keeping those for my own use over the next year as I am a book addict).
    I also have a lot of 2 for 1 vouchers for various events/venues around town so I’ve been sharing with friends as part of my staycation (received these after purchasing a magazine subscription as a Christmas gift for a friend). Friends and I have also been making picnic lunches to take on outings rather than buying food – and we’ve really enjoyed doing it.
    It will probably take me a few months to get fully on track but I’m trying!

  68. My local Ingles was spitting out shutterfly coupons two days ago. I Have One For A Book If Someone Wants To Message Me.

  69. I agree with the others. I live just outside Baltimore on the west side of Baltimore County so not that far from you. I had to put the milk and things on my bottom shelf, adjusting the shelf heights to accommodate it. I don’t know if it’s the humidity making the fridge work harder, but it’s only an issue for me in the summer.

  70. It’s not shelf stable, but cheese left out overnight is probably fine. Cheese is a cultured product, so the microbes keep it from spoiling immediately. However, if you are dealing with an elderly person, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution.

  71. Teresa, I am sorry for your loss. It was fortuitous you were able to step in and fill so many shoes and keep things organized.

  72. I made my first batch of yogourt. It didn’t turn out so well but I’m using it like a buttermilk salad dressing.
    I pitted all of the sour cherries while I sat outside. A neighbour whom I recently met (we’ve both been here for 40 years!) years but had never met) stopped by and chatted while I pitted so the time went quickly. My neighbour is Dutch and very nice ––his wife is in a dementia facility. The cherries are in the freezer. Tomorrow I wash and freeze the blueberries. I may make some jam. I gave away a box of ties to the charity pickup. I looked at some of the silk and thought about what I could do with such lovely material but then thought someone else will enjoy them. I found a blouse that I really love that had been misplaced.

    I am writing this in the middle of the night as we just had a noisy thunderstorm and, yes, rain! I’m hoping there was no bad hail and that the farmers got the much needed rain. I’m glad you got rain, Brandy. What a lovely feeling and gift to finally have rain.

    This Saturday we are going to a community dinner at the church. We are looking forward to it. Some want to discontinue it due to cost but others want to keep it as it is a good chance to meet new people and to provide a meal in hard times.

    I am so sorry to read about your cousin, Brandy. My condolences.

  73. P.S. Your rose icing cupcakes are lovely! I’ve always wanted to master the buttercream icing skill! Ann

  74. Margie I love Chapters Indigo. It is one of my favourite places to shop. I do find that many of the clearance books are often reduced so significantly (even online) that I sometimes pay only $1.00 more than if I was buying the book at the Salvation Army. Although I do miss many of the old “independent” book shops – Chapters Indigo has proven to be a great store.

    Congratulations on your retirement!

  75. Mandy,
    I also pick lamb’s quarter and purslane from my garden patch. They are wild and I let them grow there along with my regular garden stuff. Once my regular greens like kale and cHrd have gone to seed I just used the LQ and purslane for my greens. I salute them and use them in my smoothies. They are nutritionally superior to what I grow, and it is free!

    like kale and chard had bolted and seeded I just used them alll summer for my greens.

  76. I’m so glad that you got so much rain for your area. It has been a busy week but we didn’t spend a lot of extra money.
    -We paid for my son’s first semester of college:no student loans!!!
    -My son had orientation for college. It was mandatory and cost $100. Parents could go for $20 a piece. He went by himself. I told him to take whatever they were handing out. He had lunch and snacks included. He came home with a cinch sak, a tee shirt, a flash drive, pens, pencils, an agenda for the school year, some snacks and a water bottle.
    -Panera gave me a free bagel every day for the month of August. I drive past one on the way to work so I have been leaving a little early to stop and get it. They always give lots of butter packets with it.
    -Picking lots of lettuce and string beans from the garden. I canned 8 pints with them.
    -My husband brought home 2 bagels from work that would have gone in the garbage.
    -My son redeemed a free pizza coupon for me(he was picking up his girlfriend and its right near her house) so I didn’t have to cook dinner after a long and busy day at work.
    -Made BLTs for dinner one night after another long and busy day. Better then take out!
    -Used the crock pot for several meals. I love coming home to dinner ready.
    -Brought leftovers, snacks and water to work all week
    -A coworker brought in donuts one day. A manager brought in cupcakes for another managers’ birthday. Free snacks!
    -My husband and I saw 2 free movies at work this week. One was good, one was not. We got my free popcorn and drink and brought our own candy. Cost $0
    -Had picked some flowers to put in the house. When they died I poured the water into my potted plants.
    -All veggie scraps were thrown in the freezer for future use.
    -Used all water from washing fruits/veggies and canning to water outside potted plants
    -Made chocolate chip cookies but used half the chips the recipe called for. They still were yummy.
    -There was a contest at work in July. The top donation collector every day got a free milk shake. I am not able to participate because I work in the office. A co worker won 4 times and is not a big fan of milk shakes. She offered me one.
    -Another co worker gave me a gift card for covering for her short notice twice in the last 2 weeks.
    -Hung all laundry on clothesline/rack
    -Paid bills online saving 5 stamps
    -Used my bread machine several times
    -Repair man came and fixed my broken ice machine that is still under warranty
    -Went to a graduation party so didn’t have to cook that night.
    -Did our own yard/house work

  77. For years I made and sold cakes including wedding cakes and even worked as a Wilton instructor for a year. When making wedding cakes that might sit in the summer heat (in South Georgia, that means inside and outside), icing made with butter simply wasn’t an option because it would have to be kept refrigerated. What you sacrifice in taste, is made up by the distinct design and durability of the shortening based icing.

  78. That is wonderful, no student loan! We are in the same boat – taking our daughter for her first year of college – no loans!!! It’s a relief…

  79. I have been watching YouTube videos to learn how to ice a cake this year and I can do very basic things. I am working up to more complicated cakes. I find I have to clear our fridge to ensure there is enough space to put the cake to keep fancy icing work from dripping, even though we are in Ohio.

    This week I was thrilled my husband figured out how to fix our dryer for $23. He watched a YouTube video,and it saved us either a $600 service call or from buying a full replacement. I took the kids to my mom’s for 4 hours so he could have the peace and quiet to do it.

  80. It was from No Frills. I just bought more yesterday (Monday) and processed almost all of it the same day (saved 2 bunches for fresh use). We had three bunches from the week before, which we processed for the freezer as well. They were starting to go, but will be fine in the freezer mixed in with the rest.

  81. Our family in Florida uses light weight blankets instead of bedspreads. My Aunt sewed lace on the edges of one of hers to make it fancy as she called it. My Nonna used a solid color flannel sheet instead of a blanket. Just something for you to think about. Blessed Be

  82. Darcy, does your utility company have a program for giving you credit for not using your electricity during peak hours? We have a box on the house and it can shut off our A/C up to 4 hours at a time or 15 min out of every hour. There is a maximum amount of time they will do it over the summer and we get a credit on our summer electric bills.

  83. It’s an eggless chocolate cake (recipe on my site; I need to update my desserts page because I don’t think it’s on there, but you can find it under the recipe index page), a one-egg vanilla cake (A recipe I need to share), and a one-egg strawberry cake with real strawberries in the cake as well as imitation strawberry flavoring. I want to work on the strawberry one by making it again and probably up the amount of strawberries before I share a recipe.

    The icing is half butter half shortening with real strawberries and imitation strawberry flavoring.

    I didn’t add any food coloring to any of it, but I think the imitation flavoring probably contains some as it is red. But the strawberries themselves turned the icing and batter pink.

  84. Congrats! 53 years is awesome! I am on 12 and it can be challenging at times.

    I love coming here to learn frugal ways..my mother is um not exactly frugal and I do not have any grandparents left :(. No grandmas and lots of frugal questions!

  85. Jenni, how nice you were able to travel and be with family and pick up so many useful items as a bonus.

    Just a question out of curiosity, and please excuse me if you think it rude, but is there a reason you choose for your son to buy his own bike? I guess I see bikes as a functional part of day to day life…exercise, family bike rides, freedom to get around without parental effort/driving. Unlike a scooter or skateboard or ipod etc etc which to me would be something I would expect child to spend his/her own money toward. And of course I don’t know all the details…for example if a child was careless and lost the bike or damaged it due to foolishness, then of course I would expect them to earn a replacement. That was the case of one of my brother’s…he left his bike leaned up against the back of pickup, he was about 10 or so, and the driver hopped in the car and backed up right over it. He had to earn a new one himself.

  86. My uncles grow sunflowers and the field is right across the road from us…so cheerful and happy to see everyday.

  87. Jenni, I am not who you asked this question to, but I thought I would share my reason. When my children were young and wanted something that was not a need they had to earn half the money for the item. We then went to buy the item. I gave them the money and they purchased the item with great pride that they had worked for it. I thought it taught them to be more responsible with money. It also taught them that not all wants were something they continued to want if they waited a little while before getting them.

  88. Good luck on becoming debt free. We only have our mortgage left. We are currently funding college for our kids so we don’t have any extra to throw at the mortgage. But in a few years we will.

  89. Hi Athanasia, our utility company used to have a program every year very similar to what you are talking about that we would sign up for that saved us $40 over the summer months but they don’t offer it anymore. Fortunately, our daytime temperatures haven’t been too high lately so we have been turning off the A/C and opening windows.

  90. Marcia, a “badly decorated” homemade birthday still tasted great, I expect.

    I would love a banana tree but that will never happen here! Brandy, could you grow bananas where you are?

  91. i took a class abt a hundred yrs ago actually only feels like it really was 35 years ago she had us freeze our cake for a day then we decorated it tho in central iowa we don’t have your extreme heat tho this year it felt pretty extreme. we did both ways butter cream and the white which was shortening we used parchment paper for making our cones one tome for fathers day i made a big cookie on a stick and frosted to look like a dad i did for the bishopric which my husband was in i left his in the car and he took the others in to early meeting then you know three hrs after that it wasn’t hot out but it was in the sun and the sun broke the coloring which was brown for the hair it broke the color so that the hair turned green too funny might keep out of sun i have purposely broke black before it went brilliant purple and some pink but when you are going for hair that is to be brown it was quite a shock.

    love hearing how you all do it is so inspiring

    frugal things this week there is only the two of us home now so when i make a casserole i still do the same only i put in two pans or casseroles and freeze one as i have fibromyalgia and it is nice to have an already made meal.. someone was moving and asked if i wanted canning jars i said yes so that was good they were pints i can meat and veggies and such in pints also make mixes ahead and use canning jars very helpful. Aldi had mushrooms on sale 69 cents for 8oz i got ten now next to these whole ones on sale were cut ones for a dollar more per pkg i think what i do to cut them is not a chore i wash then use an egg slicer i got at a yrd sale so this filled my twelve trays up when done was two wts i had got celery that day so took the celery out i did not use and dried it got two jelly jars these jars are all vac sealed a lady at church gave us four tomatoes i kept one and dried the others to make another jelly jar which i will vac seal as well. i have been working on knitting socks learning a knew heel so that is coming nicely also did some spinning but hadn’t felt up to weaving this week we had a friend come with his tree trimming tools and helped my husband cut tree branches off our power line the power co doesn’t do from pole to house. i made a cute thank you card and they carried them all to burn pile but in the night a storm blew more down i dragged the next day my husband and this friend asked the neighbor if she wanted a branch cut from same tree that was on her garage and she was happy for she is the reason i was getting nervous as we had tornado come thru yrs ago it took a tree she had scheduled to have taken down the following thurs but it came down and pulled her power line out of house it arced and caught her house on fire the storm took down big trees on our road the fire trucks could not get thru we live in sm town they got back hoes to move trees all of town was asked not to use water so they could fight the fire it had to be rebuilt so we were happy as she probably as nervous as we were. it was a great service they did. as fall comes closer i will take my raspberries i picked and washed and froze i will make my usual jam i do this every yr as too hot when harvesting fall is better to make jam. I mowed it took me an hr because i dragged limbs usually my husband does but he is having back issues it is a riding mower and 9/10ths of an acre i hurt for three days but we push on. thank you all for sharing

  92. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 . Brandy your cupcakes look divine and also a skill I would like to learn as well is cake piping and decorating.

    We are preparing for spring here and doing a lot of work in the gardens to amend and till the soils ready for our vegetable planting as well as fertilising the lawns by spreading cow manure on them too. Hopefully this should create some beautiful healthy vegetables for the coming season and healthy lawns too.

    Here is our frugal accomplishments for the week –

    Financial –
    – Banked more money into our saving for our home with cash bank account bringing us up to 20.60% of the way there.
    – Rang around local service centres in the area for our car, chainsaw and ride on lawn mower annual service and now have new places to send them saving $315.00 on what we used to pay. We had previously sent in our car for a service with the dealer we purchased the car off and they were becoming hugely expensive. It certainly pays to check prices on machinery and car servicing as it can save a fortune 😀 .

    In the kitchen –
    – Made 2kg of chocolate fudge for a treat from raw ingredients in the home for $10.22 saving $77.78 over purchasing the same amount which here we pay $8.80 per 100g for 😮 .
    – Made another quadruple batch of lovely granola from your recipe Brandy saving $16.50 over purchasing the same amount here in the supermarkets.

    In the garden –
    – Separated root bound strawberries by digging them up and separating them making 40 new plants to replant in the gardens saving $40 over buying punnets of seedlings in the local nursery.
    – Purchased 1 trailer load of cow manure from a local transport company and 1 trailer load of horse manure from a local horse breeding stud for amending the garden soils and lawns saving $577.60 over buying the same amounts in bags at our local hardware gardening centre.
    – Picked 2kg of turnips from the gardens for teas saving $12 over purchasing them in the local supermarket.
    – Amended the garden vegetable beds with potash from our winter fires saving $190.40 over purchasing the same amount in the local garden centre. We also crushed the charcoal from our winter fires and added that to the soil to aid in water retention.

    Craft and sewing hobby businesses –
    – Made $140 from the sale of saved garden seeds from the gardens and an eye mask which we used the money for some groceries and purchasing manures for the gardens and lawns with.
    – Took advantage of a free listing promotion on Ebay to list some seeds and handmade items saving $33.

    Electricity savings –
    – Saved $4.10 in electricity by boiling water for our cuppas, steaming vegetables and heating up washing up water on top of the slow combustion fireplace and also by using our solar lanterns to light the home at night rather than using mains powered lights.

    Water saving –
    – Missed one scheduled watering due to rain saving 90 lts of town water.
    – Used vegetable steaming water to water the newly planted seeds in the gardens.
    – Used saved tank water to water in newly planted strawberry, thyme and rose bushes planted rather than town water.

  93. Thank you! Now I’m just praying she will be happy. I think we are all anxious – as she is our only child.

  94. Re: Life insurance. A friend was married to an insurance agent, and when he died suddenly in his 50s, she was left well set. Her comment: “I have never heard a widow complain that her husband had too much life insurance.”

  95. Your cupcakes and cake look beautiful Brandy! That was wonderful that you were able to go to the class with your daughter. It will be a rewarding skill for the two of you to practice together.

    I haven’t posted here for a few months but I am a regular reader of this blog and all the comments that are made. I learn so much from all of you.

    In the past week I’ve taken advantage of sales and coupons to buy a new bath mat for $5 and a new summer nightgown for $5. The cashier at the store was impressed with the good deals!

    I also bought 20 lbs of chicken breast for $1.39/lb. It feels good to have that in my freezer. I also bought red peppers 3/$1 and cucumbers 3/$1.

    I trimmed my son’s hair and my own hair too.

    I am knitting a pullover for myself with some wool yarn ($1 a skein) that I bought a few years ago. Not only will the sweater be inexpensive, it is also an inexpensive way to entertain myself! We went to visit my parents two weeks ago which is a 13 hour car trip for us. My husband prefers to do most of the driving and the knitting keeps me busy.

    I bought a light fixture to install in our basement. I have replaced light fixtures before but as I began to remove the old fixture I discovered that the wiring was in different that what I had seen before. After some research on the internet I thought I had a switch loop in that junction box but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. My son’s father-in-law who is an electrician came over and helped me install the fixture. I was so grateful for his willingness to help me!

    We’ve been watching the Great British Baking show on pbs.org for entertainment. Our whole family loves it!

    We need to change our cell phone plan, it is getting very expensive. I’ve been researching other plans and find it is difficult to compare and figure out what our needs are. I do know I don’t want to be locked into a contract again.

    Thanks for all the encouragement!

  96. I don’t usually leave comments but today I must. Your English is better than most. We live in Georgia-USA (we nearly speak a different form of English here

  97. Congratulations on sending your son to college without student loans ! My son will graduate May 2018 with no student loans. We were able to fund his freshmen and sophmore years in the dorm; but due to cost, we asked him to move back home and commute for the remainder of time. We live 15 miles from his university and he happily agreed to become a commuter. He felt blessed to be able to live on campus for the first two years and now has two new lifelong friends (his former roommates). Best wishes to your son as he begins his college journey.

  98. Thank you for posting about Indigo! My siblings and our families are all readers. One sibling is on a road trip going into Canada. Chapters Indigo is now on their list to stop at!

  99. Becky, you kind of repeated what I said as regards need versus want. I guess I put a bicycle into the need category not a want/luxury item category. Of course, if someone wanted the deluxe version I could see paying the difference themselves.

  100. Mari, congratulations on the weight loss. Those sound like some very nice benefits offered by your employer.

  101. We just switched to Consumer Cellular. We are in our 40’s with 2 in college. We all have smartphones. We were able to save over $60 a month and keep exactly the same level of service. Total per month is $90 for 4 lines. It’s been fantastic!

  102. Thank you. Congratulations on no student loan debt also. Every time I work a shift I don’t want to I say to my self “No student loans!” It makes me go every time.

  103. I know I should write everything down, but here is what I remember. My neighbor came over with a huge bag of cucumbers and some dill late last Saturday afternoon. She knew I made pickles, and these were left over from the Farmer’s Market where she sells her produces. On Sunday (have to do it when we can) I canned 11 quarts and 3 jelly jars of dill pickles. These were “baby dills” as I was able to get between 20-25 cucumbers in each quart jar. Usually I get 7. Had BLTs for a late lunch/early dinner twice over the weekend. Then we just had popcorn later in the evening. I like to put a cucumber on my sandwich instead of lettuce. I like the crunch. Brought all breakfasts, lunches and drinks to work during the last several weeks. My DH retired a month ago. He is getting all the weeding and watering done in the garden. It has never looked so good. Made a big batch of fried rice with brown rice, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, shredded stem of a broccoli and green onions – all from the garden. Added eggs and a chunk of BBQ’d pork cut into small pieces. This will be lunches and some dinners this week. Picked the basil and am drying it. The biggest one – I had my appointment with my oncologist yesterday. She said I do not have to come back and see her anymore (I am 7 years from treatment), but just need to see the P.A. Not so much frugal (as I have been on an annual visit for 3 years now) but I love being able to see the P.A. and not needing the oncologist.

  104. Your reply sounds like a bike is used as transportation. I do not know Jenni’s situation, but in my area of the United States kids no longer use a bicycle to ride to school or the store. It is basically ridden in the neighborhood. So, instead of an using it to get around it is basically a toy. It is sad that most kids are driven where they go and do not explore as we did as kids.

  105. Hi everyone,

    This is my first time posting and covers the last two weeks.

    I only washed full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine and hung all our clothes up to dry.
    Whenever the weather permitted, I opened blinds, curtains and windows to air out the house and warm it up. Shut everything again before turning the heater on.
    My husband and I have this self-imposed rule not to turn the heater on before 5pm. While we failed some days, most days we actually managed to turn it on an hour or two later.
    We have an enormous kitchen sink, so I often only fill it half to do the dishes. I also save the warm-up water and use it to pre-soak dishes.
    I cleaned up the garden using big tubs I got free from a local FB page. I also gladly accepted a cupcake carrier someone offered for free.
    I picked up free fruit and an oregano plant. There is an initiative in our city were people offer their excess produce for free.
    I combined errands and appointments several times to save gas. This included picking up grocery specials and returning some impulse purchases.
    We often eat leftovers for dinner and always pack our own work lunches. We went out to eat once with a voucher. One day, my manager kindly provided lunch so I saved mine for the next day. I also paid for some special sweet treats from my allowance rather than the grocery budget. I baked our own snacks and let the oven heat up part of the house. We caught up with friends for a home cooked dinner instead of going to a restaurant.
    My husband fixed a problem with my car himself and also fixed our broken drying rack with some cable ties.
    We recently got married but because I am from overseas not all of my family could attend. We are planning to go on our honeymoon next year and have a party back home for everyone on my side. This week I made those invitations myself instead of paying someone to make them for us.
    I took the time to clean the house really well top to bottom using water, vinegar and rags made out of old clothes. Even though I am quite organised and minimalist in general, I was surprised to find some forgotten items. They either got donated or put to good use.

    I appreciate everyone’s input each week and am hoping that I will comment consistently from now on. 🙂

  106. When I make chocolate chip cookies, I halve the chips and the sugar. I also use whole wheat flour. I started by cutting the sugar and changing to whole wheat flour little by little until I found what works for our family.

  107. Hi Jo and another aussie here from Qld too and congratulations on your recent marriage and it sounds like you are doing so well on the frugal front 🙂 . Nice to see you post on here too and welcome, we can compare notes.

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