Early Elberta Peaches The Prudent Homemaker

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I picked peaches from our Early Elberta peach tree. Normally I don’t harvest these until July, but they are ripe early. They are huge! We sliced them and ate them every day last week. One morning I made puffed pancakes and topped them with peaches, and another morning I made crepes and topped them with peaches.

I picked Dorsett Golden Apples from our tree.

I cut a couple of bunches of Thompson’s seedless grapes that ripened early.

 Hot Peppers The Prudent Homemaker

I cut hot peppers from the garden. I am drying these. They can be crushed or run through a food processor to make red pepper flakes, or cut with scissors to add to chili and Asian dishes. I used several this week to make plum sauce. My mom mentioned to me that my grandpa used to put them in a bottle with vinegar and use the liquid as hot sauce. I did a little research and it looks like hot sauce is extremely simple to make. The recipes I found were all meant to be stored in the refrigerator, so I am going to look for some canning recipes and see if I can try canning some homemade hot sauce.

I cut green onions from the garden.

I collected green onion seeds from the garden.

I canned 15 half-pints of plum sauce from the plums from our tree.

I planted zinnia, dahlia, and vinca seeds in the center circle in my backyard.

Embroidered A

My nephew was married last week. I bought two items off their registry and used a $5 off coupon on the purchase. I also included a  long-handled wooden spoon  (I bought a dozen of them to use for gifts)  and I hand-embroidered a kitchen towel with their initial on it in a natural linen shade, as the bride had registered for other kitchen items in that color. I chose items on her list that were immensely practial; I love that she registered for a dough scraper. I use mine all the time to make bread.

I made a change to my shopping plans when the Smith’s ad came with a sale on pasta for .49 a pound. This is a price that only comes around 2 to 3 times a year. The store didn’t have all that I would have liked to buy, but I did buy 30 pounds (that may sound like a lot, but it is only 15 meals for us). They also had Speed Stick men’s deodorant on sale for $1.49, so I bought several of these for my husband and son. I also bought whole milk on sale there for $2.59 (I bought 4 gallons) and the large party pails of ice cream on sale for $3.99. 

My mom found two containers of pectin on clearance for 50% off (the Ball No-Sugar Pectin that make 11 pints) and picked them up for me. They were $2.64 each. She only let me pay her $ 5 for both of them. 

I used several coupons and printed out Target Cartwheel for discounts on several items I needed. I purchased 2 bottles of the store brand of vitamins (one men’s and one women’s, both 300 count) on sale, plus another 15% off. I want to have plenty of vitamins in our storage. 

We were gifted some tomatoes and cucumbers from someone whose garden was producing well. I made cucumber and tomato salad twice with them. This was a great blessing, as I have neither of these to harvest right now (though normally I would), and three of our tomato plants died this week. I also used 2 more cucumbers to make pasta salad.

I listened to music on Pandora.

My husband and I had an at-home date. We ate ice cream and played Sequence.

I redeemed 2 $25 gift cards to Amazon from Swagbucks.

I used my Amazon credit to order a Thermal Cooker. I had been considering making myself a wonder box (you can also buy one) but I decided to purchase the thermal cooker instead. I feel that this is fantastic for emergencies, as you only need to boil the food for 6 minutes and then it will finish cooking like it would in a slow cooker without any more fuel needed. It’s also great to keep the heat out of the kitchen for the summer, and to reduce the power bill (both from cooking and heating up the house). I love that it’s portable, too; I can cook soup and bread it in while I’m gone somewhere all day and it can come with me in the car, which makes it great for day trips. This would be a great frugal option for those who have sports every night; you can eat a really frugal meal (like soup and bread, or chili and cornbread) instead of eating out while you are at practices. 

I used some patriotic ribbon that I received from my mother-in-law some years ago to make two medallions for the front door. I’ll have pictures of these in an upcoming post.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. Brandy, your peaches look amazing – so lucky! And I will keep your idea about making hot sauce in mind. My pepper plant is going crazy and I think I will need more recipes and ideas to use them up.
    Last week was an expensive week, money out for property taxes, tools to build the wood shed and money to the wood man. I am grateful that I put enough aside to pay cash for all of these expenses.
    Monday: Hung two loads of laundry, made salsa from on sale peppers and canned tomatoes from my pantry (blog post here: https://hiproofbarn.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/making-salsa-using-canned-tomatoes ) made a small cosmetic bag to match my new tote bag made peanut butter cookies to snack on.
    Tuesday – dinner from left over pork roast. Took my recycling to the transfer station myself as I was in town running errands anyways. This saves us $3.00 a week. Not a fortune but every penny counts.
    Wednesday – dinner from leftover leftover pork roast. Cleaned up the yard. Being busy and tired keeps us from spending money.
    Thursday – planted a second harvest of carrots. Hung sheets on the line to dry. Clean, line dried sheets are one of my favorite luxuries. Downloaded several free magazines to flip through.
    Friday – got the house ready for a visit from my oldest son.
    Saturday – Gathered saskatoons, split wood (cause that’s just what one does with guests) make a skin toner using yarrow gathered while collecting saskatoons. Purchased a large, sun blocking exterior blind to cover our very large, west-facing window. The day time high for the next few weeks are forecasted to be in the mid 30s. This should help keep our house cooler, saving both electricity and our sanity.

  2. We got an offer on our iMac. We accepted and are saving the 900 dollars we will get for our son’s tuiton account. We also made 70 dollars selling books on ebay and on facebook.

    We took the children to the Crayola factory. We saved 3 dollars on each ticket buying them online first, I also packed drinks and snacks. My mom bought them magic clay etc from the giant gift shop. They had fun but I don’t think it was worth it.

    We picked blackberries and our first tomatoes of the summer. I am VERY EXCITED! Tomatoes!
    I turned something sad( many broken graham crackers) into cheesecake bars. I happened to have the end of a tub of sour cream and two blocks of cream cheese I had been saving for cinnamon rolls, I did not have lemon, but i had oranges and they worked just fine. Very nice.

    I made muffins, cup cakes, and biscotti. I stayed home so we did not need a sitter, my husband wanted to see a movie that I did not, and it seemed silly to go.

  3. How do you learn about things like the thermal cooker? If not for your blog, I wouldn’t hear about these wonderful $ saving devices.

  4. I had read about one before somewhere and then someone else mentioned it again this week. The timing was excellent, since I was looking into the supplies to make one. I like that this one has no fabric; I think it will be more practical that way.

  5. My eldest daughter and i canned about 9 pints of apricot jam, the recipe from your blog. We canned 18 pints plum sauce from my Big Ball Book. Picked lots if cherries through the gleaning club, so just gas to get to the orchard. I got 2 dozen eggs from a friend. Another friend was moving out if state and gave me all her fridge and freezer stuff, whoo hoo. My husband just changed jobs and we took a $3 an hour cut, so I’m am really trying to make sure i am as frugal as i can. We also cut our cable. That is saving us a whopping $140 a month. We do have hulu but that is only $8. I went to a yard sale and bought my 6 year old a large amount of Lincoln Logs for $3 a Simon for $1 and tic tac toss for $1.

  6. I cashed in Swagbucks and Jingit for Walmart gift cards and used some surprise Shop Your Way Rewards at Kmart to keep my grocery bill down last week. I managed to come in under my monthly grocery budget by doing this. I made homemade cookies, yogurt, and granola bars. I took my kids to a museum with their free passes from completing the summer reading program. The card reader wouldn’t work as I was trying to pay for my husband and I, so we were let in for free and saved an additional $21. We packed a picnic before leaving so we didn’t have to pay for lunch. I used a coupon to save $0.30 per gallon on gas. During the week, my two older sons went to a day camp. I completed errands after dropping them off to save on gas. The day camp only cost $10 per child and they were given breakfast and lunch, a t-shirt, a field trip, safety education, craft activities, water play, access to a bounce house, and Chick-Fil-A on the last day. They had a great time.

  7. Oh, now my mouth is watering for peaches! We’ve had a few nice rains since the last time I checked ours. I’m sure it will be a while yet, but maybe not too long. I got out of the habit of using our hot box (homemade thermal cooker). It worked very well for grains and potatoes. I don’t remember trying anything else in it. I should dust it off for these summer months. I love your embroidered towel. My niece recently announced her engagement, and you’ve inspired me to make one for her. I hadn’t thought of making red pepper flakes from our hot peppers. Yet another wonderful idea from this space! Joining in here: http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2015/06/summer-flora-and-frugal-accomplishmentsb.html

  8. This week in the frugal department, I:
    cooked and ate meals out of our pantry and freezer.
    found a dime and a penny on separate occasions. Both went into our “fun” jar.
    purchased $20 worth of unused vintage stamps at 10 percent off at a local coin and stamp show. I’ll have to put several on an envelope to add up to 49 cents but I don’t mind.
    happily accepted $11.50 for my daughter’s college fund from my mom, who sold a handful of coins at the show.
    kept our ceiling fans off unless we were in the room.
    kept thermostat at 78 and 79 degrees.
    mailed several grocery rebates.
    listed several items on our local Buy, Sell, Trade Facebook sites.
    purchased a near perfect condition book at a yard sale that I’ll save as a Christmas gift for my son. It was $1.

  9. Went to pick strawberres for 1.79 lb End up making 5 strawberry jam, 5 rhubarb strawberry jam,rhubarb strawberry pie, strawberry leather, and dried some The Store had blueberry a dollar a pint Made some blueberry muffins. Went camping in the middle of the woods for the weekend. Had a great time. Stay home much as a i can. Also made homemade donuts.

  10. Those peaches look delicious! Those are the next trees we plan to buy and plant. Last week:
    -I increased my grocery budget to begin rebuilding my pantry and stockpile. I found several good deals: half gallons of organic milk on clearance for .99 each, I purchased 3, cream cheese blocks for .99 each: I purchased 4; boxed cereal my family eats for snacks for $1.88 each (name brands). I purchased 20 lbs of flour, 20 lbs of sugar, and 3 containers of laundry soap; two bottles of hot sauce for free. At both stores I went to (Schnuck’s and Walgreens) I purchased $70+ worth of products for $34 and $32 respectively. Schnuck’s had an “orange dot” sale. I was able to purchase three packages of meat for $5 each with the orange dots. For all three packages I picked the most expensive/heaviest cut to maximize my savings. I also found a package of two cubed steaks for $2.70. I purchased lots more but to much to list.
    -My husband and daughter picked black capped raspberries twice. I made jam with these using pectin, sugar, and jars I already had.
    -we cooked and ate all meals at home
    – put money into savings for our property taxes due in Sept.
    -used Facebook to message my husband rather then use my minutes on my prepaid cell phone (we text, he hates talking on the phone)
    -paid a bill online rather than use a stamp/envelope to mail it in
    -made white bread and a crockpot of beans.
    -found a rummage sale that was a fundraiser for a local Catholic school. It was the last day and they had “fill a bag for $5”. I filled a paper grocery bag FULL of clothing for my daughter that will fit her now and the next two sizes up, a pair of new condition tennis shoes in the next size for her, a tshirt for me and a dress shirt for my husband, three books for my daugther and two small toys.
    -harvested lettuce from the garden for a coworker for her pet turtles.
    -grouped errands together to save on gas/time
    -continue to use plastic grocery bags instead of purchased garbage bags.
    -continue to take short showers or navy showers and fill the tub up less for my daughter
    -wash and reuse baggies, unplug everything possible.
    -my husband washed out the filter/housing unit to our fish tank to make it run more efficiently and to avoid purchasing a new filter.
    -filled out on online form for feminine hygeine products and a toothpaste sample.
    Have a great week everyone!

  11. I had some frugal accomplishments as well but not to the usual standard. Due to staying in the office late most of the last two weeks, I fell behind on cooking which resulted in buying a few work lunches (that brought my total to 5 or 6 this month, at around $12 each) ugh. I am getting energized before July though and plan on rocking it as far as frugality! 😉

    My weekly update is here: http://www.brooklynbasedgirlfriend.com/last-weeks-frugal-accomplishments-7/

    Stay frugal, ladies.

  12. Your preaches and peppers look so good. I can hardly wait to get somewhere where I can plant fruit trees.

    I made homemade finger paint twice for my little girls. They played with it for hours.

    I made several loaves of bread, two kinds of muffins, no bake cookies, etc for the family. Lunches were simple meals of split pea stew, pb&j, and turkey noodle soup. Oh, and one day we had ham sandwiches. I cooked the turkey and then made a great broth from the bones. It was so good! I can’t wait to do it again. I love getting the most from my food. Dinners were turkey devan, pork roast, pork lo mein, black bean enchiladas, tuscan tomato bread soup, turkey noodle soup, and bbq chicken.

    We picked blackberries at my mom’s house. They were so good. My girls ate them all before I could do anything with them. 🙂

    I got a job. I have mixed feelings about it. Mostly I am happy because now I will be able to save for school and graduate debt free. But I have been a stay at home mom for 14 years so I’m a little sad too.

    Hope you all have a great week!

  13. I love when you share pictures of your embroidery work! I’ve crocheted, sewed, and knitted for about 8 years, but I’ve never tried embroidery. You inspired me to pick up some supplies and try my hand at it.

    I sold $70 worth of homeschool books on my website, rendered some beeswax from comb that was given to me (it’s a slightly tedious process that my husband’s uncle didn’t want to deal with), extracted some honey from a few frames of honeycomb, canned some jam from gleaned mulberries. I was also given a few bunches of rhubarb from the same uncle. I listed more at my website: http://www.growpraybuild.com/frugal-fridays-31/

  14. We made a vinegar-based hot sauce a few years ago, and it turned out well. I don’t remember the exact recipe, but we fermented the pepper puree for a few weeks with salt and a several other ingredients, and then strained the mixture and added vinegar. It turned out really well and I don’t think it needed refrigeration.

    I bought a pound of bulk pectin two years ago, and use this to make jam (I’m only through about a third of it so far). It is a low-sugar kind (Pomona’s) and it keeps indefinitely if you keep it cool and dry. I know they sell various types of bulk pectin on Amazon, and this might work out to be a less expensive option for some people.

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I spent a bunch of time at the community garden, mostly weeding and watering. I harvested peas, strawberries, green onions, chamomile and a few tomatoes from my plot, as well as mint, raspberries, blueberries and lavender from the common areas.
    – I also foraged some horsetail from the park where the garden is located, to make an herbal foot soak. Horsetail grows wild all over the place around here. I have been using a purchased antifungal foot soak formula for my cracked heel. The blend contains horsetail, lavender, spearmint and eucalyptus. I can get the first three ingredients for free, so I figured I’d try to make my own mix. I researched other antifungal herbs/plants that I could possibly use that I don’t have to buy: options include oregano, thyme and cedar (all of which I have easy access to). So I’m going to give it a try.
    – I cleaned out my freezer and made a big pot of chili (using my wonder bag) from a bunch of things that needed to be used up (meat that had been in there for a while, along with chopped peppers, roasted tomatoes and green beans from last summer, plus some frozen black beans). It was delicious, and I shared some with my mother.
    – I collected the water from washing vegetables to water my outside plants.
    – I cooked a big batch of lentils, also using my wonder bag. The lentils were then put in plastic bags and frozen for later use.
    – One of my tank tops ended up with a dark blue dye stain on the front after I washed it. Something must have bled in the wash. I scrubbed the stain with Fels Naptha soap, and then soaked it in oxy clean. The stain actually came out! So I tried this with another top this had happened to months ago, but had no luck getting the stain out of that one…..
    – I was craving ice cream, so I made some using pantry items. It was delicious.
    – It’s berry time again. Yay! I made 11 half pints of mixed berry jam (blueberry, raspberry and blackberry). Yum. I love this time of year.
    – My sister invited me over for lunch one day, which was nice because I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks. During our visit, my sister mentioned that she needed a blackout curtain for her daughter’s room. After I left her house, I went to visit a thrift store down the road, and found a brand-new blackout curtain there for $9, original price $60. I called my sister to see if she was interested. She was, so I bought the curtain and drove back to her house. Too funny. I love it when thing like that happen. 🙂

    Hope everyone else had a good week.

  15. Hi Brandy! My husband makes homemade hot sauce and I can it, so it can be done. He’s not here now, but I’ll ask him about it and get back to you. I know he ferments it for a while and it’s very popular with our friends. We can’t make enough!

    Thrifty things we did this week:

    Made dill bread from dill in our garden.
    Harvested kale, lettuce, strawberries, cauliflower and beets.
    Canned 7 pints of strawberries.
    Several of our meals this week came entirely from our garden.
    Sewed three baby bonnets from a free pattern on line using some vintage fabric and linens I had.
    Used gray water for watering plants and flushing the commode.
    Dried purslane, kale and beets and ground them into powder.
    Salvaged some vintage lace from some stained and torn linens (I’m dyeing them woad that I grew)

  16. The pictures of the peppers are just beautiful! (they all are beautiful but the red is talking to me today)
    Used a pork roast bone and with the crock pot made 4 pints of broth. With the broth I will make crock pot refried beans and use it to cook rice.
    Clipped more herbs from my garden to dry.
    Picked green beans and a zucchini from my garden.
    Bulked up a lunch salad (picked from my garden) with a chopped cold baked potato. Very satisfying.
    Neighbor gifted us with another bag of cherries.
    Sew4home had a scrap buster headband tutorial/pattern – which was perfect since I needed some new headbands. So far I made 2.
    Have a fabulous week everyone!

  17. If you have tomato plants that are doing well (or if your friend does), you could always clip the suckers and replant them. You can stick them in the soil directly but it’s even better if you can stick them in water in a sunny spot for a week for real roots to form before planting them out. That way you are planting something you know will stand up to your current conditions. I have a lot of success with this every year. Plus if it fails, you paid nothing as you were going to prune off the suckers anyway.

    I found a box set of asparagus roots and a box of six purple potato starts on clearance for $0.99/each last week. But my garden is so full. I had to re-arrange a few things, including harvesting some leeks, in order to plant them. Worth it though as I’ve never grown either. I made potato leek soup last night as it was in the 60’s and rainy and the perfect night for soup. That worked itself out so perfectly! *and the perfect celebration for finally catching the prisioner up the road!

    A few weeks ago (I’ve not been on here in a while) my dad helped me make hoop houses to protect my squash and melons from squash vine borers while they are young and tender. I had a bunch of chicken wire fencing left from an abondoned garden plot (I have a community garden- not at my home). We used that to shape the hoops. Then covered it with yards of tulle I’ve had on hand for years from various tutu projects. As I’ve had the fabric just sitting here for years, I consider it free at this point. So total expense was ZERO! My favorite price! This might actually be the year I see a real winter squash and melon harvest…

    This year I started my peas and beans inside and oh what a difference it made! I don’t think I will ever direct sow again.

    On a whim, I bought one organic sweet potato and stuck the end in water to grow slips. My flaw in the plan was I didn’t realize how long it takes. Next year I will start in Feb. But I did grow slips and planted 15 of them in various spots in the garden. I will be cutting it close on time (again next year will start and will be able to plant earlier) but it’s worth it to try new things. The leaves are edible too and will provide a nice low ground cover if nothing else. Though let’s be honest, I am totally hoping I manage to grow even just a few sweet potatoes! For the price of a single organic potato though, I was able to get 25+ slips. Has anyone else tried this? Do you do it in Vegas? It’s one of my favorite veggies so I’m very interested in any advice I can apply next year.

    I have ever bearing strawberries and this year was my best year yet! Spring brought me so many sweet little berries! Not enough to make anything but enough to starve off my craving to buy them in the store.

    I inherited a rhubarb plant in my new plot this year. The previous owner took 75% and I was unsure if it would grow back after losing so much plus our harsh winter. Well…let this be a lesson to divide plants every so often. I have never seen a bigger or healthier rhubarb plant. I can harvest a ton and it will double by the next week. It’s a variety that can be harvested all summer (though less as the days get hotter). I have made rhubarb jam, rhubarb sauce (like apple sauce but with rhubarb. my family actually calls it stewed rhubarb but I think that sounds gross- ha), so many rhubarb crisps, and have shared a ton.

    KK @ Preppy Pink Crocodile

  18. I used basil from the herb garden to make bruschetta for dinner one evening and then used the leftover bruschetta to make pasta pomodoro for lunch the next day. My (few) tomatoes weren’t yet ripe and so I used purchased tomatoes. My husband made rosemary/garlic potato galettes one day. When we remember to do it, we bake several potatoes a week and then use them to shred up for galettes to be served with salads for a lighter and quick meal. Since we don’t add any extra oil, it takes some skill to form these and brown them, and my hands are clumsy due to my RA. I’m grateful that my husband has taken this on as one of his “specialties.” This is great for the times when my auto-immune illness makes it difficult for me to cook. I also did the usual cooking, including baking my own bread.

    We used a half-off senior canine checkup coupon for our almost ten-year-old golden retriever’s appointment. My community is experiencing an epidemic of distemper so severe that the local animal shelter is closed for both intake and adoptions. In a 30-day period when unexpected expenses have included eyeglasses for me, a roof repair due to the storms we experienced, an expensive repair of our lawn mower, and the next full year’s homeowner’s insurance, we could have chosen to wait for another month. However, we felt that it was still better for us to use part of our liquid, emergency savings and get the discount rather than risk distemper and/or pay the full price for a senior checkup later. Ditto for paying for the whole year’s homeowner’s premium. We could have paid it monthly, but an extra fee will be tacked on if we do that. We’re living on fixed income, and, after restructuring expenses, are attempting to avoid taking any money out of our investments for a few years, letting them grow.

    We might have made different arrangements if we had known what was to come next. Our air conditioner went on the fritz, and it turns out that our coil is leaking. We paid that service call and are waiting to hear how much the eventual replacement will be reduced by our warranty, still with a few years to go.

    About once a week, my husband buys a soda. I collected the bottles, washed them and filled them with water, then dropped one into each toilet tank to cut down on water usage. We live in the country, and our water pressure can be low, so I wasn’t sure whether this tactic would work for us. They’ve been in there for about a month, and we’ve experienced no problems so far. Thanks to whoever suggested this rather than the brick-in-the-tank route, which I wouldn’t have done.

    We’ve been saving change for the last year. Since we don’t go shopping a lot, we don’t collect much change, but it’s over $50. We’ll use that this summer for a few treats, such as going to a matinee showing of a movie (with senior discount) in the next couple of weeks.

    I saw a FB tip about sawing off the clip-on ends of the cheap coat hangers you get when you purchase some clothing and using them as baggie clips. I have several waiting on the countertop for my husband when he arrives home. HEB had offered a buy 6 baggie clips/get something else deal last week. We passed up the deal. I’m glad I did.

    We are inheriting some money due to the death of my mother-in-law in February. It’s such a complicated feeling, benefitting financially from someone’s death. Some portion of that money will go into our liquid savings and checking account so that their totals will be above the thresholds for receiving fee-less services. I calculated that we’ll save $360 a year due to the money we put into the liquid savings account to eradicate the monthly PMA rather than the long-term investments one. That will give us a better percentage yield than if we put those monies into a long-term investment account. Barring some unforeseen emergency, we can trust ourselves not to spend it. Before my mother-in-law’s death, we’d already begun setting aside some money for buying living room furniture in the next few months, and it’s going to be hard enough to contemplate spending even that, although it’s set aside. Thank you to my mother-in-law for being the frugal person she was, just as we try to be. She wrote her will so that her four grandchildren, one of whom is a newlywed, were to receive the proceeds from the sale of her paid-off home. My brother-in-law and husband are just beaming with happiness that all four of their mother’s grandchildren will be receiving a small inheritance, too, and that my newlywed niece, a teacher, will get this boost.

  19. Ah, how I miss home grown apples and peaches! When I was a teen in Pennsylvania, my grandfather always had a huge garden and tons of fruit trees, so we got peaches, apples, tomatoes, corn, etc all summer long. I really appreciate his teachings all the more now that I’m older.

    When my husband, kids and I moved to our new house four years ago, I also lost our neighbor who had prolific apple trees every two years. I really need to look into getting a couple fruit trees if we can ever get back on our feet financially.

    Anyway, my list can be found here…


    I’m feeling quite happy with the garden so far. Turnip seeds are sprouting (I looked last night), lettuce is so prolific I’m able to give some away (always a good feeling) and I even found one of the onions is producing two bulbs, not one. Feeling quite blessed about that :).

  20. I checked out garbage bill and found that we were incorrectly charged an additional $11.00 (still need to call and have it taken off). Checked our gas bill for the last month and found that it is the lowest ever (we have gas dryer, oven/range, hot water heater). I think this is mainly because I started using dryer balls in the dryer and have been able to cut drying times on all loads by 10 minutes or more. The bill is half of what it was last year at the same time. I took back a new lunch box I got my daughter because it was too small and got a new cartridge for our soda stream machine for half off by returning the old one.

  21. I have about 25 pounds of tomatoes on my kitchen counter. Tonight I am going to make some salsa and tomato sauce. I will can it too.

    I also have about 20 pounds of yellow squash and an equal number pounds of zucchini too. Those will be shredded for dog food. I have it in plastic bags and when I make dog food I make rice and add the shredded squash and a can of pumpkin. The dogs love it. I make it once a week and keep it in the fridge. When you have as many dogs as we do keeping our expenses down it very important.

  22. Oh my, all those fresh fruits and vegetables look lovely! Soon, we will begin to see more local produce here. We don’t garden (we’ve tried in the past without any luck, but someday we will try again), but we do purchase things in season, locally, to ensure the best price. Below you will find the link to my list of frugal accomplishments for last week, but one thing I didn’t mention is that I have slowly been re-reading this blog from the beginning in snippets of free time in order to stay motivated! Our financial situation seems quite bleak at the moment, but I find so much encouragement here and I end up feeling empowered instead of defeated!


  23. Brandy, “Pepper Sauce” as it is called down south is made by boiling your vinegar with a little salt and pouring it over your hot peppers that you have packed in your jars. Just keep boiling vinegar and salt until you fill all your jars. Put new flats (lids) on them and rings and sit back and listen for the ping of sealing jars. 😀 This is GREAT on steamed cabbage, turnips, collards or any vegetable. We make it each year and have (in the past) used a jar that was 3 years old. I just store it with my other canned goods, then store in the refrigerator after it is opened. One year I almost ran out – so when I opened my last one and it was almost empty I just poured hot vinegar over the peppers and refrigerated it and it was “almost” as good. Of course, we love to eat the peppers after we use all the “pepper sauce”. Hope this helps. Love your blog and all the information I glean from you. Cindy Norred

  24. I canned plum sauce last year using some free plums I received – now I’m wondering how to use it up! What recipes does your family enjoy using the sauce?

  25. Those peaches do look amazing. I am anxiously waiting for peaches to come down in price!

    * we are still renovating our kitchen so we are cooking on our camp stove and BBQ. Last week I was able to make pesto pasta, salmon, grilled chicken, and even cooked some potatoes on the BBQ. We have also had some sandwiches for dinner.
    * got a free protein bar with an e-coupon
    * sold our old oven that won’t work in our new kitchen
    * grocery outlet had a WOW deal on some lip gloss my 15 year old like so we stopped and picked some up on our way from another errand.
    * I have a huge crack in my windshield. Since my 15 year old is learning to drive with this car I wanted to get it fixed quickly. On the scheduled date of repair no one called or showed up. They offered to waive my deductible due to the fact they didn’t have the glass in stock and didn’t let us know. Hopefully they are coming next week!
    * used a leftover piece of tissue to wrap a gift for a party my 11 year old was invited too.

  26. Inheritances are a tricky thing emotionally aren’t they? I inherited from my parent’s a year ago after my Mom’s death and it is truly a blessing for our retirement years. We just now invested the money as I couldn’t even think about it for a year. My parents also left money to their 4 grandchildren and my brother and I decided to double the amount as we felt they could better leverage it at their young ages than later in life. They were all so grateful and had not expected anything so it was a lovely gift at a sad time.

  27. I always enjoy reading these “frugal recap” posts and all the comments that follow. It inspires me to continue my frugal efforts each week, and also gives me lots of new ideas.

    This past week we line-dried the majority of our laundry. I also dried some items on indoor racks. We ate most of our meals at home, and I used my crock pot several times this past week for dinners. We brought all of our lunches & snacks to work, so did not spend money there. I also worked extra hours at my 2nd job online, since it is a busy season right now and that means more money. I accepted a free large veggie tray from a friend who was not able to use it in time.

    In looking at our budget & trying to shave things down, I saved us $30/month by changing some things on our cell phone plan. We both have smartphones, but were not using anywhere near the data we pay for, so we reduced that. We also dropped the $10/month insurance on my husband’s phone, since it is only a few more months until his renewal. I also saved us $5/month by calling the city and changing the size of our trash collection bin to a smaller one. We had the largest size, but were never filling it all the way up. We saved money on our car insurance by applying a partner discount available from my husband’s employer.

    We kept our digital thermostat set at 81 during the day and only 79 or 80 when we are home. We are in Texas and it gets quite hot here, so central a/c is a must. It’s also humid and doesn’t cool down much overnight, so unfortunately we don’t have the option of opening windows early in the day to cool the house. (I wish!) We did go 2 days without a/c when it quit working, so that probably saved a little money on the electric bill. Also very proud of my handy husband for fixing the central a/c without having to call an expensive repair company!

  28. I can completely relate to what you said about mixed feelings about work. I too was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years before I returned to working as a classroom teacher then school librarian. While I completely love the work I do, it was difficult to return to work. Even simple things, like keeping shoes on my feet all day, threw me off-kilter. It took awhile to balance teaching with home/husband/four sons/church/sports and kid activities. I’ve been in the classroom 11 years now, and what helps me more than anything is being prepared with weekly menu plans; there are too many times that I’ve left school tired with a number of restaurants and fast-food stops to tempt me on the way home.

  29. 1. We ate all of our meals at home last week, and there was enough broiled chicken leftover Tuesday night that I was able to chop it up and create Thursday night’s stir fry.
    2. We were able to re-work both our electric bill and cable bill contracts to result in monthly savings of close to $100.00 – so excited!
    3. We received a huge blessing yesterday: Sunday was the deadline to sign up and pay for my son’s church youth camp later this summer. We’d been putting this off as some unexpected medical issues have created a tight pinch in our monthly budget. Neither my husband or I remember paying a deposit for summer camp in February, so the final amount owed yesterday was actually 40% less than we expected. This was such an unexpected blessing for us.
    4. We were able to catch up with some old friends, spending 3 hours just talking. That’s my favorite kind of frugal activity.
    5. Attempted to go to the city’s annual free symphony concert Saturday night, but the weather plus my son needing help laying tile in his new home he’s remodeling kept us from actually getting there. We’ll try again.
    6. My son and I were able to minister through our church’s Vacation Bible School last week. Though this doesn’t fall under a frugal accomplishment for ourselves, we were able to give of ourselves and help create some wonderful memories for all of the children who were able to attend the free event.

  30. I cooked from the freezer and pantry entirely last week, all very easy to throw together meals since I was getting the house and yard ready for our daughter’s grad. open house + cooking/prepping all the food. I made pulled pork and chicken, potato salad with a 10 pound bag we picked up on sale, crab ragoon dip (I used the “fake” crab to save money), beef and onion dip and then prepped all the veggies I bought at the farmers market – nectarines, strawberries, cantaloupe (marked down), watermelon & cherries (had to get grapes at Aldi’s) The only thing I bought pre-made was Schueller’s Bar Cheese, the buns (Aldi’s) and the crackers (again Aldi’s). I also made deviled eggs since we are overflowing with eggs from our hens right now.
    Signs were all made using paint I already had and letter stencils I have had for years.
    I used a gift card to purchase the paper I needed to make a bunting to decorate the photo area (says: You Did It!)
    The peas in the garden are just starting to flower so shortly we will have some pods for stir fries
    Split and moved several perennials to fill in some bare spots rather than buy more plants
    When we went to rent the carpet cleaner at the pet food store we also were purchasing 2 bags of dog food, a new tennis ball (giant size for safety reasons) and some treats. When we got out to the car to load it all up, my husband says that something’s not right – the charge was far too low. Sure enough, the kid never charged us for the dog food ($90 worth – we have a Dane who is still growing and we only feed a high end food to avoid vet bills) So back in we went to talk to the manager and she gave it to us at cost just because we came in a were honest – saved us $15 a bag!
    I traded ducklings for more honey
    My son picked up a fire pit ring for me that was closer to where he works which saved me 2 hours worth of time + the gas to drive there and back. I had already priced them out all over town and this greenhouse was the cheapest.
    Instead of just buying a kit for a fire pit ($200), my husband checked all the stores sales to find the cheapest prices on bricks and pea gravel and put it together himself ($75). It turned out beautifully and now no one has to go on the “chicken side” of the yard to sit around the fire.
    All the fruit, veggie and deviled egg leftovers from the party were fed back to the chickens and ducks. They are not eating as much right now anyways since the mulberry tree in their “pasture” is full of berries.
    I picked what I could reach of the mulberries and will mix them with strawberries in the freezer and make a small batch of freezer jam.
    I started making the curtains for our bus so we can take it to the air show over the 4th of July weekend. It’s only $22 to dry camp there and we will have a nice comfy spot to watch the balloon launches, flights and fireworks w/o dealing with the the traffic or crowds.

  31. ~Lined dried several loads of laundry when it wasn’t raining.
    ~We had several days of true downpours and in fact on Tuesday evening had tornado warnings. A tree came down on the street behind us and took out the power lines and 3 electric poles. the power company told us it could be several days before power as restored but it turned out it was about 9 hours. After my husband got home we hooked up the generator to keep the fridges cold and the microwave powered since we hadn’t had dinner. Knowing that we could be out of power for several days and no power for the small freezer I cleaned out my freezer section in my kitchen side by side to make room if needed. I had been putting off this task so it was good to get it done and as it turned out I didn’t need to empty the small freezer.
    ~My raspberry plants are just starting to ripen so I have picked about a quart so far. I used to be able to pick quite a few berries along the edges of the woods of our church’s property. They had to clear some land due to a drainage issue and it ended up taking out almost all of the raspberries. My son told me yesterday that the path through the woods near our house is full of raspberry bushes with ripe berries. I’ll be checking that out this week.
    ~Stopped at the used book store when I took my son to his dance practice. He was able to get the book he has been wanting plus 2 more and I picked up a CS Lewis anthology that I will sell on Amazon. I have lots of store credit for selling the store books so no OOP for 4 books.
    ~Sold 5 items on Amazon including a Japanese language textbook for $60.
    ~Bought DS#2 some towels for college at a store that lost it’s lease. Three nice heavy large towels for $18. I wanted quality so they will last all 4 years.
    ~Picked up a fabulous old 18 drawer metal cabinet from a fellow Freecycler. Trying to decide if it will go in the shed for DH to organize his stuff or in my craft space for me to store supplies.
    ~Stopped at Aldis’s to pick up a few things we needed. Avocados were 79¢ each(2), mangoes were 39¢ each(3) and organic bananas were marked down to 29¢ a bunch since they were ripe. I love ripe bananas so I was able to take them for lunch during the week and the rest are going in the freezer pureed in ice cube trays to use for smoothies. I also picked up burger rolls for 49¢. I spent $37 total for everything I got and didn’t do any other grocery shopping for the week.
    ~Dh trimmed a tree in our yard with the long pole hand saw that he bought last month. It has more than paid for itself already with the trimming he has done.

  32. Yes, it’s definitely tricky, Juhli. Except for the money we’re putting into the liquid savings, the rest of our part will stay with her brokerage firm and the person who had been handling her investments. While I have a background in the financial markets, I don’t feel comfortable handling her money. I loved and appreciated her, but she was not always so sure about me, the person who stole away her beloved oldest son! When we saw how much nursing home care cost for her, we were more determined than ever to let our portion of the inheritance and our own funds grow so that we won’t be a burden on our children. How nice for your children that you doubled the amounts of their inheritances!

  33. Hi Brandy! Those peppers really caught my eye. I feel like my garden is doing a LOT of growing, and not as much producing. I keep reading conflicting information as to what zone we are in (Reno, NV) some say 5b some say 7b, and that’s a huge difference planting-wise. This is my first year with a garden here so I am just planting and reading, reading and planting. I am taking down a ton of notes, and hopefully next year will be more successful. My frugal accomplishments for the week:

    – Harvested basil from the garden. It has been 100 degrees+ here so I am thinking it is going to fry soon. Im just hoping for the best, and if I see things go awry I’ll pull the basil and dry it. I also have a ton of squash and zucchini plants coming up from seed. Im concerned now that I planted too many! They have yet to produce anything though besides beautiful leaves so I’m just holding my breath.
    -I lined dried all of my clothes this week except my comforter because it takes up too much space outside.
    -I consolidated errands and managed to get by with only $10 gas in a two week period.
    -We ate all meals at home. My hubby has been such a good sport about this
    -My financial aide through my husband’s job came through on my tuition. My first semester will be under $200 out of pocket!
    – My hubby and I had our July budget meeting. It was the most productive one we have ever had. I think he is starting to realize a budget isn’t a hindrance it is a help. We can tell our dollars what to do!
    -It has been very hot here, 100+, I have been trying to keep the AC off or set on 76 as much as possible. It just never seems to cool down.
    -The hubby has been looking for weekend side jobs since I am going to be working weekends again. He has picked up a painting gig that is paying him well.
    -Went to the library and listened to Dave Ramsey podcasts for entertainment.
    -Did our monthly broad menu plan and our weekly specific menu plan. Went grocery shopping for the bulk purchases and first two weeks food. Spent $176 which is really good for us. We are expecting to spend under $250 for the whole month.
    -Cashed in swag-bucks for an amazon gift card. $10 will go towards nail polish remover and a nail file. I stopped getting my nails done, so I need something to help me do them myself.
    – We are going to list some paintball guns my hubby has on eBay today.
    – We paid off ~$1100 in debt in June. We are working towards becoming debt free for the second time and paying off our house.

    Lastly, I plan on making my friend an apron for her birthday in September. I am not sure what the best type of fabric is for this. Any advice? I want to go shopping for the fabric early so that I can find a cute print on a good deal. Also on my to-do list: Work in the garden, organize deep freezer, deep clean kitchen floors.

  34. It is a totally complicated feeling. My Dad died last year and we used the money to pay my medical and related expenses. There was a little more than was expected and what is left is a small emergency fund. I would MUCH rather have my parents but I think they would be pleased to know we are financially stable because of them.

  35. Last week was pretty good. We ate at home every meal including the free night at the children’s museum where we brought a picnic dinner of homemade pizza. I made breakfast for dinner at the girls’ request twice (my husband doesn’t particularly enjoy it so we save that fir nights he is not home for dinner). They finished school this week so we went to the sprinkler park on the only really warm day this week and I used a library pass to an indoor playspace for 50% off. We had friends over and went to other friends houses to play, ran errands and went to the library twice. I was given a bag of hand me down clothes and passed another bag on and used Schoola credits to buy $10 worth of clothing for the fall. My sister and her husband came to visit from out of state and we went strawberry picking and they insisted on paying which was incredibly nice of them. We were in the town our favorite spice store is located visiting a friend and we stopped and used two different free product coupons and bought the spice we needed. We have had minimal food waste and are tracking what we use better. Solar panels have been installed on the roof and we are waiting for the local utility to ok turning them on. Even not being operational yet, the living room is cooler since the sun is no longer beating directly on to the roof. Operation Summer Decluttering of the house is ongoing.

  36. The basil will want to flower but it won’t burn. It’s been 114º here and my basil is fine. Cut off any flowers and it will keep producing through the heat. Mine will go until our first frost.

    Try to find out when your friends who live close by have their first freeze. That should help you figure out your zone. There are microclimates all over; our valley can be anywhere from an 8b to a 10a. You can easily have the same. Closer to the mountains is often cooler, for example.

    Cotton duck is great for making aprons. Joann’s has it on sale for 30% off this week at $6.99 a yard. I like heavy duty aprons. These are usually solid colors, though. There are a lot of fabrics on sale this week; check out Joann’s online ad.

  37. I’m on the other side of the coin; I’m leaving work to be more of a SAHM. My oldest is 9 and I’ve never been a SAHM. I find I’m kind of floundering a bit. Thankfully uni starts in a couple of weeks. But transitions are always hard!

  38. An inheritance from my grandpa allowed us to buy our house outright, without a mortgage. He also gave me some lovely furniture which I didn’t want to transport overseas, so I sold it to one of my sisters who wanted it, and used that money on our dining room set, which will last us forever. The way I see it, living in our home, eating off our dining room table (and playing games there, and doing crafts, and all those other things that happen around a dining room table), it’s like a part of him is always with me, looking over us and blessing us each day.

  39. We had an alright week this week. Since we have about $2000 to spend on equipment for my son before the end of the year, we picked up some board games and a very nice keyboard, all on sale. A couple of big box stores have their biggest annual toy sales around now so we saved between $5 and $10 on the board games; and then there was an eBay sale of 20% off some 17 different retailers, so we got the keyboard for 20% off. We also used some of this money to buy an iPad; once the 20% off was taken into account it was considerably cheaper here than the same item in the US. (As a general rule electronics always cost more here; although that is the case less and less, these days. However, Apple products are never reduced by 20%, so that was a steal.) All of this means less money in our bank account now; but we’ll be reimbursed for all of it; and by shopping sales we can make his money stretch further. Some of the items, like the board games, will be put aside for future Christmas gifts to the kids.

    We picked up some cheap produce – the best were some pears at 20 cents a kilo. My husband also found some precooked chicken at 40 cents for 400 grams.

    I found some nice second-hand books for the kids for 50 cents each. Then, when we went to the library van on Thursday, there was a big box of books they had withdrawn from the library, free for the taking. We got about 10 books from there, mostly books for the kids, but I found some for me too. I just Googled one of the books we picked up and discovered that it sells for around $50.

    We went to the movies this weekend. A while back someone gave us 4 free passes to Gold Class, which is the expensive way to watch movies – each ticket normally costs around $34. It’s something we’d never splurge on for ourselves; and the tickets were almost expired; so we took the kids to see Jurassic World. Honestly, we enjoyed the movie, but why anyone would spend that sort of money to go to the movies is beyond me.

  40. I’m going to buy peaches at our local orchards packing shed this week. I love peaches! I’ve been looking forward to them all winter long, lol. Every time any one complained about it being cold here, I would smile and say “But it’s making peaches!” Yours are gorgeous. Your photography really brings out the beauty of flowers, food, and children , Brandi. My week of frugal stuff is posted here:

  41. It always tastes good with chicken. It’s a great way to use the cheaper cuts of chicken (like wings or drumsticks), just marinade and bake. I like it served with rice or as part of a stir-fry.

  42. Getting solar panels was the best decision we ever made (particularly since ours were only $200 after government rebates). Here’s hoping they do to you what they did to us – they lost our meter when they took it away to replace it with a smart meter, and we went 3 years without a power bill! (And since they can only charge you for the last 9 months of power use, that means we got 2 years and 3 months of power for free.) About every six months we’d get a letter from the power company saying they were sorry they hadn’t sent us a bill and I always felt like writing back, “That’s fine, we’ve never been happier with the power company, we’re not the least bit concerned about it.” The day they started billing us again was one of the saddest in my life . . . .

  43. Do rhubarb stalks get completely red when they are ready to harvest? Mine don’t ever get totally red but otherwise look ready.

  44. Free in the mail – Better Homes and Gardens magazine and shampoo and conditioner sample.

    I worked in the garden. Pulled lots of weeds. Picked carrots, a few blackberries, lots of bananas and a tomato. Put my large tomato plants in cages I already had. I staked the smaller tomato plants.

    I cashed out at Pinecone Research for $27.

    I used a code posted on Money Saving Mom for a free 8×8 photo book on Shutterfly (just pay shipping). I reordered a family cookbook I made years ago so I can give it to my daughter for the holidays.

    We combined errands. Stopped at Lowes to return something we overbought rather than keeping it “just in case”and used the credit to get more tomato stakes which I need now. We went to CVS and got a free toothbrush and used my raincheck to get 6 free nutritional drinks. Stopped at a used bookstore to browse around and found an architecture book from MOMA for my daughter which I put away for a gift.

    Have a great week ladies!

  45. -Pack lunch mostly for myself to eat in the car after my sons preschool is over. 3 more months to go before our 2nd one is due makes for a hungry momma and stopping at taco bell calls me if I don’t
    -trying to print coupons on items we will use only and not just because it’s available
    -started getting back into using ibotta and the other cash in apps similar to this, I hope by Christmas I have enough to cash out
    -potty training son and since it’s summer we can go diaper less
    -cilantro plant is loving this hot weather! it seems like it doubles in size the next day.
    -started up meal planning again, it really helps to prevent impulsive dinner out
    -going to purchase 0-9 month baby boy clothes, it should cover what I need til LO can start wearing brothers clothes
    I’m a no fuss mom and mainly want sleepers and for the same price I could purchase brand new sleepers I can get the same amount of sleepers plus other clothes, it works out to about 50 cents per item vs the $3.50/sleeper
    -trying to abstain from any recipes using the oven, with no AC the temperatures just keep rising

  46. I picked and froze snow peas from the garden. My basil is growing well this year so I trimmed the plants and dehydrated some. Hoping to grow and use all my own basil and parsley this year.
    Aldi’s had blueberries fir $1.25 per pint last week. I bought five pints and used 4 of them to make jam. Froze the rest. I heard that they are $.99 this week so I think I will pick up more to freeze. My husband loves blueberry muffins and this allows me to make them for him year round.
    Your peaches look wonderful. They are not ripe around here yet but I am looking forward to them.

  47. Big Batch Hot Sauce- Countryside magazine

    10lbs red Jalapenoes
    6 heads of garlic(the whole head not small cloves)
    1 gallon white vinegar 5% acid
    1/2 cup of salt-to taste

    Stem and chop peppers wearing gloves. Remove seeds if you want it to be medium hot leave them in for very hot. Clean and chop garlic. Simmer peppers and garlic 15 minutes or so in a couple inches of water until soft. Drain and cool to room temp. Puree, I use a food processor but a blender would also work. Pour into a large pot and add vinegar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. *The steam at this point stings, don’t breath it and turn on the fan or open a window*. Pour into pints and put on lids. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Use any bottles that didn’t seal immediately. Store open bottle in fridge. You can also freeze this instead of processing, just keep the container you are using in the fridge. 24 pints.

  48. Do you have a woodburner pen? I love the wooden spoons with initials and designs burned in the handle. It adds another personal touch to the gift.
    I have done 6 more jars of green beans this week. That makes 16 jars from my tiny row of plants. My husband said he is going to pull them up the end of this week after I pick the last few and plant another planting. We have a pretty long growing season in middle Georgia. If the birds or squirrels or whatever it is eating my tomatoes would quit I would have some of those.
    I am having some problems with my sugar. My doctor told me a year ago I was pre-diabetic. I think it is catching up with me. So, I am trying to get it under control. No more Dr Pepper for me. This is huge. I normally drink at least 2 16oz bottles a day. This will be a money saver.
    Hope everyone has a great week. Love reading everyone’s advice.

  49. I love reading post from people that live outside the US or even other states and mention things like ‘Saskatoon’ that I have never heard of. Then I look them up and learn something new.

  50. The peaches are just gorgeous! Ours are about dime-size on our tree (Elberta, but not ‘early’ Elberta) and I am just happy that our late frosts did not get them. I am almost certain that there are some hot sauce recipes in the Ball Blue Book, but mine is packed up right now, so I cannot check for you.

    I have two weeks worth of summer frugality posted here: http://quietcountrylife.blogspot.com/2015/06/frugal-accomplishments-and-summer-fun.html Our weather has been nice and I am really enjoying the garden. My daughter is very happy because we were able to get her a trampoline from freecycle!

  51. I weeded for several more hours. I picked the entire row of spinach because our hot weather was causing it to bolt. We have eaten salad every day and sometimes twice a day since it’s growing so much. I harvested a cookie sheet heaped full of boysenberries, several cups of raspberries and a small bowl of strawberries.

    I helped each of the girls get started on a sewing project. I cooked many items for meals.

  52. Thanks for easing my mind about the basil. I’m not worried anymore. I have talked to everyone I know about gardening in my area and no one does it. I am technically in the city limits of Sparks,Nv and I have seen no gardens and met no one that gardens in my immediate neighborhood. The people I have spoken to live closer to the mountains instead of the basin like I do, so they get more rain, snow, and cooler temps.

    Thanks for the info about the fabric. I want to make my friend a sturdy apron. She always buys cutesy ones that fall apart. If I can make it half as cute and durable she would more than appreciate that.

  53. Your beautiful fruit is a joy to see. We are in winter and peaches seem far away!
    I had a great week of savings last week. I found a way to save a lot of money on prescription drugs. My husband takes a few as he was born with a heart issue. He has to have these drugs. I found a way to save $600 a year! I was so pleased with this. I added to my pantry and used my crock pot for several meals. I was given some really big jars. I used images from The Graphics Fairy to make lovely labels for them and filled them with dry goods. I will get a picture up on my blog tomorrow of them. I want to show that we don’t have to pay expensive prices for good storage, I would rather spend the money on food and emergency supplies than the containers. Have a great new week. xxx http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/

  54. Frugal accomplishments this week include eating out of our freezer and pantry this week as we are going to be gone to church camp next week and I don’t want any food wasted if I can help it. The only new clothes I got for camp this year was a jacket my sister gave me and a skirt that I made out of material that I bought at Hobby Lobby with a 30% off coupon. I shopped my closet and put together outfits to wear. Stayed home to save gas, which has been easy to do since I’m off work for the summer. Cleaned out my son’s closet and found two suits he could wear that he didn’t know were in the “abyss” (that’s what I call his closet, LOL) so he now has 6 church suits. Cooked all meals at home. There is a man that sells produce down from my house each day and my husband and grandson will stop and talk to him sometimes, as he is packing up. He has given us tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peas that he wasn’t able to sell that I put in the freezer. The tomatoes have been wonderful on tomato sandwiches. YUM! I think that’s all. Have a blessed week everyone!

  55. I discovered a new, less-expensive source of garbanzo bean flour (I use it to make my son’s gluten-free sandwich bread) at a mini-mart I had driven by many times. They always had a sign posted that said, “South Asian Groceries sold here.” We live in a Midwestern city, but I love Indian food, so I was very excited to find this store.

    I downloaded about 10 new editions of my favorite magazines from our library. They have an account with Zinio that enables library patrons to have access to over 200 magazines, including ones like Cook’s Country, Martha Stewart Living, etc.

    I worked some more on my son’s play kitchen. I am using plans from Ana White, and am slowly building up a tool supply via birthday/holiday present money.

    I made homemade gluten-free bread and cooked up a big pot of chickpeas at the beginning of the week (which are already gone almost one day later – we love chickpeas!). I was able to get 25 lbs of garbanzo beans for $19 from Azure Standard last year, but now have seen that the price is going up. I’ve noticed oats are costing more too.

  56. What a beautiful wedding gift, Brandy! I still remember my favourite wedding gift. My great aunt gave me a Christmas tree skirt and matching stocking that she quilted. Useful, handmade gifts are the best!

    Here are my frugal accomplishments for this week:
    *Won 2 tickets to see a Beatles tribute band in October for being the first to fill out a volunteer survey through the museum I work at (I also volunteer there too). My mother was a big Beatles fan when she was younger, so I will take her with me to the show as her birthday gift this year.

    *Gleaned some kale and beet greens from the gardens at work to give to our Guinea Pig. (no one in my family likes kale or beet greens, otherwise I would have taken more)

    *My daughter graduated from grade 6 on Wednesday. We gave out our end of year gifts (boxes of chocolates bought on clearance after mother’s day) to her teacher, principle and the two EAs after the ceremony. My daughter also received a lovely little graduation gift from her one EA, with all sorts of candy’s, chocolates and small toys, which she really loved. Next year my daughter will attend a different school for grades 7 & 8.

    *Bought a flat of strawberries from the farmers market for $25. I spent one whole day just making jam. I make all my jam with no sugar needed pectin and I sweetened it with only a ½ cup of maple syrup and a ½ cup of honey. I made 4 pints and 2 half-pint jars of strawberry jam. I was inspired by some of the comments about making mixed fruit jams and decided to give it a try. I made strawberry/peach/mango jam using up some frozen peaches and mango I froze last year. It produced 2 pints and 2 half pints of jam, which tastes amazing! I also used up some cherries I had bought a week or two ago and made 2 pints of cherry jam. It’s a nice start for the year!

    *My peas are almost ready to pick. If only we could get a little more sunshine and a touch less rain!

    *Homemade meals this week included ham and cheese crescent roll-ups with salad, chicken fingers with rice and veggies, BBQ hamburgers and hotdogs with homemade baked herbed potato, hamburger helper (after the all day jam making session it was a quick meal), and stuffed chicken breasts (still eating these up from what I bought last year!) with French fries.

    *Broke down and finally bought a new alarm clock. My old one, which I’ve had so long I don’t remember when I bought it, would not allow me to change the alarm time. The snooze button was also on its way out because I used it so much to compensate for the alarm going off so early. The new one cost a whopping $10 at Walmart. Hope it lasts as long as the old one!

    Have a delightful week filled with love and joy everyone!

  57. Hi Brandy! The link for the bonnet is on my blog. Here’s the recipe for hot sauce:

    Similar to making kraut
    Pick your fully ripe peppers
    Clean and remove seeds from peppers (if you want it really hot leave the seeds in).
    Roughly chop

    For each 1 lb. of cleaned and chopped peppers add 2 teaspoons of salt, mix well and mash to help release the liquid.
    Let set for about 1/2 hour. If liquid is not covering the peppers add enough salted water (1 cup water plus 1 tsp salt) to cover

    Place in a cleaned non-metal container of appropriate size. You want one that will fill it about 1/2 to 3/4 full and have room for a small plate to cover and keep the peppers below the liquid. Place a towel over the container and let ferment for 4-6 weeks at room temp (around 70F). Check daily to remove any scum on the surface. If your peppers get moldy throw them out.

    After fermenting, put in blender and puree then add 2 cups of white vinegar. This can now be refridgerated and used.
    To can, we processed in a pressure canner like you would for canning peppers. (10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes for pints and half-pints) Sorry, it’s not safe to water bath can peppers.

  58. Hi Brandy! I’ve been thinking about it and I would think with that amount of vinegar it would be safe to water bath can, we just err on the side of caution. Another way to preserve peppers is to pickle them in a brine like the kind you use for bread and butter pickles. My son made some and the are wonderful. Great for sandwiches and in omelets, etc. And those are water bath canned. A great resource for all things canning is Jackie Clay’s blog. Just Google Jackie Clay. Have a lovely July 4th!

  59. They are a lot of work to gather, and I bring some one with me to watch for bears. But they are yummy. I end up looking up a lot of things too when I read posts from Americans. Its always good to keep learning.

  60. About 20 years ago now when my grandparents passed away we inherited some money. It felt funny using that money, but I knew from talking to my grandmother that she wanted us to have a home paid for in full. So that is what we did with it. Paid off our house. There were funds left over and we banked that into an IRA for me as I am self-employed.

    We (my husband and I) have set up our will for our grandchildren’s sake. Both of our sons are doing well. So we have set it up to give the grandchildren college educations if they are still young and to boost their savings if they are already done with college when our time comes. I hope we have done what is right.

  61. My most-noteworthy frugal activities last week were finding free, fun things to do with my four year old daughter:

    -We went to a couple programs at the library (part of the summer reading program activities)
    -Went to the “Thursdays on the Square” that our town does in the summer. It was an international theme so my daughter got to do things like paint a flag and try playing cricket.
    -A local chiropractic office had an open house with kid’s activities on Saturday. All at no cost, they had lunch, a bounce house, someone making balloon animals, etc. I joke that it’s my special talent that I can discover whenever there’s a free bounce house within 10 miles 🙂

    And this was earlier in the month, but I had to share that when I went to visit my parents in the next state over I kept my eyes peeled for an Aldi while we were out and about (I don’t have one very close to my house) and came across one that was right on our way. I stocked up on a bunch of things (including some cold stuff since I had brought a cooler). The meat market in my parents’ town also had better prices on some things than in my area (e.g. $2.69/lb ground beef) so I picked up stuff there too. My car was packed on the way home but it well worth it. I also might have converted my mom to shopping at Aldi since she was impressed with the prices we saw.

  62. Do share your secret for saving money on prescription drugs. There’s a prescription I have for a drug that isn’t on the PBS and would cost $90 out of pocket! (I don’t really need this prescription; but if I could get it even for PBS prices I would.)

    I saw a little green strawberry on one of my plants the other day. It made me feel like maybe spring isn’t so far away, after all . . .

  63. I was just about to write about pepper sauce!! Here in the south it is a staple like salt and pepper we put it on peas, greens, fried fish.. You name it. I’ve canned it in jars and other fancy bottles French lemonade comes in with the wire tops you get at target and world market. We just add more vinegar and shake it up when it runs low. And don’t be afraid to mix peppers either, green jalapeños would be pretty in a bottle with red peppers.

  64. CeCee – could you explain about your monthly broad menu plan and your weekly specific menu plan? Is this a Dave Ramsey idea or something else? I’m always looking for new ideas on how to budget for food. Also – if you’re just starting to garden in a new area, I’d recommend saving seed from the plants that do the best for your new location. I do that for peas, beans and tomatoes which are all very easy to save.

  65. *Was purchasing oj and yogurt for smoothies and oj was buy a jug of oj and get yogurt free! I love freebies especially when they are something I was already buying.

    *Had three interviews this week. No offers yet but one sounds very promising. Been doing the best I can with avoiding over spending at the grocery store. Our fridge is not working very efficiently. We have found that it cools better when not super full. While still trying to keep grocery shopping to once a week, it has been a process to keeping purchases to the necessities.

    *Worked on a quilt using fabric that was purchased on sale with additional 50% off as well as some fabric that I received for free several years ago. No idea who the recipient of this quilt will be but I love giving quilts to couples as a wedding gift so it will be handy to have in case a wedding sneaks up and I don’t have time to get one done quickly.

    *Ate out once this past week. Picked up my hubby from the airport Sunday evening and the drive back was 2.5 hours. I didn’t feel like cooking at that point so we grabbed Chinese take-out on the way home and enjoyed a stress free meal while catching up from him being gone for 3 days.

    *Have been making iced coffee at home. I enjoy an iced coffee from McDonalds occasionally. Probably once a week. They are around $2.50 for a medium and sometimes I just want one at home. So I decided to make my own. I have a one cup coffee maker, so I just make a single cup of coffee, add my favorite creamer. Fill my tervis cup with ice and pour the creamy coffee over the ice. My tervis cup is 24oz and I believe McD’s medium is 20oz. The cost of an entire bottle of creamer is $1.88 and I use maybe 2 tablespoons per cup of coffee. That combined with the coffee that I purchase at dollar tree for $1 a bag. I figure my homemade version costs about 10 cents!!! That is a huge savings!!

    *was given a free orange at the market. Asked the produce clerk if the oranges I was looking at were seedless. He cut one open to show me and said this is on the house! Enjoyed it that day for lunch.

    *Am buying fresh fruit when on sale and prepping, freezing and bagging them up for smoothies. I think it is much cheaper. For 12 oz of frozen strawberries, they are $1.99. I bought two pounds of fresh strawberries, cut and froze them for $3.58. Haven’t priced frozen peaches, but got them for 48 cents/lb. I am sure that they are not that cheap already frozen.

  66. We have been eating lots lettuce out the garden. We have had a huge crop I have been giving it away. I was going to look up freezing it? It seems crazy idea, but maybe possible. We are having salads for lunch and dinner and still cannot keep up it, but I am not complaining. Also from the garden we are getting radishes, swiss chard, and peas. Our ever-bearing strawberries are producing very well. We are also getting a small crop of raspberries.

    We picked two cherries from our stella cherry tree. This is the first year it is in the ground and we were not expecting anything. Unfortunately. I am not sure it is going to make it through the summer. It is getting way too much water we have gotten about 7.5 inches this month. The ground is quite soggy.

  67. I’m a little relieved to see that I’m not the only one falling back on buying work lunches – I’ve done it twice in less than two weeks. Ugh – I need to get enthusiastic again.

  68. Hi Mandy
    I harvest mine before they are red all the time, mine get streaks of red but are otherwise about 75% green no matter how long I wait it seems. And they taste fine.

  69. I lost all of my grandparents before I was 21 which was hard, especially when my mom’s mom died because we were close. But both my grandmother’s left money for their grandchildren and it let me go through university without needing a student loan and I was able to put a deposit down on buying a house as soon as I was married.
    I agree with everyone else that I would much prefer to still have my grandparents but I know that they would be happy with how I was able to put their gifts to such good use.

  70. First of all – I started my part-time job last night! I had applied months ago and there was a delay in funding. It is ideal for us as I will either be working in the a.m. (8:30-12) or p.m. (5:30-9), Monday thru Thursday. The schedule is great for us – I will be free Friday through Sunday this fall when our corn maze and pumpkin patch are going on. I’ll be combining all errands as much as possible instead of making trips just for errands.

    We did the cutting of the maze ourselves this year. We invested in the right kind of mower so we could to the actual cutting. We also did the design and I carried the GPS system that has the map to follow. This was a substantial saving for us. Last year we did most of our major investment so hopefully this year we will have more actual profit. We have an actual pumpkin patch this year which two of our wonderful neighbors planted for us. They are from families that are lifelong family friends of my partners – out here we all rely on each other so much – still the old west I guess! We started to have an infestation of squash bugs but were able to get on it immediately – doing the spraying ourselves. This is our retirement business and a way to make the family farm profitable. It is too small to do anything but break even but we love it here – and the farm and home are paid for.

    Since we have the space we planted an enormous garden – 20 tomato plants for example. We share with friends and family and I plan to can all that is possible this year. I actually ran out of two of our favorites: frozen green chiles and canned salsa. This year I will freeze 4 bushels of roasted green chiles – luckily we have the freezer space. I bought big cans of crushed tomatoes to make more salsa before the tomatoes are ripe enough. SO is one of those people that can’t stand the taste of salsa so I make it without. It is so much cheaper and better (lots less salt) than bought salsa.

    Our sweet corn looks like a failure. Luckily we live in an area where sweet corn is grown for market so when in season I will can and freezer some. I had just hoped that we could walk out and pick corn to eat within 20 minutes but for some reason it didn’t come up. We planted it next to field corn so that may be part of the problem. The Indian corn and other ornamental corn that we sell is doing well though.

    A dear friend, a disabled veteran, decided to sell her home. She frequently stays here on the farm as she receives so much healing by being out in the country and working in the soil. She has made her home in town into wildlife space, especially for birds, so she has a green thumb. When she was going through her things she found a dehydrator, another canner and lots of jars. She offered them to us if I would do some canning and preserving for her! Of course I will. We’ve offered her storage space in the little farm house basement for those things she really doesn’t know if she wants to part with. She is a quilter and really doesn’t want to part with her machines and material.

    She is going to be away for a week visiting a friend in SD so brought out two dozen fresh eggs a neighbor gave her. He is another veteran and keeps her in eggs in return for her watching their house when they are gone. They are amazing eggs. SO actually said the words “maybe chickens wouldn’t be such a bad idea”! Woot, woot! I had just bought three 18 packs of high end eggs for $2.00 a pack at Safeway – they were on discount. So we have a lot of eggs right now! I am going to freeze some, I made some hardboiled and I don’t feel so stingy about having eggs for breakfast.

    Her garden is much ahead of mine. She brought out lettuce, a cabbage and some ‘Italian’ onions – white onions for grilling before she left.

    Green grapes were 88 cents a pound here – I bought 6 pounds. I really like grapes for a snack – fresh and cool.

    We’ve had a couple of major thunderstorms so haven’t had to water for a couple of days. While we have well water I really prefer to have Mother Nature water for me :).

    Did recyclebank for three free magazine subscriptions and Sunset came yesterday. I love magazines and get the cheapest subscriptions I can but free is best. I take them to the small local branch of my library to recycle into the community.

    The usual – made ‘dog’ meatballs – cheaper and better for a soft food to give them (three are older and it helps their appetite), drank iced tea and water, dried clothes on the line, made all food at home with the exception of one time eating out. I’ve convinced SO that if we are going to eat out we either need to use a coupon, senior discount or go during breakfast/lunch versus dinner. That means we can still eat out when in town – just not every week!

  71. I found an old file that reminded me I’ve been reading your blog for three years but I don’t think I’ve ever commented. So perhaps first I should thank you and my fellow readers for many happy hours of frugal inspiration. I’m not commenting today for myself because it doesn’t feel like it’s been a frugal week. We’ve spent quite a bit restocking the pantry, which will prove frugal in the coming months even though my pocketbook is feeling lighter today.

    Despite that, I commented to share about a ministry where I recently volunteered for the first time. This organization gathers up donations from individuals, churches, and corporations then sorts, packs, and ships the goods to needy areas all around the country and around the world. They accept items like paint and used pill bottles that might otherwise end up in a landfill and make them useful again. That seems very frugal and like excellent stewardship to me. I wrote a bit about it at AChatOverCoffee.com.

    Thanks again, Brandy, for all you do!

  72. At the end of every month my husband and I sit down and do our monthly budget. He has a steady income and I have a variable income. Due to the fluctuation of income our grocery budget changes each month. We live on last month’s income. After we come up with a dollar amount, for example July is $250, we do an inventory of our pantry and freezer and come up with 20-25 meals for the month. That is our broad monthly menu plan. We use this to do our “big grocery shop” for the month where we pick up things like flour, sugar, etc that will help us to make the dishes in the plan. We also pick up any meat that we see on sale and stock it in the deep freezer. Normally we spend 75% of our budget on this grocery trip.

    Then each Sunday we plan the following weeks specific menu plan on the chalkboard in the kitchen. We normally take 5 or so menu items and plan them for specific days by what is going on in the week. For example if I know I am working all day on Tuesday then I will make it a crock pot meal. If I know I have Friday off I might make a stew or soup.

    The additional 25% of our budget goes to fresh produce and milk, stocking up on a tremendous sale, or rolled over to the next month. I hope that’s a good explanation. I’ve found that this is the cheapest/ easiest way for us to follow our grocery budget.

    Then twice a year we do a “pantry challenge” where we try to eat down, rotate, and use what is in the pantry. Those months (normally January and June or July) our grocery budget is normally $75-$100

  73. Thanks CeCee in Reno for the explanation. I love how you have worked out dealing with the fluctuating income. Great explanation. I so love this blog and the ideas that I learn here. I have been off work since Dec2009 and just got a very part-time, on call job this April. So I have really had to do everything I could think of to reduce expenses. Having a variable income is something new to me, so your system will be something I’m going to try. Thanks again

  74. Not all rhubarb is red. We grow 5 different varieties and one of them is green, German wine. Red is what people expect so we don’t bother to try to sell the green as people don’t believe it’s ripe. The family uses that one themselves . There’s also pink and green, red and green and speckled varieties.

  75. I would be interested to know what cookware you recommend in general. I am in need of a bigger stock pot, and although I could get one at the discount store cheaply, I know it won’t last. I checked the listing for that thermal cooker and it is also no longer available. Suggestions?

  76. My husband lost his job yesterday. Spent most of the day in a pity party while trying to hide it from the kids so they didn’t worry next week at camp.

    But have done some:
    Marinated and roasted 4 lbs of chicken breasts that were to be used for dh’s lunches. Instead made chicken nachos for dinner and will be freezing the rest.

    Learned 2 ways to use leftover greek yogurt this week. On my nachos instead of sour cream and in baked mac and cheese. My picky son ate both! 🙂

    Dd begged for an ice cream cake for her birthday. Made it myself and probably paid 1/2 the cost.

    Have a blessed 4th!

  77. On the Speed Stick deodorant, I buy the unscented men’s kind for myself, since it is cheaper per ounce than its “female” scented counterparts.

  78. Robbie, how do you make your ice cream cake? I tried to make one for my husband’s birthday, but it didn’t turn out very well. I thought how hard can it be? Answer was, harder than I thought! Would appreciate knowing how you made yours. Sorry to see that your husband lost his job. I lost mine in July, 2009 and know that it is a big change for the family. Best wishes for you and your family.

  79. My “cake” isn’t cake at all, I used a boxed brownie mix then sliced in half and stacked in layers, with a thick ice cream middle layer. Though I recommend not using one with mix-ins. My daughter insisted on a cookie dough brownie mix, and it was very hard to slice it without breaking.

  80. I LOVE my Saratoga Jack thermal cooker! I bought it for emergencies, but have enjoyed using it for church pot lucks, family pot lucks, and just making soup or chili! When you bring your food item to a gathering you don’t need an outlet :). I haven’t used it yet for a picnic or road trip, but I imagine it would be great. So simple yet very practical. I like it as much as the sun oven !
    Sorry I’m so late to the conversation.

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