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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

We have had wonderful, unusual weather this first week of May. We are still harvesting lettuce! Usually it bolts in mid-April. When it starts bolting, we eat some every day, but I always manage to have plenty of extra. Three people who came to my house this week got lettuce; I was really delighted because two people told me they were on their way to the store to buy just lettuce right after they left. I love that I got to save two people trips to the store. I also was able to share green onions with them. This week will probably be the last of our lettuce.

If you do not grow your own lettuce, and it is cool enough to plant it, I would encourage you to do so (it also grows well in a fall garden!) A packet of 750 lettuce seeds can be purchased for around $4. That is a lot of lettuce! It can be grown in a pot if you only have a small space, and it will even tolerate a little shade. Looseleaf lettuce can be harvested three times, so each head that you grow is like growing three in that space! Lettuce is one of the biggest cost-saving things you can grow. If you grow open-pollinated varieties, you can collect the seeds after it bolts and plant them to grow next year.

I am planning on collecting seeds from several plants this year, as I planted open-pollinated types. My goal is to completely eliminate buying lettuce seeds in future years.

I picked 4 small tomatoes from our garden on the last day of April. This is the earliest that we have ever picked tomatoes. I started with larger plants this year for the first time. I am hoping that will make a big difference in our yield this year.

I cut rosemary, green onions, and Swiss chard from the garden.

My husband and I had been planning to shop for a new home insurance provider this week. (We usually shop our insurance every couple of years). At the same time, we received our renewal notice from the insurance company. They said the new rate would be almost $500 more per year than last year!

I was able to get us a better policy with a much lower deductible and higher coverage for less than we are paying now. I saved us $657 this year because I made a phone call to our insurance agent.

I used two coupons from two free magazines that I received for two free 8-ounce containers of paint from Lowe’s. I will use them for small projects.

I collected green onion seeds from my green onions that had gone to seed. I packaged some, along with larkspur and zinnia seeds from my garden, for a friend for her garden.

I potted an apricot seedlings that had started to grow under my apricot tree for my neighbor (the one with the mulberries) who wanted an apricot tree and loves growing trees from pits.

I made pasta salad, mulberry muffins, rosemary olive oil bread, Swiss chard soup, and pancakes. We had salad from the garden every day. I made balsamic orange vinaigrette for our salads. Salad was our main dish for several meals.

I used E-6000 glue to mend Liberty’s sandal.

We celebrated my father-in-law’s 85th birthday with a surprise birthday party. Most of the family was there. He has 62 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and most of them live in town, so when we get together it is a lot of people to feed. Everyone always brings something. I brought a salad from my garden and some balsamic orange vinaigrette. The children enjoyed playing with their cousins.

The boys attended Cub Scout day camp this week. They had a lot of fun.

This was $5, including the container with a lid. I won’t be buying colored pencils for years.

On my way to driving them to day camp, I noticed a garage sale sign. I stopped on the way back and bought several books and a huge container of colored pencils. One of the books was one that Winter had been wanting, and I paid 25 cents for it!

Winter and I went to the thrift store to buy some new jeans for her. On our way, we stopped at two garage sales. At the second sale, I found a necklace that was very similar to one that she had seen and liked a few years before in a store with me. I showed her the one at the sale and she really liked it. I bought it for her for $1.

The thrift store was well-stocked. Winter found three pairs of jeans that she liked. I will be turning two pairs into jean shorts for her.

I also found some dresses for myself for $6 each. I have been needing some new clothes and I love dresses.

This was my favorite dress of the three that I purchased.

I was also super excited to find a set of flannel pajamas there. It was the same pair that I had seen and liked at Target this past fall, but on which I could not justify spending $30. They had one set in just my size for $4.

Winter and I found a few books for the family there as well, including some that we will give to Cyrus for his birthday. We also purchased 2 like-new books (the same as ones that we already have and love) to add to our gift box for future birthday parties.

In our church, the girls ages 12-18 go to a week-long girls’ camp each year. This will be Winter’s first year. The girls are highly encouraged to earn their own money to pay for camp. This year the cost is $180 per girl.

When we had our garage sale earlier this year, we moved it forward a day after learning that the young women would be having one the same day. Winter made flyers to hand out at our garage sale the day before to give to people who came to our sale, telling them about the sale the next day (this turned out to be very effective, as their first 5 customers were from our sale flyers!) All that we didn’t sell went to the garage sale, and then we spent several hours helping that night and the next day with the young women’s sale (I bought some things at the sale as well). They made enough for each of the girls to have $40 towards camp. That left Winter to earn $140.

My husband worked with her to create advertising and price supplies to paint lampposts in neighborhoods nearby where the houses have gas lampposts that they are required to maintain. They put out flyers, and Winter handled the phone calls. Then they went together and painted lampposts, replaced mantels, and replaced glass for those who called her. From her earnings, she paid back my husband for all of her supplies, and has earned 2/3 of the $140 that she needs this week. She still has supplies and a good number of fliers to put out. She is hoping to earn the rest this way, and to earn enough to purchase her own camera to take with her to camp. We are excited that she is learning about entrepreneurship.

What did you do to save money last week?

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you Becky. We just have two variables to think about now…one, what flowers will be blooming in various gardens at the time to use for tables and other decoration and …two, how many from church are attending. We have an open invite policy so the whole church is invited to weddings, showers, graduations. We put the sign up sheet up, just have to work into our estimate. Our fellowship hall is huge so room is not a worry. It is nice too that we are the only activity the whole weekend so we can start decorating early and are going to do a lot of the cooking right in the church kitchen….multiple ovens and fridges!We have not seen the wedding dress yet, though it sounds beautiful. They are doing her bouquet too.

  2. Marivene, I had no idea they were first marketed to restaurants. I found ours at Service Merchandise. We loved our “Folk Art” dinnerware and the cobalt glasses looked nice with the pattern. I thought such heavy goblets would not only be durable enough for daily use, but complimented the heavy dinnerware.

  3. Adriana, a friend of mine in upstate New York bought a large wood-burning stove to heat a 3000 square foot house built in the 1800’s. Before that she paid $800 a month in oil all winter. She said the expense of the stove was paid for in just a couple of months. The stove heated the whole house (two stories) and they only used oil after that for heating water. She said it is worth the expense to buy the larger, nicer one that can heat the whole house and that can be cooked on; she can still cook when there is a several day power outage due to storms.And while it is too late now, should you buy a home in the future, make sure to have a home inspection before closing. That should have been tested by your home inspector.

  4. Hi I am new to posting here but I have been reading for a long time. This is my favorite blog. My husband just went back to work after a two month lay off (totally didn’t see it coming). He is a contractor on a military base here in Texas. Anyway I have to figure out how to live on a lot less. My husband got a job doing the exact same thing he was doing in the same building but $17k less a year.I am a stay at home mom and hope to be able to continue that until my youngest can drive in 3 years. My oldest daughter graduates from nursing school next week. We managed to pay all of her school as she went so she has no loans.

  5. Dear Miss Brandy and readers,I love your new dress so lovely and your portrait is wonderful. You take very fetching pictures. I will probably post at a later date about my frugal accomplishments. I have a moment to do my quick review of my favorite blogs.Blessings to all!Anna

  6. Here are a couple tutorials for re-upholstering that helped me immensely -http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2011/06/reupholstering-chair-part-1-stripping.html (this has 5 different parts to the tutorial)andhttp://www.do-it-yourselfdesign.blogspot.com/2011/06/re-upholstering-furniture-part-2.htmlHope these help. Good luck!

  7. Thank you Brandy! I’m glad we are too. In the past it hasn’t worked so well because we found budgeting and cash flows difficult and time-consuming. You are so right that it is important to find one that works for you!I get all my berries now at Target! I can get them cheaper there than anywhere else because of their $2/$5 fresh produce mobile coupons. I’m a member of the Driscoll’s Berry Panel and get coupons every time I give them feedback about the berries I buy. My coupons are now worth $1/1, so when you combine both deals (and cartwheel) the savings add up! I know you don’t have a mobile phone, but I right now they have a printable coupon on their site for $1/2, and what I do is I ask all my family if they shop at Target. The ones that don’t, I get the mobile coupons from their phones. I take a screenshot of the barcode on their phone and send it to myself.All our bread is homemade, but still no one likes the ends! Although I must say no one complains when it is in the dessert ;-). Great idea for breadcrumbs, too! I didn’t even think about that!

  8. Brandy, that dress is fantastic! What a score.>> My husband had to go to New York for a meeting, and with all of his travel he’s earned something called a Companion Pass for me, which means I got to tag along for free! His company also paid for the hotel room and some of our meals, so we spent almost no money while we were there. :-)>> We picked up some shirts from Old Navy. They were having a sale and we got to stack a coupon, so each one ended up being between $3 and $6. Not too bad!>> I decided to do a DIY project for Mother’s Day this year and painted some flower pots I got at Lowes with a gift card. I’m filling them with items from my gift drawer or the dollar spot at Target. They turned out really well and I know both of our moms will get a kick out of using them.>> I cooked at home and made large batches of beans and quinoa. Put the extras in the freezer.>> Found apples for $1/lb. at Whole Foods of all places, so I bought some. That’s about as cheap as they get around here (the city) so I was really excited.

  9. I made a delicious roasted vegetable soup for dinner. I based my soup on a recipe that I had tried before, but which got poor reviews from my five “critics” (aged 13 to 2 years old). With a few tweaks, this soup is a winner! If you have a vegetable garden, this soup is a very frugal dinner option. Plus, it will make your house smell wonderful as the vegetables roast!Heidi’s Roasted Vegetable SoupPreheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. Place the following in a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan: 6 large tomatoes (cut in half with cut side down), 3 leeks (tender white part only, cut into 1/2″ pieces), 4 garlic cloves, 4 zucchini and/or yellow summer squash (sliced 1-2″ thick), 10-12 Brussels sprouts, and two 6-8″ sprigs of rosemary. Drizzle vegetables with 2 Tbs. of olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven in a single layer for approximately 1 hour, or until all vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven. Peel off tomato skins and discard. Remove stems from rosemary sprigs (discard the woody stem, put leaves back into the vegetables). Place vegetables into a large pot and puree with an immersion blender (or blend in batches in a blender and then place into a pot). Add 1 quart of chicken broth and 2 Tbs. of chicken boullion powder. Cook over medium heat until soup is warmed through.I served this soup with a side of bread. It was delicious and fed my family of 7 (with very little leftovers). I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did! Experiment with the vegetables you have and make substitutions as necessary. 🙂

  10. I can’t thank you enough for the boiling-vinegar-in-tea pot trick. I thought I had tried everything (which also included lots of scrubbing with various things), and finally put a pot into the donate pile. Just read this, pulled the pot out, and tried this and it worked effortlessly! It was like a science project — the hard water buildup came up in sheets, looked like sheets of paper. Thank you.

  11. Becky, I will let you know how it goes. A local upholstery fabric shop went out of business last month and every piece of fabric was 3 dollars a yard. ( The fabric for 2 chairs was originally marked 47.00 a yard) I loaded up on upholstery and drapery fabric. I bought some that I have no current plans for, then I went back and bought more, so if this doesn’t work well I have alternate fabric and can have it done.)Patricia thank you for the links. I studied them and at least know a bit more in theory. We shall see how well theory translates into action!

  12. I grew up on venison. Ground is good in spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes and chili. If you have stew meat, use it like you would to make stew in a crockpot.

  13. If your chimney is in good working order and is separate from the furnace chimney, it should be fairly affordable to get a replacement stove. Start checking yard sales, freecycle and Craigslist for used. You might find something new on clearance, though this is probably the wrong season for closeouts.We’ve been hoping to convert our current wood-burning fireplace to wood stove. Unfortunately, it will cost around $5,000 to do so, because we need to do significant work on the chimney. Once we’re able to afford it, I figure it will take us at least 3 years (more if we have mild winters) or so to break even on the investment.When we moved back east, we found that the inspectors would not comment on the wood stoves, only the chimneys. We were told that wood-burning stoves are considered an appliance (like a refrigerator or washing machine) and were therefore outside of the normal inspection process.

  14. Hello everyone, I love reading here – and the comments too!!Re. getting towels soft when drying outside – I’ve yet to figure this out. I did a load yesterday, using less detergent and even doing an extra rinse. Didn’t really make a difference. I wonder if I had a rotary clothesline, that was in full sun and that got a good breeze, would that make a difference. My line is attached to the side of the house and does get a good amount of sun. I can’t change the location so will just keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t mind the crunchy towels too much, I think they dry better and they’re a natural exfoliant…..haha

  15. Hi Melissa, what a wonderful graduation gift you gave your daughter! A wonderful career and a paid for education. Keep reading and sharing here and you will soon find yourself in the same situation as most of us, doing the best we can while learing from our friends how to do better. It doesn’t hurt, no one judges you and you have a great guidance counselor! If you can figure out how to pay for nursing school you can do anything. Glad you posted, always nice to see new “faces”.

  16. Andrea… All the houses on our street have wood burning fireplaces but ours. I wish we had that to help w the oil costs. Brandy… We did have a home inspection but the stove was not hooked up rather stored in the basement. It was a short sale and we prob shoulve known better than to believe the previous owner. He was less than thrilled to move out. Our realtor and her hubby physically helped move him out to ensure closing. We werent closing with ANY of his belongings left behind. LolDef a live and learn. Ur friend must be thrilled w her savings!! Adriana

  17. Hi Heidi. I saw that you made your own dog food and you add garlic. I just wanted you to know that garlic (and onion) can be poisonous to dogs! Please look into this

  18. I bought a lovely sturdy hardwood frame wing chair for $5 from a friend. Brought it home and decided to recover. I found some curtains at a discount store that were under $5. Two panels covered the chair (including making a separate cushion. I didn’t have a staple gun so nailed the fabric on with small brad type nails. Ladies, it held up for 5 years until I tired of it! You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t need expensive upholstery fabric. Just go for it and do it.

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