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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

I spent part of everyday in the garden this week, and all day Saturday. January is like fall, winter, and spring to me; it gets cold enough that the apples finally lose their leaves, it’s cold earlier in the month, and then the third week of January comes and everything is beautiful, especially in the middle of the day.

I spent a lot of time transplanting and pruning last week, moving things to where they’ll get more sun, pruning the espaliered apples (I still have more left to do this week with the saw).

I planted more seeds in the garden this week, using seeds that I purchased last year.

I moved Swiss chard and artichokes to new places in the garden. This should give me a better yield and make better use of my garden. I moved the chard to partial shade (full shade now but that will change as the sun gets higher as the year continues). I moved the artichokes to where they will get more sun.

I thinned turnips and transplanted the thinned seedlings in the garden.

I planted the center circle in the back with johnny-jump-ups that had self-seeded and a few seedlings that I had been growing somewhere else. I had exactly the right number of plants!

I dug up and moved another grape vine to an area with more sun. This vine has never done well, is slow growing, and only gave me 2 grapes last year. That is all it has given me in several years. I know it may not produce the year it is transplanted (the one I transplanted last year didn’t give me any then), but like the other one I moved earlier this month, it wasn’t giving me anything where it was, so transplanting should make a difference, next year if not this year while it grows some new roots.

The place I moved it to had a blackberry, so I dug that up and moved it to where the grapevine was, as they need some afternoon shade with our burning temperatures in May (when they are ripe). We had aded more dirt to this planter last year when we put in the white garden, and I had not done anything to the planter since then. When I went to move the blackberry, I discovered that three new plants had formed, from a couple of vines being partially buried (they formed roots). I cut them and planted them. I don’t know if they’ll make it but I hope so!

I took cuttings from the afore-mentioned grape and stuck them in rooting power, and put them in the garden as well. I did several, hoping for one that takes.

I dug up two euyonomous stems that I had rooted last year (but I did these on purpose) in the garden by the same way that the blackberries rooted. I moved them to another place in the garden. It will take a few years for them to grow into bushes.

The children made a fort with the branches that I pruned last week. We let them do this for a few days each January when I prune.

During naptime, Winter practiced her archery on a homemade target. My husband made it with hay bales that we received for free from someone who was using them for archery here and then had to move just a few months after moving here. He put them on a large wagon that we were given from my dad a long time ago. When she wants to practice she can move it from the patio to the garden, and we have her do it when everyone is inside.

I watched two shows for free on Hulu, and Downton Abbey on Pbs.org.

I attended a service auction activity with women from church. Everyone filled out a questionnaire based on services we had recently done, including questions like, “Did you hug someone today?”, “Did you say ‘I love you’ to someone today?” and we were awarded points for our answers, which translated into play money dollars.

We also filled out papers for each service we would be willing to do for someone else. Many services included food items.

I won the auction for a basket of tomatoes from someone’s garden (she has a greenhouse so she gets tomatoes a month earlier than I do and in much more abundance), and a month’s worth of eggs and goats’ milk from my friend who has chickens. I don’t know how many that will be, but I do know that her chickens will lay more once it warms up more, so I will probably wait a bit to redeem it.

(My own service offers were prune rose bushes, clean windows, teach someone to make French Bread, salad dressing, and other things at my house, and a 1-hour garden consultation). All of the women enjoyed the activity so much that they have decided to make it an annual activity.

With such nice weather, the children had lots of fun playing outside.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Got invited out to dinner at a very nice restaurant. Four course meal that was covered by the department that sponsored an event I attended. The main course was not all that great but it was a wonderful experience and dessert was deliciousI attended a friend’s birthday event. Hordervers were served and I made sure I partook in thatPacked a lunch everydayWas tempted to eat out during the weekend, but I remained strong and packed leftovers for lunch when I went to campus to studyAfter reading last week’s comments on swagbucks, I read moneysaving mom and started to search with swagbucks. I have to say it is not as hard as I thought it would be. I use the computer a lot for school and do a lot of internet search. Now I use the swagbucks toolbar instead of going straight to websites. I also play the videos while I am doing other things. It will be awhile before I can get anything but I have a little over a 100 swagbucks, so that is pretty cool for one weekFound some extra money that was not part of the budget, so I used it to send an extra payment for my credit cardI stayed home on Sunday which allowed me to get a lot doneI listened to Suze Orman for free on iTunesWe are still under budget this month; my fingers are still crossed we will make it to the 31st under budgetI fasted on SundayBorrowed a tape recorder for an event I went to so I did not have to purchase oneUsed baking soda as deodorantUsed baking soda for toothpasteWe continued making lemonade and limeade instead of buying juiceRemembered to use the printer at school to printGot free magazines in the mailWe have not turned on the heat; we are still using the fireplace

  2. My husband and I went to Costco this weekend which doesn’t sound frugal but as a result, we came home and cleaned out our inside freezer and our freezer in the garage and now that we know what we have, I am committed to using it up before we spend more money on groceries! I made 5 trays of enchiladas because I had some corn tortillas to use and part of them are going into the freezer for future dinners. I made homemade beans to go with the enchiladas- I love love love Paula Deen’s crockpot bean recipe as a base for homemade refried beans (which we don’t fry at all) and part of them will be going into the freezer for future dinners. I love your website- I found you on Bing when I was going to another favorite of mine called onehundreddollarsamonth- I like that Bing suggests similar websites that I might be interested in or I don’t think I would have found you!

  3. Thank you, Debbie. It can be hard sometimes as you undoubtedly know which is why I appreciate the encouragement that everyone shares here. Incidentally, I forgot another frugal item…my husband found pasta on sale for .39/#! You have to buy it in quantities of 6 in order to get that price. I think the sale goes through today and, while it’s not technically in my budget to buy it, I’m contemplating “leveraging” my funds so that I don’t have to buy it anytime soon. I think the varieties are limited so that will affect my decision too. I think he found eggs for .99/dozen, too, but while that is a good price, it’s not a “stock-up” price in my opinion and I can’t justify making room in my egg category to buy them like I might do for the pasta. I’ll close out the grocery budget on Friday and make some adjustments for Feb. to take another shot at getting down to $250. I know we’ll be able to get lower than that once the garden takes off and we get into a rhythm with that, but right now we seem to be stuck at the $300 mark. Still not bad for a family of 5, I realize, but it’s about the big picture, too. It’s about self-sufficiency and taking care of our environment as well as frugality. Yes, rinsing out zipper bags is kind of a pain, but it’s better for our environment to use them until they’re not usable anymore (and eventually avoid using them altogether). I would love to be a “zero-waste” family!

  4. Andrea, .99 is the lowest eggs go here. That is my stock up price. Do they go lower than that where you live?The lowest price per pound here for pasta is .49 a pound. It only comes along a couple of times a year, so today I did just what you were contemplating.

  5. I want to start documenting my frugal accomplishments, for both encouragement and tracking over time. Here it goes!This week I:baked all of our bread – WW sandwich bread for toast, sourdough for dinner, and yeast rolls for sandwiches and rolls;brought lunch to work every day;ate dinner at home all week;continued the process of using up what’s in our pantry and freezer;made homemade yogurt for the first time from a friend’s starter. Delicious – will be added to my routine;continued to go through our rooms to declutter and donate what we don’t actively use and/or have outgrown;we need a new light fixture but have a perfectly functional one – DH is attempting to paint the old one;cleaned the upstairs carpet – which I hate to do! – which will allow us to forego “real” carpet cleaning for at least a few more months. white carpet + dog + kids + wintertime = yuck. (carpet was here when we moved in)A good week. 🙂

  6. I, like many others, are super envious of your green grass and beautiful looking weather. It was -25 F here today! I’m really getting so tired of it.Last week was overall a good week and I made quite a few homemade snacks and spent much less than I typically do on groceries. I struggled with migraines this week (what’s new) and caved and ordered take out one night for supper 🙁 I find that my health is a real struggle sometimes with getting things done but also getting them done well and inexpensively. I’m hoping 2014 is the year my doctor’s can finally figure out some way to help me control them! I posted the rest of my accomplishments on my blog: http://livingwithinreason.blogspot.ca/2014/01/accomplishments-january-18-to-january-24.html

  7. When I have little babies that like to nurse in the middle of the night I turn the heat up during the winter. What can I say? I’m a wimp when it comes to getting up in the freezing cold middle of the night. Well, my baby hasn’t nursed at night for 6 or 7 months and I just now realized we never turned the heat back down. (Slap forehead!) Thanks to the reminders here, I reprogrammed the thermostat for 55 at night and also turned it down a couple of degrees during the day when it’s just me and the two little ones at home. Hopefully the adjustment will shave a few dollars off the heating bill. Bought some new plastic for the garden box. I’m hoping to get it set up tomorrow so it can warm the soil for a few weeks before I start planting stuff out there. I’m so excited to start gardening again! Finished my potholder from last week. I will be making more soon, although I think I’ll do it a little bigger than the pattern. I like the bigger ones I received for my wedding.Set up a new “Daily Responsibility” chart for me and the kids. While not necessarily frugal in itself, when chores are done and the kitchen is clean BEFORE dinner-making time I’m much more likely to cook rather than throw my hands up and break for take-out.Made more bread. I almost have the whole method and process down. Who knew 6 loaves would be so different from just making 2?Pictures and Links on my blog: http://ourprovidenthome.blogspot.com/2014/01/turning-down-heat-and-other-frugal.html

  8. This weekend we threw a big first birthday party. While not frugal, this is something that we enjoy doing, so we scrimp and save in other areas so that we can celebrate with extended family and a few friends on first birthdays. That said, it was frugal in some ways. plates, cups, party favors, and some decorations were Christmas markdowns. I price-matched at Walmart for a lot of the food, and bought the rest from Aldi. We saved the gift bags from other people to reuse, and I used miscellaneous thank-you notes to send out instead of buying nice new ones. I returned some duplicate gifts for store credit. We did not get him a gift, as he’s too young to know, and the party was his gift. We shared some party leftovers with some elderly neighbors, then individually froze some of the sandwiches to pack for my husband’s lunches.For a different birthday party we attended the next day, I recycled a gift bag, gave a toy bought on after-Christmas markdown, and asked my cousin (the host) for the coke bottle codes, which she was going to throw away. Took the kids to eat at IKEA on Tuesday when kids eat free.Got some of the drugstore bargains at CVS.Asked for extra (free) clothes hangers at Carter’s. I am going to try to sell some things at an upcoming children’s clothing consignment sale.Went to an Aldi grand opening and got 2 free reusale cloth bags filled with samples and a $5 off $25 purchase coupon. I also picked up some of their specials, which were milk for $1.79/gallon, eggs $.79/dozen, and butter for $1.79/#. Prices will go up $.20 for each of these as soon as the sale ends.Went to Sam’s to check on baby formula options for my sister, but did not buy anything and did not venture into the middle of the store, where I see things I never knew I wanted. Combined many of these errands to save gas.Requested book from the library.Had a picnic in the park after the library storytime with friends. The kids all got to run and play, and we enjoyed our lunch from home.Found marked down chocolate chips at Kroger, which I froze.I need to lose about 8 lbs. I don’t know whether it’s “worth it” to join Weight Watchers, but this weight is stubborn and I haven’t lost it on my own. I know that there are a lot of free apps now, but I don’t have a smartphone.

  9. Debbie… Isnt that storage pmt so painful?!Ours was meant to be a temporary solution until my husband could finish the “living rm” side of our basement however… Work and holidays have halted any progress. I may revisit getting a smaller one… Thanks. ;). Adriana

  10. These last two weeks have been good for us:A friend’s office was cleaning out and I walked away with free gardening supplies, earplugs, shades, utensils. I”m especially excited about the shades—they will make my sunporch usable in the warmer months and the ones for the den will hopefuilly decrease our AC bill!Purchased potatoes on sale for 20 cents/pd.I’m prepping/planning more the evening before, which makes mealtimes easier. Am staying on budget this month with better meal planning.DH washed car and repaired a frozen pipeWe are hanging things on drying racks as much as possiblePurchased 3 orange peppers for .99—in freezer for meals; then 2 green+1 yellow for .99Froze buttermilk to use in breadsPurchased free mag from RecyclebankTook lunch to work each dayStretched 3 meals out of whole chickenMade 2 kinds homemade dressing, one from the Tightwad Gazette (Catalina—-YUMMY)Said no to storebought snacks…will take items I have in freezer, make muffins, and use the sugar snap peas I bought on saleMy mother sent leftovers home for lunch Monday and gave us another meal too.I needed purse and found one for $5 from Walmart

  11. I am baking our bread now! Yeah, I have been using my sourdough starter and the kids are still eager to eat it as toast in the morning or the occasional sandwich. I made up a bunch of sour dough pizza crusts a few months ago and just started getting them out and using them, they are also a big hit. I found that Costco has bread flour for under $14 for a 50 lb bag, so I bought that, now I don’t have to buy and add vital wheat gluten.I went to a homeschooling conference and left hubby with the kids, also left some freezer meals for them, that they ate, and I got a free Wi-Fi code from the hotel, strangely this hotel normal charges for Wi-Fi, but I got it for free for both days I was there.Pulled and served onions, and carrots from my garden.Used a #10 can of tomato sauce to make pizza sauce, I open the giant can ladle out what I need then divide up the rest in glass recycled pasta sauce jars and freeze. I no longer buy my pasta sauce that way, but saved a bunch of the jars.

  12. I love reading everyone’s posts of frugal accomplishments! It really encourages me to keep going on my journey to spend less and gives me good ideas too :)Not a lot this week but here are my accomplishments:-I cooked a whole chicken and got 3 meals out of it. I also tried making broth for the first time but I am not sure how it turned out. Anybody have suggestions? It tastes really bland. I did not throw it away yet though in hopes I can fix it :)-I made homemade granola for the first time. Yummy!-We had a family night and stayed home. We rented a children’s movie from Redbox and moved the furniture so we could sit right in front of the t.v. just like the movie theater. And the kids enjoyed some popcorn from home.-I got our t.v. bill lowered by $15 a month. (I would prefer to get rid of it entirely and just use internet but the hubby has got to have his sports! LOL)-We received $.20 off a gallon on our gas due to store loyalty points (that I got really by using coupons). We filled up our van and this will last 2 weeks.-I received a $10 Walmart gift card in the mail from a rebate. I will use this to buy some paper products or make up. I haven’t decided yet…-I downloaded some free Kindle books-

  13. Last week the entire family ended up catching the yucky high fever virus that is going around in our area. Thankfully I had some extra bottles of juice, crackers, tissues, etc. in the house. Will need to figure out the budget to include replacing those items. Being home all week meant we only used one car a few days- saving us at least $40 in gas.While I was sick I read a book I borrowed from the library, watched some shows online, and searched Pinterest for some new frugal recipes to add to our menu plan for a change.I cooked dried kidney beans and navy beans and portioned them out to use later and froze them. My husband and I did an energy audit online through our electric company. Our bill has doubled since the same time last year. I have been careful about unplugging things and turning off lights but needed some other ideas to help make a differnce. I am going to start with trying my washer on a different cycle to see if I can cut down the wash time. Have a wonderful week.

  14. I mentioned something similar to this a couple posts ago…this is an example of learning a skill that will save you money down the line. Naturally everyone can’t learn everything and you ultimately have to call the repairman in under certain circumstances, but what is a service call now? About 45.00 just for them to come to the house, I think. When the tech school sends out the fliers of their adult classes there is quite a variety in there, same with the County Extension classes. We’re never too old to learn.

  15. Was a quiet week last week, no gatherings or special events to handle. The picture of the girls in the garden…that would be about mid-June here. Today looks warm as the sun is shining brightly. We did not have school yesterday due to cold temps. My husband has been in town almost daily the last 2 weeks so on the days really cold he has been taking me to work and picking me up. A nice warmed up car is such a treat. We ate at home, I packed lunch for myself everyday. Husband and youngest manage for themselves at home for noon lunch. Cooked all from scratch. Mixed up a new batch of biskwik mix, mixed up 10 pie crusts and froze 7. Made a peach pie using my canned peach pie filling. made a quiche with one crust, frozen chopped broccoli and bell peppers from my garden and Swiss cheese, farm eggs and 2% milk. I do not use 1/2 and 1/2. Roasted a pan of root cellar vegetables…rutabaga, sweet potato, potatoes, carrots, winter squash and onions. Made banana bran muffins using the last of a box of raisin bran cereal, adding a handful more of raisins and some millet seeds. Made pancakes, puppy chow using up the rice chex and corn chex leftover from making chex mix in December. Made corn beef hash with diced potatoes and rutabaga and onions and a piece of corned beef I had save from last March. Ground it in my little grinder that clamps on the table…it’s probably 100 years old, I am guessing. Made spaghetti sauce, sauteed up a large box of mushrooms that my husband got for .68 with a coupon. Added to sauce. Made brownies with nuts stirred into one half of the pan and the other half of pan plain. Made pot roast..it’s funny, both my husband and I had the same thought about it so decided to cook it up Saturday. The meat was in the freezer (ex-dairy cow) and I had all the vegetables. Son came up Saturday for a meeting at the University. Sent a quart container back with him, and we had the meal of it Sunday noon with my mother over and daughter and SIL. There are still leftovers for another meal tonight. Made tapioca pudding. Made coleslaw from storage vegetables, cooked rice. Hard boiled 9 eggs, peeled and put five of them into the jar of pickled beet juice. They will be ready to eat today. Made egg salad with the rest. Made one loaf of white bread and one pan of rolls. Cooked up a pumpkin from cellar and pureed the pulp, roasted the seeds, season seeds with Old Bay. Kind of spicy. Made 4 loaves of pumpkin bread with pecans. Put 3 loaves in the freezer. Packed the rest of pulp for making a pumpkin pie next week for husbands birthday.Never went to the grocer at all due to the weather…bought a gallon of milk at the gas station for 2.69, 5 pounds of bananas at .33/lb, (need to have nice ripe bananas to make banana cake for husbands birthday…he wants banana cake with whip cream frosting and pumpkin pie. Easy enough, course he has picked desserts but has yet to tell me what actual food he would like! So that was it for all shopping, not just groceries.Mended a favorite hooded sweatshirt, again. I told her there will come a time I won’t be able to do much more. I told her I could cut out the front logo and make into a pillow for her. Repaired a buttonhole on a shirt. Patched a pair of work gloves with leather save from another worn pair. Husband waterproofed them. Planning gardens with oldest daughter. Now she has the house with the established beds and we will share what is grown there. She is going to expand each bed and had plowed them under last fall. She feels the green house is ready and will be planning on starting a lot from seed. She will be working from home, with her goats. My husband has been planning and working on raised beds and containers for me to use around the edges of our front patio which is the south side of the new house. I will put greens here, herbs, flowers, a small number of tomatoes, zucchini and cucumber or two. I will be able to tend these myself with out too much help.

  16. Sandra, Next time you cook your whole chicken, try placing everything left but the meat (bones, skin) in your crockpot along with an onion, a bay leaf and 10 -12 cups of water. Let it simmer all night 8 hours on low and strain it the next morning. Place your strained broth in your refrigerator and after at least 8 hours you can skim your “fat cake” off the top and divide whatever you need into containers in the freezer. As far as the broth you have now it would still be great for a soup base, replacing the water when you’re making rice or grits.

  17. A few things I do that keeps my bill down:On my washing machine, I never noticed there were settings for the length of the cycle. Everything now gets cycled on short and on the cold setting with the exception of whites. They go on a regular cycle on warm.For drying, I hang dry all my clothes with the exception of t-shirts and undergarments. I do not have a backyard with a clothesline, instead in our garage we have the shelving that allows you to hang clothes on the bottom part. I find that if I leave them out in the summertime, they are done in a few hours, winter is usually 24 hours. This also helps keep my clothes nicer. In the summertime, I close the door to the utility room to keep the heat confined and in the winter, leave it open to help heat the house. For the dishwasher, we turned the heat drying off. After the load runs after dinner, I prop open the door, pull the top row out slightly and let the dishes “dry” overnight.We replaced all our light bulbs to CFL. Plugged all computers, TV’s and printers into power strips and flip the switch to off when not in use to help with phantom usuage. And of course the ones everyone always suggest – try keeping your thermostat a few degrees up/down than normal, it makes a huge difference. Also check the setting on your water heater and lower it to the acceptable degree, usually 120 degrees. We are on a co-op so we have the lowest rate possible. If you have the availability I would rate shop or speak with your electricity company and see if they have average billing or if they have lower fees at certain times of the day. Hope this helps!

  18. I really like your idea of organizing your recipe book by meal. I think that would help me with dinner inspiration. What do I do with pancakes though? We have them for dinner at least once a month. LOL Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish it’s actually very important. Remember the airplane rule – oxygen for yourself first and those under your care second. Also “if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!”

  19. This wk:-made dishwasher tabs-turned off computer overnight all wk. cant wait to see how this translates into savings. -saved40¢/ gal on gas-bought 3 hot sauces for 6¢ each after clearance and coupon-every other wk i take my neighbors cans/ bottles for deposit. I had 80=$4. Used that money to buy 1lb gbeef for $2, romaine lettuce 79¢ & 2 pears for 38¢. All from target and using mobile coupons. -my hubby was given a free oil change from a co worker who had a hand full of coupons from dealership for buying a car. -my hubby rec’d 2 boxes of pots and pans & tupperware from diff co worker. We accepted for our daughter as she will be attending college away from home this fall. -bought a lot of utensils thru a facebk online yard sale. I got about 60 pieces and the tray for $5. I really only needed the forks but will be saving the other spoons and knives for my daughter. -made a bundt cake, used the butter wrappers to grease the pan. Ate out lunch once and cooked dinner at home all wk. HUGE for us. -found 26¢- stopped buying italian dressing since i have about 8 packets i got for free using coupons- made it to my dr appt. turns out my rash is psorasis due to stress and high blood pressure. Refilled my meds since i let it lapse w all my energy focused on my kids. The dr says i absolutely need to take time for myself… So Anna we need to take care of ours first so we can be here for our kids. Its so hard not to feel guilty so i completely understand. Adriana

  20. Carolin,Have you checked with any of the dental schools in your area? They often offer services at about 1/4 the price of a regular dentist. I have also noticed that there is a lot of variation in the price of orthodontics. My mom saved 3,000 by using a dentist that was located in a more rural area instead of using a dentist in the city. (They live in a rural area.)

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