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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Thanks to some unexpected summer rain and cooler temperatures (caused by a tropical storm) I was able to turn off the sprinklers and drip system for days, saving us money on our water bill. I also opened the windows in the mornings and was able to cool the house for a while in the morning instead of running the air conditioner, saving on our electric bill. I am also hoping that the cooler temperatures cause our plants to flower again in the garden, meaning more food for us It was around 96ºF during the day and 78º at night, which is much cooler than usual for us. Usually this is the hottest time of year.

I received the electric bill last week, and  I was happy to see that despite yet another price increase, my bill for August was $50 less than it was for July. The electric company has been raising rates every quarter for nearly a decade here; since purchasing this house 7 years ago rates have gone up 28 times. I lowered our bill over $250 a month from the first summer despite all of that, but as the rates continue to increase, it is catching back up to what it was the first year that we moved here, despite that fact that I am using less electricity. Earlier this month I moved the thermostats to not go on until it reaches 81º in the house, and because it didn’t have to run all night (like it usually does) at that temperature, it made a big difference.

I saw a few female melon flowers and one female cucumber flower in the garden, so I hand-pollinated those. I also pulled off several tent caterpillars by hand and stepped on them. I’ve never seen tent caterpillars in my garden before. They move very quickly!

We enjoyed an alfresco dinner on our back patio. My husband taught the children his magic string trick with a burnt match. He showed it to them over and over and it was so convincing that when he told Winter that his magic string magically returned to his pocket when he was done, she reached over to get it out! Then he told her only he could retrieve it!

After lots of wonderings, he explained it to them and showed them how to do his magic string trick (which involves a burnt match, and there is no string involved! It just looks like he is tying an invisible string).

I made French bread, rosemary olive oil bread, blueberry pear muffins,  rosemary breadsticks, Belgian waffles, herb roasted chicken, bean chili, homemade rice a roni, spaghetti, Swiss chard soup, minestrone soup, a pear and cherry tart, and cucumbers in vinegar twice (I saved the vinegar/water mixture in the refrigerator to use for the second batch).

I made fried chicken. I cut up two bone-in breasts and divided it between the 9 of us; they were around 2 pounds total (which makes for a more expensive meal for us than most, but we also had lots of less expensive meals to help offset the cost). When I fry chicken I don’t deep fry it; I put 1/4″ of oil in the bottom of the pan and I turn the chicken regularly. The chicken was bought on sale and frozen many months ago.

This week from the garden I picked four Armenian cucumbers, one small tomato, Swiss chard for two meals, rosemary, a small amount of red noodle beans, chives,

I cut white zinnias from the front garden and a few red zinnias from the backyard for our table.

We did some more repairs this week. I mended the hem of a shirt, turned a pair of torn pants into shorts and mended the holes in them, and mended a towel.

It turned out that one of the bicycle needed a new inner tube, and the other ended up getting a big hole in the tire after Liberty rode over a rock. My husband pulled the inner tune out of one of the other bicycles that was the same size and replaced it. Three of my girls watched while he did it and he explained it to them.

We had another couple of bicycles that we had been given for parts. My husband took the seat off of one to put on a different bicycle for Liberty, cut off the sticky handlebar grips (they looked to have melted), and made some repairs to it so that she has a bike to ride.

I made a triple batch of laundry detergent this week.

I sent my husband to pick up a 12 ounce bag of salad that was free with a coupon at a local grocery store that is near his work. He had to drive by there that day for another reason, so I gave him the coupon.

I did not purchase any food last week.

The only thing I purchased last week was 8 photos of the children (I ordered prints through Sam’s Club).

What did you do to live frugally last week?

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25 Comments

  1. My parents used to hunt squirrel as well. My mother browned the pieces, then made a gravy. She removed the bones & used the meat & gravy to make a pot pie. Between the vegetables & the gravy, it tasted like a cross between chicken thighs & pheasant, sort of like rabbit.

  2. My father hunted squirrel, also, as a young man for economic reasons. Back then, that was pretty common in the Ozarks among poor people. I believe it was breaded and fried, with gravy made in the pan. I have never tasted it.

  3. We had an extremely full week. We had 31relatives from all over the Midwest staying at our house and with other relatives in the area. For the weekend. On Sunday had another 200 out from church. This was baptismal service and then lunch. ( I think I mentioned awhile ago that we have a pond. ) We spent quite awhile cooking, fortunately everyone contributes. One table was just all relishes and pickles. So many desserts. Every kind of salad you can think of. All homemade buns, called grandma buns, because they make them the best. Sliced cold meats an cheeses. Lots of hot tea. The aunties (my husband has four of them) bring out the samovars for the occasion. My only real expense was a dish to.pass, like at a potluck, and then use of our property.Saturday was our extended family celebration with birthdays of three younger cousins , including daughter Johanna, and birthdays of two of the aunties and and two sister in laws. Also the remembrance birthday of my father and my husband,s mother. The fireworks were worth the expense and as usual, no injuries. And also younger son Markus returned from three year mission service in CA. and Johanna from 3 month mission service at hospital in Kenya. So much to be grateful for.Harvested lots. And lots. More and more of the same. Made 21 12oz jars of pickle relish. 6 half pints of plum sauce, 14 qts of tomato juice, cut and froze 5 qts of corn and 13 pint bags of green beans. 12 pints of spicy cilantro salsa (a Ball recipe I recommend). Chopped and froze cauliflower, broccoli, Made more bread and butter pickles. Grate zucchini.Cooked all from scratch, two kinds of potato salad, taco dip (using two .88 cent blocks of cream cheese. Kraft had coupon in the flyer for 5.00 off five items and the store had the cream cheese on sale for 1.88 so when buy 5 minus the five dollars ends up .88 each . I went back two more times and also got 8oz blocks of cheese for .88 each. Monday, fall arrived . Hasn’t been above 68 degrees . Made two gallons of borscht using cabbage and my beets so families all had hot lunch before heading out. (For those that didn’t leave before daybreak, that is.) Cousin had brought bushel of transparent apples along. Not good keepers but excellent for cooking . Made slab pie with some for Saturday night. Will sauce the rest. Made German chocolate cake (made frosting last week) and a pineapple upside down cake also, as two of the birthday cakes.Only food expense was two bunches of celery, one of radishes, a knob of gjnger, a box of liquid pectin, a case of jelly jars (20% off at the farm store). Milk and eggs.reimbursed son for bulk spices he brought me from Madison co-op…star anise, cardamom pods,mustard seeds, bay leaves, vital wheat gluten, tube tomato paste, pound of poppy seeds. Still managed to stay under $100 for August.Closer to moving to “New” house. Children managed to spend short but concentrated time working on their rooms. I had plenty of boxes. Old huuse becomes Eliana and Theo`s in six weeks.We start my fours season soon . After a weekend like we just had I am really going to miss my two stoves. Some one left a coupon for 4 cents off gallon of gas in my cart at farm store. We will drive both cars there next time and fill them. Gas went up 7cents here this week.

  4. You don’t have to be a seamstress and master every part of sewing, if you can just grasp enough to hem your own clothes and mend what breaks, you can save money and be leagues ahead of the average person now adays(men can and have sewn to. My kids are learning hand stiching first, the ability to repair, then the machine and only last thing like pockets, like a few years from now! Pockets are a pain for all but the best seamstress’ in my opinion

  5. Athanasia, yes the rodent repeller plugs into an outlet. It is about three by four inches and has a red light to let you know is is working. Sometimes after a power glitch, it needs to be unplugged and plugged back in. The best I remember, it was about thirty dollars quite a few years back. The Vermont Country Store is a very reputable company. You can find them on line, and you can get a catalog sent, if you like.

  6. Athanasia, I forgot to answer your other question. One will cover a small house, up to at least 1200 square feet. For larger houses, you would need more.

  7. * my 10 year old and I picked and prepped 48 ears of corn for the freezer (took off the cob and froze)* my teen is making her own headbands using materials she finds around the house* prepped some meals for the freezer (fall is a busy time for us)* made homemade bread* cooked a whole turkey to make room in the freezer, made several meals plus some lunches* check the clearance rack at my grocery and got 3 boxes of cereal for .99 each

  8. I will post my recipe on my blog later this week but I believe the one I used is similar to the Food In Jars recipe (her blog is awesomesauce by the way if you enjoy canning). It uses a TON of tomatoes but it’s so different and delicious! Athanasia- the Tomato Lemon Marmalade sounds amazing. I’m off to look up that recipe now…KK

  9. I am glad you were able to save your tree. We have twice now been able to reinforce a tree, smaller ones, by drilling all the way through and putting a bolt through. The tree grows right over it and eventually it disappears under the bark. An arborist told us this trick. This works if you see splits occurring in an otherwise healthy tree, not a split due to disease of course.

  10. Life from the roof, I spend my gift money on kitchen items. That is where I spend most of my time doing cooking and baking and preserving which I love. My children know I love the kitchen gadget so I have received everything imaginablenover the years. And they make me happy. So I think you did a very good thing!

  11. KK the recipe is on pg 41 and is called tomato preserves. When it says thinly sliced lemons they really mean it. As thin as possible. So delicious . And where it says boil three min for syrup to thicken…takes me at least fifteen.Are you the one who wanted kuchen recipe? Is the recipe you remember a custard one or just a plain fruit with a struesel topping?

  12. This week got away from me. I kept meaning to post, but I had a busy week at school. This is my first time posting. Thank you for this blog and all the great advice.I made sauce to go with rice and my husband made a spinach dish that we ate for a few meals. I picked basil from the garden, and my husband made a pesto that we ate in sandwiches. And we made homemade pizza for our godchildren. I also packed a lunch every day this week, which was a huge accomplishment for me. We only ate out twice. I was also able to get some free canned goods from my university’s food pantry.I bought much needed binder dividers for .25 cents each. I also got reams of paper for very cheap with rebates and coupons. I was able to get my eczema medication from CVS for $4 off with two coupons. After reading some comments on this blog, I signed up for Kohl’s email and got a $5 coupon. I was able to get a dress for work for $5.38. It was a good week!

  13. I’m not sure if your state does this, but I live in Ohio and here we can ‘shop around’ for electric. I secured a flat-rate for electric in the spring with a company, my electric is still supplied by my original company but I now get a flat rate. Here I pay 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, my mom who didn’t want to bother with the “trouble” of doing a 10 minute phone call pays 6.3 cents per kilowatt. I know it doesn’t sound like a big savings, but it’s saved us $10+ a month on electric, and we normally only pay $50 a month(small 3 person family on only my husband’s income) whereas before we secured we’d regularly pay $60-70 a month. Just an idea for some savings. I know that you may also be able to do this with gas as well. My husband used to work for a company that did flat-rates for gas in the cooler months but it went back to variable in the summer months when people don’t really use gas. I hope this can help.God bless,Hannah Jdreamingofperfect.weebly.com

  14. There is only one provider for each of the utilities here. The water district is so over-reaching that they told people who have wells that they can no longer use those wells and have to have city water. We pay more than double what you pay here.

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