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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

We have been having very unusual weather for August lately.

I have lived in Las Vegas for 13 years. My first year here, I remember the weatherman announcing that it was 126ºF in the north end of town one day in late September. (The new zone maps show that Las Vegas has several different microclimates, from a zone 8b to a 10a. Temperatures can vary as much as 10º across the valley on any day, and the official temperature is recorded at the airport, which is cooler and gets twice the rainfall as the north end. The west side of  the valley gets more rain; they are closer to the mountains; this also is the zone 8b area. I’m in a 9a. Most rainclouds pass us by, or they fall on the south end of the city, and we only get to smell the rain. Downtown gets an average of 4″ of rain a year; my part of town is around 2″ The big rainfall that we had in July showed .28″ at a friend’s house on the west side of town. That’s the most he has ever seen–by a lot–and he’s lived here many more years than I have.)

Most years, I won’t want to go out to garden in the summer because it is 103º at 5 a.m. for a couple of months. I’ve waited to go to run errands until 8 p.m., when the car thermostat shows 113º outside (this is when the parks fill up with children–after dark!) Daytime temperatures have been around 120º at my house.

This year is very different, and I have been outside a lot this week. It was 107.9º for the hottest day this week, but our low temperature one day was 71º! This made it easy to work out in the garden for an hour before sunrise several days this week.

I cut a few tiny roses from the garden. It cooled down just enough to let them bloom, but it’s still hot enough that they are the size of miniature roses. The cooler temperatures also meant that my tomatoes bloomed again! Usually they do not bloom again until October.

We played outside in the backyard.

I picked a basket of Bartlett pears from the garden. I picked a basket of Jonagold apples from the garden as well. Because it is not cold, these will not turn red here, even when they are ripe. These are a high chill apple; I have them in a place that is shaded in the garden during much of the winter. Using the microclimates in my own yard helps me to grow more.

I harvested a handful of red noodle beans, a few green onions, a few small tomatoes, some hot Thai bird peppers, and some Swiss chard from the garden.

I planted more zucchini seeds (this time in the front yard). Two of them sprouted this morning.

We played some more outside in the backyard.

I reprogrammed our two thermostats so that the air conditioners will not turn on for 5 hours (from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m.) by setting the temperature a bit higher for those hours.

I reprogrammed the drip for the backyard to water less days and for shorter times. I find that I reprogram it often throughout the year, depending on the weather as well as the water regulations. Since we have been having cooler weather, I turned it down to three days a week. I will turn it back up if I need to, but I usually have to water every day until mid-September. With both water and electric bills rising (the electric company just raised rates again), every little bit helps.

I made banana bread, pumpkin bread, saltines, turkey and dumplings, jam thumbprint cookies, pancakes, homemade rice a roni, individual steamed chocolate puddings, pizza, stir fry, and bean and rice burritos. It was my first time making steamed puddings. I used the pot I use for water bath canning with a canning rack in the bottom to steam the puddings.

I canned a batch of hot pepper jelly using Thai peppers from my garden and bell peppers that I bought on sale for .10 each and froze earlier this year.

I sprouted mung beans so that I could have bean sprouts for stir fry.

I washed Ziploc bags.

I printed free sheet music for “Amazing Grace” for Winter to learn on the piano.

I hand-pollinated the two female cucumbers that grew in our front garden. The plants are covered with hundreds of male flowers.

I mended two dresses, and a nightgown. I sewed a button from my button jar on my husband’s dress shirt.

I turned a child’s pair of torn pants into a pair of shorts.

My husband cut his hair and I finished it for him. I cut Cyrus’s hair and I cut Ezrom’s hair.



Winter made the rosemary crown for Liberty from the rosemary in our garden and some floral wire.

I took some more photos of Liberty and Ezrom this week.

My husband asked my father-in-law if I can borrow his bicycle. I have not ridden a bicycle since I was a child, and I have been looking for one for many years at garage sales, but they were all much too expensive. We did find one on Craig’s list this week, but my husband remembered that his dad has one that he is not using. I am going to try it out and see if I really like it or not. If the weather continues I am going to try to go for a ride a few times a week in the early morning.

I did not buy anything last week.

What did you do to save money last week?

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25 Comments

  1. Thanks for the input..I actually used to buy it at our shop rite, the 12 oz powdered whole milk kind for $9.99 and I think whole foods has this at the same price…we go a week with each can… It’s about $10 something per can on amazon incl. free shippingCelia- I did not think of getting the case lots but now I think I willMarivene-that is an awesome tip, will def. follow it up..

  2. I gave up my cell phone early this year…it is a freeing experience. I’ve not missed it once. Sometimes, my DH tries to get me to take his phone (he has it for our business) when I go on errands. I find it a nuisance now LOL…have to worry about losing it or dropping it…I know you feel proud about the 26 days…WAY TO GO!

  3. This week we used cloth diapers and hung them to dry outside. I listed a few items on eBay and made some extra money for garage sale season. Our neighbor gave us some boxes of canning jars from his parents’ estate, which I will use when I finally get around to making jelly. I picked up some wild plums from my mom’s tree, which I froze. It was only about a quart, but the tree is just beginning to produce, so there will be many more to come. We went to story time at the library, where they gave out free Whataburger coupons and toothbrushes to the kids as the summer reading program concluded.Not frugal, but we are getting cable for football season, so I called different providers to comparison shop. I don’t know of any other way to access the college sports that come on ESPN, and while I don’t watch tv, this is something that is very important to my husband. I added lentils to a small amount of beef for homemade hamburger helper and no one noticed. I cooked a whole chicken purchased for $.49/# at Kroger. We ate from it two nights, I made chicken pot pie once, and there is enough meat for one meal. I froze the bones, fat, etc. to cook down some other time.When we all went to have lunch with my husband at his office, I resisted the urge to eat out and we took our own food. Going downtown was treat enough.I price matched at Walmart and got many good deals on produce advertised at Aldi and the Mexican grocery stores. Our Walmart’s produce is much fresher and better looking.I inventoried clothes and made a list of items to look for once garage sale season starts. I also made a list of what NOT to buy, even if the prices are good. There is no way we need anymore little girl shoes, for example, even if someone is giving them away.

  4. Athanasia:I freeze them after it rises.i let it rise and since I usually make four batches in one shot, I portion them accordingly. Make sure you grease well whatever you wrap the dough in as its going to stick.When you are ready to make them thaw it on the counter or in the fridge. It may rise again in thawing so you will to knead again with flour and then you re ready to go.

  5. Marivene,I too have hanging handicap placard/tags. I am only 37 (going on 38). I completely understand the feeling, but I learned to look at it this way. If I am out and need to park I think about how I am feeling physically. Do I need to be closer to the door? Or can I walk just a little bit? Then I decide whether or not I need a handicap parking spot. If you feel ok that time, and yoy know you will ge ok when you leave your errand then see if there is a close spot, but maybe not tge handicapped ine. It helps me mentalky and emtionally when I have those good days and I can park in a regular spot.. Just an idea for you in case you are able to do that.

  6. My frugal things this past week… We traveled out of town, so we planned ahead.. We saved up for the gas money, and money for other expenses. Our drive is just over 4 hours so we packed drinks and snacks for the drive. Plus we packed a ton of food for while where we were staying. We have a couple of foid allergies so it is easier to bring nearly everything with us instead of waiting and having to rush out and purchase from a store I am not familiar with. While we were out at a craft store I found some items we needed and was able to purchase with cash, (something else we are workung towards), plus I received the teacher’s discount since we homeschool. It was such a help.. We have bern eating at home a lot more as well, saving us lots of money and better on our health. I am reusing, reusing, reusing, anything and everything I can. If we dont use it or cannit/will not use it, we sell it or give it away. Thus allowing us to use the extra money earned for what we really need inthe house. We are working on paying off our debt, so no more credit is used to buy things. CASH ONLY!! I did haircuts last week, I will finish freezung and canning our fruits and veggies. Also, we stay home unless we have an appointment that day, then I run errands. Not a lot of frugal stuff, but we are getting there..

  7. I have learned so much from your website and blog. This last month I have cut my food bill down 75%. I am making our meals from scratch, and bread weekly. I am freezing vegetables from my small garden I started this year as well as searching fruit stands for the best prices. I am amazed how you can find some fruits and vegetables for such little cost. I am from the Northwest Wa, and most produce is high in price. So, I am trying to find what I can grow in this area to harvest. Thank you for posting a website on a local farm which share their fall/winter fields. My husband is working with me with our new garden. We just moved to this home last year and have a very small yard. We put in 2 planter boxes and have containers for more veggies. Now I am planning more areas to add a few more planter boxes , and will utilize my small area on the side of the home for 2 dwarf apple trees we plan to purchase. I think I can also plant a semi dwarf plum tree in the backyard too for our fruits. I have also purchased a grape plant and will get 2 more in February when the nursery receives new ones. Thank you again so much for all you teach me and others. I absolutely love your website. Patty W from Puget Sound Wa

  8. I often have wished that I live where you live! You can grow so very, very much there! Lots of wonderful berries and fruits. Check out the book “Gardening West of the Cascades” by Steve Solomon for some tips, check out Territorial Seed’s catalog (they just sent out a catalog for fall and winter gardening and they are also in your area; you can garden year-round there!) You have such a lovely climate there. You should be able to go glean blackberries locally as well right around now.Congratulations on cutting your food bill! That is fantastic!

  9. I had to laugh–we get cable during football season as well, for the same reason. My husband seldom asks for stuff, but football is a passion so I just zip my lips and look for the best deal. I remind myself that being frugal does not entitle me to deprive everyone around me of reasonable pleasures. This is a man who builds and repurposes and reuses relentlessly, to make me happy. I am shamed by the number of times I manage to forget that because I am so focused on ringing every penny out of a dollar.

  10. Hi Tina,Just use the lentils as you would use the beef. I soaked a bunch in water on the weekend (overnight) and then used them in cooking the next day. I brought them up to a simmer for about twenty minutes and then started to add them to things. Half cooked lentils and half cooked beef but you could do all lentils with onions added and mash it a little to get a beefy texture. This week I am doing chili with lentils, more taco meat and more meatballs. Like I said, huge hit 🙂 And I have meat lovers in the family 🙂

  11. I have to give a thumbs up on the recommendation for “Gardening west of the Cascades”. We live in the Willamette valley in Oregon, and steve solomon’s advice for planting dates are so spot on for this area. We keep this book on our nightstand. Territorial seed is great, too. When I get the catalog in the mail, I spend way too much time drooling and daydreaming over it.

  12. Thanks, I think I will try this. With less people at home I end up with 2 much pizza sometimes, so I could make a small pizza and just freeze the dough for another small pizza.

  13. New Mom,I made goat milk formula for my babies due to an insufficient supply of breast milk. I found the cheapest way to get it (other than milking my own goats) was ordering a case of the powdered whole goat milk directly from Meyenburg their website is http://meyenberg.com/ I called their customer service number they were very nice. The last time I ordered milk from them when our goats were dry was about three years ago. I think a case cost me about $87 and I think there were at least 12 cans to a case. I second Marivene’s suggestion on the ADGA. I own several milk goats but that is not practical for everyone. Nigerian Dwarf goats do not get very big and make great back yard pets just so you know and they do produce quite a bit of milk for their size. Lots of urban homesteaders have them or other mini breeds that are partially descended from them. Good luck on finding your milk

  14. I see the suggestions to get wahl clippers for hair cuts. Is there a specific set you reccommend? There seem to be severalAny tips for scissors cuts? I do my husbands and older sons with the clippers, but my 7 year old really needs a scissor cut though due to colics and very thick hair. My baby is also ready for a hair cut and I am super scared to cut it, but don’t want to let anyone else either! He is only 5 months old, I don’t want him to look like a big kid yet, but his hair IS really long! I won’t even touch my daughters hair! Good thing she only needs a couple cuts a year!

  15. The only time I’ve ever cut hair was in 1980 when my husband was on layoff for thirteen months. He has natural curl in his hair and I did okay by picking up each curl and trimming it with scissors, then shaving the neckline clean. It blended together well. I was just lucky that it worked with his hair. Please don’t trust what I did.I’m thinking there might be hair cutting videos on YouTube.

  16. There are tons of videos on You Tube.My husband has curly hair, and he has me cut it with clippers. Because it is curly and he wants it short it is super easy.He told me the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut (for a man) is two weeks, so that even if I did something not so great, in two weeks it would not be noticeable.He had three haircuts after we were married and then he bought clippers and asked me to do it, which I’ve now been doing for 13 years.

  17. I just bought a set of Wahl clippers at Walmart. I’ve only had to replace any because I dropped the attachments a few times in the past.The only reason you have to use scissors on top is if you want it longer on top. Cowlicks and thick hair make no difference. My husband has curly thick hair and he has a particular diagonally growing curl across the back of his head. I just use the clippers a few different directions until it picks up the curl and cuts it. With the clippers you can’t cut too short!Baby haircuts are super easy. At that age sit him on your husband’s lap while you cut his hair, and have your husband hold him. If he just has a little long hair at the edges scissors work just fine. Baby hair is the fastest and easiest to cut.If your daughter has long hair and just needs a straight haircut, it is very easy. Part the hair in the middle. You just trim straight across. Then you look again and even out anything uneven, and fix any hair that you might have missed.

  18. Any suggestions then? What has happened to me when I cut my 7 year olds hair with a clipper is this…It stands straight up! Not just when short either, it can be 4 inches long and standing straight up! We tried to let it grow longer so it would lie down again, and it didn’t work. We finally took him in for a scissors cut and they told me it was too thick and had too many cowlicks to stay flat if cut with a clippers… When it is cut with a scissors, it does stay flat.My older son has hair that might stand up when short and cut with a clippers, but it will start to stay flat as it grows out some. My 7 year olds, just looks funny. Hm.What am I doing wrong?

  19. Sakkeller, I don’t know what you’re doing wrong, but I would suggest taking your son to a professional with whom you have a relationship and can be honest about your need to see what they are doing, and watch carefully.Not everyone’s hair grows perfectly all over. I never knew my hair grew “funny” on the nape of my neck until I quit wearing it long. A couple of years ago when I switched to a short bob, it was obviously a problem. My hair cutter has to tweak the style to allow for this and keep it from ruining my style. In my case it is precision work and if it weren’t done correctly, my hair would look very strange back there.

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