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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Larkspur and stock from the garden

I cut flowers from the garden and brought them in to enjoy on my table.

I printed up seed packets so that I could share extra seeds with a friend.

I spent time playing in the backyard with my four youngest daughters, pushing them on our swings (which are higher than the ones at the park!) and on our merry-go-round.

My husband took our three oldest children to the archery range to practice their archery skills for free. Though they’ve just been shooting for a few weeks, they have made great improvements. One of the people who works at the range is also an archery coach, and he has been helping my children when they are there.

I ran the sprinklers to go on at a time when the children could enjoy playing in them. When we designed our backyard, we also made it so that the largest section of grass has rotating sprinklers, just so that they would be more fun in which to play for the children. We had temperatures of 90ºF this week, so this was a timely activity for the children. Ivory even put her hand in the water and walked out in the sprinklers a little.

I refrained from turning on the air conditioner off all week, even though it was 81º-83º in the house. I ran the ceiling fans only in the rooms that we were in while we were in them. I opened up the house for cool air in the mornings and evenings, and enjoyed the fresh air.

I took the children to the library for books and movies. They were able to check out several books that they had requested online.

I downloaded a free song from Amazon.

I participated in a free swap, and was able to get a pair of jeans and a sweater for my oldest daughter, and some puzzles for my grandmother.

Museum Pasta Salad

I made popsicles with leftover canned fruit syrup and some whey leftover from having strained yogurt), chicken flavored rice, lentil tacos, taco soup, crepes, museum pasta salad, and lots of green salads!

I cooked Swiss chard from the garden.

I used a coupon to get 3 dozen eggs for $1 a dozen (18 eggs for $1.49 at Albertson’s; the coupon was on the front page of the ad, limit 2). My husband walked there from his office so there was no extra gas expense to get these at this price.

I used several internet coupons when I went shopping this week. I bought 2 of 3 items that had a buy 2 get a $5 gift card offer, so I ended up with $15 in gift cards to use at that store the next time I need to go there. I took resuable bags with me to get .05 off per bag.

Italian Parsley on a new Williams-Sonoma washcloth that I  bought for .50 at the neighborhood garage sale 2 weeks ago.

I harvested parsley, chives, Swiss chard, lettuce, green onions, strawberries, asparagus, snow peas from my garden. I’m serving lettuce every day.

We have started working on the front yard garden! I had to go to the HOA meeting and meet with the board at the end of the meeting, talk to them (they were concerned that my plan wouldn’t be similar enough to the other houses in the neighborhood! I knew it would be totally different, so I said, “Well, it will be MUCH better than it is now!) and then after the meeting they drove over to have me explain it to them in my yard. They weren’t following some of what I said, so I took them out to the backyard (through the house; one of the board members has my same floor plan and was immediately amazed at what I had done to the main wall in the house with new windows and huge moldings; I told him I had designed it and that what I had designed out front was good, too!) and showed them what I meant for concrete, and how the front yard would be similar to the backyard in design in some ways. Then they were okay. Their main concerns were the low wall and the concrete walkway; apparently the rule is no walls over 24” tall. The wall won’t be taller than that (but the hedge above the wall will still give me a little privacy) so that’s not a problem. Hurray!

So, our frugal part of the work this week was that my husband used his circular saw to cut off all of the branches from the tree (no special saw needed, plus it was quick work this way!), and then we cut and threw the branches and the bushes into his trailer, which he took to the dump and unloaded (so we didn’t have to rent a dumpster). We also are borrowing a backhoe, which means we don’t have to rent one to dig the front yard (or rent a jackhammer, or soak the ground for three days and struggle with a pickax–the ground is that hard here). His friend with the backhoe used the backhoe to pull out the tree trunk and root ball, and his brother came over to help us begin digging in the garden (he knows how to use the backhoe). New dirt will have to be brought in, or the plants will struggle to grow at all here (not only is the ground concrete-like here, but it also has a ph of 8.2 and is virtually dead. Dirt is not inexpensive at all, but it is essential, and we have priced it out at different places for the least expensive option of the available options).

I raked and shoveled rock out of the yard to two neighbors, which meant free rocks for them. It’s a strange thing, but rock yards actually need new rocks from time to time (they get “bare spots” where the yard is just dirt after a time).  I moved some of the rocks to a bare spot in our own yard on the other side of the driveway (that small part of our yard is still rock, until at some time in the future where we will concrete it as a driveway extension to our gate).

I took time to notice a bee on my blackberry bushes and a tiny vireo in the garden (the first one I’ve seen this year).

What did you do to save money and beautify your life this week?

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25 Comments

  1. I accepted free fancy pants shampoo from my sister, she ordered the wrong kind and did not want to be bothered returning it. I made laundry soap. We went to the farm for some free fun at the playground. We had about 30 sunflowers “volunteer” and came up in our raised vegetable bed, we transplanted them to our back fence. When we thinned our beets and carrots we transplanted them too, figuring if they took..great. Most of them seem to be thriving. We made compost tea.I made gingersnaps and peanut butter cookies and bread and hot dog buns and banana bread and vanilla syrup and an apple tart from the last of the apples we had kicking around. We reorganized the basement and brought up all my older sons 18 month clothes for my 13 month to wear. We were so lucky having both boys born in March, everything fits and is also in season.We made a trip to an outlet store and got great deals on new clothes for me that I really, really needed. I have been in maternity clothes for almost three years straight and i was so excited to get “real” pants. We went to a garage sale and bought some legos my husband was eying on craigslist. At first on craigslist they were overpriced, but then when no one bought them they dropped the price by half and we picked them up.In related lego news, the first of the huge lot we bought and sorted is up on craigslist and we will already be making a profit. My husband is actually off now picking up another set. We are putting three lots a week up on ebay and it is awesome watching the bids go higher and higher. I used coupons and a sale to get a case of diapers for nine dollars!

  2. Yes, I certainly do understand that we all make our own personal choices where we want to save money! We had a bare bones budget in those days and had to live on $500/month, which was for everything (rent, food, gas etc.). Whew! But we remember those years as a happy time. Funny how that is sometimes. 🙂

  3. You can also lay the parsley (or anything else you’d like to dry) out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (or any pan for that matter) in your oven on low (about 200F) for 6-8 hours to dry them. No mold and how they used to dry things for years before the dehydrators were invented!What fun to get a such a bunch of fabric scraps! Enjoy your sewing!Lea

  4. I am in the middle of a very money tight time so am buying nothing unless essential. I shortened a dress (bought from ebay last year) that I didn’t wear as it was floor length.I re purposed three scarves this week and now have three pretty shrugs. I also have been making loads of things to use as examples in school. you might like a glance at my blog for photos http://downinfairydell.blogspot.co.uk/

  5. I just found your blog and I just love it. This week I made pickles and homemade bbq sauce. I also tried a new recipe for hamburger buns and it worked out beautifully.Another reason I wanted to post was to tell you about a bulk food company I have used. It’s called Harmony House. I’ve had their dehydrated celery, carrots and potatoes. Also tomato powder, dehydrated black beans and a veggie soup mix. A bonus is the containers you get can be reused for other bulk goods. I found I don’t waste celery or carrots by not using them in time. I find the prices to be very good. And it makes making soup a breeze!Thanks for your website. I’ll be trying some of your recipes very soon.Barbara

  6. I like the idea of the puree’. I’ve made something similar before. A couple of cubes tossed into a smoothie add fiber and vitamins and such, but don’t really change the flavor. 🙂

  7. I wanted to do cloth diapers but then looked at the cost of them. I absolutely didn’t want the pins and plastic pants old fashioned ones as I remember my sister in them and it being a disaster. Is there anything worse than a baby messing up the sofa, carpet, car, etc?? I was getting the new fancy ones or else. Until I saw how much they cost and that you may need more than one size. I also compared the cost of cloth to disposables for one child. I know that I’ll never have another one as mother nature has made it impossible. In the end the fancy cloth diapers would have cost more than disposables. I”m also a working mom without a dryer. Whewwww it would have been tough. I know cloth is better and easier to toilet train but I’m happy I’ve gone the other route.

  8. Other than the usual stuff I do…I went shopping at the mall with a friend and bought NOTHING! I did enjoy the company and the walk. I stopped by the second hand store and found a Levi’s jacket for $20. That’s pretty good as new they are over $100 here.I’ve taken plenty of walks outside to get fresh air and enjoy the nice weather before the monsoon sets in.I checked the local FB buy/sell page and found a cappuccino maker for $20. YAYYYY LATTES!I also picked up 5 throw pillows for $15 to use at my husbands business.I made liquid soap for the bathroom from some old soap nobody liked.I found diapers on sale at Costco cheaper than I can buy them online.I’ve found free fun instead of spending money.I’ve asked a relative who is coming to visit from the states to bring a few things that are very expensive here.

  9. You could try cooking them but if the texture is off you can certainly freeze them. I’d throw them into almost anything-soup, meatloaf, pasta sauce, ratatouille, stews, even the Sunday roast. You could also give them to your dog in small amounts. Beware of colourful poops!

  10. Our yard was atrocious too. Now it’s vastly improved to almost acceptable. Our house is quite old and when we tried to plant in the back yard found it was full of rocks and debris. And the people before us had sprayed with pesticides for years. The first year we were here, we were working inside the house at things like removing wallpaper, and the back yard was so terribly depressing. We let it lay for two years without planting in it so the pesticides could break down and got rid of garbage and stuff. Then the third summer we began planting, now we have three raised beds and a composter and next year we are putting in a six foot fence. It’s been a long road but it is very rewarding to see the soil become healthy again and things grow. We found earthworms for the first time this year and we are so excited about it. You still have time to plant sunflowers, which will obscure your fence and also give you a bit more privacy. We plant ours along our back wall to block the alley. We have not tried it yet, but I have read that if you have very hard and compacted soil, planting potatoes will loosen it up. We have a small yard so we have out potatoes in containers, but that might help you.

  11. Cut two boys hair and helped 18 year old cut his. He does an amazing job and ends up with such a cute alternative style. Got two 8×10 pic’s of two of my children for $8 at Target. This is for a project I am working on. Soup, soup and more soup. Also lots of pasta. Grocery budget has been reduced and I am pouring over Brandy’s menus. (Is that a soup pun?) Asked for and received a bag of hand me downs from a friend offering them on FB. It ended up being mostly things from a catalog shoot for a local store! Oh my goodness this stuff is CUTE! Dh got two loads of landscaping rock off Craigslist. Ended up being about $300 worth of rock for free. He also tils gardens and usually makes about $200 a year. Repeat customers have already started calling. I found myself getting depressed and worried so I started a gratitude journal out of a beautiful notebook my daughter bought me. It makes me think of things through the day that I want to write down and keeps me focused on the blessings and there are plenty. I had bought some Tervis cups last October and they were expensive! They also leak like crazy so I sent them back and I am hoping for a refund. Lowered cable, lowered cell plan til July when we can drop another line. Yes, I feel dumb.) Started using my huge clothes washer more efficiently to save on water. Hand washing dishes through the day instead of running half loads of dishes. Hope to lower the water bill which runs our family $175. Our water is insanely expensive. Dh and I are going cash only. Ouch. I really hate that because it limits my spending so much!

  12. I diapered 8 children and still have one that needs overnight diapering. I had a stash of cloth diapers and we seldom used them. Too time consuming for the questionable money saved and expensive when you add in at least 4 extra loads of washing/drying time for an already overwheming laundry job for a big family. Plus, my babies weren’t happy in them.

  13. Sometimes baby carrots go down to 29 cents at my Aldi and I have heard, but not yet tried, that you can just toss the bag in the freezer and add them frozen to a roast.

  14. Arden, A gratitude journal is such a good idea! It helps focus on the positive things in our lives, & helps us be content rather than dissatisfied.

  15. okay, 3 weeks ago I challenged myself to start blogging my frugal week, inspired by you brandy. Here is my late week 3 post.http://sillygeesedesigns.blogspot.com/2013/05/frugal-challenge-week-3.html We had a death in the family and that totally blew our budget. I hope that my posts help others feel better about their own weeks I don’t come anywhere close to being as frugal as you and others who post, I am hoping that I can improve by blogging it!

  16. I have been so crazy busy that I haven’t even had time to read all the wonderful entries from all of you ladies for a while!! So, it was fun to get the time to do that this morning.I have done some frugal things, though.1) My husband tilled the garden. This is much earlier than usual, due to a warmer spring. I was able to transplant cabbage, broccoli, and some onions. I planted some carrots, beets, lettuce, and a few “gambler crops”–beans, cilantro, and dill. If these frost, I’m only out a few seeds, so worth a try. That’s still a very real possiblity here. The peas are growing well in the raised beds-both regular and snow peas.2) My daughter and I planted squash, cucumbers, etc. in the greenhouse to put out in a few weeks.3) I had a birthday party for my youngest daughter. I had a tea party. It was a LOT of work, but actually turned out to be quite frugal. There were 16 girls (and one 5-year-old nephew) who attended. I used fancy dishes, tea cups, plates, tea pots, etc. that I have gathered over the years. I set the 4 card tables with mis-matched pretty tableclothes from the drawer. I made little sandwiches, small desserts, veggies, fruit, etc. and put it all out on lovely glass dishes. Even a piece of inexpensive white bread with jam looks elegant on a fancy plate:) Then we played some games and watched Anne of Green Gables. Some girls ran outside to play, which was fine, as well. They all came dressed up as either a character from the movie, or a tea party attender from any era. They had a lot of fun, and my daughter was thrilled.4) My husband has been preparing for an auction he cooks for each year. He will barbeque prime rib for about 250-300 people. He also orchestrates the rest of the meal, using volunteers. So, he has been doing a lot of planning and shopping this last couple of weeks. I have been trying to pick up some slack around here and will help tomorrow with the cooking. The money raised goes to help send a team of teenagers, plus sponsers, to Mexico to build houses. So, most of our contribution is in the form of labor, instead of cash.5) Last weekend, the next day after daughter’s birthday party, we hosted a family birthday party for all the cousins. For years, we have done this and call it “the big birthday party.” Hubby barbequed all kinds of meat and chicken. People brought salads, etc., and cake and ice cream. We had a lot of leftovers. I made fajitas and enchiladas from some of the leftover meat. We had hot dogs one night. We are so tired because the days are so full, no one has wanted fancy or large meals this week. Which is good, since there is not time to cook them:) Thank goodness for the freezers and cupboards. I just keep grabbing another item to defrost or a jar of canned vegs, etc.Hopefully things will calm down a bit after the auction and I will have time for more purposeful planning.

  17. I buy potatoes by the 20kg (I think)(25kg I checked) sack, we store them in the garage, on a large wooden crate, but kept in their paper sack, as long as they are off the floor they seem to keep for months.I often think I have not been v frugal, but the frugal things that many of us always do and don’t even think about, might be a new idea for someone else, and help them on their frugal journey

  18. I used cloth diapers with all 4 of our children. None of them were able to tolerate the disposables without breaking out in sores. Disposables have come a long way in the last 40 years, but I did not find the cloth diapers to be a problem at all. We also used the cloth training pants. My husband calculated once that we saved $1,000 per year using the cloth, including the laundry costs, but that was 30-40 years ago, depending on which child. The only problem I remember is that when we lived in Wymount Terrace with our first child when we were students, one weekend she was sick & had diarrhea, & we ran out of diapers. I couldn’t use the laundromat, because they were locked on Sunday, so I washed out her diapers in the bathroom sink, & hung them over the balcony to dry. While we were students, I did notice that many mothers did not change either the disposable or the cloth diapers until the child had a bowel movement, which would have made my little ones’ bottoms raw. We changed the babies as often as necessary to keep them dry.

  19. Interesting, Marivene. It doesn’t cost me anywhere near that much in disposables. It costs me an average of $300 a year per child, and I definitely change wet diapers! I use the Target brand diapers, take advantage of sales, use Target coupons from their websites, and also take advantage of their gift card offeres. Recently the giant box of diapers was on sale for $2 off per box, and had a buy 2 boxes get a $5 gift card, so by buying 2 I saved $9 on top of the already very low store brand price. I’m very grateful for disposables. I really thought I would like cloth, but the $25 a month it costs me is worth my happiness and my time.

  20. Back “in the day” when mine were little, disposables cost a lot, coupons were few & far between & there weren’t store brands yet. Just Pampers & Huggies, & both were pricey. No big boxes – just the little packs. Most of the mothers in Wymount complained a LOT about the price, but most of them still used the disposables. Of course, in 30-40 years, one would expect that the product & the price would both improve. I always preferred the diapers that you fold over the pre-folds, too, because I could change the fold to change the size as baby grew. Cost also depends on the charge for your water, as you pointed out, & whether or not you own your own washer, or have to use a laundromat.

  21. The way our water company works is that they change the tiered amounts back and forth on even and odd amounts, so that they charge you MORE. Last month they only billed me for 23 days. This month the bill was 29 days, and I actually used CONSIDERABLY LESS water than last month (even with 6 more days), but my bill is $20 higher, because I hit another tier in water usuage, because they change where the tiers are each month. It’s outrageous, but they have a monopoloy here–they’ve even demanded that homeowners can no longer use their own wells but must use city water, as they have declared ownership of the water here. They write tickets if your water hits the sidewalk, if you water during certain hours, or if you water on a day other than you are allowed to water (I almost was fined $200 once because of that, but they said I could water both Monday and Friday on my bill on accident, so I just picked one of those days to water, and apparently I picked the wrong one). My water bill was $110 for those 29 days. It also rates the billed usage as 31 days for part of the charges (an extra $9.30). (The rest is figured at 29 days). Last year my water bill was $1730. So, I think water really is an important part of the equation (and also stain remover!)

  22. Water companies can be quite unreasonable. Our water rates here are also tiered, except that we are charged a base rate for the pressurized irrigation every month, year round, when the irrigation water is turned on in April & off in late Sept. We have to pay the base rate, even tho we don’t have the water, thru the winter months. When they built our subdivision, the contractors allowed the irrigation companies installing the front yard sprinklers (which came with the house)only 3 hours per yard. If they went over that, they were fired. The contractor went thru 3 irrigation companies. Altho I was not here, both of our original neighbors when we moved here were, & they told us. My irrigation system has at least 4 breaks in it, the most serious of which is when the lower slab of the driveway dropped an inch & a half & sheared off the sprinkler pipe from the main control. For the last 3 years, I have watered with a hose & sprinkler, from the faucet on the house, with “house” water. I have not used a drop of “irrigation” water, but I still have to pay the base rate, year round. Not fair, at all, but watering with the hose, I learned that the “house” water tier is less expensive for us than the “irrigation” tiers. Now, there are only 2 of us, so with more people that might not be the case, but for us, it is FAR cheaper to water the lawn & garden with the hose.

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