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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments and a Few Thoughts

Graham Thomas Roses and larkspur in watering can

The main reason I started this blog in addition to my website was because so many readers kept requesting it. The questions I kept getting asked where questions about our day to day frugality. Readers were looking for more ways to save money.

This post each week has, I hoped, answered those questions for many. I share things we did, as well as blessings we received. I am continually happy to read about your blessings each week. I love hearing how many of you had an opportunity to glean, were given free food, were blessed with hand-me-downs, etc. As we serve one another, we can all bless each other.

I don’t always mention the every day things that we do. I try to mention new things that we do, to hopefully give you some new ideas. Keeping the water from the shower and from rinsing vegetables is a newer thing for me (for some of you, it’s second nature!) I’ve spoken about it a lot lately for several reasons, including to help those of you in drought areas find ways to water your garden. I’ve also been excited about it because it is a simple thing that may seem small (a “drop in the bucket” in our water bill, but those drops add up!) that makes a difference. I haven’t needed to water my potted plants from the hose once this year because I’ve been doing this, and it is all with water that previously went down the drain inside the house.  (Did you know that home-grown fruits and vegetables use less water than commercially produced ones? If you can use water that would have gone down the drain otherwise, it uses even less.)

The point of this blog post is to encourage you to look for new ways to save money. As I read your comments, I often find something new that I can try. Each new thing that I can do adds up. I love when you share what you have done and how you have been blessed. I love seeing the encouragement that you give to one another.

Last week, a reader mentioned her blessing of a free piano. Another reader went looking because of that comment and found not one, but two free pianos in her area! (Mary Ellen, we do want to know how that turned out!)

Do know that I rejoice over your blessings. Also know that I have prayed for many of you.

I hope that by sharing many of the things that we do each week, I can encourage you to continue to look for ways to lower your expenses. As inflation rises, you can fight it f there is something you do not have to earn the money for (because you don’t need it or can use your resources in a way so as to need less of it). Hopefully, this post gives you that. Do read the comments; I learn so much from all of you!

Poppies starting to bloom in the garden. These were planted from seeds in December.

The children and I spent several hours picking mulberries from our neighbor’s tree. We gave our neighbors lettuce from our garden several days and a half-pint of fig jam in return. I will also be bringing them a half-pint of mulberry jam.

I made 3 batches of mulberry jam (11 half-pints and 6 pints) with the mulberries that we picked and gathered (many had fallen from the tree in the wind). I froze two cookie sheets full of mulberries.

I picked some small strawberries from the garden and we had mulberries and strawberries (in sugar) over crepes.

I watched a free show on Hulu with my husband.

I had forgotten about the Zulily referral credit that I had from a very long time ago. I don’t share a lot of deals; I don’t buy a lot of things and I want to this to be a place where those of you who are struggling financially are not feeling bad because you want to buy things, and know that you cannot. When I do share a deal, it’s because I feel that it is really a great deal, that it is the lowest price around (to my knowledge), and because I think it will be a blessing to you. (Not all all deals I share are affiliate deals, either–most are not). The point of my site has never been to make money; it is to help those you are struggling financially. (If the point of my site was to make money, I would have quit years ago! I make very little from my site; it’s about equal to my grocery spending each month.)

I checked to see if the credit was still available, and it was. I used it to order a slip for myself and two small pots for the garden. I did have to pay shipping. I already have plans for the pots.

I used a coupon for Scholastic Teacher Express for $5 to get 5 free schoolbooks during their $1 sale (these are downloadable books).

I sewed the button back on a pair of Cyrus’ shorts.

I dug turnips from the garden. I made turnip gratin and also roasted some with potatoes and carrots.

I cut rosemary, marjoram, chives, tarragon, borage, and thyme from the garden. We had salad from the garden every day with lettuce and spinach from the garden and homemade salad dressing (this one). I cut the last of the asparagus for the season.

I cut roses, larkspur, stock, and dusty miller from the garden to enjoy inside.

Dusty miller, Iceberg roses and pink stock

The dusty miller is growing very quickly from 6 very small plants that I purchased last year. (One plant was smaller than 1/3 of the amount I put in the vase). I have it growing under the apricot and peach trees in the white garden. To keep from spreading too much in the garden, I will cut it to make more arrangements as it grows larger. I am really loving it in this arrangement and I look forward to using it again.

The stock was grown from seed that I purchased a few years ago. I planted it in fall. Those of you who have your last frost in April and May can plant seeds soon. Mine is growing in the raised bed behind the vase and is starting to go to seed. I will be collecting seeds to plant this fall.

The iceberg roses were purchased as plants last year (on sale and with a coupon at our local nursery). They are a floribunda-type rose that blooms every 3 weeks. This is their first bloom of the year. Last year they bloomed through November for me.

I cut a couple of camellia branches to bring in. I was pruning the bush to grow the way I want it to, and these two small branches needed to come off, so I decided to bring them in.

Please share what you did last week to stretch your money and make the best of your blessings!

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25 Comments

  1. I am glad your husband asked about the meds. Drug companies do donate samples for people who need them, as well as to remind doctors that they have good products–they are not bad companies, as much as people think they are. My husband is an eye surgeon, and he is always eager to help out patients in need, even taking them to lunch at the hospital cageteria as well as finding meds samples for them whenever they are available. Please also remember to ask your Doctor if he thinks there are any generic meds that would work as well. Blessings.

  2. Have you tried pantyhose on the broccoli heads? I used cheap knee highs on out cabbage to keep the cabbage worms at bday. Thought maybe that could work for your problem too.

  3. My granddaughter will graduate from a state university in two weeks, and her mother has taken to calling it her “$90,000” education. It was $20K a year when she started and it’s gone up. And that’s a state school!! We have only one grandchild so have been in a position to help with some of her expenses. Her mother and step-Dad pay certain things, and she has both grants and loans to help pay the rest. The first year she had enough saved so that she did not need any loans. The second year she was an RA and got a free room, and worked some hours besides at another job. The third year she just worked. The fourth year she had too much writing to work because she was doing an unpaid internship as a movie critic online, so worked only a couple months after school started. She received a scholarship for two years, then the giver decided someone else should have a turn. She is graduating cum laude, so we are happy we let her stop working and picked up the slack–she will have some writing experience. She double majored in English and FIlm Studies. I do not have a clue what type of job she will get, but the coffee shop she worked in will take her back until she finds something permanent, or rather, more in her field. We hope to continue helping in order to pay down her loans somewhat as long as we can afford it. This is one of my main reasons for being frugal, although it started as a necessity when we were first married, and quickly had two kids. I had only finished one year of college when we got married, so I had the privilege of paying for the last three years of school for myself. I attended if I could afford to, and stayed home and saved the semesters I could not–took me 22 years, but I did graduate, and had a career, when my girls were in their teens. It was important to me that my granddaughter graduate in 4 years. She wants graduate school, but not immediately. We’ll see how that turns out.

  4. That is a lovely idea. I have a small group of neighbor friends which meets monthly at each others’ home for lunch. It is a wonderful way to build relationships with like minded people nearby. We have a habit of bringing little gifts for each other when we have something to share, such as a plant, magazines we have read or ,ost anything at all. It is so fun. One lady has chickens, so I try to remember to freeze stale bread or leftover food for them. 🙂

  5. I’ve sent two daughters off to college and agree with all the advice so far. One thing I will add is even tho we had cell phones for calling and texting, my girls really appreciate letters from home. An empty mailbox is a lonely thing. About once a month I try to add money for a treat. If I’m under budget on groceries, I’ll send $5 but I’ve also sent $1 for some gum or a piece of candy. If I see a coupon for something they use (d.o., shampoo) I’ll clip and send that. Before they left our whole family saved quarters for the washing machine. That got them through a few months of laundry.Luckily, both my girls found like-minded friends from modest families and that is what helped the most. There are plenty of kids living the high life on campus and they can feel bad being around those types. Tell her to keep searching til she finds friends who share her values and lifestyle. There are plenty of those kids too.Oh! An invaluable thing I sent was a good first aid kit (made from stuff at home) and bottles of any over the counter medicine she may need. For us it was generic versions of tummy medicine, benedryl, ibuprofen, cough syrup and cough drops. They laughed at the “medicine cabinet” I sent but they (and their friends) were grateful for it.It’s a special wonderful yet melancholy time. Best wishes!

  6. Linda, all our meds are finally generic except that one. It is Azalect, with no generic yet available. It supposedly slows the progression of Parkinson’s. It costs about five thousand a year and despite the neurologist wanting him on it sooner, we had to wait until he was on medicare and could buy a drug plan. The copay is affordable, but because it is so expensive, it does put him in the donut hole the second half of the year.Now that we are both insured, and more of our the rest of our high priced drugs have finally gone generic, out drug outlay has really improved. When he first had to retire, we spent three hundred a month. Now it is down to under ninety (plus premiums).

  7. Brandy, I want to thank you for this wonderful blog and resource. I just started commenting a couple of weeks ago but I have been writing my frugal accomplishments down in a notebook every week for the past 6 months or so, being inspired by you! I have a steady income but my husband is self-employed, so his income varies based on how many clients he has and when they pay him. Right now in our stage of life, we need both our incomes in order to make ends meet. Before I found your blog, when money was tight, I would get frustrated and upset. Now, I’ve learned tips and tricks to stretch our money out and it doesn’t stress me out as much anymore. Thank you for everything that you share on your blog with all of us, it is truly inspiring and I know, I, for one, have been helped quite a bit by your teachings.So, last week’s frugal accomplishments!- I attended a free talk on edible landscaping put on by our public library. I enjoyed hot tea while I was there and got to sample some cornelian cherry dogwood preserves.- My mother-in-law gave me the ham bone to take home after Easter dinner. I used it to make split pea soup, and picked off over 3lbs of meat from the bone! – I had two small containers of greek yogurt in the fridge that had expired a few days previously (they were still sealed). I used the yogurt in homemade blueberry muffins.- We ate all meals at home. I made pizza from scratch and found a recipe for pizza sauce. The sauce used 2 pints of our home canned tomatoes and tasted wonderful! I used leftover sauce the next day over pasta, and it was an equally wonderful marinara-type sauce.- By far and large, the biggest frugal accomplishment this past week was getting a free full year membership to Sam’s Club from a mailer they sent out. When I went in to redeem the membership, I had some free time, so I did an “exploratory” tour, taking pictures of the price tags for all the foods we currently buy somewhere else. When I got home, I entered all the prices into my grocery price list (something I’ve only started thanks to you!). I was impressed to see that although not everything is cheaper, some things are a significant savings. I hope to use our membership to its full extent this year and keep a running total of what we buy to see if it justifies paying for a membership next year.- Got more popcorn seeds in the mail! – Used fewer lights in the bathroom while showering and getting ready in the mornings.- Started waking up earlier in the mornings. I find that I enjoy getting something done before I starting working. I feel more accomplished and in turn have a more productive day- Got two free 5’ by 7’ tarps at Harbor Freight with “no purchase necessary” coupons- paid a bill online- downloaded a free American Girl doll shirt pattern- Bought mushrooms for $0.79 for an 8oz container. I bought 5 lbs. 3lbs I washed, sliced and froze to use in frittatas and soups. The other 2lbs I pickled. Since I was going to be taking out the canner, I also made another batch of apple butter from applesauce we weren’t eating and made blackberry jam from frozen berries. – I attended a workshop last Sunday, and with driving time, I was gone all day. I brought my own food from home for the whole day, and made sure to eat a good, filling breakfast in the morning. – I recently read online about cold brewing coffee. We have a cheap, workhorse espresso machine that we’ve had for several years, and I usually make myself a latte every morning (I love coffee – I only have one a day and I’ve gotten the cost of this latte down to $0.20 – including electricity). In the summers I love iced coffee, but never enjoyed it when it was made with hot coffee poured over ice. So, I decided to try the cold brew method with an old French Press my husband had from college and some coffee beans my mom gave me that she didn’t like (and we didn’t like in our espresso so we weren’t drinking them either!). It was so good! I was excited to use up the beans, and cold brewing uses no electricity (you use room temperature water).

  8. You’re welcome. I know a lot of people have a hard time buying it so I was hoping this information would help someone. Plus, I believe it is cheaper. I was a scientist before becoming a SAHM so I loved the scientific explanation too 🙂

  9. I have a general question…I keep seeing in blogs “made bone broth”. Is this something different than making broth with the leftover bones and carcass? Are writers just clarfying that they are making a meat based broth as opposed to a vegetable scrap based broth?

  10. By coincidence, my brother brought me a pair of redwood and metal benches from our mother’s house last week, when Brandy also had a post about the care necessary for her teak bench. I was shocked to see how weathered the benches were, despite having been on a porch with a huge overhang. Rain and snow would almost never have gotten on them. Mother wasn’t able to go outdoors and use them, let alone maintain them.Brandy’s post gave me a starting point for Googling about possible methods of acting to preserve the wood. I went to Lowe’s today and bought a quart of redwood stain/sealer. I rarely paint with anything but latex, so I needed a fresh brush. I was shocked at the cost of a good brush meant for stain and the smallest can of mineral spirits to clean it. The stain was $16. The other two items would have more than doubled the cost. It was actually cost effective to buy an “economy” brush just good enough to do this job, keeping it in a sealed zip lock bag until I’m finished, then throw it away. It would take years of wasting a $3 brush every year or two to equal spending the extra money.

  11. I’m glad that you were able to work on your mother’s bench for her.My dad buys brushes at Harbor Freight. That’s not real close to my house,but the prices were 1/4 of the price of the cheap brushes from Lowe’s. It’s not worth the gas for just that, but something to keep in mind if you are going to Harbor Freight for anything. Also, my husband bought me a package of the economy brushes from Lowe’s several years ago. I just worked fast with the brush when I oiled the bench and tossed the brush afterwards (no need for mineral spirits).

  12. Rebecca, we use floating row cover on things like broccoli, cauliflowe and cabbage while younger. It’s really light weight so you can just lay it loosely along the rows or use hoops. Tuck in on the sides. If your have problems with carrot flies you can use for that too.

  13. Yes, I am so thankful this store opened near us. It has been such a blessing and, as an added bonus, the Sam’s is right up the street so I can pick up things from Sam’s if the price wasn’t as good at Winco. I’m finding that Winco’s prices are rather competitive with Sam’s though and I really like the bulk section which allows me to purchase smaller amounts of things if I need something but can’t spend a lot for the larger quantity offered at Sam’s. I forgot to mention that I got those coupons for the free strawberries and ice cream, too as well as another set of coupons that arrived this past week which allowed me to get frozen chicken breasts for about $4 for a 3 pound bag. After seeing a reader’s comment from a previous week, I also was able to get the free flashlight and scissors at Harbor Freight. I wouldn’t have given that a second look as I rarely go through those Valu-Pak coupons. They don’t usually have anything in there that pertains to us so I’ve stopped looking at them. So, thank you for the heads-up! :)Good luck to you with the talk you’re doing coming up. I wish we were able to come up for it. I would really enjoy listening to you speak and Vegas isn’t that far, but unfortunately we won’t be able to make it this time around. 🙁 I will be praying for you and for the attendees that many will be blessed by your wisdom.Have a great weekend,Andrea

  14. HelloI have never comment before but I feel this is a good time to say Thank You 🙂 I have learnt alot from your blog. I have changed my thinking as far as food and money goes. I spend less and throw away less. I made jam yesterday with my mother in law for the first time. It won’t be the last as it tastes so much better than shop bought plus it is much cheaper. I also had a sewing lesson recently and i loved it. There are many life lessons in this blog, from you and from your readers. It’s a lovely community 🙂

  15. I do find that several things are still cheaper at Sam’s, so do compare. Cheese, whole raw almonds, long-grain rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice are all cheaper at Sam’s. I went to both and Sam’s won out on just about everything that I buy. One thing that I do buy in bulk is oatmeal; Sam’s doesn’t sell it in bulk, and it is $14.72 for a 25 pound bag at Winco.I primarily buy produce at Winco,as I have found some great deals there. They also have had great prices on canned black olives and canned pineapple. I usually buy a 10 pound bag of carrots at Winco for $3.88. I buy my lentils there too for .77 a pound.

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