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Simple Blessings From the Garden: Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments



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The garden’s abundance this week was wonderful. I picked peaches and figs from the trees. I cut grapes and cucumbers from the vines, picked tomatoes, cut green onions, parsley, and basil.

I also dug my garlic (later than I should have!). Being spring planted, the garlic is small; I will keep it to plant again in fall for a harvest next spring.

I shared grapes with a couple of neighbors.

A friend, from whom I won a basket of tomatoes at the service auction, had such an abundance in her greenhouse that she gave me 3 1/2 baskets of tomatoes, plus a small head of cabbage and a few small cucumbers. I canned 11 quarts of tomatoes and we ate the rest fresh.

I made sauerkraut  (with the cabbage I was given) for the first time. It was incredibly easy. I am going to let it ferment a little longer still; the Ball canning book says to let it sit 3-6 weeks before canning. I may can it or I may end up just refrigerating it. I have been wanting to try making sauerkraut for a long time. This was so easy that I will definitely make some for canning in the future.

I made 17 pints of dill pickles with the Armenian cucumbers from the garden.

I canned 12 quarts of peaches and  9 quarts of grape juice.

I planted some more seeds in the garden in blank spots.

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary with a nice meal at home. We used a gift card that we were given years ago to go to lunch later in the week.

Williams-Sonoma was across the street, and I needed to replace my silicone spatulas (I really like their spatulas and the ones I had for a decade finally wore out). I had received an email in the mail for 15% off my entire purchase from them (since I hadn’t bought anything from them in so long!), which was perfect timing, since I had planned to stop by while we were across the street. When we got there, I found out that the spatulas I wanted were 20% off. I was able to use the coupon on top of the sale to get 3 spatulas for $16.51 with tax. I use these every day and I was thrilled to get such a great deal on them.

I used some Zulily referral credit that I had to order a couple of Christmas gifts for two children for nothing out of pocket.

I needed a couple of items from Michael’s to make some things for Cyrus’ birthday. I went on their site before going to see if they had a 40% off coupon that I could print. They had a 50% off coupon that was for that day only! When I clicked on it, I saw that they had some other coupons as well for a few of the items that I needed. I purchased some bulk paintbrushes with a 40% off coupon on brushes. These will be used for art assignments for the children.  I purchased some  stretch beading elastic with a 40% off jewelry making supplies coupon, which I’ll use to make Christmas gifts for the girls.They also had a 20% off Wilton baking items, which helped with the cake decorating items I was buying.

I combined that trip with one to Kohl’s, where I used a $10 off $10 coupon to get some underclothing for a daughter for $2.16 out of pocket.

I did not purchase any food or toiletries last week.

The electric company sends me weekly emails telling me how much my bill is so far and how much (based on my usage so far for the month) they think my bill will be for the week. Last week brought several “cooler” days (only 101º!) with cooler mornings. I keep the house at 79-80ºF. It was 77º outside (and 79º inside) several mornings when I got up, so I turned off the air conditioners for a few hours and opened up the house. It made a difference; the electric company was predicting a bill of $454 this month according to the first week’s usage; this week it lowered that estimate to $428. (For those of you who are wondering, our electric company has been raising rates every quarter for over a decade.When we first moved here, our first summer bill was $520. I made several changes: I turned off the desktop computer at night, turned the air conditioner up to 79º from 77º, turned the ceiling fans (of which we have 10)off when we weren’t in the room, and turned off the kitchen lights, save the ones over the table, during dinner, which reduced our bill to around $323. I’ve kept it that low through last summer–7 years–despite the increases, by continuing to find small ways to cut our usage. In summer we only turn on the lights for an hour or less. This year the rates have started to catch up with me, but I am grateful to have made the changes, so that our bill is not several hundred dollars more.)

Our cooler weather was also much more humid than the rest of the year (but normal for mid-July here). I was able to collect 4 gallons of water a day from the air conditioner. That, combined with water from the shower and from cooking/rinsing fruits and vegetables, was enough to water the potted trees and plants without needing additional water.

Sunday the weather returned to normal; it was 115º yesterday on my mom’s back porch (she lives next door; her back yard touches our side yard). This morning it was 88º by my front door when I got up at 5 a.m. I’m grateful for the break in the weather that we had last week!

Our compost is breaking down and while it is not ready yet, I can see that this time we will be successful. My husband purchased another trash can for me to use to start some more compost. I started with some shredded advertisements, peach skins from canning, and some grass clippings. I am excited to be able to add compost into the garden.

I watched a couple of episodes of Foyle’s War for free on Hulu.

Ivory watched several episodes of Little Einsteins on Disney Junior. (I had no idea when I worked for Disney Online that one day my children would use it!)

I printed coloring pictures and activity pages from last week’s Dover Sampler for the children to color.

Sources: Graham Thomas roses from David Austin. Small mint julep cups from One Kings Lane. Glass jar with lid containing cotton swabs from Target. Cut glass jar with lid containing cotton balls, 50 cents at a garage sale. Blue bottle from my mom; I refill it with my lotion. Silver tray from a garage sale, $5. Blue lidded box was a Christmas gift years ago. 

I cut roses from the garden to put in my bathroom.

Sources: Casa Blanca Lilies from Van Engelen, clock from Pottery Barn. Glass jar was a gift from a friend. The Jesse Willcox Smith image is a card I purchased years ago, in a 50 cent garage sale frame. Lamp was purchased 15 years ago.

I cut lilies from the garden to put on my beside table.

I got a clock working that we had had trouble with. I bought this clock years and years ago and the alarm was constantly going off (user error, I’m sure!). Sometime after that, the knob to set the alarm and the time got lost (since I had to take the clock back off in order to get it to stop going off), and it had been sitting unused in my bedside drawer for at least 9 years. I used a pair of tweezers to set the time, and was able to turn the alarm portion off. I can now enjoy it at last!

What did you do to save money last week?

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you! I’m glad it could be helpful. I was really surprised to learn about it but thrilled that it might help so many. I hope it helps your family member!

  2. Melissa, you can make some great zucchini relish with your supply. It tastes just like pickle relish, looks just like pickle relish but doesn’t cost like pickle relish! A great way to use it up without making everyone sick of zucchini!

  3. You can only do what you can do. We managed to get our long-life bulbs on a really good, never-to-be-repeated sale. We just about cleared out the store and still have plenty in the pantry. They are mega-expensive to buy and in our experience actually don’t last a lot longer; but they are so much cheaper to run. We also try not to leave the lights on if we’re not in a room; but our house is pretty dark, so we pretty much always need a few lights on.Our 17-year-old fridge will probably be the next major appliance to go. Unfortunately fridges still aren’t terribly environmentally friendly; but we’ll get the most energy-effecient model we can afford. As I said you can only do what you can do; and I’m not willing to go without a fridge – I think for us it would end up costing us a lot more money than it would save. Other people’s circumstances may differ, of course, and if they can get by without a fridge, more power to them.Back when the GFC hit the prime minster at the time put out a plan for every home to get either free insulation or a free solar hot water heater. We can’t really insulate our home but our hot water heater was getting up there, so we jumped on that one and got our hot water heater for free (installation and everything). Another part of the plan was free solar panels – it turned out they were only free if you live in the cities, otherwise you had to pay for transport; that’s how we got ours for $200. My husband did all the research, found the best deals, and we made sure we took advantage of both. A lot of people just didn’t bother. My feeling is, if the government is giving something away, you might as well take advantage of it (since you’re paying for it anyway). I do find that Americans like to keep their homes very warm in the winter. When our daughter was a toddler we went back to the US to visit my family, stopping off in Singapore on the way there and on the way back. When we were in Utah at my parents’ house my husband said to be a couple of times, “If it was this hot in Singapore I’d have the air conditioning on.” Certainly it’s very nice to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter when there’s a foot of snow on the ground; but it’s not strictly speaking necessary.

  4. Dear Miss Kelly, Miss Becky, and Miss Athanasia,Thank you for the prayers and kind thoughts.Thank you for sharing your inspiration about your project. I am humbled.Thank you for the blog address. I will definitely check it out. Humbly,Anna

  5. It definitely seems a change in policy, since I have shopped at their stores, and returned things, since the time when they only had a handful of stores. In over four decades, this is the only time I have not been able to get an immediate replacement OR a cash refund.Not only did I, the victim of an item that did not live up to its warranty, have to be inconvenienced packing an object and wasting a lot of gas to get to a terminal, I only have the option of a Walmart gift card, so I am forced to get the replacement there and risk going through all this again sometime. We still have a couple of items with their warranty, but in the future, we will try to buy somewhere else, even if it costs more, to avoid this ridiculous situation. All that gas I burned today wasn’t free. And it blew my whole day.

  6. We like zucchini but my theory is eat it while it’s young and in it’s highest growing season. Later on I let them enlarge and even let some grow to the 1 1/2 ft to 2ft with a hard shell. Those keep very well for months in the root cellar. Right now we eat them every day, like grilled or in a sauteed mixed vegetables or fresh with ranch dip, breaded and baked like fries. I don’t start grating up for the freezer and storage until later. My favorite size to use them is when they are 6″ to 8″ long. But you have to be vigilant in picking.

  7. how exciting to live in a “tiny” house and have a “tiny” payment!there is a new show, on cable, about “tiny” house living and im so intrigued.hope to hear more about how ur adjusting to downsizing….Adriana

  8. This summer I have lowered the air-conditioning part of my electric bill over 30% by turning the air-conditioning on only between the hours of 9pm & 9am, when it is cooler. I have 3 air conditioners, one for each zone, (I live in Texas) I only turn them on for 3-6 hours each. I set the temperature 5 degrees below what I would normally have set the thermostat. The temperature slowly rises 8-10 degrees inside the house during the day and the humidity stays low even on very humid days. So instead of the temp being 78 all day long it now is 73 in the morning and slowly rises to 81-83.When it gets warm I turn on a fan and have a cold glass of water.Thanks Brandy for your blog. You continue to be a blessing for many people.

  9. Wood burning stoves are great here. We have a free standing one in our living room in the small house and it has a single burner plate on the top, and there is room to set a kettle also to keep food or beverage warm. The big house still has its c.1910 Monarch wood cook stove side by side with the still working Wedgewood gas stove (6 burners, double oven, warming oven, broiler etc. I miss it, though my daughter says come and cook whenever I want.) I never learned to cook well on the Monarch, neither did my mother but my Grandma sure preferred it, especially in the winter, she would have it cooking like crazy every day. There would always be a kettle of soup and a pot of coffee hot and steaming.As for a little extra heat in the winter, we have an electrical radiator that is very safe…if is filled with mineral oil which the electricity heats. It is nice for a quick warm up of a cold spot. It does use electricity but it gives off heat once it warms up for quite awhile.

  10. Thanks to a generous co-worker I now have beautiful apricot jam for the year. I had sugar and pectin in the pantry, empty jars on my shelf, so all it cost me was my time, electricity, and water. Feeling grateful.

  11. hello everyone!a few days ago I posted my last wks…but it never appeared. some technical difficulties last wk.:(-I received 2 peach loaves for getting a neighbors mail. they were delicious!! she gets them at a grocery store we don’t have here, wegmans.-my youngest got her first job. yay! it is about 1.5 so if necessary, she is able to bike.for her uniform, she needs khaki or jean shorts. I was able to reuse an old pair of jeans for shorts and bought 3 from goodwill on military discount day.-last wk I made chicken burgers w/ ground chicken I got for free using mobile coupon and quick sale. I used homemade bread crumbs from bread ends that I had frozen to make the crumbs with.-my hubby got a small performance bonus ($450) all the supervisors did and also got a raise. he has been working overtime. avging about 10 per wk.-we will be leaving at the end of the month to fix up our rental. my hubby is using his vacation and hopefully we will be able to sell quickly. we have been covering a $250 shortage each month in rent and managing fees so we are praying for a potential buyer.-I made dishwasher tabs and washed a few baggies.-I have not been making my swagbucks goal. it seems to have gotten harder so I am giving myself a break after doing it everyday for 2 months. I had averaged $25 every 2 wks. I will be getting my last $25 in a couple of days.-I cashed out $25 in ibotta(my hubby and I have the app) and $5 in savingstar.-my oldest and I went to 7-11 on 7/11 for a free slurpee. also signed up for their app which gives out treats each day from 7/11 til 7/23 I believe.-I have been planning my meals out each wk. hope every one has a productively frugal wk!!-Adriana

  12. I used a pool noodle to make a sprinkler for my daughter. I have also used a pool noodle to make a homemade wreath form. Wreath forms at the craft store are expensive.

  13. I really love your blog and your photography is fabulous. I am in Australia. So we are in mid winter. I also love that you get so many comments its like a community and chatty. So I would love to join in and get into the habit of considering my frugal accomplishments for the week.I have adult daughters and a lovely husband. We garden and I am crafty and make all my gifts etc. Plus cook from scratch. I am also a blogger and blog about saving money, crafts and happiness in general. This last week I would say my frugal accomplishments have been going through all my fabrics and planning what to make with what I have, crocheting cotton wash cloths, helping my husband re model our kitchen, and planning Christmas gifts I need to be making. With many thanks. Annabel. http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/

  14. Annabel, I checked out your blog…I like bluebirds! They are in declining numbers here, unfortunately. We have about 10 nesting boxes for them on the property. I love what you did with the old wooden ladder. I did that with my old wooden ironing board, painted it lavender and use it on my summer porch as a shelf.

  15. Thank you Athanasia! We dont have real Bluebirds but we have blue wrens which are adorable and very friendly. If you could take photos of your nesting boxes and Bluebirds I would adore to see. I also dream of ever seeing a Hummingbird! My friend has just said I can have several more old wooden ladders from her Dads shed! He is very old and going into a home. I am so excited about what I can do with those! Thank you, it is nice to “meet” you.xxx

  16. Annabel, the nesting boxes are out along the field divisions as they like that area. I can ask one of the girls to try and get a picture with their phone if out that way. We also have wood duck boxes. Those do a better job of attracting wood ducks because of the pond. Bluebirds are harder as they are often chased off by aggressive sparrows who will take their house.

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