We had a beautiful birthday for Elsa this week. I made presents for her (more on those in an upcoming post). I made Eiffel Tower chocolates and from-scratch cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting for her. Winter made a banner for her. I cut daffodils from the garden to decorate the table. She picked her favorite meals for the day.

The next birthday in our family is coming up soon. I cut out a dress and started sewing it for Wren.

I continued to save water while waiting for the shower to warm up and also while in the shower by having two buckets in the shower. I used these each day to water our potted fruit trees.

I kept water from steaming vegetables to water plants. I also used the soapy water from washing the pan to pour over a rosebush that has aphids on it.

I cut lemongrass, cilantro, rosemary, green onions, lettuce, and spinach from the garden for our meals.

Our electric and gas bills came this week.

Our electric usage was down 150 KW less than the same month last year, and 128 less than last month. Due to the quarterly rate increase that the electric company has given each quarter for the last several years, our electric bill was only $1.93 less than last month (the rate increase was effective mid-January). Nevertheless, I am grateful that I have been able to use less electricity each month, or the bill would be higher than last month.

We had a warmer month, meant I didn’t turn on the heater, saving me $30 in February compared to the amount I spent last year in February. While this is a savings on the gas bill, I expect a warmer, hotter summer this year, as it was already in the low 70’s this week, and it should be 78º F by Friday.

Fading rainbow

It rained one day this week. As it rains a handful of days a year here, we tend to be rather excited about rain, especially when it lasts for more than 20 seconds. It rained on Friday, which is my assigned day of the week to water the garden (the water district assigns one day to each household in winter for outside gardening). I had checked the weather report ahead of time and turned off the drip system and sprinklers in anticipation of the rain. The rain came with cooler temperatures for a few days as well, which was nice. It also brought a huge rainbow.

I thinned and transplanted my thinned turnip seedlings, and also planted seedlings outdoors that I started indoors in January. I direct sowed seeds in the garden as well.

We had beautiful weather this week. The children played outside everyday in the garden, riding bicycles, playing on the marry-go-round, jumping on the trampoline, running in the grass, and swinging on the swings.

I had a date with Wren one night this week. She got to stay up late and we played Memory together.

Ezrom’s clay octopus: Friday’s art project

My husband cut both boys’ hair.

My husband and I watched two shows online for free: one on Hulu and one on PBS.org. We also watched a movie together one night for an at-home date.

I signed up this week for a free one-year subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The first issue came today!

We decided this week that we are going to attempt composting again. Our past efforts were unsuccessful (the compost dried out and blew away). We are planning to compost in a garbage can this time. We tried to buy a garbage can on Friday, and found out that our local Home Depot doesn’t sell garbage cans after dark! We will be picking one up next week at Lowe’s instead (where they keep their garbage cans indoors).

What did you do to save money this week?

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  1. Backyard composting is not as forgiving as larger “farm” piles. Too much brown, especially in a hot climate, can overheat the pile and cause it to smolder or catch fire. Contact your state/county cooperative extension service and see what they recommend for your area. 🙂

  2. Last 9 Christmas’ I have saved all of the wrapping paper after the gifts were open. I am using this today to wrap items for our move. I never knew quite what I was going to do with it as it was badly wrinkled and had holes etc. I just kept thinking it would be useful. I have been finding it hard to find newspaper and boxes this time around so as I am packing I found all of this and now I have paper to wrap with !

  3. I had a good week:Our godchildren came to town, and the husband did frugal activities with them. He took them to the library and made pizza from scratch.I attended a grad school sponsored luncheon; they did not have great vegan options, but I made sure to eat a salad and some greensI received my tax refund and used a little over a third of it to pay down a credit card.I also used it to invest in some natural vitamins and herbs to help me deal with some chronic issues.I took advantage of the swagbucks birthday and event and accumulated a lot of points. And thanks to Heidi’s comment on my post last week, I now run encrave and have increased the number of points I am able to accumulate in a day. It looks like I will reach my next 2500 goal soon!My $25 from swagbucks was deposited in my paypal; I used it to pay down the same credit card.I received my cash back from upromise from a ticket I purchased through priceline, but it was much less than I thought it would be, it was only one percent as opposed to 5%, and I am not sure why, I plan to call upromise once I get a chance.I received free magazines in the mail.We stayed within our February budget; yay for us!I went out of town to a conference; my hotel stay and food was paid for; I made sure to take the body wash that I used with me.I picked kale from the garden.We stopped using the fireplace because the weather was warm, but it has gotten cold again. Husband did not feel like dealing with the fire, so needless to say, I have been using a lot of blankets around the house, lol; we still have not turned on the heat.My husband made a gift for our friend’s birthday, so we did not have to buy one.I listened to Suze Orman for free on iTunes.Used baking soda as deodorant.Used baking soda for toothpaste.

  4. Somehow last week I miscalculated our grocery budget so we ate from our pantry. It all turned out okay. I made lots from scratch including a rice and veggie soup using leftovers. We were responsible for bringing in the class snack one day last week at preschool. We brought bananas and crackers. There was leftover of each so I brought them home for the boys to have for snacks. I have gone back to doing some couponing for groceries/toiletries. I used to do a lot more couponing before kids, but now I find it stressful! I have decided to use them when possible/time allows. If I save a few dollars extra it will be considered a small victory.My husband and I used a gift card to go out for a much needed dinner without the children.Reworked our March budget to pay a little extra towards a credit card (we are working a debt snowball.)Lastly I am happy to report that after a lot of diligence our electric bill was down $10.00 and our gas bill down $20.00! Now if only it would stop snowing so I could hang my clothes to dry outside!Have a great week- Melissa

  5. Saved thousands of dollars this week DYI. We had a quote of 5,200 dollars to stain and seal a concrete basement floor. Instead we decided to do it ourselves. $420 bucks for materials and a LOT of hours later we have lovely stained floors. It was not terribly hard work, but took a lot of prep time. I guess right now we have more hours than dollars so it was worth it. Also found an old mauve wingback chair for 20 dollars. It was ugly but had good bones. I was going to recover it, but heard of painting Rit dye directly on the fabric. I tried it first and 3 bottles of dark brown dye transformed the chair to a pretty cocoa. I am going to let it dry a couple of more weeks then seal it with Scotchguard (just to make sure the dye doesn’t transfer to clothes) It took about an hour to “paint” and 15 dollars worth of dye, so for $35 I have a new to me chair. I also found a carpet remnant rolled up in the garage. I am going to bind it and use as an area rug for the newly finished basement. Going thrift store shopping for sheets to use for making a rag rug for another area in the same basement. I hope to find colors that will work, but if I can’t I will just dye whatever I find. It will still be cheaper than buying fabric or new sheets, and tremendously cheaper than buying rugs.

  6. Great job with the chair! And good for you for doing the concrete yourself!Your concrete person is really expensive. We didn’t seal our back patio when we put it in. We had the same person do our front concrete work. He told me it was $100 for the seal if we wanted him to seal the back patio (we didn’t do it but we were curious how much). The back patio is quite large. Your quote doesn’t include concrete, either–that’s more than it would be for concrete, seal, stain, and work for two basements! If in the future you need to hire this type of labor, I would strongly suggest getting several quotes from several different people. What you paid to do it yourself if what someone should have charged you to do it. I’m so glad you did it yourself!

  7. Jackie, Brandy is right. I use the glass domes from cheese plates, or from cake plates. I also use wide mouth pint jars, but not for overwintering. The jars work great for me for spring protection, but the glass handles on the cake & cheese domes collect the sun’s rays during the winter, even when the handle is the only part poking out of the snow here, & keep the plants underneath alive.For several years, I asked for cheese or cake domes for Christmas & my birthday. It doesn’t matter if there is a small nick in the edge; that can be smoothed away with the “fine” side of a disposable emery board. I have found the domes at yard sales & thrift shops. I won’t pay more than $1 for a cheese dome, or $3 for a cake dome, but a lot more plants fit under the cake domes, & the plants do better under them during the winter. When the ground thaws, I can transplant the tiny plants out to the smaller cloches & jars. I have 2 cake domes & 9 small domes, & plenty of wide mouth pint jars, but it is something I am always on the lookout for. Last year after the lettuce no longer needed the domes, I lined them up in the garden for a week where I was going to plant the poles beans, then 2 weeks before the last frost date here, I planted. They came up, & were growing well, then it frosted – – & they were fine! Using the cloches, I can push back the boundaries of my growing season. Because I had a 2 week head start with the beans, I harvested for 2 weeks longer, which mean 5-6 more pickings, since I pick every 2-3 days.

  8. Dear Miss Brandy and readers,Life has been very busy for us as a family as we work on healing one family member and launching another one to college this fall. We are planning a high school graduation in May as well as the coming of Lent season and Easter. Old Man Weather send us one more ice storm which shut down the city and schools for the last 3 days.I spent the icy winter days baking and getting things in the freezer for the month of March.I must confess I have been discouraged by all the financial responsibilities that are coming my way. With that said here are my frugal accomplishments;Attended a free Financial Peace classFunded all my cash envelopes for MarchHad $45 in change jar to go into savings accountBought 2 chocolate bunnies for freeRecycled garden supplies from last year (containers)Downloaded free Kindle books on gardeningCrocheted 2 big bunnies for Easter basketsMade 16 cups of butternut squash puree and 8 cups of sweet potato puree from $4 of butternut squash and 1 sweet potatoMade large pot of butternut squash soup from puree Made pear sauce and made 36 muffins from 99 cents clearance pears Made 4 loaves of banana bread from 99 cents clearance bananas My major frugal accomplishment was saving $500 from my monthly budget to put towards my snowball debt planI did not have much to add to my frugal list this week. I did several postings on my blog since I got behind due to cooking the last few days. http://marilynswordsofwisdom.blogspot.com/2014/03/frugal-accomplishments-33.htmlThank you Miss Brandy for allowing me to post here.Wishing everyone a wonderful Lent season as it comes upon us…Anna

  9. We did get several and the one I quoted was the highest, but the lowest was 3,700 dollars. We covered 1300 square feet so it is a large area. The house is older and the floor was in horrible shape so the bids included cleaning sanding etching staining and sealing. Right now everything on us hurts so I am not glad today we did it, but in a couple of days I will be. We did add 3 bucks each for foam knee pads. Best.Investment.Ever

  10. Please tell me more about adding highlights to your hair with chamomile tea? I do mine periodically with bleach and developer, but I’d love to hear about something less toxic.

  11. I can’t help it, ruthie, I’m sitting here laughing. I’ve never had artificial highlights, but now that I’m 62, God has given them to me, absolutely free, and I love them. When I part my hair, which is cut in a bob, I have one silver streak coming down on each side of my face, as well as sprinkled around elsewhere. My hairdresser parts and cuts my hair to make the “highlights” fall where I want them.

  12. Wow I never heard of them flaming up here but we get plenty of rain. We can still get dry spells and burn bans . The marsh can combust if struck by lightning, that’s kind of like a giant compost anyways.

  13. I returned to work part time this week, and continued the good habits I started while on medical leave. I made breakfast each morning for us, took a healthy lunch to work every day, and we made our dinners together. I did eat dinner out last night, but it was worth the joy of hanging out with my old law school buddies. I laughed until I hurt, which has not happened in a long time with my depression/anxiety challenges. Tonight’s dinner will be homemade butter chicken, parathas (flat, flaky Indian bread you can buy at Walmart frozen at 5 for 1.77 CDN) and salad. I have been using up leftovers, and made my own homemade version of Pillsbury cookies that are in the freezer. This helps us ration our cookie consumption (trust me, we need it), and we have delicious chocolate oatmeal coconut cookies fresh from the oven every now and then! We both take transit to work, except in the summer when the husband rides his bike. We don’t have a car, though I do have an annual membership to a car share which helps when we have big Costco trips, though we use it rarely, and it’s based on a per use basis. I made an appointment with the bank to open a joint chequing account with my husband (we are newlyweds). This will help me track our grocery spending and other household expenses, as we currently just alternate paying from our individual bank accounts. There are so many blessings in this life. Thank you all for reminding me of this in your comments, and all of Brandy’s blog posts. Have a great week!

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