It was a beautiful week of fall weather. I’m enjoying our long fall this year. Our first frost usually hits between November 13th and December 15th. It’s usually toward the end of November, but it hasn’t come yet, and the weather was just beautiful all week.

Of course, no one wanted to be inside.

The plaid dress, the jumper, and my son’s polo shirt are hand-me-downs from friends.

We enjoyed playing in the backyard, on the swingset and the merry-go-round that my husband and brother-in-law made several years ago. They constructed and welded the frame and installed it. We purchased the swings and chains, and they have held up many years, in spite of the sun, and the rubber-covered chains keep the children from burning their hands. Our swings are 10 feet tall, which are actually taller than most of the parks here (and none of our parks have a merry-go-round). I don’t need to spend money on gas to go to the park when we can play at home!

We were excited for a little bit of color in them this year! I grew up in the desert, with a maple tree in my front yard whose leaves just went from green to brown, so fall color is a rare thing in my life. I love the little bits that we get here (there aren’t many!)

Winter gathered the leaves from the peach trees and made giant footprints. Every time her brothers stepped on them, she would say, “You stepped on my feet!”

I made biscuits, French Bread, Italian dressing and crackers.

I mended a dress.

I cut the buttons off of a worn dress and added them to my button jar.

I harvested basil, a lemon, a few small bell peppers (the first ones of the year), and some thyme.

I made a few Christmas presents and worked on some others.

I bought 60 green bell peppers for  $0.10 each, for a total of $6. I cut them and froze them to use in other meals. I also bought 5 pounds of green beans at .25 a pound. This was a lucky find at Winco; when my mom went there a couple of hours later, a new shipment of bell peppers had come in, and they were marked at .58 each instead of .10 each.

My husband found his paint sprayer and used it to paint our side gate. We had received a notice from our HOA that it needed to be painted. He also painted a shelf that I bought at a friend’s garage sale last month for $3, and had enough paint to share with our neighbor, whose gate was needing to be painted even more than ours. Using the sprayer meant he used less paint, and he still has some leftover for another project.

He installed some lights in the garage that he had had for some time from our last house, and wired in a plug from an old appliance.

We watched a few shows on Hulu for free.

I made homemade hair detangler with a half of a free sample of conditioner. Since I started doing this earlier this year, I have saved $8 a month over buying the largest bottle of Infusium (which I used to buy with a coupon for that price, and then dilute half with water). Now I use 3 Tbsp of conditioner a month for myself and all of the girls, and it’s free.

The children had friends over this week. This meant that I had 12 children at my house for 2 hours (we had 5 friends at once). Part of the time, they ended up playing board games. I realized that it might be nice to have a few more options in games (especially for the younger children), so I decided to use the money my grandmother gave me for the children’s Christmas gifts this year to be for some group gifts of a few games. I read a review of a game on some one’s blog this morning and I checked out the game. It was pricey, but I looked over on Amazon, and they had it for 25% off. I ended up ordering a few more games (this one and this one) for the children to share with the money that she gave me. I think the money went further by buying a few things that they can share that will last for several years, rather than buying individual gifts for less money each (which would have happened if I had just divided the money equally). My grandmother will be able to see them open the gifts. I’m glad that she left me free to pick some things that I think they will really enjoy.

Ivory is wearing the sweet little European outift that I bought at my sister-in-law’s garage sale last month for $1.

We took down our Christmas wreath from the box in the garage. I made it with materials from my mother-in-law on mine and my husband’s first Christmas. All of the decorations are held on with hot glue, and each year something falls off and has to be glued back on. I glued back on a gold pine cone (it could be just that this particular pine cone falls off every year!) and hung it up today on our front door. The only other thing that I have put out so far is a large jingle bell, which I hung on the front door handle on the inside of the door. This bell was one of a small handful of items left behind in a house that my husband sold years ago. It has a beautiful sound.

Because it is the first day of December, we asked the children to pick Christmas songs tonight for us to sing before bed. Each night we read the scriptures together as a family, and then each child gets to pick a song for us to sing. Starting December 1st, we sing Christmas songs. Winter and Liberty are learning to play a few on the piano, and so they were able to accompany us on a few of the songs tonight. After songs we have family prayer, and then the children have prayer with us and we tuck them in bed.

What did you do to save money this week?

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  1. –Turned off lights when we left a room. We are trying to be more diligent in this and also trying to teach this to our children as well.–Made my own bathroom cleaner with vinegar and the $.38 Dawn I purchased earlier this month. I also reused orange peels to make the orange vinegar cleaner that I found on Pinterest.–Saved used dryer sheets to clean blinds. (I can’t remember where I found this tip, but it really works!)–Started a scarf for my sister for Christmas using a free pattern I found on Pinterest.–Made pancakes and homemade instant oatmeal packets for breakfasts. –Used coupons at the Dollar Tree and only paid tax for soap and sore throat drops.–Forgot to pick up some things while I was shopping for groceries this week, but decided to save gas and not make an extra trip back to the store even though I really wanted to!–Purchased shirts ($1.50 – $1.99) and sneakers ($2.99) from the thrift store for our fast-growing children. These were in like-new condition and for just a fraction of the cost of buying brand new!

  2. Heather, you don’t have to do it all. You have a new baby and it’s time to be easy on yourself and your family. Enjoy tthe baby and enjoy December, which to me should be a fun time of year, and buy some convenience items (frozen lasagna, prepared and ready to heat items from your grocery story, etc.) as your budget permits.Sleep when you can and eat healthy.

  3. Mari, I am quite allergic to cats, so we don’t have any, indoor or outdoor. In the past, I have sent gifts to our son, who has 2 indoor cats, “wrapped” in large Costco cookie tins that no one wanted, from work. When I worked as an RN, all sorts of gifts arrive for the staff, & the tins in which they arrive are usually thrown out, unless someone snags them first. This tin was red striped, & large, & altho the cats bothered the bow on it, I taped the tin shut & they could not get into the present inside. My husband was delighted over the ground beef, since he loves meatloaf. – Marivene

  4. Your leaf footprints reminded me of making floor plans with our fallen leaves and playing house. We have a few “gamewright” games and like that everyone in the family can enjoy playing them.

  5. I bought a Living Social deal for carpet cleaning that is less than $50 for three rooms. Be on the lookout and post it on Facebook/Twitter, because if 3 people buy from your referral link you get yours free. My carpet is in a mess, because we have not had extra money to get it done professionally for several years. I have a cleaner, but it doesn’t get it very clean now. Allison

  6. I am continually inspired by this list. I do many frugal things on a regular basis and have learned a lot from visiting your website and now your blog. It is so encouraging as I am trying to raise 5 children on my husband’s teacher salary which seems to continue to shrink as they pull more out for the State Teacher Retirement and Medical. In a couple of years these two items alone will increase up to 20% of his pay. I have learned a great deal from you and it’s helping. I often feel alone in this battle.Quick question; do you have a recipe/directions on making turkey stock or turkey noodle soup as well as a recipe for crackers that would be good with soup? I have turkey bones in the freezer from Thanksgiving and need to figure out what to do with them. I look here first since I have tried and liked several of your recipes. Thankyou!

  7. We had a big problem with our son forgetting to turn off the lights. So, the solution we found is this: He gets .25 from us every Monday and Thursday for doing his chores. If we have to remind him to turn the lights off, it goes down to .20. And if he forgets again, it goes down to .15, and on from there. He’s gotten a lot better about it since then!

  8. I am sorry to hear about your mother. I watched my grandfather disappear from that dreadful disease. It is the most frightening thing about growing old, to me anyway. You are a good daughter to keep visiting her. I worked in a nursing home once and was shocked at the number of folks whose children never visited them. I know some of them were probably reaping what they sowed, but it was still heartbreaking.

  9. I would also like to throw in here that a menstrual cup can be another great alternative to tampons or pads. Have tried a Diva cup and a Mooncup UK and prefer the MCUK. It’s about $30 up front but I shouldn’t have to buy another feminine product again!

  10. Heather, turkey stock is easy to make. I am not Brandy, but I just put the bones (and skin, if you saved it)in a large stock pot & cover them with water. I add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, as it helps draw more minerals from the bones, but doesn’t really affect the finished taste. Simmer the pot on the back of the stove for 12-24 hours. In the meantime, I add any veggie trimmings, like carrot, potato or onion peels, from other meals I am preparing, to the stock, to add both flavor & color. Add water as needed to keep the bones covered for the 24 hours. After 24 hours, drain the stock from the bones ( & anything else added), place it in another pan & reduce the volume by half. Place it in the fridge to cool, which makes the fat rise to the top & harden, so it is easy to remove. If the stock becomes gelatinous as it cools, then it is reduced enough. If it is still very liquid, you may need to reduce it more. Add a thinly sliced carrot (if desired), a little turkey meat (if desired), and some cooked noodles. Any excess turkey stock can be frozen or canned for future use. After I drain the stock off the bones, I always refill the pot containing the bones & veggies with water, & repeat the process again for another pot of stock. The 2nd batch of stock usually needs reduced a little more than the 1st, but other than that, it tastes fine & works great in soup or anything else. -Marivene

  11. One of the advantages of having 5 sisters is that 4 of us live within an hour of the nursing home so she gets about 3 visits a week. Some people see their mom every day but I have no idea how they do that. My Mom has been there since January, 2006, and I will admit it gets old sometimes but she and my late Dad did so much for us that I do it with a joyful heart (at least most of the time and always by the time I get there). Thank you for you’d kind thoughts and support.

  12. Anonymous, Sometimes as people age, the brain deteriorates, & the part that governs nice/mean goes. When a sweet, wonderful parent becomes a person who yells at the child for visiting them, it is human nature to prefer to remember them as the “nice” parent. I lived too far from my mother to visit, but I used to phone often her until she began to yell at me every call. As an RN, I understand it is sometimes part of aging, but it worked better for me to write to her twice a week after that. She still knew I was thinking of her, but there was no nasty component. -Marivene

  13. Marivene, I have seen that in a couple other residents and completely understand! I think you made a good decision given the circumstances. My Mom is just as pleasant as can be. She has no idea who we are but she seems to like our visits and doesn’t know/care when we can’t visit. Just sad to see in a woman who read several books a week and did the NYT crossword puzzle without a dictionary.

  14. Put the turkey bones in your crockpot early in the morning and add some onion, carrots and celery along with some salt and pepper. Cook all day and then strain out the bones and veggies. You can use wilted veggies that are not good for other eating. Save all your skin and the neck next time you make a turkey as they really add flavor to the broth too.

  15. We are very fair about the whole situation…he asked us if he needed to remind US to turn the lights off, did he get an extra .05? And we said OF COURSE! What a smart boy to think of that, huh? And Vanessa, I think M&Ms are also a very powerful motivator! 🙂

  16. We have finished the last bit of our T’giving leftovers w/ me becoming quite creative w/ recipes and meals. Here’s just a few things I have done over the past week:Got 2 free Christmas gifts using my SavingStar acount.Started the Elf on the Shelf for my autistic son to help w/ behavior. (He is 19 but has a mind set of a 9-14 yr. old.) It feels graet to see him react to what the elf is doing and looks forward to it. Why hadn’t I done this before. As a kid, my mom did the same for me and my sibs.Took winter clothes out of storage so I wouldn’t have to go shopping.Recieved a gallon of milk, 5 tomatoes and 5 lbs of sugar from MIL. She borrowed only a little bit and returned a lot.Looking at sales and planning w/coupons to restock pantry for little bit of money, for the winter months ahead. I know my hours at work will be cut, as a way of life in retail.Gave the dog a bath at home and she liked it a lot!Went to GoodWill to drop off stock for thier Christmas baskets and found a figurine that goes w/a set I have been collecting for years. Normanly it would cost over $60 and I got it for $2.00.Had a fire a couple of nights to help w/ heating costs.Hubby downloaded a free version of the Rosetta Stone-German to give to a friend for Christmas. Plus he has been selling things we don’t need on Ebay to offset our costs for presents. He also returned unused-not needed car engine supplies for a full cash refund. He is learning!!!

  17. Thank you both for the ideas. I knew turkey stock wasn’t hard to make but I wasn’t exactly sure what I should do and couldn’t find the info in any of my cookbooks either. It’s not one of those things that got handed down from mother to daughter this time.

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