Monday, October 20, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments


I canned 6 quarts of giardinera pickles.

Winter made several gifts for her sisters for Christmas gifts using fabric I already had and some free downloadable patterns.



I cut two pomegranates from my tree.

I harvested my only butternut squash this year, and cut one Armenian cucumber from the garden, and cut a but of celery that I grew from some grocery store celery.

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I made French bread. Winter made a double batch of granola.

I cooked a turkey from the freezer.


Wren is so happy to be taking piano lessons now! She practiced every day without being asked! I'm so glad that I was able to trade for her lessons!

I planted seeds in my fall garden. Some of the seeds were ones that I had collected from my garden earlier this year.

I had the house open and the air conditioner off for as many hours as I could each day, turning it on only for a few hours in the afternoons when the inside temperatures went up to 83º.

Liberty and Cyrus did this cloud in a jar experiment several times. Do you see the cloud escaping? This was a really frugal experiment involving hot water, matches, and a bag of ice.


Cyrus cut the grass and added some to my two compost bins.

My husband cut his hair.

I continued to collect the water from the shower to water the potted trees.

I had at at-home date with my husband. We played a card game.

What did you do to save money last week?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Trip to Our Alma Mater, Part 2: A Drive Up The Canyon

The reason we decided to leave in the fall was so that our children could see the changing leaves. Where we live, it doesn't get cold enough for a big color change; the leaves usually turn brown and fall in December. A drive into the mountains would show them the beautiful mountains and the changing leaves.

It was raining when we started our drive. I noted that the children weren't used to seeing rain while in the car; the lack of visibility on the freeway was something new to them.

Just a little way up Provo Canyon is Bridal Veil Falls. We showed the children their first waterfall.





We drove up and looked at a pretty park at the Vivian Park exit, but it was still raining, so we turned around and head back up the canyon, driving all the way to Heber.

The rain quit falling, and we turned around and drove south again, returning to the beautiful park that we had seen again.

It was a great decision.


We brought out the popcorn that we had popped before our drive, and enjoyed popcorn while enjoying the incredible view.



The children were able to explore a stream for the first time.



I know for most of you, a stream is not unusual, but living in the Mojave desert (a much drier desert than the desert of Northern Utah), my children have never seen a stream.



This felt like the ideal child's play.














We stayed at the park for several hours, and then went back to my niece and nephew's house for dinner and games.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments



I gleaned olives on Saturday. I'll be processing them this week.

I canned 4 quarts of giardeniera, using cucumbers from our garden.

I canned 24 quarts of pears.

This is just one side of my front walk; both sides have basil, plus there is more basil behind this. This pictures was taken after I made several batches of pesto. I still have several more batches to make! The basil is taller than my 8-year-old.

I cut lots and lots of basil from the garden and made several batches of pesto, which I froze. I borrowed a food processor from my mom to make the process go faster.

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy on my table.

I cut green onions and a pomegranate from the garden.

I mended two dresses and a towel.

My husband and I watched a show for free on Hulu.

Winter and Ezrom downloaded 2 free songs each from the library's website.

I attended a community garage sale with my mom on Saturday. I found several things for our family: pants for Cyrus, Wren, Liberty, and Elsa ($1.00 each), shirts for Cyrus ($0.25 to $1.00 each), a sweater for Winter ($1), books ($.50 to $1.00 each), new-in-the-box Christmas net lights ($2 a box), bicycle helmets ($2 each), a bulletin board ($1), push pins ($.25), three dresses for Winter ($3 each), and an acoustic guitar with a case for $30; Ezrom gave me a big hug and a kiss when he saw it!

I also bought several things that I will use as Christmas gifts for the children, including a brand-new 500 piece puzzle ($1), a used (like new) 24-piece puzzle, some jewelry ($0.25 each), a game ($1), knitting needles ($0.25 a pair), an MP3 player ($3) and a jacket ($0.50).

What did you do to save money last week?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Trip to Our Alma Mater, Part 1



After our last trip (to California), my husband and I started discussing the possibility of another trip. We know that going to see something would mean a long drive, since Las Vegas is so far from anything. One of the closest drives that we could see (in a different direction from Southern California) is to Utah.

We knew the main expense was a hotel, and that if we could eliminate that expense, or lower it significantly by camping, then we could make another trip. We were able to stay with a niece and nephew, and their children. We took a blow-up mattress with us that my husband had been given a few years ago from someone who no longer wanted it. We took sleeping bags and pillows, and they had some other blow-up mattresses and a futon for the children to sleep on (they took sleeping bags with them as well).

Food for the trip was the next concern. Bringing food last time, for two days, was simple enough, but we needed to bring food with us for a week. (We packed refillable water bottles and two large Gotts with water for drinks). Here is what we did:

I made four loaves of French bread the day before the trip, plus took another loaf and a half that I had baked a day earlier, and we sliced them for sandwiches.

I bought a turkey breast (the lunchmeat kind) at Sam's Club for slicing. We brought it home and sliced it for sandwiches.

I had a small roast in the freezer that I cooked and sliced for sandwiches.

We bought a 5 pound block of cheese at Sam's Club and sliced half of it on our slicer for sandwiches.

I packed mayonnaise and mustard that I already had.

I hard boiled 2 1/2 dozen eggs.

I cooked a double batch of lemon poppyseed muffins to take with us.

I made a double batch of granola. Along with that, I packed 2 1/2 quarts of homemade yogurt and 2 pints of homemade strawberry jam.

I made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies for the trip.

We packed a large number of apples, 2 quarts of homemade grape juice, and several pints of home-canned dill pickles.

I made a batch of pasta e fagioli the day before, which we froze for the trip.

I packed 4 pounds of pasta, 2 #10 cans of tomato sauce, and the spices for a double batch of spaghetti.

We took popcorn, oil, salt, and our popcorn maker.

We measured out oatmeal and brown sugar for 2 meals

I took a whole frozen chicken as well.

Meals were sandwiches with apples, pickles, and cookies, pasta e fagioli (one night), oatmeal, yogurt with granola and jam, lemon poppyseed muffins with hard boiled eggs, and two meals of spaghetti.

We also shared a meal that my niece made (the chicken was what we brought for that), and shared spaghetti with them twice. My niece made us breakfast one morning as well.

I knew the homemade bread wouldn't last a week without going bad, so we bought 2 loaves of bread while we were on the trip. One afternoon I also purchased a large bag of pretzel sticks for a snack. In addition, I had planned for one trip for ice cream cones, which we did.

We had planned to have sandwiches one more meal as well, but that changed for us. I emailed my old boss' wife to see if we could come say hi to the two of them for a few minutes while we were there. They offered to take us to lunch at my favorite place, the museum cafe. That was our only meal out, and it was delicious! They also handed us some money and suggested that we go get ice cream cones, so we had ice cream twice.

For activities, we planned a myriad of free things, mostly at our alma mater. Both of us graduated from Brigham Young University (he in 1987, and I in 1999; you may be doing the math but we're actually 13 years apart in age). We knew there were plenty of things to see and do for free on campus, including several museums and free performances.



We spent most of our first day driving. We stopped in St. George at the temple for breakfast. We then walked around the grounds and went to the visitor's center there.



The desert just north of St. George.

We stopped at Cove Fort for lunch. The tree above our table had about 20 monarch butterflies all on one branch, which would occasionally flit around for a while and then return to the branch. We didn't tour the fort that day, but we enjoyed the picnic benches in the shade and refilled our water bottles there.

We arrived just in time to attend the planetarium outreach show our first night. The outreach show was $1 per person. My husband took the 5 oldest children to the  BYU Planetarium while I took the two youngest over to the children's section of the campus library.

Afterwards we all had a lot of fun looking around the Eyring Science Center, where they had several hands on activities and interesting displays (the planetarium is in that building).

We then had a late dinner of sandwiches at our niece and nephew's house nearby.

The next day, we went to the Museum of Art. This building was new to my husband, but was familiar to me.

We met up with my old boss and his wife. I worked for him until he retired from teaching at the age of 72. I knew that just left him more time to work on his projects, and 15 years later, he is still working on quite a few books! His wife and I had worked together as well; she is a historical clothing expert. I had modeled clothing for fashion shows for her when I was a student.

We had an amazing lunch at the museum cafe, and then we saw the exhibit of historical costumes from movies together. The museum was free.



From there we headed off to the BYU Creamery for ice cream cones, and then walked to the Monte L. Bean Life Science museum (also free).

Ezrom, Elsa, Liberty and Wren are enjoying the fountain in the courtyard of the Joseph F. Smith Building, which was razed and rebuilt after I graduated. The courtyard was so incredibly beautiful.
We walked from there down to see part of the alumni versus students swim match, where we cheered for random strangers.

We headed back up the hill (those of you who attended BYU know that very long set of stairs up from the Richards building!) and ate dinner from the back of our van.


After a decision for a change from our original plan (to see a student instrumental recital for free), we then drove back down the hill (since parking was available in student-only lots after 7) and went to attend the women's volleyball game. We weren't sure of the cost, and as my husband stepped up and saw the $5 per person cost, he started to back away. I saw what he missed: a $15 cost for family tickets to the game. As soon as I pointed it out, he promptly turned around and bought tickets! We enjoyed watching the women's volleyball team beat our biggest rival, and 15 years after graduation, I sang our fight song for the first time! (My husband attended many, many games as a student, while I attended several performances). Even Ivory learned some of the words to the song!

The next day we returned to campus. We ate our picnic lunch in the grass under the shade of several trees, and went back the the Museum of Art to see the rest of the exhibits.



We showed the children a bit more of campus, and walked down to the Wilkinson Student Center (in the background of the photo above). The football game was sold out that day, but my husband was able to watch on a television there with some of the children (Ivory took a nap with him). I walked around campus with the other children, and we bought a bag of pretzels for the family to share. (This was poor planning on my part; I forgot to bring our snacks with us that day). We also went to the campus bookstore, where we browsed the clearance section and found 3 books, including one for $2.99 that I had on Ezrom's Christmas list.

We gave the children some quarters to play a bit of skee ball in the student center while the game finished (Ezrom watched part of the game with me at the very end and asked, "Does BYU win all their games?" which made me laugh!) When they the game was over, they combined their tickets for some candy to share.

We then checked out the library addition that was finished the day I graduated. While I was a student, campus had a giant whole in the center while it was dug up (the poplars in the photo above were dug up and boxed for several years). An underground addition of the library was built north of the existing library (with skylights)  that goes two floors under the ground. We went to check it out, and it was beautiful. We enjoyed an exhibit in one of the rooms on World War I.

We returned to my neice and nephew's house for dinner with them. She had made a fantastic dinner in the crockpot (the chicken we brought went to this meal).

I took Winter and Ezrom back to campus to see a student's senior recital that evening. Everyone else was too tired to do any more that night. The recital was free and the children really enjoyed it.

From there we went to drop in on the Swing Kids Club dance. When I was a student, I went to that dance every Saturday night. Ezrom was so excited to go and he asked 6 women to dance! He told me he picked the shortest ones on purpose so that they could dance with him. He learned several things. Winter danced one dance and I danced a couple of times.

I have a ton of really beautiful photos to show you for the next part of our trip!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments



I cut flowers from the garden for the house.

I cut lots of basil and made a large batch of pesto. What we didn't use on sandwiches, I put in the freezer in several bags to use later. I armed the sandwiches on the panini press that I bought earlier this year at a garage sale (for $5). I've wanted to make these for years, and I finally have enough basil and a press to make them! I'm planning to make several batches of pesto with the rest of the basil and freeze it to make these again in the future.

I collected seeds from my basil plants to plant next year.

The weather was milder than it has been, so I only needed to run the air conditioner for a few hours on two days last week (saving me $65, according the the electric company's weekly report).

My husband mended one of my clothes drying racks this week. I have a gas dryer and dry most things in the dryer, but I also wear a lot of thin clothing (as we have 5-6 months of above 90º temperatures) that cannot go in the dryer, so I use these to hang those to dry.

Winter downloaded two free songs from the library's website.

I dumped the compost into the garden. I'll be working it in this week, but dumping it out allowed Cyrus to start filling it, layering shredded paper and grass as he cut the grass.

I bought two pairs of jeans for Cyrus and four for Ezrom for $2 a pair from a Facebook garage sale post. The jeans were in like-new condition. On the way home from picking these up, I stopped at three actual garage sales. At one I bought three necklaces ($5 total), which I will give to three daughters for Christmas. At another, I bought two small carry-on size suitcases (that looked brand-new) for $2 each.



Thanks to the Facebook garage sales, I was made aware of a couple of neighborhood garage sales on Saturday. I took my list with me. I was not able to find a lot from my list, but I did find three t-shirts for the girls for .50 each, and a handful of other small items, including a blue and white Chinese vase ($2) that I filled with zinnias from the garden. I had been wanting something like this, and was delighted when I found this one.

I canned 12 quarts of pears.

My husband and I watched the pilot episode of a new show for free on Hulu. It's called Forever, and U.S. readers can watch it here. We liked the first episode enough that we will keep watching.

What did you do to save money last week?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

This Week's Goals



It's going to be a busy week here. As usual, I have more to do than I probably have time to do, but if I work efficiently, I should be able to accomplish these things. It it supposed to be in the 90's this week, so I will do most of my garden work in the evenings.

This is what I'm envisioning for my garden beds. I've never seen it look this lush, but it's what I would like to accomplish.

Garden:

1. Pull weeds and anything that's done for the year in the main bed (the one that gets the most light along the east wall).

2. Mix compost and manure into the bed.

3. Plant some fall seeds in this bed.

4. Pull zinnias in the white garden.

5. Prune hedges. Bring some of these into the house for arrangements (the clippings will last for 3 weeks in water).

6. Dig out the apple tree stump. I never got to this earlier this spring and it really needs to be pulled.

7. Plant apricot tree in the place of the apple.

8. Run drip lines in a small area where we removed them earlier.

9. Cut grape leaves that are infected with caterpillars.


Canning and Cooking:

1. Can pears.

2. Cut basil from the garden and make several batches of pesto to freeze.


Sewing:

1. Mend bath towels.

2, Make pillow for Ezrom's room (I still haven't done this one either).


Shopping:

1. Go to the nursery to purchase a few things for fall. I'm bringing some old pots to return for credit and a $10 off coupon.

2. Buy 16 dozen eggs and 20 pounds of potatoes at Albertson's (I decided to buy 4 more dozen eggs, since at breakfast we eat 18 if everyone has two eggs, and I'd like to have eggs a bit more often).

3. Buy pork roast at Smith's (Yes, I decided to take the plunge and buy some at $2.49 a pound, since it is our favorite).

4. Order two pictures for Ezrom's room (I keep forgetting to do this).

5. Go the community garage sale with my list in hand. I'm hoping to find several needed items for winter clothing for the children as well as some Christmas wants. I thought I had enough clothing, but some things have worn out, and it looks like I still need some shirts for Cyrus. I'm hoping to pay $0.50  to $1 for each item of clothing, though I'll go up to $2 an item if I need to.

Miscellaneous:

1. List 5 items for sale on Facebook garage sale pages this week

2. Print music flashcards for Wren. (I found these free printables, but if anyone knows of any better free music note flash cards (that include base clef, for example), let me know and I'll print those instead!) Update: I am going to print the ones a reader suggested that are here).

3. Go visiting teaching

4. Pay utility bills

Blogging:

1. Finish editing photos for part one of our trip and post. I have a lot of pictures (we were gone a week last month) and I'll be splitting it into multiple posts so that the pictures load faster. If I can get to part two, I'll post that one as well.