Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We celebrated Cyrus' birthday last week. There were a lot of fun details there, and it deserves its own post, but the simple things I did certainly should be part of this one. He wanted cheesecake, which I made for him. I made graham crackers and made a graham cracker crust for the cake as well.

I sewed a birthday bunting for him, using fabric that I had on hand and some ribbon that I had purchased at Michael's the week before.

I cut mint from the garden to make a batch of mint ice cream. I will be writing more on that in the details of Cyrus' birthday post, but I now plan to expand the mint area in my garden.

I cut and froze several quarts of peaches from the garden. The frozen peaches will be used in smoothies.

I made a batch of peach pie popsicles.

I canned 3 pints and 7 half-pints of seedless grapes from the garden. These will be added to canned fruit salads in the winter.

I used the seeded grapes from our garden to make grape juice, and canned 7 quarts of grape juice. I used reusable canning lids for these and the 3 pints of grapes.

We also enjoyed plenty of peaches and grapes fresh from the garden.

I picked Mission figs from the garden.

I cut two Armenian cucumbers and one zucchini from the garden. I hope to have more zucchini again in October; the plants are not flowering now as it is too hot. The cucumbers only make a few in the heat, but they are big (bigger than zucchini!) and thus go a long way. We enjoyed cucumbers in vinegar several nights with dinner as well as in pasta salad.

I used water from rinsing fruits for canning to water the potted trees. I also collected water from the air conditioner, though it has slowed down again to less than a gallon a day. I continued to collect water from the shower as well for the potted trees. With those three things, I had enough water for all of the potted fruit trees and plants.

I cut green onions, chives, and basil from the garden. I made pesto one night with the basil, and threw in a few small tomatoes from the garden.

I cooked a ham from the freezer and sliced it for sandwich meat.

I watched a few more episodes of Foyle's War for free on Hulu.

Back to school deals have just started here. Before I went shopping, I evaluated what I already had and saw that I would not need to buy as much of several items as I have in the past, as I still have quite a few things left from last year's purchases. I made a list of the school supplies I'll need. I picked up a few items last week on sale, and I will purchase a few more as they go on sale.

I also picked up a few toiletries while I was there, including a free bag of cotton balls. I used 3 $1 off printable coupons that were off the store brand (this was at Target). Two of those things had recently had the price reduced; one was more than $3 less than it had been, making my price 60% off the regular price after the coupon.The same store had a buy a container of mustard, get a free container of barbecue sauce for free, so I got both of those for the cost of the mustard. I took reusable bags with me and thus received 10 cents off my total.

While I was there, I also refrained from using a few more store coupons on store-brand items, because they were not on sale. I expect I'll be back at that store as the back to school sales continue, and there is a chance that those items will go on sale during that time, so I will look to see if I can use them then. The coupons don't expire for a month, so I'll wait and watch to see if I can get a chance to purchase store-brand items on sale with a coupon at a later date.

What did you do to save money last week?


  1. We went to the beach and didn't spend any money except for the gas to get there. I packed water, sandwiches, fruit, and carrots. It was a few hours of fun, except that I stepped on a bee and later on twisted my knee while boogie boarding. Whoops. These 44 year old knees are testy.

    We went to a potluck today for lunch and I made lemon cranberry muffins. The cranberries were in the freezer from Christmas sales.

  2. Always inspiring! I found a leather shoulder bag for $3.00 half price at Goodwill. I need a new purse since the one a bought brand new for $20 at Ross just after Christmas is already wearing out. We also did better at eating leftovers last week which is always a savings.

  3. LOVE your blog..even if i don't comment often...
    do the armenian cukes have lots of seeds??? and is the peeling as eatable as reg. cukes???
    cannot wait for the bday post on his bday party.

  4. I don't think this went through the first time so I am writing it again.
    Hello Brandy and readers!
    We kept the air conditioning off on the warmer days. Shutting the windows and drapes really works!
    I harvested cucumbers, TONS of green beans, zucchini, green onions, thyme, basil, cinnamon basil, chives. I have a LOT of lettuce and am sharing it with a co-worker. I am the only one in my house that eats salads.
    I made lotion, hair gel, bread. I pulled a bag of frozen casserole to take for my lunch at work for a few days. Ate all meals at home and mostly drank water.
    MY LAPTOP IS FIXED! YAY! So now we do the "trial run" so we can make sure my plan of cancelling dish will work. My husband is hesitant but I am sick of paying them $80 a month to watch 4 channels when we can watch shows for free using the internet.
    I received a free month offer from Netflix so I signed up for that and put a reminder in my email to cancel before the month is up.
    My daughter and I watched several free shows using my amazon prime account
    I downloaded free kindle books
    we went to the park and played on Saturday. It only cost the gas to get there, which I don't mind because we needed to get out of the house.
    Printed some home school worksheets for my daughter. We do school 3 to 4 mornings per week. She's only 3 years old so we don't push her, but she usually enjoys it. She's very smart which is why we started teaching her things now. People think we are weird to start teaching her so early, but she was ready so why not? I also received some books I reserved from the library. I used Brandy's home school/kindergarten curriculum on her website for suggestions on books.
    I had signed my daughter up for the summer reading program. I brought her with to return her books and she received a free pizza voucher, a small toy, a certificate (due to reading so many already) and put a sticker on a piece of paper , one for each book she read. She also got to pick out a free book.
    I bought milk, lemons and my husband a loaf of bread. He won't eat homemade bread. This is the only food I purchased last week.
    I delegated a work tshirt (we used to have monogrammed shirts we had to wear at work but my employer changed the dress code. We can still wear certain shirts on Fridays only now) as a pajama shirt due to losing enough weight that I swim in it now. :)
    Hung all laundry to dry
    Planted beets, pumpkins, tomatoes, dill, and something else in the hopes of a fall crop. I don't know if it will work. It's probably to late for tomatoes but none of my seeds came up. I discovered two volunteer tomato plants in a raised bed by the cucumbers. They already have flowers on them. They had to be sprouts from last years planting. I was very pleased and was able to leave them where they are.
    I cleaned the house with homemade cleaners.
    Used saved water from canning and boiling green beans to water some plants outside. We continue to do the normal things to conserve water, like navy showers, not filling the sink all the way, shutting the water off when brushing teeth, etc.
    That's all I can remember right now. Have a great week everyone!

    1. OK, now I just commented but did not get the "your message will be visible after approval", so am thinking did not go through??

      So, here it is again, Mandy congratulations on having clothes that are "too big" for you!

    2. Thank you Anna! I cannot wait to cancel Dish Network!!

  5. Hello from Melbourne Australia. Brandy, this is my first time posting on your blog but I've been reading it for over a year. In Australia there is a savings website called The Cheapskates Club and your blog is mentioned many times on their forum. Thankyou so much for sharing your savings tips. They have reached all over the globe and are a true blessing to others.

    Last week's frugal tasks in my house were -

    Saved water from the shower and poured it into the washing machine for the first load
    Saved the washing rinse water and poured it back into the machine for the next load
    Made 21 pumpkin scones with pumpkin bought at 69 cent a kilo Scones went into the freezer
    Made whole orange cake with a pureed frozen orange from last Winter
    Made all meals from scratch
    Picked lettuce from the garden for two meals
    Collected 3 - 5 eggs from our five chickens each day
    Turned the heater off when the sun was shining.
    Turned the heater down to 18.5 degrees during the day instead of the usual 20 degrees
    Dried the washing on clothes horses over ducted heating vents
    Made Miracle Spray ( surface cleaner )
    Mended holes in three pairs of socks
    Had homemade jam on my toast each morning
    Made three loaves of wholemeal bread
    Tried to stick to the two light rule in our house
    Turned off standby lights

    1. Wendy Gower, if you live anywhere near an NQR and have freezer space, Bulla Family Favourites ice cream bars are on sale this week, $1.99 for a 24 pack. We checked our local NQRs yesterday and both were already sold out but said they were getting in more stock; but at that price if you can get them it's well worth stocking up for summer!

    2. Yes we have an NQR very close to us. I'll check it out. Thankyou.

    3. Maydijo, my husband was able to get three boxes. They were very popular. NQR had a huge empty freezer in the morning just waiting for the next delivery after lunch. My husband got there just after the delivery.

    4. I remember when growing up with the ringer washer til I was about 12-13 my grandmother would re-use the water. You always washed the delicates and least dirty whites first, then the dirtier whites which had been soaking and then you would use the rinse water over for the wash water for the colors and so on.

  6. I canned LOTS of green beans again this week. So far, we've done 73 quarts. This is an amazing garden year. I dehydrated 2 large stalks of celery (blanch 5 minutes first) and it made just under a pint jar full. I cut some green pumpkins (small ones) from a trellised pumpkin, peeled and sliced them and made them into an "apple" pie. This week also included making 4 cups of comfrey/plantain salve. I use this for all sorts of skin ailments, but also as deodorant. Was blessed to find peaches for 47 cents a pound and bought 100 pounds. I will start canning them this morning - and I do that without sugar, which not only is healthier, but it saves money and I can fit more in a jar. Here is how I do that:

    1. It's so AWESOME that you are so far along on your bean canning. It is so much work, but totally worth it. There's nothing like home-canned green beans. We eat them 2 or more times per week during the winter. My season is behind yours, and I finally got enough for 1 dinner, so I have it all ahead of me. How many do you hope to can?

  7. Picked up a extra shift at work last week so a little extra money on this weeks paycheck. Got a tree cut down free last week courtesy of AEP (electric company). The wood is being given to a friend of a friend who has a wood burning stove, so we both win. Free heat for him, free removal for me. Used fuel perks yesterday getting 50 cents off a gallon on gas for our truck. I went to the thrift store last week, got a hand made blanket half price for $3.50. It's a lighter weight which we are gearing more towards, easier to layer than having a blanket that's too heavy, also easier to wash and quicker to dry. Today I will wash a comforter and line dry it outside since our temps will be in the low 90's. We have had several meals this past week with leftovers, those are labeled and in the deep freezer for quick easy meals when I don't feel like cooking. Working extra hours this week so I will be able to donate a restaurant gift card to the cat shelter I volunteer for without putting a bite in our budget. The organization is having a 5k Cat Caper race in Sept. and needs gift certificates for gift baskets for the winners. Also a plus on that tree getting cut down is next year I'll get a lot more sunlight in my back yard which will mean a better garden and more apples on my tree as the shade from that tree was stunting the growth of both the garden and apple tree. I still have 2 buckeye trees that will provide shade to the back side of the house so no extra AC usage will be needed but they are not out in the yard where my garden and apple tree are at. Apple tree is growing good on one side and up high so hopefully next week will start doing some canning, making apple sauce which can be used not only for eating but also as a substitute for cooking oil in some of my recipes. I think that's about it for this week.

    1. Anna, is a buckeye tree the same as a horse chestnut? I had never heard of buckeye so looked it up and the nuts look the same etc. Maybe they are related. Do you use the nuts from them?

  8. that ice cream looks divine! I can't wait to read all about it in the birthday post!

    We celebrated my daughter's graduation and had a lot of people here. To keep the cost down we cooked all the food except the cake and have drinks and supplies that are extra and will be used throughout the rest of the summer. We did splurge and rent a tent and we were very grateful we had it, rained the whole day so it was money well spent.

    I have been decluttering and need to figure out if this stuff should be donated or sold on ebay, but since I don't ebay that sounds overwhelming ;)

    was giving a $25 Olive Garden gift card, I will save this for the fall and enjoy lunch there for soup and breadsticks

    been eating down my freezer and my plan is to continue this and hopefully get it thawed out in August so I can restock it come fall

    I have a pile of nice children's clothes that I plan on taking to Once Upon a Child and see if I can get any money for this.

    I am missing Paris terribly, so I think I need to plan a Paris party to enjoy it once again. I will make the food, play Paris cafe music off Pandora and enjoy it all over again!

    thanks for the inspiration and many blessings,

  9. I shopped sales and used a few coupons at three different stores to get the best deals on produce and dairy. I also bought our back to school supplies and a few extras to last us through the year. I took advantage of a $50 gas card for $40 deal. A ten dollar gas savings is huge!
    We were able to enjoy our first cantaloupe from the garden. We received some garden tomatoes from family and we shared some cucumbers with them. We ran out of bread this week, so we made our own and used tortillas to avoid having to make an extra trip to the grocery store. We ate all of our meals at home and my husband took a sack lunch to work everyday.

  10. I can't wait to see the full party post! Mmm... mint ice cream!

    Here are mine:
    (1) Received a $90.01 payment for items purchased from my Amazon store.
    (2) Used a $0.83 per gallon credit when filling the car.
    (3) Made sandwiches out of leftovers from my parents' house for lunch three days.
    (4) Scored six free portfolio folders from Target, and two free Sharpie markers (after rebate) from Staples. (I love the back to school deal season!)
    (5) Dropped off a few items at the local children's consignment sale, and picked up a $31.57 payment for items sold there.
    (6) Used a gift card from my in-laws to pay for a dinner out with my husband.
    (7) Finished watching the second season of Six Feet Under on DVD, borrowed from the library.

    1. I was just reading about SIX FEET UNDER, I won't give any spoilers. Are you enjoying it? I tried it once, and was just reading raves about it on IMDB or some such place that I was wondering if I should try it again. Only watched the 1st episode. I need a new series to catch my interest.

  11. I made marinara sauce with tomatoes, fresh thyme and oregano and onions from the garden. We are planning to have that tonight with some frozen meatballs that I made a few weeks ago along with garlic bread that I will make with some donated Panera bread that I get at a local thrift store. I try to go there every couple of weeks to get enough bread that will last at least two weeks. I made bruschetta with tomatoes and lemon thyme on some of this bread for an appetizer last night. I'm getting better at not turning on the lights every time I walk into a room. I stopped at another grocery store that I don't visit too often and found that their eggs are much cheaper than at WM so I bought two dozen. Huny likes to take eggs for breakfast every now and then and I eat them pretty regularly. Wish I could have chickens to support this food supply but City says no. He's very good at taking left-overs for lunch so we always make enough food for at least two lunches for him and for me. I buy bags of frozen chicken breasts because that is what he prefers to eat. We grilled 3 breasts, 4 corn on the cob (at 25 cents each from WM), and some left-over asparagus from another meal. We ate two cobs and I have two left that I will make some dip to go with some tortilla chips from a splurge Mexican dinner meal. I shredded 6 cups of zucchini and froze that for baking later on. I pulled that plant out and will throw in a bunch of homemade compost to prepare for the Fall garden. I harvested 24 carrots and 2 dozen of the onions that we have in the garage curing. I made chicken stock from a whole chicken and used some of the smaller onions for flavor. I ended up with 3 cups of shredded chicken and 4 ice cube trays of chicken stock. I looked at outdoor fabric to recover our patio cushions, but even at 50% off, I just can't see spending that kind of money so I'm going to use drop cloths to cover the cushions and will visit SCRAP (our local arts and crafts reuse store) for fabric to make some colorful pillows. I stopped at another thrift store and bought 2 butter knives at 25 cents each - not worth the cost of gas, but it was on my way home from running errands so it was not out of the way. And even though there was a lot I wanted to buy, there wasn't anything I really needed. I was specifically looking for some linen pants to wear on vacation and didn't see any reason to buy something else just because I couldn't find what I wanted.

  12. Your mint ice cream looks soooooo good!

    My frugal accomplishments: I made an extra payment towards debt this month – extra payment #1, only 29 more to go to being debt free!

    I picked a couple of blackberries. We just planted them in the spring, so I was happy we are getting anything from them! I added them to my berry container in the freezer, saving up to make something. I also picked more eggplant and sweet corn.

    I know last week I said I wasn’t going to buy any “diet” food, but CVS had a great deal on Skinny Cow Ice Creams, 6 packs were $4 each. Buy 3 and you got $4 Bucks. I had two $1 coupons and a coupon for a free Skinny Cow candy bar. I had a $5 Buck expiring I got from linking my Rx card with my CVS card and filling out a survey. The $5.68 balance for 3 boxes of ice cream sandwiches and 1 candy bar, I paid using the CVS card I got from hotel points that were expiring, so nothing really out of my pocket from this week’s budget and I have a $4 Buck to use on something else next time! WOOT! We also went to Walgreens and got the free after rewards seltzer water. Then to Harbor Frieght for a free package of 24 AA batteries and a free LED flashlight.

    We went on a date night to our favorite Greek restaurant. We budget $20 a week for a date (as long as we are working overtime LOL) and ended up spending only $14 as they had all kinds of specials for the anniversary of their restaurant opening.

    A couple months ago I ordered a Wilton Doughnut pan from Amazon using points earned from my Discover Card and free shipping with Amazon Prime. I made baked donuts twice last week. I still need to figure out the cost, but they were CHEAP. I probably made 13 donuts for the cost of 1 in the donut shops. I figured out the calories and it did fit in my daily calories without going over.

    The biggest frugal thing I did last week and the entire last 6 weeks was that I persisted in following up with my son’s primary care manager and the insurance company to get a referral approved for a specialist. I think they drag their feet hoping that people just give up in getting referrals so they don’t have to pay. We finally did get the referral! YAY!

    Plus I did all the usual, washing out baggies, was careful with our water and electricity usage. It rained almost every day so didn’t have to water and our rain barrels are full. We had a few returns to make to Home Depot and got it on a gift card to use for future projects.

    Frugal fails - I did have food waste though of a half an onion that went bad and no overtime was available last week. BOO! I did make a save on some leftover white rice and leftover veggies basically cleaning out the fridge and making a delicious stir fry, adding soy sauce and ginger.

    Have a great week everyone! I can't wait to check back all week and see what everyone has done

    1. Debbie in FL, isn't that doughnut pan nice?! We make our doughnuts with that one too and have good luck, they are cheap and tasty. I bought mine at the Shopko when the Wilton supplies were 1/2 off so I bought two and can make 1 dozen at a time.

    2. Debbie in FL, isn't that doughnut pan nice?! We make our doughnuts with that one too and have good luck, they are cheap and tasty. I bought mine at the Shopko when the Wilton supplies were 1/2 off so I bought two and can make 1 dozen at a time.

  13. I fixed my daughter's shorts (the stitching in the waistband was pulling out, so I just had to stuff the main part back into the waistband and resew that part).

    My husband and I watched several episodes of Mission Impossible and Hogan's Heroes on DVDs from the library. We all had library books to read.

    I pressure-cooked a potful of pinto beans and mixed them with spices and a can of black beans to make "refried" beans. It made so much that I froze the leftovers in small containers, for burrito cravings.

    We helped at our church's low-budget vacation Bible camp, so I guess that makes us frugal too. :-) The camp director has chickens and gave us two dozen eggs as a thank-you.

  14. Oh, and we found a couple of amazing deals at yard sales this weekend too. My daughter found a funky watch for a quarter, that works, and my husband got a small TV for a dollar that he can clean up and probably resell.

  15. I've never made mint ice cream from fresh mint before - we always use leftover candy canes. I'm looking forward to hearing more about that! Here are my frugal things for the last two weeks -

    Found yellow sticker organic milk for less than a gallon of regular milk – and still more than a week out from its sell-by date! I bought four gallons and put two in the freezer.

    Checked out an audiobook on CD from the library and uploaded it to iTunes so I could put it on my phone and listen on my commute.

    Found some school clothes for my daughter at the thrift store and the clearance rack at Target.

    Picked kohlrabi, turnips, shallots, and my first tomato of the season (it’s tiny but it’s red!). The shallots were a complete waste of money (I got back about what I put in) and I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

    It’s been hot here, in the 90s most days, but we did have one day of rain so I got to skip a couple of days. I’m alternating watering the front and back, so each gets watered every other day and it seems to be doing well. Having all raised beds is nice because I can water with the hose sprayer and just get the water where I want it. We’re not watering the grass this year, except for those few occasions when my daughter runs through the sprinkler. It’ll grow back in the fall. 

    Downloaded the Joann Fabric app to my phone so I have one more avenue for coupons (plus I’m more likely to actually have a coupon when I’m there, LOL).

    Worked with my daycare provider to correct an error in my checking account. Her bank had scanned two checks at once, and my bank information was assigned to someone else’s check amount. Fortunately it didn’t overdraw my account!

    Went to a “bag sale” day at a big school rummage sale (everything you can fit in a bag for $5). For $10, I got two board games (one of which retails for $35 - $40!), a 10-inch skillet, four tops and a jacket for my daughter for school, a 3”3-ring binder, and half a grocery sack full of misc. toys that my daughter picked out.

    Made a menu plan for the week (it’s been a while!).

  16. I like reading your list because it helps me see all the ways I'm saving that I never really thought about - just things that I've always done.

    I do want to ask about catching water from your ac to water pots? Do you do this to save water or to save money on your water bill? I'm also interested to see how you have that set up? I do have one window unit that I can catch water from but my main unit the hose runs out into the lawn. An interesting note on this - we bought a new small window unit this summer & it does not drip at all. It has a fan that circulates or slings the water out so it evaporates as it forms in the unit. I'm not explaining that well but I was glad not to deal with the dripping water on it as we have lots of problems with mold in our humid climate.

  17. We ate from our garden. My husband and I discussed what we needed verses what we wanted at the grocery store. Finally, he is opening up about the food budget. He does most of the grocery shopping because it is really hard for me to do anymore. I did make it to Sams club to buy some bulk items for the pantry. I am building it up a little at a time. We will try to make it two weeks with this weeks shopping trip.
    Our garden is in full summer production with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, onions, and soon, okra. We have enjoyed eating right out of the collection bowls after it's washed. My husband and I have cut back on coffee and any sweets to go with it. He loves Aldi's chocolate to go on the side. I do too but it's taking a toll on that budget we set.
    I ordered all my math books on Amazon for homeschooling-Saxon. I bought used and saved a bunch. I use your list of reading material for one child who loves the selection for 7th grade!
    Because of our educational goals, we school year round and it helps to keep them busy and in a routine.
    The cooler than normal weather has allowed us to keep the attic fan running instead of air conditioning. We bought our home 10 years ago when it was new. The furnace has not run properly since. I will contact the manufacturer to see if it has been recalled or not. It's never too early to think about the change in temperature!
    It will be hot this week so it's off to our neighborhood pool for the kids:)

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  19. Not especially a super thrifty week becuase of a planned trip to Dallas for our 4 year old birthday but some highlights:
    I made homemade cream cheese which came out well after a failed attempt. I think I had the milk temp too high and just like yeast, active cultures don't grow if the climate isn't right. however, it was great with homemade bagels.
    My husband finished his shed that he is building freeing up lots of room in the garage :), now all he has to do is paint the trim and it looks really great
    On a beauty note...I made flax seed hair gel for my daughters' hair. It is a leave-in gel that adds condition and shine. i keep it in a squeeze bottle in the fridge and when I do their hair, i spray it with water and then comb in the conditioner/gel. I have one girl with very curly hair and her twin has straight, fine hair and it works well for both. I also added some lavender oil because I had some on hand but you could use any essential oil or none at all.
    I also made hand soap from a recipe on pinterest. With an RN as a husband, we go through a lot of soap so this is nicer than what you buy at the drug store for just a little bit of money. The recipe made enoughh for 4 pints, plus refilling our exisitng hand soap bottles (3) and an 8 oz jar to give to a friend. i think it came out to .25 a jar. The only ingredient that was a bit hard to find was glycerin.
    It was an unseasonably cool week in Central TX with much needed rain so I didn't get to line dry as many clothes but also barely needed my air.
    Hope everyone had a good week!

    1. Can you please share the flax seed hair treatment recipe?

  20. Found some really reduced cooked BBQ chickens which will be very useful for soup or whatever I choose. Will pull the meat off nones and then freeze.
    Found some cheaper fruit and vegetables today because I had to visit a few stores anyway...always a score when that happens.
    Turned a plain salad into gourmet by adding rocket from the garden
    Determined not to shop for a few weeks to use up what we have
    Going to chop the base off some spinach and celery that I bought to plant in the garden to re grow
    Saw that a heap of my lavender cuttings have taken ready for some more hedging...yay
    ...I love your Icecream picture. Am looking forward to see your recipe...but without the mint for me.
    Alexa for Sydney, Australia

    1. Hi Alexa,
      Can you explain what Rocket is please?

    2. Amanda, rocket is arugula. The rest of the world (outside the U.S.) calls it rocket.

  21. Harvested blackberries & blueberries. Harvested green onions for a pasta salad.

    Took 4 red patio 12” pavers to my oldest daughter when I exchanged our youngest grandson for our middle granddaughter on Monday, & took 6 pavers when I exchanged her for her older sister on Thursday. Took a free bag of grounds for gardeners both times, too. Brought home more “old” apricots to dehydrate for her (later when it is not so hot), & 2 dozen empty jelly jars to fill with jelly or jam with my oldest granddaughter.

    My oldest granddaughter made a batch of “fake mulberry jam” while I supervised. We used 3 cups of blackberries (1 from our patch – the ones I have been freezing), 1 cup of red raspberries, 1 cup of red currant juice & 1 cup of white currant juice, plus 1 TBSP lemon juice & 6 cups of sugar. It filled 8 half pint jars. The next day we made mixed berry jam, using blackberries, red raspberries, blueberries, currant puree, red currant juice & white currant juice to total 6 cups, with 1 TBSP lemon juice & 6 cups sugar, which filled another 8 half pint jars. This jam was slow to set, but achieved a soft set overnight. The next day, we made another batch of mixed berry jam, using strawberries & blueberries to make 3 cups, plus 1 cup currant puree, 1 cup red currant juice, & 1 cup white currant juice. It filled 8 half pints, almost 9. All 2 dozen jars will go home with my granddaughter to share with her family, & all 3 kinds were delicious. The currant juices, gooseberry puree,1 cup of blackberries, the strawberries, & a few of the red raspberries came from our plants. Last year she required much more help, but this year, it was more like an occasional question instead of instruction.

    Picked up 5 bags of free grounds for gardeners at Starbucks.

    Hung the wash to dry instead of using the dryer.

    Reclaimed water from the buckets under 2 of the downspouts to use on the garden after a brief rain shower. Reclaimed water from the kitchen as well.

    Accepted grass clippings from my neighbors again.

    Filled the car with gas on Wednesday at the Chevron station using the card, for the gas discount & the free wash coupon.

    We have had triple digit temps here, so I used the crockpot to cook a pre-seasoned turkey roast from the freezer. I had purchased it for $1 from the mark-down meat bin & brought it home to freeze, with 7 little buddies to keep it company.

    Completed a pine cone survey.

    Refilled my quart vinegar bottles. I keep a quart bottle in the kitchen, laundry & bathrooms, but I purchase the white vinegar for those bottles in gallons, when it is on sale, then refill the bottles as needed. We have very hard water here, so I use a little vinegar in each load of laundry to soften the water a little, so the soap works better & the clothes get cleaner.

    While my oldest granddaughter was here to visit, we worked on re-doing the seams in a cloak that she knitted last year for a Halloween costume (Ranger’s Apprentice). Last year it took her several months to finish knitting the panels, as it is a full length cloak with a hood, then she & her mother sewed it together very quickly the afternoon she was going to wear it. Over time, the seams had started to gap a bit. We took them out, & crocheted the edges together, so it will last for as many more years as she wants to wear it.

    1. You have a very ambitious granddaughter! Knitting a whole cloak. Wow!

    2. I don't think she had any idea how long it would take when she started it, but she loves it now!

    3. Marivene, you sound pretty back to normal after the knee replacement. You know what I miss, is you haven't been telling us about your seasonal displays lately. Remember?

      Now do you mix all the fruits for flavor or what? I don't think I have ever made a mixed fruit jelly or jam. Does it help replace the pectin?

    4. Athanasia, I mix all the fruits to make jam from what I have available.

  22. I made your swiss chard soup with chard from the garden yesterday. It was amazing and frugal! Thanks for a great recipe.

    When planning my menu, I also planned for some ingredient substitutions to use what I have on hand instead of buying something else similar.

    We've been eating lots of veggies from the garden!

    I sewed a shirt from myself using fabric I had on hand.

  23. Mmmm, mint ice cream. My husband loves mint chocolate chip... I'll look forward to that birthday post!

    Here are a few things I did this week:
    --Picked up jeans for $6 at Goodwill for our upcoming camping trip
    --Got Little Brother a $2 Elmo backpack on the same trip--he's been asking to carry a backpack when I walk him to preschool
    --Mended my stack of nose-wiping, spill-cleaning rags (used to be cloth baby wipes)--some of them had the two layers separating, so I stitched them back together
    --Took the boys to free library story time and checked out some Sesame Street DVDs for quiet time
    --Mr FP got a coupon for a free Redbox DVD, so we watched a whole movie! I made popcorn in my Whirley Pop

  24. I continue to be amazed with how much you produce to eat in the desert. How big is your lot?

    1. I have a .24 acre lot. The house, driveways, and patio take up a good deal of it, and the growing areas are in the front yard (which as you have seen, also has concrete) and in the perimeter of the backyard, so there is a lot of non-growing space. The grapes are all along one wall.

  25. Your figs are lovely. Our fig trees are loaded this year, and I really need to look into making better use of them. Here is my weekly savings post:

    1. We dry them to use in fig sauce. I have also made fig jam with them.

    2. brandi: Got a question for you. My fig tree is full of figs this year, but they don't seem to be growing. Any suggestions. It's a brown turkey ( i think) thanks, nancy

  26. I've had a good frugal week. it started with an OT shift at work . We were short on the 11pm-7am so I gave up a nights sleep but made a nice chunk of change.
    Also made your granola recipe, didn't have almonds or dried cranberries but had some leftover trail mix so chopped that up and used it up.
    Made a pot of chicken rice soup using bones from a roast chicken.
    Dried 3 loads of laundry on my racks on the deck
    Cooked a 13x9" pan of cabbage roll casserole, reduced the amount of ground beef and increased rice and cabbage, couldn't tell the difference. This got portioned out and frozen for future meals.
    Used bits of different pasta shapes to make mac and cheese.
    Took bottles/cans from DS to the depot and got $9.
    Used $2 coupons to buy Scope mouthwash for .99 each.
    Brandy, just wanted to tell you again how much I enjoy your blog and website. Everytime I am in a frugal slump, I come hear and am always inspired by you.

  27. This week I kept a list of some things I did so I wouldn't forget!

    *watered potted plants on the patio from water collected in rain barrels.
    *started receiving Runner's World free from Recyclebank. Ordered four more magazine subscriptions. I love magazines but hate paying for them.
    *signed up for a free cooking class at the local health center. We are shown a healthy recipe and them given the supplies to prepare it at home. Last week was a summer rice salad. The class lasts for four weeks. At week three, we are supposed to receive free herb plants to take home. There was also extra fresh vegetables from the community garden to share.
    *downloaded a free app to help keep track of my blood glucose levels as I am a diabetic.
    *bought yellow sticker meat from Wal-mart.

    I continue to look for ways to save money in our retirement years. We have a nice retirement but would like to stretch it as far as possible.

  28. Decided to take the stress and cost out of Christmas shopping this year! Usually try to spend no more than $30/person but with our 11 children, their 9 spouses, 30 grandkids & dear hubby- that's $1500 that I would spend! And honestly, as it got closer to Christmas, those last 10 or 12 people would get my stressed, panicked buying that would exceed the budgeted amounts!
    So three weeks ago, I did the math- if I took care of 2 presents per week, I would be finished in November! I became motivated! I searched on-line, made a tally sheet with everyone's name and got started! The first day, I made 3 fabric I spy matching games I saw on a blog out of scrap fabric (I'm a quilter) and batting. Drawstring bags to hold each set and voila! 3 presents done! Cost- zero, savings- $90!!, made corn hole games for a son and son-in-law- cost- $6 for the culled wood from Lowe's, zero for bean bags! Savings- $54! Made PVC pipe marshmallow guns for 7 grandsons- cost- $17 total for the 7, Savings- $183!! Cheryl's cookies corporation is located in my home town. They just had their annual cookie sale at their warehouse. I bought 3 kinds of frozen cookie dough balls to give each of my 7 in town daughters and daughters-in-law baskets with 4-1/2 dozen assorted frozen cookie dough balls, will add. Some other candy treats and package in baskets I acquire from thrift store- $4.50 per person cost, normally I would have spent $210. Total for the 7 of them. Found a FREE idea on-line for a cell phone/I-pod charger station for 5 of my teenage grandkids- zero cost, $150 saved!! Found hardcover fiction (retailed $19.95) for 2 teen age grandsons on sale for $1.99 each with free shipping! Another $56 saved!
    We are getting a momentum going and hubby and I are looking at it as an exciting challenge that is creating it's own reward in the feeling of accomplishment! To date, with 22 weeks left, 29 gifts have been arranged for (materials gathered and/or totally completed) and we have spent $49 and saved $721!!!! It's been a great three weeks!!!

    1. Fantastic! I love your gift choices!

    2. Wow, gardenpat, that is amazing! Marshmallow shooters sound like a lot of fun...did you find the instructions on line?

  29. This week, I've been doing a lot of things to get ready for a family reunion at my house. This week I have:
    * purchased a few large drink pitchers at thrift stores for $.50-.90
    * Purchased drinks at a salvage grocer for $.10/can instead of a 12 pack for $2.50.
    * Found a great deal on limes at the clearance rack of the grocery: 30 limes for $.34. This gave me over 1 cup of lime juice. I added 1 1/2 c water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. This will yield just under a gallon of limeade for the party. I also zested all of the limes before juicing them. I may try making limeade using a syrup made from the peels.
    * I want to have an iced coffee/tea bar for part of the drinks at the reunion. I'll make batches of cold-brew iced coffee and unsweetened iced tea. I made homemade coffee syrups to sweeten and flavor the iced drinks: an orange syrup using dehydrated orange peels leftover from snacking, vanilla syrup using vanilla extract, cranberry syrup using dehydrated cranberries from a fantastic sale last holiday season, blueberry syrup using the last bit of blueberries, chocolate syrup.I am putting them in repurposed glass bottles.
    * We made flavored butters for the reunion. A can of fire-roasted tomatoes bought for $.20 at the salvage grocery with fresh basil from the garden for a tomato basil butter. I made steakhouse garlic butter from garlic from the garden and some grill seasoning from the pantry. I made honey vanilla butter. These will make the simple rolls I serve a little fancier.
    * I volunteered 15 minutes of my time helping a farmer friend of mine at the farmers market. I watch the stand for a bit so he can take a break. He gives me free food. This week, I scored 2 ears of sweet corn, 4 tomatoes, a pound of green beans, and a giant eggplant.
    * I got free bread from my job at the bakery.
    * I painted the trim in the bathroom using some paint leftover from touching up the outside of the house.There was no sense in buying a whole can of interior paint just for a tiny bit of trim.
    * Left the air off all week.
    * My dad and sister came over to help us get ready for the reunion. My sister helped me with cooking, while my dad pruned back a lot of the treeline to free up space and give my garden more sunlight. I can't imagine how much it would have cost me to have to pay someone to do that. To say thanks, I made a nice dinner: eggplant parmesan (eggplant free from my farmer friend, pasta and sauce from the pantry), salad using lettuce, baby mustard and edible flowers from the garden, and bread from my job with some of the flavored butters we'd made. I served water kefir to drink.
    * DH brought home some bagels and baked goods from his job that had expired and would have been thrown away. We kept a couple of the sweets and two bagels for snacks and breakfasts, and sent the rest home with my dad.
    * I have been harvesting from the garden almost every day. Every day we have a salad of some mix of: several types of lettuce, mustard greens, day lilies, nasturtium flowers and leaves, green onions, bulb onions, garlic, garlic greens and basil. I have been harvesting a few peppers a couple times a week from plants I overwintered. I harvested the year's garlic and have it curing in the kitchen. I harvested a lot of onions and caramelized them for the week's meals.
    * DH and I have both been enjoying books and movies from the library.
    * I have had no food waste. I've been creative with leftovers and planned meals to use up items from the frig and freezer.
    * I foraged a huge pile of plantain seedstalks. I stripped all of the seeds and put them on a cookie sheet to dry. Over winter, I grind these and add them to baked goods.
    * I have fermented water kefir and use items from the pantry or garden to flavor them. As a result, I haven't had to spend money on teas, coffees or other drinks. Water kefir is refreshing on hot days, and the only real cost is a tablespoon of sugar per batch.

    1. Wow what a frugal list. :) Would you mind sharing how you make your water kefir that sounds amazing but do not have a clue how to make it.
      Thank you,

    2. Skelton, I like your idea of the iced coffee/tea bar. I am definitely borrowing your idea. I have never made the syrups you mentioned, just simple sugar syrup. I must try some of the flavored ones. The Labor Day get-together is always at our house so I have time to work on this.

  30. As I was sick I didn't get out much. So that saved $ right there. I grocery shopped twice without coupons but did use store sales. I also got a rain check because my store had a 2lb box of blueberries on sale for $4.99. That's an insanely low price. But when I went to get more to freeze on Saturday, they were sold out. Got a rain check and an assurance that if that big box wasn't back in stock soon, they would combine pints to total the same weight for that same price.

    I also filled up my gas tank (and part of my dad's bc my tank only holds @13 gal and the gas points are good for 20 gal) because I had...wait for it...$1.27/gal discount! I've been rocking the gas points lately at the grocery store. On 20 gal of gas, we saved $25.40!! That blows my previous record of $0.90/gal out of the water.

    I had my first garden harvest this week: one ground cherry, one tiny tomato and one cherry tomato and one onion. But in a few weeks I should start harvesting tomatoes and everything else like mad. Can't wait! In the mean time, I weeded, watered, cut lower leaves to keep the inevitable blight away as long as possible and re-homed a few plants that were doing well but needed more space (here's hoping they survive the transplant).

    I bought a pack of sugar snap peas for $0.50 randomly yesterday. I will plant them today to get another crop of my favorite garden candy in 60 days.

    I made a big pot of coffee and kept it in the fridge in a pitcher all week to enjoy iced coffee. I then use less ice (don't have an ice maker so make it in cube trays), less time (only make one pot a week), less energy and less paper (only use one liner instead of one per day).

    KK @

  31. We had lots of rain so we didn't water the garden.
    We had a cold front (as apposed to cool front) come in last week. I didn't use the a/c for 5 days. Saving us no end of money.
    We ate at home all week. This is very good for us.
    I'm trying not to buy any groceries except for milk for another week. I need to eat out of the freezers.
    I'm a seamstress and my busy time is fast approaching. I've been buying fabric from This saves me going to their brick and mortar store. The store is an hour away. I save a lot in gas when I order online. It also means we don't have to eat out. I get my fabric at 40 & 50% off plus this time I got free shipping. The last time shipping was $1.07 (I think). I bought quilt batting, fabric and scissors. All on sale. I saved almost 50 dollars.
    We got tomatoes, cucumbers and mint from the garden this week.
    We had 2 people bring food they left with us. I never turn down food. If we can't use it...I will barter it for something we can use or we feed it to the chickens.
    I got free e books.
    I read a book from the library.
    I've taken two "let's patch these pants" jobs this week. I'm glad to see others are starting to think fix it up...don't throw it out.
    It is becoming easier and easier to be prudent. Thanks Brandy!

  32. Last week I was very excited to pick up a chest freezer we paid for using rebates we had from Menard's. The freezer itself was on sale when I ordered it so I even had a small amount of rebate credit left over. I haven't had a chest freezer before so am looking forward to being able to stock up on sales and freeze things from the garden.

    While we were at Menard's, my husband also returned some items he hadn't wound up needing and got over $100 in store credit! My husband loves his tools and supplies so I consider it a major victory to get him to part with stuff he doesn't need!

    After a long spell of garage sales that only seemed to have overpriced junk, we came across a couple this weekend that had good deals and my husband, daughter, and I all found things we wanted (books and nail polish for me, tools for my husband, and two toys for my daughter).

    Despite a long afternoon/evening out and about on Saturday we snacked on some things I had brought along and managed to hold off eating dinner until we got back home.

    I downloaded the Checkout 51 app and I was pretty tickled to get $0.75 in rebates for the same loaf of bread ($0.50 from Checkout 51 and $0.25 from iBotta). I also downloaded Receipt Pal (after seeing comments that it was better than Receipt Hog) and Shopmium and will be giving those a try to see if I can make a little back on things I would be buying anyway.

    I also made pizza at home and the whole family enjoys it more than the frozen pizzas I used to buy. I got a great sense of accomplishment from making it from scratch and look forward to doing the same for more items!

  33. I forgot one thing I did - I bought some milk on clearance at Smith's Foods. We usually use 1% milk and there was whole and skim on clearance. I mixed them together and put the rest in the freezer.

    Being prudent is just a way of life for me, too, and so I have to think twice about what I did because it comes natural - without much thought!

  34. I sold the kid's outgrown toys, clothes, and books on ebay.
    I made pizza from scratch. The family loved it and I used tomatoes from the garden as toppings on the pizza.
    Accepted 4 free tickets to the county fair.
    Went to the beach twice last week. The ultimate fun destination and it's free.

  35. Our daughter had a birthday over the weekend. Her friends loved her party (which was done on the cheap). One stayed over and was there when she opened her presents from family on her actual birthday. The friend was very excited about some of the homemade gifts. She liked a sewing kit I made for my daughter so much, I think I'll have to make one for her now, just because. My daughter liked the store-bought presents more; but having homemade presents just fills it out and gives the appearance of plenty.

    One of the presents I made for her were the felt paper dolls you featured on this blog. I made them some time ago, and when she unwrapped them I thought, Gee, those sure are cute! I'm usually very critical of my sewing so when my first impression is, That's cute, and not, Ugh, what was I thinking, I always consider it a win!

    I made a couple more Christmas presents. I'm trying to start a new tradition with the kids of a family history present every year. This year's family history present is inspired by my grandma and her love of birds. While searching through my button jar I found two old Navy buttons (not Old Navy, the store, but old Navy, as in WWII era US Navy buttons) that had to have come from one of my grandpa's uniforms. I turned one into a tie tac and the other into a ring, and I'll write a book about my grandpa to go along with the repurposed buttons. That's something to work on for next year.

    1. Maydijo, very nice using the family mementos to be passed on the the younger generation. I like your idea of writing the story to go with it.

  36. I am waiting "not" so patiently for the mint ice cream post ... yummm ... I'm already sure I have some mini chocolate chips to toss in and make it mint chocolate chip ice cream ;-) That would certainly qualify as pantry challenge friendly :) I've posted about my frugal activities at ... not so frugal in some areas (hello Costco, not once but twice) but frugal in others. Somehow, I fell off the wagon, certain it's because Hubby's been gone! But today's another day and another chance to make it right ;-)

  37. Dear Miss Brandy and readers,

    I cannot wait to hear about Cyrus' birthday event! I get so inspired by the postings related to "your" birthday parties. The photographs are so lovely. I particularly like your new photos on The Prudent Homemaker Facebook. Your personal photo is so pretty and makes me, as your reader, feel like I know you a bit more.

    This has been a busy week for me. My kids are doing well and preparations for back-to-school sales, supplies, and shopping has begun. Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Kmart, Target and Walgreens all have school supplies on sale. The push to get ready for school is intense around here. I personally want to enjoy the warm summer days and free moments that come with summer freedom. I love the relaxed schedule, the opportunities to go swimming, go on picnics, laugh, and wake up to cool days when it rains. I like the family time we can share. I am treasuring the family time especially right now as we prepare to launch my oldest off to college. After her departure our family composition will change so we are laughing and embracing each other. One sister leaving her sick sister is difficult for the two. I encourage them both to make the most of the time together but help them to remember the separation is temporary. None of us were anticipating the emotions coming forth as my child forges out into the real world. No, I am not ready to give up my lazy summer for the retail frenzy of back to school shopping.

    Biggest frugal accomplishment is my "Frugal Back to School Clothes" mission. I made all the following items from supplies in my sewing supplies, craft supplies, and home. I used fabrics from thrift stores I bought in the past, re-purposed clothes, sheets, scrapes of fabric. I did not venture into any store to purchase any supplies. This week I focused on accessories. This focus kept me out of the stores!

    Project 8 Five infinity scarves
    Project 9 Four fabric pins
    Project 10 Simple handbag
    Project 11 Cotton slip
    Project 12 Felt rose scarf
    Project 13 Lunch bag tote
    Project 14 School bag
    Project 15 Simple handbag

    Thank you Miss Brandy (and readers) for the inspiration of my "mission".;postID=5401148959780876818;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=2;src=link

    With great respect and great humility to all,


    PS A man at the Farmer's Market gave me 2 green peppers for free. Thank you to him as well.

    1. When I clean a lot around the house, we jokingly refer to it as "Mom's having a cleaning fit!" You, Anna, are definitely having a sewing "fit." Good job! You are going to love having all that done before fall:)

    2. Congrats on all of your sewing! I love to sew but have been so busy with the garden that it has been getting crowded out. :) I tried to visit your blog but was told I don't have permission?

  38. That is an amazing idea on the history gifts. You ROCK!!

  39. My week may end up being not so frugal, as I broke a piece off a crown on my tooth, but I haven't been to the dentist yet to see what that will cost me.

    Today I went with my two sisters to finish cleaning my Mom's house -- Mom passed in January at age 95, exactly six months ago today. We didn't like the idea of selling her things, so we have had the opportunity to do something helpful for a lot of other people. We sisters are 56, 70 and 71, so really had no need for much more than we have already in our houses. All the grandkids and great-grands were given the opportunity to go through the house and choose things they needed or would like to have. My granddaughter got the large mirror from over the sofa, and a nice tweed recliner (I didn't even know it reclined until we moved it--it looks like a regular side chair.) In this way, we were able to share her possessions among the people who loved her most, and also a few others. She had a LOT of clothes--both my sisters could wear her size and also one sister's mother in law, so they got to choose first. Afterwards, we took things to two different nursing homes, and the remainder went to the Goodwill. I think there were only a couple items that got tossed out--she did keep her favorites until they were beyond worn. She grew up with very little, and we were gratified to share things with others. Today we donated the last few items of furniture to the AmVets, and then piled the remaining trash in the garage (after cleaning it) so that on the right evening this week, the sister who lives closest will gather her strong male relatives to carry everything to the curb. We even checked to make sure they will pick up everything we have. I (executor of her estate) also stopped by the lawyer's office to provide another dozen or so signatures on various papers. The house is sold and will be closing within another week or so. That will be a load off our minds. Only the youngest sister actually lived in that house with our parents, so it was less sad for we older two than for her.
    As I am retired, frugal habits are habits of longstanding, so I don't normally post them all, although I do save, especially by doing things ourselves instead of paying someone else to do them. I also cook from scratch. I love to give hints and advice, as I feel I've learned things worth sharing by this point in my life and enjoy passing them on. The advice for this week, is to start downsizing your garden by the time you reach my age! After hearing my husband urge this for a few years, I have decided he is absolutely right. My veggie garden is less than half the size it used to be--but still providing--and I'm planning which other beds to eliminate or downsize next. Happily, I live in a rural area and will still be able to buy things at farm stands and freeze or preserve what I want to, without knocking myself out quite so much.

    1. I am glad that you and your sisters were able to address you Mom's belongings in such a loving and meaningful way. My Mom died in April at age 92 and my brother, husband and sister-in-law and I had only a week to go through her personal belongings and make decisions about how to handle the rest. We too felt best about the things we gave away whether to family or to causes she cared for so much. The memories all went home with us as I am sure they did with you.

  40. My granddaughter came to visit this week from Binghampton New York for my daughters baby shower and she always expects me to buy her clothes. Because I hosted the baby shower I was strapped for funds because I paid for 2 trays of food and the cake. So I made my granddaughter five skirts from fabric and elastic that I already had in my stash. Michaels had tee shirts for $3.00 a piece so I purchased 5 to match the skirts and saved another 25%. I. Appliquéd some designs to the shirts with leftover fabrics from the skirts and also made her matching headbands. She returns home With five new school outfits, a pair of shoes I got on sale for $13.00 and a new purse I made her with a handle for a bag I already had and two new jewelry pieces with leftover beads from other projects.

    For my daughters baby shower I made all the guest paper gift boxes with earrings from left over beading projects. I also made all the games prizes so the only expense was the two trays of food I had to purchase and the adorable cake.

    1. Oh my goodness! I have family in Binghamton! My mom grew up there...small world! :)

  41. Did a bit of foraging for wild raspberries at a local state park. Only got about a pint,but it was a nice treat.

    Aldi's had mushrooms on sale so I decided to try dehydrating them. Worked great. Need to try rehydrating them now.

    Picked onions, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers and green beans from the garden. Planted more onion sets and cucumber seeds. Began weeding my strawberry patch and planting the runners.

    Bought 2 pounds of local blueberries for $5. Froze some, ate some in fruit salad and made two loaves of blueberry zucchini bread.

  42. that ice cream looks so good, i was tempted to lick my computer. look forward to your blog about the party. you really know how to put one one. well i have finally finished the 4 dresses i have been working on. i made more pesto this week. dried oregano, parsley and basil. got tomatoes, squash and spinach from the garden. made homemade spaghetti and pizza, had a few sandwiches and salads so not to heat the kitchen. don't have to shop for back to school anymore, so i'll probably buy me a piece of material for a dress. worked on one of my quilts. i'm making my christmas gifts this year, which is an ongoing project on each weeks list. have a lovely week all you fb friends and god bless

  43. Accepted a gift of crackers and lunch size cookies as well as pint of blueberries from my mother. Made peach jam. Have been able to run without the AC again for extended periods...unexpected surprise in that this year as summers are usually quite hot. Made double batches of meals as possible this week to re-build my freezer stockpile.

  44. We had different events at work last week and Friday night I was able to bring home 2 lbs of cherries, a tossed salad with vinagerette dressing, chicken skewers, an apple, and strawberries.

    Saturday morning I had a yard sale and sold $350 of old furniture, light fixtures, and household items. I only brought one box of things back into the house and donated another box to a thrift store.

    Saturday afternoon we had a family party and I repurposed the tomatoes and peppers from the tossed salad (the lettuce had wilted), added chopped chicken from the skewers, some cooked pasta, chopped the apple and added the dressing. Turned out great!

    Saturday evening DH and I took my mom and aunt to a concert (we were given the tickets)

    Didn't have time to grocery shop on Saturday so we will make do this week.

    My sister gave me some zucchini, beets, a cucumber, and lettuce from her garden. For dinner tonight I made a zucchini frittata using some of the zucchini, plus onion, kale, and basil from my garden. I used the last of some blue cheese as well. The eggs for the frittata came from a friend's chickens a couple of weeks ago.

    I made a triple batch of Brandy's laundry soap.

    Cut roses from the yard for the dining room table.

    Continue to borrow books and DVDs from the library.

  45. I was able to harvest enough green beans for 1 dinner. It's a start! I also continued getting a few tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and a lot of lettuce. I got the last of the snow peas. I got almost all of the rest of the raspberries.

    I planted more lettuce, basil, snow peas.

    I weeded more, both in the flowerbed and garden.

    Today, I went to my sister's house and picked 40-50 pounds of New Haven peaches, which she gave me. I then went blueberry picking and picked 23 pounds of blueberries, for which I paid an incredibly low price of $1/pound. The other u-pick places range from $1.25-$1.50 per pound, u-pick. I was able to share lots of eggs from our chickens and a few raspberries I froze for my sister.

    I froze 20 pint cartons. I help my granddaughter make applesauce/blueberry fruit leather. It's drying now. Tomorrow I will deal with more berries, and start dealing with peaches. I mostly want these for freezing for smoothies, jam, and my youngest daughter wants to dry some for the upcoming 4-H fair. Last year, my sister's crop was so good (peaches) that I brought my supply up to 165 quarts of canned Elberta peaches (a firmer, but slightly less sweet kind). She gives me all I want every year, but obviously I get a lot when they have a good crop and don't get much when they don't. I also often take the "duds" that are left over when the u-pickers have decided they don't want any more. I have lots left over, so just need to bring up my supply of early peaches (the earlier, softer, but juicier and sweeter kind). I'm glad I did so many last year, because that variety did not set well for them this year.

    I made my youngest daughter a simple sun dress from fabric I had on hand. I have another piece she would also like made up in the same pattern. The best part is that there is an option for a built-in slip/lining, which I put in from cotton, so she doesn't have to look for a slip for that dress anyway:) I bought a piece of heavy flannel and cut out a jumper for my granddaughter for school.

    I supervised while youngest daughter finished her skirt she is sewing for the 4-H fair and fashion show. My granddaughter is almost done with hers. Whew! That will be a relief for all of us. All of this fair prep is so good for the family because it goads us into finishing many, many projects since there is a deadline. It causes them to work really hard on skills I desperately want them to learn, and encourages them to try new things. And, yes, although it would be much quicker to sew it myself, I am teaching them life-long skills of sewing, plus all the cooking and canning, so it's worth the difficulty to me.

    Youngest daughter made a really yummy loaf of gluten free white bread to test as one of her recipes for her recipe collection. They have to try it, then type it and include it in the personal cookbook and turn it in for fair. She needs 10 specific recipes and granddaughter needs 5. I love this option because they will end up with a whole book of recipes they can cook and like after a few years. My oldest still uses hers from her 4-H days.

    I picked and enjoyed ziinnias and Shasta daisies on the table.

  46. We were tempted to buy a van this week because the seatbelt broke in my sedan. Came to my senses this morning and got a seatbelt for $40 at a pick a part.

  47. Another week of frugal accomplishments! I also, as so many have already stated, look forward to learning how to make mint ice cream with mint leaves. That sounds amazing!
    I am very excited about the amount of water I've been collecting as of late. As you stated, the A/C spout seems to be slowing down a bit, but I still go out several times a day to check on it and pour a bit on the sad, but surviving tomato plants. I have been getting a lot of water from the shower and mainly use that to water the grapefruit tree and strawberry plants. I also found a plastic bin that is just the right size for my kitchen sink. I put my rinse water in it when I'm washing the dishes and I can more easily transfer the rinse water to the grapefruit tree this way.
    Last week I tried to do some stocking up on my cat's food since I found a great price on this particular food she likes. It's the cheapest I've ever seen it so this month's pantry money went to the cat! I was still able to purchase a 25 pound bag of oats at Winco, though as that was already in my rotation. I also purchased a 25 pound bag of carrots there and got some other great deals including a free gallon of milk. They sent a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase and the milk coupon was included in that. I stayed within my allocated amount for the most part. I had budgeted $75 and after the coupon I came in at $78 so not too bad.
    Made graham crackers, bread, pizza, baked beans, and all meals from scratch. It almost sounds redundant to say that because we don't eat out anyway.
    I am excited that I was actually able to open the house up one morning last week! I had to close it back up by 8:30 or so, but it was so refreshing to get some clean air circulating for a change. I'm hopeful it will have a slight impact on our electric bill as well.
    I didn't do much driving last week which was nice. I really appreciate not having the interruptions of having to run out somewhere or other. I've done a little bit of school with the kids over the summer to keep things fresh. The math books I ordered at the homeschool conference are due to arrive tomorrow so that is something to look forward to as well.
    I think that is mostly it! Hoping to stay out of the market for the most part over the next week or so. I think I did a pretty good job of restocking and it feels good to have a full fridge, freezer and pantry to cook from.
    "See" you next week! :)

  48. Mmmmm…. mint ice cream sounds yummy. Can't wait for the post on the birthday party. My youngest son's 16th birthday is coming up and we are having a Mystery Dinner for the youth group at church so I am looking forward to what you did for inspiration!

    I did the usual as far as grocery shopping, turning off lights and air conditioner, staying home, etc. The one thing that I am really happy about is my new dress. I learned to sew when I was young, but I haven't done a whole lot of it once I got older, mainly because I did not own a sewing machine. I have borrowed my sister's from time to time when I needed to do some mending or repairs or just had to sew but I have never bought myself one for various reasons. Anyway, I had received a piece of material from my mom, a beautiful brown with small ivory flowers on it. I washed, dried, folded, and put it away for when I had time to borrow my sister's machine. Last week, I watched several free tutorials on hand sewing and decided to give it a whirl with that material. I have a very simple, sleeveless pattern that I like to use so I cut it out and got started. The entire dress was finished in about three hours, I have worn it and washed it and it is still holding together, LOL! So, I have a new dress that cost me nothing but a few hours of labor and I found that I enjoyed the hand sewing. Of course, the stitches aren't perfect but the dress is wearable.

    1. Congratulations on your new dress! How wonderful!

    2. The material sounds beautiful! I can sew simple skirts, pillows, etc. but would love to improve my sewing skills. That is on my to-do list for when I have more time.

    3. A lot of people in the re-enactment community say that hand stitching, if done carefully, is actually stronger than machine sewn.
      I love hand sewing, it's very relaxing to me.
      Congratulations on making yourself a new dress!!

  49. Look at all those figs!! I was lucky enough to get my hands on some fresh figs last year and turned them into strawberry-fig jam. It was really good! Unfortunately figs don’t grow where I live

    I’m really looking forward to the mint ice cream recipe! My mom has a ton of mint growing in her yard and she keeps telling me to take some. I’ve dried a whole bunch to use for tisane over the winter, but ice cream sounds like a wonderful way to use it up!

    Last week I…
    - I found a beautiful hand-crocheted granny square blanket at the thrift store for $6. It looks like it has never even been used! It is big enough to fit on a queen-size bed, and I can’t even buy the yarn to make my own for that price. I had been looking for a nice, warm blanket to put on the edge of the bed in our guest bedroom in case visitors get cold in the middle of the night.
    - I got back a rolling cart I used in college as a kitchen prep surface from my parents’ attic. I wanted more counter space in our kitchen so this will definitely help
    - Got free work gloves with no purchase necessary with a Harbor Freight coupon
    - I went to Michael’s to look for some yarn. I didn’t find the yarn I was looking for, but they had a whole area full of beads on clearance. The beads rang up even cheaper than they were marked, so I paid less than $1 each for strings of beautiful glass beads and pendants. I plan to use these to make Christmas gifts
    - I had coffee at a friend’s house instead of a coffee shop. We usually try to catch up about once a month and usually we go to a coffee shop. I was glad she asked if I would want to just come over to her place instead. Hopefully we can take turns hosting from now on
    - I signed up online a while ago and finally got my free Junie B. Jones book in the mail. I like having a few kids’ books and games around the house for when my niece and nephews come over.
    - We went up to Door County (a beautiful peninsula – and very expensive vacation spot) to visit some friends of ours who have a summer home up there. We had a fun time walking around the shops and enjoying their company. We spent some time by the water since it was such a beautiful day. They insisted on paying for our dinner so in the end all we ended up paying for was the gas to get up there (it is a 2 hour drive north for us)

  50. Well, I will try again. I managed to loose my post again, like I did two weeks ago. Last week seemed to just zip by and never got to it.

    I have never made mint ice cream either with fresh mint. I just use peppermint candy. We have a Donvier ice cream maker that has an insert that stays in freezer and a hand crank. It's at least 25 years old. We actually have 2 because 1 was not enough, now 1 is, and oldest girl has the other. My favorite to make was Rocky Road or any flavor of frozen yogurt.

    We are having our hottest day is supposed to up to 90F. We have had two 80F days so far. But even with our cooler wet spring the garden is doing great, what with daughter using the greenhouse and the hoop houses. We/she harvested lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, sugar peas, green and wax beans, basil, thyme, chives, parsley and cilantro, raspberries, cherry tomatoes.

    Cooked all from scratch. What I can remember of the last 3 weeks...tapioca pudding, blueberry buckle, applesauce coffeecake, Velvet Crumb cake (bisquit recipe), 2 loaves banana bread, 2 loaves white bread, pretzel rolls, vegetable stir fry, coconut crusted tofu, oven broiled tofu (using hot pepper jelly), spaghetti sauce, meatballs, tuna macaroni salad, deviled eggs, calico beans, hash browns, cheese and veg omelets, refried beans, tostada shells (baked corn tortillas), and potato salad, vanilla cupcakes w/ vanilla frosting, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, orange spice cupcakes with orange frosting, and hummus and ranch dressing dip.

    Made a Sams Club trip and bought lemons, limes, red potatoes, baking soda, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, butter, parmesan cheese. At grocer, what I can remember, carrots, green cabbage, red cabbage, tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, celery.
    2 oranges, unbleached AP flour. Nothing on big sale, just needed the items. At the Shopko I bought baby powder, toilet paper, bar soap, deodorants, bobby pinns, a hairbrush and 2 kitchen towels using coupons and sale price and $10 off $50 purchase reward coupon. On out of town excursion stopped at the Indian grocer and bought bulk spices peppercorns, yellow mustard seed, sambar powder, chai masala, mung beans (dried), basmati rice, tamarind paste, turmeric, cumin seed and onion seed and garbanzo beans and garbanzo bean flour.

    Went to a picnic with Homemakers group, families included. I always take a relish tray and dips. Used above purchased vegetables and what I could from garden harvest. So nice dinner, nice time. Had a funeral at church, so had a meal there after. Went to wedding shower at church, also a meal there. Ate at son's once, daughter's once.

    to be continued...

    1. To continue the post for last 3 weeks...went to cousin's house for 4th July picnic and fireworks after. We pool all our fireworks and the guys set up a real nice display. We can shoot off whatever we want whree we are and with the abundant rain we have no fire worries.

      Did a lot of mending. Had to buy a new spool of black thread. Used up an old wooden spool that still had a price of .29 cents on it. Added the spool to collection. We always liked to play with the spool jar and the button jar when younger. The store wanted 4.29 for the spool, I had a 20% off coupon but wondered if could find cheaper. Brandi, I could not find the link you had before for the place you order your thread from.

      Went back to work beginning of July after taking most of June off. Working on book orders for the teachers for next year and for the added H.S. grade level. Continued Summer REading program. Took lunches/snacks from home. Ran errands either on way there or way back to save trips, plus only working 3 days per week.

      Made 8 half pints of raspberry freezer jam and froze 3 pint bags of whole berries. Dried more chives. Made 1 batch of refrigerator bread and butter pickles. Made pickled eggs with juice from finished jar of pickle beets. Put in order for MI blueberries. They should arrive this week.

      Did more travelling, visiting relatives etc, drove much more than usual, but we noticed the gas price has never gone up here as does every summer, in fact has gone down 2 cents/gal. Seem to be feeding more people at the house, too. My nephew is living with us (garage apartment) so joins us for most meals. He has met a girl at church and she joins us a couple times a week now too. One of my husband's sisters (the single one) has joined us for a meal a week traditionally for the last 20 some years. She always brings a dish to share and she also is being courted now and is bringing him along to gatherings.and nephew's girl has also been stopping in early to help with dinner. It is helping me empty out the freezers and cupboard to make room for the new stuff. I love having a full table.

      I know I have mentioned The Writer's Almanac blog in the past. On the 4th July the entry was
      about Nathaniel Hawethorne. When he lost his job his wife Sophia had saved enough money out or her household allowance that he was able to have time to start writing and that is when he wrote THE SCARLET LETTER. That's an example of frugality, for sure.

      to be continued...

    2. Last couple of things.....We get an $8 credit per month for the four summer months from.public service because they control our air conditioner. They can turn it off during peak hours for up to eight hours a day or turn it off for 15 minutes out of every half hour. We never notice it and we get a $32 credit total.

      My son and his wife have lived in their house 2 full months now and their last utility bill was for a whole month. They used 1/4 of the electricity that was used the same month last year by the previous owner according to the statistics on the billing.

      Watched hulu, watched the movie HUGO (delightful!), rescued 3 full grown hostas from my uncle's house....all that rain we had in June was too much for his ~150 year old farm house so he's had his whole foundation dug out, being raised and getting poured concrete. He had us all come and take what foundation plantings we could. We planted the hostas around the base of a tree and are hoping they take.

  51. I continue to be frugal by shopping only the best deals and combining those with coupons whenever possible. Last week, I got $0.22 antacids, $0.99 grapes, $0.99 apples, $0.14 candy bars, and $0.50 Kraft dressing! Additional deals and pics featured here:
    Everyone is welcome to participate in Super Savings Saturday.

  52. This past week I was gifted with Amish friendship bread mix, I made it....not sure I'll make it again, but it was ok, kind of like a pound cake?? I wasn't in love with it. Other than that, studying and yard work, plus a good friend stopped in from out of town on Sunday so that was a great day.

  53. I've just added more mint plants to my balcony garden hoping that I will have a nice crop at summer (we are in the winter right now, in Brazil). I didn't do much this last week, besides repurposing some leftovers and not shopping at groceries. Hope this week will be better :)

  54. My mother died last fall. A month after the funeral, I went and stayed with my brother for a few days. We went through all the papers and disposed of most of them. We divided all the pictures. Many were unknown and meant nothing to us. A few of those appeared to be old enough that we gave them to the local museum. (One showed a family on a porch with a spinning wheel in the background.) We gave all the really good clothes to a women's shelter and the others that were still usable to a nursing home for people who had no one to take them clothes.

    After we took what we wanted and asked around for takers for old family pieces, my brother began the process of trying to sell pieces on line and to local dealers. I will be glad when he finishes so we can sell the property.

    We both rebel at the popular idea of an estate sale or garage sale. We just don't want a horde of strangers poking through our mother's things. She hated garage sales and never had one in her life. She would roll over in her grave. When my MIL died, her children all felt the same revulsion at the idea of people poking through her things.

    Money isn't everything. We would rather maintain some privacy and get less money.

  55. Wish I could say it has been a frugal week but not so much here. Have had some changes in our household that has required us to break our usual frugal habits. Granddaughter has moved in with us, working and going to school but without transportation so after a week or so of driving her 100+ miles a day, not to mention the time involved, we dipped into savings to purchase a used vehicle. Thankfully we were able to find a car in decent shape for less than $2000.00 that gets good gas mileage too. Had our local mechanic check it over and seems to be in pretty good shape, of course it is a 2001 vehicle so anything can happen, keeping fingers crossed.

    Have picked up more hours at work due to a coworker's illness, unfortunately she may not be returning to work at all and this has left everything kind of up in the air. I appreciate the extra $$$ from the extra hours but that has left me in a bind as far as getting much done at home so we have eaten out way too much this past week, just for the convenience. I need to plan this week to cook more meals at home otherwise it is the same old game... Money in and Money out.. not getting ahead that way.

    I have been canning and freezing and eating a lot out of the garden and freezer when I do get to cook at home.. Green beans, beats and now tomatoes are all coming on strong so that is taking up most of my "free time". What I cannot use I have been sharing with others so that things do not go to waste.

    That's about it this week... hoping to do better. As always, enjoy reading your post Brandy along with all the other frugal commenters. Thanks for the inspiration.

  56. Allison, I wouldn't worry too much about the year of the car if it checked out well, especially if it was low mileage and you know it's history. A car can be older than that, but have low mileage and have been well cared for, and be safer and more dependable than a newer car that has been abused and driven a lot for its age.

  57. I actually wrote down mine for last week and have now procrastinated on writing them here, until it's nearly time for this weeks!
    I cooked all of our meals, except one lunch that my dad treated me and three of my kids to. This included some creative planing including hash brown casserole, pancake night, plain spaghetti with sauce but no meat, and quiche. It seems breakfast for dinner helped me stretch things. We planned for leftovers a couple times for lunch. We were invited to a party Saturday, where everyone brought something. I brought homemade bean dip, that I'd made in bulk and frozen and hot banana peppers from my garden, baked with a mixture of cream cheese, bacon and shredded cheddar. The only thing I didn't have on hand, was the cream cheese and a bag of corn chips. We had a group play date Sunday. I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies and sliced banana bread to share. I was able to serve sliced cucumbers from the garden once as a dinner side and cherry tomatoes a couple times. We usually grow a lot of cherry tomatoes and only one plant of regular ones, since that's what the kids love.
    I used the water from the kid's wading pool to water the plants.
    I hung 8 out of 9 large loads of laundry out on the line.
    Deposited a $5 rebate check and combined my grocery, post office and bank errands by planning ahead.
    I bought 5 dozen eggs for $1.25 each and only produce that was on sale.
    Attended the free weekly library event. It was a children's theater production of Princess and the Pea and was fantastic!
    I was able to keep the air condition off 4 days, which is great for July in the midwest.
    We usually only have one yard sale a year and donate the leftovers, but decided to do three this year. We did one in May and had our second one last week. My daughter helped for one day and I did the other. Usually I condense tables down as things sell, but this year, I took Brandy's advice and just kept spreading it out and made the garage sale look nice and big. I think it helped get people to stop. We made a total of $160 on what were leftovers from a previous sale!
    Thank you all, for inspiring me to keep track.

  58. How do you can grapes for fruit salad?

    Posted my frugal tasks on my blog

    1. Grapes are canned in a simple syrup (just like peaches or pears). Do you have a Ball Canning Book? Instructions are in there. They're easy to can; taking the grapes off the stems is the most time-consuming part. They are water-bath canned.


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