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Hamish Discovers Grass The Prudent Homemaker

Hamish discovers grass in this beautiful classic baby outfit that I purchased for $4 at a garage sale.


The weather was perfect this week. We enjoyed having the windows open all day long every day. We only had to use the fans for a few hours this past week.

I brought the electric bill down $43 this past week from what the electric company estimated by bill to be this month. Each week, I receive an estimated bill amount, based on past and current usage. I always challenge myself to bring it lower than the estimated amount. The week before I brought it down $10. My bill will now be $53 less than it would have been. I continue to be diligent in turning things off when not in use, using the lights less, even in the early morning before sunrise (For instance, I use the single light over the tub rather than the entire set of bathroom lights while showering, using one bulb instead of 8, and even though our kitchen has no windows, I keep the kitchen lights off as much as possible once the sun is up.) I have 8 days remaining and I am trying to bring the bill down even more, as always, though it will be more of a challenge this week as temperatures won't have dropped as much, so I'll have to be more creative and mostly more diligent about my electricity usage in order to achieve my goal of coming in under the estimated amount. Last week's electricity cost $22 for the week ($3.14 a day). I know I can get it just a little lower (just under $3 a day) when the weather is as good as this if I am diligent.

From the garden, I harvested Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, peppermint, and chives. We cut lots of fresh peppermint for herbal teas, which we had with breakfast or else for snacks with either homemade bread or homemade oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies.

While pulling weeds, I accidentally pulled a branch of a bush that had been growing where it should not have been. It had rooted under the dirt, so I planted it in the garden where I am making a new hedge.

I used free samples of beauty products.

I made yogurt in the crockpot.

I am diligently working to use up as much as possible from our freezers this month. I want to use up the old things before the turkey, ham, and other harvest and holiday food sales of November and December. I cooked a ham this week, some whole chickens (I cooked two at once to save on natural gas as well as to save time on two busy nights; it was too windy to use the solar oven so they cooked together in one pan in the oven along with baked potatoes at the same time), and made some inexpensive things such as homemade Rice-a-Roni and several salads with leftover chicken and homemade salad dressing.

I mended a pair of jeans and the case for an item where the zipper had come unattached from the case.

I read an e-book from the library on my phone.

I collected shower warm-up water and used it to water potted plants in the garden.

I did some free French study, listening to YouTube videos the teach French.

Saturday was the community garage sale in our area, where several master-planned communities have garage sales. There are so many communities having sales on the same morning that it is impossible to visit all of them before lunchtime, when most people close up, even though the houses are all within a 2-3 mile radius. The people who live in these neighborhoods are only allowed to have garage sales two weekends a year on specific dates. The houses are close together; often, I can park in one place and walk to two or three houses having a sale next to one another.

This time, I went to the two neighborhoods that in the past have been the places where I've had great success in finding items on my list. The pickings were slim this year, though, with fewer sales and fewer items for sale. I noticed this trend in April as well. One neighborhood of about 75 houses usually has 30-50 sales. This time only 3 or 4 houses had items for sale in that tract.

Frustrated with not even finding many sales worth stopping at, I left those neighborhoods and went to other tracts close by.

I stopped at a sale that completely surprised me. First, I found some plastic links that babies play with, an item that was on my list as most of mine have gone missing. I then walked from the seller's driveway into the garage and found a plethora of classic baby boy clothing. This is not a style that one even finds for sale in this part of the country, but the seller had moved here from South Carolina, and she was selling smocked and other classic clothing. I have always wanted to buy these for my boys; I have bought a few for my girls online in the past, and I know that even on eBay, these clothing items go for $20-$30 each used, plus shipping! She was selling the outfits for $4 each (most being two-piece items, such as a smocked romper with a shirt underneath). She said if I bought a bunch, she would make me a deal, and she did, giving me an extra $15 off the clothing I purchased after I made a large pile! She also gave me a large bag of disposable nursing pads for free.

I also bought some clear plastic drawer organizers from her to use in the bathrooms ($1) each. I took them home and my eldest daughter was able to use one to organize hair supplies in the bathroom where the girls do their hair, and I used one for makeup and one for hair supplies in my bathroom, so three drawers were organized in my house this week. My daughter said the organization of the bobby pins made doing her hair faster the next morning. I love how a little organization saves time every day! If my mother had told me this as a child I wouldn't have believed her, as I always had a messy room, so mothers of children with messy rooms, take heart!

I found two men's ties for $0.50 each. One I will gift to my eldest son and the other to my husband for Christmas.

I bought two silicone baking mats for $0.25 each. I use these often for baking instead of parchment paper, and they're fantastic to line a half-sheet pan to freeze fruit that you don't want to stick together into one hard lump (such as berries or sliced peaches). I freeze them first on those and then put them into a freezer bag once the entire pan is frozen, so I can take out as many or as few as I would like. 

I purchased three boxes of new-in-the-box LED Christmas net lights to use outside for $3 a box.

At another sale, I found a small inflatable toddler pool that had only been used once by a grandmother when her grandchildren came to visit ($10). My children have been wanting one of these. At the same sale, I found several pairs of brand-new earrings (marked at $2 a pair) and a little toddler plate with a matching fork and spoon ($1).

What did you do to save money last week? 



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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Yellow Roses The Prudent Homemaker

It cooled down this week to 85°F/30°C. I gladly turned off the air conditioner and opened up the house for as many hours as I could each day, only running it for a few hours each afternoon. By Saturday, it was 77°F and cool enough to turn off the air conditioner for the entire day. We will still need it a few afternoons next week, but we're now coming to the time when the weather becomes nice enough to have the windows open all day.

I harvested rosemary, garlic chives, Armenian cucumbers, New Zealand spinach, Swiss chard, a large zucchini (my first of the year) and red noodle beans from the garden.

My husband and I cut my husband's hair.

I signed up for a free account for two of my children to practice math skills at xtramath.org. Doing math on the computer seems to be more fun for them than flashcards, so I am hoping this will help them want to give even more time on mastering multiplication tables. 

My eldest boys had some free fencing fun at a church activity.

Octavius had some fun with his grandparents watching the airplanes take off at the airport.

I purchased Target's store-brand diapers when they had a spend $100 get a $20 gift card deal. While there, I checked out the clearance and was able to get several uniform polo shirts for two of my girls for $2.10 each! I like that they have some solid-colored shirts without sayings that are a bit more dressy than a t-shirt. 

With all the busyness in my life right now, I have been reevaluating how I use every minute of my time so that I am better able to accomplish what needs to be done. One thing that I am doing is working to become better organized. Drawers and other things become unorganized after a couple of months and then it takes longer to find things in those spaces, wasting precious time and causing frustration. To that end, I reorganized three drawers in the kitchen this week. I needed a new silverware organizer, as the one that we got when we were married 18 years ago is wearing out and doesn't properly fit the large forks that I purchased a few years ago when we needed more silverware (which were getting jammed and bent in the drawer because of not fitting). I purchased a few new organizers at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, using a bunch of 20% off coupons. As they take expired coupons, I took several with me. The drawer functions so much better now. Since I was reorganizing that drawer, I decided to do two others as well, just moving things around that I already had.

I had a couple of children help me reorganize the bottom shelf and below the bottom shelf in a kitchen closet for another time saver and frustration eliminator.

I had been thinking of replacing my diaper bag with a small tote bag. A close-by reader offered me some spray starch, to which I said yes. She then offered me a leather tote bag, to which I also said yes. When I looked at it, it turned out to be the perfect thing that I was wanting to replace a bag of mine that is 23 years old.

I canned 20 quarts of giardiniera.

Now that temperatures have dropped, I can start planting cool-season seeds in the garden. I planted seeds for parsley, lettuce, and beets.


What did you do to save money last week?




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Goodbye to a Reader

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Rose Petals The Prudent Homemaker

Marivene is a reader who has commented on my site for years, and I have learned so much from her comments. Because of her, I put a grape leaf in every jar of pickles I make, so that they are crunchy.

In the past, when she has not commented for a couple of weeks, I have always received emails from different readers, asking if she is okay because they have missed her comments.

Her time on this earth is coming to an end.

She says, "I entered hospice care a little over a week ago, & it is moving quickly. I am comfortable and at peace. I have been blessed to understand that it is simply my time to go home. Cancer is simply the vehicle, not the enemy. Knowing that my husband has been granted the same understanding is priceless. I love my Savior, & after 65 years, I have learned that His plan--whatever it is--is always better than mine!"


Marivene Amelia Zohner, we will miss your wisdom. Thank you for all that you have taught us.


Updated from her daughter, Julie, who posted the following message in the comments 10/16:

Hello everyone. I am one of Marivene's daughters. We just wanted to let you all know that she passed away peacefully yesterday morning. She was able to read the comments on this post and shared it with us prior to her passing. She enjoyed being part of your community. We are working on compiling a list of all her posts (there were a lot....), and hope at some future date to be able to provide this to those who may be interested. Thank you so much for allowing her to share her wisdom and appreciating her contributions.

Her funeral will be held on October 20th in Spanish Fork, Utah, for those who would like to attend. Details here.
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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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I spent the first part of the week organizing things to run as smoothly as possible for the end of the week, as I had surgery on Thursday to remove cancer from my head. It was growing in my hair next to my part, a place where I don't usually put sunscreen. I'll have stitches for the next three weeks and I imagine I'll have a swollen face for at least this week. One way I'll save this week is by not wearing any makeup, because it's a bit impossible right now! 

To save money this past week, I did the following:

I baked a carrot cake in a 9 x 13 pan. I didn't have cream cheese on hand to make icing, so I lightly dusted it with powdered sugar instead.

Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut red noodle beans, Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, Genovese basil, chives, and green onions from the garden. I picked some teeny-tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden as well to use in a pasta salad. They are so tiny that I put a slice of olive in with them so you can see how little they are; they are the size of blueberries! The heat we have here in summer makes them stop flowering, or if they do flower (these are in afternoon shade and just started flowering recently) they are still super tiny because of the heat.

Sun Gold Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The Armenian cucumbers do well in our heat, growing huge. I still don't get a lot of them when it's really hot, so I am happy to have them grow to great lengths, as they don't get bitter like other cucumbers and can grow as long as my arm. This means I have a lot of cucumbers to eat but not always enough to make pickles (as sometimes just one or two are ripe). This week we ate them sliced thin in vinegar, cut into sticks and dipped in ranch dip made with Greek yogurt, put in green salads, and chopped in pasta salad.

I went to the library and checked out a large number of books with my three youngest daughters and my 2-year-old son.

I opened the windows and doors in the early mornings to cool down the house for a couple of hours each morning.

I used my solar oven to cook three meals. One of the things I cooked was a large batch of pinto beans. I made bean burritos one day with them. I made a huge pan of bean enchiladas with them another day, which we ate over three days. My corn tortillas were a little old (so they would break rather than roll), so I made the enchiladas lasagna-style, layering the tortillas flat instead and layering the filling between with three layers of tortillas. I also find this is a great way to make enchiladas when you don't have enough tortillas, as it uses just 18 corn tortillas in a 10 x 13 pan. You'll need more filling, but if you're using beans for all or part of it, it is still quite frugal.

When I cooked baked potatoes, I cooked enough to have leftovers for the next day. I usually cook 10 pounds for our family, but recently we have upped it to 15 pounds at a time, saving gas for the oven (and not heating up the house) and giving us more leftovers. Leftover baked potatoes cook really quickly as cubed potatoes on the stovetop with onions for breakfast, a great side dish to a fried egg or two. It also means use you can use less oil (I only use a couple of tablespoons for a 5-quart pan full of potatoes) which means less money and fewer calories.

My son went to a thrift store with his uncle. He found a pair of cowboy boots there that he liked. One boot was priced at $35 and the other at $15. He tok them up to the register and asked how much. They told him $5, so he bought himself a pair of boots.

My mom went to a couple of community garage sales and picked up a few items for me, including a polo shirt for my eldest son ($2) and ten brand-new wide mouth quart-sized canning jars for $0.40 each.

What did you do to save money last week?

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Hamish 4 months The Prudent Homemaker

Hamish sat up a couple of weeks ago at 4 1/2 months old. Now he wants to sit up all the time.


I sewed 5 toddler bibs that I cut out from an old fitted sheet of my mom's.

I turned a pair of my son's pants with a torn knee into shorts.

I turned a pair of my daughter's jeans with a torn knee into shorts, and I turned a pair of boot cut jeans into shorts. Since I buy the girls' jeans for $0.50 to $2 a pair at garage sales, I'm not out a lot to start when they quickly wear out the knees in their jeans. Shorts are more practical here for most of the year, so they wear the shorts until the fabric wears out.

I opened the windows in the early mornings when it was below 79 to air out the house and keep from running the air conditioner for a couple of hours each morning. We need air conditioning here during the day through October, so it was nice to be able to open the windows just for a short while before we reached triple digits this past week.

Some of my agapanthus plants died over the summer (they burnt in the heat, a common problem here for many plants). The local nursery was having a sale on them, so I purchased some new ones while they were on sale. 

My husband gave our eldest son a haircut.

My husband and his brother fixed our back door, which has not been closing properly for some time.

I read several e-books from the library. I paid $62.32 a year in taxes for the library this year, and I have gotten more than my money's worth (One likes to think of the library as being "free," but it isn't really free.) The library recently purchased several e-books that I requested, so I've been able to read books that I really wanted without having to purchase them.

I enjoyed two magazines that I have a free subscription to, thanks to Recyclebank.

I cut red noodle beans and Armenian cucumbers from the garden. We used the beans in a dinner of fried rice (along with eggs, onions, and carrots) and the cucumbers with white bean dip (along with purchased carrots, cut into sticks) for a lunch. I also cut chives from the garden.

I cooked a large batch of pinto beans in the solar oven, which I used to make bean burritos.

I saved some old raisins that were becoming rather dry by using them to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. The recipe calls for soaking and slightly cooking the raisins with water to make them plumper, so even if your raisins are super old, they will still work well in this recipe.

I made a bottle of anti-static spray using store-brand witch hazel and water in a $1 travel spray bottle. A reader suggested this in the comments a couple of months ago and my eldest said it works great. She used about 60% witch hazel to 40% water (the original comment said 50/50, I believe).

I repurposed a beautiful blue and white gravy boat that a reader sent to me to hold flashcards that we are using every day.


What did you do to save money this past week?








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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Octavius Playing in the Mud The Prudent Homemaker

At the case-lot sale, I purchased two cases of canned tuna fish, a case of green beans, and a case of corn. The next time I stock up on corn and green beans will be during the Thanksgiving sales. 

I also bought a package of mini-marshmallows on sale at the same store. I checked my receipt as I was leaving and noticed that they had rung up as the regular price. I had the store refund me the overcharge.

We celebrated my daughter's birthday with homemade brownies from scratch and ice cream purchased on sale for $3.99 a gallon. 

I used the solar oven to cook a batch of beans one day and to roast a chicken another day. I used the chicken broth and leftover bits of chicken with the beans to make a soup. Cooking the chicken in the solar oven with a lid on it (you can get the same effect in the oven) with the breast-side down have juicy meat that was falling off the bones and the chicken made its own broth, saving me time and energy making broth another day.

My son attended his third week of a free ACT prep class.

I gave two sons a haircut.

One of my orchids rebloomed. I moved it from my bathroom (where I keep my unblooming orchids) near my desk to enjoy it.

I used items we had on hand to stage a home for sale that I was photographing for my husband.

The house was near Smart and Final. I'm rarely in that part of town, so we went there afterward and I purchased 4 gallons of rice vinegar ($8.88 a gallon when you purchase 4 or more gallons) and 2 large bottles of molasses.

What did you do to save money this past week?


A little note: I found out that I do have skin cancer. I'll be having surgery next week.

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