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Frugal Accomplishments For The Third Week of August

August Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

I picked red noodle beans, butternut squash, Armenian cucumbers, grapes, Swiss chard, and a few tomatoes from the garden.

Oregano Drying The Prudent Homemaker

I cut oregano and basil from the garden to dry. My drying process is simple: I rinse the herbs and lay them to dry on a cooling rack. Our climate is very dry and the bit of the humidity that we have had from the passing storms is gone, so our humidity runs between 5 and 10%. I let these air dry and it takes 1 to 2 days for them to be completely dry. In a more humid climate, it may take up to a week before your herbs are dry this way. It uses no power and is very simple, which I love!

I canned a batch of dill pickles with the cucumbers. I added a grape leaf from the garden to each jar to help them to be crisper.

I was given some onions and some bell peppers that were past their prime. I used them with cucumbers from my garden and spices I had on hand to can sweet pickle relish. The timing was perfect as we had just used our last jar of relish in tuna melts the previous week.

I cooked meals in my solar oven every day.

Baby Lizard The Prudent Homemaker

Wren caught a baby lizard in the garden this past week.

I took cuttings from my Boxleaf euonymus and Greenspire euonymus bushes and started them to root. I took several as I know they won't all take. I lost several bushes in the garden due to the extreme heat and sun this summer. I know it will take 4-5 years to get the bushes large enough to replace the ones that died, but it will save me the money on new ones. I will move any that any take root into the garden sometime in November or December when the weather cools.

I saved $6 in electricity over the week before last. The electric company had estimated my bill to be $415 for this month. With 4 days left, they're now estimating it to be $375. I always challenge myself to make the number much lower than they predict. This is our highest electric bill for the year.

I made a pair of earrings for myself using beads and findings I had on hand.

I mended and modified a hand-me-down dress that my girls received a few years ago.

Making a Casting The Prudent Homemaker

For a merit badge, my husband taught my son how to make a mold, and then to make a casting from it. Before we were married, my husband was a mold maker for the movie industry; it was fun to see him teach Ezrom this process We had all of the supplies on hand..

I had a couple of date nights at home with my husband.

My husband worked from home two days, saving gas to drive to his office and back.

I used Recyclebank points to renew a subscription I got for free from them last year to Cooking Light magazine. Now I have another free year to enjoy reading.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Lowe's gift card. I am saving up cards to use to purchase supplies for some projects at home.

After watching the short video, "The Potential of the Piano" as a family this week, my eldest found a free pdf of the sheet music here. (You can also download a free MP3 of this pretty song at the same link).  Winter likes this song so much she is considering using it as a recital song.

We went swimming at my sister-in-law's house. On the way home, we stopped at the library, where we enjoyed the art exhibit (I shared a photo over on Instagram), checked out books, and made note of some upcoming activities that we are interested in attending.


What did you do to save money last week?



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  • Janet August 21, 2017

    I called the bank and got a $100 mistake fixed. I called the hospital and got a $100 mistake fixed. I caught a $70 mistake at the Pharmacy. So I count the week as having earned $270! Yah me !
    I kept groceries to a bare minimum as half of our household is away visiting family so we have been eating leftovers and we still have a ton in the fridg. I have turned off a lot of unneeded electric this week as well.Staying home not using gas. Hubby and I shared a hamburger for date day on a coupon so that was cheap and we drove to Annapolis one hour from home visited the Navy base the navy museum free and watched the boats in the bay all free! Going to the grocery late this week to stock up on rock bottom priced items.

  • Debby in Kansas August 21, 2017

    Good for you, Janet! That's why I check out every receipt and every bill so closely. There are more errors than one might think. My husband had a follow up blood test and exam that was needed with his doctor. He called the insurance company ahead to find out how it was covered. He was told it was a follow up and 100% covered by them. Sure enough, we got a doc bill and lab bill that totaled more than $200 combined. The doc's office simply coded it incorrectly so we got it removed. Completely worth the 5 minute phone call! Since my husband had taken notes when he called the insurance company, I had all the info needed. We keep a spiral notebook just for such phone calls. We always know the details. I also had a prescription go down $12 because the clerk hadn't used the new insurance info, but just continued on when the old one came back as uncovered. And just yesterday, we had a buy one/get one free item not credited. I checked it in the store so we got the $3.xx back immediately.

    Always double check everything!!!!

  • Margie from Toronto August 21, 2017

    Completely agree! Two items scanned incorrectly at the grocery store this morning - got them both for free as they were each under $10 - saved me a total of $7.50.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2017

    Janet, I would definitely consider that as having earned $270 also!

  • Mari in Maryland August 21, 2017

    We were in Annapolis last month (40 minutes from me) but we didn't do it for free! However it was still a great touristy day with two of my sisters, except for usual July heart and humidity

  • Janet August 21, 2017

    It was a beautiful day yesterday to be by the water and the breeze was so nice. Hubby did ask how much to take a boat ride it was $20 each even with senior discount (he was not feeling well) so I opted to be happy just walking around the water and sitting on benches and watching the boats go by. We always take the camera and he got some amazing photos as well. Which we always enjoy on the next morning with a special breakfast which kind of makes that a date as well.

    I do always check my receipts and yes there are lots of mistakes on average of $7.00 in the favor of every store you check out at according to one survey I recently read and over the course of the year on average of $300 for other various charges on credit card bills that people do not catch. We do not spend 1/4 of one penny that we did not intend to spend. I watch everything like a hawk!

  • Mrs. T August 21, 2017

    Wow, great catch on the mistakes! I cringe to think of all the times I've overspent due to errors.

  • Cindi August 21, 2017

    I dry herbs the same way you do -- one advantage of an arid climate.
    One of my pleasures these past two weeks has been reading through all of your blog posts from the beginning. (I started following you late in 2015.) I learned so much, and received so much inspiration and encouragement from the posts. But I think my greatest pleasure has been in seeing your lovely family grow. Your children are enjoying the kind of childhood I would wish on any child -- full of love and learning and creativity. I know things are not always sunshine and roses, but I appreciate the honest and gracious glimpses you have shared with us -- thank you!
    As for frugal things this week, my husband bottled a batch of beer he brewed. He enjoys this hobby and it saves a lot of money over buying the craft beers he likes.
    I refilled the hand soap containers with a mixture of Dr. Bronner’s and water and essential oils.
    I put up 5 ½ pints of sweet-hot pickles. I also pickled nasturtium seeds to use as faux capers.
    I accepted some burgers and buns that were left over from a church barbecue and we had them for dinner one night. My husband had one for lunch the next day as well.
    I cut flowers for the house. From the garden, I harvested tomatoes, lettuce, chard, collard greens, herbs, green onions, baby bok choy and a handful of raspberries.
    I made a pair of slippers, using yarn I unraveled from a sweater.
    The rest of the week was the usual – I made bread, hung out laundry, cooked all meals, watered plants with rainwater I collected in buckets, conserved water, read library books and bunched errands to save gas. I’m so used to doing all these things I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone does.

  • Ravenna August 21, 2017

    A kindred spirit! I also love going back through the archives of my favorite blogs. This blog especially has so much inspiration and information on how to live well on less. I'm glad I'm not the only one who digs into the archives. :)

  • Roberta in So. Cal. August 22, 2017


    How do you prepare nasturtium seeds to be used like capers? We can grow nasturtiums like weeds, and capers tend to be one of those things that I just omit from recipes due to the cost.

  • Cindi August 23, 2017

    Roberta, I pick the seeds green, then soak them in salt water for 2-3 days, which I understand helps remove the bitterness. I boil white vinegar with a bay leaf, sugar, and a few black peppercorns and pour this over the seeds after I've removed them from the salt water. I keep the jar of seeds and vinegar in the refrigerator and add to it as I collect more seeds. They work well in recipes and they're essentially free. Here is a recipe very similar to the one I use. http://blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk/weekend-recipe/pickled-nasturtium-seeds-poor-mans-capers/

  • Mari in Maryland August 21, 2017

    Great pictures, as always, especially the lizard!
    I made chicken broth in the crock pot using bones from a whole chicken and celery trimmings and chopped onions that I had in the freezer. It’s the first time I added the celery and onions and the broth is much more flavorful. I froze it in 2 cup bags for use when needed.
    I went to an out of town wedding and stayed at very nice Marriott where for some reason they upgraded me to a one bedroom suite. I wasn’t a rewards member and it was only me staying in the room. They didn’t upgrade any of my relatives who were there even though they were all rewards members and had tons of points. NO idea why I was upgraded but I did rub it in to them. I used Marriott’s senior rate to get a discount. I did my own mani/pedi before the wedding, which made up for the cost of getting the gray in my hair colored. I know people do this at home but I am not that talented and am willing to sacrifice other things to pay for this. I wore a dress and jewelry I already owned and took lunch and healthy snacks and my beloved Diet Pepsi with me on the trip to save money. We did go out to eat on Friday night and I took leftovers home for lunch on Saturday. That upgraded suite had a kitchen almost as nice as mine at home; it may have been nicer if it had been bigger! I also ate the free hotel breakfast both days.
    I used my vegetable peeler to make zucchini and yellow squash “ribbons” that I used in place of noodles in Fettucine Carbonara (Zucchini and Yellow Squash Carbonara is too clumsy a name). It was definitely good, although I want to fool around with the sauce a bit. I’ve made several “ribbons” meals since then and it’s a good way to add more veggies to my diet. I’ve continued to cut up veggies in advance and store them in my canning jars to make quick salads and stir fries. It’s healthier and veggies are no longer wasted. I froze some strawberries and blueberries that I was not going to be eating before they went bad and will use them in milkshakes when needed. The blueberries and some cherries that I also had frozen are also a cool treat on hot days when eaten straight from the freezer, although the strawberries
    Other than the dinner out on wedding weekend and lunch for the birthdays for 2 co-workers, I ate all meals at home. I’m still working on losing weight – and succeeding – and I’ve found that I just eat better at home when I know what has gone into a dish. Besides, I’m eating relatively low carb and it seems most restaurant meals have a lot of carbs, at least the ones I like. I can have a little bit of that stuff next year when I’m down to the weight I want to be at to be healthy.
    I’m really trying to conserve electricity because my bill has been creeping up since I started working from home full-time last summer. I LOVE not commuting and getting to avoid traffic, but I want to keep the utility costs down. Right now, I’m on track to use $30 less worth of electricity than I did last month; that’s about 34% less. I’ve opened windows and shut off the window AC units as much as possible and run fans for cooling any room I am in instead. Since it is summer, the gas usage won’t change much. I can get an hour by hour report on how much electricity and natural gas I’ve used for anytime in the last 2 years and have determined that I do not need to feel guilty about using my gas dryer because it is literally pennies to dry a load of laundry (around 4-6 cents a load, depending on how long it runs) and with three cats in the house, I especially like using the dryer for things that they lay on, such as the bathroom rug and the sheets. A lot of cat hair comes out in the lint! I like the “dried in sunshine and a breeze” smell from when the sheets are on the clothesline, so I will put the slightly damp pillowcases out there to get that scent, but it only lasts one night anyway.

  • J August 21, 2017

    I like that Mason jar idea for the veggies. Less space too than some of the Tupperware I use. Good thinking.

  • Mari in Maryland August 21, 2017

    Better yet, you can SEE them through the glass a d know what you have. Store celery upright in water. I wash spinach and lettuce and spin them completely dry in a salad spinner. I also dry the peppers before storing them.

  • Athanasia August 22, 2017

    I like to use ziplocs for storing the clean vegetables. That way as I use part of it I can condense the size of the storage down. I don't like things taking up more space than necessary in the refrigerator and you can sqeeze down the ziploc smaller and smaller. I even do that with pickle and salsa etc. When the quart jar is half empty I move it down to a clean pint jar. I use the ziplocs over and over. They never really get dirty so I just rinse them well with hot water and the tiniest drop of detergent. I have a dryer contraption for plastic bags that my husband made out of dowels. The bags I use for these are often the ones I used for the freezer. They are still good but I prefer not to reuse freezer bags in the freezer.

    We like spaghetti carbonara very much, especially in the summer as it is such a quick dish and goes good with all kinds of vegetable, vegetable salads. I never use the bacon though, since my youngest does not like meat. I use red onions sauteed in olive oil as a substitute.

  • Jeannie August 26, 2017

    I am drowning in squash from the garden and have a spiral cutter in the pantry which I forgot about until I read this post. I was waiting until this time of the year to play with it. Thanks for the reminder. Anyone want to guess what we will be having for dinner tonight?

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  • Jeannie August 27, 2017

    Times up! Since no one jumped in to guess what we had for dinner I will tell: chicken and rice. It wasn't squash noodles because I ate ALL OF THEM when they came out of the oven hot. I didn't mean to. I just couldn't stop. You can't get full on squash, it is just water. (That is the excuse I am giving for not sharing.)

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  • Athanasia August 29, 2017

    You baked squash noodles? I am interested in details.

  • J August 21, 2017

    This week we vacationed at my mother in law's. For free. It was great. The house was just 3 hours from us, but they are on the verge of drought and we are having the opposite problem. Too much rain. When we got home my husband cut our grass, which hadn't been cut in a few weeks due to dampness. My 3 year old had a blast chasing the snakes (non venomous) and frogs that had been hiding in the long grass.

    We spent several afternoons on vacation driving around and researching different areas we might move to in 2018. We were in the area, so this saved us from having to make extra trips later in the year when I am back at work. In addition, we did it while our little guys napped in the car so we did not need a babysitter.

    We made a few decisions this week that will save us over $1000 next week, but I will write about them after they have come to fruition.

    We harvested more cherry tomatoes and beans from our garden. I used them to make Bonnie Stern's New Wave Caesar Salad which is one of my favourites and not at all a traditional Caesar, although I love those too.

    On the spending front, at the end of last summer my husband asked me if we had money for him to get a new pair of everyday shoes for work (his work is very casual, jeans and runners are ok). Since I was about to go on mat leave, I asked if he could hold out until spring because I knew in the winter he would be wearing different footwear which also needed to be replaced (he had been wearing the same pair of Merrell shoes for 9 years). He agreed so we got new winter shoes for him and he kept wearing his old runners as needed. I totally forgot about this until a few weeks ago. For a few days every once in awhile I was noticing a weird smell in the house. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from - and then I realized it was the shoes!!! When I made a snarky comment to my husband about it he said, "yes remember I told you I needed to replace these a year ago!!!". Ha!! I had completely forgotten, but needless to say he will be getting new shoes this week. Oh and he doesn't need my permission for this stuff, but I appreciate him checking with me as I sort run all our consumer type spending.

    I also joined Bunz after reading all Margaret's notes about it. I'm not sure if I am patient enough for it - I like to just get rid of stuff. But I am giving it a go.

    Other things we did to save so far this month can be found here: http://www.lifefreedomfamily.com/2017/08/the-great-grocery-project-mid-august.html?m=1

    And cute lizard, Brandy! Although I'm not sure what I would think if I found it in my garden ;)

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