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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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  • Becky August 21, 2017

    I love the little lizard! On our recent trip to Mexico, a couple of the teens found one on the job site. They had so much fun with that little guy--they don't live here in our part of Oregon, so it was a marvel.

    I also love the Cooking Light magazine. Last Christmas, I made the mini raspberry cheesecakes from there for the holidays and they were awesome. I used frozen garden raspberries and bought 1 small carton to decorate with.

    I'm in the middle of pickle making, as well. Right now, I have a batch of sweet pickles going on my counter. It's a several-day process of pouring on boiling water/syrup/spices, etc. morning and night, and I'm about 1/2 way done with them. Then, I'll can them. I'm also doing fruit cocktail, did dill pickles, and plan to do pears today. I've been freezing the small batches of beans and broccoli as they ripen and we have more than we can eat. I've also done frozen peaches for smoothies and crisps next winter. I was given 2 huge boxes of pears and am so delighted to be able to get them into jars, both as canned pears and the fruit cocktail. I may do pear butter as well. I was able to use peaches from the tree that is in our backyard for the fruit cocktail. I'm not super delighted with the variety of peaches and may cut the tree down eventually, but for now, I was excited to get some usable fruit. Since my sister has a peach farm, I have another supply, but it's sure been handy to have them right in the yard.

    Today is the eclipse and our back yard is in the prime viewing area! So, we are not going anywhere. Instead, I will can pears and watch the eclipse from our yard.

    Most of last week was used getting the house and garden back in order after our trip. I decided that there were so many food items left from the trip, plus so much garden produce right now, that I did not have to buy very many groceries for the rest of the month. The money I saved has, and is, going toward boxes of apples for applesauce, and other canning supplies. My husband took our nephew to an apple farm and they picked around 100 lbs for around 50c/lb. Now, they wait on the covered porch along with the pears that are ripening up. Instead of buying more groceries, I have been focusing on food pulled from the freezer, and fresh produce from the garden. I made up a menu plan, and have been working hard to cook the food I planned. Cooking from scratch takes a lot of time, but I have the time right now and love to cook, so am enjoying myself. We had a nice family Sunday dinner yesterday and I did not have to purchase one thing.

    Some of the foods I cooked this week were ham and beans, chicken (and boiled the bones for broth), spaghetti, brownies from a mix I was given a while back, refried beans, chili, a rice salad with dried cranberries in it and a dressing, and lots of fresh produce like green beans cooked in butter with garlic (my favorite!).

    I dug some potatoes that grew from volunteer plants from our compost pile. I had transplanted them to a row in the garden when they came up, and probably got 15-20 lbs. for absolutely free.

    My husband and I were able to put in 40 hours of work between the 2 of us this week as well, caring for our nephew. We took him to the library summer reading party and he received his free book and played lots of games and got stickers and a foam airplane as prizes. Rob took him apple picking one morning. I kept him going on his chart of chores, which includes exercise, reading, 2 chores, and a fun activity. The week was filled with board games, playing with little cars, "helping" me freeze beans, play dough, playing on equipment at a park, and more. Sometimes we do "bigger" outings, but this week, we chose simple ones, and he was just as happy. We work on self-care, hygiene, social skills, exercise, outings, safety, and more. A lot of those activities are accomplished by living daily life and helping him participate as he can. One of us is actively participating with him almost all the time when we are billing hours, as that is the nature of what is needed. He does play nicely with Patsy at times, which works on his social skills, but we need to be right there to referee if things get tense (he needs practice with not winning, sharing, etc.) When my husband and I can switch off with him, it sure allows me to get more done around the house, which is needed right now. It also provides a part-time summer job for both my husband and I. We will have him some more towards the end of the week and some next week. Then the hours will decrease as he will be in school and we will both be busier anyway, so it's great to get a good chunk of hours right now. The paycheck will come in mid-September, a perfect time, since Rob won't be paid until the first of October from his school job.

    We have a couple of days off now, and will work like crazy around here as we have many projects we want to get finished before school starts and my husband goes back to work and I begin homeschool again. We worked in the shop on Saturday, getting a bit done towards the organization that is sorely needed out there.

  • Athanasia August 22, 2017

    That must have been so much fun to really experience the eclipse. It looked like a huge party everywhere where viewing was prime. We never got dark and all and our usual summer skies are partially cloudy and sunny so it was through the clouds, but we did get to see it on the telescope viewer. Those of us that were at the school and church this week had a little mini party and some students and families came by too so that was fun.

    Glad to hear of your garden bounty. You will be all stocked up again to what you were pre-move!

  • Becky August 22, 2017

    It was really special!

    I do love seeing those cupboards fill up. Canning is one of my favorite things in the world--all those gleaming jars of fruit/veggies! Today, it's more pears and a start on the applesauce, and canning those pickles later in the afternoon after one more time of pouring the brine off, adding sugar, etc.--then they will be done. I've love to do another batch if the cucumbers cooperate, but they seem to be almost finished.

  • Karen in NE Ohio August 22, 2017

    I love canning also! This past weekend was green beans, blackberry jam, salsa and peach sauce. Next i'm on to spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and more beans. It is comforting to have good food put up for the coming winter. Always trying to add to our food storage.

  • Athanasia August 23, 2017

    Becky, our cucumbers seem done too. Well, the weather is changing so much already what with the shorter days and cool nights. We've still been getting enough for salads and slicing though every day, just not enough for a batch of anything. My daughter is going to clean them out soon, I think, and then she'll bring me in any of the larger ones that got missed in the vines. There are always some. I like those for making relish. I hope to make at least 2 more batches of sweet relish.

  • Rachel H August 25, 2017

    No lizards where you live! We are in Florida, and see quite a few around our house. My sister lives about Three miles away and I think her house is built on a lizard breeding ground! They are everywhere.

  • Mary August 21, 2017

    Hello all! I look forward to all the posts.
    This past week, we had problems with my husband's truck and decided it was time to trade it in for a used hybrid car. We will have to make very low payments but with the gas being lower for the car, no extra money will come out of our budget.
    We were finally able to work on things at home -placing three large area rugs given to us in great room, bedroom and kitchen. More comfortable walking on the rug, then the tile floor. Next big project will be pictures ....
    This is how we saved last week
    - I stayed in for two days, getting things done.
    - I combined trips when I did go out.
    - using up all leftovers - sending my husband to work with some so he will not buy lunch
    - I earned a $10 Lowes card that I will use with another Lowes card to buy more cabinet pulls.
    - I found some casual sandals at Marshalls using up a gift card and Shopkick points, cost me 0!
    - spent about $60 at grocery mainly on fruits and dairy
    - cooked all meals at home.
    - ran dishwasher and washer at full loads.
    - hung most of our clothes to dry

    That is all I can think of .... have a good frugal week all!

  • Laurie in central NC August 21, 2017

    We have those same lizards here. When I see them, I have been known to talk to them :). I'd like more raspberries and hazelnuts, so I tried tip layering several of each. I hope they'll take. They had several varieties of large hostas on the clearance rack at Lowe's. We got 5 plants of 3 varieties, and divided two of them. So, 7 new plants in the shade garden, and landscape block on sale, with OOP reduced by gift cards and J's military discount. I'm harvesting pawpaws, among other things. We had a visitor this weekend who works for the Smithsonian come by for some pawpaws. These were a personal interest of his, not professional. He does coffee roasting on the side, and promised to send us some of his coffee as thanks. I'm joining in with everyone here: https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2017/08/sharing-pawpaws-frugal-accomplishments.html

  • Athanasia August 22, 2017

    Laurie, you should have success with tip layering the hazelnuts. They do that easily. I know that is what my cousins do with the hazelnut trees.

    I remember in 1st grade we had a teacher that had us sing a song about "way down yonder in the pawpaw patch". Of course we did not know what pawpaws are and do not have them around here, but it was fun, as she had a game with it.

  • Laurie in central NC August 22, 2017

    Thanks for the encouragement, Athanasia. I hope the hazelnuts will be successful. I didn't know what pawpaws were either until I moved here. They're native here, along with persimmons, though there are not many left in the wild now.

  • Jamie @ Medium Sized Family August 21, 2017

    I've never heard of that grape leaf trick! What a great tip. I can't fathom having an electric bill that high, but I also can't imagine the temperatures you live in! It's funny how different our one country can be.

    Here are the ways we saved last week: http://www.mediumsizedfamily.com/5-ways-weve-saved-money-week-89/

  • I know many people here who pay $800 to $1000 a month in the summer for their electric bills. I had a $500 bill my first summer in this house. The electric company has raised the rates more than 40 times since then. I've done a lot to cut it down (I had it down to $325 in summer before) but even as I continue to use less electricity, the bill continues to go higher because of rising rates. I have noticed that the difference between keeping the house at 79 versus keeping it at 77 is almost $200 a month, so I keep it at 79; this past week I put it at 80º a few times.

  • Richella Parham August 21, 2017

    Brandy, do you run the fan continuously, or set it on "auto"? I'm trying to train us to have the a/c on a higher setting, but going from 77 to 78 has been hard--when there's no air stirring, 78 feels too hot. Or maybe I should just buy more fans?

  • Richella, I have the fan set to "auto." If you have it set to "on" it will run all the time. We have ceiling fans in almost every room. I only run the ceiling fans when I am in the room, because ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. I can't stand to be in the room this hot without ceiling fans going; it drives me crazy and I start dripping sweat without them on--but with it, I am fine. The more humid it is, the hotter it is going to feel and the more difficult higher temps will be in the house. I do know that visiting my grandmother's house in summer (where she had no a/c and it was in the 90's with 90 humidity) that fans made ALL the difference. She had a box fan set up in her kitchen window to blow across the kitchen and that was a huge help.

  • PJGT August 21, 2017

    You use so many electric reducing tactics! Such as solar for lights and cooking and turning off electrics when needed. One that we use is to charge our electronics using battery packs that we charge elsewhere (office? Library?). They are also good when out and about. My husband also ski instructs so having his phone charging when he is away from electric is important for him.

    I'd love to see a blog on electric reduction. I need to move beyond hanging laundry and such.

  • Lynn August 21, 2017

    Your electric rates sound like ours here in San Diego. They went from 4 Tiers to 2 Tiers. If you can keep it under 2 Tier level it's 13 cents a Kilowatt. If it goes over , it jumps to 26 cents. If you run your A/C or heater at all you're in the higher rate. I think we are the only household not to jump on the Solar bandwagon. SDGE only pays you 3 cents back for the extra kilowatts you don't use. It doesn't pencil out for us. My grandparents would not believe what it costs today just to keep your lights on and heat your home.

  • momsav August 21, 2017

    My husband just installed a solar tube in the bathroom. It doesn't heat up the room but looks like the lights are on, it's so bright. I can't wait to see how this affects the electric bills. There are no windows in that room so the light was always needed. That's my next mission, to get electric lower. I'm not sure what else we can do living in such a cold climate. The nights never really got out of the 50's all Summer. I read everyone's processes for lowering their bills hoping I can use the knowledge here., somehow. Lynn, your rates are higher than ours. Our water bill makes up the difference, I think.

  • Mary August 22, 2017

    We have a solar tube in our laundry room - the only room that has no windows. I love the solar tube!!! I almost never have to turn on the light, only at night if I go in there, which is rare. It is so bright during the day in there - sometimes I think the light is on! I m not sure of the savings since we just moved here.

  • Maxine@gmail.com August 21, 2017

    Same song, second verse--for me it is water. Today I got the highest bill ever, over $500. I nearly choked when I read it. We are running the sprinklers to assure a green lawn for potential buyers. I told my husband I was going to cut back on watering, and he had a fit--until he read the bill. He saw we were just over the threshold for the extra high rate, which has never happened in 20 years. We have to pay a surcharge for every gallon of water used. So, when we get back tomorrow, I'm cutting back on the water. (Bigtime). We will probably save 30%-35% next month. Plus, we are at the time of year when you cut back, anyway, to harden up the grass for winter. I live in an arid part of the country (not as arid as Las Vegas!) and we've had a hot and dry summer. Our winter bills are $31.

  • Maxine, we have high water rates here too.

    I have a post written on water conservation that just needs some photos. In the meantime, I would suggest that you look for leaks in your irrigation, make sure you're using sprinklers in the early hours of the morning (to reduce evaporation), and cut back on the days you water. If you can water every other day (if it's a high in the mid 80's you can) then that will cut your bill tremendously. I would also check each station manually though to make sure something isn't amiss if this is much larger than a usual summer bill.

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