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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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  • Lynn, no tiers on electric, but the tiers on water here are insane.

    NV Energy (our only power company) decided to drastically reduce how much they would pay for people who got solar. It really worked over a ton of people who were on solar but still on the grid. The only way around it is to be off the grid, but it's a huge investment. We have a friend nearby who sells solar and is completely off the grid (he has solar and wind power). After we ran the numbers with him and he saw how little we used (especially lights) and where we keep our a/c, we could see it wasn't worth the investment to us.

    My parents switched all of their lights to LEDS. Now they have lights on all the time and their bill went down! But, it depends on what kind of fixtures you have. We have dimmable small bulbs in all of our ceiling fan/overhead lights, and they are $7 each to purchase! Most bulbs are too large for our fixtures. We don't use the lights much so our regular bulbs last us about 7 to 10 years. Some bulbs I have never replaced in our house, and they're incandescents!

  • Juls Owings August 22, 2017

    no tiers here in northwest OH but our landlord researches all available suppliers for our electric. He got it down from 13.6 to 6.6 . Really helps because the supply charges are equal to your costs. He switched all his household lights and the barn lights after he saw how much ours dropped after changing to LED. I have 2 over lights (of course the only light in the kitchen and butler's pantry) that are old tube lights. Landlord dropped off a LED overhead for the butler's pantry that Hubby will put in after this next reading (so we know what we will save). IF you have an old screw in fuse box instead of the newer breaker box it will cost you more also.

  • Candace Posey August 22, 2017

    How much are the electric rates per KWH where you live Brandy? I have noticed my rates are higher this year than last. We are at 10.6 per KWH.

    Candace in Louisiana

  • So I had to go find the last time I received a paper bill, which was January. Rates go up every quarter but now I just have mine billed automatically (no more mailing it in and paying for a stamp) and I get an email report every week that shows how many kilowatts I have used and how much I paid. I had to add up all of the many charges per kilowatt to get to the actual amount; there are 5). It's $12.75 a month to have power, plus $0.1119 per kilowatt, plus a 5% charge that is the "local government fee" on top of that.

  • Isabella August 22, 2017

    I live in Minneapolis in a 950 square foot townhouse. I'm feeling quite lucky that our utilities are so reasonable here! Over thirty years ago, we lived in Texas, and our monthly bills were so much more even then! I do think they take advantage of people in climates that require air conditioning.

    Our monthly electric bill in the summer months is about $85-90. (We have electric stove and water heater. I hang all laundry as I choose not to own a dryer.) We have 2 window air conditioning units we install just for the summer, and this year we have used them less than ten times. Our water bill runs about $30/month. We have natural gas heating, and in the coldest months, we average about $100/month. We are well insulated with townhomes on either side of us. I guess I am aghast when I read of bills of $1000/month, but in Texas we had a tiny home, and bills easily ran $350/month in the early 1980's!

  • Stephanie N. August 21, 2017

    Hello Brandy!
    Your herb drying has given me the idea that I could attempt to do this myself on store bought herbs that I have extra of and cannot use up in time. So many recipes call for only a small amount of a fresh herb and it feels so wasteful (and they're expensive!) when I cannot use the entire bunch or pack bought.
    This week had its ups and downs.
    -SO bought himself a new car. The downpayment that we ended up making was slightly more than we wanted but necessary to keep the monthly payment in budget. We've been planning and saving for this new car for a very long time.
    -From our vacation last week I took home the complimentary shampoo and lotion bottles in the room. My kids had used the products while there but I kept the empty bottles and when home refilled them with product from my bathroom. We don't often travel to places that require a hotel stay so this will be useful for things like camping or when the kids have overnight visits with friends and family. The lotion bottles I refill with my own large bottle of hand cream and keep in my purse for when I'm out. Doing it this way means we can use our preferred products while travelling without having to worry about leaving behind a full sized bottle.
    -I made our menu for last week and found that most everything I wanted to make was already in the pantry. My grocery budget for the week revolved around increasing our food storage instead of buying daily items.
    -I made my own foaming handsoap for the kids bathroom using soap from a large refill bottle.
    -SO roommate from many years ago was moving to a new house. We offered to help with the move and among the things the man was about to toss was a large box of kitchen trash bags and a large bottle of dial handsoap. I claimed them both and will put them to good use. Trash bags are expensive, especially since it's money that goes straight to the trash!
    -I cleaned out my closet and gifted some workwear to a friend. Since I wear scrubs now I don't need as many slacks and blouses as I did when I did office work.
    -Our electric bill is our highest utility bill because SO is a computer engineer that works from home. He has five desktop monitors and three laptops in his office on and running at all times. The heat from the machines makes his office very hot and the power used adds up combined with the double whammy of having his office in a room with windows on two walls that get the brunt of the afternoon sun. To combat this I've been doubling my efforts to keep electric usage to a minimum everywhere else. This months electric bill was $30 less than last months
    -We shopped around for and found a new car insurance policy that will save us about $500 over the six month term.
    -I repaired a shoe (my favorite pair!) using shoe goo.
    Have a good week everybody!

  • gabrielle August 21, 2017

    Hi Brandy:

    I also enjoyed the piano video and music. My son (7) has just started taking piano lessons so it motivated him as well.

    Like you, I try to root plants from what I have. This week in the garden, I dug a bed on the outside of our garden for flowers. I had my husband till up the soil where I wanted the bed to be. Then I used the straw and droppings from our chicken coop run (after I mucked it out) and then tilled it in again. Then I added the flowers and hand edged the bed. When I gets cooler, I will plant in my spring bulbs and then mulch the entire bed. I buy rose plants and day lilies at clearance prices at the end of the season (I do the same with hydrangeas) and try to use them in planting beds. I was able to add in two more roses buses and 4 day lilies purchased very cheaply.

    We are on a "shop our pantry" and eat from the deep freeze this month as we had our house re-sided and my husband built a much needed yard shed. School starts here next week and I bought the kids' school supplies sometime ago so we are ready without having to buy anything. One of the few purchases I did make was at the dollar store where I bought containers for an inexpensive but super handy spice rack my husband built me. http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2017/08/spice-rack/

    Hope you week is going well.

  • Marci August 21, 2017

    My big achievement for the week was canning 11 half pints of blueberry jam. Caught the blueberries on sale. I also got kale on sale so I stocked up and made kale cubes for my green smoothies. (kale and water in the blender, blend away, and freeze in ice cube trays). I had some tomatoes, some kiwis and some nectarines that were on the edge of going bad. I made cubes of this stuff, just mixed up, to add to the green smoothies. I ate from the fridge and freezer all week. I was offered 7 extra hours at work and I grabbed 'em. Won't change my paycheck much, but every little bit helps. I was cleaning the pantry. Found some dried soup mix I'd bought ages ago. It was horribly salty stuff so I tried it once and forgot about it. I added the ingredients to a saucepan and then rinsed them in water and dumped the water out. Still too salty so I added some extra macaroni to the mix. That gave me more soup and evened out the salt. Did laundry and hung things on the inside drying rack to dry. I used a $4 coupon for a shampoo and a haircut at Supercuts. I was gifted 3 shirts that were too small for their owner. They're fancy name brand shirts and they've never been worn. I think that's it.

  • Jo August 21, 2017

    I keep our thermostat set on 79 degrees in the summer, because our bill would be horrendous otherwise. The good thing is that we only pay an average bill each month -- the lower usage months build up credit to help balance the vicious months of summer along with the now and then cold weeks in the winter.
    This is the "check your bills" day, I guess -- I found the self-check-out at Walmart charged me twice for the bananas I bought -- the machine claimed it didn't get the weight the first time and said to weigh them again. It was only $2.98, but I went to customer service when they weren't busy, and got it back. It's a little bit, true, but every little bit counts.
    My husband gathered pears from our tree and I peeled and sliced them to dry. I use a dehydrator for drying any food. If I don't, it will mold long before it dries. Our humidity is always so high -- I can't imagine living with a humidity of 5-10%! In the warm months, our humidity rises at night to 98-99% then goes down some in the day.
    I shopped some good food sales at my local food co-op. I have also started stocking up for the holiday cooking when I see a good sale on something I know I'll use.
    I bought two more gifts for Christmas. I save up for Christmas, but the more I can shop now, the less time and money I have to spend all at once in December.
    And I do the normal things -- use homemade laundry soap, hang up as much laundry as I can, use up leftovers, wear used clothes, and DIY as much as I can.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 21, 2017

    I chipped in a small amount of money with 2 friends and paid my gardener (a single mother with 2 children) to weed the memorial garden. It is small but at the back of the church where no-one sees it except from the alley. I was worried that someone might report the church for a weed notice which would cost $400 if fined. It was overgrown with quack-grass and scentless chamomile.

    Elsewhere, I pointed out to the church committee people that the dead pine tree might be on the boulevard and if so was city property.
    They should phone the city and ask for a new boulevard tree. Even if the dead one is on church property, the City could still plant a tree near it on the boulevard and that would save them from buying a new replacement tree. None of the 3 of us could physically weed so my gardener (whom I cannot afford very often) got 5 huge bags of weeds out of the garden. One of the contributors to this small effort said "what did you do with all the plants?" (She never did realize that all of the plants were weeds).

    We dug out clumps of plants and put each clump on a bench that I was sitting on. Then I pulled the quack grass out from the bottom.
    and we replanted the clumps. This worked well until we encountered the huge clump of irises. The rhizomes were so intertwined
    that it was almost impossible to pull them apart. In the end, we replanted 12 individual rhizomes. The big clumps were put by the side
    of the church to go home with anyone who wanted them. In short, we were rejuvenating the garden. For the friend who couldn't cope with how bare it looked, I offered to donate 2 daylily plants that will grow bigger.

    While my gardener did the heavy work of digging, etc., and I pulled quackgrass from the clump bottoms, we chatted. We discovered that we each had loved picking berries and fruits as children (and even still). I asked her if she'd like crabapples and she said yes!
    After we did this, I phoned my friend who had given me a bucket of crabapples and she said yes she'd be glad to donate some to my gardener who would pick them. So my gardener ended up picking 4 buckets of apples while I chatted with my friend who looked relieved that the number of apples on the bumper crop that she has to do something with has been reduced. My gardener went home and made tons of applesauce.

    The next day my gardener came to weed a trouble spot in my yard and we chatted. She wants to start up her own charity to grow veggies and fruit for people in need and I told her the steps she'd need to take. And that I could get it to a form reviewed by a lawyer.
    to save money.

    It is really incredible how one thing leads to another. So I spent a little money, saved the church a lot, led them to acquire a new tree for nothing probably, inspired my gardener to set up her charity that will help low income people grow, harvest and eat their own food.
    All in a couple of mornings!

  • PollyWog August 21, 2017

    Hi Ellie's Friend in Canada,
    If you check Kijiji , FB or look on the internet for " Food Share" with your cities name,it may be available where you live.
    People who have fruit and vegetables that they are unable to use, offer it to the "Food Share" group. Address is kept confidential till a picking crew is assembled then a date and time is confirmed and the address is released to the pickers.
    Volunteers then arrange a time to come and pick. 1/3 goes to the owner, 1/3 to charities like area food banks and shelters, 1/3 is divided amoung the pickers.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 21, 2017

    Hi PollyWog,

    Thanks for the tip. She has used a similar service but we just offered her our excess, too. All the fruit we had to share was shared with my gardener, a single mom. Her idea is to actually have low income people grow their own veggies etc. to share. She is a master gardener. She would teach them how to grow, harvest, etc. She has access on land on which to do it right near a subsidized housing complex. It's a great idea. Thanks again for the tip.

  • Cathy August 22, 2017

    That is a lovely line of "one thing leading to another" you created! If she hasn't already, your gardener should check out the group Harlem Grown - Urban Farming and Mentorship. I know there are other groups out there but this one was recently written up on CNN and it sounds very well organized and supported. Your gardener could probably contact them for ideas. I used to love helping my grandmother with her flowers and houseplants, but I would have been thrilled to learn how to grow food, dry, can, etc., when I was a kid!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 23, 2017

    Thanks, Cathy, for the tips. I used to have to help plant, and dig the garden, and weed and harvest when I was a child and did not like it (probably it was just a bit too hard for me at that age) but I really loved it when my mother and I, on a winter's evening, would sit and dream about the flowers we would grow and what seeds we would grow from the catalog. then on snowy evenings, we would read the free seed catalogs as if they were books, full of ideas, beauty, promises, and dreams. My mother is with her Maker and still I feel her presence in the garden. Every day this spring and summer I have taken photos of the plants, the roses and flowers, for the day when I may not be able to live here. I have made my own book. It really is a gift to ourselves and future people to grow plants!

  • Heather in L.A. August 21, 2017

    This week is all about muscadines!!! We harvested 5 gallons of grapes yesterday and over 3 last week. I have made jelly which I will make more of also muscadines pepper jelly and juice. The wetter than usual spring and summer we have had here in the south has produced bumper crops of first figs and now muscadines. I will be gifting the jelly and fig butters this Christmas.

    We were gifted a 40 qt ice chest full of catfish. So this week catfish court bullion it is. I will also be making Maque Choux from gifted okra and canned tomatoes and corn we put up earlier this summer. I know my family would just want fried fish and fried okra, but I try to slide in healthier alternatives.

    My daughters Jeep needs a new part. My husband ordered it and will replacing it. I am so thankful for a spouse that can fix things. My sons are now at the age where they are helping him. I want my sons to be able to have the skills to fix things they grow up, that and dance with their wives, so I make them dance with me. Lol.

    We are getting ready for a garage sale. Hopefully in October when it cools off we can have one.

    I made fabric softener, mouthwash and refilled the hand soaps, I also made sea salt spray for my hair. The spray allows me to go to bed with a wet head and then mist again in the am, scrunch and go it dries on its own.

    I think that's all, have a great week everyone.

  • Steph. August 21, 2017

    Can you please leave a recipe for the mouthwash? :)

  • Cindy in the South August 22, 2017

    I love Muscadines, catfish, okra, and figs! Yes, I had a bumper crop of figs also in Alabama because of this being such a wet summer!

  • Athanasia August 23, 2017

    Heather, the food all sounds so interesting. I googled Maque Choux and court boullion as I had never heard of those. I don't think anyone grows okra around here...I've never seen it at the farmer's market or produce auction. My husband will go for catfish if he happens to be river fishing when he goes out with his brothers. Then they deep fry it and serve with boiled red potatoes and coleslaw.

  • Tina August 21, 2017


    I've not added my comments in the last 6 weeks, but I keep a little running tally of things I do to save. It keeps the momentum going. During these weeks, I've:
    *received 6 dozen eggs from a friend of mine whose chickens are laying more than she can use
    *received enough grape juice to make 2 batches of jelly (from a friend who was gifted a lot of grapes). I appreciated her cooking down the grapes to make the juice so much that I purchase some Surejell for her to use next go round!
    *I received a Zaycon ground beef order and cooked some, made freezer meals, and made many burger patties. I like portionning the meat in smaller units. That way it is easy to add a 1/4 lb beef to flavor a dish. We try to use half the amounts of beef called for in any recipe (well, maybe except meatloaf!). It is a way to feel like you are getting meat and flavor without all the expense. I use recycled bags, ripped Ziplocks to wrap up the meat.
    *I was gifted 3/4 of a blueberry pie. It was good but too sweet for my families taste. I froze it and plan to use it soon either to top pancakes/waffles or to make little mini-pies. We'll see how that experiment goes...but no oop regardless!
    *My dad had surgery recently and gifted me with a pasta dish. They had been gifted this from a friend but, as several folks had done the same thing...they had too much food. It fed my family for one supper.
    *Checked out free videos from the library.
    *Our company treated us to lunch one day.
    *Received free ice cream cones; ice cream is on sale at Krgoer this week and I have a $1 off coupon. I plan to use it and buy a gallon of ice cream as a treat...I should be able to get in for $1!
    *Received free books
    *Found a favorite cookbook (that I had first discovered at our library) at the thrift store. Brand new for $2!
    *I decided to not visit a friend of mine that lives 2 hours away in order to save gas and eating out. I talked with her by phone instead (though I missed visiting in person). I also passed up another trip from a friend who is at a conference at a beach 6 hours from my house. All the expense I would have had would be gas and maybe a meal or two out....but I felt like I needed to save the money.
    *We have had a lot of unexpected bills in the last 6 weeks: my daughter had to have 4 molars pulled, my son was involved in a fender bender, a tree fell on electric lines and also caused damage to our house. Though we have insurance, we now have to meet deductibles.
    *my husband fixed our washing machine when it broke. He tried to fix our dishwasher but it is beyond saving. We will not replace it until he is back at work...perhaps in 2018!
    *I took leftover donuts from work and shared with my kids.
    *Thrift store find...a cooling rack I needed
    My husband has been out of work over a year now. We are to our last scraps of savings. The unexpected accident and tree falling down has not helped! It is a little scary but we are tightening up our belts, eating down our stockpile and being cautious. I am thankful for my job. I am thankful for thrifty ways and this community of people. All the best!

  • Athanasia August 22, 2017

    Tina, I hope your husband is employed again soon. You sound like you are coping very frugally, but I am sure running out of savings is very scary.

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