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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

 Yellow Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

We celebrated a daughter's birthday at home with a simple party at home and a homemade cake. I have pictures that I hope to share soon in a birthday post.

I used the leftover icing to decorate cupcakes as a snack one afternoon. I had some rather old quarts of canned pears that, while still fine to eat, weren't as tasty had they been newer. I blended them and used those in the cupcakes in place of the liquid and oil. I think this is how I will be using the rest of those canned pears in the next little while (in baked goods, but not necessarily cupcakes with icing).

I harvested two Armenian cucumbers, some Swiss chard, a few cherry tomatoes, and basil from the garden.

September Arrrangement The Prudent Homemaker

I spent some time tidying the garden to get it ready for fall. I had a large dusty miller plant die. It was so large, that I have decided that in its place I can plant 2 artichoke plants, 2 Swiss chard plants, and a zucchini plant (all of which I have seeds for already). This is a plant in the front yard in my white garden. After removing the plant, I fertilized the apricot tree it was growing under with fertilizer I had received for free with a coupon earlier this year.

I took every opportunity to open the windows in the mornings to cool the house. It is still rather warm here (we had days above 100º) but in the mornings it was 79ºF and even a little lower a few days. We kept the windows open as many hours as possible each morning before closing up the house and turning the air conditioning units back on.

My eldest started her first online college class this week. Her first class is one that has the book available to download online for free, which made for a less expensive start to school. 

She will take 24 credits of BYU Independent Study online classes (which we researched to make sure that they all transfer to her school of choice for her major) before going off to school. We'll save money by having her stay at home for the next 16 months while she takes online classes.

I started a list of everything she'll need for her first apartment. The apartments are furnished (and generally have 6-8 women in each), but she'll need kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom supplies, laundry supplies, warmer clothing, and food. We started researching prices and I will look for some items at garage sales over the next 16 months (Garage sale season is beginning again in earnest now here). We'll also purchase many items new, looking for sales and coupons to keep costs low. I noted that Walmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond have the same costs for several of the basic supplies on our kitchen list, but Bed, Bath, and Beyond regularly has 20% off coupons (you can use their expired coupons and use one per item with as many per transaction as you have items). I have a stack of these coupons that have come in different things, including with the free magazines that I get; one even came this week with one of my free magazine subscriptions--and I will put them aside to purchase some items for my daughter's apartment. I also researched prices at Target and Ikea; at some point, we'll definitely be making the drive to Ikea in town when we're ready to purchase a large number of items. I'll also look at Sam's and Costco for their holiday sales for pots and pans. Basically, we'll compare prices to make our money go as far as possible while getting her some good quality items to fulfill her needs.

We learned that there are two grocery shopping options in the city where she hopes to attend school: a grocery store and a Walmart. She has cousins that attend the same school and they all said that the grocery store is pricey and that Walmart is where everyone shops. We found that there is even a free shuttle that goes to Walmart! So, I took her to Walmart near us, and we talked about shopping and prices. We talked about her favorite meals, and I also typed up a basic pantry list of items as well as fresh items she'll need to start cooking once she is on her own. 

We noted that there is a stop near the thrift store in town near one of the free shuttle stops, too!

Dishes and Napkins The Prudent Homemaker

After we made this list, I bought Winter's choice of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 2 mugs, and 4 glasses at Walmart. The plates, bowls, and mugs were all $0.88 each, and the glasses were on clearance for $0.75 each. Winter will take silverware from our old set. She sewed herself 6 matching napkins from an old pinafore that used to belong to her grandmother.

We went to the thrift store, where I dropped off our donations (and received a receipt for taxes). We compared prices there on kitchen items, and noted that the thrift store prices were high on most kitchen items (plates were $1 each), though I did pick up a tiny whisk for Winter for $0.50.

I found 2 pairs of jeans for myself there ($4 each) and a sweater ($5), plus $1 for a shirt for another child. 

My eldest son attended a free ACT prep class again, and practiced taking the English section of the test this past week.

I picked up two pamphlets on Federal Student Financial Aid that were free at the local library.

Thanks to a reader letting me know that the city of Henderson has free symphony performances, we were able to attend an outdoor symphony performance with our children for free about 40 minutes from home.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

 

 

 

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  • How exciting for Winter! I love that you have so much time to prepare. Our garage sales are still going with this warm spell we are having. I've shown some pictures of what I was able to find this week on my post this week of how I saved money http://www.vickieskitchenandgarden.com/2017/09/my-frugal-ways-this-past-week-91717.html

  • Jeannie September 17, 2017

    Last week I asked for help finding a cheaper substitute than using expensive walnuts in zucchini bread. I can purchase walnuts for $6.29 for 16 oz (4 cups) at Aldi anytime and this is the price I am trying to improve upon. The ideas and suggestions were fantastic. Below is a summary and follow up to all I have tried:

    * Purchasing from Sam's Club – The closest location from my home is 38 miles and I do pass by the area occasionally during the year. I am thinking about stopping and asking for a tour. I don't know if I would buy enough to cover the membership fee.

    *Wal-mart - $9.98 for 32 oz ($9.98 divided by 2) which is $4.99 for one pound. They offer free in store pick up but I went to my Wal-mart and they carry them! I bought two bags since this appears to be a sale price; however, I will once again start checking their grocery prices. In my small town, Wal-mart is the most expensive store, next is Kroger, followed by Dollar General Market then the best prices are at Aldi's which is in another town.

    * Harvesting from the wild sounded like a crazy suggestion but in reality I have 5 walnut trees on my property. It is a good idea except I can't get to them without wading through shoulder high, tick infested weeds. No way. Even free walnuts are not worth that. Come winter I will see if there are any left on the ground but not before then. Two weeks ago I dealt with the horrors of ticks on Scooter; not again if I can help it.

    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2017/09/scooter-is-in-big-trouble.html

    *I also have one pecan tree but the squirrels beat me to them every year. They know when they are ripe and within a few days, they are all gone. I checked yesterday and saw a few still left up high. Tomorrow I will try to get them, it won't be easy but it will be free.

    *Another idea was to use less in the recipe, simple but effective.

    * Buy them on sale and freeze them.

    *Other suggestions were to use substitutions such as:
    Grape Nuts cereal, Cranberries, Raisins, Peanuts, Sunflower seeds, Pecans, Pumpkin seeds, Leftover crumbs from a cereal box, and add a struesel topping

    * I am growing Tahitian Butternut squash. The seeds can be toasted like pumpkin seeds and have a better flavor. This will be FREE.

    *Sunflower seeds I learned are cheaper at Tractor Supply because they are sold for bird food. I went by and checked their prices. The salesman said you can order different varieties online and have them delivered to the store and avoid the delivery charge: 5 pounds are $6.49, 20 pounds are $26.99

    I purchased the 5 pound bag and sorted through it and found about one tablespoon of stems, and dried leaves. Nothing that would break a tooth or be noticeable. I also found one soybean and two unidentifiable seeds. The package stated it was manufactured in a facility that processed all types of major allergens. The bag is sold for animals, not human consumption, so it is a lower quality product which does not bother me. Purchasing animal feed is not foreign to me since I have raised livestock and am accustomed to dealing with problems which I shared in this post.

    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2017/05/my-favorite-country-store.html

    Normally I freeze the bag of feed first then winnow (pour grain from one bowl to another outside on a windy day) to get rid of any bugs or debris. If you are squeamish about this, try sifting some of the foods you buy from the grocery and see what you find. I did not freeze the bag of sunflower seeds first because I wanted to see the quality and if it had bugs or worms. Usually they crawl to the bottom and I did find my bag was infested with weevils. Not surprising since this bag might have been stored since last year. It is probably too early for this year's crop to be harvested, shelled, bagged and shipped to the store. What I did not find was rat droppings and that is what matters. One rat dropping and the whole bag will be tossed.

    I will purchase them once again later in the year but will look for unbroken seeds, freeze, winnow, and then check for bugs.

    We also discussed looking for walnut substitutes for pesto and these are some of the ideas.
    *almonds
    *bread crumbs – this I will be trying as soon when I have more basil ready in the garden.
    *different greens added along with basil – I will also try this too.

    I am thrilled at all the ideas and suggestions. It is good to know a seasoned tightwad fanatic can learn new tricks. Thanks to everybody for the help. Tomorrow I will go climb a pecan tree, hopefully without breaking my neck. If I never post again, you will know I was not successful.

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  • LD September 18, 2017

    I use unsalted sunflower seeds in pesto.

  • Jeannie September 18, 2017

    Another good idea! I could use the salted sunflower seeds because I put salt in my pesto.
    Thanks,
    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  • Ros September 18, 2017

    For pesto, roasted sunflower seeds or roasted pumpkin seeds are surprisingly good and a fraction of the cost!

  • Jeannie September 18, 2017

    Using pumpkin seeds! Palm slap to forehead! Another good idea.
    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  • Pam September 18, 2017

    You could also toast some oatmeal to replace nuts. I do this for cookies all the time.

  • Jeannie September 18, 2017

    Toasted oatmeal is very cheap and I love these cheap ideas.
    Thank you, Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.blogspot.com

  • Janet September 19, 2017

    I wonder if sesame seeds would work ?

  • Jeannie September 19, 2017

    I don't know. It would be worth a try. Right now I am waiting for my basil plants to recover from me stripping the leaves off to make pesto to freeze for the winter. I plan on doing quite a bit of experimenting.
    Jeannie

  • Jeannie September 20, 2017

    Janet, I just realized I am growing sesame seeds in the garden. That would be the cheapest thing of all.
    Jeannie

  • Sandra September 17, 2017

    We were the recipients of a large pan of leftover pasta from a work related buffet. I took the pasta and divided it for three casseroles. With some cubed beef from the freezer I made stroganoff. There was enough for two of the casseroles. Lastly I made a lasagna style casserole. Two went in the freezer and I left one out to eat on Tuesday when I have an appointment.

    I am still drying grapes and fresh herbs. Our garden is still producing and we eat fresh produce everyday. The snow peas that I replanted have started to produce and I expect to eat peas until we get a hard frost. Lettuce and spinach that were replanted are starting to come up now and I hope to enjoy them for a couple more months. They also can take cold temperatures.

    By the way, Brandy, I found a very good applesauce chocolate cake recipe on the internet. I use some pureed apricots from last year in place of the applesauce. The recipe makes a 9 x 13 cake and is topped with 1 cup of chocolate chips and a half cup of chopped walnuts. It is very moist and keeps well. I think it would work well with your pureed pears.

  • Rhonda A. September 18, 2017

    Sandra, could you share the recipe link to the applesauce chocolate cake, please? I love recipes that have been tried and worked well.

  • Sandra September 18, 2017

    Chocolate Fruit Cake
    2 c. Flour 2 T. cocoa powder 1 1/2 t. baking soda 1/2 t. salt 1/2 c. butter 1 1/2 c. sugar 2 eggs 2 t. vanilla 2 c. fruit puree 1 c. chocolate chips 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
    In a separate bowl, cream the sugar and butter, then add the eggs and vanilla. Alternately add the pureed fruit and the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan then sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped nuts over the top. Bake for 35 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean then remove from oven and cool on a rack. This cake stays moist right to the end, but with chocolate lovers around the end won't be very long.

  • Steph. September 17, 2017

    Hi Brandy! Hearing about Winter made me all nostalgic about when our first son went to college. I used to have a blog and I wrote a post about how little he took to college with him here: http://stephaniehallburns.blogspot.com/search?q=minimalist+son+and+college

    I know Winter will need to bring more than my eldest son did, but compared to most parents, I bought him very little. Later, when he moved into an apartment, I gave him our old set of dishes and silverware from early marriage and some extra pots and pans. I bought him a new bed and then some furniture from a thrift store. His church donated a sofa to him that he has since passed down to other students. We also found a used microwave that another student was tossing out and I scrubbed it and it worked perfectly! For son number two (he is across the country, just starting his final year of college), the apartment was furnished virtually for free when some students were moving out across the street as he was moving in (again, except for a new bed). When seniors leave, often they do not want to deal with moving, selling, or transporting their items to donation centers and will often leave them out for free.

    This week I harvested a few more avocados. I have jalapeno peppers plants flowering right now! Also, I realized that the fig bush we inherited with the house is producing (I was told that the figs would not be okay, that they would be "dry" inside....however, that is not the case). I decided to fertilize it several months ago and maybe this helped. Do I pick them when they are beginning to turn purple? I am not familiar at all with this plant. I cut one open and it was a green-yellow inside but fairly sweet tasting. :) Thanks!

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 17, 2017

    Thankfully the apartments are furnished (beds, desks, tables, chairs, couches) and have microwaves; some even have washers and dryers!

    She will need her own kitchen items, and that is the bulk of my list, plus really warm clothing, as it is bitterly cold there. I also realized she doesn't even own a blow dryer (she rarely needs one here and just borrows mine; she does it so little and has her own curling iron that I forgot she doesn't have a dryer) and after talking to someone at church who attended there who told her the story of a roommate who went to class with a hat over her wet hair who found that it was so cold that all of her hair past the hat froze and broke off, she knows she is going to need to always have dry hair!

    Several years ago, we donated our old dishes after most of them broke, as well as our old pots and pans, so I don't have any of those for her (our house has neither a basement nor an attic, and I hadn't thought to keep these around for her). I did keep the small amount of old silverware we have to use for camping, so I actually have that.

    I mentioned to another reader that my husband and I never did see people getting rid of items at our college as you and others have mentioned. Perhaps it's because a number of students get married and end up using their items! We never did see anything out on the curb, ever, and we went year-round.

    The only reason figs would be dry inside is if they were left too long without picking. Otherwise, they should not be dry. What color they are when ripe depends on the kind of fig you have. No matter the color, a ripe fig should pull easily from the tree and be soft.

  • Andrea Q September 17, 2017

    Great tip about the BB & B coupons not expiring!

    I've had my hair freeze many times and it never broke off! If Winter doesn't have time to dry her hair on a cold day, she can braid and coil it or put it in a bun to keep it all under a hat.

    Many box stores stock dorm necessities in August and then put them all on clearance the first week of September. We've purchased several twin-sized blankets for 75 percent off over the years.

    It's great that you can plan ahead with certainty for housing! Some colleges don't give out room assignments until the month before classes start, so you don't know what type of living situation you'll get for sure until it's too late to save much money.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 18, 2017

    She wears her hair up in a fancy bun just about every day right now (it's rare for her to wear it down) but here it can stay wet all day. She usually washes her hair at night though. I think she will be glad to have her own blow-dryer though.

    I went looking for college clearance but I went a couple weeks too late, so I will look next year.

    She isn't going to be living in dorms, but rather a shared apartment situation like my husband and I each did. The nice thing is that unlike when I was in college, she can now look at every apartment in town online and see photos and prices. We can see the name of every apartment complex from Google maps and then look up each one. There is a recommended list of items to bring, and one of the complexes (which is also owned by the school) not only has a list of items, but says you can store 5 plastic totes of items at the complex if you plan on returning during whichever semester you have off (semester tracks are chosen by the school). So, I want to get her what she needs as well as plastic totes, and make sure to keep everything to a minimum so that it fits in that amount of space. For example, she'll take her wool blanket with her (warmer than a comforter and takes up less space) as well as her quilt. I'll need to purchase extra-long flannel sheets. She has a fleece blanket already and a couple of decorative pillows that I bought her at a garage sale for $5.
    (The wool blanket is our emergency one that she uses when she goes camping; she doesn't need it on her bed in our climate but will appreciate it there. I remember being cold at school with a comforter and I wasn't nearly as far north.)

  • Anne September 18, 2017

    Brandy, the only thing I am confused about is gathering all those kitchen pots and dining utensils while she is sharing an apartment with 6 to 8 people. Won't all the girls be bringing those things? How did that work when you were doing it?

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 18, 2017

    Hi Anne!

    This could be a difference between men and women (in fact my husband and I just discussed this last week). He lived in a place where there were 12 men and everyone shared dishes, but the phone bill led them to get calling cards to keep it straight.

    I never had trouble with the phone bill, but not one of my roommates ever wanted anyone to touch her cooking things. I had one roommate who didn't bring her own pots and pans only one semester; she would use everyone elses' without asking, use metal utensils in nonstick pans and ruin them, and leave all of our stuff dirty. No one was happy with her about any of that. Other than that, everyone had their own stuff and was responsible for washing their own items. It went much more smoothly that way.

    We took turns buying toilet paper; as soon as one package was out someone else had to buy one. That was definitely shared!

    I had one roommate who brought a stand mixer. She did let another roommate use it a few times, but the other woman always asked first.

    Even with the nicest roommates I had, we still always used our own stuff. I think it helped us keep from aguing, too! The housing list says everyone will need to bring certain things. There were a few items that I can't see everyone needing to bring: shower curtains and bathroom trashcans. The apartments either have one or two showers, so someone will need to bring something, but I'm not planning on buying much of that ahead of time. If she really ends up needing a shower curtain, the Dollar Tree sells them, and there is one in town. I MIGHT send her with one from there (in the package) ahead of time, just in case, but probably not the trash can.

    They have a 3-semester track there and you don't choose which two you get, so there is a good chance that she will have a change in at least a few roommates every semester. She won't know who shes rooms with ahead of time unless she makes friends and makes plans to live with them. I did that one year but we already each had our own stuff.

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