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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

White Garden in Late September The Prudent Homemaker

I mended an item of clothing.

I harvested pears, a handful of tiny tomatoes, garlic chives, chocolate mint, and basil from the garden. I dried some basil for us to use throughout the year.

My mom and I went through her kitchen drawers for duplicates and unused items, and found several things that Winter can take with her to college, so we packed those away in the box I have started for her.

I used warm-up water from the shower to water potted fruit trees on the patio.

I try to make sure that all of my garden purchases are made at the lowest prices. Our local nursery has lower prices to start with on items than the big box stores (typically $1 to $2 lower per 1-gallon plants and $10-$15 lower on 5-gallon plants) and then they have sales on top of that. I watch their ads online (their sales run Fridays through Wednesdays) and I also know when things are generally on sale by month as well. I purchased some fruit trees on sale to replace those that have died in the garden. I purchased grass seed on sale to fill in the bare spots in the yard, which I can do when it cools down some more. I also purchased manure on sale to add to the garden and to use on the grass.  When I was there, the manager told me they would be having a Saturday in October where they will be giving a free viola plant to anyone who comes in! I typically don't shop there on Saturdays (I like to go during a weekday when it's quieter), but I will watch the ads online and make sure to stop by for my free plant (update: It's a buy any item get one free viola on October 7th).

I wear sandals here more than half of the year. I purchased two pairs of sandals on clearance; they should last me two years. I signed up for their app in the store to save an additional $10 off my purchase.

The aerator in our kitchen faucet completely disintegrated. My husband called the company to order a replacement. They said they would send him one for free!

My son changed out the air filters in the house so that the air conditioner run more efficiently.

Another son attended a free robotics class at the local library.

Fall gave us a beautiful preview by showing up on the first official day of fall! Temperatures will go back up starting on Monday, but for two days we were able to turn off the air conditioning completely and even turn off the fans those two days. On the other days, I opened the windows at 5 am and was able to keep them open until 10 a.m. each day before it reached above 79º in the house (we keep our air conditioner set at 79ºF).

I read the expected weather forecast for the next three months for the U.S. (you can read it here).  I'm planning my garden planting a little differently as it should be warmer here than usual (we normally don't even see a frost until December, so I'm not sure what this means for us this year). I'll plant more chard first and wait a bit longer for lettuce if I have to (I read the weather online each day and also check soil temperatures so that I can plant). I typically plant my fall garden the first two weeks of October, so I will watch and see what soil temperatures are to make sure it's not too hot to plant so that I don't waste seeds.

I resisted buying items I don't need that weren't part of my planned purchases. With one of the items that I was tempted to purchase (it was $2), I stopped to think about what I really wanted to buy that cost the same amount of money. This made it easier to walk away.

My husband and I enjoyed a date night at home, playing a card game together after the children were in bed.

I studied French online for free.


It's been a while since I've shared what I did to find joy during the week. This past week, my greatest joy was serving a refugee family in my city (I am SO glad that I have been studying French, as one member of the family speaks French--as a fourth language--and it has been invaluable to be able to communicate with this family.)  If you're looking for a way to serve others in your area, check out justserve.org.


What did you do to save money and find joy last week?



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  • Cindi September 26, 2017

    Brandy, that is so wonderful that you were able to help a refugee family. I'm sure it was a blessing for them to communicate with you in French. Thank you for the weather link as well. That will be useful to me in planning for the next few months as well.
    I had some minor surgery Monday – the hospital is two hours away, which meant we were up early and home late, but I was thankful everything went smoothly and I was able to come home the same day. Last week I cooked a bunch of meals ahead so my husband was able to simply heat things up for the couple of days I didn’t feel like cooking, and I could do the heating up later in the week as I continued to mend. A friend also brought us a pot of soup, which we had for dinner one night, with some homemade bread. Another neighbor dropped off banana bread, which we enjoyed for breakfast.
    I checked out books and audiobooks from the library ahead of time, which I enjoyed while resting most days. And now we have several thousand dollars in medical bills to pay off, but the hospital has worked out a payment plan for us and we will be diligent about paying it down. I’m so thankful we had insurance to cover most of the bills.
    My husband did some odd jobs for neighbors – they were grateful for the help and paid him a little bit, so the extra money will come in handy.
    We harvested tomatoes, lettuce, okra, collard greens, onions, chard and a few strawberries from the garden. We had our first hard frost, so I had to bring in my two big potted geraniums. I cut all the blooms and made a big arrangement for the table. I picked all the green tomatoes and put them in a cardboard box where at least some of them should ripen.
    A neighbor cut down a tree and gave us the wood. This brings our stock up to about 6 cords. Since we burn about 4 cords a year, we have a head start on next year’s supplies.
    I knit a pair of slippers for my MIL from yarn I unraveled from a sweater. I also knit a couple of dish cloths and a hat, using yarn a friend gave me.
    My husband took my car in to have the tires rotated (free where we bought the tires) then purchased the supplies to change the oil and air filter himself.
    My husband cut my hair.
    One of my biggest blessings this week is to live in a neighborhood where everyone is so neighborly. We have only lived here a little over three years, yet have made so many good friends.

  • Roberta in So. Cal. September 27, 2017

    How will you use your okra? Hubs planted some this year, and apart from gumbo I have no idea what to do with it.

  • Jo September 28, 2017

    Roberta, we freeze it whole, we slice and sauté it, it can be breaded and fried but that's not for everyone, we pickle it (and it's yummy that way to me) and it can be cooked with chopped or stewed tomatoes, which my dad always loved. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Roberta in So. Cal. September 28, 2017

    Thanks, Jo.

  • Laurie in central NC September 28, 2017

    I freeze it whole as well, and either fresh or frozen, we love it on the grill or in the wok with oil and a good amount of salt, cooked until it's soft and browning. When we cook it that way, there's no slime :o). I also love to add some cut pieces to vegetable soup.

  • Roberta in So. Cal. September 29, 2017

    Thanks, Laurie.

  • Cindi September 29, 2017

    Roberta, it is so cool here I have to grow a miniature variety of okra in my greenhouse, so I don't get a great deal of it. I grow it specifically to fry -- dust it with flour and season salt and pan-fry in bacon grease until crispy. It is a dish my mother made and it always makes me think of her. (If I get enough, I also make okra, tomatoes and onions -- all three stewed together with a little garlic and a pinch of sugar.)

  • Roberta in So. Cal. September 29, 2017

    Thanks, Cindi.

  • Joan September 29, 2017

    Hi Cindi,
    I read your comment about the blessing of having good neighbors. I moved into a new area about two years ago and only one neighbor came and welcomed us. Unfortunately they have since moved. A few weeks ago, a new family moved in and I decided to bake some blueberry muffins and say hi. I guess to have a good neighbor you need to be a good neighbor. Have a blessed day.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 26, 2017

    You get so much done during the week, Brandy! I love that despite everything you do for your family and your blog, you still find time to help others. Truly inspirational.

    My frugal week was as follows:
    - I made coconut buttercream topped cupcakes this week! (http://approachingfood.com/coconut-buttercream-frosting/) I had run out of shortening, and substituted in coconut oil and it was AH-MAZE-ING! I brought some in to work and sent some in to work with the DH and the feedback was awesome! A delicious way to add a coconut flavour naturally!
    - My mom gave me an extra bag of compost that she didn’t need and was just keeping in her garden shed. At the end of the gardening season, I plan to dump out all the earth from my pots on to the balcony, add in the compost, mix it all up, and repot the planters. I think enriching the soil will mean better production next year. Any other ideas to enrich the soil? I occasionally try ‘compost tea’ from my banana peels and produce peelings etc., and I hope to add some in used coffee grounds too.
    - Using my local trading app, I traded: some wooden containers that were going to be recycled, for a bag of organic oats; a box of gluten-free pasta (from a previous trade) for some ziploc bags and a winter headband (brand-new with tags on) that I will put away as a gift for a child that I know; some tea that was gifted to me and some bath fizzies that I don’t use, for a bag of mixed nuts and a large box of crayons (also set aside for a gift). The bag of nuts included macadamia nuts and I will probably pick those out to make white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for my husband for a treat at one point, as those are his favourite cookies (which I never make because they’re not very healthy, and but mostly because macadamia nuts are expensive).
    - Made a three-bean salad, using some cans of beans that I had traded for previously (I think two of the three cans of beans had been traded for), an onion from my cheapest-price-of-the-year bag of onions I bought last week, and a couple of other pantry items. It made enough for a week’s worth of work lunches, and only cost about $2 (and most of that was the ½ jar of pimentos that I used).
    - I canned several quarts of peaches, and used the leftover canning syrup to sweeten iced tea.
    - Chopped up and froze the remainder of the organic celery that I traded for two weeks ago.
    - Made Brandy’s lemon poppyseed muffins, using the juice and zest from the lemons that I traded for a few weeks ago, and froze them for future snacks.
    - Made chocolate chip banana bread, and froze it for future snacks. Bananas are generally the cheapest fruit in the stores, currently at 59 cents (Canadian)/lb.
    - Made Brandy’s rosemary olive oil bread, using rosemary from my balcony garden
    - Used some of the bread dough as a base for several individual-sized pizzas, using my homemade pizza sauce that I had in the freezer, and grated cheese (bought in blocks on sale then grated and frozen). I also used up the last of a can of black olives that I had in my fridge. Then I froze the pizzas for future fast meals.
    - Blanched and froze several pounds of carrots. I still have fresh ones, so I’ll use those first before I eat the frozen ones, and that should last me a good while.
    - Chopped and froze several pounds of onions. This will last me until the spring, I think.
    - I made Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, using the last of the sour cream that I traded for a few weeks ago.
    - My DH and I had an inexpensive date night – we used a gift certificate that I earned in a trade last week to go out for dinner, and then used two gift certificates that I got free with purchase this week, to go to the movies afterwards. It was lovely!
    - I made a batch of yoghurt
    - I cut some overgrown variegated green and white branches from some bushes at my work, and arranged them at home in a vase, to brighten up my entryway table.

    And that was my week! Looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  • Athanasia September 26, 2017

    I have never heard of freezing celery. What do you plan to do with it when it thaws? All I could think of would be cream of celery soup.

  • Jennifer September 26, 2017

    Frozen celery can be used wherever you use fresh celery. It's a really easy way to add celery and to preserve stuff that is not getting used. just chop it up, freeze it in a freezer bag and break off the amount you want.

  • http://thejewishlady.com September 26, 2017

    I have frozen chopped celery many times. The texture is fine in cooked dishes, but obviously not raw. I put mine in soups, stuffing, inside the cavity of a chicken or turkey before roasting, etc.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood September 26, 2017

    I plan to use it in soups, stews, and things like lentil burgers. I've dehydrated celery before but found it stringy and tough when rehydrated. Freezing will cause the cells to burst and I'm hoping that will make it more tender. And cream of celery soup sounds delicious! I just didn't want it to go to waste as I couldn't use it all fresh.

  • Juls Owings September 27, 2017

    You can destring your celery by using the blade of the knife to pull it off.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs7z2kYR08E
    or http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Tough-Strings-from-Celery.

  • Marybeth September 26, 2017

    I use it for chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie.

  • Libby September 26, 2017

    So many of the soups we enjoy start with onions, carrots, and celery. When these are low priced, I buy them, chop them up, and put them in the freezer. It makes it so much faster for me to make soup!

  • Marivene September 26, 2017

    Frozen celery can be added to vegetable soups, chicken & rice casseroles, and stiffing for either chicken or turkey.

  • Tammy September 26, 2017

    I freeze celery all of the time. I use it in soups, casseroles, and stir fries. The trick is use fresh celery not celery that is limp.

  • Athanasia September 27, 2017

    So, seriously everyone, will it not be just a mush when it thaws? I use celery all the time and always have it on hand. I have also mentioned in past that it is my husbands favorite snack with peanut butter on it. I dry it to add to soups etc, so that works for me. Just curious about the outcome of the freeze thaw cycle.

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