Friday, September 5, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments for the First Week of September

The deer population in our area has increased significantly in the past few years, and we have changed our gardening practices as a result.  They will eat most everything we try to grow, so now we only garden in some enclosed areas that we have.  Our garden is much smaller than it used to be, so I am not growing as much of the food that I dehydrate, can and freeze.  This week, Sprouts Market had yellow onions, 3 lbs. for $1.  The onions were very nice, and quite large, weighing about a pound each.  I bought about ten pounds of them (for three dollars and change!).  Some are in our basement pantry for use over the course of the next several weeks, but I also cleaned and diced a lot of them, then froze them on cookie sheets and then put them in freezer containers.  When I need diced onion for a recipe, they will be ready to go.

I don't mention this often, but every day, Husband takes his lunch to work from home.  Conservatively, he might be able to buy lunch out for $3 a day, and that would probably be fairly monotonous, plus not very healthy.  Even with that conservative estimate, he saves us $600 a year by taking food from home.  (If you are wondering about my math, I multiplied $3 x 4 because he works 4 days a week, which is $12 x 50 weeks a year (figuring two weeks of vacation per year), for $600 in savings.)

As a thank-you, I took a jar of homemade peach jam to the lady who gave us a couch a few weeks ago. I attached a small note card that I made with paper, stamps and ink I had on hand.

The gardens gave us green beans, zucchini, oregano, lettuces and mint.  I did a bit of fall planting - peas, lettuces and beets.  Our kale and chard are still growing well, and our butternut squash and pumpkins are both setting nice fruit.  The currant tomato plant has some tiny green tomatoes on it, finally.  We have had a cool summer with very cool nights - tough circumstances for a tomato plant.

We planned a menu for the week that gave me the chance to use up some odds and ends in the fridge - chicken onion quesedillas used the last of a chicken from the previous week and fried rice helped me use some leftover rice and vegetables.

I made Irish soda bread and cooked from scratch quite a bit this week.  A couple of our meals had ground beef in them - I ground up a roast I bought for 1.66 a pound.  It was the last one - I had bought about ten of them last year, wrapped them very well and froze them.  They have made beef a very affordable option for us for quite a while, as ground beef for burgers and other meals, (taco meat, beef in spaghetti, etc.), stew, kabobs and teriyaki.

I gathered more free denim jeans and cut more square for the denim/flannel quilt that I'm making.

We borrowed books, movies and a Wii game from the library, free of charge.

Husband drove our car to work most days, because it gets better mileage than our truck (35 and 20 mpg, respectively).  One day, he did take the truck to work, and he stopped on his way home to pick up free firewood.  There is a company that takes damaged pallets, replaces the damaged pieces and then the pallets can be used once more.  The wood that was removed due to damage is free for the taking.  There is always quite a bit in the warm months....come late-September, it gets really scarce, so Husband stops every few weeks during warm weather and gets a truckload.  It makes great kindling, or works well for days when a quick, hot fire in the wood stove will keep the house warm all day.

I took a survey and earned $3.

We met friends at the park for some play time.  We packed snacks and water from home.

We went swimming with friends, as their guests at a nearby indoor pool.  We packed snacks and water from home that day too...but it wasn't my turn to provide snacks, and my friend got daughter an ice-cream from the vending machine.  We used the snacks the next day.

I used a local buy-sell-trade page on Facebook to sell several items that we no longer needed.  This has been a real boon to us - we are in a semi-rural area, and this works really well because it's mostly people in this area, so most of the sales go through quite nicely.  We also purchase items on the same page - we get great prices, we aren't traveling far to get things, and it's good for our little community.

On that same Facebook page, Daughter used some of her earned spending money to buy a Lego set, unopened in the box, for 75% less than retail.  She earned the money weeding, and just like allowance (which is paid for everyday chores - the weeding was an add-on sort of job), she divided her earnings into saving, giving and spending.  I'm proud of her for realizing that she can look for second-hand before she heads to the retail store.  (In this case, it wasn't even second-hand!)

I went to the craft store with a friend and used 50% off coupons for my purchases - baker's twine in assorted colors.  (I used some on the jar of jam, pictured above.)  I will use it for some gifts and for packaging soaps that I hope to sell around the holidays.

Husband and I have been going through items in the barn and sorting into items to save, items to sell, recycling, and scrap metal.

I picked flowers and greenery from the flower beds and some trees (that needed trimming) to make indoor arrangements.
blanket flower, Russian sage, silver mound
and branches from an apricot root stock
As always, our laundry was washed with homemade laundry soap, and dried on the clothes lines or on racks in the basement.  Did I tell y'all that our washer quit working last week?  I went on YouTube and figured out what was wrong with it - the little switch in the lid that tells the washer that the lid is closed (and safe) wasn't working.  I was able to finish the laundry by holding down the flap with a butter knife.  Husband did a semi-permanent fix with a piece of plastic and some duct tape, so now I don't have to stand and watch it spin while I hold a butter knife in the slot!  It's worked perfectly all week.

Did you have a frugal week?  What did you do to save more, spend less and make do?  Leave a comment, if you please!


  1. Squirrels are our cross to bear. They eat or dig up anything they can. Hubby just got a high powered BB rifle with his swagbucks Amazon gift cards to try to keep them under control. A little shooting seems to remind them that they need to avoid our house. Every day that they leave my lettuce alone is a victory.

    We have had some fun inexpensive outings that only cost a few dollars and gas this week. On Labor Day we actually did something fun instead of working around the old house all day. We went to a lakefront park and paid $2 to get in. We packed all our food and drinks and swam and people watched and just enjoyed the day. On the way we ate for free at Chick fil A with our calendar cards. Last night we went to a free outdoor concert series sponsored by the library. We hope to make all of the series on Thursday nights this week. The bands they are having usually have an admission charge to see them so this is a wonderful free opportunity for music fanatics like us.

    We have only eaten out once this week at a cost of $3.75. Unusual for us but sometimes I just would rather eat at home. Every dollar we do not spend from the budget goes in our fund for something like a weekend getaway.

    I was able to put almost $300 in our motor home savings fund this month. Leftover food, household and utility money goes into this fund at the end of each month. One day we will have enough to start looking for a used one. It motivates me to not buy what we do not need and to be frugal with the utilities.

    I menu did not get followed at all this week. Oh, well. We still ate from what was here for the most part and only spent about $20 on food this week.

    I did a rebate to get a $10 prepaid gift card back on a $25 purchase of things I buy anyway. I bought the TP and laundry soap on sale with coupons so that just makes the deal sweeter!

    This week I was reminded to be grateful for what we have and not to be complaining about what I want and do not have. It really irks me to see someone online complaining about doing without when they have all that they need and more. There are people going hungry and living on the streets in every corner of this world and in my own town. There are children without shoes and basic needs right here in my city. Our church works closely with the kids in the inner city and the homeless. It is a grim reality. So, be thankful!

    Have a good week!

    1. Dust alum powder on your garden. The squirrels will bite, but the alum is bitter. They won't bite again.

  2. I've been meaning to leave a comment on your blog for a few months. I discovered your former blog earlier in the year and read most of your posts because I found it very inspirational and since I used to homeschool my youngest son, it reminded me of those sweet times too :)

    Anyhoo, your "Ten Things Farm" chicken seasoning ROCKS. Oh my gravy, it's become my favorite way of cooking chicken too. The idea of putting a cookie sheet on top of the dish instead of wasting foil was pure genius :) I think I might have used some other recipes of yours too but I clip so many of them, I'm not even sure. My bottle of seasoning has a label that says "Ten Things Farm Chicken Seasoning" on it :)

    I was so glad to see that you had started blogging again, I read you via Feedly.

    Anyway, my own blog is very boring and mostly just an online diary for myself but I did link to it in case someone is itching to read yet another (almost) frugal living blog... like I do. I love reading posts about how people live their lives in various parts of the country, how they save money, etc. I'll be posting my very long "Frugal Failures and Successes This Week" post on Sunday morning.

    Although I haven't blogged about it for several months, I have a small vegetable garden as well and squirrels are/were the bane of my existence as well. We tried the BB gun approach but it really didn't deter them. I ended up buying "tents" from Gardener's Supply to protect most of my crops and also making my own self-watering bins. The bins worked great. The tents are taking a beating under the relentless Florida sun so I'm not sure they'll last more than 2 seasons at the most. My most prolific harvest was my jalapeño plant, but nothing else really produced much for me this year. Maybe I'm just a terrible gardener! I'm trying to decide whether to pull the weeds out of the garden right now to try and grow something this "fall" and winter. It's still so hot (106 today!) that I'm not sure that I should be planting any seeds right now but a lot of our crops are supposed to be planted in August, according to our extension's office.

    1. We have actually had our best year ever with the squirrels. The owner of a small local nursery told me that the way she keeps squirrels out of her yard is to feed the neighborhood cats some tuna every few weeks. They keep coming around checking for the tuna and so the squirrels stay away. I have not had to do the tuna because a neighborhood cat has been sleeping on my husbands car at night. He has not been extremely enthused about the cat paw prints all over his windows though. The BB gun really does help too at our house and I think it is just fun for hubby. :) Last year I had a great crop of lettuce just ready to harvest and went out one morning and they had eaten it all the way down to the dirt. Grrrr.... I think this year's weather is the problem way more than the gardener. The plants just don't know what to do from one week to the next.

  3. Two more things that I missed:

    I took dessert to a friend's house for dinner. I made an apple pie with apples frozen last fall that bought for $3 a half bushel. I still have two of those pie packages so we need to suffer through two more apple pies soon.

    We went to the zoo with our daughter's family. They got us in with their yearly pass. Admission would have been $19 for the two of us. We went into the gift shop to cool off because it was very hot and humid. Our two year old grandson walked over to the shelf and grabbed a stuffed giraffe. Yes, we are softies and bought it for him for about $15 so we saved $4 on our trip to the zoo. Hee hee! Later I saw him hold the giraffe up and look him in the eye and say, 'I love you.' Worth every penny!

  4. Glad you are blogging again. I always enjoyed reading your posts.

  5. I also keep diced onions in my freezer. When I get a good price on them, or get them in my bountiful basket. Saves so much time when I cook, I use onions probably 3 meals a week if not more. I also use Checkout51 so I'll get good prices by buying a small inexpensive onion and getting .25 back on it.
    Also this year my SIL let an onion go to seed and gave me some seeds, so I'll be planting those seeds when I start my fall garden. We have rather mild winters here.
    Here is my blog post if your interested.

  6. Umm, I think I may have pasted your blog info instead of mine, oops! Here is my link.

    1. Glad you added yours in! I need to look into Checkout 51. Do you have to have a smart phone?

  7. Hi Laura, so glad to see you blogging again! I missed you. I'm trying to live the frugal ,simple and lovely life,like you! Denise


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