Friday, October 3, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments for Early Fall

This little fall arrangement greets you at our front door.
I've been reading more lately, because I discovered an author that I really, really like.  Her name is Francine Rivers.  Thankfully, the library has many of her titles, so it is not costing me anything to read and read and read....and read.

I gave all my indoor plants a dose of plant food this week.  I got the plant food free at the county's hazardous waste drop off.  They accept old batteries, household cleaners, etc., and they have shelves there with things like cleaning supplies and plant food, free for the taking.  So we take in our dead light bulbs and old batteries and I pick up cleaning supplies, fertilizer, etc.  It has always worked out well for me.

When we built the house, we put in faucets by Price Pfister, that have lifetime warranties on them.  This has benefited us a few times.  Recently, I called them because the pressure balance regulator (or something like that) in Daughter's bathroom wasn't working well anymore.  I also had a shower head that had lost its finish when I cleaned it, and a spigot that had lost an o-ring, making the shower not work as well as it should.  I had to call them, and then send photos of the shower head and spigot, so they could match them up as best as possible with replacements.  The charge for replacement parts is $5 each time, whether we get one item or more, so we got all the parts we needed replaced for just $5.  I think this was our third time requesting parts, and they have always been wonderful about it.  Husband replaced items the day after the box arrived.

We had two big rains in one day, so the ground was nice and wet.  The next morning, I transplanted blanket flower, a peony, some bulbs and some Russian sage that were a bit crowded in the big flowerbed.  I moved them all to spots in front of the house.  This year we put in a driveway that goes alongside the house, and it changed the shape of things in front of our house, so these flowers will fill in nicely and look really pretty.  To be honest, it looks scraggly and scruffy right now, because the plants are not well established, plus there are weeds, but I think we will be able to make it nice with some time and effort.  It feels good to add lots of perennial flowers without spending money - just by dividing things we already have (and already grow well here).  The next day, I moved a few more things around, and it is all coming together nicely.

This area is overgrown, and I can take flowers from here without anyone noticing.
This is where they are going.  I am hopeful that eventually,
this area will be just as full and pretty.
Some of our never-ending supply of weeds.
My very good friend called me Tuesday afternoon.  She is in Iowa visiting family, and she had a question - "What do you need from the bulk store?"  It's a local market run by the Amish or Mennonite community there.  She is bringing me popcorn, cocoa, coconut oil, and possibly another thing or two.  The bulk pricing is really good, as is the quality of the things we have gotten there.

I hung clothes on the clotheslines or on clothing racks to dry them, and washed them with homemade laundry soap.

We are training Taffy to come when called and to sit.  So far it is going well.  We give her a tiny piece of a treat as reward when she does well.  We don't want to over-feed her on them, so we take small ones and then break them in two.  This week I made her some Puppy Pie Crust.  I baked it in tiny little squares, about a quarter inch size.  I made a fourth of a recipe and it made a lot (because they are so tiny) so there are some in the treat jar and more in the freezer for later on.

I took a little block of free time and made some thank-you cards.  I have enjoyed rubber stamping for years and years, but don't often find a lot of time to do it.  This time, I limited myself to a single ink color and just a few stamps, but each card is a little different.  It was fun to make, I needed some thank-you cards.

We combined a sale and coupons and stocked up on coffee for Husband.  He does not drink a lot of coffee, so it may last a whole year.  We will store it in the freezer.

I worked on two Christmas gifts this week.

I was offered, and accepted, a free magazine subscription.  Most of these go through and arrive at my mailbox, but once in a while, one doesn't go through - we shall see!

I was able to learn a little about some herbs this week.  I have one I was told is 'lovage'.  I looked it up to learn more about it and learned that in the U.S. it is generally called Angelica.  I think it will now be easier to research its uses and care.  I learned all this when I was looking up a 'weed' in my walkway that I thought might be Angelica.  It turns out that one is Sweet Annie, which I have always wanted, and apparently, the birds or the prairie winds have brought to me.  I need to learn more about its medicinal uses and hopefully get it established in a flower bed - it really is right in the middle of the walkway.  It smells lovely.  Finally, I'm studying Feverfew a bit, in part to make sure that I don't confuse it with one of the other two.  They all have similar, fern-like leaves, just in different sizes.  Sweet Annie is airy and delicate, Feverfew is the middle child, and Angelica is a larger pattern, almost like Italian Parsley.  I am looking forward to learning more.

Sweet Annie, growing right in the middle of our pathway.  I won't move it...
it's an annual.  Instead, I will collect seeds when the time comes, save them,
and put them in the herb garden or flower bed next year.
We did a good job eating leftovers for lunches this week.  I made a batch of kim chee and did a fair amount of scratch cooking this week.  We ended our September grocery budget with about $7 left over.  Our budget is $160 a month for food, cleaning supplies (most of which I get free from that drop off site) and toiletries.  This past month we stocked up on a couple of things, including sugar, potatoes, and bacon, so I am happy with our spending.

Kohl's continues to send me post cards for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more.  I used one this week to get some small items - purse size hand lotions and some glitzy nail polish.  These will go into care packages, a gift for our mail carrier and Christmas stockings.  Four lotions and one polish cost me 42 cents out of pocket.

There were days when we could have gone out to do an errand, but we stayed home.  I realized we didn't need to go out, we were just able to, and decided to use our time differently, to work in the yard, call a friend, read, visit with one another and play.  It also saved fuel and meant less spending.

How did you do this past week?  How did you save more, spend less and make do?


  1. Your thank you cards are very pretty! If I tried making some, they would look very messy as I am not crafty at all. I got 2 cards for free at Target this week so this will have to do. Also your post gave me an idea: my daughter is very artistic so I might ask her to make me various cards as my Christmas present from her (I have the precut blank cards and envelopes from a kit I bought several years ago) and then I would be showcasing her art when I send cards to people... I'm so proud of her!

    Did you know you can candy/crystallize angelica and use it in baking? I haven't done so myself as I don't have any in my garden but I've had many pastries/breads with candied angelica in them and it was delicious. I saw a recipe on this blog, in case that interests you:

    It was nice of your friend to offer to get you some items at the bulk store! I saw an article in the Orlando Sentinel a couple of days ago that a bulk store has opened in East Orlando. I might stop by to check it out next time I visit my son at college although my pantry is already so overstocked, it probably would be just to browse.

    I'm jealous of your $10/$10 Kohl's certificates! I've had a Kohl's card for years but they're getting skimpy with the freebies down here in Florida... I think that the last $10/$10 certificate I got was over a year ago.

    I'm also jealous of yout $160 budget, although if I'm honest with myself, I could probably stick to that for a month by avoiding shopping (sob... that is almost the only social interaction I get right now AND I just love to bargain hunt!) and using up what I have in the house. I really should do it, it would help clear room in my freezer for the cheap turkeys that they'll be selling around Thanksgiving!

    This year I got some free mulch and a bike from my dumping station but they will not give away old paint, cleaning supplies, etc. I think that it's a liability issue? I had asked if I could have some concrete blocks that were sitting there but they said they're not allowed to let us take them.

    My list of weekly frugal failures and successes will be up on Sunday at some point. My posts are very long and boring but I find that listing every minute thing that I do helps keep me more productive and has really pushed me into being more mindful of what I use/throw away.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you for the tip about crystallized angelica - I will have to learn more about that. :) I think your idea to have your daughter make cards for you is brilliant - your friends and family will really love those, I'm sure. Thank you for commenting and sharing so much information! :)

  2. Love, love your thank you cards.. SO fun to make and I am sure fun to receive. Your are very talented.

    Your new drive, and all the hard work your doing on the flower beds, will be beautiful. Your really have a pretty yard.
    I too, found a 1/2 price sale on hubby's brand of coffee at a local drug store. I bought 3 jars and put in the freezer, I already have 4 jars in the freezer, so it should last a long time. I also , joined the Dollar General Store's new digital coupon. They were offering a $2 off coupon if you spent $2.01.. I bought 2 boxes of Sweet and low for $1 a box, Can of chicken soup for 50 cents I spent 64cents for everything.. It was easy to use..So, I will be going to their sight and downloading some of their own coupons for their items.. I also found chicken leg/thighs for 59 cents a pound.
    You said, your budget is $160 a month.. How many are in your family. It is just my hubby and me. Our budget is $200 a month. I am wondering if I can cut it down some?? I live in Ms.
    Hope your having a good weekend.. Enjoying your blog.

    1. Thank you, Miss Judy! I really do like to stamp, but it takes time I don't always have to spare, you know? Chicken quarters for .59 a pound sounds great - the least I've seen them is .89, and it's been a while, even for that.

      There are three in our family - two adults and an almost nine-year-old. I will say that we live in an area where grocery sales are fairly competitive, and that helps. Also, I am an at-home mom, so I have more time to look for deals, and also more time to cook from scratch (I do some of both). We have a small garden too, which helps some. :)

      Thank you for posting!

  3. We are still at the lake and are right now in town taking advantage of internet at Chick fil A. We had coupons for free sandwiches for taking a survey and drinks on our calendar cards so we just bought a side each. Our 1/12th share of the lake house costs us $480 a year for 4 weeks. That comes out to $17 a night. We can not beat that anywhere since we own our share free and clear. My parents own a share of the same house and do not use all of their time anymore so they allow us to use it. We went 7 times this year.

    This area has fantastic thrift store and outlet shopping. I found many items for next to nothing this week. We also did some Christmas shopping for great prices.

    Last night we went to a bluegrass concert. Our Christmas present to ourselves each year is money set aside for live music. We would rather have experiences than more stuff that we do not need at this point in our lives. Great band last night. When the band came on the stage my husband was quite surprised to see that the mandolin player is a co-worker of his! That was fun and they were very good!

    You have had a great week! I love seeing what you are doing!

    1. Lana, did your husband know that his co-worker played, or was the whole thing a surprise? I know people who play instruments, but not far as I know. Sounds like you're having a great week! I love the idea of experiences instead of more 'stuff' - good for you!

    2. My husband had heard that his co-worker played with a local band. This often means really mediocre music and there are dozens of local bluegrass bands in our area. It really was quite a surprise for my husband and this band was really worth the admission price. We hope to hear them again soon.

  4. So neat that you are getting started on Christmas gifts. It always helps to get started early.
    It's so hard for me not to go anywhere all day -I think I'm addicted to leaving home! I'm going to try it for a couple of days though. I came over from The Prudent Homemaker Blog.

  5. Laura, your stamped cards turns out very nice, each a bit different. You could give sets as gifts.

    We have all of Francine Rivers books except the newest in the library. I always have to wait to buy until cheaper unless someone donates it. I get lots of donations, not always want I want though. But then I have plenty for used books sales a couple times a year.

    I like ...AND THE SHOFAR BLEW the best. REDEEMING LOVE is quite popular. THE SIN EATER has been made into a movie. She is not as prolific a writer as some, like Karen Kingsbury or Beverly Lewis, so folks have to wait longer for another book. Have you tried Jan Karon? Her Mitford series is heartwarming...and after a break of about five years a new one has just been released.


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