Sunday, May 31, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments for the End of May

I made some homemade granola with oats (of course), a bit of ground flax, slivered almonds, and a mixture of coconut oil, homemade applesauce and a bit of sugar.  I seasoned it with a pinch of salt, some pumpkin pie spice and a little ground cardamom.  It's tasty, and we have dried fruit on hand that we can add to individual servings.

I made salsa one afternoon, using canned tomatoes, fresh onion and jalapeno pepper, garlic, cumin, lime juice, salt and dried chipotle powder.  It's tasty and affordable.  I also made chicken stock from a chicken frame, water and some Montreal seasoning...which became the base for chicken noodle soup.  We used at coupon at Penzey's to try a new spice blend - we chose the Turkish seasoning.  It's a new flavor for us, but we like it.  I used it this week in kabobs and a yogurt sauce for vegetables.  I made a half batch of cornbread mix this week - enough to last us several months.  Toward the end of the week I made blueberry muffins and used up some odds and ends in fried rice.

This fried rice has asparagus, onion and radish from our garden, plus an egg from our hens.

Fresh pineapples were on sale last week and part of this week, for $1 each.  I ended up price matching at Walmart, and bought three of them.  I cut them into cubes and froze 8 containers to use for smoothies, plus we have eaten plenty of fresh pineapple.  Just for fun, I checked the price in the store and a 1 lb. bag of frozen pineapple was $2.49.  Each of my containers is about 12 oz. (3/4 pound), so I think it was worth it to cut, freeze and package.

Our other 'good deals' at the supermarket have been whole chickens for .88/lb, mangoes 3/$1, apples for .88/lb and sour cream for $1/16oz. container.

I've been brushing Taffy's coat on a regular basis.  She is shedding, plus she needs to learn that this is part of her routine.  She is tolerating me, which is a good start.  Since she is a home-groomed pup, we are both learning as we go.  I've learned so far to trim her nails and express her anal glands.  I bathe her  (she is bigger now, so truth be told, it happens less often), and trim the tufts of fur between her toes, to keep them from gathering so much mud.  I think my next goal is puppy dental hygiene.

We put in a walkway and a driveway last year, which created a new, larger flower bed along the front of our house.  I have been looking around at what we have growing here on our property, and dividing and transplanting plants.  Last fall, I divided some Russian Sage, Bearded Iris and Peony plants, all of which seem to have transplanted quite well.  When I find a perennial flower that has sprouted outside the flower bed, or a large clump of a perennial, I move it or divide it and take half to a space that needs a flower.  I started some perennial seeds indoors, too, including Oriental Poppy and Scarlet Flax.

I wanted something as a back drop for our flower beds up front....something that would be easy to care for, green, low maintenance, and affordable.  Our flower bed in front of our house is rather deep, so the plants closest to the house can be rather 'plain'.  I decided on....horseradish.  It only gets about 2 feet tall, and it seems to love it here.  We planted some about 10-12 years ago - little dry roots we ordered from a seed catalog.  It has multiplied rather a lot, without taking over entirely.  The foliage is pretty, and it comes back every year without fail, so we dug up a clump that was under the clothes line (the area used to be an herb garden), divided it, and we planted it along the front of the house.  I have another plant in the old herb garden - it is either Feverfew or Chervil - that is growing quite well and is very pretty.  It has fern-like leaves and white flowers later in the season (but it isn't Chamomile).  I transplanted some of that to the front, and also transplanted some mint, to act as a ground cover.  It will probably take me a couple of years to get this area entirely 'filled in', but I want to do as much as I can with plants I have or can trade with other gardening friends.  It might take a little longer, but I think it's more fun that, it's a lot more affordable.

I also have flower seeds for annuals that I am planting up front, to fill in and give lots of color.  I am not good at formal beds, even though I think they are beautiful.  Mine will be more of a cottage garden, with flowers tucked in here and there, lots of different colors (I hope!) and some herbs and shrubs, too.  I'm digging around in all the 'stuff' we have, looking for things I can add for visual interest.  I have some larger stones/small boulders, some drift wood, and a lovely old cultivator, but I think I might find a few more items out in the barn and sheds.

OK....after digging around some, I was able to do this:

I have marigolds planted in the wagon, alyssum in the tipped-over pot, and stocks, forget-me-nots and zinnias in the other pots.  Hopefully, everything will sprout soon and begin to fill in.

In the back yard, I did this:

The logs are simply firewood that we had not split yet, and are mostly to give some height and put the lantern up at a nice height.  My friend gave me the coleus plants - rootings from her plants, and I put them into a pot I already had.  I sprinkled in some alyssum and marigolds to fill in as well.  At the base of the tree I planted some sweet peas and marigolds, and zinnias in the pots.

A baby bunny figured out that there was plenty of space for her to scoot through between the gate and the fence in the vegetable garden, so she feasted on kale and chard.  I found a piece of plywood that would fit along the bottom of the door to keep her from doing that again (at least, without digging).  I used a couple of short pieces of rebar to hold the wood in place.  We have to step over it when we go in and out, but the kale and chard are already making a comeback.

The blocks are holding the netting in place,
to keep the chickens out.  I have kale,
spinach, radishes and beets planted in them.
When the container ran out, I made some homemade insecticidal soap.  I pretty much just read a few online recipes and then used stuff I had on hand - olive oil, a bit of Dawn dish soap and some water.  I didn't measure - just estimated.

I pulled some radishes from our garden.  When I pick some, I plant more seeds in the space left vacant.  I already have baby sprouts filling in where I picked the first two times.  I picked a nice bunch of asparagus this week too!

Husband changed the oil and filter on our car.  A couple of weeks ago he changed the serpentine belt.  He saves us all kinds of cost by doing car and truck maintenance.

Daughter had her end-of-year school picnic this past week.  It was on the far side of town, at a park near our favorite nature center.  We made an afternoon of it - after the picnic we went to the nature center and walked along the songbird trail and the creek trail.  Our favorite used bookstore is on that side of town too, so we stopped in there, visited with the owner, and picked up a couple of books.  We can use store credit for half the sale price, which makes their books really affordable.  There is a Dunkin' Donuts in that same area, and I had a (birthday) coupon for a free drink that we shared mid-afternoon.  We popped into the bread outlet on the way home and got some bread and English muffins to stock us for the next 2-3 weeks.

We borrowed books and media from the library, and I worked about 8 hours this week as a substitute.  The Pearson project I was working on ended a couple weeks ago, but training for a new project is just beginning, so I will be busy with that as well.

How was your week?  Leave a comment and let me know what is keeping you busy these days!


  1. I like your wagon planter!

    As you know we were traveling and visiting our middle son and his wife for 11 days. We packed snacks and cases of water for the trip. I made all hotel reservations in advance and through the Swagbucks link. I will get a good chunk of bucks awarded soon. Making reservations ahead allowed me to research what was available and choose less expensive places to stay. We don't need five star but we do want clean. One choice had train tracks running right behind the building. Not much sleep there! I did not see that in any review I read but it was an affordable option in expensive Charlottesville, VA.

    We took advantage of hotel breakfasts and some mornings took along a pastry for later. Most had just cereal and bagels and such but that is what we eat most mornings at home so we were fine with that.

    Gas was covered from our regular gas budget since it has been really bulked up by low prices. Hotels were covered from our vacation budget and meals and other expenses were covered by cash that we save at the end of each month that is leftover date/ eat out money. I still had some birthday perks that we used when we could but we really ate well and did not worry about being super frugal so that we could just enjoy. When we left my husband said I was to just enjoy the trip and not worry about trying to save money on everything since we had plenty to spend. You know what? That was so nice!

    While in Amish country we saw the Amish riding bicycle like scooters. Hubby did a little research and found that we could go right to the Amish farm where they are made at their machine shop and purchase a pair for much cheaper than buying them anywhere else. We were a little hesitant turning into their driveway but the teen aged boy who helped us was helpful and polite but quite shy. The fabricate the metal parts right there and paint them many bright colors and the Amish dark colors. I wished I could have taken pictures of the beautiful shop but did not want to ask. These were purchased with the cash on hand, too.

    Part of the way home the transmission in our old van started to shift rough so my husband called my brother who used to manage a transmission shop. My brother said it was fine to drive it home since it is just a small part that was confusing the computer. Turning it off and allowing it to reset when the problem started each time solved the problem and we had no trouble with it at interstate speeds. We will put it in the shop this week for the repair. I am thankful that we did not have any major problems with our old minivan.

    We did pay admission to several places. The kids gave us tickets for the Boston Duck Tour for Mother's and Father's Day gifts. Free entertainment involved getting off the interstate in some places and driving the back roads. We drove down the coast of Connecticut and drove back roads through several places in the Virginia mountains. Much of our entertainment in Amish country was just driving through farm country. We took an evening drive there and saw all the teens heading into town for the evening out. They looked like teens anywhere in spite of their dress and buggies. Boys were flirting with girls just like anywhere. :)

    We arrived home to find all of my potted plants thriving since their had been ample rain. My little tomato seedlings had grown to about 15 inches tall and my geraniums are blooming. Hubby dug a bucket of homemade compost out of the pile for me yesterday and I fertilized them with that worked into the soil. I planted my basil seeds. Today I plan to go to the garden center and see if there are still any plants worth buying. If not we will be fine with the freebie plants that I overwintered. I really do want a flat leaf parsley plant if nothing else since it is really too late to get that going from seed now.

    Saturday I made a run to Aldi and restocked produce, milk, eggs and breads. It was only $39! I love Aldi!

    Have a good week!

    1. The scooters sound like a lot of fun - I was that you posted a photo on Facebook, and I wondered how they are with ground clearance - they look low, but I live on a dirt road - I bet they are fine on sidewalks or paved roads. I hope your van repairs are just a blip on the screen, and that all is well very soon! :)

    2. They are low and they warned us about that when we bought them. They ride them on paved roads and they are really moving. We are learning to ride them and O am hoping to be confident enough to leave the driveway soon.

  2. Love the wagon set up. It will look so pretty when the flowers fill in. The pictures at the end of your post are beautiful.

    1. Oh, thank you! I am hopeful that the wagon and flowers will be cute! The nature photos are from the nature center, where Daughter and I did a bit of hiking. :)


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