Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We enjoyed grapefruit and lemons from the garden.

I made grapefruit cleaner with grapefruit peels from the garden and vinegar. It will be ready to use in 3 weeks.

I made French bread and wheat crackers. I baked tarts.

I cut both boys' hair.

Rather than buying a butterfly kit, I showed the children a YouTube video of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. This was no money. It also caused no damage to my garden.

I watched a few shows for free on Hulu. We just use Hulu for free (we do not pay for Hulu Plus).

I bought no food or toiletries this week. I did buy blueberry bushes and blackberry bushes on sale for the garden.

I made homemade chicken and rice soup with the carcass of of roasted chicken. We had 3 meals for 9 people from the chicken.

I harvested arugula from my garden and used it in my sandwiches.

I dug up a clump of green onions from my garden that were growing from where one of my green onions had re-seeded itself. I spread them out in 2 rows and replanted them.

I dug up Swiss chard (silverbeet) in the garden from where I was digging a hole to plant a blueberry bush and transplanted the plants to another part of the garden. Swiss chard usually does not transplant well, but I have had success transplanting it when the weather is very cool.

What did you do to save money this week?


  1. I love your blog and what you are doing with your family. I am certainly drawing inspiration from you and yours! ;)

  2. I baked bread twice. Tonight I made your black bean burgers with homemade buns, and we had chocolate chip cookies made with white beans for dessert. I stocked up on canned tomatoes with a coupon plus a sale.

  3. I am always so inspired to see what you do to save money. We have gone gluten free for a few weeks as a trial, so rather than buy expensive gluten free goods, I cooked gluten free waffles and made gluten free granola bars. Also, I am using the gluten free grains we have on hand--oats, rice, and coconut flour, rather than buying other flours that we may or may not need depending on how this trial goes.

    1. Be careful- oats aren't gluten free unless they are gluten free oats (raised and threshed separately from wheat). Good luck with your trial it's hard but manageable.

    2. Be careful- oats aren't gluten free unless they are gluten free oats (raised and threshed separately from wheat). Good luck with your trial it's hard but manageable.

    3. Livinggracefully is correct that unless they are labeled as such, oats are not necessarily gluten-free. In normal farming operations, oats often follow wheat as the crops are rotated, & so there is often cross contamination "in the field", as the few wheat plants sprout & are harvested & milled with the oats. Having said that, my husband eats gluten-free, as does my oldest daughter, & her oldest daughter. My husband can eat regular oats, but our daughter & granddaughter cannot tolerate them. It depends a great deal of the severity of the gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or celiac disease. Certified GF oats are quite pricey, because they are grown on ground where grains containing gluten are never grown, & harvested with dedicated equipment.

    4. My son and I both eat compleyely gluten free. He can not do any oats even the gluten free oats. I however can do gluten free oats. His sensitivity is pretty severe, so just be careful as the others have said. We are learning to make things from scratch and save money by stocking up when shelf stable items are on sale for a good price. Good Luck.

  4. I baked my own bread all week. We ate from the freezer and pantry for more than half the week before going to the store. I stayed home rather than using gas to run errands/shop and also saved money by staying out of the store. We went out to eat on kids night and split an entree that was on early dine special, making our total only $10 for a dinner out at a nice-to-us restaurant. I sewed a new dress for my eldest daughter and accepted a bag of clothing for my younger daughter from a friend at church. I kept the house at 69 degrees all week. We watched Downton Abbey seasons 1 and 2 for free on netflix and hulu using the free trials on both. We visited the library and the local state park for entertainment and family outings. I used cloth diapers on both my daughters all week and washed them in homemade detergent. I also used cloth wipes and homemade wipe solution. I roasted a chicken and used the bones for broth and cooked beans for future meals. We planned our garden for when it warms up in a couple months and made plans for what we intend to can this year from it. My husband also did all his own car repairs on our two vehicles, saving us hundreds of dollars.

    1. Great job. Looks like you had a wonderful week. :) Amanda

  5. We used homemade laundry soap. Gave to hand made gifts this week. Used lamp oil and zero electric after dinner two nights this week. Made smoothies out of fruit that was about to go off. Had 3 meatless meals. Used zero paper products (except tp) Made homemade firestarters and used only the heat from the fire for 2 nights. Used points to get gas cheaper and a coupon for our date day out.Had soup for four lunches this week leftovers for two.Swapped a friend for some magazines so we each got new ones.

  6. Did 3 haircuts, one of them on me. Started herb seeds in recycled milk jugs. Mended 2 pants of pants. And cooked and froze three bags of brown rice. (it means I can get 4 batches of rice cooked for almost the same energy as one batch and precooking saves me prep time later)

  7. We have the flu at our house so this week has been less productive.

    This week:

    I cut buttons, appliques, button hole elastic from some worn out clothing.

    Kept to menu again except for 1 day. But still cooked at home.

    Culled the baby clothes we've been using. Found the reason we struggled to dress her. LOL Seemed like nothing was matching or fitting. It is because we have lost so many parts of outfits over time to stains and other ruination as they get handed down that it was hard to put something on her. She was staying in pj's a lot. So I...

    Used the Kohl's cash I had earned from my other necessary purchases to purchase plain white undershirts for her to wear. So they were essentially free (only cost gas to drive there). I really liked that the sleeves were finished so they look more like a shirt than an undershirt. I also set aside some hand-me-down camisoles with lace edges that we won't wear (they were given to us), to make leggings to complete other outfits. Hopefully we'll be well enough so I can make them next week.

    Oranges have been a good price, so I bought almost 200 lbs and have started dehydrating them. As we feel better I will can and jam some... if there are any left (just kidding). The kids eat them like candy and they could be gone in less than 2 weeks if I don't restrict them.

    The big thing we've been working on and waiting for was the refinance we signed this week. Our budget will open up a lot. We had been too aggressive in trying to reduce our debt a few years ago, couple that with the current economy and our 2 oldest going off to college and things haven't gone as well as we had hoped. This will allow my husband to pursue his MBA. So we still have to be frugal, but it feels more in our power.

    1st of 2 birthdays this month. Gifts are a duvet cover from Ikea that was cheaper than I could sew it for and purchased during a trip to visit family since Ikea is too far away, and the comforter bought a long time ago on a big sale, and a stuffed animal from the thrift store, and a necklace we made.

    I have wanted to sew along with Project run and play for a while. I will be able to do a couple of the weeks this year. I am using one of my husbands old button down shirts with a logo from his previous employer to use for one of the challenges.

    1. You could do some really cute appliques on the shirts to make them go with the pants you have. You could do some embroidery, too!

  8. dried some more apples

    used home made laundry detergent

    carpooled to an event

    used craft supplies from my basement for Sunday School

    played a baord game with my son

    downloaded some free kindle books

    watched a free movie and made homemade popcorn

    used a gift certificate to go out to dinner...leftovers for lunches tomorrow

    watered plants with the water as it was heating up in the sink

    purchased turkey hotdogs for 89cents a package...will use these when we are camping next summer

    started collecting books to sell at a consignment book store

    recylced a plastic container to make a cover my plunger

    used free mailing labels

    found a few stamps from a long time ago and have been using them together to pay bills (some are .03, .34, .20)

    organized tax materials and plan to do them myself for the first time...will save over $200.

    ordered a cable so we can watch movies through my kindle on our TV (instead of renting them)

    discovered that my children like minestrione soup...finally a way to get them to eat some vegetables :) (plan to make a batch using panry supplies as well as cheap frozen vegetables when they go on sale)

    (thank you again for this list...I checked earlier to see if it was posted is one of my favorites of the week out of the many blogs I follow)

    1. My children eat a lot of vegetables in soups. Try making some pureed soups with potatoes as well as green vegetables; those go over well at my house.

    2. Emilie-My Dad is a CPA and I would be very hesitant to do my own taxes. Even when he is no longer living I will definitely hire someone to do them. Not that you couldn't do them and do a nice job. The problem is taxes change every year. Unless you are planning on reading the huge book on tax changes for 2012 (at least a couple inches thick) you might want to consider hiring a reliable tax consultant (not someone like H&R Block). My Dad reviews a lot of taxes that people have done themselves and people ALWAYS miss huge deductions (well over $200). Just wanted to pass this on. :)

    3. Emilie, our taxes are very straightforward & uncomplicated, & we have done them ourselves for years. If you feel good about doing them, then you should. My father did his own taxes for years, until they retired & the taxes became more complicated, then he hired someone to do them, but the gentleman he hired reviewed the last 2 years for him, & did not find anything dad had missed. In Utah, the state tax is a flat 5%, which makes it much easier as well.

  9. We have been super sick at our house for a couple of weeks. The only thing I've purchased is a gallon of milk. Everything else has come from our freezer and pantry. I watched a video on You Tube to learn how to knit a Sashay scarf, and I purchased the yarn with a 40% off coupon. With the sale I saved over 60%. I found these on sale at the farmers market over the summer for $20 each. For $2.39 and a couple of hours I'll have a beautiful scarf to wear! I also used Brandy's instructions on making tassels and made book marks from old music sheets. I have a lamination machine so I was able to do that at home also. I think these came out beautiful. We are going to make some to give to my sons teacher at our conference in a couple of weeks. The most frugal think I did this week was barter for a brand new Blentec designer series blender. I found some items in my garage a friend of mine wanted and in return he gave me a Blendtec. I not only cleared out some clutter, but have an awesome new kitchen tool too!!! I have a gift card to use at RC Willey's for a little over $120, I'm thinking about getting a bread machine but I'm not sure you really need one. I'm trying to find something from that store I could purchase that is useful and with as little out of pocket as possible.

    1. You might consider watching at thrift stores for a bread machine. They can often be found for 5 or 10 dollars. I got mine for free with Amazon giftcards earned on Swagbucks. For me it is well worth having and this is my second machine. I know that if I have to do the whole bread by hand every week I will not do it even though I have a Kitchen Aid and know how. Having the machine is a real money saver for us because we only eat homemade bread this way. There is a learning curve to the machines and it takes me awhile to tweak my recipe and get the feel for the machine.

    2. I use two bread machines and both were bought at the thrift store. I didn't pay more than $5 each and I see them all the time. I also have a Kitchen Aid that sits under my cabinet and is very seldom used.

    3. Oh, my Kitchen Aid is in daily use since we got it over 20 years ago.. it grates large amounts of cheese, carrots, potatoes in no time at all. Knead bread, mixes the thickest cookie dough. I love it. I even have a 2nd oldest daughter gave me the bowl for Christmas about 5 years ago. She found a refurbished mixer about 3 years ago and I gave it to her for Christmas then. Now daughter in law got one this past Christmas.

      I don't know what an RC Willeys is, but I would recommend a Kitchen Aid stand mixer whole-heartedly.

    4. We use our Kitchen Aid every single day, usually twice a day.

    5. I have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, but have not unboxed it yet. We live in an older home with a teeny tiny kitchen. We are getting ready to gut the kitchen and put in a new one, but I still have a little more to save before we do it. I'm not going to do it until we have all the cash in hand. Once we redo the kitchen I'll have a bit more usable counter space, then I'll put the mixer out. Maybe I'll look for some accessories. I will have to find some other thrift stores here that may have bread mixer's. I've found some at the DI but usually some part has been missing.

    6. We have a bread machine and love it. I got it for free from a friend who never used it. I have a very small kitchen and a stand mixer would take up too much space. Our bread machine, makes dough and jam.

    7. Nora, my stand mixer doesn't really take up all that much space. I have an L shaped counter and push it back straight into the corner of the L. The footprint is probably about the same as a large toaster. It is too heavy for me to move on and off counter so I just leave it there all the time. Other appliances we store and move out as needed, like the waffle iron.

  10. Brandy, thank you so much for hosting this each week!
    -Cut up some old plastic dividers for binders to use as dividers in the last 2 photo albums.
    -Warmed up an assortment of leftovers (vegetable soup, cornbread muffins, yams & meatloaf) instead of cooking something new. My mom used call these “smorgasbord dinners”.
    -Read the book I found at the thrift store, that Steven gave me for my birthday.
    -Cut up another empty Kleenex box with a cardinal design into gift tags.
    -Stocked up on soap, & unwrapped the soap bars to let them dry out a little, so they last longer.
    -had leftover turkey chili with leftover cornbread muffins & a slice of smoked gouda cheese for dinner. Santa puts smoked gouda cheese in the stockings at our house.
    -Continued to run a thin stream of water in the kitchen sink to keep the pipes from freezing. Used that stream to refill water bottles, & any other time I needed water, since it would otherwise be wasted & we are paying for it. Still, frozen pipes are not at all frugal, either, & the weather has been subzero for a spell now.
    -Hung the laundry to dry again. We only have one drying rack, so I do no more than one load a day, to hang it to dry. With only 2 people, it works, & helps keep the air humidified.
    -Took another load of donated items to the thrift store & on the way back I bought 2 quilted rectangular brown toile placemats on clearance at Kmart for $2 each. They are 13” wide, & by folding over 5” lengthwise, sewing the ends, & sewing buttons & buttonholes on the remaining 3” flap, I can make 2 knitting needle holders for gifts. On Saturday, I finished the one that will be a Christmas present for a granddaughter, probably with a pair of knitting needles or a cable holder inside.
    -Thawed the “almost gone” milk from last week & baked orange cranberry muffins.
    -Checked my garden seeds; I need peas, but have all the other garden seeds I need.
    -Opened the blinds on sunny days to let the “solar” heat warm up the family room & library.
    -When I gave blood, we were given 2 “snacks” afterwards. I chose 2 tiny packages of goldfish crackers. Our 1 year old granddaughter loves them, & the packages are small enough to be useful for her mother as a distraction during the 5 hour flight back home when they visit in March. I ate just before donating, so my blood sugar was not at all low. I also salvaged the Coban they used for the pressure bandage on my arm after donation, because it works great to secure vines to their supports in the garden. I “unscrunched” the Coban as I unrolled it from my arm, after the 6 hours, then cut it in half lengthwise, & re-rolled it.
    -Realized that if I cut the “feet” from a pair of my socks that have worn out at the back of the heel, I can use the tops to make “doll socks” for an 18” doll. I just need to cut each top in half lengthwise & sew a seam down the side & across the bottom. 2 free sets of doll socks!

    1. We call it pupu platter night, we usually do it on Sundays after church so I can start the week without random leftovers in the fridge.

    2. We call all those random leftovers 'must-goes' because they must go!

    3. OMGosh! I love your idea of doll socks from worn out socks! Thanks for that idea, I will no longer be throwing out socks!

    4. Is your cornbread recipe gluten free? If so, I'd love to have it if you're willing to share!

    5. My cornbread recipe is gluten free, & it is out of "Life Tastes Good Again", a GF cookbook. You can google it & buy it online; it has really good recipes in it, but because it is copyrighted, I don't feel right about posting the recipe.

    6. I totally understand, Marivene! Thanks for the info--I will check to see if I can get it through the library system.

  11. I created two YouTube playlists for Zumba. I miss my gym membership and it's time to take charge and stop wallowing. But boy, am I out of shape!
    I went to goodwill and bought 3 shirts, 1 jacket, 1pair of pants and one pair of shoes to round out my closet. I've gained a little weight and needed a couple of items. I'm also working on loosing the "I'm miserable so I'm not going to eat healthy" weight.
    I ate apples canned for free this fall.
    I cleaned my house everyday even though I worked everyday to make sure I wanted to one home and not go out!
    I froze part of a split pea soup that I made in the crockpot using the bone from the Christmas ham.
    I put earrings in the holes in my ears I haven't used in 4 years. No problem. I won't wear all the time, but it was nice to try them. I went through all my "lost earring" piles and found a bunch of pairs.

    1. I have used unmatched pairs to make necklaces for my girls for gifts. That may be something you want to consider in the future.

  12. I started breaking down my price list for baking ingredients into cups or teaspoons so I could calculate the cost of recipes.

    I made cream of broccoli soup with the stalks and stems of broccoli, thickened it with leftover mashed potatoes and after it was pureed added some leftover florets from the night before that I finely chopped so it had some nice broccoli specks throughout. Served it with homemade cheddar garlic biscuits.

    I really made an effort everyday to look through the fridge to use or freeze food before it went bad.

    I made yogurt and Brandy's Cranberry Almond granola.

    I made Brandy's chicken fried chicken recipe for the first time and will definitely make it again. I also passed the recipe along to my daughter who eats meatless most nights. I really liked the patties plain too, so I'm going to make them again with steak seasoning instead of poultry seasoning and serve them on a bun like Garden Burgers.

    I finished reading An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. I got a lot of new ideas from the book as well as reinforcing some things I already do. I checked it out from the library, but I'm going to put it on my wishlist for mother's day or birthday. I would like re-read it and have it to pull out to refer to.

    Thanks to Brandy and everyone who shares their frugal ideas.

    Debbie in Florida

    1. You may also like the black bean burger recipe. It's more work than the chicken fried steak patties, but it's a nice change, too.

  13. This week I saved money by:
    -making only 1 trip to the store for essentials (milk, bananas, etc.)
    -bottled black beans (7 pints) from dry beans in food storage
    -measured backyard and made graph to reduce lawn space and add raised beds for vegetable garden.
    -sent birthday gift to dear friend from items I made (greeting cards, seed packets with seeds from last year's garden)
    -watched Downton Abby with a friend on her Netflix account
    -limited use of my car
    -didn't get my hair cut again this week. It is getting long, but I still get compliments on it.
    -Took my sister-in-law out to lunch with a gift card I received for Christmas
    -Used leftovers, freezer leftovers and made meals from what was on hand in the freezer, fridge and pantry. Spent $30 on food this week.

  14. I made granola twice this week. I also made some thin wheat crackers - not that they lasted long. I made a couple of batches of bread, one of burger buns and a couple of biscuits.

    We used popcorn from food storage several times for snacks.

    I used lentils in place of meat, or to "extend" the meat, in a couple of dishes.

    Used eggs and cheese bought on sale with gifted onions and potatoes to make a filling fritatta for dinner.

    I cut hair for my husband, three children, and a friend.

    Started knitting a scarf for my son.

  15. I am eager for the cracker recipes, and will likely try them as soon as you post them! Thank you, and all your readers who post frugal tips, because they inspire me to do better! My frugal accomplishments from last week are posted on my blog, here:

    It was a great week! Free peanut butter, some sewing, lots of things! I hope y'all will stop for a quick visit! :)

    I have my goals for next week up too!

  16. - I read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder for inspiration
    - I gave a homemade Forget-Me-Not scented soap&deodorant set to my oldest daughter as a birthday gift
    - and all the frugal routines as usual...

  17. Cut the husband's hair.

    I soaked four pounds of pinto beans, canning them up with spices for refried beans. The beans are canned whole and mashed when I heat to eat.

    I went online for a postal carrier pickup of a package I was returning rather than making the trip to the next town to the post office.

    I curbed the urge to make a trip into the city for a few items, grouping them with a prescription pickup later in the week.

    Two trips not made -- $10 saved

    Its just too easy to get in the car and go. . . . if I had a local store or gas station I might do better. But the nearest is a 15 mile round trip. So I'm working on curbing the urge.

  18. I made homemade baguettes, granola, waffles, banana bread, breakfast casserole, pizza, and lentils & rice.

    I worked on knitting.

    I only bought cheese, milk, and eggs this week for groceries, but we just ate down what we had in the freezer and pantry. This meant finding creative uses for some things.

    My pre-teen girl is growing like a weed, and her feet are growing double-fast. We found some beautiful jewel-toned blue flats for her at Target on clearance for $7.49. She can wear these to church and special events. Some people wouldn't be able to spend that, but for us, that's pretty good.

    I'm thawing a turkey for dinner this week. I bought it for 59c/lb after Thanksgiving. Sadly, I only had freezer space for one extra turkey.

    We ate carrots & mustard greens from the garden. I also used parsley, rosemary, ruby chard, and green onions. We have had a mild winter thus far in Georgia, so I am still harvesting from my fall garden.

    Someone gave us some kumquats from their in-laws in south Georgia.

    Blessings to you.

  19. First time commenting here but I've been reading for awhile!

    This past week I:

    Made two loaves of bread and some blueberry muffins (with last summers frozen blueberries) for the freezer.

    Worked our on HOA request to build a fence. While this doesn't sound frugal, we are only allowed 4x4 gardens (and pot gardens) unless we have a fence. We finally saved up enough money and with a larger garden, I'm sure it will eventually pay for itself and save on our food bills!

    I cleaned and saved a butter tub and a sour cream tub to plant my pepper seedlings. We can start next month here in South Carolina!

    I googled "how to sew." I learned in Home Ec in seventh grade but I've long forgot. It's time to learn again and get out the sewing machine. We need some new napkins.

  20. My husband had a week without a job last week so we went to our vacation house for the week. He started his new job this morning. We will be learning to live on $29K less than his previous job but we have benefits again and that is a blessing. Our health insurance alone will be $1000 less per month.

    I used 75 cents in fuelperks to fill up the van for our short trip to the other house. I save them up for this. That made gas $2.44 a gallon for almost 19 gallons.

    I took all of our food from home except for some produce items which I picked up at Aldi over there. After we got there the weather changed drastically and I was so tempted to go buy items for a big pot of soup but resisted and ate what we had packed. I baked our bread for the week before we went and brought it along.

    We watched 2 free movies from Redbox with codes we had emailed or texted to us. One of the movies did not play correctly so we called Redbox and they issued 2 more free codes. We still have a free movie for another time.

    Thrift store shopping is always very profitable in the area where we were. Many wealthy people have million dollar houses on the lake and seem to donate things they are tired of or don't want to bother with. I found 4 riding toys for the grandchildren for $18 total. Very pleased with that as we only had one and that was a problem with 4 grandchildren. I also was excited to find half gallon canning jars for 30 cents each. I bought 16 and wish now that I had bought all they had. Eleven cloth napkins for everyday use for $3.50. Hardcover copy of 'The Help' for $1. I had been looking for this as my MIL was raised as the story in the book and wanted to have a copy for that reason.

    There is a large population of Mennonites in the area where we were and an older lady and I were looking at the canning jars at the same time. I was quite surprised when she spoke to me as they usually keep to themselves. She told me that blueberries frozen in jars do not get ice and frost on them. I am so happy to know that as freezing berries in plastic always results in icy berries for me. I am wondering what else would keep better in glass in the freezer.

    Picked up 18 free pouches of Beechnut Fruities at Publix for our grandson last week. Also stocked up on eggs for 70 cents a dozen combining a sale and coupons.

    Hubby and I had lunch at McDonald's for 57 cents using a free giftcard I got from Coke Rewards. I rarely buy Coke but pick up caps when I see them and sometimes get free codes online. We also had free Chick fil A sandwiches one day using our calendar coupons.

    We had a rare treat and went to see Les Miserables in the theater. We go to the theater once every 2-3 years. I had purchased a Groupon for $6 tickets for 2 last fall and saved them for this movie. Big savings considering the price of tickets is $10.50 regularly in our area.

    Thanks for the suggestions last week on using out of date sour cream. Have a good week everyone!

    1. I use only glass in the freezer for veggies, fruit and small servings of soup and chili (great for weekend meals) and have had good luck. You have to be a little more careful when organizing and be careful not to drop them. I freeze raw meat in ziplocs.

    2. I have good luck freezing berries in the heavy freezer ziplocs. I use a straw to suck out as much air as possible, so almost like vacuum pack. Also I keep the berries in the freezer that is opened least with the longer term storage, not the refrigerator-top freezers.

  21. --Rode early to church with hubby so that we didn't have to take two vehicles to church.

    --We didn't need to buy the book for the new study we are doing in our small group since I had downloaded it for free to my Kindle for PC earlier in the year. We just take our laptop along with us instead of a book!

    --Found many gardening books at the library (including one from Eliot Coleman). Very excited about planning our garden this year thanks to your inpiration, Brandy! I never thought that I would be gardening, but thanks to your encouraging posts I have gained a lot of confidence and I'm no longer afraid to try.

    --Made my own yogurt for the first time. We are enjoying grapefruit, strawberry, banana yogurt, smoothies, and using it as a substitute for sour cream.

    --Paid a hospital bill by the prompt pay discount date and received a 10% discount.

    --Made garlic bread sticks with the whole wheat hot dog buns that I bought at the bread store for $1.

    --The satin edging on a blanket that we received as a wedding gift 8 years ago was unraveling. Hubby said it was falling apart and we needed a new one. Instead of throwing it away and buying a new one, I cut all the edging off and I'm sure this blanket will last us for a few more years.

    --Made cake flour for a new recipe I tried instead of buying it.

    1. How do you make the bread sticks from hot dog buns?

    2. I make the garlic bread sticks by opening up the hot dog buns and breaking them in two. I spread butter on them and sprinkle them with garlic powder and a little grated parmesan cheese then set the oven to broil and set them in the oven until light brown. They are slightly crispy on top and soft in the middle.

      To make cake flour: For each cup of cake flour in the recipe, measure out all purpose flour and remove 2 tbls. and replace with 2 tbls. of corn starch and sift together several times.

  22. Brandy, I love the idea of grapefruit cleaner! I've used orange peels before but you've inspired me to make some clementine vinegar this week!

    Here's what I did:

    Using a gift card, I purchased four gifts to add to the "gift bin" in my closet. I pick up gifts throughout the year that are on clearance, free with coupons, or just good deals so when we need a gift we simply shop in the closet! :)

    I had $5.20 in my SavingStar account that I cashed out for an gift card.

    Received a free sample for Pampers wipes in the mail.

    Made a double batch of laundry detergent.

    Stocked up on canned tomatoes for 41¢/can.

    Using coupons, I was able to get two packages of chicken sausage for 99¢ each, two small jars of beef bouillon cubes and a head of cabbage for free.

    Ate meatless meals four times last week. My original menu plan went off track since some days I simply didn't feel like cooking. We did not buy take-out, I opted instead to make easier meals like homemade macaroni and cheese and pancakes. The Lentil Bolognese recipe was a total flop! It's good to try new recipes but my advice is stick to what your family likes otherwise it just becomes a waste of money, ingredients, and your time!

    Made Bacon Cheese Muffins--these were delicious--, Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Brandy's Cinnamon Buns. I also made homemade chocolate ice cream for dessert and altered the recipe to what ingredients I had on hand.

    Cleaned out the boys' room and added more stuff to the tag sale pile.

    Made up some Valentine's Day goodie bags for my youngest two children to exchange at school for less than $10 for 33 children. That's only 30¢ per child! The bags include pencils, erasers, stickers, and "candyland" band-aids. (The school doesn't allow candy so it requires a little creativity!)

    Fed dogs sweet potatoes that were going bad instead of tossing them.

    Last year we bought a popcorn popper and a 20-lb. bag of popcorn. This was a great investment! We have popcorn a few times a week and have yet to make a dent in the bag. We usually just eat it with butter and salt, but Target sells a white cheddar powder seasoning that my children like as well.

    Received the seeds I ordered for my 2013 garden and the company included two free seed packets! I have the big garden all planned out but need to start planning for my herb garden and a small cut flower garden.

    Moved a small white board from a wall where it wasn't being used to the office nook in my eat-in-kitchen. I hung it next to my desk where it will hopefully save me some paper since I'm a habitual list-maker! :)

    Last week our large TV stopped working. It's a rear projection TV and requires a lamp to run. It appears that it may be the lamp that needs to be replaced and right now it isn't in the budget. In the mean time, we moved a smaller TV downstairs that wasn't being used until we can save up the cash to buy a new TV.

    You can see pictures on my blog:

    1. I totally agree with sticking to what your family likes to save money. I rarely try new recipes because I can't afford flops.

    2. Our lamp had to be replaced in our sony and cost a whopping $300. Hope yours is much cheaper.

    3. Try searching for your lamp part number on ebay and amazon I sometimes have very good luck finding replacement tech parts for much, much less that way. Of course you would have to know how to replace and take out the original one but you might be able to dicker with the repairman a little. Sometimes you can find that kind of info on

  23. Love to read your blog. Please post grapefruit cleaner recipe. And how about the directions for the cute pot holders from last week. I think I probably know how, but would like to know if the binding was cut on the bias or straight. Thanks

    1. I am working on a tutorial for the potholders, but the bias tape edging was cut on the bias.

      Grapefruit (or orange) cleaner is easy--just soak peels in white vinegar for 3 weeks and then strain out the peels. Use as you would regular vinegar for cleaning.

  24. This,too, is my favorite part of the week :)
    This week to save money I:
    -We had a long crack in the drywall (so we thought) in our room. We had a "tornado like winds" Saturday night and discovered the wind blowing right through the walls into our house! We also discovered other places where the wind/cold was coming in.So Sunday my husband went out and bought the foam insulation in a can (I truly loved this stuff) and filled the cracks to hold us over until spring and we can redo the drywall and whatever else needs replacing (we just bought this house and it is a fixer upper). I also covered several windows with plastic on the inside. He did it on the outside but some plastic came off.
    -Was diligent about keeping the heat at 67 degrees most days. Some days I was able to turn it down to 66 during the day. But now it's super cold again.
    - last week I bought a drying rack and was able to squeeze in 2 small clotheslines in my computer/storage room. I have line dried all clothing this week. I washed most loads yesterday on "off peak" hours.
    -I started doing the "military shower". I am not sure if everyone calls it this. You turn the water on in the shower, get in and get wet, turn off water and shampoo,soap,shave, then turn the water back on and rinse. It didn't bother me at all and was quite doable.Saves a lot of water
    -I put off going to the grocery store until thursday when we were out of several items. We ate leftovers and used items from our freezer and pantry.
    -I continue to use only homemade/natural cleaners. I found 2 spray bottles, good quality, at the dollar store. I desperately needed some for my cleaners. Metal canisters/plastic spray top. I use much less cleaner now.
    -I will start making my toddler a new winter hat and slippers hopefully today. I meant to do it 3 weeks ago. Now my husband says her old one doesn't fit so I have to make at least the hat. (I work outside the home full time and have little spare time)
    -I had a fantastic coupon code, so I ordered organic olive oil, 2 organic chocolate candy bars (not a necessity but you gotta treat yourself once in a while)and some thing else that is escaping me right now for only $15.00 including shipping. The olive oil is of high quality and is a very large bottle. I also ordered 3 bags of organic jelly beans for my husband for his birthday. He's a jelly bean fanatic. They were not on sale but we have switched to an organic/natural diet and there are no local sources. He will love them.
    - used less cow milk and replaced with sale bought vanilla soy milk (75 cents a carton). We bought 18 cartons to stock up. My toddler and I love it and it is organic. great find and much cheaper than milk around here, even in dairy country.
    - my husband is planning our raised beds so I will be able to buy our seeds soon, probably with the next paycheck. I am so excited! Our plan to eventually not purchase our produce or spices.
    That's all I can think of for now.
    Thank you everyone for your inspiration!

  25. This week I made laundry soap, rolls, and I had some sour cream about to go funky so I made bread with that, which was great since I was also out of butter. I made rice pudding for my mom and pureed some for the baby, I used half fresh milk and half powdered. She never knew, plus I left out the egg( which was more because I did not have time to fuss with making sure the egg did not curdle but it worked out great so hurrah. My husband and I went looking for a shower curtain and sheets and towels but nothing seemed the right mix of price and value. So we went back home and ordered from Amazon for much less than it was at Kohl's. This week I am not buying anything but milk and bananas, we are having lasagna, french onion soup, and vegetables with rice noodles. Since I will not be buying groceries this week I will have enough in my budget next week to use a ten dollar off 200 dollar purchase ( assuming it is worth it) coupon I got in the mail. My husband and I are finally, FINALLY almost done sorting his big lego purchase and his first sale will go up this week. That one should make enough to almost cover the whole lot, leaving the rest as profit. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately with mu husband's school and the teething baby so I am streamlining our meals till he is finished this class. I never though I would look at a can of baked beans as a convenience food. hahaa Isn't it funny how what we consider a staple changes? Our new fridge is already saving us money since our produce looks incredible whereas it would have died in our old fridge by now. The charger for my laptop died so I am savign a huge amount of time since I am no longer tempted to play on the internet while my children play on the floor. Which always made me feel guilty anyhow. I am not planning on replacing it.

    1. For future situations, sour cream usually is good for 3-4 weeks past the expiration date if you haven't opened the seal.

    2. We have used it for even longer than that. As long as I don't see mold on it, we use it. We have also had good luck with both yogurt and cottage cheese keeping well past the due date, as long as it is unopened.


    3. We have had good results with yogurt, buttermilk and cottage cheese that was past due as well. As long as I don't see mold, we use it.


  26. Here are my frugal accomplishments from this past week:
    *Made a batch of laundry detergent for my Mom
    *Sewed a button on a pair of my son’s favorite camo pants
    *Made a delicious mocha cake that I had all the ingredients for on-hand
    *Baked a batch of homemade biscuits for my hubby’s breakfast for the week
    *Cooked extra pork chops last Sunday to go on those homemade biscuits
    *Cooked extra fried chicken last night for his breakfasts this upcoming week
    *Made several meals from only ingredients I had on-hand
    *Had leftovers for several lunches
    *Combined leftovers to create new suppers
    *Used workbooks and supplies we had on-hand for homeschool assignments/projects
    *Heated the house with wood and the woodstove during a cold snap
    *Combined a coupon and a sale to get my daughter’s last pack of nighttime Pull-Ups for $5.47 (Yay for no nighttime accidents for Kitten for over two weeks!)
    *Combined coupons and sales to get my husband’s coworker diapers and wipes for her upcoming baby shower
    *Cleaned out a set of drawers and found about 30 gift bags for various holidays/events that are in excellent shape–also de-cluttered the ones that were torn, too creased or wrinkled, or missing parts
    *Cut Doodle B’s and S’s hair
    *Cleaned out some of Doodle B’s old clothes and stored for future use (not necessarily for MY future use, btw!)
    *Hauled wood from the wood pile to the garage for use this upcoming week

  27. Our grocery store had a sale on flour, so I was able to get a 5 lb bag for .75. (I used a coupon too.)

    I printed coupons on the blank side of some of my husband's old school papers.

    I worked from home on Friday because we got snow on Thursday night. That saved a bit of gas.

    Got some rosemary for free from a community edible-landscape area.

  28. If I may, I'd like to poll the group? My parents sent us some $ for Christmas ($50) specifically for getting some bedding and towels. We were able to get one of those bed-in-a-bag sets and two sets of towels, which is great! But I keep looking at the 'old' towels and wondering how I can use them. Our house is 8 years old and not terribly drafty, though I do think I will make 'draft dodgers' with a towel...maybe two? The only other idea I've come up with is to perhaps make some sort of cover or top (because the colors do not match the room) and then use them to make thick bath mats/rugs for my daughter's bathroom. What else could I do with older towels?

    1. Laura, I never throw out old towels until they are threadbare and full of holes. Until a few years ago, one of our old towels was from the 60's :) They can be used for rags, as draft stoppers, for moving furniture, for putting under your canning jars on the counter when you are canning, to put down on beds when people are sick, to make covers for mopping the floor, etc.

    2. We keep a stack of them on the shelf in the garage for big spills, drying out the freezer after we defrost it, drying the car after we wash it, lately we dried the carpet in hubby's car after a newly installed windshield leaked, etc. Some of those are nearly 35 years old.

    3. Oh yes! I forgot about using them for drying the car after you wash it! We use the same towels for that, too!

    4. By the way, you got some great deals; I can't belive you got all that for $50! Where did you find such great deals?

    5. The bedding was at Big Lots for $29, and that left us with $20 for towels. I got two berry-colored towels, two berry-colored hand towels, two medium blue towels and two navy blue hand towels (dark hand towels don't look dingy as quickly - learned the hard way with my white and light blue towels!) and all of that was $22 (so yes, I did chip in a wee bit).

      The thing with the old towels is that they are not not in terrible shape - just looking dingy and sad, even when I try to rejuvinate them. No holes or anything in them, no major anything wrong with them. I had dyed the blue ones numerous times to brighten them a bit, and they had given us good service. I do keep towels for spills and the like, just like y'all mentioned, but since there are on the nicer end of 'old towel', I am wondering if there are other things I should do with them. :)

    6. One more thing for old towels is that I keep one in the back of my van for spills or messes but it is also great to keep something like a watermelon contained so that it does not roll around. Just put the rolled up towel around it like a dam and it will stay put.

    7. If your older towels are still in good condition, they could be turned into hand towels. Bath towel width is the same as hand towel length generally. So they could be cut and hemmed.

      We also cut them up and use them as dishcloths or for the same reasons mentioned above. They are the ones we pull out to do the dirty jobs. We also lay them over pillows when the kids are sick. That way the pillow doesn't get ruined if they don't make it to the bathroom.

      If you want a nice looking draft stop, you could sew a tube, roll the towel the long way, and stuff the tube with the towel. I have not done this because it would just turn into a toy for my children :)

    8. You can use the old toweling as batting for homemade potholders!

    9. I have seen them used to create travel rolls - like a roll that you would put your toothbrush, toothpaste, brush and comb in. A similar idea, but I made apron kind of things for my kids to hold these same items for camping (a long time ago - we are so NOT campers :)). Jackie at has a lot of ideas for repurposing items. Personally, I am always struggling to have enough towels for cleaning that I always use them for that, but I do understand that these are a bit nicer than most cleaning towels.

    10. someone else suggested it, but if they are nice, try cutting them up and hemming or serging them for kitchen towels..

    11. Hey, I have been needing a caddy for my crochet hooks, and I could use one for that - great idea! I like the idea of potholders too...even though I think I could use older ones that way. :) Lots of great ideas, thank you so very much!

    12. I donated a huge bag of old towels to the Humane Society. My boys have both volunteered there and they truly operate on a miniscule budget.
      I use the big bundle of bar (or shop) towels from Sam's as kitchen towels so I don't have a need for real rags. They bleach well and look decent.

    13. I use them in the car under the kids seats, My oldest towel is almost 20 yrs old and still in regular rotation between the car the pool in the summer, etc.

    14. We still use towels that my husband and I had from our single college days in the early to mid 70's. And those were towels handed down by parents, not new either. They just get more absorbent with age. I use towels till thread bare and do not care if they match. Too bad and they will end up in the rag drawer. We keep some of the kids old beach towels in the back entry to dry off the dog if has been raining. She has thick shepherd fur and soaks up water like a sponge. I too have heard that the humane society would love to get towels.

    15. Have you thought about dying them black and putting some old lace on them if you check pinterest or etsy you will see tons of them look very pretty! I redye my towels alot and they look great for their age! I use towels pretty much like everyone else here does. The only other thing I can suggest is making patchwork beach towels out of them basically cut into squares and zigzag sqares together to get a much bigger towel.

    16. once they are too holey for towels I cut them to make cleaning clothes, use them at the back door as extra matting, or to rub down the dog
      Jenny in Wales

    17. Not sure if you need this for yourself, but you can use towels to make baby bibs. They absorb a lot of mess. I don't have a pattern (my mom is the seamstress), but you should be able to find instructions fairly easily. You could put appliques or something on to cover the dinginess.

      I am still using towels that originally belonged to my grandparents. I remember them from the 1970s. I don't know when they were originally purchased.

  29. This is my first time posting - but I love this blog and have referred to it several times in the past month trying to get our food budget lower.

    This week...

    I cut my son's hair - and did not mess up so badly that I needed to shave it off. This was quite an accomplishment - as I have never had it 'turn out'. Helped with my relationship with my son too!

    I used baking soda to wash my hair this week. Loved it!

    Combined shopping with another trip while I was in town and saved a trip and gas money there.

    Set up a towel rack for the kids' towels. Hopefully that will cut down on laundry!

    Just as a note: Since trying to incorporate the recipes from the blog and the winter menu my grocery bill has gone down. This has been so encouraging as I did not think that I could get it any lower. We are eating more soups and no one has seemed to mind. I have found myself missing sweets - so I am going to try to bake a few times this week so we can have some sweets but not processed foods in the pantry. I have been most encouraged! I did have a question. If you buy the powered milk in bulk how long does a pail of milk last you. I am planning on purchasing some when we get our tax return and I was wanting a ball park figure on how long one pail would last. Any thoughts?

    1. I have had milk last me in an airtight bucket for a couple of years I used it for cooking mostly though and not drinking. Someone like honeyville grain should be able to give you a better idea.

  30. Put them under your kids car seats to catch the crumbs. Wash and dry your car. Keep one in your car for emergencies.

  31. It's always a mixed bag, but I love this post because it makes me think more about what I'm doing. Hopefully I'll get more deliberate with being frugal. :)

    -I double-cooked 2 meals for use when the baby comes
    -all other meals were made from scratch
    -finished calculating what we need for our 3-month storage, now on to implementation
    -received 2 dresses from my mom for my daughter in sizes she will grow into later
    -received a HUGE suitcase of baby boy clothes from my sister for the new baby
    -made homemade granola
    -price-matched milk and used coupons, ended up getting my milk for $1.75 a gallon instead of $2.79
    -my laptop went kaput with a bad video card, bad battery, and broken power cord all at once. Instead of buying a new laptop, we bought a battery & cord and are just dealing with the video card problem
    -saved the gift bags from my baby shower to use for later gift giving


  32. Thank you Brandy and everyone who posts here. I've only just found this blog and the knowledge contained here is just amazing.
    This week I made all our home dinners from scratch, did some mending of socks and underwear, read books from the libraries, menu planned for next week and when we treated ourselves to a movie (a planned and saved for expense) we shared the popcorn and pop to help save money.
    @ Laura - I think your idea of covering your old towels to make warm washable room rugs is a great idea.
    Oh! And just to share with a group that I know will "get it"; last week I cleaned out the last of the stuff in our storage unit, got the deposit back and even took some books I no longer wanted to a local 2nd hand store for some credit.

  33. I haven't been able to post much with the new baby, so these cover a few weeks:

    Made 1/2 tank gas last for a month by staying home. I've driven less than 3,000 miles in the past six months, but I suppose I should get an oil change, LOL.

    Kept laundry to an average of 6 XL loads and 1 medium load per week for seven people. This will go up by 1 load per week when the baby is big enough to use cloth diapers (the ones we have are still too big for him). At least half our laundry is dried on the line or on racks (weather dependent).

    Ate all meals at home, except one birthday lunch. Focused on not wasting any food by making plans for leftovers and thinking ahead.

    Kept thermostat at 59 degrees at night and 62 on weekdays. I turn it up to 64 when DH is home because he complains.

    Use a gift card to buy another blanket for the master bedroom.

  34. My week wasn't as frugal as most but still a great week:

  35. Cooked, shredded and froze about 10 lbs of chicken breasts. (Goes much further this way.)

    Made chicken and beef bone broth for the freezer.

    Rendered (free) lard.

    Cooked red, pinto, and black beans for the freezer.

    Divided up #10 cans of diced tomatoes and sauce and froze in portions that I will need later. (Much cheaper to buy the big cans.)

    Made all of our breads. (Engl Muff, biscuits, toast, etc)

    Planned all meals last week to equal about $5 a day to feed everyone.

    Skyped son in Cali.

    Ordered a pattern from ebay for cheap using earnings from something we sold.

    Allowed teens to make a purchase from ebay with their money which probably saved them $100.

    Used rosemary, turnip greens, green onions, and leeks from the garden. (God is good! I never dreamed anything would grow in the winter here!)

    Found 5 books for school for less than $5 at the Goodwill.

    Used the library for other book needs.

    Took children to a free art class.

    Repaired PJ pants for dh.

    Made 1/2 gallon of yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir.

    Darned a pair of socks that I wasn't ready to part with.

    Printed music from online, rather than purchase.

    Asked a friend to fix an instrument. (I will give them jelly or bread.)

    Used a wrong string on a guitar (when one broke) but tuned it to what it was supposed to be...until I can buy a new set. It works!

    Had to take son to recruiters and asked for a free coffee cup. He gave me two! ;-)

    Made 4 batches of Brandy's granola, 1 batch of her spaghetti sauce for the freezer, and 3 batches of her laundry soap, using FELS.

    When my children were smaller, I made bath mitts out of old towels and they loved them.

  36. Accepted some free groceries,
    I suppressed the urge to pick up lunch Sunday, cooking from my fridge and pantry instead.
    Made a gift for my daughters horse riding instructor.
    Did not buy any meat this week, used what was in the freezer.
    Strained some orange vinegar and used it for cleaning.
    Washed my cell phone and accepted a used one to use in its place from my sister in law.

    1. Have you tried putting your cell phone in a baggy full of rice (take your battery out first if you can and also stick it in the bag)?

  37. Made 3 loaves of bread and 2 pans of pecan rolls. Took one loaf of the bread to a sick employee..thought it would be nutritious and easy on her stomach. Brought one pan of rolls to work to share.

    Cooked all from scratch. Searched fridge and found 4 half used packs of corn tortillas and 3 partial containers of cottage cheese. Made cottage cheese and onion enchiladas. Made enchilada sauce from a jar of diced tomatoes, chili powder seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and some cornstarch. Whirled it till smooth in the blender. Made enough for 2 meals with thawed refried pintos and "mexi -corn"...frozen corn cooked with salsa added to it.

    Trying to stay warm...has gone to zero here the last couple days. Baking and spending lots of time in kitchen with a hot beverage to keep warm.

    Big sale on pasta as the store so made list of what bins I need to refill. Wednesday is double coupon day and looking for sale items I need to combine with a coupon. Pomegranates are on sale for 2.99 and there is a .50 coupon so I can double that and get 1.00 of one pomegranate. We love them...I will combine it with bananas and orange sections and make a bowl of ambrosia for husband's upcoming birthday party this weekend.

    Found bananas on sale at the gas station for .35 a pound. Bought 5 pounds...he always wants a banana cake, I will ripen the rest and freeze in 2 cup portions for banana bread.

    Checked root celler food...culled out 10 pounds of potatoes and cooked them to mashed. Made a shepherd pie for dinner tonight with every vegetable I found bits of in the refrigerator, freezer and a jar of green beans and a jar of wax bean. Enough left for 2 more meals.

  38. Frugal things w/c 14.1.13
    Used the” carcass” part of the turkey from the freezer, it produced enough meat for 2 meals plus stock.
    Second son salvaged the wooden struts (for the fire) from a bunk bed base that was too unstable to continue to use.
    Continue to use up the contents of the freezer. I know I should be stocking up in preparation for the baby, but I am nesting and that involves clearing out.
    I am struggling to do menu planning, so I am working in reverse writing down what we eat each day. Hopefully this will give me something to work from in the future.
    Diluted hand soap by half with water.
    Put blankets below sheet on our bed.
    My husband received about 80 blocks of 6”X4”X4” waste wood from a work supplier (for the fire).
    Mended some kids’ clothes.
    Made apple crumble and banana cake, from fruit which had passed its best.
    Received some recent copies of “The Friend” from a friend at church, my girls thought they were fabulous.
    I continue to worry about the cost of rent, council tax and energy. But don’t know what to do? Any ideas?
    Jenny in Wales

    1. We had huge energy savings when we unplugged our appliances. We put things on power strips and shut the whole thing off. The amount of electricity things like a tv or computer or whatever use when they are just in standby is enormous. Try it for a month and see the huge difference in your bill. I hope you are feeling well, I am an older mother too and whooeee it is tiring.

    2. Thank you Celia, I am trying to remember to turn everything off at the plug whenever it is not being used, I must keep trying. We have also changed energy supplier so hopefully this will help.
      The pregnancy has nearly reached its end (and it is the last one!)so things will get easier soon.

    3. Our electricity bill went down by $30 US when we switched to compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

    4. It's a rented house, quite a few of the light fittings are very fancy, and low energy bulbs will not fit, sadly i'm finding it all frustrating at the moment. but thank you for the ideas.

    5. Jenny--our house has a lot of fixtures with fancy bulbs too but we replaced what we could which is really only about 60% of them and still saw those savings! Save your regular bulbs to replace your CFL bulbs with when you move if you do replace them!

  39. This week I cleaned out and organized our freezer because we had to have space for our half a beef. Because we only have chest freezers alot of wonderful things get lost at the bottom I found alot of goodies like 10 pounds of butter that had gotten lost meaning I won't have to buy some for a while longer hopefully we will have our own milk again by then yay! I went through all our daughters outgrown shoes and listed the nicest ones on ebay to sell and cleaned up and polished the others for a friend's daughter. I bought my produce and coconut oil from for a wonderful price much, much cheaper than any store around me. Did not go to town all week. Made bread and alot of soup to use up leftovers. Put leftvoer hot cerial in my bread dough rather than giving it to the chickens. Restocked my supply of dried beans. Mended a torn box spring cover on the guest bedroom matress set. Bartered future goats milk for some machine embroidery my husband wanted done on his coat. My husband replaced glow plugs on our diesel pickup himself saving us $350 dollars. I refurbished all of our dying truck batteries with a special battery charger and epsom salt this saved us another six hundred dollars. Mended a pair of jeans I tore in a fence. Bought my oldest daughter several new pairs of pants at the thrift store along with some dress shoes for both of my daughters they were in excellant shape and only a couple of dollars a piece a huge savings over buying new. Bought eggs for 75 cents a dozen with a coupon. As always made all meals and snacks from scratch.

  40. I didn't keep up with this last week, so here are my frugal accomplishments for the past couple of weeks.

    Earned $3.00 from an online survey.

    Replaced six-year-old's broken tennis shoes on MLK weekend, using a 25 percent off coupon.

    Used oil company credit card discount and/or grocery points rewards programs for discounts when filling car with gas.

    Purchased complete set of Magic School Bus DVD's (a favorite of the six-year-old) while on sale on Amazon, for gift-giving occasions throughout the year (Easter, birthday, Christmas -- haven't decided how they will be divided up yet). This is my second "gift closet" (actually, it's a box) purchase of 2013.

    Used coupons printed from Swagbucks at the grocery store, which will give me the discount stated on the coupon, as well as Swagbucks credit for each coupon used. Paired with grocery store sales. Also used a printable coupon from the grocery store (somehow, they had deleted my online account; when I reactivated it, they sent me a coupon.) This is also the grocery store with the gas points rewards program.

    Took six-year-old grocery shopping with me; she got a free apple with a card received from the grocery store during one of their community events held last fall. (It's good for a free apple or banana for a child each time they shop with their parent through the end of February.)

    Packed some lunches and breakfasts for work/school. (Sometimes, I just don't get my lunch packed ...) One of the few restaurants close enough to my workplace to go for lunch is McDonalds: used a coupon for a free fries and drink with 20-piece chicken nuggets meal at McDonald's. 20 nuggets is really too much for me for one lunch, so I saved half and microwaved them for lunch the next day, thus splitting the cost of the meal in half between two meals.

    I usually ask for honey for the sauce when I order chicken nuggets, and they always give me way too many packets. Saved the extra packets. Used a couple of them in hot tea when I felt the possibility of a sore throat coming on.

    Successfully fended off the beginnings of a sore throat/cold with honey in hot tea, orange juice and a couple of straight tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. (I would have also used a free sample of Emergen-C, but it had solidified.)

    Accepted leftovers of a pasta salad from a work meeting of some other department; ate for lunch the following day.

    Used whole tomatoes from the freezer, a gift from a neighbor, in place of "stewed tomatoes" called for in a recipe for vegetable beef soup.

    Used strawberries, picked last summer and frozen, to make strawberry muffins, which we ate with the vegetable beef soup, then packed in lunches and for breakfasts.

    Used frozen shredded zucchini (also from last summer) to make zucchini bars, with cream cheese frosting (used the last of the cream cheese in the refrigerator purchased at Christmastime sales). Used as desserts/snacks.

    Used the last of the molasses in a bottle to make molasses crinkles cookies with the six-year-old, letting her practice reading by reading the recipe out of the Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook (the original edition, which I have had since my childhood -- complete with the falling-out pages that we need to carefully tuck back between the covers).

    Used three frozen bananas from the freezer -- each the last one from a bunch, which were going to turn bad before we could eat them, so I put them in the freezer --- to make Money Saving Mom's recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. Have been eating them for my breakfasts.

    And, the biggest frugal accomplishment of the past couple of weeks: completed refinance of the mortgage! Will save $160 a month in payments and, because of the timing of the refinance, will not have to make a mortgage payment at all for February!

  41. My frugal things for the week:

    I repaired a few of my daughter's clothes that had holes in them. We also cleaned out her room and passed on her clothes she had outgrown.

    I used the Old Navy app on my phone and my husbands phone to get my daughter a new pair of pants for $10 (cleaning out her clothes made us realize that she needed more pants). I was also able to get her a jacket for school next year, a shirt for my mom for Christmas next year, and 2 scarves (one will also be a Christmas present once I add some Mickey Mouse to it) all for $0.42.

    My husband and our two boys repaired the upstairs toliet all for the cost of a new seal........someone had decided to flush a toothbrush down it.

    We called Amazon and was able to replace my son's Kindle that he had for almost a year (the screen had been steadily getting worse with lines running through it) for free even though we had purchased it through Walmart.

    I recently discovered Swagbucks TV mobile and that has really boosted my Swagbucks earnings (you can earn up to 50 Swagbucks a day by watching movie trailers-2 Swagbucks per 5 trailers). I was able to cash out for a $10 Home Depot gift card which will go towards the cost of my garden this year.

    I made 3 loaves of banana oatmeal bread and froze two for breakfasts later on. I also made French bread, cookies and uncrustables this week. I threw the uncrustables in the freezer for the kids' lunches.

    I picked up my free lotion from Bath and Body Works. They normally do this promo several times during the year so I am thinking about saving them and using them for Christmas gifts (maybe for the teachers or something).

    I touched up the paint in our family room with the paint that had been left behind from the previous owner. Unfortunately, it is a new addition and when they painted they didn't prime so the paint comes off easily. Eventually, I will have to prime and repaint the room but this is a free fix for now.

    My boys attended a free winter camp this weekend (provided by the military) so I didn't spend any $ feeding them for 3 days and you know how teenage boys can eat so this saved us quite a bit.

    I made a few more crocheted washclothes for Christmas presents and I stocked up on yarn at Michael's (they were having an awesome sale).

  42. Last week was pretty good one for us.

    We had an enormous pine tree fall in our yard. Our neighbor called a friend of his to see if he wanted the wood. Not only did he clean up the entire tree, but he left us a nice size pile of mulch and he gave us 5lbs of grass fed ground beef and 10lbs of russet potatoes in trade. We would have been delighted with the tree removal at no charge, but the food was greatly appreciated.

    My SIL gave me a $30.00 Target gift card for Christmas. I found Ball canning jars on clearance ( the 8 oz wide lid ones), so I bought 6 4pks. I am delighted with this size since we use these for the specialty jams/jellies/marmalades that we make just a few of.

    I kept my thermostat at 66 during the day and 62 at night. Thank goodness for blankets!

    I was able to stock up on flour, sugar, pinto beans and oats while visiting 2 of my children at their college. There is a small store in Harrisonburg, Va called Sharp Shoppers and they carry some bulk packaged foods at really good prices.

    My brother was kind enough to trim both of my dogs nails. I am petrified of hurting them, so I take them to the vet for that service. He was finished in about 5 minutes and saved me $30.00 plus the cost of gas to get them there.

    I accepted some free junk food from a neighbor who has gone on a strict diet. Hauled it to my college kids ~ they and their friends were happy to have it.

    Purchased 8 tubs of Pampers wipes from Amazon for less than $5.00. It was a short lived deal that I saw on the hip2save website (I think). I run a home based daycare, so these will be really nice to have. They arrived today!

    I raised my weekly rate for daycare by $5.00 effective the first week of January. I hated to do it, but expenses were eating away at my profit. I had not had a raise in 3 years. Thankfully, the parents did not fuss over the increase. This will only add $25 extra a week income, but it will help me manage much better.

    My brother has been staying with us the last couple of months. It puts him closer to the jobsite where his company is working right now. He was kind enough to pay our electric bill for December and will be paying January too, as a way to thank us.

    I cleaned out our Master closet and my office area last week. It was so nice to have everything organized. I donated some of the things to a teacher friend and took the other stuff to Goodwill.

    I added water to almost depleted bottles of hand soap. Works great!

    We did have extra gas expense this week, as we drove to see our college children, but I have greatly missed them and felt that it was definitely worth the money.

    I hope everyone has a blessed week. Thanks again Brandy for hosting this!


  43. Whoo hoo! My favorite post of the whole week! This is a little late getting up, but we had a pretty good week last week. Here's what we did frugally:

    * Played homemade board games - my son got upset last year when he didn't get the game he wanted, so we told him to make one. He's made 4 since and they're all fantastic! He had tag board and plain paper on his Christmas list this year so he just had made a new one too!
    * Earned an extra $90 by taking park in a research interview
    * Downloaded 17 free ebooks this week
    * Made all meals at home, sent lunch to school with my husband every day.
    * I worked from home this week - we had a crazy schedule and it just worked out better that way.
    * Salvaged the back and lace from a comforter cover with a worn out top - the lace will be used to lengthen some pajamas for my daughter and I'm thinking of making new covers for the throw pillows from the backing.
    * Found 2 craft packages for Valentine's hand puppets that my MIL sent last year and we totally forgot to put out. Tucked them with the Valentine's mail boxes for this year.
    * Bought everything we need to make 45 valentines for $1 at the Dollar Store! Whoot!
    * Asked the dentist for a second free toothbrush (to have on hand if we get sick and need to switch toothbrushes early) at my cleaning and they happily gave me one.
    * Baked 3 1/2 dozen sugar cookies.
    * Baked a loaf of wheat quickbread
    * Bought material for my daugther's and my Easter dresses plus 2 more dresses (one for each of us) and fleece for two pairs of pants and two pull overs for far less than I had planned by combining sales, coupons and end-of-bolt discounts.
    * Had a play-date with friends on Friday (off school for a teacher in-service) at the Minnesota Children's Museum. We have a membership so we only paid for parking. We brought food for a pot-luck lunch for everyone too. Super fun day!
    * We also accepted a ton of free food last week too: from the Scout's meeting on saturday we brought home 2 1/2 dozen more cookies, 8 muffins, 2 bunches of bananas and a half gallon of apple juice. From my husband's class potluck on Thursday we brought home two bags of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa.

    Thanks Brandy!
    Have a great week everyone!

  44. I didn't keep a written list this week but, this is what I can think of off the top of my head.

    - My husband fixed a leak.
    - Went to the library, borrowed some books and movies.
    - A free diaper sample came in the mail I gave it to my daughter for her baby alive doll. It also came with wipes I passed those on to a friend.
    - Celebrated my daughters eight birthday with family and a few friends. I only served cake and ice cream instead of a full meal.
    - Was given a large stack of paper plates.
    - Found a few items to add to the Once Upon a Child basket. I plan on taking the basket up there soon. The last time I sold them stuff I made $30.
    - Cut and hemmed a dress I had in my closet that was not a cute length on me.

    I'm sure there is more. I'm going to try to keep a written list this week.

  45. I bought 2 pairs of maternity pants and a maternity top at a second hand store. I paid less for those three items than I would have paid for half of a pair of maternity pants at Target.

    I used gift cards that I got as Christmas presents to eat out a few times this week. I think I will suggest this again next year. It has been awesome to treat myself without spending money.

    I bought some produce on a great sale.

  46. Hi everyone.

    I’m posting about the last two weeks, since I’m still somewhat behind my schedule.

    - cooked every meal from scratch and packed lunch for my husband every weekday but Wednesday (he always lunch with his fellow students in the cafeteria once a week).

    - went to the winter sales and managed to get almost everything I need for next winter for my son for prices less than the local thrift stores or ebay. This is something I am really happy about. I also bought a pair boots on sale which I shall use next winter, if the ones I have happen to wear out.

    - Made playdough with my son.

    - Cut up faded and worn out t-shirts to make cleaning clothes.

    - Stocked up on diapers on sale – I’m set for two more months

    - I also stocked up on spices. I always buy them in bulk at the local “ethnic” shops. Not having stores like Sam’s, these are also the shops where I can buy chickpeas, lentils, mung beans or the like for quite good prices.


  47. I made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce and froze a lot of it.

    We used some of the freezer meals I made over Christmas on busy days.

    I worked on my daughter's formal dinner dress. Sadly, I found a flaw in the fabric (2 tiny holes) after it was part way done. The fabric was only $2/yard a couple of years ago on clearance, so was not returnable. Anyway, I tore it apart, had just enough to re-cut that piece, and put it back together, reminding myself that I was saving at least $100 by making this.

    I used many home-canned jars and home-frozen items from our storage.

    I received and sorted my seeds. My husband re-furbished our greenhouse. He made it years ago from boards and plastic and wanted to put a more permanant siding on it.


  48. FOund your blog yesterday, and have searched it on-and-off for 2 days, soaking in all the info. I love the free patterns, as I smock and sew also.
    Please tell me how you use baking soda and vinegar to clean. Do you make a paste, just sprinkle baking soda around exactly? I have used a Dawn and vinegar mix for showers, worked fantastic, but smell was so strong...the whole house smelled.

    1. I usually use borax, but you can use baking soda, too. I just run a little water into the tub to get it wet enough to make a wet paste and I use a scrub brush. Yes, you just sprinkle it around the shower.

      I don't like the Dawn/vinegar mix for the shower. I tried that before and I found it to be extremely wasteful. You don't need so much of either one to clean. If you have glass, you may want to consider using a squeegee with just a tiny bit of dish soap (a few drops) to clean the glass, just as you would for windows. You could try citrus vinegar for cleaning instead of plain vinegar; the vinegar smell isn't so strong (almost gone, really) and that helps.

      If anyone else sees your comment you will probably get several other suggestions of ways to do it completly differently. Do what works for you!

    2. I just use a spray of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water for cleaning (use an older cleaner spray bottle or get one from the dollar store). Works like a charm on all our surfaces but the toilet! For that I still use toilet bowl cleaner. I've found that even in our shower it works great! We have a curtain on the shower, not a glass door so I have no idea if it would work for that.

      I use the baking soda for stubborn stuff and use it just like Brandy said: get the surface wet, sprinkle on and then scrub. Repeat as necessary until completed.

      As my kids say, "Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!" :)

      Hope that's helpful, Lea

    3. I just use bleach inside the bowl. I wear a long apron, though--it can spray a bit when you're using the toilet bowl brush.


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