Friday, May 29, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

This is one week where I can be 100% honest and say, "I spent next to no money".  We plain didn't HAVE money to spend, so that helped a bunch.  But, money is being saved and the garden is taking shape, so I figured I'd report on that stuff.

So here we go!

1.  I went to Fred Meyer today and got my Freebie Friday find (it's a free Bai drink by the way).  I got the mango flavor and am still sipping on it as I type this.  We needed to get water softening salt, so I just got the freebie while I was there.

2.  I was able to get a free cookbook made on Shutterfly a couple of weeks ago, paid my 7.95 shipping and now I have a nice little compilation of some of the recipes I use a lot (it finally came in the mail).  Nice part of doing this too, is if my blog ever goes down I won't lose everything as I have printed back ups of my recipes (that aren't just written down scribbles on pieces of paper).

I do this a lot when I get a free book code for the online print outfits.  It's a great way to back up recipes you use all in one place.  I have another cookbook of family recipes from my husband's family and my own family that I use a lot, especially during the holidays.  Totally worth the 8.00 shipping to get these things.  Trust me :).

3.  I didn't really shop this week, honestly, so coupons didn't do me a lot of good.  I spent 20.00 on groceries and I DID pull my kids out of the house early on the day when the grocery store does their dairy mark downs in the hope I could get milk cheap.  I was able to score 5 half gallons at 50% off.  Hopefully that will see us through the weekend combined with the 1/2 gallon we have in the fridge already (yes, we go through that much milk around here).  Otherwise, I got water softening salt which I got at Fred Meyer as it was a lot cheaper there than other places and I got a dozen eggs for cheap meals throughout the week.

4.  I made all of our bread this week, which saved us money by keeping me out of the store.

5.  I also used my grill more this week, so I wasn't consuming gas to cook.  Sure, I consumed propane, but I use a lot less propane than gas to cook and the double bonus was that it stopped my upstairs from getting super hot with the oven being on, so I was able to avoid turning on our super huge living room fan, which meant I saved money on electricity.

6.  I worked hard doing surveys and watching videos on Swagbucks to get up to my first Amazon giftcard.  I'm planning on saving up the codes for Christmas gifts, so I'm really actively working on Swagbucks at this point to get those dollars adding up.  Every little bit helps, especially right now.

7.  I was able to score some things really cheap at a yard sale last weekend, which was an upper to help when life started getting me down this week.

8.  We got invited over to my Sister-in-law's house for dinner last Friday night, which was a blast and a half.  She and her family go out of town for the summer every year due to her husband working in a remote area of Alaska, so we were happy to see them before they were going to leave for the summer.  We got to eat a delicious meal, got to enjoy some great company and my daughter had a blast playing with her cousins.  I especially love these times in our lives as my daughter doesn't get out much due to my son and his needs with his autism, so it was great to see her able to go off and play with her cousins and let me and her dad watch my son (who really had a lot of fun playing and I just had to make sure he didn't wander on us).  I'm really hoping I can get to do more with them once they get back after the summer is over as I'd love my daughter to be able to experience things like sleep overs and other little girl types of activities.  It was a night, overall that made my heart happy :).

And that, honestly, is about it in the way I've saved money this week.  Well with the exception of taking care of my garden and nurturing it like it was another one of my children.

So, let's check out the garden's progress shall we?

Garden Update:

My tomatoes are starting to bloom (seen up top of the post), which is nice to see.  I've been taking my coffee grounds from my morning cup of coffee, saving them in a jar and dumping them on my plants to help give the garden a bit of compost.  I've also been smashing up the old leaves that blew into the garden in the fall last year and working those into the soil as well for some extra compost.  The tomatoes in particular seem to be loving it (that and the fertilizer I'm hitting everything with once a week).  Living in Alaska tomatoes are hard to grow, especially in the ground as our growing season is so short and tomatoes tend not to like cold, but I took advice from my grandma years ago and plant only early producing varieties of tomatoes up here.  And so far I've had pretty good luck with getting tomatoes.

The lettuce seedlings are finally starting to grow well and fast.  I was worried when I planted them, as this was the smallest lettuce seedlings I'd ever bought (usually I go for further along and more developed ones).  They are still a couple of weeks away from where I'm going to be comfortable to start harvesting lettuce to use throughout our summer salads, but I'm really looking forward to the lettuce at this point.

I can't get over how well the sprouting onion I planted is doing.  All four offshoots from the original bulb survived and seem to be growing very well.  The garlic I planted is also taking off and I should be able to weed it with more authority soon (I've already ripped out one garlic plant thinking it was least the garlic needed to be thinned in that area anyway).

I planted four locally sourced potatoes that were sprouting in my pantry on me and so far it looks like I'm going to have one potato plant out of the four.  Which, honestly, at this point I'm happy with that as at least the potato was free.

The kale I planted is starting to grow, but it seems it is growing slower than last year.  It does seem to make great gains, though, whenever I fertilize it, so I'm wondering if the plants this year are just eating heavier than in previous years.  I know from researching that onions are heavy eaters, so I've been being very careful to make sure I fertilize regularly and that seems to be helping all of the plants.  Since we haven't been getting overly much rainfall of late, I'm thinking that is probably a good portion of the issue.  It always seems like my plants do better with rain water than they do with well water.  Why that is, I'm not sure, but it is true.  Probably something to do with soil and moisture saturation.

My front bed is kind of vexing me overall.  The plants are always kind of on the lower end of pathetic in this bed as it is under a birch tree and the plants vie with the tree for nutrients.  This year, though, I figured I'd plant herbs, which normally do very well no matter where I plant them.  The pineapple sage plant, while trying early on to die on me, is recovering slowly after I was able to keep it alive.  The mint I planted I'm kind of surprised isn't spreading as well as I'd hoped.  With mint being an invasive herb, I was planning on just letting it pretty much take over this bed, but it's spreading very, very slowly.

 The biggest surprise for me, however, was looking down at my bed one day and realizing that CHIVES were growing in my bed!  I have never EVER been able to grow chives on my own...they always seem to die on me.  But, I found a plant had taken root higher up the bank from my garden bed a few years ago.  I'm thinking it must have been a seed carried by the wind and a lot of luck that put it there, and I've been taking very delicate care of it ever since; trying to nuture it to grow bigger than a small little plant before I worried about harvesting any chives.  Somehow, the chives spread with sporadically placed little plants down the bank and now I have chives in my actual garden!  I'm so thrilled and am waiting for them to flower.

We always had chives in my yard growing up and I loved the spiky little flowers they produced.  So, on top of having chives for cooking I'm just looking forward to getting to see those flowers again.

The herb planters in front of my yard are finally doing well.  I'm growing elfin thyme for the first time and it is such an odd little plant.  It looks kind of like moss to me, but it is growing well, so we'll see how hard it is to use in culinary applications when it's harvesting time.

I did have a couple of losses in the garden this year.  The two basil plants I bought from my local nursery died.  One just kept looking more and more sickly and didn't want to grow, so I'm thinking it was just plain unhappy in the soil it was in.  I tried moving it to a pot and the transplant finished the poor thing off.  The other one froze when we had a really cold night about two and a half weeks ago.  I was able to replace one basil plant from one I found with minor frost damage from Fred Meyer and the new basil plant seems to be doing much better.  I'm just hoping it produces enough basil to make a decent amount of pesto pucks come harvesting time as I love to have those in the freezer.

Oddly enough, while the spider mites did return this year they weren't as terrible as in previous years.  Probably because they hit the side of my house vs the front so much, which kept them out of window wells and climbing the building where they could actually cause problems.  We also haven't yet had time to mow our lawn (thus giving the suckers something to eat on) and I spread diatomaceous earth early on, which seemed to keep them, for the most part, out of my house.  I'm still going to spray some spray to help break up their breeding cycle even further, thus hopefully getting rid of the terrible little pests for good.

And so there you are.  My week and garden update.  How did you do this week?


  1. I have never thought of putting recipes in a photobook. I will most certainly look out for photobook offer codes from now on. I could pass down my ways to my children for when they become adults. Thank you SO much for sharing that.

    Well done those chives! x

  2. Try pinning a few mint branches down under the dirt in a few directions to help your mint to make more roots and spread a bit more.

  3. Erika, every year your chives should be more and more. Once you get enough, chop off the flowers to stop the re-seeding. I have seen people flavor vinegar with the chive flowers, have not tried it myself.

  4. Thanks for the advice! I actually did think just recently to start burying the little offshoots from the mint, so hopefully that'll help it spread better.

    Thank you for the advice on the chives as well. I'd never heard of chive vinegar before. I'll have to look that one up!

  5. HI Erica,
    Love your blog! Lili over at creative savv posted how to make homemade rice mlk to make the cows molk go farther.

  6. Hi,
    Lili at creative savv posted how to make homemade rice milk to make the cows milk go farther.

  7. great week...i know what it is like to have nothing to spend! You gardening is very encouraging...maybe I will try....i have a tomato plant but it only has one tomato maybe i will try the coffee ground thing!

  8. Try Miracle Grow for tomatoes specifically. You can pick it up pretty much anywhere and tomatoes LOVE it. It's just a nitrate solution made to help tomatoes get the nutrition they need. It's a wonder!