Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

Well, as week's go it's been productive, in some ways not in the way I had planned.

This week was, I'm liking to call "Me vs. the Bugs" week here at the Make Do Homemaker homestead.

First there were the bugs in the garden.  Ever sat there and flipped every single leaf of lettuce, spinach and cabbage over looking for aphids and other nasties so you could kill them before they did more damage to your plants (and I'm sure other gardeners are looking at the screen and saying, "Yup" right now)?  Yeah, that was me.  The insecticidal soap isn't working as well as I'd hoped, primarily due to us getting JUST enough rain to make the weather bug friendly, so it was down to manual killing of bugs this week.

Then I was in my kitchen and pulled out my mixer to find a meal worm under it.  Now I KNOW that kitchen pests happen, especially in bad bug years (and I keep my food locked away in Tupperware and other containers to make sure I keep these things to a minimum), but you have NO IDEA how deep my bug-a-phobia goes.  I lived in Florida for four months with five slobs for roommates (I must defend my roommate Kim, though, she was neat just like me so we were the two trying to fight incoming bugs constantly).  After seeing walls move when you turn on the lights and having to kill that many roaches in one are scarred for life.

So, I freaked out when I found the meal worm, cleaned everything down to the deepest level I could (including going at my mixer with a Q-tip and some bleach water...yes...I'm that bug a phobic) and really worked on getting clutter reduced in the kitchen to give bugs less places to hide.  I've then been on a quest to get the rest of the house cleaned down to the deepest levels as well to keep bugs down as with the way the summer is shaping up I'm imagining bugs are definitely going to be a problem this year.

At least deep cleaning doesn't really cost you anything except in elbow grease and time.

Things overall, though, went well this week on the money saving front.  Let's get to that :).
1.  When it comes to the garden I harvested tons this week, so here's a quick update.

Lots of lettuce, spinach and cabbage was harvested and turned into salads this week.  I harvested all of my dwarf bok choy as it was starting to bolt, so I'm looking through my seeds to figure out what to plant in it's place :).

I thinned my Swiss chard, finally, and was able to add that to salad fixings as well.  The bunching onions are finally starting to grow, the potatoes are trying to take over the universe no matter where they are, the chocolate mint is finally starting to come up in the front bed and I noticed we finally have some wave petunias starting to come out in bloom in the front bed, so yay!

I also harvested herbs this week and used them in different dishes, including chives, which was nice not having to rely on my dehydrated onions for onion flavor in dishes for a change (and I'm thrilled the chives have spread to at least three different locations in the front bed and are doing well this year).

I love this time of year.  Being able to harvest salad fixings from the garden and herbs.  Shot of my first "official" harvest from the garden is above :).
2.  While most of the week was too hot to can things, Monday wasn't too bad, so I got golden syrup canned.  You don't really need to "can" golden syrup as once it's made it keeps at room temperature for a long while (at least a year), but I like to actually can it to one, be safe, and two, so if it falls over in the pantry it won't leak everywhere.  I discovered golden syrup when my daughter had her corn allergy.  It's basically just a caramel flavored sugar syrup, but you add lemon to it to stop the sugar from recrystallizing and also to help flavor the syrup.  The taste actually improves with age and you can use it in recipes calling for corn syrup, you can use it to make gypsy tarts ( I'm drooling at the thought) and you can use it for a topping for pancakes or ice cream and other things.  It's actually really versatile and pretty easy to make :).  And you can't beat the ingredient list.  Sugar, water and lemon.  That's it.
And it sure looks pretty when done *laugh*.

3.  Got my electric bill in the mail and it's down 60.00 from last month and that's with four more days onto the calculations.  Part of this I attribute to watching electric consumption, but a good portion of it, I'm sure, is because we've only had to run the air conditioner once so far this summer (although I am tracking it to see if the new meter had anything to do with this trend as well).  Definitely a good thing.

4.  I hit sales hard when grocery shopping this week and luckily things I really needed were on sale (more on that in a later post).  I even had both kids shopping with me yesterday and managed to keep my list straight.  I was proud of myself *laugh*.

5.  I made meatloaf this week and used the free crackers that neither my husband and I were fond of in the meatloaf instead of bread crumbs.  It worked really well, actually, and made a really tasty meatloaf.  I'm kind of glad that I have about 1/2 of the box left to make another meatloaf with in the future.

6.  I mended five items this week.  I'm still trying to figure out this phenomena.  No matter how many things you mend, it's like suddenly there are MORE things to mend then when you started the pile.  I swear it grows as you watch.

7.  I spread used coffee grounds on the garden before I fertilized it, so the garden was definitely happy (at least if the sudden jump in growth was any indication anyway).

8.  I accidentally put some paper towels through the washer and dryer and once they came out of the dryer, instead of throwing them away, I stacked them in a pile and have been using them one at a time to do things like dust the shelves downstairs and things.  It's a great way to reuse something that is nice and clean again before throwing it away.

9.  I actually kept to my meal plan this week (booyah!) which helped to eliminate a lot of "what's for dinner" issues.  I even made a double batch of pancakes for pancake night and if we don't eat through them this weekend I'll freeze the left overs for later use.

10.  To save on freezer bags, I used empty bread bags to pack my meat in before putting it into freezer bags.  This eliminated me having to use 7 freezer bags this week.  That's definitely a savings!

I know I'm forgetting some things, but those are the ones I remember.  So, how did you do this week?


  1. Did you finally get to try Chicken Souvlaki this week? If you did, how did you and your family like it? Also, could you share your recipe for golden syrup? Sounds like you had a pretty good week!

    This week I harvested more oregano from the garden at work and dried it in my dehydrator. I'm starting to get a nice amount, but I may try to get more, if I can without destroying the plant. Took lunches and an insulated cup with ice water to work every day. Also enjoyed some delicious baked goods made by the other interpreters practicing their 19th century cooking skills (perks of the job!). I went grocery shopping this week, which I will share with you when you post your shopping trip post. Finally, my husband and I participated in a Dragon Boat race this weekend for some free exercise and a fun family outing. We took a cooler packed with drinks and lunch items, to avoid spending unnecessary money. Not a bad week for us either!

  2. I use this recipe with a few tweaks. One, I use 4 slices of lemon just to be safe on the canning front. Then I boil it to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer (syrup temperature). Then keep it on low while you fill your jars, and process for 10 minutes, remove lid from canner and let sit five minutes and then remove to a tea towel to cool and seal.

    I find that the syrup tastes best after about a month of sitting in the pantry :).

    1. Thank you. I pinned it on my Pinterest board for quick reference.

  3. The chicken souvlaki I thought was good, but I left it marinating too long and my husband thought it was too powerful tasting. Next time I'll do better. I'm also hoping to make it with the proper sauce next time too because I think it would taste better. Not bad for a first attempt making it, though :).

    1. We like the strong flavour, but we're used to eating chicken souvlaki from a restaurant. The tzatziki sauce is my favourite part of the meal. You can also use it as a veggie dip, if you have some left over. Glad you liked your first attempt!

    2. I've had tzatziki sauce before no gyros for the most part (which I love), but I haven't had a lot of luck finding cucumbers worth buying up here yet. We won't be getting good fresh cucumbers in for another month or so yet and the other ones make really cruddy sauce as they aren't great quality ones. So, I shall wait *laugh*.

  4. Hi Erika,
    It's Dorothy. I'm going to try this as anonymous and see if it works.

  5. Hmm. So how would the golden syrup be compared to say, pancake syrup? It definitely looks pretty.

    So we are in North Carolina with my parents for a few days. First, hotel check in was at 3, and we got here at 4. At 5:45 ourmroom was ready. No apologies and wouldn't move us to another room though they had pleanty. And then...I open the suitcase. My 3 year old had been throwing stuff out of the suitcase while I packed it friday, and while I thought everything was in there, it's not and my 8 year old has NO shorts, or pants othe than what he wore today. I'm so upset. So it's to Walmart tomorrow in this middle of freaking no where place to hope they have some his size.

    And I know what you mean about those roaches. Texas had those massive ones too, everwhere, and after 12 years ofmit, if I see a shadow I'm freaking out I'm so scarred.

    1. Oh no! I'm so sorry that happened to you! I'd be freaking out about the pants issue. I'm one of those people who probably drive others nuts as I pack for bear when I travel, so I can just see myself in that situation freaking out.

      Golden syrup compared to pancake syrup. Man, that's a hard one. Golden syrup has it's own flavor going on, so it's hard to even compare the two. You could make some, though, and if you didn't think the flavor was deep enough for your tastes (which has happened to me in the past when I didn't cook the sugar to make the "caramel" long enough) you can add a few teaspoons of vanilla to the pan (warning it'll bubble up when you do that).

      I'll have to share a recipe I have for home made pancake syrup sometime if I ever can figure out where to get maple flavoring (our store stopped carrying it a while ago). It's actually pretty good :).

  6. 9) On National Donut Day I took the kids to the newly opened Krispy Kreme near us for our free donuts (no purchase necessary). The promotion said it was only good for the original glazed, but since it was a brand new store, when we got there they said we could pick out ANY donut we wanted. So, of course the kids chose chocolate with sprinkles. And I chose the "cherry pie" donut. The kids also received balloons & a "donut maker's" hat.

    10) I took my kids to the library for some books and DVD (we don't have cable but have Netflix & Hulu. But, the movie my daughter wanted to watch was only available to rent on those sites, so off to the library we went!) While there, we signed up for the summer reading program and filled out a "tic tac toe" board. As a thank you, we were given a free tote bag, TWO coupons for a FREE kid's meal at Chipotle, and entry into the grand prize drawing at the end of the summer.

    11) Completed the final requirements to earn the $250 Wellness Award from my husband's employer. It will be deposited into our HSA in January. This was for me. I am still trying to decide if I will do his tasks for him to earn his (because he totally won't). We are each eligible to earn $250, for a total of $500.

    12) We have been trying to sell one of our rental properties for over a year now (out of town). Our last offer fell through due to a plumbing leak under the house. We just paid $5k to get it fixed - oof! Rather than mail a check, I called the plumbing vendor (small business) to see if I could pay via CC to earn rewards. He said sure! The bonus is we received another offer on the house a couple of days after this, and this one should be good to go. Whoo hoo! We've been carrying this house without a tenant since last June so it will be a giant monthly raise when the house is sold.

    13) I scored 2 free tickets to a movie screening of The Conjuring 2 because we belong to AMC Stubs Rewards. I don't like scary movies, so my husband went alone. He loved it!

    14) I won $40 in gift cards to a nice restaurant in town by participating in their photo caption contest on FB. I was the runner-up. I also won 2 free tickets to a big-name concert that is happening next week by submitting an online entry (it is a at a local bar - the act is still famous but no longer a stadium draw). So, we planned a date night for next week using the free dinner gift cards and free concert tickets! We should be able to do dinner without spending any $ out of pocket.

    15) My Mom wanted to attend a relative's graduation, so I provided her with buddy passes to fly for free (my husband is a commercial airline pilot).

    16) I finally convinced my husband to downgrade the size of our trash cart which will save us $5/month. We also decided to purchase a yard cart from the city (one-time purchase, ours to keep, no monthly fee) rather than buy the yard bags. Then I thought, "hey, I should check to see if someone is selling theirs!" Yep, bought one off FB for $30 rather than the $80 it would've cost to order through the city.

    17) Worked 2 hours from home. I earn a very high hourly rate, so even a little work adds up. I work on an as-needed basis for my company since I'm now primarily a SAHM.

    18) Sold a very nice bathing suit that no longer fits on FB for $45.

    19) Cut both kids' hair. Saved $12/haircut plus tip. I was getting tired of paying for my son to get horrible haircuts. My daughter's is easy - just a trim.

  7. 20) Took my kids to TWO FREE outdoor movies this past week. Brought our own snacks and drinks to both. They had a blast and got to stay up super late, which was fun for them, but not so much for me the next day when they were cranky. :) At the 2nd movie (different location than the first), we were given FREE Chick-Fil-A for dinner for being one of the 1st 100 guests (I had made sure to get there extra early!). :)

    21) Since I am capable of paying for something ONCE in awhile :), I rewarded my kids for being so patient with me driving away to sell my FB item & pick up the yard cart, that I got them each a soft serve ice cream cone at QuikTrip for only 79 cents each. Everywhere else it's at least $1/cone.

    22) I had already planned on taking my kids to the local bounce house place at some point this summer. It is usually $8/kid but I spotted a Living Social deal where I got it for $6.32 total for both kids instead of $16. Plus, I went through a cash back shopping portal to earn a rebate.

    23) My daughter had received a gift certificate for a 90-minute kid'd cooking class as a birthday gift from a grandparent. I planned to schedule her to go at some point this summer. I thought my son might enjoy it also now that he's getting older, so when I saw a Groupon deal for it, I jumped. I got it for 50% off, $18 instead of $36. I went through a cash back shopping portal to earn rebates.

    24) I found 30 cents at the gym. Usually it's just a penny, so I was very excited!

    25) Attended a friend's bbq/pool party, where I was asked to bring dips. We were running late, so rather than just buying them as I was tempted, I found two recipes that I made in 5 minutes using ingredients I already had on hand. And they were really good!

    26) I am trying really hard to reduce paper towel use. I hid them away and cut up some old flannel burp clothes, towels, etc. to use as clean up. I also bought some cloth napkins at Goodwill rather than use paper towels as napkins. So far, so good!

    27) This one wasn't from this past week - it was from last month, but it was so good I had to share. A local children's magazines has coupons for a free mini bundt cake from a local bakery. The bakery will take multiple coupons at once. Unfortunately, the location closer to me doesn't take the coupons, only the one about 25 minutes away. But, it was worth the drive, because I scored 15 mini bundt cakes in a variety of flavors to donate to Teacher Appreciation Week back in May for FREE. These retail for $4.95 EACH. That was a $75 savings! These cakes are SO GOOD and they are all individually wrapped with cute ribbons. The teachers were gushing over them.

  8. I had posted 1-8 first but then it didn't show up, so I reposted. Sorry it's out of order!

  9. Okay, after MONTHS of reading you and The Prudent Homemaker (and others), I FINALLY wrote down all of my frugal accomplishments for the past week. Can I just say...I am really impressed with myself! :) I apologize for the length, but it was a very productive week on the frugal front! ***Okay, will have to post as 2 comments. It's telling me it's too long!***

    1) Kids are taking swim lessons again this summer. Rather than buy more ear drying drops (helps prevent swimmer's ear), I used filled the empty container with a homemade solution (half rubbing alcohol, half white vinegar). Their swimsuits were purchased used, and their lessons are scheduled at the same time to reduce time away from home & driving. The lessons themselves are not frugal (private), but we live on a lake and feel the investment is well worth it to help the kids be confident and safe in the water.

    2) Planned & ate all meals at home (except free ones noted below) and used all leftovers. No food waste! One example I'm proud of is using the leftover meat from the previous week's roast chicken to make chicken teriyaki (homemade teriyake sauce) and THEN using the carcass to make homemade chicken stock.

    3) Spent $169 on groceries for a 2-3 week period for family of 4. This is helped by the fact that I shop at the military commissary, use coupons and combine with deals when possible, apply Ibotta & Checkout 51 rebates when possible, and this week I snagged an AMAZING deal on chicken (literally less than TEN CENTS per package!!!). I'll go into detail on that in your shopping post. :) I also printed and used coupons from "My Points" to save $ and earn points.

    4) Purchased over $83 worth of items at CVS (vitamins, hair color, light bulbs, batteries) and paid just over $16! I did several transactions to make the most of my ExtraBux. Plus, I had received an email from CVS for a survey. It literally took me 5 minutes and I was awarded a $10 ExtraBux reward. Whoo hoo!

    5) I drank only water all week (as usual). I take my resuable 24 oz cup & straw wherever I go. We purchased 5 gallon containers of water due to very hard water plus drilling near our home, so we don't entirely trust the tap water. I prepaid our water account at the store where we purchase the water to save 5%.

    6) Cashed out over $20 I had earned at Ibotta to my PayPal account. My husband had just run out of his cologne. I looked online and the brand/type/size he wanted retails for ~$69. I checked Craigslist and Facebook first in case anyone was selling it. No luck. So, I found it on for just over $23, paid using my PayPal $ which made it FREE! Oh, and I went through a cash back shopping portal (I use Mr. Rebates & Ebates, depending on which pays more), so I earned a rebate also.

    7) Continued to sign up for freebies from FreeFlys and Freebie Select. Continued to earn points on MyPoints and Inbox Dollars by using the search bar, doing surveys, and confirming emails. Continued to earn points on e-Rewards by doing surveys. Continued to earn points on RecycleBank by clicking through the quizzes.

    8) During my day of CVS & grocery errands, I ate lunch out completely free. Our local Chick-fil-A was promoting the new mobile app. If you downloaded the app, you earned a free regular or grilled chicken sandwich. Done! The same day, I was texted that week's reward/discount for Subway. It was a free large iced tea, no purchase necessary. So, I went to CFA & got my sandwich and then to the next shopping center over to get my free Subway drink. All free! And kept me from filling my grocery cart with junk food. :)

  10. Wow! I'm super impressed! I can't believe all the cool things you scored for free! Go you!!!

    1. Thanks! I still don't see my post with items 1-8?

    2. I think Blogger ate it. I'd try posting it again. Sorry Blogger is such a pain with posting :(.