08 September 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments ~ 8 Sept 2014

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for a little breakdown.  Not as much to share this week, but some fun things, for sure.

  • Found seasons three and four of Downton Abbey on DVD at the base library.  I wasn't too concerned about keeping up as I'd read some spoilers at another blog to get the basics, and I was unwilling to buy the DVDs or try to buy it all on iTunes.  Then I saw the trailer for season five and thought I'd really like to see it at some point, so I'd better catch up.  I checked at the library off-base and I could place holds, but I'd have been number 50 for season three and number 255 for season four.  I was willing to wait, but thought I'd give the base library a try as I knew they had season three previously.  The kids and I popped in and I spotted seasons two, three, and four on the shelf!  I grabbed the two I needed and Manly and I watched them for a marathon through the weekend while the children were away.  Pleasant surprise: he was interested in watching them with me so it did make a nice free alternative to a movie or something.
  • Our weekend was actually due to a cancellation - we were scheduled to attend a homesteading intensive with the school that did the kids' wilderness camps this summer.  Unfortunately they didn't have enough sign-ups for the adult weekend, so they transferred our deposit to pay the kids' camp fee.  My folks still watched the kids (it's such a blessing to be in the same place as my folks for now!) and we ran a few errands and watched Downton.  Obviously we're disappointed the class wasn't a go, but technically it's a savings.  We hope to attend one next year instead.
  •  Harvested a few tomatoes, green beans, and eggplant from the garden.  It looks like the pickling cukes are almost done and the green beans might not have much longer to produce.  The peas are starting to grow better now that the weather is cooling off more and I've got seeds to put in for more peas, plus spinach, lettuce, kale and a few other cool weather crops.  Some were purchased a few years back on sale and a few were purchased recently in an end of summer sale from Renee's Garden.  (Those arrived late last week.)
  • Returned the glass milk bottle and other reusable supplies for cold items that come from our CSA - there is a $5 deposit, so that was credited to our account for last week's delivery.
  • Purchased four cabbage starts at the farm and garden shop for $1 each.  They have their fall items coming up now and the cabbage moths got the bulk of the leaves, so they discounted a bunch of the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts.  They still look healthy enough and hopefully will do well for us as we'd like to have some to make more sauerkraut with.
  • Got a surprise discount on cabbage at the farmers market.  I didn't realize they closed as early as they do, so we moseyed around, had a late lunch, and then we saw vendors starting to pack up.  When we stopped back by to grab the cabbage heads, the vendor weighed them and said they were supposed to be $2 a pound, which would have made them $10, but he said "How about $7?"  That was a nice treat and I'll get the first attempt at sauerkraut going today.
  • The Master Recycler Composter class I'd applied for turned out to be cancelled due to lack of applications. (Not my fall, apparently! LOL)  I was so worried I wouldn't get a slot because I'm not a resident of that county, and here they didn't have enough people to justify a training.  Bummer, but it does save me the $80 class fee.  
  • Went into our bank account on the weekend and saw an odd charge - discussed it with Manly and found it was fraudulent, not a purchase he'd made or I'd forgotten.  He called the bank immediately and they blocked everything else coming in. This is the third time in less than two years; so scary!  Our bank is so good about it though - they immediately froze the debit card and will get a new one out and we'll get that charge refunded after they investigate it.  I finally realized it's best for me to go get one of those rechargeable gift cards for anything we need to buy online - I just wish I'd thought of it the first time around!  I'll do that on payday.  Spotting the charge saved us from anything else coming in, at least; the first time this happened the thief had made $700 worth of purchases before I happened to go into the account and almost sunk us for the month as we had more bills then.  Scary, scary.
  • After our library trip last week, we stopped at the PX.  I found Chatty some clothes for fall/winter on clearance.
  • Used caught rain water to water some plants in the garden. 
  • My mom passed on a big bag of notebook sheet protectors that I'll use for organizing articles I've saved on gardening and homesteading.  She also gave me two large D-ring binders from her own decluttering work for storing them.  I had used up what I had on knitting patterns so now I won't have to buy more page protectors just yet.
  • Did not get to take advantage of a big sale over at Chelsea Green Publishers this weekend due to my card issue - I suppose I ended up saving that way with a frozen card?  haha  (I know I could have used Manly's or our credit card but just felt it better to not make a purchase at that point.  Too creepy.)
I think that's about it.  Wishing you all a lovely week!

03 September 2014

Current Project and Book ~ 3 Sept 2014

This perfect color matching made me chuckle!

I've been reading all kinds of permaculture books from the library lately - a bit of a break from all the bee books I had been absorbed in.  Now I'm down to the last two books in the library stack (GASP!) and I switched back to bees for the next read.  My dear friend Harriette has been recommending Robbing the Bees to me for months and I'm excited to have found this copy before our library branch closed down for an almost month-long remodel!  I'll be delving into a permaculture book after it though.  ;)

Project-wise I'm trying to work my way through my stash and my Ravelry queue and honestly, I'm procrastinating on the baby sweater.  Er.  Hey, full disclosure.  So I finished up the wide scarf that I had on the knitting board and got it bound off yesterday.  We were in the car a while yesterday while doing some registration things from moving, so I brought a hank of yarn and cast on a skinny scarf as well.  It's stash yarn that I'd put in a sell or trade bag, which also puts it aside for donation projects.  When I finish one item to be donated, I'll just grab a new skein and start another scarf.  The wide scarf is shorter and the Bamboo Ewe "Mercury" has a nice sheen without being too shiny, so I think it will make some man a nice neckwarmer under their coat.  I had Manly try it on as he has a very sturdy build, and I think it'll work nicely. (I realized I was trying the length around my neck, which might not be "dude" sized.  LOL)  So that's one more for the donation bag and another in the works.  Woohoo!

I really really really will do my test swatch for the baby sweater this week.  The kids will be at Gramma and Grampa's for part of the weekend so I'll take advantage of the quiet until Manly gets home from work to do that.  We're attending a couple of events sponsored by the local Transition Town group so I know no one will be offended if I show up to a seminar with handknits in, um, hand.

Joining Nicole for KCCO, Ginny for Yarn Along and Tami for WIP Wednesday today.  Do stop by and visit them too!

01 September 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments ~ 1 Sept 2014

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for the frugal accomplishments line up - I feel like a lot of what I did was just business as usual so I won't list it all, and I did have some splurges this week that were not frugal.  Full disclosure: I stopped at the base drive thru on the way back from taking the kids to their camp van pick up each morning and got myself a soda.  But I did it on the drive I was on anyway, so we'll call that consolidating errands, okay?  LOL

Okay, for the real money saving stuff:

  • Used the new drying rack along with our smaller one and our Japanese sock hangers to dry laundry.  I found out I'll probably still need the retractable line up in the garage for doing sheets in the winter as the rack just isn't wide enough to dry them without a lot of nice warm sun.  I'm fine with that though - or even just tossing things like linens and towels in the dryer still, as drying clothes on the racks still cuts my electric usage significantly!  I was able to dry the sheets and tablecloth on the racks by "ballooning" them over the racks, and I dried an afghan by folding it in half over the chain link fence.  Those worked well that day because we had a sunny day with a warm breeze blowing through everything.
  • Caught rain on Saturday morning in totes/buckets.  I learned a new trick: putting a bucket under the lowest corner of the patio table results in a lot of water caught!  There's a little gap between the glass and the metal trim and the aggregate patio is uneven, so water naturally drained out that corner.  By staging a bucket in that spot, I got more than two gallons of water.  Compared to the bits and bobbits in the storage totes that were just stuck out in the open, that was quite the coup.  Everything has been consolidated into one tote that I can cover until I use up the water in the garden.
  • Picked up a natural dog magazine at the bookstore because my son spotted a feature listed about natural flea control.  Learned several tricks I'll be discussing with the vet and possibly trying, in the hopes of eliminating the use (and cost) of the chemical "spot" treatment for fleas and ticks that we use each month for Miss V.  I believe the skin issues she's having may well be from being squirted with insecticide every month, and I certainly don't like the risks to our family (even if we don't pet those areas, she rubs up against things in the house so it's certainly getting on the couch we sit on, etc) and the risks to non-threatening bugs like bumble and honeybees when she's outside in the grass.  We'll be picking up some diatomaceous earth (DE) at the feed store and starting there, along with herb and essential oil options I learned in the article, with her vet's input/oversight.  (This is easy since her vet is holistic in focus, so I know she'll support the concept - but I trust her more educated opinion on what is safest for the dog too.  If she feels it is truly unsafe to try this route due to regional infestations I'm not aware of, I will defer to that and continue with the cash for the chemical method.)
  • Ordered a tent Manly found for 30% off at REI on their Labor Day sale along with some other items we do not have for camping.  Found a fleece vest on sale for Bub and got a larger size that will last him several years.  We also ordered bear spray, which was not on sale but is a strongly wanted item in our area (the military police were tracking bears in our housing again last week).  We went in through my Ebates account and received 2.5% cash back on the purchases, and used a credit card for the order that we get 1% store "bucks" for that we save up for large purchases there.  I will receive a dividend back from REI on the bear spray because it wasn't on clearance.
  • Made cleaning supplies at home with essential oils.
  • Harvested over a pound of green beans and about two pounds of tomatoes from the garden.

26 August 2014

Keep Calm Craft On ~ 26 Aug 2014

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On.

>Picture a picture here - yet again I'm having internet problems (thank you, Verizon) so I'll add the photo when I can!<

I finished up the Baby Amanda Hat fairly quickly and picked back up on the grey scarf I had on the knitting board.  I started on it while we were in Texas, to be a donation for our knitting guild's project of sending warm winter gear up to a reservation in a cold northern state.  Unfortunately the guild disbanded, and I didn't finish the scarf before I left anyway.  My folks are working with a local business owner to collect winter coats and accessories for a "Warm County" effort - the business owner is working with customers and other businesses to collect new and gently used winter items to give to people in their county who are in need of such items this year.  He hopes to have a whole storeroom full of supplies by fall so people can get ready in time, especially those with kids in school who need something warm for the bus stop.  (Perfect timing, since I just read the other day that Farmers Almanac is predicting another rough winter!)

I'm almost done with this skein and I think I have another in my yarn bin, so I'm trying to decide whether to keep this as is and bind off soon, making it a wide but shorter neckwarmer (which would work well - it's doubleknit so it's still pretty cozy, and the grey plus the width would be nice looking and super easy for a man to throw under a coat without having to tie anything, wrap it up, etc) OR to go ahead and add the other skein and make it very long and wrappable (which would also make it long enough to tie if a person wanted, or make it almost a shawl for a child).  If I don't add in the second skein, I can do a long, narrow scarf on the smaller knitting board or on regular straight needles.  Pondering, pondering...

24 August 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments: 25 Aug 14

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker to share some frugal accomplishments today.  Stop on by and see her.  Be sure to read the comments on the post too; they are always as exciting to me as the initial post!

This week I:
  • Ordered the clothes drying rack I'd been researching.  After hearing back from Real Goods about their shipping rate, I decided to go with this rack (not an affiliate link).  Even with the FedEx shipping, it came in at a lower price than the other rack I was considering and gives me several more linear feet of drying space.  I decided to invest in a copy of their Solar Living Source Book, which was on sale for $5 (a savings of $34.95!), while I was paying for shipping anyway. [Edit: It's already arrived! My Monday laundry time is going to be AWESOME!!!]
  • Restocked our vitamins and the children's toothpaste.  I used Ebates to shop at Vitamin Shoppe; that got me a 1% rebate in addition to the free shipping for purchases over $25, a 10% off everything coupon I received via email, and rewards "points" that will add up to a gift card at the end of the year.
  • Finally got our old home warranty cancelled.  Despite the fact that we closed on the sale of our home in April, they have continued to bill our card.  I finally got someone who is (supposedly) going to cancel the contract.  I say "supposedly" because even after I explained four times that we no longer own the house and the buyer has their own warranty contract, the woman continued to ask if I was *sure* I wanted to cancel my warranty contract. ;)
  • Made homemade ricotta and used items in the pantry to make lasagna for lunch Wednesday.  My folks are dog sitting for us that day, so it will give them a nice lunch before they head back out and we'll have leftovers for Manly for lunches.
  • Started a baby hat for a friend using yarn left from another project.  It's a wonderful yarn - lovely to work with and super cozy to wear - so I'm glad to have enough to make a second project and know that her baby will be snug and warm when their winter hits.
  • Organized batteries in a new tote (passed on by my mom in her own reorganizing/purging process) so I can better see what we have and what we need to pick up.
  • Passed on information about job training in a field that lacks sufficient people to Bookly, who is looking for ways to pay for college.  [If you know someone strong enough to handle livestock, calm enough to do it well, and not afraid of hard work, have them look into shearing.  My fiber teacher mentioned that her shearer makes a very fair wage because few people these days have his skill set AND treat animals and people well.  She said research regional shearing classes online to get started.]  Not a savings for myself at this point, but it may help my oldest earn some cash and who knows - maybe she'll give me a family discount if I ever have sheep.  LOL
  • Used the small drying rack to hang half a load of clothes, cutting the time/electric usage for the larger items that had to go in the dryer.
  • Purchased the Kindle version of a text I need for a free college course I'm taking in September, saving $5 off the print copy.  It is about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the bulk of the required reading is from the Little House series, which I already own.  There are two recommended reading titles that I am skipping for now.
  • Used rain water caught last week to water plants.  I was able to water all four blueberry bushes, my tomato & herb container (which has two water bottles to fill), the celery, the ginger, the licorice, and the two gooseberry bushes with what we caught!
  • Used seed heads on the calendula and arnica to reseed within the pots.
  • Used cloth/reusable feminine items as necessary.
  • Experimented with using an open window in the bathroom during showers instead of running the electric exhaust fan.  On breezy days it does a much better job anyway!  On more still days, it does about the same as the fan can do.  Since I shower in the morning, not at night, I already left the electric light off and just use daylight.  (Once I take my glasses off I can't see well anyway, so low light makes no difference to me.  LOL)
  • Found a piece of fabric in Nana's sewing items that I think is long enough to make a "draught dodger" for one of the doors for winter.  She also had a large amount of thread I can use to sew it up.  I have wheat berries in the pantry and will deadhead the lavender I purchased last weekend here and there as well.
  • Fixed the patio screen door and reinstalled it.  (The dog ran into it and knocked it off the door, then Manly tried to reinstall it and popped the wheels out; he's much stronger than the screen frame, apparently. Haha!  I thought we'd have to call maintenance and buy a new screen frame, but I got them to pop back in and put the door in sans the Strong Guy.)
  • Kept using passive solar (blinds and window openings) to cool the house.  Focused on pulling in the cooler air at night - as of this writing, we didn't have to use fans to pull the air in last night and it's actually downright CHILLY in the house this morning!  That means I'm also using an extra blanket to stay warm so my husband can stay cool in the air without having a fan on for his side of the bedroom.
  • Made homemade refrigerator pickles from cucumbers from our garden.  A very exciting first for me.  :) (That link will also show you some of our garden harvest for the week.)
  • Spotted a canning seminar scheduled at the base library - free admission!  Signed up Chatty and myself.