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Weekend Frugal List - 6/6/21

June 6th, 2021 at 05:05 pm


I've somehow got out of the habit of doing these frugal lists - partly because I am barely spending any money these days apart from just regular life expenses, so it is hard to come up with a list sometimes. At the moment, most of my frugalness comes from my garden. Anyway, here's my list from this week:

(1) Bartering Galore: Spring and late summer are two of my barter-heavy periods. There is a thriving community of backyard farmers in my town who trade all kinds of garden and food related things. Since I always start about four times as many seeds as I need plants, these are part of my Springtime trades. The two other big things in Spring/Early summer are new raspberry starts and the huge excess of herbs that I have. Not only does starting plants from seed save me money (a 4" start at the home-garden store is ~$3.49), but I also get to trade them for other goodies. This year I have traded for starts I don't have, as well as chicken and duck eggs. Later this year, I will trade my excess produce for produce I don't have or for goat's cheese, eggs and honey. This is the first place I have lived where people barter like this, and I absolutely love it.

(2) The garden is super productive right now. Over the past few weeks, I have finished harvesting all the peas, harvested 30 heads of garlic (20 more heads will be ready in another 2 weeks), harvested all the green and walking onions, the first flush of cilantro, and loads of lettuce. Also, some cut flowers for the home. But, this year we've had really hot weather, and my first round of Italian basil was bolting early. I cut a whole bunch for a bouquet and it looks beautiful in addition to making my kitchen smell absolutely heavenly. I've replaced it in the garden with sweet basil and Thai basil for the rest of the summer.

(3) The realtor I used to purchase my home sends regular ads to people who have bought from her before as one of her marketing methods. She will frequently include things for the receiver (calendars in December, free coffee coupons, free frozen yogurt coupons, and so on). This month, her newsletter ad came with a free coupon for a car wash. It was quite welcome since I was thinking of getting my car washed sometime soon anyway. 

Another Big Expense Done

May 14th, 2021 at 01:46 pm

A couple of days ago, the installation of my ductless heat pump was completed. It's a two-headed Daikin system, and I am delighted with the results. It will be useful both summer and winter, but especially in the winter. It's also more energy efficient and will probably lower my electricity costs. I will also get a $300 tax credit on this year's taxes. The total was $5412 - homeownership is not cheap!

Yesterday, I went out to water my frontyard flowers, and saw that someone had dug up a whole clump of sweet alyssum! It was there the day before, and then just gone - leaving a gaping hole in its wake. I was really upset. But, I grow most of my plants from seed, and have other flowers in the greenhouse that I can plant there. It's just really annoying and such a rude thing to do - who the hell steals plants already in the ground???!#@#$!^&!$@

My garden is starting to be productive again, and I have more food being produced that I can use up - so most of the excess is going to get processed for later months and next Winter. Right now, I have an excess of walking and green onions, spinach, fava beans, and am absolutely overrun with cilantro. This weekend, I am going to do a massive fava harvest. I'll have another one a week from now and then replace the plants with peppers and eggplants.

Still waiting on the final update from the bank's underwriters to close on the refinance.

NW: $287,581.23

More Unexpected Expenses

April 20th, 2021 at 02:46 pm

I mentioned in my last post that I had a bunch of expenses piling up this month. In accordance with Murphy's Law, I have another unexpected expense on hand: the check engine light on my car went on on Saturday. I called the two mechanics I typically go to and the one that had an opening earliest was today. I'm taking it in today to have checked out and fixed. I am hoping it's not a large or expensive fix.

I'm counting the days to go on my camping vacation to the UT National Parks early next month. I have a week of vacation each month from now through August and it's making me so very happy to anticipate these holidays. This week, I received a call from a friend I have not met in two years and she asked me to go and spend some time with her at her beach cabin on Puget Sound. She's spends her summer months there, and I am looking forward to joining her there later this summer.

My brother in-law gets his second shot on Thursday. After this, everyone in my close family except my toddler niece will be fully vaccinated, and that is such a relief for now.

The flowers in my garden are making me happy. At the moment, I have tulips, bluebells, columbine, Persian buttercups, chives, wild violets, comfrey, and one solitary red marigold. The calendula and peonies look ready to open flower in another week or two. My fava beans have set fruit, and the blueberries are just starting to. The raspberries have flower buds on. The walking onions are forming bulbils. Spring time is my favorite season - there is a new delight to wake up to every day or two.

NW: $285,460.93

Weekly Frugal List - 12/19/20

December 19th, 2020 at 05:25 pm

This week's frugal things:

(1) I atteneded a zoom training hosted by my previous workplace, and got 3 hours of free CEs. It's always nice to be able to get those for free.

(2) Sold a couple of things on FB Marketplace. I don't have a glut of things, but I have more than one person needs. I don't think I will ever be a minimalist, but my goal is to sell or give away more things and distill my posessions down to a slightly lower level.

(3) Harvested half the remaining carrots. The other half will be harvested immediately after the new year. Also pulled some leeks. I will make some leek risotto with cauliflower rice.

BONUS: I didn't get this myself, but for those of you who are healthcare workers, Starbucks is giving away a free tall cup of coffee to healthcare workers and emergency responders for the month of December. Coffee just for the price of the tip is a good frugal thing.

2021 Garden Outlook

December 16th, 2020 at 04:28 pm

I thought I would do a garden post since I have been in a flurry of garden planning for next year. This is one of my favorite activities, and also is a very frugal thing that helps me save thousands of dollars in grocery bills each year.

My veggie garden is one of the great joys of my life. The first thing I did when I purchased the house last year, even before I unpacked my boxes, was to construct raised beds and start a garden. After nearly 15 years of living in apartments, I could finally have a garden - something I have always loved. In addition to being a frugal habit (organic veggies are expensive), it also provides me with hours of fresh air, exercise, and peace throughout the year. I love tending to my plants. I feed them, care for them, protect them, and they repay me by feeding my body and soul.

Last year, I grew a lot of veggies, but it was far from ideal. I worked out a better method this year of intensive planting paired with flowers for the bees, and this helped increase output. I also asked for and received a small plastic greenhouse as a Christmas gift last year. This helped me to give many of my seedlings a head start, and this meant a longer productive season. I also got more effective at processing and storing the food, and bought a small freezer to store it all. It really helped that I was working much less this year, and was working from home all the time. My garden really benefitted from this. Learning from what I did this year, I have worked out an even better plan for next year. This includes a more intentional staggered system of planting, growing even more intensively, adding a lot more flowers, and growing a few things that I didn't grow this year to save even more on grocery bills.

Here is my garden plan for 2021:

Garlic - Shantung, Corsican Red, Russian Red (already in the ground and growing)
Tomatoes - Black Krim, Sungold, Chocolate Cherry, Purple Russian
Peppers - Cayenne, Serrano, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno, Bird's Eye, Aji Lemon Drop, Sugar Rush Peach, Brazilian Orchid, Jimmy Nardello
Eggplants - Rosa Bianca, Listada de Gandia, Little Prince, Galine (if it overwinters)
Peas - Magnolia Blossom
Shallots - Zebrune
Beets - Detriot Dark Red, Golden
Greens - Red Russian Kale, Mustard, Mache, Spinach, Mixed Lettuce
Beans - Royal Burgundy, Red Noodle
Summer Squash - Pattypan, Ivy gourd
Winter Squash - Red Kuri, Delicata, Butternut, Sugar Pie Pumpkin
Onions - Walking, Bunching (already in the ground and growing)
Leeks - American Flag
Carrots - Purple Dragon, Nantes, Danvers
Herbs - Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Mint, Cilantro, Nigella, Sage
Berries - Blueberries, Raspberries

I will take a break from growing zucchini since my food resue group gets hundreds of pounds of it donated from one of the organic farms for whom we harvest. If I have the space between rotations or between plants, I will also add radishes, turnips and cucumbers. But, mostly I will focus on the above.

At first glance, this might seem like a ridiculous number of things to fit in three garden beds and a few pots (for the herbs), but I do almost year round planting, and these are planned to be staggered so that something is growing in each bed almost at any given time. Each of these crops lasts 2-6 months from planting to harvest. So, staggering them based on what grows in each season helps me to grow much much more than if I didn't.

In addition to the vegetables, I am going to plant loads of flowers - both for aesthetic appeal, as well as for the pollinators. The first year I had my garden, I planted no flowers. The second year, I added a few marigolds, a few calendula, sweet peas, one peony, and two lavender bushes. Once I did that, my garden was teeming with bees and bugs, and my yield went up by more than twice my first year. This year, I plan on having - poppies, sweet peas, hollyhocks, calendula, marigold, dahlias, Persian buttercups, carnations, cosmos, zinnias, peonies, morning glory, shasta daisies, gazanias, lavender, sea thrift, nigella, mallow, sunflowers, lobelia, gypsophila, and whatever is in two wildflower seed packets I got. That should keep the bees in the area happy, and will make my whole garden look like a delight in addition to providing me with cut flowers for every room.

The major garden projects this year are (1) re-do the irrigation plan I have to make it more time efficient for me, and (2) take out five rose bushes in my front yard and replace them with annual flowers. I like the idea of roses, but I don't actually like having the rose bushes themselves. Also because the earwigs seem to prefer the roses more than anything else on my property.

Weekend Frugal List - 11/27/20

November 27th, 2020 at 09:42 pm

I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of the week's frugal wins:

(1) Frugal Thanksgiving - this is an involuntary one. Saved on travel and food costs. Did a zoom dinner with family instead.
(2) Harvested my first winter veggies - leeks and carrots. It's my first time growing both. The leeks are a success. The carrots are a bit smaller than I thought they would be. But, they function double duty since you can eat the leaves like you would eat spinach. I'll let them grow a bit more and harvest the rest in mid-December.
(3) Bought an airfryer at a Black Friday discount. I meant to buy one for myself for Christmas. The one I had identified was listed on Amazon was $69.99. I got one of a different brand but same capacity at a local store Black Friday sale for $29.99.
(4) Got a beautiful antique desk chair and a brand new food scale on the Buy Nothing group. The food scale was another thing I meant to buy myself, and now I don't have to.
(5) I'm in a local group that combats food waste, and this week we were donated about a 1000 tubs of hummus that have a sell by date of the end of the month. I got three, opened one and froze the other two. Hummus freezes really well.
(6) Read a book I got through Libby. If you have a library card, you can use Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla which are two apps that give you access to free library resources.
(7) I was feeling restless earlier this week, and was missing travel. So, I planned a road trip to the Utah national parks, and spent about 6 hours planning a 7 day trip down to the tiniest detail. Now, I have a full itinerary ready to go, and got to enjoy the closest thing to travel that I can right now. It was a fantastic pick me up, and was completely free. I guess this isn't really a frugal thing since it is always free to plan a trip. However, the itinerary that I planned is extremely frugal, so I am counting it here anyway.


Happy Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2020 at 05:47 pm

I'm looking forward to the long weekend. This is probably the first time since the pandemic started that I've decided to take a 4 day weekend. I usually don't work Wednesdays, but worked part of the day today, and now have a 4.5 day weekend.

I raked most of my leaves over the weekend, but ended up deciding to buy a leaf mulcher to mulch the leaves which will reduce the size of my leaf pile and also create more surface area so the leaves break down sooner. Got one on Amazon for $79 that had decent reviews. I am so thankful for the way that nature works all year long to provide me with food. The sunlight, rain, worms, leaves, kitchen scraps, the soil and its microbes, - that's all I need to provide almost all of my vegetable needs for all of the year.

I am also thankful for:
(1) Having a job during this pandemic year
(2) Being able to work from home and set my own hours
(3) Having been able to have taken two big vacations this year before March when the virus started to spread
(4) That my family and I are safe and healthy
(5) For the bounty of my garden
(6) For my wonderful and supportive friends who share many of my values - including frugality
(7) That I enjoy my own company - this year would have been hard if that were not so
(8) For the astounding net worth gains made this year
(9) For the election
(10) That the wildfires did not reach my home

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone.

Sidebar is Working

November 21st, 2020 at 04:50 pm

That was a pleasant thing to notice when I logged on today. Glad it's working again.

Things have been mostly ho hum. It's been cold and rainy, so I am dragging my feet on raking leaves. I think I'll do it sometime this afternoon. Rather than bag them up for the city to haul away, I keep my dead leaves. It provides me with brown material for my compost bin all year long. And over the year, the remainder breaks down to really wonderful leaf mold. I have a small amount of last year's leaves that have broken down beautifully. I'll add that to my raised beds before piling up the new leaves from this year. It saves plenty on compost costs for my garden.

The only things I still have growing in my garden than I can still harvest this year are mustard greens, leeks and carrots. I also have autumn-sown garlic growing, but that won't be harvested it till next June. It's my first time growing leeks, and I am super excited to start harvesting them around the beginning of December.