*I don't give used gifts unless I know the recipient is okay with that. About half of the gifts exchanged on my side of the family are from thrift stores or Goodwill. And no, we don't give each other faded, pilled, stretched-out sweaters from the 1990s. Used gifts are always clean, in good working condition and appropriate for the recipent. I was able to get one of my siblings a large pack of new socks AND an accordion (which he absolutely loved) for under $20.00. The socks were new from Walmart, but the accordion was used on Ebay. He got me a spice rack (that I wanted) for our RV, for $0.00 (it was re-gifted from a White Elephant party earlier in the year).
Don't get me wrong... I like giving and recieving brand new gifts as well. But sometimes that perfect gift can only be found at a garage sale or on Ebay, and people who don't like getting used things are just going to miss out.
Frugal things I did this week:
1. Dried some almost-spent eucalyptus branches and rose petals to make bath salts with. The plant matter was from an arrangement I did for my brother-in-law's funeral.
2. Did some research on aquaponics for growing herbs indoors. I also bought the very last mid-size water pump available at Walmart. I tried doing aquaponics/hydroponics several years ago, with limited success. The plants did grow, but they didn't grow to an edible size. My lettuce (that I re-grew from store bought lettuce) grew little 1" x 5" leaves, and then stopped growing. I wasn't 100% sure what I was doing with the bottled nutrients. This time I am going to use a water pump to cycle the water through grow trays instead of doing a deep water culture system. I'll also be using fish to provide the nutrients instead of using bottled nutrients.
I am not ready to try this on a large scale yet, but I am going to try one larger (1'x 2') bed and a few smaller jars with beta fish in order to grow some of my favorite herbs indoors. Though I did have to buy the water pump (and I will have to find a container/tank somewhere for my larger bed), small net pots required for the mini-setups were already in my stash of stuff.
3. Bought some oats from the farmer's elevator to use for fodder for my chickens. My first choice was barley, but they didn't have any, so the cashier suggested oats. I bought 25 lbs. for $3.00. When I got home and did some more research, I found that wheat is a lot better for fodder than oats. Even though the oats are sprouting fine so far, next time I will ask for wheat and try that instead.
4. Kroger deals: I used rebate apps (Checkout51, Mobisave, and Ibotta) and Kroger E-coupons to get two free bananas, a free bag of caramel candies, a $0.64 loaf of bread, a $0.75 pineapple, and a $0.75 box of saltines. We also redeemed $11.10 worth of bottle return slips to offset the cost of groceries (which was more than usual because of Christmas).
5. Gave Hubs a haircut. For previous cuts I have only used a pair of hair-cutting scissors, but for this one I got out the clippers. At first it was hard to tell if I had the blades (rather, the guard) close enough to his head and he kept saying, "Closer, closer! Right up next to my head!" Finally I got the hang of it. I was afraid that the clippers would make his curly hair look choppy, but when cut short enough it looked just fine. I used the scissors to finish off the top, which was left longer.
The end result was so much nicer. Hubs has very curly hair, which is a blessing and a curse when it comes to haircuts. The good part is that if you mess up, it doesn't show as much. The bad part is that it's so hard to control! And difficult to tell how long or short the hair is. In the past, I have rarely cut enough off the sides. When the hair grows out a little bit, the curls start going horizontal like Bozo the clown. I hope that using the clippers will prevent this humorous effect!
6. I am finally starting to see the fruits of my labor when it comes to revived, sale-bought houseplants.
Amarylis bulbs: The amarylis bulbs I bought in February spent the spring and summer on our porch growing leaves. This fall, I dug them up and cut off the long leaves. I replanted the bulbs at the beginning of December, and here a few weeks later, the leaves have started to re-grow. If the plants rebloom, they will be "free" flowers for me to enjoy this winter.
Orchid plants: I have a collection of five orchid plants. They are all "add ice" phaleonopsis orchids; three full-sized and two mini plants. Adding ice has not worked for me in the past, so instead I just run water through the pots once a week, letting them drain for several hours in the kitchen sink after that. Infrequently, I use "orchid food" that I bought at Walmart (mixed in with the water I run through the pots). In November, some of the orchids started growing new shoots and buds, but before they opened (or even grew to a decent size), the buds would die and fall off. One of my mini-orchids "blasted" 34 buds- I am not even kidding.
Two weeks ago, I noticed that one of my buds was not dying- in fact, it was growing larger and larger! The two other plants that had been bud-blasting were also growing bigger buds. I am crossing my fingers that these plants actually rebloom for me. The orchids will be one more "free" flower I can have in the winter!
It takes a lot of patience to buy a spent plant and nurture it for an entire year before it starts to reward you. But I think it's worth the wait, especially if your houseplant blooms in the winter when everything else is dead.
What were some of your frugal accomplishments last week?