Monday, June 8, 2015

The drought and saving money!

It's no secret that California is in a drought. Everyone and their neighbor seem to have an opinion on how to solve the crisis. Most are not happy about the solutions given by our city and governor. But, I believe God's Word has the final say and it's very clear that God controls the rain. So, prayer becomes a top priority for those who acknowledge His power over His creation. I love seeing signs in front yards that say, 'Pray for Rain'. 

I've been conserving water ever since we moved into our home over 3 years ago. The drought was not as serious as it is now.  Lately, I've started researching more ways to cut back since we may have to cut our usage by 25% in the coming years.

My Trumpet Vine taketh overeth! :-)

 Here are a few things I do in my home to save and reuse water:

~ I put a large, plastic measuring cup under the faucet while I'm waiting for hot water to reach the house.  I usually get 16 cups of cold water which I dump into a bucket outside my door. The water is used to water the herbs on the patio table or to replenish the animal watering dishes.
~ I save the day old water from the cat and dog water bowls to water the plants.
~ I use steamed vegetable water to throw on my plants. I just make sure to not throw it close to the back door in case it draws flies.
~ Short showers.
~ Hot tub instead of a shower if we just need a light bath. 
~ I use the water from my laundry loads to water my flowers.
~ Leaves are kept in my flower beds to hold moisture in the soil.
~ I don't have automatic sprinklers so I use a kitchen timer to lessen the chance of a sprinkler running too long.
~ I only use 2 buckets of water to wash our truck. One bucket is for the soapy water and the other bucket is clean water to wash off the soap. This morning I used the 'start up' water from the kitchen faucet to rinse my truck.
~ I used to save the shower water to flush the toilet but lifting the buckets started playing havoc with my neck. But, this is another idea for those with a strong back and neck.

Strawberries are doing great this year!


Last week I brought home a chocolate mint herb to dry for tea.  I was in a hurry to put away my groceries so I didn't check the soil to see if it was damp.  The next morning it was completely wilted. I honestly thought it didn't have a chance of survival but I watered it and hoped for the best. The next morning I was amazed to see that the water had revived it back to life.

I looked at that revived herb and instantly thought to myself, "Lord, that little wilted plant is how I feel  without Your Word. I have no strength to withstand the daily pressures of this life without your living Word daily sustaining me."

My hydrangea by the front door is blooming!

 I recently was struggling with a sin issue in my heart. I kept praying and asking the Lord to guide me through His Word. This morning a Scripture came to mind as I was working in the kitchen and SUDDENLY I had the answer I had been praying for.  He had spoken to me directly through His Word and I instantly had peace... perfect peace! 

 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3 ESV

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1 ESV

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.  Psalm 23:2  ESV

My daughter by love and my grandchildren are here for a visit


A Typical Frugal Day

Here are a few things I've been doing in my home this past month.

1.  I had a large pitcher of ice tea leftover from a family gathering so instead of throwing it out I used it for hubby's morning hot tea. I normally use Earl Grey tea, which is pricey, so this practice helped stretch those tea bags. I save the tea bags in a small container in the fridge and use 3 recently used tea bags for one more cup.Waste not, want not! *smile*

2.  The winter onions were harvested this month. I froze 3 large bags of chopped onions but then decided to dehydrate the rest to save freezer space. A dear friend let me borrow her dehydrator which did a great job. I stored the onions in canning jars. The zucchini is starting to produce and we're not eating it fast enough so I started drying it, too. Last winter I used the dried veggies in my soups. You could also use them in casseroles, meatloaf, smoothies,muffins or chili.  It makes me twitch (smile) to buy zucchini in the winter at nearly $2 a pound when it's coming out my ears in the summer. This way I can purchase very little zucchini during the winter. I'm also trying my hand at drying herbs. The cilantro always bolts too fast before the tomatoes are ready. I'm hoping that dried cilantro will taste fine in homemade salsa. I'm drying basil and plan on drying some oregano soon.
Onions on left and boysenberries on right!

3. I used the last bit of toilet paper on the roll to wipe down my bathroom sink/toilet instead of throwing it away. I use a vinegar and water mixture in a spray bottle to clean my sink and toilet and then wipe down with the extra toilet paper. I used to throw the last bit of toilet paper away. Not any more. :-)

4. My small little backyard garden has produced enough berries to fill 15 pies so far or jam. Don't ever underestimate the size of a small city lot to stretch your grocery budget. There is a wonderful feeling of independence and joy when I can walk out my back door and pick my own food.  I plan on tearing out a few more flowers and replacing them with vegetable plants next year.  I'll move the flowers to the other side of the house that I only water once a week. It's very shady on that side of the house. It's their last chance for survival depending on how hardy they are. I call it my 'Last Chance Garden'.
"Last Chance Flower Garden ' on the side of the house

5. This year I decided to pick up 1 or 2 veggie plants each time I went to Walmart. We normally grow our veggies by seeds but we've had a hard time keeping up this year. This really helped to fill in some extra places in my garden with butternut squash, eggplant and a few cooking herbs.

6. I painted my spare bedroom. I was tempted to buy a new curtain rod since the older one didn't match. Instead, I checked the garage to see if I had any cans of spray paint and chose a color that blended with the curtains. It turned out so nice and looks brand new.

7. I've been spending too much on snack foods... healthy snack foods.. but it still increases my budget. I decided to buy more veggies and have them ready for snacks. It's less expensive per pound and is healthier.

8. I bought a Comfrey plant off  Ebay a few years ago. It's really grown big. I cut enough leaves to fill a large bucket, weighted them down with a brick and filled it with water and covered. It takes 4- 6 weeks to make a 'Comfrey tea' which I'll use on my tomatoes. Comfrey is high in nitrogen and it's cheaper than buying store fertilizers.

One view of my backyard vegetable garden.

9. This month I harvested leeks, onions, garlic, Swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, peppers, artichokes, cilantro and basil from my little  backyard garden. Grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, okra, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and eggplant are in the ground and thriving. Asparagus is sprouting spears but it won't be big enough to eat until next year. I love my garden.

10. I'm always looking for ways to save time in the kitchen...especially during the summer months when I'm so busy in the yard. I like to make extra coffee, sunflower seed flour muffins, frittata, large amounts of hamburger cooked/frozen, and  meatloaf recipes. Doubling my recipes helps me always have a quick meal on hand.

My daughter and I and mama at a Soroptomist Tea.

11. I've been digging up small little pebbles in my garden. I throw them in a coffee can.  Why? I thought you'd want to know! :-) I'll use them to put in the bottom of my pots for good drainage. They are free for the taking as long as I put out the time to gather them.This will save money in the long run.

12. My sister shared a useful idea she read in a magazine. I purchased a plastic colander and hung it by the outdoor faucet to clean off the veggies before I bring them into the home. I sit on my gardener's bench (like the one below) while I'm washing and cleaning the veggies. I love this bench! It sure saves my back when I'm pulling weeds because I'm not bending at the waste.Great idea, Sis!

~ Radish, asparagus and broccoli rubber bands saved, washed and reused.
~ Egg shells crushed and thrown in compost along with veggie and fruit peels. 
~ Plastic mushroom container washed and re used for a drawer organizer. 
~ Bills I receive in the mail often have an extra envelope which I don't use since I pay my bills online. I use the envelope to store seeds from my flowers and vegetables. We buy Heirloom seeds for that purpose. 
~ Small paper bag from pharmacy ( I save paper bags to ripen fruit or to store seeds).
~ Paper egg cartons, shredded toilet paper rolls are put in compost pile. 
~ Coffee grinds: I buried them around the azaleas and hydrangea. 

How is everyone summer going? Are you gardening? Canning?  Do you have some projects you hope to finish this summer? I always love learning from you gals!

Blessed to be home,




  1. Hi Georgene, it is lovely to read from you again. I'm so impressed with all your water and cost saving initiatives. Well done! I too am growing a few more veggies this year than normally. My garden is so small but plenty big enough for me. I'm not much of a gardener but am determined to improve year by year. This year I am growing red and green peppers, jalapeno peppers, beets, cabbages, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and beans. If I had room I would definitely love to grow some berries for smoothies, jam and freezing.

    1. I'm impressed that you can grow beets. I haven't had any success growing beets and I love them! I think I may try to grow them in pots. It sounds like you have a very nice garden. We are learning as we go, too! ;-)

    2. Yes, try them in pots. I have a couple of cedar boxes and I'm using one of them for hostas and one for beets. I also have beets growing in the little patio plot I have. The ones in the pots seem to be growing better.

  2. That is so impressive! It is amazing how much waste is in the average home when you really examine it. Sounds like you will heaps to eat from your garden - and there is nothing like homegrown berries. Yum! That must be a great saving as berries are super expensive in Australia. I'm keeping note of all your great ideas - thanks!

    1. Hi Jayne,
      Yes, berries are very expensive in the U.S. Our raspberry bushes will bear another time before winter and we have some later fruit bearing vines that will give us a bit more if the heat doesn't burn them all up. :-)

  3. I thought I knew most water-saving tips, but learned a couple more after reading your post!
    I love hearing about your sensitivity to a personal sin and how the Lord met your response with peace.
    ....and how I wish I had the time/health/energy for a garden! Yours looks and sounds so beautifully productive.

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      I'm taking this garden a year at a time. Last year I was so fatigued throughout the summer that I wasn't sure how I was going to finish. I had to let a lot of things slide in the house. I just keep taking it a day at a time. It really does help with our budget.

  4. Absolutely love your posts! I am thinking of growing more veggies, I do have my little herb garden in pots and we have one tomato doing poorly. I do better with perennial plants. I have 4 small trees in large pots that we used as a screen from the neighbor last year but they need to go in the ground now. I think I will put veggies in those pots. Pots work better for me I have a very sunny porch on one side of our big house. Our ground is not very good for veggies yet-- clay in some spots sand in the others. I'm adding piles of leaves for mulch and hoping eventually it will improve without my digging. Love the bench-- they have them at home lowes now, I bought a 2nd one as I was always dragging it from house to house. I also have a 'grabber' now which hubby says I should get too of, I'm not supposed to bend over and I can pick up almost everything with it. Will prob. add it to a post on my blog-- when I get to it. :) I think in California you might be able to find a 'bergamot orange' plant--if so you can start to make your own tea. :)

  5. meant to say home depot or lowes-- big box hardware stores--for the bench. My first one came from . they have several different ones.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Are those 'grabbers' strong enough to pick up heavy items? I love my garden bench. I'm so glad you recommended it! I saw the garden benches locally after I had already ordered mine. Amazon cost was about half of what the local store sold it for.

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  7. I came across your blog by just surfing the web and I really enjoyed your topic today. I live about 4 blocks from lake Michigan so water is not an issue here so I feel for you.Just because I have access to water I do not abuse it.I alxo grow chocolate mint it is awesome.Hope you get another plant.

  8. Lovely post Georgene. You certainly grow a lot of fruits/veggies!
    We grow onions, runner beans, lettuce, rhubarb, also have a few broad beans this year. Have grown tomatoes in the past when we had a greenhouse.
    Nice pic of you, your ?Mum & your daughter.
    Look forward to your next post.
    Very best wishes,
    Angela UK

    1. I should have added we sometimes have plums, this year we are growing black currants. It reminds me of my childhood.

  9. Another wonderful post. So many great ideas here especially on saving water. Great job!

  10. Like you we love in California too. S. Calif. We too have always watched our water usage and used the least we always could. Now to save another 25% is hard. We have found a few more ways to cut back but are always looking and wondering what we can do more. I was wondering what type of raspberries you have found that will grow well in California. Are you in Southern California too? I tried the BaBa ones that are for here several times but they never lived over 3 years.Are yours in semi shade or sun? It is amazing isn't it how much can be grown in a little space. !! Oh Prudent Homemaker said she is going to grow grapes to shade her berries next year. Did you see this post? She said she trims her blackberries at 4' and lets them branch out sideways that way. Then a friend of hers got a grape vine and kept the side branches cut off so it got taller. 5" hopefully. Keeping then only the one vine branch that goes one way and one the other. These would rest at the top of her 5'fence and since they would bush out up there they would shade her berries keeping them from drying out in her Los Vegas sun. Plus she would get more grapes from the same land. I have been trying to think of how to shade ours over the years and this sounds good. :) I squeezed in a flame grape and this way could have another type And some shade for the berries.Still having room Under the berries for some herbs :-) . Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. Sarah

  11. I love your "wash the car with two buckets of water" strategy. Your strawberries look wonderful--and I'll bet they taste like real strawberries rather than the tart, almost crunchy versions we buy in the store. Your posts challenge me to be a better steward of the gifts the Lord's provided. Thank you.

  12. A very helpful and worthwhile post! Thank you. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada.

  13. Hi Georgene, I haven't seen a new post for quite a while. Hope all is OK at your house. :) Nannie

    1. Hi Nannie!
      Ahh... thank you for missing me! :-) I've had a very full summer with out of town family staying with us weekly. I have more company on their way. I keep trying to finish a post but it's not happening. I've left it in the Lord's hands. Thanks so much for thinking of me.

  14. So glad all it OK. Enjoy you company and will be waiting to hear from you soon as summer is almost over :) Nannie

  15. I just found your BLOG and I'm really enjoying it. I have a friend who lives up in Paradise and I will pass your BLOG on to her. I live in Michigan where water is plentiful but we are starting to worry about pollution in the wonderful, what was pristine, inland lakes. All your tips are so helpful for any area.

  16. Georgene, I just love your blog and am missing your posts. I hope all is well with you and yours. Please post again whenever you can. Retirement life is so busy isn't it?

  17. Hello Georgene,

    Another terrific post, as always. Hope you are enjoying your guests and I'm looking forward to when you will be able to post again.


  18. Hi! I enjoyed visiting and reading your blog about saving money and gardening. I do some of the things that you do. We have a city lot and a small garden too but are fortunate not to be in a drought. We also have one of those kneeling benches or you can sit on it and love it. We want to get another so hubby and I will each have one! Nancy

  19. Hi! I enjoyed visiting and reading your blog about saving money and gardening. I do some of the things that you do. We have a city lot and a small garden too but are fortunate not to be in a drought. We also have one of those kneeling benches or you can sit on it and love it. We want to get another so hubby and I will each have one! Nancy


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