Gardening

This is been the longest blogging break I have taken since I started blogging in 2010 (has it really been that long?). Things have been absolutely crazy here. I graduated in December, went on many vacations, and then started working. I work 50-60 hour weeks and when you tack on my commutes and sleeping, I have virtually no free time ever. I set aside Tuesday nights at 10 PM to catch the new Teen Mom (why is that show so addicting?). Multiple days go by each week where I don’t even open my laptop, which is absolutely crazy coming from the girl who used to be on it non-stop. I’m no complaining though, as I am so thankful to have a job, but it’s tiring. Most of the time, I don’t even have time to shave my legs, let alone blog! I really hope to be able to add at least a few new posts each week so I can stay connected to the great readers I had. I want to keep everyone updated on my shopping trips, my garden, the chickens, and my thrifting. I might even be able to throw in some good deals here and there. I highly, highly recommend you join the Savvy Shopper’s Group on Facebook. It is much easier for me to share on there, you can ask questions at any time. We share Swagbucks codes, our shopping trips, and anything else.

As you can see, the blog really needs a new lift. As of December, I am no longer a student so some things need to be updated. Nerdboy, the boyfriend and techie behind the blog, will work on it once he finds some free time. He’s still in school and working and he seems to have less free time than I do.

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I’ve been couponing every week! As long as I stay on a routine I can get things done. CVS has been really sucky since Black Friday, do you agree? We used to walk out of there with free Gilette razors and money makers all the time. Now we’re lucky if we see one measily freebie each week. Maybe I’m being greedy, but the deals have been so slow. My mom has been doing ShopRite each week (Glen Burnie, MD ShopRite is still doubling $1 coupons) and we usually go to Safeway for a small trip when we can. My goal is to start posting my shopping trips, at the very least. I also need to update everyone on thrifting, chickens and the garden!

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I got these shoes at Value Village for $13. They are practically new. I’ve been looking for a pair of shoes just like this for years and finally found a pair that my cheap butt would buy ;)

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Some stuff Nerdboy picked up for me!

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This was a GREAT thrifting day in February.

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Probably about a third of my collection of Vintage Pyrex

I still continue to thrift every week. Now that I’m not going to school, I’m far from my favorite thrift shops that I used to frequent. Nerdboy so graciously goes for me every once in awhile. I go to flea markets when possible (snow and cold make this difficult). I pick up Pyrex as much as I can. I collect vintage Pyrex for my personal collection, which has grown SO MUCH over the years and I also pick up stuff to resell. I have a pretty good eye for things I can flip and make a buck off of, whether it be Pyrex that I don’t personally collect, other vintage kitchen items, or even kid’s toys. I use money that I make from my personal sales (whether it be reselling items I thrift or make/craft) to pay for all of my expenses. I use Paypal for selling, so all my profit lies in my Paypal account. I use a Paypal Debit card (highly reccomend) for all my purchases so it’s a great cushion to have. I haven’t had to touch the money out of my actual bank account for months, probably a year, with the exception of student loans that I pay off in large chunks from my paychecks. If you’re into the Instagram thing and don’t mind pictures of my thrift finds (mainly Pyrex), chickens, and me selling stuff (yes, mainly Pyrex or old stuff), follow me @brandilabarre. I even post my shopping trips sometimes!

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Tilling my garden

The chickens are doing well. If you remember from the Fall, Luna (our littlest Barred Rock) wasn’t doing well. She was so sick that she lived in my bedroom for a month or so. We nursed her back to health and she has been living outside since December. She’s still a bit slow and will not hang out with the other girls. Luckily they don’t really pick on her anymore, but they certainly aren’t friends. When they sleep at night, Bonnie, Biscuit, and Ginger all snuggle together and Luna is by herself at least 2 feet away. Poor girl, but she’s hanging in there. Only two chickens are laying eggs. I think the cold weather and shorter days convinced Ginger and Luna to stop laying this winter. Bonnie and Biscuit lay an egg almost every single day. They rock! I hope the other girls step it up since it’s March already! Now that the snow is melted, they get to play outside as much as possible. They till my garden all up and that makes me so happy (until I have plants in there)! We’re still talking about bringing some new babies into the coop in coming months.

As far as gardening goes, it has officially started for 2014! I got seeds planted already and my lemon and lime trees are here in Maryland. I planted lettuce, spinach and green onion seeds in pots. It’s still a bit nippy here, but I’m hoping they’ll grow. The left half of my garden is looking really good. Last year it was filled with a good bit of yummy compost, I just recently added some horse manure that I got for free off Craigslist months ago from a lady 3 minutes away (thank you, ma’am!), and I’ve been constantly tossing in the mess from the chicken coop. The right side of the garden still needs a lot of work. I’m thinking of adding 3 raised beds and filling with good dirt and more manure because I’ve struggled with that sandy soil for just too long. I’ll update with more pictures when I can.

So, if you got through all that, I just want to say thank you for sticking with me. I thought I was busy when I was in school, but working is just so much more time consuming. I headed out for another vacation next week, but I’ll hopefully stay in touch from now on :)

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The Savvy Student Shopper survived skiing and negative temperatures in Vermont last week and is now spending time in Florida!

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Yesterday was pretty rainy so we went shopping! I went to CVS (twice this week) and to Publix! Publix is similar to an amusement park for any seasoned couponer. No matter the week, there’s always a super deal (or 15) there! Their BOGO sales allow you to use 2 coupons per pair, there are many, many Publix store coupons for extra savings, plus most of their stores accept competitor coupons, and some even double Manufacturer’s coupons. You just can’t go wrong shopping at Publix. I wish they were in Maryland! I spent about $14 on everything pictured above.

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Before leaving for Florida, I went to CVS to grab some deals. I think I paid just about tax for the items above. Christmas clearance was 90% (inlcuding candy) so I grabbed the Hershey’s Kisses for $0.39 — score! I got $10 back from the Bayer Contour, $4 from Sundown, $5 from PediaCare, and $3 from Colgate.

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And then when I got to Florida, I grabbed 6 packs of Tena ($9 money maker!!) and my mom wanted those Green Tea diet pills. They were $19.29 each originally, but I think we got them all for like $12 after coupons, ECBs, and overage from the Tena. I have absolutely no faith in those pills (or that entire section of ‘As Seen on TV’, ‘Dr. Oz sponsored’, or ‘Jillian Micheal’s’ products for that matter) but she has been wanting to buy them. The instruction booklet that comes in the box gives you a 2 week diet and exercise plan to follow. Mom said the reviews on their website were great (well, obviously) but she’s also not understanding that the pills aren’t magic and the results are only shown in the people who follow their diet and exercise routine for an extended period of time. She has zero intentions of following their suggested plan. Oh well. At least she didn’t pay full price for them, right?

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This morning also started off kind of rainy so instead of heading to the pool, we spent the afternoon at the huge flea market nearby. It’s mostly indoors and it’s mostly filled with junk. I’m a flea market junkie and this is not my kind of flea market. It’s filled with new stuff, cheap plastic toys, refurbished laptops, fake jewelry, As Seen on TV items, leopard print leggings, foot massagers, body vibrators, Bath Fitter’s salesmen, and items from a drug store that closed 11 years ago. But, there’s a great aisle that’s filled of produce and at least half of it is local. We like to get oranges, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and herbs. I also found a nice man that was selling plants. I purchased a Meyer Lemon and Lime tree (technically it’s a centennial kumquat tree, but he said they just taste like limes) from him for $12 each. I’ve been eyeing up a Meyer Lemon tree that I was going to buy online but that would have run around $100 shipped, so I figured I’d buy it here and save the money. I fly back to Maryland next week, but my grandparents will drive my trees home when they come back to Maryland in April. The trees will enjoy their Florida weather more than Maryland weather anyway. Both varieties are pretty cold tolerant so I’m hoping they’ll survive back home, but I’ll bring them inside for the winter next year. Both trees already have baby fruit on them. I’m pretty excited to add some new fruit to my back yard! I have 2 varieties of apples, a cherry tree, mulberry tree, blueberry bush, strawberries, blackberry and black raspberry vines, and now citrus!

And that’s all for tonight! Time to get some sleep because there’s another (better) flea market I’d like to hit in the morning before we spend the day poolside.

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Here are the latest goodies from the backyard. My first and only carrots. They were delicious! I picked a bunch of peppers; now I need to find something to do with all of them!

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Sir Jake is modeling with my backyard goods. I LOVE that gourd! I wish the rest of the plants didn’t die so I could have a porch full of them. I have to pick the tomatoes before they get red because the squirrels keep eating them before I can pick them!

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Tomatoes and eggies from the backyard!

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On the days everyone lays, we get 4 eggs! Ladies have been slacking lately. I think it’s a combination of the colder nights and that Luna isn’t feeling well. She’s acting okay, but just different. She’s spending more time by herself, she won’t run away with the other girls, won’t roost next to them, and she’s just being a lazy loner. Maybe the other girls are picking on her? She looks fine physically so hopefully she’ll shape up soon.

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“Hi, I’m Luna and I ripped mom’s flower out of the flower bed while taking my dirt bath.”

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Onions, eggs, potatoes, peppers, oh my!

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The girls lay lots of different size eggs! Something we’ll get XXL eggs and some days they’ll be mediums.

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I have nature right outside my front yard! It doesn’t get much better than that? Well, maybe a tropical beach, I guess. The deer have been visiting every single day. Amazingly, this is the first year they haven’t gotten in my garden. We think they just have enough to eat in the marshes that they haven’t had the need to venture to my garden, thank goodness.

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My mom found this egg in the nesting boxes. Mrs. Bonnie was rolling it all around and we think she pecked at it. Naughty girl. We also have another naughty hen. Mrs. Biscuits spends her outside time hunting frogs. She roams the yard waiting for innocent frogs to move, she snatches them in her beak and runs and runs and runs and runs with that poor frog hanging out of her mouth until it dies. She doesn’t eat them, she just keeps killing them. Over and over again.

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And here’s my little sister. She always claims she hates the chickens, but with a smile like that, I think she’s lying!

Raising chickens is an adventure. Tomorrow’s the Maryland Poultry Swap but unfortunately I cannot make it. I’m pretty bummed that I’m missing out. I know I would have tons of fun looking at all the different breeds of chickens, fabulous coops, and browsing all the homemade and recycled goods. If we were going sure enough I’d be coming home with some new babies. Until next year, I guess :)

Oh, and if you want a little chicken humor, check out this video on “The Hazards of Backyard Hens”. I thought it was funny, but then again I also talk to my chickens like they are people.

Gardening Update 7/22

posted in Gardening on

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Here’s a little garden update for July! I’ve been working a lot and I don’t spend a lot of time home anymore. As much as I love sunshine, I am very thankful for the large amounts of rain we’ve had this summer. I’ve only had to water my garden a few times so far!

Things growing in my garden: Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, green beans, herbs, radishes, onions, cucumbers, blackberries, zucchini, squash, gourds/pumpkins and some lettuce.

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The tomatoes are doing pretty good. This week I’ll have harvested pretty much the bulk of the tomatoes I’ll be getting all summer. Maybe I’ll make some salsa? My peppers are so, so slow. And to make matters worse, something nibbled the leaves off so it had to start all over. My cucumbers are really taking over! The squash and zucchini plants are still alive but are not producing as much as they should! The large amounts of rain have definitely taken its toll on the plants. The rain makes it harder to get nutrients into the plant. I also think I have a lack of pollinating bees in the garden.

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I’m almost done picking blackberries for the summer. I’ve been picking from my yard, my neighbor’s yard, and the neighborhood – yay for free berries! I’ve also discovered wineberries growing wild in my neighborhood. They are a type of raspberry and completely edible. Nerdboy and I just whipped up some berry jam over the weekend (more on that later).

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My potatoes (in the trashcans and in my garden) have been completely unsatisfied. I think all my potato plants have died, except the sweet potatoes. I dug up some potatoes last week because the plant was dead. I LOVE digging for potatoes. We have them for dinner and they were delicious :)

I haven’t had much time to weed the garden or plant anything new. I told my sister I would pay her $5/hour to weed my garden. Can you believe she didn’t take me up on that offer?

I’m happy my garden is finally at the ‘pick me’ stage! I have a ton of tomatoes that I need to pick tomorrow before someone else (critters) gets them. I’ll post another update later!

Gardening Update 6/24

posted in Gardening on

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Howdy everyone! I have some new garden pictures to share from the week. They are in no particular order, so just follow along and try to match up the pictures as I write! This week was rather momentous for Brandi’s Garden. In addition to the usual lettuce and berries I’ve been regularly harvesting, this week I picked a yellow squash (many more to come I hope, once we get over the Blossom End Rot), potatoes (these two red ones kept forcing themselves out of my garden), and green beans! For whatever reason, this is the first time I’ve even planted beans. I think my dad was always convinced they took up too much room or something.. I don’t know, but I’m super happy with them! Tons of beans to come and they are so much fun to pick.

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Above is the pot I planted weeks and weeks ago with some lettuce and carrot seeds. It’s my “salad pot”. I’ll have to start plucking lettuce off it’s soon because my original lettuce and spinach plot is reaching the end of its life, and this 90+ degree weather is not helping!

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I have somewhere around 20 tomato plants. I have 2 in a Topsy Turvy (works great for me!) and the rest are in my garden. A few of the tomato plants are still youngins’ but that helps to space out all fruit harvesting. The deer haven’t touched anything yet (except the apple tree), but I know they are coming! I also have about 8 pepper plants, but they must be stunted or something. They haven’t grown much in weeks. My great next door neighbor let me have a bunch of his compost (leaves and grass clippings) that have been cooking for years. I spread it around all my plants on this half of my garden and now it looks fabulous! It should help keep some moisture in and make the soil richer.

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I think these are black raspberries. They aren’t blackberries and they aren’t normal raspberries. Think raspberry texture with a blackberry color. black raspberries, possibly? I got a small piece of the bush from Nerdboy when we first starting dating. Now my plant is growing better than his! ;) They are growing great in my garden, which is good and bad. It’s great that they are flourishing, but I also want to get all the berries out of my garden because they take up a bunch of space and they spread!

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I took this picture a few days ago. I can’t wait to check them tonight when I get home. I think they are almost ready! :)

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Lots of green bean plants and lots of beans to pick!

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My first squash, green bean, and potato picking of the season! Yahoo! I don’t even like squash or green beans (only like canned ones) but I’m still excited.

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Lots of lettuce, spinach and berries! Lovely!
So there we go, more garden pictures! Usually 4th of July is a big turning point for my garden. I usually get my first tomato, blackberry, cucumber, and flourishing squash by then. It looks like we are right on track with the cucumber and squash, but this new variety of blackberry (grew from seeds I got from blackberries I picked at a farm last year) are amazing! They are early growers and have huge berries.

I hope you guys are enjoying your summer! It’s going to be a HOT one this week and our AC was broken all yesterday. Feel free to ask questions or share your garden stories. Garden on, my friends :)

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Hey everyone! The Savvy Student Shopper is living a very busy life nowadays. Working, blogging, gardening, caring for chickens and everything else is tiring! Here’s a few new pictures from my garden the my friends, the chickens.

The only things I’ve been picking regularly are lettuce, spinach, and strawberries. Everything else is still growing but hopefully by next month I’ll be picking some more!

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My tomato plants are coming along nicely. No sign of deer yet (knock on wood!). They have been munching on my apple trees (outside of my garden) though. I just love the smell of tomato plants. You know that smell? All you have to do is light touch a tomato plant and you get the garden-y aroma. I love it!

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My yellow squash plants have started to flower, the zucchini should be soon behind. As long as the bugs stay away, I should have a bunch of squash and zucchini in a few weeks. I’m not a huge fan of either, but I do enjoy watching them grow!

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My lettuce is still producing, good thing because my newer lettuce is taking SO long to grow. The little sprouts look like they haven’t grown in weeks. We love out fresh lettuce though! So tasty for dinner and easy to grow. On the right, where it looks empty, I have some Kale coming up.

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My black raspberry plant has really taken off this year. It’s only one bush, we won’t get a ton of berries but it is very healthy looking!

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The spinach is one of my favorites so far this season. It’s my first time planting spinach seeds (not sure what I was waiting for) but I am so glad I did! I guess I’m still shocked that my leaves look just like (even fresher actually) than the spinach at the grocery store! Super cool and a great addition to our salad.

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The black raspberries coming along!

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While weeding the other day, I came across… a POTATO! What a surprise! I did plant a lot of potatoes this year and this find gave me some hope that my garden is filled with potatoes underneath. I sure hope so! I didn’t remove the potato as it was still attached to the roots under the soil (along with other potatoes I hope!). It’s not time to harvest the potatoes yet but I am totally looking forward to dig-day.

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And lastly, my babies. The chickens are going on 13 weeks old and we are patiently waiting for them to surprise us with our first egg! Bonnie is still the largest, especially compared to her other black/white sister, Luna. Bonnie has these fluffy thighs that are so cute, like chubby baby thighs I guess. Bonnie is also the loudest. Instead of clucking or peeping, I think moos at us. It’s a very odd sound. Luna, still the runt, is probably still the most timid. Ginger and Biscuit, the two reds, are pretty spunky. All 4 absolutely love to run around the yard. Just yesterday I found 2 in my neighbor’s yard! But, we have discovered the chickens love mulch. My mom spent last weekend laying down mulch, weeding the flower bed, and planting new flowers. LOOK what the babies did! The scratched away the mulch like it’s some kind of game. Mom is not happy with the chickens. On a more fun note, the chickens L-O-V-E grapes! They go crazy over grapes, especially Bonnie.

That’s all for now! I hope you all are enjoying your summer. To those of you who raise chickens and/or have a garden, good luck and keep it up!

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The first official harvest from the garden! A basket of lettuce for dinner, our first red strawberry, and some pretty flowers for the table

My garden is definitely coming along now! I’ve been working in it every chance I get. Everyone that gardens knows that there is always something still on your to-do list. It’s always a work in progress. Gardening is one of my favorite past times and I love to share that with you! My dream would be to have a sand-free and deer-free yard, but that’s just a part of game when you live on the woods near the water, I guess. I also have lots of herbs and a pallet filled with lettuce and spinach sprouts that aren’t pictured. It’s time for me to let the chickens out and play in some dirt. Catch ya later!

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See that pretty red strawberry? Stupid bird got it before I did!

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Strawberry patch (wooden planter was upcycled from my childhood tree house)

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Potatoes in trashcans – still doing well!

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The right side of the garden (cucumbers, yellow squash, onion,lettuce, radish, zucchini, raspberries, blackberries, pumpkin, gourds). I have room for one more planting.. what should it be?!

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Close up of the newly transplanted cucumbers

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Onion patch and radishes in the middle (just planted yesterday)

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Squash, lettuce, and zucchini

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My first tomato!! My other half of the garden contains tomatoes (12 plants so far), green beans, more potatoes, some straggling asparagus, and garlic. More tomatoes and peppers are still on the to-do list.

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Our apple tree has apples!! Last year we got ONE lonely apple, this year is looking much better. The deer keep munching the tree though, so I hope we still get some apples for us! I also remembered my neighbor right up the street has an enormous peach tree in his front yard. I’ll be talking to him soon ;)

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What my life has come to

As I mentioned, it is finals week for the Savvy Student Shopper. Instead of spending time hunting for deals, blogging, and coupon shopping, I’ve been attempting to study and write up my final papers. Wednesday is my last day.. the end is near!

I am in the process of selling textbooks backs too. It has become a game for me the past 3 years. Eventually I’ll write up a post about textbook buying/reselling. This year, I think I may have broken even! Meaning I’ll be making back close to what I originally spent in January. I have learned a ton about buying/reselling textbooks and I’ll definitely share some of that with you.

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The chickens are doing great – very big and healthy! I’m looking forward to their egg laying stage in a few months. They are still spending the nights in my bathroom because their coop is not 100% secure (My dad was supposed to have it done by now) and I don’t want to chance anything since I live on the woods with lots of hungry animals. They do spend the day in their outdoor coop and they love it!

Every time I’m home, I try to spend a little bit of time getting the garden in shape. Gardening is a lot to keep up with, especially when you are only home a few times a month! Some nasty buggers have already attacked my chives. Like 100 little black bugs per chive stalk. Disgusting. Between the deer, bugs, droughts, sandy soil, birds, etc., I think I have more garden mishaps than garden successes, but it’s alright.

My older lettuce about ready for harvesting.

My older lettuce about ready for harvesting.

Raspberries are thriving! I hope I actually get some berries this year and not just leaves.

Raspberries are thriving! I hope I actually get some berries this year and not just leaves.

Onions

Onions

Potatoes in cans

Potatoes in cans

Baby spinach

Baby spinach

My strawberry patch is doing the best it has ever done! As long as the birds and bugs leave it alone, I should have dozens of berries!

My strawberry patch is doing the best it has ever done! As long as the birds and bugs leave it alone, I should have dozens of berries!

Some more potatoes on the one side of my garden. (Please ignore all weeds)

Some more potatoes on the one side of my garden. (Please ignore all weeds)

I think I’m hitting up CVS this weekend, so I’ll try to share my trip! As soon as I’m done with school, I’ll get back into the grocery store deals and Target! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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I hope you all had a lovely Easter! The Savvy Student Shopper has been so busy around here with chickens, gardening, cooking, homework, classes, and internship searching that there has been zero time to blog! I hope that things will get less busy soon, but gardening season has started, chickens are growing and I have exams in just over a month. Crazy! Summer will be here before we know it :)

I’ll be posting a chicken update, a garden update, thrifty finds, and my latest CVS trip in the near future so don’t go too far!

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Unfortunately the bugs destroyed my zucchini plants and left me with a very short growing time and only a few zucchini. But between the zucchini I picked from my garden and the few I picked up at the farmer’s market, I still have enough frozen zucchini bread and shredded zucchini to last us until next summer :) If you have too much summer produce to handle -freeze it!

I made many batches of zucchini bread this summer. We always ate a loaf or two, and then I’d wrap up and freeze the other loaves. If I wasn’t feeling up to making bread, I would simply shred the zucchini, measure it based on the recipe I follow, and then freeze it up in portioned baggies! This January when we’re craving some fresh summer zucchini bread, I’ll be able to pull out my shredded zucchini and whip up a loaf or two!

If you want to be frugal, you must never let produce go to waste. It can almost always be cooked, frozen, dehydrated, or canned for a later day!

(Squirt sleeping on the counter!)