Swiss chard on bench The Prudent Homemaker

I cut Swiss chard from the garden almost every day last week.  All of it grew from self-seeding in the garden.

Celery The Prudent Homemaker

I cut celery twice from the garden. This is celery that has regrown from planting celery bottoms from the store. It’s mostly leaves, which is just fine for seasoning soups. I ordered seeds last week and I will try growing celery from seed this year.

I cut thyme, green onions, lettuce, leeks, spinach, cilantro, and chives from the garden.

Winter brought 2 bananas home that were left from a church activity. After the bananas were eaten, I buried the peels under the roses to fertilize them.

My husband and I had a date night at home after the children were in bed. We played several games of Sequence together.

Our family watched some more episodes of Tudor Monastery Farm on You Tube. My husband and I watched shows for free on Hulu and watched Downton Abbey for free on We find plenty to watch online without paying subscriptions to any online services, having cable tv, or even having an antenna (though an antenna will give you several stations for free in the U.S., depending on your location). I love the ability to watch when it is convenient to me. (Yes, we pay for internet; we have the slowest cable internet speed,  so that my husband can work from home several hours of each day, he usually puts in several hours when he gets up and more after he comes home from his office; and it is used also so that I can print coupons, print schoolwork, and, of course, for me to write this site.)

I used buttons from my button jar to replace the missing buttons on a jumper.

I purchased a song that Ezrom wanted from Amazon for free uing a promotional credit that I had been saving.

Winter made baked apples with the last of our apples from the fridge. They were starting to get soft, so baking them was the perfect way to use them up.

A friend brought me 7 1/2 dozen eggs, from her friend who has chickens. I traded her some thyme and some Swiss chard. When our lettuce is more abundant, I will give her lettuce several times a month.

Rainwater The Prudent Homemaker

It rained on Sunday, so I turned off the drip irrigation for the garden and sprinklers for the grass (those only go on one day a week in winter, and Monday is my assigned day) so I didn’t have to water this week. I put out buckets and pails and collected rain water from the roof. The houses here are not built with rain gutters, but the tile roof creates decent channels for collecting water. I collected several buckets of water to use in the garden next week.

Swiss Chard in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I made several soups with Swiss chard, green onions, celery, and herbs from the garden; a pasta dish with turkey, dried peppers, green onions and chard from the garden; pasta salad with home-processed olives, green onions and parsley from the garden, plus carrots from the fridge; green salads (and tested a new homemade dressing, which could use some more tweaking), citrus fruit salad, turkey curry, banana bread, blueberry muffins (I changed out part of the flour to whole wheat),  Italian dressing, Balsamic orange vinaigrette. I made a double batch of lemon bars, which is not an inexpensive recipe, but the lemons were from my garden, the eggs were given to me, and I bought the butter for .50 a pound last fall, which made them rather inexpensive.

 Parsnips The Prudent Homemaker

I dug parsnips from the garden and made mashed potatoes and parsnips, which I served along side a turkey dish that included olives (the ones I picked and processed), basil, lemons, spinach and leeks from the garden.

I planted seeds in the garden from seeds I had leftover from previous years.

I started reading an old book about French Intensive gardening online for free.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. Hello! I am drooling over your garden fresh veggies! I can’t wait for spring here! Your lemon bars sound amazing.
    Last week:
    -I went to two natural food markets. I was able to purchase bulk chickpeas, bulk cashews, package free produce 🙂 . I used my cloth “bulk” bags my mother bought me for Christmas. I am trying to purchase package free and local as much as I can. Being in the middle of winter makes this difficult, but I do my best. I purchased russet potatoes, a large yam, acorn and butternut squash, portabella mushroom head. I went to one local grocery store and purchased some sale items, locally grown apples and carrots. I recycled the bags the carrots came in. The few things I purchased in a container were put in glass jars as soon as I got home. All the produce I purchased came out to $1 or less per piece.
    -I took all food with me to work. I drank free coffee and water or hot tea all day.
    -We ate all meals at home except one. This was our monthly meal out.
    -My husband went to his consultation at the oral surgeon. We will only be required to pay the co-pay up front, thank goodness! He needs a lot of dental work done. I still plan on paying this bill off as fast as I can.
    -I continue to save shower/bath warm up water and water that comes out of the weird pipe in the shower. I use it in the humidifier, to flush the toilet, or mop the floor.
    -I continue to use the solar lamp in the bathroom, open the curtains during the day, shut lights off, unplug things that are not being used.
    -I cleaned out my closet again. Several items were to big to wear or I did not wear them anymore. I will donate these to Goodwill.
    -My employer announced our company service project. I chose to donate toiletries for homeless veterans. There were different options, but I had a stockpile of items that we no longer use so this was the easiest for me to do without spending cash.
    -My daughter and I both watched free shows on my kindle, mostly using my prime membership. I finished the latest (free) season of one show and will now get caught up on Downton Abbey.
    -My mother gave us a DVR recorder. She is aware of my goal to cancel Dish Network. I am still trying to convince my husband that he will survive if we won’t have a cable service. He doesn’t believe me yet.
    -I was able to purchase fuel for my car for $1.89 per gallon.
    –the padding on my daughter’s mattress (the one that came from her crib and is now on her toddler bed) has lost it’s padding. I can feel the springs underneath. I have used a thick blanket, folded over, so she doesn’t feel the springs. We will purchase her a new mattress when we get our taxes back.
    -I will be visiting my son and daughter in law tomorrow (Monday) because I am off from work. I will take them their Christmas presents since they have been unable to make the short trip to my house. They live a half hour away. My daughter in law had an ultrasound, she is 10 weeks along, because she is a twin. There’s only one little peanut in there. I am so excited to have a picture of my first grandbaby! I have begun “wishlist shopping” on Amazon. 🙂
    – I went to the library and exchanged books for my daughter. I didn’t get any for myself this time, I have plenty of free books on my kindle to read.
    -I cleaned the house with all natural cleaners. I continue to use my homemade personal care products.
    That is all I can remember. I look forward to returning this week and reading everyone’s comments and frugal accomplishments!

  2. I wanted to make meatballs yesterday but didn’t have breadcrumbs (don’t have a food processor) so substituted oatmeal and it worked out great. Instead of dreaming of new furniture, I’m working hard to declutter and get my home “sale ready,” even though we aren’t selling our home. Used an old muffin mix to make a bunch of muffins that are now being used for snacks and part of breakfast.

  3. We met our weekly grocery budget for the second week in a row and managed to stock up the pantry a bit. When I went to Target, they had a combine 10 items and get a $5 gift card special. Most of the items are things that we already use and were on sale. I got 6 boxes of pasta, 2 boxes of taco shells, and 2 jars of canned pasta sauce (we normally eat homemade pasta sauce, but they were a bit over $1 each). With the gift card, I paid $6 for everything.

    We made most of our meals at home. I finally found an oatmeal recipe that my son will eat, so I am really excited to start serving it more often. He’s really picky about textures so this is a big deal.

    We sold a few of my son’s toys that he no longer plays with, as well as his car seat, which he has outgrown, for $100 total. The car seat is a Britax and doesn’t expire until 2019, so that’s a great deal for the mama who bought it, too!

    I made my son 2 pairs of pants from corduroy that I had in my stash. I used a pattern that has an option for double knees, so I am hoping that they will last longer.

  4. I’ll have to start keeping a list again because I know I’ll forget some things:
    -I drove myself to work all week. My husband and tot stayed home most of the week (we share 1 car), and over the past 9 days, we’re at about 200 miles in our SUV. Since I had a doctor’s appointment in another town and I drove to work all week, I’m pretty pleased with that!
    -We stocked up on groceries at Aldi’s and Meijer – Meijer had green box pasta on sale for 79 cents/pound, which is my rock-bottom price (actually, I’ll happily stock up when it’s $1/pound, so this was amazing).
    -We received our Subscribe and Save order from Everything in the box was free because we used gift cards from Swagbucks, Bing and other sites. We received 36 rolls of TP, 2 boxes of green tea (these are for my parents and they are paying for them), 12 pouches of organic food for my tot, 6 packages of organic puffs for my tot, and 1 box of liners for my tot’s bottles (must.break.her.of.this.habit.).
    -My hubby cooked several meals from scratch and every day, we ate leftovers for lunch. I will admit by the time the weekend came around, I was pretty sick of leftovers 🙂
    -Friday night, we ate out at Sam’s Club as a family. The cost was $5.28. Love that!
    -I drink a lot of water throughout the day but find myself sick of drinking water by the time I get home from work. I bought a lemon on Friday night and that has helped a TON. A slice or two of lemon in my at-home water has increased my happiness. I aim to drink 80 oz. a day and always drink at least 64 oz. naturally. I have to really work at the last 16 oz. but I think the lemon will help with that.

    I love these posts of yours and am excited to contribute in the comments a bit more! I also just want to add/share that I’m currently expecting baby #2 and am having some complications. If anyone is so inclined to pray for me and baby #2 and my family, I would appreciate it immensely. Thank you!

  5. Not the best week for frugal accomplishments here, but there were a couple:
    [*] On the days I didn’t pack my lunch for work, I came home and ate leftovers.
    [*] I transferred the money we had saved up for a trip that got canceled to our House Fund
    [*] I worked five hours at my second job to put toward our House Fund
    [*] I planned our Spring garden and pulled out last year’s seeds to start indoors this week
    [*] I chose from the colors offered by my employer and had my office painted for free this week (some of my colleagues want different colors, and are willing to buy the paint and do the work themselves)

  6. I made a double batch of banana bread with ripe bananas. We bought 6 11+ pound half hams for less than $20 at Aldi. Of those we started eating on one: omelettes, soup, stirfry, and sliced with eggs. We ate at home all but Friday night too.

    Since we have a membership to the YMCA the kids all showered there after swimming saving on water and electricity to heat it at our house this week.

    We went to see the Musical if Anne of Green Gables on opening night to receive $16 off our tickets.

  7. Jess, my prayers are with you and your family. I pray that God lay his hands on you and your baby to bring you both through the birth healthy and happy.

  8. * made a double batch of hm mac and cheese; one for dinner last night and one for the freezer
    * made homemade cookies
    * going to try my hand at homemade bagels today
    * had a coupon for $5 worth of apples
    * trying to be very mindful of no food wasting; including eating up all the leftovers
    * rescheduled a ortho appt for my daughter to avoid having to make a specific trip and being able to combine while we would already be in town

  9. My experience is that celery is very easy to grow from seed. I don’t know how they tolerate heat, though. That¨s never been a problem here 🙂

    As to parsnips, have you ever tried ‘vegan fish’? Peel parsnips and slice lenghtwise (slices look like fish fillets). Cook slices a couple of minutes (until they become kind of ‘transparent’ color) and drain. On a plate mix flour (any kind) and some salt and pepper. Give the cooked slices a flour coat on the plate and fry in frying pan on medium to low heat.

  10. Went to the car wash and used the free vacuums there to clean my car. Bought milk at Trader Joes where it’s .20 cheaper than at my usual grocery store. I got a Chickfila calendar for Xmas that comes with monthly freebies, so I used it to get a free sandwich and drink. Sold some books, puzzles and board games to a used book store. On the other hand I do feel like I spent too much on groceries this week 🙁

  11. I use the tactic when decluttering, if I were moving would I take the item with me. I am decluttering too so I can keep things more neatly.

  12. I sold some vintage tablecloths through Craigslist which allowed me to put an extra $35 in my kids’ college fund.

    I scrubbed down a garbage picked flowerpot to use for an indoor plant that a friend brought me as a birthday gift.

    I served a baked pasta dish from my freezer last night and baked up some bread from scratch to perk up the meal. I was going to grate some string cheese I had in the fridge to sprinkle on top of the dish, but no one seemed to notice that there was no cheese.

    Yesterday was horribly dark and rainy, so we ended up staying at home all day. It’s kind of nice to just snuggle up and do nothing every once in a awhile.

    I’ve been doing Swag bucks enough to have earned $15 in Amazon credit so far this month, and I’ll likely earn another $5 gift card today.

    Used my menstrual cup, which I’ve owned since 2008 and has saved me hundreds of dollars through the years.

    I used a coupon for a free drive-through carwash that I was given to me when I brought my 2005 minivan in for a free recall service. (They also gave me a coupon for a $9.99 oil change, but I used that last week.)

    My college age son, (who still lives at home) needed a larger portfolio to carry his art supplies to and from his college classes. He has one which I garbage picked and gave him for Christmas. Unfortunately it was too small. Luckily, we still had the one my husband used when he was in college, which he’s now able to use.

    I cleaned my bathroom yesterday using mostly a vinegar-water spray mix. The spray bottle is from a Martha Stewart cleaner I got years ago for free and used up.

    Our expensive Braun electric toothbrush system finally bit the dust, so we’re just brushing our teeth manually instead of buying the expensive system all over again.

    My son decluttered his room and handed me a number of socks that were making it so his sock drawer wouldn’t close. Instead of getting rid of them I tucked them away for when he needs socks again. Also, they fit me, so I might wear them.

    My son broke the screen on his iPhone by not being careful with it. My husband ordered the parts to fix it and my son will pay the expense.

    I wish we didn’t have cable-TV, but my husband is a soccer person, (volunteers countless hours per week for local soccer non-profits, as well as volunteer teaching CPR to the soccer community) and there is no way to watch soccer without having cable. However, there have been stirrings lately of streaming ESPN and other ways that soccer can be watched without cable in the near future. Crossing my fingers on this one!

    My husband does cycle to work in back in order to offset the cost of cable-TV. Even in dreadful weather.

    Do you have access to Hoopla? It’s like Netflix, but free through public libraries. Of course, the options are fewer than Netflix, but it’s still pretty great. They also have music.

  13. Last week I worked a lot of hrs, packed my own snacks and water. Did some de-cluttering.
    Friday we defrosted the Meat freezer and today I’m defrosting the freezer I use for fruits, frozen vegetables, breads etc.
    Nice to be able to see what I have instead of all the ice!
    I also have baked a cherry pie and a chocolate coffee cake.

    We haven’t done anything in our garden yet. Too wet to play outside.

  14. Brandy, I see you have been doing a little sew you know how to replace a snap button? My grandson’s pants need repairing I hate to throw them away they are pretty new looking.

    Each week I’m trying to learn a new skill- this week when faced with too much whipping cream I made butter. Easy and turned out great!
    We are in our 3 shopping trip week of our No Spend January. We have been spending $30 a week for groceries.
    You can read more about it here

  15. Well, we were going to have a date night on Friday (out), but my husband came down sick. So I whipped up a quick pot of chicken and orzo soup from whatever I had on hand, so that was much cheaper.

    I made your rosemary olive oil bread – baked it into two loaves, and took one to a potluck. Half of it was left. I make the dough in the bread machine, and when it was done I opened it and realized that I’d forgotten to install the paddle. So I dumped it out into a bowl, fished out the paddle, put it back in, and hoped for the best. It worked! Even though it wasn’t done until 10 pm.

    My friend at the potluck was giving stuff away so I got two free books to read.

    I stopped at a store that I don’t usually shop at and got carrots and onions on super cheap prices. I need to chop the onions today and freeze them for later.

    I’m making curry chickpeas (from a bag I cooked yesterday) and roasted potatoes for dinner. I wanted to make falafel, but my husband is home sick and with the boys that’s too much work.

    I went to my quilting group meeting yesterday. I didn’t have time to quilt so I took some knitting. One of my friends spent 10 minutes showing me how to knit faster. It’s not easy for me, but I used my phone to video tape her so that I can watch it more at home.

  16. I have 3 questions if you or a reader could help me out.
    1. If I cut the Italian bread recipe in half, do I cut the amount of yeast in half also?
    2. The jar of yeast I purchased says “rapid rise. Ideal for bread machines”. Is this okay to use?
    3. Went to Lowe’s Home Improvement store to purchase seeds with a gift card and wound up buying plants because they didn’t have seeds. They had ornamental Swiss chard. The ones with red and purple stems. Are those edible or am I looking for something else?

  17. I tried growing celery from starts last year, at my daughter’s request. by the end of the summer they were pretty much all strings and so astringent we couldn’t eat them. I need to do some research to see what I did wrong.

    As for my frugal week…

    I did my grocery shopping at Winco instead of Fred Meyer. I detest our Winco store (rude customers and employees, and poor quality meat and produce), but every time I shop there I have to admit most items are much, much less expensive.

    I was the closest to staying within my two-week grocery budget as I have been in a long, long time. Not right on target, but very close.

    We totally rocked the leftovers last week. The only things I had to toss this week were an old hot dog and about a cup and a half of shredded lettuce that was shoved to the back of the fridge and got slimy. I made too many roasted potatoes one night, so the next morning I fried them up with eggs for breakfast for my daughter and I. I sliced some wilted apples and fried them in butter and brown sugar for dessert one night. I took leftovers almost every day, and hubby took leftovers twice.

    I made up a giant pot of ham and beans, using the ham bone from our 1/4 pig we bought last year and some dried beans. Should make two dinners and a few days worth of lunch leftovers.

    My husband bought a loft bed for our daughter from a coworker for $75. We’ve been thinking about getting one for a long, long time (her current bed pretty much fills her room and she doesn’t have much room to play) but didn’t want to pay several hundred dollars for one. We found an inexpensive but decent quality foam mattress and bedding on clearance for it. We’ll sell her old bed and mattress and will hopefully come out ahead.

    We did not eat out this week. We still have money left in our two-week eating out budget, but I am saving it for a couple of higher-priced dinners out (social events) that I know are coming later in the month.

    I started setting money aside for our annual pig purchase. It won’t happen for a few months but I want to have the money on hand when the time comes. I’m going to make it an automatic monthly withdrawal from our checking account, and factor it into our grocery budget. I’ll use it for the pig this spring and the chickens we’ll buy later in the summer (my sister-in-law raises the meat on her farm and then we buy it from her).

    I tracked all spending throughout the week. Doing it daily helps me keep on top of our budget.

    I think that’s about it. Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  18. Brandy you are really getting quite a lot of food from your garden! It all looks so good.

    Here’s where I posted my accomplishments for last week.

  19. I keep forgetting to mention that we got our power bill a couple of weeks ago. Our bill comes quarterly. For the last quarter, our bill was just over $1/day, half of which was the connection fee. It’s no surprise to anyone that the repealing of the carbon tax has not led to lower electricity bills; but we’re still keeping our usage down and that, plus our solar panels, keeps our bills reasonable.

    I harvested some plums and nectarines, one tomato, and one strawberry this week. Not a great deal but it was nice, all the same. I shared the plums and nectarines with a neighbour who was saying the birds got all of hers, and plums are her favourite fruit. They aren’t our favourite; I’m just going to process mine for plum sauce; so I figured she might as well have her fill. The same neighbour mowed our paddock. We only do this once a year, and my husband worked out years ago that if we bought a ride-on mower ourselves, we’d pretty much never come out ahead on it. The past few years we’ve bartered with this neighbour. Her adult son lives at home and they have a deal that she gets his tax return every year for room and board. My husband does her son’s taxes, and she mows our lawn (we generally provide the petrol).

    A friend told me about a relatively new shop in town, which is a clearance store for a clearance store. As you can imagine there’s a lot of junk; but there are also some treasures. We found brand-new kids’ books from 10 cents to 25 cents each; composition books for 5 cents; binders for 50 cents. Unfortunately the kids were with me, otherwise I would’ve stocked up on books for Christmas and birthday presents, but as it was I managed to sneak a few into the trolley without them noticing.

    The kids had dentist appointments. No cavities! I was thrilled. We paid out of pocket but will get most if not all of it back through Medicare.

    We used our pass to take my mother in law to the wildlife park. I think she enjoyed it. My father in law has some fairly serious health problems and she’s been stressed and worried about him for quite some time now, and she mentioned it was nice to just get out and take a break from that.

  20. Last week:
    -We had bad weather so I only rode my bicycle to work twice, I took the bus the other 3 days
    -We used our drying racks to dry 3/4 of our laundry (this saves us $1 each time we do it since we use coin operated machines in our apartment complex)
    -We ate all meals from home and all my lunches were brought to work
    -Our only purchase this week was produce
    -We purchased 15 pounds of oranges at .68 cents per pound…this is a very good price in our area
    -I managed to stretch 1.15 pounds of chicken between a casserole and white chili, we were able to eat the casserole for dinner and 1 lunch, and the chili was eaten for 2 dinners and 3 lunches.
    …..I feel like there are more items to share I just can’t think of them now unfortunately.

  21. Your garden is so productive! I cannot wait until spring gets here, we save a good amount on our grocery bill when we can eat out of our garden.

    This week to be frugal we:
    – Used a movie theater gift card my husband received for his birthday in June. We decided when we received it that we would save it for during the winter, and it was much worth the wait. We went to the afternoon showing because it was $9 a ticket instead of $11 and used the rest of the money for popcorn. It was a wonderful mid-winter morale booster:)
    – We have continued to keep our thermostat at 60 degrees during the day and 58 at night. Compared to the same period last year we saved $95 over the past five weeks! Throughout this winter we have used a gallon of propane less a day.
    – I used $20 in rewards and coupons at Staples to pick up 48 rolls of toilet paper and 6 rolls of paper towels for $3.

  22. -bought 13 pound ham for 99cents a pound. Sliced and diced it, and put it in the freezer
    -brought home chicken salad, a veggie tray, and fruit salad from a funeral
    -used a code to get a free movie from redbox
    -ate all our meals at home and used up all the leftovers
    -did a pinecone research survey
    -watched Downton Abbey online
    -I have started charging my phone in the car while I drive to and from work. I don’t know how much electricity it saves not doing it at home, but every little bit helps right?

  23. I ended up with a family emergency that took us 10 hours hours from home. We received a medical rate at the hotel and they gave us our first “night” (we checked in at 5:30 am) free. We ended up eating out quite a few times but split many of the meals with family. My stayed with my children and bought us some groceries that she left.

    We also had two snow days last week that allowed us to eat at home and save on lunches and breakfast as we ate brunch both days.

    I am only shopping every 2 weeks instead of every week and it seems to be saving money. I am using fabric bags as the store pays a nickel for each one.

    We have stated car shopping for a new to us vehicle and hoping to pay cash using or tax returns and savings.

    I printed coupons, listed to music on youtube and pandora, downloaded free books to my kindle and checked store ads with our internet.

    I have been trying to not use lights but it gets dark very early and stays dark for the entire time I am home in the mornings.

    I love the picture of the rain dripping in the bucket! Jealous as we only have icicles off our roof.

  24. I love your weekly frugal accomplishments posts. I’ve had some planned expenses this week, so it wasn’t very frugal, but, I was able to get some good deals when grocery shopping (2 cans of tuna for $.02 each after coupon; 1 doz. eggs free with coupon; 1 box of cereal free with coupon); picked oranges from the garden; made all but one meal at home; air dried all laundry. Also, I made a thank you card with items I had on hand (1 sheet of printer paper and junk mail). Here’s a link to my main grocery post:
    I also did an additional mini grocery shop after that and spent an additional $3.82 on fresh produce, for a total of $40.63 for groceries, so far in January.

  25. I recently learned from a friend that when your apples become a bit wrinkled/shriveled (she called them ‘wizened’, you can soak them in some water, whole, and they will plump some. She does it right before she is going to use them, and said there is a definite difference in firmness and many (though not all) of the wrinkles disappear. I am wanting to try this with potatoes as well, because sometimes, in our dry climate, a potato will get a bit shriveled.

    My frugal accomplishments and blessings from this past week, along with the menu for the coming week are posted here: Visitors welcome! 🙂

    And now, I want to try sprouting the base of celery next time I have some. Thank you for the inspiration!

  26. did my first pinecone survey; money will go straight into “buy a house fund” savings account.

    came in under budget with our new weekly grocery budget,

    had a friend color my hair. it was my birthday present to myself. She is licensed and does it from her home where our kids had a playdate and cost 1/2 what a salon would charge.

    went on a date and received a free drink and dessert for my birthday. enjoyed a nice meal without the kids, talked about this years plans and then went on a nice walk before coming home. … my mom babysat and we went to lunch instead of dinner which is cheaper and less crowded.

    saved .10 on gas.

    gave myself a manicure.

    got back into menu planning… which may be why I was under budget 🙂

  27. I love that you were blessed with enough rain to gather some from the roof for your garden. I need to remember to bury some banana peels around our roses, too.

    Dropped off a bag of donated items to DI, & bought 7 quart jars & 1 pint jar. Cut down an apple box to make a storage box with dividers for them, so they can sit on a shelf in the garage until they are filled.

    Since apples were on sale this week, I was able to pick up 12 apple boxes & 2 grapefruit boxes, for free, to cut down & make dividers to hold jars. I have cut down all of them, & uses one in our garage, & my oldest daughter will use the rest in her shed to hold empty jars.

    Celebrated my birthday at home, with a homemade gluten-free Boston Cream pie. Our youngest daughter was able to come home, so we had the cake on Sunday, which was not actually my birthday, but it was when she could be there.

    Bought a large package of ground beef from the mark down bin. From that, I made a pan of stuffed peppers for the freezer & one for dinner. I browned the rest of the ground beef, & the next night I made 3 pans of lasagna, one for dinner & two for the freezer.

    Completed a pine cone survey.

    Dehydrated some frozen elderberries to make room in the freezer. Also dehydrated some bananas that were turning brown & some leftover pineapple tidbits mixed with mandarin oranges.

    Began to trim the branches off the 2 fir trees that I rescued from curbside, & am placing the branches around the blueberry bushes where I want them to drop their needles. I cut & place a few every time I go outside, & about 2/3 of one tree is branchless.

  28. Brandy, you have done an amazing job of producing food this winter. I’m sure there was a lot of research and effort on your part to ensure your family has fresh food all year long. What a great reward for all your hard work!

    This week has been very trying for my family. My father-in-law was basically told on Monday that his body had failed to the point that they could no longer fix what was wrong. He was given the option to continue treatments, which would prolong the pain, or opt to stop treatments, which would ultimately result in his passing. With sad and heavy hearts, the decision to stop treatment was made and my FIL was moved to the palliative care unit in the hospital. Family gathered to say their goodbye’s. He passed away early Wednesday morning with my MIL, BIL and husband at his side. The funeral took place this past Saturday.

    Needless to say, being frugal was difficult this week. However, I was able to accomplish some, despite this difficult situation:
    *Brought left over Christmas treats, homemade muffins, and some snack items from our pantry for people to snack on while at the hospital.
    *Was treated to pizza one night, purchased by my brother and sister-in-law.
    *Made beef stew for everyone one night from meat and produce we already had on hand. My sister-in-law purchased a fruit tray, veggie tray and buns to go with it. This saved us from ordering take out food for everyone. Left a nice container of left over beef stew in my MIL’s freezer for her to enjoy at a later time.
    *Made two brownie mixes and a carrot cake mix from our pantry, cooked a box of meat balls in Diane’s sauce (that I had previously purchased on sale) and bought supplies to make Caesar salad for the dinner after the funeral. My sister-in-law made pulled pork with buns and had her son (who works at a Tim Horton’s) bring home left over doughnuts, doughnut holes and muffins from the night before. We expected more people to stay than what did, leaving large amounts of leftovers. I was give a large bag of buns, a pie plate full of pulled pork, a box of doughnut holes, a small bag of really nice cheese and the left over lettuce to bring home. We will most likely not eat the pulled pork, as my family is not a big pork eaters, so I am going to freeze it into small packages for my MIL’s freezer. She is now all alone and will appreciate the quick and easy meals for one.
    *Talked to my husbands two brother’s and they agreed to go together on a nice floral arrangement for their father’s casket. The cost was divided between them, allowing for a larger arrangement at a shared cost.
    *Brought home some of the fresh flowers to enjoy after the service was over. Also received a beautiful flower arrangement from my husbands employers. Our house is filled with beautiful flowers right now in the dead of winter!
    *My daughter enjoyed a free cooking class offered through the Autism Ontario chapter in our area (she has Asperger’s). It took place at the large grocery store attached to the mall. While there, we purchased some new dress shoes for her to wear to the funeral. The shoes were on sale for $13, which we paid for with a mall gift card my daughter received for Christmas. The new shoes cost us nothing out of pocket.

    The down side to the past week is that my husband has not worked, and therefore will not have a very big paycheck. The upside is that we do have savings and a well stocked pantry, so I am not worried about the pay loss. We will cope nicely, despite this family emergency, and that makes me very happy. Hopefully we will be able to get back on track this week.

  29. I love how you make the most of every bit of your garden! I was wondering if you grow sweet potatoes? It’s my understanding that they love heat and I am in zone 10 so I want to have a go at growing some this year.

  30. Emilie,

    I would like to offer some advice when you do purchase a vehicle. I have worked at a couple of dealerships and will share what I have learned.

    ~Purchase at the end of the month. Salesmen are working on their quotas for the month and often a sale may determine whether they keep their jobs or not.
    ~End of year is better when purchasing new. Manufacturers will offer the dealership incentive for how many vehicles they sell per year so they are more motivated to sell.
    ~If you cannot pay cash, get approved at your local bank or credit union before shopping. This would be called a ‘Cash deal with a lien’. Here’s why: Say you look at a vehicle and want to purchase it, the salesman will have you talk to the finance manager who in return will have you fill out credit applications. He will send them out to several banks. When he hears back for example from First National Bank they agree to purchase the loan from the dealership at 6.5% interest. This is called the ‘buy rate’. The finance manager calls you and says “Good news! We got you approved at 7.5% interest!”. You just paid the finance manager a bonus when you could have saved money and waiting time by getting financed yourself.
    ~If you are purchasing new, manufacturers often have special financing available for example Ford Motor Credit charging 0 or 1% financing.

    I hope that you and other readers find these tips helpful!


  31. Brandy-
    You inspire with your beautiful pictures. Here in the midwest we had some warmer temperatures last week and our sidewalk and driveway is clear of ice-we used our ice-pic and shovels, have not used salt yet this winter.

    During work last week I got one free lunch. I stayed 3 days in during my lunch hour thus, did not use fuel.

    Energy bill was $40 higher than previous month however, with the sub-zero weather we had I found that to be a blessing, thought it would be much higher.

    I found fabric in my stash to use to line some valences I am sewing. I bought high quality upholstery fabric for those two valences and 2 pillows for $13.00 total. I used a coupon, was already on sale, and got an additional extra off. I spent time determining how to cut out to save the most fabric for large sections to make the pillows.

    Reused one large piece of aluminum foil for the 3rd time-it’s still going strong.

    Took my daughter to the airport so she did not have to pay to park her car. I cost me like .75 cents round trip to take her for a total savings of $47.

    Washed the van using points on a car wash card that I have. Even had rags with me to wipe it down. Looks great. I have two more washes left, hoping it will carry me through until we can get the hose outside and do ourself in the driveway. Husband gets his car washed free at the deal where he bought the car 7 years ago.

    Made homemade chicken wings, veggies and dip, and other goodies to watch football games. No money spent on expensive take out food.

    Washed whites on a quick wash cycle, saving energy.

    Bought groceries and two different stores. Got a “raincheck” for chicken breast that they were out of. My pantry is well stocked and keep feeling blessed everytime I open the cabinet doors.

    No meals out this weekend, enjoyed left-overs Friday night with a beverage at home. Invited to friends for dinner and took appetizer and other goodies-had so much fun.

    Have the day off today-my sewing maching is calling me.

  32. Vikie,

    If you can not replace the snap button for some reason. Try this use a piece of cloth and sew it over the back of the button use velcro on both sides and you should be able to look like you have a snap and still close the pants.

  33. Oh, I can’t wait to hear about your olive processing adventures! We have two young olive trees, and I am greatly looking forward to that day! In cleaning my pantry, I found a bag of decaf coffee I had bought for guests some time ago, and spread the coffee grounds around several of my rose bushes. Your Spanish rice was a hit with our houseguest. Thank you for creating this online community of frugalistas. I always learn or am reminded of things I can do. Joining in here:

  34. I am loving all the gardening photos! It is SO rainy here, that our driveway is washing out from the extremely heavy rainstorms we have had over that past few days. But, although I can’t garden yet, I did sort all of my seeds. I know what I have and what I need now. I plan to order seeds in the next few days. I have several 1/2 packs I purposely saved from last year, which will cut the cost down. Because my garden is huge, it is still quite expensive to get the seeds I need, but every bit helps.

    I did a lot of cooking over the weekend. I made g/f hamburger buns, soup, g/f muffins, sourdough g/f English muffins, tacos, etc.

    My husband was out of town all weekend. I usually try to do something fun with the kids when he is gone. This time, they opted to go to the library (a branch we don’t usually use) and get a lot of movies rather than 1 or 2 Redbox movies. I bought them a few french fries, and that was our outing. We combined it with an appointment. Yesterday, we used gift cards and went to Burgerville after church. One went to a youth event with a friend all day Saturday, and one worked, and the 3rd one and I were home alone for a while Saturday, so we had a game night where we played Sequence and Racko and watched old Andy Griffin shows. My children hate changes, and changes in routine are especially disturbing. It is the worst for the youngest, because she has been with us the shortest period of time. So, I feel like we made it through the weekend with enough distractions so that she didn’t completely melt down–whew! I would have been willing to spend more to accomplish that, but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

    I planned meals for the week and froze the items we need in a few days. We are going to a little cabin we can use for free for 2 nights to celebrate my husband’s birthday.

    I keep pulling items from our freezer and shelves to continue using up the products I preserved over the summer. It’s not worth my time to do it if we don’t eat it! I bought some groceries, mostly produce and some items for the upcoming trip we are taking.

    I sewed a little on the dress I’m making for the youngest. She needs at least 2-3 new ones for the upcoming spring/summer so I hope I can squeeze out some time soon to really get busy on them. I have all the supplies I need, so I’m hoping I can make them. Otherwise, I’ll have to buy some.

  35. Thanks Sharon! My sweet 1997 Jeep will hold out well a little longer, but I am hoping to buy new to me by the end of the year. Your post was really helpful!

  36. Your pictures make me want to play in the dirt. Currently it is frozen, so I’ll just visually escape!
    I took a little girls (fake) fur trimmed coat (coat was pretty stained) used the fur trim to make small hedge hogs stuffed animals and used the poly down that was in the coat as the stuffing. 5 plush hedgehogs – to be used as Valentines gifts cost me 50 cents.
    Made a large crock of black bean soup. Saved the veggie tops for future vegetable broth.
    Cut the Martha Stewart heart pot holders pattern to sew using scraps of fabric in my stash. I will be keeping some for me, and giving some away as gifts with canned homemade tomato soup.
    I rolled all my loose change to use to get by this month (not cashing a paycheck) put 1/3 of the change in my savings account.
    Fleece tights are making this frigid weather comfortable – wearing them under my pants/jeans. I highly recommend!
    Snipped parsley, basil and rosemary from my indoor plants to make bread and season soups.

    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  37. Loving the pictures of your harvest! I will be starting my Spring garden plants in about 3 weeks and I can hardly wait! I’m so excited to see what we will be able to get from the garden this year!

    My DH got his last unemployment check last week, so we are not officially living off of my income and our savings alone. Having our income cut by over 50% does not bother me as much as being unemployed is affecting him. Poor guy, he has been sending resumes, having phone interviews and going to interviews and nothing so far. He is getting really depressed and it looks like he will have to think about changing his career path or learning some new skills. I just try to keep encouraging him but it’s getting harder and harder. In addition to the usual things we do (heating with wood, drying clothes inside on racks, combining trips to save gas, using coupons, etc…)these are the things that I have been able to do to try and keep our expenses at a minimum:

    -DH and I made breakfast burritos to put in the freezer. Our chickens are giving us about 30-35 eggs a week. We got a large pack of flour tortillas and American cheese from Sam’s and a pound of spicy sausage from the local grocery store. I scrambled a dozen eggs and fried up the sausage. We laid the wraps out and put a slice of cheese in each then filled them with the egg/sausage mixture then rolled them up. We put them in freezer bags and popped them in the freezer. We got 17 burritos at .62 cents each. We just microwave them for one to one and half minutes and top with home canned salsa. They are really good!

    -I made a large pot of chili with pinto beans and tomato sauce from last year’s garden. We had two meals of chili and cornbread and then I mixed the leftovers with macaroni and shredded cheese for chili mac that lasted us for another couple of nights.

    -Our local grocery store had Starkist tuna on sale for .88 cents a can limit 6, so I purchased 6. I can get at least 2 lunches from a can.

    -DH is on the final phase of cleaning out his mothers rooms in our house. We are donating several items but have also been the grateful recipients of several sets of almost new towels. I also got her desk and lamp and we will be using her end tables in our living room.

    -I took out half of our regular grocery money for the month and will see how far I can make it stretch. The pantry and freezer are pretty well stocked, so I will try to get away with buying just milk and a few fresh items for the next few months.

  38. Last week wasn’t very frugal as we had unexpected out of town company stay with us for a nearby funeral. We had to eat out several times as we were traveling with them.
    – I have a lot of meals from last week that didn’t get made. So this week I have meal planned around these to use them up.
    – I don’t have any plans other than to go to and from work. So evenings will be stay at home.
    – We decided not to go on a trip we were thinking of doing. This saves us about $2000. I’m disappointed but this is the mature thing to do as this money could be better used elsewhere.
    – Instead of the above trip, we are taking a family vacation in August and will be camping. Lots of free things to do there. I can also cook/pack all meals instead of eating out. My sisters family is also going, so we are planning to share some meals together.

  39. I’ve never heard of mashed potato with parsnips. How does it taste?

    My biggest savings was from teaching myself to make Roman Shades. I’m not super crafty, but I found a video tutorial that worked perfectly. I saved over $500 per shade (compared to the ones I was going to buy at Bed, Bath & Beyond)! Here is the link in case anyone else needs it:

    Another huge savings was by coupon shopping. I got 9 bottles of free aspirin, free treats from edible arrangements, cheap steaks, $0.77 tomatoes and so much more! Full break down of my transaction with pics can be found here:

    Thanks again to everyone for their weekly tips and inspiration.

  40. Jess, we pray that those complications turn out to be nothing and that God wrap his peace around you and your family at this time.

  41. What a tough time for your family this week. It sounds as if you all pulled together as a family. My condolences for the loss of your father-in-law.

  42. Brought breakfast and lunch to work each day last week.
    Renewed an audio CD from the library online, as I did not have time to go to the library.
    Found ham shanks for 99¢ a pound at a local store. The use or freeze by date was January 20th, so two of them are now in the freezer.
    Was able to get potatoes for 98¢ for 10 lbs., milk and chocolate milk (a big treat for hot chocolate) for 99¢ per half gallon, ground turkey for $5.98 for 3 lbs.
    Ate leftovers a lot all week.
    Made a dozen hard boiled eggs from the eggs I purchased in late December for 99¢ a dozen.
    Made two kinds of soup – split pea and potato corn chowder. DH and I will bring those for lunch this week.
    Mended a pair of underwear. The only thing wrong was the elastic had come unstitched in a couple of place on the waist, the actual fabric was in good condition.
    Only ran full loads of laundry and the dishwasher.
    Found seeds for the garden at an Ace Hardware for 25¢ per pack. Bought several.

  43. Hello all! I have enjoyed reading everyone’s frugal accomplishments. I don’t have many to share but here is what I have.
    1. Purchased chicken legs for .88 a pound. These are perfect for frying and for casseroles. Two large bags will make several meals.
    2. Did not purchase shampoo or conditioner again this week. I am on week three of using up samples.
    3. Continued to measure dish detergent and laundry detergent. This has made a huge difference in how much I am purchasing! The big bottle of dish detergent is now on its second week!
    4. Not so frugal- my daughter in law gave birth to our second grandson on Friday, at a hospital an hour and a half from us. (They live an hour from us) Several trips made over the course of three days but used my car which takes less fuel than my husband’s truck. Also ate out for three meals due to being out of town/at the hospital.
    5. Purchased two new suits for my sixteen year old at rock bottom prices since they were “last year” styles, which didn’t look much different from this year’s styles.
    That’s all I can think of for now. Have a great week!

  44. It’s pretty easy to remain frugal when the chill factor is -20 to -30 below—there is little temptation to leave the house for shopping or anything else. I did save $1.10 a gallon on gasoline, using the points from the grocery store–made sure the tank was as near empty as I could let it get, too. I cooked a slightly over 5# chicken and ate it all week, it seemed like. I also made about two quarts of stock for the freezer from it. We had it twice for dinner as roast chicken, then I made a casserole with chicken and a stuffing mix along with broccoli and cheese. That helped me out with broccoli as I had bought more than I needed, resulting in broccoli quite often last week. The casserole fed us for two nights and there is still one lunch worth left. Husband liked it a lot, so I will file it in the back of my mind for another time. Found the recipe in a booklet from French’s onions–and making the casserole used up the last 1/3 of the can, which was purchased for Thanksgiving’s green bean casserole. A plastic lid kept the onions fresh and crisp.

    I mended a sweatshirt of my husband’s and gave him warning: this was the second time it’s been mended and the fabric is getting worn out. I will not mend it again–it can become a rag or cat bedding (for the ferals next door) when he is finished with it. I also took some tucks in the waistband of my jeans–I had missed one pair of three, and I need them to keep my jeans from slipping down too far to be decent when I bend over. (Larger hips, smaller waist) I like to stay covered.

    We had been tossing out all the plastic grocery bags with holes in the bottom–which is most of them—so we didn’t get them mixed with the ones we use to dispose of cat litter. Another blog reminded me that we could be recycling those, so the first load of them went back to the store to be recycled this week. I feel better about that.

    Still making my own bread and rolls, and baking in general. I received a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as a surprise Christmas gift, and this week I made a favorite chocolate cake with it. It turned out especially good–don’t know if it was the mixer, or the length of time since I had chocolate cake. I found enough icing in the freezer “Butter Icing” so that I didn’t have to make any for it. And since we are just 2 people, I only made one layer instead of two. I also mixed a meat loaf using the mixer and it was wonderful—my hands are so subject to cold that I usually have husband do that part–but the mixer does a great job without getting it too mushy, and it stayed together better than mine normally do. I think the mixer was an extravagant gift –especially at my age–72 next week–but I’m sure it will be used by someone when I am finished with it. I’m pretty sure my “hates to cook” daughter is trying to make my life easier so I will continue cooking all the holiday meals for as long as I’m able! My granddaughter (at 22) isn’t much of a cook yet, but I’ve given her the instruction she needed and she might settle into it later.

    Had a couple medical appointments this week so didn’t get to much de-cluttering, but did finish catching up on laundry, including a load of sweaters. Noticed a rip in the hem of a sheet while folding it, so will try and remember to stitch it up before I launder it again.

    Your garden is certainly yielding well, Brandy–your efforts to eat from it year round are paying off well. Fresh greens look so good to those of us with snow on the ground all winter.

  45. Janell, yes, you would use half the amount of yeast. It decreases or increases proportional to the other ingredients. The thing I think I know about rapid rise is that I thought you add in in with the 1st 3 cups of flour and you use water that is about 10 F hotter than when you dissolve yeast directly into the water. I had some of this yeast about 20 years ago and that is all I remember. I have never had a bread machine. Sorry, I know nothing about chard.

  46. I use my Kitchen Aid to mix meatloaf too. It seems to do a better job and in the middle of January in Minnesota the less times you have to wash your hands and dry them out the better. I have had a Kitchen aid for almost thirty years and I hope you will love yours as much as I love mine.

  47. I don’t know why my comments have been double posting the past couple of weeks. I am going to try typing in directly this week instead of copy and paste since I don’t have a lot. (Just a really busy week this past week.) I did save money on two meals by making the frittata and fruit cobblers served at a bunco gathering with friends my meal for the evening, and participating in a salad potluck at work. I brought strawberries from the freezer that we had picked last summer as my topping contribution, so no money out of pocket.
    Brandy, I will have to remember the idea to use banana peels as fertilizer when it is planting time here!

  48. Melissa in MD,
    My husband was an executive in an industry with lots of mergers and acquisitions. The times his company was the acquired rather than the acquiring company, the executives of his former company were often downsized, including him. We went through this job-loss scenario several times during the course of his career. My from-home job did not pay enough to support us, so we went through savings quickly during those times. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle with the constant seeming rejection that’s part of the job-seeking process. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

  49. Here are things I did last week to save money:
    Made homemade bread
    Cooked meals from pantry and freezer and made a conscious effort to eat leftovers
    Turned the heat down a couple of degrees
    Met my daily swagbucks goals
    Washed out ziploc bags (I had fallen out of the habit of doing this this)
    Rented movies from video store and made sure we got them back in time for early return credit
    My husband has been working hard to remodel our daughter’s bathroom and it is nearly done- paint and new toilet seat and some inexpensive tiles to place above the tub/shower (fortunately he works for Lowes and we get an employee discount)
    Used amazon credit purchased with swagbucks to send my son a couple of books

    And last but not least, I will be starting a new job the first week of February so I am continuing to declutter and reorganize my clothes while I have the time to do so.

    I hope everyone has a great week!

  50. Melissa, It is hard to watch our loved ones feel not needed.
    Has he tried with a temp agency? It was a last resort for us, and actually led to a full time position.

  51. Thank you both so much for you kind words and prayers! It really is hard to watch his self-esteem shrink down to nothing. He is the type of employee that any company would be glad to have-loyal, hardworking, professional. I’m not saying this just because he’s my husband, it’s also what has been told to me by fellow employees that he’s worked with in the past. He is now feeling that at age 50 companies don’t want him anymore and honestly, that’s the only reason we can think of as to why he has not been hired yet. He is in IT and has had some side work but a temp agency is a great idea! I’ll try to gently mention it to him. To be perfectly honest, although I’d like to be the one staying home, it’s really nice having him home. Unfortunately, in an attempt to try and help my MIL out after my FIL passed away, we built an addition onto our house so she would have somewhere to go. The thought was that she would be with us for several years and help with expenses. Well, unbeknownst to us, she was having memory issues, ended up being diagnosed with dementia and now requires a Memory Care facility. So he’s dealing with feeling that his mother has once again “screwed him over” (lots of family dynamic issues here! She’s lucky he is even willing to take care of her at all!) and that adds to the stress. If not for the addition, our house would have been paid off by now and there would be minimal concern about finances. Sorry to ramble but thanks for letting me get this off of my chest! I can’t really talk to him about any of this at the moment without him getting upset.

  52. Melissa, What is his specialty in IT? I ask because my husband is in IT for a large company in PA and the parent company is in the MD area – there are some vacancies in the PA location (and there are people in their late 40’s -50’s working there).

  53. This week, the main things I did were:

    [b]Make homemade gyoza and wonton dumplings. [/b] I ground up leftover pieces of a big pork shoulder in my food processor and mixed in cabbage and other ingredients.

    [b]Purchased 50 books for $10 at our library’s bag day sale.[/b] This is one of my favorite sales of the year, because I often find vintage children’s books that have excellent stories and illustrations in them.

    [b]My husband took down our upper kitchen cabinets, saving us the expense of hiring a contractor.[/b] We had cabinets that hung very low from our ceiling and blocked not only light, but also conversation from the other side of the peninsula. We plan on installing open shelving this month from wood we already have on hand and repainting and adding trim to the rest of our cabinets.

  54. Jewish Lady,

    Do you mind posting the link for the Roman Shades tutorial? I need to make some and the tutorials that I’ve looked at haven’t been that great. Thanks. Judy

  55. 1/12-18 did not feel frugal for me.
    -My daughter and I both needed to go to the next town over three times this week on top of our normal once a week for church. So we went together and combined our trips and drove her car because it uses less gas than my diesel truck and gas is cheaper.
    -Went to Lowe’s Home Improvement store to purchase seeds for my first garden and they did not have anything I didn’t already have gifted to me. I had a gift card for there and was trying not to spend money out of pocket so I purchased some plants. Can anyone tell me if the ornamental red/purple Swiss chard is the same Swiss chard that is edible? That is the only Swiss Chard they had.
    -ate from the freezer and pantry other than perishables
    -free movie from Redbox

  56. Actually, we are in the process of getting her section of the house ready to rent. It’s 1 large bedroom with a handicapped accessible bathroom and living room. It is off of our kitchen but the way the addition is designed the whole section can be closed off to include the kitchen making it essentially a one bedroom apartment. But, I will loose my beautiful kitchen. We will have to turn our old kitchen back into a working kitchen for us to use. Anyway, we should be able to get $850-$900 a month which will be a huge help. I’m open on any and all ideas though! Thanks!:)

  57. He is a network admin and a certified Aruba wireless admin. He had been working for our county school system for the past 12 years and was instrumental in getting the county wireless system in place. But, they “restructured” the department and laid off 13 people, all over 45 years of age. They created new positions which they could apply for along with the public in general. Only one was hired back. Prior to that he was a Citrix admin for a large hospital. At this point he is willing to take a PC tech or help desk job but is being told he is over qualified. He has recently applied for a few positions in Chambersburg and it is not unreasonable to expect that he could travel to Gettysburg, Harrisburg or the Hanover area. Any info would be great! Thanks so much!

  58. I’m not Brandy, but I live in Phoenix area and grew sweet potatoes last year. I bought an organic sweet potato at the grocery store, cut it in half and put the halves in jars with water on my windowsill to grow slips. I planted the slips in June or early July in large containers, either in my container garden or large pots around the yard. I had so many slips that I shared some with family and friends who planted in a community garden. Most of our other plants had either died off or stalled in the heat, but the sweet potatoes thrived with pretty vines and, eventually, flowers. My container plants produced a modest harvest with which I was pleased, especially considering the plants looked so pretty and thrived in the heat. The 3 slips I heard of from the community garden produced approximately 40 pounds. We harvested them in October and November. I have a jar with slips growing on my windowsill again from a sweet potato purchased to eat that started sprouting. I cut the sprouting end off, put it in a jar with a little water and baked the rest to eat. There is lots of information online, too. You can purchase sweet potato starts, but organic from the grocery worked well for me. Just be sure to start the slips a few weeks before you intend to plant them. The vines will spread, but can be wound around the containers or directed so they don’t take over the space. We found them rewarding and fun to grow. Hope you do, too!

  59. Brandy,
    This is off the current topic but I have decided to return to sewing clothes after twenty years. First, I noticed there are FAR fewer fabric stores around where I currently live. In fact, I have to drive 20 minutes to get to a Joann’s, and that is the only fabric store I’m aware of it. But it’s doable. Second, I would have grabbed for the smelling salts, if I had any, when I saw the current price of patterns. Most of them were around $15.00. Of course I will watch for coupons for Joann’s, but am I missing something? Is there a cheaper way to come up with patterns for women’s clothes?

  60. So sorry to hear about your troubles. Perhaps your husband could alter his resume to not intimidate employers looking for someone without as much experience. In this economy so many people are underemployed. But! You have to get the interviews to get the job. Maybe he could create a couple of different versions to target different levels of jobs. I will pray that our Lord provides a good job for him soon!

  61. Anne,

    Joann’s frequently has sales that list the price of patterns at 99 cents. :). I would NEVER pay $15 for a pattern.

  62. I’m not Brandy, but I have used patterns from this website: Also, thrift stores have patterns usually, and I have been known to purchase clothing at the thrifts that I like the style of, and take them apart for the pattern. Hope this helps!

  63. I love reading about everyone’s frugal week! They are all so inspiring, big or small.

    Our frugal accomplishments are getting much better since we bought our house a few months ago. We moved from the city to the country and are so in love with our 2.25 acres, it’s hard to leave the house, which is great for our pocket book. Recently, this is what we’ve done…

    – I left my part-time job at the beginning of this week. I was technically part-time, but they were working me full-time hours. It wasn’t working for our family and since my husband just got promoted, we decided that I should quit that job. That alone has saved us money with not using gas or paying tolls for me to get to work. I am also home and can make sure there is always food prepared so we don’t eat out.
    – For the garden we got bulk, organic compost from a local landfill, which saved us a lot of money instead of having to buy bags. Since we haven’t been in the house that long, I haven’t been able to start our own compost pile yet. That will come soon!
    – My MIL comes out once a month to do a cooking day. That was this week. We make/prepare enough food to feed both our families until we meet the next month. Splitting the work and cost of groceries is saving my family alone about $300/month on food. There are still other things we can do to lower our food costs, which I’ll be working on soon. Mostly, I need to get hubby to stop buying pre-packaged salads for $4 a piece!
    – It’s been in the 70s here, so I’ve turned off the thermostat and opened the windows all week.
    – I got a dehydrator and have been running it all week (which is super cheap) to make our snacks instead of buying them from the store. So far, bananas, apples, kiwi, strawberries, and raisins. Also fruit leather and granola. Strawberries were marked way down last week at Sprouts and I saved $30.00 on that buy. Once those are finished I will be doing some veggies.
    – We are getting 3 loads of free wood chips delivered to our house today or tomorrow from a local tree service. I’ll use them as a covering over the compost in the garden to deter weeds.
    – We also got free newspaper from the local recycling center. That’s the base of our garden.

    I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of them at the moment. I’m very proud of myself for being more frugal and for my husband’s attempts to help with that. There are so many other things we can do, so I’m keeping a running list. Your accomplishments are helping with that too! I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  64. I’m not Brandy, just a reader, but Joann’s will have sales on their patterns from time to time. I used to be able to get Simplicity or Butterick patterns for $.99 but now I think the lowest I have seen is $1.99 (still – much cheaper than $15!)

    You can always order fabric online from or other online retailers. I have ordered fabric from before and changed my mind once I got it (and it was a big roll of fabric!) and they paid free return shipping.

  65. You might want to wait until Joann’s has all patterns, for a sale price. They rotate the type and the price, as 1.99 for all McCalls. I can not tell you what the price is, but it is way less than full price. That is what I did 2 years ago, and have bought nothing since. There are also direct links online to McCalls and Vogue, I get the emails, this weekend all so and so, 4.99 a pattern. You might also want to explore the on line fabric stores. They have free shipping and I have used some for decor fabrics, with free shipping. I almost passed out when I went in Joann’s and looked at decorating fabrics, 25-50 dollars a yard? I worked at fabric buyer for an exclusive children’s clothing line in my 30s.. so I know my fabrics.. in fact I went home and went through my rolls of decor and what I had.. sewing is not that inexpensive to do anymore. A clerk my age at Joann’s said cotton prices had gone way up, this was 2 years ago. I have a lot of everything, thread, notions etc. I did subscribe on Brandy’s suggestion here, to Wawak Sewing. Check out her post on Sewing for Less!

    My other suggestion is to do what many sewers do. They find a dress pattern or jacket and that becomes the basis for many outfits, in different fabrics or alter it a bit, sleeveless dress, or long sleeve or short. TNT for short, Tried N True sewers call that in blog land. I also never threw out my Stretch and Sew patterns ( I am dating myself) that were basic ones you traced on a web type material. It had all the sizes on the pattern, you traced it yourself. You could change a sleeve or a basic T shirt, not just for knits, I have a skirt pattern from those, I still use today I traced. Those show up on ebay and thrift! There are some that buy pattern after pattern and never sew.. start with a basic of something you want to make and make it, and then go from there. I also suggest reading some sewing blogs, and if I can find it a pattern review. It helps me to see what “real” people are sewing, and how they turned out.

  66. Janell – I don’t know about the ornamental chard. Is there a Cooperative Extension office near you? They are usually associated with the land grant colleges and/or 4-H groups. They may be able to direct you to someone who can answer your question. Also, the extension office may have free seeds available. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Good luck with your first garden. My best advice is to not get discouraged. I’ve had a garden off and on for 30 years and I’m always learning new things. And also at least one thing disappoints me during the season.

  67. Hi Anne – I too was shocked at the prices. I now look for coupons or specials at Joanne’s for patterns – here they are sometimes 99 cents or 1.99. I was looking for a tunic pattern and found one that has three or four sizes in it which means I can use it for me and for gifts for others. Brandy and others can also point you in the direction of how to find fabric online. I’ve bought some but it is hard to gauge what the colors are. There are big fabric stores north of us and when we have a trip for other appointments I try to stop in and at least check through the remnants for fabric I know I will use. I make aprons (pinnies for non-US?) from denim and solid broadcloth and customize the pocket for the person with fabric pieces/remnants/fat quarters.

  68. This past week my youngest turned 3. Can’t believe how time has flown! We had a party at home with family. I was able to use a gift card to a restaurant we had been given to purchase party size lasagna to feed everyone. I also had a gift card to the grocery store that I used to purchase other items. There was plenty of food leftover- enough to give some to family members and put in our freezer too. I saved all the gift bags from the gifts for later use. Most gave my son gift cards since his birthday is so close to Christmas. It will be nice to be able to get him some new toys or clothes through the year as we need them.
    – We received some hand me downs for the boys which we gladly accepted. Included was a sweater with the tags still on.
    -Used points earned at the grocery store towards fuel. It was 40 cents off – making it 1.65 per gallon.
    -We were invited to dinner at a cousins house on Saturday night. I brought some flowers I had purchased for my son’s party that were still lovely in a green Ball jar we had received for Christmas. The hostess loved them.
    -Frugal fail- both boys were sick mid week and super clingy. We ended up ordering a pizza for dinner and my husband and I both felt terrible about the purchase. We discussed plans to keep our budget at $400 for groceries in February rather than decrease the budget as I planned. This way we can purchase a few convenience items for such occasions. We will revisit the budget at the end of February.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  69. Greetings! I love the community this blog brings together!
    *We’ve had five no spend days last week. With full freezers, there was little need of shopping, thank goodness! Our insurance premiums, health insurance and internet have all gone up this month. (Twenty five percent on the health insurance!:() I need to really keep on top of things!
    *We paid off our car several months early. The extra funds go back into savings for the next car, which will be used, never a new car again!
    *When we needed new tires for the car, i looked on line to see about a rebate; today, the 50.00 american express card came! I love “free” money!
    *I made bread crumbs from leftover pretzel bits, stale tortilla chips, stale crackers and yes, bread. I’m trying to be better about throwing bits away. Having said that, i cleaned the fridge this AM and tossed several things that we won’t eat. Tomorrow’s a new day..
    *Made brown sugar. I never seem to make enough.
    *Had an applesauce cake i’d made several months ago and froze. I just needed to make frosting from items i have on hand. So good!
    *Skyped with two children and grandsons.
    *We had a pretty good week for two middle-aged empty nesters. We’re still talking to each other and our achy bones still get us to work!
    I wish you all a peaceful and joyful week ahead!

  70. Melissa,
    to be discreet, the lancaster barnstormers play at this company’s named field. They are also owned by a parent company. I am not sure how to pass any more info in a public forum. Hope this will help.

  71. This week I have
    – shopped with coupons and gift card at Publix
    – ate lunch out with 1/2 off at DQ
    – bought daughter’s baptism dress for more than 1/2 off and went through ebates
    – used Discover card to pay for gas to get the 5% back
    – being more diligent about using swagbucks each day
    – called and got cable bill lowered $25. I would rather cancel but husband is opposed.
    – talked to son who was unhappy with the swim team. Talked with him about trading swim team for recreational swim, When added all up, the swim team is $1200. Recreational swimming is done through Y for free through husband’s work.
    – using what we have and trying hard not to eat
    – tracking expenses and hoping to make financial goals for the next two years
    – looking at ways to cut other expenses

    Frugal Fail
    – wanted to pay down mortgage with bonuses at end of year, but Murphy showed up in the form of plumbing problems. Thankfully, we will not have to dip into emergency fund but can use bonus. Money comes and it goes!

  72. One thing that has not been mentioned by the other commenters is the “Upcycle” movement that I see on line all the time. This is when someone takes an existing clothing item and recycles it into another outfit. There are plenty of free tutorials on-line on how to alter clothing into new pieces (e.g. man’s dress shirt into a ladies skirt, t-shirt into shorts, pillowcase into a little girl’s dress etc.). This becomes even less expensive when you shop the thrift stores or yard sales (not to mention your own closet) for those greatly discounted bargain items with fabric you like but don’t quite like the look or fit. It might be something for you to look into. Pinterest is a great website to start search for ideas and free tutorials.

  73. Prayers are greatly appreciated!! Thank you so much! That’s a great idea regarding is resume! I’ll mention it to him.

  74. Such lovely photos, Brandy! I especially like the blue of the water collection.

    I am working on making more space in my freezer, along with inventorying it and the pantry. Using some of the last of the ham and items on hand, I made a large pan of a ham/potato/cheese dish we all enjoy which made at least 3 meals. The ham bone with remaining meat was boiled for broth and meat. I made a pot of beans with some and froze the rest. I cooked some of the $.29 packaged apples with cinnamon and a bit of sugar to make a chunky applesauce.

    Some of the lettuce I planted is ready to start picking. I planted more lettuce, spinach, and peas from seeds. I am experimenting with starting tomatoes from cuttings. It was unsuccessful for me last year, but I think I started too late and also used determinant plants, which I later read would not work. We’ll see… It would be nice to have free seedlings. We are continuing to enjoy fresh citrus. A neighbor gave us some fruit I had never heard of–a cross between lemon and grapefruit–I am experimenting with using the zest and juice like a lemon. I also think the peels
    would make nice vinegar cleaner.

    I’ve been staying out of the grocery stores and working on limiting purchases when I go to mainly items on sale, deeply discounted or free with coupons and a few fresh, dairy, etc.

    Thank you, Brandy and all, for these helpful, enjoyable postings that are so full of encouragement!

  75. I see several comments to Debbie about her new job, however somehow I can’t find her comment posting about, like it dissappeared or something. (Between page 2 & 3 of the comments). I read this on my phone, so maybe it’s just me. Excited to hear about your new job after you having several interviews last week. You always have so many accomplishments for the week. I’ve searched through here about 4 times looking, but wants to extend congrats also.

  76. Myra, congratulations on the new grandbaby. It might not have been a frugal time for you, but with living a frugal lifestyle when things come up you’ll know you can handily manage without too much financial stress.

  77. I love my KitchenAid and it can be used almost daily. I would not be able to mix the cookie doughs and mix and knead bread doughs by hand. Do you have the whip attachment? That works for frostings, meringues, whipped cream, whip and chill type desserts. I have a shredder attachment and grating carrots and cheese in large amounts is just a breeze. I do mix pie crusts by hand.

    I should try it for meat loaf/ meat balls. Do you use the kneading hook to do that?

  78. I signed up for Checkout 51 and started using it. I got a $10 refund for an item I ordered as an early Jan birthday gift and it never came. The company refunded and sent the item! Pretty great! I got a 19.00 refund back on shipping because Macy’s made mistakes on my Christmas gifts so they refunded the shipping and gave me a bonus $10.00. I stayed out of the stores for the most part,made all food at home and used up all leftovers. We are planning a super bowl party that we hope to keep frugal. Shopped Target using coupons and $5.00 gift cards from past. Listed items for sale on ebay and craigslist. Combined errands of dropping off sales with other errands as well.
    I hope to have more to report next week. I found a coupon to go to the Dentist I will be using that this week. I used a $10 off of $10 at ACE to buy Melting Ice. Hubby had one and son had one so I also got a box of trash bags. I did a refund at Walmart on batteries and got $10 back. I used the “Friends of the Library ” store and bought books for Grandsons birthday.

  79. Do any of your stores sell bruised bananas for a discount? I learned recently that my usual store does but you have to ask if there’s a box available. It was $2 for 52 lbs! Almost all were usable for something, and many were unsightly but perfectly unharmed, so suitable to eat out of hand. The rest are peeled and frozen, waiting to be used in smoothies, homemade fruit pops (freeze the smoothies), or in quickbreads.

  80. I did some frugal things last week. I feel like I’m really starting to build good habits!

    *I sewed several 4-sets of cloth napkins from my fabric scraps (trying to stop buying paper towels for good!)
    *Brought home a big stack of books and the dvd Frozen from the library for my kids and I to read and watch
    *Walked to the grocery store one morning to pick up a few essentials (instead of driving)
    *made a new batch of cleaning products and shampoo with ingredients I had on hand (vinegar, water, baking soda, citrus peels)
    *made a batch of mason jar salads for my husband and I to take to work
    *made Seattle Seahawk paper dolls with my kids (free- my husband brought home templates from work) for my boys to hand out to classmates. We live in Seattle so anything Seahawk related is very much wanted right now!

  81. Hi Anne, so happy you are returning to sewing.. Such a wonderful hobby.. Fabric/pattern prices have sky rocketed for sure.
    As the other readers have said, wait for Joann’s to have the pattern sales..[it is pretty frequently.. get on their mailing list and they will send you sales papers and coupons, also you can pull it on line and see when they have the pattern sales. and get their coupons.]
    I try to buy fabric only when it is on sale, or with a 40% off coupon. This really helps..
    also.. try looking on ebay and etsy.. I have bought lots of patterns for 99 cents.. and have found good fabric deals too.. Happy sewing.

  82. I hope you are right about ESPN going streaming.. that would be great. My dh is a football fan and that is the only time of the year I hear major grumbling is when he can’t watch the OSU football games. I’ve suggested picking up cable just for the football season but he doesn’t want to bother with it. We have been able to get most of the games through England believe it or not for free but not always the best reception.

  83. Oh I love that tip.. I’ll have to ask at my Krogers. Our store throws them away where I work and it isn’t a option to buy them:(.


  84. New Dress a Day is a blog where a temporarily unemployed young woman didn’t want to spend money on new clothes so bought some thrift store items and remodeled them. She also used clothes from family, attic, friends. She shows step by step what she did. The before and after can be pretty amazing.

  85. My daughter and I went to the Goodwill today. Would you believe I thought the prices were high? We did get a pizza pan and a travel coffee cup for $3.

    Kept groceries to a minimum. Planning to eat a few nights from the pantry. We been buying extra when there are sales, but it is a slow go. I had hoped that I could stock enough to at least only shop every other week, but that has not been the case.

    I got my plates for the car today and the cost was surprising low. So in my mind I have extra money now.

    I’ve been combining coupons with store offers to stock up on toiletries and snack foods – $.40 a bottle for mouthwash, $3.50 for hair color and $.75 a bag for chex mix and Bugles.

    I did save $10 by buying our cat food at Sam’s this month. It was on reduction. 25# at $13.00 – it should last along time. I put it in dry gallon water jugs when I got home.

  86. When your celery starts to go to seed when the warm weather hits, dice up as much of the stalks as you can and freeze it. You can use a large container and just scrape out as much as you need each time you cook with it. The taste stays exactly the same. In fact, you can use a little less because the taste intensifies a bit. I cook soups year round, as they are healthful and frugal, and save a lot by not buying celery because I have it in the freezer.

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