Black Bean Soup The Prudent Homemaker

Black bean soup topped with tomatoes harvested green (and ripened off the vine) from the garden in early December.

I made a large pot of black beans in the crockpot. We had taco soup with them one day and black bean soup three days.  

I harvested beet greens, lemons, and Swiss chard from the garden.

I pruned grape vines to make for a productive grape harvest this year.

I pruned rose bushes to keep my roses healthy and to help them produce well this year.

I dug euonymus plants from ones I started by tip layering and moved them to where I am starting a new hedge in the garden.

I also started some new plants from cuttings from other bushes for the same hedge. 

Following my plans for a more productive garden this year, I planted seeds this past week for spinach, 2 kinds of lettuce, 2 kinds of snow peas, turnips, Swiss chard, 3 colors of larkspur, and Danish flag poppies. 

Because of rain, I was able to not water the grass for the second week in a row. This time of year, we are allotted 1 day a week to water grass. It is rare to have enough rainfall to be able to not water. and I am grateful to have been able to turn off the sprinklers and drip irrigation.

My mom found a very large candle lantern for free out by the trash and gave it to me. It has a small crack in the base, but looks great still.  I’m not sure if I’ll use it for a decoration, a large terrarium, or if I should use it as a huge cloche in the garden.

I watched the Call the Midwife Christmas special on I don’t have time to watch a lot of shows, but it is nice to be able to watch a few things online from time to time!

Finlandia The Prudent Homemaker

My eldest needed some new piano music for her lessons. About 13 years ago, shortly after we got our piano, I had purchased a couple of piano books full of music for the time when we might need them. I was able to pull out this book and my daughter began using it for her practice (and I didn’t have to buy anything new).

My husband and I had two date nights at home.

My husband cut my hair.

I mended a sheet.

Our silverware drawer broke in the back. In December, my husband contacted the company who made our cabinets and they sent him replacement pieces to fix to the drawer at no cost to us. They came this week and my husband fixed the drawer.

I found simple contentment in putting things away (including all of the Christmas decorations) and making the house tidier and less cluttered.


What did you do to save money and find joy this week?


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  1. Hi Brandy,
    We have also had some very welcomed rain this past week. Before that the heat and humidity was unbearable! Because of the lovely soaking rain many plants are just jumping out of the ground which makes me so happy. On the frugal front I have-
    Soaked orange skins in vinegar to make orange vinegar for cleaning the bathroom
    Made bread and rolls
    Cut up some not so wonderful fruit, added some homegrown ginger, basil and mint to give the fruit salad a bit of zing
    Line dried all the washing
    Packed my lunch for work each day
    Cleaned the house with home made cleaners
    Decluttered my bedroom draws and cupboard and took the unwanted items to a charity centre
    Made 2 jars of tomato chutney with home grown tomatoes (cherry tomatoes)
    Making a vegetarian meal once a week to save money on meat
    Rode to work on my bike, I get some exercise and the car stays in the garage
    Made all meals from scratch
    Used tank water to water the garden when needed
    Made a batch of sauerkraut out of a wedge of leftover cabbage
    Planted out Chinese broccoli, Bok choy, chilli and pumpkin seeds from saved seeds
    And I think that’s about it.
    Have a wonderful week.

  2. We are preparing to move into a new house. So, this has been a good time to purge, declutter, etc before packing what goes. I went through 3 dressser drawers and filled a donation bag with tees that I haven’t worn in ages, 2 pairs of shoes that no longer work for me, and misc clothing pieces that we can no longer wear.

    I listed an armoir, which had one missing glass door, on Craigslist for $20. It sold immediately and emptied a corner in our dining room.

    We cooked at home all week and packed lunches with leftovers. On days that I didn’t have leftovers, I ate hummus, cheese, and crackers.

    I returned 3 Christmas gifts that were either duplicates, or not the receipient’s taste. Received a Walmart gift card for $35.11 to give back to the recipient for their choice of gift.

    Turned thermostat back 2 degrees.

    Baked banana bread with 2 overly ripened bananas and some yogurt I found in the back of the fridge.

  3. This week I made a baby girl quilt for a baby shower yesterday, using my fabric stash and batting stash and the leftover remnant of a twin sheet that I had already used as backing for a lap quilt! So total OOP cost- $0!!! It was an intricate looking pattern but relatively easy to make and was a real hit!

    I am almost finished with my optical illusion quilt which again looks extremely complicated but is relatively easy as long as you are careful as you piece it! It is all in blues, is a large lap size quilt for a granddaughter and is made completely from leftover scraps from other quilts I’ve made! Again- $0 OOP cost for this gift!!

    We made black bean taco soup using home canned black beans and pre cooked ground beef from freezer. I was down with the flu much of this week, but we were able to use some of our other chunky soups and homemade bread rather than going out for take out!
    We just finished an order for 10 of our Ohio wall hangings out of our free pallet wood so that money will go towards one of our medical bills. I received $18 from Pinecone surveys this week that I also used to pay down medical bills. Every little bit of “extra” income helps with that and we are grateful for opportunities that come to us to work little side jobs to reach our financial goals more quickly! A side benefit is that hubby and I thoroughly enjoy working together and consider the time extra “date nights”!
    Hopefully, this coming week, I will be flu-free and able to get back to being more frugal!

  4. Good morning!
    I’m battling bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection so I didn’t do much.
    We have dropped cable and are trying sling tv for our “must haves.” It is an adjustment but we halved our cable and Internet cost and I’m watching less tv.
    Made a few donations using the program between Amazon and Goodwill. Post office will pick up donations and I didn’t have to add miles to my car or get out in the cold.
    Sold daughter’s little girl bookcase so the net cost for her “grown up” one was $5.
    Have a great week!

  5. Happy New Year! I haven’t done a superb job commenting like I had hoped I would have but here is to a new year and more accountability. We ate meals at home but one and had plenty to share with others too. My mom gave me coupons for Target to use on Diapers (we are in disposables till the baby grows chunky enough legs for the cloth diapers) some I won’t use so I will pass them on to friends. I told a friend I would help throw her a baby shower so some Christmas treats I froze to use for that and I created a board on pinterest full of frugal ideas on showers. I want to do it after Valentine’s day so I can use a lot of the pink decor at the dollar store etc. I am using leftover scraps for a blanket as a gift for her as well. This weekend we celebrated Epiphany (we are Protestant Christians but interested in church history) for the first time with friends and had a great time! I used Christmas decorations I had on hand and cut cardboard stars from recycled boxes to place all over the table. I even found Star cookies on clearance, that were dye free and delicious since I didn’t have time to bake any. For our feast we used foods we had in the freezer, I bought sparkling drinks on sale and bought a King’s cake & a friend made paper crowns for all the kids to wear, we played free Christmas carols on Pandora through on TV and had a great time!!! I used cleaned cereal bags to pound chicken, I have been doing without ziplock bags and have found creative ways to freeze things without them, I have been doing big batch cooking on the weekend so I am not tempted to order food. My son has been asking about playing the violin out of nowhere for the last 4months so I told God that is wasn’t something we could save up for for a LONG time (He’s 3!!) and that it was something He (God) would have to provide. Well, this week a friend pulled out a violin and asked if we wanted it!! She said her MIL was going to throw it away so she rescued it and offered it to me (they have one already). What a blessing. I am just in awe of His goodness. I hope everyone has had a great week!

  6. Continued to cut citrus peels from the clementines we eat into thin strips & dry them on a plate on the counter. They smell nice while drying, & when dry, I store them in a blue mason jar. They can be used in various herbal tea mixes, or as an ingredient in potpourri.

    You have all heard over the last few months the items I made for & gave to various members of my family, so I thought I would share what I received. Our youngest daughter gave me some of the cast iron candle hooks for canning jars from Lehmans for Christmas that I requested. I put 2 of them inside my blue Ball mason quart jars, with candles from my thrift supply that fit & gave them a test run. They work very well, & are indeed wind-proof, being down inside the jar, but still burn well enough to give light, & look pretty besides. She also gave me a few real, hand dipped bayberry candles. Our middle daughter gave me a 5×7 professional photo of their family, which I love. Our oldest daughter gave me a painting she did. Our son gave me a gift card to Home Depot (he hates to shop & knows I buy a lot of garden/yard items there).

    I looked out the window on Sunday & thought I saw bunny tracks all over the snow on the front yard. We live in a subdivision, so that is not likely, but then in the corner of the lawn, I saw a small pile of droppings, so somebody got a bunny for Christmas, I guess. Used a shovel to move the pellets to where they will be useful for fertilizer.

    Put away the Christmas plates. I have made thin foam liners to go between all but 2 of my BHG Christmas plates. When I bring home apple boxes from the grocery store to cut down to hold my canning jars, there are sometimes thin pieces of foam inside, used to cushion the apples. I wash those off, then cut circles the size of the plates from them, to go between the plates to prevent nicks & chips. I have been doing that for a year & a half now, & have made good progress. I think it is frugal to take care of what you have, even if it was purchased second-hand. About half of my Christmas Charm china plates have dividers as well.

    Put away the blow mold angels. Brushed the snow off the 2 little bales of straw that are part of the display. I bought the bales years ago for 40% off with a coupon at JoAnn’s. I never removed the plastic covering, as it protects the straw from the weather. I just place the bales label-side down. Two of the shorter angels sit on top of the bales, & 3 more lean against them. I have used them for ten years now & plan to continue using them.

    Thawed the last package of cinnamon rolls & iced them with orange glaze, thickened to icing. They make a tasty breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate.

    Spent 5 days snowed in, for all practical purposes. DH & I shoveled to clear the drive & cul-de-sac to get him to work, but the roads were so bad, it wasn’t worth risking damage on the other car by taking it out. We had everything we needed & did just fine. Out little city plows the cul-de-sacs last of all, bless their hearts.

    Shopped some on eBay where prices had dropped, for Fisher Price little people animals for the ark, farm & the nativity, for 2017 Christmas gifts. The lions, giraffe & one of the alligators have arrived.

    I bought some beginning reader Margaret Hillert books on Amazon, the “winter” ones that had been reduced, for a penny each, with $3.99 shipping. These are the books my children used to learn to read, & middle DD would like a small “library” of them like I had for our children. I did an inventory of the ones I still had, & asked her which ones she had ( 4 of them), then looked at the ones youngest DD still had on the shelf in her room. Little Stuff will “inherit” 4 more that are “duplicates” between youngest DD & myself, since middle & youngest DD are the only ones able to have more children at the point in time. Four of the books have arrived this week.

    While we were snowed in, I hemmed more of the flannel wipes for use as tp in our disaster kits.

    When the snow finally quit falling, & the city plowed enough of the streets that we deemed it safe, I made an errand run on the 6th day (today). Picked up milk & a few groceries, so we are stocked again. Eggs were on sale for 49 cents a dozen, so I picked up 2 dozen, even tho they were not on my list. Dropped off donations at the thrift store & came home with 11 half pint jars, a tall jelly jar & a Ball quart from the Bicentennial series. Each of them were a quarter. I found a fisher price little people goat for the Noah’s ark, & one of the cornstalks for the fisher price farm, as well as 4 duplos, loose on the toy aisle. Picked up 4 plastic “ears” of corn, & all of those came home with me for another half dollar. Bought a tiny skillet & a small metal bowl for Little Stuff to use with her play kitchen, for a buck. Washed everything & put it away.

  7. Sounds like a lovely and productive week!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – Download some e-books to my kobo
    – Made peasoup (super frugal, and I’ll serve the leftovers with some homemade pita bread for lunches once we’ve had it for dinner)
    – Redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 Starbucks gift certificate
    – Saved soap, conditioner, and body wash in hotel size containers to send to my MIL
    – Had a prescription filled at a hospital pharmacy as opposed to a local one, to save the dispensing fee
    – Did the usual of packing lunches, walking places, and taking public transit
    – One of my colleagues brought in lunch, so I ate my packed lunch for dinner
    – Redeemed Swagbucks for another $5 Starbucks gift certificate
    – accepted a half bottle of wine from my parents that they couldn’t finish. I’ll either cook with it, or turn it into wine jelly for gifts.
    – accepted some beans and bouillion cubes from my sister. She couldn’t use them, and I will happily turn them into delicious meals.
    – accepted some canning jars from my sister. She doesn’t can, and I most certainly do! I also use them as storage, so yay, free canning jars!
    – gave away some lightbulbs to my family. The DH and I upgraded our lighting system and could no longer use these particular bulbs, but now my sister and parents can. I will bring the remaining light bulbs to my work and see if my colleagues can use them. If they can’t, I will donate them to a local charity or shelter. I love not wasting things!
    – made blueberry jam (using berries bought on sale) to add as a mix-in to my homemade yoghurt
    – made Brandy’s swiss chard soup. So yummy! I added in some preserved lemon that I had put up a few months ago, and it was such a nice touch!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

  8. My daughter trimmed my hair after work on Wednesday. I go to her house and she always makes a nice dinner when I come. As a bonus, I get to spend some time with her and my two granddaughters who are ages 6 and 7. They always have a new picture that they drew, colored, or painted for me to hang on my refrigerator. We also played Red Light, Green Light.

    I was able to buy our vitamins online at a discount with free shipping and I used Ebates.

    I pulled some black beans out of the freezer, added some onions and peppers and spices, and ate them over quinoa.

    I made turkey broth in the slow cooker from the bones of our Thanksgiving turkey that I had in the freezer. I try to use homemade broth as much as I can in our recipes for its nutritional value. I will also be making soup with it.

    I made Greek yogurt in my slow cooker. I take it to work for my morning snack and eat it with fruit.

  9. Hi! I would love to hear more about how your children learn piano. Do they have an instructor? Do you or your husband teach them? Do they learn from videos? I have 4 children who would love to learn, but expensive weekly lessons are not in our budget. Thanks!

  10. Lauren,

    My mom pays for lessons every other week for 2 of my children. The teacher is willing to do lessons that way so that my family can learn. For the third daughter who is learning, we are trading watching the piano instructor’s children for her lessons. The instructor teaches someone else nearby (she comes to our house, which is wonderful) on the same day as our lessons, so she brings her children with her and we watch them during our lessons and also while she goes to the next house. Her oldest is now starting school, so we may have to work something more out with her soon–possibly babysitting her children while she and her husband go out.

    Our piano came to us for almost free–we had to pay some piano movers to move it and we paid to have it tuned, but we paid nothing for the piano. I have seen old pianos for sale on Craig’s list and local garage sale pages, often for $100 to $200. If you are looking for a piano, try finding one that way. It most likely won’t have a bench (ours did not).

  11. I had some time over the holidays to stay home and focus on household things (I only had to work one day between Dec. 24 and Jan. 3) so I am starting the new year reenergized and (somewhat) reorganized!

    I redid the budget and started tracking expenses again.
    I cooked all but one meal at home, from scratch, and took leftovers for lunch all week.
    I bought half a pig, so I reorganized the freezers and made a list of all our meats for easy meal planning.
    I started a decluttering challenge, and intend to simplify so I have a much better handle on what we have and where it is.
    I made rolls and two soups from scratch.
    I cooked a large turkey and portioned out the meat for future meals, then made two
    + quarts of stock with the carcass.
    I made a menu plan and stuck to it.

    Have a great week everyone!

  12. I was reading the comments. What a great deal you worked out with the piano teacher. I love you Mom helping too!

    I finished an afghan this past week. I’m trying to stock my gift closet. We had a few hiccups in our first week of No spend January but we are still saving a lot.
    You can read the rest of my frugal accomplishments here

    Have a wonderful week Brandy!

  13. Ange,

    I love the violin story! Thanks for sharing. The Lord is SO faithful to provide for His children!

  14. It was a joy to watch the Call The Midwife Christmas special last week. What a great score your Mom found with the candle lantern. I’ve been keeping an eye out for anything that could be used as a cloche this past year, but haven’t found anything large enough yet. It’s just a matter of time, I’m sure. I forgot to include it in my post, but my fiance replaced the gas valve on our stove yesterday. He had to remove the door to do it, which had to totally be taken apart, so I washed all 3 pieces of glass while I had the opportunity. We’re happy it saved us a few hundred dollars fixing it ourselves. Joining in here:

  15. Marivene, I am just amazed at how you’re accumulating your treasure trove of Little People a few pieces at a time! I held onto a scarecrow, from the Oz movie, for about a year and a half, hoping to find his straw hat. I never did. My daughter loves all things Oz, so i just sent it to her so she can continue the search.

  16. Hello Brandy and fellow readers!
    I went to the store once because we needed milk and pet food. I was able to take advantage of a few really good sale prices and get my daughter some foods for her lunch box that she likes.
    I took food to work with me and drank the free beverages provided.
    Other than the store trip I stayed home when not at work.
    I earned some swagbucks, however I had to contact swagbucks about an offer I never got the swagbucks for. I was also charged twice by a company for an offer so I contacted the company and received a refund.
    I took short showers
    I turned the heat down and run a space heater in the living room where we are most of the time
    dried all laundry on our racks after washing full loads
    I continue to measure everything when I use it (laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, etc)
    Have a great week everyone!

  17. Our weather is so cold, i’m trying to find things to cook to add warmth to the house. I can’t wait til i can do something outside without three layers on.
    This week has been slow. I didn’t make it out to the store for the .98 lb hams or .88 lb. whole chickens. So, kind of by default, i haven’t spent much money. Yay! I did buy several things on amazon, a GC gift, and ebay, only after i sold a few things. I’m trying to get back into doing some art projects and need a few supplies. A few books may have slipped into the cart…
    Our electric bill came in about 10.00 lower, for the second month. Turning the temp. down after my husband leaves is finally paying off.
    I cleaned the oven and it raised the indoor temp. by 11 degrees!! I was sweating by the time it stopped.
    I’ve made chili and soup for meals and froze some for when i’m out of town.
    Several months ago, my husband won a GC from the local art store. He gave it to me to use for a gift for our daughter’s birthday. I chose a handmade bowl with raised ridges in it to rub garlic on for recipes. I only had to add two dollars to the cost.
    I’ve been walking the dog even in our frigid weather. Some days she can go a mile, some days just two blocks.
    My husband is a Moose member. The deserts for the friday fish fry are all made by volunteers. I made some chocolate brownie cakes to donate with ingredients i already had.
    We took a ride to the big city. I dropped off a bag of things at goodwill. I bought a couple of containers for art projects and a small kitchen whisk. At the salvation army, i bought several art stamps.
    While out, we ate at Wendy’s using a GC i bought for 20% off. I used my little frosty key-fob to get a free frosty. (I love their apple/chicken salads, without the chicken! I try to recreate it at home, too. But it always tastes better there!)
    Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

  18. I forgot a few things!
    I made a meal plan to avoid the “I don’t know what to make for meals” brain fog
    My daughter and I continue to use family cloth and I also used my cloth menstrual pads the “last few days”
    We continue to use the little dollar store light in the bathroom rather than the main light, which has already paid for itself
    I washed and reused glass jars and Ziploc baggies
    I printed some coupons I will use and despite cancelling my newspaper subscription twice I got a paper again (I’ll call again tomorrow or Tuesday) so I clipped the coupons I will use and saved some for my mom
    Drank water
    Listened to music on Pandora when I cleaned the kitchen after dinner
    I used homemade Vaseline on my dry lips and hands
    I made more all purpose spray using vinegar, lemon juice, and water in a reused spray bottle. I also use baking soda to scrub sinks.

  19. I always love reading everyone’s tips for stretching your dollars. I have learned many useful things since I started reading this site several years ago when my first son was born. Things I did to save money this past month can be found here:

  20. Brandy, I love that your mother found a candle lantern that someone else thought was trash and you have so many options of how to use it you can’t decide which one to use it for! What a wonderful treasure to find for free. I also love that you asked about how we saved money as well as what brought us joy this week. It’s always so uplifting to read everyone’s frugal accomplishments and the things that brought them joy each week.

    As for my household, we had a relatively quite week at home. My daughter starts back to school Monday, so we’ve all been enjoying a relaxed daily schedule. Our frugal accomplishments this week included:

    *I ordered 2 free Parks Canada passes this week. Canada is celebrating our 150th in 2017 and Parks Canada is offering free day passes in celebration. We can use this for free day access to various Provincial parks or historic sites run by Parks Canada to have picnics, explore, walk/hike the nature paths, and swim at their beaches (you still have to pay fees to camp overnight). Can’t wait to plan some free family outings this spring, summer and fall!
    *Meals made at home included leftover’s night (lots of left overs from New Years Day), Hawaiian chicken (first new recipe tried this year and it was a total flop:(), fettuccine with choice of sauce (meat, red or Alfredo sauce), fish sticks with homemade tartar sauce, corn and choice of potato wedges of sweet potato fries, piggies in a blanket (breakfast sausage and cheese wrapped in crescent roll) with side salad, homemade beef barley soup (using frozen bits of leftover roast beef) with dinner rolls (left over from New Years), and chicken baked smothered in cheddar cheese soup with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
    *Prepared a pan of brownies from a mix in my pantry to use in my daughter’s school lunches this coming week. I cut the brownies into squares once cooled, individually wrap 5 of the squares (one for each school day) and place them in the fridge for quick grab lunch items, then offer the rest as dessert for Sunday dinner.
    *Great grocery deals this week included 6 small raisin bran muffins for $0.25 (too cheap to pass up), 2 butter loaf cakes (similar to pound cakes but not as dense) for $0.50 each (put in freezer to use for future trifle), 2 loaves of 9 grain bread for $1.14 each, an English cucumber for $0.88, 4 jars of pasta sauce for $1 each, 5 containers of margarine for $1 each (put in freezer to pull as needed), 4 bags of french fries for $1/5lb, an 8 kg bag of Jasmine rice for $8.88 (the last time I bought a bag this big, it took us a few years to use up), 4 jars of peanut butter for $2.88/1kg, 2 packages of breakfast sausage for $1.88/pack, a cantaloupe for $1.88 and 2 boxes of cereal (corn flakes and bran flakes) for $1.88 each.
    *Bought 2 rolls of fabric “Christmas” ribbon on clearance for $0.50/2m roll that is neutral enough to use for other sewing projects (a pretty grass green colour with white polka-dots).
    *Bought 4 packages of pretty tissue paper in colours/prints that can be used year round on clearance for $0.25/10 sheet pack.
    *Bought a beautiful, nearly new linen top (Old Navy brand) and a large plastic storage container (to use for storing some of the massive bag of rice in) for $2.25 total at a thrift store.
    *My daughter and I had our hair cut in preparation for our upcoming vacation in a few weeks while she was still on school break. Most of the year I allow my hair to grow out and I trim my bangs myself. I do this because I need to put my hair in a Victorian style bun for my seasonal job (May-December), plus it saves a lot of money. But now that I’m off for the next 4 months, it is so wonderful to have my hair professionally cut in a pretty, modern style! Professional hair cuts have really become such a huge treat I so look forward to.
    *Enjoyed watching several movies with my husband and a few with my mom & daughter over the past week for free through Kodi Exodus. We love being able to curl up on the couch in our PJ’s and watch movies together!:D

    That’s it for us this week. Looking forward to reading all the wonderful accomplishments and joyful events of everyone’s first week of 2017!

  21. We are trying to use up what we have on hand. So far I only spent $48 this month on groceries. I also sewed some holes on my youngest daughter’s beloved teddy bear and a couple of clothing items that needed to be mended. Made two loaves of dairy free bread and monkey bread as well as a large crockpot of ham and bean soup that we have used through out the week. I was also able to borrow some homeschool materials for free and cut coupons from our free newspaper that we received today (it’s a smaller version of the paper with coupons that we receive on Sundays and then another one on either Mondays or Tuesdays with the week’s upcoming grocery ads). Yesterday we spent most of morning going through our walk-in closet and was able to donate about 10 bags of children and adult clothing, shoes, etc. It looks a lot better now and feel better that we got rid of a lot of things that we didn’t need (and also found my oldest daughter’s old clothing to use for her little sister and from my oldest son to use for my youngest son). I have also been working on my survey site daily to earn some extra money; might not be much but every little bit helps.

  22. I always love reading your accomplishments, Brandy, but I think the most important one this week was feeling content as you tidied up your home. Whenever I am faced with a chore that seems dull or I’m simply not in the mood to do, I have been trying to focus on the privilege of being able to do it and counting my blessings. I really does make a difference.

    I sorted through all the apples in our garage refrigerator. (We buy two boxes of apples from a local orchard in September and keep them in this fridge at 32 degrees. By January, they are starting to look worse for wear.) I sorted out about a dozen to eat and put them in the refrigerator in the kitchen, and made 6 ½ pints of applesauce from the rest. We were able to unplug the garage fridge, which will save us a few dollars a month on our electric bill, as it is a very old, not very efficient refrigerator.
    I made two patchwork pillow covers for my MIL for Mother’s Day, all from fabric I already owned. They turned out great and I am sure she will love them. I will buy a couple of pillow forms later and we’ll take them to her when we visit in late April, saving the cost of shipping them.
    The last two sweet potatoes from those I bought on sale at Thanksgiving were showing signs of getting soft, so I made them into a sweet potato casserole and froze the casserole to eat later.
    I made chicken stock from a chicken carcass I had previously frozen and some vegetable trimmings. I was able to get enough chicken off the bones to make a chicken salad for my lunch the next day.
    I went through all my yarn and pulled out a bunch I know I won’t use and listed it all on eBay. Some of it was yarn I had purchased, but some had been given to me. I was able to empty one storage container of yarn, which felt good, and I hope to make a little cash – which I may or may not end up using to buy more yarn.

  23. I’m a first-time contributer, long time reader. Brandy, your blog is wonderful- I’ve been spired by it for a few years now. This year, I’d like to better document how we are stewards of our money. “Frugal Accomplishments” is like a diary!

    For the past two weeks:
    – met with husband to map out finances for first half of 2017; resolved to meet weekly to review these goals
    – My 9 yo daughter and I visited my sister, BIL and 23 mo niece 3 hours away. We cleaned out toys, rearranged furniture and decorated their home with mostly things they already had. We babysat for them for NYE and they bought us brunch. It was such a good visit. She reads this blog too! Hi Ems!
    – While visiting, took advantage of Aldi for the first time. Such good deals! Stuck to my budget.
    – We mended a fence with supplies on hand
    – My dad cut weather strips for two of our doors. My husband installed them.
    – Our friends gifted us a 16 x 8′ deck. We borrowed a trailer and installed it our yard with the help of some more friends. We now have a “stage”. Great for student events(we both work at a Christian university). Fed our friends stew and rolls afterward.
    – Made a meal plan and stuck to it
    – Ate all meals at home; took leftovers for lunches
    – Was gifted 60 free tortillas and 7 lb shredded cheese
    – Returned unused Christmas gifts, groceries, etc to use funds for gift cards. Sent one gift card to newly weds. One went to our friends to thank them for the deck. Still another gc will go to my nephew for his upcoming birthday.
    – Earned $75 professional funds from my job for supervising a student’s work. This will buy a LOT of printer ink
    – Sold items for $20 ON Craigslist
    – Read books instead of watching tv/renting
    – Donated a trash bag of items to Goodwill, but didn’t go in. Thrift stores are “my one weakness”
    – Hosted a birthday party play date for my 9 yo with 10 friends. We served a home course lord lunch and let them play for 4 hours- they LOVED it. Did I mention that we now have a stage?

  24. Hello!

    Last week I purchased Christmas ziplock bags, tissues and marshmallows for 50% off. My boys were tickled by the snowman marshmallows.

    Purchased cantaloupe for .47/lb, oranges for .74/lb and broccoli crowns for .88/lb which I promptly blanched/froze. Much prefer broccoli this way! Sweeter tasting and less stems than bought frozen. The oranges currently fill my fridge drawers and the cantaloupe stays well in our mud room, but will be the first of the fruit to go since they tend to spoil faster.

    Moved the toddler out of pull-ups and into training underwear which will be big savings this month! This is my fourth child potty training and I can’t believe I’ve never known of these before! It’s already going well.

    Had several soups for lunch/dinner this week.

    Eating more meatless meals which is not hubby’s favorite, but he never complains. God bless him.

    Made homemade bread and pizza dough.

    Organized hall closet which led me to finding 2 bottles of conditioner, several light bulbs and three bottles of bug/sun spray. Just another incentive to stay organized, it saves money!

    Used the last of the pears that were quickly browning to make pear sauce for baby when he is ready to transition.

    Cooked a spiral ham bought at $1.19/lb (lowest I’ve seen) for dinner and will be using leftover meat for breakfasts, sandwiches and soups this week.

    Unplugged garage fridge since it is now cold enough for any food stored in it.

    Rack dried most of the wash.

    Ran out of printer ink, so instead I hand wrote my son’s math problems until I can find a good deal.

    All in all, pleased with my accomplishments considering I was battling a breast infection for 2 days and a migraine another day. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like much until you see it in writing.

  25. I went to Joanns on New Years day to use the $5 off coupon, plus take advantage of their yarn sale. I bought enough hopefully to make some Christmas presents for grandkids next Christmas. I’ve already started! (is it too early?) I also had a gift card from Kohls for $11 so I used it to purchase tights and nylons for the coming year.
    I made a batch of wheat bread which I slice and freeze in half loaf portions. I also used some frozen zucchini to make zucchini bread. I have been trying diligently to use up what I have in the freezer and pantry to make meals this month. The only food purchase this week was two gallons of milk that were on sale only Monday – for 1.49/gallon. I’ll freeze one of them since I don’t drink it so that just leaves my husband to use it. For meals I prepared minestrone soup with biscuits, cabbage rolls, pizza using dough I had in the freezer and omelettes using eggs I had frozen.
    I checked out a movie for us to watch with our granddaughter. I highly recommend “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”. Excellent movie. I am looking for a good book to read – anyone read anything great lately?

  26. Rabbits can still live in any area where they can find food. We had rabbits burrow in our yard. We lived by a busy street, in the suburbs.

  27. A co-worker brought in late Christmas gifts for the three of us on our work team: 2 dozen moose meatballs for each of us! I found some aging jars of tomato sauce while reorganizing my cupboards, so we have been eating various pastas with tomato sauce and mooseballs. We are not spending any money on groceries during January, except for milk, and this really helps. Had to go to a potluck and managed to make a cake from ingredients in my cupboard. Made several loads of bread because if I don’t have one in the freezer, when I run out I go to the bakery because unless it is a weekend day I don’t have time to bake bread. Took a box to Salvation Army. One of my goals is to take a box to them every month—we have too much stuff and can use the tax write-off. My husband’s birthday is in July and he loves cheesy Christmas sweaters but only has one. So, right after Christmas I was able to buy five sweaters for $10 each, plus free shipping. He will love them and although I usually spend less than this, I felt like this was worth it because it will make him light up on his birthday and then again when he wears them next December. I used a gift card I’d received last October, so this was no money out of pocket. Other than that did the usual things like reusing plastic bags, going to the library, and drying clothes indoors (no drying outside this week as the temps have been 30 below zero in our area of Alaska). Nothing exciting but it all adds up.

  28. Reminds me that I have oranges soaking in vinegar. Completely forgot about it. Haven’t opened, but the peels have lost most of their color. The jar was in a cool dark cabinet. How long do you think is too much? It’s been a good 3 months, but I honestly don’t know. Oops

  29. Oh my! I am following Erika’s post! I did not do as good as she did this week and my attitude is never as positive…but here goes.
    This week I shared how I use, harvest and make pills from the herb feverfew. I found some still growing in the garden (right before this big snow) and harvested them very quickly.

    Next I shared how unexciting we were on New Year’s Day. All activities were extremely frugal.

    I have just now posted pictures of how my winter garden is surviving with temperatures in the mid-teens and under snow! I am in lower middle Tennessee. Zone 6b to 7a It can get really cold here.

  30. momsav, it helps that I live within frequent driving distance of two Deseret Industries stores. The store bags little pieces together, but the children playing in the aisle break open the bags more often than not, so if you are willing to sort thru both sides of the toy aisle, four shelves deep, you can usually find something. My current “list” is FPLP ark, farm & nativity pieces, particularly camels, hay bales, the grain sack from the shepherd well set (which works much better in the barn!), & the cornstalk. I also watch for Duplos (the real ones). I always check for jars, esp half pints, since I use a lot of those for jam & fruit, & I am also watching for the old binders for the Ensign magazine, since they are no longer sold, & the Hillert books. My parents used to say that persistence makes luck, & I have found that to be true as well, with a healthy dose of patience.

  31. My frugal accomplishments this week:

    * When I was at Aldi, I noticed that their hams were $2 and $5 off their listed prices, for shank and butt portions, respectively. So, I bought a small butt portion (original price was under $8) and got the $5 discount, meaning I spent less than 50c per lb for the ham. I would’ve bought more, but our freezer is already packed pretty full.

    * I stayed under the $50 budget when shopping and have $2 to spare, so I may go pick up some more frozen peas.

    * I cooked everything from home this week! 🙂 Except for a dinner out with my mom, but she paid for that.

    * I went through more of our closets and put more stuff in the donation pile. A local donation center gives out discount coupons for bringing in donations, which I may use to replace aome clothes items.

    I think that’s everything! This week wasn’t busy for me, but school starts up again soon and I’ll be rushing again as soon as it does.

  32. Happy New Year Brandy! Thank you for the time you dedicate to this blog, I just love it! We are trying very hard to be frugal this year as we are expecting our second baby.

    *We resolved to eat out less this year and we have done so well, so far we just did brunch on New Years!
    *I redeemed swagbucks this week for a Walmart gift card and used it to lower my oop on groceries.
    *We have a smaller home and with a second one otw, I’m trying to be more organized. I sold a lot on Facebook and used those funds to purchase a new piece of storage furniture and some decorative pieces from IKEA. Thankful for my sister who helped me reorganize – she’s great at decorating with what you have! Hi Rachie!
    *Price matched groceries at Walmart, redeemed rebates on Ibotta and uploaded my receipt to savings catcher.
    *Menu planned so we would be less tempted to eat out (See resolution above) 🙂
    *Scheduled my mom to come next week to help go through all the baby clothes and accessories we have in storage, thankfully we are having another girl and will be able to reuse most of it. I plan on selling the abundance we bought for our first daughter on FB. She will be here on my husband’s birthday so we will use a gift card to a restaurant to celebrate while she babysits for free!

  33. January has been interesting so far. I started off aiming to spend 200 on groceries, then Brandy’s post last week set me thinking about $0. I won’t make $0 but likely less than $100. I thought it was a really illuminating post that she did….for me, rather than trim from $200 to $180…I set my sights at $0 and wow did that change my perspective.

    I inventoried the freezer and all the already frozen cooked meals (yeah!). We are in good shape for meals. I had bought a 10 lb bag of potatoes in November and due to where I stored them they were starting to sprout so we made a big batch of mashed potatoes and I froze various portions. How fun to have a stockpile of meals already made!

    I finished our 2017 budget and have started a list of savings from 2016…or even savings so far this year. I like to see positive things when I look at our budget ;). I also stacked some items on the dining room table to sell, now just need DH to put them on Craig’s list. So, the year is starting off to a good start. Happy New Year everyone.

  34. We bought the smallest ham at Kroger’s for less than ninety cents a pound and the butcher kindly sawed it into three portions. Two are in the freezer and the third I baked in orange juice with brown sugar sprinkled on top. Yum. I try to keep 93-year-old mom above 100# so when I saw the post-Christmas food gifts at at great discount, I stocked up. Sanders is a sentimental favorite in Michigan. Another discounted food platter from Figis will be here tomorrow. I hope the variety of goodies will encourage her to eat a bit more. So far, so good. I also got a cookie mix that makes 36 cookies for just fifty cents today at Dollar General. Kmart also was offering award points for furniture purchases. I’ve been wanting a desk chair for quite a while. Kmart had a Serta chair for about the same price as Walmart but included $71 in points on a chair that cost less than $100. The points were not supposed to land in my account until the chair arrived and $48 of the points are only valid for seven days. Because of the weather, I do not expect to see the chair for a few more days but the points were in my account the day the chair was shipped. I used them yesterday to buy household essentials. I thought I was really going to score by buying the Kmart generic brand which offered 100% of the purchase price in points if you spent at least $10. But cash is not the same as points. So much for the idea of spending points to earn points. Sigh. I still saved about $65 altogether compared to Walmart prices. And my sister went a little crazy at her Kmart today buying Kmart brand household essentials to the tune of $170 or so because her son needs a new bicycle. He is going to be a very happy boy later this week and my sister’s house is now well-stocked with lots of essentials. We’ve been keeping the thermostat a little lower and mom has not been complaining of being cold. I put a space heater on a sturdy wood stool close by her favorite chair. She’ll turn it on for just a few minutes each day. I think the fact that she has total control her micro-climate makes all the difference. We have also been burning tea lights on fake logs in the fireplace to make it seem cozier. The candles provide a little bit of heat, imagination supplies more. I ordered the Canadian Parks pass. I hope so much we will be able to visit some of the parks in Southwestern Ontario. I don’t know if the pass will include Point Pelee. I hope so. I also baked bread two more times this week. I now have the recipe memorized.

  35. I also like the phrase “save money and find joy” that you ended with. I have been giving that thought quite a bit of reflection all weekend, so it was interesting to see that it was on your mind, too.

    I’ve been pretty sick with the flu. Like, I have been laying on the couch since Thursday, feeling pretty sick. So, I have had the tv on almost non-stop, since it puts me to sleep, or keeps my mind off how I’m feeling. I’ve also had a lot of time to think. Now, we have not had tv for over 10 years,until we moved here. Cable (the cheap plan), plus internet ended up being less than our bill at the old house for phone and internet, so we are trying it out. We did not put in a land line here–at the old house, we did not have good cell service so we needed one there. We normally don’t watch it a lot, due to lack of time, but do enjoy some shows. And, who knew that I Love Lucy was on at 5 am every morning? I’ve enjoyed that while sick and not sleeping much! So, when I saw a show about people saving money, I was excited and watched several episodes. I was shocked and dismayed at what the people did on this show!

    I am sure some of it was made dramatic for the camera, but I saw people lie, cheat and steal to keep more money in their pockets. I saw children who did not have a pleasant home, with the excuse that it cost too much. I saw the penny pincher put aside all feelings for those around him or her and embarrass their loved ones with rude behavior, trying to save money. I saw husbands and wives not working together as a team, but instead one or the other deceiving their partner and hiding money in the name of savings. I saw parties put together with no attempt to please the person the party was supposedly for, instead a cheap, tacky event was put on. Even one simple thing to genuinely save money was never used–making their own cake or treats for their occasions. Instead, it was all about getting their dessert from old scraps of cake, etc. at a bakery. I thought about it quite a bit. Those people had no joy. They did not live life in a pleasant fashion. Instead, they were showing their “loved ones” that money was the most important thing–above honesty, integrity, happiness, joy, and mostly–them. Instead, money brought strife, unhappiness, confusion, and outright war at times. What a terrible example for their children. What a miserable life for those families. Anyway, what I got out of it was quite a few things I will NEVER do to save money, but no useful ways TO save money. All the ideas from people on this blog are a lot more useful. Balance is the key in everything in life. I can’t imagine life with no joy! I just wanted to say that I so appreciate your efforts on this blog, and appreciate them even more after watching that show!

    My ways of saving money this week are at:

  36. My first week of 2017 was definitely a success. Not only did I save money but the challenge went well that I posted about on my blog. We’ve had warm weather, loads of rain (I think we’re just 3 inches shy the deficit we accumulated last year so the water tables should start replenishing when it rains next) and some very cold weather, too. It’s always a roll of the dice here in this part of Georgia, lol.

  37. I’m a first-time contributer, long time reader. Brandy, your blog is wonderful- I’ve been inspired by it for a few years now. This year, I’d like to better document how we are stewards of our money. “Frugal Accomplishments” is like a diary!

    For the past two weeks:
    – met with husband to map out finances for first half of 2017; resolved to meet weekly to review these goals
    – My 9 yo daughter and I visited my sister, BIL and 23 mo only niece 3 hours away. We cleaned out toys, rearranged furniture and decorated their home with mostly things they already had. We babysat for them for NYE and they bought us brunch. It was such a good visit. She reads this blog too! Hi Ems!
    – While visiting, took advantage of Aldi for the first time. Such good deals! Stuck to my budget.
    – We mended a fence with supplies on hand
    – My dad cut weather strips for two of our doors. My husband installed them.
    – Our friends gifted us a 16 x 8′ deck. We borrowed a trailer and installed it our yard with the help of some more friends. We now have a “stage”. Great for student events(we both work at a Christian university). Fed our friends stew and rolls afterward.
    – Made a meal plan and stuck to it
    – Ate all meals at home; took leftovers for lunches
    – Was gifted 60 free tortillas and 7 lb shredded cheese
    – Returned unused Christmas gifts, groceries, etc to use funds for gift cards. Sent one gift card to newly weds. One went to our friends to thank them for the deck. Still another gc will go to my nephew for his upcoming birthday.
    – Earned $75 professional funds from my job for supervising a student’s work. This will buy a LOT of printer ink
    – Sold items for $20 ON Craigslist
    – Read books instead of watching tv/renting
    – Donated a trash bag of items to Goodwill, but didn’t go in. Thrift stores are “my one weakness”
    – Hosted a birthday party play date for my 9 yo with 10 friends. We served a home cooked lunch and let them play for 4 hours- they LOVED it. Did I mention that we now have a stage?

  38. I love the idea of cleaning the oven. I forgot about doing that. I will put that on my list for this next weekend. I have also made soups and chili this weekend. We had snow and have not ventured out. I have to go on a business trip tomorrow, so I wlll be braving the roads.

    I am enjoying keeping up with everyone’s frugal accomplishments and I am posting weekly about my 2017 goals. It seems to be helping me be mindful of the goals since I will need to write about them every week.

    Come by for a visit!

  39. We had a rare snow event where I live and it has been really cold. We realized that we need to do some caulking and put new weatherstripping around some window and our back door. You can literally feel a big draft!

    I hope you come check out my progress!

  40. Thank you Becky for this post. It was so very insightful. I do hope you will get to feeling better soon.

  41. Thanks for the post on beverages, Jeannie. I passed it on to a friend of mine who has chronic migraine syndrome and can’t work due to getting debilitating migraines several times a week. She thought she had tried everything, but she hasn’t tried beverages so she’s going to make sure it is okay with her meds and give it a shot. I hope it can help her :).

  42. I’ve been up with my daughter since three, and am thankful to have this to read.

    We decided our beautiful dining table and chairs are a poor fit for our family. We do not have an eat in kitchen, so the heavy play, crafting, visiting, etc at the table was going to destroy it. We put it away and are thinking about if we should sell it or keep it for when we have a different lay out. I found a solid oak table for $300. My neighbor watched the children while we took everything apart. It took about five hours to get everything done. As a side note, I have a graffiti artist that’s been coloring the underside of the table. 🙁 and I found a spider making its home in a screw hole. Ick, I’d never have found it otherwise.

    I made black bean soup this week ( I saw I’m not alone in this), blueberry scones, and banana muffins. I soaked pinto beans.

    Its 14 degrees out right now.

  43. I agree they sound miserable, and I also agree itcwas probably manipulated for tv. I guess it’s not exciting to hear that turning lights you aren’t using and making retried beans from scratch, saves money and is delicious.

    I found the game Battleship for $4 at the thrift store this week after passing it up for $20. My husband and I had a great time playing each other while showing the children. Then they ate popcorn. We had so much fun that bedtime was late.

  44. hello everyone,
    With the kids to school again today an my husband back to work, I finally have the home al to myself again.
    My frugal accomplishments this week were:
    – choped up an pumpkin and put it in the freezer as I did not have time to make soup, but the pumpkin was getting bad.
    – line dried al the washing (in doors) as I dont even have a dryer anymore , I have a rack haging in the stairwell and that is above the woodstove. So I dry 1 load a day there, as I wash 1 load a day that is no problem.
    – mended a pair of jeans.
    – finished a pair of socks for myself this time.
    – We went to Germany to do some shopping there, some items are cheaper there. We took 2 of our childeren with us (and my daughters friend from school) to go clothes shopping at primark (very cheap clothes)(poor quality by the way). Our kids get 100,- euro of clothingmoney per 3 months. And they must buy al there clothes from that money, coat, underwear. Sometimes we give them some sportsclothes. That teaches them to make choices and that you can not buy all you want. We also went eating out there, for Schnitzel ofcourse wich was wunderfull.
    – I made foccaccio from scratsh.
    – All other meals were cooked from scratsh.
    – We used up almost al of the groceries we got in the cristmas boxes from our employees.
    – I baked about 250/300 Dutch Doughnuts on december 31. That is an tradition in The Netherlands, well..eating them, not everybody likes making them. I always make a lot so many people from our village come to get some, and my childeren are treating them with the other kids on the street, as they are lighting fireworks. (wich is also tradition, well…officially after 18.00 hours sinds a few years) This is al light firework but still a bit dangerous…!
    – I made 2 apple pies from the leftover apples I used for the Dutch Doughnuts (bougth 2 kg because that was cheaper)
    – For the night of the 31, we always come together with a group of friends waiting for midnight. Everyone brings something to eat, I made a pasta salat with tuna.
    Well I think this is about it.
    Getting busy this week again……I hope

    Greetings Tanja from the Netherlands

  45. Do you ship your ohio hanging? I don’t know exactly where you are located in the state, but my husband has made some wonderful hunting friends that live there and host him twice a year, allowing him to frugally partake of hunting trips we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. We also host them a couple of times a year as well. I’m thinking those state pallets would make a wonderful thank you gift.

  46. Hi, Laurie! I’ve made mead. Once was enough for me. It tasted too medicinal for my tastes. Your taste buds may enjoy it. It wasn’t cheap, as you mentioned.

  47. It sounds like you’ve had a very productive 2017 thus far!

    In the New Year I have:

    1. Baked homemade ciabatta bread, yeast rolls, and three-seed wheat bread. I bought some oats on sale to make oat-wheat bread. I’m trying to use up the last of some nice wheat flour we have.

    2. Mr. Picky Pincher composted lots of our veggie scraps. We should have some amazing soil in time for spring planting.

    3. I used leftover ingredients to bake s’mores cupcakes as a treat for this week.

    4. We’ve been eating out of our freezer more lately, which means less eating out.

    5. I made homemade laundry soap and plan to make homemade dishwasher soap as well. Hopefully we won’t have to buy pricey soap at the store any more.

    6. I sewed homemade handkerchiefs since I’ve been suffering from allergies lately. I hate going through so many tissues, so I made reusable handkerchiefs and they work like a dream. I keep a few folded up in my purse, too.

  48. It has been rough this past week. Frugality has been rare due to illness in our household. However, I tried to find ways to save here and there.

    I Refrained from purchasing supplies for my head cold. We have plenty of kleenex, random canned soups and cold medicine in the cabinet. Typically when I am sick I purchase extra kleenex, several cans of soup, bottles of juice, and brand new boxes of cold medicine. This time i went through the cabinets and found several of these items.

    I am really hoping to get back on the frugal bandwagon with the new year. I got very lazy towards the end of last year.

  49. My friend that has severe migraines found that when she changed her diet to grain-free they totally stopped. Just another idea.

  50. Tanja,
    I love hearing how it goes in other countries! I think 300 doughnuts sound like a LOT!!! I can see why the kids shared and the village wanted some. I’ll bet there was a steady line of people hoping to get some. Yum!

  51. That soup looks so delicious right now (its 20 degrees with snow coming in later today)! I miss fresh tomatoes right now.
    This past week, other than cleaning and organizing we were frugal by:

    Bought bacon ends (half the cost of bacon cut in strips) from the butcher. They have the best bacon, and the price reflects it. I try to be frugal while supporting small local businesses, so I feel the ends are a good compromise.

    I saved up enough Speedway (gas station) reward points to get a free GC to use as a birthday gift.

    Made a Christmas gift (took a metal hook attached to a 3″ x4″ metal flat surface) bought at the Dollar Tree and covered the plate area with felt flowers. Everything from supplies I had on hand. I used Pinterest for tutorials on making the fancier felt flowers. I have a small wooden box that 2 bars of soap came in, that I might fill with more felt flowers and add a few screw hooks to as another gift.

    I mended clothing that had missing buttons, a hole and a few sweaters that needed shaved to make them like new again.

    I used YouTude for workout videos.

    Have a great week everyone!

  52. *I took home all the leftover Sunday papers from work which included all the ads and coupons – I think I got at least 6 sets of coupons and we need the paper to start fires in the wood-stove in the morning. They just throw the unsold ones away and we cancelled our subscription years ago.
    *I made all our meals at home – more out of necessity due to my new diet restrictions and now hubby is on no carbs in preparation for his PET scan. My system is in a full blown flare AGAIN and I am finding it difficult to find anything to eat that doesn’t cause issues although it is also possible that my system is in revolt due to the huge drop in my sugar/carbs intake. We’ll see in another week or so if I feel any better.
    *Clipped all the dogs nails at home again and noticed we really need a new clipper or to find someway of sharpening our current one.
    *We did not get any groceries but milk, eggs and the few ingredients for my new diet restrictions (garlic INFUSED oil – gets the flavor but does not have the FODMAP sugar that causes digestive issues)
    *Put plastic over the north window in back of my kitchen sink – the window is so warped it doesn’t close completely – I did have towels stuffed in the cracks but while cleaning the basement I found 2 window kits 🙂 I will use the rest of them to cover the windows in our daughter’s old room.
    *Used our wood-stove to keep the heat up high enough in the main house to keep the furnace from kicking on during the day time hours. We stuff it full before bed as well which keeps it off for several hours at least at night as well.
    *I fixed the dog chair that they were pulling the stuffing out of (and my left hand now has 3 bandaids on it from where the needle slipped while trying to push it thru the leather :/)
    *Filled 2 more bags of donation items and will get the slip for a tax write-off when I drop them off.
    *While cleaning, I found an old Barnes and Noble gift card that still has $7 on it – not sure what I will use it towards yet.
    *Used gift cards to pick up the probiotics and vitamins we needed and used coupons matched with the stores B1G1 to make it go even further.
    *And probably the biggest money saver? We stayed home – other than me going to work or us both going to doc appointments. Between me feeling so sick to my stomach all the time and his lowered immune system it’s just better if we stay home (although hubby is going stir crazy!!). With how I am feeling and the amount of meds I need to take to go to work, I am questioning if I really should even be doing that!
    I love reading thru everyone’s progress! It is inspiring and uplifting and makes me feel not so alone in the struggle.

  53. I made a roast (just under 3 pounds) feed 4 people three meals. I roasted a couple of chickens for the week too. Got eggs at church this week from my friend. The weather here has just been nuts. Last week on Thursday it was 90 and on Friday it was 20. Can you beat that? How does anyone know how to dress? My grandsons are going crazy trying to keep up with jackets etc. They need a jacket in the morning and by afternoon they need shorts…I have had my windows open and cleaning the windows. Used newspaper and home made window cleaner.
    Made a big pot of beans, after we have had a meal of them I will use some to make refried beans and cheese burritos. My grandsons love those.
    Have hanged laundry out side when it was warm, on racks when cold…
    We ate all meals but 1 at home. Our bible study went to a Mexican food café and my husband I shared a meal and 2 coffees. (it was very cold)

  54. We have a landline/internet combo here with cheap cell phones. I just wonder if this is the cheapest way and if others have ideas in this regard.

  55. My oldest daughter has recently been placed on the same diet. I’m not sure which part is the FOODMAP and which part is all of the allergies she already has, but she had a very restricted Christmas. It worked out well, though. She just brought some food she could eat, and happily ate it–it was the company she was craving, not the food. I wish you the best in the transition to the new diet and I hope it helps your issues.

  56. ?? What makes you say it’s a pet? – Pet owners don’t let their rabbits run loose since they are like a prime steak for predators. We have probably the world’s stupidest cottontails around – they have tracks all thru our fenced in backyard and we own 3 dogs, one of whom killed 5 rabbits in one season! and just some useless info – the cottontails of the US are NOT the same species as the domesticated rabbit. Domestic rabbits come from the European rabbit which build large burrows to nest in (Alice in Wonderland) whereas our cottontails dig a small depression and line it with grass and their own fur for their young. They are also Lagomorphs NOT rodents 🙂

  57. My Aldi did the same with the hams the week before Christmas. I was able to get 3. I cooked one right away and the other 2 went into the freezer. We have been eating lots of ham omelets and I made ham and lentil soup with the bone this snowy weekend. It came out to 38 cents a pound. I love Aldi!

  58. I’m intrigued! What’s the name of the show! I know about I Love Lucy because I watch it while I’m having my oatmeal some mornings lol. The Brady Bunch follows if you’re really sick lol.

  59. Katie, we’re doing a no-extras year. We’re in need of some urgent replacements and trying to pay off the last of a medical bill. In a nutshell, we’re tired of dealing with both and decided that a year of hyper frugality is worth it.

  60. I would sure be standing in line for fresh doughnuts! I’m not sure I’ve ever had one. Some of our friends make Pizelles (not sure how you spell it) every Christmas and give them to everyone at church. They only count by the dozen and said they made 350 dozen this year!! We look forward to them every year. They’re a real treat.

  61. Another quiet week and recovering from my head cold. It’s easy to save money when you feel too lousy to go anywhere and do anything.
    *Meals included Chicken Noodle Soup, Chili, Beef Stew, Baked potatoes, & Beef Barley Soup.
    *My husband went out and bought my sale flour sack towels for a couple of gifts this year. We had a rebate card so I got 4 large towels for about $3. These are the best quality towels I have found anywhere and they’re large and sturdy.
    *For entertainment, I pulled out an old puzzle I book I had and did about a dozen puzzles, logic problems, etc.
    *Continued to use fall rainwater for flushing. We’re almost out!

  62. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Our frugal accomplishments for the week are –
    – Banked more money into our saving for our home with cash fund.
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    – Topped up on tinned mangoes rather than lychees that were more expensive when our grocery budget was tight.
    – Our thoughts have turned to bulk meat buying for the year ahead and we compared prices and found another butcher whose hindquarters of beef were $1.45kg cheaper than other butchers.
    – Cleaned the house all week with citrus vinegar, ammonia, bicarb and dishwashing liquid & used the last of our stock of commercial cleaners.
    – Washed out clip seal freezer bags for reuse for other produce that needed blanching and freezing from the gardens.
    – Used solar lanterns to light our home at night rather than turn on any mains powered lights.
    – Used saved vegetable washing, steaming, boiling and blanching water to water newly planted seedlings in the gardens.
    – Picked 1.6kg of snow peas and blanched and froze 1kg for advanced food stores in the vegetable freezer.
    – Mulched the gardens with shredded dried leaves , spent pea vines, and corn plants rather than buy any hay.

  63. My week was not frugal but more of a giving week.
    I made a grocery basket for a young woman for Christmas. She called this week and told me how much she appreciated it and how she had used the ingredients to make a taco dinner for that night’s dinner. She was very grateful for the gift of food and used it to bless not only her family but others as well. Her birthday is today and I asked what I might get her and she said nothing so I asked what she needed and she said a Safeway gift card would be wonderful and then she went on to say that by combining her coupons with sales she can really stretch her money there. I will be dropping by after work to wish her a Happy Birthday and to give her a Safeway gift card. I have been mentoring this young woman for a few years now and I enjoy seeing her grow and learn.

    My daughter had a frugal week so I will share some of her successes. She hosted a small birthday party for her 4 year old son. He wanted a Charlie Brown/Peanuts themed party. She found 2 rolls of Peanuts Christmas wrap for 75 cents each and that provided all the theme for the decorations. We used it as table coverings and it looked awesome! Her husband then made small versions of Snoopy’s doghouse out of scrap wood for the children to paint and take home. The only cost was two bottles of red paint and a few disposable brushes which she got on sale earlier at Joanne’s for 40% off.

    She is very diligent about using the comparison shopping app at WalMart and saved up her money to buy a needed item for the home with no out of pocket expense. She is getting really good at living a frugal lifestyle.

    Tonight they are coming over to our house for a family birthday dinner. I asked my 4 year old grandson what he wanted for desert. I was prepared to fix something special. He asked for a plain white cake with plain white frosting. Couldn’t be easier or more frugal. I made a few little decorations for the top of the cake out of paper and ribbon. I’m sure he will enjoy it.

    We have learned from you Brandy that birthdays do not have to be expensive to make the birthday child feel special- just giving them time and attention and love is by far the best birthday gift of all.

  64. There are several reasons I know it is a pet.

    The first is that the pellets were out in the middle of a patch of snow, with no cover at all. I grew up with wild rabbits in the woods behind our house in Ohio, & my father & brother hunted them regularly, with a hunting dog trained for rabbits. They were often on the table for dinner. I helped my father skin them & my mother prepare them for as long as I can remember. The rabbits were often in our garden, & defecating in a completely open area is not how they behave.

    Second, I have since seen the animal, with the child who owns it. It is not a wild rabbit, & the child who owns it is about elementary school age.

    Just out of curiosity, what made you (& Amie) assume I knew nothing about rabbits, & needed educated about them?

  65. I think it was the way your first comment was worded, because I thought the same thing. “Somebody got a bunny for Christmas, I guess.” Your further explanation of the pellets and that you’ve seen the rabbit with its owner makes your first post much more clear. 🙂

  66. Susie, it could also have been taken as I know the neighbors that adjoin my property pretty well, instead of that I was completely ignorant of rabbit behavior, but it wasn’t. In previous years, I have posted multiple times about being raised eating rabbits, pheasants & squirrels.

  67. We have been eating from the pantry and basically stayed home. Tonight there is a winter weather advisory, snow, sleet, freezing rain from 10 pm(ET) to noon tomorrow so definitely not going outside unless I have to. Wed it’s suppose to by almost 60°, guess it will be Ohio’s Jan thaw. I read everyone’s posts and made notes of things I would like to do to help save money this coming week…thanks for letting me pick your brains for the wisdom 🙂

    Rest of my week is here…

  68. Happy New Year, everyone. The holidays were hectic but very pleasant. Still, it’s nice to be back into the normal routine.

    Frugal Efforts 1/1/17-1/7/17

    * Ate home-prepared meals all but two times. (Ate out once w/ Hubs as a lunch date and used a gift card that he’d received from work. Ate out a second time, and used a coupon, to celebrate good news from my oncologist.)

    * We’re participating in the Pantry Challenge over at

    * Hubs harvested the last of our eggplants. Used it for Eggplant Caponata (recipe from

    * Made wheat bread, banana-pecan bread, cranberry-pomegranate compote, and a batch of Brandy’s granola.

    * Spent only $5.97 (OJ and sour cream).

    * We’ve had several days of rain lately, so the sprinklers have been off for a few weeks and our rain barrels are full.

    * Paid bills online, and our gas company is offering incentives for cutting natural gas usage so we signed up for the program.

    All in all, I think we’re off to a pretty good start to 2017.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  69. I took advantage of the cold weather and cooked a bag of lentils. With that, I then made a pan of stuffed cabbage with lentils and brown rice, a lentil “meatloaf” with onions and oats and Isa Chandra’s lentil Snobby (sloppy) Joes. We had the stuffed cabbage 3 nights in a row and there is enough for 1 more lunch for me. The meatloaf and Snobby Joes went into the freezer.

    It was the first time in a long time I did batch cooking like that. I need to do it more often – it is so much more efficient since everything used lentils, tomato sauce, garlic, onions, etc. and just had to wash the pots/pans once. While I was home for the day, I also had a crockpot full of dried chickpeas cooking which I froze and they are ready for recipes.

    We worked on cleaning out the storage unit and decluttering the house. We donated a load. I listed some things on ebay and some on the local Facebook Garage sale page. The money is going into our date night account and our gift account.

    Got a Family Circle magazine free in the mail.

    Read some frugal blogs for motivation.

    Have a great week everyone!!

  70. How nice that you play Red Light, Green Light with your granddaughters. What fun memories you are building with them. 🙂

  71. Years and years ago my mom traded Avon products (she was an “Avon Lady” for awhile) for piano lessons from my school’s music teacher. I so wanted to learn to play, and there was zero money for lessons, so my mom got creative and my music teacher was gracious and kind. Sadly, I was only able to have a year or so of lessons before a move changed our situation. We still have the piano, however. My son is now taking lessons (and surpassed my ability years ago–ha!).

  72. We had ice Friday night, a rare occurrence this far South. I thought it had thawed by mid day Saturday, and I tried to go to work because I had a jury trial on Monday. I slipped on ice on the steps. I then could not get my still frozen car door open. I decided if I could not get out of my yard without issues, I needed to stay home…duh. On the plus side, no gas spent…lol. Even the dog and the car did not want to go outside to use the bathroom. Onviously, we are all wimps in the cold. It is supposed to climb back into the 70’s by Thursday. I am glad because my heat ran constantly this weekend. I made vegetarian chilli, and a homemade pizza. I took the pizza to work today for lunch. I dyed my hair this weekend, and trimmed it myself. I did my nails at home. I listened to bluegrass music on public radio Saturday night. I cleaned my house. I also find it gives me joy to have a clean house, especially when I am stressed about other issues in my life that I have no control over. I have a lovely country drive into work every day and I find joy in observing the sun rise over the farms on the way into work in the morning, and the sun setting over the catfish ponds, and the cow pastures on the way home. I am thankful that my commute is a joy, and not a traffic clogged highway, although I did see a very large cow walking along the side of the road this evening! I also have to watch for deer. Last week, I almost hit a skunk scurrying across the road. Can you imagine what my co-workers would have said if I came to work with that aroma?

  73. We have a landline that runs just under 25.00 a month. And, we both have a pay-as-you-go phone that runs about 200.00 a year. (After initial costs.) We’ve thought about getting rid of the landline, but for now we’re hanging onto it. Our internet is by itself. That runs 59.99 a month. We’re in a pretty isolated part of the country where there’s not much competition. We don’t have cable; we do have apple TV and free netflix from our son. I hope prices don’t up anytime soon!

  74. I’ve soaked some for probably 6 months before, and it was fine. When it’s used for cleaning, I don’t think there’s any problem with the length of time. I have had some of my homemade cleaning vinegars begin to make some “mother”, similar to good apple cider vinegar. The mint vinegar seems especially prone to it, but again, for cleaning I don’t feel it’s an issue. You could always strain it.

  75. Hello to Brandy and everyone from NW Louisiana!

    I did an almost no-spend week, only $5 for balloons and wrapping paper from the dollar store for my granddaughter’s birthday It was just for family and we did a rainbow/butterfly theme. My adult daughter (her aunt) also lives with me and made a rainbow cake with the freebie white cake mix we got last month from Kroger, used Lisa Frank rainbow unicorn tablecloth and napkins bought on clearance last year, and had hotdogs and chips for the meal (my granddaughter’s request). Her presents from us were ordered from Amazon, sets that expanded her Mega Bloks, and some Baby Lit books. She LOVES both and I prefer toys which she can learn from also.

    We had temps dipping into mid teens for two nights, very cold for here, and I covered my broccoli, kale and spinach with paper sacks and brought my containers of cilantro and lettuces onto the porch near the house and they all seemed to have weathered the cold well.

    Thanks everyone for your welcome and encouragement. Hello to Candace, nice to see someone else here from the Ark-La-Tex and also to Heather from LA. I enjoy all the blog posts and comments a lot.

  76. I believe it was Extreme Cheapskates, or a very similar title–it escapes my mind right now, but Cheapskates was definitely in the title. Brady Bunch would be great, but it’s not on after Lucy here! I’m thinking my binge-watching days are about over, though, thank goodness.

  77. Lorna,
    I am glad you are able to steadily keep saving towards your house. I also love hearing about your garden. Snow peas sound wonderful. It won’t be long until I can plant those around here–a couple more months, because they like the cooler weather. We have been having some unusual snow this winter, though, and so no planting for now!

  78. It sounds like you had a lovely party–very kid friendly! The kids in our family love chips so much, it’s become a family joke that my aunt always has to bring chips to almost every gathering!

  79. I apologize, I didn’t mean to offend but I can’t remember what I did yesterday most days, there is no way I would have remembered what you have posted in previous years. And the info was not meant for just you – there are many, many readers here – I happen to have raised rabbits in one way or another for the better part of 45 years (in fact this is the first year since I was 3 that I don’t have any rabbits) and happen to like educating people on the differences between our domestic rabbits and the native cottontails. Also, the cottontails around here leave pellets in piles in the middle of the yard, not just in the brush piles. I will leave off with any further info I guess since it seems to offend you and I’ve had a crappy enough day.

  80. I am not familiar with the program “between Amazon and Goodwill” that picks up donations, could you explain?

  81. Hello Brandy!

    Sorry to be so late on the post..I was sidelined with a sinus infection.

    We had a near loss this week but a happy ending. Our chicken coop caught on fire. The heat lamp came dislodged ( a screw fell out). the lamp hit the floor of the coop and burned a soda can sized hole in the floor! Luckily, this happened when all our girls were outside in the run and the coop was damp from snow. I just happened to go out early and caught it. I’m thankful for that! My birthday is this month, so my husband has started work on a better coop (using lumber we already have).

    I had an amazing sewing week. I made 6 sweatshirts (our house is cold in the winter, we keep the heat at 64 during the day) using material we already have. My husband’s family likes to give my kids fleece blankets. I personally do not like them and my kids leave them all over the house. They aren’t much good for warmth when a child is dragging them around so I turned most of them into sweatshirts using a pattern from MADE everyday, I had ribbing material in my stash. Now the kids are cozy in their sweatshirts, the blankets aren’t on the floor and I didn’t spend any money. win, win. I’m adding ribbing to the feet of PJ sleepers this week (the feet have worn through).

    It’s cold here and we are supposed to get a layer of wintry mix tonight. I adapted a recipe for split pea soup to eat on this frosty night. I make it in my instant pot (electric pressure cooker) but you could use any type of pressure cooker or do it on the stove the old fashioned way.

  82. Becky thank you for your encouragement we have now reached 17.08% of our saving for our home with cash which is exciting 🙂 .

    We are indeed in opposite seasons at the moment and I have seen all the snow some areas of the States have been having, which will no doubt mean a really cold winter for us coming up. I am amazed that the snow peas are still producing since we are having 40 – 41oC days here at the moment. They are planted in a microclimate under the canopy of a large Eucalypt tree though and they seem to love it there.

    No doubt I will be looking at your posts when you are in the height of your garden being in production whilst we are having frosts too. It will be exciting when you are able to plant your garden out though 🙂 .

  83. I used an Amazon gift card to buy Epi-pen pouches for myself and our youngest. I have tried homemade yogurt in the slow cooker many times and it has never firmed up well. I made it in my Instant Pot that I bought on Black Friday online and in 8 hours it made perfect yogurt! I will be doing this regularly now. I saved a cup of homemade to use as a starter for the next batch.

  84. I spent the last week of December and the first week of January filling the freezer with after holiday sale meat. Fully cooked spiralsliced hams were .59/lb, and turkeys were .99/lb. Cheese was 3.00/lb.We have 5 hams and 3 turkeys in the freezer, along with 20lbs of cheese, which will last us for several months, along with enough to share with my daughter. I canned 20 lbs of potatoes I found for .14/lb. I used a 40% off joanns coupon plus a 20% total order coupon to get a good pair a gingher pinking shears. I bought a pair of gingher scissors on their black friday sale, and am amazed at the diference they make! I took several t shirts my son had outgrown and made long sleeve shirts for the grandsons (they are still in toddler sizes, so his outgrown XL boys and small mens shirts have plenty of material), I cut them using the existing neckline and sleeve ribbing, so they are a quick project. I checked out several books from the library for my kindle-we prefer reading to tv, and using the kindles saves us a trip to the library or having to remember to return them.

  85. I’m so glad you bought that music book years ago and saved it. As a piano teacher I know how expensive music books can be. I have built up a nice library of music by going to the thrift stores and garage sales. Many collections of classical music, like the one you bought, have been in print for years and a used copy will work wonderfully. And trading with the teacher for lessons is a great idea. I’ve done that in the past and can be quite nice for the teacher too.

    My frugal project last week was to replace the pockets on my husband’s overcoat. One of our sons worked in a nice men’s clothing store several years ago and was able to get this coat on a great discount. The pocket linings were worn out so I carefully studied the construction to remove them and sew replacements from sturdier fabric. It took a couple of hours but well worth it. The rest of the coat looks like new.

    *Received $20 for taking surveys
    *used a Redbox code we were gifted for Christmas to rent a movie for a movie night for our family
    *stocked up on canned vegetables, soup, and spaghetti sauce at the case lot sale
    *attended the free exercise class at church

    I love your blog Brandy and enjoy reading all the comments.

  86. We are doing the pantry challenge at Good Cheap Ears and so far things are going well!
    We have eaten all meals at home.
    I made chicken stock and beef stock for the freezer.
    I spent $15 at the store buying milk, eggs and bread.
    I did some decluttering and took 2 bags of clothes and 2 boxes of kitchen items to the thrift store.
    Have a good week everyone!

  87. Funny I “turn” my fleece blankets into blanket dresses (wrap it around at tuck at the side bust) to stay warm as I wander/lounge through the house. Some days I wish blanket dress had sleeves. I can’t with a Snuggie.

  88. We live in a small town that’s attached to a bigger city. It’s right on the state line between Wisconsin and Illinois. All the cities and towns and from us to the larger city a half hour away is over run by rabbits. The rabbits showed up in our area last summer. I lost 5 blueberry bushes and my strawberries because of them. But I didn’t think about using their poop as fertilizer, so thanks for that silver lining! 🙂

  89. Does anyone known if you can flavor yogurt? I like vanilla flavored yogurt, and I hate to seem dumb, but all the recipes I see are for plain yogurt, which I do not like. Do you add the flavoring in when you add the other ingredients (if you can even flavor homemade yogurt) ???

  90. You can definitely flavour yoghurt! I add in vanilla flavouring when I add the starter culture to the heated milk, but my favourite way to flavour yoghurt is to stir in homemade jams before eating. I just had some blueberry yoghurt for dinner — yoghurt with some homemade blueberry jam stirred in! My blueberry jam was just equal amounts of blueberries and sugar and then boiled to the gel stage, so very pure.

  91. Thanks Margaret! One of my goals for the New Year is to start making homemade yogurt in a crockpot, and I wanted to be sure I could make it the flavor I wanted…

  92. I’m late to the party this week! Snow days this week, and they always throw our schedule off. 🙂 We so enjoyed some fun in the snow with little man, and it was nice to have some extra family time. Our highlights were some new recipes, including an overnight breakfast rice pudding in the crock pot. The bummer is more work to be done to my car, but hopefully we’ll be able to save up enough soon to purchase a new to us AWD vehicle.

    I’d love for you to stop by!

  93. Mable, I read a book that you recommended, if I remember right…THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE. It was excellent. I read it in one sitting. I would say it was the best book I read in 2016. Thanks.

  94. Lorna, I too have enjoyed following your steady savings for buying your house with cash. Congratulations! You are coming right along. I’m amazed by all you and your husband do. You are quite inspirational. Using solar lights at night in the house is so clever. I never would have thought of that. Thank you for your posts and your ideas. Wishing you the best.

    And Brandy, thank you so much for your always enlightening, lovely and inspiring posts and for making this community available to us all. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

  95. My grandfather came from holland and I was just thinking about trying to make the windmill speculaas cookies. He used to make a wonderful fruitcake but I don’t have the recipe. Thank you for sharing your Dutch frugal life!

  96. Me too, They had organic oranges for $2.49/3lb. bag. I bought 2 bags. I find dealsc there quite often. A lot of times they are unadvertised.

  97. Lynn and thank you for your encouragement, I am glad I gave you some extra ideas ways to save too. I know that electricity over in the States is so much more expensive than here so any way we save on all of our household expenses can help.

  98. I think you can use Amazon’s boxes to hold donations and have them picked up/shipped at no cost to you to pare down belongings etc. 🙂

  99. Kmart appears to have updated their restrictions on points rewarded for purchases of SmartSense products. After buying the “$40” bicycle last week, my sister thought she could get her son a large Lego set the same way. No. Now she and everybody else are limited to a maximum of $50 worth of ShopYourWay points at Kmart when purchasing SmartSense products while the offer is valid. Apparently, the offer was a bit more popular than Kmart had expected.

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