Christmas Tree 2017 The Prudent Homemaker

I sewed a tree skirt for our tree from drop cloth I had.

My husband gave two sons a haircut.

My husband took a free course for one of his required continuing education classes for work. This class was also very close to home. Most classes he takes are 30-45 minutes from home, so one that was just a few minutes away also saved on gas. The law requires him to take a certain amount of classes. There are lots of paid classes available, but also a number of free ones. He always takes as many free classes as possible, and takes a few of the least expensive paid classes, which are between $10 and $20, and often include lunch. He saves hundreds of dollars by carefully choosing which classes he takes.

I picked Meyer lemons from the garden. I also cut chives from the garden.

We attended a free symphony concert performed by the Henderson Symphony.

The temperature dropped here. I rolled up two old towels and put them in front of our front doors to block the cold draft that always blows under the door in winter,

Christmas Octavius Under the Tree The Prudent Homemaker

We decorated our tree with ornaments we have had for years.

I pulled out some stored boxes to wrap gifts and found my star garlands that I had made previously. I hung them in the house.

I opened clothing boxes of stored clothing and pulled out winter clothing for my daughters. I’m glad that I keep boxes of hand-me-down clothing. I thought I was going to need some items of clothing for them, but they were already there in the boxes.

I said yes to the offer of some candy and soda that an acquaintance said she no longer needed at her house.

I took my reusable bags to Target and received $0.05 off my purchase for each bag I used.

I used a 40% off coupon for an item I bought at Hobby Lobby. It was not a high-cost item, but I always make sure to have a coupon with me if I need to buy something, Every bit saved helps!

I returned some plants that died to the nursery within the one-year time frame. I also returned pots for store credit. I used the credit from these two towards the purchase of two new valves in the garden (to replace two old ones that had started to leak). While I was there, I asked for some branches that they were cutting off the Christmas trees out front. I’ve got these soaking in water now and I’ll arrange them in the garden urns on Monday. Many places that sell Christmas trees will give you free trimmings if you ask.

Since the valves are leaking, I turned off the water to the backyard, and have been turning it on manually when needed to water the garden so that I don’t end up with a flooded yard, a huge water bill, or dead plants.

I watered potted plants with shower warm-up water and water from drinking glasses that was left at the end of the day.

My husband mended my clothes drying rack so that I could dry sweaters and delicates that I hang to dry. He also mended my towel rack in the bathroom when it came apart.

What did you do to save money this past week?

For those who are wondering: Our tree stand is screwed to the table it sits on with drywall screws. This makes it impossible to be knocked down by children. Having the tree on the table (plus no ornaments on the bottom two branches) keeps our toddler from the ornaments.

This is the first year I’ve ever put out gifts before Christmas Eve (usually I wait after the children are in bed to wrap and out them out). I’ve started wrapping early this year to avoid the stress of wrapping everything Christmas Eve as part of my plans for a simpler month. I’ll continue to add wrapped gifts under the tree as I go, if we can keep my youngest from them. I won’t be adding any more candy canes to the top of the gifts, however–he liked those too much!

The tree is a faux one, bought on clearance 11 years ago for $80. It was the display model.

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  1. Love your blog! Look forward to reading it each week. Your baby is so cute. Things I did to save money…
    Was in another town got gas there since it was .05 cents cheaper
    Shopped at 3 stores for groceries for the best sales.
    Made a meal plan for the 5 extra people we are having this week. My husband is graduating Nursing school! (This is when, and why I had to become frugal)
    Used the quick wash on all my laundry…less water, and time…clothes seem just as clean!
    Even though I have a budget for Christmas…so far I am below it for each person on my list.
    Til Next week!
    Take care,

  2. Your tree is beautiful. I love the ribbon garland. And Octavius is such a cutie!
    I made a star garland following your directions a couple of years ago and it is one of my favorite decorations.
    We cut our tree in the national forest. $8 for a permit and our tree is 11 feet tall, so it was a nice bargain, plus a fun outing. We have 38 years worth of tree decorations, so no need to buy anything more.
    Temperatures stayed cold long enough we felt it was time to shut down the greenhouse. I harvested all the cabbage and made three pans of cabbage rolls (using home-canned tomatoes and some elk meat a neighbor gave us) and put them in the freezer for future meals, plus a large bowl of slaw.
    I made Christmas cookies using the dough I made and froze while I was getting ready for Thanksgiving. Definitely made the process less hectic. I mixed up a large batch of cocoa mix. We have been enjoying hot cocoa in the evenings.
    Due to choir concerts and rehearsals, I was away three nights this past week. I don’t eat before I sing and my husband ate leftovers or canned soup for dinners and I had a sandwich when I got home. The rest of the meals were cooked and eaten at home, I hung laundry on a rack in front of the fire to dry, and we enjoyed reading to and listening to books from our library, and watching a couple of Christmas movies from Amazon prime.

  3. What a gorgeous tree and cute little boy with a sly grin on his face!

    Frugal living in urban Seattle this week:

    – It was my youngest son’s birthday. I used gift cards from Amazon and a college bookstore for his gifts. The Amazon gift card I had traded on for a Victoria Secret gift card I had previously received, but had little use for and I bought him a LEGO Architect set that he’s been eyeing. The local bookstore gift card my husband received from a UW professor for speaking to her journalism class as a thank you. He also really wanted take-out pizza (rare treat) so I found a coupon for the pizza and made him a homemade cake to celebrate with a few friends in our home. We asked that friends NOT bring gifts to his party, as he has a friend who is experiencing homelessness with his dad (sadly a common thing with skyrocking Seattle housing prices). It was a fun, simple party.

    – Last night we attended the luminaria walk around our neighborhood lake with music and festivities with my cousins who also live in town. It was free and instead of being tempted to go out for dinner or dessert, I made a hot cocoa bar with cookies, hot cocoa and fixings for us to come home to. I bought organic milk for the hot cocoa using a FREE coupon from a neighborhood organic grocer.

    – I found a holly tree in our neighborhood and got permission to take some cuttings to help make my house look more festive. It makes me happy to see the festive greenery in our house!

    – My Buy Nothing neighbor gifted me a pair of almost-new rainboots that fit perfectly. I had been looking through thrift stores for months with no luck.

    – I saved myself the cost of an uber ride for my son to get to a piano concert by rearranging some appointments (and with some rare Seattle traffic luck on a Friday evening).

    – I put holds on several holiday movies from the library for us to enjoy. I wish I would have done this earlier, as several have long wait lists. Hopefully we’ll get to watch a couple of them.

  4. Your Christmas decorations look beautiful. I also decorated with only things I already had, with the exception of one stocking holder. I bought it 50% off at Hobby Lobby.

    We made a trip to Aldi to get the last of the groceries needed for holiday baking. I remembered I had part of an Aldi gift card left from last Christmas, so I used it to offset some of the extra cost.

    We sent Christmas cards this year, but I bought them at Dollartree, so I only paid $4 for the cards. I had about $20 in stamps and I’ll hand deliver several. I also bought birthday cards at Dollar General since they are only 50 cents each there. My husband hand delivered a bill to a client – saving on postage again.

    I also think I’ve figured out what’s eating up our data on our cell phone plan. I changed a few settings and we’re using much less data now. So hopefully we can avoid overage charges in the future.

    I accepted 1/2 dozen cupcakes leftover from a party.

    We are spending a lot of money on Christmas this year, but we budgeted for it and had the money set back. It’s just wierd to be spending so much money at one time when we usually don’t.

    I’m afraid our computer will need replaced soon. It’s not working properly, so I’ll start pinching my pennies and hoping for a sale when we need one.

    Our couches are also not in great shape. But I’m holding off on buying new ones. The couches are still comfortable and they have good cushion, but the leather is peeling off on the headrests. It started small, but is working its way down the back of the couch. I have been draping blankets over the back to hide the peeling for now.

    So far, we’ve only spent about $50 on groceries this month and we shouldn’t need much more.

  5. I drove my daughter to an event she was playing her violin at, and my husband, daughter and I were offered a free dinner since she was volunteering her playing that evening.

    I gave my husband a haircut.

    I FaceTimed our son who is several states away and was able to watch him open his Christmas presents that we had mailed to him.

    Before purchasing a $20 book on Amazon, I checked our local library and was able to find it there so checked it out for free instead.

  6. This post is chock full of ideas for spending less!
    Thank you!

    I surprised the kids and bought a small artificial tree and lights. The last 2 years we’ve just done a paper tree that we tape to the wall, so they were really excited! 🙂

    Other than the tree and lights we used ornaments and stockings we’ve had for years.

    I don’t plan on sending gifts to our US family this year, maybe next year when we’re Stateside. Instead I sent them Christmas cards.

    I reused rinse water to water plants.

    We did order out once this week, but it was my birthday present, pizza, salad and chips. 🙂

  7. Last week I bought ribs and riblets on sale. Those two items gave us meals all week plus a package of pulled pork for the freezer.
    This week I took a big chicken out of the freezer…took the wings, back and giblets to pressure cooker. The rest went into the rotisserie. The bones were cooked again after all the meat was picked off. They were then soft enough to feed to the animals. The bone broth and picked off chicken made a nice pot of chicken soup with some leftover veggies and a handful of noodles. The boneless meat will be sandwiches and a casserole as well as slices of breast to have with potatoes and gravy….many meals from one bird.
    I’ve done a bit of sewing this week and some baking. Giving thanks for full freezers and a warm house

  8. I’m so happy when the weekly frugal accomplishments post pops up on my feed! One of my favorites every week. 🙂

    Fairly quiet week here. We took lunch and drinks with us to my daughter’s free art class – the last class is tomorrow.
    Did indexing on – free entertainment for me and a great way to give back to the genealogy community.
    Downloaded a free Kindle book.
    Refilled the kids’ foaming soap container from the refill bottle.
    Spotted 1/2 price candy while at the feed store – got each of us a little treat for half off.
    Updated my food storage “Q” (monthly shipment) to stock up on some items I need while taking advantage of December sale prices.
    While at the commissary, I went to grab sugar (which was on my pantry storage list) – I picked up 3 bags of 2# each at $2.20, thinking they were on sale because they were on display with seasonal baking items. Walked around the corner and realized it was NOT a sale display – the same sugar in a 10# bag was $5.50! Put back the smaller bags and got the bigger bag for much less per pound. Glad I caught myself on that one!
    Went to buy my son some pants – all were 1/2 price. At the checkout, the cashier asked if we are military – turns out they also give a 10% discount that we didn’t know about!
    Found a Peggy Layton food storage book half price at a local new & used book store – it is used, but like new condition (it is full of checklists and inventory sheets but none are written on, which is very helpful).
    Did some online shopping for family far away – found some items for well under budget for each of them and received free shipping.

  9. I saw the sword too! Love it, can’t you tell me more about it?
    We have a very frugal holiday season as we only celebrate winter. Spendings only on extra veggies and more tea lights. And heating; a lot is spent on keeping our warm room warm (the rest of the apartments is not directly heated).

  10. What a lovely tree, Brandy!

    Here are our frugal accomplishments for the last week:

    * Took a trip to Ikea to return a few items and purchase a few things. After using the store credit from the return, we spent only $5.50, and that included two ice cream cones for a treat! We purchased a pestle and mortar set to gring the herbs I bought from San Francisco Herb Co, along with a few other items. We also took a look around at a few things that we may purchase if I don’t get them for Christmas this year.

    * While we were there, we stopped by the mall and bought a few gifts. I had planned on getting my mom a container of her favorite lotion, but the store had an entire boxed set of body products, including the lotion I was going to get her, for about $5 more than the lotion alone, so I purchased that instead.

    * I used some of my saved up Amazon gift cards to purchase a gift for my uncle. I get these from places like Swagbucks, so this gift was free to me.

    * I signed up for a local store’s emailing list for a 10% off coupon. They sell high quality products and my stepfather wants an item from there, but they don’t offer many discounts, so I will take what I can get!

    * I planned the rest of the meals for December and will be making a small shopping trip this week to get the remaining items I need for it. We’ve only spent about $70 of our $100 budget so far, and the remaining money will be spent on a few more grocery items and maybe some gift wrap.

    This coming week is the last week of the semester, so life is crazy busy, but I’m excited to be done!

  11. Added rice to our leftover soup to make a warm extra meal for the animals. They aren’t a bit fussy and we have no food was. Two nights this week we popped popcorn and watched borrowed movies from the library or holiday specials instead of cooking dinner.
    Added extra straw to the chicken coop to keep them warm

  12. If you google it, there are some glue products available that will help stop the peeling off of leather furniture. I bought some glue off Amazon for about $8, which helped stop the peeling. You can also buy dyed glue to help hide the peeling – although it seems hard to match it. It’s not a perfect fix, but might extend the life of your couches.

  13. I too must attend 30 hours of continuous education each year to hold my day care license in good standing. After almost 30 years and being on the board of our child care association I could TEACH most of the classes. However our classes are not often free. Once in a while, but not real often do I get a free class. I am glad your husband can find the classes he needs and save a few dollars doing it. Every dollar saved it good.

    We had snow here Thursday. Crazy for this time of year. We had almost 2 inches and the children were so excited. However it was 33 degrees and did not last long. Friday was in the 40’s all day. But it was so beautiful to watch it come down. My grandsons 15 and 17 made a sad little snow man, but the had fun.

    I saved money by just staying off the computer and out of the stores. I have my shopping done, so it I can resist temptation I will be good. I will, I just need to make up my mind I am done.

    Our new Aldi store opened just over a month ago. So far I am super impressed. Their prices on basic items like eggs, milk, and fruit can not be beat. There is a super Walmart across the street from Aldi and they will NOT price match. Here eggs are 73 a dozen and milk 1.58. I have to go just a mile more than the local grocery.

  14. Hi Brandy,
    That photo of your youngest is so beautiful, such crystal clear photos and the cheeky look on his face is too cute, he’s so grown up. Love your tree and I always love looking at the solid timber furniture that is in your home. This weeks frugal things are much the same as I always do-
    Line dried all the washing
    Packed my lunch for work each day
    Cleaned the house with homemade cleaners
    Kept to the one light rule at night
    Kept the warm up water from the showers to water potted plants
    Used up all leftovers in a timely manner
    Bought Christmas baking ingredients using a rewards card
    Walked to the shops a few times to save taking the car
    Made my sister a beautiful chicken soup to make her feel better, I bought chicken legs that were marked down to clear
    And that’s all I can think of at the mo.
    Have a lovely day.

  15. I planned out meals for the next 11 days because we’re flying to the East coast then. I like to use up the perishables before we leave. I also like to pack food for the trip so I don’t have to buy airport food and have healthier fare.

    DH and I went to my employer’s Christmas party and enjoyed a nice dinner.

    One night I went to a program at church and had soup and salad supper provided as a part of the program. On Monday I went to the community choir concert (free) and very good. My church provided cookies and punch (including cookies I made.) On Friday I played in a different community music concert. (I am in a bell choir).

    DH and I are car shopping because our 11 year old Subaru is starting to have transmission problems. We both hate the chess game aspect of car shopping, where you don’t always get direct answers and there is lots of waiting. We live in a small town so we have to drive to other bigger cities to find the make of vehicles we want. We are looking at both used and new cars. The models we want retain their value (Subaru Forrester or Honda CRV), so there don’t seem to be any good buys with used cars so far.

  16. That’s the most realistic looking faux tree I’ve seen. I was thinking I’d be reading a story about how you got a great deal on it :o). Collards, rutabagas and cabbage were harvested from our garden last week, with some of the collards, rutabagas, and frozen lima beans and pawpaw shared with my MIL. I went through swagbucks to buy a gift this morning, getting 5% cash back. It’s been a very busy week, with no earth shattering frugality, but what I remembered is posted here:
    I’m looking forward to reading all the comments!

  17. Beautiful tree!
    This week has been very good to us! I bought Heath chocolate toffee bits for baking and Hershey’s milk chocolate chips for 99 cents a bag (rather than their normal $3.19 each)! Since this will be the only time I buy them for a year, I bought 15 bags of the toffee ones and 10 bags of the milk chocolate chips! I also bought 5 jars of peanut butter and 5 boxes of cream cheese- also for 99 cents each! This completes my holiday baking ingredient shopping!!!
    I dehydrated 1/2 bushel of celery that I sliced up and had only paid $3 for the entire bushel (I shared half with a friend whose husband is out of work). I was surprised that 1/2 bushel became just one half gallon mason jar full!! But that’s all right- it won’t take up much valuable shelf space!
    My chickens keep producing about 3 dozen eggs a week even though we now have snow! I am supplementing their dry feed with greens (kale, turnip, mustard, etc) that my produce market has been giving me for free! At any given time, we have about 13 -15 dozen eggs in our refrigerator from our hens!!
    A friend brought me 2 half gallons of heavy whipping cream and a gallon of buttermilk so I need ideas of what to use them for!!
    Completed 15 small quilts for a client and now I’ll start quilting a child’s quilt for another client!
    I’ve rearranged more pantry shelves to make space to hold more. We are so grateful that we’ve been so blessed!
    I made Rice Krispie treats without having to run to the store! We made homemade pizza using a huge (as big as a cookie sheet) flatbread-ciabatta maybe? It fed us dinner and we had leftovers for two lunches besides!
    It’s so nice as the weather turns to very cold, snowy and slippery to be able to make meals,snacks from our food storage and even know that we have enough paper products,cleaners and personal hygiene products to last for some time without having to venture out!
    My husband started ordering his c-pap supplies on Amazon rather than the local supplier and is saving about 85% for the identical products!! Wow! So glad someone told us about that!!
    That’s about it! It has indeed been a great week!

  18. Your photos are always gorgeous – and your little one is so cute!

    .This week I remembered to get the “senior” discount at The Bay when I purchased a few needed items (their senior level is over 55).
    .Delivered a few cards and presents in person so saved some postage.
    .Decided not to buy a monthly transit pass for this month as I calculated that I wouldn’t get my money’s worth. I did purchase a weekly pass for last week as I had a lot of appointments, errands to run, and social engagements to attend. This week I will make do with individual tokens plus one day with a daily pass as I will group errands with a social event and my weekly volunteer time all on the one day. Over the month I should save nearly $50.00
    .Stayed out of the grocery stores all week – finally made a trip today to pick up milk, bread, eggs and some veg. That will get me through the week as I am using up items from my pantry and freezer. I already have the Christmas food purchased so the only additional items will be lots of veg and a bit more cheese & other dairy.
    .I had people to my home for brunch last Sunday rather than eating out. I probably spent about the same overall as I would have spent for my meal out but, I fed 6 people, gave a few items to a friend who had driven me to the stores and who loaned me a couple of extra dining chairs, plus there were other leftovers for me for a few more meals last week.
    .I waited to do laundry so that I have full loads (and I’m still fine for clothes and linens – could even get through another week if I had to).

  19. Hi all,

    My biggest savings for the week was managing to unclog our shower drain before needing to call a plumber. Washing soda, several cups of vinegar, a lot of plunging, some boiling water, and time for the above to work and I heard the gurgles that indicated the drain was clear.

    I started picking up summer clothes for next year for the kids. Salvation Army had blue tags on sale for 49 cents this week. 17 pieces of clothing for less than $9! If I can keep doing this every couple of weeks, by spring, they’ll have tons of clothes. We wear summer clothes from March through October down here in the south.

    I have been buying practical gifts for the adults for Christmas. The kids are getting minimal gifts from us — they’re still young enough that name brand stuff isn’t a necessity. They’ll be just as happy with fashion doll clothes from Dollar Tree as they would Barbie brand. I’ve bought 2 packs of nice throws from Sam’s club for my mom and sister. Each 2 pack was $13. I give them dishtowels every year too! I still have a lot more to do, but I’m happy to have started.

    I cooked at home every night last week, except 2. Those nights we had leftovers or just appetizer kind of snacks. I do a lot of meat/cheese/cracker trays this time of the year.

    Frugal fail: SO had a work Christmas party that was business casual and since i work from home, I didn’t have any clothes that would be appropriate. I went to JCPenneys and bought slacks and a top which I can wear again to church or any other even that requires being dressy. Also, frugal fail: I desperately needed a haircut and color. I always color my hair myself. I’ve never once had it done in a salon. But I splurged this time. My haircut and color was $72 and it looks amazing! Another upcoming frugal fail: I need shoes. My favorite pair, my brown Dansko clogs, had a total heel blowout on Friday. You’d think for $125 shoes, they’d last a lot longer or at least be able to resole them but you can’t. I am very disappointed in those, and even though I love them for their comfort and the way they don’t kill my back when I stand for hours, I can’t justify paying that much for shoes that won’t last but a year or 2. Either way, I MUST get shoes this week. I have one pair of sneakers that are okay but impractical for every day wear.

  20. Octavious looks like a little pistol, as the ‘older’ generation would say! Such a cutie!
    To save money, I didn’t drive much. My car was moved to shovel snow out around it. Otherwise, it hasn’t been moved in days.
    My husband got driven to a mandatory Moose outing for his new position in the royal order. That saved over two hours of driving and gas.
    Both my husband and myself take lunch with us when we work. One day for me, four days for him.
    I needed hamburger buns at the store so I walked instead of driving.
    I needed to mail an eBay package so I walked instead of driving.
    I complained (nicely) to a company about their product. They sent me several free coupons.
    I got the Christmas cards written and ready to go. I used cards I bought several years ago on discount. I will use some old postcard stamps i’ve Had for years to offset some of the postage. I may be good with Christmas cards for next year, too. (Unless they’re giving them away, in which case, it would be rude not to buy them!)
    I drove quite a ways to a library book sale. It was not the best use of my time or gas. The thing that shocked me was the young woman who was giving change. My total was 3.50. I gave her a 5.00 bill. She handed me 2.00 back. I shook my head but didn’t say a word. She made an excuse about being tired and needing coffee and had the older woman next to her give me the correct change. This happens all the time! Does no-one teach people how to make change anymore? We are still a cash society regardless what many people think. Okay, i’m done now!
    I crushed two bags of chip dregs for the breadcrumb jar.
    For some reason, i’ve Been on a documentary-watching jag. All on yooootube, of course. It cuts down on my cleaning time but someone needs to take one for the team!

  21. My oldest daughter works part time at Aldi’s, which is 23 miles from us. I give her the money and list, she does the shopping for us for fresh veg and fruit. This is very helpful, as it is not good to send my husband to the store(too expensive) and I broke my leg the day before Thankksgiving, no weight bearing on it. Another blessing that I have recieved is that the folks at our church have loaned me a shower chair, walker, and wheelchair for as long as I need them! I recieve disabilty pay at 50%, and can add some vacation hours, still is not close to what normally get. Still a blessing!
    Frugal other things : we are using our freezer food instead of buying more meat, tomato products. My oldest son has brought us some venison he shot. Using the crock pot a lot. We made veg soup,
    spag sauce, Italian.pork tenderloin, venison roast, all in crockpot( not at once, of course).
    I am trying to be deligent about turning the heat down when I am here by myself.
    We cut back on Christmas presents, as I dont know how long I will be out on FML on reduced pay
    . May God bless you all he has blessed my family!

  22. I had my bathroom redone last yr with new plumning. My girls have long hair. Every month i make sure to Draino my tub and sink as ruotine maintence.

  23. I found some beautiful National Geographic books at Dollorama. I got two for work/personal use and two for a gift.
    I cooked almost all day today for the week ahead. Hamburgers, meatloaf, potatoes, curry, rice, etc.

    Both my boys are sick so we have been snuggling all weekend trying to get better for Monday morning.

  24. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 . So glad Brandy you were able to spend husband and wife time at the symphony and how cute is Octavius smiling whist trying to snavel that candy cane from under the Christmas tree 😀 .

    We have had a very laid back week this week with very little money spent which is fabulous. Our stocking of grocery staples over the year has put us well in advance on our stores and now we will be just replacing what we have and building up stores on 1 or 2 things each shopping day. It is a blessing to see how fast a pantry and food storage can grow in such a short time by picking up 50% off super specials, buying extra staples every 6 weeks and keeping within our budget whilst doing so 😀 .

    In the gardens –
    – Missed 2 scheduled vegetable garden town water watering sessions due to rain saving 166lts of town water.
    – Supplement watered newly planted seeds and newly emerging vegetable seedlings with water from the rain water tanks and saved dish rinsing water.
    – Collected and raked up leaves from the end of 2 vegetable garden beds and under 1 hardwood Eucalypt tree making a 90lt wheelbarrow full which we will run over with the mulching lawnmower to turn into mulch once mixed with dried grass clippings.
    – Collected fallen hardwood twigs from under one of our trees and I will collect them and put them on the front veranda to add to our kindling pile for next winter.
    – Planted 1 x 5mt row of sweet corn and 2 x 4.5mt rows of silver beet seeds in the gardens for more vegetables for the family table.

    Repairs –
    – Compared the cost in a jewellery store and a key cutting stand in the shopping centre and found the jewellery store was $6.95 cheaper to have my watch battery changed at so we did that to maximise out savings.

    Price checking –
    – I continue to price check on various shops to get the cheapest prices and found other stores so far where I can purchase permanent marking pens and crackers far cheaper than I can now.
    – We have also worked out carefully with the recent price rises on whole hindquarters of beef that it is now far cheaper for us to buy meat as we see specials in portions. These can be a saving of up to $7 a kilogram for us.

    Have a wonderfully frugal week ahead everyone 🙂 .

  25. Your story of Octavius snitching the candy canes reminds me that many years ago we left presents under the tree while we went out to dinner. My sister loved the candy “After Eights” and we always gave her a box. This particular year it was wrapped and under the tree. Our dog apparently was able to smell them and ate through the wrapping paper, cellophane paper, cardboard box and individual foil wraps while we were gone. We thought she might possibly have hidden, opposable thumbs when we came back and found the mess. She, at least, had the grace to have a guilty look on her face when we found her.

  26. Octavius is so grown up looking! I am always surprised at how much he has grown between photos! Babies are known to do that. I don’t get to see the babies in my family so often, as the closest are an hour away. I have twin great grand nephews whom I haven’t even seen yet and they are about 4 months old already. They did arrive ahead of schedule, and haven’t been able to travel from Ohio to New York as yet. I get photos online pretty regularly however.

    I am looking for a simple Christmas—but after starting to wrap what I have, I think I better do a bit more shopping as quickly as possible. I will snap up some gift cards for DD and SIL–they like to eat out, and they “need” very little. My daughter lost about 50 lbs since last year, and has been forced to buy new clothes, so has few needs at this point! Usually I can fall back on clothes for gifts for her. I’m going to have to be more clever this year. (She was ill and had surgery and is healthy now, but trying not to put those pounds back on.) Once your “children” hit middle age, they also don’t NEED things anymore than we do. The list of wishes I wrote out for my husband won’t even total $10, but I swear they are the ONLY things I have need of. A little more shopping with no ideas to start with–tough call. I did buy quite a few bits and pieces while visiting the Amish country in Ohio earlier this year. Thank goodness for those little things I picked up here and there–stocking stuffers are taken care of.

    Does anyone else think groceries are going up in cost again? I take a small cart, I shop from my list, I use coupons and sales, and it seems my totals are higher every week. I buy when things are cheapest, but there is no CHEAP in this area. I wanted to buy a rutabaga this week–they were $1.29 a lb. and the smallest was at least 5 lbs. A small package already peeled and chopped was going for $4.49–maybe two cups of cubes. Needless to say, we are not eating rutabaga with our pot roast tonight. Restaurant prices seem to be doing the same. Our little hole in the wall Mexican favorite is currently costing a good $2 more for the same food than it used to.

  27. Thanks for the suggestion! I actually did that when it first started peeling. It helped for a little while, but then it just started peeling somewhere else. It would last for awhile and then start peeling again. It’s been going on for about 2 years now.

  28. I went to the grocery store, used my $35.00 of reward points to buy all of my meat. I packaged it all and put it in the freezer and should have enough to make it to the end of the month. Bought some lentils and am going to try a beet/lentil hummus (inspiration for this site). While at the store, I gently complained that the brisket I had bought previously had turned out to be the toughest, most sinewy meat I’d ever had. The new manager questioned me about how I had cooked it and then gave me a replacement piece at no charge. He was a delightful man who used to be a chef so he then proceeded to give me further ideas on fancy ways to cook it. I enjoyed the Yo Yo Ma concert, although I felt ill for part of it. I think it was a lack of oxygen. I talked to the usher who was really good. They moved my seat from the choir to the main floor in an usher’s seat and I could breathe. I quickly went to the farmers’ market with a friend. For some strange reason, they had squash which had been cut, de-seeded and wrapped in saran wrap for $1.00 per piece. I find it hard to peel or even cut through most squashes so that was a blessing. I baked them last night and they were delicious. I’m going to suggest that they always have some like that to help out seniors with arthritic hands. I’ve seen it done at grocery stores but not usually at the farmers’ market. I just bought carrots, potatoes, beets, and the squash. I spent the least amount of money that I have ever spent at the market. Hopefully when I have some money, I will stock up some more. I have been writing Christmas cards. I ran out but found an old box with some so hope to use those up. My favourite camera store is going out of business. Had I known sooner, I would have been able to buy the camera I’ve dreamt about for half price but it is just as well that I didn’t know as it would have been torture not to have had the money for it at that time. I will get some extra prints made by them before they go out of business. That way, I will still have a limited number that I can sell in the year to come. I felt really complimented when the fellow who does the prints stood at the counter and told my friend why the bluebird photo I had taken was so excellent. He analyzed it inch by inch. I stood quietly by and when he finished, I felt so good. It was as if so much learning by hard knocks had been recognized.

  29. Brandy,

    Your Christmas tree is so beautiful but as beautiful as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to your little boy!

  30. I love the look on that sweet boys face. I definitely have tree issues myself this year. I am fostering a kitten and imagine he will be a problem. I would hate to see my pretty new bulbs broken so I will only put lights on my tree this year. I have matching garlands with bulbs and lights that I will put up since they shouldn’t be in his way. Well we had a huge surprise here. 12 inches of the most beautiful snow I have ever seen. Light and fluffy like powder. We get ice here every few years. In 53 years, I have never seen anything like this. Once I got past the beauty, I started hearing the branches crack and fall on the house. I am so excited that there wasn’t any damage to my house. The neighbor kindly pulled all the branches off my roof and fence and cut them up. I am very grateful and assured him I had no desire to file any claims. I don’t know how that works but it was his tree. Our electricity went out for 36 hours. Having no heat was horrible. I was very happy to have bought wool socks, hats and an assortment of long johns from the thrift store over a period of time. This happened to be college boys birthday. He was so sick all night long and spent a good amount of time throwing up. I felt so bad for him. I crept into the next town like a snail to get him Gatorade. With the electrical out, nothing was open in our community. Not even the major truckstops. I realize now ,I need to be better prepared. Several years of food stockpile did not do much good when there was little We could eat.I think I will invest in a source of backup heat too. On a bright side, princess puppy loves the snow. She bounced around like a kangaroo. She dodged any and all wet spots but had so much fun. I really miss having children. Enjoying the heat back on tonight. Be Safe Everyone.

  31. I love that tree! I also thought it was real and was thinking, where did she find a tree in the desert? It really looks great.

    My week was nice and busy, and I did a lot of baking, which I like! I still managed to find ways to be frugal though.
    – At the last minute, I pulled together some ingredients from my pantry (all items leftover from other baking sessions), and made some Marshmallow Snowman Pops ( to give to some kids at a party I went to. Easy and impressively cute, and the kids ate them right away, which tickled me pink!
    – I baked a dozen cappuccino cupcakes using ingredients I already had at home (flour bought in bulk, butter bought on sale and frozen, instant coffee leftover from when my MIL visited several years ago, chocolate-covered espresso beans bought from a bulk store over a year ago, etc.) and traded them for various items using my local trading app: I got a fruit-scented soap which I’ll send as part of a package to my MIL, a brand-new-with-label Coach wristlet (I will give it as a Christmas gift), and a weirdly shaped seasonal bottle of Fruits and Passion bubble bath that I will probably use as a white elephant gift for a present swap. I packaged the cupcakes up in packaging I got free from my workplace, and used cupcake liners that I bought in bulk on amazon using Swagbucks gift cards.
    – I also traded a $5 Starbucks gift card from Swagbucks for 12 silver cake rounds/trays/thingies. As well, my biggest frugal accomplishment using my trading app this week was a free haircut! A student from the Aveda salon school was looking for someone to do a particular type of haircut on, so I volunteered. Yay, free salon haircut! It turned out really great, btw.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 Starbucks gift certificate
    – I used boiling water to unclog my kitchen drains instead of buying a de-clogging product.
    – I redeemed a Starbucks reward for a fancy vegan salad. I’m always up for a free lunch!
    – I baked a tray of goodies for my husband’s work. I made oatmeal jam squares using oatmeal I traded for and homemade strawberry cranberry jam; I made harissi (a traditional Arabic sort of honey-cake) using semolina flour I traded for; and I made an almond bundt cake, using almond sherry gifted to me and some gluten-free flour I was trying to use up). I froze some of the baking for a holiday tea I’m hosting in two weeks.
    – I baked two loaves of bread and gifted one to my mother, and made a batch of yoghurt.
    – I made two pizzas, and stuck one of them in the freezer, using homemade dough as well as some smoked salami I had traded for a few weeks ago.
    – I put together a casserole using up some odds and ends from my fridge and freezer: frozen peas, leftover homemade cream of mushroom soup, a grated carrot, some buttered bread crumbs. Turned out great, and no food wasted!
    – We rented a carpet cleaner, and cleaned all the carpets in our condo ourselves. Way more frugal than hiring a company (about 1/3 of the price). When I bought the condo, I had the carpets cleaned, and I had spot-cleaned ever since, but since the carpets are cream-coloured, it was time to clean them again. Wrestling all the furniture was definitely a workout, so win-win!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  32. Lilli, I don’t know what stores you have near you, but at least one of them will hopefully carry some powdered Gatorade (I know Walmart does, or if no one has it, you could order it online). We keep it on hand for when people are sick. It’s cheaper than the bottles and you can make just the amount you need for the person who is ill.

    Definitely make sure to have some ready to eat things! Even if you have to have a manual can opener and eat things cold from the can, you’ll be better off next time. A way to cook is important, too, so I hope you can find what you need at a very low price.

    I’m glad you had warm clothing! That is so important!

  33. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”
    • Made swag goal x 5
    • Redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.
    • Used a coupon at True Value to purchase enough furnace filters to install a new one every month. I was diagnosed with allergies earlier this year and want to see if having clean furnace filters will help me be less congested/get rid of some of the pollen in my house. Does anyone know if there are reusable/washable furnace filters?
    • Scanned and uploaded medical receipts for reimbursement.
    • Stocked up on Cabot cheese at $1.77 per 8 oz at Shoprite. Bought 12 packages.
    • Shoveled snow!
    • Roasted a chicken then made chicken stock with the carcass in the slow cooker overnight. Made cream of asparagus soup; cucumber, feta, Israeli couscous with lemon vinaigrette from Budget Bytes; and tried a delicious new recipe for leek and goat cheese tart.
    • Frugal fail – tried new Xmas cookie recipe from a reputable website for orange sliced cookies dipped in chocolate. Horrible, bitter cookies. After trying to doctor up the batter with sugar and more orange juice, I ended up throwing it all out.

  34. I made a pan of marshmallows. I didn’t have enough corn syrup so I used maple syrup that was already in the pantry for the difference. They taste amazing. I also made a batch of graham crackers using pantry ingredients.

    We received an unexpected 9 inches of snow in Georgia. It was so beautiful to watch and it made our house and neighborhood look magical.

    My husband and I made soup from pantry items. It hit the spot considering how cold it was outside.

    We went to the outlets to buy some presents. We found some great deals and saved about 50% on almost everything.

    We are slowly trying to renovate/remodel/redecorate certain parts of our house. After the snow we started talking about getting a new doormat. We have a long runner that I bought from L.L. Bean a few years ago. It is great for our dogs so we thought another would be perfect for our garage door. L.L. Bean is currently running a 25% off sale plus I had a $10 off coupon so was able to get one for $19.95.

    I checked out Wonder Woman from the library. I also read a few ebooks that I had checked out for free.

    Frugal fails- we didn’t eat lunch before going shopping so when stopped to get gas spent money on snacks. Unhealthy and expensive.

  35. Stayed home all week and didn’t spend anything. Except for a book of stamps and $5.15 for groceries no spending so far this month.

  36. Libby. Permanent filters are available from Amazon. You can vacuum or wash them. The cost is 15 to 20 dollars each but they last years

  37. 1. Had a $10 Target gift card that was a gift. Carefully planned and bought conditioner (2 big bottles) for my 4 girls, and lotion, using coupons, and still have a bit on the card. And there was change- .7c- in the little change return when I was paying- I never find change so that was fun.
    2. Deep cleaned my bathroom, even all the cabinets, etc., and put a couple things up on a FB resale site. Already sold one of them.
    3. Got my YNAB (“You Need A Budget”) site all figured out. Am saving in a variety of categories and have budgeted for December.
    4. For the kids ( I have 7), made: homemade cookies for lunches, jello with fruit in mini jars, and cooked every meal at home.
    5. Made a faux-fireplace for the class bulletin board for my son’s 2nd grade teacher out of mostly materials I had on hand. 6. Someone had bought 25 felt stockings for this project but kind of bailed. So I bought squeezable black glitter paint (used a coupon) and wrote all their names on top of stockings, which will all be hung around the “fireplace”. It was fun to help the teacher and do it fairly frugally.
    6. This is my first Christmas as a single mom. I shopped for months, picking up all the Kroger free items, shopping sales, thrift stores, etc. I’m happy that I feel that the kids will have a nice, although simple, Christmas with the presents I purchased, even though it will be kind of weird/different.

  38. Working in the same industry as your husband, I am always shocked at how expensive some of the Continuing education classes can be (the luxury classes specifically, I saw one for $500) and how generous some of the title companies are to provide free classes for Agents. Since I am on the Mortgage lending side we have to pay for all of our classes.

    This week, I accepted 7 jars of gourmet french style mustard from my daughter.

    Set up our faux tree. We bought it for $30 about 8 years ago. I really love not spending the money on a tree every year. My girlfriend taught me that trick, as her mom decorated faux trees for stores and casinos in Vegas.

    Made most meals homemade. Bought 50 pounds of dried Black beans for $14.95 at Cash and Carry. Took some bananas that went rotten too fast for a refund.

  39. Your tree and decor are beautiful! You inspired me to wrap my packages just a bit more festive.
    . I’ve made soup and homemade bread
    . Was able to enjoy a Christmas concert free
    . Used my dried rosemary to make cranberry foccica bread.
    . Was able to find Solo pastry filling on great sale to make Christmas cookies.
    . Listen to Christmas music on record player 3.00 from thrift.
    . Made up lasagna with 1/2 lb beef n taco meat with black beans 1/2 lb beef to have ready for the week.
    Made a list for 25 days of Dec. Liked your idea
    My grandchildren enjoying.
    .Taking more time to rest..enjoy the season..and let go of expectations more this year.

  40. We had a neighbor’s tress fall on our roof. Turns out, according to his insurance company, it is considered an act of God unless you warned the neighbor before hand that it looked like it was going to fall. We had to use our insurance, and the rates went up the next year. We were advised to send him a return receipt requested letter about his other huge tree. He cut it down that summer…I could not believe that we had to file with our insurance.

  41. They have Christmas tree lots in the desert and big box stores sell cut trees, too. The trees are trucked in from colder places like Idaho.

    That’s the nicest faux tree I’ve ever seen Brandy!

  42. Whipping cream and buttermilk? Nice!
    You can use whipping cream often the same way you use milk, such as beaten with eggs for a quiche, or when making biscuits (you can also brush the tops of the biscuits – and quiche crust – with cream for a more golden finish. It’s the milk solids in the cream that give it a golden hue when baked), frittata, strata, baked custards, homemade ice cream, custard pies, etc. Or add some icing sugar and a touch of vanilla and whip it up for wayyyy better than canned whipped cream! You can then use that whipped cream in recipes that call for cool whip, such as topping cream pies. Personally, my favourite way to use whipped cream is to top a serving of homemade chocolate pudding with ( You could also make that pudding with cream instead of milk for an extra-rich dessert!
    As for buttermilk, I use it when making pancakes or biscuits, or I just drink it cold from the fridge for a variation of a glass of milk.
    Enjoy using your bounty!

  43. I totally identify with your frugal fail, Libby! This week I saw a recipe online for how to make dulce de leche in the microwave and despite my misgivings, tried it out. Long story short, I spend half an hour cleaning burnt caramel-ish milk solids off of the ceiling of my microwave. Lesson learnt — I’ll use the traditional way next time and stir it in a pot for a verrry long time, or just boil it in a can for a shorter, if still long, period of time. Ugh. On the bright side, my microwave is super-shiny clean! 🙂

  44. Your tree is beautiful; I especially like the ribbon!

    I missed last week’s post and am listing our accomplishments for two weeks. We decided that it was best for my wellbeing to quit work so I will be finishing up next week. I’m so greatful that our past wise financial decisions are now enabling us to live on one income for a while!

    I worked an extra 17 hours last fortnight and car-pooled whenever possible.

    I was finally brave enough to pluck and trim my own eyebrows which saved a good chunk of money.

    We had to water very little due to continuing rains. When we did, we used our rainwater tank. The unseasonably cool weather also meant that our air-conditioning was only on for two days in the last fortnight.

    All meals were made at home and lunches packed for work. One day, neither of us felt like cooking so we ate eggs on toast instead of ordering food. Another night, we prepared a simple meal late at night to avoid take-out. Leftovers were repurposed and we had no food waste! A client’s family member gifted me a mango and a banana.

    I hosted our work party and received a nice box of chocolates as a hostess gift. Everybody contributed to the food but nobody wanted to take their leftovers home so we got a few free lunches out of those.

    I cooked a bunch of kidney beans in the slow cooker and froze them in meal-sized portions.

    I fuelled up at a service station associated with our main grocery store and received a discount.

    To save time and money, I bought all needed birthday cards for next year at once, paying 75cts per card.

    We decorated for Christmas with decorations already on hand or picked up for free via a FB page. Our Christmas cards were bought on clearance in January.

    We went to a cheap cinema for a date night and brought our own snacks and drinks.

    We attended my husband’s work party and received a free dinner. We brought a bottle of wine we never drank as a hostess gift.

    Major frugal fail: On the way to work, one of the tyres on my car blew. Not only did I lose out on over one hour of wages, we also had to replace all four tyres due to safety concerns. While it was an unplanned expense, luckily we have an emergency fund that covered all costs.

    Other than that, we kept up with our usual frugal habits which sometimes feels like an effort in itself. I will be doing even more once I’m out of work. I’m so thankful we know how to live below our means and for the freedom this provides!

    Looking forward to reading everyone’s posts!

  45. I sewed a “magic pillow case” this evening from fabric on hand. It’s Christmas print and caught my grandson’s eye. I have him convinced that when he puts his head on that pillow case on Christmas eve he will be asleep within five minutes and dreaming about Santa Claus. Crossing my fingers that he will be a believer.

  46. Let’s see, I haven’t been as productive as several commenters here – the grey skies of winter tend to sap all my motivation. Here is what I did do:
    – I’ve been eating my homemade yogurt flavoured with homemade jam and home canned peaches and topped with granola (homemade of course 🙂 ) for my breakfasts at work.
    – I patched a pair of jeans for my boss.
    – The butcher at work gave me a ridiculous deal on steak and my neighbour gave us a couple of pork chops from a pig she raised. We stretched the pork chops into dinner for three nights!
    – I bought my Christmas fudge baking supplies using a gift certificate earned online.
    – I found a new backpack to replace my poor, dying old backpack. I got a really good deal on it as it was less than 1/2 the price of the one I was looking at in the thrift store. I stripped everything off the old backpack that I could reuse before sending it to the scrap heap.

    Have a great week everyone.

  47. Libby,
    I’m not sure about washable filters but have you thought about a small air cleaning machine for some of the rooms in your home –– at least perhaps for your bedroom? I have one and it helps a lot. (I’m pretty sure there are washable furnace filters but the machine they run in is very expensive, at least here.

  48. I love your tree! And your boy standing next to it makes a lovely picture!

    *We moved this month and had to toss out our 10 year old sofa and buy a new one. We found one at the furniture store for a steep discount because it had a very small scratch.
    *We went glamping with some tutoring students and brought along hot dogs, buns, hot cocoa, and s’mores ingredients. The kids had a blast.
    *I sold a leather wallet for $10.
    *I traded some unwanted bedding and curtains for toiletries.
    *We cooked and ate at home as much as possible.
    *I made banana bread and raisin bread for work function.
    *I filling a box with more stuff to sell or trade.
    *I put up our $20 tree with all the decorations that were either given to me, trades, or found at a swap.

  49. My frugal fail has been grocery shopping for imported grass-fed cheeses and guacamole.
    We have so much food but I keep buying groceries so I need to stop. Especially if I want to do a no spend January-March.
    I’m making a soup from leftover potatoes and peas and chicken. I’m adding egg noodles and carrots.
    We have been very good about eating leftovers.
    Today we have MIL Christmas so I shouldn’t have to do much cooking for lunch.
    I picked up an extra day at work which helps with all the spending I have been doing on presents.

  50. Lots of carpooling this weekend.
    Cookie baking with friends. We each brought stuff for one recipe and it was a good time.
    Scout Christmas party this week. Found a number of minute to win it games that didn’t require me buying a lot of clutter. Game prizes were extra craft supplies from past projects. Donated extra candy canes and oven mitts from our game to the church food pantry.
    Handmade felt llama ornaments for our girls (they are currently obsessed with llamas) and printed off pix of girls during Walgreens freebie sale. Got dollar store frames for them.
    Snagged 2 fully cooked turkeys for $10 each at Kroger. Shredding for freezer meals and making lots of broth.

  51. You’ve had a busy week, Brandy! That was so generous of someone to share the candy and soda they no longer needed. I’m sure it will be enjoyed immensely by your children.

    I’ve had another busy week, myself. Our family’s frugal accomplishments this week included:
    *Meals made at home included perogi casserole, sausage & cheese crescent rolls with salad, chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce, mashed potatoes and corn, sloppy joes with carrots, leftovers night, and baked cheese tortillini in alfredo sauce.
    *I have been experiencing a sore back that started last spring and has been prgressively getting worse. After working at the Christmas event, I experienced the most painful back spasms I have ever had. So I finally made a Dr’s appointment to get it checked out. Dr ordered x-rays and told me to try over the counter Robaxacet. Very grateful for our health care as everything but the meds was covered. I even found a generic brand of Robaxacet at Walmart which also saved me money. Unfortunately the x-rays came back with a diagnosis of degenerative disk disease and there is little that can be done other than treat the pain as needed. At least I now know why my back has been hurting.
    *I am being recognized for 5 years of service at my work. As part of the recognition, I receive a gift which I picked out from a list of options. Most of the options were clothing, but they did have a leather wallet as one option. I have been in desperate need of a new wallet for a while. Now I will be getting a new one for free!
    *My mom and I had yet another appointment that cut close to dinner time. We left instructions with hubby to put chicken souvlaki in oven at a certain time, then quickly made sides when we returned home. Hubby complained we were having chicken souvlaki yet again and I said he is welcome to make a meal anytime he’s like (he’s a cook, so he is very capable of cooking a meal), which quickly put an end to his complaining.
    *Hubby had a larger than normal credit card bill this month, due to some car maintainance needs (new tires, and new breaks). He decided to pay off the CC with money from our tax free savings, to avoid interest, and will pay it back the saving over the next 4 months instead. I have offered to do a minimum spend month in Jan to help put the money back quicker. I can easily cut back on grocery spending without impacting our eating, since we have a really well stocked pantry and freezers.
    *My mom and I made 5 unbaked peach pies plus a double batch of peach cobbler from a big bag of peach pieces I had froze in the summer and pantry items. My original intentions was to make the peach pieces into jam, but changed my mind. The peach pies were frozen for future use (including one for Christmas) and the peach cobbler is for a Christmas banquet I will be attending on Monday night. I still have 1 more big bag of frozen peach pieces to use later.

    Although I haven’t read everyones comments yet, I do look forward to making my way through them throughout the week. Hope you all have a delightful week, filled with the Christmas spirit!

  52. Hello all from a very chilly South Mississippi! Our bizarre snowstorm last Friday made for some very frugal fun and wonderful memories! It doesn’t snow here often and I don’t ever remember it being like it was Friday since the year my husband and I got married. (1993) At one point, there were about 20 people at my house, but we had a wonderful time! There is STILL snow on the ground in some areas. We have never had it last that long. Here are my frugal accomplishments:

    1. Due to weather conditions, we didn’t venture very far. We went out looking for a pretty place to take pictures and did them in my backyard. I have a photo editor on my phone and got some beautiful shots that I sent to Walgreens to be printed and will be framed for my living room. I used their coupon to get a 30 percent discount. I will use some of the shots to create our New Year’s cards to send to friends and family. We do not celebrate Christmas, so I do New Year’s cards instead.
    2. I have an antique children’s sled that I bought years ago. I use it mainly for decorations in the winter, but it got put to actual use Friday by the children. We also have an old cargo carrier that isn’t any good that my husband took apart and used the top for a “sled” that we pulled around on our four wheeler. It was great fun!
    3. Made homemade bread, soup, and sticky buns. Lots of coffee and hot chocolate. I had everything on hand but the hot chocolate but my husband picked it up for me at the one day sale for .69 a box. He also got butter for 2.29 a pound.

    Have a great week! It’s back to normal around here, but we have some wonderful memories and it didn’t cost us money to create them. I am so grateful for sites such as this one that help people realize it’s not always about the money. Thank you to all of you that contribute through your comments and to Brandy, for making it all possible!

  53. To Lori@MyVintageWhimsey: I wear Dansko clogs to my hospital job. My husband wears them too. My soles cracked also. I mailed them back to the home office in my country (USA) with a letter explaining the issue. I got a new pair from the company. It is worth a try. I believe the company stands behind their loyal customers.

  54. Libby,

    Our last house had washable filters. When we took them out to wash on a regular basis, they never had [i]anything[/i] on them. It seemed as if they weren’t really catching the dust. So, at this house, we buy inexpensive filters and change them regularly. They are chock FULL of dust and do a much better job. We change them every 2 to 3 months.

    I also find that making sure I keep the sheets changed every week helps. If I get busy and let it go more than a week I start sneezing.

    We live in a very disty area (I have dust bunnies in a week and can write my name in the dust on the piano in 3 days) so we also have to dust often here.

  55. * I cut my husband’s hair.
    * We switched cable/satellite providers. Our old one was $20 more a month. By signing up at Sam’s we got a $300 Visa. If we change our cell phones to the unlimited data, costing us $20 more a no th we get $25 off our bill having it all bundled, David g us an extra $5 a month. So we will be saving $25 a month on satellite/Internet/phone plus getting unlimited data. I know people do without cable, but it is one thing we choose to have.

    *I made up 9 embroidered tea towels and sold them within 2 hours on Facebook and yardsake site. I had those towels from a couple of years ago when I did a craft show so I also cleaned out some of my blanks in my craft room. I made bowl cozies and sold 6 so far. I made $12 for each towel a d $6 each for the bowl cozies. I bought 12 more tea towels and am making up more towels and cozies to sell this week.

    *We had $80 credit on our Sam’s card. We paid more for the business rewards card, and this paid our membership fee. I didn’t shop as much this past year so it wasn’t as much this year.

    *I returned some items to Target that I bought on impulse from the dollar spot area. I had a $40 gift card from Tuesday Morning and bought pillows for my son’s bed and Melissa and Doug puzzles for a Christmas gift.

    I wore dress I had to My husband’s work party. It said evening attire so I was worried, because my dress was a dressy red church dress. I was thinking people would be in formals, and almost went to buy a dress. I was fine, and am able to wear this dress to church.

  56. Dawnelle, I am very impressed with your #6. Good for you! Single mom to 7 kids is quite a lot to carry. Sounds like you are a Wonder Woman!

  57. Like many other readers, I look forward to reading about your frugal accomplishments every week. It is wonderful to have online friends to gain thrifty inspiration from.
    This past week, I ate all meals at home. I “ots and a crushed chicken bollioun cube for flavor and baked it in an oven bag. Worked like a c September 2016. It had been well wrapped and then stored in a freezer bag, so it was just fine. I had no dry onion soup mix, so I substituted dried shallots and a crushed chicken bollioun cube for flavor and baked it in an oven bag. Worked like a charm. Served with oven baked potatoes – the potatoes were about to “go”. I was very happy to save this food from being wasted. We were able to get several meals from the pork roast.
    We only have a the freezer portion of our side by side ‘fridge, yet some things seem to get buried in there. I have been much better about rotating our food stuff since reading this blog. Thank you everybody!
    – Combined store trips to save gas/mileage.
    – Free Date night. Hot tea, a 50cent holdiay music CD, and a drive thru the ritzy neighborhood to enjoy Christmas lights – What frugal fun!
    – Scrabble at home.
    – Hand washed what I was able to instead of using the drycleaner. I had to take two, simple shift dresses to the drycleaner and it cost $17! (Due to the fabric and lining, I couldn’t wash these on delicate.) What hurt my thrifty self more was that a man was picking up 2 dress shirts and and 2 pairs of slacks and his total was $13.50. As I replace clothing, I try to avoid dryclean only things. I am also careful to hang garments up as soon as I am done wearing them, to lessen the times they go to the cleaner.
    – Used our counter convection oven to cook instead of the “regular” oven.
    – Lowed house temp. to 60 during the day and layered clothing to keep warm.
    That’s my thrifty list for the week. I am encouraged to stay with the gifts that I have purchased for the niece and nephews, instead of adding to them, by everyone here. Thank you for all your inspiration to stay frugal. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.

  58. I love the expression on his face 🙂
    Two weekends ago, I was driving to a friend’s lake house for the weekend and took a wrong turn. Going down a dark country road, something hit the side of my car. I had just bought the car, not even a month ago and hadn’t made the first payment. Not wanting to stop, I turned around but didn’t see anything it could have been, no other cars, mailboxes etc. When I arrived at my friend’s house there was in fact a dent in my door. My friend’s husband offered to try and fix it. Yesterday, as I was running errands I went to put something on the backseat and the wind caught my door and it slammed really hard. Well, I heard a pop and I’ll be darned if it didn’t pop the dent back out. There is only the tiniest mark, that you’d never notice unless you were looking for it. GOD is so good!!!

  59. LOVE the photo of Octavius – I absolutely love that age 🙂 We actually decided to get a tree this year. So far it is only decorated with lights and bead garland but since the tree is HUGE they only go halfway up the tree. I thought I had some plastic ornaments but I must have gotten rid of them when I purged most of my Christmas things (I was very, very disillusioned, stressed out and frustrated when I did it). I can’t put the ones that mean something to me on the tree since we have 5 cats of which three are little terrors plus the 2 Danes are like bulls in a China shop. I might pick up some ornaments at the dollar store or I many just leave it as is (if my hands can handle it, I may cut out paper snowflakes).
    *Brought home LOTS of greens and deli meat ends for my quail who are laying very well. I did finally find a cheap enough LED light strand which seems to be working – I’m getting 4-7 eggs a day 🙂
    *We visited the pet pantry again for cat litter, cat food and senior dog food for the old beagle. They also had a raised feeder that will make it easier for her to eat.
    *Hubby used Amazon credit to purchase more glucosamine tablets for the old beagle – the 2 pack was cheapest so that is what he got. He also had credit for the pantry and used that to get some more bottled water as well as his diet pop.
    *Our trip to Chicago was a wonderful get-a-way for hubby and I and our son. We enjoyed some of the food we tried, loved the little sausage shop in German town as well as the vinegar, oil and liqueur shop also in German town. The concert was AMAZING and Chicago theater has incredible architectural details. Very fun! Our old beagle did fine at my Mom’s and our daughter did great with our Danes (but they about knocked us over with their enthusiasm when we got home at 3 AM!) We budgeted very carefully and came home with much of the money we went there with!
    *Work gave me a free t-shirt and a customer also gave me the one he was entitled to for buying 4 pounds of the deli’s specialty bacon.
    *We hit the jack-pot for gluten free foods at the discount grocers – cocoa animal cookies and shortbread cookies by the case were only $3.50. I will use these for dessert crusts. They even had frozen pizza, freezer meals, breads and a flour mix. I should be set for awhile now!
    *One of my co-workers decided the last 3 sweet potatoes in the bin looked too bad to sell and handed them to me to put in the trash – so I brought them home and made a batch of gluten-free sweet potato muffins!
    *I mended one of my son’s dress shirts – the button hole stitching had come out.
    *A co-worker offered her “Spanx” to me to wear to my BIL’s wedding in January. I’ve lost a lot of weight but it has left things rather saggy in spots – this will help me not feel so self conscious and enjoy the day! I need to start shopping for a dress though as what I have is more suited for a funeral than a wedding :/
    *I started making doughs for my Christmas goodie baskets – I’ll store them in the frig until next week when I’ll start baking everything. I am making only the ones that I have the ingredients for so there is no added expense to our grocery budget (it is about $30 a week for 3 of us which includes toiletry’s and paper products). We don’t shop for just what we need the next week – we shop the sales and loss leaders to keep a stocked pantry which saves thousands every year.
    *I trimmed all the dogs nails again myself and cut my own hair and hubby’s as well.
    *I finally found my Christmas fabric and made myself a couple more head scarves to wear to work – It’s required to keep your hair covered when you are working with food and I prefer the scarves over a ball cap as I can’t fit that over a bun – my hair is waist length so I try and keep it confined as much as possible – people don’t really appreciate a hair in their food 😀
    *Our well water is still questionable – a neighbor’s well came back positive for PFAS but the trailer park behind us is refusing to give out the results of their well testings (which is a huge red flag to me!) so now we wait and let this play out. There are quite a few lawsuits that have been filed as well as a class action one against several different companies and I believe the township as well (which pulls its water from a well field that sits between a superfund site as well as a second dump that was supposed to be designated as one and now is a golf course with family homes and condos on it – follow the money has been the line of choice lately in the investigation) We are on a private well but don’t have the money to get a test done right now as I don’t want it tested for just the one chemical that every one is concerned about but for any and all that could be there due to our proximity to the dump site. Fun stuff…….
    *I started a couple beds under the shelves in my greenhouse. I am using dirt from all the summer pots and mixing it with the quail manure (for such little birds they sure do put out a lot of poop!) I figure it will get heated well in there and should break down faster so I can plant some heavy feeder type veggies in late winter.
    *My seed catalogs are starting to arrive but I am finding that I don’t need many seeds and with our water situation being what it is, I may only be growing flowers. The chemical PFOS is taken up by the plants :/
    *We made a ramp for my in-laws dog to get up on their bed – she is struggling a bit as she is getting older. We used wood from the bargain bin and some fabric I already had. We also found the board we needed to make the end pad on hubby’s waterbed as well. It only cost us $2.50 for both of them.
    *We used the coupons sent to us by the store we frequent and got a free gallon of regular milk and 55 cents off my lactose free milk and 55 cents off a pound of butter – we’re still waiting on a decent sale on butter to stock up. We also got a free Penzy’s spice jar of cinnamon with a $5 purchase – we needed powdered mustard anyway.
    *Bedding over to clean cat boxes is getting harder and harder on my back so I decided to make a “shelf” for the 5 boxes in the basement to sit on. I used wood that was taken off my old chicken coop so no expense. Hopefully this will help my poor back (and no – no-one else ever cleans the boxes, I am the only one…..including when I was pregnant :/)
    I know there was something else I was going to put in here but since I didn’t write it down, my brain lost it LOL
    It is snowing here today – big, beautiful flakes – It makes everything so much brighter and prettier which helps deal with no sun for weeks at a time.

  60. We don’t use chemicals like Drano. We use Earth Enzymes. We buy it at the natural foods co-op. You sprinkle it into the drains every month with warm water and it has always worked to keep our drains clear, even the kitchen. We also have long hair but put a little plastic trap over the drain when washing hair to catch it rather than let it run down the drain.

  61. Thank you. I’m not at all, most days I feel stretched too thin and like I’m not doing a good job. But I am trying.

  62. We had a lovely time with our grandson. He called and wanted to go to a local pizza entertainment center. We really couldn’t afford it, so I told him I had another idea. He was so excited when he found out that not only would we be eating pizza at home, but also we would make homemade sugar cookies with cookie cutouts. We also looked at a local free nativity drive through show and we went down a street called candy cane lane, named by my own boys when they were little. They had a dancing and singing Santa. My grandson loved it! It was so much fun watching hime have fun! My husband was so wonderful helping me the whole time.
    Been eating at home. Made soup. Used the pressure cooker to cook beans. Went to a mobile food pantry yesterday. I have a lot of cilantro to use and a container of buttermilk. Potatoes I know how to use.
    Got a hospital bill. Hoping that they will let us make payments.
    Husbands truck is not working. Praying that his job will miraculously hold out. He has been working so hard. Wondering if my son could look at the truck. I know that his brother-in-law has been teaching him things about mechanics. I know he would help if he could. We Just made the last payment on his very used truck this month. Still trying to pay off the last bill to fix it. I don’t mind being a one car family. I can get used to it. Although the truck came in handy, while trying to build our house on our little farm.
    I am hoping we can cover our bills this coming month. Thinking about canceling phones and internet. Not that I really want to. But it might be necessary. I have a small light above our computer on and I am wearing a sweater and slippers to keep my feet warm. I am keeping the heat down at least until my husband comes home.
    My mom took me to run an errand that I needed to run and took my son and me to lunch.
    I’m blessed with a kind family. My mom told me she would help me take my clothes in, as I am losing weight. 15 so far.

  63. Brandy, your son is adorable!

    We haven’t been particularly frugal this month, as we have been travelling a lot. I’m not going to beat myself up over it though, as January will be completely different.

    This week:

    • Went on our annual Mother/Daughter trip with my daughter this week, so again, not particularly frugal. But we did eat breakfast in our room both days so that was a savings. One of the days our breakfast consisted of free cookies from the hotel and the hotel coffee and tea. Not healthy, but it tided us over until lunch. Our tradition is to always go to a city that has a good place for Afternoon Tea, so our lunch that day was substantial!
    • Used free toiletries, coffee & tea. Got more free toiletries from the hotel.
    • Washed ziplocs and other bags such as the brown sugar bag.
    • Finally was able to turn off the AC.
    • Received our security deposit back from the house we were renting.
    • Received a refund on our renter’s insurance.
    • Got free Mentos at the grocery store. I will put those in a Christmas stocking.
    • Hubby went hunting after I got home from my trip, so I bought a Costco roast chicken and ate that for most of my meals. Not bad for $5! I’ve cooked the carcass down and will have soup for a couple of nights this week. Used onion, celery and carrot scraps that I had saved in my freezer for the stock.
    • Got all my Christmas cards done. I didn’t pay for any of them, as I had some leftover from when I used to send them out for my boss (he never wanted the leftovers back), plus a stack I had gotten free from the charity I support. Got stamps at a discount from Costco.
    • Combined errands to save on gas.
    • Referred 2 people to Ibotta and earned $10 more dollars, as well as other rebates. Am doing most of my Christmas shopping via Amazon and will earn 3% back on those purchases. Used Ibotta rewards I have earned to buy some of my gifts.
    • Redeemed a gift card on for a Christmas gift.
    • Paid extra on our mortgage.
    • Saved $2.04 at Safeway this week by using the senior discount. I turned 55 in October and it was the first time I’ve used this. Looks like I will be changing the day of the week I go shopping!
    • Found a penny

  64. Brandy, your comment to Libby brought another suggestion to mind. I have bad allergies. Not only do I launder the sheets every week, I also wash and dry pillows and bedding each week. Of all the things you can do to minimize allergies
    (especially at night), washing the bedding is the most helpful I find plus washing your hair on an almost daily basis. I would find that being around people who smoked, or outside in windy dusty conditions made it necessary to wash my hair daily.

  65. The tree looks very nice. It is hard to tell that it is a fake tree, not a real one. We will put up our tree this weekend, also a fake one, but we keep it up longer than most. We do have lights and greenery up, some inside some outside. We have had 3 snowfalls so far, nothing major.

    We have done all the usual of composting, recycling, using up leftovers, cooking and baking at home, mending. Used reusable grocery bags for .05 credit per bag. Sent in a rebate for tires and for furnace filters. Received 1.00 off per gallon of gas at the BP station for using the perk card from the grocer. My husband filled the tank and we weren’t sure how this would work. I bought $200 worth of gift cards and they were offering 4x points for them so that must have helped the total.

    I know I have not written since sometime after my younger son’s wedding the beginning of November but time just goes by. So there was Thanksgiving at one of my brother’s house since all their married children and all ours were at in-law houses. Then our family Thanksgiving on the Friday after and Thanksgiving with my husband’s family on the Saturday. Been to 3 Christmas get togethers already and about 10 more going up through 1st week in January. So just busy a lot.

    Youngest daughter graduates this December but she wants to wait for party until May and June when all the other church parties are held. Easier to have a picnic then then this close to Christmas. We will have our own family party here after the ceremony.

    to be continued as ran out of time again.

  66. Wyoming Gal
    check to see if Enterprise sells cars near you…they have a site on line. Have bought a couple of cars from them for less than sticker price and they do great maintenance on them

  67. Gardenpat
    white fudge can be made with whipping cream. I use it in my daughter’s coffee as she likes it sweet. I also use it in any sauce including for mac and cheese. IF you want you to make it half and half just add 1% or 2 % milk of equal amts to the heavy cream. Buttermilk can make custard style pie, breads, pancakes, waffles etc.

  68. momsav… no they don’t teach how to make change I even asked our school district.. They count on the register to tell them how much to give back. My grandson who is 20 and been manager at MC D’s for 2 yrs after 4 yrs working as a server complains of this all the time. Most use a card anyways. It’s wonderful to go to the Amish auction and watch a 6 yr old write down prices on paper and add them up.

  69. I loved the photo of your tree Brandy but was bewildered why it was up so high….then I read your comments about small children :). We never had children so our only worry was making sure out cat couldn’t reach the ornaments. Brilliant idea to move everything higher! Thank you also for the cute photo of Octavius, what a great look on his face, I can imagine his escapades as he grows 🙂

    Frugal accomplishments:

    -Made black bean soup in the instant pot, how lovely to have soup in less than an hour. That batch of soup also made two more meals worth which I froze. I am trying to keep 4-5 different soups frozen so that we can just reach in and pull out a meal…and the variety makes me feel better than only having one choice.
    -ate all our meals at home this past week
    -updated the freezer inventory list, made a meal plan based on what I wanted to use up.
    -Bought very limited groceries for the few missing items and a few of the items on super sale.

  70. Lori- Look into Alegrias. They are comparable in price to Danskos, and super comfy. My last pair lasted for over 2 years- with 3 or 4 12 hour shifts a week! Plus, they are REAL leather, so they can be repaired often. They use EU sizing- I wear a 9.5, and a 41 in EU fits perfectly. If you’re lucky, you may find a style in your size on the sale page- about 1/2 price.

  71. I only have to wait a day to write my name in the dust thanks to dogs that run in and out and open fields. At times you don’t know if it’s snow or the dust from the fields blowing.
    Libby also “fluff”…with air (you don’t have to use heat) your curtains once a month.

  72. You can also use the whipped cream in no-bake cheesecake, I mix a cup of sugar and softened cream cheese till creamy, stir in tsp of vanilla extract, fold in whipped cream and put into dessert cups or graham cracker crust. I like to melt white or dark chocolate, raspberry preserves thinned with a little water stir into cream cheese mixture then fold in the whipped cream. You can make cookies and cream cheesecake by mixing crushed Oreo cookies in the cream cheese before adding whipped cream. Crushed or chopped candy bars like Snickers or Butterfingers, etc mixed in instead of the cookie crumbs. With the white chocolate I take some of the cream cheese mixture before adding the chocolate to make it raspberry flavored cream cheese filling then add the whipped cream between the two and fold in then layer them in parfait cups or swirl them in the pie crust. You can also make chocolate mousse by folding melted chocolate into stiff whipped cream then put in parfait cups, refrigerate for several hours before serving, it’s delicious. I sold these desserts in a restaurant and everyone loved them.

  73. I really like the idea of the tree on the table- I SO wish I could convince my husband to do something similar. This week I made banana bread for breakfasts and snacks from discounted bananas I had previously frozen; checked out books from the library on my kindle, and worked on an embroidery project for a Christmas gift. Our local Krogers had a buy 5-.99 cent sale, which included flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cream cheese, so I top off my supplies of those. I also have to take continuing ed credits, but fortunately my employer makes literally hundreds of classes available through the “Healthstream” system, so I am not only able to get these for free, I can access them either at home or at work. I just printed out the certificates for the last 2 years worth ( at work of course) and have 37.5 hours- well over the required 24!

  74. Ellie you can get dry cleaning kits at the store or Amazon. I use Dryel (8 loads for less than $10) that our dry cleaner recommend when he retired and closed shop. I keep the stain remover that can come with it as it is really good…

  75. Brandy your tree is lovely! I’ve also been trying to wrap a few presents every night. I’m reminded every year how much I dislike wrapping 😉 but LOVE Christmas. We’ve also been trying to keep things simple and relaxed, it’s supposed to be very very cold and snowy here this week so we’ve been making sure we have plenty of wood ready to go for the woodstove. In preparation for all of the Christmas hams I know will be made, I wrote a post about 5 frugal things to do with ham instead of my usual post.

  76. What a good idea to bolt the tree down to the table to make it safe!

    *This week has been focused on painting the boys’ bathroom upstairs. It was a bright yellow and I am using up odd white paint left from other projects as a base coat. Hopefully, I can get it finished before they move back in. One will be home this weekend and the other one next weekend.

    *I worked an out of town job this past weekend and packed my lunch to avoid any extra expenses. The company provided cookies and I brought some home for hubby.

    *Today JCPenney’s had a great one day sale so I ordered some towels and shirts for my oldest son Joshua. The polo shirts were marked down to $8.99 which was a killer buy; however, they only had one color (white) left in his size. Because this order was under $50, they were charging me $3.95 shipping to have it delivered to the store. I contacted customer service to make sure this was true (it was), and then canceled the order explaining it wiped out my savings having to pay to ship to THEIR STORE. There will be better sales later.

    *I have been downloading the Kroger freebies.

    *We have eaten from the pantry, freezer and the garden. I now have all of the hoop houses up and the winter vegetables are quite happy. The weather has turned cold and I am enjoying staying home enjoying the calm before the storm.

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry

  77. Juls, It’s crazy! I’ve had to train young girls at work who can’t count back. They’re always in a hurry so don’t know what to do when someone hands them change after they’ve already hit the total button.
    I love the Amish stores! We could use one up here. (U.P.)

  78. Marcia R., I checked our ads for a small, independently owned store. I kind of smirked at the nerve it took, in my opinion, to have butter listed on sale for 3.99 lb. I decided that we’ll need to find something else if this keeps up. So, yes, prices are still climbing.

  79. Yes, I have noticed prices are creeping up. I shop very carefully, use coupons and price compare but still, my grocery bill is rising. I don’t know why since gas prices have stopped going up. It seems I am working harder and harder to achieve the same level.

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry

  80. ellie’s Friend, I love the idea of having the squash cut! I have a hard time cutting it, too. I just know that, one day, i’ll be thrashing around with the squash on the end of the knife and send it through the window!
    Nice going on the photography! My husband does photography and he enjoys having his work critiqued and/or admired from professionals. It’s all about validation.

  81. I am very happy this evening. My husband was asked to work overtime in the next two weeks. He said yes. I take this to mean that they want to keep him. He has worked very hard trying to keep his job. I have a feeling that tomorrow will come and go and my husband will still be at his job. Oh my goodness, I am so thankful for the good news today. We are both having a nice happy evening. It has been so stressful. My husband says he will feel even better after tomorrow. The idea of losing a job really makes one realize how important frugality is and how necessary it is to prepare for the unknown. We are really not prepared at all for anything drastic to happen. We are definitely practicing frugality though.

  82. Rhonda A., I have degenerative disc disease, too. (Along with a few other problems.) For me, yoga has been the best treatment. I looked on yooootube for stretches and worked out my own routine. I can’t tell you what a blessing it’s been. (Drugs help, too, of course.

  83. There was a major drought in the great plains this year, which affected the wheat crops (flour, pasta, cereal etc) and also the corn and soybeans. Due to stunted pasture growth and lack of feed for the winter, there was a big sell off of the cattle herds, along with some pork and chicken- so meat, milk, eggs have or will be going up.

  84. I work for a retail store that offers 20% off purchases to employees as a Christmas gift for the first week of December. They also have one day a month were senior citizens receive 10% off total. In store you can also receive a 15% off clothing coupon. By shopping on one day when I could take advantage of all the discounts, I also shopped the clearance sections were everything was already marked down 50% and picked up 11 Christmas pajamas for grandchildren as wells as clothing for several family members. Total was $354 but after all discounts, I paid $151. A manager had to be called over to approve the order because off all the discounts. The women around the register wanted me to show them how to bargain shop. It takes time but it is worth it.

  85. I have been known to drop a large squash on a hard sidewalk, on purpose, just to crack it open! My husband also is willing to chop them with a hatchet or axe if necessary!! The big Sweetmeat squash is our favorite, but we haven’t been able to grow any for the past 2 years. Maybe next year:). I’ll see if I can find room in my new, smaller garden. They are space hogs, for sure.

  86. I had one of those weeks where I hardly came up for air! Some of what I did was usual–school, work and laundry. There were a few appointments. There were a lot of extra Christmas activities and a lot of things the kids needed to be at. I had a really good plan made for Friday to combine errands. It did not work out. I was in the car driving for about 6 hours that day, all told. Other days were pretty crazy, too. So, cooking was not very creative. I made soup early in the week, and we ate it all week! I also made some cornbread and a batch of cookies. We ended up eating out on Friday night, due to the items I was picking up not being ready the first time. They weren’t ready the second time, either, so I had to go back Saturday morning. Yikes! There were just some of those “life being life” days. We all have them.

    I hit the extremely good sales at several stores and got really stocked up on a bunch of groceries including baking chips (assorted), 18 eggs for 99c (very good for here), macaroni for 50c/lb (not for me–to give away since I can’t eat wheat), 33c/can veggies and more. We are giving some food gifts this year, and have purchased most of what I want to give away.

    We started our Christmas gatherings. We have a large family, and it takes more than one gathering to get around to them. We have a lot of gifts bought, but none wrapped except the ones we gave away this past weekend. I’m with you, Brandy, I don’t like wrapping and like to do it little by little. It’s too overwhelming to do it all at once for me. The next gathering is Saturday, and so I’ll have all those finished by……Saturday:).

    Our microwave broke. There was a terrible electrical smell and it was dead:(. So, I guess I’ve saved money by not getting a new one, yet, but I guarantee that will be a purchase I make as soon as I get time to shop for one. I don’t want to buy the first one I come to, and fear that’s what I would do if I make the purchase in a hurry.

    We went to the school matinee performance of Cinderella at the Northwest Children’s Theater in Portland (Oregon). A friend and I took our children, and had a wonderful time. It is less expensive at these school performances, and they are very happy to sell me a few tickets for my homeschool. It was a different Cinderella than I was expecting–all she wanted to do was dance, and the prince just wanted to put on a show, and so they tap danced their way into each other’s hearts. There was lots of tapping and it was done in the style of a 1930’s or 1940’s show. It was very cute. We enjoyed it a lot.

  87. Marcia R yes the prices are going up everywhere from what I have heard and I live in Australia 🙂 and have a lot of overseas friends.

    Here butter is $5.00 per 500g and we have noticed that cream products have also risen substantially. I was reading that a lot of people are now looking and eating the healthier alternatives to margarine or shortening and that is creating a shortage and is pushing up the prices.

    For us we are tending to look for depression era cake etc recipes that use vegetable(soy) oil as an alternative to butter and the use of no eggs as well. We are finding these taste just as good but are far cheaper to make.

    I hope this helps in reducing your expenses.

  88. Momsav,
    I am going to phone the vendor who cut up the squash and ask if I can order it that way. It is such a minor thing but makes such a big difference! It is an interesting thing about photographers. I have been in the camera store and male customers start directing me as to how to take photographs. They know nothing about me. The sales person even has distracted a couple on occasion. It is almost a male chauvinist thing. So I have always been shy about my photos and, you are so right, it is validation! And it would be hard to see any photos finer than Brandy’s!

  89. Ellie’s Friend from Canada and momsav I have a country friend who has the same problem with cutting pumpkins and the like. She has what is known as her pumpkin assault kit which consists of a machete that she places on said hard vegetable to chop and hits the top of it with a large rubber mallet. She says it does the trick every time and goes through everything without hurting her hands.

    Thought I would pass this on and maybe you would want to practice this one outside if you are near windows to get the hang of it before you bring it inside and try it.

  90. Tammy,
    Most hospitals and creditors are okay with payments as long as you call, explain what you would like to do and assure them there’s no problem in doing that. If your internet and phones are not with the same company see whether 1 company can handle it and see whether you can negotiate a reduced rate for combining services. Make sure there is no unlocking fee if it’s a cell phone. Find out if there is a less expensive internet you could scale down to. Your outing with your grandson sounds like so much fun. Good luck tomorrow! Ann

  91. Dawnelle,

    You may think you feel as if you are stretched too thin but you are doing a wonderful job. The happiest Christmases are those when there is a lot of laughter, singing, etc. Simple christmases are often the very best! May you have a very Happy Christmas! Ann

  92. Margaret @ApproachingFood
    Target and Walmart sale caramel condensed milk (dulce de leche). You might have to order if your local store doesn’t carry it. I find it mostly around Christmas and stock up.

  93. Brandy we loved your pictures. I started listing daily what I did frugal on my blog…it has helped me see where I can improve on being frugal especially not having any money coming in until next month and living on our savings… scary but not so much as I have stocked up the pantry with variety like you suggested. I called and made an appt with the GI that my old GI suggested since the old one is no longer covered by my ins. The new GI office advised me to check which hospital they are connect with and make sure which ones are covered by our new insurance. The one I would have went to as it’s the closest isn’t covered. Glad they mentioned it.
    Going back to read more frugal posts..gathering the wisdom
    Blessed Be

  94. Wyoming Gal,

    Last year at this time hubby and I were car shopping as well. Once we settled on the car that we wanted I took to the internet I wrote every dealer within three hundred miles of our home. I said we are going to buy this vehicle before Jan 1st please give me your best price. Only one dealer wrote back with a great price but we took that and picked up our car on Dec 29th for almost $3000 lower than we would have paid anywhere else. I told the dealerships my budget too. I hope this helps you out. Also rule of thumb if your going to get a used car get one about 2.5 years old with a little warranty left on it that way you know if you have a lemon before you are out of warranty look at the mileage we would but 2.5 years old and about high 28k miles or so.

  95. Lori,

    Write to Dansko about your clogs . They may offer a new pair free or money off a new pair. Don’t give up if they help your back that much.

  96. Everyone has been telling me this year as you get older you don’t need or want things. I guess I missed that Memo because I still want big things like A HOME , A PUPPY, A CAR, MONEY IN THE BANK all things I don’t have and would love to have. I would love to go to school. I would love to get a real job. Maybe I am just one of those people who never grow up because I still want.
    I have very little clothing and could use more in fact I have so little that if I wash something at night I need it to dry by morning often.
    I have one bra, could use more. I have very few undies could use some. Could use new shoes……. Good food always hits my wish list.
    I get tired of noodles… Maybe most older people just give up on what they really would like to have. I never give up.

  97. My mom used to put the tree in a playpen when we were little because someone always knocked it over otherwise.
    This week I saved money mostly by spending money:)
    1. I picked up all of my freebies from Kroger(lots of fun stuff)
    2. Used coupons to make great deals even better (like peanut butter for 50cents!)
    3. Found face wash at the dollar store that is identical to my usual brand
    4. Tried out Purex Free and Clear and decided it works just as well as the bigger name brands, but much cheaper
    5. Used graham crackers to build eleven “gingerbread” houses instead of buying kits-saved a ton of $$

  98. Yes, A small 900sq ft apt can run as high as $3k mo within Seattle proper. 30 Miles away will still cost about $1600. High tech companies are hiring and causing a housing shortage which is driving prices.

  99. Once many years ago, my hubby cut open a kabocha pumpkin with a chain saw. We loved its sweet, rich flavored meat and were hooked. Since then, we have come up with a ritual. We flatten a big cardboard box and work on the kitchen floor. We use a sturdy butcher knife and a rubber mallet. Once cut in half, we remove the innards. With cut side down, we cut only half way through. between any ridges, if any, (sometimes there is dirt caught in deep crevices) or in wedges. This is to avoid injuries from working with unstable food surfaces. Completing the wedge cuts does not require a mallet. Easy peasy, no strong arm muscles required, and not a dreaded task anymore! I routinely bake halved pumpkins on large cookie sheet with cut side down. Then I peel off skin and cut into one inch squares, freeze on cookie sheets and store loosely in ziplock bags. They are excellent as fillers in smoothies.

  100. Yes, and it has all happened so quickly. Landlords will double and triple rents with little warning, leaving lots of working people with a serious problem. We would not be able to afford our townhouse today if we hadn’t bought it four years ago when the market was still recovering.

  101. You can whip your whipping cream until it turns to butter.

    You can use it to make alfredo sauce.

    You can whip it until it has soft peaks. Then add a splash of vanilla and a little bit of powdered sugar. Whip it until it has stiff peaks. Then you have whipped cream. You can make individual servings of whipped cream on a silpat on a baking sheet and freeze them. Then you can put them in bags. Take them out to top desserts or hot chocolate.

    Buttermilk is wonderful in pancakes, waffles, and biscuits. It’s also perfect for homemade ranch dressing.

  102. I know so well how you feel. Have you tried Swagbucks to get a Walmart gift certificate so that you can purchase another bra and some underwear? If you can get 2200 Swagbucks, you can get a $25 gift card that you can print or show on your phone to be scanned.

    You mentioned being tired of noodles.Have you tried buying rice or potatoes instead? Both are cheaper per pound, and potatoes have the advantage of being high in vitamin C as well as potassium, and they have 3 grams of protein each.

    You could make soup more often. That’s even less expensive than noodles. I like Knorr chicken bullion as a base (you spoon it out and it is more flavorful and cheaper than cubes). You can cook some onion for a while in a pan (which gives it good flavor; use low heat and cook it for a while) cook some carrots and celery with it, and then add rice (cooked or not), water, and chicken bullion. Leave out the rice and cook chopped potatoes instead, and then blend it for a simple potato soup. Or just keep the pieces whole and cooked.

    We often eat potatoes as our main dish.

    We eat soup quite often. If you can eat soup once a day, it really helps keep the meal expense down. I have a number of inexpensive soup recipes on my site.

    Have you read my Eat for 40 Cents a Day series?

    Are you able to garden where you are at?

    As far as school: Have you checked into what community college programs and scholarships are available to those with a low-income where you are? Perhaps there are opportunities you can take that you don’t know about. I don’t know if you have children, but I know there are scholarships available to single mothers.

    My family lives below the poverty line. I know you can do this!

  103. Great picture!
    I restocked the faculty chocolate on the hall this week. Not frugal, but It was my turn, and at the end of the term, chocolate access is critical. 
    Frugal wins – Teachers have been bringing random items from their refrigerators and other parties for lunch. I will bring in a pot of potato soup tomorrow.
    The heat went out in my house; we discovered it was out due to their “fix” of the AC 5 – 6 weeks ago, so they made the repair (and the house call) for free.
    Attended a dinner party with friends, brought candle from my stash as a hostess gift.
    I did some unexpected stock up grocery shopping last week. Several of my stock pantry items and some meats I was low on were on special. Cooked a whole chicken in my pressure cooker. AMAZING! The meat is perfectly cooked and flavorful and the broth jelled perfectly in less than 1-hour start to finish. I will never use the stockpot or crock pot for chicken stock again.
    Fixed win/fail/neutra – My ancient cookie gun broke last night, so I’m going to change up my plans and drive into the city tonight after work to do my “city” errands/shopping. I reserved the cookie gun online, and will see if I can do the same with the remaining Christmas items I need from the city. Since I’m going to the city anyway, I will collect the champagnes and cheese for my party this weekend a few days early. My party has been budgeted and the moneys set aside for several months.

  104. Fingers crossed, and prayers for your husband’s job. Glad to hear the good overtime news.


  105. Ann,
    Thank-you. We will call the hospital and see if we can make payments. You have good ideas. Thank-you for your prayers. I can’t wait until the end of the day to hear from my husband. I’ve been praying too.
    The outing with my grandson was a lot of fun!
    I hope all is going well with you also.

    Brandy, thank-you for all your ideas and creating this group of lovely people. I have read almost all of your blog posts and some I reread regularly for inspiration and Encouragement. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. It looks like you are giving them wonderful family time. It sounds so nice.

  106. Most of my Christmas shopping is done. I just need to wrap food presents as gets closer to the date. The 5 children and 3 spouses get a gift card each. I buy these at the grocer. I did not sew for everyone this year. I found books for everyone, either at visits to Half price books or on Amazon specials or Barnes and Noble with their coupons and specials. For the granddaughters Dora and Anna Joy I made bath sets for their baby dolls with 2 washcloths each, a terry cloth hooded bath towel, a small nail brush, a little brush and comb set, sample size bottle of baby wash, lotion and powder…these are empties….I washed them out then sealed the covers on with super glue. They also got a little yellow duck toy, doll size. We packed it all into small plastic covered shoeboxes that they can use for the baby bath and for storage. I also put in some dot size bandaids…we adults never use those from the multipacks of bandaids. For nephew Henry who is only 6 months now I made a play mat from a panel of fabric that had roads, a town and a farm printed on it. I bought it years ago when our town’s real fabric store closed and they were selling everything off. I had batting on hand (I used a very thin layer) and used cotton sheeting for the back and to make the bias binding. We machine quilted it.

    I also made coupon books for my husband, mother and the 8 adult children/spouses. For my mother I made new covers for the seat and back cushions on her favorite rocker. I made them so they could be removed for washing , I also made them reversible with the forest green fabric left from making my dress for Markus’ wedding and then a floral calico on the reverse for a more spring and summer look. For my siblings/spouses (8) and my husband’s siblings/spouses (12) we exchange names. The cousins/nieces/nephews all exchange names both sides also. For my secret sister at church (5.00 limit) I will give her a gift card to the Culvers as she likes their frozen custard. My husband gets his container of snacks for the year…he has one of those large popcorn tins received years ago that he keeps in his workshop. All year I watch for sales and free items and store them up then refill the bin for Christmas, things like hard candies, pretzels, mini candy bars bought from holiday sales, jars and cans of nuts etc. He’ll take the canister out to his workshop (for storage as the mice can’t get it ) and then refill his snack jar all year.

    We do a lot of white elephant type gift exchanges among our groups. That is a way to have a gift exchange for really no cost at all but still have fun. Though some have been known to find kooky items at rummage sales or thrift shops. My homemaker group does this, so does my social group at church. One person’s trash can be another person’s treasure as they say.

    Using coupons and the sales stocked up for the year on things like sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, colored sugar sprinkles, brickle bits, chocolate chips, dates, figs, pistachios, etc. At the natural food store bought 2 canisters of Rumford baking powder and wheat gluten. Had a cousin pick me up 4 large cottage cheese, crisco, tortilla chips, feta cheese, parmesan, and multipacks of sparkling grape juice. Bought eggs from the farm and 3 frozen chickens for stew/soup. Picked up the free items at the grocer (for one of my white elephant gifts I boxed up all the weird shelf stable items that were the freebies. they’ve just been taking up room and no one here will eat them)

    will finish later…

  107. We finished moving Friday and there was NOTHING frugal about it.

    We received a check from the title company for the house. Our home was paid for, so it was quite a wad. We did some research on interest rates, then bought a CD for the amount we will need for our new house (it will be built next spring). After checking financial institutions in two states, we ended up at our own credit union, and for quite a bit more interest.

    We are living in our vacation home until the new house is finished. We canceled our landline at the other house and using our prepaid cell phones. We also canceled satellite TV and put up a antenna. We need to get a firestick, but we intend to try streaming during the time we are here. Hoping it will satisfy my TV-addict husband. Not getting a landline and getting rid of satellite TV will save us about $75 month…and that’s not too shabby!

  108. Just found your blog, very nice!
    I love your tree and decorations!
    Frugality for us this week –
    Snow has kept us inside for the most part.
    Made chicken soup for dinner last night since my husband has a cold and it will help me out since it is cold season.
    Other than a doctor appointment and a stop at Walmart, church was my only outing so far.
    Making magic bars for two parties – one for me Thursday evening, one for my husband Friday afternoon. (Hope that it is frugal!)

  109. I couldn’t find ground ginger for a decent price where I usually shop, but found fresh ginger at a good price, so I peeled the ginger, grated it in the food processor and dried it in a low oven. Then I put it in the blender and now I have powdered ginger to use. I hope it works OK for the cooking I have in mind!

  110. Tammy,

    That is such wonderful news!
    Now you can relax and have a wonderful Christmas. The overtime work will come in handy for holiday expenses.

  111. I transgressed from budget plans. My camera store is going out of business. I went to get them to make some prints while they are still in business. I will sell those prints (I hope) so they will be my stock-in-trade, if all goes well. I was sad because they sold the camera I would dearly have loved to own but it would have been torture to know about it and not afford it. I stocked up on a few things on sale for half price: memory sticks, a compact flash card, and a brand new nikon wide angle lens that was really cheap ($30 U.S.) I don’t have to pay for anything until I pick up the prints in two weeks. The store was in business for 80 years. The owner died suddenly so the business is being wound up. I only went there for the past few years but they were so good to me.

  112. Momsav, I work at a pioneer village. I’m often working in the general store, where we sell items, have no electricity (so no working cash register) and have only a calculator to help us if needed. I often train people in the store as I’m the unoficial “expert” in the store. Although I am pretty good at making change (I should be after working there for 6 seasons), as are others that work there. But I still have my moments where my brain just shuts down temporarily and I have to stop for a second to think about what I need or I have to use that calculator to add everything up correctly. It happens to the best of us!

  113. Hi Dawnelle, I remember very clearly my first Christmas as a single mom as well. I started a tradition that year that my son remembers as one of his favorite Christmas memories. He will be 25 on Saturday, and he just mentioned this the other day. On Christmas Eve after my son had fallen asleep, I took Bisquick (could use flour), sprinkled a good amount on the carpet, took my boots, and made “Santa” footprints all over the carpet. He was speechless in the morning when he saw the footprints. It took him years to figure out it wasn’t snow. I have since remarried, had four more children, but I have never forgotten how special my oldest son’s reaction was to those snow footprints. Even when he knew that it was me who made the footprints, there was always that split second when he held onto the magic that the footprints were from Santa’s boots. I hope you and your family have a great Christmas!

  114. Still working on the pantry challenge for most of our meals. I did pick up a package of cube steaks that were marked down to 3.00 a pound. I chicken fried two of them for dinner yesterday and served with potatoes and gravy. So good and much enjoyed. Neither of us could finish so I gave the last bits to a very happy dog, who doesn’t want dog food now. Lol. The rest of the package I froze for another meal later.
    I’m busy using our stores of winter squash and apples. Not willing to let anything go to waste. I made pumpkin noodles this week, pumpkin soup and pumpkin scones. I also baked bread and rolls. Made chicken carcass soup and used pumpkin noodles in that. These not enough pumpkin to really taste, but gives the noodles a nice color and saves on some of the eggs.
    I’m working on some embroidered towels, but realizing I won’t get everything done in time…I will be sending some gift cards this year.

  115. I got my dress for son’s wedding at Dress Barn on-line. Had a 20% coupon and even with shipping it was $56. Purple sheath with beading around the neck and a flowy full length top that went over that. For my other son’s wedding I found a gorgeous outfit at a consignment shop for $20. Have fun shopping.

  116. None of my grown kids have a land line, only a cell phone. You can get a Straight Talk phone at Wal-mart for $10 and add minutes as needed. It’s a flip phone but you would have a way to call and receive calls. I don’t know about where you live but our library has free use of a computer and internet. Good luck. So hoping you husband gets to keep his job.

  117. Thank you everyone for the suggestions!

    I do change the sheets every week and wash the bedspread weekly. However, washing pillows and mattress pads is much less frequent. I’ll step that up.

    I have noticed if I wash my hair daily that it makes a difference – plus it must help to keep pollen et al off the pillowcases.

    Really appreciate the feedback about washable furnace filters. My house was built in 1952 and I would bet the air ducts have never been cleaned. Something to save for in 2018.

    Curtains! Great suggestion 🙂

    I do have one air filtering machine.

    I’m allergic to maple, oak, and birch trees – of course my house is surrounded by maples. So the spring pollen and fall leaves aren’t fun. I’m allergic to every New England summer weed except NOT ragweed, which most people are allergic to. So this makes summer not fun. Then I’m allergic to goose down. I’ve slept for years with a down comforter and my winter coat is down. So I’m experimenting with wool blankets and need to save for a new winter coat. I’m also trying the weekly allergy shots – you have to have them for a full year.

    Thanks again for all the good thoughts! I really appreciate them.

  118. I got my black dress with sequins, that I wore to my daughter’s reception, for either $20 or $30 at thrift store. It retailed for $250! It was gorgeous and she loved it!

  119. I have two kids who have smart phones, and two kids who have flip phones, when they remember to put minutes on them….lol. I have a $20 flip phone Total Wireless from Walmart and use a prepaid $25 card for talk and text only. I am typing this from the library, next door to my work. I do not have a computer, nor tv, at home. I like it. I listen to the radio. I also have a weather radio. I just pretend it is like the 1950’s…lol

  120. hello Brandy!

    I love your tree security idea! So brilliant. When we have fresh trees, my husband wires them to the ceiling but I prefer your idea.
    This week. we redeemed two free haircut coupons at a new salon that my husband received. We accepted new (to us) snow boots for the older boys. My husband installed ceiling mounted speakers himself (he was an electrician in a previous career as a young man). The speakers were our Christmas gift to each other and by doing the installation ourselves, it saved about $600.00. The bad news is that he severely sprained two tendons in his wrist in the process but the good news is that it is not broken! Our children’s school hand a drop off night for parents to Christmas shop. We didn’t need to shop but my kids enjoyed the babysitting/activities with the high school students. We used the time to work on the stereo speakers without child interruptions.

    I’ve been working on an art journal for the new year (I use the bullet journal system) but I wanted to make it more of an art journal and planner and i’ve found a ton of free tutorials on youtube using materials i already have (water colors, acrylics and colored pencils).

    Last Saturday was luminaria night in our town which is a big event (all the proceeds for the sale of the luminaria bags go to charity). This year, despite the first snow of the season, we raised over 80K. Photos can be found here: Have a great week!

  121. Such wonderful news Tammy! Congratulations to your husband on his hard work and to his new employers for recognizing it!

  122. Tammy if you have a cell phone you might just get unlimited data …Straighttalk and Net 10 is what we use. My kids and grandkids use their phones for internet . They even print off things as their printer is bluetooth also. Do all their banking and bill paying on it.

  123. San Diego County has a problem with homelessness due to high rent prices too. In our rural town there are several families living in campgrounds to save money for first, last and security deposits. This morning it was in the 30’s really cold to be living in a tent. Really thankful for my home and wood burning stove.

  124. We ended up looking (online) at the inventory for all Subaru and Honda dealers in a 350 mile radius. One Subaru dealer had a price that was $3500 less than we could find elsewhere, so we made arrangements, drove there and picked it up yesterday. We did end up taking a 0 percent loan for a part of the cost. I really wanted to pay cash only, but frankly, in Wyoming and Montana we could not find a used Subaru under 89,000 miles or 4 or 5 years old. People just keep them a long time. (We kept our old one 12 years and it is approaching 300,000 miles). So hopefully we can pay off the loan in less than a year. That is just my emotional response because I really like being debt free, which we were (no mortgage – Yay!!) until yesterday. I do understand that it is smarter at least in a $ perspective to defer more pre-tax dollars into my retirement account and earn a return on it, while stretching out your principal only payments as long as possible. But you never know what the future will bring and being debt free feels really good.

  125. I have not heard of Robaxacet, and when I looked it up, Walmart in the US doesn’t seem to carry it. I have many back issues (since I was a child) and have been suffering with spasms all week. I take 800mg ibuprofen only, as I told my doctor I do not want to take anything with any risks of potential addiction. Heat helps also. Please let me know if they work for you and I hope you feel better soon.

  126. After New Years, sometimes stores have a huge sale to clear out the pretty “party dresses”. If you can’t find a nice dress for a good price at the thrift store, maybe try watching for these sales.

  127. There are water issues around here as well. Does your health department do well testing? Some do and that might help. An older area in the larger town was declared “potential” super fund site due to lead and other contamination due to mining/foundry issues just south of the houses. I know the health department did the initial tests.

    Is the pet pantry like a food pantry for pets? We’ve been giving to a local low cost spay and neuter clinic that also puts together bags of food and cat littler that goes with meals on wheels delivery and for the homeless shelter. They found that people were ‘saving’ their protein for their pets and then going without so started that project. I think the local Girl Scouts do the putting together. For some reason a year ago we got a doubled up Chewy order for cat food. When we contacted them they said “keep it” and we won’t bill you. So we donated that.

  128. Regarding school – if you are a senior citizen, many public colleges allow seniors to audit classes for free. If you computer access, check out Khan academy, or search free online classes.
    Remember that potato skins are edible too, as long as there are no “eyes” on them. Scrub them well prior to baking, and they are yummy. 🙂

  129. My cousin found her Mother of the Bride dress at a church rummage sale the week prior to her daughter’s wedding. It was $7 and came from David’s Bridals. She is a 16 petite and the dress was a perfect fit. God does provide! She looked wonderful in it. What a great bargain.

  130. I have been without home internet for about a year now. I got fed-up with the non service provided, so I ended it. Now, I make a list and use the local library for internet. It is not convenient, but doable. I keep an on going list of things I need to look up.

  131. I’ve missed your posts! I love the idea of the snack container for your husband. I want to do this for mine. Thanks for the idea!

  132. Your tree is so pretty! And the photo of your son is adorable. Love his facial expression 🙂

    *I really took your post about simplifying Christmas to heart. I’ve worked hard this week to finish all my Christmas stuff up. I have all the presents wrapped except for 2. I have one more present to buy but that is only because my husband hasn’t given me info yet. I will buy the final stocking stuffers tomorrow while grocery shopping. Then I plan on enjoying the rest of my month. It feels so nice to get it done and out of the way. I’m not worried.
    *Gave homemade jam and bread out to a few friends. Didn’t cost much because I had everything here and ready to make
    *Wrapped presents using paper I had already purchased last year on clearance.
    *Saved two white paper sacks that I received to use as gift wrapping in the future.
    *Read 2 library books
    *I was home by myself one evening and I turned off the overhead lights and sat in the dark admiring the Christmas lights and soft Christmas music. It was so peaceful
    *Made gingerbread bars and more homemade bread.
    *Downloaded all the free Kroger coupons/sale coupons each day to my card
    *Instead of taking my kids out to lunch we ate at home and had fun talking around the table
    *Combined all my errands
    *Made all meals at home. I meal plan for the week but also have alternate ideas for nights that are busy. Things I didn’t make are put on the next week’s plan. Some stuff keeps getting bumped and it’s two months before I make it. Oh well.
    *Watched the sun rise

    I hope everyone has wonderful week! Thanks for sharing all the great ideas 🙂

  133. Wow…that is awful. I pay $500 a month mortgage and I think that is too high for where I live. I would never be able to afford an apartment in Seattle, or even 30 miles away! I am guessing the salaries must be a lot higher there, than here but still…..

  134. i need to get back to my bullet journal. I fell off about 2 months ago and one Christmas season without my journal is enough to send me running back.

  135. Hi Cindy. Here is the Canadian website for Robaxacet: This medication is an over the counter product and contains both acetaminophen and a muscle relaxant. As you will see, there are several products on their website. Some contain ibuprofen, which I cannot take due to having gastric bypass surgery. If you do not have this product available, you could write down the active ingredients and as a pharmacist if there are other products that contain these medications. I’m sure you probably have something similar. I will note that there is a warning about liver and kidney damage, and that you should only take what is needed to relieve your symptoms. Our country is very careful about what drugs are available, so I have a hard time believing they would allow access to addictive drugs over the counter here. I tried heat and just tylenol, which helped somewhat, but didn’t stop the muscle spasms. If I remember correctly, my Dr commented that iceing the muscle spasms may be better for treatment than heat as it is an inflamation.

  136. Wow….is that a problem all over the West Coast? That is so sad. I am assuming people are in those locations because they are working there, yet, to keep their jobs and live close enough to commute, they cannot afford housing…that is terrible.

  137. Check out ways to earn reward points on 5250 points can be redeemed for a $5 Amazon, Target, or Walmart gift card. 150 points a day for reading the news (or doing searches) using on my tablet or laptop, another 120-220 points a day for searching using within the Edge browser on my phone, more points each day by answering simple trivial quizzes, and occasional bonus points Microsoft gives in exchange for a few clicks in an email. $5-$10/month consistently. Sweet.

  138. **The health department testing is not the type that is needed to find these contaminants – in fact Michigan doesn’t even have a lab that is able to test for PFOS at this time.
    **Yes, it is a food pantry for pets. Our Danes are kept on a food that is 47.99 for a 33 pound bag (every 10 days) and due to the health risk of bloat, I can’t change their food. Using the pantry for the senior beagle and our cats allows us to keep the Danes on their food, which is a lot cheaper than what it would cost if one of them should bloat.

  139. I’m going to borrow that expression ‘meal bumping’ and put it as a caveat on the bottom of each weekly menu plan that I post on the fridge each Sunday evening. It’ll stop the queries from my sons when something different appears on their plates!! Thank you!

  140. That is unconscionable; that working people can’t afford places to live. Prices near urban areas are going up all over the country, especially if there’s a tech center of any kind near it. This makes me so grateful for a warm home and food on the table. I’ll be sure to share this with my children.

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