Frugal Accomplishments

Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Week of 2018

I made Christmas cookies using ingredients I had on hand.

I cooked a turkey and used it for several meals, including using it to make tacos.

I made cheese balls using chives and parsley from the garden for our Christmas lunch.

Christmas dinner was a very simple affair; my husband cooked a ham (that had been gifted to us) and my mom cooked green beans and potatoes for our side dishes. We really simplified things this year and it made for a much less stressful, more relaxing day for me.

I made a double batch of laundry soap.

I watched two classes for free while they were live on Creative Live. I was tempted to purchase a class on sale as well (it was $14) but then I found out that they are showing it again for free this week, so I signed up for it. (For those of you who are bird photographers, which I know a few readers have mentioned, there is an upcoming free bird photography class on March 20th).

I had a few items I bought as gifts at the dollar store that I decided to keep until next year for spring birthdays (they are kites). Everyone was happy with what they received for Christmas and spring will be a wonderful time to fly kites.

My mom gave us some wonderful gifts, most of which were purchased used at garage sales. For example, my 2-year-old received (among other things) a jacket (cost her $0.25) and a big wheel-type tricycle (cost her $3). She and my dad spent a few more Saturday mornings throughout the year going to garage sales so that they could find great birthday and Christmas gifts for a lot less. She gave some really thoughtful gifts and she mentioned to me that she was able to give a lot more gifts because she found so many great garage sale deals.

I purchased a few more strings of outdoor LED lights for the front garden at 50% at the after-Christmas sales. I took reusable cloth bags with me to save and additional $0.10 (Target gives $0.05 off your purchase for each cloth bag you bring).

I mended a dress.

I kept the house warmer by blocking the cold winter wind draft with a rolled up towel in front of each of my front doors (we have double doors). I’ve found that by doing this, our house is much warmer in winter and the heater doesn’t turn on as much.

My husband cut his hair and I gave my 2-year-old a haircut.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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144 Comments

  1. My husband just happened to be at Walmart when they marked Turkey breasts down to 25 cents a pound. We got 6 of them.
    We hung a comforter over the front door and my heating bill has dropped a lot. I close the “blanket” over the door when the wind is blowing from that direction and the minute the sun goes down. This has worked so well that I am considering covering the other 2 doors this way.
    As a seamstress I am also considering making quilted curtains for the windows. If it keeps out the cold it will also keep out the heat of our Texas summers.
    Remarkably the comforter doesn’t cut out the light much at all.
    This is the first Christmas since I’ve had children that none of them were here Christmas day. My husband and I had a steak dinner made by him. We shared a large steak bought on sale. It was a lovely day.
    I’m wishing you all a happy new year.
    Be safe on the roads if you are out tonight.
    Brandy, thank you for all you do here. What a blessing you are for me.

    1. I remember that many years ago “warm windows” were a big thing – sort of like quilts for windows. There were classes (in person – this was before the internet!) at the local fabric stores. And when I’ve been in England they have interesting ways to deal with heating issues in old houses – a double entrance – you enter into a small foyer, close the door and then into the house. Another one is heavy curtains over the entry area that are pulled to block that draft from open and closing doors. I am back to heavier curtains on windows for both summer and winter and am thinking of the heavier curtains over the door to the three season room. Mary

    2. What a great deal on the turkey breasts.

      For over 24 years, we had quilted curtains on all of our windows. They ran on tracks on the side when we pulled them down so they sealed pretty tight. We sold that house 18 years ago but I truly miss those curtains. They kept the house toasty warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. We had the lowest utility bills of all of the neighbors.

      Your Christmas dinner sounds like it was wonderful.

      Happy New Year everyone!

  2. I haven’t commented in a few weeks so some of my savings are older.

    Having been on vacation, we bought our Christmas tree late. When we went to Lowe’s they had $10 Charlie Brown trees for sale. Aside from one section that was a bit bare, it looked like a normal tree. We bought it and put the barer section against the wall.

    We went to a bowl game (one of our presents to ourselves) and received free samples of Chick-fil-a nuggets, fries and peach milkshakes. We parked for free so saves the $20+ everyone was charging. We didn’t buy any souvenirs and spent $8 on a drink, popcorn and hotdogs.

    Michaels ran a buy 1, get 2 frames sale so I took advantage of that. I had printed some photos at Walgreens for free. When I picked up the photos I used my free chicken sandwich coupon for lunch.

    Checked out books and ebooks from the library. My friend wasn’t aware of Hoopla so introduced her to the site.

    I am attempting to eat from the pantry and freezer for the next 3 weeks. I have already tried to use up a few items. I have many home grown garden veggies that I plan on cooking/canning this winter.

    I had to buy medicine for my sick husband and realized when out needed gas. I decided to stop at one station even though it was slightly out of the way. I realized later that gas was 15 cents cheaper there than a station closer to store.

    My Meyer lemons are ripe so I’ve been slowly enjoying them in my water. My tulips and daffodils are starting to sprout. It will be many months before they bud but I content myself looking at the green sprouts.

    Frugal fail: I thought I was buying mod podge at Michaels with a 50% off coupon so decided to get the bigger jar. Unfortunately they didn’t accept the coupon because it’s an already low item. I didn’t realize this until I had checked out. Now I have enough mod podge to last a lifetime!

    Happy New Years Eve! I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and frugal 2019.

    1. Megan — I have a large jar of Mod Podge I have had for years. I think the trick to keeping it from drying out is to keep a piece of plastic wrap over the top. I stretch the plastic wrap over the opening, then screw on the lid. I live in dry, dry Colorado and have had this jar of Mod Podge for at least 10 years. It is the perfect thing for adhering fancy printed labels to jam and pickles, bean soup mix, etc. that I give as gifts and I have used it as a white glue substitute when I’ve run out of that.

      1. Another way to adhere labels to glass is to print the label on standard printer paper, cut it out, and then adhere it using milk (just take a paintbrush and lightly spread out the milk on the back of the paper). It works great and the receiver has a much easier time getting the label off when they are ready to use the container for something else.

    2. The foyer is not just in England. Look at older houses in the north of this country for examples. The small house I grew up in, circa 1941-2, included one.

      I like the idea of window quilts for our sunroom. We never use it in the wintertime because the room is too cold. But it contains an essential item for our emergency preparations, a natural gas heater that will work without electricity. We lost so much heat through the windows the one week we had to run the heater during the day to keep from freezing. A quilt over the west windows would also moderate the summer temperature of that room. We have a shelf full of quilted bedspreads that have not been touched in over a dozen years. I think I will be sandwiching them in solid-colored cotton and turning them into.window quilts. Thanks for the.idea.

  3. Today I am making navy bean soup tomorrow (soaking beans) and right now making new england potato soup with left over .56 cents a pound ham (spiral cut, same price for shank ham at winco) I cleaned of the ham bone and we had 10 cups of ham left over after and nd amply of 5 ate 2 meals of sliced ham . I also got fresh turkey for .18 cents a pound from winco (shocking, so I got 2, as I had 3 in the freezer and 3 I have already cooked and frozen into chunks) if I had room I would of filled up my freezer with turkeys, oh how i wish i had another freezer when that sale happened ;). I also had my daughter make some bread in the breadmaker. I’m super excited for the bew year and have decided to really get back into being prepared and more savey at my household work! This month we have to be in Vegas for softball showcases for 5 dsys and I’ve got to save up money for the hotel and make meal plans so we can crockpot or cook our meals in the hotel… so I’ll be really picking the blog and Web page for our meals.. 🙂

    1. I am rejoicing at my 77c/lb ham at Winco! Around here, that’s unbelievable so your prices are so low that I would have bought every turkey I could cram in as well! Amazing!

    2. That is an insane price. I got 4 turkeys around Thanksgiving for 39¢ a pound. That was all I was allowed. Wish I could have gotten more. I have a chest freezer, freezer with my fridge and my sister’s freezer. She rarely cooks so I stock it with amazing deals. I see her almost every week so it is easy to get stuff from it.

  4. I love your appetizer tray! You always impress me with how you make everything look nice!

    My week was pretty productive I think. My frugal accomplishments:
    – I made chicken noodle soup (http://approachingfood.com/no-fail-chicken-noodle-soup/) using carrots and celery from my freezer (both bought when on sale, blanched, and frozen), dried parsley from my balcony garden, and bay leaves given to me by my mum.
    – I made myself a magnetized pad of paper to stick on my fridge for my shopping lists, using a pad of paper from the dollar store and some freebie magnets.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a dozen each of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for a box of 98 diapers in a size my daughter will grow into (I use disposables at night or when out), and two dozen spritz cookies (some sandwiched together with chocolate and some sprinkled with sugar) for a box of 6 baby wipe refill packages. I also using some of the digital currency that the app uses, to purchase a BNIB pair of tanzanite studs. Plus, I received a book for Christmas (“My No Spend Year”) which I read then traded for $15 worth of digital currency (plus an additional two dollars worth because it was a popular item). I’m saving my digital currency to purchase groceries with down the road.
    – I signed up for an email list and used the $5 off $15 coupon to buy some bulk food items for my MIL and a cupcake box to hold the cupcakes I traded. My mother was with me and added an item that she wanted to help me get to the $15 mark, then paid me for it.
    – I bought butter on sale for $2.99/lb and froze it.
    – I saved all boxes and bags possible to reuse at Christmas next year.
    – We ate leftovers for several days.
    – I bought two items I needed from Amazon, using giftcards from Swagbucks to reduce the OOP expense, plus I used a $3 promotional coupon, and went through ebates on Boxing Day to get between 1 & 5% back.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 gc to Starbucks.
    – I made hot fudge sauce (https://approachingfood.com/a-ton-o-hot-fudge-sauce/) to eat over ice cream and to make hot chocolate or chocolate milk.
    – I made cranberry sauce (http://approachingfood.com/better-than-store-bought-cranberry-sauce/) using some cranberries I had bought on sale around Thanksgiving and frozen. I’ll serve it with meat, and also as a stir-in for my homemade yoghurt.
    – I made Irish soda bread, using homemade yoghurt instead of buttermilk.
    – I bought diapers on sale in the baby’s current size and one size up, plus purchased them during a 20x the loyalty points event, so along with the other items I purchased, I earned enough points to get about $25 worth of food free at a later date.

    As always, am looking forward to learning from everyone else!

  5. I watched a video about not spending anything in 2019. It really doesn’t mean not spending anything. It means not buying non essentials. I pulled out the article in AARP about living on your retirement money and will implement the budget and so on in that. I plan on working on that tomorrow. returned things to Walmart.

  6. I was without a stove on Christmas, so we went to my sister’s house for dinner. She fixed a ham that her employer gave her and we had that with simple finger foods. I fixed crockpot meatballs using some frozen meatballs purchased on sale from Kroger, a cheese ball using cream cheese that I had stocked up on for .69 a pack at Aldi and my daughter made buffalo chicken dip using canned chicken, hot sauce and ranch dressing mix bought in bulk at Costco.

    With my newly installed stove, (which I was able to switch from electric to gas, so excited!), I made a ham dinner for my oldest son’s 23rd birthday using ham bought for .87 a pound, potatoes & sweet potatoes bought on sale, canned veggies bought at Aldi’s last year for less than .50 each, and free rolls from the freezer (same son is a baker and brings home lots of leftover baked goodies for). He is not a huge fan of traditional cake, so I used your recipe for pavlovas and made him a birthday pavlova. I did splurge on the berries to put on top, but I’m generally feeding less people now so I have a little wiggle room in my budget. He said it was awesome and liked it much better than cake.

    I had a $25 gift card to Bath & Body Works that I combined with their annual sale and was able to buy birthday gifts for my daughter and 3 friends for about $6 out of pocket. Daughter will reimburse me for her friends’ gifts as she needs them throughout the year.

    I re-gifted some gift cards that I had received in previous years to my kids for Christmas gifts (Target for my daughter, Barnes & Noble for my college kid and Speedway for my kid who’s commuting to work at the moment).

  7. I love cheese balls! That looks delicious Brandy!

    I cooked a turkey and a ham this week that my son gave us. Froze portions of each and made soup with some of the turkey. I may make beans and ham with cornbread with some of the ham. Was able to share some with my other son. He enjoyed it too. I know my sons both like to know that their mom is ok. I think that is sweet. They love me and I love them.

    Watched a c couple movies that we checked out from the library. Throughly enjoyed My Fair Lady and The Greatest Showman with my husband.

    Splurged and bought a book for my husband about the music business. I hope he does something with his music. I know I enjoy it. He has written music and he sings. I love to hear him. I know other people do too. So really I consider the book an investment as well as a gift. Would love to get a band together and record his music. He is talented. Of course I love him, but he really is talented.

    I think my husband may get a raise when the new company takes over the bus company this week. He will have less hours, but it will equate to around 200 dollars more a month. I’m happy about that. I am getting hours this week, Happy Day!

    Hoping for benefits with husbands new job. We will see what happens. In the meantime, the old job benefits may runout and we will be paying out of pocket. But today I don’t feel fearful. We have food, shelter, vehicles to get to work. We are healthier this week and I am grateful.

    My mom, dad, husband and I all worked on my sister’s fence. Saved a ton of money! Supplies were on sale too!

    Did not over spend on Christmas, nothing on credit, Yeah!

    Saving for our home and land taxes, propane, medical and dental expenses a little at a time. Praying that we can meet these needs, I’m feeling optimistic.
    Pray we don’t owe anything on Federal or State taxes. A refund would be helpful.

    The chickens are laying eggs, several days we got seven eggs, one day eight. Some days two. But eight out of eight means I definitely don;t know how to tell a hen from a rooster when they are little because we have eight chickens! I thought they were mostly roosters. LOL. They are hens!
    Family are enjoying the eggs as well as my husband and me.

    Looking forward to a garden in the spring. Thinking of starting some plants inside the house. Especially herbs.

    Saving money by turning off lights and turning down heat when we are not there as well as simply keeping it a bit cooler and wearing a sweater.

    Staying out of stores saves me money.

    Thinking of starting an exercise program from something on the internet. I know there are some out there. I don’t have money to spend and I’m very, very overweight. So I need to start slow. I’d like to lose 100 lbs or more.. Does anyone know of any good online programs for exercise? I used to like to dance and run. But I can’t really do those things now until I lose more weight. Certainly can’t run. Can dance slowly, but boy do I get out of breath. Just walking is serious exercise for me at this point and it is cold and muddy where I live right now so I haven’t been doing much walking. I’m looking forward to gardening, that always helps me slim down and tone up, but I want to do something before spring. I can’t believe I let myself get this heavy. Last time I joined a gym and did zumba, I was lighter but still too heavy, I hurt my ankle. I probably should not have been doing zumba as heavy a I was. Can’t join a gym now anyway, just don’t have the funds.

    1. Tammy, you crack me up! “A refund would be helpful” just about sums it up for us, as well! Such a simple statement, but oh, so true!!! We are also hoping we don’t have to pay any out of pocket taxes. I just doesn’t feel like enough is being withheld from my job, but we will see. If not, we will certainly fix the issue next year.

      I don’t know if you have an YMCA in your area, but we are able to have a membership for an extremely low price, as we are extremely low income right now. It might be worth checking out. Although I am seriously the worst one in my Pilates class (wish I was joking, but I’m not), it has been very beneficial to me for slowly getting back in shape. I am much stronger than I was a year ago before I started. You could probably find some Pilates on-line. I can’t do it all. I can’t do most of it right. But, I do what I can do, and I’m getting stronger. Our Y has a pool that my husband can get into and basically move his legs while hanging onto the side, and then move his arms around, while sitting down. It’s very shallow. He has a very bad hip, so cannot walk about to exercise on land, but can do those things in that shallow pool down there. (He’s still at the “I lost 67 pounds” mark–and still working hard). Also, maybe you could just start easy by setting a timer for 10 minutes and doing any kind of exercise you can think of in your living room–such as stretches, walking around the room, waving your arms around, touching your toes–whatever. Then, do it again a couple of times each day. Who knows? It might help.

      1. Thanks Becky,
        Congratulations on what you and your husband are doing for health! Honestly, housework is exercise for me too. But I think some dedicated exercise times would be helpful too. I like your idea of setting a timer for 10 minutes a couple times a day. I tried doing an exercise video that was supposed to be low impact today. I could tell that for me it was not low impact. Ugh, My left knee hurts now. Hopefully that will pass. In high school I ran 7- 12 miles a day. Then I’d come home and turn on a Jane Fonda exercise record. Now, I’ve got a lot of work to do just to walk a small ways. Anyway, Thank-you Becky.

        1. Tammy, I too was quite heavily overweight. I had gastric by-pass surgery, but it was covered under our health care system here in Canada. I realize that may be an impossible choice for you, nor is it the right choice for everyone. However, I have learned a lot from going through this surgery. Here is some weight loss advice that you may find helpful. First, start eating from a smaller plate to help with portion control. I use a dessert sized plate for my main course, and only fill it once. Smaller plates are harder to overfill. You will find yourself unsatisfied at first, but over time, your stomach will shrink and adapt to the smaller portions. Before long, those dinner plates will look way too big! Also, focus ALL your meals around protein and fruit/vegetables, not the carbs. Don’t worry, those carbs will find a way into the meal! You don’t have to eliminate the carbs, just try cutting back on them. Second, any kind of purposeful activity that gets you moving is a good way to start. Maybe it is walking down your street and back, maybe it is dancing is your living room for 5-10 minutes…anything that gets you moving. Set up a progression chart to increase your time. For the first 2-3 weeks, just do 5-10 minutes of exercise. Then increase to 10-15 minutes for another 2-3 weeks, then try 15-20 minutes, etc. It will allow your body to get used to the purposeful movement. Once you find you are more comfortable with movement, work yourself up to harder movement, like using an exercise video, or walking around the block. If you try to do things too quickly, your body will hurt too bad to continue and it will discourage you. When you start doing exercise videos, don’t be discouraged that you can’t do everything. Remember the point is to move. So if they are doing something you can’t quite do yet or can only do for a short time, just march in spot. You can work towards doing the movement with time and persistence. My suggestion it to set a goal to work on increasing your exercise tolerance each month so that by springtime, when the weather is warmer, you can start going for walks in your neighbourhood. It’s a good frugal goal to work towards! Exercise doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do, but it should be something you feel somewhat comfortable doing, so you are more likely to stick to it. Good luck with your weight-loss journey, Tammy. I know it won’t be easy, but it is worth it if it makes you feel better, but physically and mentally!

          1. Rhonda,
            I appreciate your advice and encouragement. I tried the Lose It app today. I like it. It made me accountable. Every time I thought about eating something extra I told myself no. And I am moving more. Waltzing with husband, slowly. More housework. And cooking from scratch.
            Tammy

      2. I have a lot of weight to lose also. For exercise, I like Leslie Sansone walk at home on YouTube. I use the one minute video and just stop and start it as my energy level allows. Good luck!!

    2. Hey Tammy,

      Try Jessica smith on you tube for workout videos. She has all levels. Also, the walk at home channel has quite a few. I can’t remember her name, but they are called, “walk at home”

      1. Tammy our county has a lifestyle enrichment center (for senior citizens). They offer many things and most are free. The country funds this so our property taxes, etc. actually pay for this. They have a chair yoga class twice a week led by a qualified instructor. You can do as much as you feel able to do. I’m not sure this would apply to your county, but you might want to check. Hope this helps.

    3. Take a look at Leslie Sansone’s walk at home Youtube videos. There are various ones and you could start with the easiest and keep to a pace that works for you. I used to do it standing in front of my computer to watch.

      1. Thank you to the people who have mentioned these videos – walking in the winter is difficult when you have mobility issues so these are just perfect – did my first mile yesterday!

    4. Tammy, if you get a PBS station, check their schedule (should be available online) for Sit and Be Fit, which is a low impact exercise program primarily aimed at seniors. I am no expert, but it seems to me that low impact exercises combined with walking would be a good place to start (and I think I should be there right with you!). Many malls are open in the morning for indoor walking in bad weather. Our little mall is 4 times around = 1 mile.

      1. Maxine, thanks.
        Maybe I can get my husband to walk with me at the mall. It is about a half hour away. But we could do it. I am going to check out he sit and be fit too. At this point walking wears me out. But I know I need to keep going.
        Tammy

    5. Tammy, you mentioned exercise but not diet. I have found the free Lose It! app very helpful in counting calories as well as figuring how many I burn doing different exercise. I’ve found that slow walking, even for a couple of hours, does not burn many calories. I burn more calories over the same time doing housework! I love that the app takes into account my weight, age, height, and sex as well as how much I eat to give me an accurate amount of what I need to accomplish my goals. Setting mini goals and then changing the program as I reach those goals has been helpful to me. You can set how fast you want to lose weight; a good, slow pace is one half to one pound a week. I did not lose weight by just exercising; once I changed my diet, I finally lost the baby weight after my eighth baby. It’s frustrating having to do it all again with another baby but I know now what I have to do to lose it, and I really have to watch to not take in too many calories, which is so easy to do, as some things high in calories are not very filling.

      There are great workout videos on YouTube; search by what you enjoy the most.

      1. Brandy,
        Thank-you. i will look up the lose it app. I did look up some of the videos that your other readers told me about. I think I will be able to do some of them. You are so right about Housework being exercise. I do need to watch my calories. I’m kind of an emotional eater. I eat when I’m stressed. I need to change that to more positive things that will help me. I am going to try the lose it app. When I was young I’d go for a run when I was stressed and I loved to dance. Slowly I plan to lose all this weight.Thanks for advice and I wish you the best with your weight loss plan.
        Tammy

      2. The Lose-It app is what my husband is using to lose weight. He likes it because he can eat what he wants as long as he puts it in there. He eats lots of veggies, lean meat, and not a lot of carbs, but can have a treat occasionally if he likes. He’s very good at stopping when his limit has been reached. He tries to exercise as he can, but is very limited on his movement, so he eats less calories than most men his height. In fact, he eats way fewer than the app says he can have, but he’s found a good level, I think.

      3. Brandy,
        Thank-you for suggesting the Lose It app. It really helped me yesterday. I am going to try and keep it going.
        Tammy

    6. Tammy,

      Glad to hear you are heading toward losing weight. I too looked at myself a few years ago and said the same thing! How did I get here? Took a year and lost the weight…gained some back, but am taking that off! For me, I ask myself if eating whatever is more important than my health and being thin. Most times, no…some times yes. More often no.

      As to exercise when heavy and out of shape…pilates. Not strenuous and no high impact. Builds the core muscles. It took me 6 months to be able to sit up from a flat on my back position.

      Keep a good log or enter in an app. I just used scrap paper and pencil. I still need to see what I’m eating to make sure I haven’t fallen into overeating again. Also, when you lose a size…give the larger clothing away asap! Failure is not an option. You will probably have to reorient and redirect often. Just tber it is a journey!

      If I can do this…you can too! It is not a diet, but an ongoing change. A new life!

      Trish

      1. Thank-you Trish, and congratulations on your accomplishments. I downloaded the Lose it app and have started using it. My knee feels better today. I will be doing some sort of exercise today. Happy New Year!
        Tammy

    7. Have you looked to see if your library offers any exercise classes for free? I don’t know where you live or how far your library is. I have done several different kinds of exercise classes at mine. One of the instructors even let us come to other classes she offered for free at a near by beach. Also our mall opens early to allow for walkers before the stores open. I used to do that a lot with friends when the kids were young and the weather was bad. Good luck!

      1. That is a good idea Marybeth. I will check out the library. Thank-you. I used to walk in the mall too. I think I might need to work up to that.
        Tammy

    8. Tammy, 3 of my daughters, one son and my mother in law said to go to you tube and check out yoga. My son is in the military and said he also suggests this for soldiers that need to lose weight but at a smaller pace. Hubby cut his portions by using a smaller plate and walking more. Parked farther from the store door and work door and walked. Son walks around the parking lot before work and after work.

    9. Hi Tammy,
      Former PE teacher here … just start moving more in ways that work for you. I highly recommend doing exercises while sitting, given your knee. I read somewhere that in trying to determine cardio, it’s all about getting your pulse up — check with a doctor before beginning any exercise program!!!! Cardio might be accomplished by simply going up on your toes repeatedly. I would also check whether or not you can get a referral to a PT. A good PT could guide you towards some exercises that would be safe for your knee and helpful. It’s somewhat of a ying and yang — lose weight and it’ll be easier to move, move more and it’ll be easier to lose weight. Can you identify something to do with your hands when the urge to eat emotionally arises? Good luck!

      1. Chris,
        Thank-you for your ideas. Brandy suggested the Lose it app. I tried it yesterday and it really helped me. Every time I worried about something I wanted to eat. But I stopped myself because it was not on my plan. I am going to try and keep that going. A PT would be nice if I could afford it. Yesterday I got up and cleaned every time I wanted to eat something extra. I was really tired by the end of the day. But, that is a good thing.
        Tammy

        1. The other thing I try to do that really helped me to lose weight after my last baby is to drink water when I feel like eating between mealtimes. I read that most of the time, people mistake thirst for hunger. If I drink water, that helps me a lot to bypass the snack. It also helps me to have more energy. If I end up better hydrated with a cleaner house and a slimmer body, it’s a win all the way around!

          1. I agree, Brandy. Being better hydrated with a cleaner house and a slim body is definitely a win all the way around! I am going to drink lots of water. It does help me.
            Tammy

    10. Tammy, I highly recommend the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch along with “Health At Every Size” by Linda Bacon. They are truly life changing. Diets don’t work and the science proves it! Weight does not determine health (also proven by loads of research). Rather than fall into another diet cycle that just leaves you feeling bad about yourself (diet culture is everywhere!), read these books! I was able to get them from my library. The goal is to focus on connecting with your body and if improving your health is a focus you choose, to do so independently of a desire to lose weight. Another fascinating book is “Secrets from the Eating Lab” by Dr. Traci Mann. Although it unfortunately contains a “diety” chapter, it has tons of great data.

      1. Thank you for the book suggestions Frugalstrong. I do want to be healthier. I will have to take a look at those books.
        Tammy

    11. Hi Tammy,
      Might I recommend the 5:2 fasting diet? The concept is that on two, non-consecutive days you limit your caloric intake to 500 calories each day. The other five days you can eat however you like (well, within reason!) It sort of kick starts your body into burning fat stores. You can exercise while on it, though I find that I do better sticking to 500 calories if I don’t exercise on those fasting days. The last time I did it, I lost twelve pounds in about three weeks. Then I got pregnant and had to stop it.
      There is a wonderful documentary about it by Dr. Michael Moseley. You can probably find it on Amazon or just going search his name. There is a ton of info out there about it. Once you get into the habit, it’s easy to maintain. My biggest piece of advice is to plan ahead so you don’t blow all your calories just on breakfast!
      Good luck!
      Liz

      1. Liz,
        I agree with planning ahead. I’m not sure If I would do well with a fasting diet. I once did a diet with extremely limited calories, and food choices. I lost a lost of weight quickly then rebounded, just gained more back. I think I am going to try the Lose it app and see how that goes for now Thank-you for your suggestion though. I definitely need to plan ahead, or I will overeat.
        Tammy

  8. What a gorgeous display of holiday goodness! I purchased two rolls of holiday paper at 50% off, several bottles of a favorite organic blueberry cranberry juice @ $1/bottle, a pair of jeans for my GD .50, several bags of beads for her to craft with @ .10 to .50 ea., and a tie dye kit for $2.50. Her birthday is this weekend, so these will be birthday gifts. I also found a very large pottery pot that will be perfect for one of my lemons or avocados for $10. The usual collecting rainwater, gathering eggs and heating with wood, and greens and herbs were harvested from the garden. Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

  9. Happy almost New Year Brandy and readers

    Frugal accomplishments last week-
    – my husband changed my car’s oil and filter
    – I finished our 2019 budget and figured out how to adjust our expenses down to meet the goal
    – bought TurboTax on sale at Sam’s Club so I can do our 2018 taxes this spring
    – we ate Christmas dinner with dear friends who sent us home with two pies, I split them up and froze in meal size portions
    – filled my husband’s pickup with diesel using $0.70 cents off per gallon credit from Frys grocery store (diesel savings $15.50!),

    My goal was to start 2019 as organized as possible ;). I got everything done except cleaning the oven and fridge…leaves me a challenge for this week.

  10. Hello Frugal Friends,

    Happy holidays to all!
    Here are my frugal accomplishments:
    – We hosted a wonderful Christmas dinner. I made turkey and a ham. The ham I purchased on sale at thanksgiving for less than $1.00 per pound. The turkey I purchased for $.97 a pound. We shared lots of leftovers with friends and family. I am also making a leftover turkey soup right now in the crock pot.
    – We have tried to stay home during the holiday break and only do planned outings. It is easy to go over budget during this time.
    – I redid all of our finances and restructured the budget to put more into retirement savings starting at the first of the year.
    – We paid off our van with profit we made from the sale of our home. We are now debt free except our mortgage!
    – I am working on several crochet projects to sell at a consignment shop that I work at. I am trying to use my down time productively.
    – I signed up for several freebies which are on my blog at: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/2018/12/31/12-freebies-today-12-31-18/
    – I would like to finish several items before the break ends to sell in the shop.
    – I cashed out on Fetch Rewards, Earning Station, Swagbucks and Ibotta for some money for an upcoming missions trip that I have been saving for. I also have information about these websites on my blog.
    Happy Holidays to All!
    Liz

  11. I am still a beginner to being more intentional and frugal with our finances, but I feel like I did enough frugal things this past week to finally comment!
    I found $.29/pound turkeys on sale at Kroger & bought two for only $8!! I’m saving them for later on this winter. My husband is a roofer and when there’s snow & ice he doesn’t work & money gets tight.
    The day after Christmas my husband had a friend wanting to visit & he said he’d bring steaks to grill. He accidentally brought small rump roasts. They grilled them anyway but there were a lot leftover & he just told us to keep them. After that we had friends come into town to stay with us a few days & I put the roasts in the crockpot so dinner would be ready when they got here. The roasts fell apart & were so tender! We put the meat on rolls our friends brought & everyone commented on how great the sandwiches were!
    Kroger had a coupon for 500 extra fuel points with any purchase. Combined with the points we already had I filled up my tank for only $13 this week!
    We were gifted some nice new things at Christmas that we would never use & regifted two of the gift sets to some of my husband’s family since we didn’t celebrate Christmas with them until the 29th.
    I bought a shirt on clearance during the summer in my MIL’s size for $1 & using my Cricut I cut heat transfer vinyl & made her a personalized Grandma shirt.
    I also bought $1 wine glass from Dollar Tree & used my Cricut to cut vinyl to make a stencil & etched the glass in a customized design for my SIL. She loved it!
    I actually stayed away from all the after Christmas sales this year since I knew we really didn’t have it. I was quite proud of myself for that because my birthday is Dec 28th & I usually use that as an excuse to go shopping.
    That’s all for this past week, but it’s a start!!
    I so enjoy reading your post every week Brandy & then reading all the comments on how everyone saved. They are so helpful in keeping that frugal mindset. I just find it so encouraging so thank you all!! Have a great New Years!

    1. Sarah B, you did GREAT this week! Welcome to the frugal world where life is so much better. Don’t feel like you must have a long list before you can post. Saving money on just one thing is better than nothing at all.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  12. I made butternut squash soup using squash I grew and canned and chicken broth from my freezer. I am doing a pantry and freezer challenge, planning meals from items I have with minimal shopping. I am planning to purchase boneless skinless chicken breasts at our local grocery for $1.19/lb. I will buy several 5 lb bags as that is the lowest price I can get them here.

  13. We learned early this morning that my dad, who has suffered from Parkinson’s for the last 10 years, passed away during the night. While we will miss him so very much, we are also thankful for the end of his suffering. The last year has been especially difficult for him. I am also thankful that we had the extra money to fund our trip to the funeral in Tennessee because of the valuable principles I have learned on your website, Brandy, from you and all of your inspiring readers. What a blessing.

    I filled in for someone at work who has a route they drive each day. I will be getting a sizable mileage check to more than make up for the gas used. The bonus was that this particular route takes me right by my house each day at lunch time. I could actually eat my lunch at home every day!

    I will be putting a small amount of money aside each month into a savings account for next Christmas as I did last year. I felt almost no stress this past Christmas because funds were so readily available to pay for our holidays.

    A wish for a blessed New Year to all!

    1. I am sorry to hear about your father’s passing, but glad that you knoe he has some peace now. My best wishes to you and your family.

    2. Darcy, I am so sorry about your dad. I hope you are able to be embraced by warm memories from the past. Prayers for you and your family.

  14. What a beautiful picture of your very delicious looking spread of food.

    We too had a very simple and relaxed Christmas, which was most welcome after a busy and stressful few months. My husband was supposed to be on call over Christmas, but got a last minute reprieve. We had planned for a nice meal at home with just the two of us, so that’s what we did. I spent much of Christmas eve day with my mom, and we looked through all her old recipes and reminisced. Usually our holidays are busy family affairs, and it was nice this year to do something different.

    Frugal accomplishments:
    – Christmas gifts were simple. I made my husband a shirt (which he loved) and bought a discounted jigsaw puzzle. I got two pieces of cork covered foam board at Michaels (size 24 x 36 inches), purchased with a coupon, to use as a puzzle board and cover. This actually works great for our small place. We’ve really enjoyed working on the puzzle together.
    – We wrapped presents using paper/bags we already had.
    – I went back to the store where I originally purchased the puzzle (Half Price Books), to see if they had any left. Everything was 20% off, so I bought two more puzzles on an even deeper discount.
    – My mom was going out of town so she gave me her poinsettia.
    – I made a pretty arrangement using an evergreen bough I found on the ground, and items I already had.
    – My co-worker gave me a bouquet of flowers. She also gave me several presents she had been given, but did not want: firefly lights in a jar, a pretty carry bag, and a sketchbook.
    – We had a power outage, and I discovered I needed more AA batteries for a lantern. At a local store, I found a 24 pack of name brand batteries that was only $2 more than the 16 pack ($17 compared to $15). The price wasn’t marked so I had to ask, but it was well worth it. (For the record, I can get batteries cheaper at Costco, but I hate going there in December…so I don’t).
    – I bought inexpensive presents to a few local businesses I frequent. For example: I bought two bags of popcorn and put them in a gift bag, added a homemade gift label, and gave them to the mechanic who works on my car. He was thrilled. This shop always does a great job on our cars, and I am thankful to have him. When I worked for myself, I always appreciated gestures of appreciation from my clients, so I do this when I can.
    – Most meals were from scratch, using many items from the pantry and freezer. One day I made two pants of enchiladas and froze one, using all sorts of things I had on hand.
    – Found two inexpensive sleep shirts at the thrift store, along with a yard of striped cotton fabric. I don’t usually wear stripes, but I liked the colors and figured I could make a simple tank top from it. It turned out great, and I will be able to wear it next summer.

    On this last day of 2018, I would like to say how thankful I am for you, Brandy, for all you do here to share your life and host this frugal forum. I am also thankful to everyone who posts here. I don’t have many frugal friends in my daily life, and I am happy I can learn and share with you all here.
    Best wishes to all of you for 2019.

    1. I realize it was a typo, but I got a good chuckle out of your making “two pants of enchiladas.” Sometimes our typos are really hilarious.

      1. Oops..hahaha!

        I was trying to proofread my post, but my computer started freezing up, and I figured I better submit it before everything disappeared.

  15. I hope this post finds everyone quiet and content after the holiday. The children and I had a quiet dinner of leftovers for Christmas. The children were all sick and only ate plates of leftovers warmed up as they felt better . I was just happy to have them all home and happier I didn’t catch their yuckies After reading all of Brandys posts the last two years, we had a simple and happy holiday. Sugar cookie called Christmas day and was so excited and said she had her very best happiest Christmas ever. College girl asked me to locate a spectacular gift for a baby shower. I found a swagbucks deal at the Honest company that worked perfectly. I bought a bundle of 7 packs of diapers and 4 packs of wipes for $30.00. She promptly reimbursed me . I picked out a panda bear print as gender neutral options were few. Two of my son’s friends have a new baby. The whole situation makes me sad. I have known the young lady for many years. I can often find great deals on our salvage shopping. We have decided as a family to buy for the baby . This week, I bought 2 pairs of Christmas pajamas for next year. A Christmas book, baby q tips, baby Tylenol ( I guess shots will come soon ) and a Frida nasal aspirator. I love how she loves her baby and that no matter what I provide her with, she is genuinely grateful. I found her a baby bathtub she said she would like to have. I paid one dollar and she was moved to tears. It makes me happy to see my very few dollars help someone. I spent 10 dollars on 3 wk old baby Henry . My son has said he will Venmo me a few extra dollars each month and to just keep helping her. This week’s frugal business has been setting boundaries. Saying no. Not feeling guilty and helping those who really need help. I am reevaluating my budget as we have had several small changes that add up in my favor. I am in love with my solar light bulbs. My children have had a few good laughs at me As usual, I am doing all the normal regular stuff to save money. I’m going to.make a quiche with my Christmas ham and use the rest in a pot of soup . I need to seek out a missing Groupon to use for sugar cookies birthday in February. If I can locate that, I can fund that celebration for very little.

    1. I wish that I lived closer to you. A friend who recently moved left behind many baby items, many of these new still packaged baby boy items. Would love to pass them on to you. Perhaps I can sell these and venmo you the money to help your family friend.

      1. Laura, that is so sweet of you to offer. I live in an area where we have salvage stores all over the place. That makes getting really good stuff for up to 90 % off. We have several thrift stores but we have one that is really low priced and every Monday everything is half price. I love Venmo. Modern technology amazed me. My son left to go back to base today and told me, if I found Henry anything to just get it and message him. He gets his phone about once a week and he said he would reimburse me. I budgeted little old Henry 10.00 out of my monthly budget and I think we can do great things. The mommy messaged with me today discussing his future clothing needs. I believe me and Henry are going to be best buddies. I got a snuggle yesterday and it was priceless.

  16. That looks like a wonderful plate of delicious munchies! I’ve heard from more & more friends that they’re leaning away from the two big meal traditions (T’giving & either Christmas or Hanukkah) for the reasons of health, expense, & time. Especially if they’re usually hosting. Several have turned to having a soup buffet & asking others to bring their favorites. Others bring desserts, breads, crackers, drinks, etc. Multiple crock pots make that real easy to carry out. I think I’d love that idea. There’s just so much heavy food everywhere that I start craving lighter things.

    Tomorrow begins my annual New Year’s tradition. I break out my Complete Tightwad Gazette and my 2 Frugal Luxuries books and read them cover to cover all month. I’ve been doing this for so many years now. Since my needs have gone from that of a newlywed to looking at retirement in several years, I always find something new I can use. I love that! I always come away feeling re-energized to save money and it gets my creative juices rolling for some DIY.

    Since we paint a room in our house every year and are about to finish the master bed/bath, I’m trying to decide on a room for next year. I WANT it to be the hall bath because it’s due after 10 yrs. However, I’m switching the guest room and craft rooms. The craft room will now be upstairs and the guest room will be in the basement. Now that our moms aren’t a consideration anymore 🙁 , the privacy downstairs is better for guests plus the obvious that I use the craft room nearly every day and I love being able to just pop in for things. Back to the painting thing, the new guest room will desperately need a new paint job. I have a brand new quilt already so I’ll choose the color from that design. I always plan a year ahead to get the paint for 40% at the Sherwin Williams sales and if needed, I can shop for anything else I’ll need. I doubt I’ll need anything else to do the guest room as it’s a pretty simple room. I do like the idea of saving the money from that decision.

    We found some replacement lights for the outside strings at 66% off at Hobby Lobby. Love that! We bought all they had, which was about 52 bulbs.
    We found a couple of other little goodies, as well,. I found strings of plastic crystal beads. Larger ones that look great hanging from a watering can spout for spring/summer yard décor. They only had 3 of those left at about $1 each. I got a new suction wreath holder for the front storm door. That one has the over the top kind, but it scratches up the metal and causes rust. I’ll move that one to the garage yard door and put a plain grapevine wreath on it. We didn’t buy one, but I saw lots of artificial trees selling. Either Hobby Lobby didn’t overstock this year or they had some CRAZY days right after Christmas. 2 yrs. ago, I went when it was 90% off and there was much more to choose from. It was slim pickings on Friday.

    Aside from the money allotted for that after stuff, we didn’t spend much of anything. Even with that, we didn’t spend all of it. There just wasn’t much out there that we wanted/needed.

    With the low gas prices, our gas spending for the month was great! We spent less than $40 for both cars for the whole month!! I still have more than half the budgeted cash left over for that.

    I only need milk, eggs, & whole wheat flour in the way of groceries this week. I’m glad for that and I’m ready for some light light meals of brothy soup with some good veggies! No…..more…..ham!!! It’ll probably take me until mid-Feb. to take out that ham bone for soup.

    Happy New Year, all!

    1. Debby, you might enjoy looking at the blog “Frugal Minimalism”, she has a month of frugal ideas coming to you each day. I love the Tightwad Gazette too! ann lee s

  17. Beautiful food spread! Glad you had a more relaxed Christmas Day!
    I said no a lot and ate a lot less. By eating less, my temperament made it easier to say no. 🙂
    The homemade gifts I wasn’t sure about were the recipients Christmas favorites (phew). This boosted my morale to stay the course again this year ($10 opp, plus anything that can be made with my stash).
    I took on some extra work in Novemember to cover my decreased hours at my job over the holidays. Other than leafy greens, yogurt and gasoline – this will be a closed wallet month (Jan).
    Wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous new year!

  18. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :).

    Brandy most times the simple things are the best and I am glad you did it and were able to have a more relaxing Christmas Day. We did the same after moving as we were exhausted, still sorting out the home and unpacking and finding places for everything. We decided to go with a homemade platter of triple smoked ham we purchased on sale on Christmas Eve, crackers, cabanossi also purchased on sale, cucumber and carrots and dip for lunch. For dinner we chose to have BBQ steak bought on special cooked on the BBQ, homemade pasta salad and sparkling grape juice also purchased on special. Didn’t even make bread and purchased 2 loaves of wholemeal bread which lasted us almost all week. It was a nice break to just have mostly cold meats and salads in the heat of summer here with minimal cooking.

    We have found out that we also have mystery trees which I have identified and they are 3 mulberry trees and a possible mandarin tree that are planted in our other half of the property. I am thrilled and the mulberry trees are fruiting but will require fertilising and watering shortly.

    Our savings last week added up to $1667.77 :).

    House organisation –
    – Unpacked all of our grocery stockpile and put it on 4 x 5 shelf gorilla shelving units we purchased in the food storage room. Everything is now rotated new to the back older to the front date wise and ready to use.
    – We reused one of the 2 door kitchen pantries to put all of our medications, medical kit, vitamins, minerals and supplements in.

    Water and electricity savings –
    – We are reusing the grey water from our washing machine to water ornamental shrubs planted around the home, potted canna & calla lilies and spider plants and for flushing the toilet with rather than using town water.
    – Purchased a 25lt water drum with tap which we fill up once a day and use the water for filling the kettle, filling drink bottles, a bucket for hand washing water and dishwashing water. This saves the rain water tank pump kicking in every time we want a drink, to fill the kettle or wash our hands saving a lot in electricity costs.
    – Using our shower warm up water to water potted herb and fruit trees again saving on town water usage.

    In the gardens –
    – Between us, DH and I, we spent 13 hours mowing lawns, mulching ornamental shrubs and trimming star jasmine and mulberry tree branches so we could get the ride on lawn mower under them to mow saving $585 over hiring a gardener to do it.
    – Between DH and I we spent 6 hours loading the trailer for 3 loads of green waste to the tip saving another $270 over hiring a gardener to do it for us.
    – Spent another hour between us filling in dog dig holes (from previous tenants before we purchased the home) in the lawns and sheds with dirt kindly supplied to us free by our neighbour saving another $45 in getting a gardener in.

    Groceries –
    – We did go Christmas Eve shopping and purchase specials on triple smoked shaved ham from the deli, reduced priced cooked roast chickens, some electrolytes, medical supplies, sparkling apple juice, sauces, topped up our battery supplies, BBQ lighters and other groceries saving 34.08% or $63.63 including specials, clearances and our roadside assist gift cards. The best specials were cooked roast chickens @$4.50 ea reduced from $9 each and triple smoked leg ham @ $3.60 per kg reduced from $18 kg of which we purchased just over a kilogram.
    – We broke off the chicken meat and packaged the ham in meal sized portions for the freezer.

    Purchases –
    – Bought a 100 lt ride on lawnmower towable sprayer with trailer for $315 saving $438 on prices locally.
    – Purchased a 20lt electric battery operated backpack sprayer saving $31.19 on usual prices.
    – Purchased a trailer hitch lock coupling for $22 saving $22.95 over buying locally.
    – Bought a 90 cm dual fan forced oven on Boxing Day special saving $212 on usual prices. Just so happens that it was reduced by a further $100 from what it was advertised online as a store special when we went to buy it and we got the only one in stock.

    Still unpacking and organising but we are getting there slowly.

    Have a great week ahead everyone.

    Sewingcreations15.

  19. Hello all in our final hours of 2018! Many accomplishments and some frugal failures this year, but I have been researching all the ways to make 2019 more frugal. My first stop.. right here! All of you inspire me so much to find ways to save money. So, for the holidays I…
    1. decided not to do a traditional dinner Christmas day. We made gumbo instead and I already had the chicken, bought the sausage and shrimp on sale, and we had plenty with leftovers.
    2. Made candy on Christmas Eve with my grandchildren with purchased sale items. We had a blast creating memories, especially the snowmen oreos that looked more like flower oreos, LOL>
    3. Stocked up on flour, cornmeal, sugar, etc. while it was on sale. Freezer is full again and I’m ready for the new year on pantry items.
    4. Our church does a New Year’s banquet. We have to bring a meat and vegetable dish. I cooked a ham that was given to my husband from his employer. It was a huge, boneless ham worth about 60 dollars. I made bacon ranch pasta salad with ingredients I already had on hand, so no out of pocket expense for tonight’s banquet. (We have to make enough to feed around 120 or more people!)
    5. Some of the ladies in our church are on a group text called “Swap Shop” where we post items for free or cheap. I scored 13 new shirts for $16.00. I have lost about 20 pounds and my clothes don’t fit anymore, but I didn’t want to buy new clothes because I am still losing weight, so this was a good way to get some clothes that fit and do it cheaply. I also posted some of the blouses I can’t wear anymore and sold them, so I actually came out a little cheaper.
    6. New Year’s Day will be spent with friends. I am cooking the other ham my husband got at work and a couple of side dishes to take to a friend’s house, all from my pantry, so no money out of pocket there.
    7. We don’t do Christmas gifts, but since we have moved into our new house, I have wanted to start new traditions with our family. So, for our New Year’s breakfast/brunch, I got each family member a small $5 happy to put at their place at the table.

    That’s all for now. Happy New Year all!

  20. Living in New England, my grandparents made a woolen curtain that they hung every winter over the entrance to the upstairs. It helped keep the heat on the first floor where everyone spent their time. They also had a woolen curtain hanging over the doorway between the foyer and the living room.

    I love the story about your mother and was thinking, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

    • Made a buche de noel and soleil tarte and brought to a friend’s house for an Italian Christmas Eve Seven Fishes dinner.
    • Ordered movies from interlibrary loan using the computer and then picked them up at our local library.
    • Had annual physical on 12/27 and MD recommended a baseline bone density scan. Came right home and called around to see if any facilities had an opening in 2018 that were located within an hour of my house as I had already reached the annual deductible, making the test at no cost to me. Found an opening!
    • Made double batch of pizza dough and froze one. Made a white pizza with ricotta, spinach, garlic and mozzarella. Baked double batch of whole wheat banana bread. Cooked cauliflower au gratin from Dorie Greenspan book and a broccoli/wild rice/cheese casserole from Smitten Kitchen.
    • My son cut down a large maple tree in our backyard and our neighbors came over to help cut it ALL up into small pieces – both kindling and logs. Neighbors took all the wood to use in their wood stove. A win-win for all!
    • Cooked dried beans in slow cooker overnight.

    Happy New Year everyone! May we all be blessed with good health, solid finances, and joyful hearts.

  21. What a week it’s been! 16 extra kids/grandkids in town for the holidays! Tons of food consumed from my pantry! Grateful that I prepared lots of meals in bulk ahead of time! This meant we had smoother mealtimes and more time to visit .
    Our granddaughter from CA was baptized here on Saturday since both sets of grandparents and 9 of our children and their children were able to attend. We hosted a lunch afterwards at our house for about 50 of our family/friends. https://pin.it/inec5tsuinndqr Again, grateful for our pantry that I allowed me to make the lunch menu from!
    After 10 days we are down to just 5 extras so it will be much easier the rest of this week!
    The business has been doing well even during the holidays when we stopped making any new Soup Cozies or flannel Softies and so today I started back at my sewing machine today (a week earlier than I planned to!) Here are the first 3 sets of new ones. https://pin.it/w3hfftvysvjkk3
    We have ended 2018 having sold 125 sets of Soup Cozies and 45 sets of Flannel Softies! We had no idea that in just 3 short months, my decluttering project of fabric scrap using would have such a great response!
    I made lots of holiday treats for family and friends and even found two chocolate molds- Santas and Snowmen ( 25 cents each at Salvation Army thrift store!) to use up extra melted chocolate from the other treats! The tins I used to package treats in to give as gifts also came from SA for 25 cents each!

    I bought 3 five pound bags of Spring Mix salad greens for $1/bag and 6 more big bags of chopped kale for $5 total! My chickens are loving some of those and rewarding us with an increase in egg production! Oh how we love those fresh eggs!
    What a wonderful year for us! I am looking forward to 2019!! Hubby will retire the end of May and we can work together on our little urban homestead in the hood!! With our chickens and our fruit trees and veggie gardens, we can attest to the fact that it’s possible to become more self reliant/self sufficient no matter where you live!
    Hope you and all your followers will also have joy and contentment and a sense of peace in the coming year as your continue to become even better stewards of all that you are blessed with!

    Pat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  22. Fresh Market had holiday print reusable shopping bags with the hard plastic bottom insert for 75 cents each on Christmas Eve so I bought a few. I had several small items for my family that I wrapped in tissue paper and then put into the shopping bags. Each family member was tickled to have a bag full of Christmas goodies and I was tickled to have sturdy bags that can be used for many Christmases to come. Brandy, thank you so much for all the work that you put into this blog. This site has blessed many!

  23. Your Christmas celebration sounds perfect. I’m glad everyone was happy with their presents.
    We found ourselves in Canada on Friday night to visit Jackson Park light display in Windsor. It was such a beautiful large display. This tree kept changing colors and was timed with music. We hope to make this a annual tradition.
    We spent $10 total to cross the bridge back and forth (I don’t like tunnels) and $8 at Tim Horton’s for a warm up coffee and donut (I think Canada has better Tim Horton’s than we do). The display and parking were free (I still can’t believe that). A very frugal outing.
    I also downloaded a couple of Kindle free books that I post everyday.
    You can read my other frugal accomplishments here https://www.vickieskitchenandgarden.com/2018/12/my-frugal-ways-this-past-week-123018.html

  24. My husband’s sister died Dec. 11 so we went back to MN for a week. We usually stayed with her, but this time stayed with her oldest son. We so enjoyed getting to know him and his family in a new way. The funeral went well and served as a family reunion in many ways. After we got home, I had one day at home repacking, then went to Kaktovik for Christmas. I was the only hotel guest, but have become friends with the staff so did not feel lonely. I went to do the church service, give a devotion before Santa came on Christmas Eve, and attend the Whaler’s Feast. Now I’m home and catching up a bit. My husband has taken the week off except for doing the service yesterday and attending a class so we can volunteer with a program for homeless families.

    This has not been an frugal month with another trip to MN but I was thankful we were able to travel when needed. Thanks to all who prayed foe Sandy, She is now without pain which is a comfort.
    Brandy, the new site is easy to read, but I wonder if somehow the entries could be numbered to make it easy for those of us who rarely read the entire entries at once. I usually read a page or two at a time so I have something to look forward to the next day. wishing a blessed and frugal New Year to all on this website!

    1. Alaskan Gran I am sorry to hear of the passing of your husband’s sister and hugs to you both at this sad time, you will both be in our prayers.

    2. Alaskan Gram:
      I hope the rituals you described were comforting to you. Sounds like you made some good new memories to add to the old joys for yourself and your family, which is so important!

  25. Wishing you a blessed 2019, Brandy! I have a question regarding your laundry soap recipe. Do you still use the Olay bar soap? I have trouble finding it. Thanks!

  26. I haven’t commented in a while as it’s been insane here. As many people know, Alaska was hit with a 7.0 earthquake November 30th and it’s been pretty devastating to many. My home and property suffered some pretty bad damage and we’ve just been working through it all month around the aftershocks, schools being shut down till about three days before Christmas break due to the damage they sustained and just general surreal craziness surrounding the entire event. It’s hard as we didn’t have money before the earthquake and now we are dealing with a whole new scad of bills. I just keep faith that God was watching over us all as we are all still here…no small miracle….and it will work out and be all right.

    It’s been a rough year. I’m actually happy to see it tick over. I’m praying next year is better.

    This week’s frugal post can be found here. Happy New Year everyone!

    http://makedohomemaker.blogspot.com/2018/12/frugal-friday-money-saving-weekly-recap_29.html

    1. Erika, I am so sorry for this new challenge in your life. May 2019 be kinder to us all. Much Grace to you and yours.
      Patricia/Fl

  27. We had a nice Christmas at home. My plan was to make a German Chocolate Pie for dessert, but I discovered I was out of coconut, so we had chocolate pecan pie instead, which was very good.
    My husband enjoyed his homemade gifts – he wore the shirt right away, put his old pajama pants in the rag bag and wore the new ones, and said he had been needing new handkerchiefs. My FIL has called twice to tell me how much he loves the leggings I knitted for him (he suffers from nerve damage and his lower legs are always cold.) The second time it was to tell me he has hardly taken them off and they are helping a lot. I am so happy they are making him more comfortable, and that I was able to provide an appreciated gift for a man who is hard to buy for. (And the leggings cost me nothing but my time – the yarn was given to me.)
    We pooled Amazon GCs we received to buy a logging tool my husband has been wanting. He cuts four or more cords of firewood every year and this will make the job easier.
    I cut up two old pairs of pajama pants and a pair of much-patched blue jeans for rags, and cleaned out my closet and donated a bunch of clothes to the Humane Society thrift store.
    I inventoried my freezer and pantry and came up with a month’s worth of meals. My hope is to stay out of the grocery stores during January, except for a Costco trip when I am in the city at the end of the month.
    I downloaded several audio books from the library and listened to them while I knit and quilted.
    We have had a lot of snow and went snow-shoeing twice this week on trails in our neighborhood. Free entertainment and good exercise!

    1. Cindi, what a great idea about the leggings for your FIL. Is there a pattern that you used? My hubby suffers from poor circulation in his legs and ankles, even after vascular surgery. I wonder if the knitted leggings would work for him. The precribed compression stockings run $85 a pair, out of pocket.

      1. Check out an online site call The Compression Store. I was able to find compression stockings much less expensively there. They also have ones with zippers which make them much easier for people whose fingers don’t work well (like me!) to put on. I have only ordered from them once but the service was prompt and I am happy with the product.

      2. This is the pattern I used: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/super-easy-leg-warmers (You may have to register with Ravelry to download it, but registration is free, and worth it for all the free patterns and advice)
        These do not provide any kind of compression, so they can’t take the place of compression stockings — they just provide added warmth underneath his slacks. They have ribbing at the top and bottom to keep them in place and fit well, but not too snug.

  28. This past week I worked extra hours for co-workers who wanted time off;
    I was very pleased that I had done all my Christmas shopping throughout the year as I saw deals, bargains and sales. Thankfully my family enjoys a marked down or second hand gift. I was also able to purchase a lot of great things from Amazon, for free as I redeemed my swagbucks for giftcards;
    When the zipper broke on my coat I found a new to me winter coat for $8 on FB site;
    I mended a pair of pants for my daughter;
    I made tags for next years Christmas gifts from the Christmas cards I received;
    I wanted a calendar daytimer type book for 2019…I found an unused notebook I already had and wrote in the days myself.
    I am planning and have started crafting some gifts for the upcoming year, using supplies already on hand;
    I continued to work on SB when I had a few moments.

    Thank you Brandy for such a beautiful site and creating a wonderful community. Always enjoy reading everyone’s frugal accomplishments.

  29. Your cheeseball look delicious! My frugal accomplishments for the week are
    *baked 3 types of cookies and made cookie trays for family gifts.
    *bought 2 shirts marked half off at the thrift store.
    *received an $8 credit at Food Lion for purchasing items that were on my list and on special.
    *saved tissue paper, bags and ribbon to reuse next year.
    *made cinnamon rolls Christmas morning and put a batch in the freezer for another time.
    *sewed buttons on several pairs of pants and sewed a sheet that had torn.
    *attended Christmas eve service at our church for a sweet time of fellowship.
    *brought home leftovers from Christmas dinner at my parent’s house.
    *baked a cake using a mix from my pantry for a funeral meal at church.
    *gave candles bought at 75% discount to ladies in my bible study group. Tied a small candy cane (purchase last year at 50% off) on each with twine.
    *made a meal for a new mother using all pantry ingredients.
    *purchased pork loin for $1.49/lb.
    *purchased a bag of 7 avocados for $2.50.
    *accepted half of a spiral ham that my parents ate on and couldn’t finish.
    Happy New Year to all!

  30. I love to have a sperad of hors d’oervres like this on Christmas Eve. It looks beautiful!

    I had a small standing rib roast, and roasted winter vegetables for Christmas dinner. A few days afterwards with leftovers, including snadwiches made with French bread and slices of beef for lunch. A real treat for several days.

    I’ve done a few more days of transcription than I expected, which makes the budget a little easier. Interesting subjects though, each time. Still plenty of time to do some work around the house, a little reading, and a nap or two. I baked peach muffins, and had popocorn for snacks.

    We had snow one night, followed by a couple of days of bitter cold. The snowplow driver remembered to raise the blade of the snow plow at my driveway and in front of my neighbors, after my complaints to the village the last time. My neighbor shoveled the snow off my sidewalk, since she didn’t have to clear the piles of snow around her car left by the plow. On Tuesday, I will clear the driveway, which is not a very big job if everything else has been cleared. We have some mild days in the forecast now.

    I received half a lb of coffee free with another purchase. I worked late enough today that I did not get to the store to buy anything special for New Year’s Eve. I am happy with a pasta dish, and a glass of wine, and popcorn as a snack.

  31. I love the lunch you made. It is so pretty and appetizing. I love having finger foods on holidays. Later in the month, we will have a small family gathering for my husband’s side of the family, and we are doing finger foods for that. My husband is usually asked to make cheese balls for holidays, and we enjoyed one this year, too. Cream cheese has been quite reasonable around here, for the holidays, so I got what we needed for Christmas, and I also have a few extra boxes to take me into the new year.

    Today, we went to the movies. I had not been to a movie in a theater for a few years. My adult son, who is on the autism spectrum, and the love of his life, had a lot of gift cards they had been given and told me on Christmas that they were having a hard time getting to spend them, as their staffs (they live in 2 different places) were not able to take them very often. So, we made a plan to take them today. We had some movie tickets we’ve had for years, and used them today. It was very fun. After the movie (they chose Aquaman), we brought them back to our place for hamburgers, chips and ice cream. We had a blast, and my husband is driving them to their homes right now.

    My husband fixed a dresser we have fixed and painted more times over the years than I can remember. It’s good to go for a few more years, now.

    We saved a lot of ripped wrapping paper after Christmas and have been using it to start fires in our wood stove in the mornings. We are using lots of scrap wood and the wood our friends brought us for heat.

    We were given a Christmas gift that enabled us to go to Costco and stock up on things like toilet paper, garbage bags, etc., along with a few food items. I’m happy to have those things back in my stock!

    Pictures on on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/12/31/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-december-30-2018/

    Right now, I’m feeling a tad bit frustrated. I made a plan, went shopping for 2 weeks, using the first of the January grocery budget with the intention to not shop except for perhaps milk and definitely produce for my husband, and already (on Monday) had to put 3 more items on my list!!! Odd things–like waxed paper. So, I’m going to go as long as I can with what I have and scrounge around in the camper a bit, and hopefully put shopping off for as long as I can. Tomorrow, I hope to look around at my pantries and freezers and cupboards and make a 2-week menu plan, targeting foods that have been around for a while. I did make some progress with that goal in December and actually have a few gaps on my garage shelves, according to plan. I want to make sure that my stockpile is rotated so none goes bad, so I want to keep on with this project during January.

    Right now, I have pinto beans soaking on the counter and plan to make chili tomorrow, with the little bit of the thawed hamburger that I did not need to make enough patties for our company today. We all got plenty of food, and I will get several more meals out of the hamburger by stretching it with the beans. I also went to my canning cupboard and brought in a selection of jam and fruits, and put some in the fridge to make it handy to grab them for meals.

  32. Thanks, Brandy, for your comments about free bird photography course. I also found an interesting site from my public library about my camera model. The other day I saw a White-throated Sparrow which ought to have migrated south a few months ago. I was lucky enough to get a photo.

    I enjoyed Christmas dinner at the church. There were prizes for games and gifts. I gave my gifts away.

    A friend dropped off a late gift — a very pretty tea towel from her trip to Australia which I can surely use. Happy New Year, everyone!

  33. Our BIG frugal thing for December is that we paid off husband’s car on the 15th. WOOHOO!!! 2.5 years early and about 6 months earlier than our original goal of summer 2019. This was due to an inheritance from my grandmother, who passed at the end of November (and would have been overjoyed to know we used it to pay toward the car – she was a true financial whiz). Then husband received back pay the military owed him for some things. That put us at the payoff amount so our main Christmas gift was the car title arriving from the bank. *happy dance*

    Other things were bringing in some income on my part by selling several articles and receiving a cash bonus for working extra this month at my part-time office position in town. My daughter graduated from her GED program just before Thanksgiving and moved up to her dad’s, where she plans to attend nursing school, so my diesel bill for driving her to school is now gone, and of course there is the savings of less utilities, food, etc as she heads off onto her adventures. Kept the heat low in the house, husband and son went places with father-in-law over his visit (I was at work most days) and he insisted on treating them to several meals out. Got a bit of time off thanks to holidays and have used it to query on more articles, work on meal plans, work out at home and at the base gym (classes cost a few dollars, but I’m just using the treadmill so that’s free). Needed new shoes, as did husband – he found a pair that were less than the base store, even after tax; I had to pay full price for one pair but got a second of the same in a different color on clearance. My first set of the same thing lasted me 8 years by rotating between two colors of the same style shoe, so hopefully I can match that record. LOL We went grocery shopping today and earned a $20 gift card at Target (household supplies $50 = $15 card and yogurt $15 = $5 card). $3.50 back in Ibotta and used the receipt to enter for a $500 drawing on Checkout51. Picked up other groceries at our food co-op and used our 5% member discount for the month, which we learned even comes off the clearance and closeout items that were in our bin. Lastly a trip to the commissary – I had $10 in coupons, including a free box of Stove Top.

    Lots more but so much is what we do all the time – those are what stand out for the month. Wishing everyone a very happy, safe, and prosperous New Year!

  34. I really need to get back into frugal mode since we finally found myself a vehicle.

    We got 5 dozen free eggs from hubby’s boss, topped with 5 dozen I purchased at Walmart for .78 each

    Hubby has been enjoying free breakfasts on days he works thanks to the teen earning a lot of free items from a local convenience store chain

    I used up several free pizza coupons from Little Cesar’s

    We ate our fill of Christmas leftovers so I used my food saver to seal up 2 dinners worth of leftover brisket

    We had a lot of fruit I was afraid was going to go bad so I dehydrated it. Now we can take our time enjoying papaya and mango

    I bought 10 boxes of chocolate covered cherries after Christmas for .50 a box. I put 6 in the the freezer to eat at a later time

    I also purchased 4 small fruitcakes for .75 each. Hubby already at 2.

    I purchased 4 body wash sets on clearance to use since they worked out to be cheaper than buying just 1 bottle

    I signed up for kindle unlimited for $9.99 for 3 months

  35. Years ago my husband and I, who are computer nerds, designed a database that we use to enter what we spent that day, every single day. No expenditure is too small, even five cents. It continually tallies what we spend, so I always know where we are day to day, plus for the year to date. At the end of the year it compares the final results for the last 10 years across every category. This afternoon we had to buy milk and that was the last purchase we entered for 2018. I am proud to report that every year for the last five, we have continued to reduce our spending in general, but especially our food. And we are eating better quality food. The change has been almost entirely due to three things: menus planned by the weekly sales, carefully buying in bulk when we have the extra money, and making foods from scratch. I think only folks in this group would understand how happy this makes me; I think my friends think I have turned into a tightwad who waits for movies to come out on DVD and makes her own bread and gifts…With prices rising, I don’t think I can lower it much more, but I can at least maintain it. Thanks to all of you for your practical money savings ideas and recipes, many of which I have adopted, and for the continued encouragement of a life minded group of people.

    1. Mable: kudos to you both for using this database, I do it all by hand (and have for years) it does work, I wish more people would realize how helpful it is. I don’t have the skills to use a spreadsheet and the hand method takes very little time once established. annlee s

  36. It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m not out shooting fireworks, partying, getting drunk or landing in jail – that’s a huge money saver! I am having just as much fun at home reading.

    Other, less exciting money saving adventures, Dustin (son #2) was able to come home for a week. It’s a 13-hour drive so these trips are rare. We had a cooking session and I taught him how to make chicken pot pies using chicken, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, a can of veg-all and store-bought crusts. Making them from scratch is beyond his bachelor skills ability.

    When he left, I packed his car full of home canned goodies, supplies purchased on sale with coupons, filled his car, mine, and extra cans with gas from Kroger using 40 cents off from points earned. Picked a huge basket of greens from the garden, washed and fixed them to eat when he gets back. I also packed a large lunch so he won’t need to stop on the road and eat.

    Joshua, (son #1) came home to visit for a few days and I sent lunches packed and ready for him to take to work. That’s where he wastes the most money, on lunches at work. He is busy and just grabs something. Since he is trying to be more frugal this year (very hard for him), I am trying to help.

    Found canned cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom, and peas on clearance for $.25 a can. They don’t expire until 2020 so I picked up cases of each kind.

    Followed the advice of Lillianna and have been looking for additional ways to coupon.

    We had a week of warm weather (up in the ’50s) which was a real surprise so now the winter garden is really producing. I am harvesting as much as we can eat.

    I am glad the holidays are over and now it is time to wish for spring.

    Jeannie @ http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/

    1. So glad both your sons were able to come home for a while! My son was able to come home from his school, but heads back tomorrow. It has been nice to have him around! The warm weather has surprised us as well. I have never done a winter garden—what are you growing? Since we are both in TN, I might be able to grow the same things. . .

      1. Susan, I have grown over 50 different kinds of vegetables through the winter and there are many more that will survive. It is a combination of using varieties which can thrive in the cold weather, then covering the plants with cheap hoop houses. I am 50 miles south of Nashville in garden zone 6b/7a (really closer to 7a). If you are close, or ever come through my area, I would love to take you on a tour and share seeds. Check out my blog where last month I showed pictures of many of the plants. Click on “Winter Garden” and it will show you gardens from years past. I would love to help you grow one next year. We have saved more money than I can imagine by eating from the garden year round. It is easier than a summer garden because there aren’t any bugs!
        http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2018/11/novembers-garden-2018.html
        Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

        1. Ooo! Thank you SO much!
          I am off to check out your blog post right now! We are near Chattanooga, so our garden zone should be very similar. Winter gardening is completely new to me, as I grew up in Michigan so Winter gardening consisted of simply shoveling snow!

  37. I’m glad you had such a nice Christmas. We did, too!

    I spent $306 on non-covered chiropractic care last month. The adjustments felt good at the time, but I wasn’t getting lasting relief. I told my chiro that I was going to get an Xray and we would go from there…which is true. (I didn’t say who “we” are). I have an appointment Thursday with my MD.

    I cut off and hemmed 4 curtain panels for my bedroom. I bought them on clearance and couldn’t get the right size. It was worth it because I not only got the clearance price, but an additional 20% off on all four. Part of my “usual frugal stuff” is to mend and do simple alterations myself. I am hanging the curtains on two decorative rods I bought years ago at a thrift store for $5, including 4 matching tie-backs.

    We had two no-drive, no-spend days, and didn’t spend much nor drive far on the other days.

    I bought bulk spices at Winco for pennies instead of dollars.

    My husband took our daughter to the $3 cinema after first considering the first-run theater. I stayed home because my back hurt, which also saved one admission.

    I dragged the bones from our Christmas beef roast home from Wyoming. I made stock earlier in the week and yesterday I filled the Crock Pot with stock, meat picked from the bones, the dregs from my vegetable drawer, some frozen leftovers and a can of diced tomatoes. Cost: .50 for the tomatoes. This made enough soup for two meals and a lunch for my husband.

    I had to have a floor cleaner repaired because I used vinegar in the water and the acid ate up the nozzle seal. Years ago, I ruined the seal on a carpet cleaner by using different brands of cleaning solutions. I thought it was a crock at the time…that they just wanted to sell me their brand. However, after this, I decided they might have something there. Henceforth, I’ll use Hoover with Hoover and Bissell with Bissell, and skip the vinegar altogether! (Why don’t they tell you in the manual that you will ruin the seals if you use other products?).

    We bought Christmas-decorated shirt boxes on clearance last year to add to our wrapping stash, as a result we did not buy any wrappings for Christmas this year. I did not buy anything on clearance this year because I have enough paper, gift bags and boxes to last at least another 5 years. The curling ribbon should last well into the next century….

    Just a heads-up–if you have Sears/Kmart Shop Your Way points, use them right away! Sears isn’t going to be around much longer, and when they go, the points go. You already can’t use them anymore at Land’s End. I bought vacuum bags with my points today. I figured I could always use bags…and it’s a Kenmore vac, anyway!

    Happy New Year to everyone here!

  38. I got off lightly this year as I was the guest for Christmas for a change (usually I do the entertaining). I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day with my brother & SIL and their children & grandchildren. It was lovely seeing them all again and I was treated to some lovely meals as my brother is a very good cook.
    I went to my BFF’s on Wednesday night and then she returned with me to Toronto on the Friday. The first money I spent was for a meal out on Friday night.
    On Saturday I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and found a lot of meat on sale – I got two packs of ground beef, 1 pack of stewing beef, 2 packs of ground turkey and a small ham, all at 50% off – I wish I’d had room for more in my small freezer!
    On Sunday I went to INDIGO bookstore and used a Christmas GC to purchase a new Day-Timer at 30% off and my favourite magazine (comes out only every 2 months so a small indulgence). I was only out of pocket $6 and the Day-Timer is perfect for tracking this year’s spending – amongst other things.
    I have gone through the freezer and will do some cooking tomorrow – prep more veg and then make a list for the stores. I intend to spend as little as possible this month.
    I hope that everyone has a very happy New Year and that it is a frugal one for all of us!

  39. I leave tomorrow to fly back to NY for work and supporting my son in school. I am stopping in Chicago for a couple days to visit with my daughter in her new life. This was her first Christmas season away from home and it was tough, but she persevered. She has work and I have lesson plans to write, so that works out well! Neither one of us wants to spend any money, so that works out as well too! I will return at the end of June when the weather and funds should be better! I am flying without luggage which saves those fees.

    We have a very generous friend who gifted us a wreath for our house. I brought her some maple candy from NY as a gift as she also had previously given us our couch we love so much. This friend hosted a New Year’s party that ended at 9:00 and insisted we leave with lots of food! My husband works today, so it was perfect time.

    I went to the local free food table and brought home a lot of veggies and fruit. I have shared the food with friends, have some heading to my daughter’s when her brother drives that way back to school, froze some and have been dehydrating for days. They also had frozen hot dogs and taco flavored ground turkey. After everyone took what they wanted, I brought the remainder home as our dogs have hotdogs with their dry food. A wonderful gift! I also found Bagels that DH and DS will eat. This is such a blessing!

    With the world appearing to be spiraling downward, I am concerned about the debt we still have. I just cannot spend any extra money with this debt looming over our heads. I know that as we pray and keep paying things off, it will happen.

    Good news…just received the town tax bill and it did not double like the school taxes did. It is a relief, but still has to be paid by the end of January. We live very rustic in NY, so the minimal taxes on a place we own are not a problem. Although I wish we owned in Wyoming (our permanent residence), I am glad that our rented house includes everything except electric. And that is super cheap here being hydro.

    The unfortunate result of the past 10 years of financial difficulty is that we now have student loans to pay off. That bill is here and is bittersweet. Like paying for college twice! Oh well, we just have to keep going. Thanks frugal friends for the like-minded community.

  40. Happy New Year from England! We had a relatively frugal Christmas, I’d shopped wisely in the weeks running up to the big day so wasn’t hugely out of pocket with regard to food purchases. DH and I have decided to use the cash gifts we received to pay down my credit card (it’s the one with the largest interest rate) which will be good in the long term. Keeping the cash until just before the bill is due though as DH’s hours are very low this month as the theme park he works at is only open weekends. My biggest frugal win is to ‘eat all the food’ and not have any food waste. I am delighted that I only threw away a small amount of cream cheese and about a tablespoon of single cream over the whole holiday period. I’m usually good but I’ve excelled this year and feel quite proud! I’m going to try and cook mainly from the freezer and cupboard during January and reduce my food spend to £100 (usually spend around £350/month). It’ll be hard with a husband and 2 teenage sons, one of which is an elite athlete but fingers crossed meal planning and savvy shopping will get us through. I’ve got a full freezer and cupboard so it’ll just be fresh veggies, dairy and eggs which I’ll need to buy. Wish me luck!!
    Love the new website Brandy, thank you for all your hard work getting it back up and running, missed it greatly when it wasn’t there to keep me on track! Xx

  41. I have read and enjoyed this blog and all the wonderful comments for several years. I have meant to post numerous times, but held back. For the most part, I am a frugal person (I grow a garden, can garden produce and gleaned fruit from friends trees, cook mostly from scratch, shop sales and thrift stores, and mend clothing), but as my children are getting older ( I have an adult son on his own, a daughter finishing up her college education, a son on a Church mission who will be returning home and starting college this year, and a teenager still at home) and our financial situation has improved (my husband owns a business that is affected by economic ebbs and flows), I have gotten a little lacks. With the New Year my husband and I have decided to pay off some lingering medical and credit card debt, and increase our emergency fund. While our kids pay their own tuition we help with books, car insurance, and incidentals. We need to focus on cutting back on unnecessary conveniences and start living frugally, again. I feel like posting my accomplishments each week will help keep me focused and accountable.

    So this week my frugal accomplishments were:
    1. I found a local, faster, and cheaper internet company. I was able to down grade our Century Link plan to just basic phone service (my hubby likes a land line….baby steps). This will save us $50.00 a month.
    2. I only bought milk, apples, toilet paper, and lettuce at grocery store this week. I used the food we had on hand to prepare meals.
    3. I washed laundry in cold water (except for towels and underwear those get washed in hot to kill germs).
    4. I set the timer on the dishwasher to run after 10:00 pm when the rates are cheaper.
    5. We resisted the urge to eat out several times (this is my Achilles heel), and ate simple meals at home on those nights instead.
    6. I bought several rolls of wrapping paper that can be used for multiple occasions on the after Christmas sales.
    7. I saved gift bags, tissue paper, and decorative boxes from Christmas gifts to reuse next year.
    8. I bought eight jelly jars and a new bag of ice melt at the local thrift store.

    I am excited to join all of the amazing people here. I hope everyone has a lovely week!

  42. Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

    The cheese ball tray looks divine, Brandy! I’m glad you were able to enjoy a simpler Christmas celebration this year. Always nice when the holiday season is less stressful for everyone. I’m not sure if the purchase of garage sale finds for gifts is your mom influence on you or your influence on your mom, but I’m glad she is enjoying shopping this way and that she found some amazing gifts for your family. Here is Canada, most of our stores now charge for plastic bags. I now carry a significant stash of reusable bags, that fold into little pouches, in my purse at all times. Why pay for a bag when I can reuse one for free?

    The Holidays has been a flurry of running around for me so far. Looking forward to eventually being able to spend time at home for a change! Even DD is begging for some down time. Hopefully we will get a break sometime this week. Our frugal accomplishments for this week included:

    *Meals made at home included Christmas turkey dinner with all the trimmings, popcorn chicken (from the freezer) with onion rings and a selection of Christmas dinner leftovers, French dip sandwiches with potato chips and pickles, grilled cheese sandwiches with veggies and dip, leftover coleslaw and pickles, homemade turkey barley & veggie soup (used some leftover turkey and carrots, home canned turkey broth, cooked barley from the pantry, plus added frozen mixed veggies) with homemade garlic bread (used hamburger buns from freezer), and chicken low mien stir-fry with veggie spring rolls.
    *My mom and I made strawberry rhubarb pie completely from scratch for the first time, as requested by DD for Christmas dinner, using pantry staples and frozen berries & rhubarb from last summer. This is the recipe link for the pie filing we made: https://www.thebewitchinkitchen.com/strawberry-rhubarb-pie-filling/. We used the leftover pie dough to make a small lemon meringue pie, as requested by hubby. Turned out great, and the strawberry rhubarb was not overly sweet according to my family!
    *We mixed cranberry juice and ginger ale (all bought on sale) for a nice sparkling cranberry cocktail to enjoy with Christmas dinner.
    *On Christmas eve, my MIL took the family out to dinner, as is her tradition for the last few years. The restaurant was packed, as it always is, which I don’t enjoy, but I have little choice in the matter. However, it is a free meal and is kind of MIL to pay for. We then visited with the family at hubby’s brother’s house, then off to the ex-SIL’s house, before returning home late to open gifts there. We get all the gift giving over with on Christmas eve, which alleviates DD’s anxiety and helps us get a good night sleep.
    *As usual, I received some fantastic gifts this year. My brother gave me slicer/shredder attachments for my Kitchen Aide mixer, that he bought using a gift card her received for free. So excited, as this will make food preservation in the fall so much easier. Slicing 20 – 30lbs of carrots is time consuming! Of course it will also help with all the cheese grating we do. I grate a block of cheese almost every week, and sometimes 2! Other gifts included new PJ’s, a jelly strainer stand, a new water bottle, and 2 pairs of soft, warm socks. Very grateful for everything I received!
    *Hubby and I went boxing day shopping. I bought myself 3 new pairs of jeans at Old Navy for $15/pair. This $50 investment will last me for a few years. Ironically, the button on the pair of jeans I was wearing popped off while I was picking out the pants and I had to change into a new pair after I bought them. I picked up some discounted Christmas wrapping supplies (mainly more bags) and Christmas cards, as our stash was low, plus a few gifts to add to my gift stash for next year. Overall, a bit disappointed in the sales this year, though. I will continue to watch for more deals once boxing week is over.
    *Of course we saved as many bags, boxes and tissue paper that was still in half decent condition, to reuse next year. We have done this for years. Saves us a lot of money!
    *We activated the free 7 day family pass to the YMCA on Thursday, so it will last until Jan 2nd. I signed up DD’s friend as “one of the family”, since I only have 1 child, and I also put my brother on it, in case he would like to try out the facility. I am determined to use it as much as possible, since it is free. The girls and I have enjoyed swimming and I even used the exercise equipment. I do like that we are getting some much needed exercise after all the indulging over the holidays.

    That’s about it on the savings front for us. Wishing you all a financially wonderful, incredibly productive and awesomely frugal New Year!

  43. We traveled from Wyoming to the east coast and back during the holidays (4,850 miles) by car. We enjoyed nice 4 night visits with my mother and our daughter and her family. We stayed in motels 2 nights on the way east and 2 nights on the way west. 2 nights were free with hotels.com rewards. It was interesting to see gasoline prices across the country – highest $2.639/gal in Casper, WY and lowest $1.869 in Independence, MO. Overall, gas prices dropped the week after Christmas.

    We brought a small cooler for drinks, cheese, fruit and a few other items. Our hotels had refrigerators (used to refreeze the Blue Ice) and microwaves. We ate a few suppers in our rooms (one night it was leftovers of tomato basil soup and meatloaf from a recent meal I cooked at DD’s house.) We stayed with 2 chains that didn’t offer complimentary breakfast – Motel 6 – not bad but definitely budget and My Place, which features full size refrigerators and a range top and kitchen sink. We also stayed with 2 chains that did offer breakfast – Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn. I had brought some homemade granola bars, homemade biscotti, tea bags and other breakfast items. We ate quite a few picnic lunches as well with cheese & crackers, fruit, raw veggies, cookies, etc.

    We were driving in part to take a family heirloom to DD who lives in very eastern PA,, right next to NJ & NY. I took all the “next size” clothes for DGS (11 years old) since there was space in the car and next time might be by air. He states emphatically that he does not want gifts of clothes, but if I bring them as “not gifts” he pretty much really likes them and wears them right away, regardless of whether they fit or are a bit big.

    We visited 2 National Park sites on the way east, but rescheduled visits to more sites due to the partial government shut down. We had planned NPS sites that are historic buildings or areas and the shut down meant no tours, no going inside, etc.

  44. Happy 2019, all! I could make all my meals of cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres if someone would slice everything up for me.

    I watched YouTube videos on how to use a craft tool my sister sent me, at double speed, (click on the little settings wheel and increase to 2). I only needed a quick general overview. I do this with the luscious desert cooking videos people put on facebook as well.
    Traveled to in-laws and stayed at a chain motel. When I got their follow-up “how was your visit” survey on email, I pointed out an issue that they should have acknowledged by lowering our bill. The manager emailed me within an hour with thanks and credited me with some bonus points in their rewards program. I wrote back with thanks.
    In holiday clearance shopping, I bought two over-door-wreath-hangers for 49 cents. I can use them in bedroom or laundry room, maybe even put a dowel between the loops to make a sideways hanging place. Several years ago, I got an extremely heavy magnet wreath hook on clearance, designed for use on a metal exterior door. It’s just a magnetic base with a hook, and works really well to hold my broom on the side of the refrigerator.
    Totaled up my yearly spending on Sunday newspapers minus coupon savings, and found this year was a loss. Most years, the coupon savings pay for the papers, barely. Paper coupons are getting fewer, and most are for items we don’t use anyway, so I might cut back on the papers, (though I would like to keep printed newspapers, let alone journalism overall, in business!). I started closely tracking coupons some years ago as a way to force myself to pay more attention to grocery prices and sales. For savings per hour of work, I estimate I make less than 20 cents an hour, not a particularly lucrative hobby, though I do enjoy the thrill of the bargain hunt!

  45. I filled out the information needed to get ebooks from out library on my kindle.
    I used left over beef roast scraps to make beef broth.
    I cooked from the pantry… had spare ribs for New Year’s eve that I bought last July 4th at Aldi and used leftover pork roast and leftover kraut today for our meal tonight.
    I pulled deserts twice and one loaf of homemade bread from the freezers. Saved propane by not using stove.
    We walked through our pantry to figure out what Hubby can carry in his lunches as he doesn’t always make it back to the main garage where there is a microwave. We now have a list of 8 that he can rotate through so I don’t have to try to cook 3 servings at dinner which usually ends up at 4.
    We took the Christmas decorations down so that bill will only affect Jan and not Feb also.
    I cut up butternut and froze it. Son 2 loves chicken butternut soup so I thought this summer when he comes up and doesn’t expect it I could make it.
    We were asked to go to a get together New year’s eve but decided against it… one fuel, two taking a dish that was specified that it had to feed 25 plus people and 3 we just don’t like being out that late on that night.
    I dried several loads of laundry on the kitchen porch clothes line and the drying rack
    Our neighbor sent over a pie in thanks of us picking up gasoline for their motor for their clothes washer. Hubby was already heading to town and was dropping off empty egg cartons to them.
    We set the budget for 2019, then today discussed the gardens, pantry and menus.

    http://www.chefowings.blogspot.com

  46. Happy New Year, everyone!

    Haven’t posted in a while. The last 2 months have been a crazy frenzy of out of town visitors, travel and gatherings. Not frugal! But we enjoyed it. And now I am looking forward to being back on track, both financially, health-wise and organizationally.

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Resisted the urge to buy more meat for my freezer. I know the prices were lower this time of year, but I still have meat that I bought this time last year. I plan on eating up what we have for now.
    • Didn’t have to purchase any extra baking ingredients for the Christmas cookies I made. I used what I had.
    • Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we moved my Dad to an assisted living place only 4 miles from my house. He had previously been an hour drive away and I made the drive weekly. This place is $1200 less a month for him, so a good savings for him too. The only difference is that I now have to do his laundry once a week. Small price to pay! It was really nice over the holidays to have him so close.
    • We received an Omaha Steak gift box from my MIL. Enough meat for 5 meals for the 2 of us. I also received 3 cans of tea from my SIL and 3 bottles of wine from my family.
    • Saved all bows and giftbags from Christmas morning. Also got next year’s wrapping paper ½ off after Christmas.
    • Was able to use my earnings from Ibotta for ½ of my gifts this year. Plus, since I opted for the Amazon gift card, I was able to earn additional money on the gifts I purchased with that. I plan on saving up all the rewards in 2019 and use that for gifts again.
    • My cousin had a party for all the cousins in town. I gave her a nice Mikasa Christmas bowl that I had bought last year after Christmas for 80% off (so only spent $6) as a hostess gift. As my contribution to the party food, I made a cheese ball with cream cheese I already had mixed with an Italian dressing packet I had, rolled in slivered almonds I already had. Got an Ibotta rebate on the crackers I used.
    • Continued to work some part-time contract work.
    • Didn’t buy any new Christmas décor. Made do with what I already had.
    • Continued to check books out from the library.

    Have a wonderful week, everyone!

  47. Happy New Year Everyone! Yummy looking food in your pictures Brandy!

    *Was able to cut my grocery bill by 1/4 this past week. We have so many leftovers from the holidays. Just trying to eat those down and not toss food.

    *Made all meals at home except for NYE – we always take the kids out to a certain restaurant every year. It’s good but expensive. I keep wishing we could do something different – but the tradition is very important to my husband and I am happy to let this one go.

    *It has gotten very cold where we are at – so the heat is on. My kids return to school tomorrow. I’m hoping to keep the heat much lower during the day now that the holidays are over and I’m the only one home. Everyone else gets quite cold – but with all my extra padding – I get quite warm.

    *I downloaded the Lose It app in mid-November that Brandy recommended. I’ve been using it everyday – except the week of Christmas. I’ve been able to lose a few pounds so far which is wonderful. But the first couple of weeks I wanted to see how many calories I was really eating just doing what I was normally doing. I am still struggling to keep that under control but I will keep trying. I wanted to download and start using it before the holidays. I don’t like the pressure of starting a lifestyle change of because of a new year. My husband used it too – but decided to stop because he just didn’t have the time to log. I really like the app and enjoy using it.

    *I cooked our big 20 lb turkey for Sunday dinner. I will dividing the meat into freezer bags to use for meals. I made a list of meals to make with it so that I will use it all up in this month.

    Thanks for ideas and inspiration.

  48. Happy New Year Brandy and frugal friends!
    We spent NYE at home with a fire, movie and eating junk we already had. I overspent on groceries for December but now have a ful freezer. This weekend I picked up 12 lbs of boneless chicken breast for $.91 lb. Today I found m & m’s $.95 a bag at Target. January spending will be dairy, salad and fresh fruit. Have a great week everyone.

  49. Love this site and all the comments. I have been on winter break from school spending time planning declutter and organizing as I feel that that will make it easier to be more frugal. Less wasting, and easy to find and locate things rather than repurchasing.
    Today my son and his family came to dinner, and we made homemade rolls for pulled pork sandwiches – rather than purchasing. I also made brownies from scratch.
    Found 2 birthday gifts at after Christmas sales.
    Sold a high chair, thomas play table, and chess game this month, 3 things out. Gave away 2 riding toys with the table.
    My husband purchased a riding mower for our son at an auction for about 1/4 of retail price ( frugal for him)
    Thrift shopping I found granddaughter a Minnie purse like new with a Disney Parks tag for $1.50 – she loved it. Also a $2.00 shirt for myself.
    I have been taking work calls through break and will be paid several extra hours compensation.

  50. Happy New Year-
    -Enjoyed a New Years Eve with several friends with each of us bringing a dish to pass, a beverage to enjoy, and games to play. It was so special.
    -Made fewer Christmas cookies this year, enjoyed the single batches and spent so much less on ingredients.
    -Organizing is the new shopping. I have been cleaning/organizing and finding things I can use. I have enough shampoo and lotion for a long time.
    -Have been rotating my winter sweaters with scarves, necklaces etc. Classic is classic. It is fulfilling and no money spent.
    -Checked out the next book for my book club at the library.
    -Frozen extra cream that I then used to make lemon bars.
    -DH polished his boots, removed mold, saved the boots.
    -Shoveled the driveway, no need to put salt down.
    -Updating our bathroom, paint, ceiling, floor. Doing the work ourselves. Slow but sure.
    -May not purchase a tax program, with the new laws might be able to file simple form and submit.
    -Reviewing our 2018 spending and adjusting for 2019.
    -Recyling the envelopes that the Christmas cards came in, use all year long to write my grocery lists on-then I think of the person who sent me the card.
    -Questioned a medical bill, it’s being reviewed, hoping it will be reduced.
    -Turned the heat down for 5 days while we stayed with our children during Christmas.
    -I made a photo book combining 2 years worth of pictures into one book rather than 2. I got free postage and had a free coupon for a calendar.
    -Took down Christmas decorations and put up winter snowmen, birds etc. I used what I had moved things around, changed items. Nice to spend nothing but have an entirely different decorating feel.
    -Clipped $4 worth of gas coupons from the local free shopper paper.
    -Decided to use the word “decisive” as my slogan word for 2019. I often over think simple things and waste time and energy. I plan to believe more in my decisions and trust my instinct.
    Happy New Year.

  51. Happy New Year-
    Great blog and so fulfilling to read-Thank you.
    -Enjoyed a great holiday with specific savings-made fewer cookies, set spending or gift giving limits, and focused on the true meaning of Chistmas.
    -Trying to not spend; eating out of the pantry and freezer.
    -Turn our temperture down to 62 at nite. It’s 10 outside now, however, expected to warm up.
    The best to you in 2019.

  52. 1. To save money on Christmas this year, I made a Harry Potter ceramic pot for a plant I gave my son for Christmas, decoupaged a Ravenclaw pencil holder for my daughter, made a Star Wars quilt for my son, and a pretty door hanger for my daughter (all gifts were well received..whew)
    2. Celebrated Christmas and New Years at home and with family. We have a huge extended family so we never go out to eat for holidays (which is strange to some people apparently)
    3. Decluttered all of our rooms and closets. Then rearranged furniture between bedrooms to make a refreshing change for no out of pocket costs.
    4. Saved a lamp shade from a broken lamp to replace one that my kids broke on another…sigh
    5. Earned $33 in credit card reward points
    *Pictures are on my blog https://thethriftyeducator.com/2019/01/02/frugal-things-6/

    1. Elizabeth, did you design the Harry Potter stuff or did you find a pattern? My best friend is an HP fanatic & has a den dedicated to it. For her birthday every year, I try and add to her existing obsession!! I’d love to see what you did.

    2. Elizabeth, I just saw the picture link!! Really cute. I might paint the Harry Potter image on a pencil can though because she has cats that love to pull plants up!!

      1. I get all my ideas from Pinterest. The pot and the pencil holder were too adorable not to make and both were relatively easy. The hardest part was getting the paper on the pencil holder to not crease while I put on the decoupage. I think maybe I should have laminated it first?? Maybe a helpful hint for you:)

  53. Happy New Year Frugal Friends! This is the first Christmas that we cash flowed and I am so excited. I set a budget for everyone and we stayed within it by buying items on sale and/or with a coupon. I also picked up several gifts for my girls from our local thrift store. I asked my parents to get my girls some practical gifts and one small toy item along with gift cards. They gave me a programmable crock pot which I am excited to try. I need to find some good healthy meals that will cook for me while I am at work. My in-laws are very different and just buy whatever they want to give. One of their gifts to both girls would have taken up lots of space and didn’t really do anything. I knew they shopped a lot at Costco and so I returned them for cash which was used to stockpile diapers. We host them for Christmas usually, last year I made a huge dinner and purchased an already cooked turkey. This year I did not want the stress of all that cooking and expense so we invited them for brunch. I made a lovely fruit salad and a delicious caprese style egg casserole and my MIL made homemade cinnamon rolls. We served it with coffee and orange juice and it was perfect! The girls had plenty of time to visit with their grandparents and enjoy their new toys all before nap time! We have been needing a new trash can for a while, the step that opens it broke and after fixing it several times it quit working. I knew if we could hold off until Christmas we would be receiving gift cards and so we purchased a new one at Target! I have also found a Disney princess doll for $3 and a few other things on clearance to put up for my oldest birthday in February. My husband and I sat down and discussed our financial goals for the next two years and came up with a new budget for 2019. We both feel comfortable with it and promised to keep each other accountable. I have been selling on Facebook and want to continue cleaning out and minimizing the clutter while making some cash from it.

  54. -Hubs fixed cpap machine by looking for tips on youtube. He sleeps better with it and so do I since I don’t hear him snore. 
    -Sold unneeded area rug and metal screen for extra cash.
    -Hubs is a carpenter and made a beautiful tea box for DIL present
    -Roasted a gifted turkey for Christmas day
    -A hunter friend gifted us with several venison roasts and sausage.
    -Received practical gifts for Christmas (crochet hooks, yarn bowl, boots, new pillow, coffee)
    -Used leftover Chex mix and cookies from an early December party for gifts for my employees
    -Last minute prescription refills and blood draw before the end of year before deductibles start over
    -Went to dinner on New Years Eve (anniversary) enough left over for lunches next day.
    -Meal plan for this next week using meat purchased on sale in the freezer
    -Reducing amount of laundry soap and fabric softener used in each load
    -I keep lowering the heat by a degree every few days. Nobody has said anything so I will keep lowering until they complain.
    -Offered left overs to both my sons who are both struggling to make ends meet right now.
    -Decided to cut way back on our gift budget for next year. My kids are adults so they understand holidays are about family being together and not so much gifts. Plan is for one small purchased gift each and then some home made goodies. Hubs and I both get a substantial bonus at year end from our employers which we usually use for Christmas, but we will use this for debt reduction instead.
    -Helped Hubs clean out the garage so we can fit large mower, snow blower, motorcycle (will sell this in the Spring), etc inside to get these out of the elements. Hopefully this will make them last longer.

  55. I enjoy reading people’s ideas so much. The comments are inspiring lessons in self-reliance. Thank you so much. I also enjoy the beautiful photography. It elevates the ideas to an art form.

  56. Everyone has written about the lovely gifts they received. I know it may sound silly but my favourite thing that I receive is a letter
    each year from an old friend. I write him a long hand-written letter and in turn receive one from him. It is always such a thrill to see the envelope from England arrive and to read his news. He is 87 so the time may arise when no letter comes but for now I treasure his letters.

    I stopped at the store and they had a bag of oranges for $0.99 (99 cents) which was a great deal and a bunch of overripe bananas for 25 cents. I bought shredded cheese on sale but am going to start shredding my own soon. I have a Kitchen Aid with the attachments someone mentioned here. I almost never use the Kitchen Aid but will start. I bought 4 bags of egg-free pasta for $5.00 and saved $4.00. I bought another 4 bags to stock up the pantry. I bought a small plain yogourt on sale and then used the last tablespoon as a face mask. A friend has picked up apples for 99 cents a pound today and will bring them tomorrow. I could not be in two places today so she was kind enough to pick them up. Tomorrow apples will be 42.99 and $3.99 per pound depending on variety.

    I made split pea soup with the left over ham bone. It was really good.

    On my computer, I watched the new year’s concert from Venice on Rai Play (Rai is Italian tv). I practiced my Italian listening/comprehension skills while listening to the lovely music from Venice. Shortly, I’ll listen to Rai (streamed on my computer) and hear the New Year’s programme from Vienna. (It was a tradition that my mother would come over to my apartment to watch it each year). The cost is nothing.

    It is beautiful weather in Calgary. I found an hour to sit outside yesterday and saw a beautiful red male House finch. I was so fortunate to get a great close-up photo of him in all his splendour. Although I have seen them in a neighbour’s yard, they have never come to mine so I was thrilled. As a friend said, “that’s for next year’s Christmas card”.

    I realize how fortunate I am. The upper part of my arm has finally begun to heal after 10 months. I have graduated from the cast clinic and don’t have to go back. There is a lot of pain from soft tissue injuries but I am glad the bone seems to be in a good location. I am now weight lifting food cans to begin strength training. I have made a chart to keep track of what exercises I do and when and how painful (or not) it is. My physio has 3 weeks off so it will be handy to update her. When I fell on the ice, in a split second I was able to think and to push my body forcibly away from the brick wall so I didn’t hit my head. That was how I ended up with a spiral fracture. I was fortunate to have that split second. Today a man died not far from my home when he fell on the sidewalk and hit his head. He did not even have a split second. I am keeping him in my prayers.

    I am gathering up unneeded clothes and items for the charity pickup tomorrow so I’d better go. I hope all of you have a Happy, Healthy New Year. Ann

  57. Ann, so glad to hear that you are finally seeing some real progress in the healing – that was a terrible break. It has been such a long slog for you but you have remained cheerful and it has shown you who your friends really are! Be careful when outdoors – you never know where those patches of ice will show up! Good luck with the weight training – I too am starting that again today – Mon. Tues, Wed. for walking and Tuesday & Thursday for stretches and weights! I’m starting off slowly but I’m determined to keep it up! I did some tests last week and was shocked at how out of shape I am at the moment! Good luck with everything.
    I thought of you the other day when looking out my kitchen window – I look onto a wooded area and there was a fat little chickadee perched on a small white branch and I thought what a lovely photo you could have taken. All the best for the New Year.

    1. Hi Margie,

      Thanks for your wishes. Your plans for fitness sound good. Have you ever tried pilates? I haven’t but am interested.
      Which part of Toronto do you live in? It sounds lovely that you look out on a wooded area.
      The chickadees are eating me out of house and home! Plus I’ve had several visitors who are not usually at my feeder including the White-throated Sparrow, the Brown Creeper, the House Finch. A friend has Redpolls (I used to have them but they’ve moved to her yard some blocks away). Best wishes for a Happy New Year! Ann

      1. I live in the west end right next to the Humber River so even though I’m on the main east/west artery (Bloor Street) I’m surrounded by parks and conservation areas. I can go out the back door of my apt. building, cut through some trees and I’m at a walkway along the river that will take me right down to Lake Ontario (or I can take the bus from the subway station across the road and be there in about 12 minutes). I’m also 3 subway stops away from High Park – a huge park right in the middle of the city. I can also walk down to the lake from there so I am in a great location – even though I can be in the centre of downtown in 20 minutes via the subway – the best of both worlds.
        I have tried pilates but working out on the floor is a bit difficult for me at the moment so I’m going to go back to chair yoga which is enough of a workout but something I find more manageable.

        1. Margie, I so enjoyed your post. My daughter and SIL lived in Toronto near the intersection of Bloor and Yonge (sp?) for 5.5 years and I so enjoyed walking all over the area. I wish I had kept up my passport! I would love to live in the Toronto area. My daughter wrote a newspaper column in Kid’s Toronto called “Whining and Dining.” She didn’t get a salary, but was reimbursed for the meals at the restaurants she went to to see how they treated families with young children. When I would go up we would eat at some of the neatest places. They now live in Anchorage.

  58. Thank you for this blog, Brandy. It is very inspiring to me…and so many others. Half of our children did not make it home for Christmas because of happenings in their own lives. We have nine children ages 20-31. It was a much smaller Christmas. Now that the household is decreasing, I have noticed a huge difference in expenses. Water, electric, gas for cars, food, etc. I am going to focus on eating what we have here to eat down at least one freezer and some of the pantries. Have been keeping the thermostat under 70 degrees F, which is far lower than they are used to…especially the Florida kids. For anyone who uses dryer sheets, I switched to using foil balls, mostly because of the chemicals, but it saves money too. Just tear off about a 8-10 inch length from your foil, crumple it up in a ball (don’t smash it all in as the dryer will eventually do this). It takes care of the static and can be reused multiple times (when it gets super compact it is usually time to recycled it). Really works well and does not leave any burn marks, in case someone is wondering. Wishing all a Blessed and Happy New Year!

  59. I’m enjoying your new website. My favorite thing is to wait a day or two and spend some quiet time to read all your readers comments while I sip my coffee or tea. I’m learning to be more frugal and everyone’s comments really helps me make better choices. Still trying to be a better cook ?. My oldest son is on the autism spectrum and very impacted by it and he is very food selective, so it’s hard to get him to eat other foods. My youngest son has sensory issues with some foods (but we have made some improvements with the help of feeding therapy he is not autistic). So between my husband and my daughter and my boys i feel like a short order cook some days.

    I cleaned out my refrigerator like you recommended Brandy, this really helped me see what we need, Along with my pantry. Realized I need to stock up because I’m running very low with everything.

    As a SAHM I struggle with the everyday task and trying to not get overwhelmed and really try to be grateful for how fortunate we are. My husband travels a lot for work so a lot of kids/home falls on me. I decided to start writing a list of items that I want to do so I can see my accomplishments. I don’t typically do resolution but I do try to start off the new year with goals. So I started making my bed again everyday. I want to be more gratefully and patient this year. We planning this year to be more frugal and be better with our money. Was planning on a trip out of town to visit a friend but decided to pay our HOA dues instead.

    I had earned some Kohl’s cash with purchases I made for the holidays (already paid off)I earned $40 and $15 in rewards. I checked out Kohl’s online clearance section So I applied that to 4 grey medium storage containers, king sheet set ($120 normally) a beautiful sweater for my daughter and one for myself. My out of pocket was $23! I saved over $200.

    I gave away some items on my local buy nothing group. I love doing this. It saves me a trip to the thrift store and it also helps others. I found out my oldest son DDA will help us pay for his private health insurance premium with my husband’s work plan. We have insurance but it’s expensive and we also have a huge deductible. This will help a little. Thankfully he gets Medicaid as a secondary so it really helps. He had to be put under anesthesia for dental work at the children’s hospital and because of the secondary it
    Was all covered. So thankful. I applied for financial aid when our daughter had to go to the ER. Hoping to cut our 1500.00 bill(our cost after insurance) a little bit I was overjoyed when they said we qualified for 100% discount. So we only had to pay $300 for the ER doctors. Our year is June to June we meet our $6000 deductible by November. Kids and doctors and flu season is not cheap. But at least now we know until June more of the visits will be covered.
    I’m so glad I found this amazing community, all of you post such uplifting messages and really want to help others feel good about themselves and life. Thank you for being a nice respite for me.

    1. Brandy C, you are not alone with the food battles. My whole household has their food preferences, and it seems like no one likes the same thing! Making meals while trying to keep everyone happy is exhausting. As for having an Autistic child, there are several of us who comment regularly with children on the Autism spectrum. We understand the every day stress that goes hand in hand with it. So don’t feel your alone in your struggles. You’ve found a very understanding community here. Welcome to the group!

  60. This new site is really lovely Brandy, and the photographs I always enjoy so much. Thank you! I spent Christmas with my son and family out of town, lots of hockey, ice skating, Monopoly, movies etc.
    it was wonderful to see my grandsons. The New Year sees me begin a house cleansing, tossing, etc. It’s going well but I am afraid to try my clothes closet. wish me luck everyone I have never managed to do it.
    Ann lee S

  61. Just finished reading through comments and I have to say that I just admire and appreciate the spirit and love on this site. How wonderful to read all the supportive comments—words of comfort when needed, words of encouragement. It is a beautiful thing. I feel as though I’m surrounded by friends. Just finished the final touches on the 2019 budget. There will be some tight categories; but it is doable. We are eating down the freezer and pantry in January and I have inventoried everything. I have enough to make 40 supper meals without needing more than a couple of pounds of ground beef and a few fresh veggies!! Weather is milder this week so hoping to save on gas.

  62. * My husband took his lunch with him to work every day. He says my cooking is better than any restaurant. 🙂
    * I gladly got gas on my way to/from appointments.
    * I used a 5% discount to save money on groceries.
    * I combined errands and appointments as much as possible to save time, money, and gas.
    * I gratefully welcomed four new clients in December and was blessed to serve several repeat clients.
    * We line-dried our laundry to save money and our clothes (they last longer when air dried). This was the way to dry clothes until not too long ago. 🙂
    * I cooked dry beans in the thermal cooker overnight after soaking them for a while first.
    * We made our own bread. 🙂
    * We did our gift-giving at Thanksgiving and enjoyed several days at home in the last two weeks by ourselves, going nowhere except to take walks and to visit family.
    * We were blessed to use natural remedies we had on hand when we first began feeling ill. 24 hours later, we were feeling 90% better. 🙂

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