Frugal Accomplishments

Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Week of April

This past week our frugal efforts were very much focused on saving food from our freezer. Our upright freezer is not keeping things frozen anymore but just cold. It made a noise the day before we had headed out of state to take Winter to college and we didn’t know what we would find when we came home. In order not to lose all of the food in the freezer, I did several things. I resolved to use things as they defrost, making several fruit smoothies with frozen apricots, figs, pomegranates, and blackberries from last year’s garden harvests, along with frozen strawberries that I had bought and froze on sale last year. I cooked meat as it defrosted. I froze bottles of water and our freezer packs in my fridge/freezer and put those in the freezer to keep things colder, taking them out when they were defrosted but still cold and returning them to the other freezers. I rearranged my two fridge/freezers and used up things in those (mostly fruit) to have room to move some items over into those freezers that were still frozen (chicken and turkeys). A lot of things really needed to be cooked and used anyway, as they had been in the freezer for a while.  From freezer ingredients, I made peach pie, blackberry pie, smoothies (multiple times), strawberry lemonade, sandwiches, pasta salad with frozen vegetables, barbeque chicken and turkey. I threw out a few things that were too old that had been in the back of the freezer for a long time (including four ham bones; apparently I am never going to make navy bean soup), icing from two years ago, and several bags of figs completely covered in ice. For now, we’ve decided to go without purchasing a new freezer and will just use the freezers on the top of our two fridge/freezer combos, making sure to use up the meat and fruit that we have before I stock up on any more meat. I made chocolate Easter rabbits for my children with chocolate molds and melting chocolate I had bought in bulk on sale at Christmas. We had a very simple Easter and I only bought two bags of jelly beans to go in our plastic Easter eggs (I don’t do chocolate in eggs as it is so hot here that they melt) to go with our homemade small and large homemade chocolate rabbits. My friend gifted my children some Kinder Eggs which I also gave them, and my mom gave them all chocolate rabbits and other Easter candy, plus they came home with more candy from their Sunday School teachers, which made me glad I didn’t buy more candy. I harvested Swiss chard, snow peas, lettuce, garlic chives, green onions, parsley, and Meyer lemons from the garden. We opened the windows to air out the house. The hot weather has just started (it reached 95 this week) and on those hotter days I opened the windows in the early mornings to let in the cooler air. I’ll only be able to do this for a couple more weeks before I have to run the air conditioning all day and night, but by opening the windows in the mornings when it is cooler, I can save around $3 a day in electricity. We used the ceiling fans in rooms we were in when we needed them. For the first eight or so years that I lived in Las Vegas, we ran the air conditioner for a large portion of April. Now I try to wait until the end of the month and not turn on the air conditioner until it gets above 83 in the house. It was 95 outside this past week, so I started using the air conditioner on Thursday. I gave two daughters a haircut. My parents went to garage sales and brought us home a bicycle for the children (that they got for free) and several princess dress-up dresses that they bought for $1 each. What did you do to save money last week?      

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160 Comments

  1. Hello Frugal Friends,

    This week I have really been focusing on saving. I guess since it is the end of the month, I am feeling the pinch.
    – We had a huge load of dirt delivered in bulk to put in my new garden bed. I used money from my tax return to pay for this. This was the cheapest way we could fill the bed. It took several of us wheelbarrowing it all to the bed from the driveway. But it is done and looks beautiful!
    – I was able to get two $10 off $10 purchase codes from Lowe’s over the weekend. I purchased several plants for my garden. With the military discount and the free coupons, I paid a could of dollars for several plants.
    – Safeway had a sale on Colgate toothpaste for $1.00 each. I used $.50 coupons that doubled to a dollar to get 4 tubes for free.
    – I did a Field Agent app job where you go take a picture at a gas station and answer some questions for $4.10. It only took a couple of minutes.
    – I scanned all of my receipts to Fetch, Ibotta, Coin Out, and Swagbucks Answer for the few pennies that each gives you. It adds up over time.
    – My daughter, son and I cleared a spot in the yard to put some raspberry and blueberry bushes and planted them. I hope they grow!
    – I signed up to take a cottage industry class at my local extension office. This makes it legal here to make and sell certain baked goods and items from your kitchen. The class is $40. I am excited to do this!
    – I signed up the kids and I for a free fishing derby this month.
    – I signed up for a lot of freebies, which are on my blog at: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/2019/04/29/9-freebies-today-4-29-19/
    – I also downloaded a ton of free Kindle books which are on my blog as well.
    – We pulled together a couple of meals from things that needed to be used up instead of going to the store.
    – I watched videos and did surveys on Swagbucks and Earning Station.
    – I sold an embroidered shirt I made for my friend’s son for his birthday. It had an embroidered Flash and his birthday number 6 on it. I thought it turned out super cute.
    – I recycled 2 bags of cans for $2.10.
    That’s about all I can think of besides cooking at home, watching the spending, etc… It was a pretty good week!
    Blessings,
    Liz

  2. Hello Brandy and those to follow!
    My friends just came back from Vegas and said it was really hot. We are still having snow and overnight frost.
    This past week we celebrated National Medical Laboratory Week. My employer generously provided a pizza lunch on Monday, cake on Tuesday, we had a potluck on Thursday and assorted popcorn and beverages on Friday. There were lots of leftovers so no packing lunch all week.
    Other savings include:
    – drying laundry on racks in the basement
    -raked the lawn on the one warm day
    -menu planned all suppers using pantry/freezer ingredients
    -took advantage of a great sale to pick up mini cucumbers,apples, tomatoes, rye bread , yogurt and tomatoes
    Looking forward to all the replies!

  3. I’ve spent all week at my daughter’s taking care of her and the three littles after her knee surgery on Thursday. My son in law is still in CA selling their house. (Happily, the house was officially listed for sale and 4 days later the house has been sold with a more than full price offer- a day before the first open house was scheduled! So he will come out to Ohio for good immediately after closing on May 28! Since she and the kiddos have been here since late March, all of us will be happy to have him reunited here!)
    We’ve been meal planning some easy freezer meals for after I return to my house at the end of this week! I stocked in spices at Aldis- several “holiday spices” were marked down to 42 cents each- pumpkin pie spice, cream of tartar, cloves, nutmeg! The rest of the spices were 95 cents each! Cheap way for her to get stocked up! Then basic baking ingredients were quite reasonable there- sugar, flour, oil, baking powder, baking soda.
    I spent $60 to totally stock her pantry past just making the specific meals she planned for the week! I can now bake ahead and because she lives out on 13 acres in the country with stores farther away, it makes sense for her to stock in some good food storage and this house has a large, finished room in the basement that was built for food storage!
    A few people asked later last week about my canning pineapple and also canning Sweet and Sour Sauce too but because it was later in the week, I decided to wait until now to post the links for the recipes. https://pin.it/oqvqqi4vgojkvl. https://pin.it/ulkms3drukoywu. Hope everyone enjoys these as much as we have! We’ve been canning these for 3 years now and they never disappoint!!

    We separated out about 20-30 koi from our pond that we had been given by friends who were downsizing their koi ponds. We overwintered them and are selling some of the excess (they gave us over 100) since we already had about 15 very large ones that we bought from them last Spring. Hopefully that will bring in some extra money since we just found out that not only won’t Social Security begin until a month after hubs retires (July because he retires May 31) but that because of the timing of his birthday, the checks won’t begin until the 3rd week of July! Yikes!! I know we will get by but I’m having more than a few meltdowns! It doesn’t help that my oldest son (45) was just diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and will start radiation and chemo next week for 5 weeks with surgery scheduled the end of summer. We have our faith and also trust his doctors but it’s still put me on edge.

    We keep socking everything we can into our savings and are trying to put off any expenses we possibly can until fall.

    With everything that’s been happening with family, I haven’t marketed our business, HandmadeinOldeTowne.com this past couple weeks but hopefully, we will get some sales on inventory already in stock. That would be a blessing since we will be without 3 paychecks over that 7 weeks!

    Hopefully on Saturday I will be home to plant more of our Spring garden!

    Hope everyone is having a blessed week! We are grateful for the abundance we have been blessed with.

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      1. The koi pond is something we dug out as a family years ago and then expanded a few years later. Some families take vacations, we mostly had “projects” we worked on together! No surprise that “Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel” became our “family” song years ago!! It was started because someone gave us a lot of beautiful flagstone and we used that to make a waterfall and another friend had some baby koi in his pond that he gave us! So we thought it would be a very frugal addition to our yard! We did have to buy the liner and a pump. Hubby researched and built his own filtering system using a couple recycled 55 gallon plastic barrels and some thick bonded batting I use for upholstery jobs. His filtering system is actually more effective than the $500 ones we saw!
        These koi have been such fun to watch and we get many hours of free entertainment from them!

    1. GardenPat, sending you much love and prayers as your son begins his treatment.
      Your resourcefulness will help you through the times without paychecks, although I completely understand your anxiety.
      Much grace to you during these challenging times.
      Patricia/FL

    2. Gardenpat, don’t forget that your husband will be home all day, once he retires. Perhaps he can use his new found time to make some things out of reclaimed lumber to sell while you awaite the starting of the Social Security. After all, it is springtime and people are looking to buy flower boxes, benches, tables and other items for outdoor use. Perhaps he can start the preparations now on what he may want to make (something to look forward to). You also mentioned that he works in IT. I know someone who is a semi-retired IT specialist, and he has a nice side buisness of helping friends/family with home computer issues. His costs are quite reasonable, usually around $40-60 for an hour or so of work. When our computers decide to not work properly, we happily pay his fees in cash!
      Don’t forget, your travel costs will decrease, as he will not be going to work each day. Plus, you can keep food costs down as well, by preparing very simple, inexpensive lunches at home, like soup. You and your husband are such creative and hard working people. I think you are going to be absolutely fine while you wait for the first check to arrive.

    3. I’m sorry about your son’s illness. We have quite a few family members with assorted serious medical conditions, and while we also trust in God to ultimately care for them, I totally understand how much anxiety it causes for those of us who love them so dearly, plus the extra work involved from so many to help meet the needs that arise. It’s amazing and encouraging at how the medical care now-days is so helpful to so many in our family, as I’m sure it will be to your son as well. Hang in there.

    4. I have loved koi ponds since my parents shopped at Floral City Furniture in Monroe, Michigan, when I was very small. The store had a nice-sized pond inside as its centerpiece. My university had its original buildings built around a huge koi pond which I found very relaxing to walk by on my way to my next class. And in the yard of the compound (upstairs apt/downstairs apt/my teeny 180 sq ft studio/landlord’s son’s super nice stand-alone studio across the yard) where I lived within earshot of the ocean on stormy nights for seven years, my landlord put in a koi pond to serve as a fire-fighting water source. (He was a retired fire captain.) One day, he set up a sponge on the little waterfall to filter the water and went off with his wife for a mini-vacation. I came home from work to many scores of little goldfish and a few koi swimming in a few inches of water in the deepest part of the pond. The sponge had diverted the water coming down the waterfall out of the pond. I removed the sponge, turned on the water hose, and quickly went to the pet store to buy water conditioner to try to save the fish. The next day, I sadly scooped out over a hundred little floating fish but at least a third survived the shock. If mom’s yard was fenced, I’d love to have a koi pond now. It is so nice you have one.
      I hope your son does as well with his colon cancer and cancer treatment as a former boss of mine. I think he must have scheduled surgery for a Friday because he missed very, very few days for it and then he powered.his way through the chemo, missing just a couple hours at the office per treatment day. The treatment apparently worked very well. He sold the company and retired a year or so later as he had previously planned, but we never heard anything other than that he was doing fine years later.

      1. We had a koi pond in our front yard at our former house for several years — until a black bear discovered it — the bear ate the fish, then liked to soak in the pond, displacing the water and killing the lilies! We had to fill it in.

    5. Gardenpat, I will be praying for your son and the rest of your family during his treatment. Blessings to you all! I wondered if you had considered doing some classes, either out of your home if you’d be comfortable with that, or at a community center, church kitchen, etc. for skills like canning? Your daughters sound like they enjoyed it, and you may have a lot of people who have purchased your handmade items who might be interested in skills like that as well. Just wanted to mention it in case it would be an option for you to fill in while you guys wait for your husband’s benefits to kick in.

    6. Garden Pat, I am adding my prayers for your son’s successful treatment and for your finances. I believe your resourcefulness, creativity, work ethic, and strong faith will see you through these challenges.

    7. For your son who has cancer, check out http://www.chrisbeatcancer.com . A remarkable website that tells the story of how Chris Wark beat his Stage 3 colon cancer WITHOUT chemotherapy or radiation. He did have surgery. Many many stories of healing there.

    8. Gardenpat, I am sorry to hear of your son’s diagnosis. We pray for quick healing and minimal side effects to whatever treatment he should
      need.

  4. That is a shame about your freezer, Brandy, but very impressive to read about the ways you were able to use the food before it spoiled.
    Here I have been eating lots of salad with my garden lettuces as it is going into the upper 80s for the rest of the week which will mean the lettuce won’t be around for much longer. My son recently joined Sam’s Club and was given free items as part of the deal. He wasn’t able to use them so my husband ate the free pizza, soft drink and sundae. I used part of the free rotisserie chicken to make a Thai peanut salad. I also put cilantro from the garden in the salad as that will soon be done in by the heat. I froze the remainder of the chicken and the carcass to make broth with.
    Our mail is delivered to a central location within the neighborhood. I have been trying to walk to it instead of drive. Not only is it a savings of gas, but it is about a 2 mile walk. Yesterday when I was walking back home I noticed several nails in the street. This was in front of a house that is under construction. I picked them up to prevent somebody driving over them and getting a flat tire. As soon as I did that I looked down and noticed a shiny quarter. I had to smile at that God wink. Along those lines, my husband was mowing the lawn yesterday and saw the neighbors sitting outside. They have a lawn service who hasn’t been by to mow yet so he offered to loan them his mower. They laughed and said they wouldn’t even know how to use it. Since their lawn is small, my husband just went ahead and mowed it. The lady insisted on paying him. He refused and she said it wasn’t a payment for the job, it was to pay for gas.

  5. Having your freezer bite the dust can be a disaster! I’m glad you could save most of your food.
    In addition to the usual frugal stuff, this was our week–
    Two of my friends divided perennial plants and gave me at least $100 worth of plants. We planted them Friday.
    A friend built me a 4×10 raised bed. He contributed most of the materials and I paid him for his labor. We were able to use a lot of compost to fill the bed and I topped it off with bagged garden soil. The compost is better for the plants and free to me, since I made it.
    I bought 12 bags of garden soil for two raised beds and received a free vegetable plant with the purchase of each bag. I got about $30 worth of tomato and pepper plants, but I don’t consider it much of a saving because the soil was overpriced. Also, I have to keep them alive until we’re done with frost, LOL (Covering them up again tonight).
    I had to buy a new prepaid phone. The one I got was on sale for $60. I was able to reduce the cost of my monthly plan from $45 to $35.
    I de-boned the rest of the Easter ham and made ham salad with the little bits and pieces. I froze the bone and several bags of ham cubes for future meals. Ham and navy bean soup is my fave and I’m looking forward to making a big pot soon!

  6. I baked 15 spaghetti squash that were in storage from last year’s garden, made meals with some, and froze the remainder. Seeds of zinnia and jewels of ophir were planted. Wild cat brier tips and violet leaves were foraged, as well as asparagus, lettuce and herbs gathered from our garden. I cleaned out the chicken coop, a mightily stinky job, and added mint from the garden to the fresh straw in the nest boxes. A frittata was made with our eggs and asparagus. We made containers by cutting up several steel barrels we had on hand, and planted 18 tomatoes in them.

    This is an odd question, but I thought if anyone knew, this community would. I’ve been searching for cotton panties with a covered waistband, which have recently gotten very difficult to find. I don’t want skimpy ones, nor “granny panties” as my granddaughter would say, just regular ones that will look nice under clothing. I used to be able to find both Jockey and Hanes, which even the local Dollar Generals had, but no longer. I have seen organic ones online, but for much more than I’m willing to spend. You’d think with so many of us with latex allergies, this would be easier to find. Any help would be appreciated. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2019/04/a-fairy-ring-frugal-accomplishments.html

    1. Try JCPenney online for undergarments – I have bought them there in the past, and their prices are good. Also Vermont Country Store would be a good place to check.

    2. I bought some 100% cotton panties made by Warner’s from Wal Mart. They had covered waistbands. They were designed to smooth your “muffin tops” if you had them. They were really marked down for a clearance – $1.00 for 5 per pack in multiple colors. I think the regular price might have been about $8 or so.

        1. Laurie and others, Good’s Store is another source for hard to find ladies undergarments. They have all kinds of slips, half slips, camisoles, etc in more modest versions. Maternity and extra length also. They have an online catalog.

  7. I’m currently receiving food from the food bank and last week they gave out large boxes of red potatoes, you could take as much as you wanted. Also huge heads of cabbages. The potatoes were already making eyes so I spent 3 days canning them. I now have 30 pints of potatoes ready to use. I am so grateful that there is a food bank during this time of lack for me. Most of my food that is not coming from the food bank is from Dollar Tree. I’m so happy our little town has one even though it is a small one. Those odd staples and even some meat and cheese at such a low price really lets me make a full meal for dinner every day. Who could complain about $1 a dozen eggs?
    I save all the leftovers of vegetables, gravy & meat in plastic tubs in the freezer. When full I put it in the crockpot with whatever else it needs to make soups or stews. Very frugal and very filling as well as tasty. Not enough left for 2 people?, add in another jar or can of vegetables.
    I’m also continuing the repair on the quilt my grandmother made so it will last many more years.

    1. Angela, It’s so good that there’s a food bank in your town! Although you’re relying on a food bank, it sounds as if you’re managing well! A friend and I were just discussing how food in Canada is becoming more expensive. Someday you’ll be able to donate back to the foodbank. Blessings for you!

    2. I am glad that the food bank is there to help you. Most people wouldn’t know what to do with all of those potatoes so I am glad that you have the knowledge to help yourself. Good luck. Brandy has some amazing low cost recipes.

    3. Excellent job with canning all those potatoes, Angela. I’m so glad you had a pressure canner, canning supplies on hand and skill to do that! Not everyone has that ability, nor the willingness to learn how. Those potatoes will definitely come in handy. So many delicious meals can be made from them! Were you able to grab some cabbage as well? There are so many cheap and healthy meals that cabbage can be used in, too (cabbage rolls, cole slaw, stir fry, soups, etc.). If you need some inspiration, we found that many Dutch, German and especially Polish foods use cabbage, and potatoes, as common ingredients. I know you could google some very tasty, frugal recipes to try! I searched Dutch recipes, German Recipes and Polish Recipes on Pinterest and many of the meals we saw on menues over there came up (and people payed good money to try them!). Eggs are definitely a great frugal protein. Again, so many dishes you can make with them.
      Also, if you need a great, frugal “bread” recipe, bannock uses very few pantry ingredients and tastes amazing! Here is a recipe link: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/6919/bannock/. I think having this recipe handy, especially when times are tough, is very wise. Bannock is so cheap and easy to make, very filling, delicious and can accompany any meal of the day. You are doing such an amazing job, Angela. Really enjoyed reading your comment!

    4. It’s so great that you were able to take those potatoes and can them. I used to work at a food bank and often when we received large quantities of produce it would go to waste because people either didn’t know how to preserve it or didn’t have the tools to do so.

    5. It honestly had not occurred to me to save potatoes that are sprouting by canning them so thank you for posting this! I like to buy the big bags of potatoes (15 up to 50 lbs) when they go on sale but sometimes they do sprout quickly and some will go to waste. I will can them next time.

      1. When my potatoes start to sprout I shred them all, and boil them then freeze them in baggies(after they cool) for easy morning hashbrowns. I have also frozen mashed potatoes when I get trays leftover from church functions. I always re-whip them with a little butter before serving. Just some other ideas if you don’t have the time to can them all.

          1. 7 minutes at a full boil. I pull the baggie out the night before. I put a light coating of olive oil in the cast iron pan and cook for about 10 minutes each side or until brown. I don’t make it thick because we like them well done. I add ketchup. Hubby likes it with salt and pepper.

    6. It is good to hear everyone has so many ideas of how to deal with sprouting potatoes, but if in a rush and no time to do them, just pick the eyes out.

  8. Made chicken & faux dumplings. Simmered a baked chicken carcass to make broth. Defatted the broth, removed remaining chicken, added 1/2 cup celery, & seasoning. Took 12 leftover flour tortillas dusted with flour & dropped into boiling broth. Cook 10 min & you have cheap chx & dumplings.
    Hubby exterminated the house for roaches instead of calling exterminator.
    Hubby assembled new lawnmower instead of paying hardware store to do it.
    Free exercise- walk during lunch hour at work. Won’t be able to do this when the Texas summer begins in earnest.

    1. It’s snowing today in Wyoming, too. But we did have a 77 degree sunny day a little over a week ago. That’s spring time in the Rockies.

  9. I packed our lunch when we went to clear my Daddy’s house…he’s in the nursing home and I pushed (aka NAGGED) my brother to sell or at least rent the house as Daddy has been in the nursing home for over a year and I knew brother was paying what ever the ins and Daddy’s income wasn’t. Brother has a 18 yr old as a freshman in college (brother is going to be 70, it’s not like his is a spring chicken).Plus they just bought a new home to handle their old age themselves . We as in Hubby and myself did the job that should have taken at least a week in 1 day..House sold before it was listed and closing is Tuesday. Brother can deal with getting the trash out to the curb. Lots of things that were just too bad to keep. Some family getting some furniture and my daughter is passing what ever we don’t want along as she has a list of 10 families in need. We did get offered 2 jobs from the neighbors that were amazed we packed up a 3 bedroom, 1 bath , kitchen and dining room and a 2 car garage that fast. We can barely walk today though, We aren’t spring chickens either LOL.

    Furnace quit running so Hubby fixed it instead of calling the repairman. Light on the pump house that lets us know the pump is running quit working and it wasn’t just the bulb not working . Hubby fixed that. I mended 2 shirts and a pair of pants. Canned dill asparagus and ate asparagus which is the only thing producing at this time. Rhubarb looks to be ready in a day or so.

    I didn’t go to grocery store (Hubby picked up a few things to get us through), or meet our friends anywhere. We went to produce auction….no plants that we needed so we left. The company that helped us find the VIN number on the old trailer so we could title it and then we decided to sell it to get a bigger trailer which was a blessing as that’ is the size most the Amish need to get their equipment hauled some where …sold the trailer for us and refused to take any payment for selling it for us. Said they had gotten several people stopping in and buying new trailers from them because Hubby put their info on his Facebook.
    Wishing I could plant our spring crops, cold and raining almost every day.
    Blessed Be
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2019/04/lessons-learned-with-dealing-with.html

  10. On the spur of the moment last week, I stopped by my favorite thrift store and found 4 vintage patterns, a vintage craft kit, an apron, two shirts, two tank tops, two pairs of like-new socks, and three books. The total? $5.01. I could hardly believe it (but that explains why it’s my favorite thrift store!)

    But sadly, it looks as though our faithful ’93 Toyota may be done for. We’ll find out tomorrow for sure, but I’m thankful we’ve been able to put aside money for our next car.

    1. Amelia it seems as if everyone is having car trouble lately. My 2004 Toyota Sienna was totaled by a young man texting and driving. My husbands Toyota Camry head gasket went out. My Son in Law transmission went out in truck. We are taking Brandi’s advice and just making due with one car. We have saved too. I’m trying to see how long we can go with one vehicle. I sure and getting more done at home now. LOL

  11. The chard leaves are beautiful!
    I was just getting ready to plant the veggie plans outside when we had frost mornings. This weekend it should be safe to plant. I am scaling down the variety and planting more beans, tomatoes and squash. Items I can can or will keep longer after growing season.
    Several small appliances/items bit the dust this week, car inspection warned brakes will need replaced in a few months. Will make do without and drive a little less for the next quarter.
    I had a week long spell of hives breakouts. The last day I was plum out of anti itch cream and broke down and used hemmroid cream and it worked just as well. The relief was greater than the bashfulness of me repeating this.
    For mother’s day, my mom asked for a day of service doing yard work, while my MIL will receive a like new best seller (she requested the title) and a hand embroidered bookmark.
    Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  12. I am so sorry to read about the dying freezer. Freezing items, which you purchased at their lowest price, is such a fundamental frugality strategy. Two fridge/freezer combos seems awfully small for the 10 of you. I hope you will be able to replace the freezer in the not-too-distance future. The pies, smoothies, and lemonade do sound delicious though!

    • Baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for my son’s 22nd birthday. I used a birthday card from a stash I had purchased 20+ years ago and found when I was decluttering. The envelope was partially stuck so I steamed it open. I bought four helium balloons at Dollar Tree and snuck over to his apartment early on birthday morning and decorated the door to his unit.
    • Hung load of laundry up to dry x 2
    • Cooked a spoon roast, made asparagus soup, zucchini chips, tortellini alla panna, risotto, and made a large pot of oatmeal with flax seed to eat all week for breakfast.
    • Tried a new recipe from Budget Bytes for sesame chicken and a new recipe from Martha Stewart for sautéed baby bok choy. Both were good but I would increase the sauce with the chicken and add some red pepper flakes.
    • Used Staples reward $$ and replenished supplies for both me and a non-profit. I learned that if Staples doesn’t have what you want in the store, they will ship to you for free.
    • I had a business appointment about an hour away and was able to combine it with shopping at an Asian market, Aldi, and an inexpensive gas station.
    • Next door neighbor offered to barter fence panels she has taken down for my son dropping a couple of trees on her property. I love that my neighbor asked and is also in a frugal mindset. She also explained how she is using clam & oyster shells from the beach on her garden to add calcium as well as working as mulch. I see a trip to the beach in my near future!
    • Downloaded an audiobook from the library
    • Tried to use a raincheck on its expiration day, but the store was still out of stock. I went to customer service and they extended the raincheck for another 10 days.
    • Used a $5 coupon at Agway that I received from taking a customer feedback survey and stocked up on cat litter.
    • Renewed a library book so I won’t incur a fine.

    1. LIbby,
      If you can’t make it to the beach, you can purchase a bag of oyster shell at Walmart for $5. I purchased one this week to use on my tomato plants. I found it in the animal care isle. May be cheaper than driving to the beach but not nearly as fun.

  13. I’m so sorry about your freezer! That’s a lot of work to use/cook all of that. Though the bright side is the electricity savings, and using up the food that needed using anyway.
    I bought a plus size denim skirt at the thrift store. It has plenty of fabric to make a skirt for me (not plus size).
    My daughter finished her masters (debt free for her and for us?). We flew Southwest to see her graduate, and took empty suitcases with us. She is moving back closer to home and has more than she can fit in her car. We filled 5 suitcases with books and checked them on our flight home. Free on Southwest!!
    I rescued small glass Starbucks Frappuccino bottles. The drinks had been given to my parents, who don’t drink such things. My mother dumped the contents (expired) and was going to recycle the bottles. I peeled the labels off. They will make super-cute vases for summer flowers. They look a bit like vintage milk bottles.
    I helped my mom clean her garage, and then took a load to the thrift store. I kept a couple of useful things, and one item that I will try to sell. My daughter asked me to sell 2 items for her.

      1. Love the bottle vases!
        Small vanilla bottles (back when they were glass) made the best lily of the valley vases to share at my office. I did that for a friend, and some months later, she responded with an empty make-up foundation tiny nose-gay. Painkiller or vitamin bottles with the labels still on them always got a laugh. Some beverage bottles are rather pretty and can be picked up from the roadside and washed to share, and the recipient doesn’t have to return them, either.

  14. Hello!

    This past week I was offered 19 hours paid work in a temp job and I was also able to put in 9.5 hours at my occasional office job.
    My husband spread lawn fertilizer just before we received a large wet snowfall; this saved water and money by not turning on sprinklers.
    My university daughter was offered a summer internship in an office; we searched through closets to come up with appropriate office clothing for her to wear. Some of my tops fit her and she was able to find some dress pants in her older sisters closet. I took in a pair of pants, altered a blouse to fit her and sewed her a basic skirt. She did purchase a pair of shoes that were reasonably priced.
    Sold $53 on my local FB site, Continued to work on Swagbucks, combined errands, ate or packed all meals at home, and all our other routine frugal habits.
    Looking forward to reading comments, thanks to Brandy and all who contribute. Have a wonderful week ahead.

  15. Wow, I’m always impressed with how much fruit you manage to preserve from your garden, and your frozen harvest shows it! Also impressed that you thought to keep the freezer colder by adding in frozen bottles. And your meals sound wonderful!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I mixed up some LSA Mix (http://approachingfood.com/lsa-mix-superfood-blend/) to sprinkle on my cereal each morning. It’s been helping keep me healthy and full and losing the baby weight. I always buy the ingredients from the bulk store when they’re on sale or with a coupon, so it’s very affordable.
    – I went to Ikea with my daughter, using my sister’s public transit pass (she’s not using it this month due to a broken ankle), making the journey free for me (there is an Ikea shuttle close by but it’s not in a stroller friendly location). Lots of things to look at for my daughter, so lots of stimulation, and a free day of window-shopping for me. I used a $5 gc I won a few years ago, to buy a toy for her and a meal for me.
    – I made peppermint patties one evening when I was craving sweets. Ingredients are only icing sugar, butter, flavouring, chocolate chips, and a dash of oil. Very inexpensive and easily customizable. (http://approachingfood.com/easy-christmas-peppermint-patties-and-why-i-had-to-obvs-make-a-second-batch/) I used chocolate chips with a dash of oil instead of chocolate melting wafers, because that’s what I had in the house.
    – I clipped more 5 coupons for free ready-made rice packets and picked two up when I went shopping. I’m not a fan of rice and particularly ready-made rice, but free is free!
    – I made a potato curry (I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe called for, but I substituted a bunch of them and it still turned out fine) and served it on one of the free packets of rice I got, an Indian curry flavoured one.
    – I made homemade baby food and froze some for the future.
    – I purchased diapers on sale and used a loyalty points coupon to get an additional $10 worth of loyalty points.
    – I made caramel corn to bring as a hostess gift to my parenting book club. I used my sister’s public transit pass to go there and back.
    – I cut and froze more green onions from my re-re-grown store-bought onions. I also planted half of them outside. Hopefully they’ll take despite the cool weather!
    – I purchased cheese on sale, then grated and froze it.
    – A friend of my husband’s came to visit, and I served caramel popcorn and homemade pizza (http://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/). I topped the pizza with ham and pepperoni from my freezer. I also made no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies, with peanut butter I purchased on sale the previous week, cocoa purchased in bulk from Costco, and oats purchased on sale from the bulk store.
    – I wrapped a gift for my sister, reusing gift bags and tissue paper. I had traded for one of the gifts, and purchased the other partially using swagbucks giftcards.
    – I used to drink diet pepsi at work instead of coffee, but stopped when I got pregnant. I had a bunch in storage still and pulled some out this week. It had actually expired (who knew that pop expired?) but I poured it down all the sinks in my home, to help clear out the pipes. At least I got some use out of it!
    – I used a 50% off coupon to purchase a large amount of roasted almonds from a bulk store. My husband snacks on these and goes through a lot each week. We saved over $40!
    – I submitted a receipt online to get a $5 gas card in the mail from a deal on a cereal package.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded 30 egg-free chocolate chip cookies (one batch) for two cans of grade A maple syrup. Given the cost of maple syrup, I feel I got the better end of the deal!
    – I redeemed Pinecone Research points for $5 to my paypal account.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

    1. Hi Margaret – I’m not far from the IKEA on the Queensway so I often take the shuttle out of Kipling stn. to have a wander. It’s my GO TO spot for indoor walking during the winter ad I do notice that a lot of moms with little ones do like to meet there for a cheap coffee and a walk.
      Speaking of maple syrup – last week someone who deals in it very generously donated about a year’s supply to the church pantry – he had heard about the feeding programs that we do and decided to gift us – and yes, given the cost of a single bottle – this was an amazing donation!

      1. I never thought of IKEA as a place to get your walking in, but you’re absolutely right, it’s the same as mall-walking! What a great idea.
        And wow, a year’s supply of maple syrup? That will make for some verrrry nice pancake suppers for the church’s various programs!

        1. Don’t forget the maple syrup could also be used in Maple Muffins to use as snack options during church programs, or maple roasted vegetables at church dinners! Of course, you can also give it out as part of your food bank program, so families in need can use it in their own homes.

  16. How wonderful that you were able to save most of the food from your freezer. I hope you come across a great deal on a new one when you are ready (Maybe someone will even give you one.)
    Our once bright-red patio umbrella had faded to almost gray in places. I used a can and a half of spray paint to bring it back to life – much cheaper than purchasing a new umbrella, which was in fine shape except for the fading.
    We ate our first salad from the greenhouse – mixed greens, radishes and green onions.
    My girlfriend and I treated ourselves to facials at the local beauty school – only $10 each! (plus tip)
    I planted the strawberries and onions I had previously ordered.
    I made sandwich bread and sourdough bread.

  17. –I feel your pain with the freezer. I’ve had times when mine got left open or other disasters, and it’s so hard! I’m glad you were able to save almost all of it. It will feel so good to get the old stuff gone or used up! When we moved here, my extra fridge broke. I never thought I could live without a second full-sized fridge, but so far, after over 2 years we’ve made out. It will be interesting to see if you find you really miss the freezer and replace it, or not. I know I would. I have several, but I let some go when we moved, and I’m making out fine, and plan to downsize some more in the next few years.
    –I did hours of yard work. It’s shaping up, but I’ve got a long ways to go. I’m doing extra trimming, edging, and so forth. The bushes are getting super grown over. We’ve been here over 2 years. I don’t know how long before that it has been since things got severely trimmed. It really needs it.
    –My husband went to a retreat for a few days. My nephew wanted to spend the night, so I let him. While he was gone, I took my daughter, nephew, and grown autistic son bowling, using the Kids Bowl Free program. When I signed up, I was able to buy a family plan for around $23, so I bought it and bowled, too. (4 grown-ups can bowl all summer with the pass) My sister took us out to lunch after church to make it easier while Rob was gone, which was so nice of her. He does so many little things around the house and I really appreciate him even more now that he’s back!
    –I didn’t grocery shop this week, except for a very few items for the picnic.

  18. Lucky you managed to save most of the food items from your freezer. It’s frustrating to have to throw food out, but unfortunately, it does seem to happen from time to time. Brandy, funny that you posted about needing to use up food from your freezer because I also needed to use up items from our large freezer to make space to transfer food from a smaller freezer that we’re giving to our eldest daughter once she’s married in May. Although we will give her some frozen fruit and vegetables, she will want to restock with newer produce. As well, my husband and I will purchase some on-sale meat for her over the course of a month to help kick-start their grocery stash.
    – As mentioned, my meals this week were based on using the freezer food:
    * made “mock” black raspberry and strawberry sorbets using frozen berries.
    * made an apple crisp from frozen apple slices, my husband’s favourite fruit dessert.
    * using frozen grated zucchini, made muffins for breakfast.
    * made No Bake Energy Balls from oatmeal, peanut butter and dried fruits. Great for a grab-and-go breakfast when time is short.
    * made soup broth using frozen meat, bone and veggie scraps. Used the broth in various meals throughout the week.
    * hubby barbecued freezer pork chops and chicken for 2 separate meals.
    * using frozen fish, made Fish Tacos on homemade tortillas. Served with pineapple salsa made from home-canned pineapples and other vegetables.
    * made a hodge-podge meal of leftover frozen Christmas appetizers.
    * for some reason, broccoli that I bought fresh, turned yellow after only 3 days in the refridgerator. It wasn’t bad, it just turned colour so I made Cream of Broccoli soup from the florets.
    * using 2 of the broccoli stalks, I grated them to make Marinated Broccoli Coleslaw adding minced radish, celery, red onion, yellow peppers and grated carrots to jazz up the flavour. Served with the barbecued pork chops.
    * bought a living lettuce (it has the root still attached). Once we ate the leaves, I popped the remainder of the lettuce with the roots still attached in a bowl of water to see if the “living lettuce” would regrow…it has. I’m waiting for it to get larger leaves so we can use it again.
    * to save for her wedding, my daughter made homemade food mixes at Christmas time to give as gifts. I combined the leftover Tablespoonsful of white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and peppermint hot chocolate powders to make a pot of hot chocolate to serve 6 people. Might as well use it while the weather is still a little chilly here.
    * dried some chives.
    * dried some parsley. My daughter dislikes the leaves, so I dry the leaves and stalks separately and use the leaves is soup where it seems to be less pronounced in flavour for her. Then I use the minced celery stems in rice dishes, stuffing, dips and as a topper, along with chives, on baked potatoes.
    * because I know the next few weeks will be hectic, I made a menu plan so I can stay focussed and know what I need to defrost and cook etc.
    * my eldest daughter sent away Thank You cards for gifts given at her Bridal Shower; sent in her seating plan for the wedding dinner to the venue; and other last minute requirements needed for the wedding. I, on the other hand, had a more quiet week. I know it’s just the calm before the storm!
    Cheers everyone!

      1. Marybeth, I just put frozen chunks of fruit in my food processor, add a liquid, and sweetener if the fruit isn’t sweet enough, or lemon or lime juice if too sweet, then blend until smooth, thick and creamy. It’s a great way to use up an abundance of frozen fruit. For Pineapple sorbet, I put frozen pineapple chunks in the food processor and add enough orange, mango, or pineapple juice to be able to blend it into a nice sorbet consistency. If you use orange juice for example, it’ll taste like pineapple-orange sorbet, my son-in-law’s favourite. My daughters also like Banana sorbet using frozen bananas, dash nutmeg, coconut milk and honey. For Peach sorbet I’ll use frozen peach slices with the liquid leftover from a jar of peach preserves. For Berry sorbets, I’ll use any frozen berries and combine with any fruit juice, for example, frozen blackberries with cranberry-raspberry juice. For this particular berry combination, I tend to sweeten with maple syrup or honey. Sometimes I’ll blend with almond milk for a creamier consistency. Frozen Sweet Cherries and grape juice is my favourite. The only caveat to these sorbets is that they are not scoopable like ice cream once frozen for a while. To make them smooth again, let the sorbet sit at room temperature to soften and remix until creamy. Hope that helps.

  19. Brandy, you are very creative in what others would call a complete disaster. I trust you will get given another freezer soon. You must need it for a family your size!

    Here is what we did last week:
    * Purchased enough chicken for a few weeks with a 10% discount.
    * Combined as many errands as possible on the same day to save money and time.
    * Took four walks with various friends and family members for free exercise.
    * Baked enough meat for the entire week at once to save money on electricity
    * Requested three books from the library through inter-library loan.
    * Read three free ebooks on my Kindle app.
    * Cooked all my husband’s lunches and breakfasts at home.
    * Read a library book.
    * Listened to audiobooks as I cleaned, cooked, and drove.

  20. I had a two-hour drive each way to attend a workshop. The workshop was free, though the gas was expensive. Halfway home, one of my tires blew. It was on a busy highway on a Friday evening.

    When I was pulling things out of the trunk of my SUV, to get at the spare tire, another vehicle stopped and three young men and a young woman got out to help me change it. The spare tire was stored under the SUV, and we couldn’t find a jack, so they found the one in their truck and used it instead. They were very efficient.

    The young woman did ask her boyfriend if he had ever changed a tire before. I think she had just decided to add this to the list of things she is looking for in a life partner. (He had changed one once, and was very helpful through the whole process.)

    I am disappointed in the tire. I did not buy these long ago, and have done very little driving since I got them. These are winter tires, and I will be changing to summer tires. I hadn’t budgeted to do this until the end of May, so I will need to scramble to do it any sooner.

    1. Perhaps the place where you bought the tires will warranty the tire. I bought a new car 5 years ago. I blew out a tire when I accidently hit a curb. The store where I usually buy my tires called Goodyear about the tire. The Goodyear company gave me 50% off a replacement. Since it was my fault the tire failed I was happy to get even 1/2 off. Never hurts to ask. (Never mind that I had to be scolded by the husband for destroying a new tire with only 1500 miles on it.)

      1. You’re right. I think I will do that. The tire shop will know exactly how much mileage I have put one these tires, since I always go to the same place for my seasonal tire change.

  21. My friends really want to see Endgame so we bought tickets for tuesday, which meant each ticket was $5, quite a steal! And the seats are pre-reserved and recliners without any extra costs. I bought some easter candy from Target for 70% off so that we can have some nice snacks while watching the movie. Although I have a job, many of my friends are still in college and on a budget. Their circumstances are a good reminder and way for me to limit my spending. I always try to be creative about how to hang out and have fun without spending much money.

  22. Hi Brandy and sorry to hear about your freezer breaking down but you as usual turned it into a positive experience by using everything in delicious meals and rotating stock. It sounds like the children had a wonderful time at Easter and the bike is another blessing for the week :).

    This week for us was more community service where we helped our local RSL sub branch cleanup and prepare for the Anzac Day memorial service on Thursday. It was all hands on deck and myself and another military veteran lady cleaned the inside of RSL club until it sparkled and DH helped with another couple of veterans set up the outdoor gazebos and to cook afternoon tea for the veterans and band members. What a magnificent day it was and DH marched for the first time in years in the Anzac march and laid the wreath for our RSL sub branch.

    Our Vickie challenge added up to $217.21 in savings last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –

    – Made a batch of MOO yoghurt saving $2.81 over purchasing it.
    – Made a half a batch of brownie/chocolate sauce premix saving $7.33 over purchasing it in the shops.
    – In the breadmaker we made 3 loaves of bread during the week saving $10.47 over purchasing them in the local shops.

    Finances/Listings and extra earnings –

    – Paid our usual fortnightly house mortgage payment.
    – Listed 20 items on a free listing promotion saving $33 on usual listing fees.
    – I earned around $12 from the sale of a homemade cotton eye mask on eBay.
    – DH earned $150 from gardening jobs he did this week. We put aside the expenses for oils, fuel and other needed equipment from each job as he does it. Next week some of this will be used to purchase fuel and sprays he has used and the rest will be kept for maintenance of our gardening equipment.

    Purchases –

    – Bought 3 x 3kg prescripton dry cat food for our cat who was born with half her teeth (she still manages quite well though). I used some of my earnings from my PayPal account and the full budgeted cat food account to purchased it using discount voucher codes on eBay saving $20.28 over purchasing it in the local vets.
    – Purchased 2 x 12mm x 300mm and 2 x 16mm x 300mm wood auger pieces on eBay saving $128.08 over purchasing them in our local hardware stores. We are going to use these to put up a front gate so have to drill through large ironbark fence posts to attach them and are going to use these for both our kangaroo garden enclosure and rebuilding our chook pen too.

    Hope everyone had an equally wonderful week :).

    Sewingcreations15.

    1. I love that you list what you saved by making something over buying it ready-made. A few years ago I started doing that and I also keep track of what I save with coupons, rebates, Ibotta and so on. It is very motivating to me.

      1. I agree with you Mable it is motivational to keep a track of what you save by making something at home versus buying it in the shop.

        I am on one website blog and this challenge was started by a SAHM called Vicky (known as the Vicky challenge) in the United States who was told she didn’t contribute to the household when her and her husband went to a financial advisor at his work. She wrote down every way she saved by cutting discount coupons, buying groceries and clothing on special, making her own meals and family treats, painting their own house versus getting a professional painter in and so forth. After a few weeks the financial advisor did agree that she contributed a lot in the way of savings to their household.

        In society there are still quite a few people who look down on SAHM and Carers and many others who stay at home to do the housework, cooking, cleaning, shopping, budgeting, child-rearing and love SAHM and others do when they do all the work they do compared to paying someone to do that work instead.

        It is a nice way to think of how much each and every one of us are worth with all the work we do in our households and when people say things like “oh you don’t work” with pity you will know you are worth far more than they think. We are all good stewards of our money and by what we do we can make one budget spread far further too.

        Brandy is a very good example of being worth so much for what she can accomplish, do and save the family each and every week.

        I hope everyone who stays at home rather than work by choice finds inspiration in everything they do by reading this. By the way I am a fulltime carer to my husband and I stay at home and don’t work.

        Sewingcreations15.

        1. Oh Lorna, don’t end with you “don’t work”. You are such a hard working women. I get much inspiration from all of your comments. Brandy inspires me in the same way.

          1. Thank you Anne for your encouragement and thank you for your kind words : ) .

            I probably should have phrased that better and said I don’t work outside of the home but do a lot of work inside the home and also run a hobby business online too.

            We are all worth so much in what we do every day in our homes.

            Sewingcreations15.

        2. This is what my Hubby does when someone mentions I am home. Even when I was working part time as a Private chef he would get comments until he pointed out how much I saved by doing things myself, how little we paid for groceries, I did sewing , backing etc. He helped more than one figure out if it was better for both to work or only one due to child care costs. AND to figure out the taxes because two incomes was higher taxed than 2 separate incomes

          1. Exactly Jules and your’s and everyone’s contributions to the household are invaluable and worth way more than most people can imagine. Childcare costs are so incredibly high everywhere and sometimes if you work out the cost many times Mum’s with young children are better off staying at home rather than working as with those costs taken out of their wage along with fuel and work clothing it means they earn very little at the end of the week.

            I am glad you have a wonderful husband who recognises and edifies you in all that you do everyday. DH is also the same way with me and tells people I have a special talent for buying everything cheaply and how much I save in the home. When there is one income in the home what we do can and does make that income stretch way further.

            Sewingcreations15

  23. Hello Brandy,
    I also live in Las Vegas and seem to have trouble growing things?At what point do you harvest your parsley and are you just picking the leaf stems? I’m picking Swiss chard this morning and have found that bugs ate 1 leaf. Im picking the rest for white bean and chard soup, so healthy and delicious!!
    Jane

    1. You can cut your parsley and keep harvesting it continuously once it has leaves, but this time of year it can go to seed, so if you see it suddenly shooting taller, cut it all right away and bring it in to dry. It will grow in summer but it has to be planted again around now and grown in a shady spot, or it will burn to a crisp.

      Your chard will grow back in a couple of weeks. I’m pulling my bolted chard now and will be planting new seeds asap. It always bolts in April. Usually I let one plant go to seed and collect seeds from that.

    2. Jane I understand your troubles! This is the first year (of 5) that I’ve had a real harvest from our Spring garden. The caterpillars are out in full force this year too, I blame all the rain we’ve had.

    3. I don’t live in Las Vegas, so I don’t know if this would work for you, but a couple of years ago, I just let a parsley plant flower and go to seed in my flowerbed. It dropped so many seeds, which seemed to all come up! I have a huge area of parsley now from that one plant. I dried a lot last year for Christmas gifts, and dug up plants to give away for Easter to family members who came over. Now, I plan to actually “weed” out some of the plants, add some new compost/dirt to the area, and let a couple more plants go to seed this summer for another batch of babies! I’m going to leave plenty to eat while I wait for the new ones to grow. I’ll see how it works, but it’s a plan anyway:)

  24. Good Morning!
    Frugal Accomplishments for the last week of April were not very many unfortunately. We also had an a major house purchase to buy… a new water heater. The one for the front of our house went out Saturday and we had to purchase a new one yesterday. My husband and a friend will install it tonight to save on installation fees. The good news is we will able to lower the temp on this one and hopefully save a little money in electricity. The old one was set way too high but is very difficult to get to, so we haven’t been able to lower the temp. Since we have to pull everything out anyway, we will adjust this one and it should help with the electric bill. I am thankful that we do still have hot water for showers since my bathroom has a separate 28 gallon tank. Did not go out to eat. Entertained friends on Saturday night with dinner that was included in this week’s grocery budget rather than going out to eat. The house that we purchased last summer had a side porch, but unfortunately we found out that the porch was not well built and was falling apart. Rather than pay someone to tear it down and haul it away, we have opted to do the work ourselves. It has been a slow process as we do it in the evenings/weekends, but we are almost finished. Our property looks so much better and the neighbors have even made comments about how much nicer it looks. I also attempted to plant flowers in the flower bed next to my door to make it look nicer but I purchased inexpensive plants, as I am not much of a gardener so did not want to lose a lot of expensive plants. Our front door looked awful, and it still needs to be repainted, but I got a magic eraser and scrubbed it down and it looks so much cleaner and fresh now. We have several home improvement projects on our to do list, but we will do them a little at a time and not go into debt for them.

  25. Sat down and figured out the monthly budget going forward from May 1st – determined to make a dent in a couple of debts while I’m still getting lots of hours at the office. I think it’s a good balance between too lenient and so frugal I’d rebel in month two. I have to be honest about what things cost in this city and what I’m willing to give up – and not.

    I re-organized the freezer again to move the things that need to be used up now to front & centre. I will be inspired by how much work you must have had Brandy to save all that food – it must have been a lot of work! I have to admit that I was tempted to just throw out a couple of things – but it would have been laziness and I can’t excuse that. I have made a big pot of chicken & veggie soup from a stock of chicken & turkey bits & pieces and later in the week I will use up some beef strips by adding peppers & broccoli and some Asian seasoning that I have and I’ll serve it over rice.

    I did take advantage of some great sales at both my No Frills and Loblaws supermarkets to do a bit more re-stocking of the pantry. I had gone in specifically to get more tea, especially as I would accumulate quite a few loyalty points with the amount I was buying. Checked my receipt as I was leaving and noticed that I hadn’t received my points, the transaction didn’t list it as the store brand and the price was more than it should have been. Went to the service desk and they confirmed that it was not scanning properly – they refunded me the $10.50 I had paid under the policy we have that if something scans incorrectly the store must give it to you for free up to $10. They also gave me the points! So, at least 2 months worth of tea for free.

    I had to email in twice last week about other loyalty points not appearing on my receipts and promptly received those. I now have over $30 available but I’ve decided to try and save them up for as long as I can for a Fall stock up.

    I found a $2 coin on the ground and added it to my coin jar.
    I looked at how many transit fares I was using now that I’m working more and decided to purchase a monthly pass for May – it will save me about $20
    I bought a year’s pass to the museum and got a discount as a senior. I got the one that allows 1 adult and 4 children under 17 as guests – it will get a lot of use!

    I took lunch and snacks to work each day.

    I’ve been doing more clearing out of things in my apt. and ended up taking a few serving pieces into the church as I will get more use out of them there than I will at home these days.

    Signed up for a one day “Food Handler’s Certificate” at a discounted cost of only $10. It is handy to have under my belt.

    As always, looking forward to reading everyone’s comments. Have a wonderful week.

  26. I discovered that our grocery store has previously-frozen beef liver for slightly more than a dollar per packet. I bought two and cooked them and refroze one. It was delicious. Although beef liver is high in cholesterol, it is also high in iron, vitamin B12 and folate, all of which I need. Although I’m not a super fan of liver, at that price, I’m stocking up my freezer. I’ll just cook it all at once and then freeze the cooked liver (since you cannot refreeze meat that’s been thawed unless it is raw meat that after thawing has been cooked). I won’t eat it every day but once a week for sure. I will continue to buy the fresh roasted turkey and package it into individual portions for the month. I try to avoid processed meats because of the preservatives.

    I am having a research blitz for a couple of days at the archives before it moves from downtown to the university. I hope to finish the research for the book, then others can proofread it, then we can apply for grants.

    Several other Albertans have mentioned the snow we got. I had hoped to get the lawn seeded with sheep’s fescue before the snow but couldn’t do so. This is only on the dry sunny boulevard where there is also a scree garden. It will be a couple of weeks before any gardening can be done.

    We had fun doing the YYC Calgary Nature Challenge. It was free. I saw lots of interesting birds and plants the day before the snow.

    free activities are so good!

    1. I love liver – wish I could have had that great price! I know that’s a bit weird but once I learned how to cook it properly it was so much better! My mom was a great cook for most things but liver was always bordering on shoe leather! 🙂

      I belong to a social club (Probus) and each month they organize low or no cost tours for members and April’s tour was at the City of Toronto Archives building and it was so interesting! They have an amazing amount of information and photos available for research. The Ontario archives used to be downtown near to my doctor’s office but they have moved up to the York University grounds. I will have to see about a visit ip there – much easier now that the subway runs right to the university )the Archive bldg. is right outside the subway entrance). Good luck with all the research.

      1. Hi Margie A,

        How do you cook the liver you buy? I have just been baking mine, without frying it with bacon and onions. It was such great liver that it was really good just like that. It was a good week of research. An added plus was that my allergies were better because at home (inside and out in the yard) I was really suffering. Thanks for your wishes!

        My crocuses (not wild but domesticated pulsatilla) are blooming! Not daunted nor flattened by that snow.

        1. I always soak liver first in milk – leave it in the fridge for a few hours and then drain. I bread the liver lightly and shallow fry it in just a bit of oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side – that’s it. Comes out really tender

  27. -Ham bones make great potato soup too. I boil the bone and make a nice broth, then add chunks of potato, onions, celery, carrots, along with garlic and other herbs/spices. I like soups that are “brothy” not thick so I don’t thicken. Serve with a bit of shredded cheese and I like to make corn bread to go with it.

    -I had a freezer that I thought was dying but after I cleaned it all out and let it sit for a few days, I plugged it back in and it worked perfectly. Sometimes the ones that self-defrost will freeze all around the tubes that carry the refrigerant. This also worked for my Mom’s refrigerator. It’s free to try!

    1. I’m glad to hear how you use a ham bone to make potato soup. I have one in the freezer, but am not crazy about split pea or bean soups, so this will work very well for me.

      1. I made potato soup once using a ham bone broth. It was hands down the best tasting potato soup I’ve ever made! Unfortunately, I rarely buy hams that have a bone, so I never have a ham bones on hand to use for broth.

        1. You could ask the meat department of your grocery store if they might have any ham bones that they would giveyou.

    2. If you have a Hone Baked Ham store in your area they sell ham bones. They are cheap and always have enough ham left on them for a meal for our family of 4 EBSIDES the bone it’s self. My grandson happens to work there, that is how I learned of this. I keep at least 3 in my freezer now.

  28. I scheduled a Colonoscopy. Taking care of your health is frugal in my view. Plus, my insurance requires it for my age group’s wellness care. If we do not do it within a prescribed time, then our health insurance increases by $25 a month. I also scheduled my mammogram for Friday. I am trying to take care of my health and dental needs during the first part of the year. As of yesterday, the mulberry tree is producing ripe fruit. I have spread bedsheets all over my front lawn to make picking up the tiny mulberries so much easier. I just gather them when I come home from work. I had just finished eating all of last year’s frozen mulberries, so this is great timing! Luckily, I do not have an HOA to complain about the front yard sheets…lol I packed my lunch, as always, and this week I am eating tuna fish sandwiches. I walked in my neighborhood. I cleaned the green pollen off the outside of my vinyl house with Awesome. It worked well.

  29. Brandy, so sorry about your freezer. That’s definitely frustrating, but I’m impressed with how well you handled it! Do you mind sharing your strawberry lemonade recipe? I searched the site, but am overlooking it if you’ve previously shared it.

    We had a decently frugal week. Received my last check for my job that just ended so have been working on paying May bills and trying to project the budget over summer in case I don’t replace my income quickly. Otherwise just keeping on the frugal path!

    *Got free strawberry plants from my mom who has a patch that is growing wild. Filled my 2 small beds and shared the rest with my in-laws who live next door.
    *Sprouted seed potatoes from some store bought potatoes and planted those. I’ve never tried growing potatoes so we’ll see how it goes. Planted those in an old dishwasher tub that I’m trying out as a potato garden bed 🙂
    *Planted 3 kinds of squash, 3 kinds of cucumbers, 2 kinds of lettuce, spinach and green beans in the garden.
    *My 13yo daughter and I tried our hand at altering some yard sale clothing. For $0.25 each, I was willing to risk it and just let her try! She did an amazing job for a new sewer and shortened several items, fixed some holes, sewed on buttons, and even took in a skirt. She is learning new skills, and I am too because I’m a very basic sewer!
    *Wrapped up the end of my job, which is both exciting, as it was super stressful, and scary because we lost ⅔ of our income. We have faith that all will turn out well, so we’re just keeping to our frugal ways, which never changes for us and I find has been helpful as our income has risen and fallen over our years of marriage. I am looking forward to a bit of a simpler lifestyle for a while at least.
    *Saw on another saving money site that JC Penney was having a buy 1, get 2 free sandal sale so my daughter and I checked it out to see if there were any we liked. I’ve been looking for a new pair of reasonably priced ones that would last a few years at least and I found one. My daughter got the 2 free pairs. It worked out to less than $20 each after going through a rebate app to get some $ back.
    *Combined errands when I had to be out, as well as sharing a shopping trip with my mom.
    *Packed lunches for my husband the 3 days he worked away from home this week. One day was egg salad sandwiches using the free eggs from last week. One day was the last bit of leftover corned beef from the night before supper. I purposely didn’t buy lunch meat this week and was determined to make those 3 lunches out of what we had on hand!
    *Redeemed $0.10 ibotta rebate and used ebates for my Walmart.com order where I get a few household items every few months in a larger package than I can get locally and earned $0.78 on that.
    *Bought sugar in a large bag at the local Walmart which is cheaper than the small bags at Aldi.

  30. Brandy. you amaze me in finding the many ways to save as much food from your failing freezer as you could.
    This week I bought gallon size tomato plants for $2.25 each at a somewhat local nursery. It’s about 25 miles from where I live, but I had a meeting in a town beyond it and stopped on my way back from the meeting, combining errands. Last year I bought 12 tomato plants but this year bought 9, as I think it will be plenty. I buy 6 San Marzano plants and they are the basis for all of my sauces, salsas, and ketchup.
    At a different nursery I found concord grape plants for $9.99 (I was looking for 2 more to cover a trellis) and I bought one more raspberry plant for my garden. The seeds for peas, radishes, spincah, and some of the lettuce I planted a few weeks ago are started to sprout. In the next week I plan to sew cucumber, melons, and squash seeds.
    Inspired by Gardenpat, I bought six pineapples at .99 each and will give canning pineapple a try.
    I’ve found strawberries for .99 a quart and made two batches of freezer jam. I’ll make another batch today and am teaching my step daughter to make it as well.
    While putting the jam into the freezer, I found three jars of freezer salsa dated 2014. I through about throwing them away, but when thawed, they still smelled good–no freezer smell. I turned it into soup last night, thinning it a bit and adding black beans and corn. My husband loved it!
    I was able to bring home many leftovers from a church event–refried beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, and some corn tortillas. I’ve been eating them for lunches.
    Went on a hike last week with friends, watched a season of Vera (BBC mystery show a friend recommended that I checked out from the library( while knitting, and read library books.

    1. VERA is also a mystery series of books, 8 in the series, by Ann Cleeves. The show is based on the books; these are not books written off the show after the fact.

  31. Oh no, so sorry to hear about your freezer! We had that happen to us a couple of years ago to our garage chest freezer. Unfortunately ours quit with no warning during the summer while we were away on a trip, so we came home to a freezer full of spoiled food. I was sick about losing it all. It sounds like you were very creative in saving as much as possible! It is never a good thing when an appliance fails, but it does force you to use older items up & take stock of what you have, which can be at least somewhat positive.

    We’ve had a pretty good week so far. We had our central air off for a couple of days, but have had to turn it back on. It’s starting to warm up here in Texas (80s during the days), but the outside humidity is the real issue. I leave the thermostat set fairly high so it doesn’t run all the time, but does keep the house dry & comfortable. We also use a lot of fans during the summers – we store them in our garage the rest of the year – so we’ve already got those in place, in addition to our ceiling fans. Last year we bought an additional portable a/c unit for our bedroom, which always stays warmer than the rest of the house, and it was the best thing we ever did. It kept our room so comfortable and actually ended up saving us money since we were able to run the central air less. We are considering purchasing a second portable for our living area to save more wear/tear on our central system, which is older. We are trying to get as many years out of it as we can before we have to replace it. Our house will be paid off in less than 18 months so we are hoping to put off any major work until then (fingers crossed & Lord willing!) In other news, we cooked most meals at home. I made several meals in my Instant Pot, which I have really been enjoying. I tried a chicken pasta dish that my husband loved (he’s already requested it for dinner twice), and some breakfast eggs in ramekins for a quick Saturday breakfast. We both brought our lunches, snacks & drinks to work with us. On Saturday we went to a few garage sales and found some good deals on household items we could use. Last night I visited with a newer neighbor across the street, who brought over half a dozen eggs from her backyard chickens as a gift. I hope everyone has a great week!

  32. Discovered rats trying to get into my chicken coop so had to buy poison for them. Bought the big plastic bucket of poison to bring down the cost per ounce and have a good place to store it. These are not my first rats, nor are they likely to be the last.
    Skipped the grocery store 2 weeks in a row. (I mainly live alone).
    Gratefully took leftovers from an afternoon tea I attended. Replaced button on 2 pairs of pants.
    Saw Endgame as a matinee just after lunch and brought a bottle of water in my purse so we weren’t tempted by the concession stand.
    Got a nice bonus at work for performance. It will refill my bulk purchase account which I sorely depleted in March.
    Stored a bunch of rice I bought last month in Mylar bags. It worked well enough that we will buy 50 lbs. of oatmeal, steel cut oats, and beans this month.
    Picked up replacement cartridge for my laser printer at work (school only supplies 1 a year) 2 for $18 rather than the $89 for the name brand. So far, they’re working great and I have less than 3 weeks to go.
    Signed up for auto pay on my cell phone and saved $5 a month. Picked up cat food and litter when they were on sale and there was an in-store $10 of $50 coupon, plus I went on Wednesday so I got the military discount too. Husband bought flea pills and remembered to do the rebate form immediately!
    Sad, but decided not to do a garden again this year. With my husband deployed and 3 overseas trips planned (so far!) this summer, I just won’t be able to tend it properly. Had the FFA and floriculture students out to my house and they got a lesson on tree pruning and gardenias. While they were there, they trimmed all of the trees, bushes, and fence line for me.

  33. Our lawn care service, owned by a family about a mile closer to town on our road, kept the price at $40 a mowing for over a decade. But they have raised their price each year for the last three years (their boys are now men with families of their own) and it is now $65. But they are willing to mow our lawn on an as-needed basis, just frequently enough to keep the neighbors happy and to keep the township from mowing and billing. This year, when they sent out the annual price list for their services, I immediately left a phone message requesting that they leave the spring cleanup (pick-up-sticks) to me and to start mowing at the end of April. So I was surprised early last week to see a guy in a pickup truck from the landscaper pull into the driveway. No mower. I ran out and asked why he was there. He said spring cleanup. I asked him how much it was going to charge. He didn’t know and called the owner. (The price list had stated a price equal to between two and three mowings.) I asked him to only work long enough piling up sticks to be equivalent to one mowing since he was already there and I was quite certain he wasn’t on salary. The owner said he wouldn’t charge us. I’ll know if he changed his mind when we get the bill for the April mowing. But my quick run outside in bare feet probably saved us $80-$90, minimum. I know we won’t be paying more than $65 for the clean up. We didn’t have that many sticks.

    There’s a restaurant in town whose prices used to rival that of Meals-on-Wheels since their dinners easily feed two. Their Yankee Pot Roast dinner with tender roast beef, real mashed potatoes, gravy, corn (nearly always the vegie of the day–my suspicions are that they buy corn from a nearby farmer), garlic bread, and either soup or salad is now, after price increases, $9.99 before their 10% senior discount. Mom wanted to go out for it. It was a cool, damp evening. I pointed out that if I went to pick it up instead, we could save $3.25 or $4.50 for two coffees plus half the tip. Ever-thrifty mom, when faced with the prospect of dodging raindrops too, decided I had a good idea. So the meal was $8.99 plus tax plus $1 tip. Mom got all the mashed potatoes (her favorite) because I am trying to cut way back on potatoes to help my arthritis, I got the garlic bread, we both got our fill of delicious beef, and the corn went into pancakes for dinner the next day.

    Mom and I went years without anything new for our wardrobes other than what we found new-for-us at Goodwill. This year, I have bought a few very inexpensive dresses for both mom and me that can be worn around the house or, if accessorized carefully, while out and about from “old lady catalog” web sites, and two inexpensive tops at Walmart for me. Mom always likes to cover her arms when out of the house. So I found 100% white cotton eyelet jackets on sale online and am waiting for their delivery, one for her and one for me. I chose white instead of a pastel because our well water necessitates the use of Iron Out to keep pastels from turning orange. Iron Out does not seem to remove the dye from polyesters and I don’t use it for dark colored loads. But 100% cotton flannel pastel print night gowns eventually turn pure white after using a combination of chlorine bleach and Iron Out. White cotton eyelet will never get faded like light blue or yellow or pink can and (bonus!) white matches most our our summer dresses and skirts.

    1. Holly, would you please share the name of the catalog that had the dresses you purchased. I am very interested in dresses. Thanks.

  34. Oh, Brandy! what a mess that would have been to try and save as much as possible. I half expected to read you did some canning, but I guess it isn’t hard for your family to eat up things. You certainly have the numbers, including 2 teen boys! Good for you for salvaging as much food as you could. Sounds like your children faired well with Easter candy this year.
    Well, I’m back from our amazing European vacation. I really didn’t want to come home. But alas here I am. I was able to read all the posts and comments each week, but just didn’t have the time to comment. So much to tell you about the trip! I will attempt to do a summary for those who are interested:
    *Dublin, Ireland: Most interesting thing we saw there was the Dublin Gaol (jail) where we learned how absolutely horrible the conditions were. It makes Alcatraz look like a fun summer camp (and I’ve visited Alcatraz so I do know what I’m compairing). During the potato famine, people (including women and children) were purposely doing things to get into the jail, because you were guaranteed 3 meals a day. Massive overcrowding ensured. If you ended up there too many times, you were sent to Australia. Another noteable mention was the Dublin Museum of Natural History, with the most beautiful “old school” Victorian museum architecture I’ve ever seen (highly recommend googling pictures of this place on-line).
    *Limerick, Ireland: Setting of Frank, McCourts childhood memoir “Angela’s Ashes”. We did a walking tour that took us to several places he mentions in his book and ended with a visit to the school he attended, that is now a museum. Also did a side trip to the Cliffs of Moher from here. Just stunning to see!
    *Cork, Ireland: Visited Balarney Castle. Was so gun hoe to kiss the Balarney stone! Climbed up the very narrow circular stone staircase, with steps so tiny, less than half my foot fit on the widest part to neck breaking heights. Did I mention I’m terrified of heights and slightly claustrophobic? By the time we finally emerge at the top, I was in full in full on panic attach. You have to walk along a narrow, uneven wall with a massive drop on one side and the castle wall on the other, that has huge gaps every few steps so you can see the drop to the ground. When you get to the Balarney Stone, you have to lay down on said narrow wall on your back, reach out over a gap that looked a meter or 2 wide (no safety net, just open straight to the ground below), grab some bars, then pull yourself over the gap to kiss the stone upside down (yes, someone wipes the stone off with disinfectant and helps you get into position while another takes a souvenier photo you can buy later). I decided the gift of gab was highly over-rated, and declined kissing the stone. However, the gardens were beautiful and we wandered through them for hours.
    *Waterford, Ireland: Coolest thing we did was do a virtual reality viking “tour”. Never did a virtual reality thing before, but would definitely do it again! Also toured the Waterford Crystal factory. Some of the “one of a kind” pieces they’ve created are absolutely stunning! Our hotel room was massive and directly overlooked the river (5 windows, all with views of the river), we spent some time resting there.
    *Amsterdam, the Netherlands: So many bikes, so many stunning canal streetscapes, and such friendly people! No language barriers here at all. Everyone easily and happily slipped back and forth between English and Dutch. Most interesting visit was Anne Frank House. A great lead up to what we would visit later in our trip. We also took a hop-on-hop-off bus that visited some of the smaller towns just outside Amsterdam, including an area with several windmills you could tour through. We even bought a small wheel of Edam cheese, in the town of Edam that was actually made there (we bought cheese from other places too, that we brought home to share…so good!). Oh, and we went to the Keukenof Gardens for the tulip festival. Very pretty, but massive crowds of people made it less enjoyable for us. Should have looked for tulip fields that were free to view instead.
    *Rotterdam, the Netherlands: This was a side trip we specifically took, as hubby’s war bride grandmother was from this city. We were trying to find areas that had survived the war, until we stopped by a visitor’s centre. The man there showed us an interective map display. The screen had a picture of Rotterdam taken in 1939. If you swipped the screen, it them revealed another picture, taken after the bombing. Within 15 minutes, there were only 4 buildings that remained. It was a really profound moment for us. We now understand why she was so willing to come to Canada. There was literally nothing of her life left there. She would have to rebuild no matter what she did. Another profound realization was the fact that if Germany could do this to a city in 1939 in just 15 minutes, imagine what could happen if war broke out with today’s technology. Rotterdam did rebuild, but they took a very interesting approach. Instead of trying to replace/copy what was lost, they chose to embraced very modern architecture, with a lot of artistic inspiration in many of the new buildings. They are still actively rebuilding today.
    *Berlin, Germany: Of course the big stand out for this city was visiting the Berlin Wall. Found it quite interesting, as I remember the wall coming down when I was in high school. The other surprising stand out was the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. It is basically a large park of rectangular pillars, of varying heights, each pillar representing a certain number of people that were exterminated during the war (I don’t recall the actual number each represent. but it’s a lot). Art is supposed to evoke feelings, and this one surprised me how it made me feel. As you walk through, you feel isolated and alone (despite being surrounded by people) as you looked down long narrow corridors filled in hills and valleys, with no idea what might pop out at any time from around the corner. What a great memorial! We also visited the Medical History Museum, but I admit this would not be appealing to everyone. I, however, found it fascinating. It is designed to be a teaching institute for medical students (Dr’s, nurses, mid-wives, etc.), including actual examples of preserved diseased tissue, body parts and and even full bodies (such as abnormally developed babies), that allow medical students to learn from as well as evolutions of historical instuments and medical proceedures, etc.. In fact there were several tours going through that I’m pretty sure were medical students in training.
    *Gdynia & Hel, Poland: We stayed in Gdynia, but our main visit was to Hel (yeah, we thought it was funny to visit Hel). Hel sits at the end of a penninsula that extends out into the Baltic Sea, and boasts the most beautiful beaches you could ask for (comparible to California, IMHO). However, it used to be a full on military defence post (decommisioned around 2013), designed to protect agains the very real threat of Russian invation. So, on one side you have stunning beaches, and on the other, you have hidden bunkers in the sandbanks, reminants of anti-warcraft guns, etc. Beautiful and scary all at the same time!
    *Warsaw, Poland: We were here during Easter weekend, so that made it difficult for us as tourists as many things were closed for the holiday. We visited the Warsaw Zoo on Easter Sunday which was amazing. There is a touching history behind this zoo. I highly suggest reading the book or watching the movie “The Zookeeper’s Wife”. Most interesting thing we did here was a free walking tour of the former Jewish Quarter/Warsaw Ghetto, then ending it with a visit to the Jewish history museum. Couldn’t believe how long and how badly the Jews have been treated, just because they do not accept Jesus as the true messiah. This is were I have a hard time with Christianity. The bible teaches love and acceptance, but it’s been used to justify war, biggotry, discrimitation and cruelty to our fellow man for far too long. So infuriating, knowing this is still happening EVERYWHERE in the world today!
    *Krakow, Poland: This one is hard to define the highlights of what we saw. We visited Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration camps with a tour. The evil that were done to people there was so hard to process and the size of the camp was way bigger than we ever could have imagined. In stark contrast, we also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines the same day with this tour, which was stunning (google it for pictures, it really is amazing!). The next day, we visited Krakows former Jewish Quarter/Ghetto. On the recommendation of our tour bus driver, we walked through a Jewish cemetary. As I looked around the cemetary, packed with broken down tombstones covered in overgrown ivy, I was struck by the realization there were entire families that had been completely eraticated from existance. There was no one left to visit, bring flowers or even care for the gravesites. They were all gone. Many of the tombs that were along the pathways bore death dates of 1943 or 1944. I even noticed 1 plaque mounted to a wall (no grave) with several names, various birthdates and all but 1 with the death date of 1944. So, heartbreaking. Afterward we made our way to Schindler’s Factory (the infamous factory from “Schindler’s List”). One thing that stood out here, after visiting so many other places, was the video diary’s of those telling what it was like when the Germans invaded Krakow. The stories were told by senior that had been children when the war broke out. One lady said her family tried to flee the city, but when they realized after a night of bombing and commotion, the Germans had succesfully invaded, they realized there was no point in running and they went home.
    ___Let’s face it, travel isn’t cheap. But there are ways to make it more affordable, so you can visit those places on your bucket list. So here are some tips and tricks we used to keep costs down:
    **We saved ALL the money we needed to go on this vacation, before we went on vacation. If we used a credit card, it was with the knowledge it would be paid off as soon as the bill came in, or before in some cases. We took cash and stuck within the budgeted amount. We even came home with money leftover!
    **Hubby researched and chose affordable hotels with good reviews to stay at. Some were a bit out of the way, but were probably nicer that the overpriced ones located near the big attractions. Some were even 4 and 5 star hotels! We researched things to do ahead of time and chose the one we really wanted to see, instead of visiting every museum or tourist attraction that cost lots of money. We bought tours ahead of time, for some of the things we knew we had to see (e.g. Cliffs of Moher, Auschwitz/Birkenau)
    **We bought a Eurail pass before going and made the most of it by using it to get from city to city. We utilized public transit, hop-on-hop-off buses, and walked to get around to various sites. We grossly underestimated how much tylenol we would need, as we did a LOT of walking! FYI, they do not sell Tylenol in Europe. There are certain meds I cannot take due to having gastric by-pass surgery. After consulting a pharmacist, they helped us find an alternative med that was safe for me to take.
    **We bought backpacks. This saved money in several ways. We had to be careful how much we took with us, as we had to carry them on our backs (started with 15lb). So packing was streamlined and we washed clothing along the way. Because they were small/light weight, we did not have to pay to check our luggage. In fact, on our flight to Ireland, the bags were small enough, we didn’t check them at all! We also were very careful what we bought as souveniers because that added more weight. We brought only a few items home with us, most werer useful items and therefore little money wasted on stuff we don’t need!
    **If breakfast wasn’t included, we declined paying for overpriced options and went to a supermarket or close by store for supplies. Snacks, drinks and lunch supplies were also purchased at markets, keeping our food costs way down. Hubby even purchased a six pack of Heineken Beer for 3 Euros when we were in Amsterdam. Almost every hotel room had a kettle, mugs, teaspoons, and supplies for making tea/instant coffee. Instant oatmeal, made in a mug and sweetened with the free sugar, worked extremely well for a cheap, filling breakfast. Some hotels even offered free fruit at the desk, which came in handy to take with us for a healthy snack or breakfast addition. We also tried our best to find reasonably priced restaurants to eat at (not an easy task in tourist areas, I assure you!).
    **We took ziplock baggies with us, which always come in handy. We also reused 2 plastic containers we received with our dinner leftovers one night. They came in very handy, then we disposed of them before we came back home.
    **While researching info for the trip, I found this blogpost: https://www.thetalkingsuitcase.com/what-to-pack-for-europe/. It’s spot one, by the way. I decided to take their advice and bought a 6 pack of baby washcloths to take with us. My husband baulked at this and thought it was a stupid waste of space. I’d say about 80% of our hotels did not have washcloths. Each time he would say in disbelief, “no washcloths, again?”. So, if you travel in Europe, take washcloths with you!
    **Ireland does not have laundromats. We were told several times, “but everyone here has their own washer’s and dryer’s”. Well, we didn’t, so we had to pay for a laundry service there. However, they have them in Poland! I made hubby stop and buy laundry soap on the way to one. He was annoyed and thought we should just buy some at the laundromat. We payed $4 zlts for a container of laundry soap. It was $5 zlts for enough soap for 1 load at the laundromat! At other times, I hand washed clothes and hung them to dry in our hotel room, sometimes using shampoo to clean them. It worked just fine during the in between.
    **Hubby and I took our old smart phones with us on the trip (not as much of a loss if they were stolen or broke) and bought a European sim card with a 1 month phone plan to use while there for a really great price. The plan allowed 1 hour of international calling for each phone. We used these minutes to call home several times. We also used the free WhatsApp (along with free hotel wifi or the 8 GB of data included with the plan), to keep in touch with home, using the facetime feature, as well texting and sharing pictures with it. Way cheaper than paying our service provider to use our phone overseas!
    **When in Europe, definitely look for free walking tours to take! They are not actually free. The guides work for tips. However, they are almost always worth the money you spend. You get free exercise, are taken to places not always marked on the tourist maps and you learn so much more than just walking around aimlessly! Most cities have several topics to choose from, so pick one you are interested in and spend some time learning lots while having access to guides that can provide you with other info about their city (like suggestions on where to eat, places they highly suggest visiting and/or how to get to places you want to visit).
    So, it’s back to my frugal adventures here at home. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

      1. Thank you for this account of your travels Rhonda, very interesting and really enjoyed reading it.
        I am from Europe and you enlightened me to lots I did not know.

      1. Thanks for reading my novel! It’s a long post, but I thought people may enjoy hearing about our trip.

    1. Rhonda, thank you for all the wonderful details about your trip! I feel like I was there with you, and I’m glad you and your husband enjoyed it!

      1. Your quite welcome. I know that trips like this may not be an option for some of the followers here. It makes me happy that I could share my experience and you enjoyed reading it.

        1. Rhonda thank you! I just copy/pasted your entire post to my oldest daughter who leaves in 2 weeks for Europe!

    2. Welcome back, Rhonda! I loved reading about your trip! Wow, sounds fun. I am actually following someone on YouTube now that have been traveling in a lot of those same places. I also have been reading “Angela’s Ashes”. That I had gotten for either .25 or .50 from the library bookstore. Thanks agin for sharing your trip!

      1. If you enjoy reading Angela’s Ashes, there are 2 more memoire books written by Frank McCourt. They are ‘Tis and Teacher Man. I’ve read all three and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Can’t believe he became a highschool teacher without ever attending highschool himself!

    3. Rhonda A – Thanks so much for sharing the details of your European vacation, it sounds like you and your husband had a wonderful time!

    4. Glad to read that you had such a wonderful trip Rhonda. I certainly agree with you about the washcloths – ziplock bags -plastic containers. I also have a travel kit of hard plastic cutlery and I usually take teabags and granola bars with me (they come in handy for quick snacks if we can’t find a restaurant right away).
      I visited the Jewish quarter while in Prague and it was very moving.
      When do you start saving for your next adventure?

      1. Margie, with so little room in our backpacks, having to adhere to travel regulations, and concerns about keeping our backpacks light really made us think outside the box. Every hotel we stayed at provided tea bags, so they were not necessary to bring. We picked up plastic cutlery along the way, reused them for the duration of the trip, then disposed of them before coming home. The pastic containers were aquired for free when we asked to take the remainer of our dinner with us back to the hotel. We immediately saw their usefulness and reused them nearly every day before disposing of them before our return home. I sometimes picked up free apples from the front desk or scooped items from the breakfast bar, like yogurt or little wrapped up cheese wedges. Otherwise, we found simple snack items at the grocery store. This was not as easy to do in Europe. They don’t have nearly as many “convenience foods” as North America, including items like granola bars! But we always found something inexpensive that would work, even if it was a package of cookies. In fact, in Ireland, the hotels not only provide tea in the rooms, they also provide a “biscuit” (cookie) to go with it. Neither hubby nor I drink hot drinks, but we sure scammed the cookies to use as snacks!

    5. Rhonda, thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. I felt like I had a mini-tour myself, and it was so interesting! Traveling internationally will never be a possibility for me, so I really appreciate you and everyone who shares their travels here.

      1. Tejas, if there is anything you’d like more info on, I’d be happy to expand on what I posted. Also, if anything specific caught your interest, you can easily google pictures from these museums or areas, to help you get more of a visual. I wish I could post pictures, but that is not possible. I learned so much while on this trip, more than I could tell everyone in one post. So, please feel free to ask if you have questions, or desire more explanation!

      1. There is a part of me that is disappointed I didn’t do it. However, I do have a funny story to tell for years to come. Love it or hate it, that is the memory I get to keep forever…and I’m OK with that!

    6. Rhonda – I thought of you often over the past month. You had a such a great trip and your advice is spot on. I have traveled both for business and for pleasure to England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. While EU – they are still so distinctive. I laugh when I think that my first long trip alone when I lugged not one, but two, big cases with me. And wore only a portion of what I brought. On my last trip I took one small roll around that would work on inter Euro airlines and a large satchel. I had friends meeting me and stayed with them so did laundry. And still didn’t wear everything I brought! I am no longer able to walk long distances but I would so love to do walking tours of Ireland and Germany. Glad you are back safe and sound!

      1. Thank you for thinking of me, Mary. I read your post where you wondered how I was doing. I was so tempted to answer, but by then my trip was almost over. I decided to save my comments until my return. We definitely want to visit more EU countries, but when and where have not been decided. Greece has been mentioned, but nothing is for sure yet. We need to take time to save up first. But you are right, despite being so close together, each country is definitely unique!

    7. Last time I checked, the holocost didn’t happen because of a religious persecution. Hitler was trying to create a genetically pure race. He was tracking the genetic information of all the German citizens. He had a personal view that Jews and others were an inferior race to the German race. That is not something Christians believe. In the Bible, the Israelites were persecuted because they were God’s chosen people. This was a fact for thousands of years before Christians even existed. There are a lot of evil people in the world that do wrong things, but it’s not because they call themselves Christians, or any other label. People choose to do bad things for their own personal gain, or because they enjoy hurting others, or because no one stops them so they can get away with it. They may justify or rationalize their choices by saying it’s about what they believe, but really, it’s more about what is in their hearts than whatever religious or political label they hide behind.

      1. I just finished watching a film called “The Man Who Will Come”. It is about the German massacre of hundreds of civilians, many of them women and children, in the Italian countryside. it is a very brutal, sad movie. It is based on a true story, the story of the massacre of the village of Marzabotto. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident as the SS wiped out other civilians thought to have helped the resistance. Sant’Anna di Stazemma suffered a similar fate. It was evil, pure and simple as was the Holocaust. Nor should anyone think that it was limited to Germans, citizens of one of the most cultured and intellectual countries of the world. I can think of many other modern day examples of similar evil.

      2. Although I understand your point of view, Stacey, it is also missing some very important aspects of history. The Jewish history museum was about the entire history of Jews, not just the holocaust. Hitler was only one of many who persecuted them over thousands of years. They were refused acceptance and treated horribly by many areas of Europe because of their refusal to believe Jesus was the true messiah, long before Hitler was born. Historically, Christianity and politics have always been very tightly wound together, and used to justify war against other people time and time again. This cannot be ignored as a fact. In Ireland, right up to the 1950s (in Northern Ireland it was still prevalent in the 1970s) there was serious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The tensions between the two resulted in many conflicts where people were killing each other over it! Closer to home, look at how the Natives of North America or even the LGBTQ community have been treated. The Amish, Mennonites and Mormons, historically haven’t had an easy time being accepted for their beliefs, either.
        One of the reasons I love travel so much, is that I learn so much about the world from very different points of view than what we learn here in Canada or North America in general. Travel for me is not only about see the things we read about in history books, but also understanding how the cultures of different countries have developed because of these historical events. It’s about learning to accept and respect different points of views, because their cultural experiences were much different than mine. Over time, I have developed my own beliefs, which don’t always fit within a certain religious group and have evolved with the knowledge I have gained in my lifetime. I know there are many here with very strong religious beliefs. I humbly accept and very much respect this. But I also ask that mine and others beliefs or view of the world also be respected in return, even if they differ from your own.

  35. So sorry to hear about your freezer, Brandy! Hope you are able to get a new one soon. I’ve had mine go out too, but didn’t know it until everything had gotten warm. Lost everything. Ugh!

    Here are my accomplishments for the past week.

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Won a $75 Amazon gift certificate at work. Also got a $15 gift card to Schlotsky’s from my boss.
    • Ate in 5 times. For Easter we had 99c/lb ham, funeral potatoes and broccoli. For dessert I made lemon cupcakes made with $1/pkg. cake mix and homemade frosting that I tinted green and then topped with some coconut I had in the freezer that I also tinted green and put 3 dollar store jelly beans on top. They were cute, cheap, easy and delicious! We also had steak, baked potatoes and broccoli (twice); pulled pork tacos with corn on the cob; and shrimp scampi. I had to eat out on Thursday, as I had to take my Dad across town to see my niece’s dance recital. Rather than a sit down meal, we just went through a drive thru and ate in the car. Hubby ate leftovers for dinner that night.
    • Worked 13 contract hours.
    • Took my Dad out to breakfast this week. I had a $25 gift card to IHOP I got from work last week. As we were going in, I noticed a sign that said if I signed up for their text program, I would get an entrée for free that day. So I did and saved over $8. Still have around $7 left on the gift card for another day.
    • Hung out 3 out of 4 loads of clothes.
    • Got some Easter candy, Easter salt & pepper shakers and Easter cocktail napkins all 70% off. I was especially excited about the s&p shakers, as I was looking for a set.
    • Got 2 lbs. of butter for $1.88/lb and 24 packets of ramen for 3 cents each, and bananas for 20c/lb.
    • Chopped up the veggies leftover from the Easter veggie tray and froze them for soup.
    • Used up the leftover fruit from the Easter fruit bowl in smoothies.
    • Upped the amount Hubby is putting in his 401(k) by 1%.
    • I wanted to do a little something for my Grandson for Easter, but not a full Easter basket (my daughter takes care of that!) I found a little bubble kit and jumping frog game at the dollar store. He played with the bubbles all afternoon and had a great time. We also did an egg hunt with plastic eggs I already had and I put a couple of jelly beans I got from the dollar store in each of them.
    • Got a couple of Ibotta rebates.
    • Paid a bill online, saving a stamp.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  36. I have a fear that I’m going to come home to a warm freezer one day — mine is getting really old, and I would replace it, but we’ve had to replace the stove, dishwasher, air conditioner coil, vacuum and refrigerator recently, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the freezer hangs on a while longer. We absolutely use it.
    My husband had to be hospitalized recently after a very bad high blood sugar episode when he was home alone while I was at work. Normally, he can remedy it himself, but this time he didn’t catch it fast enough, and quickly reached a point where he could no longer think well enough to do so. We’ll see that bill in about a month, I imagine. The VA will possibly pay for it, but that can get tricky. He didn’t go to a VA facility, as the local hospital is five minutes from our house, and the VA hospital is 2 hours from us. I’m doing what I can to get the VA to cover this as community care.
    I took snacks to my own specialist visit 2 hours away, so I wouldn’t be tempted by the late afternoon hungries.
    I mended some of my husband’s pants.
    I put half of a new loaf of bread in the freezer so I don’t lose the last half to mold.
    I combined a sale and a coupon to get a full sized organic cream cheese for 99 cents.
    I bought bok choy in the ugly produce section. We’re having stir fry this week.
    I hung four loads of laundry on the line this weekend.
    Our egg man has some chickens laying small eggs right now, so he gave us 18 for the price of a dozen.
    I cooked a whole pound package of farm bacon at once, to save on time, clean up, and heat. We can re-heat it briefly for our breakfasts this week.
    I have enough saved up chicken bones and necks in my freezer to cook a big pot of broth in the slow cooker. I always let it cook for 24-36 hours, and it gets so rich and flavorful.
    We are reaching 90 here, but the nights are thankfully cool and dry enough to let us keep the a/c off. In Florida, the muggy humidity usually forces us to turn it on by now. I’m on the budget billing plan, meaning I pay a set amount each month and either accrue credit or debit as the seasons progress. I just received notice that my bill amount will drop six dollars per month starting next month, the result of a mild winter.

    1. I don’t think you’ll have any problem with the VA. My husband had chest pains last November and was admitted to a local private hospital, via the ER. VA covered everything. You may have to do a little help getting records to them, but they certainly aren’t going to insist somebody drive two hours to their hospital in an emergency situation.

      1. Anne, unfortunately, they tried to insist just that when my brother-in-law fell and broke his hip at the very start of a vacation in another state. They tried to refuse all payment of his care at the local hospital where they were supposed to vacation, which sent him on to a larger hospital nearby, which sent him to yet a larger hospital where his hip was finally operated on. He was 4 hours from a VA hospital, at best. My sister and brother-in-law appealed and finally won after months of worry about a $6000.00 bill.
        My husband was admitted to a local hospital last year for a shattered knee, and the VA refused to cover that, saying I had not notified them — I had called and left five messages on their former message-only line. Our local VA knew, because I told them, that he was admitted to a non-VA facility, but did not enter a note to that effect on his record, so I had no proof in the system at all that I did notify everyone I should. That cost us over $2000 after Medicare.
        I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time. The attended notification line is so busy, I’ve been unable to reach anyone for days, but our local facility says they put the note in the system this time.

  37. Brandy,
    So very sorry to hear about your freezer. I pray that situation will work out for you as I know how important it is for your food storage.
    I used the last of our Easter ham to make a pot of split pea soup for a couple dinners. My lettuce is growing well and in a couple weeks, I can start harvesting.
    I have been suffering with spring time allergies so not doing much extra right now. I do plan to attend the annual church plant and rummage sale on Friday. My son is working on filling in an area behind his shop with succulents so I am hoping to buy a couple there- they usually have some for .50 cents to a dollar each. They spread easily so he is hoping to use that as ground cover. He can’t grow much else in that area because it does not have access to water.
    I am enjoying the warmer weather we are having this week- it is mid 60s with lots of sunshine which is wonderful.
    Take Care to all.

  38. Good job on saving your freezer food, Brandy. You must be very relieved.

    I’ve not had the most frugal week as we ate out this week or bought junk food – yes, you read that correctly. I bought junk food and am now feeling plump and yucky. It has been a difficult month emotionally and, as well, the stress of my “toxic” workplace started to get to me. However, I’m back at it now and realized how very thankful I am to have turned the runaway eating (and thus spending) train around. Phew!

    I set a new goal to focus on…an emergency fund. Having just depleted mine recently, I will focus my energies on finding more ways to save money to put into replenishing it.

    Frugal things I did do this week…
    *found some change and added it to the change jar
    *had a number of free checkups…all is well this year as usual
    *paid ahead for our portion of my son’s wisdom teeth removal in cash
    *decided to put off moving stuff back home until a job with benefits and equal pay emerges. I’ll stay here. I think my son is relieved, even though he isn’t saying do.
    *wasted no food
    *set a lower temperature on our little electric heater. It has been freezing and miserable here and we are out of wood, so we must use the electric heater.
    *stopped for some basic groceries on my way to the Dr appointments. We have been making do while waiting for the opportunity to go to Aldis in combination with the Dr appointments rather than buy more than the bare minimum at the local expensive grocery store or drive the 45 minutes to the larger town.
    *saved left over coffee and reheated it for my morning coffee
    *cut daffodils from the yard to cheer the house
    *did the regular things like washing out baggies, hanging laundry as much as possible, utilizing the library, and staying home and out of the stores.

    It’s been a long month and I am sure happy to move on to May. Keeping on keeping on…prayfully and with gratitude.

  39. I’m sure your hard work in using up what was defrosting has saved your family a lot of money. And I never end up using the ham bones, either! This week’s frugal accomplishments were:
    *Meals made were roasted pork with mac and cheese, cheeseburgers with roasted cabbage, beef tacos with corn, homemade pizza, and salads.
    *Went to Dollar General and used the $5 off $25 coupon. The cashier said my card had already taken it off. I realized when I got home that was not the case. Filled out the survey along with my complaint and was called by the district manager. He apologized and told me who to see when I go back in the store to get my $5 back.
    *Bought a full-size bed off of FB yard sale for $50 to replace the one my son is taking to his apartment. The seller included the mattress and box spring, which were pristine. I don’t think anyone had ever slept on them!
    *Walked with a friend for free fellowship and exercise.
    *Made a triple batch of blueberry muffins to send to Wednesday night kids’ classes at church. Also froze some.
    *Ordered internet for my son’s apartment. Saved $30 by doing the install ourselves since a cable had already been run there.
    *Celebrated our anniversary by picking up 2 $5 fill-ups from KFC. Each included a drink and a cookie along with chicken, mashed potatoes and a biscuit, so not a bad deal.
    *Received a free lunch of my choosing for Administrative Professionals Day.

  40. Brandy, sorry to hear about your freezer, glad you were able to use up most items from within it!
    This past week I continued on my journey of decluttering my home and found some more clothes that will fit me in my new size – including some shorts for this summer. I may still try to find a pair or two at a tag sale. Those don’t usually get going around here to about Memorial Day, so about a month to wait.
    This past weekend we were supposed to do a day trip to an aquarium, but everyone got sick with a stomach virus, so it ended up being more frugal than I anticipated. We stayed home and did not spend the budgeted trip money. I will save it and we will try again in May for the visit.
    We used a museum pass from our library for a field trip to a local historical site this past week. We homeschool, so this was a history and art lesson for the day.
    Have a great week everyone !

  41. So sorry to hear about your freezer, Brandy!

    This past week has been about being more focused on saving money. I find that if we aren’t intentional with our funds we won’t be as frugal as we should be. I am finding encouragement from your blog, Brandy, as well as other sources. I guess I’m giving myself a refresher course on frugality. I got a little lazy.

    Frugal meals this week: The week before Easter Meijer had turkeys on sale for 49 cents per pound but they were out of them so we got a raincheck. So the following week we redeemed the raincheck and my husband smoked the turkey on the grill. It was delicious and we are still eating from it. We took all the meat off the bones and put the carcass in the freezer for broth later. I also soaked some navy beans and made ham and bean soup with the ham bone. We also had tacos with ground beef we got for $1.89 per pound. For the two of us that is about all the cooking we will have to do for the week and we will still have to freeze some of it.

    For grocery shopping I have made a goal of buying only what is on sale or the loss leaders unless we just really need something. If I keep stocking up this way then we should be able to save quite a bit of money.

    We decluttered the back room of our basement. We got rid of most of what was in there and now we have a more usable space for storage.

    Have a wonderful and frugal week everyone!

  42. I forgot to mention that I made 2 loaves of homemade bread, one whole wheat and one rye. It has been so long since I have done this and I had forgotten that homemade is so much better than store-bought.

  43. Received a check for over payment of a medical bill, deposited in the bank. Attended a work dinner & was gifted a large zippered canvas bag with our company logo. It came at the perfect time because the bag I had been using was too small & I was needing to purchase one. Finishing up the leftovers & random frozen items for meals. I returned an item that I purchased for Easter dinner & never used, $2.00 back which I then put in the collection bucket for local veterans as I walked out the grocery store door.
    Wishing everyone a happy & frugal week!

  44. Sorry to hear about your freezer! But I’m glad you were able to make the most of the things you had there. I always make my grandmother’s split pea soup with a ham bone. She always added a can of diced tomatoes, which really seems to take the dish from mealy to fabulous. (If you’re ever looking for another way to use the ham bones.)

    We had a great spring break week and a wonderful “stay-cation”. Benny was able to work several days while I was home with the boys, which was really nice as we needed the additional funds. The boys had a blast in the sunshine and seeing some of the local area attractions that we never seem to find time to do. We cooked most meals from scratch with ingredients at home, though I did do a stock up run to Harris Teeter for items with coupons and a rain check.

    Here are the rest of our accomplishments:
    https://liveandsave.blogspot.com/2019/04/frugal-accomplishments-4th-week-of-april.html?_sm_au_=isVs2jJBTVMZj5HH

    I hope you’ll stop by! Thank you for this wonderfully supportive community!

  45. The last month and a half has been so very expensive with travel, home repairs, and vehicle repairs. I know it’s not over yet, but I am feeling hopeful that the spending will get under control soon. And as much as it frustrates me to spend money (especially on things my husband decides to buy that I don’t view as important like milkshakes!) I know that we are abundantly blessed. We have plenty of food and a warm, safe home and a healthy family!

    The full breakdown of what we spent, what expenses we’ll have in the next month, and how we were frugal is on my blog.

  46. While I am not surprised that you were able to save and use many of your freezer items, Brandy, all I could think of was how tired you must be from your long trip, Easter with its own time and energy demands, and then all the food work you had to do! I hope this week will allow you some down time.

    Here are my frugal efforts over the past several weeks:
    Continued to cook from scratch, using all leftovers to morph into other recipes.
    Broke down and bought chicken bouillon to flavor homemade sauces to use in place of the very few times I would use canned cream of chicken soup in recipes. I long ago stopped buying all other canned soups that recipes called for and just made my own sauce. Recently I was shocked to see the price when I went to buy a can of cream of chicken and just absolutely refuse to pay over $1.50 per can of even store-brand soup. That just adds way too much to the cost of a meal for me! However, there are some times I want to add a little chicken flavor to the sauce, if I am not using much actual chicken in the recipe. The bouillon will work cheaply.
    Used strong vinegar I already had as both a weed-killer and to kill the bacteria in our wood floor where pets made messes.
    Made yogurt cheese from homemade yogurt to make a low-calorie cheesecake.
    Transplanted 25 patches of newer, more-disease resistant St. Augustine grass from the backyard (which looks great) to the front yard where the original, 60 year-old St. Augustine species has steadily died off over the past 5 years. Am watering daily to help them get established.
    Finished repairing two 65 year-old window screens. It has been wonderful to have the windows open to let the cool air in without welcoming in all the bugs that used to come in, uninvited. Sadly, it will soon be too hot to keep the windows open, even in the mornings.
    Found two skirts, a sweater, and a jacket for $1.50 each during half-price Senior Day at my favorite thrift store, giving me two new outfits for church.
    It was time to replace my worn-out shoes. Found good deals on buy one, get one half off at two stores that carry reduced-price good quality, name brand shoes. I am very hard to fit and must wear orthotics prescribed by my podiatrist in order to prevent further damage that would require extremely expensive surgery and treatment. I was so blessed to find shoes that work for my special needs at the best prices.
    For Easter we were able to grill hamburgers outside in the beautiful weather. By utilizing good deals and using what I already had, I was able to provide a complete meal of burgers, chips, a variety of fresh fruits, homemade Lemon Bars and homemade vegan Hummingbird Cake for 20 family members for $25. It was a lovely get-together.
    Our middle daughter has developed and been diagnosed with multiple, serious, chronic health issues over the past 5 years, to the point of becoming disabled. She lives with us and we pay for all her health insurance and sky-rocketing medical needs and bills, in addition to her physical needs. Like the vast majority of those who apply for Disability, she was denied the first time she applied in January. I just helped her complete all the necessary forms for the appeal. We are really praying she will be approved this time. The poor dear can barely leave the bathroom and bed most days, let alone dream of having any kind of social life or career. We have also appealed to our insurance company to have her be on our insurance, as her Cobra insurance (which we paid for) runs out on her birthday this month. Her specialist for her most disabling health issue graciously filled out the disability papers to have her be on our insurance, and we are just waiting for the insurance company to make a decision on this. This alone would save us around $8,000 a year we are paying on her insurance premiums. Plus, it should save us more in what we pay for all her copays for visits, treatments, tests, and meds.

    Upcoming Frugal Focus:
    For the past 11 years, I care for the grandkids during the week while their mom works, leaving my only opportunity to work on the weekends as a caregiver for a multi-handicapped young woman. As I am almost 64 with my own health issues, it has become much harder physically for me. I have recently cut my hours to only 8 per weekend. Hopefully, I can make it two more years until I can retire.
    Hubby is planning to retire the end of August.
    I have several, upcoming surgeries over the summer and will not be working in June or July. I am trying to take care of household needs, grocery shopping, and meal planning all this month to make things easier on everyone.

    Thank you to everyone who inspires me here each week. While I don’t usually find the time to comment weekly, I always make the time to read all the comments from all the kind and caring posters. Have a lovely week, everyone!

      1. Hugs back to you, Margaret! I love reading about the many, delicious things you cook! And I am so grateful to have found such a nice group of people here.

    1. Tejas,

      Just a comment – I have a dear friend who has had debilitating issues with arthritis and other health conditions. She went through a reputable law firm that does disability applications. They do take a percentage but she was able to get disability on her first try. They wouldn’t take anything if she hadn’t been approved. They also were able to get the disability claim to go back to the point when she became disabled. It is just a thought for your daughter.

      1. S. CO Mary, thank you for your suggestion. We couldn’t find an attorney to represent her for the first try. They all said she had to be denied first. Perhaps because she is 28 and they didn’t want to waste their time on a possible faker? Who knows.

    2. Tejas if she is denied again PLEASE contact a lawyer in your area immediately. My sister went through this with her daughter and they didn’t use any of the 3 times they applied and all denied even with 3 doctors saying she was disabled. When my sister mentioned it her lawyer he told her it is common to be denied twice but if a lawyer doesn’t deal with it the 3rd time it seems as if it’s automatically denied. He didn’t know why just seems to happen unless the lawyer files the 3rd time. He suggested a couple of lawyers he knew in their area that dealt with it and they were very reasonable to pay for.

      1. Thank you, Jules. We definitely will. It seems we stay overloaded with hubby’s demanding work schedule, my responsibilities with grandkids, medical appointments for myself and all the above, endless medically-related paperwork, and on and on. I am so much busier these days than I was with 5 kids at home and all their school and extracurricular activities. But we definitely will seek an attorney if daughter is denied again. This is too important to give up.

    3. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter. I once was a 36 year old in so much pain I could not walk from my bedroom to the front door of my apartment.
      And thanks for mentioning the vinegar weed killing trick — I had forgotten about that.

  47. Easter Savings: For Easter gifts, instead of a basket, we intentionally saved and repurposed clear plastic egg cartons, the kind that the top portion folds over again. We filled each of the 12 sections with tiny shreds of brightly colored construction paper, then placed goodies into each hole, like small chocolates, jelly beans, marshmallow eggs, and assorted candies purchased at the Dollar Tree. We closed the top, and taped suckers/lollipops onto the top of the carton, and tied them shut with purple and green ribbon (also saved and repurposed from gifts we formerly received). We added a note with their names that said “Green is for Spring, Purple is for Jesus”. They were really cute and creative and frugal.

    Mothers Day Savings: After our Easter dinner, I froze quite a bit of remaining ham – which I will serve as ham salad for our Mothers Day lunch. I also froze all of the remaining scalloped potatoes which will be pureed into cream of potato soup, with milk and chicken broth, and some chives from the garden.

    1. Susan – I just (virtually) slapped myself with your comment on using the scalloped potatoes for potato soup. Great idea!

  48. It sounds like you actually had a really delicious week. Sorry to hear about the freezer though. I had a set back this week in the garden. We’ve been getting strong rains the last 3 days and 4 things that I had planted have been washed out. It looks like we have more rain coming tomorrow and next week for a few days. I hate that I am losing growing time.

    I have been harvesting lettuce, spinach, and radishes. I am finally getting enough to have salads every day. Despite the rain, I have 12 new radish plants that have sprouted up. If nothing else washes out, I planted cilantro, a variety of lettuce, more peas, thyme, sage, and lavender. I also picked up 4 well established but inexpensive strawberry plants to put in the green house. They’ve adjusted well.

    This week was the week of rebates for us. We got a letter from the DMV that they overcharged us $75. Then I got a rebate on my daughter’s contacts for $60. I think they should both come in in time to pay for my son’s graduation open house food. On a small discount, I got a rain check for a detox tea that was on sale. I’ll stock up and save myself about $5.

    I finally finished my farmer’s market tote. It holds way more than I imagined. If you’d like to see it or check out the progress in the garden, you can find me @ a plan in mind on instagram. https://www.instagram.com/aplaninmind/

  49. At the beginning of the month, we paid off my student loans! We ended up using some saving we have for a new-to-us vehicle, but decided to borrow from that so we wouldn’t have to pay more interest on the loan and we paid ourselves back with the next paycheck. We saved a little bit and it was SO NICE to have those loans gone!!!! It took us 22 months. We’ll now start attacking my husband’s vet school loans. So many of his colleagues have been out of vet school for 10+ years and still have loans. We made the decision to get these out of our life much sooner than that. We are slowly building an emergency fund (we have one month right now) and will continue to add a little each month while we’re paying off his loans.
    Our local Lidl has some great sales for Cinco de Mayo this week and I was able to stock up on tortillas, shredded cheese, ground beef, and spaghetti pasta (69¢/1.5 lbs!) It’s a nice feeling to have the freezer and pantry stocked up at the beginning of the month. I also bought some of their bananas. I usually buy those at Aldi, but lately they don’t ripen very well and are very bruised. Lidl’s bananas are 1¢ more per lb, and sustainably harvested, so I’m going to try them out.
    One of my husband’s co-workers returned from a trip to Thailand and brought him/me back some perfume oil. It’s a very light and delicate smell and I’m excited to use it for special occasions!
    We have a swap at our church this weekend and I’m currently gathering items to drop off and then will return with a list of things to look for, mostly homeschool items and kid clothes. And some dress shoes for me. Everything is free, it’s open to the community, and they always have tons and tons of stuff. It’s an easy way to go to one place and get items to use the rest of the year. I’ll also be on the lookout for gently used books and toys to save for Christmas.

  50. I picked up two extra days work as a casual librarian this week and next week have an interview for another casual position at a vocational college.
    My husband has a handyman business which is very quiet at the moment so he is looking for some extra work Uber driving. This will be good as our often messy car will always be cleaned! And it will force me into riding my bike to my permanent job at a Hospital an hours ride away from home. So I’ll get fitter as well.

  51. I wish I had some savings but I continue to pay my portion of doctor visits this month. There’s just not anything cheap about that. I’ve made many many extra trips into the city and can only try to fill my gas tank up where gas is cheaper. I did find a lovely promotion for movie tickets. I purchased 15 boxes of yogurt for $15.00 and submitted the receipt for five movie vouchers through Fandango. The yogurt is in the chest freezer and will be used as ice cream treats in the summer. Our source of coca cola caps has finally become available to us once more as the location had been closed for renovations . I believe we are going to need to add a second trash can to store them in. I must remember to enter codes in every day. After a year of redeeming them I see a pattern of free items available versus entering contests each month. Hopefully we will find something nice to redeem for soon.

  52. As always, I carpooled daily with my daughter.
    I brought homemade lunch and beverages to work daily.
    My husband combined sales and coupons to buy five items of clothing, including work pants and a jacket, at JC Penney for US$14.61. Yes, all five items for under $15! This was a savings of $250.95.
    I evaluated our grocery spending for the first four months of 2019 and was unpleasantly surprised at the amount. I have recommitted to getting the grocery bill back to where I want it.
    I used grocery rewards to save $20.00 on gas. Since the limit is 20 gallons, we brought two vehicles so we could fill one and put the extra 3.5 gallons into the other.

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