Christmas Urn in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I used free tree trimmings and free pinecones to decorate my garden urns for the winter.

Christmas Urn on Entry Table The Prudent Homemaker

I cut Thai basil. dusty miller, and roses from the garden for my entry table. I used free tree trimmings in this arrangement too.

I made mini pavlovas for dessert one night with pomegranate arils and berries I pulled from the freezer.

I picked basil and cut chives from the garden.

I mended a broken drip line in the garden.

We attended a free play of “The Christmas Carol” in which two of my children had roles. You can see a few seconds from the play on my Instagram.

We attended a church Christmas dinner.

We enjoyed watching several Christmas videos on YouTube.

I accepted some hand-me-down clothes for a child, and I was able to give the giver some sweaters that are too large for me (I donated most of my sweaters earlier this year, but had kept a few just in case I didn’t find any used sweaters in my new size.)

Two of my daughters had requested charm bracelets for Christmas. I thought I had two charm bracelets in with some of my childhood jewelry (most of which is broken odds and ends). There were two bracelets there, so I wrapped those for my daughters.

I wasn’t planning another trip to Target this month, but it became very apparent that my fourth daughter was in need of new socks, having worn all of hers completely through (I’m thrilled they lasted through so many girls!) I went to Target, as it was close (I went in the morning to avoid long lines). I took back the unopened dish soaps I had previously bought and returned them (everyone disliked the fragrance; we’ll use the opened soap until it is gone). I noticed that the winter hats were 50% off this week, and when I was there the week before, I had bought myself a hat (not on sale) that was just what I have been looking for for years. When I got up to the register to pay for the socks, I asked if they would give me the sales price on the hat that I had purchased the week before. I had my receipt, since I was returning the soap. They agreed and had me “return” the hat (which I was wearing), and repurchase it at half off. I was able to use the money saved on my hat towards the purchase of the socks.


What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. How lovely to have mini pavlovas. Your dry climate surely helps in making the meringues.That was great for Target to give you the 50% off the hat. I’m happy because I found my favourite hat. I also found a stash of fine Italian scarves with labels still on them that I had bought on sale some time ago. I lacked a gift for my nephew’s wife so put a scarf in with their presents for her. I may send another one to my sister in law. A friend’s sister is driving to the same city as my nephew’s family so will take all of their gifts from me to them. My friend had the gift certificate that I won and was using for groceries so she offered to buy my groceries with the card. She delivered them to me this afternoon. That meant that I didn’t have to brave the crowds. She helped me move the patio table around to the back yard. I have to say that my friends have rallied to help me, beyond my wildest imagination! When one asks for help, it is amazing to see the response. I am so thankful. I gave my friend a beautiful bluebird photo I had taken. (It is one of my finest bird photos to date). She wrote back by email that she will treasure it forever.
    That means the world to me. Late yesterday afternoon, I went outside to take bird photos. When I came in, I left it out of its camera bag so it could warm up. I fell asleep and didn’t go get the camera and put it in its camera bag. Today I had forgotten about the camera. As I was carrying out the doll’s cradle and other gifts, rather awkward to carry, I accidentally nudged the camera and it fell and hit the floor tiles hard. It had the telephoto lens on it. The lens no longer works, the inbuilt flash doesn’t work. What happens when a telephoto lens is knocked when it’s on the camera body is that it torques and wrecks the metal ring on the camera body. That is a very expensive repair. i will have to get an estimate and see if it can even be repaired. So disaster struck. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it is a small disaster but still…sigh! Ann

  2. I really love the arrangements you have made. I always do, but forget to tell you sometimes.

    We were pretty busy last week, finishing up school before the holiday, both for the homeschoolers and the public schoolers, including my husband, who works there. I also had gifts to put together and wrap. I was able to use gift bags recycled from other years, and wrapping paper purchased cheaply 3 years ago. I used some of the fig jam I made during the fall from our figs in some of the gifts. I was able to sew a couple of stockings I needed out of fabric I had on hand.

    I finally found a few patterns that I wanted on sale at the 2nd JoAnn’s store I went to. They were all out of the sale ones at the first store, so when I was going right by another one for another purpose, I stopped in on the 20+ minutes I had to spare, and they were there. There is only one JoAnn’s in the entire city of Salem, and once I had time to go there at 8pm Thursday night, all the ones I wanted were gone. Parts of the store looked like a hurricane hit it. I overheard the clerks talking about now they were slammed with customers and had never seen it looking like that! Wow! They had a big job to do before they could go home:)

    I cooked plenty of food to have on hand. I made lasagna, roast beef, and roast pork. We celebrated Christmas with our oldest daughter on Saturday, and she made us a nice ham dinner. She sent me home with the leftover baked potatoes, and I made some hash with the leftover roast and the potatoes. What’s left of the pork will go into some enchiladas or tacos. However, my usual plan of cooking lots of food and just warming it up is not working very well this week, as my microwave broke and we still haven’t replaced it. I need to do some shopping and comparing, and have not had time to do that yet. So for now…I’m frying things in pans and putting other things in the oven to warm them up

    More than any of that, though, I’ve taken some time to really reflect on all the blessings I have received this past week. I’m loving the small tree my friend gave me–it fits perfectly in the living room–no more tree in the garage! I just have to say, it didn’t work for me last year at all. This is so much better. I’ve had some time with friends the last couple of weeks–those times are rare and I appreciate them. I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends…I have more blessings than I can count right now.

    We took our little friend to the library for craft and story time. She had a blast. I am noticing that our library near me has a bunch of special events during the holiday break. I will have to see if I can take my nephew to any of those.

    That’s pretty much how the week went–it was a good one, filled with Christmas cheer and ordinary, everyday activities that make up so much of life.

    Pictures are on my blog:

  3. The arrangements are beautiful! Great “frugal radar” on the hat sale and being able to save some money that way :).

    This weekend I attempted (with help from the kids, of course) to make my first gingerbread house completely from scratch (before I always bought kits, but that was still years ago) and I have to say I am proud of how it turned out (a picture is at the link provided here). The rest of my list for the week can be found here…

  4. I always love your arrangements, and you manage to do it all in such a frugal way, too! And it sounds like you’re having a lovely Christmas season with your family.

    I had a pretty productive week, which I was very happy about.
    – I made candy-cane bark using candy canes leftover from last Christmas, as well as some white chocolate wafers bought on sale and some coloured candy wafers leftover from the previous year. (
    – I love giving gifts from my kitchen! ( I made caramel corn from pantry ingredients, as well as spritz cookies. I packaged them up in cellophane bags from the local bulk store. I used my calligraphy set to write ‘Merry Christmas’ on some rustic-ish tags (the calligraphy ink had dried out, but I added some water and it made a good enough ink to write with), and tied the tags on to the bags. Then I put the bags of sweets (candy cane bark, caramel corn, and spritz cookies) into the Christmas-themed cloth baskets that I had sewn over the past couple of weeks. They turned out really, really nicely, and the only OOP cost (aside from my pantry ingredients) was the cellophane bags (less than $2). I made four baskets, two large and two small, and gave them to my bosses and colleagues. You can see a photo of the baskets on my blog!
    – I also made up some Bailey’s Chocolate Fudge, and wrapped those up for the rest of my colleagues. I used chocolate chips bought in bulk, a can of condensed milk purchased on sale, some (leftover from another recipe) Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur that I had traded for a few months ago, and the wrapping was the last of some self-sealing cellophane bags that I had bought online using money from doing online surveys. A nice little gift for very little OOP, and my colleagues appreciated it.
    – I wrote Christmas cards using up the cards from my stash. Not my favourite cards (leftovers from several years), but it’s the sentiment that counts. Now I need to restock in the January sales!
    – I bought some items on sale: all-purpose flour since I accidentally bought bread flour last time. It was even cheaper than the advertised brand for sale, so yay! I found a bottle of on-sale detergent that was apparently sold out, on top of the shelves, in the restocking top area. It was hidden behind several containers of a non-sale detergent, so I was pretty pleased that I found it. Clementines were on sale for $1/lb, so I bought some, as well as 10 lbs of potatoes for $2, and a bunch of other sale items. Aside from milk, I think we’re stocked until January. My mom and sister and I all car-pooled together and my mom then stayed to dinner.
    Using my local trading app, I traded a soap that I didn’t want, for several stamps to the U.S., which I used to mail cards to friends and relatives there. I also traded a heating pad that had been gifted to me, for a stack of take-out boxes. I’ll use them to put some treats in when I have friends over for my annual holiday get-together of my non-profit sector friends. I’ll give them a box and tell them to pack up whatever they want from the goodies table before they leave. A nice bonbonniere type gift for them, and since that’s the last holiday get-together I’ll host, it’ll get all of my holiday baking out the door instead of on my hips. Everybody’s happy! They’ll go home with cookies, fudge, rice krispie squares, banana bread, candy cane bark, and meringues, all homemade, and all done frugally.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gift card to Starbucks, and bought items using it, to maximize a promotion they had. Then I redeemed the Starbucks points I had earned spending that $5, for a free vegan lunch bowl worth $10. Free makes healthy taste even better!
    – I made enchiladas from scratch, including the tortillas and the enchilada sauce. I made refried beans from black beans, some leftover taco-flavoured rice from my freezer, some taco spice, and some tomato bouillon, and used that in the enchiladas. A very frugal meal, especially if you use cheese sparingly (I just used whatever grated cheese I had in the freezer and stretched it out as part of the filling in the enchiladas). It was a completely pantry meal, and I used things like my homemade tomato sauce, peppers that I had bought on sale and frozen, and organic celery that I had traded for, chopped, and frozen.
    – I gave a colleague a meal from my freezer that I didn’t want (faro with roasted tomatoes). I got to clear out some freezer space, and she got a dinner she didn’t have to cook. Then she gave me a container of tomatoes that she thought she wouldn’t get to eat before they went bad. That became my dinner!
    – I made some buttermilk biscuits using homemade yoghurt instead of buttermilk, and brought them to work, where they were appreciatively received.
    – I made nearly 8 cups of breadcrumbs from bread crusts in my freezer (my mother gave them to me at Thanksgiving). I froze half and made a tomato dish with the other half. I packed it away for lunches for several days, and gave a container to a colleague as well.
    – I added water to an empty bottle of detergent to make sure I got the last dregs out.
    – I took home several gift bags from my workplace, to reuse, as well as a brand-new cardboard box, which I used to package some clothing in, instead of buying a shirt box from the dollar store. I used the bags and box to package up gifts in, wrapped them in paper given to me by my mom years ago when she was minimizing, and used labels I got free in the mail. The presents look great, and it didn’t cost me a thing!
    – A colleague was having a rough day, so I bought her her favourite warm chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks, using my gift certificate from Swagbucks. She was so touched, and there was no OOP cost for me.
    -I redeemed Pinecone points for $5 to my paypal account
    – I made spinach lasagna, salad, rosemary focaccia, limoncello, and tiramisu for a dinner party that I hosted. I packed up the leftovers for work lunches for the week. The spinach, lettuce, and lemons were on sale, and the rosemary I had grown myself. I used some leftover coffee that I had frozen over a month ago in the tiramisu. I turned the eggs whites leftover from the tiramisu into several platters of meringues for the second and last holiday get-together I’m hosting. My dinner guests also gave me a container of homemade cookies, and I put those out for the holiday get-together too. One less thing for me to make!

    So a busy week, but a productive week! Can’t wait to read about everyone else’s week and learn from you all!

  5. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    How wonderful Brandy they let you have your hat for 1/2 price even though you purchased it the week before and glad you were able to purchase some additional socks, it is truly something I would not have thought to ask. As my depression era grandmother who brought me up said “if you ask there is only two answers they can give you yes or no” and another “if you don’t ask you have no possibility of getting” . Your garden urns and entry floral and trimmings arrangements look beautiful, you are so talented with doing arrangements 🙂 .

    Here is our frugal accomplishments for the week –

    Service –
    – Was able to donate a huge amount of Canna Lilies from our gardens to add to our garden makeover at the chapel. DH & I also put in 3 hours with a few other member who donated some plants to clear old plants and add garden and potting soil to garden pots and 2 gardens and plant lovely new plants. It looks really lovely now.

    Blessings –
    – Was offered a loaf of bread and half a packet of bacon leftover from our church gardening breakfast to take home which we gladly said “yes” to. After packing the bacon it gave us two meals for the two of us for the freezer and the bread we used over a 2 day period as well.

    Groceries –
    – Purchased 2 boneless pork shoulder roasts weighing 3.42kg on special for $5.99 kg saving $6.87 on usual prices.
    – Bought a small 1.8kg boneless leg ham on special saving $3.38 on usual prices. This we sliced up ourselves and made around 20 meals for the freezer.
    – Purchased 6 months worth of toilet paper in a small independent supermarket on special saving $4.76 over usual prices we pay in Aldi.
    – Purchased 10 x 10lt food grade storage buckets with lids on eBay saving $27.45 over purchasing them locally here.
    – Purchased some much needed filters on eBay on special saving $56.04 over purchasing locally.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made all meals and bread from scratch.
    – Made 1kg of pasta salad from pasta in our storage, capsicum from the gardens and tinned corn saving $6.56 over purchasing it.
    – Made a double layered chocolate mud like cake for DH’s birthday with a homemade filling and topping of chocolate buttercream icing saving $6.72 over purchasing.

    In the garden –
    – Raked up dried leaves from beside the garage and used grass clippings run through the ride on lawnmower to mulch a number of garden beds saving $60 over purchasing hay locally.
    – Purchased 10 large strawberry plants from the local garden centre saving $3.50 over buying elsewhere.
    – From two different plant nurseries we bought 8 x strawberry plants, a dwarf Imperial mandarin and Lisbon lemon tree saving $41.25 over purchasing them at the local garden centre.
    – Bought ourselves a special early joint Christmas present being a 3mt cantilever umbrella on special saving another $21 over prices elsewhere.

    Have a fantastic week ahead everyone 🙂 .

  6. Love the photo, as always. Christmas greenery is one of my favorite parts of the season. You were so smart to ask for the sale price! I tried to do that with a gift on Amazon I bought last week that is on sale this week, with no luck. At least I tried!

    Some frugal accomplishments from urban Seattle:

    – I resisted the urge to buy any more gifts at the store. I always have this panic-y feeling right before Christmas that I didn’t gift generously enough, especially for my kids. Instead, I made them a couple of gifts with materials I had at home, including bow ties to wear to church from dress shirts made from holiday fabric that they had outgrown.

    – I also made Christmas cards from blank cards and leftover scrapbooking paper from an earlier scrapbooking phase and free paint chips from Home Depot. I got the idea off of Pinterest, and although they didn’t turn out quite as good as the Pinterest examples, I still think they looked really nice. I mailed the out-of-town cards and will hand deliver the rest.

    – I tried to strategize my holiday baking using recipes of ingredients I mostly already had at home.

    – Free holiday activities: a Hanukkah party with my husband, walking around our neighborhood looking at light displays and then home for hot chocolate.

    – I took my sons swimming at our community center pool on the night that is free for them when they show their student ids.

    – Since we are visiting family for Christmas, I meal planned for the rest of the week to use up food on hand and had a very minimal grocery bill this week.

  7. What a smart idea to ask about your hat Brandy. It never hurts to ask and it sounds like it helped out with the price of the socks.
    We have been busy cleaning up the snow we received the last couple of days. Instead of what was on the menu we just had soup and sandwiches instead of thinking of eating out. You can read the rest of my frugal accomplishments here:

  8. Brandy you never cease to amaze me!

    Not too much frugal stuff this week. My husband graduated from nursing school…which meant another 5 people in my house for a week. I did my best. Chicken enchiladas with chicken from Sprouts at $1.67 a pound. I was also able to make 2 lunches for myself out of the leftovers. One night I made ziti and my sister in law had ground beef that she gave to me. Other than that it was a pretty expensive week.

  9. It’s beautiful to see your yard, but still hard to imagine your much warmer winter weather than we have here in the Midwest!
    This week got very cold and windy so I used some heavy mill black plastic (that had been used to protect our new bathtub when it was delivered) to cover around the lower portion of our chicken coop. It wasn’t enough to go around the whole perimeter so I got out a box of contractors heavy duty garbage bags and cut them to fit -double layered- around the rest of the coop! This is sheltering our hens from the harsh winds and snow but still allowing air and sunlight to come through the top half of the coop wire walls! They have shown their gratefulness by still giving us 3 dozen eggs/week while others who have layers have seen their egg production totally stop for the winter! We have also been given free greens/veggies from the produce market so twice a day, we are able to supplement their dry food with that!
    My local Krogers had their Saturday only sale using a digital coupon to buy 5 boneless pork loins (a total of about 26 pounds) for 99 cents a pound! Since this is boneless, that is a price point I couldn’t resist! I have already put one in the crockpot with a wet rub of spices and onions and hot peppers and lime juice for 10 hour and made amazing carnitas mix! I froze half and half was used for dinner and leftovers/lunches for a few days! I will probably premake some of it in the fridge into burritos and freeze them for later grab and go lunches!
    I got a miserable winter cold and my nose was sore and drippy, so I got out flannel scraps, looked online, mixed elements of a few reuseable cloth Kleenex and made a dozen 2 ply tissues! My nose is SO grateful because regular paper tissues felt like sandpaper on my nose!! They also can be used longer than their paper counterparts before I need to get out a new one! Took me about 20 minutes from the time I picked out fabric scraps to having a dozen finished ones in my hands!! I am really pleased!! And this may be the end of massive purchases of disposable Kleenex!!
    I deposited $226 this week for things I sold/made so that was nice! Our side Business is going well!
    I find that I am buying less and less at the grocery store and only when they are things like the pork loins at a loss leader price (and even then, only things that we need and will use!)!
    After using maple syrup to baste a ham, I was able to strain the syrup and can 4 pints of syrup using my steam canner!
    I made lemon Rice Krispie treats just using ingredients already in the pantry. Same with the 50 double chocolate mini breads I made for our ladie’s group event! The breads also used shredded yellow squash that I had been given by the produce market and frozen! I made 50 folded fabric star ornaments to go with them as a take home gift using Christmas fabric scraps I had and not even getting out any of my yardage! I love being able to make use of bits and bobs of foods or fabrics or other materials I already have on hand!!
    I made 4 homemade pepperoni pizzas using 2 (13×18″) flatbreads we were given and cutting them in half thickness to make 2 pizzas 13″X 18″ from each one! Had one for dinner and cut up the leftovers from that one and the 2nd pizza from it and packaged into individual portions for grab and go lunches, casual dinners. The other 2 pizzas were put into the freezer for later use when grandkids come in this weekend!
    So much to do, but so grateful for the abundance we have been blessed with!
    Hope you and everyone else who follow/comment on your blog have a meaningful holiday season with time to reflect on those things that are lasting and of most worth!

  10. I made some home made granola as gifts and packaged it up in pretty gift bags purchased after last Christmas time on clearance.

  11. What beautiful floral displays you’ve made for Christmas from the free greenery, Brandy! I’m glad 2 of your children were able to get parts in the play. Were they main characters or smaller parts? I’d love to hear more about the play!

    Yet again, I had a very busy week between working and attending appointments. Only 2 days of work left this week, then I get a break for 4 months. Yeah!!!! This week our frugal accomplishments included:
    *Meals made at home included chicken fingers with potato wedges and corn, crockpot BBQ meatballs with mashed potatoes and leftover corn, homemade cream of potato soup, baked chicken smothered in cheddar cheese soup with white rice and broccoli, tacos (made both beef and black bean), and breaded chicken burger/strips with sidekicks noodles & sauce and green/wax bean mix.
    *I attended the Handweavers and Spinners guild Christmas banquet. I took a peach cobbler made from frozen peach bits leftover from canning this past summer and pantry staples. Received compliments how delicious it tasted. I brought the leftovers home, which we all enjoyed eating throughout the week. Frugal Fail: Family decided since I went out for dinner, they’d order pizza.
    *I attended a retirement dinner for one of my co-workers. To avoid a repeat of “take out” for the family, I made a big pot of cream of potato soup. The soup used up some poultry stock leftover in the fridge, plus some potatoes that had sprouted and were going soft. My mom appreciated it, though I’m sure the hubby and daughter were disappointed they didn’t get take out again. I brought home my leftovers (about half my meal) and was looking forward to having them for my lunch the next day. DD ate it without asking…so disappointed!
    *I was offered extra hours to cover some shifts for a volunteer that has been experiencing some health issues and couldn’t work them. I will be paid for the hours I work and am thankful for any extra hours I can get!
    *Made a list this weekend of potential dinner meals we can enjoy in Januray from items that already exist in our pantry/freezer. I’m hoping this will help make it easier to stick to a tighter budget. I plan to still shop the sales and continue to add our the pantry, just with significantly less money.
    *DD decided to create a “cat bunk bed” for our cats from a cardboard box (laid on it’s side), an old pillow (on top) and an old blanket (inside box). She put dried catnip all over the pillow and blanket, as well as some cat treats, then called us to watch the show. The cats went nuts for the catnip and ignored the treats. We sat back for a few minutes and watched the chaos ensue…always good for a few laughs! The cats did eventually eat the treats and we caught 2 of our cats using it for nap time the next day (1 used the top “bunk” and the other was inside the box). DD was happy they liked it!

    Hope I can keep on top of everyones comments this week, instead of reading them so late in the week. Hope you all have a wonderful, joyous week filled with the spirit of the season!

  12. Becky, the last time I needed a microwave , I found one at the thrift store. It looked like new, priced at 14.95. I also had coupons so I got it for much less. It has been chugging away for a year now.
    This was a week for finishing up projects. Mostly small jobs to complete items intended for Christmas. I did some embroidery jobs on my embroidery machine and finished those up with lace from my stash. I was pleased with the results. I sent money and gift cards to my out of state daughter’s. I have other things tucked away I will take when I visit in the new year.
    Yesterday I finished up the wrapping on the gifts for the family in town. Now I just have to do gifts for the Christmas party and make some goodies.
    We had our fist snow this season….pretty but oh were the roads slick. Thankfully no problems. Please keep my share of the snow in the mountains.

  13. Your hat story is a perfect example of it never hurts to ask! I’ve plans to cut greenery for the house this week, and have been scoping out various pretty possibilities. Our Aldi’s had cranberries for .69 yesterday, so I picked up three bags. I was hoping to find a pomegranate while there, to use in a salad at our family gathering this week, but I’ll have to keep looking. Hopefully, I’m not too late to find them. I had purchased three before Thanksgiving, and we’ve really enjoyed them in salads with feta and pecans. Your pavlovas also sound very good. I’m happy to be joining in here:

  14. Beautiful arrangements as always! I worked really hard last week on being frugal and here is what I did.

    1. Monday: Spent no money out of pocket! Yay! Received a gift card for $5.00 to a local deli from my leadership team.
    2. Tuesday: Spent no money out of pocket! I had a two hour duty free lunch. I used the $5.00 gift card to buy lunch from the kid’s menu, which was plenty of food, and enjoyed time away from my first graders. Teachers usually eat on the run. I actually got to sit down and eat. I have .87 left from the gift card.
    3. Wednesday: Spent 2.84 out of pocket towards a gift my team did for a coworker that is retiring. Got the money back when I returned the item I didn’t need because I had one at home. Received a lovely goody basket with a double walled stainless steel cup with lid. I have one already for water, but wanted another one for hot tea. (I don’t like using my “water cup” for anything else)
    4. Thursday: No money out of pocket. Lunch was provided by an area organization as a thank you gift.
    5. Friday: Spent money on some cold medicine. I’m doing everything I can to avoid a doctor’s visit. Used a couple of home remedies with the cold medicine and I am much better today. My husband’s company had their employee party and we attended that. We were fed a delicious seafood meal and my husband received an award for no accidents for the year! That put him in a drawing for cash prizes. He didn’t win but we still had a good time and we were able to take home the poinsettias and snowmen they used to decorate the tables. I got one plant and two snowmen. We are enjoying them in our home right now.
    6. Saturday: The only grocery shopping I did was for bread, butter that was on sale, a bag of chips, and some deli meat that was on sale as well as toilet tissue. I have NEVER been able to do that! That means my pantry is full and I don’t need to go grocery shopping.

    Overall, a very frugal week. So now I am off to challenge myself to do better this week! Everyone have a great week!

  15. We had a quiet week. A little bit of out and about, but not much.

    I took advantage of our food storage (both pantry and freezer) to pull together a lot of simple meals. As much as I enjoy adding to it, I’m always even more excited to see what I can create with what is on hand.

    Wonderful deal on your hat and the socks. It is always such a wonderful feeling when you find that perfect piece and are able to get it at a discount.

    I shared photos and bits and pieces of our week on my blog.

  16. I love those arrangements. What do you use to keep the branches in the pots? I am thinking of putting sand in one of my pots to hold the branches, but I don’t know if that will work.
    I repaired the heated mattress pad we use on our bed. The sides (the part that holds the pad on the bed) were made of sheer nylon that had shredded. As a result, the pad slid and bunched as we slept. I pulled an old fitted sheet out of the linen closet and sewed the pad to this, then cut away the old nylon sides. Now the mattress pad stays in place and is much more comfortable.
    I made sandwich bread.
    My husband has been sick with a cold most of the week, so I made a big pot of turkey soup, using broth I made from the carcass of our Thanksgiving bird, and some leftover turkey. The rest of our meals were from the freezer.
    I did do a big grocery run to get candy for stockings, our Christmas Day ham, and to replenish a lot of pantry items I was low on. City Market had a one day sale of pork loin for 99 cents a pound. I bought two for $9 and came home and cut them into 2 roasts and 20 chops, which should make 14 or 15 meals for us.
    I made a dog toy using items I had on hand.
    I went thrift shopping with a friend – didn’t find much, but she bought my lunch as my Christmas gift from her. I did buy a new pair of suede Sketchers that will do very nicely with pants.
    My husband and I have been reading books we downloaded from our library’s web service.

  17. Last week was my birthday. I received several great gifts that were items I needed, this kept me from having to buy them myself. Some coworkers also got me a gift card to a local coffee shop. My frugal accomplishments included:
    – making stuffed squash with all ingredients we already had on hand.
    -skipped buying anything from a store I like during their big sale
    – used coupons to save $8.10 on Christmas presents I was going to buy anyway
    – had to buy conditioner. I noticed the store was clearing out a different kind than I usually buy. Made by the same people, just a different scent. It was half off, so I bought 2 for the same price that I usually get one.
    – accepted an almost full gallon of apple cider from my grandparents. My husband loves apple cider and I have an apple cider porkloin recipe that we like to make. I made that Saturday and we’ve been eating it since then.
    – I called and reduced our car insurance on our old “dog car” to liability only. This should save us over $400 a year. The car isn’t worth much and we probably wouldn’t replace it even if we did wreck it.
    – I saved 5 bows, 4 gift bags, and tissue paper from various birthday and early Christmas presents I got.
    – Avoided wearing contacts, putting on makeup, or using perfume on days I am not leaving the house.
    – Ordered containers to freeze soups, etc in from Amazon. They were $11.50 with free shipping for 24 of them. Over time, I think I will save money versus using ziploc bags. Plus I don’t have to worry about them leaking in my freezer. They are dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe.
    -Participated in Christmas treat exchange at work. I had to make 10 dozen cookies, but I only had to buy ingredients needed for the one recipe. Then I got 19 1/2 dozen bags of different treats to take home with me. This saved a ton of time and money by not buying all the different ingredients and making each recipe individually. I shared some treats with my grandparents.
    -Ate all meals at home
    -Worked extra to make about $50 extra this week.
    -Made zucchini bread as a present for some coworkers
    -My husband got a free 1/2 case of oranges, 1/2 case of grapefruits, and 9 pears for volunteering at a fruit sale. He missed paying work to do this, but the fruit sales benefit a good cause. He volunteers every year.
    – Received a free hand soap
    -Received a $50 bonus at work
    -managed to get through my Christmas unit at school by only spending $1.98 on straws. Not bad for an entire month of lessons!
    – paid a bill online

    Overall, not a bad week!

  18. My husband has Monday off this week and we usually go to Walmart once a weekend a 13 mile drive each way. I convinced myself and him to stay home and I’m making a soup from leftovers today. Mexican rice with black beans and onions, and cilantro and some chicken/pheasant leftover.
    We gave our 3 and 2 year old daughters their electric car early and they have been enjoying driving it around in our heated 2 stall shed. If it gets 42 degrees today they can drive it outside.
    Last night I made cheesy garlic bisquits with marina sauce instead of ordering pizza.
    I’m trying hard to stick to my no-spending grocery budget from now until April and applying

  19. …applying the extra $310 each month January-April to our mortgage.
    Thanks for this helps keep me motivated and has amazing ideas.

  20. The calm before the storm has ended. We were able to help one son move back home yesterday, and the other will be moving back this coming weekend. We offered to take him out to lunch while he was packing our car full of his junk and he ran and grabbed a file folder of restaurant coupons he had received in the mail. I was impressed. We went through all of them, discussing which we wanted, my husband kept saying he wanted Chinese. After sorting through all of them we discovered there was not a coupon for any Chinese restaurants. My husband, said, “If we don’t have a coupon, does that mean we can’t eat at that restaurant?” My son and I nodded. My husband declared the two of us too cheap! I considered it a compliment. He then overrode our decisions, since he was paying and declared it would be Chinese. We agreed, but my son chose the Chinese restaurant that had the best prices and all three of us ate for $24.00!

    I have purchased all gifts using coupons and sales. None of us really “need” anything since we are combining three households of stuff. This year it will be “token” fun gifts to each other. We will wait to spend money when my sons find their “real” jobs and move out again.

    The sad news is that my Mom’s vision is rapidly deteriorating due to macular degeneration. I am concerned. At present, she is visiting my sister in Alabama for the holidays where they took her to a different doctor. She will be returning home in January then I will assume responsibility for helping her. [b]I welcome any advice as to how to help someone who is going blind.[/b]

    Scooter shared his concern for Nana’s failed eye test and announced I will be changing my blog so Nana can see it better. I made it bigger and it has knocked everything off whack. Oh well. My blog is for Mom and eventually, I will get everything back in order.

    My other biggest savings was no money spent on decorations. We went out into the field and cut pine branches for decorations. Scooter went with us, it was his first time out there and he went wild!

    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry

  21. Cindi,
    I am not sure what Brandy used, but as a florist we have a few methods to help keep heavy branches in place using a shallow urn. The first is to just make a bouquet in your hand and secure it with either a rubber band, hair tie or because the branches are sturdy a zip tie. You can also use a floral frog, it’s a heavy metal disk usually with pins sticking out of it. I have seen those at Dollar Tree. You can also use rocks or marvels to help anchor stems as well. The last option is to make a grid out of floral oasis tape. Honestly the tape is just green colored thin duct tape so I have used duct tape cut into thin strips as a substitute. Just remember to strip ALL foliage that will be below the water line, this deters rot and helps the greenery and any flowers last longer. I also advise my clients to use a little lemonade, ginger ale or even sprite to the water. It is liquid sugar and the citric acid helps to keep down bacteria.

    Hope this helps,
    Heather in Louisiana

  22. Cindi –
    I just watched a garden show, over the weekend that suggested cutting your old plants down, but leaving the roots in to act as a type of floral foam. They also said to cut an angle on the branches you are using to get them to “stick” better.
    I hope this helps you with your arrangement.
    – Ellie

  23. Target is over 60 miles from where I live so I only go there about once every two years or so….lol. I do have a Walmart 20 miles away. I am still dealing with the very expensive sewer issue. That is life. I was supposed to be with a family member at the University Hospital in our state today, but he wanted to handle it on his own. So, I anxiously sit by my phone. As far as frugality is going, I tried to buy a few groceries as cheaply as possible. I am always searching different stores for the cheapest prices. I do not have much of a selection where I live, but I do have a bigger selection where my children live. I found mayo for $1.68 for a large jar. Eggs are terribly expensive now, ranging from 1.68 to 1.87 a dozen. Chicken is up to 79 cents a lb for legs and thigh pieces. Potatoes are outrageous, nearly 60 cents a lb!

  24. My great-aunt, who was born in 1922, has severe macular degeneration (and has for some time). She lives on her own in one story (she doesn’t go down into her basement) in the house she has lived for most of her life. She has a huge reading machine, and she can put things in it to blow them up huge so that she can see them. She has someone come in to clean. She did not get a new dog after hers died; she said having a dog was a tripping hazard for her as she could not see him (nor could she see to clean up after him). Her neighbor mows her lawn. She knows where things are for cooking, but she also has some meals brought in through meals on wheels.

    If she will be living with you, you can cook, clean, do laundry and dishes for her. You will need to see what she will want to do with her time. She what she can help with, so that she can feel useful. See what she would like to listen to (radio, books as mp3’s, etc.) My eldest found some old-time radio shows online to listen to for free; something like that could be fun for her, too. She will need to learn how to do many things by herself as well so that she can feel in control of things and be helpful to herself and to you. How wonderful that you can take care of her. My great-aunt was unable to have children and has been a widow for over 30 years. It will be nice for your mother to be surrounded by people.

  25. I hosted a small Christmas tea for friends. There were a variety of cookies, small tea sandwiches, nut bread, gingerbread, and three pots of different teas. We took turns reading tea trivia questions that sparked lots of conversation. It was a fun and inexpensive way to entertain a group. We also attended two Christmas potlucks this past week. The holidays always provide many opportunities to share hospitality and friendship.

  26. My Mom’s good friend (age 91) has severe macular degeneration to the point where she can only see shadows. She lives in a senior’s housing complex (independent living apartments, not a nursing home) where someone comes to clean for her and puts the couple of medications she takes into a brightly color coded, braille labeled pill box. She also opts for the meals in the dining room there (extra cost) rather than cooking on her own, though she does have non-perishable snacks (crackers, pretzels, etc.) in her apartment.

    She crochets and knits patterns she knows well from experience and memory and listens to the radio and audiobooks. My Mom visits at least once a week and takes her out for fresh air and a bit of exercise (walking) and then reads the newspaper to her. She has another two friends who do the same.

    A van from the housing complex takes her to any appointments and an aid goes with her when she needs extra shopping or a friend takes her.

    Best wishes in caring for your mother.

  27. I cleaned and organized “my” walk in closet off our bedroom. I found a missing gift for my husband’s stocking (yay!). I counted 65 sweaters for me on the shelves. (I am somewhat ashamed to say that I also have some more sweaters in the basement walk in closet that I didn’t count.) I did find 3 sweaters (which I rarely wear) and one tee shirt to donate to the charity thrift shop in town as I organized things. So is it so bad that I have so many sweaters if I wear every one of them at least once in the year and many I wear two or three times? The thrift shop is run by my church and I volunteer for several tasks there. I know that they receive a lot more clothing than they can put on the sales floor or sell – so they do send truckloads to a “sister” thrift shop on a nearby Indian reservation and they sell to recyclers when there is a market for that. Anyway – since I have lots of closet space in my house it seems to make sense to keep the sweaters that are in good condition and fit me. I spent only $30 on clothes in 2017 – so I feel that having a large number of choices keeps me from buying “something new”.

    I baked 21 dozen cookies of three varieties this holiday season – and so far have only consumed one sample of each of the three types – Butterfinger cookies, white chocolate with white chocolate chips and whipped shortbread cookies. All the cookies have gone either to community events (16 dozen) or as cookie trays I took as hostess gifts to parties. I also made microwave salted caramels and microwave peanut brittle and both turned out amazingly well. I am still thinking about making homemade toffee tonight before we fly to the east coast – hmmm?? My personal favorite sweet is quick bread – so I have enjoyed some of the golden pumpkin walnut loaf and applesauce bread that I baked.

  28. My hubby’s grandfather is 90 and is just “sees” shadows due to the same problem. He has many of the same helps that the people below write about. My grandmother also suffers from it too, but only in one eye.
    My advice is not to go thru this journey alone. Where ever you live, contact local senior agencies that can help you evaluate your Mom’s living situation. In my grandma’s case, they did a bunch of little things to help make her life easier. One that comes to mind is putting a clear plastic “button” on different microwave keys so that it is easier to use.
    Grandpa is a veteran, so the V.A. went to his home and supplied him with his magnifying reader. He and grandma still live in their own home and he has memorized the layout, so it is the best living situation for him. He has someone to come and clean for him, and his wife.
    God bless you and your family, you are truly honoring your mother in this challenging season of life.

  29. Would you mind sharing your carnita recipe? A local meat packaging plant does a sale two times a year for meat that they mis-packaged. Last time I bought 55 pounds of pork loin for $45. (55 pounds is the smallest you can buy). Anyway, I’m looking for new recipes to use all this pork!

  30. If you also let people know you’d be amazed how many people have an extra one. Not perfect but would tide you over.
    I have one in my basement that was from a thrift store that one of my kids used while their housewas being renovated.
    Years ago a fellow came to do some work in my house. A handy man type guy . He asked if I was getting rid of the microwave and other appliances in my garage.
    I said they were not working and I was going to take them to the electronic recycling station.
    He said he frequently does work for people and they have usable appliances in their garages and basements they no longer need. Frequently they give them to him. He repairs or takes the working ones and sells them. People seem happy to just get it out of their house

  31. On Monday a friend drove me to the grocery store as I ended to purchase some large and heavier items so I am now stocked up on TP, laundry detergent etc. for the next 6 months.
    On Tuesday I finally persuaded a friend who is suffering with depression to come out for a trip to IKEA. We took transit, had a nice walk around in a fairly quiet store, she picked up a few things that she had needed for a while and then she insisted on treating for lunch as she said that I had treated for coffees and treats the last few times
    On Wednesday I was supposed to be meeting friends for drinks & tapas but one was ill so we have rescheduled for January. Since I now had no plans for the day I just stayed home, cooked a pot of soup, a pot of quinoa, a pan full of onions & peppers, hard boiled a half dozen eggs and roasted a pan of squash. This meant I had a variety of items to use in various meals for the rest of the week – just used the last of the quinoa and peppers with breakfast this morning! Saved money and used up food from my pantry and fridge.
    Thursday I mailed the last of my Christmas cards, picked up a few small gifts (on sale) and only bought a litre of milk – trying to stay out of the grocery stores until later this week.
    Friday a friend treated me to a trip to the museum to see the Christian Dior exhibit – it was wonderful. She has a membership with guest privileges to the museum and I have one to the Art Gallery so we trade off throughout the year.
    Saturday I stayed home and caught up on a few shows on Netflix.
    Sunday I took a friend to the Art Gallery after church to see an exhibit that is leaving in a couple of weeks. He insisted on treating me to brunch afterwards (I entertain a fair bit and he is always invited so this was his way of reciprocating). We walked down to City Hall afterwards to watch the skaters and have a walk through the Christmas Market so we got some fresh air and walked off a bit of brunch – which was delicious.
    I’m having a frugal start to this week by staying in and doing some housework & ironing today. A friend is going to drive us to a Christmas light display this evening down by the lake – all the trees along the boardwalk are wrapped with lights and it’s quite a magical effect. I will treat for the hot chocolates afterwards.
    Have a wonderful week everyone and as always Brandy, thank you for all your terrific and inspiring posts.

  32. Hi! A friend across country visited us and installed 3 light
    fixtures. He also brought big batch of gingerbread dough he had made and a bunch of once-used white slippers (he worked as a gardener in spa hotel) which I do not know if I have use yet. He brought a self-made collection of Christmas commercials which we enjoyed from TV as a family. He will send us self-made Echinachea, misspelled for sure, mixture and a Christmas movie. A church member offered us a new smartphone lately they did not need. I felt we did not need it that bad too. This friend mentioned he would like to have a smart phone but it costs too much so he plans not to buy it. He had said it once before, I remembered. Suddenly i got the idea! I gave a hint to the phone owner and the friend got a phone next day in church 🙂
    My husband brought us Christmas tree from farm. I put it outside this year. We see it well from kitchen windows. I have lights on it with batteries. Can be used outside. They are on 6 hrs and off 18 hrs automatically. As it is all dark here 3 PM til 9 AM now it works for me! Tree is not as pretty as those sold but that is how it is.
    I gifted for my husband’s birthday a gift card to spa and also booked him time there for a massage I knew he would appreciate. He did and went. Gift card was given to me by someone who moved, it was half used. I added a little.
    I tipped my mascara brush to hot water to make it work better. Works for me.
    i sent out Christmas cards bought in January, bought from book store, they had 50 percent dicount to pretty card sets with envelopes.
    I put some bread pieces – ends – to dry to use them in some meatballs one day.
    I heat our wood stove on Sunday morning and put a dish there in glass pot. Just next to where fire was. Me a was ready when we arrived. Pork, potatoes, beet, carrot, onion. If it would have been with lamb, all ingredients would have come from our own organic am farm.
    I gave some magazines to a friend.
    I made a headband to daughter and a batch of cookie dough for freezing in 2 bags and another pie, all from stuff i had, after reading last week’s post!
    A frugal fail. I bumped a parked car or scratched it with my new to me car while reverse driving. I kept driving and drove off. No-one really saw me. Felt awful. Went back. Found the owner. Offered him money to cover damage. He was friendly. We are in touch and I pay 180 eur, almost same in usd. I pay in 2 parts. I have to pay the same amount for fixing my car, too. I have no reserve now so I just did not pay some other bills from this month. i am quite upset with me and this happening makes all my other efforts seem like nothing. At least I enjoyed them while they happened!

  33. Beautiful pictures, Brandy!

    Here are my accomplishments from last week:

    • Made Chex Mix for Christmas (a family tradition.) Saved the bags from the cereal and also saved the cereal boxes to use for wrapping presents.
    • Got a free package of pudding from the grocery store’s Freebie Fridays program. Also got some cat treats, but I don’t have a cat so I gave those to a friend.
    • Canned some pinto beans. Saved the remaining bean water that didn’t fit into the jars in the freezer to be used the next time I make vegetable soup.
    • Used free toiletries, coffee & tea.
    • Rinsed out tomato sauce can and put that water in my leftovers soup container in the freezer.
    • For my Dad’s Christmas present, I made him pralines, his favorite. Tried to make 2 batches but the second batch turned to crumble. I will keep that batch and put it on oatmeal with chopped apples.
    • Hosted our trivia team’s Christmas party. Originally I said I would do all the cooking (not frugal, but fun for me) but I changed my mind and had the guests each bring something. They were happy to do it and it saved me time and money. I have to remember to relinquish control sometimes! I served a Mexican food buffet of carnitas, enchilada casserole, beans and corn. They brought a fruit tray, a veggie tray, guacamole and a dessert. I got the pork butt for the carnitas on sale for 99c/lb. It was 8 lbs. and I would say I ended up with 6 lbs. of usable meat. A bargain in my book! I bought 2 and put one in the freezer. I have a lot of leftovers of the other food as well, which will be great in January when I will be trying not to grocery shop.
    • Made a homemade chicken pot pie. I used a new recipe for the crust and it didn’t turn out very well. We ate it anyway.
    • Hubby’s check on the 15th was a little bit more, as he has hit his limit on what he had to pay into Social Security for the year.
    • We hadn’t been credited airline points for a rental car we had in August. Called and got that taken care of.
    • My Dad wanted to thank my sister and me for taking care of him all year so he bought a ham and gave me some cash for the other food and asked me to have everyone over for dinner. My sister and I split the leftover ham. There was leftover dessert from our trivia party, so I served that also.
    • I also got the Kroger deal on pork tenderloin of 99 cents per lb. I bought 5 tenderloins and will slice 3 of them into boneless pork chops and the other 2 I will cut in half and freeze separately for pork roasts. Perfect size for the 2 of us. I’ve said here before that hubby wants steak once a week, but he has agreed that grilled pork chops will be an acceptable substitute.

    Have a great week everyone!

  34. College children are taking final exams and my sugar cookie has left to visit her grandmother for a month. This makes my daughter so very happy and so I let her travel there each year. My house is extremely quiet and very unusual. I cleaned out sugar cookies bedroom for her. I had to remind myself to not ever be surprised at what lurks in her closet. I found all my missing panties and bras. She has a large I pad from who knows where. Maybe college girls? I have no clue. I bought her a case and a new charger for it. Her brother connected it to her Apple account and viola, there is her Christmas present she asked for. I found a really old Roku box that is attached to my late husband’s Amazon account. 100 plus movies on their that I bought in my former life. I am still smiling over this. I did find a fruitcake that is really old. Hard like a brick. I haven’t spent any money out of my funds. I received a small rebate on my insurance accounts and spent it on me. I sadly have put on weight due to my surgeries and steroid use. I only have one pair of jeans and yoga pants I can wear. I bought a pair of black pants and two shirts to go with my wardrobe. Now I can dress up or down and have something to wear in public. I extended my cooking illustrated magazine for 2 more years at 11 dollars. I bought a 5.00 gardening book on Google with a credit I had. It is squarefoot gardening book, 20 dollars at Amazon and I just didn’t want to pay that much. I also bought an Audible deal for 15.00 for three books. I used my credit wisely this month and got the latest book by my favorite author. Again, something I wouldn’t pay full price for. I used the last 15.00 from last month’s SNAP to buy ground turkey breast marked down. I have continued to make piles of stuff in my house as I clean and purge. Found many items for Christmas decorating. It looks so nice. As I inticipated, we have received notice this week our insurance is being cancelled. I have made an appointment this week so I can get some prescription s refilled and a few new ones. I will need to adjust my budget to cover our future out of pocket expenses. Gold RX may work or possibly the Same Club discount. I will have to price check each of them. My Sams is expiring. I utilized a coupon for a 90 day BJ’s trial, but they dont have a pharmacy. I pulled all bedding , washed and hung outside to dry. I have been enjoying all meals that I prefer. College Boy requested steak for Christmas dinner. I guess we will start new traditions until I have couples and grandchildren coming home one day. Merry Christmas everyone.

  35. Hi Holly:

    Thanks for your comment about the camera. Yes, I just bought A new lens but it is not the same kind as the one that was just damaged. In fact, I haven’t yet picked up the new lens (which only cost $50 and is nowhere as expensive as the lens that was just wrecked). It was my well-loved telephoto lens that was wrecked. Ann

  36. That’s a good idea, too! Thanks:). I think most of the issue is that it’s a habit–so I’m needing to just get my mind wrapped around the fact that the microwave isn’t there right now…..I hadn’t processed how much we use it on a daily basis until now.

  37. I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s rapidly deteriorating vision due to macular degeneration. My mother was legally blind (due to macular degeneration) and profoundly deaf. I like the suggestion of making her feel useful. That is really important for her self-esteem. I would get a cd player and borrow talking books and cds from the library. Or, a computer where she could enlarge the print. Computers will read to you as well. (yes, sometimes the computer voice is odd or mispronounces things but on the whole it is pretty good. If she could learn braille that might be useful although my mother never did. My mother, although legally blind, could still see some things from her peripheral vision. She once said she’d seen (from her kitchen window). a cow run past on the city sidewalk. My brother laughed but I went down to look and there running on the sidewalk in the distance was a big buck deer. My mother was legally blind in one eye but had perfect vision in the other eye. She could still legally drive. One day she drove me over to a store. Her driving was fine on the way but on the return it was not. As luck would have it, she had an appointment the next morning with the ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, she had had a hemorrhage (due to macular degeneration) right in the centre of vision in her previously good eye. I had insisted on taking a cab to the ophthalmologist so she did not have her car. We took a cab home and she never drove again. For quite awhile she would go up and downstairs by herself. She would do her laundry. My gp prohibited it. I was asked her how many stairs there were and she answered “13”. About this time, I effectively moved in. She had a cleaning lady who did laundry. She should avoid stairs, if she can.

    If your mother is not going to live with you, I would get her a cleaning lady with the instructions not to go re-organizing her kitchen. I would put a big red marker on the dials of her stove so she could see where off is (although it is safer not to have her cooking). I would make sure her paper towel holder is nowhere near her toaster. Once my mother took a paper towel but passed it over the toaster and set fire to the towel. I was there and very calmly just took the flaming towel and dropped it in the sink. She felt terrible but I told her it could just as easily have happened to me.

    I would go to the Institute of the Blind (I’m not sure of the equivalent in the US). They will have advice on readers, magnifying glasses, computers with voice recognition programs (like Dragon Speak). The institute may have free audio books. here audio books may be mailed without postage. Ask a volunteer to come in and read books to your mother. Or a library volunteer to bring her audio books. This will give a social contact. If you go to church still go with her. Try to keep her social contacts ongoing.
    It’s important that she not feel isolated.

    Remove all tripping hazards: for example, scatter rugs. My mother was taken grocery shopping by my brother. He made a list in the order of which aisle things were on. She did it from memory. Even I could not have done that. It worked well until the store reorganized everything. Was she annoyed!

    If she lives alone and does not go into the basement, you will need to do regular basement checks to make sure the furnace is ok.
    And the pipes. Make sure she has CO detectors and smoke detectors.

    Even if she cannot cook, she might enjoy helping you (for example stirring batter, putting a dressing on a salad). If she is living with you, have tea time and talk about what’s happening in the world, among friends, etc. I had a wonderful time with my mother and I hope she had the same with me. Take her for a picnic (in a park where it’s easy to get to). Let her sit outside and smell your roses or whatever. I would pick a rose from her garden and let her enjoy its fragrance. You could plan a garden with her. My mother and I would have long discussions about what she thought I should plant and where. When she could no longer garden, I would let her supervise.

    I would ask her to tell you about her childhood, her parents, her teachers, her first job, her scariest moment raising her children, what brought her the most joy. I would help her make a memory book. It would be a fun project. Treat her like she is your best friend forever. Arrange to have your own life, and interests. Luckily for my mother and me, our interests were similar.

    After years of having other eye damage, I have just recently been diagnosed as having early macular degeneration in both eyes.
    I am trying to get all of my papers in order, then will reorganize my kitchen so it will be easier to find things. I previously bought a fridge with a freezer on top as opposed to bottom as it is much easier to get things out of the top than lifting items from the bottom. If worst comes to worst, I will get a cleaning lady or have a companion who would cook for me and do laundry. Hope this helps. Ann

  38. I didn’t buy anything except for gas- which I need to get to work! We ate from the pantry and freezer- including several Christmas treats made from ingredients on hand. I worked an extra day last week. My son “donated” a couple of stuffed animals from his stash for his nephews, and I made each animal their own fleece blanket from scraps to match the ones I made for the boys.I dug through my closet, and found Christmas themed scrub top and a fun printed one I no longer wear since we went to standardized uniforms. I used these to make a nightgown and a simple jumper for my daughters step daughter (a size 3T so there was plenty material for them). I wrapped gifts using paper I’ve had for several years. I’m looking forward to the after Christmas clearance to replenish the supply for future years, and also hope to get some good sales on ham and turkey after the holiday. I still have one of each in the freezer purchased last year for around .50/lb.

  39. If you wear them every year, I Think it is great!. I only have two, and one is almost beyond repair…of course I live in the deep, very humid South…lol.. I do have several short sleeve shirts and thin cotton shirts and t shirts. I really think it is according to where you live. I also have two bathing suits.

  40. Jeannie, I am sorry to hear about your mother’s vision. Is it wet or dry macular degeneration? (Dry is “better”….) Did the doctor discuss injections? Did he recommend supplements of lutein and zinc? It can be a very slow progressing disease so anything you an do to further slow the process (can’t be cured) is what you should be aiming for. We have several older folks at church with this and most of the time you would not know they have a vision problem aside from problems with reading and no longer able to drive. As your mom said, too, anything on the floor below her field of vision is a hazard.

  41. Beautiful decorations! College is finished for another semester. We had to have our last beloved dashound put to sleep this weekend. When we adopted the pair, I knew they would live till the children we starting out in their own. How did the time go so fast? DD stopped on her way back from college to break up the trip and visit a dear friend. She cut her visit short so as to come and just be with us this weekend. We were gifted the cost of movie tickets and spent the remainder of the weekend just being. It tough to lose a childhood pet.

    On a more positive note, we are being super frugal this Christmas. And, in an effort to keep us from spending money or eating too much, I’m not baking this Christmas. DS was lamenting the lack of homemade cookies and I said I’d bring him some from work if there were any that were put out to share…there were ginger snaps! He’s a happy camper and so am I!

    We are continuing to eat lightly, spend little, and build our self-sufficient life. I think I’ve gotten a bit used to comforts and have reminded myself to keep going. We are blessed with opportunities and freedoms! I pray I never forget!

  42. Beautiful pictures, Brandy!

    We completed the move to our vacation home last week. Most of our household goods went into pod storage, and I’m still looking for places to put the rest!

    We are snowed in at the moment! We live in a summer town of 200 permanent residents and we couldn’t have gone anywhere to spend money, even if we wanted! At the moment, we only have antenna TV. We entertained ourselves by watching “The Sound of Music” last night.

    I am always amazed how well the DW we have here washes dishes on the quick cycle! They are done in an hour and they are spotless! Less water, less electricity and, best of all, less time!

    Ditto the washing machine. About 2-3 months ago, I bought a used set of Kitchen Aids for the cabin. They no longer make laundry appliances, which is too bad. The washer has the biggest tub I’ve ever seen and does a fantastic job. Lots less work for me and a big saving on water, electricity and soap. The bad news is that when we moved our 28-year-old (and no repairs!) Maytag into storage, we discovered it was sitting in a puddle of grease. I see a new washing machine in my future…and the end of bragging rights.

    I haven’t sent Christmas cards in two years due to poor health. I am doing better this year and just happened to have the stamps. While unpacking, I found a box of picture-frame cards I bought years ago for half-price ($3). Ordered pictures of my son’s wedding from Snapfish and they were free! I started addressing cards last night.

    Life is good right now, and I hope it is for all of you, too. Merry Christmas.

  43. My husband’s uncle went nearly blind from diabetes. The local services for the blind provided him with a talking watch, reader, etc. and had many classes he could have taken to help him learn how to be more independent. Unfortunately he didn’t take any of them and spent years mostly sitting doing nothing. Hope you can find resources and your Mom is willing to take advantage of them.

  44. How frustrating! if you bought the lens recently and on a credit card, check and see if you have any warranty protection from that. (Guessing Canadian credit cards might have the same perks as in the U.S.).

  45. Love the video of The Christmas Carol. Thank you for sharing!

    • Made swag goal x 2
    • Took a survey and received a $10 Amazon gift card.
    • Used $20 off $100 coupon at grocery store. I shouldn’t need to buy anything else until January except some lettuce.
    • Took all of the bar soap “ends” that I’ve been saving for a few months and microwaved them until soft. Then smushed them together to form a new, large soap.
    • Booked Amtrak tickets for July 2018 vacation and paid for them with credit card reward points.
    • Pre-paid entire year of trash & recycling for 2018 and received a discount.
    • Compared 5 medical invoices to insurance EOB to make sure I was being charged the correct amounts “after insurance discount.”
    • Made the decision to discontinue Netflix subscription at the end of the year based on the rate increase combined with watching fewer times. Will plan to use the library more in 2018 for movies and read more.
    • Took my elderly neighbor out at night for an hour drive through town to see the Christmas lights.

  46. Thank you for your ideas. Right now my oldest son is living with her but that is not permanent. He is hoping for a job promotion but does not know if he will stay in that town or be transferred. He is slowly handling more and more things for her, yet I feel it is my responsibility to begin helping more. She has managed well so far, but it won’t be long before she can’t. I am looking for wise suggestions from people who have been through this so I can have answers when it is necessary. Right now I just feel lost.

  47. Lea, Mom’s mind is clear so she will be making her own decisions as to what to do; however, she will turn to me for suggestions. I know she wants to stay in her home but she lives 2 hours away from me which limits what I can do. We have invited her to live with us but my house is all steps. I am having trouble navigating it and I know she can’t manage it.
    Thank you.

  48. Ellie, I had not thought about the VA. Mom is not a Vet, but she was married to one and many of the benefits apply to them also. I think I will see about contacting a senior agency and see if I can get help. I do need help as to what our next step is to be.
    Thank you

  49. Athanasia, she has dry not wet, which they say is better. They have just put her on eye drops which we hope will help. Injections were discussed but the doctor said she is not there yet. Yes, she is taking lutein, zinc, billberry and other herbs recommended by the doctor. You are right, you would not know she had difficulty seeing just looking at her. I took her out to eat back in late September and she asked me to read the menu for her. That was a first.

    Right now she is staying at my sisters house for the holidays. I think we will need to do something when she gets back home. I want to have ideas and suggestions for her then.

    Thank you for your help.


  50. Juhli, I also had not thought about contacting the local services for the blind. I will do that before Mom gets back home in January. If they have classes, I would be interested. I don’t know if Mom would go, but she might if I go with her.
    Thank you.

  51. For sore and raw noses you can heal it overnight with a good diaper cream. I buy Resinol from the pharmacist, it’s pricey but worth it.

  52. PJGT, so sorry to hear about your little pooch. I am an animal lover too and it hurts when they leave us.
    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry

  53. My mom has both wet and dry macular degeneration. She has not noticed or complained about the dry macular degeneration. She started complaining one weekend about a large black spot. But since the doctor had told her she had a blind spot because of the dry macular degeneration, it took until Monday for me to realise that something had really changed. Murphy’s law, her ophthalmologist was on vacation and I apparently didn’t convey the urgency of the situation to his receptionist who offered the next available appointment-six weeks out. The doctor later said the clerk should have gotten mom in to see his partner quickly. I instead turned to my optometrist who saw mom on Wednesday, the next day he was open. He determined it was wet macular degeneration and gave mom the name of the two retinal specialists he referred patients too. One of the two was also on my mom’s ophthalmologist’s referral list. She was fit into his schedule the next day because, with wet macular degeneration, time is of the essence. Mom could barely see the top of the eye chart at her first appointment with the retinal specialist. Wet macular degeneration used to be untreatable. But, during the last decade, dramatic progress has been made in treating it. Mom had to go for frequent injections into her eyeball at first, now stretched out to injections every eight weeks. If her retina stays stable, she might just have to have quarterly monitoring. She now reads the eye chart better than I. And despite having had cataracts, having glaucoma, and having both wet and dry macular degeneration in both eyes, she easily passed the vision test for a driver’s license this year. Moral of the story: Check your eyes from time to time using an Amsler grid. If you notice vision changes, get yourself to the eye doctor asap. You might save your sight-or at least much of it.

    Don’t worry, you won’t be encountering my tiny mom on the road. She has kept her promise that she wouldn’t give us trouble when we decided it was time for her to stop driving. The deal is, she will only drive if (a) I can’t and (b) the woods behind the house are on fire.

    Because of the snow, I only got out to run errands once last week, making six stops and spending $75 on groceries. Wednesday, I will be within a couple miles of an Aldi store so I intend to stock up on groceries again. We ate all our meals at home. The most frugal thing we did was turning a half-eaten meatloaf into delicious meatloaf soup when we had had our absolute fill of meatloaf. I also improvised with lasagna by substituting the ricotto or cottage cheese and egg layer with a custard layer containing milk, eggs, dried spinach and onions. I have enjoyed it and haven’t missed the cheese in that layer. The lasagna itself was a way to not waste the leftover spaghetti sauce after we had had our fill of spaghetti. No wasted food. Yay us! Now to make THAT a habit.

  54. I loved your idea of using old card supplies and paint chips to make cards—we recently repainted several rooms and I have a lot of those chip cards that I could not stand to just throw away. I tried looking it up on Pinterest but cannot seem to locate it—can you give me a name or some other way to look it up? Thank you for any help.

  55. I am sorry to read of the loss of your sweet doggy. We had our family dog put to sleep on Friday. As this was our first dog, I had no idea how hard it would be to lose them. My husband, two grown sons and I are all taking turns falling apart over her loss. We were blessed to have her for nearly sixteen years. They really do become a member of the family. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  56. Brandy, I love your arrangements!
    Finding that I don’t need to follow a special diet to feel good. I just need to stay away from sugar and additives. Eat mostly vegetables with some protein. Feeling better and losing weight. I don’t even have cravings anymore. Saving a ton of money cooking at home and not following an expensive diet. The expensive diet is nice, but I do prefer to be more frugal with our resources.
    Husband has worked overtime and I have been working with son. Almost all meals cooked at home. Pinto Beans and cornbread, Cajun Beans and rice with sausage, Spinach omelette, Chickpea, Carrot and cumin soup, Rotisserie Chicken we got for free when my mom got us a Sam’s card. Shared a free piece of pizza and a few bites of ice-cream for free. We are both on a diet so we didn’t want to eat much of the free ice-cream we shared.
    Waiting until payday, but we are going to call and try to make a payment plan on a Hospital Bill due the 24th of December.
    Spent time at home when we weren’t at work. Found recipes on internet. Internet entertainment, lots of reading. Made my own perfume with essential oils.
    Enjoyed time with grandkids doing free things at home.
    Spent $5 to go see a shortened version of the Nutcracker with one of my sons and his wife and grandkids. Husband went too. It was very enjoyable.
    Getting excited about Christmas! Listened to Christmas music online for free.
    Waited to do laundry until we can get to the farm to do it for free. Saved money by not paying for the laundry mat.
    Because I am losing weight, I am considering taking in my clothes. I am not a seamstress, but would like to learn. I am going to search for videos on sewing online. Already I have to keep holding on to my pants. I am going to go through my clothes and see what I have. It is an excellent problem to have, not fitting into my larger clothes. Feeling good is wonderful! It helps that my husband has been able to keep his job and our worries are much less now. But I know that eating a healthy diet helps too.

  57. Thanks for the reply, Jeannie!

    My mom’s friend also has a clear mind but can’t see well enough to sort her own meds or cook. She also can’t see well enough to see a curb or notice differences between the types of products at the store (reading a shampoo bottle for instance). She and her husband lived in their apartment for about 15 years before her eyesight began to fail. I think it was a relief to her children that that was “home” so they didn’t ever have to think about moving her somewhere. She loves being there and has lots of friends and activities as well as rides, etc. If there’s some type of senior apartments near you, it might be worth looking into! My parents are starting to look into it and I’m so grateful that where we live there are many, many options for those 55+ with varying levels of care, including one 1 1/2 blocks from my home!


  58. Becky do you have a microwave in your camper?
    We are all creatures of habit aren’t we? I remember years ago worrying about how I was going to heat up baby food & bottles at the cabin without a microwave!

  59. Hi all, I hope everyone’s had a good week! Here are our frugal accomplishments for the week:

    * Made a batch of white bean soup using the ham bone from Thanksgiving. I’ll be stashing some leftovers in the freezer for future meals.

    * Made some peanut butter cookies for a treat. Only $1 per batch and each batch makes 2 dozen, so pretty reasonable in price.

    * Stopped by Aldi for the remainder of our grocery shopping for the month. Spent a bit more than I wanted originally at the beginning of the month, but overall we’ve only spent about $120 this month on food, including about $15 spent on food gifts.

    * Made some Greek yogurt and used it to make tzatziki and naan.

    * Made tomato rice and seasoned black beans for lunches last week- it’s one of my favorite lunches, as it’s vegan, cheap, and filling, plus beans are good nutritious food. We’ve been trying to only eat vegetarian except for dinner, so this is an easy lunch for that.

    * Made some ciabatta bread to eat plain and with a little bit of pasta sauce I had left in the freezer. I’ve really been loving making ciabatta, as I found a great no-knead recipe that gives spectacular results.

    I think that’s everything! I have been super busy lately, which means no time to spend money, so that certainly helps the budget. I hope everyone has a good holiday season!

  60. Lilli,
    I don’t know if Costco could help you. They have a pharmacy where I live. I know you don’t need a membership, just a Costco GC that you can keep reloading (and use that to pay) I bring this up only because my prescriptions are a third of their cost there than ordering them mail order or through a large chain pharmacy.
    Best of luck!

  61. Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, the lens that was broken is not the same as the lens I just recently bought. I’m not sure a credit card warranty would cover damage from dropping. I do have insurance but how it all sorts out reamins to be seen.

  62. I bought a turkey on sale at 95 cents a lb. the lowest price I ever see, without a minimum purchase. I also began to re-stock baking supplies, and started my Christmas baking.

    I have property taxes past due, which would have interest added on January 1. The village agreed to let me pay it monthly for six months. Because the payments start before January 1, they will not charge the interest. I signed the agreement today. This will save me $187.

    I have been gradually moving my checking account transactions from one bank to another. Ordered checks this week at the new bank only to find out they don’t charge for these checks. Other banks charge $35, at least. I got a money order, also free. (This is a senior’s account, available after age 60.)

    The car has been working intermittently. I did go to a Christmas party at the next town over yesterday, a day when it was working. We brought potluck snacks, read Stuart McLean Christmas stories (a Canadian humorist, similar to Garrison Keillor), sang carols, and told Christmas stories of our own. Much laughter all around.

    I received a $25 gift card from the library i work at, for a grocery store three doors down from my house.

    I am gradually setting aside some money towards the second round of car repairs. It shouldn’t be too much longer before i can get the essentials done.

    Wishing everyone a happy holiday season.

  63. The above should have read: “She made a list in the order in which aisle things were”. (not “He”). I would get her to have her legal papers in order –– for example, her will, her enduring power of attorney (to let you conduct her banking and business), and a personal directive (giving you the ability to make medical decisions on her behalf). it is easier to sign documents when you’re able to see what the documents say. Guard against falls. make sure she enjoys life because if a social worker has to assess her, it will go better for her if she is a vibrant, person with interests. My mother tripped over an outside downspout (she just didn’t lift her foot quite high enough). She was in the hospital for a few days with a badly wrenched knee. First, a physiotherapist took her down a dark back staircase and wanted her to turn around on the stairs and go up again. She refused to do so. The physio gave me what for when I came for a visit. I turned around and asked her how she could have the nerve to take my mother down a dark staircase when my mother was bind and my mother was right to refuse to turn around. The physio had not read her medical chart carefully and didn’t realize she was blind.
    I got embarrassed apologies. Then the social worker wanted my mother to go the geriatric facility for assessment. My mother did not want to go. I stood my ground with the social worker. My mother’s lovely doctor phoned me and said there seemed to be an impasse. I said that we knew she was old. At the geriatric centre, they would assess how well she cooked her own meals. I said she would fail because she wouldn’t be able to see the cooking supplies but at her home she knew where everything was and what it was. Her stove was marked. She had an oven with a timer that if set would turn itself off when the time was up. She could set the time. I said she was remarkably well-adapted. Her doctor all of a sudden understood that a little old lady who knew how many steps to the basement, where her cooking supplies were, etc. would fail the assessment even though well-adapted. Her doctor let her stay in the hospital for a few more days, then discharged her with her blessings. You will have to be your Mother’s advocate. Listen to good advice, know her limits, take care of yourself. Don’t be dragged down by things but find the joy in her and the situation. It is better to count your blessings. there are many people who live far away from parents whom they would love to help. Blessings to you and your mother.

  64. Jeannie, You could get right height toilets. They are higher than older toilets. having arthritic knees, I myself love these
    toilets as it is easier to get up from them. Grab bars in the shower and next to toilets helps and is a safety feature, too. I had to retile the bathroom and as I had just torn the ligaments in my knee, I took out the old tub and made it into a shower. At the time, I could not lift my leg up and over the wall of the tub even if it were low. Having a hand-held shower and a seat to sit on, makes bathing easier. I find that with my vision problems, my balance is sometimes off. It greatly helps to just have a shower and a bench. Make sure to have a thermostat control on the shower so she doesn’t get scalded and make sure you always test the temperature of the water on your hand before showering her. Home care will help bathe her if you need that. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    I would just add that I grew up with siblings. My mother was always busy with all of us. It was only when I became her advocate and caregiver that I had quiet moments with her. All of a sudden I got to know my mother as a person not just in her role as my mother. It was incredible. I always wanted to look like my mother. This was an impossible quest since she had brown eyes, I had blue etc. etc. One day, she studied my face and said “You’re beautiful”. Even now that brings tears to my eyes. It was so great to learn about my mother and to tell her how much I appreciated her many wonderful qualities. There is nothing like the bond between a mother and a daughter. Look upon this as a chance to know heras a person in addition to as a mother. There is a quotation from the Bible often quoted at Christmas: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. bring joy, light to her life. It will be so rewarding to you.

  65. Libby, What a lovely thing to do for your elderly neighbour. I’m sure the neighbour was thrilled!

  66. becky, you might also phone habitat for Humanity’s Restore store if there is one nearby. They might have a microwave.

  67. Jeannie,
    i just read that your mother will be living 2 hours away from you. Could you sell her house, if she owns it, and build a mother in law suite attached to your house? Since you yourself are having a bit of a hard time with the steps, an extension could have two bedrooms and I would put two bathrooms (one with a walk in shower). That way you yourself could age in place and have your mother there to live with you. My dream is to have a ground level laundry room. This is a bungalow so I only have to go downstairs to do laundry but life would be easier with a ground-floor
    laundry room. Many of my comments apply to your mother living with you. Some apply whether or not she lives with you.
    You could get a monitoring system for the basement that would alert you if the temperature dropped or water was detected.
    Also, does she have a lifeline button? These are a godsend. Between home care, or a companion to come in to do laundry, light housekeeping, dinner preparation, or volunteers from the library to bring audio books, and the local blind society, there should be lots of help, much of which is low cost or even free. best of luck, Ann

  68. Does your mother have wet macular degeneration? We have had reasonable success for my father with a treatment of injections into the eye – in Germany they use Lucentis (it might be Eylea or Avastin in the USA – essentially a cancer medication). He had two courses of treatments (3 injections each) – it has stopped progression. I do not know about the cost in your case, it is about $1000 each shot in our country, but fully covered by insurance.

  69. This week I have:
    1. Bought pork loin for 99 cents a pound
    2. Had my kids give their grandparents some of their favorite games as gifts (bought on sale) so they can play them while they visit at their house this week
    3. Renewed overdue library books (to stop it from accruing) and paid my late fees **I try to view my occassional library book late fees as donations:)
    4. Said yes to a freshly killed chicken. My dad recently bought a chicken plucker to process his chickens and he tried it out this past weekend….very cool/scary!
    5. Used up the rest of my Halloween candy as treats for my Sunday school class and made melted crayon discs from broken crayons to give as small gifts…they loved them!

  70. Frugal Accomplishments at our house this week:

    I mended a pair of work pants.

    I made yogurt in my crock pot.

    I made chicken noodle soup and rosemary bread.

    I made laundry soap.

    My 4 daughters and 2 granddaughters came over and we all did some Christmas baking and candy making. Each household brings the ingredients to make their own treats so we ended up with lots and lots of goodies which we divided up between all of us. I took much of it to work and gave goodie bags to each of my co-workers and to my supervisor.

    Our local Jewel grocery store had an in-store sale of grass-fed whole chickens for 49 cents per pound. We bought as many as our freezer would hold, which isn’t many since most of the space is taken up by our extra turkey we got for 37 cents per pound at Thanksgiving. My husband used one chicken to teach our daughter how to cut up a chicken. We sent it home with her to cook.

    I finished the pocket pillows for our 4 grandchildren. I bought the flannel fabric at Joann’s several weeks ago pairing sales with a coupon. I bought books for each of them to put in the pockets from Amazon with a $5 dollars off $20 special they had. I also found small TY beanie babies at the Under Five store to add to the pockets for $4.99 each. They wanted $12.50 for them next door at Toys R Us!

  71. Frugal Accomplishments at “Toad Holler” (my name for our home…I wanted to name it Mason de fleurs but it has LOTS of toads LOL).

    Had a home spa day and gave myself a pedicure and deep conditioned my hair.

    Wrapped Christmas gifts in paper I bought on clearance several years ago. I also realized I don’t need to purchase ANY paper at the after Christmas sales.

    Explored the closet in my guestroom and discovered I have lots of extra clothing, so I will impose a “Buy No Clothing” year on myself.

    Downloaded the Friday Free Blistek Coupon from Kroger as well as the 99 cents a pound, Saturday only coupon for pork loin. Picked them both up on Saturday.

    Prepared all meals at home.

    Made apple/raisin/pecan muffins from pantry ingredients for a Sunday School brunch. (Decided on these as they did not have to be re-heated and they used less pricey ingredients than the sausage/egg bake I thought about taking.)

    Air dried several loads of wash.

    Planted spinach and lettuce. Technically, it is Winter here, but it has reached the high 50’s multiple days this month. I plan to cover the plants if/when they sprout, like in a a cold-frame box. For $2 for the seeds, I can take a risk and see if it grows earlier than March.

    That’s it for me. 🙂 I so enjoy reading everyone’s advice and accomplishments. Thank you Brandy.

  72. Same with my husband. The local eye doc said there was not much they could do for his mac degeneration. We were visiting friends in Seattle and they suggested we visit a specialist. He works only with mac degeneration folks and was much more informed than our local eye doctor. My husband received shots every month and now gets them only every 10 weeks. It did not restore his vision, but it stabilized it so he has not lost any more sight. You may want to go to someone who is not a generalist, but a doc who works just with macular degeneration.

  73. Frugal accomplishments from past week:

    – Taking advantage of online grocery shopping as it saves me time and delivery is currently free. Unfortunately, it was all too easy to sign up for the “membership” option which means I will be charged $149 for a year’s worth of “free” delivery of orders over $35. I will be canceling that free trial before I am charged that membership fee.

    -Received a monetary holiday bonus from work and a huge (12 or 14 pounds) holiday ham. We will eat part for Christmas dinner and freeze part for other meals. The vending machine company at work also offered free hot beverages one day. I took advantage of it to try their white chocolate caramel option, to see if I liked it. (I did.)

    – Attended book groups through church and with a group of friends. At the friends’ book group, we had our annual December gift exchange — small items, but fun. I had purchased book-themed socks and small notebooks earlier in the year at good prices, and wrapped them in brown paper lunch bags that I had on hand. Stuffed with tissue paper that I also had, rolled the tops down, punched a hole in the bags and used some green raffia type twine I also had to tie bows together.

    – Donated several toys/games my daughter has outgrown to our local charity thrift shop. Hoping they can make another child’s Christmas brighter. I took pictures of these things (plus other donated items) because I find it much easier to use snapshots to track my donations and their values for tax purposes rather than writing everything out.

    – Did most of my Christmas shopping this past week online, taking advantage of sales and going through cashback sites. I also used coupons where possible. Purchased stocking stuffers (nuts, candy) as part of Walgreens 20% off Friends and Family day sale shopping on the 20th. Also picked up some non-perishable stocking stuffers for next year while they are on good prices.

    – Participated in an event at Michael’s store where you purchased a T-shirt (used a 50% off coupon so it was $2 and change), then they provided free supplies and instructions for decorating in a holiday theme. (I needed something holiday-ish for an event at work; I cannot find the sweatshirt I had years ago so must have donated it.)

    – Because of participating in the Michael’s event, my walk of the dog was later in the afternoon than usual on winter Sundays, so it was getting to be twilight as we were finishing up on the trail, which meant we heard an owl hooting. I looked up in the tree branches but couldn’t find him, but I really enjoyed listening to him hoot out in nature. The trail had snow but was not super cold, so the walk was enjoyable overall, too (for those of us who enjoy sniffing squirrel trails and those who don’t).

  74. Our dachshund died 4 years ago and we still all miss him so much. They are such wonderful pets. Sorry to hear about your precious dachshund.

  75. Lea, Mom lives in Nashville so there are many, almost endless choices. She will find them overwhelming and will just stop, sit down and do nothing. If I can offer her a few of the best choices, she might listen.

    Everyone’s suggestions have given me hope that we can get through this. I know I need help.


  76. If your Sam’s has a pharmacy, they are required by law to serve you, whether or not you have a membership. Not all Sam’s has pharmacies, so call before you go.

  77. Ann, I had to get a pen and paper to write down all of your suggestions! I have gotten so many ideas from everyone. This is exactly what I needed.

    Mom will not move (I don’t think) until Joshua moves out. Right now he is taking on more and more responsibility for her care, which is sweet, but not what he should be doing. I should be helping her more. After reading all of these suggestions I realize I must first help change her home so she can stay there a little longer. I will also begin calling around looking for more information for services she can use. I don’t think she will be able to stay there long the way her health is declining, we are looking at making a change this coming year.

    Her house is one level which is great. In September I took her to her eye doctor and he said she could still drive for a while. However, this past month one eye has deteriorated rapidly which is why my sister took her to a doctor in her hometown.

    She does not have a lifeline but does have a cell phone which we demand she carries always, even in the bathroom. We got one that was easy to work with a large screen, she can hit one button and get me. After reading these suggestions, I think I might need to put a drop of fingernail polish on the one important button so she can feel it in an emergency.

    My husband and I have made the decision we must sell our house and downsize. We just can’t handle the steps and he can no longer handle the large yard. The problem we have encountered is that we are south of Nashville and Franklin, TN (USA) and both are now boom towns. The housing market is unbelievably tight. We can’t find anything! It is unreal. The prices have doubled and tripled. We are looking but have had absolutely no luck finding anything on one level. We are also being extremely picky and taking our time because we do not want to ever move again. We are just too old. Well, I feel old. We are looking for a house where Mom can live with us so it must be all one level. Selling her house will be easy since she gets offer letters and phone calls each week from realtors wanting to buy it.

    I also like the idea of dinner preparation. Since I am no longer cooking and sending frozen dinners to my son at college (he moved back this weekend), I think I will do some meal preparation for Mom before she gets back home.

    I have gotten so many good ideas.

  78. Petra, Mom has dry macular degeneration. My sister, who is a nurse and knows everything, (really, she does!) took Mom to her eye doctor in her hometown for a second opinion. The doctor said she is not ready for the shots yet. I was not there at the meeting so I do not know about the costs. I do know Mom would pay whatever it took to keep her vision. It is too important. I do know they started her on eye drops and my sister has bought a humidifier because her house is dry. I will ask my sister when we talk again and see if these are the shots she mentioned.
    Thank you for the information.

  79. Hi Mabel. I googled “diy cards with paint chips” and it took me right to Pinterest and many creative ideas for making cards with chips. Try that and see if you find it. Good luck.

  80. Thank you for the information Mable. When I talk to my sister, I will ask her about the doctor they visited. If he was not a specialist, I will take Mom to one when she gets back home.

  81. Hi Jeannie. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s macular degeneration. You’ve gotten lots of suggestions from this lovely community. You said that you are near Nashville and that is where the office of the Tennessee Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired is located. I’ve included information below. This may be the place to start and they can probably refer and direct you to additional services and resources that others have mentioned. There are a quite a few items that can help preserve her independence. I have a dear 96 yr old friend with MD. She gets the shots and is still able to write to me monthly letters. Best of luck to you all.

    Tennessee Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired 400 Deaderick Street 11th Floor Nashville, TN 37248-6200 (615) 313-4914 (Local) (615) 741-6508 (Fax) (800) 628-7818 (Toll-Free)

  82. PJGT and Kim, we had to put our sweet dog down at 15+ years a year ago. He was my only dog, and I was in no way prepared for how hard it was going to be either. My husband and I still get teary thinking of him, or seeing his pictures. Sending thoughts and hugs.

  83. Jeannie, I’m not sure if this is a viable option, but would your mother sell you her house? It is one level, which is what you are looking for, and she already knows the layout. Buying her house would eliminate trying to find one suitable in a difficult housing market at a price you can afford. It would also make moving so much easier, as you would be able to move slowly instead of all in one day.

  84. Rhonda, that is a good idea and we have discussed it; however, there is just not enough room in her house for all of us. My husband works from home and must have a private office area. Mom’s two bedroom, one bath house will not do. Building on to her house is an investment we are not willing to make since her house also has foundation problems. She desperately wants to stay in her home, which is something I respect and would like to achieve for as long as possible. The suggestions I have heard on this post will help with that.

    Now that I think about it, I believe she has seen the writing on the wall. Mom has begun cleaning out closets and giving things away. When she could no longer read books last year, she slowly gave away her books. Everytime a thrift store called, she would put out a bag of books for them to pick up. My sister bought her a Kindel and we have been able to enlarge the letters so she can read it. My son set up a computer with a HUGE monitor. I mean it is HUGE! So far she can see the pictures and read large words.

    Thank you, Rhonda. Right now I am taking it one day at a time. That is all I can do right now.


  85. Jeannie-I only have vision in one eye and it is not great. The best hint I can give you is DO NOT MOVE THINGS around. Even moving something as simple as the toilet tissue can be confusing. We have put some toiletries in certain shaped bottles so I know them apart. And the same with some kitchen products. I know the dishes I use most often by shape also.

  86. Hi Brandy:

    I love your arrangements! So lovely!

    We continue our living room renovations by painting the ceiling. I’ve never painted a ceiling before and what a difference! It’s actually not hard or as drippy as I suspected.

    My husband was able to cash in his supermarket points for a free ham. That has been a lovely addition to our meals this weeks. I made tabbouleh for the first time and was surprised at how delicious and easy it was. I’ve used the remaining parsley from my garden.
    I made and decorated a dollar store wine glass for a friend. It was so well received, I think I’ll make several more as hostess gifts. I threw together a quick appetizer for a party using what I had on hand (I had some phyllo dough shells) so I made them into mini quiches. They were a big hit. My friend and I got together for stir up Sunday to make our plum puddings. You can see the photos and get the recipe:

    We had our Chanukah party with my Aunt and Uncle.

    We had our annual Christmas pageant at church but I missed it because I was home with a sick child (no one wants a vomiting shephard). Now I’m off to wrap presents.
    Have a great week!

  87. I live in MS and my senior friend with MD was visited by some sort of state agency for the blind and they brought her all sorts of devices to make life easier. You might check and see if you state has something similar. It wasn’t a senior agency but specifically an agency for people with vision problems. Everything was free to her.

  88. It wasn’t a frugal week for me – every holiday party/school activity/church event hit last week. I did make all meals at home except the family parties that were at restaurants. That was frustrating because we were 10 minutes late and had to pay the dinner price instead of the lunch price at one of the restaurants. But it was super nice to spend time with family and see everyone. But I am so much happier at home.
    Frugal Wins:
    *Made most meals at home
    *Stuck to grocery list and saved over $100 from sales/coupons. Came in $80 under budget
    *Wrapped all the gifts finally! Still used my stash my previous years and didn’t need to buy anything new.
    *Received an unexpected gift but have something in my stash of gifts that I can reciprocate without spending money
    *Turned the heat down on days I was home alone and turn it down as low as possible at night.
    *Combined errands
    *My daughter was refusing to wear her new jeans we had purchased (and she had liked!) because they hurt around the waist. I can’t see why they are uncomfortable, but we loosed them completely at the adjustable waist and found a belt that she could use since they are a little loose now. But she says they are comfortable.
    *Took homemade bread and jam to my neighbor when a family member had passed away who was in her home on hospice. I’m so glad when I have stuff on hand and can grab it and go over instead of adding an extra errand to my day and spending money.
    *Watched movies at home instead of going out to the theater. It’s so expensive around here!
    *My husband has a rental car right now while his truck is being fixed due to a recall. The Camry gets better gas mileage than my car and so I drive the rental as much as possible to save on gas.
    *Made a list of projects I can do at home this winter without having to out of the house to spend money for supplies. There is always a room to organize and clean!
    *Attached our trampoline to the poles of our chain link fence. We have some fierce, strong winds that come through sometimes and we had lost one trampoline due to wind. The poles are sunk into cement and don’t bend. We also have a cement tire that we put down at the base to help hold down. While I was rolling it over it fell sideways onto the top of my foot. Luckily had sneakers on but the bruise is a brilliant purple!

    I LOVE reading everyone’s comments. The helpful ideas for the sweet mom with muscular degeneration are amazing! Brandi – your pictures are as beautiful as ever. I am missing the sunshine and I do love to see the sunshine and flowers in your photo. My husband is in South Caroline today for work. He is wearing shorts and enjoying a walk in 70 degree weather. It is 33 degrees here and a snow storm is blowing in! I’m a little bit jealous 🙂

    Does Marivene comment anymore? I miss her weekly updates-

    Merry Christmas to everyone!!!!

  89. Lilli, when I went in for my free consultation on signing up for Medicaire (I turn 65 in Feb 2018) the woman showed me all kinds of discounted Rx services and companies. I think one was GoodRx. It is a card that is free and provides a discount for medications. She looked up each one of the three I take and while I might need to go to different pharmacies and/or use different cards I could get my medications much more cheaply than otherwise. I retired from my job in July and have been on COBRA since then – a whopping $500 a month! While I budgeted for it it still hurts. And the ACA marketplace would have forced me back to Kaiser which isn’t a great option where I am. Also – if you are on a named brand check with that company’s website. They really do have programs to make their medications affordable if needed. And finally – sounds like Sugar Cookie will have a grand time and while I know you’ll miss her it is wonderful that she is so surrounded by love!

  90. Thank you so much for that recipe. I am going to start making bread again as I learned that I can use my Kitchen Aid mixer to stir bread (duh on my part!). My SO likes plain old white bread (the Wonder bread type) for sandwiches so I stop at the day old bread store for that. It’s a dollar a loaf and lasts forever (says something about what is in it!). Good bread is harder to come by – as in dense ‘artisanal’ type bread. We like that as garlic bread, with spreads and cheeses. IF I go fifty miles north I can get decent bread at Trader Joe’s but that is only about every three months. So – just bought some yeast, found my bread flour in the freezer and away I go.

  91. What a fantastic tutorial about Christmas Pudding! For years my father made fruit cakes. They were made from a recipe from his grandmother and originated in Scotland. They were dense and full of spices, fruit and nuts. Hi children never developed a taste for them but graciously accepted them and shared with those we knew like them. They were very unlike commerical fruit cakes. He also made homemade mincemeat – another old recipe. Given the tutoria I wonder how old those recipes really are!

  92. Hubby cashed in his money jar and had over $100 in it. Got 4, $25 gift cards for Kroger. We put one in the Pastor’s box at church to help families in need. He gave 2 to a coworker with a young family. Money is tight and we try to give them gift cards every year. He gave me one plus at his company Christmas party he won a $25 gift card from Kroger and was given a $50 Kroger gift card from work. I bought groceries yesterday and only had to pay $2.04 after using my gift cards.
    Hubby had back surgery today. My daughter took him down to the hospital for his 5:30am check in. After I dropped my other daughter off at the bus stop I came home and made lunches, snacks and packed drinks for the 4 of us that would be at the hospital waiting for him to get out of surgery. No money spent on hospital cafeteria food. They have free coffee and soft drinks available on his floor. The back surgery was a success and hopefully he will be released tomorrow. Packing another picnic lunch for the hospital tomorrow.
    Fridge and pantry stocked and don’t plan on shopping until after Christmas.

  93. There is one built-in out there, so I could technically run out there with food….it had crossed my mind, and I may need to resort to that. So far, I’ve been able to thaw hamburger by putting it in a pan in the oven that has been used for another purpose so is turned off, but is still warm. I’ve also melted butter in a frying pan on the stove, warmed things up in the oven and in pans on the stove, fried things in a pan to warm them, and even tried putting a little bit of butter in a glass dish on top of the popping popcorn maker to see if it would melt(didn’t work). Someone mentioned using the instant pot, so I may try that. I agree, I’m a creature of habit. I seriously didn’t realize how much I used it until it was gone! I was thinking, our family got our first one when I was in junior high school, so I’ve always used one:). We are making out–it’s just a thinking exercise sometimes!

  94. Maybe everyone else knows this, but as I learned it late in life, I pass it along:
    To increase the type size on any computer program, (webpages, etc., not just word documents), hold down the “control” key and hit “plus.” Repeat as needed.
    To make it smaller, “control” and “minus.
    Best wishes for you with your mother! It is so good that you can plan ahead for her.

  95. Last Saturday Fred Meyer had pork loin for 99 cents a pound. I bought 5. When I got home hubby commented that where he worked years ago they made Canadian bacon from pork loin. We googled and sure enough found instructions. The first one came out of the smoker on Tuesday and we tried it as eggs Benedict this morning. So good! We thawed out another loin to do it again. The instructions are simple and a smoker is not required. We’ll be enjoying Hawaiian pizza tonight, and adding Canadian bacon to some of our gift baskets.
    All gifts for local relatives were wrapped and decorated with supplies from the stash, and the stash area is looking a little more under control. We finished up all Christmas gifts with supplies on hand and only a small addition to the credit card so no surprises to deal with in the form of bills coming in January.
    Branches were cut from our evergreen trees in the yard for interior decorations I can’t smell them, but they look festive.
    Christmas dinner menu is set and all supplies are here so now we can just relax and enjoy the seasn

  96. Darcy,
    I had to read the line about chickens three times. I couldn’t figure out why a jeweler would be selling chickens! It made me chuckle! Good deal, by the way. I would’ve bought as many as possible, too.

  97. Thank you for this suggestion. I will add it to my long list of things I did not think about. When I visit next, I will pay closer attention to where everything is situated.

  98. If anyone’s in the vicinity of an Aldi’s, check the butter price. I’m visiting SE Mich. where the price is on sale for 2.29 lb. I don’t know how their sales run so i don’t know how long this will last.

  99. It has been added to my long list of ideas. Right now most of the State offices are only working halfway, I know they are l partying because of the holidays. I am writing down all of the suggestions and working out a plan. Hopefully I can be ready with suggestions when Mom returns in late January or February.
    Thank you.

  100. Heidi, I live in a house full of computer experts and did not know that simple trick. I will try showing it to Mom.

  101. I’m horribly late this week but here it goes:

    I worked an extra 15 hours and car-pooled once.

    I combined errands and appointments whenever possible and made sure to bring my water bottle and snacks. One day, I caught the bus during off-peak times and saved parking fees.

    The air-conditioner was on for 11 hours last week and we turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom twice overnight. We played an intricate game of opening up blinds to avoid switching on lights but then closing them as soon as possible to not heat up the house. One night, a cool breeze came through and we opened all the windows.

    All meals were made at home and lunches taken to work. Some leftovers were frozen for future lunches. I made yoghurt in the slow cooker and boiled a bunch of older eggs to use in lunches.

    We watered the gardens from the rainwater tank when necessary.

    I changed petrol stations and saved 27cts per litre!

    Someone gave away four bottles of salad dressing which are now happily living in our pantry.

    My husband kindly picked up some items from the grocery store while he was already out. This should hopefully tide us over until mid-January as we’re aiming for a low spend month. He also received $10 off with our loyalty card and earned extra points thanks to a special promotion.

    We visited a Christmas Market an hour away from home. We ate dinner before we left home and took our own drinks. We still spent a fair bit of money on treats but we used our “fun money”. This is the money we earn throughout the year by recycling bottles and cans.

    Our friends invited us to a potluck Christmas party. I contributed home-baked bread and home-made dips which used up random leftovers. While the bread was in the oven, I also dried some homegrown herbs in there. The party included a game of Secret Santa. I had bought the gifts with a gift card earned by doing online surveys. We received a useful gift of body lotion, a candle and a hand towel and one gift that was a children’s toy. We will re-gift this to our niece which rounds out her Christmas present nicely.

  102. THANK YOU for this recipe. I made it last night and it was a huge hit around here. It is so easy, too. We will be making this a lot, I am sure.

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