Roses on Black Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy inside. 

I worked in the garden all week pruning, fertilizing, and planting.

I sowed seeds for poppies, spinach, larkspur, Swiss chard, green onions, nasturtiums, Bells of Ireland, and snow peas in the garden.

I dug several more bushes that I started by tip layering and transplanted them to other places in the garden to form a hedge. I also put two in pots that I already had; I hope to grow these into two ball-shaped plants.

I dug out the two Lady Banks’ roses from the white garden in front and transplanted them to my garden in back, where they should be able to grow along the wire trellis there and provide a green backdrop in a place that previously was barren. These vines grow very quickly and were growing onto my roof after just three years of being planted (they only started out about 2 feet tall), so they should cover the trellis within two years (I cut them down to three feet tall a few months back). They only flower once a year and rarely flowered for me in the spot they were in, as they were in constant shade (they require sun to flower). In their new spot, their evergreen leaves will be welcome. They will get direct winter and early spring afternoon sun, so I may also get a spring flowering from them as well, starting next year.

We enjoyed a bit of rain this week (1/4 inch, which is a lot for here!) It helped soften the ground and made it easier for us to work at digging out the roots of our dead peach tree that we needed to pull, as well as a grapevine that we took out. 

I put out buckets to collect rainwater for the garden.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

My husband and I had a date night at home. 

My eldest son was helping a woman clean out her house as part of a service project. The woman was giving away lots of unused things that were cluttering her house to the helpers. My son accepted three boxes of Christmas lights that were brand-new in the box. Our old Christmas lights were having trouble this past year, so this was perfect for us!

My husband was given a box of candy from a work associate. It came in a fancy reusable lidded box. He brought the box home and I added it to my stash of reusable lidded boxes.

I watched a couple of cake decorating videoes on YouTube (this one and this one). I have a child’s birthday every month from January through May, and I’d like to try making some fancier cakes.

We enjoyed more tomatoes from the garden as they ripened, as well as frozen fruit from last year’s harvest and lemons that I picked last week. I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

My husband used an engine hoist to pull out our dead peach tree, rather than renting a stump remover (which are about $100 a day, and we have two more trees to pull).

I was offered tickets to the Philharmonic at the last minute from someone who could no longer go. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t feeling well enough to go after pulling the tree out. Instead, I took my 12-year old son, and he and I were able to enjoy the concert. I didn’t look at the tickets until we arrived; we had the nicest seats (orchestra level, right in the middle).  

French Lace Rose in Blue and White Vase The Prudent Homemaker


What did you do to save money this past week?


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  1. Hi Brandy,

    I started some thyme seeds in an indoor planter today and continued watering my chamomile seeds that I planted a little while ago. I’m hoping to plant a few more things and have a nice window garden going to supplement my regular garden patches (one in my yard and one at our local community garden).

    My husband also pulled a dead bush from our front yard and put in both fiberglass and spray foam insulation on a pipe in our laundry room that was not well-insulated. Hopefully this will save us another burst pipe (and the accompanying $400 we had to pay the plumber) in the future.

    Thanks for writing a great blog! My New Year’s resolution has been to comment on more of the blogs I follow and be a more active part of those online communities. 🙂

  2. Beautiful roses! And AWESOME that you were able to go to the Philharmonic! What a nice treat!

    My week was pretty busy, although no gardening here in sub-zero temp Toronto.
    – I had some leftover pesto from a jar that was given to me, and I have about 50 lbs of flour, so I made Pesto Swirl Bread (! Perfect with a bowl of soup for cold winter nights.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a high-end face-cream kit that was given to me and that I can’t use, for a pair of hand-knitted children’s mittens in the shape and colour of reindeer. I’ll set those aside for a gift. I also traded some lightbulbs that my mom gave me that neither she, my sister, nor I could use, for some coloured pencils. I’ll add those to the pencil cases that I made last week. And, I traded some individual sachets of tea (some gifted to me, some collected from hotel stays) for two notebooks that I’ll give along with the pencils. Lastly, I traded some tea gifted to me for a pair of new earrings.
    – I made mesquite BBQ sweet potatoes for dinner one evening. I half-baked the potatoes in the microwave, then sliced them in wedges, sprinkled some mesquite BBQ seasoning that my sister gave me on them, and finished baking them in the oven. I served it with my Carrot Ginger Stew ( with Quinoa (the quinoa provided the protein). Frugal and tasty! I packed leftovers for lunch.
    – I did yoga at home using Youtube videos. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, and can already see a difference in my arm strength (plank position is my nemesis) and overall flexibility. I took ballet lessons for years when I was a child/teen and have always tried to keep up that level of flexibility. Lately, I felt I was losing some of that, and paid yoga classes are a) not convenient and b) not cheap so youtube yoga is my new bestie!
    – I made laundry soap for the first time, using Brandy’s recipe! I’m very pleased about this. I don’t have scent allergies but I am sensitive to laundry detergent (at least when the scent comes out of the washer as it washes, and permeates my condo) so am hoping this will help. I bought the ingredients (all except the bar of soap – I just used one from my supplies) at Costco last week, after pricing them out at other places. I now have enough oxy-clean for several years, I think. Does anyone know if it expires?
    – I boiled up several cups worth of white beans, and froze some. I used the rest to make Brandy’s white bean Alfredo sauce. I’m always in search of ways to add vegetarian protein to my diet, plus the DH liked it, so I plan to use this recipe regularly! I added in a splash of white wine from a bottle I had in the fridge (probably from a family dinner months ago).
    – I made potato cheddar soup to use up the last of some sour cream, packed remainders for several lunches and grated and froze the rest of the cheese while I was at it.
    – I made some blackberry sauce using berries from my freezer, but got distracted by blogging and scorched it. Eh, it adds a ‘caramelized’ note to my morning yoghurt stir-in!
    – I took home a jar of apple caramel jam from my workplace (someone had gifted it to us) and put the paper box aside to use as a cupcake box when gifting a cupcake in the future. I also took home a pack of gum (also gifted) and a nail polish (promo item) to give as gifts.
    – I baked two chocolate chip banana loaves, and traded one for an organic, grass-fed etc. pea-meal bacon roast, which I’m pretty pleased about. I’m vegetarian, but my DH is ecstatic to have some meat in the house. I served some with eggs and the above-mentioned pesto swirl bread which I toasted, and chopped up most of the remainder to put on pizzas in the future. The person who I traded with also included 5 packages of skittles with the trade, just because. V. sweet of her! I’ve added them to my baking supplies.
    – I made homemade pita, rosemary white bean soup (I made it vegetarian, and added a splash of regular balsamic vinegar), and chocolate loaf cake (made with a splash of cherry balsamic vinegar and a pinch of cayenne pepper). Frugal, healthy, warming, and delicious! I shared the pita, soup, and cake (I made sure they were all vegan) with a vegan friend who just lost her father. Another friend kindly delivered it for me.

    And that was my week! Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  3. This week I sold some old jewelry that has no significance to me in order to purchase concert tickets for my husband’s birthday in March. It will be a surprise- we share all finances, so managing to purchase the tickets without him knowing was a bit of effort! He will love it!

    Our family has a Friday night movie and pizza night tradition that has morphed over the years from my husband and I going to the theatre, to now us either watching a Redbox or Amazon prime show with the kids. This Friday, instead of picking up a pizza, we made our own and the kids loved it. We will be doing that from now on- as long as I remember to plan ahead and make the dough before I go to work!

    We kept the heat down to 60 during the nights, which has helped immensely with the power bill.

    Had one brick of cream cheese in the fridge that I didn’t know what to do with. I ended upaking a cream cheese applesauce cake, and it was quite good! And nothing was wasted. My son’s also helped make homemade bread twice. My eldest is 4 and is really starting to do chores and help out- and it’s so great! He feeds the chickens now, as well as helps me fold clothes. It’s great to see him become such a good helper! Now if I can get the 2 year old to help we’d be in business!

  4. Brandy..your posts are like a breath of fresh air!
    I was down for a week with stomach flu. But better now
    A few frugal accomplishments the past few weeks:
    . Able to purchase a dozen eggs .50 each at Meijer picked up 13.
    . Able to purchase 10lb potatoes at grocery .99 each
    Bought 8 bags
    . One grocery in town has word of the day and gives away a free item for each person. Have enjoyed cake mixes..cinnamon bread..frozen items
    . Strawberries were .99lb. Bought 8. Cleaned and froze
    . My husband helped demo a house. They gave away
    Large farmtable in need of tlc.. He is working on this to
    Prepare for our home.
    . He also brought home an antique dresser we turned into a front hall piece to hold winter gloves ..hats
    . Open the windows for fresh air due to one warm
    60 degree day.
    . Able to make winter soups with pantry freezer summer
    Garden and meats.
    . Grandgirls made Valentine’s with 1 poster board. 60
    For the front window.
    . Able to paint living room and move it around . Paint had a rebate to save.
    . Moved curtains into a different room for a fresh new look.
    . I mended a few items in my wardrobe.
    . Going to try and make some burp cloths for baby gift
    . My sister gifted me a pretty tea towel I hope to make into a pillow.

  5. Taking cake decorating classes many years ago was money well spent. So many birthday cakes were made and I even made my oldest daughter’s wedding cake! I wish lived closer to you I would give you so many pans!
    We have been home bound for many days so I’ve been reading books I get at the library. Here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments:

  6. I’m delighted we’re still enjoying our tomatoes too. We had a few small ones in our salad tonight, a real pleasure in mid-January. The new Christmas lights your son was given sounds like it was meant to be. I’m glad to hear when good things happen for you. You put so much good out into the world, I do believe it comes back around. Your roses are a treat to see while in the depths of winter. I’m happy to be joining in here:

  7. Vickie, I have a TON of pans. My grandmother liked to shop garage sales for kitchen items and had so many that we had three HUGE garage sales getting rid of whatever I couldn’t use/fit in my house. I still have a ton of pans, too! I don’t know that she ever used most of them, either!

  8. Stayed out of the shops except for milk, some bananas and 2 jars of Kraft peanut butter that was on at half price. Otherwise I used up pantry and freezer items.
    I batch cooked a pot of soup, roasted some vegetables, made a chicken, rice & greens casserole and made a vegetarian curry over couscous. I ate some with coleslaw I already had, took a few meals to an elderly neighbour and froze 3 HM meals for later in the month.
    I attended a free workshop on Saturday and took lunch with me so that I didn’t have to buy anything.
    I’ve just gone through the freezer and took out a few things that I will cook tomorrow to have on hand for this week. It is a busy week socially and therefore a bit expensive so that’s one reason I’ve been staying out of the stores as much as possible and saving up my monthly allowance for this week.
    I love reading this blog – and seeing all your lovely photos Brandy, and I especially enjoy reading all the comments from everyone.

  9. We are pouring some money into the back yard in that we needed a new fence and needed to do something about the hideous half rock, half bark look of the space. We’ve been in this house 15 years, so it’s time. We paid to have the fence put it but we seniors can still paint it ourselves. We’re paying a lot for a bit of fake grass, because, well, we live in desert conditions and it works for us and looks nice. Tiny yard.

    But we’re economizing as best we can on the plants. Most of my things have been in pots for years so they will be transplanted into the ground along the fence line. Usually when I’m sick of what are in the pots or they haven’t worked out I just throw them away, but I’m making and effort to find a space for everything. I got this from you, Brandy. I realized that just moving things around can give them a new home and a new life.

    So far I have just bought one incredible rose (Candyland Climber) and am waiting for my Purple Sensation Lilac to arrive. When I ordered the Lilac the nursery attendant said, “Do you know if it will grow in this area?” (So Cal desert.) I replied, “If Brandy can grow it in Las Vegas, then I can grow it in Riverside County.” 😀

  10. This week I went through my bookshelves and purged books. I am selling 12 for $40 through an app called BookScouter. The others are being taken to the library and donated to Friends of the Library. I believe there are about 50 books going there. A few other books are going to be gifted to friends.

    We also have started going through our DVD collection. Looking to sell these on Decluttr.

    Sold a few other extra things on the Facebook yard sale in my area.

  11. The roses are beautiful. I’m so glad you were offered both Christmas lights and the orchestra tickets!

    • Made swag goal x 3
    • Tried a new recipe parmesan zucchini chips using recipe in Pollan Family Cookbook from the library. They were delicious!
    • Attended a free, local job networking group and learned about excellent resources our library that can be accessed remotely to aid in my job search. Networking group also helps everyone prepare and practice an “elevator” speech to describe skill set, experience, and what looking for.
    • Washed plastic Ziploc bags.
    • Repaired a kitchen accessory using superglue
    • Cut up an orange, which was no longer fit to eat, and added it to a saucepan of water with some cloves and cinnamon and let the mixture simmer to add moisture to the air and a beautiful scent.
    • Hung up a load of laundry to dry.
    • watched Call the Midwife on PBS online,
    • Made a double batch of pizza dough, baked Brandy’s blueberry muffins, and made goat cheese and leek tart
    • Earlier this month, I had purchased milk and flour on sale. When I got home, I realized that neither item had rung up at the correct sale price. The temperature was frigid and I didn’t want to drive back to the store so I telephoned. The CSR looked up my receipt and the flyer price and agreed they didn’t match. She said a note had been made on my account and to stop by customer service next time I was in the store. Today I went back to the store. I thought I would be getting $1.10 back, which was the overcharge. Instead I was completely refunded the entire amount for both items purchased. What a nice surprise. The CSR explained if a flyer sale item rings up incorrectly, then the item is free.
    • Learned how to replace the furnace filter and my car’s cabin air filter!

  12. *Collected another curbside Christmas tree to acidify the growing beds.

    *I was sick for a couple of days this week, so I drank some of my stash of rhubarb juice as slush, & had some elderberry tea as well. I kept a pot of water on the stove to simmer, to add humidity to the air, to help prevent my husband from becoming ill.

    *Hung my whites to dry to help add humidity to the air. Last year I bought a small fold-out wall rack for the laundry room, on sale for 30% off, that makes it very convenient to hang & dry a few things. I have been surprised how often I use it now that it is so convenient. I also have some robe hooks that fit over the top of the closet doors in the bedrooms. At Christmas, I use them to hang wreaths on the outside of the bedroom doors, but the rest of the year, I use the hooks to dry clothing out of sight.

    *Disconnected the dryer vent hose from the back of the dryer & cleaned it out, which shortens the drying time when I use the dryer.

    *Made a gluten-free turkey vegetable soup for lunch when our celiac daughter visited, and then added the last piece of a small turkey roast, cut up, and the broth from the roast, to the leftover soup after she left. I was not sure the roast was gluten-free, but the soup works fine as leftovers now for my husband & I, & adding the meat & broth made another serving.

    *Rinsed out a milk jug & poured the milky water over one of the growing beds. I read a study a few years back in one of the ag magazines, where a group of dairy farmers (who were dumping milk due to low prices) decided as a group to dump all the milk consistently on either the left or the right side of one of their fields. They did not tell each other whether they were dumping on A or B, but 6 months later, they each had their fields tested. They had them take a sample from both sides of each of the fields where dumping had been going on, and stressed they were to be tested separately. When the result came back, they all met together. The soil microbes, etc were much higher where the milk had been dumped, and the cows preferentially chose to eat the grass from that “dumping” side of the field. The milk was very beneficial to the soil. I realize my small rinsed out container is not gallons & gallons of dumped milk, but it is a small resource nonetheless, & I choose to use it.

    *I completed knitting the white blanket for our grandson’s blessing at the end of the month.

  13. What a lovely impromptu mother-son outing! And your roses are beautiful!

    Frugal Efforts:

    * Ate all but 2 home-prepped meals.

    * Continued w/ the pantry challenge.

    * Made sausage and pepper pasta, ham and cheese quiche (w/ yogurt instead of cream or half and half), and a huge pot of fall vegetable quinoa soup. We had leftovers three days, and I have lots of soup to put in the freezer. Also made cranberry-pomegranate compote, “breakfast” bread (white bread w/ ground flax seed, cinnamon, and dried cranberries added in), and French bread.

    * Gave produce scraps to the chickens and composted most of what they couldn’t have. There were a few items that just had to be tossed in the trash, though. :p

    * Kept the heater set for 68F. Opened up windows and doors when it was warmer than that outside.

    * We, too, had some much-needed rain. We turned off the sprinklers, and our rain barrels are now full.

    * I sent friends and relatives birthday cards using cards from my stash.

    * Reused an old accordion file to file away the 2017 paperwork. The discards from the old file were shredded and will be used in the chicken coop.

    * Combined errands to save on gas.

    * Hubs ordered a bunch of seeds for the garden. He’ll plant them next month. We did get some lettuce plants at Walmart, so the garden is started. Yay! Harvested some little apples (don’t know why they’re growing now, and don’t know if they’ll be any good) and some green onions.

    * Checked out books from the library.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  14. It’s hard to imagine planting in the garden this early!, But we have still found some ways to be frugal!
    Spent absolutely no money on groceries this week, so my total spend for this first two weeks of January is $26! That was adding 72 cans of Cream soups and 2-1/2 pounds of extra sharp cheddar cheese to my pantry (reported last week)!
    Took dinner and dessert to two families in need this week using just food from my storage-fridge, freezer and pantry. We ate all of our meals from our storage his week and the night before Friday’s big winter storm came through and people were racing to the grocery stores to get milk and bread and tons of other foods, we were able to stay home and warm and calm! The storm kept us in all day Saturday except to feed and water the chickens and shovel snow out of their coop that had blown in! The snow going out to the coop was up past my ankles! And our hens rewarded us with 8 eggs from the 8 of them on Saturday! We are now averaging 4 dozen+ eggs/week . We currently have 17+ dozen eggs in our fridges that I keep on a careful rotation system FIFO!
    Tonight for dinner we had a new recipe of Breakfast Bites ( that used a half dozen eggs and instead of the fresh potato, I rehydrated some dehydrated hash brown potatoes! It went over very well , was extremely filling and my family called it a “repeater”!!

    I made two more quilts for sale using vintage handpieced blocks that were given to me from an estate sale.

    A friend had brought over her Kitchenaid mixer because it stopped working and she hired us to see if it could be fixed. Sure enough, we opened it up, ordered some new parts and it runs like it’s brand new! She was ecstatic when she paid us!!!
    A soap maker that we have made display cases, soap molds and soap cutters for (and always have continuous orders in process for) gave our card to another soap maker that she met at a craft sale and so now we are make 3 display cases for her as well!
    Today, at Church, I was handed a big bag of fabrics by a previous client and told that her aunt loved the quilt I made for her and wants me to make a quilt for her using some more of her deceased father’s shirts!

    So while we were thinking January would be a slow month, it has revved up with several new orders for our business!
    I made banana bread and a big batch of banana pecan muffins for breakfast options using up some overripe bananas. We had leftovers twice this week as a “buffet dinner” to clear fridge without wasting food.

    I bartered some raisins and craisins and eggs with a friend whose husband is out of work for potatoes she had an abundance of! This was a way I could share my bounty with her without her feeling like it as charity! She gave us for Christmas a quart jar filled with dried veg, barley and a spice bag for beef and barley stew in crockpot with me just adding some cooked ground beef! She had dehydrated her own carrots and potato chunks and they were amazing and tasted like fresh veggies! I got her recipe and also tips on dehydrating those pots to chunks and I’m excited to try it!
    This has been a great week. I’ve learned new things and been able to organize and declutter more and have been thoughtful about where our money is spent. This is helping us move closer to meeting our financial goals for the year!

  15. Your gardens always sound so wonderfully amazing to me and the tickets for a night out sound like a wonderful gift.

    My week was kind of dull by worldly standards — I focused on all the usual stuff and nothing was too fancy. However, I did have (despite the circumstances) enjoy spending time with family I hadn’t seen in a while.

    My short list of frugalities for the week is here.

  16. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 . Brandy how wonderful and what a blessing to have tickets to the Philharmonic Orchestra and to receive new Christmas lights from doing service.

    Here is how we saved money this week –

    Financial –
    – Banked another $141 into our house deposit account.
    – Earned $3.56 from the sale of saved broad bean seeds from the gardens on the internet.
    – Saved $16.50 on eBay listing fees to list some homemade items and saved garden seeds by taking advantage of a free listing promotion.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made all meals and bread from scratch.

    Homemade cleaner savings –
    – Made 4lts of citrus vinegar with orange peels left over from juicing and purchased vinegar saving $14.94 over purchasing commercial all purpose cleaner.

    In the garden –
    – Pulled weeds and fertilised all vegetables, herbs and berries in multiple garden beds.
    – Harvested a 745g beetroot and 3.24kg of cherry tomatoes in the gardens saving $42.53 over purchasing them.
    – Repurposed old shade cloth given to us from a builder friend to screen our front veranda from the heat using galvanised nails we had and baling twine to tie the bottom down with saving us $166.20 over buying shade cloth and the metal pipe we thought we needed to anchor it top and bottom.

    Electricity savings –
    – By only turning on our electric hot water system once this week and using our solar lanterns to light the home at night we saved around $7.50 in electricity costs.

    Have a wonderful frugal week ahead everyone :).

  17. Cake decorating is creative fun and much appreciated by family and friends. A neighbor taught me some basics of cake decorating and I took it from there. I’ve made cakes for showers, birthdays and graduation parties, even fund raisers. It is satisfying and you can make money at it, too, if you’re so inclined. I had a friend who made cakes out of her home for years and was always much in demand. Good luck Brandy and have fun with learning a new skill.

  18. Although not frugal on a monetary sense, I turned down a load of artesian bread that only I would eat. As much as I love the bread, I just do not need an entire loaf of bread to eat. Still struggling to lose the last pounds. The Christmas season and very cold break have been a disaster! Right before Christmas I was only one size from my goal. Just need to keep going!

    DD has returned to school today for her final semester of college. I will be happy to watch her head into the workforce and be finished with college. It is a difficult place for our young people to navigate these days and maintain their faith and resolve. We are very pleased with her.

    We were able to send her with supplies (food and paper goods) and a number of preparedness items. I bought her a 2018 United States road map for her car and sent her on her way with a shortwave radio. We also had a long talk about where to go if there are problems in our country and she needs to leave college. It’s sobering talk, but necessary. Being a parent is just tough some days.

    Tomorrow is a day off (MLK) and we are staying home. We enjoy being homebodies and it is frugal as well.

    Watched movies on the internet and ate leftovers for dinner. We are drinking tea gifted from my DH’s great aunt from when she moved and tonight’s tea was delightful. Being home means that we burn wood rather than use the electric heater and that is a blessing with the cold snap.

    My son and I took an entire pickup truck full of building refuse and trash to the transfer station for 20$. So happy to be done with this job.

    The most frugal thing I have been doing is completing an online certification course that is paid for even though it is really boring and I’m not sure I’ll ever use it. If I were to need it, it will be done. I’m actually glad I do not expect to need it as that means that I will continue to have the job I love that pays the bills and has insurance.

    Tomorrow I need to take time to make sure that all the doctor visits have been properly accounted for with the insurance as I’ve received a couple high bills that I didn’t expect. It is a necessary but dreaded task. I use the phone rarely, so the calls will be free.

  19. Brandy, again your photograph is stunning. I absolutely love the bench with fresh flowers on it! I also love your excellent use of an engine hoist to pull out the peach tree stump. Great scores on the free Christmas lights, a lovely reusable gift box and symphony tickets. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a lovely night out with one of your children.

    Staying on track so far with my grocery budget, but still spending money in other ways. Our frugal accomplishments for the 2nd week of January included:
    *Meals made at home included choice between taco bake or tater tot casserole, ham steaks with Knorr noodles & sauce and carrots, one pot bacon broccoli mac and cheese (new recipe, see below), and breaded chicken burgers/strips with corn and optional coleslaw.
    *I used a $50 Walmart gift card (Christmas gift), to buy my groceries this week. I found some amazing deals, including 3 smoked hams on 50% off clearance for $3.98/800g ($0.50/100g…whoohoo!), 2 bags of black beans on clearance for $0.50/750g or 28oz bag (I have a pressure canner now, so will try canning up my own black beans), a clearance bag of 3 cucumbers for $1 (almost bought 1 cucumber for $1.25), and a clearance bag of 7 fresh lemons for $1 (I plan to dry the rind for use in baking, plus squeeze lemon juice obviously).
    *I cooked up a can of black beans with taco seasoning on Monday to use for bean and cheese burritos for my lunches this week. After school one day, DD discovered the beans in the fridge and made herself some nachos and bean dip (beans with melted cheese and sour cream on top) as a snack. She liked it so much she took it in her lunch the next day. I’m happy we found a bean recipe that we both enjoy.
    *DD loves tater tot casserole, but the rest of us are not huge fans. I had leftover turkey from a meal last week, so I decided to make up a batch of turkey tater tot casserole and divided it between 3 small aluminum pans. I placed 2 pans in the freezer to use on nights we decide to have something DD doesn’t like, then made 1 pan that night with taco bake for the rest of us. A perfect solution to this problem!
    *Had hubby cut up the hams at his work, then packaged up 2 family sized serving of ham steaks and 3 packages of shaved ham for the freezer. We also made ham steaks for dinner that night as well.
    *Tried a new recipe this week: one pot bacon broccoli mac and cheese ( I thought tasted good, but my family wasn’t so convinced. One didn’t like the bacon, 1 didn’t like the broccoli and 1 thought there wasn’t enough salt. It does have quite a bit of bacon grease used in the final product, so for this reason and the family complaints, I probably won’t make it again.
    *DD was not looking forward to going back to school this week. In fact she was having high anxiety about it. To her great joy, we had a snow day on Monday, the first day back to school. This means she had an extra 2 days off over the Christmas holidays (the last day of school was also a snow day). Then she had another snow day on friday. Lucky girl!
    *I bought DD a professional computer drawing tablet for Christmas. Our research suggested this particular tablet was difficult to set up, but worked great once it was. I decided to save myself the headache and asked our friend “Dan the computer man” to set it up for us. Glad I did as he had difficulty getting it working. Worth every penny of the $40 I paid him.
    *Rinsed out an empty laundry soap jug with a spigot and refilled it with tap water to use as non-potable water for cleaning during emergencies. We are on a well, which requires hydro to run the pump. Whenever we loose hydro, we also loose access to water. I’d like to add a several more of these as we empty out more soap jugs, to help meet our potential emergency needs.
    *We needed to renew our car insurance. Hubby did some calling around and was able to save us $900/year over what we are paying now! Whoohoo!!!!
    *Frugal fail: Hubby decided to take a couple extra days off, since he didn’t get much of a Christmas holiday. Last minute, we decided to go on a weekend family getaway to Niagara Falls. Hubby booked a hotel which included a breakfast buffet and tickets to Fallsview indoor water park (across the street from the hotel), for just over $325 for the weekend. Of course hubby didn’t want to take food for lunches, since it was a short stay, and we paid dearly for it. Glad to be home now.

    Thank you for all the inspiration everyone. I hope you all have a lovely week filled with amazing frugal adventures!

  20. Your roses are so lovely Brandy! I love roses. I have a row of roses growing along one side of my front walkway but last week’s snowstorm may have done severe damage to them. They were covered with snow & ice due to heavy wind and from shoveling the walkway. The snow is now melted since we had an inch of rain this past Friday & warmer weather. Many of the stems/short branches are broken off (and I had pruned them in late Oct.). We’re expecting more snow this week. I planted them 8 yrs ago when I bought this house so at least got to enjoy them this long. My lilac bush (which must be about 15 yrs old) in backyard also heavily damaged. Large pine branches fell on it. There is a screen of very old, tall white pines at end of my property line & whenever have heavy winds branches/whole trees fall off. We have sandy soil here at the Jersey Shore so roots not very deep. No matter how much soil I add to my beds, it washes away back to sandy in a few months time.

    Not very frugal this week – Made a huge shopping trip to BJs. Stocked up on Kleenex, Bounty paper towels, Dove facial soap, centrum vitamins, supplements, some snack items. The 2-pack of jigsaw puzzles (1000 pieces each) that are gift boxed were 1/2 price bought 1 as a gift. Also bought a loom kit with yarns & loom for an 8 yr old niece as a gift, this was 1/2 price too. Total bill was $150.69 after $30 of in store & manufacturers coupons. vitamins are a year’s supply. Supplements for 6 months.

    Brandy, in my budget I count vitamins, supplements, etc, as part of my grocery budget. I’m curious, do you also do so or do you categorize under healthcare?

    I’ve budgeted $400 a month for groceries this yr (this includes paper towels, toiletries & vitamins/supplements) trying to cut down from $500 a month last yr. This is for just me but I live in a very expensive area of the country. And even though I have a large yard, cant grow many vegetables or fruits due to sandy soil. I grow tomatoes & herbs in pots. Have tried to grow strawberries & blueberries but the rabbits & birds eat them all. I also don’t have the lower cost grocery stores you ladies have. I have Shop Rite & Stop & Shop within a 20 min drive (in opposite directions) & their prices are high. We have a Wal-Mart but it does not carry produce & has a very limited frozen/canned foods section. There is an Aldi’s in town, and I go once in a while, but their frozen veggies come from China & I will not buy any food produced in China.

    Went to Shop Rite – can can sale continues – stocked up on Dole pineapple at .99 a can; Bumble Bee tuna .99 a can; extra virgin olive oil, skippy peanut butter, organic chick peas & kidney beans, several cases of Poland Springs water (most of us here drink bottle spring water as the tap water doesn’t taste that good), assorted fresh greens & vegetables & bread. Spent $143 after store & manuf. coupons. Brandy, like by you, fresh pineapple is about $3.99; cheaper at Aldi’s but its smaller there. At Whole Foods, it’s $5.99!

    Ate most meals at home; lunch out with a friend – I treated her since we went shopping to BJs together & used her large SUV. Spent $28 total with tax & tip.

    I wish a lovely week to everyone.

  21. When I make pizza dough, I make a double batch and freeze half. If you remove the frozen dough from the freezer in the morning and leave it to rise and thaw all day, it should be ready to roll out when you get home. (My house is on the cool side — if you life where it’s really warm, maybe put the pizza dough in the refrigerator the night before.)

    Nachos are also a fun movie-night food. You can make a sheet pan full with chips made from corn tortillas cut into triangles and fried, homemade refried beans, cheese and peppers.

  22. Brandy, your posts and those of all the commenters inspire me every week!
    I am most impressed that you were able to read five books this week. I love to read, yet have a hard time finding time to read much. I would appreciate any insight you could offer into finding more time to read.

    I was out of town at a quarterly retreat for five days last week – the retreat includes most meals, and I brought food from home for the few that weren’t included. While I was away, my husband went out to dinner with friends once and otherwise ate leftovers at home.
    I cooked a big pot of pinto beans to use in various meals.
    I finished knitting a wool poncho. I bought the kit at a pre-Christmas sale at Craftsy for $12. My home office is the coldest room in the house, but wearing this at my desk is like wearing a soft wool blanket. I love it so much and it does a much better job of keeping me warm, yet leaving my arms free.
    I mixed up a batch of citrus-infused vinegar cleaner. I used the oranges we had for Christmas to infuse the vinegar.
    The part came for our dishwasher and my husband installed it. So for $35 I once again have a working dishwasher. He also built an additional shelf in the garage to store more garden supplies that were cluttering up the floor.

  23. This was a quiet week. Mom and I ate fast food two days in a row which wasn’t particularly thrifty. But I feel the $5 Taco Bell special one day was worth it since it came with the view of scores of ducks flying quickly upriver even though the millpond we were parked beside was frozen. I had thought that the chances of seeing even one duck was very small in the bitter cold. To compensate for my two spendthrift days, we have been cooking from the pantry ever since and trying to minimize food waste. The next grocery shopping day will be Wednesday, after the snow ends. Dollar Tree had their seeds out so I bought some wax been seed packets and a few flower seed packets, one of them for a flower my neighbor used to grow when I was a kid. Her daughter and I would pretend the flower’s seed pods were beans for our dolls so I was glad to see those flower seeds on the rack.
    I love reading this blog and reading all the comments. It is like a glass of water for my spirit. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

  24. I recently retired and want to get back into baking/cooking as much as possible from scratch. I wrote down 27 different breads and desserts that I can make from my pantry. Now to find the time and to get back in the habit! I really do enjoy baking.

  25. I have often thought about pouring the milky water from rinsing a milk jug onto my rose bed and onto my tomato pots.
    Now I will really try it –– just as soon as we no longer have snow. thanks for info. Ann

  26. I sat outside until my toes became too cold, practicing focussing on birds. Although the outlay was not frugal, after that, it is an inexpensive hobby. As usual, Brandy, your photos are wonderful. A friend did some errands for me so I can avoid crowds in this time of a flu epidemic and to save money on cabs. No shopping is planned except for groceries. I was able, finally, to pay for the final bill of my dentist. So I am broke but happy.

    I am wondering how Tammy is and whether she has moved to her farmhouse. She is often in my thoughts. Ann

  27. Hi Brandy,

    I have a 3 month budget goal. Since I had surgery last April, I am finishing off paying costly medical bills and need to really cut back. Our Christmas was a frugal one this year and I only bought for our 3 grandchildren. We did travel to Idaho to visit them and family so this was a cost that I had planned for, still, it was an expense. We loved every minute spent with them and there was about 3 feet of snow to play in ~ so beautiful!
    This month we have a $150.00 food budget and bought a few things at Costco that I was out of . Since there are only 2 of us, our supplies will last about 3 months~ I am keeping track on our calendar of Costco runs this year. I have enough meat in our freezer (which I bought on sale in November ) which should last us 6 months so I plan to use our food budget these next 3months only to buy fresh vegetables and fruits. I have all other needs in our pantry. I made your recipe for a batch of laundry soap.
    For our entertainment, we went to a friends home for game night along with our long time church friends( which included about 14 of us) and we were asked to bring an appetizer or desert, our hostess made hot sandwiches and salad for the main mea and there was a yummy blackberry/blueberry cobbler. I made tortilla cream cheese and veggie roll ups and had everything I needed in our pantry so we saved on cost. It was such a fun evening. My 3 month plan is to stay on a decreased food budget and increase a couple of savings accounts and finish paying off medical bills. My goal for January , February and Marcy is to use our panty foods and try to stay under the $150.00 budget~and try to bring it under 100.00.
    It has been very mild here in the Puget Sound so I am able to keep the heater low throughout the day and night . Our power bill was surprisingly low for this last month. After taking down our Christmas tree and organizing our supplies, I ran across a container in our garage that had a couple of packages of never been used lights. Both indoor and outdoor~ I am excited we will have plenty for next year . I also received gifts from friends during Christmas of beautiful kitchen towels and new pretty bar soaps and a couple of lovely ornaments .
    For the garden planning, I am trying this year for the first time, to start seeds indoors in hope they will thrive. Since we typically have a lot of rain and it is mostly overcast for several months here, I have thought about purchasing an indoor grow light for veggie starters~ not sure yet because of the cost. It would be great if I could get some seedlings going before Spring.
    I cut my own hair after watching several videos on how to layer it. It turned out fine for me 🙂 Our church is having a women’s retreat this weekend however I chose to attend and pay for only 1 day and this was a good savings . It will be wonderful to share this time with godly women.
    This is about it~ I hope you have a wonderful and blessed week~
    Blessings, Patty from the NW

  28. Hi Lorna from Australia, Its Jenny from Australia here. 😀 Do you know how much you need to save for your house account? I thought you mentioned in a previous blog’s comment that you had saved more than 20% of the House deposit?

  29. I forgot to add that Shop Rite had Arm & Hammer liquid detergent 50 oz size at $1.77 when you buy 3. I bought 6 (unscented) and after store digital & manuf. coupons paid only the tax .75 cents. Friskies cat food was .41 a can when you buy 24. Paid $8.50 after coupon. Also bought 8 fleece throws, 50″ x 60″ for $2.50 each at Wal Mart. I’m donating all these items to my local animal rescue group this week. I’ve pledged to donate $300 in cash & $300 in food & supplies to them this year as I did last year. This was a great start.

  30. Holly, your story of the seed pods made me smile. Are they perchance Cleome (also known as spider flower). I grow them in my backyard flower beds as they get up to 3 ft tall. They’re gorgeous & bloom all summer They also self-seed (those pods scatter seed everywhere) and come up each year although they’re an annual.

  31. I used up almost every scrap of food all week. Did buy one get one free on two very large roast.Each roast can cut into three roast they were $3.97 per pound for the first one that I will cut into three and the second one free. Still have a Turkey in the Freezer. Ran the oven on the clean cylce to heat the house we had -4 and our home would not get above 58 and with two babies I was trying everything! I plugged holes and hung blankets over windows but the wind chilll was like -29 so we had a real problem for a few nights.
    I made $72.00 got a gift card for $75.00 got a small rebate check for $12.00 did some shopping with the $75.00 gift card.
    I got daughter in law a sweater for her Christmas gift. I got a shirt for her birthday. I bought items for a baptism and some much needed clothing for myself. We went shopping for hubby much the same used a credit and a coupon to get two much needed shirts . Used a rewards points at TGIFridays for our date day out , cut hubbies hair. Packaged the shirt I am mailing to Winter but have not managed to get it in the mail yet the ice has been too much and I fell a few weeks back and hit hard so now I”m not going out until it clears.
    On the enjoy side grand daughters 21 months old are doing the alphabet and you can take flash cards and mix the letters all up and they still get them all correct this is awesome. Twins are usually behind these two are smart cookies.
    Made certain to return Christmas that was wrong and get credits. Used the credits for greatly needed items.
    Need to purchase four more gifts in the next few weeks and the credits are running dry will have to get creative.
    Thinking of doing a no spend except needs so will have to get really really creative!
    Took a new job this week hoping to make at least $60 or so might not be that much.
    Need to get to Aldi and the post office need to mail that package and get stamps.
    I got so many deals this past year I had too much for Christmas but we went with it anyway.
    The price of food is outrageous going to have to start getting creative there as well.
    Pulled out all my sweaters and went through them been using what I have wiser.

  32. 1.Made homemade pizza and oatmeal candy for game night
    2.Found some of our favorite children’s books at the thrift store in great condition, so I picked them up to give as gifts later in the year.
    3.Found a new, Guinea pig house (more like a mansion!) at the thrift store for just $2, which is an awesome price! Our Guinea pig’s current house is so small she knocks it over unless we put a small hand weight on it…which might not end well if the weight fell on her….so we were happy to find a cheap upgrade:)
    4.Found a great deal on underwear to buy for my $5 weekly challenge that benefits local charities. I hope to show that being generous doesn’t have to cost a lot!
    5.Reduced my power bill by $50, simply by turning off wall heaters when we are not upstairs and only used a small space heater at night in my laundry room to keep the pipes from bursting…praise the Lord! Otherwise we heated with firewood to stay warm.

  33. I look forward to these posts every week! Thank you!

    Among my frugal accomplishments this week are:
    – eating delicious homegrown tomatoes every day! My green beans aren’t producing well but when they produce I chop and freeze those few beans. These are then added to soups and stews as needed. I planted ginger and turmeric for the first time. I use these a lot in herbal tea so if I can grow it myself it will save money every month.
    – making my hens feel extra loved with fresh bedding more regularly and a grain supplement to increase egg production.
    – eating from the freezer and
    – participating in a second freezer meal exchange with a few friends.
    – baking bread.
    – we’ve had several cloudless days with temps over 90 deg (or 36 celcius), so I’ve been using my solar oven to dry herbs from the garden, make granola and this evening I’ll try baking my lasagne in there. I usually bake my lasagne at a low oven temp so I think it will work.
    – I’ve used my Wonderbag to bulk cook lentils, pasta sauce (bolognese) and soups. This means I use only 5 minutes of energy from the stove top to bring the food to a boil and the heat in the insulated bag does the rest of the cooking.
    – serviced my own dishwasher.
    – combined errands to save fuel.
    – shared some pet-sitting work with my daughter to earn a little extra. I used that money to buy a gift for someone I wanted to blsss.
    – sold a book and saved the money in our savings account.
    – used water reserved from the bath and shower to flush the toilet.
    – I’ve started opening the blind in my storage room as part of my morning routine. It’s a dark room which we never actually spend time in so the blind has been left closed every day for years. But, we fetch things from that room many times a day (my chest freezer is in there, our long term food and toiletry storage, the children’s bikes, things like that) so we were turning the light on and off several times daily, sometimes forgetting to turn it off, but if the blind is opened we don’t need to turn on a light at all. I’ve also become more vigilant with turning off lights in unoccupied rooms at night.
    – broccoli was selling cheaply so I bought 8 crowns (we call them ‘heads’ here is South Africa) and used those to make the chicken, broccoli and rice bake I made for the freezer meal swop. I also found whole chickens marked down because they were close to expiry. I roasted these as soon as I got home and shredded the meat off the bones to use in those frozen meals.
    – I’ve started a new routine for 2018: multi-meal Monday’s. Every Monday I double, triple or even quadruple a recipe that freezes well. This way I am consistently putting meals into my freezer which help on busy days and means I always have at least one frozen meal on hand to pass on to our Church meal ministry or a friend in event of an illness, death, emergency, new baby or simple to bless them.

    Thanks again Brandy! Your consistent inspiration in the area of frugality is a huge blessing!

  34. Your flowers are gorgeous, Brandy! I am so looking forward to warmer weather so we can get out into our yard and do some gardening.

    Frugal Accomplishments at our house this week:

    We ate all of our meals at home.

    I made a big pot of beef vegetable soup with leftover chuck roast and homemade beef stock, cabbage and frozen mixed vegetables. I froze some of it to eat again later.

    I was in need of new winter pajamas and found some at Kohl’s on clearance for $8.00 with a 15% coupon (they were originally $46.00).

    I have been using coconut oil as a moisturizer often this winter before going to bed. My face has felt less dry as a result.

    Since today is a paid holiday I will stay home. We are getting a few inches of snow. My husband has to work but it is only 4 miles away. I am thankful to not have to go out in this weather today!

  35. The week focused on learning how to set up a trustee for my managing my sister’s financial affairs on the other side of the country. I still need to select some long-term care facilities preferences, but some of my worries are addressed. I had to hire an assessor to determine that she can not handle her finances. He agreed to wait to be paid until I have funds at the end of the month, and eventually the trustee will repay this expense. I will continue making decisions regarding her care, as her next of kin. I am just trying to handle one thing at a time, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

    My computer’s adaptor and battery were toast, but I order new ones online. They arrived in just a few days, even though I didn’t pay extra for quick shipping. I missed a few days of editing and transcription work, but these were very slow days for available work, so I don’t think I lost much income. I did get back online soon enough to work one job, which will give me grocery money this week.

    I have a tablet from one of my jobs, which meant I still had email and basic internet. It was receiving email but not sending them out. After a couple of tries, I managed to find a workaround so I could stay in touch with the people I needed to.

    After getting a new starter and motor for the heater/AC fan on my car, I noticed a sweet smell in the car when it is running, which I think is leaking coolant. I can’t see any obvious hose leaking, but the coolant is low, so I am back to walking for the rest of the month. I was able to attend two meetings by phone, so I didn’t miss either the meetings or the pay for the meetings, but will miss out on the mileage and travel stipend I normally receive.

    On the positive side, two of my jobs have an extra week of pay this month, which will help a little bit.

    I made blueberry oatmeal pancakes for lunch one day and made extra, so that I had leftovers for a couple of breakfasts. I used berries frozen last summer, water instead of milk, and replaced some of the flour with oatmeal.

    I bought canned salmon and toilet paper on sale. (Tuna is much less expensive than salmon, but I am allergic to it.) I made salmon croquettes. I’ve stopped peeling the potatoes before I mash them for the croquettes, which ends up making an extra serving as well as being more nutritious. It doesn’t taste any different to me!

    I used the extra time from missing a few days work to take care of the business related to my sister, do some cleaning and reading some library books. Things feel a little more balanced now.

  36. How many hours of service did the son do at the home of the lady that was decluttering etc? Just curious as to how service hours work?

  37. We used to and the girls now do make pizza with Tightwad Gazettes pizza dough, homemade sauce (pasta or pizza) and parm cheese out of the bottle sprinkled (not even a solid coating). What ever veggies was available was sometimes added. I have diced up peperoni in very small dices and added that occasionally..about 1/3 of a cup per pizza. We fed up to 10-15.We had salad and fruit…salad was ate first so they would be fuller before eating the pizza.

  38. Being frugal for the rest of the year makes those trips possible. We usually take 2 vacations a year, one to see family, and they are worth every penny we stay. Most times we are able to use credit card points for hotel rooms so that is the frugal part of the vacation:) Glad you had a wonderful weekend at Niagara Falls. Sounds great.

  39. Cindi . I read at night for at least 30 min if not an hour and always have even when the kids were infants. We had quiet time before bed in the FRONT ROOM when I read/they read. As a widow I couldn’t afford for them to have all their lights on. I noticed everyone one of them including the one that hated to read still read at night. I also read in the morning, when the kids were still at home it was at 4:15 am, I would start the bread for the day and then read.

  40. The winter storms keep rolling in every couple days with windchills in the negative teens. Daughter 2 (we have 4 daughters and 2 sons) who lives with us has been turning off the electric heater in her room when she leaves for work and closing the bedroom door and then the staircase door to keep from heating that area while she is gone. She got stuck down where she works with the storm and used to find a room, said she checked 4 different apps to find the cheapest. She always lets us know when she is headed home and asks if we need anything for her to pick up or do to save us the gas money and keep us inside.

    Hubby had to be out today for a meeting so went ahead and ran all the errands. He had a tire go flat but was able to get it plugged instead of having to replace it.

    Washed plastic bags, foil and box inserts

    Dried Hubby’s insulted bibs daily on drying rack.

    Banked $2000 for new home and $1000 for emergency funds after we got our first retirement check. So now on set income unless one or both of us pick up work. We had a little bit more taxes taken out than what we needed so we aren’t having to pay so much taxes at tax time due to other jobs as being self employed.

    Had to replace truck tag as it was not in good shape so ordered one for Amateur radio with Hubby’s call sign and got a discount for it . Wished we had knew that sooner.

    Continued eating from pantry or with coupons/giftcards. Continued with Pantry Challenge

    Contined with Grocery Budget bootcamp… Which has been enlightening to find that even Hubby will open something new before really looking to see if there is one already open. Condensed down and marked used first on several items and marked them off to buy list since I know I don’t need them.

    Started researching plants and trees for new home.

  41. Brandy, your photos are beautiful, as always!

    What a week! The cold I came down with on 12/26 and was just recovering from came back twice as bad on Sunday. I have been sick all week and still am feeling like I am only at 50%. Even had to go to the Dr., which I rarely do. Apparently, this is going around the Phoenix area. Had to get antibiotic and steroids, but luckily we have good insurance and it wasn’t too expensive.

    Most frugal plans for the week went out the window. Frugal fail: the green beans, eggplant and jalapenos I had gotten last week from POWWOW went to waste, as I was unable to process them.

    Here’s what I did accomplish:
    • Used free tea (pots and pots of it!), coffee and toiletries.
    • Hubby was sent out of the country for a week long work trip, so we saved on all of his dinners and lunches. They use our credit card to book his flights and we will get miles for this, plus the miles he flew. Since he usually doesn’t use all of his per diem money, he may get even more money back. Plus he brought back all of the toiletries, tea and coffee from the hotel.
    • Watched free movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix all week.
    • Because I was sick, I didn’t drive out to my Dad’s for our weekly lunch date, so I saved gas money and lunch money.
    • Planned our menu for this week.
    • Used only ½ of a dryer sheet per load. Can’t wait to get my clothesline up. Hopefully my Hubby can install the sleeve this weekend.
    • When I made apple butter a few weeks ago, I decided to save all the peels and cores to use in smoothies. I’m never throwing away another apple core again. They work great!
    • Mended 4 pair of sox, 1 pair of underwear and 2 pajama tops.

    Have a wonderful, frugal week everyone!

  42. My husband was recently let go from his job of 12 years. He is 62 and getting close to retirement age. He was VP of operations for a company that produced biofuel. This was totally out of the blue and right now there are a lot of emotions going on to our situation. We are fine financially (for the time being) but I am worried about health insurance since ours will be gone by the end of February. Are there any ideas out there on obtaining affordable healthcare or where to even begin looking. I have read your blog some years and enjoy reading everyone’s ideas. I have put quite a few ideas to good use and that’s why we are able to move on comfortably but the health insurance worries me. We live in Southern California. Thanks in advance for any ideas anyone might have.

  43. I hope it reflowers again! I have it in the coldest part of my garden. I don’t know where you are in Southern California, but you should check out the lilacs when they are in bloom at Descanso Gardens in La Canada. They are in bloom in March and April:

    When I bought my white lilac for the white garden, I was delighted to find out that it had “Descanso” in the name! I used to visit Descanso when I lived in Southern California and it is a beautiful place, especially in the spring.

    Different types have different chilling hour needs and will bloom at different times, which is why they are blooming there for over a month.

    I grew up with a lilac outside my bedroom window in Southern California. It was on the north side of the house. It is much hotter here and I have to protect my lilacs from sunburn during the summer. The leaves will burn off and force them into a summer dormancy.

  44. Their activity went over (it ended up being a couple of hours long) and no one was counting the exact hours of service. It was just a service project that the Scouts did to help this woman. From what my son said, I think she ended up giving away a bunch of stuff that she wasn’t using after they helped her declutter.

  45. 1. Stocked up on cheap pantry items including pasta, canned tomatoes, and beans. Shopped at Winco (cheapest around here).
    Made every meal at home for myself and my (7) kids. They make their own school lunches though (or eat at school, we qualify for free lunch)
    2. Sold $25 of items on a Facebook resale site, all clothing.
    3. Used YNAB to assign all my money correctly into the right categories, and have not overspent as of now, halfway through the month. I have enough money to last until the end of the month for all planned bills and expenses.
    4. Walked with a friend 4 mornings this week, costs nothing and is so fun.
    5. Took a long-term substitute job, March through the end of year! And it’s at my son’s school- could not be more perfect and will really make finances much easier through summer!

  46. Hi Marie,
    Shoprite sales are wonderful, aren’t they? I used to live in the North East, but now reside in AR. Believe it or not, the Shoprite sale prices/loss leaders are better than the sale prices here! Especially the meat sales! A sale price for ground chuck is $3.50 a pound here! London broil is never on sale here. The best chicken sale price is 89 cents a pound (no-name brand – at that price about once a year).
    My family still lives in Dutchess County, NY and I shop at Shoprite during extended visits with my Mom. Check your flyer, use coupons and stock your pantry when there’s a great sale… can do it. 🙂 Best wishes as you continue your thrifty journey.

  47. Ann,
    Thank-you for thinking of me. We are doing well. My husband has kept his job, even working lots of overtime. The overtime has come in handy. We are not in our farmhouse yet. But very soon. We have been spending more of his days off there, working on it. I am really glad we did not have to move in when it was not ready. I had been worried about mice, but it looks like we have gotten rid of them. I see no new signs of them.
    I am so happy that we will be able to pay our bills. We are still living frugally. But not worrying about job loss is so refreshing! I am looking forward to moving to the farm and having a big garden this spring.
    My family loves birds too! My grandpa used to have a cardinal land on his shoulder and take a peanut from his hand. It would visit him for several years and then one year never came back. I don’t know how long cardinals live. My grandma enjoyed watching the birds. I remember sitting on a swing with her and watching the birds. There was a bluebird and squirrel that used to chase each other. Whenever I read about your bird pictures and bird watching. It reminds me of my grandparents. Happy memories. Tammy

  48. I love the action of opening your blinds. One small thing you haven’t thought about before that will reap rewards!

  49. I’m doing a pantry/fridge challenge this month, trying to empty the freezer before we get a meat order and trying to make some semblance of order in our pantry. So far we’ve stuck to it! Spent less than $60 on groceries last week (normally it’s around $150) and this week should be about the same. My daughter and I are taking cans and bottles back today, and there are a LOT of them, so that will pay for most of the groceries this week.

    I also updated our monthly budget (I hadn’t looked at it in a very long time) and started tracking our daily expenses. Transferred a little extra to our mortgage – might have only been $120 but that’s $120 I don’t have to pay interest on! I’m hoping to start rounding up every month to save a few payments on the back end. We’ve been in our house 14 years but it feels like we’ve barely made any headway on our mortgage (we’ve refinanced a couple of times to bring the interest rate down – hubby wanted to refinance again but I convinced him we should just pay it off early instead).

    My husband took leftovers in his lunch today. My daughter and I are home for the holiday and will be eating all our meals at home today.

  50. I enjoy the pictures of your garden and flowers Brandy.
    Spent most of my time at home, unless we were building at farm. Borrowed a book from hoopla. Liked it so much that I ended up buying it for my collection. It is a DIY type book. So I believe it will save us money in long run.
    Made my own deodorant using coconut oil and essential oils.
    Cooked at home even when I didn’t really feel like cooking. Back to losing weight again. 20 lbs down. Many more to go.
    Did go thrift shopping, but I didn’t buy anything. Decided to just wear what I have and save money. I am trying to lose weight anyway.
    Did my grocery shopping at Aldi.Bought meat 1/2 price and bought sale items. Would like to create more of a storage panty. We will do it slowly. Watching sales.
    Husband worked overtime.
    Paying hospital bill, one month at a time. Grateful for a payment plan.
    Husbands old truck is payed off and has come in handy on these snowy days.
    Happy that I have a car now that doesn’t need fixed every month or more. Better mileage too.
    Feeling blessed and grateful.

  51. Decided to try posting my frugal accomplishment this year – sometimes I need to be reminded that being thoughtful with our resources is paying off. 🙂 Biggest highlight of this week is I paid my daughter’s final tuition bill at the U of M. She graduates in May – hooray! Now I just have two more years with #1 son and then four years with #2 son.

    In an earlier post someone mentioned using YouTube for yoga. I am also using YouTube for exercise (including yoga but it’s new to me). So far, so good!

    Picked up a couple of free items. First being organic juice at Cub Foods (local grocery store chain) and then using coupons I got four Lindor valentine chocolates at Target for free. Otherwise, sticking to budget for other groceries.

    Our church youth director is sending care packages to our college students and asked for donations. I am on the China mission team and since Chinese New Year is coming up, I am making red envelopes which are supposed to have coins in them. Instead of coins, I happened upon chocolate coins on sale at Walgreen’s for 70% off and will be using them.

    The best free thing I did this week was watch my husband watch the fourth quarter of the Vikings game last night. Personally, not a huge football fan, but watching the reactions to the ups and downs of the last bit of that game was fun.

  52. I washed my laundry in my homemade soap and hung it outside or inside to dry.
    I washed the free-to-me nice, thick flannel sheets for our bed, a gift from someone who up-sized her bed and could no longer use these sheets.
    I’ve been asking around and checking thrift shops for a good waterproof mid-thigh rain jacket, to take with me on a mission trip. I could easily buy one, for $200 or more, but that’s not going to happen.
    Leftovers for lunch at work, every day.
    I’m making 3 quarts of broth from bones in my crock pot while at work.
    I made sure to pay my electric bill early so that I didn’t have to go online and pay it with their “convenience” fee of $2.00 at the last minute. Honestly, with so many merchants taking payments online for free, how does this company get by with charging a fee for a necessity like this? We have no choice in who provides our electricity or I’d move my service.
    The photos are indeed lovely. I can’t wait to see Brandy’s cakes, after all the cute molded chocolates and party decor she already makes.

  53. You might consider something like Liberty Health Share. It’s a healthcare cost-sharing program for christians, I believe. I don’t know much about it, but have heard it spoken of as an option. I wish you well.

  54. I am sorry to hear of your husband’s job loss. I have had readers commenting about being forced into early retirement every month recently. You will need to look into what your state offers for insurance as well as Medicare. There are options available (for cost) for those over age 62 in each state. Every state has different options and providers, so you will need to see what is available in California on the exchange.

  55. I have not posted my frugal wins in a while – it just seemed to be nothing new – but I find it does help me realize that I [i]am[/i] accomplishing more than I think I do in a week.
    ** Even with the incredibly low temps we had, our gas usage is half of what it was last year. We had a new furnace installed last February and all the duct work had been cleaned in late summer of 2016. It seems to have made a big difference. I also hung the curtain I made to go over the half door that leads to our “girl cave” (it was a 3 stall garage that was converted to living space when we moved here 21 years ago). Even with plenty of insulation, that room is always very cold. By putting the curtain up, it keeps the main house more comfortable and the furnace kicks on less often.
    ** My Mom gifted me a gift certificate to Ulta for new make-up (holy crud that stuff is expensive now!) I may be returning it though – I have extremely sensitive skin and I may be reacting to it….I am wearing it again today to test it. If I do have to return it, they assured me they will refund my money because Clinique is supposed to be one of the best non-allergenic brands. She also bought me new undies and pantyhose, a blouse and a sweater. I turned 50 so she went a bit overboard but it was very, very appreciated as there was not much money to celebrate.
    ** My BIL is getting married this next weekend and I needed a dress. I hit every store near me both retail and thrift looking for something that was pretty (and long enough!!) and would work with shoes I already had. I [i]finally[/i] found one at the last Salvation Army store I hit – for only $4.99!
    ** Instead of the cake I wanted from a bakery – I went with the cupcakes for 1/3 the cost – that way there also wasn’t a large amount of cake for me to pick at!
    ** I repaired a whole bag of the dogs toys – the guys like to play tug with them and stuffies don’t hold up well to the abuse.
    ** We have not really bought groceries other than milk and butter for 2 weeks now. We have plenty in the pantry and freezer! Hopefully there is a decent TP sale here shortly as our stock is getting rather low.
    ** I found the a can organizer I needed for .99 cents at the same Sal. Army I bought the dress at. I only need one more now to finish that shelf 🙂
    ** Instead of buying a small notebook to organize my menus/meal ideas, I reused one my daughter had and only needed to buy new filler paper for it. I am going to try much harder to stay on top of meal planning. I may make another one for coupons, similar to the one I made her for her budget binder – I made the envelopes from pretty, heavy cardstock that I laminated with dollar store packing tape.
    ** I made a list of all my available veg and flower seeds – I may buy more flower seed but I am going to hold off on getting more vegetable seeds. I have some that are pushing 3 years old and I want to use those up before I spend any more money.
    ** My quail and ducks are continuing to enjoy the odds and ends from work. I am getting lots of eggs from the quail but most have been freezing before I can get to them. I am so looking forward to Spring when I can finally get busy on some projects for them and the garden.
    ** I repaired several shirts and put elastic in a few pairs of jeans that the waist is too large in. I also started on the window “quilts” for the family room windows.
    ** Hubby was gifted a very nice insulated mug (hot 8 hours and cold for 16 hours) from the company he used to work with for energy audits. It has the company name on it but who cares – I’ve been eyeing ones just like this for waaay too much $$ 🙂
    ** We again used a food pantry for both us, the cats and old beagle to help us spread our dollars a bit further. I made applesauce with the bag of mixed apples. I have saved plastic mayo jars which work really, really well for freezing applesauce, broths and soups!
    ** Our three cat boys have been going nuts in our pantry, trying to get under the frig and stove, so I figured we had a mouse. I removed the drawer under the stove and moved things around in the pantry and sure enough, they did their job and I didn’t have to purchase any traps 🙂 Guess they earned their canned food treats this week!

    ** Do any of you use a Berkey countertop filtration system?? I am looking to get one with tax return money – they are much more affordable over a whole house system – but not sure if it would fit our needs well. TIA
    ** And second, do any of you grow the columnar apples? What is the harvest like and what is the taste and texture of the apples?

    Nothing else comes to mind right now – hope you all have a great week!

  56. Last week was just a rotten week. My sugar cookie arrived home from Christmas vacation with a broken hand. It was quite evident it was broken so we made an immediate visit to the ER and now have an appointment with an orthopedic. Had this been addressed when it happened It would have been included in last year’s medical and I wouldn’t have to pay her new deductible right now. Just rolling along with the punches here. My emergency fund will have a little in it soon so I will have a better foundation laid. I accidentally tossed my Kindle in the dryer. I purchased it 15 months ago with swagbucks and am so happy I paid the 15.00 for an extended warranty. I rarely purchase insurance for devices. Wow. what great service, my new one will be here tomorrow. I made homemade dish soap and am very pleased with it. This is one product that goes too quickly in my home. I repaired a zipper in my jeans with dental floss. I used coupons for free cream cheese and free ramen noodles. I spent 60 cents on a Rubbermaid container for coffee. I washed out Zip lock baggies for the first time. I have spent less than 5.00 this month and am right on budget. My tax preparation was 30.00 less than originally posted. They will submit the first day the IRS accepts returns. The savings will cover the 50 cent increase in gas prices here. Living in the boonies means I will need to travel into the city to handle the broken hand. I was blessed with a box of food from a former Keto diet follower. 4 lbs of og butter , almond , coconut and golden flaxseed flours. 80 percent chocolate and a bag of Stevia. The new eating plan is going great. I am reading new blogs about the healthy trim moma recipes and am having no complaints from sugar cookie. I am no longer buying any soda and that seems to be her only obstacle. It is warmer here and the heat is off. I am hoping this last cold spell will not destroy my budget next month. We have several birthdays coming up too. We will bake some treats and search for cards that I know we have. I finally feel comfortable using up things we have and not feeling the desire to go shopping. That is a great habit to have and it is something I have learned from so many great posts here. Have a great day friends.

  57. Be careful with the half a dryer sheet economy. I tried that for a while. It turned out that the half sheet fit perfectly in the lint filter. The half dryer sheet and the lint from just one load of towels completely blocked the air flow. The dryer overheated and I needed a repairman to fix it. The half a dryer sheet cost $85 more or less. I decided to ditch fabric softener after that and just put up with a bit of static from time to tome.

  58. What a great bonding activity with your son! Well I’m going to play catch-up with my post- haven’t reported anything since before Christmas. Been sort of busy. I got a 25 cent raise at work and it retro back to November 11 so on my last check of the year, I got another $20 and got holiday pay for being off on Christmas and New Year’s Days. Which that will come in handy since we are not that busy at work this month and they cut my hours a little bit. All three of us were sick with some kind of chest bug (dr said it wasn’t the flu) and had us down from Christmas thru New Year’s. Had to shell out for co payments to go to doctor and meds but well worth it due to OCM weren’t helping. It snowed here in central NC the first week of January so we were stuck in the house for 3 days. Ate a lot of soup, grilled cheese and hot drinks. I couldn’t work but was online gathering points thru Swagbucks, My Coke points and other various apps and sites. Plus I was rereading YOUR blog and site for ways to save money and recipes to put in place to help with the expenses of this month. I also started a journal. Food came from what was already in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Before Christmas, I went to the store and used the gift certificates I got thru Swagbucks and Shopkick (totaling up to over $150) and with coupons to help get that pantry, fridge and freezer full. I also used other points from other sites and apps to print out free gift cards, movie codes and several other free things to give to people for Christmas gifts AND still have points left over to start the year out!!
    This past week, still used what was in the pantry, fridge and freezer for meals and snacks and only used gifted money from Christmas to get the basics like milk and eggs. For Thursday’s lunch at Reality Center (I cook lunch for 40 plus people every Thursday), I made YOUR spaghetti sauce with added meat and the kids LOVED it and went nuts over it. I have used it before here at home for spaghetti and sauce on DIY pizzas. (It makes a lot and I freeze the extras for future use.) I brought home leftovers for there of chicken noodle soup, lettuce greens, and green lentils/rice. Will use them this next week to start off my soup and salad diet.
    I hope everyone has a blessed week!

  59. Sorry, you can not qualify for Medicare, until you are 65.. and since your H is 62, he is not eligible til 66, as his FRA ( full retirement age) is age 67. Age 62 is the earliest you can qualify for Social Security, but NO one is eligible for Medicare before at 65.. I explain this often to people that confuse Medicaid with Medicare. AND yes there are disabled on Social Security Disability Insurance and or SSI that do qualify for Medicare. Medicare is a federal mandate, it is not state by state. Check out SS website. Many people think if the take their Social Security early at age 62, they qualify for Medicare, you do not. Nor do I ever suggest that you do, you take about 25 percent cut if you take SS early, for LIFE. Many people miss that too, thinking at FRA, they get a raise. You take it anytime between 62 and your full retirement age, you get less for life. I suggest anyone check on the SS website that is older to find the actual date you can qualify. They have it laid out!

    I am 63, born in 1954, and the last age group that can collect Social Security at age 66.. anyone younger has to wait til 66. I was born in July, my date to get Medicare is April of that year I turn 65. I state that as an example. I help people in a non profit with benefits and the shock of my life, how few people KNOW what Medicare is, Medicaid, how Social Security works etc. Many women and some men, widowed are stunned to find out, they get NOTHING in survivors benefits til they are 60 years old. Being a homemaker is all well and good, til you find out you never paid in to Social Security and end up widowed or divorced and no one will hire you. I go home with a heavy heart many a day.
    The MarketPlace exchange for Health Care is your best option if you lose your job and your insurance, especially if you are older. It is based on 3 criteria, your income, your age and your location. MOST people do not qualify for Medicaid that have worked or have assets. You are also eligible for COBRA from previous employer. Many people think that is not affordable , but you must check. At 1300 a month for single health insurance in the USA, your COBRA payment allowing you to keep the insurance he had with an employer, might be a good deal. With COBRA, you pay what the company pays in a premium for your own insurance, but are allowed to stay in the group and plan. Educate yourself, today all the options are out there on line. Most people can learn how insurance works. Because you had a “life event” you are eligible on the Marketplace to enroll. Best to you!

  60. I am interested to know whether you or any other readers have had a good experience selling DVDs on Decluttr. My son has a large collection of DVDs that he no longer wants and I have been wondering what to do with them. After all of the money he invested in them it would be nice to recover something for them. I had never heard of Decluttr until you mentioned it. When I looked them up on the internet there seemed to be mixed feelings on whether it was worth doing. If anybody here has thoughts on this, I would love to hear about it. Thank you in advance.

  61. Stephanie- what kinds of books are you selling? I downloaded the app but not one of my self help , romance non fiction , fiction, etc was worth anything…
    thanks in advance,

  62. Patty from the NW …make sure it’s LED if you can possible do so otherwise your electric bill will definitely go up. Daddy told me to use a heat lamp with a LED bulb (doesn’t have to be a grow light as he has NEVER used anything but a regular bulb) and also when starting them put them on a heating pad, they don’t need the light until they come up through the soil.

    Best wishes

  63. Thanks for the idea of dicing pepperoni! We have a tradition of Friday night pizza night too, and always do homemade. This is getting more complicated since I have to be grain free for the next month or so, but I am just making a larger salad and adding hardboiled eggs or salmon/tuna to make it a meal for me.

  64. Yesterday I made myself an apron using one leg of a pair of old jeans plus binding made of scraps from flannel pajamas I made for DD for Christmas. Cost: $0. Also last week–

    Re-glued chair rungs with Gorilla glue.

    Shopped at Jo-Ann’s for thread and machine needles. I didn’t have a coupon. The clerk showed me how to use Jo-Ann’s app on Google and I saved $2.50. She told me the JoAnn’s app from the App Store has more and better coupons.

    I made an offer of $10 on a $16 item on eBay, and it was accepted. Every time a listing has invited me to Make an Offer, it has been accepted. I usually offer about one-third less.

    We gave up satellite TV the week before Christmas and are saving about 50% with streaming. We started a 30-day free trial of Netflix, worth $12.95, last week.

    Brandy (and others who make gifts), a friend told me her favorite Christmas gift was a set of clothes hangers that her sister covered with crochet. Clothes do not slip off them. I don’t crochet, but I’m sure there are patterns on the internet.

  65. Karen mortgage amortization calculator and it will figure out how much faster you will pay off the mortgage with the extra Money. Clark Howard also has a article about this. We figured out by rolling up the payment (still less than $100) each month we would pay our house off 2 1/2 yrs early. You can actually LOSE money by refinancing if it has fees that roll into the loan. Paying extra does a better job…my daughter used to work the mortgage dept at Wells Fargo. She preached a lot of what to do and not to do LOL.

  66. Katrina, your letter is painfully familiar. I’m so sorry. This is hard on so many levels. My husband and I faced exactly this a year ago and we (mostly him) spent several days going through the hoops of what was possible for health insurance for folks past 60 but not yet 65. I just told him about your letter – he wrote up what the options are. His professional life has been writing for business clients – he’s a clear writer! I put his answer to you at my website, since it’s long. I hope it might help you and your husband. Good Luck – and hey – a year later – we are secure and happy!

  67. We’re in the midst of cleaning out my grandmother’s house and she was the same way about kitchen things. I have found that many of her things are better quality than my newer things, so will replace my things with her better ones (like copper bottom pans, tons of loaf pans, cookie sheets, etc.)

  68. You could also make “party foods” like fancy little sandwiches, fruit and veggie platter with dip and/or little appetizers like mini quiches. You don’t normally have these foods unless you attend a “party”, so they can make the evening a little more special and fun!

  69. I hosted our family Christmas party this year–only 9 people came because the colds/flu have hit and my 4 year old grand niece had pneumonia. I did have lots left over on the veggie tray especially and have been working those things into our meals since then. I made ham and lentil soup and used carrots, celerey, onions and garlic (no onions and garlic were from the pantry, not the veggie tray!) I defrosted hm corn bread from the freezer to eat with it. I used the extra sliced mushrooms in my beef tips and gravy over mashed potato meal—-husband was granted permission to pick out his mushrooms and put them on my plate as he is not fond of them. I put two meals worth of my (leftover) homemade chili into the freezer for later and he ate it one night for supper. It was a social week too–I met a friend for lunch and wasn’t real hungry for dinner so I fed husband leftover spaghetti and sausage and made myself scrambled eggs and toast instead. I wasn’t hungry enough for anything heavier. One night I used a couple of already baked potatoes to cube and fry with leftover pepper strips and a sliced onion. I don’t remember what meat I served it with, but there was meat. We have been eating leftover Christmas cookies steadily as well. I did send a plastic bag of them home with my daughter one day–she stopped in for something very briefly—her husband had the cold that seems to go away for a couple days and then returns again. He is getting better but is still not well. DGD has been sick too but only stayed home on Saturday–one appt postponed to do that. Daughter has had something but she has gotten over whatever hers was. So far husband and I have avoided these!
    This week my intention is to stay at home more. My husband has two doctor appts this week—I had one last week that I had fogotten to write on the calendar, but the office called to remind me.
    I did take back some gifts that were the wrong size and did not find anything else I needed or wanted. I took my refunds on a credit card from the store that I can use later on. I really didn’t need all of the NINE new tops that were gifted to me anyhow–so it was ok that some were too large and had to be returned. I kept 4 tops and one pair of jeans that did fit and am especially happy to have the jeans.
    I broke my garlic press but have a birthday coming before the end of the month so a new one is on my “wish list” for now. It may be the only thing on my “wish list.”
    The weather has kept us indoors for most of the past two weekends, so the frugalness continues–there is little to spend on when you are sitting at home! I have been using last month’s “spending money” so far in the current month, and have enough left that I may not need to take this month’s out of the bank at all!
    We have also decided that we do not want to go to Florida in winter any more. The drive is beginning to take too much energy, and I prefer not to fly at all. We are planning a summer vacation for this year instead. We won’t be going as far as Florida either.
    I was able to drive (as little driving as I did) for three weeks without filling the gas tank, and when I did fill it I used the 70 cents a gallon off that I had from buying groceries! Good job on saving a little there. I thought my cupboards were as full as I could get them, but I saw my favorite $1.99 canned corn on sale for 86 cents a can, and I managed to fit the 8 can minimum into the cupboard by some strategic rearranging! So I continue to buy specials I will use eventually when they come up in the ads. I will continue to read the ads every week and jump on any great bargain I find.
    It was supposed to snow all afternoon but it is 4:15 and I haven’t seen any yet. I’m glad because husband wants to go out to eat tonight with one of his Christmas gift cards, and the roads won’t be a problem!
    I love the pink rose, Brandy—in this growing region roses are at risk of being winter killed. I used to have more but am down to only a couple left. I am thinking of buying a couple more this spring. It does get expensive when they only last a few years, but I miss them too much. My lavender colored one is still growing by some miracle. Last year we dug out a large one which had somehow been pruned back to unlovely rootstock. So I need something for the empty spot at least. The bulb and seed catalogs are starting to arrive and I will pore over them until April at least!

  70. Still have been sick, which has limited how much I am out of our home, which limits how much $$ we spend… Though I am really ready to feel well again and promise to be extra mindful of our spending. 🙂
    A friend did ask me to ride along with her to the nearby city. We stopped by a Goodwill where I found a pair of hiking type of boots, which I have been watching for over a year, for $5. I also bought a red plastic crate for $1 that I believe will stack with a previously purchased purple crate that I’d also paid $1 for.
    We went to Sam’s Club and I bought some pecans, coleslaw veg mixture, mixed spring greens (must go back to eating lower-carb), and a 320ct bottle of chewable vitamins. The vitamins were the only thing I really had wanted to get as they were just under $10 and will last a few months for myself and husband. I thought that maybe we should give our immune systems a “power boost” since we’ve been sick for so long.
    We stopped at a grocery store that offers a free item each Friday if you add it to your card. Picked up a free single bottle of juice and a free frozen pizza. They were out of the pizza that the offer was for and substituted with another. I was a little disappointed as the original free one would have been new to me, which is kind of the point of offering this Friday freebie I would think. It was only the second day, with still the rest of the week to go – wish they’d get more stock of those items in right away. Sigh. But I still appreciate the items I was able to get. While there I also picked up 4 bags of Nestle mint & choc chips for 74cents each that I socked away into the freezer for next Christmas.
    Still working bakery every other weekend. I really don’t want to do it anymore. But I like seeing that extra bit of $$ deposited every two weeks in to our checking account, ha ha. Just tough to get up at 2:30am, blech.
    I had a couple of bowls of bulbs/seeds sitting on a kitchen shelf that I’d forgotten about apparently. I happened to notice that some of the bulbs had sprouted. So I bought dirt and stuck them into a couple of pots. I’m fairly certain that they are all tulips. I’m also fairly certain that they will not survive too long since we are in the dead of winter. But I’ll try anyway. Wouldn’t that be nice to have tulips blooming in the kitchen when it’s well below zero still?

  71. Anne, my sister in Claremont was able to take advantage of a program that offered assistance to people revamping their yards to be more drought-friendly; specifically installing artificial turf. I don’t know the particulars, but I think it may have been a California state program and could be worth looking into.

  72. I enjoyed your comment Trudy; I will look forward to your future frugal accomplishments. Congratulations on getting your daughter’s final tuition paid! I have been there and it feels amazing!

  73. Congratulations on the great tickets to the Philharmonic! I feel like last week was a slow week for me — it got very cold (wind chills in the 20s below zero F) in Minnesota, and I just felt like hibernating. Didn’t get a lot done.

    I did: use a birthday card from my stash (purchased several years ago) to send to my niece. Read two library books. Tried to fend off a cold by gargling with salt water, using essential oils and eating chicken soup. So far, it’s remained just the slight sniffles plus a sore throat when I first wake up in the mornings (the saltwater gargle helps with that).

    Used online grocery shopping at my local grocery store for the cold weather. It’s also (so far) saving me time and money, as I can start the order, then save it and double check what we have on hand (so I don’t end up buying something we don’t actually need). I’m also using up some of the food from the full pantry and freezer. Made tuna noodle casserole one night, and found a half-full box of pasta so I didn’t have to open a new one.

    And for the few “warm-ish” winter days, bought my daughter a pair of ice skates at Play It Again Sports, to save on rental fees and wait times. Skating is free if you don’t have to rent skates, and two outings so far have saved half the cost of the skates.

    Read two library books.

    Submitted extra payment on car loan — trying to get that paid off in first half of the year.

  74. I just pinned that mac n cheese recipe! Thanks for the review! I am on the lookout for recipes other than chowder to use up some canned/evaporated milk.

  75. I am still on vacation so saving money where I can. For eg today being MLK day, I saved $25 on admission to the national park as it was free today. Some friends are arriving today and I will watch their 3 year old twin boys while they take their 7 year old twin boys snorkeling-I said I would also bring my laundry and do it there for free as there is a charge here. Continuing to buy my groceries and cook rather than eat in restaurants. Yesterday I picked up a 1/2 pineapple at the grocery store and it rang up at over $7 so I put it back-crazy food prices here in Hawaii-but at least there are no ballistic missiles to dodge!

  76. Tracey,

    I have a huge problem with my hubby and kids leaving lights on as they just pass through a room. They will be in the room for two minutes, but the light is left on all day! I have curbed this by placing small automatic night lights in most rooms. Costs almost nothing to use, only come on at night, and illuminate just enough that they don’t need to turn on lights as they walk through. Has saved us a ton!

    My first time posting, but long time reader. Exciting! 🙂 -Sherri

  77. In California you can buy insurance through Covered California, which is the state health insurance exchange or privately – check out The price for this insurance will be based on your ages and your projected income for 2018. You will also have the option to purchase COBRA insurance which is the same insurance your husband’s company offered only now you pay the full premium (the employee part and the employer part) plus a 10% surcharge. You can have the COBRA insurance for up to 18 months. When my husband was laid off at age 60, we found that the COBRA insurance was cheaper than the insurance offered through the exchanges because the COBRA premium is not based on your age. For older people COBRA can be more affordable – and for us it was better coverage as well.

  78. I am so sorry to hear about your husbands job loss! I too had been laid off just before Thanksgiving. I did get a severance package but had to sign a waiver saying that I would not sue the company for age discrimination. I just turned 59 and am close but not quite retirement age. It has been a flood of emotions that thankfully my husband and family have been very understanding. Sending prayers your way for clarity and peace for your family.

  79. Hi Jenny yes we know what we need to save for our home and are at 25% deposit currently and we are aiming to save closer to 50% for a good deposit. This will enable us to pay off the remainder in way under 10 years on our current incomes and before retirement.

    We have a few more challenges than most as we are an older couple and are on pensions so our income is lower than most and want to pay our mortgage off way before we retire. Recently we did some initial inquiries with banks on loans and with the newly adopted bank stress test that they put on lenders they double your actual household expenses to make sure that you can pay the loan without defaulting. Although they say that you only need a 20% deposit in reality with these new financial rules you need to at least save 40 – 50% deposit.

    Everyone is also wise to not borrow any more than 25 – 30% of their combined after incomes to be able to pay a mortgage off comfortably. This is what our target is is to not borrow any more than 25 – 30% of our combined incomes in mortgage repayments.

    We have designed our own home to meet the disabilities of my husband who was in a massive military accident, and this will meet his needs into the future and old age. We have priced land and have multiple quotes on having the home built as well so we know what our target figure is including garage, landscaping and septic system.

    I hope this helps you if you are on the same path as us to saving for your home too.

  80. I am sorry to read of your sudden situation. If your state has a Careerlink center/website available they help or at least point you in the right direction. I’ve used them in PA and they were such a great help and a plethora of resources. Best of luck!

  81. [b][list]
    This week I cleaned out our clothes dryer vent, as was recommended by a fellow reader, who said it could be making our dryer more inefficient.
    I picked up a clothes drying rack that was offered on my Buy Nothing group. I hang our clothes to dry, but because I live in a damp environment, I do have to pop them in the dryer for 10 minutes for them to finish drying.
    I turned off the central heat for the entire week. The weather has been mild enough that the indoor temperature doesn’t dip below 63 degrees.
    I turned off the heated dry function on my dishwasher to save money on electricity. Instead I just open the dishwasher when the cycle finishes and pull out the racks, letting the dishes air dry.
    I mended 8 articles of clothing that weren’t being worn because they were in a state of disrepair.
    I picked up a tea pot from my Buy Nothing group. It’s from the same pattern that our wedding china is from and I’ll be glad to have it when we have dinners at our house and folks want a cup of tea after dinner.
    I made 2 dozen banana muffins for my kids to eat for breakfast and snacks. I used brown bananas that I had stashed in the freezer for a later date. The flour, oil, and chocolate chips were purchased on super sale (they were definitely loss leaders).
    I made two batches of homemade croissants. I used the loss leader flour and butter purchased from Costco. I can make an entire batch of croissants for what one or two might cost in a bakery.
    I placed an order for a 40 lb case of chicken breasts from Zaycon. They were having a sale and I got the case for 99 cents a pound! When these come in, I’ll divide them up into freezer bags and put them in our deep freezer.
    I ran out of dishwasher detergent and was loathe to pay what the stuff goes for in the stores. I did some research online and decided to try just using a little washing soda instead of detergent. I made my own washing soda from baking soda in my toaster oven using Penniless Parenting’s method:
    My husband installed a single roll of insulation in our attic as a test to see if it is a project that he can handle himself (it is!). We need 7 more rolls to finish the job, but I’m holding off buying them until they are on sale or we can use a coupon.
    I picked up several books for my children from a local Little Free Library.
    I used a $5 off coupon that I got for registering online with Little Caesar’s to get a sausage pizza for $2.75.


  82. U.S. postage for first class forever stamps and for postcard stamps goes up 1 cent on the 21st/Sunday, (plus a few other services are going up and a few down). Not a big change, but it does add up!

  83. Hi Ellie. Thanks for your wise words; yes, I agree with you. Shop Rite’s loss leaders & can-can sale in Jan & Sept are the best. This is when I stock up not only for myself but to donate to my local Animal Rescue & Food Pantry. This week at SR Bottom round roast is on sale for $2.99 lb (limit 1 pkg) & center cut pork chops on sale for $1.99 lb.(no limit); purdue chicken leg quarters .59 lb. Best wishes to you too.

  84. -Worked an extra day because coworker had a PTO
    -Cook at work was trying out new specials so got a free lunch out of samples
    -Did great at one grocery store. Between sales and coupons I managed to save $33.76. Only spent $10.91 and I will get 50 cents back from Iboota.
    -Used $6 in ECB at CVS. Only spent 32 cents.
    -Made 2 weeks of dog food. Froze some.
    -Brought leftovers to work all week for lunches.
    -Dropped stuff off at our church outreach. Got tax receipt for 2018 taxes. Started a folder for them.
    -Hung most of the laundry. I like jeans to go through the dryer.
    -Went to see a movie for free with a friend. Then grabbed a quick lunch with a gift card.
    -Sold an item on eBay
    -Got lots of items for Easter baskets at Walmart clearance section. My kids don’t care if some of the items have the wrong holiday on it.
    -Made pumpkin muffins and popcorn for snacks
    -Switched bank accounts. Now will get free checks.
    -Went to my sister’s for my Dad’s Birthday. We ate dinner over. Made bread pudding for dessert and homemade caramel sauce. Saw one of my sisters that I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving so did gift exchange. The kids like it because they get gifts longer. I like it because we don’t spend $ on shipping presents.
    -My sister gave me a bottle of shower oil that she got in a basket. I don’t like it to use as a wash but it works great to use for shaving my legs.
    -Found 11 cents
    Our big expense was we paid my son’s college tuition. We are trying not to take out loans. Thank you all for wonderful ideas on how to cut expenses down to the bone.

  85. Indiana has something called “Healthy Indiana Program”, for unemployed people between 19 and 65 at almost no cost. I had never heard of it until we were recently thrown into a similar situation. In other words, check what your state offers.
    If we stay with current insurance, husband was told that instead of going on regular COBRA, which has a time length limit, there is something that is COBRA-like but could last until age 65 when Medicare starts.
    And of course, get all your appointments in and prescriptions refilled in the next month if that works with your deductible.
    The many emotions swirling around need a lot of attention, and will for quite some time. Best blessings to you and your family!

  86. Sorry about your dh’s job loss. You might want to look into COBRA which is available for 18 months from your dh’s employer. Have him contact his former employer’s human resources dept. Just to let u know, COBRA is expensive, but it will give you some time to look for other options.

  87. I loved Niagara Falls when we went, many years ago. I’d love to go again sometime. We took a bus through the local Parks and Rec. It was very cost affective.

  88. Our January grocery budget was only $60, plus Meijer pharmacy rewards, so we’re eating lots from what we have on hand.

    Biggest accomplishment was using sales and the aforementioned pharmacy reward ($20) to get enough eye of round steak and shrimp for our anniversary dinner (this past Sunday) and for Valentine’s Day. (Neither one is a normal meat at ALL for us.)

    I generally cook our “special” meals at home because it’s much more frugal, and our seven year anniversary was no exception. One of the sides (smoked paprika veggie saute) was also based around a sale item (99 cents/20 oz. at Aldi). The onions and spices for it were staples, and the mushrooms were from our food storage, since fresh wasn’t on sale.

    I also baked our ~fancy~ dessert: chocolate crusted, chocolate chip cheesecake, with chocolate ganache. The heavy cream was used all up in two other recipes, so it didn’t go to waste. The chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk were from our food storage. The chocolate graham crackers (an irregular item) will get used up later this week in s’mores brownies. The cream cheese was from Aldi, and, I think, the lowest price in our area.

    One of our meals this week was your black bean burgers. It’s been one of our favorites for years. I had made them a while back and frozen some of the raw mixture, so that got eaten with buns from the freezer (bought on sale in the summer).

    I made semi-homemade ketchup that I actually liked! (It’s base is tomato paste, not fresh tomatoes.)

    I’ve gotten back into my routine of orderly grocery planning and menu planning. The kitchen is, once again, running smoothly, and the wallet is no longer confused, haha.

    We’re switching back to liquid laundry detergent. My homemade stuff just wasn’t working for us. BUT I found a great sale at Meijer on a brand that plays nice with my persnickety skin. I bought four bottles, and price compared at Sam’s before making the purchase. (I was at Sam’s anyway to buy kitty litter and toilet paper; best price in our area on those things!)

    We used Christmas money from my mom to buy 8 months of flea/heartworm protection for our kitty (our other just died of a sudden cardiac event, so we’re taking more precautions since Jupiter tested negative for heartworms).

    With our other kitty’s passing, we were able to switch to a cheaper food. It still has to be prescription because of some urinary issues, but the Satiety is cheaper than the Hyrdolyzed Protein (which the other one needed) by about $20/bag.

    It’s full-on winter here, but we’re keeping our heat at 55. I’ve been wearing my fuzzy house clogs to stay warmer. Very often, if people are cold, it’s their feet.

    I watched some videos on YouTube to help me get a project (hopefully) rolling.

    Related to the same project, I downloaded a free video editor. I’m going to have to watch more videos to learn how to use it, haha.

    My husband took an opportune warm day last week to change our vehicles’ oil. I do a LOT of driving for our ward, so we have to keep up on our van maintenance. He also took the battery out of a sputtery-on-its-last-legs-car that my mom signed over to us so it wouldn’t get ruined over the winter; he’s planning on repairing its heater core in the spring. (This was my grandma’s last car, and the car I learned to drive on. My husband is a master of eeking out the last bits of use from machines.)

  89. Great news…one doctors visit was not submitted to the insurance and the other should be re-coded to allow the insurance to pay for it.

  90. [list]
    Our air-conditioner ran for seven hours last week and we turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom for one night.

    We used up a whole lot of leftovers and older food items. My husband took lunches to work all week and we only purchased one meal.

    I received three free books via a local FB group. We gladly accepted a fold-out bed (for occasions when my whole family visits from overseas) and a dryer that family friends offered to us. Both items are basically brand-new. The dryer will only be used if absolutely necessary.

    I picked up free apricots, plums, chillis, red onions, a lemon, a book and glass jars from our local produce carts. I left some rosemary and toilet rolls in return. Some people use the rolls to make seedling pots. My husband brought home some peaches that someone at his work had shared.

    I spent a lot of time weeding, pruning and removing plants in the front yard. This is an ongoing project as the old owners left behind quite a mess. We’re trying to do as much as we can ourselves.

    We watered from our rainwater tank a couple of times and were blessed with strong rains a few days.

    I completed some online surveys and accumulated enough points to request a $20 gift card.

    We hosted a BBQ for some of our friends as my belated birthday get-together. I bought the cake on clearance and the soft drinks at 50% off. We always ask people to bring their own alcohol as it cuts costs and everyone drinks something different. I received a bottle of wine as a gift. We managed not to use any plastic ware and people left their recycling bottles behind so we added them to our bag. None of the guests wanted to take any leftovers home so we kept enough for dinner the next day and donated the rest via a local FB page to people in need. I absolutely cannot stand wasting food.

    I finally had to buy some groceries during our low spend January and paid for most of them using the leftover balance on a gift card.

    On Sunday, we went to the beach and hiking with our best friends. We brought our own snacks and drinks and only paid for lunch using our “fun money” (from recycling bottles). They drove and refused our repeated offers of fuel money so it was a very frugal outing. We were so full from lunch that we skipped dinner and only ate some leftover cake before it went bad. 😉

    My husband left for a week-long work trip and I packed a bag of assorted drinks, breakfast food and snack items. It won’t be enough for the whole week but his workplace will reimburse him for any costs.

  91. Whenever I fry a lb. of hamburger I scoop out 1/4c. and put it in a ziploc bag in the freezer,it doesn’t matter if it has onions & peppers in it and when it’s full I have pre cooked hamburger to sprinkle on pizza ( my husbands favourite)I also add mushrooms or extra onion & pepper or chop up in small pieces ham or pepperoni . Homemade pizza sauce is very easy to make from tomato sauce or paste plus spices or I sometimes use spaghetti sauce that I buy on sale with any kind of cheese.The precooked hamburger meat is also great to use with anything you make with hamburger.

  92. Terri,

    I don’t know where you are buying your insulation, but I do know that Swagbucks has a gift card option for Lowe’s. If you wait until you have 2200 Swagbucks, you can get a $25 gift card there. (Normally it is 100 Swagbucks per dollar, but the $25 gift cards allow one purchase at 2200 points a month for the $25 gift cards, so I always wait for that option).

  93. Also see if your bank, credit union or mortgage company will let you make biweekly payments (26 a year). This method pays the loan off faster than the conventional monthly payment. Fortunately I have a credit union that allows me to make daily mortgage payments. So you might ask about that too.

  94. I paid $10 for an Arbor Day Foundation membership and in return will get 10 flowering trees that are suitable to my area in May for planting. This deal is good until January 31st.

    Used 2 free passes (Thanks Mom!) so my husband and son plus a friend could enjoy a local indoor water park on Friday.. Saved us over $90! The kids had off from school for a Teacher Inservice Day. Also had $5 arcade cards from my son’s 10th Birthday party there in 2014. My nieces never used theirs so my Mom gave em to me to use.

    Took advantage of the thaw-out..after 4 ft of snow in mid-December to take down our Christmas lights.

    Used the remainder of a Little Caesars gift card (again, thanks Mom!) and bought a $5 pizza plus two sauces for dipping the crusts.

    Got my hair cut. Enjoyed several magazines from my Recyclebank accounts. Stayed home on my days off which saved money and gas. With grad school classes, I’m FAR too busy to have leisure time. Plus it’s too cold out anyway. I’m not a fan of this bitter cold with negative temperatures when you count the wind chill factor.

  95. We have a Berkey system and love it. We use the fluoride filters in addition to the carbon filters. They last over a year for us (my husband and me). I bought the elevated stand and it makes it much easier to use for tall things like our coffee percolator.

  96. I sold a bunch of my Uncle’s DVDs on EBay after he passed. I sold them in groups such as sci-fi, holiday, by certain actors.

  97. Niagara Falls is only about a 3 hour drive (depending on traffic through Toronto, which can be crazy), from where we live. We’ve been mulitple times, but this was the first time I went in the winter. I still have never been over to the American side…maybe some day! As for costs, we spent $40 on lunch for 3 at Burger King because the restarant was located on Clifton Hill (the major attraction area of Niagara Falls) and they inflated their prices…ouch!

  98. Lorna,
    Thank you for updating Jenny, I too was interested in where you were savings-wise. Do you think you will be buying the land and starting the house in the next five years? Do you already have the city/town picked out? I enjoy reading your posts and following along with your progress 🙂

  99. Like I said, I thought it tasted fine. It was the rest of the family who had issues with it. I also thought it would have more spice to it, as the recipe called for hot sauce. However, it was very mild tasting. So if you do try it, and want the spice, don’t be afraid to add more hot sauce.

  100. I agree. I love to travel and enjoy seeing all those places that many people only read about. I appreciate the clearer perspective it gives you, especially when these places are featured on a movie or you read about a historic event that happened there.

  101. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s broken hand, hopefully the recovery will be quick and pain free for her!

  102. Jerry, why not commit yourself to making one thing off your list each week. It will get the momentum going. You can always make more if you feel like it!

  103. I had a good frugal week! Was able to buy firewood for a very reasonable price from one of local Boy Scout troops. We heat our home with a wood burning stove. It has been so warm in Southern California we have hardly used it this year. Found a new Little Tykes sand box for $15.00 on FB page for my granddaughter. Brandi, your husband’s idea is genius! I have a bush that died and I was trying to figure out the easiest way to dig it up. My son was given a motor hoist, now thanks to your husband I know what to do.

  104. I invested in wool dryer balls a few years ago and love them. No dryer sheets or their chemicals and – best of all – the clothes dry much faster.

  105. I always love looking at your flowers, Brandy!

    Our biggest thing frugality last week was that I was able to bring home dinner for one night and lunch on another day from the leftovers at a workshop I attended. The workshop was productive and the two extra meals were a bonus! More here:

    Thanks for all the ideas everyone! And thank you SO MUCH for hosting, Brandy. I love coming here each week and reading everyone’s accomplishments and ideas.

  106. sherri garrett When Son 2 bought his house , his realtor bought him 3 LED night lights, one for bathroom, one for kitchen and one for his hall way as a housewarming gift. He thought it was one of the best things ever as a gift as he stayed the night he closed and didn’t have anything but overheads to turn on.

  107. Thanks Brandy! 🙂 I thought about purchasing it from Lowes because our credit card rewards have a Lowes gift card option (we put all our expenses on our credit card and pay it off in full every month). However, the rolls of insulation cost almost $7 more at Lowes, so right now Home Depot is where we’re looking at buying it. I’m planning to check another local building supply place and see what their prices are. Since the weather is mild enough for us not to need to use the central heating in our home, I don’t think it’s a project we need to complete urgently.

    I forgot to mention our best frugal accomplishment! Since we’ve been economizing over the past couple months, we’ve accumulated enough excess in our checking account to make an extra payment of $3000 toward our mortgage principle. We already have a short 15 year mortgage, so this will help shorten it a little more.

  108. Full retirement age and the age to start Medicare are not the same since 65 is no longer full retirement age. I freaked a bit when I read the last comment and double-checked. From what I can tell, I will be able to start Medicare at age 65. That did not change despite the increase in my full retirement age. Widows who are younger than age 60 can receive social security benefits if they have a child under the age of 16–a fringe benefit of becoming a mother again at age 44. (I was worrying about what would happen to my little sister if something happened to her husband after reading the earlier comment until I did the math.)

  109. Thank you for more background, SusanKB. Can you clarify the first sentence? He isn’t eligible for Medicare at 65?
    I understood that a person was always eligible for Medicare at 65, even though full Social Security retirement age might be later.

  110. Hi Brandy,
    Thanks for helping me stay on track with your inspiring writing.

    I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share the books you are reading each week? I’m often looking for good books from all genres and can feel uninspired from time to time at the library.

    Thank you for all you do for us.

  111. My kitchen window looks on to a wooded area near the Humber river here in Toronto. We are actually very lucky to have so much green space (parks, ravines, rivers & a lake) in such a large city. I enjoy watching all the different birds even at this time of year. I’ve seen a lot of Chickadees recently and I often see Cardinals, Blue Jays and the occasional Oriole. Right now there are a number of large black birds that have shown up. At first I though they were crows but after a closer look I realized that wasn’t correct. I also see porcupines, skunks, raccoons, and a large red fox and we know there is a herd of deer back in the woods as one will wander out occasionally and we hear the coyotes (or coy-wolves) howling at night – so much for city life!

  112. I bought 2 new dog crates. Since they will be out in the dining room, I wanted them to look nice and match each other. The clerk rang them up as separate transactions to take advantage of two $5 coupons and my 10% military discount to bring the cost down. I will pick up a third once it comes into the store (and I gather another coupon).

    Packed my lunch each day. Ate out four times – once fast food, one Chinese take-out (but this will be spread over 3 meals by adding soup and some veggies), dinner at a friend’s home (gratefully accepted leftovers), and once at a VFW fundraiser (took half of my dinner home).

    Had 4 no spend days. Went to weight training, a tai chi class, and 3 zumba classes at the gym. Attended a free preview movie (Horse Soldiers) and a $4 movie. Brought my own snacks. Highly recommend Horse Soldiers. It was an excellent and honest glimpse into soldiers’ experiences in Afghanistan.

    Accompanied a friend on an errand in the city and we both did some shopping along the way. While we were out, I picked up spices at a specialty shop and, with coupons, got 4 free bottles of spices. Went to Aldi’s and Trader Joes’ (both are over an hour away and not somewhere I hit regularly). Stocked up on ground beef and London broils as they were at a price I haven’t seen in a long time here.

    I picked up some wine on our travels and had to place some of the bottles in the downstairs wine closet because they wouldn’t fit in the wine fridges. Yay! We’d been unable to afford to buy decent wine for a long time (paying cash for my husband’s graduate school= ouch).

    Thank you Brandy, for teaching me ways to be frugal, so we can afford to do what we love.

    My big score of the week: I asked if the high school’s auto shop could do some repairs to my car – new brakes, new shocks and struts, a new cigarette lighter, a new hydraulic trunk lift, and (the big one) a whole new AC system. They said yes to all of it! So instead of a $1700+ for parts and another $1000+ in labor, I will only pay for parts.

  113. Awesome that you got Orchestra tickets! I am an ex-performing musician and that would have been exciting for me. We did have something similar happen. We got to go to our local NBA teams game on Thursday. Upper deck seats but I was grateful and we had a blast. My daughter got a “first time fan” button, certificate, and bracelet for free.

    Went to our grocery as they had pork roasts on sale for $.99 a pound. We were only allowed 2. My husband made one over the weekend. Zucchini and Squash was .50 a pound this week and I made a zucchini cake. Still haven’t used the yellow squash. I usually fry it but have given up frying for the month of January to lose a pound or two. Need to look up some recipes.

    Worked in the garden for a bit when we had warm days (in South Carolina we can have snow to mid-60’s). I cut the perennial’s as I noticed I had new growth. Also weeded on a day after some rain. We are going to raise the beds higher this year next month and I’m trying to keep things clean.

    That’s it! Have a great week!

  114. Thanks for the heads up. My lint filter must be shaped differently than yours, as I have never had a problem with a dryer sheet ending up in it. Maybe because it is located at the front of my dryer at the door?

    The good news is that when I get my clothesline put up I won’t need any dryer sheets!

  115. Jennifer O– Yes on the dryer balls! I love them and haven’t bought dryer sheets in years! Also, as Brandy has said before, don’t over dry your clothes. That is where the static is!

  116. Wearing what you have is best. I learned the hard way. I have a really pretty brand new black sweater with lace sleeves and a nice new given to me for Christmas pair of black pants I am pairing that with pearls for everything I am invited to the next few months. I will change up the scarf that I wear as well but this is going to be what I wear to events in the -20 degree weather .

    I tried it all on last weekend as we have an event coming up and it looks way better on me than the items others talked me into buying. Now I am struggling to return other items to get my money back we will see . But I’m set for the next two events.

  117. I have been using about one ounce of juice added to seven ounces of water to give my drink a bit of flavor.
    I use whatever is free to add to the water for flavor.

    Makes a nice change.

  118. We have a Berkey, thinking it is the Royal size which is around 1 3/4 gal. Then because this just was that not enough purified water on hand, my hubby made a filter with two (2) 5 gallon buckets. We bought the Berkey filters (black and white floride) then following instructions he found on a YouTube video made one that works wonderfully, and saved a lot of money compared to buying their biggest filter!

  119. According to the Social Security Administration, if someone has been on Social Security Disability payments for 24 months, they are then eligible for Medicare coverage in their 25th month of SS Disability payments. This rule makes it possible for some people younger then 65 to be on Medicare.
    Even though Medicare is a Federal program, the Medicare Supplement plans will vary according to which county you are a resident of.

  120. I was so busy this weekend, I’m just now getting around to commenting and reading!

    We had a 3-day weekend, and my husband got a good start on the greenhouse he is building for me. That kept him super busy all 3 days, but he still has more to go.

    I had my friend and daughter over for a couple of days/nights. She made the whole family a ton of food for after church on Sunday, because in her country of origin, they celebrate Christmas a little later than we do. So, the whole family got to enjoy yummy food, along with some friends of my sister’s that dropped by. Then, we had the coffee ceremony….fun, tasty, and full of caffiene. Which was good…because she had tons and tons of homework to do. She’s taking a very heavy load this term, and needs a bit of help at times. So, we did homework for several hours over the weekend. We also took time to watch the old movie, “The Parent Trap” and I explained all the confusing bits to her. Boy, who knew….there’s a lot in there that needed explaining:). We had fun and had a good laugh! She really couldn’t see the humor in dumping honey, water and grass on other people as they do in the beginning as a camp prank, until the twins did it to the mean woman who was trying to marry their dad for money. Then, she thought it was super funny:). She had asked to watch a comedy, and I wracked my brains for one to watch, and feel successful, as she told me she enjoyed it a lot!

    The rest of the things we did are on my blog:

    One daughter got a couple of wisdom teeth pulled yesterday and one was super hard, so she’s recovering today. I was so happy we could use insurance for that. I did buy her all the ice cream she wanted, plus some for the family. Poor kid!

  121. Michelle-
    I sold a lot of classics, like Frankenstein, Little Men, etc. I also sold a couple of old textbooks. None of the newer titles were needed so I just gave them to our local library.

  122. Hello 🙂 I am interested in knowing more about your local trading apps please? I am also close to Toronto and would like to join some groups. Thank you, Camille

  123. I had pinned the recipe just before reading your comment and thought it was a funny coincidence! I will probably not bother with it based on your review. Thank you 🙂

  124. Hi Hilogene yes we will be building our home within the next 5 years aiming to be ready in 2 – 2 1/2 years to have the home built and to approach the bank for our loan. We have picked out an area which we think will be suitable price and location wise but it will be further out of town which we like. Hoping to be on an acre or more of land so we can continue what we are doing here and have large vegetable gardens and add some fruit trees into the mix so we continue to be as self reliant as possible by growing most of our food.

    Glad you enjoy following our progress and yourself too Jenny 🙂 .

  125. I’ve been using a Berkey water filter for around 20 years, and love it. We collect rain water and filter it for drinking. We use the ceramic filters, which last forever if you clean them reasonably regularly. There are various filters, depending on what you need to filter out. I’d highly recommend a Berkey. I wasted a significant sum of money on a whole house system that didn’t work.

  126. I don’t have answers to any of your questions, but I love that you found a dress, the cats caught the mouse and that you reuse mayonnaise jars for freezer jars.

  127. Hi Camille! I use an app called Bunz; there’s also a facebook version of the same group. I know it’s spread to the commuter/bedroom communities outside of Toronto, although the primary use is still in Toronto. But hopefully it’s a great resource for you! I think there are also buy/sell/trade fb groups, and probably also similar ones on kijiji. Best of luck!

  128. Lorna, another long time fan here. You have impressed me with your continual and creative ideas to help you progress toward your goal. So happy you are half way to making your dream come true. I think you have a great plan for insuring a comfortable retirement for you and
    your husband by quickly paying off your mortgage. I’ll continue to cheer you on from afar!

  129. Hi Margie,

    How wonderful that you have so much green space and your birds sound great. I have been watching the “pecking order” among the chickadees but they all defer to the Red-breasted Nuthatches. And just as I was losing light a Downy woodpecker came along. I have bobcat tracks in the yard and I really hope to get a good photo of one. We have Orioles but not in winter. We don’t usually have Cardinals but recently the occasional one is seen, even here. Coyotes come through my yard, too. It is really nice the temperature has gone up –– I’m going to try my luck at the Zoo for the penguin walk. Your home sounds lovely with a gorgeous location.

  130. Hi Tammy,

    Cardinals usually only average about 3 years but have been known to live up to 15 years. It must have been sad for your grandpa to realize it wasn’t coming back. My mother loved cardinals even though we didn’t see one here (there’s always hope). What lovely happy memories for you Tammy of your grandparents watching birds. We do have Mountain bluebirds here (about 20 minutes drive to the west). Perhaps not the same bluebirds as you have, as I’m not sure which state you live in. I tried for 4 years to get a really super bluebird photo. Then, one day, a male let me walk almost right up to him. I couldn’t figure out why he seemed mesmerized but realized later that he was fixated on a rival male across the road. What a happy fluke! So glad to hear that all is well at your husband’s work. And when you finally move into the farmhouse the time will be right (of course) and you’ll be better off financially. So far this week, I have got really lovely photos of Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Junco, and today a female Downy woodpecker. It is traumatic for me to switch cameras but I’m sure I’ll cope.

    I bet you’ll have lots of birds on the farm. I hope your move goes smoothly. Take care, Ann

  131. Glad to hear hospital worked out a payment plan for you. And that you have a reliable car. I am faced with also losing weight (trying to) and the wardrobe. I make the prospect of wearing my classic old clothes (pre-weight gain) my goal. The other is that I am going to have a tailor make me a couple of suits out of the exquisite Irish tweed that I bought years ago in Ireland. I’m not sure how I will afford it but if I lose the weight I will find a way! A good reward for losing weight would be to buy or make new clothes for yourself (whether or not at a thrift store –– people give incredibly beautiful clothes to a thrift store).. Now that would be a goal. As to your pantry ideas, I myself am working on that. Are there any fruit trees on your farm? Canning would help build up your pantry. So glad to hear things are looking up!

  132. Frugalness is a continuing way of life. To get to work, I walk to the beginning of a free tram zone that operates in my city’s CBD. Then I catch the tram.

  133. There are lots of tutorials on Pinterest for making fabric or yarn covered hangers hangers which don’t require knowing how to crochet. They are very easy to make (I remember making this type in grade 6: If you learn how to make yarn from old t-shirts or fabric strips, it can be a very economical gift to make on a shoe string budget! It’s a great idea, Maxine. Thanks for sharing!

  134. Thanks to one of your previous commenters who mentioned she had downloaded a free video edit software program,
    I discovered that my Mac has iMovie so I can edit videos. Now all I have to learn is how to make one! I hadn’t rally thought about it until I read the comment. So thanks!

  135. Thanks for mentioning Brandy’s white bean alfredo sauce. I have been trying to figure out what to do with pasta this week for a dinner, and my daughter loves alfredo sauce. I looked up the recipe and we have all the ingredients on hand.

  136. Hi, Brandy! Lovely flowers! They remind me of peonies. I don’t know how you do all you do every week.
    I charged my phone in the car one day. I usually only turn it on when driving a long distance. It rang today since I forgot to turn it off. I see where it needs to be charged again from sitting on for so long.
    I walked with friends through town and at the Tribal Center And did my yoga.
    Since my feet were cold, I found an old sheet that I folded up and put in front of the kitchen door to stop the draft.
    Several of our monthly bills can be paid at the credit union so that’s what I did. It saves stamps and time.
    My husband trimmed my hair for me after I helped shave his. The last time he cut my hair, he got it a bit too short. Now that it’s grown out a bit, I think I like the shorter version better.
    I sewed a button on my husband’s shirt cuff.
    I cleaned the oven on a particularly cold day knowing it would raise the indoor temperature. (11*)
    In the Fall I was given two bags of Concord grapes. I cleaned them, made them into juice and froze it. This week I made eight jars of grape jelly. It’s low sugar with Pamonas pectin. It turned out so good! It’s been many, many years since i’ve had Concord grapes. Making this jelly is kind of fussy but so worth it.
    It seems I only go to the library in the Winter when i’m Not working the Summer job. I picked up several magazines to read and three movies to watch. We didn’t like any of the movies but now we know! Our movie selection is on the short side.
    I went online to check insurance prices for our cars and house. It turns out, we’re already paying the lowest rates we can get. I checked two other places and figured that was good enough. By their numbers, we’re paying quite a bit less! Nice! That was worth the hour of my time.
    I made a trip to Aldi’s to get a few things. With the huge price difference between what they charge, and what our small town charges, it’s worth the drive. Of course, it depends on what we need and how much of it. Plus, I like the town where it’s located.
    Wishing everyone a fabulous week!

  137. Yep. Even when there is snow on the ground. The water usually melts thru the snow to the ground underneath it. Even if it does not sink into the ground right then, if the ground is frozen, it will do so later.

    When I first started doing it, I dumped it on the barked areas on either side of the front step, because it was convenient & I have blueberry plants there.

  138. Hi Lynn from NC Outer Banks and thank you for your encouragement it is really appreciated and we need all the cheer squads we can get 😀 .

  139. Hi Jenny and most welcome for the information, I hope it helps you sort through the nightmare that is getting a home loan. There is so many conflicting facts out there that I took my recommended level of borrowing of 25 – 30% of after tax income from leading financial advisors I saw online. Also when I was just out of school no bank would lend you more than 25% of your after tax income for anyone.

    I think the new financial rules are fair and sensible and designed so no-one gets into financial trouble or overextends themselves.

  140. Lilacs, how lovely! I grew up with Night Blooming Jazmine bushs outside our home. Just the thought brings the fragrance to mind & sweet tears to my eyes!

  141. We have chickens too. And, whenever we have too many eggs i make quiche that i can put in the freezer. It uses up the eggs and makes a quick and easy dinner. You can look up the recipe on line.

  142. Loved seeing your beautiful roses. We are in a deep freeze in Cincinnati with snow everywhere.
    1. Now that my husbands back has healed I am able to practice hospitality again. Had friends for lunch on their way from Michigan to South Carolina. Served lemon caper chicken breasts(on sale), mashed potatoes and veg with German chocolate cake we had received for Christmas. Used 2 left over uncooked breast to make chicken salad the next day. Poached the chicken and used broth to start turkey soup with turkey breast carcass from the freezer. Used turkey bones a second time and made more broth. Used trick of adding vinegar to bring out more flavor. Made 6 cups of broth that I froze.
    2. Thawed ham bone to make soup and discovered it had enough ham on it to make egg and ham sandwiches for breakfast and the soup.
    3.Received potted aloe vera plant for Christmas that was root bound. Didn’t want to have to buy new pot to transplant it or potting soil. Light bulb moment when I saw my Christmas poinsettia was on its last leg. Cut flowers off and put them in a vase, dug out the plant and cleaned the soil of all the roots, took off the cage that holds the plant upright and saved it. Then I replanted my aloe vera plant. It works perfectly. Saved the extra soil for another transplant.
    4. Got ham for 99 cents a lb at Aldi’s plus $5 off at cash register. Almost 10 lb ham cost only $4.65. I will use it for a Valentine party I am hosting.
    5. Bought 99 cent pineapple at Aldi’s and 59 cent boxes of mushrooms. Will have mushroom and chick pea marsala over polenta for lunch.
    6. Had daughter and family over to celebrate a late Christmas and served pork tenderloin (buy one get one free), roasted garlic potatoes and on sale frozen green beans. Made homemade hot fudge to go over ice cream that daughter brought for dessert. Enough left overs for son’s lunch.
    7. Had 2 appointments for my young adult children with special needs to see an orthopedic doctor on the same day at different times. Had to make 2 separate trips but fortunately not far from our house. Did not want to make lunch because I was tired after appointments and just wanted to go out for Mexican food. Made loaded nachos at home instead that were delicious.

  143. Brandy, I don’t know if your family would go for it, but because of health/allergy reasons, I cannot have tomatoes or cheese anymore but love pizza. So now, I make sauce out of beans, a sort of hummus. I put beans in the blender with seasoning and a clove of garlic or garlic powder and make it creamy. I spread that on a prebaked crust then top with sliced/chopped veggies and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and garlic powder and bake till hot.

  144. I do the Tightwad Gazette pizza dough, and use tomato paste doctored up with spices, and parm cheese out of bottle sprinkled also. I sometimes, if I have it add olives and mushrooms. If not, I sometimes add ham and pineapple for a Hawaiian pizza. I think my pizza comes in at about a dollar for two large pizzas, if I just use the parm cheese and whatever leftovers I can. I know Amy said that hers was a dollar a pizza, but I am sorta very conservative with my cheese use.

  145. Hi Rhonda,

    I keep a small plastic container in my freezer with lemon rind zest. I zest a lemon and put it directly into the container before I cut up the lemon for lemon water.

    When I bake a recipe, I just add a few pinches of zest directly from the freezer. Easy peasy!

  146. The cheese for three pizzas (using my pizza recipe) is the most expensive part. With 10 of us, we eat all three pizzas. I make homemade pizza sauce and dough. I grow the oregano, parsley, and basil from my garden for the sauce. I buy a #10 can of tomato sauce for around $3 (which will cover many more pizzas!)

    I can make soup for a tiny fraction of that and have leftovers for another meal. Beans and rice or potatoes and a salad from homegrown lettuce are other meals that cost so much less. Pizza is an expensive meal in comparison.

  147. Hi Mari,

    I live in CT, which also has very high food prices – used to be the 2nd most expensive state for food per the Missouri quarterly economic monitor. So I totally understand the challenge. Last year, for the first time, I tracked every grocery cent I spent. I entered each item into Excel. My weekly average was $74.75 and includes paper products, toiletry items, cleaning supplies, plus food. It does not include eating out, which I put into my entertainment line on the budget.

    I also am currently a household of one and agree with you about not buying food produced in China. I also buy organic milk, prefer Cabot cheese, Ghirardelli chocolate chips, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, etc.

    As the year went on, I tried new places to shop and was able to lower my expenditure. When I traveled and passed through another state, I went to their grocery store and stocked up if the prices were lower than CT. If I needed to be in a larger city, I checked out the Asian food markets and bought produce at MUCH lower prices then my area grocery stores. During the summer I found a farm stand with great prices on veggies -not so much on fruit. Shoprite has great prices, but the closest store is 20 minutes away. I would make the drive if the online flyer showed great stock up prices and I could combine the trip with another errand.

    It became a game for me! Now that I have all the data, I am excited to see how much lower I can get my 2018 spending in this category!

    Best of luck 🙂

  148. Sounds like you got some nice pictures! I hope to teach my grandchildren some more about birds. I still have more to learn myself. I hope you get used to your new camera quickly.

  149. I planted some aronia bushes a few years ago, a few raspberry bushes and we have asparagus. We also planted cherry trees but there was a drought and they didn’t live. I also think I chose the wrong variety. I do want to plant lots of fruit trees and have a garden. I’d also like to plant grapes and blackberry bushes. A little at a time.
    You are right, people do give nice clothes to thrift shops. I really need to lose weight. I lost 21 lbs in the last couple of months. But I have a long way to go.
    Ireland would be a beautiful place to visit. My husband has a friend that lives there. Maybe some day we will visit.
    Things are looking up. Thank-you.

  150. Hi Katrina,

    I was let go from my job right before Christmas. I was told the employer heath insurance was valid through the end of that month (December), which I believe is very common. I scheduled as many medical appointments as possible before 12/31: eye doctor, mammogram, blood work, a “mini” physical with my primary, allergist, etc. I explained my situation to the people scheduling appointments and they all kindly squeezed me in.

    This isn’t a LT substitute for health insurance, but I’m really glad I did.

    I found that health insurance through the exchange is $111 a month with $25 copays and very low deductible compared to the employer COBRA of $424 a month with a $10K deductible.

    Good luck 🙂 Emotionally it is like being on a roller coaster.

  151. Patty,
    You do not have to purchase expensive grow lights! You can use a shop light and it will do the same thing. Watch some YouTube videos about it.

  152. That’s why lasagna rarely makes it on our menu plan. We do have it, and pizza as well, but not often. The other thing that makes our lasagna so expensive is that it has to be gluten-free. Gluten-free noodles are at least $3/box. I have used zucchini instead of noodles at times, but people around here don’t like it that way as well.

    To bring down the pizza cost a little, I’ve been buying a 3-pack of gluten-free crusts from Costco, and making one of those up for myself with gluten-free toppings. They are around $5 each plus the cost of the toppings, and it lasts me for several meals. My husband found some of those ready-made crusts at Grocery Outlet for around $1 for a 2-pack, so he used those to make pizzas for the rest of the family. I used to make my own crust for much less, but cannot even have wheat flour in the house, as I get very sick if anyone lets it fly around while cooking and I accidentally ingest any. (After being sick for 3 days the last time a kid cooked a few years ago, I got rid of it all. I will buy wheat bread, etc., but don’t bake it here.). I find the toppings are expensive, as well, the way we like it. By the time you add olives, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, or whatever, it can really add up. So, it’s a treat around here. I only make pizza once a month or so, sometimes every couple of months. Same for lasagna.

    Another thing I’ve made at times is macaroni pizza. You just boil some macaroni (gluten-free or regular) and mix in a little Parmesan cheese. Layer it in a pan and put tomato sauce with Italian seasoning mixed in on it, then sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese on top. You don’t need much. Add whatever toppings you would put on pizza, such as meat, sausage, hamburger, peppers, olives, whatever. Bake until warm. It can be stretched quite a bit with extra macaroni, a small amount of cheese, and choosing only a couple of toppings instead of all the choices. It still gives the pizza flavor, but because it’s basically a casserole, and no one expects it to be as loaded with cheese as a pizza, it seems to go over well.

  153. Had a fairly quiet week here, as temperatures and wind kept us inside most of the time. We did venture out to our local Mexican restaurant with a gift card DH got for Christmas. We only used 3/4 of it so there will be some off our next trip as well. Still finishing the last of the Christmas cookies and chocolates, so the only thing I have made was about 2.5-3 quarts of applesauce with some apples I hid in the basement so I’d have room in the fridge for food for the holidays. Meatloaf fed us for two nights, and we finished the lentil/ham soup another night. Last night it was pork adobo over brown rice, and tonight it’s going to be frozen crab cakes (a rare treat because they were on sale and the store doubled $1 off coupons the week I bought them) with oven fries, green beans, and applesauce, one night we ate at a relative’s house for a late Christmas get together. I have spent some time re-organizing my household financial and medical papers but there is still a ways to go. Over the pre-holiday period I get so busy that I don’t file everything promptly and then I am left with a mess. I did find one bill that I wrote in my register but forgot to put the payment on bill pay on the computer. I quickly remedied that when I realized it, and the payment was 3 or 4 days late, I’m sure. It all goes back to when my husband bought himself a laptap—within a couple weeks he claimed it was locked up and he couldn’t get into it anyhow. I took it over and gave him the desktop PC to use–we are both happy with this arrangement except that HE now has the desk and file cabinet next to it, and I am working on the couch in the living room with no place to put my paper work and in order to file, I have to walk to the next room. So I end up with little piles of things that need to be put away, and either the cat or I knock them over regularly and they don’t seem to get filed very promptly. I could let him do the bookkeeping but that would NEVER work out!! He is neither organized nor good at remembering stuff. There is no space in the living room for either the file cabinet or a desk either. It’s a very unsatisfying arrangement, except I am very happy with the laptop and he is very happy with the PC. My daughter has given me a basket to put all my bills in–she has one beneath her large coffee table—to keep things from getting lost. I am going to try it with her method and see if I can remember to go through it every 2-3 days and PUT THE RECEIPTS AWAY promptly. We’ll see if I can do that!

  154. Brandy,

    I asked about the service hours because our school requires the kids to do a service project and I could not for the life of me figure out how many hours would be appropriate and the school did not say. I asked around and 2 seems about right . When the flyer first came home I didn’t know if they meant like 15 hours or what. I am going with 2 hours.

  155. Two hours for one project sounds right. Larger numbers of service hours are usually done over a period of time. For example, my daughter earned her Honor Bee, a religious award that requires 40 hours of service. She did this over several months.

    My children have also had several hours of service required for other things; certain Boy Scout ranks require a certain number of service hours (usually 10) and my eldest daughter had service hours required for her Young Women’s medallion too. In those cases, we wrote down how many service hours they did. For this past week’s project, we didn’t write anything down; my eldest son is an Eagle Scout and my second eldest is now working on his Eagle Scout project.

  156. Have you considered a little folding file folder in your basket for your bills and receipts? I have one for each year (it closes with an elastic closure) and I keep the bills and receipts in that. I take the receipts from my purse and type them in, and then I file them in the file folder. I don’t like having them in my purse, so I usually do them within a day or two of going shopping.

  157. I bake two or three items from scratch for breakfasts or dinners each week for now. I want to remember to bake some of the things that I make only once in a while and sometimes forget about. I also included things such as pancakes and waffles on my list. My family is enjoying it!

  158. I baked a little bit when I worked full time. I want to bake lots more! There are so many different things to make and it’s a creative outlet that I enjoy.

  159. Brandy, I don’t usually love yard work, but our weather has been so miserable and rainy that I am quite jealous of the outside work you are doing!

    Living frugally in Seattle:

    -I found out there is a microwave available in my son’s middle school lunch room. He has severe sensory issues and only likes a few things in his lunch that don’t require warmup. I was letting him buy school lunch once or twice a week to make sure he was eating, but now I can just send leftovers to be reheated. I won’t need to add any more money to his lunch account.

    -I tried a couple of meatless recipes from Budget Bytes and they were hits! The favorite was the flourless broccoli quiche, which was very easy and cheap to make, especially with eggs being so cheap to buy right now.

    -My husband wanted me to come join him for lunch at his new office downtown last Friday. Instead of going out to eat, I made soup and brought it with me, and we ate in the lunch room. My husband has also started riding his bike most days to work, a six mile ride each way, saving on bus fare. His coworkers are very frugal and most commute by bike as well, which encourages him.

    -Weekends are a little dull around here lately with all of the dark days and rain. We were able to get out for a great, local and free (minus the car ride) MLK hike. I continue to take advantage of our awesome library system and check out videos and books for entertainment. Right now I’m reading ‘Love, Africa’ and we are watching ‘The Wonder Years’ series, which my kids are loving. My youngest just learned to bake chocolate chip cookies, so that provides the treats.

  160. Hi

    My second child doesn’t like school meals so she takes in her lunch. We have a thermos that I heat up ( 10 mins filled with boiling water) and then decant hot food into it. It’s a wonderful way of her having a hot meal ( soup/ pasta/ couscous/ rice dishes/ stir fry) and also really economical as it is usually leftovers. I’ve figured out that I save at least £400 a year this way as her school meals are more than £3 each. If your son has a microwave even better ( her school doesn’t- prob hoping we will pay for the meals).

  161. Hi Katrina, my husband was let go at the end of October. He is 58. A lot of people have given the good and correct answers for your insurance question. I’m unable to work so he is our bread winner. I’m on quite a few meds because of several chronic diseases such as lupus. I just wanted to let you know about GoodRX in case you are in need of meds while not covered by insurance. I didn’t look into it at first because it sounded too good to be true! However it’s really been valuable to us. It’s an app that I put on my phone and it compares prices at all my local pharmacies. It’s like a discount card. I literally save $400.00 on one of my necessary meds. The prices compare to the prices I paid when we had insurance. Also, we have a clinic in our county ran by volunteer Dr’s and staff. You have to qualify by having some income and no insurance. Good luck to you. We are living on unemployment and diligently looking for a job but it’s hard. However we have lots to be thankful for and especially for gleaning so many ideas from Brandy’s blog. Keep the faith!

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