I’ve been out photographing people in the desert around here the last few weeks, so I thought I would share some photos with you in this post of what it looks like near my house. We’ve already had more than our usual rain this year, and temperatures are considerably cooler than usual. If you look carefully, you can see that the desert is blooming. The flowers themselves are very small and not really noticeable unless you are up close.

Our unbelievable weather for this time of year continued with a drop in temperature as well as some rain! It was 25 or more degrees cooler than usual for a few days this week! We opened the windows to keep the house cool, and we only had to use the ceiling fans occasionally. I am anticipating both a lower electric bill and a lower water bill.

I enjoyed the cooler weather by spending some needed time outside working in the garden, weeding and pruning.

We celebrated my son’s birthday with a homemade cake and simple presents, most of which came from garage sales.

I planted seeds in the garden for Armenian cucumbers, basil, Thai basil, red noodle beans, and Swiss chard.

I thinned peaches on my tree to have a better harvest,

I buried kitchen scraps in the garden to feed the worms in my garden and make my garden more fertile. Despite the cooler temperatures, increased rain, new soil, and manure that I’ve added to the garden, the garden has not been growing well this year. Trench composting is a simple way for me to add nutrients into the soil.

I harvested Swiss chard, Meyer lemons, and lettuce from the garden.

I needed a new pair of pruning shears, so we picked some up at the local nursery on Thursday. On Thursdays, they give a senior discount, so I took my husband with me (who qualifies for the senior discount) to pick up the shears.

I collected rainwater from the storm in buckets and used it to water my potted plants. I also used shower warm-up water to water potted plants.

My husband worked from home most days, saving gas by not driving to his office.

Winter got a job at college.


What did you do to save money this past week?





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  1. What stunning photos Brandy. Many decades ago I lived in Kuwait with my parents as my father was serving in the British army and we were posted there. The desert was barren most of the year but in spring after some rare rainfall it would bloom – an extraordinary and memorable event. The desert would be a haze of colour from a myriad of wildflowers and it was so brief it was almost like a mirage. At another time of year the desert would ‘ bloom’ with black beetles – there were so many you couldn’t find a patch of sand to step between them. Not so pretty but equally memorable!

  2. Beautiful Pictures! I like your perspective of the desert. Flowers are beautiful.
    Cooked at home. Cooked a turkey roast and made sandwiches. Had a picnic indoors with grandchildren. Made turkey corn fritters. Husband and son loved them. I think I got 40 hours in this week . Yeah! Turned off lights whenever possible. Opened windows for sunlight and fresh air. husband made kettle corn and we watched movie from the library. Picked lots of asparagus. Husband will sell it at farmers market, hopefully. Using everything to the last drop, toothpaste, soap, ect. Stepped outdoors to enjoy fresh air when doing bills seemed overwhelming. Sunlight made us happier. Being careful not to drive more than necessary to go to work. Buying nothing. Today I will make a greek turkey pasta bake and turkey and rice curry. That should finish up the Turkey. Made a Turkey black bean tortilla soup.. My sister and son loved it! I have been using ingredients I have on hand. Turkey was from a pantry. Right now we are not shopping at all and trying to avoid medical appointments. As insurance is so awful we will have to pay everything out of pocket. Expensive. Hope to stay healthy enough to not have to go to doctor.

    1. A local grocery store is buying all of our asparagus! I am so happy! This contract came at a wonderful time! The extra income is so needed right now.

      1. That is really good news, Tammy! I sincerely hope the income helps alleviate some of your financial stress your currently experiencing. Please keep us posted on how it goes!

      2. Excellent! A bakery where I live would occasionally buy rhubarb from local growers. Maybe another option for you some day.

      3. Just catching up on my reading! That’s wonderful about your asparagus! I am wondering how you make turkey corn fritters. They sound delicious! So glad or you Tammy about the asparagus. Ann

  3. Congratulations to Winter on getting a job at College!
    I’ve had some frugal wins recently, bargains at the local convenience store (One Stop for any UK readers). I popped in for mushrooms on the way home from work 2 weeks ago and noticed some yellow markdown stickers, investigating further I discovered 5 meat pizzas marked down from £3.00 to 33p (approx $0.44 according to google), ham marked down to 20p and Red Leicester cheese marked down from £2 to 90p, I purchased it all, cut up the ham, grated the cheese and popped it in the freezer. Last week at the same time I popped into the shop again and found cakes marked down to 20p and 2 x Indian Snack selections for 21p marked down from £2.20, purchased it all and into the freezer it went. I guess I’m going to be visiting that store each week now, it’s strangely exciting find the bargains ??.
    I mentioned before my son is moving away in September to pursue his American Football ambitions and we applied last night to a sports charity for financial assistance with his start up costs and also discovered he can apply for a bursary from his college to help with books, transport etc. Fingers crossed he’ll be awarded some assistance.
    Feel very grateful for free international FaceTime calls, youngest son is in Germany on a school trip and he’s called most nights to chat, lovely to see him as well as hear his voice. He’s away for a total of 12 days which is the longest he’s been away from home, it’s the start I think of a new season for me and my husband, our boys are beginning to stretch their wings in readiness to fly, scary but exciting too!
    Happy frugal week to everyone, wish me luck on my bargain hunt at the One Stop this week!

    1. I am always very envious of those “Yellow Sticker” bargains that I read of on the UK blogs! When I was last in London there was a Waitrose across the street from my hotel and my friend and I would eat a nice lunch out but would head to the shop for yellow stickers sandwiches, yogurts and salads for our suppers!

  4. Hi Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Brandy I am glad you got some more rain and it was cooler too saving you on water and cooling costs too. The desert is beautiful with blooming flowers. Send our congratulations to Winter for getting a job at college and how wonderful for her to be able to earn extra income to help with her living expenses.

    Our savings last week added up to $679.27 🙂 .

    Blessings –
    – We were given a large table plus a 6 burner BBQ from a friend free.
    – Our lovely next door neighbour gave us lots of rockmelons and honey due melons as well as a watermelon from her garden.
    – Our neighbour also gave us 3 dwarf apple trees in pots too as she is selling her home.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made all our bread and meals from scratch.
    – Made a double batch of coconut choc chip biscuits saving $11.83 over purchasing in the shops.

    In the gardens –
    – Amended soil with manure and planted our canna, calla and spider plants in the gardens around the house.
    – Put together 6 x 2.1 x .9 m above ground garden beds we purchased earlier.
    – DH plowed down one side of the house yard ready for us to amend the soil to put some bee attracting shrubs or herbs in and to give us some privacy and shade for the garden beds when we get them going.

    Earnings –
    – I earned $40 from the sale of 3 x 5 layer cotton eye masks I made.

    Finances and eBay listings –
    – We paid our usual fortnightly mortgage payment.
    – I listed 24 handmade items on a free listing promotion on eBay saving $39.60 on usual listing fees.

    Purchases –
    – Purchased a 30 x 3.66 m roll of 50% shadecloth on eBay saving $501 over buying it by the metre in the hardware stores.
    – Purchased bulk drip irrigation pieces, tap fittings, timers and hose in the local agricultural store saving $119.06 over buying them in the local hardware stores.

    Hope everyone has had a wonderful week of getting ahead and saving.


    1. Hi Lorna, can I recommend salvia species as economical plants for your privacy screen? They grow very well from cuttings and the bees ljust ove the flowers. Here in Sydney, I hack them back when they get too large and they come away fine and strong again.

      1. Thank you so much Laura and you reminded me of the name of the lovely bee attracting plants that I saw in another friends garden and I have now written it down.

        That is indeed what we will go with and they will look so pretty along the fenceline and they don’t grow to big and will not encrouch too much on the fenceline and can be trimmed up.

        I really do appreciate your comment and it helped a great deal.

        Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    2. Lorna, we like to plant nicotiana (sp?) around the house as they bloom in the evening and smell delicious. They are also like by bees. I don’t know the full name but they have long tubular flowers. I like to plant them around the hummingbird feeder outside my kitchen window. They are annuals here, but in areas with milder winters I think they are perennial. Maybe as perennial they become more bush-like.

  5. Beautiful photos! I’ve not spent any time in the desert, only driving through a handful of times. Thank you for sharing it’s beauty. I was happy to see a $26 decrease in our electric bill this month. We’re also having some cooler days right now, so I hope it’s a while yet before we need to turn on the A/C. Lots of garden planting happened this week, both seeds and seedlings. I noticed we are out of red noodle bean seeds, so will purchase some soon. I enjoyed a Netflix movie, On Our Way to School, the story of several children from different parts of the world, and what it takes for them to attend. It was very eye opening. Happy Mother’s Day! https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2019/05/around-homestead-movie-frugal.html

  6. Gorgeous photos!!!
    It’s been a hectic week here. Last weekend we took the subway into the city for a mini 3 day vacation. We got to see the Buddhist Lantern Parade that we see every year. Then we spent the morning relaxing by the pool before heading off to the Buddhist Cultural festival to celebrate the upcoming birthday of Buddha. My son got to do some free arts and crafts, made a lantern, and got to participate in games. Then before heading home we went to Pokémon Fest. We got to catch some rare Pokémon that are new to us and won a free phone accessory.

    This weekend we hosted a community swap and found some useful things:
    Pair of vans
    Pack of pencils
    9 balls of yarn
    2 pair sneakers
    1 pair silver sandals
    17 books
    1 pair flats
    Elbow, knee, wrist guards
    Box of Fabric softener sheets (new)
    4 rugs
    2 pairs of pants
    1 shirt
    2 dresses
    Travel kit
    1 pair sandals
    11 tea bags
    6 bars soap
    1 jar fish food
    3 packets jello
    Wax candle & heater
    Stack of hand towels

    On Sunday it was Buddha’s birthday so we headed to the temple. We walked to avoid traffic but as temples are on mountains we got our exercise too. We had a tasty free lunch , mediated a bit, then my son wanted to ring the giant bell in celebration. Overall it was a good week of frugalness in addition to our usual ways.

      1. This time I did get a number of things but sometimes it will be only one or two small things. I’m also lucky to live in an area that is popular with people who only stay for a few years to work and then move on.

  7. What beautiful pictures, Brandy! And congratulations to Winter on the new job.

    Frugal Accomplishments at our house this past week:

    A co-worker gave me a jug of fabric softener from Costco. She had decided that she didn’t like using liquid softener anymore. That’s a win for me.

    We found ground beef for $1.99 per pound and we had a $2 coupon if we bought more than 10 pounds so we stocked up.

    Berry season is coming and I will be watching for good sales for freezing them. We love them in our smoothies, adding to our yogurt, and desserts.

    My mom lives 9 hours away from us so spending Mother’s Day with her isn’t feasible most years. I sent her some flowers with a 20% discount. Sending flowers can be expensive but I would have spent the same amount or more taking her out.

    We have been finding free entertainment going to our 8-year-old grandson’s baseball games the last couple of weekends. It is his first year playing but we are already seeing improvement in his game.

    My husband and I have a new way of wasting less and less food each week. On the weekends I make more than we need for a couple of days and cook something new on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday. On Thursdays we bring out all the leftovers from the week, fill up our plates and heat them up for dinner. We may still have some food left over and I put that in the freezer for another time. In the next couple of weeks I will be taking inventory of all the little odds and ends in the freezers and making some meals out of them.

    Last Sunday we were doing some yard work. Our very good friend who is also a chef and lives a couple of streets away stopped by to ask us to dinner that day. We declined as we really didn’t want to stop our work, clean up, and go somewhere. A couple hours later, our friend came by again with a wonderful Mexican feast of homemade refried beans, rice, skirt steak, corn tortillas, and homemade salsa. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and there was enough left for the next day.

  8. What a gorgeous mother and children photo!
    Did the usual daily frugal things using muscle memory.
    Last week I saved 275 dollars by using Marivene’s one bucket at a time method to clean the carpet in my home. Each day I used one gallon of hot water and 3 ounces of carpet cleaner in a 3 gallon bucket. I used 2 old face towels interchangeably and scrubbed, soaked and rinsed until the the water got dirty. Then I stopped for the day. To do even one room at a time this way felt overwhelming. At the end of the week, the whole house flooring looked much cleaner and brighter. Renting a carpet cleaner is no longer an option due to hubby’s back issues, and I get tangled in all the tubes and cords. Hiring a professional cleaner would have costed over 300 dollars, as we have done in the past when we had children running around. I also got some exercise doing this project!
    Happy Mother’s Day to Brandy and to all Mothers in this wonderful community!

    1. Florrie, where are you seeing a mother/child photo? It is not showing up for me here. I see, I think, 5 landscape photos and plants.

  9. What beautiful photos! I’m so glad that your photography business is going so well. It’s so nice to have another creative outlet as well as an additional source of income. I really do love the “light and airy” photography!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a lemon yoghurt cake and half a batch of pretzel buns for two framed prints. I really just wanted the nice silver frames, which I then hung in the nursery. I also traded a coupon for a free coffee (which I got free) for a sealed package of gluten-free oats.
    – I did some rev.com transcribing (very little, but still) and earned money which was directly sent to my paypal account.
    – I donated a small amount to two causes I believe in, using money from my paypal account, earned from doing online surveys. This way I can support charities, even on a budget.
    – I baked a double-batch of egg-free chocolate chip cookies and sent them to my husband’s workplace. I also froze another batch of cookie dough (this time with additional pecans) to have for snacking emergencies.
    – I baked a nut loaf using my LSA mix (http://approachingfood.com/lsa-mix-superfood-blend/) but it broke when I was getting it out of the pan. I crumbled it up, and turned it into “choco-nut” cake pops using my homemade buttercream (http://approachingfood.com/the-only-buttercream-recipe-youll-ever-need/). I didn’t have candy melts for the coating, so I used chocolate chips with a little bit of oil, and used sprinkles from my baking stash as decoration. I wrapped them up in two Wilton cake pop boxes I had purchased on deep discount for a $1 years ago. I used some saved ribbon to finish wrapping the boxes up, and gave one box to a friend going through a rough time, and the other box to my husband to give to his boss as his boss missed out on the cookies that I sent to work with my DH. Some very fancy looking gifts for very little OOP!
    – I made creamy sundried tomato pasta with kale using some leftover sour cream and a bit of homemade yoghurt, the last of a container of parmesan cheese, plus some sundried tomatoes leftover from making an olive and sundried tomato pizza.
    – I cut open a face cream bottle and used a mini spatula to scrape out the leftover face cream into a small container. It should last me another week.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 gc to Starbucks. I also used a Starbucks gc from Swagbucks to buy myself a frappuccino when there was a 50% off sale one day. A nice treat after a long stroller walk.
    – I took some leaves off my decade-old Christmas cactus, and planted them in reused planters on my balcony. If all grows well, I’ll have 6 new cacti by the end of the summer.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone as usual!

  10. Lovely picture of your family. Also like the desert pictures. I paid off my son’s car. It was in my name but I saved a lot of money on interest and will pass the savings on to him. I am now officially broke but I wanted my last major debt gone to the tune of $4443.00. I continue to harvest mulberries, pack my lunch and just enjoy my home. I am so glad Winter got a job. Everything helps.

    1. I should have said he pays me for the car, and since I paid it off early, I will only charge him what was owed, His payment will be reduced by half to me and he is happy.

  11. Congratulations to Winter on her job. The desert is lovely especially in spring. My parents live in the desert in Arizona (though travel north in summer – like reverse winter birds) and I love the desert in bloom.

    I did a very good job of not shopping for much last week. Bought a few items, but nothing food wise except for a gallon of milk. My son treated me to Chinese food at home on Friday and a matinee movie and burgers for mother’s day on Saturday since we were supposed to be busy today (FIL doesn’t feel well, so plans changed). He was also instructed to buy me flowers from his sister, but I talked him out of it by insisting that we call the flowers I just bought and planted as from her. I have no more room for flowers, won’t be here for 2 months of the summer and know she doesn’t have the money with starting a new job and all. I’m stuffed on left over Chinese and happily staying home today. I love doing things that make my children happy.

    I am really enjoying a free month of purflix. I might sign up next winter for a couple months when I get so very lonely here. They have a nice selection of movies and shows that are uplifting that I like.

    Pared down even more clothing. Realistically, much of my wardrobe won’t be worn anywhere but back east so, if I’m not going to wear it next year, it’s outta here and into the hands of someone who will wear it. I have very nice clothing, so that should be helpful for some other working women.

    Hung a couple loads of towels and blankets to dry around the rain, added more found change to the change jar, ate what we had (but for my son’s treats), brought home extra food from a work event, bought small presents for my in-laws (aunt, uncle, husband’s parents) at the thrift shop and used gift wrapping from there as well for less than 3$, bought my son’s birthday presents ahead for 4$, a present for my daughter for 2$ and received a free pair of pajamas when I pointed out a rip (that I can easily fix), used rain water from the rain barrel in the water filter system for drinking water, resisted buying new rainboots as I’ve worn mine to the point that they have cracks in them (guess I’ll just have to stay out of the puddles), took advantage of a free cup of tea at the bank, and did the myriad of other things I have made a habit of doing up save.

    I am enjoying a second round of cut daffodils inside now and being thankful to not be outside in the rainy/slushy weather.

    1. I have used gorilla brand duck tape to tape up my rain boots it is water proof and very strong…so far I have gotten 2 extra years and still going with my boots. Just a thought you may want to try.

  12. Great photos! I must admit, though, that when we were able to move from the Desert Southwest, I was so grateful to be back to the Midwest where it rains regularly and we have dreary, gray days as well as cold snowy days! This is the climate that I belong in!
    This week I was home part-time after staying with daughter and her 3 kiddos until Tuesday! Then I was back to her house on Friday to take her to PT and then the airport Friday afternoon when she flew to Las Vegas to meet her husband for a long weekend! Just a few weeks longer and he will be joining them in Ohio!

    While I was home, I found Green Giant veggies (a whole pallet of them! Expiration dates in late 2020!) on clearance for 25 cents a can! I called 3 of my daughters and bought a dozen cans for one, 16 cans for another and 2 dozen cans for the third, in addition to the 3 dozen cans I bought for my pantry! Poor cashier! He didn’t know how to do a quantity price (24 @ 4/$1 type thing) so he scan one at a time! When he got to the end, I told him that he had missed 4 and the customer behind me agreed! Lol! I told him I was grateful to get them at this price so I wanted to make sure he had the right quantity!

    Because of this, I won’t need to plant green beans in my garden, except for eating fresh! Checking my inventory against what I need is really helping streamline my garden planting and my grocery shopping and saving me quite a bit of time and money!!

    I was able to buy raspberries- 2/$1 and made up 17 jars of raspberry jam within 90 minutes from gathering supplies/equipment until they were cooling on my countertop!

    Chickens are still laying about 3 dozen eggs/week so I made more breakfast burritos and bacon/egg/cheese McMuffins for here at my house!

    Gave 10 Goji berry starts to friends as I cleared and weeded my raised beds! My raspberry bushes have been sending out lots of new plants but I’m keeping those to expand my bed!!

    One of my cherry trees and one peach tree are both loaded with little fruit! I can hardly wait for harvest season this year! All of our cultivating and pruning is starting to pay off!!

    Using gas buddy, I was able to get gas on my way to my daughter’s housework $2.43/gallon while it was up to 20 cents more at other places!
    Enjoyed some books from the library.
    Made up a new MSQ quilt top using my scraps rather than a coordinated jelly roll from the store. https://pin.it/num4vnmqxzewhr I’m hoping to get it quilted up and bound today!

    Retirement is looming closer. We are meeting with a tax consultant on Tuesday. Just 1 more regular payday and then 1 final one before he retires! Getting nervous, but excited! It’s such a big step!
    Hope everyone is having a good week!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Dear Garden Pat,
      I may have a tip to help with retirement planning: I am not sure if this is the case in your state, but here in Colorado, if either of you are age 65 and have lived in your home for ten years, you can apply for a senior tax exemption on your property taxes. This will save several hundred dollars each year that can be put into savings.

    2. could you share recipes for breakfast burritos and bacon/egg/cheese McMuffins, may be in next weeks post? thank you!

  13. Your photos are lovely as usual. It’s interesting how places can be so different but equally lovely (just like people, I suppose!) I put some photos on my website last week of our property. (I’m not a good photographer, though!)
    I don’t have all of my frugal things sorted out for the past week, but I hope to have a post up in the next couple of hours. Hopefully I’ll remember to come back and comment again.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Brandy and everyone!

  14. The photos of the desert in bloom are fascinating, Brandy. The flowers are quite beautiful, but you are right that you need to be up close to see them. Congrats to Winter for getting a job! My I ask what will she be doing? I’m always interested in where students find employment because I work with so many students at my job. Sometimes my co-workers are looking for jobs they can do while going to school. Having suggestions of where to look is always helpful. My husband is nearing the age of “Seniors Discounts”, too. I laughed when I read you brought your husband with you to get the discount. My hubby would probably balk at it, but I’d still try to convince him to go with me anyways! A savings is a savings!!!!

    This week, our household’s frugal accomplishments included:
    *Meals made at home included sauteed garlic chicken (diced chicken breast sprinkled with seasoning salt, then cooked in a bit of oil with a generous helping of minced garlic) with Knorr pasta side dish and carrots, BBQ cheddar sausages with oven baked potato latkes (see below) and corn, and ham steaks with white rice and broccoli with homemade cheese sauce.
    *Made potato latkes one night, to use up the wrinkly, sprouted potatoes left in the bag. DD really enjoyed them. Here is the recipe I used, if anyone is interested in trying them: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/oven-fried-potato-latkes.html. Thanks to those who posted comments here that inspirated me to find a use for them.
    *When we had multiple appointments one evening, around the time we would normally make dinner, we opted to buy a rotisserie chicken meal at the grocery store for an easy dinner solution. It’s a relatively inexpensive take out option and I received extra PC points for purchasing it. These points add up to a lot of free food for our family! I used leftovers in school lunches the next day and saved the carcass to make stock later.
    *On Saturday, my mom, brother, DD and I went to a poutine festival that was taking place near our home. We ate dinner there. It wasn’t cheap, but it was fun to try different types of poutine and it got DD out of the house for a while. Hubby was too tired from working all day to join us, so he had a can of his favourite soup (Italian Wedding soup) from the pantry and I kindly brought home an ice cream Sunday for him to enjoy (he loves ice cream).
    *Hubby and DD took me out for dinner on Mother’s day, as per our family tradition. My mom and brother decided to do a road trip to put the flowers on my grandparents/great-grandparents gravestones for the summer, then went out to eat at my brother’s friends new restaurant.
    *Made a double batch of Double Chocolate Banana Applesauce Muffins one morning (for those who missed this recipe, it is AMAZING and so worth trying: https://www.momontimeout.com/double-chocolate-banana-applesauce-muffins-recipe/) then skipped over to my workplace with a dozen warm, fresh baked muffins, to wish a co-worker a happy retirement and another co-worker congratulations on her new position. The other dozen muffins were gobbled up by the family. Just a note, DD has discovered these chocolatey goodness muffins taste amazing with peanut butter slathered on them. So for anyone who are chocolate & peanut butter fanatics, you might want to give this a try.
    *Made Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal bars (recipe link: https://jamiecooksitup.net/2015/05/chewy-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-bars-and-17-chocolate-chip-recipes-for-national-chocolate-chip-day/comment-page-1/#comment-418798) for use in school and work lunches this coming week (I start back to work this Monday). I wrapped up individual squares to ensure we had enough for the week and placed them in the fridge. What little was left from the batch was free for other family members to enjoy.
    *Mixed up a batch of broccoli salad to use in my work lunches this week. I had bought the broccoli on sale for $1 over a week ago and the salad was a great way to use it up before it went bad and ensure I had a healthy lunch option to eat. Win-win!
    *Picked fresh dandelion greens in the yard to feed to our Guinea Pig. She pushed aside all the store bought greens to eat those first, so I guess they taste good right now. Plus, they’re free!
    *Used PC loyalty points for $20 in free groceries. Found coupons for free crackers at the store and used then to get 2 bags for family to try. Also stocked up on 12 – 2kg jars peanut butter at Costco, which was on sale, but still expensive considering the amount I bought. We were nearly out of peanut butter. In our house that is serious problem…people were full out panicking at the thought of not having their precious peanut butter! But disaster was averted.
    *My mother, brother and I spent the entire day Monday working in the garden and yard. We finally had a sunny, warm day after weeks of rain! I, with some help from my brother, was able to prepare the 4 raised garden beds, adding a bag of garden top soil and some homemade compost to each. I planted peas, spinach, pie pumpkins, butternut squash, dill, parsley, and radishes. We also put together 2 more raised garden beds, but still need to add dirt before they are ready to use.
    *Bought 18 ever-bearing strawberry plants, 4 tomato plants and 4 jalapeno pepper plants for under $35. Waiting to plant until the deer fencing is up.
    *Walked the dog several days for some free exercise. It also helps burn off some of her excess puppy energy, which she has an overabundance of!
    *My mom cut my brother’s hair for him. I trimmed my own bangs to delay needing a haircut. I have to wear my hair in a bun all summer. Because of this, I try to avoid haircuts until I’m done for the season, which allows my hair to grow out and saves me the cost of paying full price for “just a trim”.
    *Had a very positive meeting with the school this week. DD is having problems with going to and staying in class, and the school was trying to figure out what to do for her “program”. I told them their answer was in the question. Helping her learn how to work through her difficulties that cause her to not go or stay in class IS her program! I think my comment was like a sledge hammer hitting them in the head. Hoping they can put together a program that greatly helps DD advance further in her life coping skills.

    Thank you everyone, for inspiring me every week. Wishing you all a wonderful week filled with joy!

    1. Rhonda, that was a very wise answer on your part for the staff at the school. Let’s hope for you and your daughter’s sakes that they can accomplish just that. And I laughed at your remark about averting a peanut butter “disaster”. Very clever. In our house, my daughter panics if we’re close to/or have actually run out of cheese. I think she’s actually a mouse masquerading as a human.

      1. I’m with your daughter. I LOVE cheese, too! I always buy several blocks when it is on sale and keep it in the freezer until needed. When we get down to the last block, I’m starting to feel anxious for a good sale to restock my supply. Cheese is so expensive when not on sale!

    2. I agree, you were wise in your remarks to the school. It could even be written into her IEP. I hope that they do help her as you want.

    3. Rhonda, the chocolate muffin recipe looks fabulous! I’m wondering if you have tried cutting down on the sugar at all? We try to limit our sugar consumption a lot and between the bananas, applesauce, and chocolate chips it seems like that would be quite enough sweetness. I know that cutting sugar can mess with baked goods though, so I hesitate to mess with it too much.

      1. I have not tried reducing the sugar, since it is under 1 cup total for 12 muffins. However, they are pretty sweet, so you could try cutting back a 1/4 cup on the white sugar and see how they turn out. I only used 1 cup of chocolate chips for a double batch and skipped sprinkling the chips on the top before baking. I found that to be plenty. If you don’t have chocolate chips, or can’t eat them, I think the recipe would be fine without them.

    4. Although i am severely allergic to peanuts, nevertheless your peanut butter panic comment made me laugh. I can just picture the mayhem
      of a crisis. Your comments to the school were very wise. Ann

  15. I always love your photos, Brandy! I especially liked last week’s photo of Hamish and Octavius. They both had a twinkle in their eyes! The weeks seem to go by and I haven’t managed to comment until now. We have been keeping it quiet here at home. My husband works in food services at our university. Since it is quieter during the summer break for the students he has only been getting 3 hours per day and an occasional full day as he fills in for someone. Needless to say, we are not spending a great deal at the moment. My pantry shelf and freezer are pretty full and I managed to piece together some cash that will get me through the month for the few groceries that we will need. My mom is now feeling better and shopping on her own but she is still generously buying us the specials from the store that she shops at. It is often things like meat and cheese which are expensive and very much appreciated. All our meals have been made here at home and my husband has taken his lunch every day. Our weather has been milder so we haven’t had the heat on a lot. I’m hoping for low hydro and gas bills because of this. I’m also able to hang out the laundry fairly consistently these days which I enjoy doing and saves us some money. Hope everyone has a lovely week!

  16. I love to see these desert flowers. Thank you so much for posting these photos.

    My 10 lb of chicken legs turned out to be frozen in a block, so I am thawing them and reviewing my favorite chicken recipes. I’ll cook the legs a few different ways and freeze the cooked meat in reasonably-sized parcels.

    May is always a scramble of trying to get the yard cleaned up and the shrubs and trees pruned, and the grass cut for the first time in the year, balanced with a time where there is lots of work in my part-time jobs. The weather is good, which makes it more flexible about when I get outside.

  17. Brandy, great photos of the desert. We live on the edge of the desert in Phoenix so our view is similar, although we have some ocotillos and palo verde at our altitude. I really liked your point that the desert has lots of things to see if you look closely. When I first moved to Arizona thirty years ago, I was so disappointed in the desert and thought it was ugly. It took me about two years to start seeing the beauty;)

    Congratulations to Winter on finding a job! Hope it either pays well or helps her with her education.

    Frugal activities: made homemade bread, made a big pot of pinto beans and ham and split into portions for future meals, made a big batch of pulled pork bbq and had friends over for dinner and froze the remainder for future meals, shopped at the scratch and dent store and got some great prices for items we use (pork tenderloins, 20 oz for $1.19). My health insurance (Obamacare) offers $125 cash rewards if I did things like have a physical and get a flu shot…so I did them and earned the money, I use the rewards at Walmart and it is amazing how much I enjoy getting free useful items ;).

    Enjoy the upcoming week, it looks like the weather will be mild for another week or two!

    1. Ocotillos and Palo Verdes have to be watered here 🙂 They don’t grow here naturally. The first time I saw an ocotillo I was a child in Arizona and I was horrified! I wondered why anyone would plant a thorn bush in their yard! It seems like the perfect plant for Morticia Adams! I am not so afraid of them now, but it took me many years to get over that initial reaction!

  18. Rented a redbox dvd with a .75 off code

    The 12 yo needed a Tb test for a summer school class she is taking, so we took advantage of free clinic offered for students

    Really buckling down and making sure I get library books read and returned in time. Our fines are reasonable (.10 per item per day up to $1) but if you have multiple items it adds up quickly

    Stayed home as much as possible. My mom is in rehab which means I don’t get paid

    We were supposed to go to my mother in laws today but hubby has a migraine so we stayed home. We now have a lot of ham and baked beans for this week.

    Making an effort to declutter the house. I’m still deciding between having a yard sale or just donating.

    My neighbor brought over a grocery sack full of kale and lettuce, yum(they have a high tunnel on their family farm)

    We enjoyed a night out with the 12yos band concert, followed by ice cream at braums

    Used a few more gift cards up in my wallet for needed items at Walmart and a footlong sandwich from subway(which fed me for 2 lunches)

  19. I love your blog and have read it for years. May I please request you change how you have started posting photos? It takes a long time to load and uses a lot of unnecessary data. Just one example
    One of the photos size is 6000×4000. Your site is scaling it to 860×573. If you would just resize the photo before uploading instead it would save about 12mb of data and load so much faster. That is just for one photo! This won’t affect the quality of your photo. Even the best large home monitors can’t utilize all the data in a 6000×4000 photo so it is wasted info for viewing. That is great when printing but not for electronic devises.

    1. Sara, I’ve been editing in Lightroom instead of in Photoshop lately. I hadn’t had any problems with photos loading so I didn’t downsize them like I used to. You’re the first to mention that it’s been an issue since I made the change. I can size them for the blog again from Facebook. Not a problem.

      1. Thanks so much. You most likely don’t have a problem because the photos are already on your system. If you completely clear your caches then load your site you will see the timing. You can also ‘test’ your site by using one of the free testers. Just google test website loading speed. For those that have to pay for data, it can get pricey.
        You can resize, even bulk a whole batch of photos right in Lightroom. Only take a minute to do dozens of photos.

        1. Yes, I can resize in Lightroom. I was thinking about it and I actually stopped resizing in Photoshop when I switched platforms, as it didn’t limit me time-wise when uploading. I definitely don’t want to cause data charges to people!

      2. Yes, I have noticed that it takes much, much longer for your photos to load onto my computer now. Sometimes, I just pass them by and get to the text because it takes so long. Sorry to mention it.

        1. I’m glad you did! I will definitely resize them from now on. The new program didn’t make me resize them, but if it’s a problem for people, I will fix it!

          1. That is really nice Brandy. I love looking at your photos. My computer took a long time to load the pictures and text also. And that is unusual. Once the pictures were loaded I could go on. I didn’t know why. Again, Love your photographs. You are very talented.

          2. Interesting, because I have not noticed any change at all in photos loading, and I read very regularly even though I have been too busy lately to comment. I wonder if it is my internet. We are in Chattanooga, and it is advertised that our internet is very fast, but I have no idea how it compares to internet in other places.

          3. People keep commenting on the picture of you with your children… that picture doesn’t even come up on my screen? and yes it take forever to download the pictures!

  20. Our biggest frugal accomplishment this week was learning that we could use the funds in our medical Flex Spending Account to purchase sunscreen! I was able to use a coupon for the sunscreen as well as my CVS Extra Care Bucks, and then use my FSA account to pay for the balance. We also now use our FSA to purchase vitamins so those funds do not have to come out of our regular household/grocery budget any longer.

  21. Hi Brandy, I am glad to hear you had a nice week, and that the utilities will be down as a result. However, your mention of the weather there is concerning. It seems that many you-tubers across the country who grow their food are experiencing unusual weather. It is making for slow crops/gardens and no crops/gardens. Some are speculating a food shortage in the Fall and beyond as a result of all of the decline in normal weather. I wonder what your readers are experiencing. Here in northwest Indiana, it has been cool and cloudy with a lot of rain. It’s been raining 3-4 days out of the week and we are getting more today and this week. The garden and green house have been very slow as a result.

    I have been able to harvest spinach, lettuce, and radishes. Today I got a handful of strawberries. Groceries are being kept to a minimum this week as we will eat from the pantry and freezer. I made some yogurt and french bread this week. Spaghetti, meatloaf, pizza, and sandwiches are on the menu.

    Yesterday my son bought me 13 herb plants. We stopped at a place on the side of the road and they were only $1 per plant. I got 9 Lemon Balm, a lavender, a St John’s Wort, a cat nip, and a chives plant. The Lemon Balm will be potted in 4 inch pots that I have decorated for my other son’s graduation open house. They will be part of the table centerpieces. We are having it outside at a wooded park, so I am hoping they will help deter any mosquitoes. After the party, I plan to plant them around the yard and keep some potted on the deck.

    Have a great week everyone.

    1. The weather here is a great blessing. We have been in a 19-year drought and mandatory cuts were predicted because Lake Mead was predicted to drop 4 feet to be at 1,075 feet by this month. Instead, as of yesterday, it is 9 feet higher than it was 9 months ago. The water affects multiple states. Cuts here would be very difficult, as most people have no landscaping or xeriscaping on drip irrigation, low-flow showers and toilets (by law) and low-flow faucets. Las Vegas only uses 5% of the water used each year from Lake Mead, and of that amount, 95% is recycled. Our average is supposedly 4 inches a year, but we actually haven’t been getting that much the last few years.

      I’m sure the colder weather elsewhere will not be a good thing for crops in other places, but here, cooler weather and rain is a wonderful thing.

    2. Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where I live, the weather has been a bit strange this spring. We had a mild winter, followed by unexpected late snow, then rain, and now we’ve been through a period of unexpectedly warmer weather! This week, rain showers are predicted, which are sorely needed by now, and are the usual weather for this time of year. In the meanwhile, I have been out in the yard and garden for literally every hour I can possible spare, getting things planted, trimmed, and weeded during the nice spell. Veggie seeds are sprouting nicely, and I have quite a few things popping up each day. It remains to be seen how the garden turns out, but we sure have a good start on it. Since we rely on our garden for so much of our food, I’m very happy to see this!

    3. I am in New England and we have had a very wet and cold spring. So cold in fact, I had to buy heating oil this week – in the middle of May. I don’t know that I have needed to do that in the past 20 years….

  22. I’ve done some mending this week for mom and myself but have more to do. I almost bought several old-lady polyester house dresses that wouldn’t cost more than what the fabric would cost if bought on sale but I reminded myself that I can sew simple dresses without additonal cost from the yardage I have stashed in tubs in the basement–and that the ones I sew will be waltz-length for me, not for somebody several inches shorter. I also had purchased a cardigan at Goodwill a few weeks ago which is extremely difficult to button because its buttons are 1/16 of an inch too big. I thought about buying new buttons but decided to search through the collection of buttons started by my grandmother (She had been a seamstress before she went blind who died in the 1960’s) and continued by me first. I found enough matching buttons that are exactly the right size.

    Unfortunately, I cannot make cushy, supportive walking shoes. I had narrowed down my new shoes to a name brand, but the recommended model for my fat feet was $140. After trying on cheaper alternatives at Kmart and Walmart, I found a pair of the same brand, but a different model, slightly discounted at a department store and ordered it, for pickup today. But when I told my sister about my purchase, she emphatically told me that for her feet, that highly recommended brand was absolutely horrid. Sigh. She suggested another brand, but it doesn’t come in wide, and my feet are wider than hers. I settled on a pair of orthopedic walking shoes with a stretchy top. The manufacturer pays for shipping coming and going and allows its customers to try out the shoes for 60 days. Bonus, the entire site was 20% off today. I never, ever, EVER thought I would pay over $90 for a pair of “sneakers” but I want my knee, hip, and back to stop complaining when I stand and walk. Going forward, I am sure I will end up with just a few pairs of orthopedic-grade shoes and boots in my closet instead of a bunch of inexpensive, somewhat stylish, ones. It is time to purge the shoe bag, with a focus on comfort and health.

    For a while now, I had wanted to put the rice I bought from Walmart and then rebagged into two cup portions into the freezer because pantry moths are still infesting our house. All grains will soon be in sealed metal, glass or ceramic containers or in the refrigerator or freezer. The moths are going to get starved out. (Next winter, the bird seed is going into a metal can in the garage. 20/20 hindsight.) Anyway, yesterday I finally got around to inventorying and rearranging the freezer’s contents, and found I had plenty of room for the rice and a new container of ice cream.

    We did have a mouse in the house that was too smart to be caught by the standard old-fashioned mousetrap. I whined about the brainiac mouse to the guy at the local hardware store which had recently changed hands. The former owners had employed a cat to keep the mice under control. The guy pointed to one of the least costly plastic mousetraps and said they use that model in the store in lieu of the cat. I bought it and had quick success. One mouse down. The other trap has not been touched yet. Is it possible only one non-pregnant mouse snuck into our house this winter? I can hope…. but I still will be keeping the two new traps baited and ready for action just in case.

    I love seeing the woods around here in the spring with all the brand new baby leaves that are just now turning green. It is still a bit too cool for gardening except with hardy plants. I hope you are all enjoying the day.

    1. I have wide feet and also not enough fat on my soles so they hurt all the time. About a year ago I tried All Birds and have been very happy with them. They feel like sneakers but are dressier lace-ups.

    2. Holly, have you ever considered buying men’s sneakers, with the proper support of course, instead of women’s shoes. Men’s shoes are always wider in width, so you don’t have to pay extra just to get a wide enough shoe. I often buy men’s running shoes because I also need a wider shoe. I just look for a pair that looks unisex in style. You can always invest in a nice, comfortable and neutral pair of women’s dress shoes, for when you dress up for something.

  23. Congratulations to Winter on her new job!
    I went to a neighbor’s yard sale and bought 3 white resin lawn chairs (in excellent condition!) for $1 each! My total spend was $4.75.
    Most of my other frugal accomplishments were in the garden…which can be quite an expense at this time of year!
    *I had an epidural for back pain, as a result I paid a friend to plant 52 lily bulbs that were already sprouting. She deadheaded some of the daffs and tulips, too. However, she brought me a piece of chicken wire to back my potting bench as well as 3 pots of grape hyacinths and a bunch of those short dark purple irises, so I don’t feel bad about paying someone…and she needed the money.
    *I needed something tall, preferably blue or purple, that would bloom on the north side of the fence…I remembered that we had some purple and white monkshood at our vacation home. We were there this weekend, so I dug up 2 plants and brought them home to divide and plant. Gotta love free plants!
    *I bought about $30 worth of bedding plants and planted up 10 containers and baskets. I’ve acquired the pots over the past 20 years. This is way cheaper than buying already-planted pots, and my containers are pretty, too.
    *I was given a grocery sack full of used coffee grounds for compost, and I also brought home a bag of last fall’s leaves to feed the pile.
    *Some of the lettuce seeds I planted about two weeks ago have sprouted!
    That’s all I can remember right now. Best wishes to you, Brandy, and to all your readers.

    1. I’m glad you’re getting your new garden planted with some beautiful things!

  24. One of my favorite parts of this blog is reading about weather, plants, animals, and events from different parts of the world. I am most definitely not a desert person, and have never been near a wildfire or lived through a significant drought. I enjoy learning about how others live where they are.
    My favorite frugal activity for the last week was taking a stand against identity theft and unnecessary information gathering. I went to a new medical facility, and when filling out the admissions paperwork, did not include social security numbers for me or my husband. They don’t need or use that information, and do not have a legal right to it, (or at least have to explain why they request it). After copying my photo ID and health insurance card, they had what they needed. I have been skipping those lines for several years now, and no one has ever asked me to come back and fill it out. I also don’t include our cell phone number, just the landline. I do not suspect the staff of planning to steal my information; I just see no reason why I should splash it around in all sorts of databases where it isn’t necessary.
    The two Easter lily plants I got on clearance at the grocery store are not quite done blooming. When they finish, I will plant them in the yard, where I’ve had pretty good luck with them coming back up. I’ve had tulips I don’t even remember planting blooming this spring, as they are thriving in the cool and damp. They have been showing off in rotation for about five weeks now, and the late bloomers are still looking good.
    Encouraged by the descriptions some of you have written, I attempted starting seeds indoors, with mixed success. Yes to pansies, forget-me-nots, morning glories, and moonflowers! I have seeds of all those and some others left over to plant in the ground in the next week as well. I need to figure out a brighter window if I do starts indoors next year. I have parsley and basil started in pots outdoors.
    City wide yard sales were last weekend, and I found my weaknesses: boxes of stuff. I got flat of very old Christmas cards and one of all-occasion cards for a dollar each, over 120 cards total. People in the 1950-60’s must have sent tons of get-well cards, as I could supply a whole hospital with good wishes. Also, a jar with about a gallon of buttons for two dollars. An assorted-crafts needlework box and assorted-scrapbook supplies box for five dollars each. Those I picked through and set aside about half of each to resell at my sale. As my son is now an adult, I don’t have to look for kids’ clothes or things now. We saved huge amounts of money as he was growing up with yard sale shopping.
    Meanwhile, since city clean-up week follows the sale, I put out all the broken metal things I saved in a box in the shed over the last year, (rusted heating vent cover; broken fan, headset, clock, flashlight, keyboard; front of furnace air purifier; lid and kettle with handle broken off; tube from screen door closer; all marked as “broken”.). All was picked up off the curb by scavengers, and I hope it was all recyclable.

    1. When I was a child, our housing tract was the last one before the scrub growth. One year there was a fire there, and we watched it from our house, wondering if they would put it out before we were in danger. I have never forgotten it.

      1. Yes, that would stay with you! Your children remembering the recent snow is a much happier memory.
        I am familiar with (shall I say blase’ about?) blizzards, and my husband has stories of tornadoes.

  25. Hi everyone. Well, my eldest daughter had her wedding yesterday and it was beautiful.
    * As she has been keeping the costs down for a frugal wedding, she ordered some flowers and put together her own corsages for the mothers of the bride and groom, boutonnierres for the groomsmen and fathers of the bride and groom, the bouquets for the bridesmaids and for herself, as well as for decorations on the head table and dinner tables. She saved quite a bit of money doing her own instead of hiring a florist.
    * one of her bridesmaids offered to make her wedding cake: a simple two tiered round cake topped with some of the fresh flowers as the decorations. This bridesmaid also made two slab cakes to be served to guests in the evening along with coffee and tea. She did a wonderful job.
    * a friend of hers is going to college to become a photographer, and as he needed a portfolio, he offered to take the pictures of the wedding for just the cost of developing the prints.
    * my daughter purchased an old picture and frame from the thrift store for $5. She painted the inside with dollar store acrylic black paint. She then printed off the table/seating arrangements for the dinner guests and glued them to the inside of the picture along with some fake flowers for decorations. It was very pretty and got many compliments.
    * with her doing much of the decorations, friends helping out, getting a deal on her wedding dress, and a last-minute change of wedding date from November to May (the venue had an opening for May 11th and offered to give her the venue at an off-season price and a discounted price on top of that), she was able to come in under budget. Their original budget was set for $10,000 and the final amount was $8000 instead. It was a simple wedding, no bells and whistles, but it was very beautifully done. I’m very proud of how hard they worked to keep the costs down so they could put the money towards the down payment for a house instead.
    * other than mentioning my daughter’s frugal efforts, I on the other had don’t have as many to mention this week. But I am looking forward to life returning to a much more normal pace.

    1. Congratulations. My daughter recently got engaged and we are trying to do the same thing. They want to get married next year and get a house soon after.

    2. When my oldest son and DIL were planning their wedding, they decided on an “afternoon tea” instead of a dinner and held it at the church hall.Since their wedding was in November they could take advantage of after Hallowe’en sales on Fall flowers and pumpkins for church decoration. I had fabric for the tables that was made into a quilt after their wedding. They collected tea cups from yard sales and packaged them with a specialty tea bag for a take-away for guests. A new caterer was starting up and did tea sandwiches, a hot soup and cupcakes as the meal. They got their flowers from a local grocery store, the background music was on an iPod, friends did photos. Even her wedding dress was inexpensive. The whole wedding was about $5,000. After the reception, all the guests pitched in to do clean up. Since there were only about 50 people tops it didn’t take long and we all had a great time.

  26. I loved seeing your pictures of the desert. We are leaving tomorrow to go camping in Utah — I hope to see lots of wildflowers.
    We are planning a month-long camping trip to Oregon for September. I like to take as much food from home as possible, but our freezer in the RV refrigerator is small. So, in preparation for the trip, this week I canned jars of taco meat, spaghetti sauce with meat, sloppy joes, and pulled pork. I also canned some pinto beans and a couple of jars of potatoes to fill the pressure canner. I know I’m going to have a very busy summer, so I needed to do this now. These will be easy, fast meals during our trip.
    My doctor wanted to switch one of my asthma medications because the one I’ve been taking isn’t working. I researched my options with my insurance company and the pharmacy and found that a medication I’ve used successfully in the past is now available as a generic. It took several phone calls and a discussion with the doctor, but I ended up with something I think will work for me for $20, versus the $200 that was my other option. A lot of work, and I had to be more assertive that I usually am, but worth it.
    My car was filthy and I was tempted to run it through the car wash after church, but instead came home and washed it in the driveway, saving $9.
    We enjoyed lettuce, radishes, and a little asparagus from the garden.
    I made sandwich bread, granola, and sourdough brownies, as well as all meals at home.

  27. So am I! A lot of my flowers have been pass-alongs, like the irises and grape hyacinths, and divisions from my own garden. (When I had a mature garden at the other house, I was always giving stuff away–what goes around comes around). We started last spring with on-sale shrubs and 3 of any 4 inch perennial I found and liked. We started planting July 1, right after we moved in, and watered like heck until we could run drip irrigation lines. In the fall, I bought 345 daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs from Costco and a dwarf plum tree online. In the winter, I ordered bareroot dwarf and apple trees and 50 bareroot strawberries and planted them when they arrived 3-4 weeks ago. This spring, I replaced an Iceberg rose that didn’t make it last year and bought 52 lily bulbs at Costco, plus $30 worth of annuals. So far this spring, the freebies have been the irises and grape hyacinths, plus pulmonaria (lungwort), old-fashioned bleeding heart, raspberries and a bunch of white lamium (dead nettles). Now I’ve divided the monkshood and offered some to my lily-planting friend (it was originally a pass-along plant from the garden of a 94-year-old friend of a friend). As you might guess, I don’t have a definite garden plan, LOL. I tried to give it some structure with the shrubs and then I’ve been filling in like an English country garden (where anything goes, LOL). How I started: I looked out my dining room and “painted a picture” starting with a white dogwood and 3 pink hydrangeas from Costco…then I worked out from it on both sides, using all of the plants I bought last spring and whatever else I could scrounge and hustle. I’m sure I’ve got less than $1,000 in the whole thing and it’s basically fully planted…although there is always room for whatever else comes my way. We live on about 1/4 acre with two mature fir trees. OK, enough garden talk for now!

    1. Maxine, I am so in awe of anyone who has a green thumb! I am hopelessly useless in the garden. When our vegetable garden grows, or our flower plants do well, I do a happy dance because I am never certain of the outcome. 🙂 I’ve learned to plant perennials that are hearty because I really don’t know how to care for them otherwise – unlike you or Brandy, for example. My dad on the other hand, was an amazing gardener, and how I wish I paid more attention to how and what he grew. He’s no longer with us so I can’t ask him for his advice.

      1. There is so much to learn online! I don’t always have success, but I learn a lot online to improve my outcome!

      2. I don’t really have a green thumb. I kill houseplants on a regular basis. As I’ve gotten older and started paying attention to sun and shade and moisture, I’ve done better. For instance, I REALLY wanted delphiniums in front of that fence, but they would have struggled in all that shade…hence the monkshood. Keeping up with weeds is still a huge issue for me.

  28. Hello all from soggy South Mississippi! We have had more than our share of rain and it has definitely caused some problems. We had some minor flooding at our home, but I was able to get it cleaned up and dried fairly quickly. Now to figure out how to stop the problem. Always something to work on when you are a homeowner.
    Frugal accomplishments this week:
    1. Stayed home Saturday. We awoke around 2:00 AM to a horrible storm and that’s when we discovered the flooding in my office and master bathroom. I spend the rest of the morning cleaning up water and drying things up. By that time, my husband came in from work so he helped me finish and then we spent the rest of the day cleaning and decluttering.
    2. Received a beautiful arrangement of flowers from my son and his girlfriend for Mother’s Day so I have fresh flowers to enjoy in my dining room. My other son and his wife always buy my Mother’s Day corsage to wear and for the past two years, I have requested a handmade one from a girl in our church so that I can wear them again.
    3. Wore an outfit that I have only worn once Sunday for Mother’s Day instead of buying a new outfit.
    4. My youngest son took us to lunch for Mother’s Day so enjoyed a treat to the hibachi grill with enough left overs for dinner and lunch today.
    5. My doctor has me on some medicine to help alleviate symptoms from my diagnosis recently. I was worried about the copay but fortunately, my insurance covers the generic 100% so no out of pocket expenses for me!
    6. Enjoyed a date night at home with my husband on Saturday night.

    That’s all for this week. Have a great week!

    1. Our basement currently has a river running through it. The water is gushing through the foundation wall. My mother (who owns the house) is trying to figure out what to do to solve the problem. It looks like we may need to dig up the foundation and have it sealed. That will be a HUGE expense and the nice walkway my parents paid good money to put in several years ago, the back deck we just had redone last summer and all the gardens around the house, will have to be dug up and redone as part of the cost. The constant rain we are receiving in Southern Ontario has ensured the river doesn’t dry up quickly. Sunshine would be very welcome at this point!

      1. My parents had a similar issue to yours, Rhonda. They did indeed have to dig up and seal the foundation, all around the house, in addition to installing back-flow valves/pumps. I remember being in a storm while at my parents house a number of years ago and looking out the window and seeing the water coursing down the lawn — the lawn was too sodden to absorb any more water, so it was running off it like it would off concrete. Then water was coming in the window wells. I managed to jury-rig a funnel to the basement sink, but water was coming up the drain in the floor as well. Then I realized water was leaking in from the lower walls. I ran around in my father’s study (in the basement) trying to get all of his computer equipment off the floor (he was in IT and the equipment was part of his livelihood) while simultaneously trying to sweep the water towards the drain to try and avoid the water getting into electrical cables at the other side of the basement. I ended up wearing plastic bags on my feet as I didn’t have rain boots and wanted to avoid touching the potentially contaminated water as it was coming up from the sewers. So it was worth the expense in the end for my parents to fix the basement, to avoid something that drastic happening again. But yes, it’s not cheap! If your basement isn’t finished, and you plan to sell it in a few years, it may not be worth it to invest so much in the foundation. Depending on how your backyard is, it might be worth it to invest instead in landscaping that manages water flow, i.e. man-made swales. Best of luck!

        1. I was just feeling sad about the dandelions pushing their way up through my newly laid asphalt (a gift). Then I read your post and just totally sympathize with you. Dandelions seem like a minor problem. Man-made swales sound like a possibility. Good luck!Ann

      2. Oh dear – so sorry to hear this Rhonda – we have indeed had more than our share of water this Spring! Hope you didn’t have too much stuff in the basement that would be damaged.

        1. My brother has had a waterfall in his makeshift bedroom for about a month now. The basement is partially finished. Leaving the problem would result in having to sell at lower than market value, which my mom would not be happy about. She’s had several people in and received quotes for the work. I believe she is going to go with someone who can start the work this weekend. She agreed with what he suggested and is the only one who can start work quickly at a decent price. His quote was almost $7,000 and that does not include putting the stone pathway back in place (only half of the pathway will need to be dug up for the work to be completed. This gentleman can also do the pathway, and said we would need to wait 6 months to allow the ground to settle before it can be put back in place (makes sense!). The work that needs to be done is on the front part of the house. At this point, it looks as though the entire perimeter does not need doing, only a small section on the front. However, that could change when they dig up the foundation. So we’re crossing our fingers it remains only a protion of the front. Our puppy is not going to be happy about the construction, though. She is terrified of big loud machinery!

  29. Your photos are amazing!
    I harvested a bag full of wild greens from my backyard and my parent’s yard.
    I grew some violets for Mother’s Day from seed.
    I got some new plants for my garden from my aunt.
    I picked 430 snails from my backyard one night, we have a problem with them in this area, they eat everything from green leaves to dog poop and dead snails… No natural enemies really so in order to get something from your garden you just need to pick them diligently, kill them with boiling water and throw to the trash. Or burn them. (you could eat them too if you keep them in a container for two weeks and feed with flour and then cook like they would do it in France)

  30. I’ve never been to the desert, Brandy, so your photos are not just pretty but very informative to me. What delicate blossoms for such harsh countryside!
    I had a nice Mother’s Day, although there is always the sadness for my husband and me of missing our mothers — his mother died when he was 32, mine when I was 42, and our grandmothers have been gone longer than that. I’m happy to celebrate with my daughters, though, as they are both mothers and I think they are doing good jobs. This year, they each ordered a present for me, and neither of them arrived on time, which I found amusing. They will get here, eventually.
    No one went out for Mother’s Day lunch after church — the restaurants are packed and it is expensive. My husband can’t help with anything, but my kids took good care of me, and it was a lot cheaper for everyone.
    I finally donated some items I’ve had stacked up and waiting. Clutter out of the house, which I consider to be frugal.
    I made tortillas on Sunday night, to serve tonight after I get home from work. The menu this week also calls for bean soup, using bulk beans bought on sale a good while back, and an Easter ham bone from the freezer. I also cut up and roasted some beets and sweet potatoes, to have later this week. I like to roast more than one thing at a time, to save on energy and reduce heat.
    I hung out or up most of the laundry.
    I’m filing my recent mammogram with my insurance policy — I’ll get some cash back for it.
    I re-scheduled our dentist appointments so my husband and I can go at the same time, saving gas and time.
    I used the last of my ThredUp credit to order a dress and a dressy blouse.
    I started pricing items for a yard sale we will be having.
    My longevity spinach is big enough to pick again, and I’ve seen two more ripe blueberries on my bushes– the picking time is almost here.
    I used Swagbucks to purchase a new kitchen scale and some spice racks on Amazon. My spice drawer is narrow, won’t pull out all the way, and is always hard to navigate, so I’ll use racks instead.
    Brandy, how lovely that the weather is nicer! I hope you get to enjoy it for a while longer.

  31. We hosted 30 for Mothers Day Brunch. Not a frugal week for us at all, however we had a ton of leftovers so I believe I will be able to skip the grocery store this week. I hope you had a wonderful Mothers Day!

  32. I watched three movies on Kanopy, the free streaming site for public libraries.

    I took three photos of butterflies. It is a good hobby as after the first investment in a camera there is almost no expenditure.

  33. Hi everyone! Lovely pictures!

    I was choosing a backpack with straps for carrying along a skateboard for my teenager and thought of Brandy and this community, as I often do while buying something. I bet you could redesign a backpack and attach some strips and make much better product than store-bought… Straps of those have been said to be slippery, letting skateboard slip downwards easily.

  34. I use Bokashi compost in my garden, also so the liquid that you can collect from the bokashi bucket.
    I t is a fermenting technick. You can find al about it on youtube.

  35. Beautiful photos! I find it interesting to see the differing landscapes & plants. Your cooler weather sounds wonderful!

    We were finally able to turn the central air off at home on Friday. Temps have been comfortable, but we’ve had so much rain & high humidity that having the windows open has been impossible. We’ve been having to run the central air just to keep the house dry. At the end of last week we got a nice cold front with drier weather, so we’ve been able to keep the windows open for the weekend and hopefully much of this week. We will be mid-80s for the highs later this week, but it does cool down at night. We enjoy the fresh air in the house and saving the money on the a/c. It’s also nice to get a break from the rain. I’m sure I’ll be missing the rain once we get into summer with the usual intense heat & drought conditions!

    We had several good finds at estate sales & were able to upgrade a couple of items in our home, including 2 new lamps for our living room and an antique spool cabinet. We replaced our old laundry sorting bin (which was literally starting to fall apart) with one my husband had picked up for free off the curb a couple of months ago. It was still new in the box when he found it. Cooked & ate most meals at home. Made a loaf of bread in my gifted bread machine. Made a pitcher of Arnold Palmers (iced tea & lemonade) to keep in the fridge using items from our pantry. A while back I ended up with countless boxes of iced tea teabags from a clearance sale, so trying to work through those. Enjoyed a free lunch at work during some software training.

  36. Here is what we did last week:

    * Purchased three chickens on sale and cooked two of them to eat all week
    * Read free ebooks from Amazon as well as library books
    * Took walks for free and excellent exercise
    * Made a few sales
    * Vacuumed our couches as a part of spring cleaning and a very frugal way to increase the air quality in our home
    * Used my multi-purpose cleaner to clean laundry, dishes, floors, and bathrooms
    * Planned a delivery time for two clients at the same location to save quite a bit of time, money, and stress
    * Used a 5% discount available to me every month at a grocery store
    * Used the library as a quiet office to get much accomplished

  37. Congrats to Winter! And your pictures are lovely.

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Got a couple of Ibotta rebates.
    • Worked 11 contract hours.
    • Unfortunately we had to eat out a lot this week due to a busy schedule, so we only ate in 3 times.
    • Got steak on sale. It was buy 1 get 3 free and then they were 30% off. Got 8 petite sirloins for $11. As we eat steak once a week, this is a great deal for us.
    • Had a date night of dinner and a movie. We don’t go to the theater very often, but Hubby likes to see the Avenger movies and Star Wars movies there. We saw the newest Avenger movie and for dinner we split the entrée and I had a movie gift card that paid for ½ of our ticket.
    • The weather was wonderful this week for us too, Brandy. Usually we are already in the 100s! Enjoyed having the back door open for another week!
    • Harvested 1 tomato from our garden. LOL! But it tasted wonderful! Garden is growing nicely and hope to harvest more this week and next.
    • Used the library.
    • Threw a poker party for the family here on Saturday. I served our family’s version of goulash, which is really just macaroni, tomatoes, hamburger and cheddar cheese with some veggies. The rest of the food was potluck, so inexpensive for me. And my husband won some money, so that was a plus! And there were leftover fruit, veggies, wine, beer and chips & salsa from what others brought. There was also goulash leftover, so I froze that and we will have that a couple more times.
    • Had a quiet Mother’s Day. My son called (he lives out of state) and my daughter was doing her own Mother’s Day with her son. Hubby made me a nice steak dinner and I watched whatever I wanted to on the TV. A wonderful day for me.
    • Got a package of Oreos and a bottle of salad dressing free with coupons sent to me from my Kroger store.
    • Hubby used a Great Clips coupon when he had his hair cut this week. Only $7.99 for the cut.

    Have a wonderful week, everyone!

  38. The garden got planted this weekend! It looks really nice and gives me hope for a nice harvest. We stayed home for Mother’s Day dinner, barbecuing steak that we found on sale, with asparagus, corn on the cob, and stuffed mushrooms as sides. It was a lovely dinner and I didn’t mind helping clean up because I didn’t have to cook. We sorted through the children’s summer clothes to see what still fits and donated the outgrown outfits. It feels great to have that chore completed! I’ve mended the seam on the bassinet bedding and it’s ready for its new home. I keep reminding myself that this stuff sitting in my house and not being used blesses no one and causes me stress. That helps me put some energy into going through things and finding them new homes.

    Thank you for sharing your photos; I love the desert southwest.

  39. The desert flowers are beautiful – thank you for the close ups so we can admire them properly. What a puzzle that your gardens aren’t doing as well as normal. Hope the trench composting does the trick. Go Winter Go!

    • Hung laundry up to dry x 1. I am super allergic to maple, birch, and oak pollen so I can’t hang laundry out to dry right now. Laundry seems to take much longer to dry when hanging up in the house.
    • Made tortellini alla panna, beef ramen to use up odds and ends of veggies and some cooked roast beef I had previously frozen, had beef & gorgonzola salad with balsamic vinaigrette
    • Regrowing green onions in glass of water on the window ledge over my kitchen sink
    • Washed ziplock bags
    • CD player in my car isn’t working very well. I had two long RT drives so I downloaded audiobooks from the library onto my tablet and listened to them during the trips. It worked well except when I wanted to turn off the book quickly.
    • Brought snacks and lemon water in the car so I didn’t need to stop and purchase anything
    • Checked out two thrift stores on my way home from a conference in Maine and found: 4 Dansk mugs that I plan to resell, a polo shirt, two rubber stamps, and five DVDs for $17.00

  40. Eating free blueberries picked in the field outside our house (not our field, but we were invited to pick).
    Eating free white peaches from a community garden.
    Doing several sewing projects for the friends who are allowing us to stay with them before we move.
    Listening to the frogs and enjoying beautiful views from this house on the river.
    Shopped at Grocery Outlet today on the way home from other errands in the big city.
    Every time I’ve driven to the city last week and this one I’ve stopped at the dorms to pick up stuff from my daughter’s room. This week is last week of semester and it saves us making a separate trip up there to empty her room.
    Eating beans and rice for dinner, made from dried beans in the instant pot.

  41. Love your photos Brandy – those desert flowers are amazing. A friend of mine loves photography and got some great pictures when we were in Iceland a few years ago – from a distance it looks just like plain lava fields (a bit desert-like) but when you see the closeup photos you see all the tiny flowers and all the colourful and very different mosses that grow.
    Congratulations to Winter on landing a job!
    I worked 22 hours last week and will have another 20 this week so I am continuing to pay off some bills while building a bit of an emergency fund.
    Some of those hours were because of a memorial service reception that I organized on Saturday. There were some leftovers which I added to the leftovers I’d saved from Friday’s corporate group (we have a number of rooms for rent at the church and since we are in the heart of the financial district we have corporate clients who usually have meetings catered). So!
    .Packaged up some of the leftovers for a couple of members of the congregation that I know are having some financial issues.
    .Set up a tray in the fridge so the custodians can have something with their coffee this week.
    .Added some items to yesterday’s Fellowship Hour Treats
    .Added a plate of danish to the coffee I leave for the Sunday morning Bible Study group (they were very grateful as a few had skipped breakfast to arrive on time) – there were a lot of road closures due to a marathon race and part of the subway was shut down for repairs this past weekend so travel was a challenge!
    .Sent a few other items home with some of the ladies who came in to help me clear up.
    I just wanted to ensure that nothing went to waste. I had enjoyed a few treats with my coffee but didn’t want to bring anything home as I’m trying to lose weight and didn’t want to be tempted.

    The family from Saturday’s service left a lot of the flowers to be distributed as well. I had one volunteer take apart a huge spray of pink and violet flowers and made up a number of bouquets for people to take home. I have some lovely flowers sitting on my dining table which I will enjoy all week and they are a nice memory of a lovely woman.

    Our weather is back to cold, wet and miserable so some hot food has been in order. I bought a couple of prepared beef dishes using points (just no time for intense cooking session) but made my own rice and vegetables and managed to double the number of servings that the dishes were intended to provide. I’ve taken a few servings through to my elderly neighbour so I know that he is sorted for the week!

    Got a good deal on a number of vegetables so sweet potatoes have been roasted, onions, peppers & mushrooms have been cooked and raw veggies are chopped up and ready in the fridge, I also plan to make a small ratatouille later in the week. I’ve also organized my lunches for the 3 days that I will need them for work this week.

    I bought two packs of thick cut bacon – each pack is 1kg (2,2 lbs) and ordinarily costs nearly $14/pkg. for this brand but I got them for less than $10 each. Packages have been opened and divided up into many servings – should last me for the next four months. This brand is expensive but it doesn’t shrink so you only need two strips for a good serving and I usually only eat it once a week.

    Didn’t need to do any laundry this week so that saved a bit – each washing load is $2 minimum and dryers are at least $1.50 for an hour.

    Continued to get good use out of my monthly transit pass so it was definitely the smart choice for May.

    I don’t have many vices but I do like to play the lottery. I’ve taken a look at what I was spending each month and decided it was ridiculous. I’ve given myself a very small monthly allowance (about one fifth of what I was spending) and I can decide which tickets I want to buy but that’s it! If I have some luck then great but another chunk of money will be going into my emergency fund instead! It doesn’t seem like much when it’s a few dollars here and there but when you sit down and realize how much it all adds up to each month (and then extrapolate that for the year) and it really makes you think!

    I’ve also continued to declutter – a number of books have been donated for my church’s annual book sale and household items will go to a friend’s church for their annual garage sale! Someone will get a use of these items and two churches will raise some money so it is a win win situation!

    I hope the weather improves for many of us soon. The river where I live is spilling over it’s banks (no danger to me but dog walkers et.c have to be careful down in the park) but they are doing some sandbagging over on the Toronto Islands as Lake Ontario is very high again. Many communities up north and in Ottawa and Montreal have really been inundated and there has been a lot of damage. We are all longing for some sunshine!

    Have a good week everyone.

  42. Thank you for the pictures…I didn’t know there were plants that flowered in the desert like that! Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were spaghetti with garlic bread, fried fish with green beans and mac & cheese, grilled pork loin with leftover sides.
    *Used a gift card to buy dinner to-go one evening. We figured the gift card will go further if we don’t eat in and have to leave a tip.
    *Were fed a pizza dinner at Wednesday night boys and girls group at church.
    *Printed Certificates of Achievement on card stock I already had for my husband’s Wednesday night class instead of buying certificates.
    *Scheduled 3 appts and ran 2 errands all in one day to save time and gas.
    *Used $5 ECB at CVS for an eyebrow wax kit I’d been wanting but couldn’t bring myself to buy.
    *Cut my own hair.
    *Hosted Mother’s Day lunch at our house. Served hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, banana pudding, sweet tea and water. My daughter brought pasta salad and chips. I gave my mom a gift card to a specialty shop that I was given and will never use. I also gave her a kitchen towel, lotion and a small bag of chocolates all from the dollar store.
    *My husband borrowed a pole saw to trim the branches along our driveway.
    *Went through Ebates to order office supplies at work.
    *My husband used his truck to get a load of mulch and spread it in our flower beds himself.
    *Received flowers to plant in my flower pots from my daughter for Mother’s Day.
    *Found chicken breasts on sale for $1.59/lb and bought enough for our family reunion.

  43. Stunning Photos from the desert Brandy. Your website is such a pleasure to visit.
    My parents are “Snow Birds” and reside in the Phoenix area for winter. On the years that we visit, we always try to time our trip to visit during the spring to enjoy the desert in bloom. It is so beautiful and unique and wonderful to explore.
    Our weather has been wonderfully warm and I have made some progress in my yard. I have been moving some perennials around and thinning some others out. My seedlings are coming along nicely inside; Should be able to plant outside in a few weeks.
    I was able to work a temp job painting fences outside this week for 15.5 hours
    I continue to list and sell items on buy/sell sites, efforts this week earned $100
    I worked on Swagbucks site everyday, reached my goal x 7 and redeemed for $25 Amazon gift card
    I went to a garage sale and purchased a skirt for $2.50 and a new bath gift set for $2.50 (start of Christmas shopping!) Garage sales will be in full force in my area soon.
    I made lunch for my Mum and had all the family over to celebrate Mother’s day. I gifted my Mum a hand made card, a like new puzzle free from my office “Free Table” and some soaps I purchased from Bath and Body Works using a Swagbucks gift card.
    Add all that to our “usual frugal habits” and we had a pretty good week. All meals, snacks, drink eaten or packed from home, no unnecessary spending, doing all the little things that add up.
    Have a lovely, frugal week everyone.

  44. Hello Everyone, lovely photos as always Brandy!
    * Had 2 work dinners to attend, so free meal & 1 provided leftovers for next days lunch.
    * Through a series of events I was given a free bus ticket for a group’s trip to NYC. I was able to spend the day with my DD.
    * Stopped into Goodwill looking for a thin sweater to wear on the bus trip-it was 1/2 price day! I purchased 2 sweaters, a NIB Lenox picture frame & 6 books for $10.87.
    * One of the books became a gift for Mom for Mother’s Day.
    * A tree in our yard split & needed to be cut. Hubby & son did it themselves and hauled it to the local dumping area our town provides for such items. Saved hundreds by not hiring someone, though they were sore the next day!
    * Finally recovered from our expensive April. We have many family birthdays & events and Easter usually hits there as well and every year I vow to plan better. While this year was better than others, I really need to look at what to do to prevent going over budget for next year.

  45. The photos are lovely! I’ve never been to the desert so I enjoy seeing nature in different areas from afar. Congratulations to Winter on her job!

    We had a relatively frugal week. Tracking our spending daily and having an ongoing tally of how much is left in each category for the month has been an eye opener for me and it is already having a positive effect on our spending. I thought we were careful before, but this is helping take it to the next level!

    *Made a frugal meal of chicken enchiladas and used up some items in the freezer – pinto beans, chicken broth, and corn tortillas – and used chicken that I had pre-cooked when I purchased the cheapest meat I can find, which is chicken quarters in the 10 lb bag. I put it in the big pot and boiled the entire bag after I got home from the store and after it cooled I took the meat off the bone and chopped it up and froze in 2 cup sized portions. I also saved the broth and after letting it sit overnight in the fridge was able to skim off the fat and froze that in saved yogurt and other containers.
    *Earned $0.20 ibotta rebate for myself and $1.00 from my mom’s receipt. She also gave me her cat food bag and I entered the code on that one plus the one I bought. This is a program offered by Purina for their Cat Chow brand, and I redeem the points for coupons.
    *Saved the last brownie and stuck it in the freezer for a special treat later
    *Used a large plastic bag from the litter package in place of a trash bag
    *Checked prices in my price book between ALDI and Walmart, our 2 cheapest stores (except for loss leaders), and stocked up on the items that are better prices at Walmart. These include dry beans, rice, frozen vegetables, pasta and a few baking supplies. Next month I plan to stock up on the pantry staples at ALDI that are cheapest.
    *Cleaned, organized and inventoried the pantry and was able to see what needed stocked. It’s lovely 🙂
    *Used leftover drinking water we collect in a pitcher by the sink along with water used to rinse dishes to water the garden. Otherwise the rain did that job for us.
    *Tried making homemade buns for pulled pork for the first time. They were wonderful and so easy! I may never buy the cheap ones from the store again. I haven’t calculated the cost of making them, but they were so much better that I don’t even care if they cost more.
    *Sent lunch to work with my husband each day he was on a job site. So far have been able to stick to my goal of not buying lunch meat and have instead purposely made foods for supper that can be repurposed into easy-to-eat on the job site meals, such as pulled pork sandwiches with potato salad, brownies and cookies, burritos, and egg salad, chicken salad and tuna salad sandwiches. I haven’t figured out an alternative to chips to go with the sandwiches so still thinking on that one.

    1. Jenny R: For chip alternatives, think of why he likes the chips: crunch or salt or taste. If it is for crunch, vegetables could be that– carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc. If it is for salt or taste, dips or dressing could provide that.
      In spite of logically thinking through this, I do love good potato chips. We made our own once or twice but didn’t get invested in making them enough to make good ones. Chips are loss leaders before Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.

      1. Thank you for the ideas, Heidi! Will definitely be trying these and seeing which my husband likes best with sandwiches!

    2. Jenny, you can make your own homemade potato chips. Using a mandolin or by hand, cut potatoes very thinly. Soak in some very cold water for about 30 min. Drain well, then deep fry in oil until golden. Place chips on paper towel-lined cookie sheets (or use a paper bag that’s cut to fit the cookie sheet) and sprinkle with salt while warm. These are delicious, but albeit can be time consuming to make. They are a once-in-a-while treat for my family.
      -Alternatively, I thinly brush oil on some flour tortillas or corn tortillas. I then cut into small triangles and place on cookie sheets. Sprinkle with some salt and bake at 350F for about 12 min. or until slightly golden and crispy. My family uses these in place of chips. For these “chips”, you can also season with garlic and onion powder for extra flavour.
      -You can also make a homemade Nuts and Bolts recipe, or Rice Chex Party Mix. It makes a lot and is frugal in cost particularly when buying cereal on sale.
      -Or just serve popcorn, dill pickles or veggie sticks with the sandwiches to replace that “crunch” from the potato chips.
      Hope these suggestions spark your imagination.

      1. Love these ideas! I hadn’t thought of pickles for crunch and we always have flour tortillas and even salsa if he wanted a dip. Thank you!

      2. Pat, you are the first person outside of our family I’ve ever heard use the term “Nuts & Bolts” for Chex party mix! Our recipe is basically the Chex recipe but instead of bagel chips we add Cheerios. It is a recipe my Mom and brothers used to make every Christmas and I continued the tradition with our family. For some reason we only have it at Christmas tho.

    3. Chips are really easy to make yourself. I put Old Bay seasoning on ours. I use my mandolin to slice the potatoes. I throw them in my deep fryer. Also popcorn is a great side for lunches. I make a big batch and put it into small baggies. Still tastes good the next day. Cold cuts cost a fortune. Great job finding ways to not use it.

      1. I will have to try the popcorn option and maybe with different flavorings kind of like the chips (sour cream & onion, BBQ, etc). Maybe that will work for him!

    4. There are some great suggestions already posted. I just wanted to add that you can always make homemade crackers as well. Brandy has recipes on this blog if you think this might be of interest. Chips are an optional item, though I understand this might be more of a preference item for your family (my family is like that about lots of things, too). I like to think about the Canada Food Guide when making bagged lunches, to ensure it is balanced…fruit and veggies, a protein (whether meat or an alternative), a carb (bread, potato, pasta, rice, etc), usually a milk item (cheese or yogurt), and a small treat to make it special. Sometimes it is classic options, and sometimes it gets a bit creative, but they have food regardless. Whether they eat it or not is a whole other story!

      1. Bread sticks (called Grissini in Italian) are easy, inexpensive and have a good crunch. They can be flavored with parmesan cheese, salt, poppy seeds, etc.

        Cheese straws are another good salty & crunchy lunchbox filler albeit more expensive with the cheese and butter.

  46. I have worked in the garden non-stop in any blocks of time that I had over the past 2 weeks. I finally have our large backyard garden planted, and have made great progress on the yard, but it isn’t done. I’ve done some landscaping–edging flowerbeds, moving plants around, trimming and even removing some plants. We have lived here for 2-1/2 years now, and I am finally ready to get the yard more to what I want, vs. what it is. We used some garden center gift cards that we’ve received for various occasions for the past 2 years, and added some cash to them to buy some plants. We also planted quite a few that my husband grew in our greenhouse.

    Our artichokes really grew a nice crop this year. Pictures of them are at: http://beckyathome.com

    I’ve kept the grocery shopping at a minimum, as we had plenty of food. The way I do my grocery budget is to put a sum in an envelope, one for each Friday because that is the day I usually have time to go to the store. This month there are 5 Fridays, so I needed to stretch the money into more envelopes than the usual 4, so I was delighted that I didn’t need much this week. One thing that helped with that was that my sister took us all out for lunch for Mother’s Day, and also packed a huge picnic for our family, theirs, and another friend and her 7 kids one evening.

  47. I just have to share this. We had 28 dollars left in the bank after making minimum payments on bills. I prayed that God would help us somehow to make more money, because I did not know how we would make it. So many bills. On the way home from paying a water bill I called my husband he told me someone had stopped by and bought 2lbs of asparagus. I was so happy, I thanked God. Then when I got home, a grocery store had called us and wanted all of our asparagus! I am so happy! God has blessed us. Now we can pick asparagus for a month or two and have the extra income. I am so looking forward to planting more things soon!

  48. Frugal accomplishments for the past week included:
    Walking on my lunch breaks
    Combining errands, and walking to errands that are within a mile of my office location
    I worked many extra hours at my second job over the weekend which kept me too busy and too tired to go into any stores !

    Frugal fail :
    I had a big unexpected expense. It has been so cold here, I needed to buy heating oil. I have not needed to buy heating oil in May in the past twenty years. It wasn’t in the budget for this month. Very thankful for my emergency fund. Oil purchased and now to build up the e-fund again.
    Hope everyone has a great week. Thank you Brandy for everything you do!

  49. I don’t think we did save money last week. We did all the usual things, but we also had another unexpected car problem, which ended up costing another $400 on top of the previous week’s $450 car bill. It was t wo days in the shop, and after getting it back, we decided to take a ride and get some dinner out. On the way, I noticed the dash light was on—but at least it only means we need an oil change. Will get my husband to do that, possibly tomorrow, and we may even have enough new oil in the barn to do it with. We certainly had a run of expenses this month. I did save 38% at the grocery store with coupons and sale prices this week, so that’s a start in paying back the savings account. I am eating down some of the freezer foods which have been in there for a while, so will be saving some money by not replacing a few items that we have decided we didn’t care for that much.
    Aside from that, I had both sister’s birthday gifts to buy this week. We are having lunch on Friday so will be giving them their gifts then. I have just a bit more to buy for the youngest sister–I have purchased a new cook book for her and want to get a few little ingredient/special food items along with it. She and her husband’s family get together every month or so for “theme” dinners and I think she will enjoy another cookbook. This weekend they are having a “French” themed dinner. She is expecting to make some crepes for dessert for that one. We were discussing possible fillings when I saw her this past weekend. She is thinking of Nutella, but fresh fruit sounds better to me, if available!
    My husband did a fair amount of work by himself on Saturday while I attended a dance recital for my grand niece. He mowed the lawn, got the porch furniture out, and put up the flower boxes on the outsides of the porch railings. I have potting soil to top them up and it will be time to plant my morning glory seeds in a couple weeks. If only it would STOP RAINING!!

  50. Hope everyone had a nice, frugal week. Congratulations to Winter on her new job; I’m sure that she is responsible and learning to balance a lot of different tasks with school, work, etc.
    We ate at home even when I would have loved to have bought fast food. I did take my two youngest to get the $2 happy meals on Wednesday when the others were in school and we were out running errands.
    I hung quilts outside to dry instead of using the dryer.
    I bought marked down meat and Easter candy. I made a big double batch of homemade hamburger helper, which my kids love.
    I have not been able to find white girls shoes for my daughter’s first communion. So, I’ll be buying them new tonight. No luck at the thrift stores or consignment store.
    I bought gas at Costco, which was cheaper. I don’t have a membership, but I go once or twice a year with my aunt or a friend. I buy a cash card (their store gift card), and I can return to shop in store or use for gas. It can’t be used online, but it still works well for us. Aldi is much cheaper than Costco for the things I buy, anyway. They carry a lot of organic foods, luxury items, and nice things, and it’s better for me to not go very often. You really have to know your prices.
    I stopped in at a garage sale, where I found a few items. I bought a North Face jacket, some books, and new with tags Feltman Brothers baby gown that I will gift to my brother and SIL, who are expecting.
    I’m doing a focus group tonight. The online portion was last week, and I already received payment for that, part of which I’ll use to pay a babysitter while I do the in person shopping trip. Even after paying for babysitting ($40), I will still come out ahead.
    I went to our church thrift shop and found a vintage Fisher Price toy barn and animals ($6), which I bought and listed on ebay, and my son saw a toy seacopter ($1), which he bought using his own money. I showed him the toy on amazon, where it was $19.99. He really didn’t need the toy, but I’m hopeful my kids will learn the benefits of buying things secondhand, even though they’re still young.
    My classes are over for the semester, so I won’t have to drive to campus or pay the babysitter until they start after July 4th.
    School is almost out, so I’m compiling a list of free and inexpensive activities to keep us busy.

  51. I have been very busy the last few weeks. We are getting lots of work done on our house. Hubby took several days off of work to get things done. Hubby, my son and I pulled out several bushes that we had gotten a $600 quote from a landscaper. Hubby redid some bricks in our cellar stairwell and we are installing new basement doors ourselves. Hubby also fixed his truck. It had been making an annoying noise so he ordered the parts and did it. He also did an oil change on it since it was due. We are having our siding done over the next few weeks as well as a few other items done. There isn’t enough time for Hubby to do it all and some of it is too big of a project so we picked what we could do ourselves. I have been working on my gardens when ever it stops raining. It is still to cold to plant everything. My kale reseeded and my peas are getting taller every day. I have lots of baby strawberries growing.

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day. My kids made me breakfast and Hubby made dinner. I hate eating out on Mother’s Day because everything is so crowded and overpriced. We did go see Avengers: Endgame that night for free.

  52. Brandy,
    So happy to hear that Winter has a job-I’m sure you and your husband are so proud of her.
    I harvested my first lettuce of the season yesterday. I found a volunteer lilac that is already about 2 feet tall so I will dig that up and replant in a better place. Yesterday while walking the dog I also noticed a very small cedar tree so I plan to pot that up and see if it will continue to grow. I was given some free onion and strawberry starts so my co-worker and I planted them in a small bed behind our building. My co-worker also planted some lilly bulbs which are already doing great. I threw some old flower seeds I had in with the onion and strawberry starts. It will be fun for us to watch and see if anything grows. It will provide a nice break from work.
    I was able to line dry several loads of laundry during our warm weather.
    My doctor strongly encouraged me to start wearing compression socks but I had not followed through. My sister bought me 2 really nice pairs for my birthday so I no longer have any excuse.
    Wishing everyone a happy, successful week.

  53. We enjoyed looking at your desert pictures. It is not a place I would enjoy living but it certainly has it’s unique beauty. We are having a wet spring which is never good here. We are expecting rain, according to the forecast, 7 out of the next 8 days. We are somewhat hilly so are having trouble with too wet fields in the lower areas delaying planting. Oh well, it will all work out.

    I am glad to hear Winter acquired a job so speedily. Library?? That, of course, is where I have always worked and or volunteered since junior high school. Whatever, I am sure she will be responsible worker as you have raised her to be.

    I now have both of the younger girls back home as Olivia moved back Saturday. Her school is out already for the year (99% farm families) . We had the Mother’s Day gathering here later afternoon on Sunday with a pot luck. We did it later so out of town son and his family could be with her family after church. They were having a combo Mother’s Day and baby dedication for two new babies in the family. We had my mother, my older son and his wife and daughter and his wife’s parents, my sister and her two daughters. Also her step daughter and husband and children and grandchild. My twin sister is already a greatgrandmother as her husband was 20+ years older than her. Plus all 3 girls and the oldest girl’s husband and children. We did a nice 5 generation picture with my mother right in the middle. On Saturday we had driven over to visit his family. His mother is no longer with us but Saturday would have been her birthday. Also large picnic there as Levi has 7 brothers and sisters. Two of my brothers stopped by with family on Sunday and then they took our mother with them so she could spend the next week at our 3rd bother’s house.

  54. That’s great that Winter has a job. She’s a go-getter than one.

    Twice a year our local council has a council clean-up where you can place items outside your house they will collect. I love walking around looking at what people are throwing out. I found two outdoor chairs that will go well on our front verandah, and put the old chairs we did have there out for collection. I also found an old box that I will line and put some succulents in. With our increasingly dry climate they do well in my garden.

    I’m trying to reduce the amount of meat we eat by incorporating some meat into meals but not making it the star turn. Last night we had a trout, sweet potato and capsicum quiche, and tonight we are having pea and ham soup. I find if I call it something that starts with a meat or fish name my husband and son don’t seem to question it. It’s all in the psychology 🙂

    On Saturday I will be working in a polling centre for our federal elections. It is a very long day as you are there from 7 am through to when the votes are finished counting, so depending on how large your centre is, and how well-organised the officer in charge is, you can be there until after 11 pm, but I’ll get paid for it and it is very interesting to see how how the whole process works. Voting always takes place on a Saturday in Australia and most polling places are schools or local churches who use the opportunity to have a fete or at least a sausage sizzle (they are know as democracy sausages)

    1. I love the Democracy Sausages line! The U.S. constitution established federal elections as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which means other voting is done then as well. We also vote at church buildings, schools, halls for organizations like the American Legion or Knights of Columbus or Elks Lodge, public buildings like the courthouse or fire station. In the countryside, I’ve heard of polling places at someone’s home in the garage and once in an old country school building that was no longer used but preserved by the people whose property it was on. I have not heard of holding a fete (not a common American word but I certainly know it from reading British mystery novels) or event on election day.

  55. Heidi Louise, I have been a poll worker since 2008. Next Tuesday will be my second election as chief judge in my precinct. We vote at the senior center in the very small town where our precinct is located. My county is actively recruiting poll workers for the 2020 elections, and I’ll bet that’s true everywhere in the country. If anyone here has ever thought they’d like to do work an election, please call your county elections department. My county pays poll workers $150, and $190 for chief judges (we have to pick stuff up the day before and return the ballots after the polls close). My mom always took me to the polls with her (everybody took their kids in the 1940s and ’50s) and the ladies in charge were always so nice. They instilled in me the desire to vote and, someday, to be one of them. Naturally, I never expected to be paid.

    Incidentally, when I lived in Livermore, California, in the early 1970s, my precinct voted in the garage of the lady across the cul-de-sac. Otherwise, I’ve always voted in schools, churches, etc., and now the senior center. This election is for the fire and highway districts and a school levy. We are not expecting much of a turnout, unfortunately. But next March, when the Democrats in Idaho have their primary, it’s going to be busy, and right on through the general election. Please thoughtfully consider becoming a poll worker–we’re gonna need the help.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Maxine! My Mom was president of our town’s League of Women Voters and my Dad’s second career was as an elected official, so I always pay close attention to election day.
      My state’s primary elections were earlier this month, in my town for city offices. As usual, I noticed the camaraderie and pride of the poll workers!
      On a related government note, signs are up to hire people to be 2020 census workers.

  56. My husband and I have been election workers for about 15 years. The day is a long one, and the $9 an hour they pay a worker is a nice side gig, but really I would do it for free because I find it so encouraging to see all these people coming in to do their civic duty. At this point we are familiar with the long term residents of our precinct, and it has been nice to see kids voting for the first time, immigrants who become citizens and can vote, and I have been humbled by very disabled people who have dragged themselves in to vote. (And in November it is slick and can be 40 below, so takes a lot of effort.) One young guy, terribly twisted up from some sort of disease, used to come and say he came to vote because he wanted to find a wife and voting was one of the few times he left his house except for the grocery store. Two Novembers ago, he showed up with a young lady and so proudly introduced his new wife. We oldsters, who had known him for years, shed a few tears. If you have time, please consider becoming an election worker—your democracy needs you.

    1. Mable, I, too, would do it for free. I was totally amazed when I found out I was getting paid! As the chief judge, I will be greeting people at the door and registering people to vote. Back in the day, I registered to vote on my 21st birthday…you had to be 21 to vote then. Heidi Louise, you are right about the camaraderie among the poll workers. Of course, we have a smorgasbord going on in the back room, LOL! I’m taking a quart of my pickled asparagus next week so they can all compliment me. One of these days we are going to blow all of the electricity in the building with all of the Crock Pots! LOLOLOLOL.

  57. Brandy I can not find any place to click to go to Amazon through your blog… have you stopped doing it or is the “click” button some where else besides frugal posts?…HUmmm can you tell I am shopping?

    1. I just have links at the bottom of the posts now. I didn’t do links this past week as we were having trouble with the internet being so incredibly slow, but they are on past posts. Anyone reading on a phone and several people reading on the tablet (if they read vertically) never saw the sidebars, which is why I changed the links. I can probably try putting one up at the top. I haven’t been able to get banner ads to work yet, though, on the new platform, which is also why I just have product links.

  58. Brandy, I love when the desert blooms because then there is an overabundance of Painted Lady butterflies that migrate up here. I would like to see the desert in bloom but I certainly enjoy the visiting butterflies. I’ve had luck and taken some lovely butterfly photos before the rain started today. Allergies have been terrible but the air at the Archives was nice so I spent some time there. I am almost finished the research. I went to a grocery store after the lab today. I walked into the store and they had an additional 15% off (I think it was only that store). I shouldn’t have bought anything but then I thought I’d buy my next week’s groceries this week. I usually only go shopping once a month. I stopped at another store and bought 2 baskets of petunias for 30% off. I bought a new hummingbird feeder (my neighbour has already had a hummingbird at his feeder). And three packets of sweet pea and nasturtium seeds to plant. I’m going to plant them in the rain. It is raining and everything is that shade of tender green. It is so beautiful and it’s nicer than snow in May.

    I guess one should never get a driveway asphalted in the spring. It turns out the heat from the asphalt was loved by plants so now the dandelions are pushing the asphalt up and growing up through the asphalt. Still contemplating what to do about this problem. A blow torch weed killer might be the answer. Would melt the asphalt just enough I could flatten it again while killing the dandelions. Isn’t there always some problem?

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