Lemons on the Christmas Table The Prudent Homemaker

I put up a few more decorations that I already had.

The frost that was predicted earlier this month never came, but a frost was again forecast for this week. There were still some green tomatoes in the garden, so we brought them in. We also enjoyed eating garden tomatoes that we had picked green earlier in the month that had ripened.

We harvested lemons from the garden.

Eiffel Tower Pencil Pag The Prudent Homemaker

 I sewed and made gifts for the children using items I had on hand, including another pencil bag.

I made several batches of caramel sauce using ingredients I had on hand. We enjoyed it on brownies and cookies. I used some to fill Christmas candy.

I made candy for everyone’s stockings.

I sorted through the garage sale Legos I bought in October (two purchases; one was $0.50 and one was $20). I thought they would all fit in the girls’ stockings once I divided them. Then I thought they would all fit in small boxes as there were more than I thought. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work, either. I ended up dividing them into 5 boxes for five different gifts, and I realized what a great price I had really gotten when I started seeing how many sets and people were inside (It took me over 2 hours to divide them up). The girls will be delighted! 

A comedian came across the suggested videos on YouTube for me. I had never seen her before. I watched/listened to this video first and then a few more of hers while I worked on Christmas gifts.

My children watched several children’s shows on YouTube.

We listened to Christmas music on Pandora.

My husband and I had a date night at home.


What did you do to save money this past week?


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  1. Merry Christmas!
    We cooked most meals at home and we took our lunches to school and work.
    I used supplies I had on hand to wrap presents. I stayed within budget for all the gifts I purchased.
    I made bread, muffins, power balls.
    Nothing spectacular this month as far as frugality goes, however after taking a good look at our debt I am going to work harder at using money to pay it down.

  2. *I’ve wrapped all my gifts (2 lol) with paper I picked up in previous years for free.
    *A friend bought me lunch and we had a good conversation.
    *I visited a friend and we ate a frugal lunch.
    *My son and I played pokemon go instead of spending money on entertainment.
    *I planned Christmas dinner and was able to buy everything in advance or will use what I have on hand.
    *My hubby has been feeling unwell and ended up in the ER. Thankfully, I work for an affiliate of the hospital and get a 50% discount. In all his co-pay was about $150usd but it will be reimbursed by insurance.
    Christmas presents for my son will be pokemon plushies that I got for free at the last swap.
    *I’ve been using youtube to learn to crochet. I’ve added several dish cloths to my collection and made some dish scrubbies to give away.
    *I was able to combine several errands into a single trip.
    *I made two loaves of bread last week.
    *I used powdered milk for cooking instead of running next door to 7-eleven and over paying.
    *I took leftover fruit, pastries, and cookies from a Christmas party.
    *I bought juice, lettuce, and bell peppers for 50% off.
    *I froze zucchini and cherry tomatoes that would have gone bad. I’ll use them in future dishes.
    *I received a bag of starbucks coffee beans from a secret santa. I was out of coffee that day.
    *I soaked veggies in water for the guinea pigs.
    *I’ve currently hosting a workawayer who will assist me and take care of my son when I have surgery next week. She’s been incredibly helpful with housekeeping. (I suggest everyone look into workaway.info and see if it works for you and your family)
    *I was able to help my workawayer find extra paid cleaning work so she doesn’t have to worry about finances when she moves to another host. My friend now has a cleaner apartment and a regular housekeeper for the next few months.

  3. 1. Instead of buying something special to eat for Christmas, I went through the freezer and found some puff pastry and two small steaks, as well as some mushrooms I had sautéed and froze when there was a good sale on mushrooms. So, we are having Beef Wellington, a favorite but rarely eaten meal for us. All with no additional cost!
    2. Cook down a pumpkin from last summer’s garden, and there is a pumpkin cheesecake in the oven as I write this. Dessert for Christmas.
    3. Did not attend any craft or holiday fairs this year. I end up buying things I don’t need, sometimes even things I could make myself, so even though the music is cheering and I see lots of friends, I opted out this year. I have not been to a clothing store in several years now, wearing what I have accumulated over the years or going to thrift shops, and it has saved me a lot of money (shoes and smalls are the exception, I buy shoes and underwear new). So, this year I have been applying the same plan to catalogs, which I discard without even opening them (I shred and compost the ones I can), and to buying opportunities such as the holiday fairs. I am amazed by how much I have saved.
    4. Ran out of vanilla while doing holiday baking. I had a bottle of amaretto I use for making canned Drunken Cranberry Relish as gifts, so used up the rest of that when recipes called for vanilla. Turns out, I like many things better when they are flavored with amaretto rather than vanilla! Sugar cookies, shortbread, banana bread…
    5. A friend called and told me about a close out sale on dog food at a local store. I called the husband, who was already out on errands, and he picked up 150 pounds of good quality dog food for half price. I know some people believe that being hardcore frugal means not having pets, but we find a lot of joy in our two dogs, so I just try to economize as I can when providing for them.
    6. Cleaned out our closets and went through our books shelves and dropped off five boxes of the former to Salvation Army and two boxes of the latter to a used book shop run by a charity. Wanted to be sure to take advantage of the tax write off. The clothing was hard to get rid of because some of it was still in the packaging, but we have both lost quite a bit of weight this year so the items were just jamming up our closet. I hope someone gets good use of them.
    7. A relative sent homemade hats to both of us for Christmas. The problem is that she has never been to Alaska and the yarn she used was too thin to be of any use. I took them both apart and doubled the yarn up to make one thick and useful hat for the husband. She will never know and I am happy to be the recipient of a gift I would repurpose to good use.

    Merry Christmas to everyone who reads and contributes. I have learned a lot from you all and sometimes feel less weird for being around other people who do things like cut open the toothpaste tube to get it all and who save and melt down soap bits to make a new bar. And thanks to you, Brandy, for hosting this site.

  4. A friend is making chocolate cookies for me (I know because she was checking to see whether or not I’m allergic to the ingredients. I suspect she will bring them over tomorrow. I greatly enjoyed watching and listening to Jeanne Robinson! So funny. Thanks for posting it.

    My camera store goes out of business on Dec. 31st. I bought some memory sticks, a compact flash card, a card holder, at half price. They gave me a great deal ($50 as opposed to $200) for a lens. While in the store I noticed the large red Christmas decorations so those are being thrown in. I spent the day reading about the new telephoto lens that the insurance is paying for to compensate me for the one I broke. I love bird photography and this will be a great lens for that purpose. Although my eyesight is not good enough nor my reflexes fast enough to use a manual focus lens but my camera has a green light that shows inside it when something is focussed (either manually or automatically). So until I can afford a new camera, (one which is compatible with the new lens on autofocus) I will use the green light with the new lens. Problem solved at least temporarily.

    I love Brandy’s photos on this blog. The are always so beautifully composed and executed.

  5. I’ve listened to that same routine of the comedian before. She’s funny. I may check out her other videos. I thawed and simmered 4 gallon bags of vegetable scraps, and canned up 17 pints of broth today, with one more in the fridge. My holiday Pandora stations have gotten lots of listening, while working on holiday endeavors this week. I’m happy to be joining in, and look forward to reading all the other comments. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2017/12/super-foods-frugal-accomplishments.html.

  6. My recliner ordered last month arrived today. After subtracting the Swagbucks earned from the purchase, this chair is costing me $140 including tax and shipping. If I bought the same chair from the same website today, it would cost me $848. I am a large woman and ordered this chair because reviews from 6′ and 6’2″ men were favorable. At 5’9″, my legs comfortably touch the floor when the chair is upright. It is too big for my tiny mom. She had said she did not want a replacement for her wingback chair but I had worried that once she saw my chair, she would want one of her own so we could have a matched set. The deliverymen took pity on me and moved the broken sofa out the front door, down the two porch steps, and to the place where it will sit until Wednesday night, beside the woodpile. If the frame wasn’t broken, I would have “walked” the sofa to the shoulder of the road for scavengers today. But it really is only worthy of a trip to the landfill.

    We are baking a small cherry pie using about 3/4 of a can of cherry pie filling left over from another dessert and one of two rolled pie crusts in a package I bought at Aldis. I used tiny cookie cutters to use the trimmings to top the pie. Cute. I won’t be buying premade pie crust again. I have a quick oil and water recipe that I can whip together almost as quickly as I can warm up the refrigerated dough to room temperature and unroll it. Most of the work in a pie is pinching the edge neatly and topping it, which I had to do anyway.

    Our Aldi bill, which included a large package of paper towels and a bottle of inexpensive wine was about $72 this week. I also bought a fish sandwich at Burger King (I got hungry grocery shopping as I had skipped lunch), coffee once at McDonald’s for mom and me to share, and an inexpensive meal for two at Taco Bell where we tried out the $1 quesadillas and then went to sit by the millpond to watch the ducks before sunset. I thought I was ordering their new egg-filled quesadillas but I got the ones with ground meat and cheese sauce. I like their burritos and tacos better.

    I stopped at the local donut shop near the end of the day on the way home from Aldi to get a treat for mom. The owner said she was out of donuts except for day-olds. I asked how much they were. She said, “Free.” She wanted to give me two dozen but with a household of two, I accepted just one dozen. While she was the owner, I gave her $1 for the tip jar. They were the freshest day-old donuts I have ever eaten. About a half-dozen are still in the freezer.

    I am trying to keep us out of the stores but we need water softener salt and mom wants a spare can of decaf coffee in the house because it is December. So we will venture out to the store tomorrow.

    I hope you all have a lovely, peaceful week.

  7. I cooked up a discount Thanksgiving turkey, made fruit leather and wrapped gifts with paper that we had from last year. Most of our Christmas parties will be coming up the week AFTER Christmas so I’ll probably do more cooking and baking next week.

  8. I’ve been listening to Christmas music on Pandora all afternoon as I’ve been wrapping stocking stuffers. I love the variety on there. Also, I have a set of pencils that are the same color and have a gold message on the side, too, like in your photo. The message on mine say “Don’t forget to go be awesome!” and I split them in to groups of three for each of my two adult children’s stockings.

    I’ve started a new job but have kept my old one for every other weekend. But it is catching up with me, I’ve been sick for nearly three weeks. So it looks like something’s going to have to give. I’m a little sad, but at the same time I know that it’s the right thing to do and I feel like a weight’s been lifted already with just coming to that decision. All this working has kept me out of stores. So I guess that’s a big frugal win, ha ha!

    Merry Christmas to all.

  9. It’s so nice to see your Christmas preparations! Very pretty and homey, and such a great example of a beautiful Christmas on a budget!

    I’m trying to have a beautiful-on-a-budget Christmas too, and was pretty frugal this week.
    – I made more gifts from my kitchen! I made my husband a cookie-mix-in-a-jar, his favourite white chocolate macadamia cookies. (http://approachingfood.com/five-more-last-minute-gifts-kitchen-plus-cookie-mix-in-a-jar/) I used macadamia nuts and oats that I had previously traded for, and chopped up a leftover (and homemade) white chocolate Easter rabbit for the white chocolate chunks, used a canning jar I already had, and a scrap of Christmas fabric that was given to me, reused some ribbon, and wrote a tag on a label from my craft supplies. Totally frugal and totally delicious!
    – Using my local trading app, I commissioned a line drawing portrait of my husband and I, in exchange for an iced spice cake (I plated the spice cake on a silver cake tray I had traded for previously, and using leftover faux cream cheese icing so the only cost was the actual pantry ingredients). I matted it using some dark blue high quality paper leftover from making my wedding invitations a number of years ago, and plan to give it to my husband for Christmas. I was really happy about finding affordable and quality art!
    – I timed a purchase of Starbucks coffee (a gift for my sister) to coincide with a special they had of a free $5 gift card with purchase. I also used a $5 Swagbucks gift card I had, plus I had transferred the funds to my Starbucks card from my paypal account (which had $5 in it that I earned via surveys) so I only paid $10 OOP and got a $5 gift card for her as well. The coffee isn’t ground, but there is a Starbucks around the corner from her, and she can take the bag there to be ground for free.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 giftcard to Starbucks.
    – Suppliers and clients give my workplace edible gifts for Christmas, and they’re very generous, so I was able to take home a few things: two packs of gum to give to a family I’m friends with, a package of vegan gummies for my sister, and a package of shortbread for my mum. These will all be stocking stuffers.
    – I made a tiramisu for my husband’s work potluck, and used the egg whites leftover to make 50 plus Christmas-tree shaped and decorated meringues, which I packaged in Christmas themed cellophane wrapping, and sent into work with him to give out as little gifts to his colleagues. I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe green meringue swirls in the shape of Christmas trees, and topped them with little silver dragees from my baking stash, and sprinkled multi-coloured non-pareils on them to emulate ornaments. The piping bag was one I had ordered online using paypal credit from doing surveys, as were the wrappers. A frugal way to make 50 plus gifts!
    – I met a friend for coffee (using my Starbucks card from Swagbucks) and exchanged Christmas cookies with her. I used one of the Christmas-themed fabric baskets that I had sewn previously, and some of the cookies, caramel popcorn, candy cane bark, and meringues that I had made over the past two weeks. I packaged them up in cellophane and ribbons, with a jingle bell on the front, and a handwritten calligraphy tag. The only OOP cost was the cellophane wrappers, as everything else came from my craft stash.
    – I bought a package of Hershey’s caramel kisses and was paid 2 pennies to do so. I was pretty pleased about that! I used a $5 promotional credit that I received for downloading and logging into the amazon.ca app (I deleted the app as soon as I had logged in, so it didn’t clog up my phone. I have enough apps.) Most $5 or under items are add-on items, and the promotional credit was only good for a short time period, so I had to look for something that I could buy without spending much OOP (and it had to be $5.01 or more). I’m also using a prime trial, so I didn’t have to pay shipping either. The total was $5.08 after taxes, but because I went through Swagbucks, I’ll be getting credit back, likely 10 cents worth. Definitely a frugal way to add some chocolates to my baking supplies!
    – I wrapped up presents using patterned red, green, and beige wrapping paper given to me by my mum, as well as green ribbon from my craft stash, and faux boxwood ordered online using paypal credit from online surveys. I used craft-style tags from my craft stash (free from my parents years ago). They turned out SO well! Totally Brandy-worthy! You can see some of the presents on my blog.
    – Unfortunately, a lot of my Christmas prep went to waste, as I came down with a nasty cold a few days before Christmas. I wasn’t able to go to my best friend’s annual Christmas party, and couldn’t give her the presents I had worked so hard to find and wrap, and couldn’t give all the gifts I had collected and made to the family I was planning to visit on Christmas eve. I did, however, manage to give my husband the cold; sharing is caring, right? I was very disappointed, but am counting my blessings: I have food, shelter, family, and friends, and enough money and skills to be able to make, find, and give gifts – I’m very lucky.
    – Instead of ordering in when my husband and I were sick, I made my two-ingredient macaroni and cheese (Macaroni. And cheese.) and defrosted some broccoli from my freezer. Fifteen minutes from pantry to plate and frugal to boot.

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

  10. I loved that video – thank you for a good laugh!
    This week I shopped using a $100 gift card that I received after making a complaint regarding the supermarket that I normally use. I got shuffled around repeatedly and it took 2 months to get things resolved so by way of apology they sent me a gift basket full of all different types of chocolates plus the gift card. I am also part of their loyalty program and there was a special promotion for Wednesday only to purchase root vegetables. I needed to buy these items anyway so made sure I accumulated the points at the same time. I also accumulated more loyalty points by buying items from this week’s list – also items I really needed. And I still have $40 left on this card which will do for the next couple of week’s purchases. I’ll really only need milk, bread, fruit & salad greens.

    I am giving magazine subscriptions to two people as Christmas gifts, but again I’ve got a 2 for 1 deal on these items so that will save a bit.

    On Friday I met a friend and we went to tour a historical house here in the city (a place we’ve wanted to visit for a while now) – I had a voucher which gave us a 2 for 1 entry and then afterwards we had coffee and a sweet rather than a meal.

    On Wednesday a friend kindly did the driving for some errands and to see the Christmas lights down at the boardwalk by the lake. It was a lovely, free thing to do as part of the Christmas events in the city. This saved me at least 3 transit fares.

    I hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas.

  11. I didn’t make time to comment last week, though I did come read what others had to share, as it’s a big part of my week to see all the inspiration and accomplishments! I went ahead and combined both my weeks into one post over on the blog. I just realized that I forgot a little something we did today, though – my husband borrowed a DVD from the library and we all watched a movie together today that we’ve been wanting to see. 🙂

    Here’s my post: http://meloniek.com/2017/12/frugal-accomplishments-weeks-ending-17-and-24-dec-2017/

    Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and I hope all who celebrated Chanukah had a delightful time!

  12. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia and Merry Christmas to you all 🙂 .

    Here is how we saved money last week –

    Purchases –
    – After price checking at another local pharmacy and finding their prices a lot cheaper than where we used to buy them I bought 4 x 100 packets of paracetamol saving $4.40 over what we were paying previously. We go through a lot of Panadol in our home due to DH’s injuries through his military accident.
    – As our popcorn maker stopped working I purchased a new popcorn maker after price checking online, and saved another $15 over what other stores were charging.
    – Purchased a 5pk of new cotton underwear on special saving $5 on usual prices here.

    In the kitchen –
    – Picked, washed, chopped and or blanched and froze around 4 bunches of silver beet saving $18 and around 1kg of spring onions saving $2.50.
    – Made our own 1.25kg cheesecake from Philadelphia cream cheese on special, gifted lemons and tinned passionfruit pulp saving $79.78 over buying them locally in a cheesecake shop.
    – Made 1.9kg of chocolate fudge made from homemade condensed milk for us and some for gifts with chocolate purchased on special saving $101.89 over purchasing the same amount in the shops.
    – Made our first batch of 400ml of vanilla extract with traded vanilla beans which will brew over a couple of months saving $44.44 over purchasing the equivalent amount in the shops.

    Water savings –
    – Used saved dish rinsing, blanching and cooling water to water some newly sprouted vegetables in the gardens.
    – Hand watered our lawns all week with saved grey water from our showers and washing machine.

  13. Well, some frugal successes and a few failures! Just keeping it real! But to make up for the failures, I’m cooking almost entirely out of my pantry for the rest of the month, and into January. We were also still able to substantially pay down student loan debt, despite going over budget for Christmas. Yay! Haven’t eaten out. Have made all of my usual hiusehold products and cleaners from scratch. Making do with what we have. Making a wedding gift for a friend. All in all, a successful week.

  14. * We are joyfully making do with one reliable car while we wait for a car to be repaired for us to purchase.

    * We gladly ate a turkey purchased on sale after Thanksgiving all week in different meals.

    * I was blessed to be able to make two loaves of homemade bread for a present to family members and included some delicious dark chocolate bars with the gift.

    * My husband very willingly took my homemade lunches with him to work every day this week.

    * It was a lively surprise to find salsa and organic broccoli on sale, and I purchased extra of both.

    * Looking through “junk mail” a few days ago, I discovered coupons for gas, and we used one to get $.10 off per gallon off a good price on gas already.

    * We used natural remedies to stay healthy and avoid the doctor.

    * I had a meeting via Zoom and saved money and time by not driving 20 miles to meet this person.

    * We took a walk for our date night, which helped improve our health as well, and it was a blessing to bundle up and get fresh air and exercise.

  15. After my husband’s surgery on Weds. our friends have generously provided meals: A large roasted chicken, 3 types of soup, a chili, tater tot and hot dog casserole, two shepherd’s pies, a very large bag of lettuce and salad dressing. Our daughter sent us a “tower” from Harry and David that included fruit and goodies. We have been staying home to take care of hubby so no extra money spent on gas. My kids can walk to the rec. center to exercise and play basketball ($50 a year membership fee that includes summer swimming). Took the kids to the library for books, Cds, DVDs. Wrapped all presents with paper we already had. Made only one trip to the mall so daughter could get boyfriend’s present. Only in mall for 10 minutes. We will be going to church twice today and then spend a quiet Christmas at home. Hubby will have to stay home so we will be missing him being with us. Merry Christmas to everyone.

  16. A number of years ago I read how much the average household pays extra in electric over the Christmas season and started not replacing any lighted decorations. As we are changing our decorating habits, I do enjoy our natural decorations and find I use candles more.

    I love your box idea for gift wrapping. I’ve considered reusable bags, but just do not like the messyness of them. This year I managed to find enough gift wrap in the thrift store for a dollar for the gifts we needed to wrap.

    We had Christmas with my inlaws and they added some extra food, paper and dog items. They are so very generous and we really appreciate them. We also were able to wash a couple loads of laundry to bring home and dry (no washer hooked up yet…still working on the water).

    I needed a lamp for our table and found one similar to the one I had as a child on my dresser at the thrift shop. We plugged it in at the store to make sure it works. I needed to buy a smaller bulb and tried the dollar store first with success! I also found another pair of warm winter boots to work around the homestead for 4.00.

    After having to buy a full price flannel nightgown this fall, I am on the lookout for a backup to have on hand. Yesterday I found a long shirt type that has a lot of fabric that I can use on another project if I do not like that style. I also found another pair of plaid pajama pants. I try to buy all of our pajamas at the thrift store. We all love plaid flannel pajama pants and I try to have several on hand for when they wear out.

    In an effort to reduce our electric costs, I have been more diligent in using the woodstove. We are blessed to have as much seasoned wood as we want just waiting to be cut, split and stacked. My son takes care of the big pieces and I gather kindling. I have been cleaning the yard and gathering kindling, and I’ll continue to keep at it as I really want to clean things up faster. Plus it is exercise!

    This year I chose not to bake as we all need to continue to slim down. I had decided that I would keep watch in the teachers lounge for cookies that we like as many people bring in their extras to get them out of their houses. This was very successful and we had plenty of cookies!

    It is a peaceful feeling to know that we haven’t overspent nor over eaten this season. Keeping our focus on the reason for the season.

    Merry Christmas dear frugal friends!

  17. Long time reader, but I’ve never commented before, but here goes…
    – We played board games, watched dvds, and made Christmas cookies this week. The games and movies we already owned, or were checked out from the library. And I cut back on how many cookies we made this year- enough to enjoy, but not so many that they’ll hang around for weeks.
    -This year I filled our advent calendar with Christmas jokes and puzzle pieces from a 500 piece puzzle we already owned- so we kept the fun tradition without spending anything.
    -I’m making homemade cinnamon rolls for a special Christmas breakfast.
    -with all of my kids home from school, we stayed in and hardly drove at all this week. (1 trip to the store and 1 to church.)
    -My husband took all of his lunches to work this week.
    I look forward to the New Year and trying to make more frugal choices and try a few more of your recipes Brandy! All the best from Germany!

  18. I, too, have a dog and wouldn’t want to live without one. We all have different incomes and different size families and what works for some of us doesn’t work for others. My dog brings me great happiness and since I live alone now, he is also part of my “security system”. Like you, I apply frugal methods to all areas of my life and that includes my dog but I feel no guilt in owning one. He’s not an expense I would ever eliminate. He’s part of my family. I think it’s very appropriate for you to share how you frugally care for your dogs.

  19. Our McDonald’s offers a Senior’s coffee that is free; no purchase necessary. They define senior as 55 or better. You might ask if yours has the same discount.

  20. I agree with Carolyn! I love that you shared about the dog food. Our dog is a constant source of love and entertainment and the early warning system for family security. I agree that having a pet isn’t “cheap”, but there are many ways to care for furry family members on a budget. Each of has to prioritize where our funds go; some of us choose pets over cable or clothes or coffee – we all deserve some pleasure our way, and for my family it happens to come with a tail.

  21. I can not imagine my life without a dog!!!! We have had a dog our entire 31 year marriage, with brief periods in between when one had passed. Our last two have been rescues. I tell myself that all the cleaning of dog hair is good, cheap calorie burning for me! Merry Christmas everyone!

  22. Carissa, this is the first I heard of her and she’s hysterical. Are you listening to tapes in your car or is she on a special program?


  23. Thank you for sharing the link to the comedian, Brandy. I really enjoyed it! Also, thank you for all your frugal lessons, encouragement and providing such a wonderful place for this frugal community to join in each week. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas this year!

    Busy week for us again, but it will now all settle down with the start of the holidays. Looking forward to a slower lifestyle for the next few months! Our frugal achievements for this week included:
    *Meals made at home included hamburger helper with homemade garlic bread (using up various single buns floating around in the freezer), made-your-own pizzas, hot chicken sandwiches with green/waxed bean mix, and grilled cheese sandwiches with baked potato pancakes. Frugal Fail: We had takeout 2 nights in a row, then went out to dinner for Christmas eve with hubby’s family (MIL paid for the Christmas dinner).
    *Tried making potato pancakes for the first time this week, as I wanted to infuse something different into our dinner menu. I paired them with grilled cheese sandwiches, which created a logistics problem for cooking in the frying pan. So I looked on Pinterest for an oven baked recipe and found this one: https://chefsavvy.com/baked-potato-pancakes/. Everybody but my hubby liked them. Always one in the bunch that has to complain. I might make them again anyways and try tweaking the seasoning.
    *Hubby finally cut up the 2 smoked hams I bought on sale for $7/800g. we now have 8 ham steaks and a bunch of shaved ham to use (most was packaged for the freezer for future meals). Sale price on shaved ham is usually over $1/100g and ham steaks can run $3 to $4 per steak. I noticed last year that hams went even cheaper after Christmas, as the stores were trying to clear out leftover stock. So I only bought a couple for now and will watch to see if I can get more at an even better price later. This is one of my favourite frugal lessons I learned from Brandy’s blog.
    *Wrapped all my gifts this week, using our Christmas wrapping stash that consists of paper we’ve had for a while (most likely bought at extreme discount after Christmas), gift bags and tissue paper that we save each year or previously bought at extreme discount after Christmas, and ribbons/bows/gift tags previously bought at extreme discount after Christmas. I even reused a cardboard box a gift from Amazon came in to wrap a different Christmas gift. It was the perfect size!
    *School has been pretty rough for DD so far this year, but this week in particular has really been a struggle. She’s just done and ready for a break. Her classes went right up to Friday this week, too. She begged me to let her have Friday off, but I stuck to my guns for consistency sake. Well, then a Christmas miracle happened…we had a snow day on the last day of school! It was one of the best early Christmas presents she could have ever asked for. Haven’t seen DD this happy in a long time!!!
    *I am now officially done with work until around April. On my last day (Wednesday), I went to our county council meeting, where I received my 5 years service award and my new wallet as a gift of thanks. Happy to be having a break now.
    * I had my special yearly hair cut on Friday. Since I don’t have to put my hair up in a bun for 4 months, I had the girl cut it shoulder length. I love that it has a nice style to it now. My mother paid for the cut, as part of my Christmas gift.
    *Signed up to receive an email for a $25 grocery gift card that the company is giving away to say “sorry” for being involved in price fixing of bread. Not nearly enough to cover how much I’ve probably overspent over the years, but it’s a start!

    Thank you all for your comments very week. I have learned so much from all of you. Wishing you and your family a lovely Holiday season!

  24. Thank you for posting the workaway.info-I found it fascinating to read about various volunteer opportunities around the world!!

  25. This was not a particularly frugal week, but I am very grateful that we had money put aside in savings to pay for the many expenses we dealt with this week. On Monday we drove 4 hours to Costco so my husband could be fitted for hearing aids. Doing this saved us about $1700, so it was worth the long drive and the long day. He will pick up the hearing aids after Christmas. We were told it will take a month to 6 weeks for his ears and brain to adjust, but we are very hopeful this will help both his hearing loss and the tinnitus that has plagued him. While at Costco, I stocked up on a lot of staples. The pantry and freezer are full! And for that I am grateful. I made a list of all the meals I can make with items I have on hand and feel I will have to do very little shopping for the next six weeks to two months.
    On Tuesday our dog had surgery to remove an infected tooth. The tooth was really bothering him, so I was glad to get it out, but of course it wasn’t cheap – even though our vet does everything she can to keep down costs. Vet bills are part of having pets and we put a little aside each month to pay for these kind of things.
    I made an arrangement for the front porch, and one for the table, using evergreen cuttings from our yard. One of our juniper trees is covered with blue berries, so that made a nice addition to the arrangement. Thank you for the inspiration and advice, Brandy!
    I made up a bunch of muffin mixes and put them in the pantry for future easy breakfasts.
    At my request, my husband made me a seed box from pallet wood. I decorated it to look like a miniature fruit crate and made cardboard dividers. Now all my seeds are in one place and organized – plus it looks really cute. I smile every time I see it. And it cost nothing!
    I have been letting my hair grow out and it is finally long enough to wear up – or half-up. Following Brandy’s directions, I made some beaded bobby pins. I also glued beads to a plain hair clip I already owned.
    Merry Christmas to everyone here – I read your posts every week and am so inspired by you all.

  26. Thank you Brandy for sharing photos of your beautiful home. You are an incredible example of creating a beautiful space with very low funds.

    • I was let go from my job on Tuesday. Two sayings have helped me: “When man rejects, God protects” and “God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.” I should have left this job earlier this year but stayed for many reasons. I am incredibly grateful to have a well-stocked freezer and pantry, no debt other than my mortgage, and frugal know-how.
    • Called and set up as many medical appointments as possible while I still have insurance and FSA.
    • Purchased two months’ worth of cat litter while it was on sale. It’s like having a bunker of cat litter in my basement!
    • Baked chocolate walnut biscotti, molasses crinkle cookies, and tried a new recipe for almond shortbread from the Brown Bag Design (BBD) website – delicious. I used a BBD shortbread mold that I purchased as a second in 1988. I can’t remember the last time I used it but it made beautiful cookies that I am giving as gifts.
    • Hand washed a wool sweater and a blouse and hung them up to dry outside. The sweater was frozen stiff when I brought it in.
    • Returned an unopened item for full refund.
    • Turned the heat off while I was baking and closed doors to rooms not being used. Let the oven heat the space I was using.
    • While on the computer, I used a lap blanket and put a fleece on over a sweater when I was cold rather than turning up the heat.
    • Made swag goal x 1
    • Made homemade pizza
    • Wrapped presents using paper I purchased for 75% off last year during the after Christmas sale
    • Ordered five books through inter-library loan. I keep a running list of books that sound interesting. Rather than buy the books used, as I have been doing since my library doesn’t have them, I will read them from the inter-library loan.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  27. I too have signed up for that email refund Rhonda – at least it’s something!
    I got a ham steak on sale today – but I’m also waiting for the after Christmas sales on those small, boneless hams. I got a couple of them last year for 50% off so well worth checking out.
    Have a relaxing few months – Merry Christmas.

  28. Merry Christmas! I have not posted in awhile but I do read all the posts.
    We have 2 dogs and I use to be a non dog person! It’s not cheap having them but they have been our security and fun! Both are rescue dogs.
    My husband is sick and he is the cook. So tonight we are ordering from a place we love but rarely go to. Tomorrow we will see.
    Been using what we have to save. I wrapped all gifts in paper from years ago. I still have several rolls never opened. I also have been looking for reusable gift boxes.

    Brandy, thank you for this blog. I have learned so much to help me save. Also, thanks to all the people who post their ways they save.

  29. Frugal Accomplishments at our house this week:

    I cooked a whole chicken, pulled the meat from the bones, and made broth from the bones. Since I had extra time off from work I was able to make some dinners ahead of time for the week. My husband will be picking up more hours at work in the next few months so making dinners ahead each weekend will be a goal of mine.

    We ate all our breakfasts and dinners at home and took our lunches to work.

    My youngest daughter gave me a sweater and a hat she no longer wanted.

    I used wrapping paper, gift bags, cards, and gift tags that I got at 50% after Christmas last year.

    I found several gifts on sale or at a lower than usual prices for the grandchildren.

    My husband received a $25 grocery gift card from work. I received a $25 gas card from work. I love practical gifts.

    At work we had a free lunch for Christmas. There was enough left over for my husband and I to share for dinner one night.

  30. Greetings all! I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. My frugal accomplishments are:

    1. NO eating out. My husband is on a low sodium diet. It’s easier to cook at home and control the sodium than to go out and guess at it. Helps the budget too!
    2. Stayed home. I am on vacation for the holidays and I used the time to clean and go through my clothes. This saved on gas for the week.
    3. Bought unsalted butter that was on sale. I now have several of them tucked in my freezer for later use.
    4. Used leftovers for lunch a couple of days instead of throwing them out.
    5. Helped my sister out with a dress for my niece. Our church has a banquet every year for New Year’s Eve. This year is formal. My sister had found everyone a formal at the thrift store except for my oldest niece. She is 12 and this will be her first banquet as part of the youth group. (They enter the youth group at 12 at my church). She is very tall for her age (Almost 5’10) and wears a size 11 shoe so fitting her is very difficult because all of the “youth” clothing is too small and/or too short. I mentioned to my sister that I still had the formal that I had worn in a wedding a few years ago and that it might fit my niece. I also had a bolero jacket that I had made to go with it. She took it home with her and let my niece try it on. It fit perfectly except in the bust area, but my sister is an excellent seamstress so she was able to fix that part and now my niece has a lovely formal to wear that doesn’t look “old womanish” as she puts it lol.

    I’m sure there is more. I forgot to write them down this week. Have a great week!

  31. Thank you for your lovely blog. I not only read for your useful frugal tips, but also for demonstrating that being good stewards doesn’t mean we have to live without beauty and style. Your presentation is very inspirational.

  32. Hi Brandy! This past week was wonderful. We have moved intimacy a new apartment, so wanted to keep a simple Christmas as we continue to unpack and organize the possessions we already have. My little brother has a couple weeks off of basic training for the Army and was able to come home to my parent’s house for Christmas. We borrowed my mom’s van and drove our family of 5 and my brother to the Washington DC LDS temple to see the Christmas lights and displays. It was a free, beautiful family activity.

    I took a walk with my kids to a nearby grocery store and got 5lb of sweet potatoes for 18¢/lb. It was a 5lb limit. I was 2 oz over, but I still got the deal on my whole purchase. Whew! There were also bunches of broccoli for 88¢/bunch.

    Our local Aldi had some hams for 35¢/lb. we have a small freezer, so I knew only one would fit. I told my mom about it, but by the time she went, they had raised the price to 69¢/lb. still an awesome price!

    I renewed my library books and movies online since I forgot to grab them when we drove to the store. I didn’t want to make an extra trip so luckily they all renewed for another 3 weeks!

    Since our apartment is on the top floor of our building, it stays pretty warm. We’ve had some sunny days, so I opened the blinds and it heated the apartment to a toasty 72*! Our heater is set at 66* and it’s hardly come on. We’ve had some chilly days, but with sweaters, socks, and sunshine, we’ve been able to stay toasty!

    I made refried beans in the crockpot for Christmas Eve dinner of tamales at my parent’s house. I used pinto beans and seasonings from my pantry. I’ll use the sweet potatoes to make sweet potato soufflé for Christmas dinner tomorrow.

    My husband and I played a game after the kids went to bed. We unpacked our games and realized we have some we haven’t played in awhile! Date nights for the next month!

  33. Merry Christmas! It has been a lovely evening with my family. My parents had everyone over and we celebrated over dinner and watching kids open presents. It was fun! Yesterday, my husband and I went to see Christmas lights with his family.
    Now I am enjoying Christmas music and the Christmas tree lights.
    We have been trying to be frugal. Including beans and eggs in our diet. Making chicken recipes with chicken we bought at a deep discount. Using vegetables we froze before they would go bad. However; we did go out for meals yesterday with my husbands family. And we bought Christmas presents. It was fun to watch the children open their presents. They were so excited and happy!
    We were able to get my husband’s truck fixed for much less than we expected.

  34. This week has been pretty good for us. I haven’t been working since it’s Christmas break, so that has saved on some gasoline. But we have had to travel to some Christmas family gatherings, so it kind of comes out even in the end I guess. Our frugal accomplishments include:
    – making all meals at home, with the exception of one
    – saved 4 bags and tissue paper
    – paid a couple bills online
    – picked up some toiletries at Dollar General, which was slightly more expensive. But to travel to get to a cheaper store, would be at least a 35 minute drive each way. I was already in town to take the dogs to the vet, so Dollar General was the easiest.
    – Cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot. The chicken was given to me by my parents. We got 2 meals out of it and some potatoes.
    – Got a free lunch at a Christmas party
    – asked my mom to pick up a couple things for me while grocery shopping, which saved me a trip. And she wouldn’t let me pay her for the items she picked up.
    – made pizza bites with stuff I already had on hand
    – received a cutting board and a mandolin for Christmas, which were items I had on my “to buy” list. So this saves me money.
    – my husband received some socks for Christmas, which he needed badly.
    – made zucchini bread to give away as presents. Used only items I had on hand.
    – Cleaned and reorganized pantry so I can see things better and know what we have on hand
    – made an appetizer for a family Christmas celebration using only items I had on hand.
    – had my parents out for Christmas Eve tonight. We played some games and ate all leftovers from previous Christmas celebrations. My mom brought some biscuits and cookies to share with us tonight.

    Tomorrow, we will travel to two places for Christmas and exchange gifts at our house in the morning. It will be a busy day, but it will be filled with family – so I am looking forward to it.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  35. Our Christmas celebrations are in full swing around here. We enjoyed our traditional fondue dinner last evening. Our houseguests have arrived and we are having a great time with them. Having a camper for them to sleep in is such a blessing for everyone. We don’t have any spare rooms in our house, so this allows everyone a little space and privacy at night. Of course, we eat together and visit in the house, but a nice, warm, comfy camper is a welcome retreat for them at night.

    I was able to hit sales and Costco last week and really feel stocked up. I found the last minute things at the mall on sale. Since I go so seldom, it’s really nice when things are inexpensive!

    It got cold, so our wood stove has been a huge way to save money.

    Pictures are on my blog, as usual. https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/merry-christmas-weekly-update-saving-money-december-24-2017/

  36. I *love* Jeanne Robinson! She is so funny! She is actually going to be in my area next month and I’m trying to decide if I want to purchase a ticket or not.

    This week was slow with not a lot going on. I gratefully accepted a large box of home grown potatoes. I used some to make mashed potatoes for a friends Christmas dinner and I will use some to make roasted potatoes. Any leftovers will be dehydrated. I also gratefully accepted four packages of brown and serve rolls from my oldest sons Boy Scout Christmas party. They were leftover from our pot luck. Two packages went to my friends Christmas dinner and the other two I saved for my family. I reused gift bags to wrap some of my gifts. I made a birthday card for my dad. I also made a gift card holder card for my father in law. I made curry chicken salad from leftover chicken satay one night for dinner. Lastly, I gratefully accepted a glass Christmas platter from my mother that depicts the 12 days of Christmas. She decided she didn’t want it anymore.

  37. This has not been a terribly frugal week for us, but I did pull out the Santa sacks we use in lieu of wrapping paper for today. Each child gets two Santa sacks with their name on them and Santa magically fills them at night. Anything that doesn’t fit goes in a sticking or placed in front of the sack. I also made my bread machine cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning.

  38. My sister was hospitalized early this week, after her next-door neighbor found her confused and unable to get up after a fall. The doctor does not believe her confusion is reversible or that she will be able to live independently again. She lives on the other side of the country, so I have been spending some time on phone-calls with her doctor and nurses, and with the neighbor and relatives. My cousin is a lawyer in the province she lives in, so he has been helpful with letting me know how to proceed with getting her finances handled, since there is no power of attorney. With the holidays, the contacts I have to make will happen in slow motion. I am happy with the care that she is getting and that she is safe.

    I finally have the money saved to get the car in for repairs. On Friday, I had it towed 35 miles to the next town over to the repair shop for an appointment first thing Wednesday morning, so I’ll know more once they have done their diagnostic scan. Tuesday is a holiday here as well as Monday in most of Canada, so this was the first appointment of the week. If they need another part, it will be another day or two before I have the car again.

    I used a $25 gift card from the library I work at to buy the rest of the food I need for Christmas dinner and for the coming week. I had the turkey already, bought on sale the week before. Someone had also given a me a few squash this week, including my favorite, acorn squash. I also have some pumpkins that someone else had given me. My menus will definitely include these in abundance!

    We have bitterly cold weather starting today and forecast for the rest of the week, so I am happy to have a few days with no place I need to go, and not much work to do. I have a stack of books from the library, and some projects to do around the house, so this is my chance to focus on home.

    Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

  39. Thank you for the suggestion. Mom is not at all shy about asking about senior discounts. A few McDonalds locally have free coffee on Mondays for everybody. Senior coffee is in the 75-85 cent range. I am not quite a senior. If mom gets the largest decaf, she gives me some so we both get drinks for just $1. Taco Bell always gives her a senior pop.

    We also don’t have a senior discount at our nearest two Kroger stores. Maybe there are too many retirees who stayed in the area.

  40. We are having a non Christmas. The flu has hit our home and I am miserable. I fell Friday morning and my recent neck and back surgeries are not happy. I am grateful that I have everything needed to comfort us. Looks like a couple of days snuggled up and watching tv. I am happy sugar cookie is not home and being exposed to this. After her illness this summer, she just doesn’t need it. I hope everyone is having a great holiday. Ours is quiet , but my tree lights are magical.

  41. I’m sorry you’re feeling so terrible. I hope this goes away soon.

    Christmas lights definitely make things more cheerful, and with LED lights, they don’t cost very much. I have lights up around my front window, which I’ll have on in the evenings until Candlemas, at the beginning of February. By that time, you can see the days get longer.

  42. We have three cats and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world! To us, being frugal most of the time means we can splurge in a few areas that are important to us, including pets. 😉

  43. Merry Christmas, everyone! 🙂

    I finished at my job last week and received an insane amount of farewell cards and presents, including my favourite practical present – grocery store gift cards. In return, I gifted my co-workers some chocolate that had been given to me previously and wrote a card to each of my residents. Simple, frugal and well-received.

    My friend and I hit up IKEA and the outlet mall. I spent under $10 at IKEA which is unheard of. At the outlet mall I bought a dress for a wedding at 60% off, wooden Christmas ornaments at 50% off and two stubbie holders at half price to complete my husband’s Christmas gift. We went to a favourite bakery for a cheap lunch. I then ran some errands afterwards and made sure to take plenty of water and a snack.

    We did not turn the air-con on all week but let the ceiling fan in the bedroom run one night.

    My husband took all lunches to work. We mostly ate at home and made sure to use up leftovers. My in-laws hosted an early Christmas dinner and all we had to contribute were two bottles of soft drink. We went out to eat on Sunday for my early birthday dinner and used a 25% voucher.

    This week was very abundant in regards to our local produce carts. We picked up free chillies, apricots, silverbeet, pears, potatoes, a cauliflower and a herb jar.

    My husband’s uncle gifted us two blue swimmer crabs he had caught and a punnet of cherry tomatoes and an enormous cucumber from his garden.

    I cleaned the fridge and pantry and made a list of meal ideas for a low spend January.

    We utilised Netflix and YouTube more for low-cost entertainment. I also re-read a favourite book of mine.

    I found a recycling bottle on the bus and was not too proud to pick it up. It has been added to our big bag and will be cashed in eventually.

    We saved a lot of wrapping paper, gift bags and ribbons and used materials we had saved previously to wrap our own presents. All suitable cardboard was composted.

    My husband’s grandma had given me some birthday money and we used it to buy special food treats on Christmas Eve when the store was marking everything down. These were for my birthday picnic. We used some of our usual budget to stock up on some good clearance deals. We are over budget by $18 but it will mean very few grocery needs in January. We also received a free can of Coke, 4cts off per litre on fuel and $10 off our shopping thanks to our loyalty points.

    Amongst all this, we squeezed in a few full loads of washing that were air-dried, saved warm-up water to soak pots and pans, watered from our rainwater tank, saved Ziploc bags etc.

  44. Hope everyone had a good Christmas!

    • My Dad likes to give a little gift for Christmas as a thank you to the people in the Assisted Living facility where he lives. He is on a very fixed income, so to keep it inexpensive, I canned some strawberry jam to give. My brother lives out of state and can’t help as much, so I am going to ask him to pay for the supplies to help out.
    • While out running errands on Tuesday, I was tempted to stop and pick up some fast food for lunch. Came home and had leftovers instead. And I think I actually enjoyed them more than if I had stopped!
    • Used free tea, coffee and toiletries.
    • We had 2 get togethers at our house last weekend, so lots of leftovers. Had some for dinner on Monday and then I made sure to freeze everything before they went bad. Also had a couple of avocados that we weren’t going to get to before they turned, so I smashed them up, added some salsa to make guacamole and froze.

    I’m looking forward to the new year, as I have felt a little out of control with what we have needed to spend money on. This past year has been a year of upheaval and changes for us. God willing, 2018 will be year of settling down and having more organization.

  45. I literally work to keep my 3 dogs, 5 cats, 3 ducks and 11 quail fed and vetted (okay – my psych doc wants me to work as well so I actually get out and have to interact with people face to face :/ ) I cannot eat chicken eggs at all now and the ducks and quail are cheaper for me to keep myself, than to purchase the eggs at the farm market. The dogs and cats are my sanity savers – they are the only reason I get out of bed some days. They are security and comfort that I have so needed over the last 18 months of my husband’s health issues (one, after another, after another). I cannot imagine not having them. It is why I often share frugal things I do to keep the costs down (like a pet food pantry we visit and all the odds and ends I bring home from work for my birds) so that others might be able to use the tips.

  46. I love your positive affirmations within the post. We do have to remember to feel blessed and be joyful on this frugal journey!

  47. Has anyone on this thread ever watched the swagbucks videos? I do the surveys but I don’t get to far. I was wondering if the videos contain viruses or track your device?

  48. Happy New Year Brandy and friends. I know several of you ladies do SwagBucks. I’m new to it and having problems. Can someone give me a quick lesson on how to get credit for the “discover” part? Also, is there a page or site that lists Swag codes? I only use Facebook so I don’t see all the other ones.

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