I harvested lettuce and tomatoes from the garden.

I sowed seeds in the garden for snow peas, Swiss chard, and cilantro.

I made peppermint bark with ingredients I had on hand for my daughter to take to a gift exchange.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 gift card and a $50 gift card to Sam’s Club. I will use them to buy groceries and a Christmas gift for my dad this week.

I enjoyed herbal tea made with herbs from my own garden.

We had several meatless meals, including bean burritos, salads, and bean-based soups.

I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

I used shower warm-up water to water potted plants in my garden.

I read an e-book from the library via the Libby app, Hello Stranger by Katherine Center.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Hello Everyone!

    What a beautiful peppermint bark! I may borrow your idea.

    It’s been busy. We’re still harvesting tomatoes and hot peppers from the garden. I’ve been baking all of our bread, and grew sprouts for sandwiches.

    I made 20 scrunchies as Christmas gifts for some young ladies. I also sewed a quilted blanket for our dog using flannel that I had on hand, leftover bits of quilt batting that I pieced together, and some scrap cotton for binding. He loves it! 🐶

    I’m listening to a recommended book on Hoopla while I’m doing housework.

    Have a blessed and beautiful week! 🎄

    1. I also read Hello Stranger from Libby last week!

      My biggest savings last week was being patient for a very long time, waiting for a sales associate to finally come around to ask a claryifing question. Which saved me a $50 in not purchasing what turned out to be just an expensive accessory instead of the actual (cheaper) electronic gift I was looking for.

  2. I used boxes I got from the dollar store last year to put presents in this year- usually I am able to get several seasons out of them- then I have holiday tissue from last year- some needed a quick smooth with the iron then same for ribbons and bows ALL looked brand new. I shop thru out the year for things and it has to stay in budget per person that way I can plan for this expenditure in my regular budget. Still eating from freezer only buying fresh bread and milk.During the time between Christmas and New year’s I am going to try a bread machine I have. Gas has come way down 3.09 to 3.11 but food items still very high. Today I saw small little gingerbread houses for $50 we use a kit and make frosting and use candies we have collected. We bought a plain evergreen wreath from a farmer’s market and decorated it ourselves with lights from dollar store, dried hydrangeas from our garden, silver and gold ornaments ( unbreakable) it goes on a tripod stand for the cemetery- parents graves, sisters meet decorate, bring our own coffee or hot cocoa and walk the cemetery chatting catching up before the holidays.

    1. Pam, I love your idea of ironing out the tissue paper so it looks new, and the tradition you and your sisters have of honoring your parents and catching up.

  3. Brandy,
    I may be reading between the lines. I am so sorry. I know I would miss my mom terribly. How good of you to take care of your dad.

    1. My mom is fine! I already bought her Christmas gift somewhere else. I wanted to get my dad an edible gift (because there is nothing he needs or wants that he doesn’t already have) and this was a good way to do it.

      Thank you for your concern. That was kind of you.

        1. Yep! Just had already taken care of her gift!

          When that day comes, believe me, I will say something here.

  4. Hi Brandy and everyone.

    This year my family and I have been much more diligent about our water use, and my husband have kept daily track of how much water we use. For a couple of months, we have written down how many showers, how long time watering the garden and how many loads of laundry we have been doing every day to see where the ‘leaks’ were. We have done a lot of adjustments – taking shorter showers, always turning the water off when shampooing, using diluted soap for hand wash, so we don’t have to turn the water on before at the end, only flush the toilet when necessary, saving warm up water from the shower and from rinsing vegetables to water outside etc. Although we have only done this from June this year, it has resulted in a 20 % lower water use this last year than the years before! We are now down to 91 l/person/day (24 gallons), which is a bit lower than the recommended for our region (95 l/day/person), and I’m so happy that we’ve managed to get it so low. I phoned a local rainwater expert to ask for advice on using rainwater for the garden and to flush the toilet and he was very kind and used almost an hour to help me find a good solution and answering technical questions. He definitely saved me days of research, and I’m very grateful for his help. There is still a lot of research and work to be done, though, so it will take quite some time before we have bought and installed everything.

    We biked to a local nature activity center and brought lunch and drinks to enjoy outside. It was cold, but not rainy, so it was ok. We enjoyed the small exhibition inside and then climbed a steep hill to enjoy the view and afterwards we paid a short visit to one of my friends who live there.

    We finally managed to get an inexpensive (real) Christmas tree from the hardware store! The last two years we have meant to go, but then one of us got ill, and we had to buy one just around the corner, which is almost 5 times the price! We biked there all three of us (a couple of miles), my husband on our cargo bike, so we could get the tree home. Less than 13 usd for a nice big tree!

    We visited a local friend and brought quince jam made from our own fruit, traditional Christmas cherry sauce made from cherries we picked from his tree and some paper stars my son had made. Our friend seemed very happy with the gifts and gave us some nice things to bring home: four eggs from his own chickens, a bag of apples from his orchard, some fresh rosemary and some fireworks for New Year – he said he had bought to much for his grand children, but I think he just wanted to make my son happy 🙂 So kind of him.

    Hope you will all have some nice days in the week to come!

  5. I bought 5 packages of pork stew chunks on Flashfood for $8 and was able to can that into 6 pint jars ($1.33/pint). It will be so convenient to add to my pantry shelf and so much cheaper too! Buying Keystone pork chunks at Walmart and figuring price per ounce because their cans are 28 Oz and my jars are 16 Oz, it still works out to $5.27/pint Keystone vs $1.33/pint mine!! That’s about 75% less!

    3 final client quilts finished and no more for pre-Christmas pick up! https://pin.it/iD1hMib and here’s the Minkee back- https://pin.it/4ylRRDk, the second one- https://pin.it/3io3wfI and the third- https://pin.it/2YCkgQp. Nice to have the extra income but I’m happy to take a break to enjoy family time!

    I baked 36 mini loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and 18 mini loaves of apple bread to give out as gifts to the childrens’ teachers at Church and also to people at Church who are alone this holiday. I added some of the Lindt chocolate truffles to each gift bag as well as some frosted sugar cookies. The breakdown of how easy this was is as follows: About 7 years ago, I used a JoAnn’s 50% off coupon to buy a Wilton 18 loaf mini bead pan (final cost about $14). So the breads I made (54 loaves) were made in just 3 batches in the oven! I used canned pumpkin I bought after the holidays last year for 40 cents/29 Oz can. The mini chocolate chips were also clearance for 50 cents/12 Oz package from last year. The apples were wrinkled skin (but still good) from my fridge that I peeled and cored and whisked in my little food processor. Pumpkin pie spice was homemade. Lindt truffles I splurged on when they had a bulk sale on them last month- 300 for $75. Sounds like a big expense but that’s 25 cents per truffle and some were also used for our Primary children yesterday at Church in gift bags. I cheated with the cut-out sugar cookies and bought a box of 6 dozen for $12.99 at GFS that I just baked and frosted myself. The cost for the ready-to-bake cookies worked out to $2.16/dozen and I thought that was a fair price for my time. Holiday bags for the treats were all 50% off at Hobby Lobby and averaged 2 cents per bag. So, for me, that was frugal gift-giving for over 50 friends.

    We watched via zoom (or something like it) one of our daughters graduate from BYU-I this past Thursday night. She is married with 4 children ranging in age from 13- 21, including an 18 year old son who is severely autistic. She began her studies using BYU Pathways and because of her family situation could only do a few classes at a time and had to take breaks from school because of her son’s needs. She transferred from there to BYU-I online to complete her degree and after 7 years she walked across the stage to receive her diploma with her 21 year old daughter who is a traditional student there watching in person! We are so proud of her determination to never give up on her goal! What an amazing time that we live in with technology to help us pursue education and also to allow us, her family who are scattered from coast to coast, to all be able to watch that graduation as it happened even though none of us were there in person!

    Made more pumpkin pie spice blend – https://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/diy-pumpkin-pie-spice-recipe/. Took me less than 5 minutes but saved a ton! 3/4 of an ounce of Meijers pumpkin pie spice is $3.29!! I made about 6 ounces for about the same amount!! 😳

    Our business website discontinued the plan we were on and auto-renewed it for $370! It took Hubs about 2 weeks of research and restructuring it, but he now has a new site (with the same website address: http://www.HandmadeinOldeTowne.com) up and running for free and the previous company gave us a full refund!! To me, the changes really brightened the site! And free is way better than $370!!

    Hope everyone has a safe and joyous holiday!!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. What a lot of credit your daughter deserves for reaching her education goal! Your family is a very determined group, I have to say. I am so glad you were able to watch the graduation, even if from afar. Please share my congratulations to her.

      1. Elizabeth M.- Thank you! She is our #7 child and was one of our quieter children. Because of family circumstances, she has become fearless and so determined and we are in awe of her persistence and positive outlook! Definitely an example to me as her mom!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Pam Wager McCormick- You’re right, of course!
        We watched her graduation with tears in our eyes as we thought of all the sacrifice and work that went into her reaching that point!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    2. In 1992, me, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and his mom (now my MIL) all graduated college together. My family threw us all one big grad party! My MIL was told she would be nothing more than a secretary. What a goal it was for her to achieve as a single mother. Her mother was so proud of her!

      Congrats to your daughter!

      1. Kathleen S- What a legacy you, your husband and especially your MIL have given all of your family of not letting age/circumstances keep you from reaching for and achieving a goal!!
        This year, for my birthday, my sweet husband gave me a card with 2 bananas on the front- one yellow, the other yellow with lots of brown spots. The inside of the card said- “Being one day older only matters if you’re a banana! “. We’ll be the same age in 4 years either way, so why not pursue a dream during tat time?

  6. The peppermint bark is absolutely adorable!!! You are the most creative person I know! I have loved following your adventures for many, many years! Thank you! Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  7. Hello, frugal friends from the snow dusted mountains of Southwest Virginia! No school today so I will have my granddaughter all day. We will do craft and cooking projects. She is 10 and such a big help. It is very cold today as well.
    On the frugal front:
    *gas is down to $2.88/gallon without any discounts. We allot $3.50/gallon in the budget so we are well under. Not to mention our gas sipping Toyota.
    *I forgot (and can’t believe I forgot!) last week to share about our frugal Christmas star. When we went to put up the Christmas tree 2 weeks ago we discovered our Christmas star for the top had broken. There was no sentimental attachment to it so we weren’t too upset. Mr. Fix It could not fix it so he asked our granddaughter if she would make one for us. She got right onto the job and cut out a large cardboard star, asked me to spray paint it gold with the paint I had while she was at school. Then when she came here after school she added gold glitter. Is the star a perfect shape? No. Is it the perfect star for us? Absolutely! This simple cardboard star will be our tree topper for the rest of our lives. This one might just go with me to the old folks’ home when my time comes:)
    *We are still eating mache and spinach from the garden!
    *We had rain this past weekend. It is still much needed.
    *I have been using cloth products for disposable, like paper towels and napkins, tissues, etc.
    *I have been turning off the stove and oven a few minutes before I am through cooking.
    *I have been using small appliances instead of the range. I love my air fryer. It cooks quickly and uses less to run.
    *I have been batch cooking and freezing extra portions.
    *I found 3 pennies in the grocery parking lot.
    *I bought another ham on sale for .99$/#. I will use this for our Christmas brunch and freeze the bone and any leftovers. I decided to do a family brunch for Christmas this year. I may have mentioned this last week, but I want to do something special for my family to show my gratitude for being here this Christmas. It will be the first Christmas we will all be together in a couple of years. All I asked from my children was to bring a bag of chips or snack veggies. I will send leftovers home with them all. They are all feeling the pain trying to feed their families and paying electric bills.
    And speaking of electric bills, we were notified recently that the electric company (AEP) will be raising their rates come January 1.
    Our daughter and her sons live in an apartment complex. She was told her rent will go up by 40% come August when she has to renew her lease. After COVID her rent went up 40%. So in 2 years her rent will have gone up 80%. Plus her rent used to include water and electric. Now they are charging the tenants a separate flat water fee (75$) and everyone pays their own electric. She is a social worker and has not received a raise in 5 years and what she has to pay for medical insurance is crazy. She gets no regular child support.
    I went grocery shopping yesterday and paid way more than I wanted for 2 bags of food. I came home so irritated for a variety of reasons. The milk at our Kroger was due to expire today and the price was a dollar more than last week! Why would I pay such an amount for milk that needed to be used up in a day??? The marked down bread price is now more than the regular price was just a couple of months ago. I do not buy store bought bread unless it is marked down. I make sourdough bread we eat most of the time. They did have an unadvertised sale of bagels for .79. I bought 2 bags as I do not have much freezer space at the moment and have a few breads to eat up. Several neighbors gifted us with banana bread. I wish I had bought more bagels to share with my adult children but by the time I got to the bread section I was more than ready to leave and could not think straight.
    *I went to the cardiologist yesterday and got a great report. 🙂
    I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe and healthy week.

    1. Love the star story! You are just the right kind of grandparent to make that an important part of your celebrating.

    2. That is a great star story! How sweet on both your parts – hers to get busy making it and yours to cherish it!

      That is so hard to see the rent increases one on top of the other – and even more increase bc the second 40% was on the already increased amount. That is tough.

  8. My husband and I were both blessed to receive a sizeable Xmas bonus from the school we both work at. I also did an extra shift as a preschool teaching assistant and was paid for that.
    The weather continues about 10 degrees C warmer than usual which will be reflected in our heating bill. Yesterday I took a page from Brandy’s book by cooking some dried black beans in the crockpot and making bean burritos-topped with pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream and lettuce they were delicious. I also made cheesy cauliflower soup. Other meals enjoyed last week were oatmeal pancakes, ham and veggie quiche, meat pie and lentil/vegetable soup. I don’t like to cook when I get home from work at 5:30 so I cook lots in the mornings and reheat instead.
    We have found some good deals lately-gas went down to 99.9 cents a litre at Costco and my husband found short dated eggs for 1.99 per dozen( limit 2) which is about a $1.00 cheaper than normal. I have found when going to Costco that one week I will pick up a rotisserie chicken which lasts us for 4 meals and the next week a small ham which also lasts for several meals. We will head back to Costco this week to stock up as my daughter and her partner are leaving today from Ontario and driving to see us for Christmas-they should be here about Thursday as the weather is looking clear. We don’t mind a bit having extra food and utility expenses over Xmas.
    My husband has been busy doing the Xmas shopping online-he has also wrapped the gifts and done some baking which is in the freezer. Some friends dropped off some Nuts and Bolts for our daughter. We are having Xmas dinner at my sisters-we were gifted $300 to local upscale restaurants so will pass these along to our daughter-will also have her go for a dental cleaning on Friday-she loves our dentist.
    For entertainment I have been reading through the old posts and comments-certainly a wealth of information there. We are off work for 2.5 weeks starting on Thursday-wishing everyone the best of the holiday season!

  9. -I feel like such a slacker. I am 60+ and have never in my life conserved water. Where I live it is plentiful and cheap so it would never enter my mind to keep track of water consumption. We never even go above the minimum bill each month. ($19 maybe?) But we are also a family of two and do not have plants to keep alive.
    -went to lunchtime cookie swap at library. I don’t cook so I took some caramel turtle brownies from local bakery “leftovers” shelf. Not day old just not exactly perfect leftovers. They were well received. Not many attendees so we each took home a plate full of cookies. That’s what I had for supper. I left my brownie leftovers with staff members who worked managing circulation desk during the swap. A fun hour and I only spent $2.
    -a few weeks ago my local 🎯 liquidation store had giant bags of candy for $2. Not out of date for months. I assume it was left from Halloween but was still on WM app for $25. We have 8 kids in family. Each one took home a gallon sized ziplock bag full of candy from family Christmas lunch. Not sure how excited the parents were about all that sugar but kids were thrilled.
    -Headed to big city for 6 days to pet sit during holiday. They leave me great treats and meal/entertainment $. Plan to read, rest, enjoy the dogs, enjoy the Netflix and Prime tv offerings and lots of great meals. I love to shop but not with the crowds/traffic near Christmas so except for Hallmark store (have some great coupons) I’ll be sticking close to the house. We have no restaurants where I live so I’ve already made a list of all the restaurants I’ll either eat at or use for curbside meals to go.

    1. I don’t think anyone here has a bill that cheap. The minimum amount just to have water is more than that.

      My parents only have a cactus garden and two people. Cactus does have to be watered here on drip irrigation as we only receive 3 to 4 inches of rain a year here. Even so, their bill is nowhere near that low.

      Water is very expensive here. It went way up in January from an already high price.

    2. Oh! That is sooo cheap! We pay 39 kr/m3 which equals around 24 usd/1000 gallons – around 4000 kr a year for water, and 5000 kr (740 usd) before we started saving – for a very low usage for three people!

  10. It’s lovely to see the fall color in your garden, along with all the flowers and veggies. Last week, I used discount codes for online purchases. At the grocery store, I got dogfood at $6 off, asparagus for $1.99, and brussels sprouts $2.99, and earned $8 in rewards for my purchase. I enjoyed catching up on two seasons of a series I liked, with DVD’s from the library. Two loads of laundry were dried on the line. My husband saw Christmas trees marked down to $19.99 at Food Lion, and picked one up. A couple of days later, they had marked them down to $9.99. Oh well, we’re still happy to have paid 1/3 of the original price. I’ve been diligently working on using up our ’22 sweet potatoes. The pups and chickens have been getting some every day, and on Sunday I made a new sweet potato soup for lunch, which we both enjoyed. The “critter” potatoes are brought to a boil on the stove, then moved to the woodstove to finish cooking, which has been working well. We’re having my family’s Christmas gathering here, next weekend, so it will be a busy but happy week. May you enjoy the pleasures of the season!

  11. Hi Brandy:
    The fresh vegetables look delicious! It’ll be at least until May/June until we have fresh greens from the garden (and later for tomatoes) so yours are a visual treat in the meantime.
    Are you still an Amazon affiliate? I’ve been going back to a post from a couple weeks ago for your link, but if there’s no benefit to you, I’ll stop the extra step. TY!

    1. I am! Thank you for using my links! I was dealing with a sick child the last two days and so I decided to get the post up without any links (and last week’s didn’t have links because I had dentist appointments for several children). It was so late but I wanted to get the posts up! I added links to this post.

      1. Brandy I’ve just got one of your links saved as my amazon bookmark – I’m hoping that means you get credit when I shop there [a LOT] – true?

  12. Wow, tomatoes in December! Is that typical for Las Vegas right now? Maybe you’re being affected by the same weird heat wave we’re getting here — no snow, and temps in the 50’s. I know you don’t get snow, but wow, I was blown away by how lush and beautiful your garden looks right now. I’m nervous about our current weather pattern…I’m counting on a few thousand tulips for my spring sales, and for the first time I can remember, I honestly wonder if they’ll get the chill hours they need (not to mention the precipitation, though that’s a more typical worry). Anyway, we’ll see what happens!

    Here are my own frugal wins for this last week:


    1. Sometimes we get them, but usually only at the beginning of the month. We didn’t get a freeze, though! That’s the first time ever. I’m delighted.

    2. Torrie,
      I am worried about the higher temps too. All of my daffodil bulbs sprouted and have tall greenery. If the flower “bulb” portion forms on the greenery and we get a freeze, there will be no Spring daffodils.
      Ellie in (Eastern) AR

      1. Mine always come up now. The leaves come way before the flowers. They di fine even with freezes.

  13. I didn’t need many gifts this year . The items Sugar cookie requested were quite small and inexpensive . I stopped in a salvage store and found her 6 items for about 30 dollars. I found her a Polly pocket that is a version of My little pony. My son chose books he ordered online. My daughter and I took a road trip to a huge book warehouse in South Carolina. It was only a couple hour drive . It is a book lovers heaven. We bought $400.00 of books for about $100.00 . The gasoline cost me 35.00 and the memories are priceless. College girl ended up feeling pretty sick. I believe that a meal she ate at work made her sick . She slept a good bit , but we did enjoy the ride. I’m currently at my daughters apartment . I’m catching up on her laundry and housekeeping. She’s working many hours and hasn’t been home much. She sleeps at the hospital and runs back and forth to change clothes. I visited the local Goodwill store and bought several 99 cent items. I was happy to find a couple long sleeved shirts. I found Sugar cookie a Ronald Dahl book for 79 cents. Its a picture book based on a Witch movie ???? I didn’t recognize it , but my days of children’s books are long past. I plan on doing some dumpster diving while in the city. Atlanta has some great locations. I surely will find some great vegetables. My favorite find this month was a toilet seat. New in the box ,sealed in plastic. This was a wanted item , but not an immediate need. I have purged my home 80%. I tossed out all the food except for a few choice expensive items. I’ve learned a lot dumpster diving. Hindsight is great. I’m simply starting over. It was the only way for me to clear my hoard. I found a Home depot card. It has $42.00 on it. I have no clue where it came from. I ordered my dad another genealogy book. I love that we are all big readers. I hope for those that celebrate any holidays in the oncoming week ,that you make lovely memories.

  14. What beautiful tomatoes! I just made a pasta dish last night with some just like those. But, I pulled mine our of the freezer and not the garden. It is fun to see what December looks like where you are. As I write, I am looking out at softly falling snow. 🙂
    *Not much to report this week. A lot of the same-old, same-old. With the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve being the same day this year, I don’t feel quite as ready for Christmas as I do in other years but, rather than frantically trying to “catch up” (to what, I’m not sure) I am just doing what matters most to me. That means, lots of bell and vocal choir practices, baking, decorating with bits of nature and long-owned and passed-down decorations, listening to music (my husband got me a wonderful speaker on a 50% off Black Friday sale as a gift), making things for gifts and enjoying the fire.
    *Not sure if I mentioned this last week, but my oldest son bought/rescued 12 bantam chickens from a neighbor who could not care for them. He has plans to sell chicks and show the birds in 4H. He has been very diligent in getting up early on cold mornings (not his strong suit) and caring for them. I am happy to help him in his entrepreneurial ventures and have secretly thanked the birds for helping to shift his internal clock. 🙂
    *My husband has continued to work every spare moment on our ground level projects. He is separating one big space into 3 – a mud room, his workshop and his office. Walls have been going up and he purchased a door last week from a local building supply which was cheaper than the chain hardware store. He also was able to use money he received through his company’s rewards program. We feel good when we get something accomplished every day toward our house being “finished.”
    *Meals are all from the pantry and freezer (and the lonely spinach growing in the garden) with only a few things purchased at the grocery store. Trying to use at least 2 cans of food a day to help rotate my stock.
    *Library books I am enjoying this week include another Inspector Gamache tale, What Linneaus Saw (about the man who set oout to classify and name very living thing in the 18th century) and Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts (I have long loved Tasha Tudor but had not read this one yet. Getting many ideas of things to make in the New Year.)
    *Not sure if there will be a post up next week so will take my chance to wish one and all a joyous and blessed Christmas, Solstice, and any celebrations you hold dear.

  15. That’s a cute idea for the tiny peppermint canes.

    I’m trying to watch my spending this month. I found some new kids’ clothes on sale with a further 50% off, which made them an inexpensive present.

    I didn’t buy a special dress for Christmas services. If I happen to spot one I love at a screaming deal, I’ll get one, but time’s about to run out on that. I can wear one I have.

    I’ve been batch cooking a lot lately. It’s more prep work up front, but it’s so nice to have a lot done in one cooking session. In addition to using less electricity with my oven, I have just one clean up for several dishes.

    I’m making reusable name tags for family members’ gifts. I already had Aida cloth and some floss, so I’m cross-stitching their initials and will use felt to back and “frame” the cross-stitching, with a narrow ribbon to tie it to packages. The gift’s packaging is also reusable. Most of the presents will go in gift bags I’ve made. I hope I get the tags all done in time.

    I use my late mother-in-law’s old Fuller Brush lamb’s wool dust mop to clean/dust the wooden stairs between our first and second floor. It has a sturdy 1-piece metal handle, and a removable, washable head. I dampen it a little and it gets the stairs cleaned without throwing dust and hair all over. I have no idea how old it is, but she bought it when Fuller was still going door to door.

    I staggered planting carrots so as to have them for a longer season. It gets hot too fast in the spring, so I always grow them in winter.

    A daughter and I made a short trip together. She drove and bought the gas, and I bought us subs at Publix for lunch. It was a win-win.

    Have a wonderful week, all!

  16. Those tomatoes and lettuce make me want a salad. They look so good, your garden pictures are beautiful, everything here looks so drab. It was 24 degrees here this morning. My husband and I have continued to walk every day. We bundle up and march on. We have both lost quite a bit of weight and want to keep it up. I have continued to hang up our laundry and cook at home, I am trying to stay out of the stores. I have everything I need for Christmas meals and presents. I want to wish everyone a blessed Christmas.

  17. Happy holidays, everyone!

    Over the past few weeks, a few things I’ve done:
    Downloaded a free monthly budget tracker and used it to sort through all of our expenditures for October and November, and plan for December. I also printed enough for all of 2024 and got those set up for the coming year. Having a breakdown of all the money spent in October helped my spouse see where things needed to be reeled in during November, which has made December easier as well.

    I had a last few gifts (stocking stuffers) to pick up for husband and son, and chose to make those “groceries” – snacks that they will love but I don’t normally buy. So no clutter as it’s food, and other than a gift for a friend that is perishable & can’t be bought until the day we go to see them, all the shopping is done. The gifts have all been wrapped using reusable bags and tissue I’ve had set aside for years, much of which is reused as we save it from our own gifts and my parents save and give it back as well.

    Our decade+ old television started malfunctioning in November, we were able to get it to limp along two more weeks and it completely shut down early last week. I used to sell consumer electronics so I looked up all the troubleshooting tips from repair manuals and none helped, so I began researching the best deals for a new one. I was able to find a top-rated unit that is last year’s model and discounted 60% and came in $100 less than a newer unit that had fewer features. That left room for tax and a 5-year protection plan and still came in less than the current model year of a lower featured TV at a lower base price. I ordered via the Best Buy site and got 1% back on Rakuten, plus there will be Rewards $ via the card I used. It is totally different technology (OLED vs our LCD model) so I expect it will be far more energy efficient when we use it, which will hopefully show on the electric bill by a few dollars off. (We don’t watch a lot of TV but every bit will count.) The purchase was semi-planned for as of course we know these things have a lifespan, so it will be covered by savings, though I’d sure hoped to get another year or five from it. 😉

    I placed an Azure Standard order that restocked some freezer items and put me ahead on some canned goods. A new drop started closer to our home, so I used less gas to get there and back. And as my husband and son were elsewhere, I got quite a workout from loading, unloading, and putting away by myself. haha For that order, I was able to switch around the manufacturers of the canned goods to take advantage of the Azure discount code that was sent out. I’ve also begun my next order for January pickup, which should get the freezer and pantry stocked through summer, or longer on some items. Then I’ll just have perishables to buy each month.

    I applied to review books for Reedsy – thank you to Margaret @Approaching Food for the referral link! I have not heard back on my application, but hope that will bring in a bit in 2024.

    I have downloaded some free Kindle books via Bookbub promotions and made much use of KindleUnlimited (prepaid until late summer). I placed a library hold for a book that is trending right now – as I’ve heard good and bad, I don’t want to purchase a copy in case I hate it a few chapters in. 😉 People seem to either love or hate it, so who knows?

    A little laugh: our local food co-op offers discounts if you special order cases of things through them. As my son loves a certain type of seaweed snack, the clerks kept suggesting this when we’d ring up a bunch from the display box. I finally said, let’s do it, and ordered three “cases” – which I thought were going to be the little cardboard box they use for display that holds 8 packs of seaweed. The shipment came in…… the “cases” are boxes of 24 snacks each….. times 3 cases….. yes, your math is right, we now have 72 packs of seaweed snacks for him to eat. hahahaha! I joked that I’ll just put a bow on one and put it under the Christmas tree for him. Lesson learned: verify how many are in a CASE when they offer to order things for us! 😀 But they are healthy and now he is stocked up (for MONTHS), so I’ve chalked it up as a hilarious pantry investment.

    Wishing you all a safe, happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

  18. My months of stocking up have ended now, and I am going back to a weekly trip on foot to the grocery store. I have a $60 budget each week, but my first week only spent $44. I looked at lovely fresh Brussels sprouts and broccoli crowns, but couldn’t see past the $4.99 a lb prices. I wheeled my cart over to the frozen food section, and bought broccoli florets and spinach for $2.99 a lb instead.

    When the new grocery flyer comes out on Thursday, I’ll find out what I am having for Christmas dinner. I’ve decided on my dessert (blueberry crisp), but the main course will be in the hands of the grocery store. Turkeys were priced at a flat $28 in quite a range of smaller birds, so I can safely say it won’t be that.

    We’ve had a couple of days of icy sidewalks, so we’re now in the season of planning around local freezes and thaws. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday week.

    1. Elizabeth, I don’t know where you live, but your prices are scary high. Does your store have a store brand of frozen broccoli? Or is that price the store brand?

      1. Those prices are what I pay in Toronto and $2.99 for frozen is even a good deal – they have gone up to over $4. per bag in some cases!!

      2. I bought name brand for the broccoli, because it has mostly florets, and less stems. I also buy name brand for peas, because they just taste better. I buy store brand for spinach and corn, where the quality is higher. These are Canadian dollars, so multiply by 70% for the US dollar prices.

        These were holiday week prices, where the store counts on people just putting things in their cart without debating the prices. I was really shocked though that fresh vegetables cost more per pound than meat. Mandarin oranges are $8 for three lb boxes. Other years, they have always been $5 or less for 5 lb boxes.

    2. Elizabeth: A fellow Canadian here. I am not thrilled with the turkey situation either. I will no longer buy Butterball because they are pumped full of fluid and I don’t care to dump $$ down the sink when they thaw. I’ve been checking the turkeys in the flat rate bins and it seems they are always in the low range of the weight. At Walmart last week, I spotted one that was 6.91 Kg which should have been in the 5 to 7 kg price range. Yippee! I put it into my cart and then realized the color on the packaging and the UPC code matched the 7 to 9 kg birds. Back it went and I am determined to have chicken for Christmas which I bought on sale for $2. a pound. I hope you have something delicious for your festive meal.

  19. Oh Brandy, the fresh tomatoes look so delicious. We were wishing for one last night at dinner.

    I continue working on learning new money-saving skills and appreciate everyone’s tips. My latest success is learning to make hamburger soup. Everybody else has probably done this for years but it is a new recipe for me. It’s never too late to learn something new.

    A small grocery store in a nearby town had a one-day sale of ground beef for $2.79 a pound. I planned errands to be able to swing by and purchase 30 pounds. I began by browning 10 pounds in a huge pot, removing some of the meat to be raw packed and canned for later. Raw packing slightly browned hamburger meat is supposed to make the texture better. This was an experiment. The grease was drained off, and the tallow was rendered and canned. Canning tallow was also a first for me. Siphoning caused a 50 percent failure of the seals. I cleaned the rims, increased the headspace to one full inch and they all sealed. Next, I made a huge pot of soup using stored vegetables (onions, potatoes), added some from the garden (carrots, celery), and anything else that was available in the pantry. My Nesco electric canner holds 4 quarts so each batch of soup was seasoned differently to add variety. Hamburgers were cooked and frozen to be ready for a quick meal.

    Each quart of hamburger soup is one ready-made meal for both me and my husband. Since I am using pantry items bought on sale, each jar has cost us very little money. Plus, it was a great way to use up the many vegetables I had dehydrated during the summer. I haven’t finished everything so don’t know how many jars I will be adding to the shelves but it will be a great addition.

    Finding beef at a decent price has become difficult in my area. I have learned to shop in the morning on the first or second day of the sale, ask the butcher if there is enough so I can get extra, and prepare beforehand at home so I can handle processing the large amount. I don’t know if stores are getting less meat or if people are watching the sales closer but my local stores are running out quickly.

    Another skill I’m trying to learn is making tortillas from scratch. They are labor intensive (to me at least because I’m slow). I borrowed a tortilla press to see if it is something worth buying and am working on finding shortcuts. Their price used to be cheap but has risen high enough to make it worthwhile to learn to make them.

    As prices continue to rise, I will continue to find new ways to save more money.


    1. If you use a funnel when filling the jars you can avoid some of the mess and protect the jar rims. They have funnels that are wide at the bottom opening and fit nicely into canning jars.

        1. I was taught to soak a paper towel in vinegar and then run it over the rim of the canning jar before applying the lid. Not sure if that’s still recommended or not but it helped take off any residue from filling the jars. YMMV.

  20. I made a pot of potato soup for lunch today. I’d gone outdoors to cut rosemary to root for the contractor who loves the stuff and the wind was so brisk and the air so cold, that I felt sorry the workman had to go outdoors to cut wood and trim. So I put on the potato soup and we three had a very good lunch from it. There are enough leftovers to feed the two of us at least once more.

    When talking to the contractor last week, I was able to pull out the paint (3/4 gallon) for the bathroom to hand him, since they are going to paint and do touch-ups. It’s a small savings but a savings.

    On Saturday my husband and I went out to eat and brought home leftovers. The server gave us an extra loaf of the bread that is a courtesy item when we were packing up our leftovers so we could have a complete meal when we ate them again. I stretched my own dinner to two more servings and used the loaf of bread to make French Toast (made enough for four, so half went into the freezer).

    I made a pizza at my grandson’s request last Friday evening using up the last of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in the fridge.

    I wrapped all the Christmas gifts yesterday and glad I did. I discovered that a gift I’d ordered for one grandson was not as age appropriate as I’d thought it was going to be. So I have ordered him something else. Since I’m not seeing them until the last weekend of the month, I have time for it to come in after Christmas. I used wrapping papers I had on hand and even if it didn’t look quite Christmas-y, it does all coordinate nicely. I didn’t have ribbons or bows so I cut a contrasting paper into strips, curled them with scissors and made ‘curly’ bows for all the gifts. I don’t think I’m ever going to buy bows again! These look so very cute and I always have ‘matching’ paper to make the bows.

    Went into the grocery and picked up bone in skin on thighs for 72c a pound, 2 large filet mignons (never had it in my life!) for just $4.45/pound (regular price was $18.98/#. I was able to get some canned and boxed items to restock low spots in the pantry. I am well under budget for the month and very happy about that.

    I am keeping a perpetual soup in the freezer. This is simply a vegetable/beef-based soup that I take out of the freezer, heat and season, add odds and ends of leftovers to then eat, then we put leftovers back in the freezer. It’s been really good so far, and every single time it’s tasted like fresh soup. I’ve been very careful to keep the ingredients harmonious in taste. I’m quite pleased with how the soup keeps going and being such a nice comforting sort of meal with just enough leftovers to be the base for the next batch.

    We discussed Christmas dinner and I have all but the rolls my husband wants on hand. I’m very pleased over that. Since this is a commercial brand that I can’t replicate, I will buy the packaged ones, but not too bad to have Christmas dinner with only a $4 outlay.

  21. All that fresh produce looks just lovely especially when everything here in Ontario is dull and barren! I am just finishing up the last chocolate making and a couple of presents to wrap and we will be ready for Christmas. We have a dusting of snow at the moment but it is supposed to be mild and rain so definitely a white Christmas in Southern Ontario this year!

    I just have one last grocery shop on Friday where not much will be needed. January is a no spend month for us so we will be eating down our stocks here with trips to the store for a bit of fresh produce and milk and using earned gift cards or store points. We have so much that this will not be a difficulty.

    We continue to be blessed by our local free groups. I picked up a new with tags jacket for my son as well as a new with tags NFL hat. I received a lightweight black sweater that will be great in the summer. As well, we received a loaf of bread and some Clif bars.

    I helped my husband cut his hair. We ate all meals at home and only went out when we could combine errands. Our reading and watching has been from the library and I have watched some Christmas specials on YouTube.

    I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season.

  22. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I decorated the house mostly with decorations we have had for years. I did pick up a couple of new decorations from charity shops this year so very inexpensive.
    We bought our Christmas tree from a local school selling them as a fundraiser. It was slightly cheaper than a commercial seller and we’re happy to support the school.
    I made a Christmas wreath for the door using foliage and berries from the garden, some small baubles I’ve had for years and ribbon from my stash( bought from a charity shop).
    I’ve wrapped all the presents in homemade reusable gift bags or charity shop tea towels and a couple of Coronation Tea Towels which form part of the present. Gift tags have been cut from Christmas cards we received last year. The presents came in under budget because of sale shopping/ charity shop/ gift box so I’m putting that money towards the birthday gift budget for 2024.
    My husband potted up several white hellebores in a terracotta pot for indoor flowering.
    We needed a present for an elderly friend and wrapped up another of our potted hippeastrum, those bulbs have been a really good buy.
    We declined an invitation to a dinner dance with tickets costing £70 each. It is a charity fundraiser but we contribute to charity in several different ways over the year. It doesn’t always have to be cash.
    I made the dry mix for the stuffing for the turkey and put it in the freezer.
    Inexpensive meals were butternut squash soup, quiche with homemade coleslaw, mushroom omelettes and jacket potatoes with tuna mayo. Leftover mashed potatoes became potato cakes next day. We are still using our stored fresh veg, frozen veg and fruit and homemade pickles etc. This has reduced our grocery bill. I used a voucher for a free bottle of bleach.
    Stay safe everyone and happy holidays if you are celebrating.

  23. My family has been sick and we will have to contend with a hospital bill. I am glad we have health insurance. I’ve slept a lot and have not done any shopping. We will celebrate after the official Christmas Day this year. I may order some things online. We have simply been using what we have at home. I am so glad I had some canned soups. I have not been up to cooking at all. I am happy that I have handkerchiefs. They are so much easier on the nose and saves money on not buying Kleenex. I have also been happy to have extra blankets. They are a blessing. We have been turning up the heat more than usual. Usually we keep it cooler in the house. But being sick, it was just miserably cold without turning up the heat. I’m glad we have already paid for our propane this year.

    1. Tammy,
      I’m so sorry to learn everyone in your family has been sick and that you have some hospital bills.
      I hope everyone is on the mend and hope that you can nevertheless find joy on Christmas Day.

      1. Ann,
        Thank-you. We will always find joy on Christmas Day. We are feeling better. I was hopeful to see family and to get to go to Christmas service. But, we can celebrate quietly at home. It is always truly a beautiful day. The true meaning of Christmas is so beautiful. It is so much more than handing out presents to each other.

  24. Hello Stranger was one of my better reads this year!
    We have been eating out of the freezer and pantry as much as possible to use up stuff so it doesn’t expire. It has saved us some money on the monthly grocery bill and I’ve been buying meats on sale mostly at $2 a pound or less to replace it. We set a budget for Christmas gifts and spent much less then the last couple years. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

  25. We had to replace our hot water heater, so not really frugal. When we returned home, I went to change over my laundry (I was on my 3rd load of the morning) only to discover my washing machine quit. 🤦‍♀️ Not the best time of year to have replace two large items. We’ll figure it out, I’m sure. I had to wash the rest of our dirty clothes at the laundromat.

    The teen came down with some coughing virus, so she’s been home, not spending money. (Poor kid)

    Earned $8.25 from Ibotta

    We have secret santa’s at work…Ive received yummy homemade cookies, snacks, and pens so far

    A friend gave us 3 free week codes to Hello Fresh.

    Used points for a free drink at Starbucks.

    Ate breakfast and lunches at work, including a yummy soup themed potluck 😋

    I’ve been getting up at 4am to go to work because our lead/cook is out, so I’m too tired to go anywhere after, saving gas and money😂I have zero Christmas presents so I need to find motivation to get on that, lol.

    1. It’s not much of a recipe, lol!

      I melt chocolate melting chips in the microwave, spread them around on a silicone baking mat on top of a baking sheet. Let them cool completely (put the tray in the fridge or outside/the garage this time of year to speed it up). Then melt white chocolate melting chips and spread those around on top. Before they can cool and harden, sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces on top.

      I crush candy canes in a ziploc bag by rolling over them with a rolling pin a couple of times.

      That’s it!

  26. The past 2 weeks I had the wonderful opportunity to go help my husband with an install job out of state. The hours were long 12-14 hour days and we worked the weekend. My FIL is retired so he said he would take care of our kids along with my MIL and SIL in the evenings. The kids are not young anymore and were able to help them around the house, decorating for Christmas, cleaning inside the house, and cleaning up the yard. It is the first time I have been away from them more than 48 hours. I enjoyed eating out with my husband as I usually eat out once a year. I am now glad to be home! I am so thankful for our pantry to eat from as we get all our Christmas shopping done this week. Merry Christmas everyone!

  27. I love your Christmas peppermint bark! So pretty and yummy!

    My frugal week:
    – I made my preservative-free hot chocolate for my kids (https://approachingfood.com/easy-peppermint-hot-chocolate-mix/). I love being able to mix up a batch and have it ready all season. Plus, it helps rotate any milk powder storage that I have.
    – I redeemed loyalty points for $10 worth of groceries.
    – I said no to buying things several times.
    – I packed snacks, drinks, and lunches, when going anywhere.
    – I reused bags and ribbons when wrapping gifts. I’ve gone through my entire stash of recycled/saved Christmas themed wrapping/packaging/decorations, so shall be on the lookout for more at garage/rummage sales, etc
    – I sewed a bag handle and darned a sock, as opposed to throwing them out.
    – I hosted a playdate for my daughters, and served make-your-own mini pizzas on homemade mini pitas, made with pita dough leftover from the playdate I hosted last week. Kids love making their own pizzas, so it’s always a hit at any playdate that I host, plus it’s so very affordable. I made a fruit and veggie platter using fruits and veggies that were on sale/price matched, etc, and used mini cutters to make fun shapes out of large carrots, etc. I served a post-school snack of homemade chocolate chip banana muffins and chocolate milk (the latter on sale this week). They painted salt dough ornaments and did handprint ornaments, with the other half of the salt dough ornament dough that I made for last week’s playdate. I played Christmas music on spotify (free version). Lots of festive fun and socializing, but frugally.
    – I had bought some nice cheeses on sale for the adults as part of a cheese/cracker tray, but the cheeses weren’t finished. I used the last chopped swiss and some gruyere to enrich a macaroni and cheese dish for my daughters. I love avoiding any food waste, and better than me eating it when I’m not hungry.
    – I set aside a few items to sell at a kid’s secondhand store.
    – I made lots of homemade popsicles, to rotate some electrolyte powder. No waste!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. I am going to try that hot chocolate mix – I have lots of powdered milk that I need to work my way through and a new Fry’s Dutch chocolate is on my list to buy anyway so that will be perfect.

  28. How wonderful to see lettuce and tomatoes in December. This week I purchased Target gift cards when they were ten percent off to give as gifts.* I made cookie plates to give out, and packaged them in containers purchased cheaply at the local thrift store.* I have been searching for twin sheets for our new camper and found two sets at the thrift store that were very nice and much less expensive than buying new. * I drove to Salt Lake with two friends to attend the Tabernacle Choir Christmas performance. It was such a special evening and really made my Christmas. I feel so fortunate to have obtained tickets. We packed lunch for both days, ate dinner out at a moderately priced restaurant, and split the cost of gas and the hotel room, making it a relatively frugal trip. (The tickets to the performance are free.)

  29. Those peppermint bark hearts are so cute!
    Happy Christmas to everyone!

    I’ve accepted some extra subbing jobs this week. It is lovely to have this provision of unexpected income this month.
    We went to a holiday party hosted by our neighbors. We took a bottle of wine that was free to us. We met some neighbors we hadn’t met before. One works for a contractor and one has a handyman son-in-law. I made a mental note of those since there will be a time we need somebody. It was a very nice evening and very low key. The best kind of get together, in my opinion.
    We will be eating soup every night this week as I’m working extra. I’m thankful my husband does not complain. We’re eating free persimmons. Our rotation of meals is fairly narrow and I buy the same things a lot-things that are cheap but healthy and filling. In this way my grocery budget has not changed much. English flapjack is a favorite of my husband, it makes a great gift (I get asked for the recipe every single time I gift them) and they are very cheap to make. I buy GF rice flour in bulk from Azure Standard. I make my own sourdough GF pancakes each morning for just pennies. My husband bakes regular bread in our thrifted Zojirushi bread maker. It takes minutes to make and saves us SO much. He eats sandwiches every day for lunch and he goes through a LOT of bread (he’s English).

  30. The floating zinnias (?) look very tranquil.
    That was kind of you to make the peppermint bark.

    I made your fudge recipe for holiday handouts. That and traditional sugar cookies. It was nice to simplify.

    A friend group night was being held at a house that has been rebuilt from a fire. As a hostess gift, I potted up some baby succulents in a pretty pot I was no longer using as they lost all their loved houseplants. We also had a gift exchange, and I wrapped decadent items (thrifted) from my gift stash. I was grateful to have no extra out of pocket expense to gift.
    I brewed tea in quart jars to pour into my travel cup as I ran errands this week.
    Wishing everyone a calm and productive week. For those who celebrate – Merry Christmas!

  31. Merry Christmas, Brandy and Everyone! The peppermint bark looks yummy! * I did some candy making of my own. Simple things like fudge and turtles which I made in the crock pot. Some people kindly brought some cookies which was kind and added variety without me needing to bake. * Having cataract surgery on Thursday for my first (left) eye. A friend called to say she is bringing us dinner that day. Another friend brought over a freezer meal in case we need it. It’s not suppose to be a tough procedure, but I’m sure I’ll be tired so I very much appreciate the kindesses offered our family. *Hubby helped me finish up the gift wrapping. We worked on it a few nights in a row so it wasn’t overwhelming. We got our out-of-state packages out last week so we could get the least expensive rate. * Christmas eve will just be appetizers and finger foods instead of a meal this year, and everyone is contributing. * started a baby sweater for donation with leftover yarn. It was supposed to be newborn size but turned out way bigger (I didn’t check the gauge…oops) so now my little six month old sweet grandson Freddy has a new yellow sweater! I’ll start another with a smaller hook and it’ll be fine. Couldn’t see the sense in starting over when I have someone it will fit! I put red buttons on it. * Watched shows and read library books for fun. * My son had a cup from a McDonald’s coke that had the MN Vikings logo on it. I cut it out and baked it hoping it would work like a shrinky dink. It did not. haha. But I’m proud of myself for trying. I thought of making a key ring with it. *Merry Christmas, Friends! This forum means the world to me and I wish you all the best.

  32. Your lettuce and tomatoes look so wonderful. I already miss my fresh veggies from the garden. We are a good six months away from having anything.
    This week I made Chex mix, Walnut Roca and candied cashews for gifts. We always made Walnut Roca rather than almond, as we grew walnut trees. Made a batch of potato soup for lunches for the week. Started focaccia bread on Monday evening, and then made focaccia bread pizza on Tuesday.
    My DIL had her company Christmas party, so I picked up my granddaughter and looked after her for the afternoon. When I got home from picking up my GD, I found a box of asparagus on my front porch. It was 11 pounds of asparagus. No idea where it came from. There was no address or anything on it, so we kept it, as we didn’t know what else to do.
    I used points to get 95¢ off each gallon of gas. Ended up getting 10 gallons.
    Used Safeway points to get a free dozen eggs. Also had a $25 coupon from Safeway, for buying gift cards, which I am giving for Christmas gifts, Got 6 pounds of extra lean hamburger and a gallon of milk. Used the milk in the potato soup.
    My GD turns one on Dec. 20. My son and DIL had her birthday party on Saturday, the 16th. It was at a health club that had a pool including a lazy river. My GD loves the water. When I was holding her, she just leaned down and dipped her face in the water several times. It was a lot of fun.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

  33. Love your photos, especially the cute Christmas bark.

    I gratefully received three festive themed glass jars of cookie mix. The cooking instructions are adhered to the outside of the jar. Inside, it is layered with dry ingredients, including lots of chocolate chips. I will use two for unexpected Christmas gifts that I require and had not planned for and one I put under the tree for my child that loves to bake.

    I shopped for our Christmas day meal and the weekly groceries, spending $59. I am using a lot of what I have on hand for Christmas day lunch with the extended family, including harvested fruits and vegetables. We are having mango, cherries, stone fruit, berries etc as well as ham, quinoa salad, garlic bread, crab balls, roast chicken, baked pumpkin and potato, peas, carrots and gravy. Followed by pavlova, custard tart, jelly, chocolate mousse and meringues.

    I have more guests than expected (43) and my ‘simple food theme’ became too challenging, so I decided to stick to a lunch meal as opposed to a brunch. I am providing all food except for the ham, custard tarts and meringues. One guest will also provide some of the chicken (three for me to roast).

    1. Oh my goodness, 43 people is quite a crowd!! Sounds like a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! Happy New Year!

  34. Brandy,

    The tomatoes, lettuce and peppermint bark look lovely! My bargains this week included a bag of 6 flat Kleenex boxes for $2.88
    on sale from $8.95; Grissol Melba toast on sale for $2 (usually over $4 ). I restocked a few cans of soup on sale, too, not the best sales price but fairly good. I am using the frozen entrees my friend kept in her freezer for me. I got them on sale for $6.49 on sale from $10.49. I just cannot make lasagna for that price.

    I waited to see tomorrow’s flyer. Safeway has some good bargains. Co-op last week had a good price on Green Giant summer sweet peas (frozen) for $2.99 for a 750 gram bag. That is a good price. Safeway starting on Thursday has sweet potatoes on sale for 99 cents per pound which is the best price I’ve seen. But I just looked at No Frills flyer starting on Thursday and they are advertising them for 77 cents per pound.
    No Frills (starting Thursday) is advertising frozen veggies for $2.99. Co-op also starting on Thursday has some good prices on frozen veggie’s.

    I had hoped to get a frozen leg of lamb for 44.95 per pound from No Frills but unexpectedly they said it was not available. I was going to have it for Christmas. now I think I’ll not go to any trouble but I may make a big pot of soup. My mother used to freeze spaghetti sauce and soup in ice cube trays which made it easier to take smaller quantities out of the freezer.

    Elizabeth M’s prices are high as she lives in a small town, rather remote. They are equal to Margie’s big city expensive prices in Toronto.
    The city where I live has just been described as having the highest cost of living in Canada and food is a large component of that.

    I think I mentioned that I was referred to a cardiologist this past week. The tests were done beforehand in his office (ekg, echocardiogram of heart and ultrasound of my carotid arteries. Everything looked fine. I attribute it to eating 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies a day, notably lentils. Cost to me was nothing. I did spend $100 round trip to get there by cab – that is my Christmas gift to myself. I took a cab as I wanted to reduce contact with others as covid, flu and rvs are all surging. It is one of the worst years for flu (I think it’s H1N1). What I loved about his office was he had the most beautiful moss garden on the wall. I am making one in a small terrarium that I bought on sale from a Hallmark store several years ago. The office moss garden needed no water (probably because the air has sufficient humidity). Mine will need to be sprayed on occasion.

    The printer of our book offered to give me free wall calendars using my photos. I asked several of the people to whom I gave them last year but only three would like them.

    The bad news is that last Friday my furnace quit. It was a very cold weekend but my furnace company came on Monday
    to fix it. A $900 bill. Of course it was just beyond the ten year parts and labour I had… I used the money I had saved for plumbing repairs for the furnace so it is back to square one.
    It is going to be a long time before the January payday.
    I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy healthy New Year.

    1. So sorry about the broken furnace Ann – the last thing you needed at this time of year! You got a good deal on the tissues – No Frills has had them on sale here but for $3.88 for the six boxes – I bought 3 sets so that should get me through the worst of the Winter.
      You have also reminded me to get an appointment with my cardiologist set up – as soon as I get the dentist, my next Covid booster, my rheumatologist and my mammogram booked! What a life! 🙂
      Have a wonderful, safe and healthy Christmas.

      1. Hi Margie,

        Your reply brought a gentle smile to me! I know the feeling! I now need a plumber, an electrician, a dentist, and a mammogram.

  35. We drove to visit my in laws is MN this week, I packed the car full of snacks and we ate those instead of getting drive through food. We did eat out once with them in Duluth before enjoying a free light display. We’ll do the same on the way home. Excited to spend the rest of the festive season hanging out at home with my little family.

  36. Another great post, Brandy! You motivate me to keep plugging along at a less than frugal time of year.

    On the frugal front:
    I purchased several gift cards through DD2’s employer using a special offer for employees. I received $20 off the purchase of $100 in gift cards. Similarly, I purchased a $50 gift card at two other businesses and and received an extra $10 gift card from each.

    I used the upside app to save $0.28/gallon of gas.

    I enjoyed two free salon services as a perk from my employer.

    HH was able to schedule a business meeting, flight, and vacation day that allowed him to join DD2 on her 14 hour trip back to MN for her college break avoiding a $850 flight. DD2 was happy to have a travel companion and to have her car while home.

    I made inexpensive clementine wreathes for as holiday gift for my neighbors. I bought the clementines at Costco which were less expensive per pound than the local grocery store. I bought cellophane using a 40% off coupon at Michaela’s craft store. I used raffia to tie them together and printed small gift tags on my home printer using card stock my mother gave me when she quit scrapbooking years ago. They turned out very cute and were appreciated.

    My employer was decluttering her home. She brought in a stack of holiday paper plates and napkins to give away. I took some of each which I will use over the holidays for informal gatherings.

    I did not buy any wrapping paper this year. I used holiday paper I purchased years ago on 90% clearance.

    I look forward to reading about everyone’s frugal feats.

  37. Hello, Brandy. I’ve been reading your beautiful blog for a good while and enjoying it very much (especially your flower, veggie and fruit pictures – and those, especially on dismal snowbound winter days!!), as well as the always informative and warm comments.
    I have a very small, but maybe useful tip today. The cause has angered me so much that it’s prompted me to write a comment, which I’m usually too diffident to do.
    I live in a lovely small town in New Brunswick, Canada. Today, I went grocery shopping as I usually do on Wednesdays (weather permitting in the winter, as I’m an elderly, unenthusiastic driver), as one of our grocery stores, which loosely belongs to the Loblaws company, offers a very much-appreciated 10% discount to senior citizens. My daughter and I, who spend the holidays together and look forward to it, like a special menu for Christmas Eve supper (Christmas dinner is very traditional, except for the homemade vegetarian turkey), and this year we’ll have cauliflower and blue cheese soup for a starter. So today I bought blue cheese.
    Then I got home and started to put things away, until I got to the blue cheese. It was CASTELLO crumbled blue cheese. I picked it up out of the bag and thought, this really feels light. So I got my kitchen scale and weighed the whole package, unopened plastic container and all. The label states that it contains 113 g of crumbled blue cheese, but when I weighed it, I found that the whole thing, PLASTIC CONTAINER PLUS CHEESE, weighs exactly 99 grams!!
    Tomorrow, I’m going back to the store, even though I’d counted on a free day to get ready for Christmas and my daughter’s arrival on Saturday. Financial and practical inconvenience caused by Castello, and Loblaws for carrying Castello. If something feels wrong to you when you buy a product, trust your instinct! We need to hold those profiteering companies to account!
    But in the meantime, I want to thank you, Brandy, for a lovely blog I look forward to every week, and to wish you and your family very happy holidays and a wonderful year. Best wishes too to all your wonderful commenters.

    1. There have now been a lot of similar reports lately – just disgraceful! I can understand perhaps an ounce or two but that is a huge difference that you discovered! I’m going to start checking this sort of thing very closely.

  38. Your garden is still so beautiful Brandy! It is very grey and chilly here – but not terribly cold – still above freezing most of the time so we won’t be having a white Christmas this year.

    I purchased the last two gifts today and will deliver them tomorrow. I took in all my gifts to my colleagues at the office and distributed them today and I will drop off a card with some money to the super in my building tomorrow night!
    I have already received a couple of nice gifts – mostly edible – which is perfect and my best friend is going to take both of us out to get our ears pierced – followed by fancy coffee and dessert – as her gift to me. We both let the holes close during the pandemic as the loops from our masks kept knocking off the backs of earrings and I was tired of losing them. I must have nearly 50 pairs that I can’t wear at the moment so it will be lovely to get this done!

    I have done a couple of big grocery shops (at least for me) but one was paid for with $50 worth of Loyalty points so that certainly helped. I am doing Christmas breakfast/brunch for a couple of friends and the only item left to purchase are some sausages – I already have everything else. The following week I have invited a few other friends to lunch and I will purchase a tortiere, salad greens and some ice-cream for that as I think we will all enjoy a bit lighter fare by then. Most of these items will be paid for with my remaining $20 in Loyalty points.

    As of January 1 – I will be following a very low spend month. I will work on getting all my budget stuff finished off before then and will portion funds at that time. While I will make extra payments on debt where possible – I am also going to be putting aside lump sum amounts for specific purchases rather than allocating a bit each month to different “envelopes”. This month’s big amount will be the funds for my yearly theatre subscription which is due in April. I will put aside enough for 7 shows and if there are only 6 next year (it varies) then the difference can move to another envelope. I also have to pay OOP for a specialist eye test in January but I’m hopeful that at least some of it will be reimbursed on my private insurance. If yes, then that can be put aside for February’s dental checkup (I pay up front but get 90% reimbursed from my insurance) – it will be handy to have a float each month to cover anything unexpected or out of the ordinary. I have lots of books, a few streaming services and a small allowance which will allow me to have coffee out once or twice in January – but no lunches or dinners! I admire all of you that can do a total “No Spend” – but I know myself so having that small allowance will give me the breathing space that I need. I also hope to at least make a dent in my pantry and freezer!

    Have a wonderful Christmas to all those who celebrate. I work for a church so I am very wrapped up in the season and looking forward to our service of Lessons and Carols at 7pm on Christmas Eve. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

    1. Margie, I love your “floating envelope” system idea. Thanks for sharing it! My household we will do low spend months but not no spend months. We spend so much time stocking up items by buying when the price is low it does not make sense to us to spend nothing one month and miss out on great deals.

  39. Merry Christmas Brandy!
    I wanted to let everyone know Target has spiral cut ham for $.99 lb. ( at least in Minnesota).
    Starbucks had their coffee beans in the holiday bags for 50% off. I only buy this for gifts, so I was thrilled.
    It’s been an expensive month but most of it was planned for.

  40. Brandy, I wanted to thank you for being so generous with your botanical advice on roses and let you know what I decided to do. For years I bought cheap Lowe’s roses but for several years now (thanks to you) I have kept my business with David Austin as their stock is healthy and beautiful. For spring I want a burgundy climber and a cream colored one. I mentioned to you the $120 tree rose from another nursery that had both of them grafted, but I think I don’t like tree roses. In my mind they all look like a poodle’s tail.

    Anyway, I went back to DA and ordered the cream climber “Claire Austin”. Then I sort of panicked and also grabbed the shrub “Darcy Russell.” It wasn’t nearly as burgundy as I wanted but I was worried about stuff selling out as you mentioned. The prices were not bad at all. They were only $35.00 apiece, but with shipping and tax, the two came to almost $100.

    I decided if I find a better burgundy I can always squeeze in another bush.

    Also, your zinnias look so much better than mine which are skimpy and ragged looking at this point.

  41. It was a rough week with continued illness at my house. We had to cancel plans several times, some which saved money, some which we had already paid so probably a wash. I did get some candy and a poinsettia from the one party we went to, although we ate all the candy before it got into stockings lol. We ate easy meals on hand- loaded baked potatoes, bean quesadilla, grilled cheese, chicken soup, burgers on the grill and a box of Mac and cheese. I baked the last few big (free) pumpkins and froze tons of pumpkin purée. Made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and sourdough. I also made a huge batch of applesauce. I used the frozen bone broth on hand so I made another batch in the instant pot. We are leaving on vacation in less than 2 weeks so going into eat up the fridge mode.
    I got some clothes, shoes and snow pants for my son off marketplace and from a kids consignment shop. I sold some stuff on eBay and marketplace including a higher end print I got for free.
    I got some clearance snacks and cereal at big lots for stocking stuffers, plus I had a coupon. My parents get certain otc items with their insurance so they stocked up on bandaids and ibuprofen for us.

  42. Thank you for providing this forum for us – it brings me such joy and peace. Thank you to everyone who shares on this blog – I learn so much.

    This week I saved by shopping at multiple stores – my little local store had 5lbs of potatoes, 2lbs of brown sugar and 2lbs of powdered sugar for $1 each. At my regular store I bought turkey for 0.59 cents/lb and a spiral ham for 0.99 cents/lb.

    Love, love, love my library! Just finished the Housemaid’s Secret by Freida McFadden and started The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen. Stocked up with 4 more books for my week off! I also stopped by Goodwill for the first time in years and found a copy of “Hidden Figures” for $1. Excited to find that one! I usually stick to the thrift stores that sell paperbacks for 0.25 cents! I have to really want it to pay $1!

    Purchased gas for $2.59 per gallon. It went up a day later to $2.99.

    Work bought our lunch on Monday to celebrate our December birthdays and anniversaries. Then I met a friend for lunch and she kindly picked up the bill – we usually alternate.

    Busy weekend ahead with celebrations. Lots to do yet to prep, but it will all somehow get done. So blessed to have these family celebrations all within a 30 minute drive.

    Happiest of holidays to all!

  43. Thanks for your wonderful blog Brandy. I always look forward to and enjoy. Merry Christmas and wishing everyone a happy healthy 2024.

  44. Dear Brandy, I have been reading your blogs for ages now although this is the first time commenting. Although most of it are not applicable here in Malaysia, it imparts great value on frugality and making the most of our precious resources. I especially love news of your garden and reading all the comments. Thank you for giving so much pleasure over the years

  45. Merry Christmas, Brandy, and Happy New Year! I always look forward to new posts from you! You are an inspiration! You bring beauty and wisdom to this little corner of the internet. I’ve read your blog long enough that as I’m doing my homemaking I sometimes think about how you would handle a situation. Your contentment, artistry, and industry are an obvious blessing to your family! May God bless your new year!

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