I hosted an outdoor spring party for my daughter’s birthday.


I used cloth banners I had sewn for previous birthdays to decorate for her party. I also cut flowering branches from my flowering plum trees (these are the only trees in my garden that do not give fruit). In addition, my daughters made a paper lemonade banner and paper butterflies for our decorations.

We played simple party games: musical chairs and a game where the girls stomp on balloons that are tied to other people’s ankles. We spent $2 on balloons and straws from the dollar store; everything else we had on hand.

We served homemade brownies (made from scratch by one of my daughters) and homemade lemonade (made by the same daughter) made from our lemons.


I kept the party to an hour. One of the moms, on picking up her daughter, said the one hour party time was “genius”: the girls could come play, have a snack, play some more, and go home.

I sewed a doll dress and a matching scrunchie for my daughter’s doll for her birthday, which she had requested as birthday gifts. These were made from the scraps of the dress I made her for Christmas. I also gifted her a water bottle like the one I gave one of my other daughters for Christmas (she had admired it and wanted one just like it.) I found it at Home Goods, where it was discounted 30% off the retail price. We use water bottles the majority of the year here whenever we go somewhere. This one won’t leak and is insulated, which is a major plus when it’s 110 degrees out! I also gave her a skirt that Winter had found at a thrift store on her way to visit us (it was $5).

She also chose all her meals for the day, though the last few years, that has been only breakfasts, an afternoon snack, and dinner. My parents have been taking my children out to lunch for their birthday, and the children have loved this special time with their grandparents.

I attended the show floor of WWPI using a free pass. This enabled me to see different companies’ photo albums and finishes.

I made a batch of laundry soap.

I made play clay for my two youngest boys.

I gave haircuts to one son and my husband.

Two of my girls went to a trampoline place as part of a “just because” party that a friend’s mom invited them to attend. I don’t often write about the fun things my children attend, but I thought I would include this one this week. (A few weeks back, as part of a church activity, I sent three of my teenagers on trips to a cabin in the mountains where they played in the snow.)

In the garden, I sprayed the hedges, grape vines, blackberry bushes, rose bushes and fruit trees with Neem oil (an organic spray) to combat overwintering insects and powdery mildew.

I transplanted a century plan that had outgrown its pot into another pot that I had. Century plants and agaves often die because of grubs. When I took it out of the existing pot, there were at least a dozen grubs in the existing soil. I carefully sifted through the soil and smashed every single one. In the future, I will also treat it for grubs. I purchased the plant at a garage sale a few years back and it is starting to get large now.

I shared some nasturtium seeds from my garden with a couple of people.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. I forgot last week that Hubs had done two simple things without spending any money, just using materials on hand to make these magnetic labels for the dishwasher: https://pin.it/35%2Fk%2BIH.
    and this divider cubby for my cutting boards so they aren’t taking up countertop space: https://pin.it/NPB6h7n. Simple? Yes. Little or (for us) no cost to make? Yes. But, oh, how much convenience this has given me! I love these more than if he brought me a bouquet of roses!!

    Kroger’s had their bottled water (16.9 ounce size) in 32 packs for $1.99 if you bought them (or several other mix and match items) in groups of 5 (you then got $1 off instantly at the checkout). I checked our water supply that I have stored and although I have the suggested 2 week supply for our family, I decided to add more to it. I regularly rotate it by using it for big family get togethers, but I like knowing we have enough should there be anything that would make it necessary. So I bought 3 more packs today (a little over 12 gallons) and will probably buy some more while the sale is still going on. I used $6 from my $24 rewards Visa from Kohl’s, so no out of pocket for this!

    My daughter decided to follow my lead and now has a 4 day supply for her whole family (up from none stored previously!) Her neighborhood has had 2 occasions since they moved in 4 years ago that there was an advisory to not use their tap water or even boil it, but to use bottled water instead while the problem was being fixed! At this sale price, their family of 5 can have a 2 week supply of water for about $36 ! Well worth the piece of mind, imo! She plans to get more while the sale is still going on this week!

    I also found (on Feb 26!) 2 gallon jugs of milk marked down to $1.69/ gallon with a sell by date of March 9th!! That’s still almost 2 weeks out and we will use it by then! I also paid for them using the Kohl’s Visa rewards so, no out of pocket!!

    I bought 15 more pounds of chopped onions for $3 total! So all I needed to do was spread them on my dehydrator trays and got them all dehydrated and vacuum sealed into mason jars. It’s a bit of a shock to see how much less volume there is after it’s been dehydrated! Great space saver for my food storage though! And SO handy to have on hand for easily adding into a recipe!

    2 of my daughters and I got together on Saturday at 6:30AM to go to the Semi-annual Cheryl’s Cookies Warehouse Sale that started at 8 AM. The first 50 people in line got a dozen assorted cookies as a free gift! We were in that first 50! The boxes each had $20 gift cards for an online order of Cheryl’s cookies that is good through June 30th! We also got boxes with 15 dozen frozen cookie dough balls! I got 1 box of oatmeal raisin and 1 of peanut butter cookies! So convenient to just put them on a cookie sheet and bake them up for a last minute batch!

    My daughter also found a cookie jar that is an adorable chicken and talked me into it! Since we have had chickens for the past 3 years and are located in the center of our very urban state capital, we get good-naturedly teased about being chicken farmers “ in the ‘hood”! https://pin.it/TWIHCG7
    The sweet cashiers at the produce market I frequent call me the “chicken lady” since I’m always on the lookout for free/reduced veggies for my chickens! So the chicken cookie jar is quite appropriate! Lol!

    I got our taxes done using TurboTax online. By doing it before March 1, I got a 20% discount on the cost! I had also used Rakuten to get to their site so I also got 7.5% rebate on the cost. This year, because of retiring mid-year, switching to SS + pension + a lump sum distribution of part of our pension + business, I felt like they would know which forms/credits/deductions we would need! I am happy to fill in the numbers when they ask, but I appreciate them doing the rest! The good news is that we owed about half what we had estimated! I had been bumping up our savings the last 6 weeks just to be ready! So this is a real relief to have them all filed and paid!!
    After doing the taxes, I zero-ed out the excess from the past month and made 3 extra principal payments on our mortgage! In the past 8 months, we have taken 3 years off the length of our mortgage! We can feel the momentum building to get it all paid off!!
    I had an unexpected order for 3 Scrappy bags https://www.handmadeinoldetowne.com/product/1404-random-scrappy/65?cp=true&sa=false&sbp=false&q=false&category_id=8. So that brought in some extra income that went into savings!
    I made more progress on the big King size quilt – Sheet of stamps- that I’ve been working on in spare moments! It will have over 2000 squares when it’s finished! https://pin.it/04kK9rJ. Funny thing is, my volume of scraps still doesn’t seem to have diminished! Lol! But, I must admit that it makes me happy to see that I can make something useful and, imo, nice looking, out of little bits of scrap fabric that might have otherwise just been thrown away!!
    And we just found out that Hubs is getting a $1500 bonus from the company he retired from in May last year! I didn’t realize that bonuses were retroactive! This will be the final one but we’re excited to add that into our savings/extra principal payment plans!
    What a great week!

    1. Gardenpat, could you, please, tell me how you zero out your monthly budget. I would love to start doing this. Blessings to you and yours.

      1. Sabrina- every month (or whatever your pay period is. Before Hubs retired, it was every 2 weeks so my paper would have only those two weeks listed on it), I take a piece of paper (recycled, one side printed on already that I save for scratch paper) and write my starting date . Last month it was January 23 that our direct deposit came in and Feb 25 was the last day before the next month’s direct deposit.
        So I wrote at the top of my Page- 1/23 through 2/25.
        I write down our income, then below it the fixed expenses, including a set amount for savings. Then the “squishy” expenses that I have more control over. I do set an amount for each of the squishy things.
        Hopefully, your income covers those things. I don’t designate every penny of my income the way Dave Ramsey suggests because unexpected things happen and I like having some wiggle room. (That’s just me.) I make the “squishy”things like a game- food, gas for cars, gifts that come up, etc. and see how I can get creative and keep those amounts lower than the amount I’ve allotted.
        At the day of the next direct deposit, in this case, it was 2/26, I check online to see if all my budgeted expenses have been posted for that period. I look at my balance in my checking account that is left over from the previous pay period (making sure that any budgeted things that I paid have been posted already and paid!) and I start my new pay period at zero! My new direct deposit is the only balance in my account and the extra, I put 50% into savings account and 50% into debt reduction (for us now, it is extra principal payments on our mortgage.) There are lots of other good ways to budget, especially depending on your circumstances. This works for us. The only thing I feel really strong about saying is this: Any “extra” money you have should be divided between savings and debt reduction until you have no debt. Some would say debt reduction first because it’s a higher interest rate that you’re paying compared to what you earn on savings. But our experience in life with raising 11 kids on one income has been that unless you are adding to your savings at the same time, you will have an unexpected expense come that you won’t have savings to pay for and your debt reduction you’ve been working so hard on will end up adding more debt on to so you can cover your unexpected expense!
        It may seem silly, but when our businesss, HandmadeinOldeTowne.com has a sale, even just a $7.50 sale, for example, 20% goes into business account, 10% of the remainder goes for tithing, and they rest gets split 50/50 between savings and debt reduction! You can imagine how tiny those last two amounts are! ? But I can tell you that they really CAN add up!
        Good luck! Most important thing is to find a way that works for you and confront your budget/spending plan head-on and it can become something fun instead of something to dread!

        1. Pat, this is such an interesting way to budget. Thank you so much for sharing. I think it’s great!

        2. Pat, Thank you about the squishy expenses. I have always struggled with budgeting, particularly the Dave Ramsey approach, as we never seem to have a “normal” month. There are always squishy expenses and I need an open/ fluid category for them. I take the extra before the pay period and drop it all into savings. I should consider splitting it… thanks.

      2. Hi Sabrina – I’m not Gardenpat, but I assign every dollar from my income to a category, and whatever is leftover at the end of the month I put into additional savings/investments/extra principal mortgage payments, etc. Look at Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar if you want to see a structured system or google “Zero-Based Budget.”

    2. Gardenpat I had to chuckle to myself about your comment on the onions. I sometimes forget when I buy baby spinach how much it shrinks down when sautéed. Last time I bought too little and had to spread it out onto my chicken dish in small amounts. I think I had to add another vegetable to make up for it! I’ll remember that next time! LOL

    3. Hi Pat,
      Instead of plastic-bottled water, we saved glass gallon jars from cider and filled them with filtered water from our tap. It’s virtually free and we always have 20 gallons stored in the garage and kitchen. It never goes off and you don’t have to worry about the plastic leaching. (which we would). We’ve not had to worry about stocking up for hurricanes, or the frequent boil water events here in our city with bad infrastructure. Just a suggestion.

        1. Cara and Patricia Koenig- great idea! Use what you have is always my preferred way of doing things! I don’t have access to gallon glass jars or jugs or I might have done the same thing! For me, these plastic bottles work well and we will rotate them sooner than they will have time to have any “leaching” into the water from the plastic! With about 50 of us (kids and grandkids who are local/regional), we can go through these bottles when it gets to be time to rotate. Until then, it gives us the security of having water in case of emergency.
          Just a reminder, that we all can find ways to be frugal and prepared according to our specific circumstances. Nice to know “One size ! Lol! ?

    4. GardenPat–I know what you mean about the scraps not getting any less! I love making scrap quilts and the Sheet of Stamps quilt is on my to do list. I really like your scrappy bags, too.

    1. The jewelry in your business is beautiful and very reasonably priced. Unfortunately, my daughter and I are both allergic to most metal jewelry so I won’t be buying any of it but maybe someone else on here has a need.

  2. I love hearing about fun things your kids do, and the party you gave for your daughter. Kids just love to have fun, and are so easy to please. It’s fun to think that you gave your daughter such a good time, utilizing things you had on hand, and played games. I think it’s absolutely the most cheerful use of the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” that I’ve seen yet!

    I’ve been very involved with a close family member who has needed a lot of care—13 days total in the hospital in February, countless hours of home care needed, etc. But, the entire family has divided things up, we all have a schedule, we know when to go, what we need to do, etc. It’s been awesome to have many others to share the load. But, I won’t lie–it hasn’t been the easiest.

    So….when I found we were absolutely free on Friday, my husband, daughter, dog and I all ran away to the Oregon Coast for the day. They looked for rocks, I read a book and walked the dog, we shared some ice cream and candy and I went into a couple of quilt stores–all fun, frugal and relaxing. I put a couple of pictures of the waves crashing on the rocks on my blogs: http://beckyathome.com

    I found a small window of opportunity where the garden was dry enough between rainy days and tilled up a small area in my garden and planted some early things like carrots, beets, snow peas and a few more. Then it rained again, and is now much too wet. But the seeds are in!

    We continue transplanting/watering/fertilizing the baby seedlings in our greenhouse.

    My daughter made a pair of pajama pants. I helped her, but not as much as I had to in the past. She’s getting some sewing skills, which makes me happy. Sewing takes a lot of practice, and I’m so glad she’s showing an interest again. She also hemmed a thrifted pair of capris into shorts. She did that all by herself, remembering what her Grandma showed her a couple of weeks ago.

    1. Becky, I am happy Rob finally got a surgery date, as you noted on your blog. It’s too bad it will take so many weeks, though.

      1. He is disappointed that it is going to be so far away–2 months out from when they made the appointment–so April 20 is the date. He has been at weight since October, cleared by the cardiologist for the 3rd time a couple of weeks ago, and has pain that just gets worse and worse. So, yes, he’s eager! But, time is already passing and at least he finally has a date.

      2. You’re blessed to have family members willing to help you. During my mother’s two years as an invalid before her death I had nothing but problems with my one sibling. I finally gave up when she took my mom out of a nursing home and kept her at her house. Eventually she would not allow me to visit my mom. A state investigation and an injunction before a judge did not do any good.

  3. *I received two free washcloths, thanks to a coupon that I had.
    *I planted some seeds inside under lights for my garden. Most seeds were leftover seeds from previous years. I only purchased one package of cherry tomato seeds, one package of bean seeds, and one of a certain type of flower that I want to try using the petals in my soap making. I am hoping the flowers grow well and that I can harvest flower seeds from them for future years. I am already seeing many of the seeds that I planted sprout and come up, and I love watching them inside when it is still cold and rainy outside!
    *I took some leftovers that we were getting a bit tired of and divided them up into my new freezer containers for future meals.
    *I picked a bouquet of daffodils from those that I planted in our woods, and brought them inside to enjoy.

    Pictures and more details on my blog at: https://chickadeecove.blogspot.com/2020/03/frugal-friday-week-of-february.html

    I am writing from Chattanooga, Tennessee! Looking forward to reading what everyone has been up to!

  4. Beautiful pictures of what sounds like a fun day. I collect blue and white dishes and just painted a common wall in the kitchen and living room so the plates and teapots would show better.
    This was my week–I ordered $80 ($40×2) worth of OTC products through our Medicare Advantage plans at no additional cost to us. The quarterly benefit this year is $40 per insured, and all 3 of us have this insurance.  Each of us uses an OTC product daily, and this covers them all…plus the odd things we all need from time to time.
    We didn’t receive one big item we ordered last quarter. When I reported it, I found that I placed the order on Dec. 31, Blue Cross changed vendors on Jan. 1 and I was out of luck. Maybe not. The claim was processed last week and the vendor paid. I found the vendor online, wrote a letter with my benefits statement and asked them to please make good on it. I found the CEO’s name online and addressed it to him.
    My daughter is disabled and does not earn enough to pay taxes. However, she is eligible this year for a $120 earned income credit based on her miniscule income. I used my H&R Block software to complete her return and e-file on her behalf. She is also eligible for the Idaho $120 grocery tax credit, which I did by hand and filed by mail. I also did the 2017 and ’18 forms by hand. I didn’t think it was worth the trouble in those years, but the forms have been simplified. The result is that she is getting $588 in earned income and grocery tax credits for the 3 years!!
    We flew to Phoenix Friday on American Airlines. We had the option of upgrading our seats for an extra fee. I’ve always felt that a good seat was a free seat, but I have changed my mind. I was seated in a middle seat with about 16 inches between the front of my seat and the back of the seat ahead of me. I have very short legs and I have never been so uncomfortable in my life. I’m not saying I’m willing to pay to upgrade, but I can tell you I am looking for other options…and dreading the trip home.
    We all know that staying with relatives is a cheap trip. Well, that’s what we are doing in Phoenix. The perfect hostess gift for a longish stay (we’re here for 8 days) is an Omaha Steaks box for Christmas. My gift-a-month in January was heated rice bags and I brought one for our hostess.
    I’ve known for years that dentistry in Mexican border towns costs way less than in the US, but I didn’t realize the saving was around 80%. For extensive dental work, such as implants, multiple crowns, etc., the saving can easily pay for the trip with money left over. I left a detailed post at https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefrugalistafiles/do-you-or-someone-you-know-need-a-lot-of-expensive-t14688.html. If you need an implant, this is definitely the way to go.

    Hope everyone is having a fun and frugal week!

    1. Forgot to mention, I started 6 kinds of seeds indoors just before I left. They should be starting to sprout when I get home. I planted mostly perennials (my focus this year) and a short-season tomato out of Oregon called Siletz…65 days and 10- to 12-ounce tomatoes.

    2. American is a terrible airline. My partner works for them and they treat both their employees and their customers badly! I’ve never been so uncomfortable on an airline as on the 757 we took for a long flight, and I know what you mean. The seats were so close together is was impossible to get comfortable and I’m only 5’1″!

      It;’s worth it to take another airline!

    3. A friend of mine went to Mexico for dental work. I twas done really well and since she had an airline pass as a former employee it was very cheap for her. Unfortunately each of the two times she went, she broke a bone in falls so came back to Canada to have surgery. well, who can predict such things?

  5. What a great party for your daughter! And the weather has been so nice, I bet it was perfect outside!

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads the in washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate in 5 times. We had grilled chicken with baked potato and spaghetti squash and sautéed swiss chard; Crockpot Teriyaki beef & broccoli with broccoli from the garden; cheese enchiladas that I made with homemade corn tortillas and served with Napa cabbage from the garden; cheese quesadillas with salsa; and frozen pizza. One night we went out to dinner with my Dad, his treat and one night we went to a party. My contribution to the pot luck was a tray of brownies made from scratch from things I had at home. I also brought a bottle of wine I had at home already. I also brought a jar of home canned strawberry jam as the hostess gift.
    • About the homemade corn tortillas. This was my first time making them. I had no idea how easy they were to make! Just masa flour and water. I had received a tortilla press for Christmas a few years ago and had never taken it out of the box. Decided to give it a try. So easy and really delicious.
    • Harvested about 2-quart Ziploc bags worth of broccoli, 2 small orange peppers; some Napa cabbage and some swiss chard from our garden. Hubby cleaned out the garden to get it ready to plant.
    • Planted some sweet pea flower seeds with my grandson. I got them at the dollar store. These are my favorite flower. I hope they come up!
    • Hung 4 out of 6 loads of laundry.
    • A ham I bought a few weeks ago came with a sugar glaze packet. Since I was just cutting the ham up and freezing, I noticed that there was also a recipe to use the packet for candied pecans instead. I had gotten a great deal on walnuts at Christmastime, so had some in the freezer. The recipe called for 1 egg white. I saved the yolk for scrambled eggs later in the week. I love nuts like these on salads but don’t usually buy them because of the price.
    • Hubby got a raise last week. Since it is retroactive to the first of the year, we got a nice extra check.
    • Tracked all of our expenses for the month of February and got March’s budget all figured out. We did not spend all of our money in February so I was able to transfer some to savings.
    • Since we have 2 big car items to take care of, I am going to cut back on a few of the other line items this month. Luckily Hubby is doing all of the work himself so our only expenses are the parts.
    • One of the areas we are cutting back on in March is groceries, but I got some deals that were too good to pass up: 5 lb. butter for 99c/lb., 14 cans of tuna for 59c/can, 2 containers of ice cream for 74c/container, a 12 pack of flavored seltzer for $1.49 and a free loaf of French bread.
    • My daughter brought me 2 more packages of donettes that she had picked up from the conference we worked last week.
    • Found 3 shirts on clearance for a total of $13.75 including tax. They were 50% off and then an additional 40% off of that.
    • Since I am now only going to be working sporadically, I am looking for even more savings. I cancelled my life insurance as if anything were to happen to me, my husband would be fine financially. This will save $62/month. I also cancelled our monthly house cleaning. This service was great when I was working, but now that my hours are more sporadic, I can’t justify it. It was definitely my splurge item on the budget and was worth it to me. But that is another $140 I don’t have to earn.

    Hope you all have a great week!

  6. It’s nice to hear what your kids do, although I can see not putting that information out to protect their privacy. The party pictures are so cute.

    I saved money by doing the following:

    Shopped at Publix on Wednesday and stocked up on sale items, including laundry detergent and antiperspirant. I am now set for at least 6 months of toiletries and 3 months of household cleaners. I saved 5% (97 cents) on my purchases with the senior discount that is available every Wednesday as well as $2 on the laundry detergent using in-store coupons.
    Bought enough dry prescription cat food to last through August; this is the ONLY food and flavor of the food that the cat who needs it will eat because he is the epitome of a picky cat. One mail order place was out of it for over 2 months last summer so I like to make sure I have a lot of it on hand. The canned food that the 2 other cats also eat used to be available in 13 ounce cans but no one has that size so I found the least expensive supplier of 5.5 ounce cans and bought 45 of them, saving $7 over other places.
    Used an e-mail BOGO offer at NothingBundtCakes for 2 bundtlets, which are about the size of 2 cupcakes, saving $4.95 on my purchase. I also got the last punch needed on my loyalty card so the next time I go there, I will get a free bundtlet. They have the best cream cheese frosting on their cakes.
    Cut the drying time for flannel sheets from 40 to 30 minutes by removing everything else in the load after 15 minutes and hung those items to dry in the bathroom. We had a lot of rain so even if I wanted to hang things outside, I could not. I’ve also found that I need to iron more when I dry clothes on the line; however, my main reason for not doing so is that the pollen triggers allergies for me in the spring and the fall.
    Made both red pepper and strawberry cream cheese, cut up peppers and celery for quick meals and snacking (such as celery stuffed with red pepper cream cheese) and ate most meals at home, including quiche with spinach, mushroom, and artichoke hearts, steak topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms and Monterey Jack cheese on top, and a pork chop with a side of sliced tomatoes with melted cheese on top. I froze 5 slices of the quiche for future breakfasts and ate previously made and frozen food, such as chili and pork BBQ. I also bought fresh, locally raised strawberries; they are so juicy and tasty that they are worth the extra cost.
    Completed a Subway sandwich shop survey last week to earn 2 free cookies on my next visit. Long story short somehow my sandwich and 2 cookies cost 75 cents. The last time I bought the same sub at the same store it cost $4.09. I have no idea if the clerk entered the wrong code or the programming was incorrect but that was the cost. I completed the survey again and sent the code for free cookies or a drink to my daughter since I don’t plan to go back before the code expires.
    Redeemed credit card points worth $125 and nearly $13 in loose change for gift cards to Home Depot and used them to buy an indoor/outdoor carpet for the screened porch. It cost $82 because I chose the navy carpet, which I actually preferred. The gray and tan colors were more expensive per square foot (38 cents for navy versus 50 cents for the other colors) so I saved $26. I also bought some cleaning supplies and a couple plants and still have over $30 left in gift cards.

    1. I dry all our clothes (not towels, sheets or whites) on hangers or lines in the basement. I do 2 things to help avoid wrinkles. I use a gentler cycle which leaves them a little more damp and doesn’t press the wrinkles in as much on the spin cycle. When dry I then take any clothes that have wrinkles and run them in the dryer on low heat, the shortest cycle with the cool down. Most come out looking good. One advantage is that our clothes last years longer because dryers are very hard on clothes.

  7. The brownies look so good! I baked back-to-school/work cookies today. My youngest daughter had her first day of work at her new job today, and the grandbabies went to daycare for the first time. When my children started school, I started the tradition of warm cookies when they got home from the first day school each fall, so I thought this was an occasion that called for cookies.
    Saving money this week:
    There was a good sale on meat at our local grocery store. I bought 10 lb of chicken leg quarters, two beef roasts, two packs of pork chops, and some fish. This meat will last us a good part of the month, and the price per pound for each item was within my price point.
    My husband brought home about two quarts of diced pears. I used them in Jello salad, in smoothies, on oatmeal, and on a salad, and we also ate some with cinnamon sprinkled on them. It helped stretch our fresh fruit supply.
    I rode with my daughter when she was going to town to save money on gas running errands.
    I had carrots and celery in the fridge that were not being eaten, so I put them in the freezer to keep them until I make chicken bone broth later this week using chicken bones I’ve been saving.
    I found a pair of jeans for myself on clearance at WalMart for $5.00. I also found two shirts at the thrift store. I was diagnosed as diabetic last spring and have lost quite a bit of weight. I am slowly replacing some of my clothes that are now too large with some that fit better.
    Helping my daughter get ready to go back to work led to some added expenses last week. I am planning very frugal meals for next week to keep the grocery budget as low as possible so that the average for two weeks will be where we like to keep it.

  8. Wow, I must have just found your post right after you posted ;). Normally there are pages of replies before I comment. I was thinking of your family the past two weeks, weather has been so lovely so no need for AC or heat. At least not here in Phoenix.

    This year was our year to spend money fixing broken things in our house…one AC unit repaired, one new water heater and one new AC unit. Sigh. Now we need the flat roof coated, so that is our March expense. My husband was worried but I was able to show him we had extra money set aside this year so we should be in okay shape. Our home maintenance costs were lower the past few years so I knew that it would catch up with us and have been setting money aside as I can.

    My husband has assorted health issues so is at risk for complications from events like flu or Coronavirus, so I used our Costco rebate and stocked up in case we need to avoid grocery stores for a few weeks. I am very doubtful that will be necessary but I don’t want to take any chances. Now I am seeing stories about Costco lines and toilet paper shortages,,,I am happy my timing was before the crowds.

    I found pork tenderloin for $1.59 a pound and bought eight pounds! We are all set now, food wise, except for fresh fruit and veggies, and we can live without that since we have canned and frozen. I will be very happy to not spend money in grocery stores this month.

  9. Hello from Vancouver island, BC, Canada:
    does everyone know the cost of running the digital boxes by your TV set is almost as high in Kwh as that of a fridge?? You can reduce your electrical cost by turning your TV/digital box off when not in use, or just overnight. Turn ALL your electronics off overnight for even more savings.

  10. Your colorful and festive party table is a sight for sore eyes this time of year. It gave me a smile. We are getting some blooms, but the landscape is still pretty dreary. Last week, we had three chicks hatch, out of 8 eggs (the others were not fertile), and all seem to be doing well. Mama hen decided today was a good day for their first day outside, though it was quite gusty. Their area is fairly sheltered, thank goodness, and they seemed fine. A friend and I went to a thrift store that is moving. All clothes were 65% off, and everything else 50%. I got 2 cashmere sweaters and a fleece top for $1.40 ea, and an Egyptian cotton sheet for $1.25. I prepared meals from scratch, including a new broccoli salad that we really enjoyed. Oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme and swiss chard were harvested. Free movies were enjoyed through amazon prime, and requested books were picked up at the library. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/03/spring-signs-frugal-accomplishments.html

  11. Your daughter’s party sounds lovely.
    I baked sandwich bread and made homemade ranch dressing mix, and a double batch of Mexican vegetarian casserole to put in the freezer for future meals. I also made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. I thought they were too sweet, which is fine – I’ll be less tempted to eat them. My library has a new policy that if a book is overdue, they will renew it twice, as long as someone else isn’t on the waiting list for that title. Since I live 12 miles from the library, I sometimes would pay a fine and wait until I was going to be traveling that way (It’s across the street from my church) – now I can wait and no fines.
    I made a new apron, using material I bought on clearance in early January.
    I planted seeds for some of my garden plants and have them under a grow light in the guest bedroom.
    I made a new pin cushion from scraps and filled it with sawdust from my husband’s workbench. I also mended several items. I enjoy mending and find it relaxing, most of the time.

  12. Love your balloon party game. A great idea that I will use when there are youngsters around again.

    This week’s frugal endeavors were to…
    -found change for the change jar
    -exercised for free at home
    – watched shows for free while resting up
    -still listening to audio books free from my library using the Libby app
    -cooked all meals at home
    -picked up potato salad, baked beans, rolls and sweets from the expired table
    -sent the potato salad, beans, sausages (from last week’s expired table finds and frozen), and sweets with my husband on his certification training trip. He is staying in his cousin’s condo which has a kitchen.
    -applied online for a certification and found it does not have a fee.
    -decided to make my daughter and her friend aprons for their birthdays. I used one of my aprons as a pattern instead of buying one. I bought the fabric on deep discount. Each apron will cost about 2.00.
    -now that the pantry if fairly well stocked, we are not shopping much. I did run low on rolled oats and popped into the store to buy more. The bulk bin was empty and I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t be buying open foods right now that I’m immune compromised. In fact, I realized I shouldn’t even be in the store. After leaving, I had an idea and called the store to see if I could buy a 50 lb bag of rolled oats for the sale price. They said yes and my DH brought the bag home for me. Success!
    -my mother sent me a check to cover my travel expenses to visit her. I’ll be doing so from my next doctor appointment as I’ll be 4 hours closer.
    -did the regular frugal things…including being diligent in keeping the damper and curtains closed.
    -although I didn’t put any money this week toward our emergency fund, I did pay quite a bit on one bill. Just a small amount to go!

    When I was home, I noticed that the clerk in the store only charged me 55 cents for a piece of fabric. I realized the error and sent the store a check for the correct amount with a note as the store is an 1.5 hour drive away.


  13. It is always so much fun to read and see the photos for the birthdays and other celebrations you have. You are so creative, and the settings are lovely. I am sure your daughter was thrilled that other family members were involved in the preparations. That makes it all the more special. Fresh lemonade and brownies sounds like a perfect menu to me.

    I tried to submit my online tax return last Monday, which was the first day it was open for the year in Canada. It spat out an error message, which I couldn’t solve. I went back to it on Thursday, reviewed the whole form top to bottom, including a changed election that increased the refund owed me, and submitted it again. No problem this time. I am not sure where the error was, but now the return has been assessed, and I will receive the notice of assessment and refund in another week.

    Planning groceries for the month was a struggle. I was trying to add more plant-based meals, take advantage of one particular flyer that expired at the end of the first day I had funds available, re-stock some staples that have run out recently, and figure out what and how much more to stock up for in the way of a safety net. I have divided this into several trips to the store, starting last week and ending this coming week. I was too overwhelmed thinking about it all at once. I do the same at Christmas, doing separate shopping trips for Christmas baking supplies, the Christmas menu and regular shopping. Otherwise, I end up forgetting things, or overspending.

    I returned several books I had borrowed from the library in the next town over to the local library. The regional system allows us to return books to any library, and borrow from any library, though the libraries are separate orgnaizations. I like the books in the library in the next town over, but the convenience of the local library. The best of both worlds.

  14. Our biggest savings was installing a pre-hung interior door by ourselves. It was a trickier job than we had hoped, but we were successful.
    I sold 2 items on facebook marketplace.
    I picked up a full bottle of ibuprofen from someone in my Buy-Nothing group.
    I made lemonade with lemons that my husband brought home from work.
    I altered a tshirt that my daughter gave me for my birthday. It needed a tiny bit of room in the hips, and I managed to do it.
    I mended a large hole in the knee of my husband’s jeans. All trousers are used first for wearing to his job. When they become too worn for that, they are ‘at home’ trousers. And when the knees give out, they become ‘gardening/painting’ trousers. He gets a lot of wear out of them this way.
    I walked to do as many errands as possible.

  15. Those brownies look soooo good! And between the real lemonade, the brownies, and the games, it sounds like a really nice birthday party without being too exhausting or expensive to host.

    My frugal accomplishments this week:
    – I made Shake n’ Bake Tofu (http://approachingfood.com/shake-n-bake-tofu/), cheddar cornbread biscuits, morning glory muffins, a batch of yoghurt, several loaves of white bread, an asparagus & chicken quiche, taco spice mix, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I brought the cookies to my workplace to network, and the morning glory muffins to a playdate.
    – I used gc from swagbucks to buy a birthday gift for my husband, as well as a few household items.
    – I completed my two-week stock up of supplies in case of emergencies/quarantines, trying to buy almost only on sale items. I will now try to get a month’s worth of supplies.
    – I redeemed $30 worth of loyalty points to reduce my grocery costs for the week.
    – I brought my own reusable jars when shopping at Bulk Barn and saved 20%.
    – Using the flash food app, I spent $15 a got a container of hummus, a round of camembert, a bulk pack of sliced chicken breast, and a produce box. The box (costing $5), contained a double container of raspberries, two bunches of asparagus, a bag of kiwis, several apples, several clementines, a red onion, some garlic, and 3 mangoes. It’s always luck of the draw in terms of what you get, but this box was an especially good value!
    – Anyone have a tried and true method for getting out extremely set in stains from clothing? I’ve tried dawn + vinegar + toothbrush, and prior to that I tried my usual liquid laundry detergent poured onto the stain to sit, but I’ve still got stains on my daughter’s bibs that I can’t seem to get out.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

    1. Margaret, I made bibs out of dark fabrics so that I didn’t have to worry about stains 🙂 On clothing, I find that I can sometimes use hydrogen peroxide on the item and set it out to dry in the sun. Then when the stain has faded (usually in a couple of hours; if not I spray it again) I wash the item.

      1. Thanks, Brandy! I’ll add hydrogen peroxide to my shopping list. The bibs are actually ‘drool bibs’, and food stains realllly show, even though I have her wear a plastic coverall on top when she’s eating. Plus, our dryer probably needs to have the door liner fixed, as it leaves dark marks on small items of clothing like bibs. So the bibs have both food and dark (oil?) stains. I really hope the hydrogen peroxide works!

    2. I hang outside the sun helps with the stain. Even better hang outside with snow on the ground. It got out spaghetti stains

      1. Great idea, Nancy, thanks! Your comment reminded me of a book I read once about the famous snow laundries of Japan, now most if not all defunct. Basically, they would spread out of white articles of clothing in the very bright sun on top of snow (which reflected even more sun). Apparently, there was quite some cachet associated with it; if you had the means, you would send your linens to be whitened in Northern Japan, home of some Guinness World Records for snow fall. I shall try it and report back if successful!

  16. Hello all!

    Been reading a few times a week to see everyone’s tips and successes but haven’t posted. Congrats to Winter and her fiancé!! The lemon and brownie pictures look like a magazine spread! Enjoying the frugal experiences and community. Beginning to know names and rejoice when a poster’s health improves or a budget dilemma is resolved.

    We had a very cold weekend but today, by 11 am, it was almost 60 degrees outside with sunny skies. Snow is still a real possibility here in Central PA but time will tell. So far, we’ve only had about 3 inches but there have been many cold days.

    Getting ready to plant some seeds inside. I have seeds, pots, starting mix, etc, just need to figure out lighting. We have had cold, very rainy and very long springs the past two years. July the past two years has been 3 or 4 days of rain in a row and then sun in the opposite place of the tomato garden. I am wondering if I plant the tomatoes in very large pots and keep them in cart that I can move to where ever the sun is and since the pots will drain, I might be able to avoid drowned plants. Anyone ever done something similar?
    Also planning on planting watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini to take advantage of all the rain.

    Changed the filters for the furnace/a/c. We need an oddball size for one of the filters that we can only find locally at one place. We looked on line and if we bought a dozen, we were offered free shipping and with a savings of aprx $6 each filter. We checked the other size, same deal.

    We bought a year’s worth of filters and saved $72 on each size.
    Lesson: check the prices on everything online!

    Made chicken soup from two Cornish Hen carcasses ( Cornish Hen soup?) with frozen vegetables and rice all on hand.

    I have used 3x the pickup service at Sam’s Club for an item they don’t keep in the store. I have a dog who is allergic to chicken and beef and luckily found Sam’s carries a Turkey Stew that the dog likes. The price is very good and the pick up has been mostly painless.

    Had a three way fall trying to give the dog a pill where I caught my foot in the laptop cord and I went down one way, the dog ran off another way and the laptop hit the floor very hard. Dog is fine, I scraped my knee but the screen only showed a big smudge of pixels in one bottom corner. My husband’s son explained the screen could be replaced and found one on line for about $60. It arrived in 3 days and 15 minutes after it arrived, he had the replacement on the laptop and I was good to go.

    Savings at least $100.
    Lesson: Back up to cloud or somewhere, my favorites. Everything else is backed up except my favorite list and I have at least 50 of them and would hate to have to recreate the list.

    We went to the Restore Store ( Habitat for Humanity) and found a globe we needed to replace a broken globe on a ceiling fan. It was marked $5 but when my husband went to pay, they offered him a senior discount and he took it. So we saved $1.25. The broken globe had an amber tint which was okay but the replacement is a opaque white. The change in color makes the light much, much brighter which is perfect for the room its in.

    We’ve have a list of ” that’s going to need to be replaced soon” with either necessity or a deal to good to pass up deciding when items are replaced. It was time for the Wood stove insert. After looking at a place recommended by friends and realized there was only wood insert vs over a dozen gas log types, we decided to visit the store my husband had bought the fireplace insert we wanted to replace. (It was purchased used 35 years ago so definitely has paid for itself).

    We bought an insert that is American made and has a catalytic feature that burns more efficiently because it forces the hot air back around and literally, burns it again, puts off very little smoke and creates much less ash. We had watched some Utube videos made by people who had bought them but with a grain of salt. We are very pleasantly surprised with how less wood the insert needs, how long it burns and how much heat it creates. We’ve been able to turn the furnace off completely even all night. We were almost dumbfounded when we got up at 8 am and the fan on the insert was still blowig heat ( turns itself on when temperature inside the insert is above 600 degrees).

    Made in the US, purchased through a small businessman, ( who still had the records of the initial purchase 34 years ago!), and it works amazingly even better than advertised ! Win, win, win!!!!

    1. What a fall you had! I thought I would mention that when I had dogs, I had good luck giving them pills in a bit of cream cheese. That seemed to overcome any unwilllingness to take them. One dog I had would still spit the pill out after the cream cheese, if you tried to hide the fact the pill was there, but if you showed her the pill, explained why you were giving it to her, and put it in the cream cheese while she could see you, she would eat it without any problem at all.

    2. I have had the most success giving pills to cats using a product called Pill Pockets. They also make them for dogs and a bag of them is alot cheaper than a laptop screen.

    3. On our old furnace, the filters were put in vertically, so they stood up. I found some filters of the right width but too long on super-clearance once, and used them anyway. The extra stuck up, yet the necessary area was covered. I think I even turned them around to use the clean part after several weeks before I changed them out.

  17. I had a ride to the store so I could stock up on food. I am limited to two bags on my handibus so it was great to have a ride where I could load up. I bought ten cans of baked beans for $10 (about half price), 8 cans of vegetables (green beans, corn) for $10 (again about half price), 2 jars of vegan mayonnaise (I have discovered an excellent one by Hellman’s — it too was on sale), 4 cans of tomatoes (again on sale). Years ago, I bought a round plastic toboggan-like saucer from Lee Valley Tools which can be used for many things — so I loaded up all of the grocery bags onto it and dragged it up the driveway. It was heavy but saved many trips with bags. I was totally exhausted afterwards.

    So this is what I now have in the emergency pantry:
    20 cans fruit,
    30 cans of beans — 20 of cooked beans such as lentils, 10 of baked beans,
    8 cans veggies — corn and green beans
    1 bag oatmeal, (will get another bag at Safeway for $2.79)
    8 litre boxes of apple juice,
    toilet paper,
    5 bags of 2 kg each of pasta, (I am allergic to rice so do not store that) (these 2 kg bags of pasta are a great deal from Superstore at about $2.79/bag)
    frozen blueberries (bought $10.99 usually $15.99). I ate one box but am saving the other box.
    A little yeast (I would like to start using natural yeast — do you do that Brandy?)
    Ultrafiltered milk (only two litres though)
    A few cans of evaporated milk
    powdered milk
    5 litres of vegetable oil (I can make flatbread with flour sugar, oil)
    The emergency pantry is not as fully stocked as I would like.

    Things I am going to stock up still for the pantry:
    bottled water
    breakfast cereal
    some sort of additional protein = meat of some sort, more fruit,
    dried mashed potatoes
    things for an emergency preparedness bag

    antihistamines, medicines, vitamins
    I am going to use my mason jars to assemble dried bean combos which only need tomatoes to make soup.

    Any other suggestions?

    The aim also is to have most of the food ready-to-eat even without electricity for operating a stove,

    I want to get some camping foods — they are expensive but are freeze dried meals.

    I want to get a Swedish fire stick fire starter so I don’t have to rely on matches and also a water filtering straw.

    Any other suggestions for my emergency supplies?

    For the immediate groceries, I bought 8 pounds of oranges for $8, baking potatoes on sale. I have $40 in Sunterra Rewards Points which will be used for this month’s meat supply for the freezer and a few canned items.

    I went onto the LDS food site but it says it does not ship to Canada and when I went onto the Canadian site, it says the same so I guess one has to go
    then to an LDS store. I have quite a few of the items but not in the long term storage format.

    I have been working full-out to get my photo albums finished so I can mail them by next week. I’m not keen on being around people in public transport
    so once I get these done, I’ll be staying home. I cannot be vaccinated for seasonal flu so I don’t usually go out during flu sasion but have had to do so. I also want to get my tax done this next weekend and mail it at the same time as the photo albums.

    I went to a workshop yesterday on adding a water feature to the garden. I have a half-finished project so I gained a lot of insight and hope to get it finished this spring or summer.

    I just saw the photos of Costco in the east (Ontario) where shelves are bare. I heard when I was at the archives that Costco this past weekend was like a zoo. Co-op was busy when I was there but within a couple of hours it had cleared out and lots on the shelves in spite of its sales.

    Any suggestions about what I might be missing are appreciated — I think I have about 30 days of food in the emergency pantry. I had to start from scratch — which was very unusual but I had relied on it for a month or two.

    1. That’s a great start!

      I would add: dried carrots, dried onions, dried celery, dried parsley, dried basil, and chicken bullion powder (not cubes; the Knorr brand is very nice and in the U.S. you can buy it in a large jar). With these ingredients, you can make soup and add your pasta and/or beans. (I also use rice for variety, but that won’t work for you). Do you have baking powder and baking soda? Those would allow you to make muffins and pancakes.

      I buy yeast in bulk. I do not make sourdough; I have in the past, but not for years.

      1. Hi Brandy,

        Thanks for the great suggestions. I just added baking powder and extra baking soda to my list for this week. So natural yeast is the same as a sour dough starter? If I can afford it on my rewards $points, I may add dried cranberries or dried blueberries. I will get more yeast. Dried carrots, onions and celery are a great suggestion. I’m adding more barley to the list, dried split peas etc.

    2. A great emergency pantry! I normally keep some pasta sauce to serve with the pasta very easily. There are a couple of different brands that go on deep discounts. It is a quick meal if you are not feeling well. I add beans or cheese to get some protein.

      Since the virus has a fever and a cough, I am making sure I have a good supply of ibuprofen, kleenex and cough medicine or cough drops. If I were to get a mild case, it would be wonderful not to have to go out to get supplies to treat the symptoms.

      1. Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for your suggestions. I usually have jars of pasta sauce on hand but need to restock so thanks so much for your timely reminders. For protein, I’m going to rely on the canned beans but also Joyya ultrafiltered milk is also high in protein. For vitamin C, I’ll rely on the canned fruits. Plus vitamin pills. For folate, the lentils will help. It is important that we each have good reserves of folate, Vitamin C, D, and B complexes in our bodies before we get exposed to coronavirus.

        Safeway has Saputo Mozarrellissima pizza cheese — 1 kg for $12.99; elsewhere it is $15.99 OR more. It is easy to freeze. Lower in fat than some but at $1.29 per 100 grams is about the cheapest cheese around. I will freeze some. Also I will keep quite a bit of the pantry upstairs so if I don’t feel well I don’t have to go downstairs to get food.

    3. Hi Ann – I too have been stocking up – more cases reported this morning and it looks as though one infected person may have infected others (not knowing that he was ill he went to work) so a number of people are under observation. I wouldn’t say that my regular Loblaws and No Frills are emptied but certain sections are looking a bit bare – rice, pasta, TP, bleach of course and tonight I noticed that the cereal aisle had been hard hit.
      I eat meat so I’ve got cans of stew, chilli, even haggis – along with Spam and corned beef, plus lots of tuna, salmon and sardines. I happen to love sardines on toast – a cheap, healthy lunch or supper.
      I don’t have a lot of freezer space so have bought crisp breads, melba toast & crackers – along with peanut butter and jams (not something I normally eat now but it won’t go bad and nothing has to be refrigerated). Tonight I also bought cream and buttermilk – both have code dates a month or two away and can be frozen – they will be kept for cooking or baking.
      I’ve got lard, shortening, sweet & salted butter, Olive oil and corn oil – don’t normally use corn oil but figured it would be good for baking if need be. I have also put those small tetra packs of eggs in the freezer (6 eggs per carton) – figured I could use them for baking.
      The challenge is to keep the balance of fresh and frozen – eat things but replace carefully and steadily. Tomorrow I intend to finish off some salad greens and cook a bunch of frozen veg – then I’ll go out on Thursday and buy some more of each plus I want some frozen fruit (have lots of canned).
      I would suggest adding dried fruit, seeds & nuts, teabags & coffee if you drink them. I’ve also added more things like chutneys and sauces for flavour.
      Also, don’t forget some treats – I’ve got some packs of biscuits hidden away (so I don’t eat them now) plus chocolate! And tomorrow I am hitting the liquor store! 🙂 I’m not much of a drinker but I do like the odd glass of wine and believe it or not the new wines in cans (single servings) are actually quite nice so I’m going to pick up a few – just in case.
      I am more mobile than you but do use a cane and don’t drive so it has been a wee bit exhausting going shopping almost every day. I will be done by the end of the week and then we’ll just have to wait and see.
      PS – I’m also keeping laundry up to date as I use a shared laundry room in my building and, as we have to take garbage & recycling to bins at the back of the building – I am also keeping this up to date.
      Good luck

      1. I noticed yesterday at the store here that the shelves where they keep bleach and bleach wipes were empty. I want to have a bit more dish soap on hand so I was in that aisle.

        1. I’ve got some extra bottles of bleach and a few containers of wipes – I like to do my door handles and light switches on a regular basis. Clorox or Lysol wipes are plentiful here – stores have been putting out huge displays front & centre and offering them at good prices. I also bought some dish soap as I had just started a new bottle and had only 1 left in stock.
          I’m just one person in a small apt. so have limited storage – plus, even a few things will last me ages so not going nuts. I am spending more money now than I had planned but figure that I can save over the next couple of months so it should all even out.

          1. Don’t forget to sanitize keyboards, mouses, remote controls, and phones, depending of course on the number of people in your home who touch them.

      2. Hi Margie from Toronto

        Wow I am impressed! You have more food than I can even imagine! I am allergic (among other things) to nuts, peanuts, rice, fish, coffee and tea so they are ruled out. And I don’t usually drink wine or beer but I was contemplating chocolate. I’m smiling about sanitizing doorknobs and light switches — I do that, too. I most often do it with vinegar.

        I saw camera footage of Costco in Toronto — shelves were entirely bare. I think it’s Costco that primarily is getting swamped by people. Instead of stews, etc, I’m buying Campbell’s Chunky soups on sale 2 for $5, (Co-op) (I’m only buying beef varieties (and they are stew like)) and some of Baxter’s soups at 2 for $4 at London Drugs. One thing I saw advertised which is very promising is a Quiona called Norquin, grown in Saskatchewan, for $3.99 (on sale) at Co-op. It seems the usual price is about $7.00. Quinoa is high in protein and essential amino acids so it might be a good choice for the emergency pantry. I bought a roast chicken (price has gone up to $10.99 up a dollar) at Sunterra and will freeze the meat and use the bones for soup. I will then freeze the soup in mason jars (which I have). When I make the soup I am going to toss in towards the end a big package of kale and spinach I was given. I have not yet got the cereal (except for oatmeal). I hope to get it tomorrow or Friday. The problem now is I am out of money. It is tough having to pay for the groceries for immediate use and then groceries for the emergency pantry plus furnace servicing. Well, I’m sure you know the challenges involved. The irony is that I had started rebuilding the pantry. Now, just not to eat the emergency supplies until there is an emergency. Good luck to you too. The situation in Toronto is concerning. They still say the cases are traceable so it’s not circulating yet in the community. Blessings to you and everyone.


      3. I noticed the WHO had treats (for people) on their list of what food to stock up. A person could feel perfectly well and either be in quarantine or not want to go out at all, so some treats would be welcome.

        I’ve also been trying to keep up with the laundry without letting things go to the last item. I go to a laundromat, so I want to make sure I have fresh clothes and sheets and towels even if it isn’t just after laundry day. We don’t have any cases anywhere nearby, but the situation can change so quickly, and I don’t want to be going to a shared facility if the virus comes to town.

        1. Lisa,

          This is a great suggestion about using Brandy’s granola. I have all the ingredients except honey and dried fruit such as cranberries or blueberries.

    4. I would suggest bleach (doesn’t have to be a big bottle, even a little in water can disinfect. Depending on what you can eat I would suggest some hard candy’s, something that feels like a treat (if you are mildly ill and then keep at home due to not wanting to expose others or be more exposed you will need little things that please you – for us it is some puzzles, some food treats such as popcorn salt/flavors and some chocolate for my SO). Brandy is spot on about the dried veggies and herbs/spices. They can make food look and taste so much better. I keep bouillon and quick cooking noodles on hand, and that along with some dried parsley, carrots. celery, onion and a little garlic, makes a quick and good chicken noodle soup. Tea and/or coffee depending on what you drink. Some light source as well – an oil lantern is safer than a lot of candles and can put out a lot of light. Batteries and flashlights, solar lights, etc. are helpful. And I can’t say enough about TP – may sound weird but when we had a huge snowstorm a few years ago and the stores were stripped bare the one thing people said they didn’t have enough of was TP!

    5. Ann–very impressive list of emergency stock up. I am going to use it as a guide for us.

      Have you considered having ingredients on hand for Brandy’s granola recipe? Its delicious and cheaper than buying premade cereal. I have been making it for several weeks just because we like it. I used to make it years ago and just got out of the habit and forgot about it until I visited a friend in January who had made her own granola.

    6. I’ve also been adding to my pantry this week. I’d gotten out of the habit (just not much space!) However I remember a few years ago when schools were closed for a month due to fires, so I realized – they could do the same with the virus. Often, my husband will make a comment if I buy canned chickpeas when we already have a can. Well, he’s been gone all week. So on one hand, I haven’t saved much money because I’ve been stocking up! On the other hand, he gets per diem when he travels so we are still saving money.

      It’s not been very organized – I’ve gotten some extra rice, canned beans, canned tomatoes. Spaghetti and sauce. I have a little bit of canned fruit and frozen fruit and vegetables. Some dried fruit and canned tuna and canned chicken. I have some freeze dried vegetables also. It should be enough to get us through a few weeks if necessary. I continue to get my produce box delivery, and that head of cabbage this week was so large I still haven’t finished half of it.

      I did save money two ways: 1 accepted some free food. My company had a luncheon with a ton of leftovers – I brought home a bit of curry and rice (basically 2 meals for me). I also accepted some food from the after school program at school – my kid can get free dinner (any student in the program can), and by the end of the day they are trying to get rid of it. So, both kids had dinner on Monday from there, and last night they sent me home with a huge pile of sliced cucumbers.
      2. Because my husband was out of town, I drove less. I drove a little extra because I had a sick kid and had to go back and forth to work one day. But it’s too darned hard to get to the gym when he’s gone (and get 2 kids ready for school and walk the dog and go to work). So, I worked out at home 4 of the 5 days, instead of my usual 1 out of the 5 days.

        1. With everyone talking about stocking up, I thought I would mention what I’m doing, to make sure that my (edible) emergency supplies don’t end up going bad if not used. I currently have them in boxes stored under my bed (only storage space left in my home). I’ve put labels on the outside of each box saying what that box contains, with their BB/expiry dates. This makes it easier to quickly check to see if I need to rotate items. I’ve also put the nearest expiry date in my agenda (which I look at every day), so that when that date arrives, I can remove that item from my emergency supplies, put it in my regular pantry to use up asap, and replace it. Then I’ll write down the date of the next closest expiry date in my agenda. This way, even though the items are out of sight, I won’t end up forgetting about them and having them go to waste. Thought I would share!

  18. Hello Brandy and how wonderful your daughter had a wonderful time on her birthday and I love the butterfly ornaments they made and the banners too. Good on you for getting so much done in the garden and glad the children all had a wonderful week 🙂 .

    Our savings added up to $513.61 last week :).

    Finances and listings –
    – Listed 12 items on an eBay free listing promotion saving $19.80 on usual listing fees.

    Groceries and purchases –
    – From IGA we purchased 6 blocks of chocolate on half price special, two bottles of shampoo on special and got 2 blocks of chocolate free using our IGA points on our card saving $20.58 on usual prices.
    – I saved 5% or $6.05 or 5% by purchasing a RACQ Wish e-gift card from groceries
    – We put in an online order with Woolworths and with specials, free supermarket samples and using a $15 off promotional code saved $62.18 on usual prices.

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

    In the gardens –
    – Put in another 3 hours of work to finish laying our storm water pipe and filling in our storm water trench saving $231 over hiring a plumber to do the job for us.
    – We saved $174 by getting a local with a trench digger to dig the rest of our storm water trench for us over hiring a machine for a day to do it ourselves from a local town.

    Have a wonderful week ahead :).


  19. How we saved money last week:

    * Make faux ice cream for a fruit option (basically, a really thick smoothie with the consistency of soft serve). This used frozen bananas, other fruit, whey, and juice saved from cans of fruit.

    * Made lunches for my SO (vegetarian burrito bowls), and pulled out leftovers from the freezer for my lunches, in addition to some miso soup + brown rice, to use up some tofu in the fridge.

    * Spent two days clearing out the fridge, by not cooking a big meal but instead using up the little odds and ends that were left.

    * Bought on sale produce for this month (including oranges for 50c/lb, which is generally the best price we get). I prepped the more perishable produce so that it will not spoil before we can eat it.

    * Checked over my supplies in case we end up having to stay home due to coronavirus (There are cases in a neighboring state). There were only a few things we needed (some additional frozen and canned veggies and some bandaids). I also checked out medicine cabinet, to make sure we had the appropriate supplies. An RN that a friend was talking to said that a decongestant (something like mucinex) will be the most helpful if one does get covid-19, so I made sure we had some on hand as well.

    * Made your white bean alfredo with some of the veggies that were on sale and pasta that I bought on sale. I also found a recipe to use up some pork chops from our freezer (orange molasses glazed pork chops from Budget Bytes), and served it over rice with broccoli on the side.

    * Took one of our cats to a low cost clinic to get checked for a sudden and potentially time sensitive issue. Not only was this one of the few places open on Sunday, but it was also cheaper than what our usual vet would charge. The downside is that it is first come first serve, and they don’t do pre-registered appointments, so you have to be there before opening to get seen. We got there at 10:30, were 4th in line, got registered when they opened at 11, and didn’t get seen until 2. Fortunately, we were able to go home for the hours between being registered and seen, as they call people prior to the appointment time. This is the unfortunate side of going to a low cost clinic, but at least it all worked out in the end.

    * I had two phone interviews last week, and both went really well. Additionally, I heard back from a different place after their phone interview, so I made it past the first round of interviews there as well. Hopefully, all this work will result in a good job offer!

    * We avoided going out to eat even when we felt like it. We’re both trying to eat out less because of financials, and my SO is concerned about their weight, so we’re definitely doing our best to avoid going out or ordering takeout.

    * I have been reviewing recipe ideas to get more vegetables into our diets for less money, and one idea I want to try is roasting carrots. Carrots are quiet inexpensive year round, so if we like them roasted, they could be a good go-to side dish.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment. I hope you all have a great week!

  20. We had ordered something from a large retail store and there were issues (wrong item sent twice). My husband sent an email & we received a $25.00 gift card from them. He then used that to order specific work shirts he likes that he can only find from them online. A friend decided to throw herself a birthday dinner at the last minute, I grabbed a bottle of wine, ribbons & card from my stash to gift her. We have a very expensive April coming up:
    4 family birthdays, wedding shower, baby shower, Easter & a trip planned to visit my daughter. I have begun to purchase gifts making use of sales, coupons, and thrifting so I do not “break the bank” so to speak. I have 2 of the larger gifts taken care of so far & it has not hurt our budget. Due to diligent planning, shopping & making good use of freezer and pantry we were well under our February food budget. This is helping with the pricey April.

    1. We also have four family birthdays in April! Plus, my daughter is getting married out of state. I have already paid for the bulk of the expenses (plus bought a couple of gifts for two of the birthdays). Good luck with your planning!

      1. I remind myself that these are happy expenses & frugality helps us to be able to afford these things. And I just realized those 4 (actually 5 because twins) April birthdays are going to occur every year! Now I know I will plan for it and be prepared.

  21. Hi to all. I have not posted my frugal attempts in awhile
    February was a pretty good month for us. Our biggest savings is finally having refinancing done! We went from a 30 yr loan to a 15 ye loan at a much lower rate. All extra money goes to our mortgage so we will pay off long before 15 yrs. we also paid off two cars. We filed our taxes and got quite a bit back, just in time for new tires. That wasn’t the plan, but perfect timing. The other $ will be used to buy a long overdue new mattress, some will go in savings and rest to mortgage.
    We are not grocery shopping as much. I look at the ads each week and see if any sales on needed items and base are meals on what we have already.
    I celebrated my birthday in February and received a Target gift card as a gift and since I have gained weight and needed new pants and shorts, I was able to do that.
    We save all change and deposit into savings. I was able to deposit about $25 during February. My husband continues to take lunch to work and takes his own coffee.
    Both of us had our colonoscopies done …. I still need to follow up but glad that is over for now. That’s all I can think of.
    I enjoy reading and learning from everyone. I hope all have a great week!

    1. Loan rates are really low right now! That’s wonderful! And congratulations on paying off your cars! You had some big savings!

        1. Rates are unbelievably low right now. My husband said that VA loans just dropped to 2.8%! That’s amazing.

          We have increased our number of agents but not many are selling homes. There are over 18,000 real estate agents here in the area. Only 900 agents in town (5%) sell five or more houses in a year. Most agents work part-time and have another job. Many agents have no sales all year. My husband is in the top 5% of agents for his own sales.

          But, sales are not many right now. This is a slow time of year for sales. As summer approaches, more people will list their homes for sale. November to April/May is always the slowest time of year.

          With interest rates what they are, it’s a great time to buy, especially with an FHA loan. An FHA loan is assumable, which means when rates go back up, you could sell your house to someone and they can take over your loan with your much lower rate. It makes your house more of a deal when you go to sell, which is great competition when the rates go back up.

          Home prices here are increasing still. We’re back to high prices–but average house prices have surpassed the average income for the area. Homebuilders are building again, but mostly large houses. We need them to build more entry-level homes for the average income earners. Rent prices have increased, so it’s very hard to find rentals right now, but hard for renters to purchase with not much at the lower end for sale. Lower-priced houses sell quickly.

          My husband has several listings right now. As summer approaches, people will move. It usually takes at least 45 days for a house to close once a contract has been completed. Hopefully, our agents will take more listings as well! 🙂

          1. Good luck with the sales. I agree that builders should be building more middle-income housing; that happens in a lot of places. I would take advantage of the lower rates by refinancing except my mortgage rate and balance are already pretty low and with the cost of a refi and lenders not really wanting to bother with smaller loans that much, it’s just easier for me to pay off the loan as quickly as possible.

  22. Thank you! Yes the rates are incredible. Since the bank took so long to process our application- since Oct! Due to repeat requests and an overload of people requesting loans & refiancing, the bank gave us an awesome deal. We are so thankful it finally is done! Now we can focus on other saving ways.

  23. Brandy, thank you for the lovely photos and text!
    My big score this week was a whole bunch of organic peeled garlic cloves as well as organic onions, via the organization for which I volunteer.
    I’m lacto-fermenting about a half gallon of the garlic cloves as well as a half gallon on the onions.
    I also put garlic, olive oil and salt in the food processor and then froze that in a small jar. I gave several bags and pounds of onions away.

    Can anyone suggest other ways to preserve the bounty? I have a dehydrator, but here in the humidity (we don’t use AC) dehydrated onions and garlic just become a solid mass, even when put in those clamped, rubber-ringed jars. I don’t want to cook and put them in the freezer because ours is pretty full and I already have cooked onions in jars there.

    I know these requirements make it difficult, I’m just hoping someone has a brainstorm to share with me, otherwise, I guess it’ll be more fermentation!


    1. I crush salt into garlic till it becomes a puree. Freeze it on sheets. Then break it into a bag and use as garlic puree.

    2. Cara: I have read were after dehydrating bounty you can make it into powder by using a coffee grinder. Also, the blog Frugal Measures offers incredible information on preserving food. She vacuum seals in mason jars. I hope she is able to provide some insight.
      Be well!

      1. Thanks, Patricia,
        I’ve bought garlic powder and it just becomes a solid mass after a while. It seems for me that it’s impossible to keep the humidity out. I will check about vacuum sealing in mason jars, though, so thanks! I don’t like to keep things in plastic so that has limited me.

        1. One of my grandmothers kept rice in the salt shaker to keep the sale from becoming one lump in the humidity. Perhaps that would work for you with your garlic powder.

          1. Thank you, Brandy.
            I’d forgotten about that. Interestingly, my salt stays OK, even though it’s in the same type of clamp jar!

        2. Cara, I live in high humidity, too, and I keep my garlic and onion powders and granules in tightly covered jars in the refrigerator. They haven’t been clumping since I’ve started doing that. I know it takes up space, so that may not work for you, but I got so tired of solid clumps that I couldn’t get out of the jar!

          1. I can try that, Jo, so thanks! I don’t have a lot of space in the fridge, but it’s worth an experiment with a small amount. I usually use fresh garlic, so I won’t need to store too much!

  24. The party decoration and food look perfect. I started limiting my children’s parties to two hours back when I was hosting kids’ parties, and honestly, I think one hour would have been better. Lemonade and brownies sound very good, and now I’m craving them.

    We just celebrated the birthday of a grandchild, and I was able to buy most of her gift with Swagbucks. The rest I got on a very good sale.
    The hinges on the most used cabinet door in my kitchen finally gave out, and the door wouldn’t stay closed. I bought self-closing hinges at Lowe’s, using my husband’s vet discount, and installed them myself. I doubt I would have tried this if the cut outs for the old (concealed) hinges hadn’t been a perfect match for the new ones.
    I dropped the total of my last two grocery shopping trips by about 20%. I’m simplifying our menus a lot, both to save time and to save money. It won’t hurt us to have tacos, with homemade tortillas, more often.
    I now have over $11 credit with ThredUp, thanks to selling a few clothes there. There are still some items up for sale, so it may increase.
    I purchased more dog food at a locally owned store, where I get a free bag after purchasing 12 bags. Their prices are competitive, even without the free bag offer.
    Our tax refund has gone straight to savings, as we will have use for it later this year. I can earn interest on it in the meantime.
    Have a good week!

  25. A lot of money going out last week. I did a big grocery trip and I had to buy soccer gear for the 13yo.

    Used $15 off chewy code. got 60 cans of dog food and box of milkbones for $36

    Mom sent over jar of pickles she didn’t like and a bag of fries.

    Got back 9.10 in Ibotta rebates

    Free laundry scent booster from the sample machine at Sam’s

    Found 10 pound bags of chicken leg quarters for $3.71. purchased 2.

    Rented a Redbox movie using a .50 off code.

    Returned library book I didn’t have time to read to avoid fines.

  26. We make time to grocery shop every few days, checking for bargains and shopping loss-leaders as much as possible. This afternoon, we found the expiring dairy clearance had just been restocked, so I got two jugs of orange juice for 79 cents each instead of $3,79. (will freeze one after drinking a little; I had one jug crack in the freezer after a dozen or so that were fine without any taken out, so my luck has changed).
    I also got two small bottles of chocolate milk for 40 cents each instead of $1.99, and am having one as my snack while I read everyone’s updates, saving the other one to make hot chocolate from.
    And a bottle of vanilla extract (artificial) for half price, called “white vanilla”. I had not heard of that; it is clear, so the vanilla doesn’t add a touch of brown to whatever is being made. (Whatever!).
    In January, I went through all of our online accounts and made sure I had all the passwords and email addresses in order. When we got a new health insurance company last fall, I signed up for their “rewards” program, which gives me points for watching short videos, reading online brochures, answering questions, etc. The points are worth it for only short bursts of my time, though I haven’t cashed them in yet.
    We hadn’t realized that our online bank account access was my husband’s, and technically, I wasn’t supposed to use his name and password, so I got my own. (Another “Whatever!” on that). That made me think of the health insurance, and sure enough, he is supposed to have his own online account, separate from mine. I’m the primary and he’s the dependent to me. I set that up, and this means he also has his own rewards program, so we can get points for him as well.
    Took advantage of Walgreens Senior Day today, first Tuesday of the month, for 20-30% off regularly priced merchandise. They have a promo these days for seniors to go to the pharmacy and hear a thirty second talk, (today’s was on how they bundle prescriptions; previous one was on handwashing, etc.), and get 1000 reward points, or one dollar, so I did that also.
    Watching for my crocuses to poke up through the dead leaves on the garden. They are usually up by the second week in March, a surprise I know is coming. Daffodils should be early this year as it is so warm, though they might get hit later in the month if we have a cold snap.
    Ok– this is funny, based on last week’s discussion: My husband just turned on a Mudlarking with Nikola video on YouTube.

  27. One of my students committed suicide last week, so it’s been a rather rough week.
    My mother and her friend, has been visiting. My electric and water bills will be enormous next month as she never turns off a light, takes 3 – 4 showers a day, and washes clothes as soon as there are 3 – 4 items. Don’t get me started on trash bags, soaps and cleaners… In expectation, I over-paid on my electric and water bills the last 2 months. Her friend has been diligent about taking care of the chickens for me and did some serious garden pruning for me.
    Found a box of 10 rocker switches in a clearance bin at Home Depot, picked them up to replace the dated single pole switches on the ground floor. I will have a few extras to replace a couple on the 2nd floor as well. I will have to buy new switch plates, but they were needed anyway as the old ones are yellowing. I may splurge and buy (or even make) some hand painted ones for some of the switches. Replaced smoke detectors on the ground floor. Purchased 2 new ceiling lights as the old ones have been non-functional for a while.
    Sent my husband back to South Florida (for work) with a month’s worth of freeze-dried food, treats, and other necessities, just in case of quarantine. Glad I had plenty in reserve. Ordered powdered milk and a gallon of microban cleaner concentrate from Amazon.
    My husband got in an accident with my car (no injuries). There was some prior damage on the car (scratches, a small dent, and the gas panel had come off), but the accident damaged those areas too, so it will now be repaired as part of the accident.
    The chickens are laying again so gearing up for lots of egg dishes. Made potato pancakes (latkes) and used the last of the jars of applesauce and pickled beets I canned 2 years ago. Ate most meals at home.
    Did much of my spring shopping at an outlet mall a couple of weeks ago coupled with sales. Big win – Picked up a winter dress at he Loft for $18 that was originally $125!!

    1. First of all, my deepest sympathy about the death of your student. That is such a difficult situation to address as a teacher.

      You did make me laugh about the utility expenses with your mother’s visit. When my father lived with us I was stunned by the increase in the utilities. I learned that he would go to take a nap and put the heat at 80 as he didn’t want to have a heavy blanket on him. I understood why he kept lights on everywhere he went as it was a big house and he had fear about losing his footing. The one that really made me go “wow” was when I came home and found the patio door wide open and the heat was set at 80!. He had gone out to have an illicit cigarette (he wasn’t permitted to smoke in the house) and had left the door open when he came into take a nap!

    2. Jennifer,

      You have my condolences. What a difficult time you are going through. My prayers for you and the family.


    3. I’m so sorry to hear about your student. That’s tough! I hope you, your colleagues, and the other students find ways to heal and remember this person. So much pain …

  28. I have been working the last week to get my house in order after my daughter and family(6 members), were with us for 10 weeks. Nothing frugal but a lot of returns to make to folks who loaned clothes and baby items, laundry( sheets and towels), and restocking some supplies. I bought extra toilet paper, Kleenex and such I case of flu or coronavirus. Another daughter and 3 kids got the flu and were only sick for 4-5 days, but had high fevers104-105), and are still recovering. It took soup daily and pray we don’t get it.

    I found some marked down produce to restock that and am planning lots of plant based meals to us it up. I have picked up an extra job a last month and am cooking simpler meals and doing meal prep on weekends. It saves so much time and cleanup mess.

    Took the grandkids to the library and restocked their book supply after being cooped up at home with the flu. I found some home organization books and hope to get some ideas to tidy up the house after some purging!

    Have a blessed week everyone and congrats on the engagement,,Brandy. I can’t wait to hear more. I love the simple wedding plans. Couples are so extra event these days and it places an undue burden on everyone.

    1. When we were all sick recently with the flu, my mom ran to the store for us for a few things. She left them at the door as we didn’t want to risk getting her sick. I hope you don’t get sick!

      1. I did the same thing for my daughter a couple of weeks ago. As much as I wanted to go in and give her a hand with the kids (her hubby was out of town), I just didn’t want to risk it!

  29. I tried one of the soups destined for my pantry. It will do in an emergency but due to the high sodium content of all of the canned soups, I will buy a few more cans when I have money but I have decided to make my own — first a chicken soup, then a beef soup, both for my freezer about the fridge. For the soup based on chicken broth I will put in a package of wilted spinach and kale that I have in my fridge as well as carrots, potatoes, barley, and maybe some of the quoinoa. For the beef soup, some tomatoes, pasta, carrots, onions, etc. Safeway has some items on sale “buy one get one free” so for the emergency pantry I will buy my cases of bottled water there as well as Maple Leaf canned hams. (Finally I’ll have some meat for the pantry even if it is salty). And finally, I will get my original Shreddies as a pantry cereal. The other items I’m thinking about for the pantry are: canned or pickled beets and jars of sauerkraut. Both would be rich in vitamins.

    I am still not finished the photos albums but I made great progress today. Unfortunately the replacement fillers are not hole-punched in the same location as the others I’ve been using so not sure how to proceed. As a friend said, “I would have thought it was standard”. Me too.

    For Canadians, I bought North Prairie Gold canola oil on sale for $6.95. It’s usually about $9.95. I really like it. It is grown and the oil is made cold-pressed in Saskatchewan. As I am allergic to fish and seafood, I have a hard time getting enough Omega 3s but this oil delivers in that regard. If you are in Western Canada, you might like to try it out while it is on sale at the Co-op this week.

    1. I too love beets and I added a couple of jars of pickled red cabbage today – and sauerkraut is on the list! They will be a nice veggie additions if fresh isn’t available.
      I love making mushroom barley soup with beef broth (along with carrots, onions and frozen peas) and tonight I have taken some turkey wings and bones out of the freezer and I’m making a big pot of soup tomorrow. I’ll either add some noodles or rice to bulk it out a bit.
      I rearranged my pantry last night (makes things much more accessible) and went through the freezer tonight. Along with the turkey soupI’m going to cook some turkey thighs and some beef liver that needs to be used up. I’ve also taken some chilli out the freezer so there will be plenty for the week and I can take some meals to my elderly neighbour. I’ve been so busy this week that I’ve barely had time to do anything so I’m having a weekend at home to catch up on cooking. cleaning, reading and sleep!
      I too have allergies and sensitivities to certain foods, additives and drugs so yes, it can make life a bit tricky at times!
      PS – my office mate and I have found that certain 3 holed plastic page protectors don’t line up properly with the new D Ring binders they now send us – how stupid and frustrating!

  30. Nice reminders to stock up on snacks. I am buying shredded wheat for my emergency backup pantry — and I decided to get chocolate shredded wheat as it has tocopherols as preservatives and not bht which I object to. So I guess chocolate shreddies will be my treat as well as popcorn.
    One thing I wish I could get is Honest Earth dehydrated mashed potatoes. They had smaller boxes at Amazon.ca for about $20 but now only have bigger ones for $69. so that’s out of the question unless I find another place to supply it for the lesser price. These Honest Earth mashed potatoes just have potato butter and salt, no preservatives and get great reviews. Next time, I guess!

      1. Hi Mari in SC,
        Last week you talked about eyebrow makeup. If you don’t mind, would you please share the eyebrow makeup you liked best? I’ve just recently started to use eyebrow makeup regularly and am wondering if there is a better product than the one I am using. (I seem to be having quite a learning curve trying to keep it looking natural!)
        Thanks so much!

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