I cut flowers from my garden for a women’s church event that was held in my backyard. It was a beautiful night and the roses were all in bloom, so it was the perfect time to host. I was asked to teach about gardening and was happy to get to show people what is possible to grow in the desert. The food was made by others; I love her setup.

I attended a local rose gardener’s garden tour, which was free, and was able to enjoy hanging out with one of my readers (so much fun!).

I picked up a couple of clearance items at the local grocery store where my son works (he let me know about the clearance; they are rearranging the store and clearing out items while they have no shelf space for them). I purchased three 12-packs of Ramen noodles for $0.99 a pack.

I gave two sons a haircut.

I harvested Swiss chard, snow peas, green onions, and parsley from my garden.

My water bill arrived. The new water rates and fines are really expensive. If I hadn’t redone my garden, I would easily have had a $900 water bill this month. As it was, the bill was four times more than I paid last year (after the renovation!) I made some adjustments to the watering schedule to see if my plants can survive in the heat on half the water I have been giving them. I don’t know that they can, but I am going to try (especially as a wind storm is coming today and at least this week, it will be cooler, meaning the plants don’t need as much water). I also made serious efforts to keep my shower time to 5 minutes, and I encouraged the children to do the same. I kept a bucket in the kitchen sink for rinsing fruits and vegetables and used that water on my potted plants. I have been diligent before but am trying to be even more so.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. This week has been both humbling and gratifying! Through my comment on last week’s blog post, I was able to meet another of your commenters in person and trade my chives and chocolate mint plants for her amazing hostas!! Hostas are Hubs’ favorites and he had just been calculating how many he wanted to get for a new project in the side yard! We were overwhelmed by her unexpected generosity! Thank you again, Emily and we hope the chives and chocolate mint thrive at your new house!

    We were able to take dinner to two families this week- one who just moved here from Minnesota and one going through excruciating health challenges. I was also able to take cookies over to share with volunteer helpers as they unloaded/unpacked moving truck for these same move-in’s. I had some “extra” cookies from that that I packed in a small plastic takeaway box that I had washed and saved and took it to a friend whose husband has had long term debilitating health condition for over 8 years. Not a big deal but she was surprised and pleased. None of these things were big or elaborate, but little ways having a stocked pantry could help me share with others. And I was humbled by the abundance that I have been blessed with.

    Today is dreary, wet and chilly (40F) but I went out and bought some more veg starts. My 87 year old friend came along and I gave her 1 start from each 4 pack I bought for her apartment garden! I found some veg plants for another friend also.

    Bartering and sharing seem to be bringing a sense of community and we are happy to have the opportunity to interact and become friends with so many wonderful people we may not have known before!

    Our chickens are healthy and giving us 3-1/2 dozen eggs/week. We are basically healthy. “Nature” this time of year leaves me with a nose that drips like a faucet or a completely stuffed up one that makes it hard to breathe! It’s trying to be Springtime outside and I am happy to welcome it!!

    Our youngest son put in an application for an apartment of his own so he will be moving from his sister’s basement. Another giant step for him and one he has researched and counseled with his sister and us about (budget, new expenses, furnishings he will need but shouldn’t buy brand new from store!) His sister found a washer and dryer that were barely used on FB Marketplace being sold by a lady who was moving into an assisted living community. Just $375 for the pair! And the lady’s son delivered them for free to our daughter’s garage (which is just 5 minutes from the new apartment!)

    I’m not naive to all the turmoil and harder times that affect us as well as everyone else, but, for now, I’d rather be grateful for opportunities that are put in our path and help us be in a position to serve.

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I love your positive attitude and thoughts, I too am fortunate to see things thru a rose lens and am always grateful for whatever comes my way
      A joy to read about your life and how you do things

    2. I’m so happy your husband is enjoying the hostas! My yard is overflowing with them. The chives and mint are thriving. I planted three containers of mint for me and had enough left to share at a plant swap over the weekend.

      It was great to meet you and see your garden!

  2. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to contain water usage with a large family! Your flowers are beautiful, though! I have a few David Austins getting ready to bloom here soon – Lady of Shalott, Abraham Darby, Teasing Georgia, and Sweet Juliet. We also have tons of peonies that will bloom anytime now!

    Yesterday I was taking a walk around our neighborhood and saw an older couple who was working on their rose garden. I have never met them before even though I’ve always admired their landscaping, but stopped to talk with them to see what they had planted on the north side of their home which is in full shade – it looked like hostas and another plant, and when I asked her about them she offered to give me some cuttings of sedum to root in my own garden. I am trying to remember them in my prayers whenever I see the cuttings in my kitchen as her husband mentioned he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. I had just been thinking on that walk earlier that I should be praying more for the neighborhood as I walk through it, and then I met them.

  3. Hello Everyone! After a few days of nice weather in our area, we are again looking forward to rain for the next few days. Over this past week, we smelled a really strong mildew smell in our garage. We couldn’t figure out what it was. So….we decided to empty the garage and go through everything. My husband believes that it was the lawnmover under carriage. We were glad that it was not that serious. And we have a well organized garage and several items went to the dump and the Goodwill. Win Win. As I mentioned in my post last week, we have had several occurances of high cost repairs for various things. After a second visit by our plumber, he again tried to fix our leaky toliet. He swore that this was it. Well a few hours after he left, it was not. He did not charge us for the visit that day nor the parts. Obviously he did not fix it. So rather than call him again (for the third time), we are on the hunt for a new plumber. Dear friends of ours gave us the name and number of their plumber. We checked them out and decided that they sounded like a good fit for us. Two phone calls in and messages left and no return phone call! I am not surprised. It is really difficult in our area to get qualified tradespeople for work and repairs. Most people are left with contacting unlicensed contractors. Not us. We put a bowl under where the leak is and will continue to search for a new qualified, licensed, reputable plumber. We have been trying to not go out unless absolutely needed too. We went and got eye exams and new glasses for our son. I packed our lunch which we ate a local park. Then to Costco to order new glasses. also picked up a few things for my parents and two pounds of strawberries for us. Other than a few loss leaders, no additional food was bought as we are trying to use what we have.

  4. I love those bird’s nests. So cute.

    I finally got around to figuring out why I had a $25 service charge two months running on my bank account. I had gone below the limited for some special account because I bought a CD at 4%. I should have gone the first month I saw it. The banker removed one of the $25 fees but not the other. I am now in a much less fancy account which is perfect for me. Live and learn.

    I had an outrageous restaurant bill last month because of spring break travel. I am embarrassed to say that all food with grocery and restaurant came to over $1,000. My son is now home for two weeks and I am determined to not go out to eat. The Rotisserie chicken at Sam’s is $5.00 and has made three dinners so far. Even the splurge I made for high end bakery goods for my Mom’s bday, the total for “special” shopping for him, and bday dinner was $180 total. That was about one night out for the family back East this spring. Restaurant food has become a treat once a month. It is now ridiculously expensive with tips and California service charges. I do not need the extra calories anyway.

    I perfected my Instapot pasta. So easy!!! 8 oz pasta, 2 cups of water, set on high pressure cooker for 0 mins, natural release for 5. No draining required. Simple tricks like this encourage me to cook at home. Eggs 5 mins pressure high, 5 natural release, 5 min ice water bath. Perfect peel and I can do up to a dozen at a time.

    I have a zero clothing budget this month. I am determined to stick to it even though this is my toughest category. This includes dry cleaning. I am keeping to it as a challenge. I will ignore any “great sale.” I need nothing.

  5. Wow, are you able to use grey water at all? While it doesn’t fix the 4x increase, just remember how much you’re saving by not buying those veggies at the store.
    Happy May everyone! We are getting free water for the garden today (raining again).
    I tried winter sowing this year with I’d say 2/3 success. In starting to transplant but the bunnies or birds are visiting too. The water jugs I’d used are getting upcycled into plant tags now.
    Holding off until next weekend to get some plants I didn’t start (tomatoes, peppers) at the local FFA sales.
    My pea trellis was put up using bamboo removed from an eagle scout project and latched together.
    Oh, fully recommend getting walking onions which replenish themselves each year.
    I planted 2 lily plants that were bring discarded from church since the blooms are gone. I was able to divide each pot into multiple plantings.
    I made energy bites and breakfast bars for the kids to use up some bananas and applesauce.
    Used the leftover chocolate chips to bless my husband with cookies.
    Used leftover quinoa and green onions from my garden with a bag of frozen corn to make a meatless dinner everyone liked.
    Looking at ways to save for next month’s graduation. A friend took senior photos for us. We are spending to send announcements to family but are coupon hunting, and we are working at lower cost ways to feed people at open house and when family comes to visit. (Thinking infused waters and freeze pops to help keep people cool, vs soda; offering lighter bites like salad and pulled pork over hawaiian rolls; and hitting up the memorial day weekend sales.) Paper goods include a coworker’s leftover graduation napkins and then just solid paper goods. But open to any ideas!!
    The grad to be will start college as a sophomore due to dual credit and taking advantage of free classes at the community college this summer.
    Have a blessed week everyone!

    1. Greywater systems are illegal here. The new bill they are trying to pass would also outlaw septic tanks and make everyone pay to connect into the system so they can collect water from everyone that goes down the drain.

      1. Considering their reason for banning grey water recycling and septic tanks, I would have no qualms about circumventing those rules. Unless they meter your waste water, they cannot know how your water is used. If grass is banished will flowers and vegetables follow? Why are people moving to the desert states?

        1. There are lots of places no longer in drought.
          I have lived here for 23 years. There are several things to like here, such as mild winters and no state income tax, and low property taxes.

          What new rules they will make are yet to be seen. They have become tougher and tougher since they started 23 years ago. However, we have to make great efforts to conserve here. It is needed.

  6. Not a busy week around here in the savings department. The week kind of flew by, honestly.

    I paid our real estate taxes online. It did charge a $9 convience fee, but by the time it would have taken me to drive across town and back, parked, then made it into the courthouse, I was more than willing to pay it.

    Cleaning out our storage room. I found a Sam’s size bottle of syrup.

    Listed several things on a buy nothing site to get them out of the house

    Ate breakfasts and lunches at work

    Still eating what we have at home. I spent around $40 on a few things we needed. This might be the last week for that because we are getting down to pizza rolls and frozen chicken stock, lol.

    Added my receipts to my rebate apps

  7. For some reason, this was a rather hard week for me. I did a few things though. Went to lunch with my sister. We went to Red Robin, as I had a free burger for my birthday month.
    I worked 4 days this week and brought breakfast all 4 days and lunch two days. One day I went with my sister, and the other day used a gift card that I had.
    Used rewards for a free carton of cottage cheese. My DH likes cottage cheese and fruit cocktail for breakfast.
    We had our first day of 70 degrees and then our first day of 80 degrees. It had been over 6 months since we had 70 degrees.
    On Friday, I washed all of our bedding. Sheets and pillowcases, comforter and mattress pad. Hung them all on the line to dry. We switched around our mattress, and then put the flannel sheets away and put cotton sheets on the bed. Washed several of the small throw blankets that we used this winter. Hung those on the line to dry also.
    Pulled out all the tomato plants and tomato cages from the 4 different spots we have tomatoes in our garden. this includes the 12 old garbage cans we plant tomatoes in. As we age, we are modifying our methods of gardening, so that we don’t have to get on the ground as often.
    Made a Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner one night that I pulled from the freezer and added additional “goodies” to it.
    Planted 3 kinds of potatoes – Russet Burbank, Yukon gold, and Huckleberry gold. This is the first time for the Huckleberry gold. Only planted 3 hills of those. they are supposed to be a low glycemic potato.
    Planted a bed of candy onions. We like the flavor of these, and they keep better than the Walla Walla Sweets. In fact, we are still using some that we grew in last year’s garden.
    Planted 14 cabbage starts. 8 green and 6 red.
    My DH BBQ’d this weekend. Did hamburgers and hot dogs. This will be lunches and dinners most of the week.
    Last summer when clearing out my mother’s house, we brought home her outdoor swing. It has a cover and is just big enough for 2 people. We put the swing on our back half acre. The DH and I take our breaks on that swing while working in the garden, and each time say a little prayer of thanks to my mom for the swing.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

    1. I figured out my hard week. It was two years ago, on May 1, 2021, that we had my Mother’s funeral. The week leading up to that had been very difficult, so I think the latent memories came crashing down. I am now dealing with the sale of her house. Also I worked about 175 hours in April. That would do it.

      1. Nancy – That would be more than enough to make a person weary. Hope next week is a little brighter! 🙂

  8. -Our water bill is $15 per month. (Minimum amount each month, we never go over) We are a two person household with no flowers or garden. We practice no water-saving habits. We are also in rural area of North MS which is not in the desert.
    -Got tons of after Easter candy (my faves of Reese’s and Kisses) which has good by date of 16 more months at 🎯liquidation store for .50-$1. Shared with library and family and friends and kept a lot for myself.
    -I send tons of cards each month and love using stickers. My library has a free table and two times recently I’ve scored some still in package Hallmark stickers. Probably $10-$12 so far for free.
    -As always library for books, DVDs and magazines.
    -Started using my $1 church garage sale Vera Bradley bags that retail for $80. Washed on gentle with disinfectant and then let air dry.
    -Quietly left a big city garage sale with exorbitant prices after buying nothing.
    -Enjoyed 5 days in big city doing things I live too far in country to do at home (shopping, restaurants, go out with friends, Netflix) while on a pet/house sitting vacay.

  9. Brandy, your flowers are absolutely gorgeous–and the food looks just as good. What a lovely evening event.

    We have been having beautiful warm, sunny weather. It was 82F yesterday in northern Idaho. I planted nasturtiums last week using seeds I saved from last year’s flowers. I also pruned shrubs and tomorrow I will be hauling a load of limbs to the dump. Then I have to work on my drip irrigation. Last year I put my flower containers on drip and I have some ideas of how to do it better.

    The big frugal win was switching our streaming from Hulu to Sling Blue plus the news add-on for $46 month. We are saving about $30 per month! We miss some of the channels we used to watch, but we’re getting what we really wanted and getting used to the rest of the Sling programming.

    I cleaned the vegetable drawer and made two quiches. They were delicious. I froze one as a ready meal. I also froze enough beef and mushroom gravy for another meal. When I was sick a couple of months ago, we ate most of the ready meals so it was time to restock.

    I sold a Wagner paint sprayer for $40 on FB Marketplace. I wish I were more aggressive about selling………

  10. I went on a walk around our Capitol building to see the cherry blossoms. I have enjoyed walking in my neighborhood as well to see what’s in bloom and to note the leaves coming out.

    I washed my patio and patio furniture to prepare it for summer use.

    I read two borrowed books.

    I worked on knitting projects and cleaning out areas in my home.

  11. Your flowers are beautiful!

    I grew up with a well that wasn’t always that great so we learned to really conserve water. We would turn the shower water on to get wet, then off to soap up & wash hair, then turn it back on to rinse. We could hear if the well pump kicked on and our goal was to get a shower without it turning on! We used a wringer washer on our glassed in porch and hung the laundry out to dry. When filling cleaning/mop buckets etc… we would only fill about 1/3 full. We used dish pans to wash and rinse dishes. We collected water in a rain barrel for watering potted plants. We never had to water the main garden because we usually had plenty of rain. You get used to never wasting water.

    1. We are definitely used to it but I am looking for every way we can cut more.

  12. Nine hundred dollars for water, possibly? I’m clutching my heart. Is there some sort of break even point where it’s no longer worth your while to grow fruits and vegetables? As your children grow and move out, will it no longer be profitable?

    1. With the ever rising prices of food, I doubt it will ever be an issue.

      My youngest just turned 5. I have a long time before I have an empty nest. At that point, I could sell extra fruit if I couldn’t eat it all, but I would also have a lot of fruit for myself and wouldn’t need to buy much produce!

      1. A friend of mine puts out bouquets of flowers Thursday through Sunday, she found the other days didn’t sell well, and sold them for $4 . She sold out most days and earned enough to pay for her extensive gardens. She also sold any excess veggies as well. Cherry tomatoes always went first.

        1. When I was little my sisters and I would sell excess vegetables from my parents garden. We loved doing it .

  13. We do have various issues, using rainwater for our home water, but boy do I feel lucky to not have a $900 water bill. I can’t imagine how anyone could manage that. Last week, I canned lentils for the first time. A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin. I made golden paste for the pups, and strained and bottled all the remaining jars of herbal glycerites. GF bread ends were ground into bread crumbs, and frozen. Every day, vegetable scraps were added to the broth bag in the freezer. Toilet paper tubes were saved for fire starters, with lint from the dryer added, and candle wax. Laundry was dried on the clothesline. We’ve gotten some nice rain, filling our tanks. We had a few days and nights without heat, but with nighttime temps lowering to the 40’s, the woodstove was going again on Sunday. I filled two large pots with veggie scraps, intending to catch up on broth making before it heats up, and make room in the freezer. While prepping a bed, before planting cucumber and carrot seeds, I pulled up quite a few wild onions. I cut off the tough stem, scrubbed them up, and added them to the broth bag, along with a carrot I mistakenly pulled up. No waste. While out of town, we stopped at a discount grocery, where we found cilantro .38/bunch, aloe .78#, and red lentils .50#, all a significant savings over local prices. I redeemed Swagbucks points for a $25 gift card, using the once a month deal of 2200 points for the card, and getting 75 points back from a recent challenge they had. I tried a new pasta recipe with butternut squash sauce. We liked it, and there’s one less squash in storage. My husband checked what it would cost to add me to his car insurance policy, and it ended up saving us around $350. I recently saw that blended aloe is a good plant fertilizer. As I use it every day in my smoothies, on a day when I’m finishing up one leaf and starting another, I take the end bits and skins, and blend them up with water. The most recent time, I fed all the houseplants with the diluted solution. It’s worth a try. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2023/05/spring-happenings.html

    1. I think most people here have rocks and smaller yards and families, so their bills will be much less.

      A lot of people don’t pay attention to their water bills, but I think that will change.

      My bill was $408. So glad I cut 75% of the grass.

      I have a neighbor with an acre lot and a pool. She has fake grass in the front yard but real grass in part of her backyard and a large pool. I am sure her bill was much higher than mine.

  14. I cannot imagine how you can limit water even more than you do – those sorts of bills are scary. On the other hand, the table setting and food is just lovely!

    Did my taxes this past weekend – and boy – that bill was a lot higher than I was expecting! Mailed off a cheque for the bulk of it this morning but will have to pay off the rest over the next couple of months – Yikes! It will be a very frugal summer around here this year. My best friend is coming up to a milestone birthday and I thought about taking her out to tea at one of the local hotels – which we’ve done many times in the past – but OMG the price increases are insane – $65 and $85 per person at our two favourite spots. I’ve decided to throw her a nice tea at my place, invite her sister and a few other friends and then buy her a nice gift instead! Her sister will help out with some of the cost and I can make a lot of the food myself.

    All the other bills for May have been paid online and it’s a good thing that I have a well stocked pantry and freezer as there isn’t a lot left this month! I will also delay my next dental appointment until the end of the month. The infection that I had has cleared up with meds and this appointment is really to discuss what to do next so it’s not urgent and I need a bit of a breather.

    Some metal shelves that I ordered arrived so I spent last Friday putting them together – not fun. I then re-organized my pantry closet and I am pleased with the result – I can see everything a lot better now so I know what needs to be used up and I know better where the gaps are as well so worth the effort.

    I’ve also decided to move around some furniture – started with some bookcases so there was also a lot of dusting to be done! My church will host their Spring book sale at the end of the month so I’m also putting aside quite a few to donate. I switched to my Summer quilt and changed out some cushion covers for a more warm weather look.

    There was no eating out this past week and just one coffee purchased. I did four loads of laundry but only put two through the dryer (sheets) – the rest was hung up on my two clothes racks to dry. Yogurt and fruit taken to the office on the days I went in so not tempted to buy any treats. I hope that everyone had a good week and that May brings some good weather for all you gardeners out there!

  15. What beautiful roses! Looks like a wonderful party.
    *My youngest son had his 11th birthday last week. Our traditional birthday approach is for my husband to take the day off and to spend the day together on some adventure. This time, we went to Grandfather Mountain, a 4,000 acre nature preserve near us. The month of April is local’s month and admission is only $5/person – a bargain compared to the general admission. They have a nature center that opened last summer which we had never seen. Just beautiful with information on the native flora and fauna, minerals and resident animals such as elk, black bears, otters, bald eagles and mountain lions. We hiked and enjoyed the view from over 5,000 feet. Afterward, we drove a bit into TN to a bakery built into an old barn that serves pizza made in a wood-fired oven. That day was the Buy-1-Get-1-1/2 Price pizza day so a delicious meal eaten outside was not only a great way to cap off a great celebration but frugal, as well. We had a party for him over the weekend with grandparents, friends and family, also. Everyone brought so much food (and refused to take any home) that we will be able to eat for a while and freeze some for a later date. His gifts from us and his brother included a used/like-new copy of a book in a series he loves, a T-shirt related to another book series he loves (bought on sale), new shoes (much needed) and a wallet (also needed.) He was very happy and we all enjoyed a week-long celebration of him.
    *Found many useful items in a local dump – a drywall mud trough, a large round galvanized wash tub, and all the iron pieces for a park bench (very old and heavy.) I am always amazed at what some think is junk.
    *Our homeschool co-op had the last class for the season. Members of the Sheriffs Office, the K9 Patrol and local EMTs and paramedics came and discussed their professions and gave demonstrations of the amazing technologies they utilize including drones and remote-controlled mini tanks. We have had so many interesting experiences with this group, none of which has cost a cent. Will be fun to see what we can come up with in the Fall. We have several fun and free things planned for the summer, too.
    *The church that hosts our homeschool co-op held an art show last weekend. A group of parents of now-grown homeschool students have combined their efforts to put on events for current homeschool families. Their support and enthusiasm has been wonderful to receive. We have had a pinewood derby, a science fair and now, the art show – all accompanied by receptions with food at no cost to participants or attendees. My youngest son is a prolific artist and exhibited many things while my oldest (who is an art dabbler) showed two sketches. The best part, I think, was that the show attendees were given post-it notes and a pen and encouraged to walk about the show and leave encouraging notes on the artists’ work. It was so wonderful to see all the smiles and self-confidence that resulted in all the children from the youngest to the oldest. We are very grateful to be a part of such a energetic, creative and supportive community.
    *A neighbor’s BIL works for a hotel in the closest town to us. He brought home dozens of queen size blankets that the hotel was throwing away as they are remodeling. He asked me and a few other neighbors if we wanted any. They are in beautiful shape and are heavy woven cotton blankets made in India. I took one for each of my children’s beds. Here in the mountains, we can use a blanket at night even in the summer so these are perfect for our use.
    *Sold eggs to neighbors.
    *Paid my boys for mowing, weed-eating, and hauling rocks up from the creek to line garden beds. They have been working for money, in addition to their un-paid “being a part of the family” chores, for a few years now and have amassed impressive savings. As they have gotten older and their wants change (and, in some cases, become slightly more expensive) we are reinforcing that we take care of their needs (and the occasional treat) but the rest is up to them. I have seen this result in very careful research and deliberation over any spending. I am glad they see a direct link between hard work and reward as well as expenses needing to be worthy of the time and effort expended to attain them. I am especially glad that they also willingly help us and others with no expectation of payment. I have known so many adults that struggle with spending habits and hope we are saving our boys a lot of trouble in the future. A frugal tactic with long-lasting dividends!
    *Our last frost-free date is 15 May and I can’t wait to get out full-force in the garden. Things are prepped and ready to go and I have big plans, as always.
    *Have been taking snippets of time to read “Forgotten Arts and Crafts” by John Seymour. It’s a bit like the English version of the Foxfire books and I love it. Thank goodness the library had it on inter-library loan as it is a big beautiful book that is at least $50 used. I have read a lot on this subject and enjoy many of these old-fashioned crafts but always learn something new. Reading it has renewed my interest in growing willow for basketry, something I have researched before and now want to move closer to the top of my to-do list. I was introduced to this book by Rajiv Surendra who has a wonderful, fairly new YouTube Channel. If you really appreciate the art of homemaking and related topics, you will love his channel. He has a very comforting way – almost like the Mr. Rogers of homemaking. 🙂 I hope some of you might find his channel inspiring. https://www.youtube.com/@rajivsurendra
    *Hope all of you lovely people are enjoying a beautiful Spring! Looking forward to being inspired by you as I am each week. 🙂

    1. Mountain Mama Dawn, I love the idea of posting positive notes at the art exhibit! How wonderful that must have been – for all! It sounds like your son’s birthday celebration was great on all fronts – outdoor time then pizza – double bonus! And the blankets – so important that they weren’t discarded. Good on many levels.

  16. Those flowers are wonderful. You are kind to share your oasis with your church ladies and with us. So much work but such results!
    I wish that you could catch a break on your water costs and yet it is important that people pay dearly for it so they do not waste it.
    Nice to have an inside man at the grocery store; he will feel proud to show mom the deals.
    I am living on a lake with all the free water I want to pump but not enough heat to ripen many crops. Somewhere between Las Vegas and Ontario is a perfect place with 120 frost free days and plenty of water. Ah well, we will do our best where we are.

    1. Rita – The mountains of Western NC where I live just about fits your description. About 5 months of frost-free weather and water everywhere you look. Wouldn’t mind one bit having some of you all for neighbors! 🙂

  17. Our fourth daughter graduated from college last week so we traveled to Utah from Minnesota to celebrate. We drove to save money (and I hate flying). We used Marriott points my husband has earned from business travel for a couple of free hotel nights and ate the included breakfasts. We were able to be with four of our kids and two of the grand kids and it was fun to spend time with family. Not really thrifty to travel, but worth the time and money spent, and we did our best to save where we could. After we got back today, I made my menu plan for the week and put in a grocery order for me to pick up tomorrow. Driving time for that trip is 21 hours each way. My husband downloaded some podcasts for us to listen to and I downloaded “All Creatures Great and Small” audio book from our library on the Libby app. We enjoyed listening to that so much! The one I checked out is narrated by Nicholas Ralph, who currently plays James Herriot on the PBS series and he was positively wonderful!! All in all it was a busy week, a good trip; glad I went and glad to be back in my little corner of the world doing my usual things. Ahhhh, peace! Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

    1. Oh how cool! I read the books but I think my husband would love to listen to that particular audio book version. Thanks for sharing!

      1. It really was wonderful. Nicholas Ralph did different voices for different characters and he totally nailed Segfried. It was just magical.

  18. We live in TN and have a well. That water bill sounds awful! I can’t even imagine.

  19. I am astounded at the potential water bills! I truly wish we could share some of our water with you, as my water bill is my least expensive bill! To help save, I:
    *Continued to hang my laundry up on racks in the basement to dry, in order to avoid using the electric dryer. With towels, I will fluff them for five minutes in the dryer to cut down on the scratchy feeling, but I set the timer so they don’t accidentally tumble longer. This behavior, along with changing all lightbulbs over to LED, has literally cut our electric bill by an average of one third!
    *I specifically look for discount and marked down produce. At one local store I can sometimes find bananas marked to 30 cents a pound for the spotted ones. Average price here at ALDIs is 45 cents, and at other stores around 65 cents. I purchase all that is on the little mark down shelf, and peel them and freeze in freezer bags. These are used mainly in fruit smoothies that my daughter and I eat most days for breakfast, but I also use them when I make muffins. I do not use sugar, so the banana is both a replacement for sugar as well as for oil. I gave a batch of the muffins (mainly oats, banana, shredded apple, raisins, walnuts and spices) to a friend when she recently lost her mother, and she actually called me up and asked me for the recipe!
    *I purchased a 50 pound bag of rolled oats through Azure Standard. I store the oats in food grade plastic buckets in our basement—same place I hang our laundry. It is not a fancy, pretty basement, but it sure helps our household run in a frugal way!
    *I found a small bag of potatoes on the discount produce rack for 99 cents, and also some orange peppers for 99 cents for two, and two eggplants for 99 cents. I will use the eggplants in a veggie burger recipe that also has chickpeas in it.
    *I finished listening to a free audio book on the library Libby app, and started another one on the Hoopla app.
    *My hubby and I had a “date” and watched a movie on the BYU app. 🙂
    *I made home made granola.
    *I made home made bread and baked it in the crock pot, saving electricity use over heating the oven up.
    *I planted some of my tomato seedlings out in the garden. Still have more to get planted!
    *We enjoyed popcorn and fruit for a light supper several evenings. We have lunch as our main meal, when I will make casseroles, etc., so supper is often popcorn or toast and fruit.
    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always! I am writing from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    Susan M.

  20. Your flowers are beautiful!

    Just a whole lot of the same on the frugal front this week:

    I went for a walk and out to lunch with a friend. We used a BOGO coupon for a free sandwich. I am thankful to have friends who do not think that it is weird to use a coupon.

    I returned ill-fitting dresses within the return period for a full refund.

    I hosted book club at my house to discuss Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I made a layered chocolate cake rather than buying a dessert.

    I am enjoying the Cork O’Connor mystery series audiobooks by William Kent Krueger via Scribd while spring cleaning.

    HH and I received free admission to our nephew’s high school La Crosse game. I don’t understand all the rules, but it is very fun to watch. He is a senior this year. We will miss watching him play next year.

    I enjoyed the series The Diplomat on Netflix (adult content).

    We continue to eat at least one meatless dinner each week. This week was smoothies and popcorn lol. I will forever be grateful that HH will eat anything I serve him without complaint.

    HH and I ruthlessly decluttered our storage room to make space for our oldest daughter’s college apartment belongings. She will be graduating soon and returning home. I was able to donate or recycle nearly everything. Our town does a free spring clean up day in May. We bagged up the trash and stored it in the garage until we can dispose of it for free in a few weeks.

    I did some bulk cooking today in an effort to bring my lunch to work this week. As I have mentioned before, eating out for lunch is my most consistent frugal fail.

    1. Wasn’t The Diplomat wonderful! It was so nice to see something with a good script, good actors and interesting surroundings! So tired of all the drivel out there!

    2. Like you, I am blessed to have an uncomplaining husband as far as food goes (actually, as far as most things go…). We eat our main meal at lunch and often have a small salad and Texas toast or popcorn for dinner. It sure makes evening kitchen cleanup easy!

  21. Brandy, your photos are just stunning. I’m sorry to hear that the water bill is just so expensive. We’ve had excessive rain here and appreciate it filling the reservoirs to hopefully stave off summer drought.

    We ended April under the thrifty level for two adults on the USDA food cost chart – some months when I’m stocking up I don’t always end below that mark. Enjoyed some new vegan recipes and we say some of these are “restaurant quality”, which is a nice outcome when trying something new. Homemade foods we enjoyed included a vegetable stew with creamy sundried tomato broth, chickpea salad, banana/pineapple smoothie, cole slaw without mayo (uses lemon juice and some water, oil, garlic and cumin – a great recipe for summer!), black bean burrito bowls with sauteed sweet potatoes and all the veg and breakfast for dinner one evening as a treat. We took baked beans, sundried tomato hummus as well as some of the chickpea salad to a family birthday party, not expecting folks to eat the chickpea salad, but I wanted something in addition to the beans, that we could eat as the meal was hot dogs. I was happy to find that folks enjoyed each dish.

    My husband finished redoing an old family dresser and is now using that for his clothes. His older family one (from early 1800s) is now being refurbished so we can use with linens and not get as much daily opening/closing.

  22. I see that our weather this week is going to be glorious. Highs in the sixties and blue skies.
    After work today I sowed seeds for two different types of green beans, okra, squash and zucchini and spinach. I planted a ton of seeds for coco marigolds and zinnias and they are all coming up now. I planted sunflowers all along the fence and am Hoping that they germinate this year. I still have seed to sow for corn, green beans, field peas, lettuce, radishes. Carrots, dill and basil. I am far from done.
    I notice that the alliums are finally starting to come up and the ranunculus are really showing off beautifully.My Husband removed the juniper From Our front yard saving us $725. I have all our pots filled to the brim and am working to fill all of beds in the same manner.
    I am trying to work to fill our garden and flower beds with as much as I can so that no space is wasted.
    At home I have been cooking all of our meals And reinventing left overs to avoid waste.
    We leave for a vacation next week. I was able
    To find a house with laundry, 2 bds& 2.5 baths for $114/night. I booked it right away and the next day it was triple the nightly rate. There are two pools, a gym, access to the bayside beach and a full
    Kitchen. I will be preparing several
    Recipes to take along such as homemade cookies, muffins, energy balls. I will also meal plan so that we can have easy meals and picnics while we are away. I am beyond excited to have time away with just my husband and our son. We have not had this in quite a while.
    I bought our groceries in bulk reviewing local ads and then shopping the best deals. I cooked up a large chicken using all the Roth and the chicken to make
    A large Pot Of Chicken noodle soup for easy lunches and dinners this week. Looking forward to great weather this week and scratching lots of projects off the to-do list.
    Hope everyone enjoys a productive week ahead!

  23. Brandy the roses are beautiful! I just want green right now, but it will be a week or so before the trees leaf out and grass turns green.

    -I canned 8 pints of black beans, 8 pints of chili beans using pinto beans, and 8 pints of kidney beans. So nice to have beans ready to go.
    -I got a large semi bone in pork butt in the clearance bin 1/2 price. It was $30 and marked down to $15. It was 10#. We will smoke it sometime this summer.
    -I was given a rack of smoked ribs. I cut them in half, we ate half and the other half were sealed in a food seal bag and put in the freezer. We were also gifted 5# of parched wild rice. Not the cultivated kind most people buy in the store but truly wild rice harvested by hand in a canoe from the lake and hand parched. If I were to buy this it would be $50. What a gift! This was sealed in a food seal bag and frozen for now as we have some in the pantry already.
    -I am working on a baby quilt. The backing is a flannel piece bought at a thrift store. The batting is scraps left over from other projects and the top is a bundle of precut squares I bought in a package at a thrift store. I am doing a flip and stitch so it is quilted as I sew it together. I’m trying to sew a little each day.
    -My project for travel- embroidering on a set of pillow cases. The pillow cases were thrift store finds. I had the iron on transfer and embroidering thread. These will be added to my gift cupboard.
    -My local garden store called and my onion plants were in. I plant Patterson onions because they store so well. I am still using onions from last year. I am down to my last 5#. I have had no rot. I also bought a bunch of red onions to try this year, they store 7-8 months versus the 10-12 of the Patterson. All the plants were wrapped in brown paper and placed in my crisper drawer of the refrigerator as we wont be able to plant for another 2-3 weeks.
    -I have been saving for a new small tiller to use in my rows. Last year mine quit working and we took it in for repair and it would need a whole new motor and that would have cost more than the original price. I manually hoed rest of the year and started to save. I seem to buy one every 5 years or so. So this time I bought a more expensive one that should last me much longer. It always feels good when you save and then purchase it with cash instead of credit. This is something we always strive to do. If I can’t afford to pay for it up front then we don’t need it.

    Have a great week!

  24. * My husband bought a box of Cheese It’s for a car trip. I saved the crumbs to use either in a salad or in meatballs or vegetable fritters later.
    * I saved water from cooking pasta to water my front planter that doesn’t get rain.
    * I only wash my hair twice a week. I usually let it air dry. It keeps it from drying out and also save electricity. I had added water to the end of a bottle and used that the last two times. Today I poured the rest directly on my head and had enough for the last shampoo with it.
    *We went to an auction. I got 11 brand new boxes of canning jars for $5 each box, and a big tote of vintage blue and half gallon size for $15. I will use the vintage glass top ones to store grains and dry goods.
    * My heirloom roses are blooming and I made a pretty arrangement to enjoy inside.
    * I went to a community garage sale just across the main road from us. I got books, a Clue game, a large mirror for $4, an antique dresser or chest for $30, that I will strip and paint, some stacking wire baskets to go on a desk to sort papers and stuff, but I will use for crafts.
    * We have been eating food I cooked and froze when the freezer door was ajar. I had grilled porkchops and chicken, fried venison steaks, and roast meat that I used in a stroganoff. It’s been nice to just prepare some side dishes and have the main meat done.
    * I had bought a 3 pack of Romaine lettuce at Aldi and cut off the leaves and planted the stems. I have new growth.
    * A realtor friend gave me tickets to the Botanical Garden. They expired the end of April and she got a bunch to give clients throughout the year, and had a few left. I took my friend that is in her 70s and we enjoyed walking around, although not much was blooming and growing.

  25. OHHHH my gosh 4x the amount as last year for your water bill ESPECIALLY when you have made so many modifications… no words
    We in NY on the Finger Lakes are extremely well hydrated. I try and never take our abundance of water for granted.

    1. Yeah I was NOT thrilled.

      They say those who use more are water hogs.

      But I cut 75% of my grass, refrain from flushing when possible, collect shower warm-up water, shower instead of taking baths, have some of the lowest-flow toilets, dishwasher, and washing machine (it’s a front loader and water conservation was one of my reasons for choosing it) and the children are bathing every 2 to 3 days (I have stopped insisting on more often like I used to and don’t argue if they don’t want to more than that).

      But I have three times the average family and even in winter I couldn’t use only 6000 gallons inside. The winter limit is 14,000 gallons but they say you should only be using 6,000 inside. I only watered outside one day in January (because this year we finally had rain!) instead of the 4 permitted days and I still went over the 14,000 gallon limit.

      I know three families of 2 with next to no landscaping who also went over the 14,000 gallon limit.

      So I don’t know what we will do.

      Pay the fine, yes.

      But limiting people to 160K gallons per year per household or turning our water off (a bill that is in the state legislature right now) would leave 20% of families without water, including mine. I am very worried about this bill. Praying it doesn’t pass.

      1. Brandy,
        Isn’t there some way to read a legislative representative, to ask them to include exceptions for larger families, or group homes living in regular residences? This is a tremendous undertaking to force water reduction and it is needed, however, the “one size fits all” method simply isn’t logical. There must be some way to get them to understand that larger families have larger needs. If they are working to pass this, then one would think that this is the perfect time to have an exclusion or exemption added.

        1. I think I am going to have to do this.

          Even smaller families who have larger lots and pools are in trouble.

      2. Oh Brandy, what a terrible situation to be in! Surely, there should be exceptions for large families. Well, if anyone can do it, it’s you! Prayers!

      3. I know your parents live next door. Are they under the allotted amount? Could you and some of your kids take showers there or could you hook up your drip lines to their hose. You would of course pay them but if it helps you avoid the extra fines it might be something to consider. It seems very unfair that it is based per household and not per person.

        1. I don’t think they would go for that but it is a very interesting idea.

      4. When I was growing up we only took baths (no showers in those days) on Saturday night. The rest of the time we took sponge baths, basically warm water in a bucket we washed with a rag (no wash cloth) and then rinsed with a different rag. Both waters were used to flush toilet. We only had a cistern of 1500 gallons for water. If it didn’t rain we had to walk to the cemetery and use the hand pump to the village well. It was a half mile away. Daddy said it was better than walking to the river and chipping ice like he did as a child.
        You might want to get a large pan to stand in while taking showers to catch that water for the toilets. Any hand washed pots and pans, reuse the water to flush toilets.

        1. When I was a kid we ran one bath, then each kid took a bath one after the other in the same water. Then the water was saved to use for toilet flushing.

          Also, have you contacted your water company? It couldn’t hurt to ask about exceptions for food crops and larger families. Sometimes they have programs they don’t advertise.

      5. Would it be possible to capture grey water from your washing machine to use for watering. People do it here, but I don’t know anything about it. My former neighbors used to do it because they had a failing septic system. I don’t know about using that water on your plants, but they used it for watering the yard and a few flowers and it seemed fine.

          1. I saved water one time when I had a deep laundry sink next to my top loading washer. I’d be down at the washer when the rinse cycle started to spin, stop the machine and redirect the outflow hose to the laundry sink. Then let the washer finish it’s spin. And I’d have a sink full of water. Because it was a top loader, I’d bail the rinse water into the washer for the next load’s soap and clean cycle. I know it wouldn’t work for a front load machine, but it might give you some water to use rather then go down the drain. It was one of those times in my life when I was unemployed and where every penny counted.

            1. I have a front loader. The water use difference is significant and it’s one of the reasons I chose a front loader. I love your idea for those who can do it!

              1. Brandy, have you considered doing less laundry? Less laundry means less water, less laundry products, less work. For example, we usually wear jeans 3 times or so before we wash them, unless they are visibly dirty. When I was a child, we wore school clothes twice before washing them–occasionally 3 times. We didn’t necessarily wear them on consecutive days, but sometimes we did. Also, before fitted bottom sheets, it was quite common to put the used top sheet on the bottom when the sheets were changed–the new, clean sheet went on top, then the next time on the bottom. They stayed on pretty well if the top and bottom were tucked in, then “hospital corners” (mitering) on all four corners, finally tucking in both sides. Also, if everyone has an assigned towel (color coded?) and hangs it up after using, it doesn’t need to be washed after every use. I realize you may do all of these things, but I know some people who wash way more than necessary. (A cousin with 5 children washed towels after every single use. I hasten to add she wasn’t a blood relative, LOL).

      6. I know it wouldn’t be convenient but have you considered doing your laundry at a laundromat? I was wondering if there would be any savings vs doing it at home and risk paying a fine? How much is the fine?

        1. The fine is $9 per 1,000 gallons over the amount permitted for the season. Plus the rates are tiered and there are all kinds of charges as well (plus higher rates per tier than in the past).

          It would be a complete disruption to my day to wash 4 loads a day at the laundromat, and even more expensive. I have a front-loading machine that uses very little water.

  26. Brandy, Your roses are so beautiful! As to saving money, I found a pair of men’s shoes online at half price.
    It is a fraction of the price of my brand of shoes which are women’s. There is almost no difference in style
    between the two pairs. Originally I bought 4 pairs of the expensive shoes for $30 each at a store that was moving and had them on clearance.
    They were originally about $300 each. I am on my last pair and they need replacing fairly quickly. I found a conversion table online that shows me what size men’s shoes are equivalent to the women’s size. I gave a program for a friend who is becoming hard of hearing and could not do
    it herself. It was about her grandmother’s diary and the family history from 1850s to 1950s in Tuscany. it as very interesting but complicated for me to edit it down. I was very tired after I gave it last Friday night so took the weekend off. I am trying to do most of the yard cleanup myself
    but there are so many spruce cones down that I may need help. I participated in the YYC Nature Challenge. Cities across the globe participate in recording sightings of plants and wildlife. It is free, although you have to submit photos to confirm your sighting. I only participated yesterday and today. I took photos of three butterfly species. The organizer stopped by my yard today. We saw a hawk — he got a photo but mine
    did not turn out well. I am breaking in a new pair of glasses and having a few problems getting used to them. My butterfly photos could have been better but they are good enough to use. I proofread a history article for a friend. I finished a draft of an article that updates our book.
    This week’s special is Schneider’s round sausage patties at Safeway at 3 for $12. I looked online and other places have the same product at $8.95 for each box. Although the weather has been warm for the past couple of days, it is supposed to get colder and it is too early to plant.

  27. This morning I used one cup of vinegar three different times-first to rinse bottles before making kombucha, then I poured that into the electric kettle with some water and boiled the kettle (removes limescale) and then I poured the hot vinegar/water into a bowl and cleaned the dishwasher trap. Funny how the small things are so satisfying!
    I harvested all of my over-wintered swiss chard, washed, chopped and bagged it (2 gallons total). I then planted the bed with kale and lettuce grown from seed. I have a trellis over this bed where I grow peas and then green beans. The peas/beans on the trellis shade the kale and lettuce so they grow longer into the summer. The trellis is all repurposed materials, the shade cloth is the fabric that I cut off outdoor shade roller blinds from our old house. I added a layer of free compost on top of the bed.
    I returned an item at CVS, they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their own brand items.
    I walked to return a sun hat I didn’t end up liking and bought fish at the store next door for dinner. Tonight I made swiss chard puree to go with the fish. It was pretty good.
    I bought gluten free flour at Vitacost. It’s usually the best price that I can find and I go through Swagbucks for cash back.

  28. The flowers look lovely with the pastel colored Easter egg candy. In north central Texas we have had a cool spring. I am enjoying this before the torrid heat starts up in the summer.
    1. I had a 1/2 gallon of questionable chocolate milk. I cooked it on the stove & made Brandy’s pudding pops. The milk tasted fine in the cooked recipe.
    2. I used some Walgreens’ cash rewards to buy some items.
    3. I am cooking from the pantry & using meat in the freezer. I do not buy much at the store. Mostly dairy & eggs from the store.
    4. Took another load of trash picked clothes (I wash them first) to the homeless shelter. I also found some disposable diapers that I donated. I have another box ready for the psychiatric hospital. I saw a patient wearing a sweater I donated last week. It is a good feeling to see your discards put to good use.
    5. I found a Keurig coffee maker at school that was discarded. I tested it & it works. It is silver & will match my kitchen better than the red one I found last year. I will find a new home for the red model.

    1. I LOVE the idea of washing trash-picked clothes and donating to the homeless shelter! This is something even an old lady like me can do!

  29. What’s happening with your water situation and water bill is so scary. I was doing some thinking and I was wondering if a camp shower set up would help with so many people showering? — I’ve seen these where a predetermined amount of water is put in , and when the water is gone, it’s gone. Shower over. (My neighbours say they use that for showers on their sailboat as water conservation is a big deal when sailing too.)
    Also, I remembered that in Europe they have laundry centrifuge contraptions; clean clothes out of the washing machine’s spin cycle get centrifuged at high speed about 5 minutes to force out most of the remaining moisture before being finished drying in the dryer as this is cheaper than using the dryer as we do. My relative had one and had it set up so she could collect the clean water to use on her flowers. Is such a thing is available in North America? Has anyone heard of it?
    * I was delighted to find heavy cream practically free at Walmart. I hurried home with some to make homemade ricotta cheese -so easy and so delicious! I’ll make spinach-and-ricotta filled ravioli for supper tomorrow night.
    *We were offered free tickets to the opera this week as part of a promotion!
    *I joined a Classic Book club offered through the library in another city. The “modern” books discussed in my local area have not been to my taste. This club discussed Gaskell’s North and South in April, which I enjoyed, and Crane’s Red Badge of Courage will be next in May. All through that grand invention called The Internet!
    * I noticed chitchat in Australia about medicine shortages, both prescription and OTC. Their govt says it is supply chain issues of ingredients from China. If this is so for Australia, it may the rest of us too. So this is a gentle nudge to not just think of food items when it comes to household preparedness.
    *I made a list to help plan my canning for the season. Then I counted my jars and lids —I don’t think I’ll have to buy any this year. Unless there’s a good deal, of course!
    * Enjoying springtime weather at last! Have a good week, everyone!

    1. I have a front-loading washing machine that does that. Water conservation is one of the reasons I chose it. It uses much less water than a top-loading machine and it spins the clothes really dry like that.

      1. Brandy, would you be willing to share the make & model of the washer you chose? Ours is from 2012 and I don’t think I have much longer with it, so I’ve been researching. Our gas company offers a $50 rebate on front-load HE models, but it’s a long list – any suggestions for one that uses the least water would be a huge help in narrowing things down!

        1. I have a Kenmore Elite HE5T steam. It uses very little water and is one of the biggest machines in volume capacity. It spins my clothes very dry so I don’t have to spend a long time drying them. When I compared models, I saw water usage listed, so you should be able to see that.

  30. We are cooking at home for the most part. I bought a 10 lb. pack of chicken leg quarters for $4.98. Yukon gold potatoes for 98 cents per 5 lb. bags. And mangoes for 50 cents each. I’ve enjoyed watching a preacher on Youtube, Nick Vujicic. He is very inspiring. One night, my husband and I watched him speak on my computer. We have used the internet to work on songs. I’ve enjoyed being able to call my family and talk to them. I saw a couple bald eagles flying in the sky. Beautiful! We have seen many deer. I saw a coyote one day. Lots of birds, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits and a possum. We are enjoying the wildlife. We are enjoying eggs from our chickens. My husband and I went thrift shopping. I bought a couple blouses for 1. 50 each. We picked some asparagus. Amazing, even though prices are sky high, we are ok. I feel blessed. We are not rich monetarily, but blessed never the less.

    1. I really enjoyed your post this week – sometimes I feel like I am not doing anything frugal, but you reminded me that by finding joy in nature, even if I don’t necessarily count that towards my budget, I am getting free happiness – that’s the best deal there is! Thank you.

    2. I forgot,
      We also had a picnic with our grandkids. We all love picnics! It was a lovely time. I’m getting to teach piano and ukulele to one of my great nephews that loves music! It keeps me practicing my skills. My husband and I have been having fun writing songs together and singing. I picked asparagus. Fresh asparagus is great!

  31. I live in Arizona and our water bill has been going up also, but not to the degree of yours.SCARY!!! We have low water usage plants but still.. how are families supposed to deal with all these increases: groceries,gas,utilities..???? If anyone is next in higher water rates it will be Arizona…

    1. They say everyone should expect next month’s electric bill to be $500 here. That’s not even the summer bill. We have new, higher rates.

      I currently have my windows open and all the lights off. My last bill was $71 and the electric company said the average for the size and age of my home was $187.

      No $500 bill for me next month.

      But come July we’ll see.

      1. Brandy, why is that? Bad policies? Is it like the real estate where what happens there will eventually happen in the rest of the country. That’s just awful. Our water rates and electricity rates are not very high. We have a drought, three years running but nobody ever says we are limited on water–even in the years when they do it’s only about yard watering. I keep expecting the electricity to go up but it just hasn’t yet like so many places. Anyway, it’s awful for you. I’m sorry. I’m so glad that you’ve been practicing frugality for so many years. I wonder what others in your area will do. I am just stunned by what you are having to deal with.

        1. We are in year 23 of a drought that they are calling permanent acidification (so they don’t expect us to have more water one day in the future–just less). The water district’s regulations have made a huge difference over the years, and I am grateful for that.

          Some things they have done have gone too far, however, like when they tried to take water rights from the reservation and from Utah. They lost both of those court cases and I am glad. They were overreaching there and looking to take water away from where they should not.

    2. I live in northern Arizona and just got a notice that the power bill is going up $6 plus a higher kw rate. And the base rate for water is going up another $8. I don’t remember what the water usage part of it but there is an increase in that rate also. Everything is going up!! But we find ways to save still with some creativity ✨️
      I see so many people coming to the Colorado River to play with their jet ski’s and boats every weekend. The river is a trickle during the week and roaring on the weekends for recreational activities. I have to wonder what the priority is sometimes.
      I’ve been using Brandys tips for water conservation for years. They do help a lot on our bill !! I fill water bottles, pitchers, recycled juice bottles, 5 gal buckets ( for shower warm up water), run my washing machine water out to the gardens, flush less often ( always for #2). All of these tactics help. It’s my duty to be a good steward of our resources. Brandy always has encouraging , inspiring posts with practical solutions . I really appreciate her and all of the commentors here . I learn so much !!
      Gaila in Arizona

      1. Thank you Gaila.

        Here’s hoping for lots of snowmelt coming our way this month!

  32. Brandi you havent got a shower timer yet ? pure cruelty for kids who dont listen, you can get one that blasts really bad music

      1. To save water (or conserve our hot water, if my husband is showering around the same time), I take a navy shower. Run enough shower to get yourself wet, turn water off, lather up, shave, wash hair, etc., then turn water back on and rinse off. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is a good savings over just letting the water run during that time. During WW2 rationing in England, baths were limited to 5″ of water. (I was told by one war survivor it was 5″ per family per week!) Even the tubs in Buckingham Palace were marked with the 5″ line.

        1. That’s about what I’ve done, not always, but on warm days. I can get clean and wash my hair in that amount, though I do rinse my hair under the spigot.

  33. Hi Brandy and everyone
    What a gorgeous table setting and your garden must have been a lovely venue with the roses in bloom. I’m sorry to hear about the water bill and admire you for being proactive in tackling it and not giving your garden up.
    This week we picked purple sprouting broccoli, sage and tulips from the garden. We planted out more of our homegrown delphiniums and my husband has been pricking out and potting on umpteen seedlings. I have been weeding pots and planted up tubs of bedding. I did a price comparison between supermarket bedding plants and our local nursery and was very surprised that they were the same price per plant. The nursery had a much wider range too. We put up beanpole frames and prepped the ground for beans to go in. We live next to a big wood and we buy beanpoles and pea sticks at a good price from a man who works in the wood cutting spars for thatching. Bluebells are flooding the wood right now and it’s a glorious sight.
    We received rhubarb from a friend and I had a magazine handed on to me.
    Inexpensive meals were lambs liver and onions, veg and black bean curry, jacket potatoes with grated cheese and Waldorf salad. I boiled up a chicken carcass and used the broth in cooking this week. I used bread crusts and homegrown fresh and dried herbs to make a stuffing ( dressing in the US?) to eke out some meat.
    Our electricity usage for April was less than that month in the two previous years.
    I took out all my summer clothes and put together colours etc and ‘ found’ a couple of new outfits in things I already own. I also had a good look at my costume jewellery and silky scarves and put some new combinations together.
    I track our expenditure and I’m pleased at the reduction in car fuel. Staying home more and combining errands works!
    We visited a National Garden Scheme open garden yesterday and enjoyed the garden and refreshments but resisted buying any plants.
    I am getting nearly all the laundry dried outside in the sun and breeze.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. We say either stuffing or dressing, depending on the region of the U.S. I read an interesting article about it a few years ago. Types of stuffing/dressing vary by region as well.

      1. It’s odd, because “dressing” is also the liquid put on salads.
        My aunt called stuffing “wet bread”, which sounded to me like something people with very little money would have made.
        Love the idea of seeing the bluebells in the woods!

      2. My dad’s family, who were from the South, always called it dressing. So do most of the southern folks I know. I live in the NW where most people call it stuffing. I never even knew anyone called it stuffing until Stove Top hit the market several decades ago and started advertising. “Stuffing” sounds like something that ought to be cooked inside a bird, and we don’t like it that way. Dressing/stuffing is very good with pork roast.

      3. I believe it’s stuffing if it’s been in the bird and dressing if not. Least in my neck of the woods. 🙂

    2. I grew up being told that stuffing was stuffed in the bird and dressing was made ouyside of the bird in a pan.

    3. We decided we liked the stuffing better than turkey so last Thanksgiving I shaped stuffing into something resembling a turkey and served that as the main food item! (We are alone now, so did not have to please anyone else.) It was sure cheaper than turkey even though I use mushrooms and sausage in it.

  34. What a beautiful set-up for the Garden Party Brandy!! Some are so talented in that arena. I, unfortunately, am not but I do enjoy a lovely aesthetic. That is what’s great about life. Some are good at certain things while others have gifts in other areas.
    Gosh, I wish I could share all of our rain here in NE Ohio with you all out west. It rained off and on all weekend here. We had one good week of warm weather 2 weeks ago & it’s been 40-50 degrees & rainy since.

    So, on Saturday, since my BIL & SIL were in town to pick up their dog, we all went to dinner. My MIL paid for the dinner. I ended up getting a free drink because they didn’t have the proper ingredient for the one I had originally ordered.
    **took my son to lunch for his birthday last week. Not frugal. But I always enjoy seeing my adult son.
    **otherwise, we stayed home & made all meals from home.
    **watched Call the Midwife on PBS.
    **found a good deal on pork loin. $2.99 each(2lb). We can put one in the crockpot & shred it for pulled pork sandwiches & the other one went into the freezer for later use.

    Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

  35. Your garden is spectacular. I am sure you will figure a way with the added water restrictions.

    Refinanced my house for almost 2 points below my current interest rate and shortened it to 15 years. Took money out to finish the renovations. Bought a new car, but it was a courtesy vehicle for the dealer and I got an excellent price. Picked up several items I needed for the house at the Wayfair Way Day sale.

    Decided to paint some items rather than replace. Picked up several books for the summer reading season at the used bookstore. Paying off/ down credit cards.

    House foundation was redone. It was a long and messy process but the guys who did it were amazing. Also got new soffits, facias, and gutters. House is looking and feeling so much better.

    Lucky grab – some one had done a mis-tint of a paint, so I got a quart for $5 – in the exact color, sheen, and style of paint I wanted for the bathroom cabinets. Got the flooring for 25% off plus an additional 10% military discount.

    Attended several free concerts/plays and dance recitals from the kids at the high school.

    Had to eat out while the foundation was being done due to the mess and no access, but are back on budget eating at home now.

    Only 2 weeks left of school!

  36. Your roses are so pretty and the birdsnests look delicious!!!! When you take your pictures, do you take them over and over and over to get the perfect one? or is the first one usually spot on? Serious question here, With Las Vegas’s water problems, have you considered selling and moving somewhere that has water? Hmmm…what did I do extra last week to save money? I used ibotta several times a day. Barilla pesto sauce and red lentil pasta were on sale, Now I have a ton of it. However, it won’t last us long. I made a pot of taco soup, using dried pinto beans that I had bought it bulk. The soup lasted us several days. Oh, I had needed bread, so I grabbed the store brand from Publix. $2.89 a loaf….eeek. I decided this has to stop so I ordered a new 2 pack of yeast bricks from sams and a 25lb bag of flour. I made 2 loaves of bread and they were both eaten that day. (there is only 3 of us here). I made another 2 loaves the next day and they didnt last the night. The next day I made another 2 loaves and they lasted a day and a half. The next day I had dh stop at the bread outlet and pick up 2 loaves of the 40 calorie bread. The first loaf isnt gone yet and the second loaf is in the freezer. Fresh hot bread with butter just tastes so good. Its easy for me to make, and cheaper, but I dont think its healthy for us to be eating so much of it so fast. Does anyone have any idea how to make it last longer?? I had walgreens digitals for $20 back in rewards when I spend $40, I combined that with a $10 back in rewards when I spend $50, I bought stuff and used coupons, so I didnt actually pay anywhere near $50. Now I have extra walgreens cash in our accounts to spend on something that we either need, or something that generates more coupons or walgreens cash. I go through shopkick when I order from sams, so that I can get points for that. I just switched my payment card to my discover card, so that I can get 5% back for this quarter. The 5% will go towards my mortgage principal. I’m on a mission to get the mortgage paid off before we’re old enough to retire. Can’t think of anything else extroardinary. Hope you all have a great week.

    1. I am pretty confident with my picture taking skills at this point, but I will take photos of a few different angles to see which I prefer. I don’t need to take many. Often I can just take one.

    2. If you want your homemade bread to last longer, just put me in charge of making it! I guarantee you they will eat less than one loaf a week. Much less. LOLOLOLOL

    3. Kim in Florida — your story reminds me of my first ‘house’ in college that I shared with 4 other girls. We shared in meals and housework. I quickly volunteered to make bread as one of my household chores. I’d make 4 loaves per week. The day I baked, the first loaf was totally gone within minutes of it coming out of the oven — roommates and friends would suddenly appear and devour the loaf. Then, the remaining 3 loaves had to last the rest of the week until the next Saturday, baking day. Once the roommates realized that no other bread was going to be purchased, suddenly the loaves lasted until the next baking day. YMMV.

  37. I was so happy to see you back! Last week was a week I enjoyed tucking into history as my dear friend had a very sick child in the hospital for 11-12 days, partly ICU, and I was so worried. I’m so grateful he’s home and on recovery road. I haven’t kept track of anything for two weeks, so I’ll say that I maniacally cleaned out some drawers and call that progress!

    The table is set so beautifully…and those Bells of Ireland with the roses! Gorgeous!! It sounds like a good day!

    That’s so disappointing about the water costs. I feel the same about our utilities. No matter how much we decrease usage, the bill goes up up up. I’m grateful it’s not higher, but still frustrating. Maybe you can put a summer shower outside that waters something! My Aunt and Uncle had one on their farm. It was originally to keep the mess outside, but was eventually rigged to water some big trees. She was the ultimate tightwad. As city kids, we thought it was fun to shower outside lol.

    Reading this week is a bit scattered. I just finished a Vince Flynn, a Jesse Stone (Robert Parker), and my Easter study.
    I’ll be starting new everything today. The only continuation is The Way to a Dusty Death by Alistair McLean by my reading chair. Tom Jones on PBS.

    I hope to catch up on last week!
    Happy May to all!!

  38. Hi Brandy.

    It sounds so serious with the water issue. I feel for you! So good you managed to redo the garden in time… I have good experiences using a thick mulch in my kitchen garden to reduce water usage. For me it about halves the amount of water I use. But maybe you are doing this already?

    This week my husband and I celebrated our 12 1/2 years wedding anniversary – it’s a big thing in Denmark, called copper wedding anniversary, 25 years is silver and 50 years is golden. We borrowed a summer cottage from family members for free and invited my in-laws, my mother and two good friends. We went for a lovely walk in a nearby nature area/sculpture park and had tea and coffee, and afterwards we went to a nice restaurant nearby. It wasn’t exactly cheap, but as we had done everything else for free, and we only eat out a couple of times a year, this felt like the right occasion! We also celebrated that we now owe less than 2 million kr. (about 300.000 USD) on our mortgage. I know this sounds ridiculous, but house prices where we live are now so high it’s unbelievable! Prices have tripled since we bought our house 12 years ago, and a normal 1500 sq feet house cost from about 10 million kr. (1,4 million USD) and upwards! The prices have started to come down a little as the interest rate is going up, but from such a high state. We feel so lucky, that we refinanced our mortgage when the interest rate was at the lowest ever – actually 0% (we do pay some fees to the bank every year, so not completely for free). This meant we could cut about 6 years of payments from our 30 year loan without raising the monthly payment, and we should be able to be debt free before retirement, or maybe even sooner. I can’t wait, and I was so happy for those of you who mentioned being mortgage free last week!

    I’m so busy in the garden, and have started harvesting from my perennial vegetables. They are such a good match with the annual vegetables, as they are growing a lot earlier in the season, but have a break in summer, when the annual vegetables starts yielding. I’m harvesting garden patience, Caucasian spinach, common fennel, perennial kale, Good-King-Henry and welsh onion. I’m also going to add more perennial vegetables to my garden, that was gives to me as cuttings from garden friends. Soon we can harvest the first asparagus too.
    The tomatoes have been out for about a week, a lot earlier than recommended. I do this every year, and everything is usually fine, as I plant them by a warm south facing wall, and cover them with plastic and old windows until they are so big I have to ‘set them free’, which is usually well beyond the last frost date.
    I mended a pair of shorts for my son.
    A garden friend came by to help me graft some old local apple varieties on my crap apple trees. We collected the grafting material in a local garden earlier in the year (oh – it was SOO cold!). One of the varieties I have already, and it is the best keeping apple I have ever seen! I dug some down in my kitchen garden in October as fertilizer. When I started digging in April, the apples were completely as when I dug them down! The perfect apple – they even taste good!
    Have a nice week everyone!

  39. What beautiful photos 📸 🌸

    Based on the advice from many of you ladies, I have made a meal plan each week before going to the grocery store. I base my meal plans on what we have in the refrigerator and pantry and am trying to not make super expensive meals.
    We have been utilizing our library quite a bit and thanks to the sun setting later each day, hopefully not using as much electricity.

    🏡 My family and I are moving across the country from California to Pennsylvania in the next few weeks and I was wondering if anyone had any tips to save money on the drive there (food, gas, etc…) as it will take a few days to get there. Also, any tips to keep my five year old entertained would be much appreciated! 😄

    1. For the road – find a hotel that serves breakfast. I just moved in September and was thankful the Best Western hotels I stayed in had coin laundry for guests. I wish I had planned a little better and had packed laundry soap.

      In packing – I did a few things right. One was to pack a box of kitchen essentials that was in the car and easily accessible. I wanted to be able to cook meals when I arrived. I also packed pantry essentials so I didn’t have to buy absolutely everything to set up my kitchen.

      1. A box of kitchen essentials, that is brilliant! I never would have thought of that 🙂 Writing down all these tips SJ, thank you so much!

        1. Also pack toilet paper, light bulbs, screwdriver and hammer.
          I just asked my husband what you would need when you walk in a new house after a long drive and his suggestion was a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Too bad that wouldn’t be frugal. How about a frozen casserole packed in the bottom of your cooler to keep drinks cold and be ready to pop in the oven when you arrive?
          Have a safe trip and welcome home,!

    2. My husband was in the Navy so we moved a lot. I used to take a small bottle of bubbles for the kids to play with at rest stops, along with a jump rope. 5 might be young for the jump rope, though. I made sure to put the bubbles in a ziploc or other small container in case it should leak. I bought an inexpensive oblong cake pan with a cover and put 1 or 2 books, a small pad of paper, colored pencils and a small hand sharpener, and a coloring/activity book from the dollar store in the pan. Crayons melt in a hot car. The covered pan kept things corralled and the lid gave a work surface for coloring and writing. Oh, as the children were able to read I included a map of the US and had them color in each state as they saw a license plate from the different states. To save money on the many drives I packed snacks of fruit, raisins, crackers, cookies, popcorn and veggie sticks as well as bottled water and juice boxes. I would freeze some of the waters and juices the night before and they would help keep things cold. I packed a loaf of bread, deli meat and cheese slices along with mustard. I brought a few packs of microwave popcorn for nights at the hotels. Most chain hotels have microwaves in the room or accessible in the breakfast areas so I brought baking potatoes, a can of chili, and salad greens to have for dinners so that we only ate out every other night. Be sure to bring paper plates, napkins or a roll of paper towels and some flatware to use. Sometimes I would collect the individual packets of mustard, mayo, and ketchup as we traveled. Now we use the app Gasbuddy to help find the cheapest gas along the way. I hope this helps and you have a fun, safe trip.

    3. I’m trying to think about how to help your son with your big moving adventure!
      I would say to try to help involve him in decisions of where to stop or stay or when to eat. Let him know which days will have lots of driving and which will be lighter. Don’t make him feel rushed at rest areas or parks if you can; I think a lot of helping him feel comfortable would be if he doesn’t pick up tension from the adults, (I would certainly not be relaxed in such an undertaking!), and certainly running around in fresh air will be good for you all. Plan out treats or surprises for him, so he has something to look forward to on certain days or when certain places are passed– Mississippi River crossing or every 500 miles. Best wishes to you!

      1. Fresh air breaks and little treats to look forward to will go a long way! My daughter will definitely enjoy that. Thanks for the tips Heidi Louise 🙂

    4. Oh my, you have a long trip ahead of you! Our girls were nearly 3 and 5 when we moved from NY to MN. (They are now 50 & 52). We always take snacks like trail mix, nut bars, apples, chocolate (we need chocolate sometimes). I think one of the biggest savings tips is to get an I-Pass to travel toll roads in Illinois through PA and much of the East Coast (assuming you’ll be on the toll roads including the PA turnpike). You can look I-Pass up online. We got ours in 2013 when we were taking a trip to New England, and it’s a significant savings. We got it at a travel plaza on the Illinois Toll Road. I’m not sure if you still can get them at one of the plazas or if you can order online. There is a transponder that you put on the windshield that allows you to go through tolls without stopping. Now we prepay online with our credit card. My husband handles it, so I’m not sure now much he puts on each time. We grew up in PA and have family there, so we travel back at least once a year. Blessings to you and your family as your travel. What part of PA are you moving to? We grew up in SW PA 60 miles from Pittsburgh. I still miss the beautiful mountains there.

      1. Thank you for your tips Wanita, greatly appreciated! And extra special thanks for mentioning the I-Pass 🙂 We will definitely need that!
        We are moving to the Pittsburgh area!

    5. Mackenzie – When I was a child, we moved from VA to CA (a 1 year assignment for my military Dad), then moved back again the next year. Some of the best parts I remember was stopping at interesting sites along the way (my parents would read us things about whatever we were going to see on the way there), taking our time (took 2 weeks for the entire trip), having our special comfiest pillow and blanket, and stopping to eat at rest stops. My mom bought simple foods at grocery stores and we enjoyed running around with our dog and exploring. Many rest stops are beautifully landscaped and have walking trails as well as visitor’s centers with information on local things to see. I am sure there is an app (or several!) nowadays to help choose the best rest stops along the way. We also had bags full of books purchased at thrift stores before the trip and we would leave them with people we visited or donate them along the way. We also had lots of drawing paper and a box of crayons, pencils, etc. which kept us busy. One thing we do with our children now is play lots of car games – I Spy, trying to memorize license plate numbers of cars we pass, What Does Johnny Have in his Pocket?, collaborative stories, etc. If you want me to elaborate on any of these I would be happy to. And there are probably lots of on-line resources for those things now, too. If you look at it as the adventure it is, it will be something your children remember the rest of their lives.

    6. My parents moved frequently before I was born and after I grew up and had some great tips:
      * Pack basic bedding (sheets, pillows, blanket) for each bed in the car so you can find them easily the first night. Sleeping bags work too – whichever works best.
      * Set up and make the beds first thing when the furniture arrives. That way you can just fall into bed at the end of the day, when you’re tired and ready.
      * Plan your first meal or two in your new home before you leave your old one – that way you know what kitchen essentials to pack in your car as well. This is especially important if you have a couple of days before your furniture arrives. This way you know if you need a frying pan, a can opener, a pancake turner, etc.
      * Pack TP (even just a roll or two) and a hand towel or two; a kitchen towel and dish rag are also helpful. Most people take the TP with them when they move and not having any is an unpleasant surprise.
      * Pack a shower curtain and bath towels in your car too. Or, if you’re getting a new shower curtain, stop and get one before you’re picking up your new house keys. If you prefer baths, you don’t need the shower curtain but you do need the towels! You may want to pack a bath rug (for outside the shower/tub) and a bath mat (for inside the shower/tub) too.
      * Color code or number code your boxes and put your name and new address or phone # on each. Red for kitchen, blue for living room, for example. My parents would hang a piece of colored paper in each room so the movers or whoever was helping could just match colors – quick unloading! The name and address or phone means if a box accidentally gets left on the moving truck you can get it back easily.

      We’ve only moved twice in our 25 year marriage but these tips worked great for us at the time.

      I saw a photo in a magazine or online (somewhere!) of a parent who put a paper map on the inside ceiling of the car for a visual reminder of how the journey was going for their children. They moved the paper car to the new location every time they stopped. They marked a few fun, odd things to do along the way just to make it interesting (local things like largest ball of twine or whatever, a very highly regarded ice cream shop, an easy hike with a picnic instead of a rest stop stop, etc.). I thought that was a fun idea! We used to pack a Frisbee in the car for road trips – easy game at the rest stops that got everyone moving and didn’t take up much space. A jump rope or a ball for catch would work too.

      Hoping your move goes smoothly!

      1. Wow Lea, these tips are awesome! I never would have thought about the shower curtain and bath towels and that whole situation. I appreciate everything you have listed here 😀

    7. When the kids were little and we went on long road trips(10-20 hours) I would get them each a pack of colored pipe cleaners. They would play with them for hours. I would pack up small servings of grapes, nuts, and seeds. I would use my apple peeler/cutter and slice the apple. I would then put it back together with a rubber band. It wouldn’t go brown for 2 days. Hard boiled eggs, PBJ’s cut into quarters, grilled chicken diced all were our travel foods. I would keep a blanket, frisbee and jump ropes in the car for when we stopped to eat. The kids needed to get their energy out. I used to work night so driving at night was easy for me and the kids would sleep. Hubby would take over in the morning and I would take a long nap. Good luck. Stop when you need to.

      1. Pipe cleaners for a trip sound like a great idea! I love that!

        (I still can’t call them chenille stems!😆)

    8. Hi MacKenzie,
      One activity for your son is to print out a U.S. kids map, place it on a clipboard and give him some star stickers to keep track of each state you drive through. Perhaps talk about the things particular states are known for (i.e. Arkansas is the “Diamond State” because you can mine for diamonds in one of our state parks).** Another activity is to buy/rent a kids chapter book (Magic Treehouse books may be a good fit or Adventures in Odyssey radio podcasts from Focus on the Family) and listen to it as you drive along.
      ** Best wishes for a smooth move 🙂 **Ellie in AR

    9. Mackenzie: Since you are probably running around and packing right before you leave, and then will have the relative inactivity of the car ride, you might use some of your travel time to say good-bye to or cement your memories of the place you are leaving. Make an appointment, say every morning at ten and afternoon at two, so as a family, you can list places and people you wish to remember from California. Make a list of them perhaps, or list what kind of comparable places you will look for in Pennsylvania, (church, school, library, farmer’s market, park, thrift store), with a sort of timeline so your children can imagine settling in over the coming months.

    10. Here are some things that made traveling on long trips with kids easier.
      First, have the child sit behind the driver so that the passenger in front can easily reach/hand things to the child. (However, when I was the only driver and both kids were in car seats, I put the younger one diagonally behind me, i.e., passenger side).
      For young children, even if they are already potty-trained, bring a small plastic potty, wipes, and toilet paper. Kids’ bladders are small and there may not always be a toilet/rest stop when the child needs it.
      When you stop for a meal, make sure there is time to run around outside.: play tag, follow-the-leader, throw a ball/frisbee, skip, jump-rope, use sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc. Getting sufficient exercise will make napping in the car more likely.
      For in-the-car activities with a 5 yo, I recommend:
      1) a b/w map of the US and crayons, to color each state as you reach it;
      2) alphabet game #1: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing (something beginning with the letter A)”. Next person repeats opening sentence and first item and adds something with the letter B, etc. ;
      3) alphabet game #2, for children who can read: looking for words on signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet in order. (I modify this so that any time I see a Q, X, or Z word, I “save” it for when I need it.);
      4) looking for license plates and making a list of all the states you see;
      5) I “spy” – for objects inside the car or outside;
      6) tic-tac-toe (passing the paper and pencil/pen back and forth);
      7) dots and boxes game (see https://justfamilyfun.com/dots-and-boxes-printable/),
      8) simple card games, like Go Fish, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, etc., and
      9) sing every children’s song your child knows.
      I always packed a small backpack for each child (stored at their feet) with their: jacket, blankie, favorite stuffed animal, books, a few toys, card games, etc. You could add a small Etch-a-sketch, coloring book and crayons, drawing pad and colored pencils, disposable camera, book of stickers, silly putty, etc.
      Have a great trip!

  40. I’ve done a lot of grocery shopping this last week. I’m making steady progress re-stocking the pantry and freezer to replace what I used this winter. This week I got canola oil. I normally buy 1/2 litre bottles, but these are $6.85 now, compared to $2.99 that I used to pay at sale prices. The store has now started stocking a 1 litre bottle at $8.99, so that saved me $2.00 a half litre and gives me a bit of a supply. I also bought laundry detergent, a small jug. My normal brands were $12.50 and up. This bottle was $7.00.

    There have been very good prices on beef, which has been much cheaper than chicken. I got a sirloin tip roast, which is a little tough but tasty and lean. I cut it into steaks and will use marinades or slow cooking to make it a little more tender. At the end of the week, lean ground beef went on sale for $3.49 a lb. I bought two 3-lb chubs, which I’ve divided into 1-lb packs for my freezer. The store hadn’t had eggs the last three times I was there, so I went deliberately on a Friday to see if they had them. Friday is the day the store is best stocked, but it is also the busiest day. Their egg shelves were fully stocked, though they now have two fewer shelves of the pricier eggs, like free range. I bought a couple of dozen. I have about eight frozen eggs that are coming up on a year in the freezer, so I want to use those up first, and I still had five fresh eggs in the fridge. It’s a bad state when I am counting the number of eggs in my house! Whole chickens are on sale for $2 a lb this coming week, so I will buy a couple of those for the freezer. Meat prices tend to go up at the end of May, when grilling season starts, so I am happy to stock up a little.

    I tried freezing eggs last year for the first time. It worked very well for me. They say they are good for a year. My experience is that they are best for the first six months, though certainly usable for the second six months. I think I will plan to freeze some, and just do it a couple of times a year.

    I gave myself a haircut. We have some summery weather this week, about a month early, so I gave myself a pixie cut (not too short, though). It will be comfortable during warmer weather.

    I’ve started on a couple of new financial goals. It feels like it is going to be slow-going to reach them, but so far so good. I just have to at it, and not let myself be discouraged.

    People seem very tense at the moment, which is how I feel too. I’m making an effort to be positive where I can. I met a very small girl at the grocery store, who was carrying a bouquet of very large daffodils. Her name was Elizabeth, just like me. I kept hearing her father call for her softly, and I kept turning to see who was calling me! Anyway, I admired the flowers she was carrying and she told all about why they were getting these flowers. I didn’t understand her, but I did murmur encouraging confirmation that these flowers were an excellent choice. I also gave some positive and well-deserved feedback to someone who works at the municipal office. She seemed pleased, too.

    Hope you’re all doing well.

  41. Brandy, have you considered buying a rain barrel? I see that they are legal in Nevada for gardening. Its amazing how much water can be collected from even one short rain. Any type of heavy plastic or wood barrel can be fitted with screen and a connector.

    1. We get so little rain here. My area only gets about 3 inches a year and the houses here are not built with gutters. Most rainstorms are done in 20 seconds, literally.

  42. Beautiful pictures as always!

    Last week:
    *was provided lunch at work one day (made it last 2 meals)
    *gratefully accepted leftovers from my sister and ham from my MIL
    *was gifted several flower seed packets
    *mixed up more all purpose cleaner
    *neighbor had a garage sale and I picked up a crockpot for $1, food dehydrator for $2, and large chalk boxes for $1
    *reserved and picked up a bunch of library books for free entertainment
    *picked up flower, vegetable, and herb seeds from Dollar Tree (4/$1)
    *decided to “leave” my Buy Nothing Group on Facebook- group exploded size wise and too much drama. I also left groups that tempted me to spend money 💸

    Have a great week ❤️

  43. How nice to host a ladies event. I went with my sister and a friend to a Ladies Conference this past Saturday and we had a good time. Our garden is doing great, we have had a couple of plants die, but on the whole it is doing good. I have some more flower seeds to plant. We went to a garage sale and I got 4 puzzles for.50 each for my great nephew and a garden flag for 1.00, my sister got a wallet for 2.00, jar for 1.00 and a brand new bath sponge for 1.00. This was our first sale of the session, so I am ready for more. We have been having meetings at work, so they have been providing lunch a few days a week, so that has helped my budget. We are saving for a boat.

  44. As always, those roses are so beautiful!

    That’s terrible about your water bill! I understand it, but wow, that’s quite a jump.

    I spray painted some old, sturdy-but-blemished handles from some drawers, rather than buy new handles.

    The online makeup company from which I buy mineral makeup offered a brief 25% off sale, so I quickly bought some more foundation.

    I made another lined, reusable, Christmas gift bag. I already have reusable gift boxes and want to have bags as well, since the boxes are a little bulky for carrying to someone else’s house. My goal is to make one bag a month and so far I’m on target.

    I removed some stains from the bottom of the tub by scrubbing with baking soda, then Dawn and vinegar mix, and finally, Rust Out. The stains are gone now!

    I mixed up another batch of homemade Ranch dressing.

    I borrowed two books from the library -one to see if it is age appropriate before buying it as a gift for a grandchild (“The Phantom Tollbooth”), and the other just because it’s been a long, long time since I’ve read any Willa Cather.

    I repaired the female end of a garden hose.

    I planted some older seeds – we’ll see if they germinate.

    I hope everyone has a frugal week.

    1. The Phantom Tollbooth is an interesting story, but I also remember it as being very slow as a child. I read it several times as I had very few books, but I think my children would not enjoy it. I think there are other stories a child would enjoy immensely more.

      1. I thought my grandchild would need to be older to understand a lot of the puns and references, and I agree, it’s a slow read. I’d never read it, though, so I’m glad I did.

    2. I don’t know the age of the child but one of my favorite books to read to my children was Miracles on Maple Hill (which I believe is a Newberry Honor). We did read Phantom Tollbooth and didn’t enjoy it as much as the above. Love books and so good to hear you reading to make sure it is suitable!

      1. Thanks, Jamie, I’ll check that out. The child in question is 9 but is reading at 6th -7th grade level. Still, she’s only 9, so some references meant for 6-7 grade level, she probably would miss entirely until she’s older. A reader who is aged 7 is coming along right behind this one, so books stay on my gift lists.

        1. Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables might be an option. I loved both series as a child.

  45. Lovely pics!

    Doing linens, cleaning house, cooking scratch meals, grooming dogs, thinning vegetable garden plants and planting more. Weather here is cold, rainy and extremely windy. My garden is very unhappy as am I! A friend said that if this keeps up, she is going to put her Christmas Tree back up!

    Still dealing with the plumber and attempting to finalize the window replacement costs. My husband and two sons have developed medical problems—at the same time—and all are serious. So there’s that. 😔

    Trying to stay positive and know all is doable with my Maker.

    Hope everyone is well. Onwards, y’all, by all means!

  46. Hello all!

    It’s been a long time since I’ve posted but I have tried to read every post every week. Learn something from each poster!

    Brandy, you’ve been on mind since I saw a tv show recently on newer technology of machines who can draw water from the air much more efficient. I am sure you probably know more about the process than I do but the new program made it sound like it’s a real alternative. Hoping its a viable option !!

    1. I read about it actually.

      Here we only have 10 to 16% humidity. I don’t see being a viable option here with so little humidity.

  47. Australia is moving into Autumn, so the “nesting” urge is on me. I changed over to my winter cushions and throw rugs and to my winter dinner service. Changes like this keep everything fresh looking, and rotate all the lovely china I am so lucky to have acquired over the years. I have also been bringing out my fall/winter scarves and accessories and trying to find clever ways to make what I already own look new and different. Pinterest is very helpful for this. As always, I am trying to slim down my possessions – a daughter is taking a nice mirror I found in the trash room, but I really have no place for and I am moving on a yoghurt maker now that I have found how make it in my instant pot. Food prices are high and rising here. I especially notice that with meat and fish – 4 salmon pieces that would have cost $10 or $12 a year ago are now $14 or $15. But “Better pay the cook than the doctor” I suppose. So all in all, just little things, but they make for contentment and that is priceless.

    1. Laura, I do the same with the changing seasons. My china has ivy on it so it’s in use from March- Aug. I inherited my mom’s and it’s perfect for Fall and Winter. It’s brown transferware. I change a couple of throw pillows from dark green to white in summer.
      And, I put a string of small white and gold lights across the fireplace mantel in winter. And I add a couple of quilts over the stair railing in winter. I love the small changes and how they*celebrate* the changing seasons.

  48. Pat, would you be willing to post your layered chili recipe again? I can’t find my copy. Thank you so much!

  49. Hi all,
    I wonder if you live close to a ymca or similar organization you may join as a family. I know a lot of regular exercisers that shower daily at their clubs. I always use the showers after swimming at my community center.
    I stocked up on ground beef at our local college butcher shop. They sell beef, pork, goat, chicken and fish! They teach students how to cut meat as a class. I also stocked up at a local store that would wrap individual packages of sausage for me. Ten pounds of each sausage flavors are now in my freezer. I cleaned and organized the freezer by meats. Each shelf holds 3 plastic containers to keep things tidy. We purchased 18 tomatoe plants, 6 pepper plants, and 3 solar lights for my sidewalk area with a rebate from Menards. We then took the receipt and mailed it in for another 11 percent rebate.

  50. When my husband and I were in school, the senior class each year would go on a trip…sort of an end of high school vacation. Since we homeschool that wouldn’t happen for our kids. We decided we wanted to do it anyway, so my husband and I took our oldest to Tennessee and North Carolina over the weekend. It wasn’t frugal but it was planned for. Now it’s time to buckle down and restock the savings account as much as we can (we’re anticipating less work this summer than usual as people aren’t in a position for new construction. I’m so glad we’re 100% debt free. Otherwise we would be panicked.) While we were away, my mother in law watched the other 7 children at our home. I had purchased a lot of “easy” foods to try to make that time easy for her. But she actually brought a lot of food with her and left so much here for us to use. So we have an abundance right now, which I’m thankful for. Maybe we can keep our spending down a little bit this month. At the beginning of June, we will be hosting a graduation open house and I’m trying to decide what will be inexpensive to have to eat. It’s from 2-5 so it doesn’t have to be a full meal. My mother in law also brought several pairs of socks and underwear for the children that she bought at a salvage store and a new pot for me. It’s huge! I think that’s all I have to report this week. I hope everyone is well!!

    1. Sarah, I like pulled pork sandwiches for occasions like that. With sautéed onions and coleslaw sides. It’s easy to cook, feeds a multitude if necessary, and is cheap. Leftover pulled pork can be frozen for eating later.

      1. I had considered that 🙂

        I looked in the freezer and found a whole capicola ham that I’d bought for under $2 per pound a couple of months ago. I think I’ll have my mom chip it and we’ll do bbq ham sandwiches. A few people have offered to help with sides and my mother in law will make cupcakes.

  51. I took advantage of a one day meat sale at a store in town I don’t normally shop at. I ended up saving about 50% what it would normally cost me, so I was thrilled, and now have plenty of meat in the freezer that I will portion out. I also went to an estate sale, and was able to get a couple books I’ve wanted to read for only a dollar each. Made a big pot of homemade vegetable soup that will easily serve us for several meals.

  52. I am sorry about your water and electric bills. That is so hard to deal with with everything else going up too.
    My daughter cut my hair.
    I grilled chicken cutlets($2.49 a pound) instead of buying chicken cold cuts($14 a pound) like hubby asked. He was happy with the chicken cutlets. He said he was trying to make it easy on me because I am still getting over being sick. I was feelin ok at the time so I grilled up enough for several meals. I turned some into chicken souvlaki. I did splurge and get feta. It was delicious. A chicken souvlaki salad is now $20. The only thing I didn’t make were the grapes leaves. Ours was delicious and a 5th the price. My daughter made chicken tacos with the rest of the grilled chicken for dinner for us.
    My oldest daughter came up for a long weekend. She was going to her childhood best friend’s baby shower. I invited my family over on Sunday so they could all see her. We celebrated everything in April, May, and June, which is Easter, Mother’s Day and several birthdays. Everyone brought food to contribute. Hubby and I made burgers(turkey and beef) and hubby smoked ribs that I got on sale for $1.49 a pound. I made coleslaw with a cabbage I got for 29¢ a pound, chick pea salad and chocolate cup cakes. I put out a bag of Christmas M&Ms that I paid 40¢ for. We played several card games. It was a nice day.
    A friend saw on a free group a bag of dog food my dog eats so she got it for me.
    Thrift store finds were a Glassbake dish for $1, 12 birthday cards for $1 and several pairs of shorts for my daughter and myself for $3 each.

  53. I wrote a post yesterday, so may have 2 this week if the other ends up posting.
    * We attended an auction and I won 11 boxes of new sealed canning jars for $5 each box. I then won a big tote of vintage blue glass top jars and large jars for $15. I will use those for dry good storage. My husband got a small step ladder for his shop for $5. I got a sewing basket with thread, a lot of buttons, feet for a machine, a thimble, scissors, elastic, eye hooks, and other items for $2. I also bought an old milk can for $15, a crock. & coo coo clock.
    * I went to a neighborhood yardsale and got books, a large mirror for $4, and wood stain pens for $.25, and a chest for $30.
    * I saved water from cooking pasta and then added a tad to husband’s empty milk glass to get the touch of milk, and then the same with a cereal bowl. I used it to water my front porch geranium that doesn’t get rain water.
    * My rose bush is blooming so I cut a bouquet to enjoy.
    *Meals have been grilled pork chops and chicken from the freezer, cooked roast I did in a mushroom sauce and served over rice, fried venison steaks, and frozen leftover taco meat I made into taco soup. I’ve been buying little at the store, just milk, bread, and husband came home with Little Debbie’s, cheeze it’s, and oatmeal cookies. I saved the cheese it crumbs to add to meatballs or squash fritters.
    *I don’t remember what I posted but we have been selling things…camper, pool table, camp grill, and smaller things. We save the $50 a month storage fee on the camper and got $150 back for the prorated tag fee., plus insurance refund.
    * I posted about getting rid of Sams and Costco memberships. We decided to cancel Costco, and keep Sams for now. We like the Scan and Pay and husband gets gas there. I was enjoying having things delivered free, but husband asked me to tell him and let him pick up so we don’t have all the boxes to discard.

  54. The water issue is so difficult there is no good DIY for it. Stills are impractical for a suburban yard. I grew up in the desert and left over 25 years ago I can’t imagine how hard this is for your family and how expensive. Solar really was the answer to our $1000 power bills. The upfront costs are steep though with batteries and after rebate it was still 60k. We haven’t had a power bill in over a year but it will take 5 years to break even on the system. This week I butchered 5 more wild roosters. 2 we’re young enough I kept for us the other 3 I fed to my cat colony. I make a gravy to make the chicken go further for the cats. They each get a half cup of wet and a half cup of dry. This is saving me $10 a day in catfood. Mango season is in full swing I just have to beat the wild chickens to them. I’m getting 5-6 a day. That will jump to 10-20 a day soon. I’ve probably got 400 mangoes on the tree. My goal is still to freeze enough for smoothies and can mango jam and salsa. I picked my first 2 avocadoes this year. 2 pounds each their huge here on Guam. I caught my first wild hen and penned her up She’s given me 2 eggs in 4 days so she’s a keeper. My goal is a flock of 8 good wild hen layers. I put a ring on their leg if they get out so I can catch them again. I gave myself and my husband hair cuts. I’m making cat toys out of the rooster feathers. I’m saving the prettiest feathers to make christmas ornaments this year. I’m not happy with my homemade dishwasher detergent. I’m going to try another recipe but it’s more expensive. Most of the rest of my DIY cleaning products work well but I just can’t seem to find a effective dishwasher DIY formula. I’m making up samples I’m teaching a DIY condiments class next week to Military spouses for free at USO. We found out our appeal for a COLA freeze was denied so the military families on Guam are going to experience a 67% decrease in our COLA this year. I may go to teaching 2 classes a month on ways to save money for our young military spouses. One of my friends has several banana stocks ready to harvest soon. She lives alone, I told her I would pet sit in exchange for a stock of bananas. It will be about 50 pounds. I also took her to the airport and I’ll pick her up. My neighbor gave me 200 Purple heart/wandering jew plants he was thinning his out. I’m going to use them to retain a hillside and cut down on the sword grass. Have a great week everyone!

    1. I love the sound of your life in Guam. Foraging and bartering are practical pursuits. Would love some wild chickens and to keep them for eggs is brilliant. You will be an ideal teacher for the military wives. So much wisdom to share. Kudos to you!

    2. Natasha,
      I enjoy your post. I love imagining 400 mangoes! I love mangoes! I never tried one until I was 38 years old. Now I get one whenever I can. Basically, when they are on sale. I bought some this week for 50 cents each.

      1. Tammy these Mangoes are what are called Manilla Mangoes. Their about 5-6 inches long and 2 -3 inches wide. There tender like a peach. I’m able to peal them and get two big slices and two side slices. I dehydrate some of them and dip them in chocolate for gifts, and I also freeze the big slices and then chop the side slices and freeze for smoothies. I just ordered a canning juice extractor much of the flesh holds on to the pit so I’m hoping to put the pits in the extractor and get some juice as well. Thanks for the comment

    3. Natasha – I love the image of you catching wild chickens. That is something I would do! Please keep us informed on your efforts to build up your flock.

      1. I will each week! I can report I was able to collect 17 eggs last week and only 4 of those were from my domestic laying hens! I have now stepped up my effort and have been putting rings on all the hens I can find that are nesting. Once they hatch we’re going to move mama and chicks into a pen with hardwire cloth. Once there a month old we’ll move mama to the egg pen, the rooster chicks to a grow out pen for eating and raise up the chick hens from the start for egg layers. This is ambitious but Eggs are $8 a dozen on Guam so if I go beyond the 2 dozen a week we use I can still sell eggs for $6 a dozen and help recoup my feed costs. Thank you for commenting!

  55. I took a day off and went to visit my oldest son on his day off. I only see him twice a year bc our work schedules don’t jive. I didn’t spend the night because I had to work the next day, so I saved on a hotel bill (he lives in a very small rv so no room really for me) but spent the day with him. We ate lunch, which is cheaper than dinner. I also visited my grandparents’ grave. That is the only thing I did that was out of the ordinary for me. Gas was $2.99 in college town and $3.19 up where my son lives, about two hours north of university town.

  56. Brandy I am glad you were able to host a beautiful women’s church event in your back yard and teach the Sisters about how to garden in the desert and show them your beautiful roses in bloom and cut some to share with others 🙂 . How lovely you were able to attend a free rose gardeners garden tour and spend some time with one of your readers. Great that you could pick up some clearance grocery items for your pantry to keep costs down and to pick some of your produce from the gardens.

    Costs are going up so much on everything and sorry to hear about the huge increase in your water bill even though you are being frugal with water and hope that reducing the amount of watering in the garden will see the plants and vegetables still survive and thrive.

    Here in Australia we are suffering the same problem cost rises in everything and my grocery bill for two people has doubled in the last 3 years and we are not buying anything fancy and make most of what we eat at home. Our water costs have also risen from $1.55 kl to $2.11 per kl in the last 3 years as well. The cash interest rates have also risen from 0.1 % in May last year to 3.85% from Tuesday this week and of course variable mortgage interest rates have risen in par with that as well as the banks putting in more interest rate rises of their own. Our bank had put up the mortgage interest rates on our mortgage 12 times (11 due to the cash rate increase) since May last year so in light of that we paid it out before the Tuesday cash rate .25% BP interest rate rise and now thankfully own our own home and are feeling extremely blessed and fortunate 🙂 . Many are struggling here financially and seeing a lot of homes that were purchased 12 – 18 months ago come up for sale again as I think people are struggling to pay their mortgage payments due to the high mortgage interest rates.

    Well not a lot to report as DH and I were doing an activity on April the 6th where we tore/stretched some intercostal muscles around our ribs and had suspected micro fractures in some of our ribs which slowed us down a bit. I have in the last few days been able to do a bit of extra cleaning around the home and vacuumed around the edges of the skirting boards and under some furniture and all the carpets and vinyl so the home looks much cleaner and less dusty and kept up with the laundry.

    Yippee we paid off our home mortgage in 4 years 3.5 months instead of the 20 years we took it over 🙂 .
    Now we are building up our emergency fund again after using that to pay the rest of the mortgage final payments and building up our bills account money again too although have enough in there to pay the immediate bills for the coming months in the bank leftover. Also have a small emergency fund at home we can rely on in the meantime. Our savings interest rate we were earning was less than the mortgage interest rate so it made sense to do so.
    We are now receiving an extra pay of $588 extra a fortnight as 2 extra medical injuries/conditions were accepted for injuries DH received during his military service.
    DH has now got his DVA Gold Card so that will mean free medical (cardiologists) and or operations for DH in public or private hospitals which will relieve a lot of extra expenses in the budget.

    Grocery savings in the last few weeks were –
    From IGA purchased 3 x 6pk of jumbo hamburger buns marked down to $1.95 ea and Kirks soft drinks on special for $1.75 ea saving $8.40 in total.
    From Coles on half price sales purchased packets of Natural Chip Co chips for $2.35 a pack, 5 pk scourer pads on clearance for .60c per pack and 6 packet of betadine lozenges 36pk on a drop and locked price for $10 ea instead of $15 ea saving $47.86 on usual prices.
    From Woolworths on half price sales purchased Special K and Sultana Bran saving $22.85 on usual prices.

    Hope everyone has a wonderfully frugal week ahead.


    1. Lorna, I am so happy you were able to pay off your mortgage! I remember what a big deal it was for you to need to take this mortgage at all. This is wonderful news! All your frugality has really paid off!

      1. Brandy thank you so much it is such a relief to have paid the mortgage off considering all the interest rate rises and yes would have preferred to save cash for our home but the property prices were skyrocketing and we feared being priced out of the market so glad we moved and purchased a home when we did. Our home is now worth 2.5 times the price we paid for it which is good news.

        I do hope they do not pass the bill on the 160K gallons per year per household inside the home as that would be devastating for any large families for certain and yourselves.

        I have a few suggestions that may save you a lot of water for your large family as I bought up children in properties that relied totally on rainwater tanks for many years so practiced water saving techniques –
        – If you have a bath in your home run a small bath for the children and multi use the water. Put the cleanest child in there first followed by the next dirtiest and so on till they are all bathed using the same water. I know during drought times that when all my neighbours ran out of water and had children that I managed to keep around 5 households of children including my own bathed and cleaned using this method and it worked well and I didn’t run out of water.
        – Next suggestion is using the grey water that comes from that children’s bath and your washing machine and this water needs to be used within a 24 hour period so it doesn’t turn into black water. You can collect the water from the washing machine in a tub in the laundry sink and use the water from there. Alternatively with the washing machine you can tape a grey water hose to the end of the outlet hose run it out the window to a tub on a garden trolley. This water can be wheeled around the yard and used to water your fruit trees, lawns and ornamental flowers (roses) or shrubs with but cannot be used for vegetables. The children’s bath water can be bailed out of the bath tub into a tub on a trolley also and wheeled outside to be used likewise in the gardens.

        It is amazing how much water you can reuse out in the gardens which will save you a heck of a lot of on water use of town water. We water all our fruit and mulberry trees on our property with the grey water that gets pumped from our grey water tank and they do tremendously well with the occasional rainfall we have here.

        Hope this helps 🙂 .

        1. Lorna,

          That is not an indoor water usage limit. It is a TOTAL water limit for indoors and out.

          The new law would also make septic tanks illegal and force people to connect to the sewer system at their own expense (easily 30 to 40K). The goal is to capture and reuse all grey water for the population to use.

          There is no sink in my laundry room.

          1. Oh Brandy I misunderstood that makes it worse 🙁 .

            If however you do have an outlet hose on your washing machine you can put a bucket or tub on a garden cart etc so the water from the washing machine goes into that and wheel it around the yard and use it on the plants, lawn and anything other than vegetables. If no bath in the home put like a mini plastic swimming pool in the shower recess to catch the water from the first and or second shower if need be and then bathe the children in the water in that pool in the shower recess. With washing hair I used to use one little bucket of water to rinse the children’s hair with at the end. Then you can use that water in the plastic pool and use watering cans to water potted plants etc with.

            You can generate so much grey water to use around the gardens by doing this and save so much water use too.

            I hope this helps.

          2. Brandy, would it be possible to add a laundry sink to your laundry room, drain the washing machine water into it and then use that water for toilet flushing? The sink wouldn’t necessarily need to be plumbed. You can dip water into a bucket or drain it from the bottom of the sink.
            Your frugal friends have been giving you lots of creative ideas for water reuse and conservation.

              1. My utility room is next to the garage. I have a laundry sink just outside the door between the two. Although I don’t drain laundry water into the tub, I probably could without too much renovating. If I were on your water restrictions, I would definitely look into it. The tub is mainly used for soaking stained laundry and bathing the dog.

              2. We did and my husband said it’s not physically possible.

    2. Lorna- Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! I have been watching you report the extra principal payments you have been making over these past years and know what a blessing it is to have that debt paid! When we paid ours off 2-1/2 years ago, it was such a relief!

      Well done, you, especially as your mortgage interest rates just keep rising there in OZ!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Gardenpat thank you and such a relief as you say and was doing little happy dances we beat mortgage interest rate rise number 13 🙂 . Lovely you were watching our progress too.

        I was watching also how hard you worked to pay off your mortgage and was so excited when I saw you paid it off through your’s and your husbands hard work and your frugality 🙂 .

        Lorna from Australia.

      1. Patricia thank you so much and such a relief that now we can move onto saving for retirement and getting a few painting jobs etc done around the home 🙂 .

        Lorna from Australia.

    3. Lorna – Congratulations on paying your mortgage in full. The best feeling ever!

      1. Thank you Mountain Mama Dawn and yes I so agree it is the best feeling ever to be debt free 🙂 .

        Onward and upward to better things now we have a lot more extra money in our budget.

        Lorna from Australia.

  57. They sound like extreme water measures and you are doing so much to reduce your consumption.

    Groceries purchased this past week were sugar, milk, bread and vanilla essence. I swapped a friend some mandarines I harvested for four dozen eggs.

    At work I gratefully received crackers, cheese, strawberries, grapes and cake. I took my packed lunch home for dinner.

    I reserved a book at the library, which is number 6 in the series I am reading.

    I harvested an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Mandarines are dropping on the ground and I can’t keep up. I have given away lots and we are eating as much as we can. I line dried all washing, kept electricity use to a minimum, biked where we could, put the crab pots in and was successful. We enjoyed crabs for dinner for a few nights with side combinations of steamed vegetables, boiled eggs and carbonara. I also cooked cake, biscuits, scrolls, quiche and lentil spaghetti. I froze some of the treats for school lunches.

    1. RE: mandarines. A friend here dehydrates her excess mandarins. She slices off the ends, then peels the fruit. And then slices them in 1/4 inch thick ‘disks’ or coins. Then dehydrates. She does so many that she bought a restaurant grade ‘tomatoe’ slicer and uses that to slice her mandarins. And some of the dehydrated ones, she dips in chocoloate….yum

  58. I went over to our Amish neighbor and to pick her brain over some garden stuff and she picked mine instead. LOL
    They just built on to their kitchen and are building a washroom to attach to the kitchen which removed the front porch so they are moving the front door to what us Englishers call the front room and building a porch on it…. it’s going to cut sunlight a lot. She’s concern about how the changes will affect light. They burn oil lamps and she is trying to keep that expense down to what it was last year or even less. I suggested she move her dish washing area to the south window as of right now it faces north and they have to light a lamp every time they do dishes. Think of doing dishes in the 1800s. I asked her what she did with her dish water after washing. Wash water goes to garden (they only use products that are safe for environment or make their own) The rinse water is saved to reheat for becoming wash water the next time or for washing hands. I have my Daddy’s (who would have been 96 today) older sister’s pan that they washed their hands in when coming in from the outhouse. I also told her to pick up another ceiling hanging oil lamp for the front room instead of burning 4 different lamps. Her mother in law got one for her at an auction the next day. I also told her that E needs to quit lighting the lamp in the wash room on his way out the door to do chores unless he really needs it. He told me later that day, he really doesn’t need it as the wash room stove that is burning (it’s their hot water for the house) lights the room up enough. Just a habit that he has already stopped.

    It made me think of how we use our water. Our water softener company and the guy who cleans the septic tank have told us we use far less lower by more than half) than most other couples. I think it’s because of how I was raised. Hubby had a well. I worry about ground water (rain does not fill water wells, that is done by snow packs which was low this year).

    Our propane usage cut by just under half of usually amount due to buying the wood/coal cook stove. Even after deducting the cost of the coal, as the wood is free, we saved 40% of heating bills. It will be better next year as we will have more wood ready. I already have saved the money in a 1 yr cd to pay for the next heating season. There will be enough to either add more coal or pay for wood also.

    I cut the electric bill again instead of using the microwave, air fryer or crock pot. Hubby makes his coffee on the wood stove. I am thinking of a second pot (we don’t drink same coffee due to my Crohn’s) for the stove so we don’t use the electric pots during the winter. I used the wood stove that was already hot even. Also by not running a lot of water we don’t use the electric water pump. Hubby hasn’t had time yet but by this summer the solar pump on the well should be connected to the pressurized tank so we can have running water in the house using solar power.

    I am now on focusing on the pantry… as soon as the freaking winter weather stops (I’m in north west Ohio and got snow flakes this morning at 3 am) I will be seeing to getting garden in and restocking my pantry. I was given a recipe for bread that uses whole wheat and maple syrup. I will use spelts instead of the whole wheat as the Amish around me grow it and are willing to share or sell some to me. I was gifted 30 lbs. of spelts for taking messages to one that was getting ready for knee replacement ( I lent her my sock stick, walker and cane).
    Stay safe, prayers for peace
    Blessed Be

  59. Gardenpat,
    Would you mind posting your layered chili recipe again? I’ve lost my copy. Thanks!

      1. Brandy, it is wonderful you were able to get away twice with your husband! I love your tea party photos, it was a beautiful gathering I am sure!
        * I think I am a month behind in my updates as work and life have been super busy. My sister had a mastectomy the same week my 8 year old granddaughter was hospitalized with asthma for 6 days( she is in South America). In the middle of that we went to help take care of our kindergartner grandkid triplets in Alabama, I felt so torn but was blessed that our time with the triplets went well. My sister developed sepsis and was deathly ill for a week and after two weeks is getting discharged. I am so thankful for the gift of texting, FaceTiming to our family in South America and emails between siblings going out multiple times a day! We had many folks praying for all the situations and the Lord answered our prayers!
        * I have been doing tons of gardening when I can, weeding, transplanting seedlings and finding some volunteers to consolidate. My husband helped put manure on several rows and hopefully we can plant a few things. Next week looks to be very rainy so I am leery of plants getting flooded and dying. It has been cold and super windy here in NC this week.
        * Today I went to our senior center that had a free health assessment run by a local graduate program in kinesiology. They did cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Ac1, bmi, and a few other tests for free. I lost two pounds since January and my Ac1 dropped to 5.1 which I was pleased about. The last two weeks I have been making green smoothies with weeds from the yard and shriveled up apples from last fall that were too sad to eat. I am thrilled to find a way to use them all up! It tastes very green and I am trying to get more greens in so this is perfect!
        * I found a free rug at the neighborhood I nanny in and also a free king spread from a friend. My guest room is much nicer now.
        * This week I got a free watermelon that was getting thrown out by a friend, two bananas from the same friend, and crackers from another friend. People throw away so much food and I always let people know I will take anything!!
        I am so thankful to hear about everyone’s lives and frugal choices each week!

  60. Your photos are lovely, Brandy. I am sure the get together was very successful and everyone enjoyed the event. I had a friend visit last week. We went to our local nursery and bought a few plants which my friend helped me plant. I have been wanting to start a small garden area around a rock we have in our yard. I am still unable to do shoveling and heavy lifting for another month so I was extremely grateful my friend was willing to help. I took her to Mountain Lake for lunch and we walked around reading the signs. This is where much of the original Dirty Dancing movie was filmed. The next day I took her to a little tearoom. Other than those two meals we ate everything at my house using food from my pantry and freezer. I bought little at the grocery store although I found name brand pistachios on clearance…1# bags for $3. I bought 4 bags saving $14. Two weeks ago another friend came to visit. We went to Big Stone Gap to see the quilts at the Southwest Virginia Historical Museum. We saw one quilt made with scraps from Martha Washington’s petticoats. We stayed the night at a historical hotel in Wise. The area is absolutely beautiful as was the drive there. We packed our lunch for the way there and shared a dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Breakfast was included with the hotel. I treated her as she came and helped a great deal when I first got out of the hospital back in February giving my husband a few breaks from the day to day tasks while he saw to my daily recovery needs. This is one of the reasons I am frugal; so I can do special things like this and not have to worry about money. My lettuce and other greens are doing well as are my peas. We have had a ton of rain and cool weather to keep them happy. I am more than ready for warmer weather. I continue to do the usual frugal things like hanging laundry, eating what we have, turning off lights, etc. I wish everyone a safe, healthy, happy week.

    1. What a deal on the pistachios!

      I would have liked to see that quilt. How interesting.

      1. Pistachios are my favorite! I went to college in central California, which is farm country for those unfamiliar. One of the guys downstairs in my dorm- his parents owned a pistachio farm- would bring us burlap sacks of roasted pistachios when he went home. They were the natural color. That was a time when most pistachios were dyed that awful pink. We all loved those days and would fill our little jars!

      2. After I commented I realized the pistachio bags were actually 1.5 pounds per bag at $3 each! Even better. The quilt was so pretty. It was reds and a blue plaid in silk which I thought was interesting. It was under glass for protection. There were other really old quilts there as well plus modern day ones. Well worth the $5 entrance fee.

    2. The historical hotel in Wise and the historical museum sound wonderful. I have freinds in the area.
      What a nice trip you had!!1

      1. I loved the area. I want to go back with my husband and see the Trail of the Lonesome Pines play they put on annually. Plus walk along their river walk. It was so pretty. You should go sometime if you can. I was so relaxed when I got home.

        1. Hi Marley,

          Unfortunately I won’t be able to go as I cannot get valid health travel insurance. I do enjoy getting photos from my friends, though.

  61. Brandy, Could you send the newspaper/tv stations your info? I’m sure it’s a hot topic there. You’re doing everything imaginable and have proof. Maybe some exposure will make some changes? Holly

      1. I’m having trouble understanding the injustice of water rates that punishes (and I don’t know what else to call it) a family because they have more than an average number of children or choose to house a parent or any other legitimate reason for needing water. How are they able to get away with this so easily? Maybe we should all be sending letters or emails to them. A lot of people read this blog. We all say how much better our lives are because of Brandy and this blog and how much we owe her. Maybe it’s time to actually show it. Brandy, how do you feel about this? Would you be willing to provided addresses for some of us to send polite letters of support for families in your situation?

        I think you could also benefit by contacting the newspaper. There’s not a better example out there than your family and what you have done to conserve water. Maybe they would to an article on your family.

        Finally – If any of this makes you uncomfortable please just throw it out or take out any parts of this that you want.

        1. Patricia,

          They have made it this way “to encourage high water users TO CONSERVE [emphasis theirs].”

          It’s hard when we have cut so much. These are just the new, higher rates. I do what I can but I will have to continue to conserve more than others where possible.

  62. I thought I had commented on Monday, but it looks like somehow I didn’t! I feel so sorry for your water and electric situation in Las Vegas, Brandy!!

    This week has been both humbling and gratifying! Through my comment on last week’s blog post, I was able to meet another of your commenters in person and trade my chives and chocolate mint plants for her amazing hostas!! Hostas are Hubs’ favorites and he had just been calculating how many he wanted to get for a new project in the side yard! We were overwhelmed by her unexpected generosity! Thank you again, Emily and we hope the chives and chocolate mint thrive at your new house!

    We were able to take dinner to two families this week- one who just moved here from Minnesota and one going through excruciating health challenges. I was also able to take cookies over to share with volunteer helpers as they unloaded/unpacked moving truck for these same move-in’s. I had some “extra” cookies from that that I packed in a small plastic takeaway box that I had washed and saved and took it to a friend whose husband has had long term debilitating health condition for over 8 years. Not a big deal but she was surprised and pleased. None of these things were big or elaborate, but little ways having a stocked pantry could help me share with others. And I was humbled by the abundance that I have been blessed with.

    Today is dreary, wet and chilly (40F) but I went out and bought some more veg starts. My 87 year old friend came along and I gave her 1 start from each 4 pack I bought for her apartment garden! I found some veg plants for another friend also.

    Bartering and sharing seem to be bringing a sense of community and we are happy to have the opportunity to interact and become friends with so many wonderful people we may not have known before!

    Our chickens are healthy and giving us 3-1/2 dozen eggs/week. We are basically healthy. “Nature” this time of year leaves me with a nose that drips like a faucet or a completely stuffed up one that makes it hard to breathe! It’s trying to be Springtime outside and I am happy to welcome it!!

    Our youngest son put in an application for an apartment of his own so he will be moving from his sister’s basement. Another giant step for him and one he has researched and counseled with his sister and us about (budget, new expenses, furnishings he will need but shouldn’t buy brand new from store!) His sister found a washer and dryer that were barely used on FB Marketplace being sold by a lady who was moving into an assisted living community. Just $375 for the pair! And the lady’s son delivered them for free to our daughter’s garage (which is just 5 minutes from the new apartment!)

    I’m not naive to all the turmoil and harder times that affect us as well as everyone else, but, for now, I’d rather be grateful for opportunities that are put in our path and help us be in a position to serve.

    Gardenpat in Ohio

  63. Dear Brandy,
    I often read stories about Lake Mead and the Hoover Damn in Las Vegas, and wonder what the area would do with less water as this long standing drought continues. It seems very unfair that there are such water restrictions, but I also wonder when the water gets even more critically low how the Valley will support the human needs of the population. When there just isn’t enough water, or it becomes incredibly more unaffordable, will people move, or will building stop happening? It’s just some food for thought.

    This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind with a lot going on. Our oldest cat was diagnosed with lung cancer last month, and unfortunately the veterinarians office has asked us to make end of life plans for him at his next appointment. We have taken him three times to have fluid withdrawn from his chest, however it is get progressively more aggressive. We are trying to spend time with him and make sure he is comfortable at home right now. The veterinarians office has not been free. Aside from this as an expense, we have mostly been living frugally.

    I have been working on my yard lately. My son and I installed a butterfly garden. We purchased dirt and plants at half off at Lowes. They sell bags of dirt and mulch for 50% off if they are ripped. They also had a large number of pollinator plants on sale. I did buy some milkweed for full price. I love looking at the little garden when I pull up to the yard, and my son and I have enjoyed watching caterpillars and have started to see a few monarchs in our yard. It reminds me how healing nature is to the soul.

    1. Building will not stop. There has been a lot of talk about that but building is continuing. New houses cannot have any grass.

      It has been 23 years of drought and I understand completely the reasons we have the restrictions.

      I have already significantly cut my water usage with our garden renovation. I have concrete in many of the areas where I had grass. The others have drip irrigation (including under half the grass we kept; I have only 605 square feet of grass now, kept under the play areas so the children don’t burn their feet, as they play outside barefoot).

      The water district says a family should only be using 6,000 gallons a month inside. However, our family is larger, and we use more than that inside. We also work form home and have school from home, so water is used during the day for dishes, toilets, and washing hands, where it would not be for others. So even skipping days of showering, washing clothes less often, etc., we will still use more.

      I understand it needs to cost more. What I’m not okay with is the bill to cut off water users who use more than 160,000 gallons per year. It affects 20% of the population. I know people who have NO landscaping and smaller families (2-person households) who still went over the new allotments. It’s not right to turn off water completely to large families, or families with a larger lot, or a pool (and pools use less water than grass).

      1. I’ve commented this before, but it seems so harsh to me to have a per-household limit rather than a per-occupant limit. So if you had a next door neighbour living alone they could have a swimming pool with no issues and you are reusing shower water to water plants and still coming up against the limit. (Exaggerated somewhat for effect, but you get the gist!)

        Households can make decisions about landscaping their garden to reduce water use but ultimately more occupants just need more water. People need to drink at some point, wash at some point, do laundry at some point… Having a limit per se is perfectly reasonable in your area’s situation but in my opinion it should be per occupant, not per property.

        I hope you manage to get in touch with the relevant politicians and join the voices calling for change.

        1. Actually not exaggerated. Totally accurate (though I use warm-up water, not grey water).

      2. Hi Brandy, I am sorry to read this information and know that these regulations on water usage are written in a way that seems quite unfair for households with a larger family sizes. It actually seems prejudicial to larger families. I know it would be a large task, but I hope that you and others can advocate for a water per person instead of water per household rules to make some more fairness. And, I am glad to know that you are conscientious of this and working hard to stay within those limits.

  64. Here are some things that made traveling on long trips with kids easier.
    First, have the child sit behind the driver so that the passenger in front can easily reach/hand things to the child. (However, when I was the only driver and both kids were in car seats, I put the younger one diagonally behind me, i.e., passenger side).
    For young children, even if they are already potty-trained, bring a small plastic potty, wipes, and toilet paper. Kids’ bladders are small and there may not always be a toilet/rest stop when the child needs it.
    When you stop for a meal, make sure there is time to run around outside.: play tag, follow-the-leader, throw a ball/frisbee, skip, jump-rope, use sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc. Getting sufficient exercise will make napping in the car more likely.
    For in-the-car activities with a 5 yo, I recommend:
    1) a b/w map of the US and crayons, to color each state as you reach it;
    2) alphabet game #1: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing (something beginning with the letter A)”. Next person repeats opening sentence and first item and adds something with the letter B, etc. ;
    3) alphabet game #2, for children who can read: looking for words on signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet in order. (I modify this so that any time I see a Q, X, or Z word, I “save” it for when I need it.);
    4) looking for license plates and making a list of all the states you see;
    5) I “spy” – for objects inside the car or outside;
    6) tic-tac-toe (passing the paper and pencil/pen back and forth);
    7) dots and boxes game (see https://justfamilyfun.com/dots-and-boxes-printable/),
    8) simple card games, like Go Fish, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, etc., and
    9) sing every children’s song your child knows.
    I always packed a small backpack for each child (stored at their feet) with their: jacket, blankie, favorite stuffed animal, books, a few toys, card games, etc. You could add a small Etch-a-sketch, coloring book and crayons, drawing pad and colored pencils, disposable camera, book of stickers, silly putty, etc.
    Have a great trip!

    1. We do I spy with colours before children can spell. “I spy with my little eye something blue.”

  65. Long time lurker, first time commenter. I do not know if you already do this Brandy, but if you wash any dishes by hand, the rinse water is beneficial for house plants or garden plants a few times a week. This week my friend gave me a whole grocery bag of garlic starts. My boss gave me a rhubarb start, and rhubarb cut up to put in the freezer, and flower seeds! I made do with what we had in the pantry for most part. I still need to work on cheaper lunches for myself and my husband. My son made me smile when he made his sandwich for his track meet, with leftover french toast.

  66. I seem to be buying food just for immediate use lately and nothing much going into the pantry. On the other hand, very little is coming OUT of the pantry either. However, I do need to get back there and do a fresh inventory so I can know where I am with it. My new freezer is full enough of meat that I think we can easily manage for 2 to 2.5 months on meat alone now. I’m comfortable with that level.
    This week, after a stumble upon on Instagram, I have reason to believe my three-year-old grandson may have some autistic tendencies. I really don’t know what we are to do at this point. People say, Let me know what you need and I will send resources, but honestly I’ve no idea what I need to do or how to go about anything.
    Kroger introduced a new app called Fresh Mode that is an added savings. You accrue points, then trade in points for dollars off coupons. I used my April points to save about $20 on groceries today. For me, this is far better than Ibotta, where at best I might earn a dollar or so a month.
    We are planning to have our kitchen and bath redone. The estimate for work and materials came in at about what I thought it might. My husband was shocked, despite my telling him that it was a low price for the work we’re doing. One way we’re saving is to keep the same footprint and not have overhead cabinets. I can’t reach shelves easily anyway and it seems silly to me to hang cabinets high on the wall when you can’t reach them.
    We’re mostly just hanging in there.

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