We began the hard work on the backyard ourselves, rather than hiring someone to do the labor. This project will take months, so doing everything but the concrete ourselves is our plan to keep the cost down and make it possible. I am still making small changes to the design, too.

Because there is good dirt under the grass that we are taking out (enhanced by fertilizing with manure each year) we separated out the dirt from the rocks and grass using a screen that my husband built. We’ll use that in the garden beds and won’t have to buy quite as much. The native “soil” here is white and is a clay (with rocks called caliche as well as just rocks) that is as hard and as white as concrete. We originally put down a couple of inches of good dirt under the grass, so I’m happy to recoup it and use it again in the garden.

We met a new neighbor a couple of weeks ago and my husband was able to give him something that we didn’t need that was taking up space in the garage. Our neighbor said he is a retired electrician and offered some wire to my husband. My husband expected he was going to have to pay him for the wire. This week, our neighbor delivered the wire and did not want anything for it. It saved us about $75. We will use this wire to rewire the lights in the backyard to their new spaces.

I was able to keep the windows open from 5 a.m. to about 10 a.m. each morning. The evenings are still around 85 until about 10 p.m. Daytime highs were in the upper 90’s, so we still have to run the air conditioners.

I planted seeds in the garden for parsley in my white garden.

I pinned some Thompson’s seedless grapevines that are growing along the ground and covered part of them with dirt in an attempt to root them for new plants. I accidentally did this recently and didn’t know until I went to trim the grapevine this week in one spot; had I known, I would have left it to move in the winter. I have successfully taken and grown vines from hardwood cuttings before, but I am trying this method to grow more seedless grapes.

When I first planted the garden, I planted what I thought were red seedless grapes. All of my grapes were mislabeled and were actually large, seeded grapes. I’ve used them to make juice over the years, but we would prefer seedless grapes for fresh eating. The juice is not really wonderful; it’s okay in cooking, but I still have a lot from past years in my pantry. I intend to take out the table grapes when we work on some changes to that garden area. We have decided that we’re not keeping anything that isn’t working for us and will grow more of what does. While there are lots more things that I would like to grow than I do, I’ve learned over the last 19 years of gardening in our climate that there are some things that I just cannot grow in our climate.

While I was doing that, I saw a couple of blackberry vines that were growing close to the ground, so I pinned those to propagate new plants too.

I mended a hole in a pair of pajama pants.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. We have some wonderful orchard- fresh cooking apples that I would like to freeze as apple pie filling. I’ve tried this before without success. Can anyone share a tried-and-true process for both preparing for the freezer and thawing for baking? Much appreciated!

    1. – I made bread twice, brownies, banana bread and muffins, spaghetti, quesadillas, oatmeal, eggs and toast, vegetarian tacos and burritos, brown rice and lentil soup. I also made sure leftovers were eaten and not wasted.

      – I repaired a plastic laundry basket’s weave with long twist ties saved from produce.

      -My husband got me a new shower head/wand (mineral filter beads, 3 types of spray 🙂 ) and new square glass food storage containers with bamboo lids because I wanted/coveted them and sent him links (for my birthday). The shower head also came with an aerator for a sink faucet so I installed that on the bathroom sink faucet. These two things should save us money on the water bill and make my shower s so much more pleasant!

      -My husband also took me clothes shopping (I was in desperate need!) but I was unable to try any on due to the fitting rooms being closed due to Covid. Half the items need to be returned. That will be combined with another errand to save gas. Both places are two towns over.

      -I stayed home when I absolutely did not need to leave the house. The errands I did have to run were grouped together on the same day to save gas. I talked myself out of a few unnecessary purchases\trip.

      -I requested and exchanged library books. I also had several books renewed because I had not had time to read them yet.

      -My work friend put new books on my ipod for me for free because she is awesome.

      -I harvested parsley, thyme, rosemary and green onions from my herb bed. I am propagating a rosemary sprig, I planted several parsley “babies” in a saved flower pot and put 2 green onions in a small jar of water. I hope to keep these alive and prospering in winter for a “kitchen garden”. I also dried the herbs in my dehydrator for use in winter.

      -My mom gave me a jar of tomato/pasta sauce she made but had been eating for a few days (she lives by herself and made a huge batch lol). I had made a pasta veggie dish that was “meh”. I added her sauce to it and baked it and it was delish!

      – I downloaded several free kindle books. I also received several free magazines in the mail. I am saving these instead of recycling them for a poster my daughter has to make for school.

      -I live in the midwest and fall is here. We had the doors and several windows replaced early last summer. We have been able to keep the furnace off, although I have turned on a space heater a few times for a while to warm up the living room when it was cold. This is a huge improvement from the past when we would have had to turn the furnace on. I also purchased and installed a new furnace filter.

      -I made a simple “draft dodger” out of an old towel for the one door that didn’t get replaced. It connects the garage to the house.

      -I signed up for the free 30 day trial from Netflix with full intentions of cancelling before I am charged. I put a reminder in my phone calendar.

      -I found a deal for bed sheets. Queen sized normally $81 I got for $20 after discounts and free shipping 🙂 We needed a new set.

      – I use the charger in my car to charge my ipod and cell phone for free rather than plug it in at home.

      – I used the little plastic pillow strips that were in the box my shower head came in to help insulate one of the windows we have left to replace. No-one sees this window. I also used 2 large boxes I had saved, opened up and flattened, in my empty raised bed to kill the weeds. I will put some new soil and compost over it in spring.

      Have a great week everyone!

    2. I have personally never had luck with freezing apples for baking. Canning works much better in my experience.

      1. I, too, have better luck with canning. I have used this recipe for about 35 years. I think I cut it out of the newspaper.
        CANNED APPLE SLICES (Pie pack)
        Pare and thinly slice apples while they are on the firm side. Put slices into crock or large bowl (I use the Tupperware Fix’n’Mix) and sprinkle with sugar between layers of fruit (about 3/4 cup sugar per 5 cups of apples). Put a plate on top of the apples and weight it so that the juice, as it forms, will cover the apples. It usually takes 3 to 4 hours for the juice to accumulate.

        Pack the apples into clean quart canning jars. Pour over juice to within an inch of the top of the jar. Wipe the edge and tightly screw on lid and ring. Process in water bath for 30 minutes.

        To make a pie–Mix together in a bowl one quart apple slices, 1 to 2 tablespoons flour, NO SUGAR, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie shell and dot with butter. Add a top crust. Bake at 425F until nicely browned–begin checking at 20-25 minutes. Since the apples were cooked in canning, it will only take about half as long to bake as pie made with fresh apples.

        Any apple pie recipe can be used if you mix all ingredients before placing in pie shell, OMIT SUGAR and bake only until the pastry is done.

    3. I have succesfully frozen apples for baked desserts. I peeled and sliced them, dipped them in water with lemon juice, and froze them in ziploc bags. I used them in apple crips and other desserts, and they held up great. However, I think success depends on the type of apple you are freezing. This was a very firm type apple that held its shape in cooking and did not turn to mush.

    4. My mom used to freeze apple slices for baking later in the Winter. I remember helping and it was always with sugar added and then into Ziplock bags. They always seemed to be fine later.

      1. That is how I freeze them too. Just peel, slice and freeze. I use them for pies or if I have leftovers, will make apple sauce. Works good.

    5. I have used the following method and it works well.
      Peel and core the apples. …
      Soak the apple slices in a lemon juice bath for 5 minutes. …
      Drain. …
      Arrange on a large baking sheet. …
      Freeze for 4 hours- overnight.
      Transfer to a freezer bag, labelled with the contents & date. …
      Freeze for up to 1 year!

    6. I’ve had good success freezing apples for pies using granny smith and golden delicious. I slice apples add flour, sugar and cinnamon. Line the pie pan with long pieces of plastic wrap, spread apples on plastic, then wrap and freeze in pie plate. Once frozen remove from pie pan and put in a ziploc bag and stack in the freezer until ready to use. Using this method I don’t have to fiddle/touch the apples I can put the frozen apple disc directly on the pie crust, thaw for a bit, cover and bake.

    7. My view of success with apple pie may not be the same as yours. I use an apple pie recipe from the Crisco brochure that I cannot find right now, but I believe the recipes are online. I think the recipe I use is on page 43. The kind of apples seems to make a huge difference, I think. I try to get Jonathan apples because they are tart, but bake up a little softer but still hold their shape without being mushy like Gravenstein apples will be. The Liberty apples off our backyard tree are fine, too–as long as they are fresh and no really ripe. The next best kind and the only pie apple I have available in the grocery store is Braeburn apples. They are pretty good for pies. I think Granny Smith apples turn out rubbery in a pie. Then I use an apple peeler that has little spears you poke the apple onto and then you turn a crank and it peels the apple. This only works with firm apples–which is what you want for pies anyway. Then I cut the apple rings into small sections maybe a half to one inch long. I add cinnamon and sugar to apples I’ve measured into a big bowl. Then I measure out the right amount (I think 4 cups) for one pie into a quart-sized freezer bag and stick them in the freezer. I thaw them mostly and add flour for thickening before putting them into the pie shell for baking. We like them all right this way. My pie plates are 9 inch. I bought most of them from Goodwill. I found an apple peeler at Goodwill, but they aren’t super expensive new. Good luck finding freezer bags though. Our local stores haven’t had them in stock. Fortunately, I had a few on hand. I suppose you could freeze them in a pie pan and then wrap the frozen pie-shaped block with freezer paper. I have bought freezer paper from the meat department of the grocery store before. I always freeze berries individually on cookie sheets before putting them in bags, so I think apples could be frozen that way too, except they tend to be juicier, so I suggested the pie pan. Just an idea. I’m sure anything you do will be fine.

    8. A from Ohio,
      What I do is make my apple pie as normal but don’t bake it- put it in the freezer. I freeze the unbaked pie. When I take it out, I don’t always thaw first although it takes longer to cook if you don’t. I just brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar and bake. They always come out delicious. I use the cheap, foil pie pans because I usually make several at a time and I don’t want all my good pie plates in the freezer for months as I need to use them for other things. Yes, it is a lot of work to make that many pies when all the apples are ready at once but then you have a pie ready and waiting whenever you need it. I hope this helps.

      1. This is what I do too, make the pie but don’t bake it, and freeze for future use. It does make a huge difference what type of apples are used. Some apples are softer and break down more easily. These can be frozen but are better frozen as applesauce rather than slices or pie.

    9. A from Ohio- I mix my apple pie recipe: 8 cups peeled and sliced apples, 2 T flour, 1/2 c sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a shake of nutmeg. Mix and place in a parchment paper lined pie plate. Put in freezer. When frozen I pop it out. Place in food sealer bag and seal and freeze. When ready to bake place in crust lined pie plate frozen (apples are in the shape of the pie plate). I will dust the bottom crust with graham cracker crumbs (to help absorb the extra liquid from freezing). Dot with 2 T butter. Place top crust. Bake 60 minutes at 400 degrees. Works great every time!!

    10. I regularly freeze apple slices or pieces. I peel and chop and immediately immerse in acidified water 10%lemon juice 90% water. Then when the bowl is full of apple pieces I drain, saving water for the next batch and open freeze and then transfer to freezer bags. I make British style crumble and cook the apples straight from frozen. Frozen apples collapse so are no good for french apple open tarts but are great for a pies or crumbles. My mom always froze stewed apples (apples cooked with a little lemon and sugar on the hob) with British cooking apples (Bramleys etc) to use as a pudding.

  2. We just celebrated the Mid Autumn Festival last week. We spent two days with family.
    *My MIL gave us some sesame seeds and sesame oil. She also gave us some apples and a bucket of candy.
    *I scheduled a play date for my son. The kids played on the playground.
    *Instead of travelling over the holiday we stayed home.
    *We ate most of our meals at home.
    *I’ve air dried the laundry.
    *I’m still working from home and saving money on gas.
    *Nothing is on sale right now so we are eating mostly from the pantry and freezer.
    Overall it was a lazy boring week. Not much happened.

  3. Brandy I am so glad you are powering ahead with your garden plans and will be growing more of what works and you eat in the gardens and taking out that which isn’t working. Saving the soil is a wonderful idea and will save you buying more soil. What a good idea to propagate the grape vines yourself to save buying them as here they are quite expensive we noticed. What a blessing was the wire from your new neighbour to save yet more on your garden renovations 🙂 .

    Our savings added up to $234.75 last week 🙂 .

    Gifts –
    – Said yes gratefully to a lovely friend who offered me a 4 layer food dehydrator for free as she had too many of them. She buys them when she finds them in op shops cheaply. I did offer to pay her for it but she refused saying she purchased it very cheaply and said as long as I use it regularly it has found a good home and that is indeed what we are doing 🙂 .

    Internet listings –
    – Listed 6 items on a eBay free listing promotion saving $9.90 on usual listing prices.

    Earnings –
    – DH did a paid gardening job and earned $50.

    Finances –
    – Banked more money not spent in some of our budget categories into our 6 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 54.81% of the way there.

    Purchases –
    – Bought a solid metal trailer ramp to suit our trailer (last in stock as you guessed it made in China) saving $220 over buying it elsewhere. The local company that sells them and fits them said they are not getting enough of the trailers and parts in to meet local demand and it would be some time until they got some more. Our trailer is also made in China so we know they can fit this to our trailer without many modifications as the lugs line up etc. Although this was a spur of the moment purchase, but planned previously, I at least know that DH will be safer using a full ramp rather than trailer ramps to take the ride on lawnmower on and off for paid gardening jobs he does. It pays to run our budget categories in credit and I was able to take the money for this from unspent money in other budget categories 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    – Dehydrated our first dozen eggs (bought on clearance for $1.60 doz) in our food dehydrator using power from our solar panels and they turned out really well and are packaged in glass jars with oxygen absorbers in them. We saved $4.85 over buying the equivalent amount in the supermarkets.
    – Did a mini clean and pulled out the 2 upright freezers and fridge in the kitchen and vacuumed and cleaned the floors and vacuumed the coils so they run more efficiently.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone 🙂 .


    1. Hi Lorna,
      Please talk to me about dehydrated eggs. How do you do it, and what’s the consistency at the end? Could you use dehydrated eggs in cakes, or lettuce and egg sandwiches? Do you need to dip them in sulphur dioxide/lemon juice before hand? So many questions.

      1. Hi Jenny and yes really an interesting subject and so many questions by many people on how to dehydrate eggs. No lemon or sulphur dioxide needed.

        We use the wet egg method of whisking raw whole eggs and pouring them in the food dehydrator with instructions found in this link – https://www.wikihow.com/Dehydrate-Eggs-for-Powdered-Eggs . This pretty much explains all your questions.

        The finished consistency is fairly much like grainy powder and very yellow as we used barn laid eggs. Yes you can use them in cakes and baking and scrambled eggs once rehydrated and cooked. With putting them in egg and lettuce sandwiches you would need to rehydrate them and cook them before adding to a sandwich as all dehydrated eggs need to be cooked somehow before eating them.

        Hope this helps.

  4. This week two more client quilts came in to be quilted- she will bind them herself! https://pin.it/10QvOct and https://pin.it/2AJKz65. Amazing to think that these were the first quilts she had ever made! I smiled the whole time I was quilting them on my longarm! The yellow one, especially is filled with such happy colors! I received them both on Thursday to be quilted and by Saturday morning they were quilted and trimmed and ready to go back to their owner! HandmadeinOldeTowne.com is starting to have more quilting jobs as word of mouth spreads! There’s another repeat client quilt I hope will be coming in this week! Not huge amounts of income but I’m able to keep trying more and more new patterns and get new ideas for quilts I would like to make myself!
    I found another free online pattern for a baby quilt that was paper pieced. Wasn’t crazy about the colors they chose with their pattern photo, so I chose some softer baby colors. Here’s a photo of mine. It is ready to be quilted up on Lenni! And then after it’s bound, it will be tucked away because it was one of those patterns I “had” to make, even though I haven’t a clue what it’s destination will be! Lol!! At least this was made out of my fabric stash so no OOP cost to indulge my whim!! 😉 https://pin.it/rEFHxno
    I was also given 8 big trash bags filled with fabric by a friend who was used to own a fabric shop but was going into assisted living apartment and didn’t have room to take these and thought maybe I could find some use for it! There were 3 bags of quilting fabric that I kept but 5 that had velvets, brocades, taffeta, etc that I knew I would use. I remembered a young woman in our congregation- 17 years old, who was interested in clothing design and self-taught herself from YouTube and other free online patterns to make medieval gowns. Her talent reminds me of your daughter, Winter. I called her mum to see if she might like it. Mum thanked me, but said between extra college classes she was taking + homeschool + sea scouts and other activities, she thought her daughter wouldn’t be interested. I said no problem! 5 minutes later, I get a call from her Mum asking if daughter could come by in 20 minutes to pick up the fabric! Lol! She came and we had a lovely visit as her face lit up as she looked at all the fabrics! We carried the bags out to her little Fiat which we packed to the brim and she just kept thanking me! My heart is happy!

    There is a national chain of close out stores – Ollie’s- that have 3 stores in our city with several others located around our state. Their ad comes with the coupon/ad circulars in our mailbox each week. I have been interested but never enough to drive over. The closest one to me is 10 minutes away. Until Saturday morning, early, when I was decluttering ads that needed to be shredded for our compost and worms. On the inner page, there was Excalibur dehydrators- 5 tray- for $79! There are not used, not refurbished. They are brand new but close outs from a retailer and bought up by Ollie’s. I knew immediately that each store probably only got a small number of them. I also knew it would be an amazing gift for our son-in-law and daughter on 13 acres who are gardening more and starting to increase their pantry and food storage since they moved from a Northern CA city to retire on these 13 acres in rural Ohio! So I had my phone map figure the fastest route to the store and made sure that I arrived by 9:08. They opened at 9. There were only 4 cars in the parking lot and when I went in i was greeted by friendly cashier who directed me to the correct area of store. I was thrilled to find one!! Got it into my cart and as I continued on down the row, I saw 2 more and put them into my cart! At this point, I need to explain that I don’t get out much these days because of Covid. I have a 9 tray Excalibur that I totally have loved for 7 years and I use it a lot!! Sometimes I get produce In quantities that mean I have to dry them in multiple batches. So I thought I would keep at least Box #2 for myself. Box #3- not sure yet. Keep, gift, sell. But it will find a happy home! At home I decided to show Hubs (he’s always so supportive, whether I come home with 77 watermelons or 3 dehydrators! ) . I looked online to compare pricing. First, I took one out of the box to find model number. To my surprise, it is the model with a 26 hour automatic timer! That feature typically adds $50 to the price! Amazon was the lowest price I found- $183. And others- Pleasanthillgrain and Excalibur were $249 for that same model! So, I am over the moon!! I had been thinking about a second one for myself just to be able to do smaller amounts or excess produce/herbs. So that was a savings of at least $309 at the lowest retail price! Happy dance!
    Still harvesting and preserving bits from the garden. Tomatillos will be this week as I bring them in and can up salsa verde! We have been blessed! Fall is definitely in the air as our temps go lower!
    I noticed I had some small potatoes left in my bag and so with the colder weather I decided that Loaded Potato Soup in the Instant Pot would not only use up those small potatoes but provide us with a hot hearty dinner not only for 1 night but 2 additional nights! Didn’t even have to peel my potatoes up! 5 minutes pressure! Such a money saving easy dinner!
    There are still hard times ahead for many, if not all, of us. But I am convinced that we can make it through and grow and learn and find joy in our lives if we just open our eyes to notice the blessings around us!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Brandy- We have been actively praying for ways to enhance our preparedness and this sale, combined with some extra quilting income coming in, seemed like an answer!
        I have seen so many people lately drying greens- Swiss chard, kale, spinach, etc and then crushing then into green powder to add to their diet! My dehydrator is usually busy with fruits, onions, celery, etc and doesn’t have time or trays to devote to greens! But now!!! I’m going to go harvest some of my huge Swiss chard and get it loaded in!!
        Gardenpat in Ohio

        1. It’s an easy way to add it to soups; it could also be added to homemade pasta for some added nutrients. I plan to increase the amount of Swiss chard I am growing in the garden, making it literally the central feature in my new garden plans. I should seriously look into making some green pasta for the children, who love noodles but don’t always want to eat all the greens they need.

          1. There are loads of very nutritious weeds you can dehydrate and add as a super nutrient source. Nettles chickweed pigsweed cleavers plantain mallow dandelions and heaps more. Well worth researching

            1. Chickweed and purslane grow here, but you have to water them! Our city has only received 2 inches of measurable rain this year. Our normal rainfall is 4 inches. The desert here is very sparse. Even if you grow cactus in the garden here, you have to water them, and many will burn if they don’t receive shade in the afternoons in the summer.

    1. Gardenpat, your coming home with three dehydrators reminds me of a story from some years ago that has now become part of family lore. I live in California and was visiting a friend in the south and went into a WalMart for the very first time. Wow, the prices were great and they had dictionaries on sale for $1.00. I was so excited I bought around a dozen for Christmas gifts.

      I flew home to California and my husband picked me up at the airport and started hefting my bags and walking out to the, very far away, parking area. Halfway into this trek he asked me what was in the bags. “A dozen dictionaries that only cost a $1.00 each”, I told him.

      He walked a little further, then said, “I’ll give you $5.00 for each if you let me leave them right here.”

      We are still laughing about that 25 years later.

      1. Anne- sounds like we are kindred spirits! 😉 I am usually the “finder” and my dear Hubs is usually the one who gets to transport my treasure home! Lol!! 😉

    2. Garden Pat, you are amazing! What a buy on the Excalibur, and congrats on your booming quilting business.
      Now if I could find an Instant Pot reduced a commensurate amount… I’ve struggled with the idea of yet another appliance, but my daughter is in love with her’s.
      I have pinned the baby quilt that you made, but I’m wondering about the instructions for quick cutting. I have been late to get into the modern methods of cutting out, but it is a terrific time savings.
      You have mentioned that you are in Ohio, and I am wondering if you have a Menards close by. They have had great buys on canned goods lately. I suspect that you are stocked up, but perhaps other family members aren’t. Thank you for your great ideas! Chicago Gran

      1. Bonnie Frame- Here is a link to the free pattern for the “Cry Baby” baby quilt I made. http://www.chilipepperquilts.com/free_pattern.htm

        I am in Columbus, Ohio and there are 4 Menards here! I don’t really buy a lot of canned goods any more. I home can, freeze or dehydrate most of what we used to buy canned in the stores. We also have had good success buying loss leaders or sale items like spaghetti sauce, soups from our Krogers or Meijers. We have the luxury of only buying them when the price is low because we try to always keep a reserve.
        You would love an instant pot! One place to check is FB Marketplace! We regularly see new or almost new ones there for about half the regular price! It is certainly a versatile tool!
        Gardenpat in Ohio

      2. Garden Pat, thank you so much for the information about the baby quilt. It is so cute and I think that I have enough 1930’s reproduction fabric for it. Also, I haven’t thought of FB for the Instant Pot, so thanks for that as well. We aren’t crazy about store bought canned goods, but we are trying to have more shelf stable goods. There are just the two of us now, and we only have a small chest freezer. I only can fruit and jam because I have an old glass top stove. I worry that a pressure cooker may crack the glass. We want to buy a gas stove, but we don’t want to go into the huge appliance store that has the best prices. Then there would be the plumber here for hours making the conversion to gas. Our suburb has had 940 cases of Covid…and we are in the vulnerable group. There are so many things to accomplish after the virus! Thanks again.

        1. Chicago Gran- we are retired. Our 30 year old son still lives at home. We also have an LG range/oven with glass top. For my water bath canning, I switched over to a steam canner with a gauge because I can have the same number of jars in a batch but it only takes 3 quarts of water in the canner for processing jars. That makes it lighter in weight but also saves a lot of time and energy cost to heat up to correct temp for processing.
          I use a Presto 23 quart pressure canner and it is perfect on my glass top! It’s not as heavy (or expensive) as the All-American brand of canner. The base is made to exactly fit the size of your large glass top burner ! I have been using it on my glass top stove for several years with success!
          Stay safe and healthy! Covid is nothing to discount. We’ve lost 2 friends locally to Covid who were in their early 60’s. I think our Thanksgiving is going to be very different this year- Not the 39 of us- kids and grandkids who are close by. We will just be the 3 of us at home. But we’d rather have everyone safe.

      3. Favorite thing to make in Instant Pot is yogurt…..freeze it in muffin trays and use daily for smoothies. Delicious and way cheaper than buying. Greek yogurt once whey is drained….really good!

    3. We have 2 dehydrators because my husband found a second one at a yard sale for $5 a while back. Mine are the round ones–not these square ones, although my mom had a square one so I know how nice they are. Even though they are not the ideal ones, we have kept both of them humming for weeks now, and are getting bags of yummy apple slices at the moment. We discussed buying a new one and decided, “no,” these work, we are keeping them:). It does help so much to have 2 going at once! I’m glad you found such a great deal.

      1. Becky- I’m actually leaning towards the idea of keeping the second and third dehydrator! Combined they would be one tray larger than my current 9-tray one and so it would double my current capacity when I have a lot to get done quickly! Good idea!! My quilting income was able to pay for the new dehydrators and if they hadn’t been such an incredible price at a time when I had unallocated income that I wanted to enhance my food storage with, i wouldn’t have done it !

        But for me , this was one of those opportunities not to be missed!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

        1. I have a Ninga Foodi. It is an air fryer and instant pot both. It you invest in something, I would pick this.

    4. You get an amazing amount done! I really admire you every week, and you are always helping others along the way. Congrats on the dehydrator buy!

    5. Gardenpat We shop at Ollies all the time. Allows us to purchase items we would unable be able to afford. Books, gardening, paint, sheets, fans/AC unit, undergarments, and cooking utensils are some of the items we purchase there.

      1. Renee in KY- I will definitely be watching their weekly ads from now on and going there again! Their store was clean and well laid out and staff was friendly, helpful and available!!
        Update on Dehydrator #3- One of my regular quilting clients, a delightful 83 year old, saw my dehydrators on the Davenport and wanted to hear the story behind them. After telling her, she told me how she’s been hoping to get one to dry greens to make green smoothies with the powder! I sold it to her for what I paid and she was overjoyed!! Daughter and son-in-law were thrilled to get their from me without having to wait until Dec birthday and Christmas! And I am going to test the final one that I’m keeping on some Swiss chard!!
        So 3 dehydrators was just the right number!! 😀
        Gardenpat in Ohio

  5. Thanks Brandy! We’ve had our first summer rains here (Johannesburg, South Africa) after almost 6 rainless months. This will give our garden the boost it needs to really start flourishing. We continue harvesting chard, salad onions, broccoli, celery, cabbages, and many herbs. The first tomatoes have set on the plants I got in early, snap peas and green beans are flowering, the basil is magnificent, we’re bringing in carrots, and we look set to have a good crop of eggplants and hot peppers this year too.

    Food prices continue to rise alarmingly. Following Brandy’s example, I prioritize filling the pantry with the sales and use what I have there to plan meals. We are eating a lot of rice and pasta based meals. We have an extra adult staying with us for a while, a young man from Church whose family situation isn’t great, so we’re stretching those portions even further than usual, and feel glad to have a frugal mindset that allows us to comfortably accommodate the needs of another. Beetroot has been selling cheaply in bulk so I’ve been pickling a lot, and we enjoy chard from the garden almost daily with dinner.

    We have our family holiday every November (self-catering timeshare purchased a few years ago on a less 40% sale). We set aside money every month (we use YNAB meticulously for budgeting) to buy the food before we go, and usually splash out on nicer food than we eat at home. This year we have invited our house guest to join us, as well as my daughters best friend, so we need to stretch those funds to accommodate feeding two extra adults for 12 days. So, I’ve tucked into that allowance early and already started buying food that is on sale and setting it aside, such as meat for grilling, potato chips, bottles of soda, s’more fixings, boxed cereal (a huge treat for my children), and so on. This will help us stay within budget, perhaps even have funds left over which we will then channel towards our Christmas budget.

    I have started making Christmas gifts. Even though our income has been mostly unaffected by COVID, we don’t feel it appropriate to spend a lot on Christmas this year.

    We support several missionaries. Many travel to our Church for our annual Missions Conference every October. This year, the Covid testing regulations for crossing our borders are too burdensome for a couple we support in nearby Zimbabwe, a country with crazy inflation and political instability. We have been able to help cover their costs from savings we set aside regularly to help others with unforeseen needs. It is wonderful to be able to share from the abundance God blesses us with, and an encouragement to my family to remain prudent, not spending lavishly, because we simply never know what opportunities or trials lie ahead. I don’t share this to boast, but to encourage others who may also have a bit extra in their budgets, even in these hard times.

    Thank you again to everyone who shares of themselves here. There is a beautiful sense of community!

    1. We are at 167 days without rain here. I’m so glad you received some rain, Tracy, and that your garden did so well all winter.

  6. Brandy, so exciting that you have a plan and you have begun your garden. I am always amazed at what you grow in such harsh conditions. I live in an area where we have rich black soil, the needed rain, and moderate temps During the growing season, and I am grateful. It just goes to show that when you put hard work in and grow what you can in your area you can grow food anywhere.

    -Meals-side pork, hash browns, and green beans; chili and cornbread; pheasant breasts in cream sauce, mashed potatoes, and beets; pheasant wild rice soup, and fresh baking powder biscuits; chili Mac (quick meal pulled chili from freezer), papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza; and leftover pizza.
    -Made kombucha, apple cider donuts, and maple nut zucchini bread.
    -My splurge was Door County Pumpkin Spice coffee. I usually buy a pound when I go to my daughter’s in the fall. Due to Covid heating up in Wisconsin we are unable to go. Usually $7.95 for 1/2 lb. I got a 5# bag on sale for $49.95. I also signed up for their email list and got 20% off my first order and free shipping. So paid $42 with tax. This will last me all fall and winter. Coffee stays fresh in the freezer so the bulk will be stored there. Can’t wait for it to arrive!!
    -Grocery shopping-few things on a good sale-fresh mushrooms (organic)-2 for $3. I want to make Hungarian mushroom soup. Also cream cheese for $0.79/pkg-bought 6 (they store well in refrigerator). Groceries are rising. Glad I have food storage!!
    -Last 5 gallon bucket of honey crisps picked. Made into 4 packages of sliced apples for apple pie bars.
    -We ordered a new wood stove in July. We picked that up at the beginning of September. We hired someone to install it. He ordered supplies in August but we have been waiting for those to come in. Finally they were here. They rebuilt our external chimney and installed the stove. It takes up 1/2 the space of the old stove. It has a fan and thermostat. They say we will use 1/3 to 1/2 of previous wood use. The old stove is solid iron and we will install this in our large shop. The guy that installed the new stove had the equipment to move in the new stove(into the basement). He also moved the old one out of the basement and up to the shop-free of charge. Good thing as it will be in the 20’s here this week at night.
    -Garden is cleared out and it will get tilled this weekend. Repaired the fence around the garden as well and replacing the latch on the gate. All from supplies on hand.
    -Since canning just about done. Wiped down shelves, re-inventoried, and rearranged. I have a solid old wood bookshelf in my pantry (coat closet just off the kitchen turned pantry. Bookcase on one short wall and shelves built on the long wall and other short wall) and a storage armoire in the guest room (husband built shelves in the area where clothes were to be hung-3 shelves canned goods-2 shelves appliances like my 2 crock pots, rice cooker, etc). I don’t like to keep things more than 3-4 years. I need to use some strawberry rhubarb jam (13 half pints)-can stir into Greek yogurt, make bars or muffins. Also some plum syrup. Can make into plum sauce for Chinese, use on ice cream or in muffins or on pancakes or waffles.
    -Now that it is getting colder I will be starting indoor projects in the next couple of weeks!!
    Have a great week!!

  7. Everything frugal thing I did this week was food related.
    -My dad and husband processed about twelve young roosters that were becoming nuisances on my father’s farm, so I gladly accepted six to store in my freezer. There isn’t much meat on the birds but it tastes like turkey and makes enough for one meal so that is good enough for me.
    -I used the rooster’s bones to make broth and froze almost three quarts.
    -I went to Sam’s club to stock up on our usual staples and did very well…if you exclude the twin pack of Nutella that made its way into my cart….
    -I said yes to a bag of random snack foods that my mom was giving away. She buys single serving bags of foods for the grandkids, so there were very random things included in the bunch.
    -My mom sent over a huge container of chili because my dad can’t seem to make smaller amounts. I told her to freeze it, but she said he only likes fresh foods. So I have been eating that for lunch all week.

    1. That Nutella is SO sneaky! It is always trying to jump into my grocery cart as well! Some weeks it succeeds.

  8. Sounds like a good amount of labor that will benefit your arms, and your property!

    This past week was a calm week – especially with spending. It was a good week.
    A friend who lost a job, found a new one and I hemmed her new work pants. She made a small donation to my future car savings.
    I gave my mom a hair cut. It was my best one yet for her!
    Made 4 handmade gifts for under $10.
    The decorative posts on our front porch needed a fresh paint job, when scraping the one was pretty rotted on the bottom. The mister patched and sanded and filled in with putty any other cracks. I painted and they look like new again.
    The mortgage was paid off!
    I asked my in-laws if I could get some firewood off of their lot (from felled trees) for our firepit. They were more than happy to say yes. Firewood for sale here is about $20 for 3 fires worth. Since the fore pit is being used more, this is a nice savings.
    Hope everyone stays healthy and has a calm week!

    1. J, that’s wonderful news about paying off your mortgage! It is such a good feeling to know that you will always have a roof over your head regardless of what happens!

    2. J from PA congratulations on paying off your mortgage 🙂 and that is what we are doing is paying almost double payments to get it done quicker too. We are only 21 months into ours so a while to go yet.

    3. Congratulations on the mortgage pay off, we did ours in 2005(23 years on a 30 yr mortgage) and I have been forever grateful

  9. My mom sent over 8 bottles of tylenol , chips, crackers, rubbing alcohol, and tooth picks.

    Got a sample bag from Sam’s when I picked up my order…small reusable bag, a sample k cup, bottle of 5 hour energy, and a fig bar

    Hubby completed a masonry job and the homeowner sent him home with a dozen fresh eggs and 5 homegrown onions

    Sold an item and made $5

    Sent in for $33.26 in Menards rebates

    Had a 5 pound bag of frozen chicken on my Walmart order…they were out of it and substituted a 10 pound bag for the same price.

  10. How wonderful you’ve begun a good relationship with your neighbor. We have a couple of neighbors like that, where we help each other out. I love hearing about the steps you’re taking towards your new garden plan. We harvested our peanuts over the weekend, and had our first good crop of them. Now, to figure out ways to use them. I used a 20% off coupon at Big Lots, $10 off coupon at Tractor Supply, and got $10 back in Food Lion rewards. Books were picked up at the library. I made fig bread with our figs, including two small loaves, gifted one loaf to one of my soap customers, and froze enough figs for two more loaves. Our garden fence has been overrun with morning glory this year, so I’ve begun cleaning that up. I had limes I wasn’t going to use, so am trying fermenting them for the first time. A new simple living vlog I’m enjoying is The Cottage Fairy. Another round of plant dyeing was done, and I’m excited about the pretty avocado results. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/10/dyeing-with-plants-peanut-harvest.html

  11. -The furnace was fixed this week. It needed a new ignitor and control board. I tried to get someone locally, but he is unable to work at the moment. It has something to do with getting insurance both for parts kept in his truck and visiting customers during COVID. I had someone come from the next town over, and they got here very quickly. They send a bill in the mail, so I don’t know the exact damage yet, but it was an expensive visit. I’ve put in a new furnace filter in as well, so the furnace at least is ready for winter.
    – I found a movie on Acorn that I really enjoyed on Saturday night. I had also reordered some books from the library that I had only read part of by the time the loans expired, and I am getting back to them now. I am more in the mood for reading and movies than I was. It is getting dark much earlier now, which is probably triggering my interest.
    -The mild fall continues, with leaves only turning. Usually they’d be off the trees by now. Yesterday I was able to cut back some shrubs and trees along my sidewalk so people can get past, and so snow shoveling (yuck) is easier when the time comes. It was a beautiful sunny day to work outside, and the fallen leaves smelt wonderful.
    -Farmers in Western Canada are finishing up their harvest in very good time. Though there are locations that are exceptions because of heavy rain this year, most have good grain and oilseed crops, and prices are holding because demand has improved. It is nice to read some good news. I also read about a lawyer in Edmonton, who had bought some land a while ago to use as a hobby farm down the road. This year he and some friends planted it, and they and some other volunteers have grown 22 types of vegetables on a half acre, and have just finished harvesting an astonishing 100,000 lb of potatoes on 6.5 acres, all for the food bank. They called it the COVID Planting Project.
    -Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to other Canadian readers this coming weekend, and to anyone else who wants to give thanks for what you have harvested.

    1. Elizabeth,
      Thanks for posting about the Edmonton lawyer who grew 100,000 pounds of potatoes and several other vegetables — I went online and watched the interviews. How inspiring! It is a great harvest on the farms this year — except perhaps for some localized areas that received hail.

      When the time comes and you need to get a new furnace, the extended warranty parts AND labour for 10 years is worth it. I’ve had to get a new motor, a new ignition/switch board, etc. etc. I get my furnaces serviced every year which keeps the warranty valid.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Elizabeth!

    2. Hi, I just want to mention the Canadian Grains Foodbank too. They donate thousands of acres. A relative takes part by donating 160acres and many farmers help harvest. Some fertilizer gets donated etc. Everyone in the chain takes part. It’s a great mission to end hunger.

      1. Yes, it’s a wonderful initiative. They have been doing this for a long time, too. I can remember it from my days working for Saskatchewan Wheat Pool years ago.

  12. This past week has been wonderful for our family but super busy.
    We enjoyed beautiful fall weather with high blue skies and cool temperatures. I was able to turn the ac off and open the windows 5 out of 7 days and I am looking forward to the savings on our electric bill. Our water bill also dropped almost $35 as the garden is requiring far less water now that the temperatures aren’t so dreadfully hot and humid.
    I’m very excited to see that my zipper peas and crowder peas are covered in pods. All of my collard greens have germinated and the mustard greens and swiss chard are looking lovely as well. I have noticed that something is nibbling on my mustard green leaves – a friend said to try coffee grounds around the plants so I will give that a go this week and see what happens. Does anyone know of anything to keep my green leaves from being nibbled? I have a garden full of leafy greens and would hate to see them all get eaten by bugs. I purchased 12 cabbage seedlings at my local nursery for about 75 cents each. If I can get even one cabbage per plant that is only about 1/5 of what I would pay for cabbage in the grocery store and it is home grown. I am planning to fertilize everything in the garden this week as I know we have a good heavy rain coming to water all the fertilizer in well. I will be sowing more mustard green seeds this week as well as spinach.
    I mentioned last week that we discovered a chestnut tree in our backyard – this was a lovely surprise. We have harvested over 70 lbs of nuts so far from this tree and they continue to fall. We did some research and cooked up a batch as no one in our family had grown up eating these. None of us really cared for them so we decided to sell them and have parted with over 30 lbs so far. Many people so enjoy these around the holidays and I understand from several people that chestnut trees are very difficult to find anymore. The profit from the nuts purchased two much needed pair of tennis shoes for our son, funded the first date night out for me and my husband since February, purchased fresh meat for a spaghetti bolognese that I am making for us this evening and allowed us to rent a chainsaw. We have a ton of trees in our yard that needed pruning and although a friend gifted us a chainsaw it is in need of a small repair and the repair shop has a two month delay in getting parts because of COVid. Many of the branches are either close to or on our roof or hanging low over our fence and we don’t want damage in the event of a storm. Instead of calling a tree service for $300+ we rented a chainsaw and my husband and I did the work. We took down several limbs including one of the chestnut tree which managed to fall onto my head – ouch! All of our bushes that were needing pruned received a nice haircut so that they can return in the Spring stronger and more beautiful and the yard looks much better. We ordered pizza with coupons after trimming tree limbs all day with leftover chestnut funds. After that bump on the head I had quite the headache.
    Some friends of our from church mentioned that they had an abundance of pears in their yard so we traded with them. I took them a jar of homemade tomato salsa. peach salsa, and some green tomato pickles along with 4 pounds of chestnuts. She gifted us 15 pounds of pears and a whole crate of jars and lids. I offered to pay her for the jars but she wouldn’t hear of it so I will take her some pear butter and other goodies in exchange. These are homegrown organic pears so I will be using them for pear butter.
    I made arrangements with my sister and some good friends to borrow a few tables for our son’s upcoming birthday party. We are keeping the party completely outdoors so having a place for everyone to sit and eat at a distance is important. I have purchased most of the decor on sale and they are all items that can be used again as he requested an Avengers party the decor is red white and blue so I will save all of these things for use at 4th of July events going forward.
    Our dog was in need of allergy medication and flea & tick medicine as well. I scheduled the appointment with our vet and immediately filed a claim with our insurance. We will receive a refund of 90% of the cost as our deductible has already been met for this year. I will also purchase heartworm medicine for her this month and be refunded 90% of the cost. The cost of insurance is nominal in comparison with the cost of her medication each year and it helps us budget. Having a pet is not necessarily a frugal venture, especially if there are medical needs. But the joy she adds to our lives, entertainment and companionship is priceless.
    I hope that everyone has a joyous week! Be well my friends!

    1. For those that don’t know there are two types of chestnuts; horse chestnuts and sweet chestnuts. The horse chestnuts are what a lot of us grew up with and played conkers in the Fall. They are poisonous to eat.

      Sweet chestnuts are edible and are grown a lot more now in Michigan etc.

      I just didn’t want anyone to think all chestnuts were edible.

      1. Are horse chestnuts the same as buckeyes? We have a horse chestnut tree in the front yard of our vacation home and it is the most beautiful tree…but you are right, they are poisonous.

        1. I’ve been told there’s a difference between horse chestnuts and Ohio buckeyes — both are poisonous.
          My Ohio buckeye tree turns the most beautiful flaming orange colour after the first frost.

      2. Thanks for the heads up Patsy! We did quite a bit of research on ours before eating them or selling them – ours are the edible sweet chestnut variety with a frawn at each end and they emerge from round, extremely thorny cones.

  13. I ordered wool blankets for my sons for Christmas. I have already sent my daughter her Christmas presents because I was afraid it would get delayed in the Christmas rush and with all that is going on in the world. We may get another hurricane/tropical storm so I checked on my ready made food supplies. I ordered a few more cans of mustard greens on line and also got a few more cans of collards and turnip greens. I think I have a six months supply of greens. For me, that is the ability to eat greens several times a week. I usually eat them with beans and rice. For some reason, I am always craving greens, so I just go with it. I ordered more mustard green seeds from Territorial Seeds for next spring, in case supplies are low. I remember Brandy’s comment last week about supplies may be short on some seeds. I am still harvesting greens from my Miracle Grow bags in my front yard for small fresh salads. I like fresh greens for salads and canned greens for a more soup like mixture. I lost another half pound so I am delighted. One of my closest former work friends died of cancer, and I am trying to figure out an economical way to send flowers. They are so expensive around here! She is being buried about three hours from me. I hope I am able to attend, but I may not be able to because of work. I listened and/or read talks for General Conference. I walked in my neighborhood for exercise. I made chicken salad and tuna salad for my lunches at work from my canned supplies. I generally eat it with crackers. ate more small pumpkins from the volunteer pumpkins. I do enjoy free food…lol. I ate refrigerator fig preserves and refrigerator mulberry jelly from my free supply also. I actually like the fig preserves on crackers with a little bit of cream or goat cheese. I have cream cheese at the moment, so I am going with that. The only thing I really need to buy from the store now a days are eggs and cheese, so I can actually get that at Dollar General once a month, and don’t have to drive 20 miles to a grocery store. I could just eat oatmeal and just used my powdered cheese in casseroles or whatever and not even have to go to Dollar General. I am enjoying having a full supply. Also, farmers this time of year sell fresh sweet potatoes, greens, and cabbage around here, so if I want any vegetables fresh instead of canned, I can buy from the fruit and vegetable stand. or directly from farmers.

    1. I really enjoyed General Conference! It also solidified my feelings about being prepared for the long haul of a depression and food shortages/price increases due to weather.

      1. I feel the same way Brandy! General Conference was wonderful, and it also reinforced my feeling that we need to be prepared for food/price issues, job loss/depression, etc. I certainly want to have enough if any of my grown children lose their jobs again, I can help them out.

      2. And lack of harvesters, weird bugs and massive disease (think pork in China). Yes, yes, yes, so glad someone is talking about rather than just us few. Kudos to your church!

        1. Hi Peggy! I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a church with a worldwide membership. Twice a year (April and October), the church leaders hold a conference over two days that is broadcast all over the world and translated into many languages. Usually, it is a large gathering in person as well, but the conferences this year have been broadcast very differently than in years past due to Covid restrictions, so the music this year has been shown from previous years.

          This year’s October Conference can be found here

          This is the English link, but other languages are also online; if anyone reading this wants to listen in their native language that is something other than English, just click the globe in the upper right-hand corner and you can choose your language. The number of language choices is quite large.

          If you scroll to the bottom on the left-hand side, you can click on the music if you want to hear the choir numbers that were shown.

          I particularly enjoyed the third talk from Saturday morning called, “Becoming Like Him” which speaks about how Jesus has asked us to be like Him and how we can strive to become more Christ-like as disciples of Jesus Christ.

          There were several talks on Saturday that mentioned preparedness. The second talk, “We Will Prove Them Herewith” is one of them. “There Was Bread,” from the Saturday afternoon session, is another.


          1. Thank you Brandy for providing the link to the General Conference talks. I look forward to listening to them.

          2. That was an inspiring talk. Thank you for sharing. I really like the painting of Jesus. Does anyone know the artist? Thank you!

            1. The painting is from the talk/article ‘Becoming Like Him’. If anyone knows the artist or title of the painting, I’d love to get a print. Thank you!

          3. Thank you for the link to the conference. I am not a member of your church but I listened to some of the speakers in Lithuanian. My parents immigrated from there and I was raised speaking it but everyone I knew who spoke it is either dead or moved away; Alaska is not a mecca for Lithuanians! It is not a language available on most of the language sites, so it was a pleasure to listen to it in my childhood language!

            1. They really have a lot of translators and languages! I’m glad you were able to listen in Lithuanian!

  14. Your work in your garden will make it even more wonderful! I think you are wise to pull out plants that aren’t serving your food needs and replacing them. And congratulations on the wire from your neighbor.
    -This week I had a friend give me some apples and beets from her garden. I cooked and froze the beets for the future. I also made a yummy salad with beets, apples, and walnuts, served over arugula with a balsamic vinaigrette.
    -I made sauerkraut and cauliflower/carrot lacto-fermented vegetables.
    – I got some winter workout clothes using a store credit I had.
    -Another friend gave me more beets, chard, basil, a cucumber and tomatoes. I have frozen the beets, made pesto, and eaten the rest.
    -I made a batch of granola and some chia bowls for fast breakfasts
    -I hiked, ran, and did yoga and finished a baby afghan to donate.
    -I helped a friend hang an art exhibition for her work and she gave me a $20 gift card to a local upscale deli.
    -I am enjoying cooking a plant-based diet and the many meals I can create using healthy foods. My freezer is mostly full, and that makes me feel very grateful.
    -I listened to General Conference while working on a sweater for my husband. I got a lot finished and hope to complete it in the next week.
    Have a beautiful week!

  15. I’m really eager to see the garden plans. And I agree, sometimes, there are things that simply aren’t going to grow in some areas.

    I cut up a couple of apples that were getting soft-ish and roasted them when I roasted some root vegetables. I put almost-ripe avocados in the refrigerator so they don’t get ahead of me. I’m doing all I can to save food from waste, but I missed about a half cup of green peas that were just a bit too old. At least my worm farm benefits from them.

    I shredded more old files and added them to the worm farm.

    I washed the walls and flooring of our porch that wraps around half the house, using a hose and a brush attachment that we’ve had for years. It only took water and the brush to get it clean.

    I refurbished an outdoor concrete yard item with fresh paint, and also painted the rain guard that hangs over a hummingbird feeder to make it bright red again, both with paints I already had.

    I thinned some seedlings in my container garden.

    I paid my monthly bills online or through bill pay at my bank, with no fees and no postage.

    I received samples for an in-home trial from a survey I completed.

    I washed and hung out several loads of laundry, since it was rainless this weekend.

    It’s probably obvious from some of my tasks that we’ve had a stretch of unusually cooler weather, so I’m definitely doing more outside. Now if we can get past this next storm in the Gulf! It’s due to arrive about on the anniversary of Hurricane Michael. Michael is the hurricane that suddenly and unexpectedly strengthened to a cat. 5 and wiped out so much in the Florida Panhandle. We are praying for nothing like that to happen this year.

    1. I am in south Alabama Jo. I remember how hurricane Michael devastated parts of Florida miles inland. Our little church branch went to help folks 50 miles inland! I went to Baldwin Co just a few weeks ago to help my uncle after Sally. I will be glad when hurricane season is over.

  16. It has been a smashingly successful thrifty week!
    *It began when I passed a big bucket by the side of the road with a sign, “Free Daffodil Bulbs!” Getting more flowers always makes me happy.
    *Stopped by a garage sale and found 5 canning jars. The lady said they were free and I argued with her. “They are sold out across the whole USA and everyone wants them. I must pay you something.” She still refused so I searched for something else and found a big, new pyrex bowl. She said it was $1.00. I protested again. This is an expensive bowl, you must want more money. She still refused. Needless to say, when I got in the car, Bill said I needed to work on improving my haggling skills.
    *Bone-in pork chops were on sale for the unbelievable low price of $.98 per pound. I texted Dustin at school and told him to stop by and load up which was too vague of an instruction. I assumed there would be a limit since the price was fantastic. When he arrived at the store, there was no limit so he phoned me but I wasn’t near it. Unsure what to do, knowing the sale was ending, and knowing me, he bought 40 pounds. So, WOW! We have enough pork chops to last through the winter!
    *Got gas at Kroger for $1.39 by using points. We fillup and take empty cans so we can get the 35-gallon limit.
    *Kroger now offers a purchase history on your account. I don’t buy much from them but my single son who lives in Nashville uses my account. He is not frugal even though I have relentlessly tried to convert him his whole life (even put coupons between the bills of his wallet to no avail). Now I can download coupons for items he purchases regularly. I did tell him of the new feature and requested permission before I peeked at his list. He thought I was crazy for asking but a mother never knows.
    *Middle son repaired a guitar foot pedal for a friend and received four dozen fresh eggs as a thank you.
    *Saved $8 at Dollar General using coupons.
    *Right now I am working hard at getting the winter garden out before the first frost hits. This is the garden as of the end of September.
    I like it when I have a good week and can brag! That is much more fun than whining.

      1. But Brandy, I felt guilty about taking something so valuable. I suppose it is true: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I will try to be more gracious the next time someone offers me their garbage.

        1. She was just grateful to have it out of her house taking up space. To her, that’s what was more valuable. She was probably thinking, “Oh, good; I’m so GLAD someone wanted those!” I know I’ve thought that when getting rid of items at a garage sale.

          We priced items to sell, and some people went nuts at how low we had them. We sold tons of stuff that way; people couldn’t pass up the price, and we didn’t have to haul it away in multiple trips to be donated.

          1. When my dad had a big garage sale when he moved out of the family home, we had the last half of the last day be FREE! People just couldn’t understand. We made more money during the free part of the day than the morning just from people essentially throwing money at us and running. I kept saying, “no, it’s really free, please take it so I don’t have to deal with it anymore!” Then they would toss a $1 for an item that cost fifty cents and wouldn’t take change! About an hour before close, though, a sweet young man came and asked if it was really free. I assured him it was. He asked if could come back at the end and take what was left to try to sell it himself. I was thrilled! He did come back, we helped him load his car and off he went. He was so happy to have a way to try to make some extra money for his young family. Win/Win!!

            1. BeckyH, being kind and giving things away for free at a garage sale didn’t work for me. When we were moving to this house years ago, we had a huge garage sale and we were giving our old furniture away. A lady wanted the couch and asked us to hold it for her all day until late that evening. I feared she wouldn’t return and I would be stuck with it so I said it would go to the first person who could haul it away. She left. I went back into the house and then later in the day, she sneaked back in my yard and STOLE the cushions off of the couch so no one else would want it!!!!! I saw her out the window running down the street carrying them! What a horrible person! She stole my free gift!
              It made me mad and I was spitting fire, ready to call the police! Bill calmed me down and then said, “If she wants that broken-down old couch bad enough to steal the cushions covered in baby vomit, imagine how desperate she is. Let her have it.”
              I knew he was right but still gave it a good kick after we hauled it to the street.

              1. Oh my goodness!! I can’t believe anyone would do that! I laughed reading about you watching her run tho. Oh my!!

        1. Libby, Dustin is a meat-eater, tall, thin, and always hungry. He had my debit card and felt no shame in using it. I felt no shame in making him wash, divide, and package everything to be sealed in the foodsaver, plus he had to rearrange the freezer to fit it all in. He mumbled something about having lots of homework and I pretended to not hear.

    1. Jeannie

      I enjoyed your post! The lady at the yard sale may have all sort of money and feels that it’s her way of helping others to price things low. And 40 pounds of pork chops! Wow!

    2. HA! to the pork story. One time I texted my husband to buy watermelons, since they were at an unbelievable price. When he did not answer, I figured he was too busy, so I drove to the store and purchased the max allowed, six. Later he came home with six more and then his son brought over six more!! I spent the weekend dehydrating watermelon, which ends up rich tasting with the consistency of fruit leather. And then I made pickled rinds. And we ate watermelon for our main meal for about a week. I had to keep reminding myself to be thankful for such bounty.

      1. Oh Mable, that sounds like something we would do! Watermelon doesn’t stick with you and are hungry an hour later. I would have made them eat lunch twice!

  17. It wasn’t a very eventful week. We spent more money on gas as we traveled to visit with friends and family twice (60 miles each direction). We will make another trip this weekend. I imagine that we won’t be making that trip again until Thanksgiving (if nothing changes in regards to the ability to travel).

    ~It’s getting much colder here. Nighttime lows are in the 40s. So we’re saving money by not using the air conditioner. We also haven’t started a fire yet. My husband is dealing with unexplained pain in his feet, ankles, and legs, so he’s not able to get on the roof to clean the chimney. It’s not terribly cold yet, but I hope he’s feeling better before it gets too much colder. I’m thankful for the shed full of firewood that only cost us manpower and fuel for the chainsaw and splitter. Our woodstove uses an electric fan to heat our home more efficiently. However, it still works even without power, which is a blessing. We might just have to “camp out” in the living room if the power were out for an extended period of time.

    ~We continue to stockpile food for the winter. One more big trip and we’ll be set. As long as conditions are favorable, we’ll continue to buy milk and produce weekly, but we could go at least 6 months now without NEEDING to shop.

    ~Two of our children who had bedwetting issues suddenly stopped! I’m so grateful! I only wish I hadn’t just purchased several months worth of overnight pants for them (or that I’d at least had the foresight to save receipts!).

    ~My parents rendered down the lard from the pigs we butchered this year and gave me 12 quarts. This will definitely stretch the amount of butter and other oils we’ll need this winter.

    1. Sarah, there are some stores that you can make returns without the receipts. I think WalMart is one of those. Costco has your receipts on file linked to your card. You could try it. If you don’t have the receipt, they give you store credit rather than cash. I’ve been diligent about returning things I end up not needing or if something is broken, etc. I’d give it a try.

    2. If money isn’t an issue, you could find someone who has need and give them the overnight pants. You might even be able to trade them for something…

    3. I save my receipts on an app called Receipt Hog. It saves your receipts by store name and date (& you also receive about 5 to 15cents per receipt). I have claimed $5 thus far, but I find it useful for returning items because I have the receipt on file. I also find it useful to determine what I have spent money on and trying to see what was a “needed” item versus a “wanted” item.

      1. THANKS so much for this suggestion. I used Receipt Hog, too, but it never occurred to me to go there if I needed to retrieve a receipt. Your tip will save money in the future, I am sure.

  18. The biggest savings I had this week was only leaving the house twice. Both of these trips were for my grandchild to go to school for band practice.
    The rest of this week was spent at home sewing free quilt alongs. I use fabric I have in my “stash” so no money out there.
    I have been trying to think of Christmas gifts that will be welcome and little outlay for me. I am struggling with ideas. My youngest grands are of an age that everything they want is too expensive. *sigh*
    Life has been so different this year that it is difficult some days to know what to do to make things better.
    Thank goodness for this “safe place” of learning how to better care for ourselves and our families.
    I’m looking forward to learning from all of you this week.
    Thank you Brandy.

    1. What about edible gifts? Their own bag of chips from the dollar store, or their favorite candy? My children always like these gifts. I keep a running list on everyone’s favorite and then I double check before Christmas.

      1. What a good idea.
        I had thought of food for the older kids (my children). It is going to be a difficult winter I fear.
        Christmas Care Packages.
        Thank you Brandy.

      2. I think edible gifts are nice. One edible gift my family love to get is home dehydrated fruit. Even just home dehydrated bananas are greatly appreciated. My kids are older now. My son told me not long ago that he occasionally buys peaches in those home canned look alike jars the stores sell just because he gets homesick for the ones he had as a child, and he laments that he cannot find “lumpy applesauce” like I always made. I guess I need to get back into canning, if I can find jar lids.

      3. We do much the same thing. (Heck, I even do it for my husband, who loves Oreos but we never buy them.) It is funny how much a kid will love having a bag of their favorite chips all to themselves. You also learn which kids are better a delayed gratification and dole the contents out to themselves over days or even weeks.

        On the other hand, we had a foster child who saved a box of her favorite energy bars for over six months. When I teased her about it, I nearly cried when she said, “You should always keep some food because you never know when you won’t have enough to eat.” Another foster child used to save treats and take them to her siblings, who were still with the parents for some unknown reason. It turned out they were hungry and this was her way of feeding them. After that, we told her to keep her treats for herself and before her weekly visit we would stop at the grocery store to buy more substantial treats for the other children. I am reminded of these now adult kids when I see folks standing in food bank lines because they lost so much due to the virus.

        1. Usually, my children share these gifts with one another, which always is very sweet to me.

  19. Hello Everyone!
    It amazes me how much everyone accomplishes each week. This is an industrious group!

    This week I made two masks and a matching tote bag for one of my closest friend’s birthday. I won’t say it was free since I purchased fabric to finish it. In addition, I’ve begun cutting drape panels for the family room and kitchen. Tiebacks were made from scrap fabric from the pattern repeat. I plan to use additional scraps for throw pillows. I’ll be working on this project for awhile!

    I combined errands last week and found some cute, inexpensive stocking stuffers for my teen daughter at Marshalls. I also found a pair of jeans for $15 that fit beautifully. That was a lucky find!

    I signed up for a new library card. I was amazed at the selection of audio books and digital books available on Hoopla and Overdrive! I grew tired of listening to the same podcasts as I cook or sew. I didn’t want to pay for Audible. This is a great solution, especially for me because I get busy, forgetful and don’t return things on time. I didn’t even have to leave home!

    This week we’re eating down the fridge as we’ll be traveling next week. Creative meals to come!

      1. When I finish before due date I always return so that copy is free for other patrons. Especially on newer books where there is a hold list. I finished 2 brand new releases in less than a day recently and immediately returned so next in line could have them.

    1. Julie, you might enjoy LibriVox as well. It has lots of free audiobooks, read by volunteers, some quite good. We enjoy it for classics and history

  20. We are still batting around what to grow next spring. We kept track of what we bought from the Amish to compare to what it costs us in money, time and work along with the increase of electric to raise plant from seeds since their veggies are organic (need organic for Daughter 4 fighting cancer that we are helping). We have two apple trees that the guy we bought the house from said he could never get anything decent from it and used them for cider apples. We don’t drink that much cider so I want to cut them down. The concord grape arbor needs to go away as we don’t eat seeded grapes and we don’t care for the juice so much. I made grape syrup from it this year so it at least didn’t go to waste.

    I put the minimum amount we are paying on the mortgage into the budget so it’s set in stone.

    I am still canning, freezing and dehydrating but I know by end of month that will be done.

    We are eating from the pantry. We have chosen to go to the store twice a month (after chiro appts) for fresh produce (AKA carrots, celery etc) and dairy and Hubby could pick up milk as needed. We will have to find someone *not hard in this area* to sell us eggs as our neighbor that was giving them to us isn’t getting enough to take care of her family. She is very frustrated with this batch of 50 hens.

    We figure hard times for another year if not two get out of these times.
    Blessed be everyone

    Hubby bartered for mineral oil for our lamps. So we are back to using the lamps. I got out the Christmas candles that have LED and put them in 3 places we need light but not a lot, a bit more than a night light. That is working well and dropped the electric $5 a month.

    1. What kind of mineral oil do you use for your lamps. I think you have some amazingly frugal ideas. Thank you for sharing them.

      1. It is bulk mineral oil aka mineral spirits. Spirits is usually used for medicinal but it will burn also. Has very little odor and burns brighter than Kerosene. You can get it in small bottles at stores. We use an oil lamp in the mornings and evenings at the dining table. So From October to March we use about 5 gallons of oil.

    2. Juls, offer those apples and grapes to your Amish neighbors–I’d be willing to bet they would take and use them. Good bartering stock, although I like to give things away, too. What goes around comes around.

    3. Juls,
      concord grape jelly is so delicious — it seems a pity not to use them. Similarly apple butter or jam from one of the apple trees! Lots of work but worth it.The Amish would probably love the grapes…

    4. Are your neighbors first time chicken owners? This time of year the birds are molting and production slows waaaay down. The drop in light also slows laying. If they want to get the production back up thru the winter, they need to put a light on them to mimic the amount of sunlight in the summer months.

  21. It was another frugal week in Houston, TX!
    I found a liquidation store that sells Amazon returns, short-dated food products, and damaged freight. Prices get lower each day. I went on the $3 day, and bought: 2 cases (6 bags each) of Goldfish crackers, case of 3 family size packages of Oreos, case of 7 bags of dehydrated apples, box set of hardcover Samantha American Girl books, three, 32 count packages of toilet paper with packaging in a foreign language, etc. It was a bit of a drive, but will be worth it occasionally.
    I bought marked down candy for myself, frugal friend, and mom at Kroger, 90% off. I will set it aside for Halloween, Christmas stockings, and birthday treats. The M&Ms I’ll add to trail mix
    I found several markdowns at Aldi by going as soon as they opened. A new Aldi is opening closer to us, so 10 minutes away instead of 20. Looking forward to it!
    I found several gifts and items at garage sales, though there weren’t as many in the neighborhood this year.
    I found a fancy kind of high chair at Goodwill for $6.99, which I listed on Facebook Marketplace and sold for $50 within 2 hours. It was Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. I recognized that type from seeing it at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.
    Our $5 meals for the week included: chicken noodle soup, chicken, broccoli and rice casserole, Aldi pizzas (2 half price take & bake pizzas, regularly $4.99), ham and cheese sliders, sloppy joes. One night, after a son was stung by a wasp, a daughter busted her lip open, and all of us got lots of mosquito bites, I really didn’t want to cook. I fed the kids popcorn, cheese, and apple slices, and called it a night.
    I took the kids to a nursery giving a way free pie-pumpkins and stickers, and each child got one. I bought one of the $1.99 jack-o-lantern pumpkins at Randall’s, where the kids picked out the biggest one.
    We have been enjoying library curbside pickup for books and movies.
    Hope everyone has a nice week!

  22. It was another frugal week in Houston, TX!
    I found a liquidation store that sells Amazon returns, short-dated food products, and damaged freight. Prices get lower each day. I went on the $3 day, and bought: 2 cases (6 bags each) of Goldfish crackers, case of 3 family size packages of Oreos, case of 7 bags of dehydrated apples, box set of hardcover Samantha American Girl books, three, 32 count packages of toilet paper with packaging in a foreign language, etc. It was a bit of a drive, but will be worth it occasionally.
    I bought marked down candy for myself, frugal friend, and mom at Kroger, 90% off. I will set it aside for Halloween, Christmas stockings, and birthday treats. The M&Ms I’ll add to trail mix
    I found several markdowns at Aldi by going as soon as they opened. A new Aldi is opening closer to us, so 10 minutes away instead of 20. Looking forward to it!
    I found several gifts and items at garage sales, though there weren’t as many in the neighborhood this year.
    I found a fancy kind of high chair at Goodwill for $6.99, which I listed on Facebook Marketplace and sold for $50 within 2 hours. It was Stokke Tripp Trapp chair.
    Our $5 meals for the week included: chicken noodle soup, chicken, broccoli and rice casserole, Aldi pizzas (2 half price take & bake pizzas, regularly $4.99), ham and cheese sliders, sloppy joes. One night, after a son was stung by a wasp, a daughter busted her lip open, and all of us got lots of mosquito bites, I really didn’t want to cook. I fed the kids popcorn, cheese, and apple slices, and called it a night.
    I took the kids to a nursery giving a way free pie-pumpkins and stickers, and each child got one. I bought one of the $1.99 jack-o-lantern pumpkins at Randall’s, where the kids picked out the biggest one.
    We have been enjoying library curbside pickup for books and movies.
    Have a nice, frugal week!

  23. I forgot to mention that Pine Sol is now on the approved list as a disinfectant against Covid-19. We filled up a spray bottle (no dilution) to use instead of expensive, hard to find Clorox wipes.

  24. How exciting about the garden plans. Good plan on reusing the dirt you already have.

    Joining in from the Seattle area.

    Most of my savings last week involved food. A friend gave me some extra raw milk and cream (from a certified dairy, it’s legal in our state) that she could not use before the expiration date. I made raw milk kefir (which I love and haven’t made in a long time). So delicious. I froze the cream for future use.

    Our local health food coop had some free perks for members: a free 6oz artisan salami and a free pound of honeycrisp apples. We are enjoying these treats.

    Bought a huge bag of ancho peppers at a farm stand. Sliced and froze 4 quart ziplocs full for future use. Made 3 quarts of fermented jalapenos (from jalapenos I had grown on my patio). Gave one quart to the friend who shared the raw milk with me. Made a bulk batch of salmon cakes from a free pound of salmon I had received previously. Ate some and froze the rest for future meals.

    After I pulled up my jalapenos a couple weeks ago, I sowed in that planter green onion seeds that I had gathered last year. They are coming up, and I will use them throughout the winter.

    A coworker shared some greeting cards with me she could not use. Read newspapers my mom shared with me. My office is no longer putting out magazines due to Covid, so I took them home and read them. Passed a few on to my mom. Shortened some jeans for a neighbor. Cooked most meals from pantry, freezer, and CSA farm share vegetables. Read blogs, watched youtube and streaming content. Went for walks on trails and in parks.

    Hope everyone has a great week.

    I have a attractive black spiky plant in a container that was putting out runners. Transplanted a couple of the runners into another planter. They seem to have taken and look happy. Free plants for my patio! These overwinter just fine.

  25. There’s not a lot new here but that seems to be the case a lot of the time now, doesn’t it?
    – I had made 6 weeks of menus and we’ve stuck to it for the most part. I made sure that we have a ‘take out’ night once a week to help support our local businesses. One week we skipped it since our youngest son sent home his take out leftovers with us…yummy curry, nan bread and dal. It was a bit of a reverse – child to parent instead of the other way round.
    -DH has been helping DS and DD with various household repairs at their homes. They are very appreciative and often go to grocery or liquor/beer store to restock their Dad’s supplies.
    -I had a couple of neighbours over for an outdoor supper in my back yard on Saturday. We all brought our own food, I supplied quilts and blankets for warmth and we had such a good time together. Very low key but somehow, comforting and normal in these strange times.
    -my Doctor will do Flu shots this week so that’s comforting. Canadians have been told to get them by mid October if possible.
    -I cleared a lot of my front garden of tomatoes and some varieties of Kale. The Kale suddenly got covered in aphids…yuck. I still have some chard and cherry tomatoes growing. Now I can start planting the bulbs I got on sale for spring time happiness.
    -Our thanksgiving is this weekend and I will only have 3 meat eaters here for an outdoor supper. I ordered a half fresh turkey since I don’t have room to store more in the freezer at the moment. That’s a blessing for future meals and no food waste. It will be expensive but there’s not a lot to spend on right now.
    -I mailed out cards to friends, family and also mailed a x-stitch to one sister for a birthday gift. I think all the cards are Hallowe’en cards but I didn’t want to go back to the store for more. Our family often just uses the cards we have on hand for whatever celebration. We find it amusing but then we are easily amused. LOL
    -we had bought a couple of radiant heaters for use on the front porch now that the weather is getting chilly. they aren’t as good as we hoped so they are going back to the store and we will purchase small electric blankets to cuddle under. we are trying to spend at least an hour outdoors every day both for the sunshine and to visit with friends as they travel by. This is in addition to walks. Our physicians seem to indicate that outdoors is good for avoiding the virus and at night, our bedroom windows are open for fresh air. A good chilly room is so nice to sleep in.
    -I’ve picked up books from the library to read. My daughter and I now have a system in that we read one “good literary” type book and then one trashy novel. We call the second one pallet cleansers.
    -we have used only the fireplace so far and hope to keep the furnace off until late October or early November. The dog loves the fireplace and it sends quite a bit of heat upstairs.
    -October is mammogram month and I got mine done. also got my teeth cleaned. I have appointments at the end of the month for eyes and hair cut.
    -The covid numbers are on the rise a bit in my province and my city is one of the largest in the country so we account for a lot of the rise. I’ve started ordering fruit and veg from a local market that delivers for free and I’ll be going back to online ordering any other groceries I need online too.
    – bills are always paid online so that is nothing new here.
    -normally we would be starting to plan our winter in SWFLA but this year I expect the border to be closed for many more months. We will leave our place closed up and hope we get there perhaps in the spring. It’s disappointing but we haven’t really spent winter at home in many years. We are planning how to keep active and cheerful….some days it’s a struggle….I don’t handle grey weather very well. But we will do our best.
    -the Autumn leaves in the city are at their peak right now so we will take a drive to see them before they fall. It’s little things that make a difference.

    Take care everyone and I look forward to seeing everyone’s posts. (forgive the spelling errors but I got tired of correcting auto correct. Sometimes technology is annoying)

    1. Patsy – as a fun place to go outdoors – I live next to the Humber River Bridge – near The Old Mill. If you go over the little bridge by the Old Mill there is a parking lot and then you can walk along the river. The colours are beautiful already and the salmon are heading upstream and you can see them jumping at the various weirs along the way. I did this yesterday afternoon and it was amazing to watch them. Just something a bit different.

      1. Margie,

        well, one learns something every day! I didn’t know they had salmon in Ontario. A friend and I just had a discussion about whether Ontario has a longer growing season than Alberta. I think parts of it do but I said the maple leaves should be turning by now.

        Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. what area of FL do you usually stay? I have lived in Panama City and Destin and we always had snowbirds.

  26. Greetings!
    Your husband really scored on the wire!
    While walking with a friend the other day, we came across a free pile. There were four cement planters, one cement birdbath and one cement waterfall thingee. We talked to the owner who fended off two other people who stopped before we could get back with a truck! I took the birdbath and my friend took the rest. I don’t have the room for more stuff in the yard. My friend likes a lot of things in her yard so this worked out for both of us! Everything looked brand new!
    I made apple butter with free apples or wrinkly eating apples. I have enough for at least a year and a jar for each of my walking friends for Christmas. They will also get a jar of my homemade vanilla. I started a fourth jar last week and ordered nice jars to pretty them up!
    I wish i could say that i was able to hang clothes outside but i was not. (sad face) I tried to time wash days but i missed it twice and used the dryer. Maybe this week! Our days are getting short, dark and colder. Although, today’s beautiful but i’m working.
    I sent my husband to Mennards to see about canning jars, lids and Mrs. Wages salsa mix for my sister. He got the last two boxes of pint jars, which i prefer, and the last two packages of Wages. My walking friend gave me a case of quart jars which i’ll use for soup or beans.
    I bought a mint plant from the grocery. I didn’t smell it til i got home and discovered it was spearmint. So, spearmint it is! There were three plants in the little pot. I may be the only person who has been able to kill mint (and nettles!) The mint was potted up for next year. It’s already looking good from the transplant.
    I dug roots from my coneflower and started some echinacea. (After drying in the dehydrator.) While i was at it, i took some St. John’s Wort and started a tincture with that. The flowers have been drying on the windowsill for weeks.
    I used boiled egg water to help fill the canner. When waiting for the water to warm up to wash my face, i’ve been saving the water and adding it to the shower warm-up water. Turns out, that’s a LOT of wasted water! I may run out of ways to reuse it all!
    I put in for 30 hours of vacation pay. I haven’t decided what to do with it, maybe stock up on a few things. No telling how the next few months will go.
    We had facetime with our daughter and her family. She’s a teacher in Fl. and struggles with anxiety over teaching in person. I really like seeing her face when i speak to her so i can see how she REALLY is. Moms never stop worrying.
    That’s all i can think of. Have a fabulous week!

  27. Your garden is lovely, but I sure miss posts on sewing, canning, decorating, birthday parties etc. I guess it’s a gardening blog!

    1. There are always seasons in our lives, and right now, this is the season of mine. I’m not decorating or sewing right now and our birthday parties have been very simple as of late. I’m working to make sure that I have lots of food growing in my garden. Perhaps next year I will have a bumper crop of cucumbers and I can post on how I make pickles, but it’s hard to can without first growing enough to can!

  28. Brandy, thanks for mentioning that you’re propagating grapes. It reminded me that my BFF is re-doing her garden, too, and wants flowering shrubs for lower maintenance. I have a blue mist shrub (caryopteris) that everyone loves, so I’ll pin down a couple of branches and also try rooting some cuttings…if one doesn’t work, the other might.

    I forgot to mention last week that we all got flu shots and my daughter and I also got tetanus shots. They last 10 years, so we get them in years that end in zero (easy to remember). We have been doing this for 30 years. The flu shots were free with insurance, and the insurance company is also paying a bonus for wellness activities, including flu shots.

    I visited in the Portland area most of last week. Since I wasn’t at home, I don’t have many frugal accomplishments to report, but here they are–
    * All 3 of us have Medicare Advantage plans and can order up to $40 worth of OTC products each quarter…which I did last week!

    * I made another batch of my version of ratatouille (stewed tomatoes and zucchini), ate some and froze some. It will probably be the last batch this year. We are having cold nights and our first freeze is due by the middle of the month. We will pick the green tomatoes and pull up the vines soon.

    *I was given a sweater vest, ugly pewter pitcher (think garden art!), string of twinkle lights (new in package) and a plastic fishing tackle organizer for my daughter’s earrings.

    Hope everyone is having a great week!

  29. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your hard work remodelling your garden will save you so much money in labour costs and it’s a good economic decision to replace plants like your seeded grapes for seedless ones which your family will prefer. I know it can be a hard decision to remove otherwise healthy plants.
    Last week we were able to have a few days holiday in Devon at a seaside town. A school friend of mine has a small letting annexe beside her house and she kindly offered free use of it and said we could take the dogs so no kennel fees either. ( We did leave some cash in a card as a thank you, my friend is on a reduced income due to ill health and we thought cash would be more useful than other gifts). I cooked some food to take with us plus all the makings for breakfast, tea, coffee and snacks and we bought fish and chips by the sea one day. I enjoyed a quick whizz round some different charity shops and bought myself a lovely winter dress and a book and garden ornament in like new condition which will be Christmas presents. We enjoyed long walks on a couple of different beaches and did some bird watching with binoculars my husband received as a retirement gift. A low cost holiday.
    In other news we picked kale, tomatoes, apples and dahlia for the house. We continue to eat our stored potatoes, garlic and onions.
    Gardeners World magazine had a special offer, 30 tulip bulbs for the cost of postage and they arrived this week. They are La Belle Epoque, Brown Sugar, Blue Parrot and Menton.
    I used a card from my stash for a daughters birthday.
    I mended a blouse and a dog’s wet weather coat.
    I found more good yellow sticker reductions on meat and used a supermarket coupon for more money off. The meat is in the freezer.
    I have lost a stone in weight (yay!) and fit back into a nice winter cord skirt.
    I sold four items on eBay – the money will help with Christmas.
    Stay safe everyone.

  30. *We helped my daughter and son in law move into their new apartment. We helped them unpack things and also set up their new but used washer and dryer. It was given to them by their grandma. My husband had to run and pick up the vent and electrical plug but it works and the price was right – FREE. My daughter was getting ride of a few things and let me take new packs of lined paper and a Taste of Home cupcake cookbook.

    *I canned another 2 quarts of tomatoes from the green tomatoes I picked and have been ripening in a cardboard box. Unfortunately, one of the glass jars broke in the steamer. So that jar was trashed but I tucked the other with my food storage. I still have a full box ripening of tomatoes.

    *I bought pumpkins for our front porch and carving. But I bought them at a local farm and paid a good price.

    *I read more books from the library, exercised at home and rode my bike for exercise. I re-made leftovers and ate leftovers. Really don’t want anymore food waste or as little as possible.

    *Thank you for the suggestions of how to store potatoes. I put them in a cardboard box and put them in our storage space under the living room. The potatoes are HUGE!

    Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

  31. A friend was cleaning out her garden and gave me horehound seeds and sprigs, then handed me an entire plant she’d pulled out as well. Cut that plant all the way back and potted it up to get established before the frost, and dried the leaves to make horehound cough drops later in the winter. I gifted my friend with a half-pint each of plum jam and sweet pepper/cucumber relish.

    Potatoes were on sale; bought 15 lb, eating some fresh and experimenting with dehydrating more. When putting those away, I realized that I had WAY too many fresh onions, so I dehydrated those too!

    Just applied to refinance our mortgage, as the rates are shockingly low; we have 21 years left on our 30 year mortgage, and if it goes well our payments will stay the same and we’ll pay off 6 years earlier!

    The local natural gas provider has a parts and labor plan that’s essentially insurance in case gas appliances break down. Renewed for this year, and took the option to have them come check and adjust the house heater. It’s fine, and we have peace of mind (and heat) for the winter. So far, we haven’t needed to turn it on, but the a/c is coming out of the windows.

  32. I realize some people may think you’re being ruthless by pulling out healthy plants such as the red grapes, but it sounds so smart with limited acreage that every plant needs to pull its weight, so to speak. What a lot of work though!
    • Picked another three quarts of raspberries at the PYO farm and froze them for winter oatmeal breakfasts.
    • Washed ziplock bags to reuse
    • I have a friend who is an artist and has a sculpture at a show in New Haven at a museum. With another friend, we split pizza from Pepe’s, ranked the #1 pizza place in USA by Daily Beast (!), and had a picnic celebration in a park before going to see the sculpture. We used a folding table and chairs, tablecloth, cloth napkins, and plastic glasses to “glam” up the celebration without costing anything.
    • Planned down to the penny a shopping trip to a local grocery store that had a $20 off $100 spend coupon. Stocked up on several items which don’t seem to go on sale.
    • Made two clove apples while watching a movie for free on Hoopla via my library card. I bought the whole cloves at a job lot store for 50 cents per jar. I needed three jars for the two apples. Once the apples are thoroughly dried out, I will use them in my closet to help keep moths away and make the closet smell better.
    • A friend who has been doing massive yard cleanup and thus making almost daily trips to the dump, brought me 5 tomato cages and an Audubon birdfeeder that people had thrown out. I bleached and scrubbed the birdfeeder. I’m so happy to have this as mine died in March from squirrel bombings! The tomato cages will be a blessing next summer.
    • Hung all laundry up to dry except for my flannel sheets. They take too long to dry in the limited sunlight now that the sun is so much lower in the sky here in New England.
    • All meals made from scratch except for the pizza celebration. Meals included: cream of asparagus soup, quinoa with pesto, roasted tomatoes, and chicken, pork fried rice, omelet with spinach and cheddar, ground pork and cabbage stir fry, and a large pot of steel cut oats with flax seeds.

    1. Pepe’s has been around forever. When I was a little girl in the 50’s! we used to visit my grandparents who lived in a small town right outside New Haven. The big treat was to get pizza at Pepe’s when we visited. The other treat was to go to the museum of Natural History on the campus of Yale University.

  33. Wow, your garden work sounds like a huge project. I enjoyed reading everyone’s frugal ideas. I am still trying to get started on it again. I did cut my husband’s hair, and it turned out okay. I still haven’t fixed the liquid soap I tried to make from bar soap. The liquid soap my husband poured into the little pump bottle separates, and sometimes pumped mostly liquid and sometimes pumps a slimy, snot-textured soap. I don’t know how to mix it so it won’t separate. If anyone has any ideas I would welcome some advice. I read some Pinterest ideas, but still haven’t figured it out. It does work to wash our hands, but I would like something nicer.

  34. I discovered the website and YouTube channel for marysnest.com . What a wonderful resource for anyone looking to make the most of nutrient-dense foods and pioneer techniques that have been lost. Thought I’d share for anyone who is looking to improve their skillset during this time. I feel this discovery is complimentary of anything found here. Thanks, Brandy, for year’s of inspiration! Blessings to everyone –

  35. I am excited to see the garden results when it’s finished (or in progress even), Brandy! Most of my savings this week came from a low grocery bill and eating at home. I did order a few cleaning supplies to strip my towels, which I’m eager to do. Apparently the stripping takes out a ton of buildup that you can’t get out from washing alone. I returned a set of sheets to Costco. Usually I love Costco products, but they stretched so much after laying on them for a few days, there were big folds and they were so uncomfortable. I was thankful they took them back, no questions asked. I worked in the yard a lot and also started a compost pile, as I want to try my hand at growing dahlias and ranunculus this spring and would like to have some compost. Any tips for the compost? I’m in zone 8b.

    1. I am a fairly new composter. Compost is ideally 2/3 brown and 1/3 green. Leaves are brown, so this is a good time of year to start. I started a new bin last spring with shredded paper, which is also brown. Green includes grass clippings, but don’t use too many as they tend to clump. I don’t put weeds in mine because I don’t think it gets hot enough to kill the weed seeds. (If you use plant foliage, don’t add diseased plants or anything with mildew; I also don’t compost peony or iris foliage). Green also includes kitchen waste, no meat. When I get manure, I mix it into the compost. A couple of years ago, I got alpaca poop, which is fantastic. I also have a source for chicken poop. Don’t ever put chicken poop directly on your plants, because it’s HOT! But it composts just fine!

      Be sure to turn your compost pile from time to time. The more often you turn, the faster you will have usable compost. Sometimes we dump the bin onto a tarp, stir it up and shovel it back into the bin. I make some of my compost in plastic garbage cans with holes drilled in them (my HOA has NO IDEA). An easy way to turn them is to have an extra can and use it to receive compost dumped from another bin. I have 3 cans, two filled with compost and an empty one for turning.

      I filled new raised beds with half-done compost topped with a few bags of garden soil. It settles each year, so you need to add more each spring before you plant. This makes absolutely beautiful garden soil. Weeds don’t come up, and I don’t need fertilizer.

        1. Well, then, I’ll add a little more detail! If you use manure from animals that graze the fields or are fed alfalfa, you will get a lot of weed seeds, too. (Not that you shouldn’t, if that’s what you’ve got, but be prepared for weeds). Anything that eats food from a bag, such as rabbits or chickens, is good.

          Also, if you use paper shreds, you will get a lot of misleading info. Coated printing paper (like junk mail) is OK because it is coated with kaolin–which is clay. I don’t compost paperboard used for frozen food packaging because it is coated with plastic. Also, you may be told not to use paper printed with colored ink. This is old school info–REALLY old school. Printer’s ink in all colors has been soy-based for at least 35 years. Back in the day, I worked on a newspaper and sat through many an OSHA safety lecture on printer’s ink, so I know it is soy.

            1. I don’t compost them because I think they would take a long time to break down. (There is nothing in or on the box that would make it bad for compost). If you decide to try it, be sure to cut or tear the boxes into small pieces (which seems like a lot of work to me!). If you are filling a raised bed, line the bottom of the bed with cardboard and it will suppress weeds and grass.

      1. I live on 2000 acre farm. HOAs are not a thing here. They actually care about how many garbage cans you have or do they care about composting ???
        One of my fave things about this site is learning about people’s lives who do not live in the middle of a soybean field. People who live on 1/10 of acre and fill it with fresh fruits and veggies and I live on 2000 acres and the only food we grow are pecans in our front yard from trees my daddy planted over 55 years ago.

        1. Most of our city here has HOAs, as it was cheaper for the builders to not build roads up to city standards and to require the HOA to maintain the road and landscaping.

          Some places here the HOA is so strict it will tell you what plants you can plant, what hours your garbage cans are allowed to be out, etc. Most houses here are on a .10 to .16 acre lot. Some places are built so close they can’t have a wall between them.

          The city now requires you to use their trashcans; there is a limit to how many you can have. There are no green bins for garden waste. Our HOA requires them to be kept behind the gate unless it is trash day, but at least they’re not limited to only two hours a day by the curb, which is ridiculous, as the trash man comes at all different times and people are at work after the trash man has come by.

          I’m grateful that I can grow food in my garden and that fruit trees are not prohibited as they are in the HOA just a block away.

  36. -For family Oktoberfest dinner, made pretzels along with Obatzda ( cheese sauce) with grandchildren.
    -As prices continue to climb in major grocery stores continuing to stock pantry.
    -Used a tablecloth with bench pad to update a bench; painted with paint we already had on hand.
    -Does anyone create Christmas crackers for their Christmas dinner? If so, what do you use for a pop?

    1. Hi Nancy
      I live in the UK and buy Christmas cracker snaps from Amazon. Often they are available as a set with paper hats and jokes if that’s what you want. I just buy the snaps. I expect US Amazon will have them too.

  37. We’ve had a busy couple of weeks.
    * Received 2 huge boxes of fruit, vegetables, and a little meat from a friend
    * Bought 2 rotisserie/baked chickens on sale. Divided into several meals and made stock
    * Got as many books/audiobooks from Libby, Hoopla, and Kindle as possible
    I only paid for 1 boxed set- $1
    * Went for another camping trip. It was only 30 hours, but we packed in hiking, fishing; bike riding, and a bonfire. Got free wood to use for it.
    * Made several trips to Goodwill to drop off boxes. My daughter and I are doing a major decluttering since our situation has changed and items are no longer needed.
    * Sold 1 item online – made $10
    * Fueled up with a discount card. We got .70 cents/gal off
    * Driving practice for a teen as much as possible
    * We have already had our first frost, so other than a couple plants, our garden is done.
    (It hit about 2 weeks earlier than usual)
    * Opening windows at night and early in the morning means no A/C.
    * Got a large amount in a Menards rebate. Used it to buy needed window shades and oil changing supplies. My oldest son installed the shades and my husband changed the oil. Thankful for them since they can do so much themselves. It saves us time and money.

    I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s week.
    Can’t wait to hear about more garden plans, Brandy!

  38. We went apple picking with my parents. I packed a cooler with food and drinks for all of us.
    My oldest sister had to have emergency surgery. We live in different states. When she came home, Hubby and I went to see her on Saturday. I brought all of the food with us. We cooked it at her house. I made lots of leftovers so she wouldn’t have to cook for a few days. She is a single mom. I had everything in the house except for the NY bagels.
    My other sister is selling here apartment in NY City. She also owns a house. She has been cleaning it out so I have been given lots of stuff. This week I got a Northface winter coat, 2 pairs of jeans, 6 tops, 7 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of shoes, 6 dresses, 2 sweatshirts, a 2 pack of colored socks and a 6 pack of white socks. There were several other clothing items that didn’t fit or aren’t my style (ripped jeans) so I will be passing them on.
    I dug up a bunch of marigolds from my vegetable garden and planted them in my front garden beds to add some fall colors. My youngest and I decorated with stuff we have had for years. The only thing we bought was pumpkins from Aldi. I will cook them at some point.
    We haven’t used A/C or the heat all week. This is my favorite kind of weather. Windows open during the day and closed at night.
    Amazon had a $10 off $30 coupon for household items. I stocked up on a few items. With the coupon I was able to get the items cheaper than I would have elsewhere.
    We have been going on lots of walks and doing things at home. Having a puppy is entertainment by itself.
    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  39. What a blessing that you are able to do most of the work in the garden yourselves. I’m sure it will be difficult and time-consuming, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourselves and at a price you could afford. 😊 Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were roasted whole chicken with corn and macaroni, fried eggs with sausage and biscuits, chicken noodle soup, seared salmon with roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts, hamburgers and chips, garlic orzo chicken with tossed salad, grilled pork loin with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.
    *Redeemed a survey code for a free Whopper and a free apple pie. Used the surveys on those receipts to earn two more coupons.
    *Used FB to notify my ladies bible study about a Diaper/Baby Wipe Shower we will be having for one of the ladies in a few weeks at our study. They will each bring individually served food to share, as well.
    *Put the chicken carcass in the crockpot to make stock. Picked leftover chicken from the bones and made chicken noodle soup.
    *Pulled chickpeas I had cooked from the freezer and made hummus.
    *Cut and colored my own hair.
    *Met with a friend for ice cream instead of a meal. $3 for a salted caramel waffle cone was worth it! 😁
    *Visited with my parents one evening after dinner so neither of us would have to buy or prepare anything.
    *Accepted a free lunch at work.
    *My husband and I take showers one right after the other in the evening so the water doesn’t have to heat twice.
    *Used free lotion samples.
    *Filled 3 different spray bottles with water and bleach, ammonia and citrus vinegar for cleaning.
    *Cleaned out my linen closet. Gave a friend a set of king size flannel sheets. Sorted through my sewing pile and got rid of things that I realistically was not going to repair. Cut any buttons off and saved them.
    *Took the 10lb box of irregular bacon I got last week and split it into 1/2 lb portions.
    *Made a loaf of french bread in the breadmaker.

  40. I am really enjoying your gardening plans. I took out 2 non-producing trees several years ago, so I understand.
    Brought breakfast and lunch to work the three days I worked. I am kind of getting used to this semi-retirement of mine.
    Got limit of 2 pounds of butter for $1.99/lb.
    My DH made another pot of spaghetti sauce using items from the garden. He loves spaghetti, I tire of it easily, unless I am so exhausted, I just want food.
    I made Mexican chicken with corn black beans and onions (all from the garden) and homemade taco seasoning and salsa. Cooked it in the crockpot all day, then shredded the chicken.
    Picked the rest of our candy onions. They are almost as sweet as Walla Wallas, but keep much better. Also cleaned them and they are now in storage.
    Dug the rest of the potatoes. Sorted them for ones to use first (like I punctured it with the fork while I dug them) We have both Yukon Gold and Kennebunc. I think I prefer the Yukon Golds.
    Cleaned the freezer. Really just organized it to make room for the rest of the things I need to freeze.
    Made up a batch of Italian seasoning. Gave some to one of my sons, when he visited.
    Had popcorn for a snack twice.
    Dried parsley, and have extra corn, so am trying drying corn.
    Made zucchini fritters, potato corn chowder, zucchini cheese muffins, and tomato basil soup.
    Peeled tomatoes for the DH to use in making a batch of salsa this week.
    DH cleaned out, and then prepared and planted a 4×8 raised bed of garlic.
    Son and his fiancee stopped by. Loaded them up with veggies – lettuce, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, onions and carrots.
    It seemed like we did so much more, but the garden is huge and harvesting and preparing veggies for use and/or storage takes quite a bit of time.
    Gave tomatoes and corn to the neighbor who had a baby about a month ago.
    A friend of my DH’s moved up from California last week. (We lived in CA the first 10 years of our marriage.) He stopped by the house on the way to his new place and DH loaded him up with the same produce we gave our son.
    I love having enough that I am able to share with people I know will use it.
    Hope everyone has a good and fruitful week.

  41. Cooked Indian Lentil Soup, Beet Soup, A big pot of pinto beans and ate bean burritos for several days. Used the pressure cooker to cook the beans and save money. Opened windows for fresh cool air. Harvested veggies, including beets, tomatoes, carrots, a couple cucumbers, watermelon, thai melon, kale , mustard greens. Swiss chard was eaten by something but seems to be making a comeback. The tomatoes that I started form seed then my husband planted them in the ground have huge tomatoes on them. I am hoping they ripen before we have a frost or I may pick them early and let them ripen inside. Bought some beautiful blouses and a pair of smaller jeans, since I lost weight, from a thrift shop. It is just a size smaller. But, I am very happy. My mom told me she would teach me how to take in my other jeans after Christmas. I have been watching youtube videos on sewing. Looked at the stars with my husband for free entertainment. Cooked together while playing his music playlist from our dating days.

  42. It is a lot of work to do that much yard work. I know it will look so good when you finish, though, and it sounds like it will better meet your needs, which is important when you live on a small area vs. living in the country where you have land to spare. I’m learning that. It’s a different mindset, for sure.

    I spent hours tying up berry bushes, pulling up finished plants in the garden and am still preserving food. There are pictures of my progress on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. We did German cabbage, Giardiniera, dried tomatoes, dried zucchini and dried apples, and canned apple pie filling.

    My husband really wanted to make Giardiniera. He found huge heads of cauliflower at a farm stand for $3 each, and we used some in that vegetable mixture and blanched and froze several packages. We used peppers from the garden, all of the smallest onions from our crop, and carrots left from the 25 pound bag Rob purchased a few weeks ago. There were so many recipes for the Giardiniera on the internet. Every one was different and the sugar content varied greatly. Some had zero sugar and lots of spices and vinegar. Some were so loaded with sugar–cups and cups and cups. After some research into what was safe, we chose a middle ground–some sugar, but not an excessive amount. I’m eagerly awaiting a little time to pass so I can taste this! We made a lot, so I hope it’s good:). We were able to use spices that either were given to us, or we had purchased in bulk. We left out anything we did not have, figuring that it varied so much from recipe to recipe that it would not matter.

    We picked cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, green beans, one last batch of cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini from the garden. We also cleared out a bunch of the old plants, mowed and tilled that area. The fall/winter veggies are growing and I was able to pick lettuce again and we have had several salads from that.

    Rob picked up some free kids’ books from the side of the road. He also got a Tupperware celery keeper. It is a rectangular container with a rack in the bottom. For years, we used it for garden lettuce until mine gave up the ghost. It holds the leaves up above the water that always collects in the bottom because I always wash the lettuce well before putting it in the fridge. So, I’m over the moon about that find! In this same pile, he got me a casserole dish which I’ve already used 3 times.

    We got a huge package of “floursack” dishcloths from Walmart and I stamped them with embroidery designs. My daughter was wanting to embroider and she likes making towels. These are very inexpensive in the 10-pack and dry dishes really well. The embroidery floss selection was slim, and the clerk told me they might get some black thread in by the end of October, but she couldn’t promise since they were having trouble getting it. We have a lot of floss, and found her some black elsewhere, but it was interesting to know that floss was in short supply (?). Who knew?

    I shopped at Safeway and used a $10 off $50 coupon plus several store coupons loaded on my card. I got 2 tiny Ibotta rebates. I just didn’t need most of the featured items right now, so I saved money by not buying them and not getting lots of rebates this time.

    I was given various food from several sources this week–popcorn, a box of canned items, and lots and lots of apples and other produce. The canned items were given to Rob’s mom and she couldn’t use them all so she passed them on. Some were slightly outdated, so I sorted them out for immediate use. Some were very different from what we eat and buy, but I’ve already found ways to use a couple of them. Fava beans in a can, anyone? I added them to some other beans and made a large pan of baked beans. We ate some, and froze some for later.

  43. It sounds like you and your family will have a lot of labor intense work ahead of you given the description of your soil, but you have never shirked hard work and always make everything you touch beautiful. DH and I believe in having multiple income streams, especially passive income, and we like to think outside “the box.” I’m going to suggest that you may want to think about writing a gardening book now that you will be starting from scratch again in some areas of your garden. You will be taking before and after photos for the work to be done anyway, plus high-quality photos of your existing garden coupled with your writing skills and excellent photography I’m sure many people who live and may want to garden but don’t know how would welcome a gardening book for your desert climate. Even if it’s only a downloadable E-book, I’m thinking that there could be many potential customers for it and it would be another income stream for you. I know you’re super busy already so please don’t take offense at my suggestion.

    I dehydrated more apples and made more applesauce from the bushel of apples we picked up at a farm last week. Made 4 apple walnut cakes (3 I gave away to various family/ friends) which were so good – using a Taste of Home recipe. Some of our meals: homemade minestrone (using my basil), butternut squash soup (using your recipe – it was delicious); stuffed bella mushrooms (on sale 24 oz for $3.49); grilled salmon with grilled veggies; grilled steak & baked potatoes (russets on sale for $1.99); chicken cutlets with steamed veggies – bought eggplants, onions, peppers, carrots, beets, kale, lettuces at Lidl all organic and about 1/2 the cost of my local supermarket. Lidl opened last year about 1 hour away since I was in the area I stopped by; one will be opening early next year about 40 min away and am looking forward to shopping there. The produce is excellent. I was given (as were other customers) a bouquet of flowers for free ($9.99 price) by one of the store associates – they had received a new shipment and these were looking a little “tired” Flowers were lovely and lasted nearly a week! In case you’re not familiar with Lidl – it’s a German company similar to Aldis but Lidl has a much larger organic section.

    We went on a hike in one of our huge county parks (no hunting is allowed in this park)- saw tons of blueberry, wild blackberry, wild raspberry bushes; also mulberry, crab apple and apple trees. Along the stream bank all sorts of edible greens grow too – like fiddlehead fern, etc. We have hiked in this park in the past but I didn’t think much of this bounty before for human use – I know the birds and deer enjoy them – but since now I’m more aware of potential food shortages, it’s good to know that we could forage for fruit if we had to!

    The governor/legislature raised the gasoline tax by nearly $0.10 effective 10/1. We went from $2.20 a gallon to $2.30 a gallon overnight because of this added tax. We now pay $0.50 in taxes per gallon of gasoline. This plus the 20% increase in tolls for state roads and bridges that took place 2 weeks ago we are told is due to the State being closed down for several months due to Covid and is to raise revenue to maintain roads. We are adding $20 more a month to our gasoline budget. We can afford it, but I feel sorry for those for whom this will be a hardship. Our town has no public transportation and our County as a whole has very little public transportation so an auto is necessary.

    At Michael’s found cases of 12-pack/ pint Ball glass mason jars with lids/bands for $9.99. I bought one case. No coupons could be applied according to a sign, but I had a 15% off coupon I had received – I also purchased other items – and when I looked at my receipt, the 15% was taken off my entire order. I thought the price was a little high, but they carry a 12 pack/pint size of plastic jars for $6.99 so based upon that, I thought the glass ones at $9.99 were a bargain as I can use them for food storage.

    We went to an in-water boat show where we saw some magnificent boats and enjoyed a ride on the water. Masks had to be worn and a limited pre-registered crowd. Not frugal is the cost of these boats. We sold ours years ago and put the proceeds into a future boat fund. We will not order one this year, but will wait a year or so and buy a gently used one when many of these boats will be resold by the original owners for 35-40% less as depreciation on boats is much higher than that of a car or truck. Just about everyone we know owns a boat, so it’s not a hardship for DH to wait. Have a good week!

    1. Mari,

      I am amazed at how LOW your gasoline prices are! In California, taxes make them close to $5 a gallon (and then there are the prices in Europe, where it’s closer to $5 a liter, or $20 a gallon!).

      I appreciate your book suggestion, though I think it would have to be a few years in the making if I were to do something like that, as a garden has to grow in for 3-4 years before it’s photo-worthy!

      1. Brandy, my suggestion was just to “plant a seed” in case the idea hadn’t occurred to you 🙂
        Yes, compared to Cali, Hawaii (DH was stationed in both those states) and Europe our gas prices are more reasonable – but they were at $2.00 p/g pre-pandemic so to us they are high. Since crude oil has been trading very low all year – currently at about $40 per barrel (West Texas Crude) it’s all the state added taxes and regulations that make gasoline so expensive!

      2. Brandy,
        Here in the UK at the moment, we are paying around £1.10 per litre for petrol which is about £5 per gallon. Diesel is about 5 pence litre more.
        Kim in Birmingham, UK

    2. Mari,
      The gardening e-book is a wonderful idea. I never would have thought of it but I can see how it could be very useful and the photos would be beautiful.
      Nice idea!!

      1. Thank you Kim – my DH and I own several businesses so we try to think about how what we like to do can also be monetized. We are building an inheritance not just for our children but for our children’s children as the Bible guides us to do.

    3. Gas prices are all over the place in my state. I saw them for $1.62 a gallon an hour and a half north of where I live. They are $1.99 in a town twenty miles from me, and in the town I work gas prices are $2.15!

  44. We had a quiet week, which I always appreciate.
    We stuck to my menu plan and ate all our meals at home. We went on a short drive to look at the fall colors and packed a simple picnic lunch. We ate in the car with the windows rolled down and it was very pleasant.
    Got out my Fall decor boxes out and pulled out a few things to place around our home to make it cheery. Didn’t buy anything new.
    Did grocery pick up again. This really does save me money because I’m not wandering around the store. I figure I might miss some mark downs, but I think I make up for it by not impulse buying.
    Wanted a little something different to decorate the kitchen and I remembered something I had stored after my daughters wedding reception a while ago. It looks great and I didn’t buy anything new.
    Decided it was time to take a look at our 72 hour emergency kits. We still had a couple for children that no longer live here. I opened everything up and reassessed and combined. Only had to throw out a few things. For food, I bought emergency bars a couple years ago and was pleased to see that they are good til March of 2024. I replaced some hand warmers (we are in Minnesota) and refreshed the first aid kit. Other than that we are good and that gives me peace of mind.
    Still adding to our food storage by spending $5-10 extra a week. I’m feeling good about where we are at. My daughter found yeast at a store by her and picked some up for me. It’s been hard to get around here, so I’m grateful to have that stored again.
    I continue to crochet, knit and sew from my stash and that is good entertainment for me. I’ve also run out of new books to read and I currently can’t get to the library, so I’m rereading some beloved books I’ve kept over the years. One good thing about getting older is my memory is changed just enough that I don’t remember all the details anymore, so it’s almost like reading new books! I also have a made a list of books I’d like to read to give ideas to my family for gifts, if they ask. If I don’t make a list I won’t remember in the moment.
    Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Becky, have you tried using the library apps to read e-books on your phone for free?

      I didn’t think I would like it, but I do! I also likes that it keeps my page for me.

  45. We are working in our garden too. We have lived in this house one year. The yard was bare when we bought it. I brought cuttings of blackberries, grapes, fig, salvias, collard trees. They were all planted last fall. Some need moved. We bought 4 fruit trees and will buy one more this year. We are removing all of our grass by covering with cardboard and then free wood chips (dropped by tree trimming service). I evacuated last week, so lost 6 days of work around our house and yard. The house is safe and I am home, so I’m thankful. We expanded one raised bed. I have received free starts of all my winter veggies. And I’ve started a few with seeds that I already had. I have shared arugula starts with the neighbors, as well as tomatoes. One neighbor invited us to pick their figs, as many as we like! So we go over every few days. The only fruit I buy is bananas, the rest of our fruit is the figs. I only buy carrots, as we have enough leafy greens in our garden.
    My aunt bought me a scanner so I can scan all our family pictures (27 years worth). I was very grateful. Having to evacuate brought this task to the top of my list.
    I have a large pile of items that need to be listed on ebay/FB marketplace. I have decided that next week is going to be selling week. I seem to get more done if I do lots of one thing, rather than bits of many things. Tomorrow is cooking day. My daughter left many cans of garbanzo beans. I’m making curry with them, using the last of the free apples that are a bit soft in a crumble, and making a salad.
    I always enjoy reading everyone’s comments, thank you.

  46. Brandy, did you mention you might do a post on thrifty meals? With the rising prices and uncertainties that would be great! And I imagine the comments would be a treasure too, with tips, recipes, vegetarian dishes, substitutions, personally created concoctions (especially using little meat), balancing usual and inexpensive meals during the week, etc. I’m hoping you are considering doing such a column.

    1. Brandy’s done many posts on thrifty meals. A search for “40 cents a day” will yield a treasure trove.

  47. We harvested the last of the produce from the garden – mini bell peppers and squash. We decided to try cold frames in the spring for an early start so will wait on that. I hope to order seeds by the end of this month.

    The wood we cut last week was sold and delivered this week. That will help with a medical bill and the rest into savings.

    I saved a small amount buying pet food through Chewy, submitted receipts to rebate apps, got 2 Christmas stocking stuffers for each daughter, and used the library for reading fun.

    More on my blog at https://cottageonblackberrylane.com/frugal-living-october-3/

  48. We bought 40 pounds of ground beef on sale last week and spent the next several days turning it into freezer meals: sloppy joes, chili, enchiladas, spaghetti sauce, taco meat and taco soup. I think it will help to have ready meals in case of illness and it will allow me to keep other things frozen longer. Also, these are complete meals so no problem with needing substitutions because of shortages.

    Family flu shots for everyone.

    My son helped me to rip out some old half dead evergreen shrubs that were foundation plantings along the front of the house. I’m not sure what to do with this space. It is south facing with a maple tree, but it might work as a place for winter cold frames when the tree is bare.

    I just got an email that the Moscow Ballet will be streaming The Nutcracker for several weeks in December through the MarqueeTV channel on Roku. You purchase a digital ticket, one per household, starting at $24.99 and then sign in through the streaming channel. I have seen this performance in person twice in the past with my daughters and it is a really lovely production. I will definitely be doing this with my family.

  49. This week was quite fruitful. My favorite dumpster finds were Salmon, Tyson chuck roast kits, Asparagus and spaghetti squash. We retrieved a $400.00 self cleaning cat litter box along with the box of refill items. This item was a store return and I will pass it on to a friend. I managed to retrieve a box and hide it before sugar cookie saw it. Its a sewing machine. New in box with factory seals on it. Its marked as ” last years model ” . THis will be a Christmas gift . I met a young couple who traded me a cat tree for a box of items. We traded details. Retrieving dog food is hard work and I’m not going to go anymore. This man was happy to have that location. A local party store dumped two huge boxes filled with boxes of Hershey products. I’m passing that on to homeless shelter. I searched out deals on Deal news.com . I found three Amazon.com offers. I bought 10 at whole foods and got 10 back for prime day. Spent 15 at small business and got 10 back. Bought 15 on book and got 10 back. I will use my 30 on prime day for small Christmas gifts. I also bought 5 gifts at Melissa and Doug seen on this same site. With coupon code and free shipping and 50 % off, I got 5 items for 21.00 . Henry has Christmas and birthday gifts for December. I also gifted my sweet Henry with a box of dumpster items. Packs of socks, baby wipes and a book. Animal cookies, vanilla wafers and more bananas than he can possibly eat. I am so happy that all my young adults home from college have found part time jobs. It has really started to add up covering the larger expenses. I don’t buy much for myself. I read mainly online but do receive one print magazine. My subscription is up. I found an offer for $9.00 a year. I bought two years of cooks illustrated and 2 years of cooks country. $36.00 is so much better than $100.00 . I hope to find a few more random online offers for Xmas. I hope everyone is having a great week. I have tons of food to process. Meal prepping is hard work for so many people and so much food.

    1. Brandi
      I live in Birmingham, UK and we are paying £1.10 per litre which is just over £5.00 per gallon. The dearest I have seen is £1.19
      per gallon.

      Kim Cranson

  50. I’ve been slogging away on the book — the historian who is proofreading the first 2 chapters is slow but meticulous so that’s good and really worthwhile. He is more like an editor as he comments on logical assumptions we’ve made. That’s what I really wanted and needed.

    A friend is going to the market so I’m asking her to pick up some very small delicata squash, and other squash as they keep really well. Then if you put them in the oven with a baked potato and a beet (or more to save electricity), then that’s very healthy for dinner.

    I saved quite a bit of money by stocking up at No Frills. I saved about $50 and spent $80. I now am stocked up again with canned soup, canned baked beans, 30 packages of pasta (which yields 5 meals each),
    10 jars of pasta sauce, canned tomatoes (so I can make my own spaghetti sauce), canned vegetables, canned fruit, yeast, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lentils (dried and canned), dried split peas, dried kidney and white beans, the Honest Earth mashed potatoes (114 servings), some juice (although I don’t usually drink juice), chocolate, evaporated and condensed milk for Christmas baking, a tub of Crisco. Although I planned to make jam, I haven’t done so yet. I bought 3 jars of Smucker’s jam at $3 each (usually $4.50). I might experiment and make quince jam if my friend can buy quince at the market for me. I am still short of some type of canned meat. I have ten pounds of carrots ($2.50) in the fridge. I have 25 bars of soap (bought on sale). I am getting some more apples, oranges, and pears to eat fresh. I intend to leave my pantry mostly intact for emergency use. I need extra shampoo, and would like to get extra olive or canola oil. I probably should get some pickling vinegar, plus regular vinegar and more bleach.On a monthly basis from here on, I’ll just get some fresh produce and meats. I don’t have a separate freezer so am limited. What I really need to buy are pants as mine all fall down now.

    I can’t eat fish, rice, or eggs so that is limiting. Once the book is done, and housework and yardwork are done, I will start baking my own bread during my upcoming hibernation. My gardener kindly offered me a used bread machine but I turned her down due to a shortage of counter space and also I can make bread with my Kitchen Aid I have never done that but there is always a first time. I plan on getting in to much more of a routine and make my own bread and yogourt during the winter.

    I’d like to know how many of you use just plain active yeast and how many use quick-rising yeast.

    1. Ellie,
      I use my kitchenaid to mix my bread dough. I let my dough knead for about 10 minutes or so. (I also have a bread machine, and use that to make doughs if I have and hour and a half. I don’t bake any bread in it except a 60 minute loaf as it bakes a drier crumb.) I prefer oven baked bread. I love instant yeast. It is so nice to just mix it into the recipe without proofing it! I just put my liquids in the bowl and then add the dry ingredients and lastly the yeast. I buy a one pound package and pour it into a mason jar and store in my fridge. I hope you get a chance to try it. I think you will be pleased with the results. I’m glad you were able to stock up. It is comforting to have a plan.

      1. Hi Deanna,

        Thanks for your comments. I hope to buy an $8 jar of instant quick rise yeast next week. I like not having to proof it. Ann

    2. Hi Ann – you have done really well and are certainly stocked up! I’m done with all the basics, now I’m buying treats, unusual bits & pieces (just bought a box of potato latke mix) and more items for baking – got a can of chestnut puree this morning.
      Glad to hear that the book is coming along – it must be a bit frustrating with all the back and forth but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.
      I have both types of yeast and use them mostly interchangeably. I know some will have their preference but I don’t really see much difference. I have both types plus some other yeast specifically for pizza dough.
      Got my pneumonia vaccine last week (had the super one so did have to pay a bit) but then got my free flu shot. I popped into Shoppers yesterday to pick up some prescriptions and asked if the vaccine was in yet. When they said yes I told them I’d be back next week as I was going to do some shopping. They mentioned that my doctor had me down for the heavy duty shot and it was in low supply so I got it done there and then!

  51. I use quick rising because that is what Sam’s Club carries, and that’s where I buy mine. I haven’t seen much difference myself, but I mostly use the bread machine for bread/pizza dough. If I get the urge to make rolls or cinnamon buns, I usually do it the old fashioned way, by hand.

  52. My DH has experimented and uses less yeast than called for so a jar lasts us a long time. 1/4 tsp for pizza dough and 1/2 tsp for bread. He uses the quick rise. My DH was just automatically switched from CERB to EI so in weeks he doesn’t earn too much he will receive $500 for a max of 34 weeks in the next year. Such a blessing.

      1. Hi Ellie’s Friend,

        I also prefer instant yeast and buy a pound package and keep it in the fridge. It lasts two years. I make bread, pizza dough, savory stuffed rolls (like cinnamon rolls but usually stuffed with cheese, tomato slices, ham, etc), honey glazed whole wheat rolls, and an occasional Swedish coffee cake.

        The instant yeast is so much easier. One thing I learned from watching “Great British Baking Show” is to keep the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the flour mixture when you add them.

  53. My week was not frugal at all–we had a new roof put on the house and barn. Badly needed. I can now concentrate on finding someone to fix some plaster that got wet with some heavy rains we had earlier in the summer, and then, of course, the bedroom will need painting. We are no longer able to do it ourselves so it will be the first time ever for paying someone to do it. We did everything ourselves up until recently, but at 77 and 78, we just aren’t prepared to continue. I also want to paper the top half of the bathroom, which has wainscoting on the bottom half. I did buy some paint to paint the porch steps, which I think I can manage, and if there is time, I would like to paint the floors of the porches too.
    Today was kind of a nightmare of noise and confusion –yesterday I managed to go out for some errands while they were tossing the old roof pieces onto the ground!
    Our lives have been fairly uninteresting due to the covid restrictions but my husband’s dementia keeps things from getting too dull. He can remember nothing except from years ago, and can’t tell you if he ate breakfast or lunch. If he can’t sleep he manages to walk around the house all night and move things around, just in case I want something extra to do the next day. I will never have everything where it belongs again. What we do for fun is go for car rides, mostly on the most deserted country roads I can find, which is quite interesting. We have some Amish and Mennonite settlements nearby and I like being surprised by young people on bicycles or scooters on their way to work. I am a customer of their bulk foods store, which has some great bargains. I especially like paying .75 a pound for old fashioned oats, which I turn into granola weekly using Brandy’s recipe. We like it SO much!
    Keeping track of things is difficult and I think I will have to hire an aide soon as he requires more care (and more laundry) every week. I am trying to declutter things we’re not using but he manages to find my hiding places and keeps trying on clothes that no longer fit him. I wanted to save all the one size smaller than he is wearing items but I have to hide them or they need to be laundered just from being pawed through too often. I am looking forward to longer indoor hours in the winter in hope of cleaning, de-cluttering, and possibly even sewing once in a while.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends.

  54. I’m a first time commenter but a long time reader. Brandy, I must give you a long overdue thank you. I found your blog when I was first married and trying to figure out how to do all the homemaking things I never learned growing up. My husband and I got married young and had very little money or extra support, but through your blog (and the blog Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher) I learned so much. Now that we are more established in life it’s such a blessing to be able to save money and give to charity without worry and weather times like this knowing we are prepared. I also find I really enjoy the tasks that lead to saving money!

    This week I stocked up on meat for our freezer and spent $77.40. I hadn’t bought meat in three months! As usual I cooked all our meals at home. I made jerk chicken and pasta salad, baked sweet potatoes, homemade cereal, spinach and goat cheese salad, eggs, oranges, peanut butter cookies, vegetable lo mein, and butternut squash bisque (with evaporated milk rather than heavy cream). My pantry and freezer are both in excellent shape so shopping this week will only take me to the produce market. Our local produce shop has very good prices so it will probably be less than $25 for the week. I need to do some meal planning tonight!

    I also repaired some pajamas. I started hunting around for deals on things I’ll be purchasing as Christmas gifts and bookmarking them. My tiny city garden is still doing well despite the temperature dropping here. I am still getting Japanese eggplants, jalapeno peppers, caballero peppers, and even a few tomatoes although they are definitely on the way out. This was my first year with any space for a garden so I’m pretty pleased!

  55. Hello M in North East
    Well done for growing and harvesting some veg from your small garden, anything you grow will taste better than shop bought. Have you tried growing any herbs? This can be a money saver and only needs a few pots, plus fresh herbs are good for your health and enliven home cooking. Good luck!

    1. Hi and thanks! I grew basil and sage this year. I loved the basil but was ‘just ok’ about the sage. I would really like to try growing mint and dill (plus basil) next year. I cook so much with mint and dill and I would love to have it at home in unlimited quantities! I was so surprised by how my basil got bigger and bigger the more I took from it.

  56. It’s my birthday week. So far used 5% off for Target order, got a free milkshake at Sonic ( took home to my 83 yo mom as a treat ) plus free entree at Newk’s. I always take a day for my birthday all by myself and do things I love that my friends and family only tolerate. That day is tomorrow. I’ve got three birthday freebies (DQ, Panera and Arby’s) on the schedule. Some others have extended expiration dates so I’m saving those for EOM pet sitting in Memphis.
    My favorite frugal thing in recent weeks wasn’t my doing at all. My SiL has been saving up for new iPhone 11. She finally got one and to my surprise gave me her old 8+. I had an out of memory 4 and I am loving this new one. I tell her Thank You at least once a week. I can have apps, I can take pictures, I can have music. Didn’t realize what an antique mine was until I got this one. She called and said “your phone is not gonna work anymore and your brother is bringing you my old one as your new one”. Win/win for us both.
    My sister made our mom’s 3 hour spaghetti sauce for my birthday and sent me home with 2 days of leftovers. I am typically anti-leftovers but this stuff is great next day.

    1. I usually cook with it. Nevertheless, we’ve had these grapes now for 14 years, and we wanted seedless grapes for fresh eating. It’s time to make the change to what we wanted in the first place.

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