It was a beautiful week where the windows could be open most days (save for the super windy days).

We enjoyed salads from the garden with lettuce, mache, spinach, green onions, and parsley.

We are eating lots of beans now and limiting our meals with meat to save more money. To that end, I stocked up on more beans for the pantry as well as some bulk popcorn. We have stove-popped popcorn for snacks several days each week.

When I went shopping with my daughters, one wanted to buy some pizza for dinner at the grocery store that night. I passed on buying pizza and we came home and ate leftovers for dinner instead, a savings of $14, plus the leftovers weren’t wasted.

I was tempted to buy chocolate Easter rabbits this year, (I even put some in my cart that were $0.67 each–and then put them back on the shelf) but instead resolved to make my own again this year using molds and melting chocolate that I already have on hand.

I buried kitchen scraps in the garden to improve my soil for free. (Here’s an excellent video on burying kitchen scraps. I have had the same experience that banana peels are completely gone after 5 weeks). My mom’s friend gave me some coffee ground to add to the garden, which I was grateful to have. My mom used to give hers to me as well, and I asked if she would start doing that again so I will have more to add to the garden in the future.

I read an article about making liquid fertilizer from various plants in the garden, including comfrey, borage, dandelions, and grass. All were steeped in water for a couple of weeks and then the mix was further diluted with water to use to fertilize plants in the garden. I will consider using this method in the future, especially using what I already have (grass) and using borage leaves, as I have grown borage in the past and still have some seeds for it.

I cut Swiss chard from the garden and used it in fried rice (along with snow peas and green onions from the garden), and steamed it as a side dish with lemon juice from the garden. Swiss chard bolts in my garden in April when it heats up, so I’ll be cutting lots in the upcoming weeks to use before planting new seeds.

I harvested snow peas from the garden. We had these with carrots and homemade dip, and the children ate them fresh from the garden.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Home Depot gift card in March, and a $25 Amazon gift card in April, “purchasing” them at the discounted 12% off rate (you can redeem one $25 gift card per month at the discounted rate).

I sowed seeds in the garden for roselle hibiscus, watermelon, peanuts, and vincas.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Your garden is lovely, looks like the gardens in magazines.
    The best news I have had this week is that GSon has got a job after a lengthy spell out of work. He has a live in job with meals included.
    I have gratefully received yarn from a friend, I will share this with my daughter and donate any spare to the knit and natter group.
    As usual I have cooked meals from scratch, read books from the library and only bought fresh veg and milk.
    Found some ginger root in the fridge that was looking tired so I peeled ,diced and open froze it ready for use in the next few weeks.
    We had frost and snow last Thursday, I think this has killed the plum blossom so no plums this year but the apples are not in flower yet so fingers crossed.
    I have peas, potatoes, cabbage, brussels,spinach, lettuce and carrots germinated in the greenhouse and field beans , spinach and chard ready to harvest in the garden. My perpetual spinach has started to go to seed so I will pick what I can and freeze it tomorrow and then let it grow to save seed from ,I also have parsnips growing for seed.
    Paul Lewis ,a money and finance journalist from the BBC remarked yesterday that because of the relative cost of gas and electricity it is now cheaper to boil water on the gas hob than an electric kettle for your tea. In fact it is cheaper to cook anything by gas than electric. So I will cook my stew tomorrow on the hob. Also he said to turn off all appliances including microwaves and ovens when they are not in use and to charge phones, tablets and all batteries during the day rather than at night as they will still draw current when they are fully charged which takes about 3 hours and leaving them plugged in for 8 hours will shorten the life of the batteries .
    We can now no longer get covid tests for free and all Covid regulation have been dropped. It is said 1 in 13 have covid this weeks! From now on we will not have any numbers are they will not be collected.
    Please keep safe everyone

  2. What a lovely surprise, to find your post this morning. I have used the liquid fertilizer from plants method several times. You can use any of your weeds for this as well. In case the article didn’t warn you, it does get stinky while breaking down, so you may want to make it in a more out of the way spot. I’m still working on my post, but some frugal accomplishments from last week were shopping at my co-op, who were giving a one time 25% discount off your purchase in March, making my husband German chocolate brownies for his birthday, and making hummus and packing a picnic for a little road trip we took to Pilot Mountain and area for his birthday. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone else has been up to!

  3. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your garden is looking lovely as it settles down and you’re meeting your goal of growing even more food in an attractive design. We make free liquid fertilizer each year from comfrey, it’s excellent stuff but the smell is revolting.
    We picked leeks, spring onions,the last of the parsnips, Swiss chard and rainbow chard and planted out sweet peas and more broad bean plants. We sowed seed for rocket, pak choi, more beetroot, helenium, basil, cucumber and tomato.
    I made chicken stock from a carcass.
    I had one busy errand day to save fuel and took lots to the recycling centre and charity shop etc. We’re making a dent in the decluttering.
    I have been looking for months for a table lamp in the charity shops and was just beginning to despair when I found exactly what I wanted , certified to have been tested for safety etc. I already had a nice lampshade at home which fitted it.
    We need wood oil to treat our outdoor furniture and this week Lidl were selling it at a much better price than the DIY shops.
    Through a local Facebook group my husband bought about 40 seed trays and a large quantity of pots in all different sizes for ten pounds. The lady selling them is moving and might have more available as she packs up.
    BBC news today said there is going to be a shortage of some cooking oils because a lot comes from Russia and Ukraine. I am hoping UK grown rapeseed oil production might expand over time to fill that gap.
    Stay safe everyone.

  4. Would you mind sharing that liquid fertilizer article? I’ve been contemplating this idea and haven’t found many resources on the specifics of it (I’m familiar with compost tea, but I keep thinking there has to be similar, but different, options).
    Thank you for sharing any links to articles about inflation/water/shortages. They help me forge ahead in my garden planning with a clearer mind, avoiding the shock of what is coming. I have been prudent for 20 years, in my planning. But this has been inside the benefit of having water and being able to buy things at low prices.
    Within 3 years (according to the water commission, new local ordinances, etc), my area will be experiencing extreme drought ramifications. I know the local officials are walking on eggshells around this topic, as they will have to pull back hard, and fast, at some point. There are already ordinances for xeriscaping, which is fine except when we get rains, intense flooding happens. Thereby, these landscaping practices aren’t great for Monsoon seasons. Water retention and reclamation aren’t encouraged here.
    In fact, our local economy is based on crazy real estate growth, without regard to the resources.
    Once the reality of my city’s situation is uncapped, I know people will just let all of their yards die off. I mean no water=no options. However, I have concerns about the re-aridification or re-desertification of my area. The heat index with go up tremendously, trees will die, soils will deplete and erosion will be a problem. Should I also mention that I feel a great duty to plant a garden each year? No water is a terrible prospect. No food production is also a terrible prospect.
    I have been looking for resources that are more middle-ground ideas on how to be good stewards of resources, along with being a better producer of foodstuff.
    I have hope that there are reasonable answers! God gave me a mind a two hands to sort it out.
    Again, thank you for your resources and encouraging mindset!
    Your yard (life) is an example of both.

    1. I updated the post with a link! I had read the article on my phone and I write my posts on the computer, but I found the article and included the link.

    2. Have you looked into grey water? I have no experience myself (living in a humid climate), but the book ‘The New: Create an oasis with greywater’ by Art Ludwig is supposed to be really good and offer some simple grey water solutions as well as more complicated ones.

  5. Brandy, your garden is looking beautiful and so productive. To save money this week, I’ve bought larger packs of noodles and other dried goods then split them with my daughter. I’ve harvested lots of Swiss Chard, salad leaves and herbs from my cold greenhouse, unfortunately its too expensive to heat it. I bought some onion sets and seed potatoes on clearance so fingers crossed they grow well. I have lots of seedlings for vegetables and salad items still in my kitchen, they will be inside longer than usual as we were still getting snow showers yesterday, I’m in the UK.
    Repaired some trousers and made some pillow cases out of a worn bedsheets.
    Thank you for all your inspiration, it really helps in these difficult times.

  6. I think this is my first comment here, but I wanted to say that I have really enjoyed watching the progress of your garden! Seeing the planning, diy and hard work, and layout is really inspiring to me.

  7. Hello, frugal friends. Here in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia spring is trying to appear. Our temps have gone up and down all week. We have had several nights in the 20’s. I covered anything which had started to grow in the garden, which isn’t much at the moment. Brandy, I want to say the photo of the back of your house and garden is stunning. Your family must enjoy time outside when the weather allows.
    On the frugal front:
    *I ordered some new walking sneakers on line through Rakuten which included free shipping. I earned 3% cash back to my Rakuten account. The sneakers were about half the price of other websites,
    *I found a couple of clearance tee shirts at Walmart for 1 each for my grandsons. Walmart clearance used to be so much better but now things are not marked down like before, at least at the Walmart near me.
    *I ordered a kids meal for myself while we were traveling to Alabama to check on my mother in law. Ordering a kids meal is more economical for me as it is the right portion size and I get more items (chicken nuggets, fruit, and milk) for a smaller price.
    *My husband and I shared a dinner meal on this trip. There were enough leftovers for lunch for us both the next day.
    *We purchased a small solar battery with charging station for multiple devices along with the solar panels. It was pricey initially but we are using it daily to charge all our devices so I am curious to see how it affects our electric bill. We purchased it for a trip out west in the fall we have planned. It will operate a cooler we have which can be plugged into an electrical source to run like a little refrigerator/freezer. Both the solar charger and the cooler will be used often and be available in an emergency situation.
    *I am using small appliances to cook versus using my stove and oven. I discovered I can make a small breakfast casserole in my air fryer rather than using my oven. I will continue to experiment with this little appliance.
    *On the rare occasion I do use the oven I batch cook.
    *I have been turning off the burners a few minutes before the actual cooking time is done. We have talked about this before on this blog, but I have been trying this on things like noodles, oatmeal and vegetables. So far, so good.
    *I continue to hang as much laundry out on the line as I can, weather dependent. A little trick I learned along the way is to go ahead and put your damp bottom sheet on the bed to dry. I hang the top sheet over the shower curtain in the bathroom. The bottom sheet will dry quickly and then I make the bed. I know some people who go ahead and put both bottom and top sheets on the bed to dry and later add any blankets and spreads.
    *As someone last week mentioned I, too, have noticed higher prices on pick up and delivery than in the store. I no longer use these options as I have the time to shop.
    *I also noticed the clearance section my local Kroger is gone. Now they occasionally put a few clearance items in a grocery cart marked “clearance.” Sometimes this cart is in the back and sometimes in the front of the store. They still have the marked down produce shelf as well as one for meats but they rarely seem to have anything on them. I am glad I have a freezer full of various meats.
    *I added lentils to my ground beef to stretch the pound of meat to make 2 recipes.
    *We used our fuel points and T Mobile app to fill the cars with gas while on our trip. This saved us about $20 in gas. We used the car with the best fuel mileage for the trip.
    * We brought food and water for lunches and snacks.
    *We stayed in a hotel which offered a free breakfast.
    *I have spent time in the garden prepping and planting, etc. I hope it will be a productive year for vegetables.
    Wishing everyone a safe and blessed week.

      1. We love the solar charger! To answer Kara’s comment: We bought a Bluetti EB55 solar charger and portable solar panel through Amazon. The bundle price (for buying both at the same time) on Amazon was $899 but there was a $120 coupon. Our final cost was $779. This charger allows me to use some of my electric kitchen appliances which will be good in an emergency situation. I will try to remember to share how it affects our power bill. One feature it has which I personally like is once your device has charged it automatically stops sourcing power to that device. I do not have to unplug anything once the device is recharged. No power wasted and conserves the device battery life. This product is American made. I hope this helps.

        1. Yes, they are. We have done the math and it looks like with thr current costs and the direction of my roof that at this point it would cost us more to do solar, but as new, more expensive technologies are being developed both in solar and batteries, we hope to do solar one day in a way that would actually save us money.

      1. Cindi,
        I ordered Propet walking shoes through Macy’s who is having a sale. I went through Rakuten which gave me 3%cash back as well. I do a lot of walking and have to wear prescription orthodics so I needed to find sneakers with a removable insert. With the sale and free shipping the shoes came to $70.

      2. Thank you, Marley. I will check those out. I have a Rakutan account. I, too, wear orthotics, and I walk 3-5 miles every day.

  8. We Faectimed today with an 18 year old refugee from Ukraine-we expect we will be hosting her in our home very soon-as soon as her passport arrives back with the visa inside. Her family is luckier than most as she lives in Crimea which was annexed in 2014 so she has not been subject to recent shelling etc.
    I believe she will fly from Russia via Istanbul and Frankfurt. Her English is very good and she is keen to work and settle in-first she will have to quarantine for 2 weeks I believe as their vaccine is not recognized here. Obviously this is not a frugal accomplishment but we are happy to help.
    We also expect our daughter to come for Easter so no doubt we will soon be stocking up at the grocery store. We shopped for ourselves yesterday and spent $58 which did not seem too bad-we did not purchase any meat or dairy though which are certainly getting more expensive. I am watching for a sale on our favourite coffee as we are down to just a couple in reserve.
    I am pleased to say I will be receiving a full refund for our South African trip from travel insurance-we cancelled last month due to Covid.

  9. I am trying to consciously make decisions about purchases and actions, rather than just presuming the old way is always correct. For instance, today at my local Walgreens, cans of Planter’s cocktail peanuts were on sale for the same price/size that dry roasted jars go on sale for. I often have peanuts for snacks and like the canned (meaning in oil) a bit more. But I have been buying dry roasted for years because they sound healthier.
    I compared the labels, and in actuality, they are very similar in calories and nutrition values. So I will enjoy the ones I like better!
    We subscribed to Amazon Prime for a one week special and one month to watch some shows we liked, then cancelled it. While we had the free shipping, I ordered a few items I would buy in stores if we drove to a larger city, but this way, I have them now and wasn’t tempted by anything else.
    Taxes are the current big project ahead of me, not hard or scary, just time consuming, and then I will see what I can do to prepare for the city-wide yard sale at the end of the month. I am planning a very generous free pile, code for “we’re not carrying this back inside.”
    My elderly Dad had been convinced he needed a cell phone (he really didn’t) with all sorts of pre-installed stuff (IMDB? NFL? using his phone as a remote for his TV or wifi? he barely checked his email!), and when we cleared out his house last year, I got it. I finally set it up with a new SIM card and pay-as-you-go plan, replacing my old pay-monthly 3G phone. I shut off as much of the fancy stuff as I could and now have something cheaper and faster for the rare times I am out of town.
    Spring weather and sunshine have really energized me. I haven’t pulled last year’s leaves off my gardens yet, as we might still have a major frost, but the forecast is mostly above freezing, and the daffodils are coming out in big numbers.

  10. Your garden looks wonderful, thank you for the photos! As another person mentioned above, after the huge effort you and your husband have put in, how nice to see the extraordinary progress. On the frugal front here in Arizona, I found boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.97/lb so bought about 9 pounds. Today as I was splitting the packages into individual portions for the freezer, I noticed the tray the first six breasts came in, once empty of chicken, seemed very heavy. The absorbent material in the bottom of the tray was full of liquid. When I weighed it, it was 7 ounces! I weighed the chicken breasts and they totaled 4.1 pounds. So for the entire package of 4.8 pounds, only 4.1 was chicken. So almost 15% of the total wasn’t chicken! So I am going to ask the butcher if that is normal??? I have never noticed such heavy packaging full of liquid before. I checked my second package of chicken, did the same weighing, and found it had 4.0 pounds out of 4.6 of chicken. Anyway, heads up! I will let you know next week what they tell me 🙂

    1. This is Butterball turkeys. They inject them full of water to increase weight, claiming it makes them more juicy. I did a comparison test. It’s not worth the extra money for water. I buy Jenni-O brand at Thanksgiving for less money.

    2. You might want to look for air-chilled chicken, instead of water-chilled. They cost a bit more, but there is less water absorbed that you don’t have to pay for.

    3. I was not happy when I had the same experience with chicken breasts from Michigan. There were 2 ‘diapers’ in each package and they were loaded with liquid. I only buy whole chickens in shrink wrap plastic now. I also find that when turkeys are thawed, if you measure the liquid that accrues it is substantial; the turkey cavities are filled to the brim with water before freezing. I find that this use of padding the product is an American phenomenon. When I buy Canadian packed frozen turkey, the neck is loose in the cavity and the giblets are in the crop area. Since covid, I have not cross border shopped at all and probably never will again.

    4. Hilogene, that is so discouraging. I hope you do ask the butcher about it. I was trying to buy some canned meat today to put aside and I felt like the canned chicken I had felt awfully sloshy. I put it back and got some other meat. I feel like this is happening more and more. I wanted to buy some Gold Bond last week. We barely use it (for chafing…like when my kids detassel corn.) Anyway, it was so expensive that I bought the Great Value brand. Still, the bottle said 10 ounces and looking through the light it looked almost half empty even though it was brand new. I figured it must have been 16 or 18 ounces before and they are still using the same size bottle but changed the label and the amount. Wow, it looked so ridiculous.

        1. Thank you. That’s interesting. The thing that I like about it is when I’m trying avoid moisture. I have an old scar which is hard to keep dry in the summer so sometimes I want powder. One thing that does help is a hair dryer!

      1. Liz, I buy the fake “Gold Bond” powder at Dollar Tree. It has been 8oz for $1, but recently it has been marked at$1.25 for 6oz. I still consider it a good buy, lasts a long time, and contains the same ingredients as the original. (I am finding it is common now for the price to increase while the weight decreases.)

        1. I am seeing the same. The price goes up by $1 and the size goes down by 1/3.

  11. We picked up 2 carloads of river rock for free from FB marketplace. We’ve used them to mulch in the garden. I bought seed potatoes. I’ve never grown potatoes before, but this seems like a good time to try. I have some half wine barrels that I’m planting them in. We harvested collards, kale, radish greens and roots and arugula from the garden. I planted lettuce starts and 2 zucchini starts, all raised from seed. I have many other seeds started. We have some fruit on the trees, flowers on the blackberry bushes, and the pomegranate tree that got frost damage is coming back. I am thankful. I’m growing rhubarb and the leaves are not edible but apparently they make a very good liquid fertilizer as you mentioned, Brandy. I’m excited to try it out. Rhubarb leaves are so big, they should make a good bit of fertilizer. I also have borage growing in the garden, it has reseeded itself well. I’ll add some of those leaves as well. I’ve ground up saved eggshells into fine powder to add when I plant tomatoes. I really love the idea of using what I already have to feed my plants.

    We received a small tax refund which more than covered the fee to the accountant. We’ve done them ourselves in the past but found it very stressful. We are so happy to have a CPA do them.

    I bought supplies to put in drip irrigation. I heard a talk at the garden club on drip irrigation, and then I checked the speaker’s book out of the library. It has been so helpful. I am going to exchange a few of the things I bought for the items recommended in the book. Thankfully some of what I bought was actually the right things! I spent some time today mapping out the circuits and listing what I needed, in the hopes that I won’t have to spend extra gas making too many repeat trips to the irrigation supply store. I will still water the fruit trees with gray water.

    I received 2 large bags of cushion stuffing from Buy Nothing. I have a project for my grandson that I need it for. I am working on a special order for a set of stoles for a clergy woman. I have almost finished one this week-it still needs tassels at the bottom. I drafted the pattern and designed it myself.

    A happy week to everyone, I really enjoy reading all of your comments and being part of this community.

    1. The stole you made is very attractive. I love the way those colors work together.

    2. Hi Kara! Would you share the title of the book you read on drip irrigation please? The stole is lovely!

    3. Kara,
      I love that stole. If you can, you might offer that pattern in your Etsy shop. I’ve looked before and getting a pattern that’s adjusted for a female clergy person is not very easy. Most are for men. I would probably purchase it, if you offered.

      1. That is such a compliment! I will try and get that pattern to a place where I can offer it for sale. Right now it’s on brown paper, with no instructions. You know, when it’s just me making it I can really wing it. I agree about it being hard to find stoles for clergy women. The placing of any designs is trickier, and it needs to be soft enough to hang nicely, but not so soft that it wrinkles and hangs askew. Also the fabrics of so many that I have seen are very masculine.

    4. Kara, as a clergy woman I love the stole you made! I have been in ministry almost 40 years and have quite a collection! I love the stories they tell and how they can help make worship more meaningful.


    5. Kara, I agree that your stole is lovely, especially the choice of colors. As a (relatively) new pastor, I am so thankful that there are artists designing stoles for women. I received a set from my husband as an ordination gift, and two other green ones from friends. It’s great to have choices, especially for the ordinary Sundays. And you’re right about the importance of choosing the right fabric and design so that it drapes well.

  12. I’ve been MIA for a month because of our sons wedding and open house. I have some reading to do to catch up on the weeks I’ve missed here on the blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed the pictures you’ve posted on Instagram Brandy. Your yard is truly beautiful and lovely.

    We’re greatly blessed with support from friends, neighbors and our local ward for the wedding open house. We held it at our home and I decorated with some new things but also with things borrowed from friends. The open house was packed with people and happiness.

    I’ve been stocking up on groceries at various stores. I discovered Auguson Farms dried food are cheaper at Winco than online. I’ve bought fruit my daughter can eat with her health issues in dried farm. I also joined local food storage groups on Facebook and have enjoyed reading some new tips and ideas. I’m going to be looking for a food saver and some attachments.

    I’ve been staying home and combining trips when I go out. My family wanted pizza one night but I made my recipe for white chicken chili and served it with homemade banana bread. Happy family.

    My daughter had an upper and lower GI done. We researched doctors and made an appointment. We paid for the procedure in full up front and received a 10% discount.

    I also save the little packets (mentioned in comments from last week) that come from restaurants. My kids also bring home takeout. My soy sauce bottle has been filled multiple times. As well as ketchup, ranch dressing, fry sauce, arbys sauce, etc. or I use the little packets in my kids lunch boxes. Very handy. We also save any napkins that come our way from restaurants. Some are kept in the car, but others go in our napkin holder.

    I’ve been to the library several times for books. I found one book on doing gluten free food storage. It will help me better plan for food for my daughter. It has some great tips and recipes.

    I’m still exercising at home with YouTube or my exercise bike. When the weather is nice I can go outside. My tulips are coming up. My daffodils just finished. I pruned my fruit trees. I’m so late doing it this year but wedding things didn’t allow for tree pruning.

    My husband returned back to work a few weeks ago. He’s a pilot for a major airline. Because of health issues he was off work for 4 months. I’m so grateful we had disability insurance and didn’t have to touch our savings. He got the all clear with his Aviation doctor and is doing well. He receives per dime money for traveling but he makes sandwiches and takes fruit/veggies to eat so we can save that money. I’m doing a no spend month for April.

    Have a great week!

    1. Like you, I save the extra items from takeout. Condiments, napkins, utensils, straws….all of it gets used. I sometimes put it in the kids’ lunches or for car snacks.

    2. I thought I was the only person who emptied those little packets into our home containers. A friend gave me, literally, a box full of condiments and plastic utensils and napkins that they had accumulated in one month! They get take out almost every night. I was happy to take them but was sort of horrified at what she is teaching her kids. I had to remind myself it is none of my business and just be thankful that she does not throw these items away but saves them for me.

  13. Brandy, please may I ask what colour cream you have painted the exterior of your house? It contrasts beautifully with the stark white trim.

    Also, what are the multiple tall archways sitting beside the boundary fence?

    Your garden is so abundant, green and beautiful. I love all the concreting too and sculptures, topiaries and different shades and textures of plants.

    This week I did a click and collect order, paying $8 for two pairs of shoes for my daughter, one pair of shoes for my son and two pairs of shorts for my son. These items were all on clearance and I picked them up while running errands.

    My son received a present of an item he already has, so I put it the gift cupboard, with his blessing. It is worth $20.

    I received a Maybelline superstay lip product that I put away in my gift cupboard. I have allocated it as part of a Christmas gift. Google shows it is worth between $10.99 and $19.

    I froze a large amount of mango, banana and pumpkin. Ate a large amount of these and lemons too as our garden is producing it all in abundance.

    Considered inflation and upcoming shortages in relation to food and how to best move forward.

    Went to buy some milk, bread and croissants for this weeks grocery shop ($13) and was starving, so bought an apple from the fruit and vegetable section which I enjoyed on my way home.

    Received some home cooked fried rice (two servings). Very grateful.

    My kids and I had a swim in the neighbours pool.

    Went fishing with my family (five minutes from our house). We just stand beside the river or on a little pontoon. Caught fish which we enjoyed for dinner for two nights, with lemon and sides of steamed pumpkin and uncooked/raw spinach leaves.

    We will go fishing again this week and I plan to make it part of our fortnightly routine as it’s right near our house, a fun family activity and free dinner/s.

    We picked some fallen macadamia nuts from the sidewalk (awhile ago) and this week enjoyed cracking the shells and eating them.

    Mandarins are so so close to being ripe enough to pick. I can not believe how many there are.

    1. The house came that color, so I don’t know the paint name. At some point we wil need to repaint it

      The arches are the backside of the pergola. We still have to build the rest of the pergola. I have planted grapes and blackberries on that backside.

  14. I took another vacation day from work which saved on gas for one day.
    I organized a drawer in the dining room. I moved some things to a more efficient spot and send some things to Goodwill. I can find the things that I need in the drawer much easier now!
    We found some 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes in the clearance cart at the grocery store for 79 cents each. We bought 4. We also found organic salsa for $1.29 each. We bought 2 of those.
    We roasted a whole chicken this week that was $2.00 off and fish that was also $20.00 off as manager’s specials. We always scout the meat department for these kinds of deals. We rarely (if ever) buy meat at full price.
    I planted Swiss chard, radishes, kale, lettuce, and beets seeds. I will plant more in a couple weeks.
    I made an apron for my daughter for her birthday. We have 4 grown daughters and several years ago I had made them aprons. It’s time to give them new ones.
    We have been careful to conserve on our gas by combining errands and staying home more.

  15. This week, my 11 year old granddaughter came over and we made Muffin Mix for her to take home using my Make A Mix book. Then she taught me how to make a Word Document using my iPad to save that recipe plus the muffin recipes that the mix would make up. She dictated and I typed them in. Then we discovered together how to print a copy of each to put in the 3 ring binder I gave her last time to keep with all the recipes we make. That way, she has the binder at home, the recipes don’t get lost and she can make new batches up as needed! She was delighted and my daughter told me that, after she got home, she announced that she was going to make blueberry muffins the next morning for her family. And she did!!
    Her mom is my business partner for our longarm quilting- and our granddaughter has been fascinated with the idea of making quilts. She is gifted in math and science and so she got out some graph paper and her colored pencils and came up with this quilt idea! (Notice how she labeled it: Penny’s Quilt Desire” 😉)Then after she picked fabrics from her mom’s stash, it was sewn up. And here it is with borders on ready to get quilted: I think we may have a new generation of quilters in the family!! 🥰

    The weather finally warmed up this week, so we sifted our compost into our wagon. Hubs made 2 sifters- each of them has a different degree of fineness, so we used the one that is the finest mesh to get an absolutely lush and uniform compost to put in the garden! (Notice the metal patch at the one end of the wagon? The plastic wagon was cracking a few years ago and rather than toss it away, Hubs took pieces of scrap sheet metal he had in the workshop and “patched” several places on the wagon using small screws and nuts to fasten them on! ) Here is the new compost after filling a spot in the garden.

    My strawberry runners that I put into cups last fall (over 100) have all taken root successfully so I started to transplant them into their permanent beds. We will have an awesome harvest of strawberries this year!!

    My food processor stopped working! I use it a lot and the top had fallen on the floor a couple times and chipped off a little piece, but it was still working hard. I was devastated and looked on FB Marketplace, Craigslist and on store websites and all I was seeing for a comparable replacement was over $100!! Hubs said to put it into his workshop and he would look at it. Within minutes he had it fixed without any cost expended!! He is SO clever and I am grateful! He is one of the reasons we can thrive on retirement!

    Quilting businesss continues. Finished quilting #238- a queen size quilt- And just as I finished this, one of my other clients brought in 3 more quilts for Lenni and I to quilt up for her!! Here’s the first of the 3 that came in, all quilted up now- Quilt #239- Makes me hungry for Neapolitan ice cream! Lol!

    We had our yard inspection for the bee research study this past weekend! Fingers crossed that we are chosen for this! The study would take place this Summer (2022) and Summer of 2023. They would place a Bumblebee colony in a premade hive in a corner of our yard and also have another couple stands around the yard that would attract bees so they could be counted. With our fruit trees and bushes and veg gardens, we would love to do whatever we can to encourage the bee population here in the City! They seemed happy that we don’t use pesticides or treatments on our grass (which typically has an abundance of dandelions! 😉) They also questioned about commercial fertilizers and seemed happy that we DIY our soil amendments through composting and seasoned chicken poo. We probably won’t hear for a couple weeks.

    It’s been a good overall week!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

  16. The photos of your garden are beautiful, Brandy! I think yours is one of the best examples of a formal garden with edible plants I have seen. Thank you for always sharing these glimpses into your life.
    My boys and I went to visit our in-laws which we do about once per month. While there, I always go to Aldi (we do not have one in our area) and Ollie’s. I was able to purchase some canned fruit which was one area I was lacking in our pantry. I also was able to find a few children’s books at very low prices. These were given as a baby shower gift this past weekend and were gratefully received. I was given a book shower for my first child and loved it. Almost 11 years later, we still have all of those books and have enjoyed them tremendously. My MIL mentioned a grocery outlet that had moved locations and that she had not been there since the move. Did I want to check it out? Did I?! Of course! We went and I was so impressed with the organization and cleanliness of the store. Nothing was expired (which I have seen at other grocery outlets) and the savings were about 50% of what I typically see in other local grocery stores. I stocked up on tea, coffee, cinnamon raisin bread (which my youngest loves and we make but the price was just so good I thought why not?), ACV, rice vinegar and a few other things. I will definitely add this store into my frugal shopping trip when I visit them from now on.
    We harvested more firewood from our property. The days we require fires are lessening but we can still have frosts into last April or early May at times so we keep the wood box full and are always planning for the years to come. We currently have about 3 years of firewood split and stacked.
    Our chickens are almost at their summer peak of laying – about 16 eggs per day – so I hope they are not peaking early. This has allowed us to barter with neighbors more and to gift some to a neighbor’s friend who is struggling with cancer and diabetes and apparently has little appetite for anything but eggs at the moment. I am glad we have something to contribute.
    I have planted more Swiss Chard, spinach, lettuce, beets, and sugar snap peas in the garden. I also sowed some lettuce seeds indoors. We moved a shelving unit from our pantry that was not being fully utilized and converted it into a seed starting table. It has an overhead shelf which is perfect for hanging the lights. We put it in a sunny window and it will be great for getting those seeds going.
    On the library book front, I am reading “The Christie Affair” by Nina de Gramont. It is a fictionalized account of what might have happened when Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1925. Apparently, she never discussed it publicly so it is interesting to see what the author imagined.
    Wishing everyone a beautiful week! Hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are. 🙂

    1. Mountain Mama Dawn, from what you’ve posted in the past, I think we live near each other. Would you be willing to share where the grocery outlet is? I’d love to check it out!

      1. My in-laws live in Rutherford County, NC. The grocery outlet is J’s Salvage in Forest City. Hope you can check it out sometime. 🙂

  17. My snow pea seeds did not germinate. I do not think the soil was wet enough. So I reseeded snow peas and planted lettuce seeds. It is suppose to rain a lot here this week and a friend said they will probably germinate in 5 days. To protect the seeds from washing away and from the 25* F weather predicted next Friday I covered them with grass clippings. My friend suggested using hay or straw, which I do not have. I just cut the grass for the first time so I used that. Readers here gave the suggestion to make seed starting soil by shifting potting soil. I did that last week. My husband also put together our own grow lights. This week I am starting seeds indoors. A first for me and Science for the kids. We are excited!

    In the kitchen my 13 year old son used up left over bake potatoes. None of us like eating left over bake potatoes. He made french fries and a breakfast bowl (potato, scramble egg, bacon bits). I am getting better at using up the spoonful of left overs.

    1. Renee maybe try slicing up the leftover baked potatoes and frying in bacon fat with sliced onion and seasoning salt ,they’re very good.Also chop up the potatoes and use instead of frozen hashbrowns in the recipe for funeral potatoes,they taste great.

    2. Our family loves leftover baked potatoes — we eat them as “breakfast potatoes”. I slice them up (or dice) and fry in a little butter, then add other bits such as chopped ham, bacon, sweet onions, etc. Sometimes I’ll dice up the potatoes and top with scrambled eggs and cheese. They’re also good to add to vegetable soup or beef stew…no waiting 45 minutes for them to boil!

  18. Brandy,
    You have the most beautiful garden! I love your yard!
    We got the water bill and it was actually less than usual. I am certain it is from prayer. I was so happy to see it! It has been raining in our corner of the world and we are very happy! Our tractor tire is flat and it looks like something must have put a hole in it. My husband needs to get a jack to take it off and he is considering putting foam in it. He said that some farmers do that so that it isn’t such a big deal if something pokes a hole in it. I’m not looking forward to the expense, but we want a garden this year. Still waiting to get glasses until we have money for it. We don’t want to use the credit card and need to pay taxes and clean septic. This week I was going to town to go the library. My husband got off and I was going to pick him up and take him with me. But he was. hungry and really I was too. So we went home and I cooked a quick meal with leftover squash soup from the day before and opened a couple cans of chickpeas, added some dried mint, garlic and olive oil. My husband was happy and so was I. It saved us from the expense of eating out. It is best that I always have dinner ready for my husband when he gets off work. I can either work on something for awhile or whip up something quickly. Either way he is happy! And we don’t eat out.
    Last night we were in town and I thought I needed a few ingredients for a dish I am making today. When I saw the prices, I changed my mind and I am making do with what we have. The meal will still be good! I am determined to get a garden in this year. We are set back a little because of the tractor. But we hope to get it in this year. I hope to grow sunflowers. One because they are pretty. Two to feed our chickens. Our chicken, ansy Nancy showed up and is following my husband around the yard. It is so much fun to watch! She gets out of the pen and runs all over always following my husband! It is so funny! One day she met me at the door when I came out! I am growing my hair out and I actually like the color as does my husband! I am happy! I’ve wasted so much money coloring my hair through the years. I turn off lights as does the rest of my family. Even my husband is turning of lights! We are keeping track of every expenditure. Money is not going as far as it used too. We have opened windows a couple times this week. I have turned off the air to save money and kept windows shut until it warmed up.
    I have used sunlight instead of lights during the day. We are not driving as much as we usually do. We are combining errands into one trip. I’ve been worried about money, thinking of ways to make more and to save. I am reminded that I am blessed. Although we are very low in funds, we have been able to pay our bills. We aren’t starving. We have a home. And I have enjoyed seeing wildlife around our home. Listening to the birds in the morning is a joy! Have a blessed week!

    1. Tammy,

      My window washer just fixed a leak in his tire by using “slime”, probably like foam. Please let me know if you use the foam?
      I got a laugh about antsy Nancy’s antics! Maybe you should write a children’s book about that! Have a great week!

      1. Ellie’s friend,
        My husband just bought the jack to change the tire today. I have yet to know if he is going to use foam or not. Thank you for telling me about the “slime” that your window washer used. I’m glad you got a laugh about antsy Nancy’s antics! Maybe I will write a children’s story about it. My son and I have a children’s story on Amazon called “I Like You So Much That I Love You.” I like to write. I’ve written for some magazines and I have an essay in a book called “The Paid and Published Writer.” I just haven’t been doing much of it lately. Thank-you for the encouragement! I really needed it! You have a great week as well!

        1. Yes, I remember that you love to write! Antsy Nancy is such a visual story that you can do a lot about her! If Antsy Nancy is even on your porch, you’ll all have to watch how you open your door, otherwise she’ll end up fried. We had a kitten that accidentally met its maker that way!

          PS I am planning to write a children’s book myself.

  19. The USDA allows for the meat to have “added solutions” injected into the meat, usually containing sodium. In addition, meat like chicken has water weight that does leak out into that pad under the meat. When I cook the chicken there is more water that comes out as well since muscle meat naturally contains more water. This is common/normal for all the chicken meat I find at the market.

  20. Good Morning, all!
    Brandy, your yards look beautiful! So much for the eye to take in!
    It was a quiet week, which I consider a good thing. We’re on a weather roller coaster so it’s impossible to make plans for any outside work. As far as prudent homemaking,
    *I made laundry soap and toilet bombs.
    *We cooked a ham that we bought last year. Lots of meals there.
    *My husband happily accepted food leftover from a breakfast fundraiser last week. That’s 2 weeks of breakfasts for him, and a treat, too!
    *I officially started making Christmas gifts this week. I love getting stuff done early!
    *We enjoyed a free dinner last night at our church as part of our religious ed.
    *Got 30¢ off per gallon with fuel points at the market. Gas was regularly priced at $3.54 per gallon yesterday.
    In an odd switcheroo, our gas bill is now $8 more than our electric bill. Both are on a level pay. In my decades of paying bills, this is a first.
    Aside from those things, it’s just the regular normal stuff like hanging laundry, catching water, and combining driving trips.
    Happy April!

  21. Gas is $3.78 in college town, but near the interstate in the college town I noticed the gas stations were charging $4.04. So the gas stations are really hitting the interstate traffic folks hard. Gas is $4.12, two hours south of college town, in the small town where I work. Since this is our busy jury trial season, and we just had the manslaughter/attempted murder jury trial last week, and have a capital murder trial scheduled in two weeks, my frugality is about packing my lunch (deli turkey, pickle, and cheese sandwiches, or peanut butter and banana, or pb and honey, or pbj sandwiches) which is my version of fast food grab and go. I think my sandwiches are much faster than fast food anyway. I sometimes eat chips with them, but not always. Still eating carrots, chopped up on weekends, and bananas. I cook whatever is fast or easy on weekends (hamburgers, chicken and rice) and eat that on weekends with my middle son, and the leftovers during the week, along with some type of greens. I just think it is easier to pop thawed chicken in oven for an hour with spices, or cook thawed hamburger meat for the week, than it is to deal with restaurants. At least, it is easier for me. I don’t have to go anywhere to get food. except the grocery store. I just think it takes more time going to a restaurant or through fast food lines than going to grocery store once, and getting enough food for sandwiches and bananas and spinach for my middle son. That is just me though, and I am a simple eater. Not criticizing others, just stating what works for me. What I don’t do during jury weeks are dried beans, or bake bread, but I do eat canned beans and almonds. The dried beans is my major thing I don’t do when pressed for time. I did manage to get walks in this weekend. I have managed to keep the 15 lbs off that I have lost, so far. I am not trying to lose weight during the busy season, merely maintain.

  22. Your garden is so beautiful! I’m impressed with how quickly it’s grown, considering the scope of the renovations! And producing so much already!

    My frugal week:
    – I baked my Shortcut Spanakopita Hand Pies ( but in sausage roll form, to serve with salad for a light but fancy seeming lunch when someone came over. I had frozen half the batch unbaked when I last made the recipe, so just pulled it out, and baked it.
    – I used a package of honey Dijon dipping sauce to glaze a pkg of frozen Brussel sprouts my mum gave me. Yummy!
    – I made a super-yummy honey garlic chili stir-fry, but used maple syrup I had gotten free instead of honey, and a packet of chili sauce instead of Sriracha sauce. Slowly using up odds and ends from my kitchen!
    – opened a can of gifted tomato sauce when making my weekly pizza, and froze the leftover sauce in an ice cube tray so I can defrost a few cubes as needed each week.
    – made carrot baby food, carrot muffins filled with homemade marmalade and carrot cake with cream cheese icing, using the last of the carrots I had. I used fewer nuts in the recipe than called for, as well as less cream cheese (my toddler was helping me bake and that cream cheese was the helper tax) and it was just as delicious.
    – I sold some baby items I no longer needed.
    – I repotted my snap pea seedlings. They came up really quickly, and it’s still too cold outside to plant, so I repotted them into a large pot with a tomato cage in it as a growing trellis, and it sits on the kitchen counter to get sun. Given that we had snow yesterday, I might actually end up harvesting snap pea indoors before it’s warm enough to plant outside!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

  23. My mom sent over a cake, jar of pickles, body wash, and tomatoes

    I repaired a pair of pants, and the cuff seams on my teens favorite hoodie

    Hubby found a $4 corned beef at the store. He cooked it and has been using it for sandwiches.

    Verizon sent a message our free year of Discovery+ was ending so I canceled it. We never watched it.

    Earned a $10.75 Amazon rewards

    Enjoyed days with the heat off, until it snowed the 31st. It was back to 50+ the next day.

    Paid bills on time to avoid late fees, used up or froze leftovers, and stayed home when we could.

  24. I forgot to add that we are saving kitchen scraps for compost unless it is something we can give to the chickens.

  25. A few frugal accomplishments I’m happy about this week:

    *Paid an extra $100 toward mortgage principal.
    *Exercised for free at home (YouTube and walks).
    *Got a bunch of fun stuff from my mom: candles, lamp, baskets, rug, silicone spatulas.
    *Ordered an Annie’s craft kit for just the cost of postage.
    *Buy Nothing Group: a box full of empty wine bottles (I looked up some fun crafts to try), shorts for my youngest, 2 rolling storage carts, trash bag full of wine corks for projects and a bunch of gift bags

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  26. Glad to read you’re getting so much from your garden. It makes excited with anticipation for when might produce.
    I accepted a crockpot in the size I wanted from a buy nothing group. It’s really just what I wanted and I saved money waiting . I was actually hoping to use my Amazon GC from Bing rewards, but those tend to be needed for keeping the cat healthier.

    I made dandelion egg noodles. They were really good. The picky eater even enjoyed them. And I cleared out the organic dandelions from the yard.
    The local health food store had an extract way cheaper than Amazon. I’m glad I stopped in and able to support a local small business.
    Hope everyone has a calm week!

  27. I have been mindful of my spending thoughts this week so I avoided the antique store altogether and decided to split my iris, daffodils and hyacinths instead of going to the greenhouse for new plants. I am moving my home canned goods to an inside closet to keep them at more stable temperature and I am moving shelf from shed to provide the needed space. I found canning jars I needed at a reasonable price but will be on the lookout for more at a bigger savings in the future. My pantry is pretty well stocked now but badly organized so I will tackle that as well. My to do list is long but I will keep working on it all.

  28. I had a fun frugal Friday last week. I consolidated all my trips to take care of banking, grocery shopping etc. into one day. I even included lunch and a trip to our local St. Vinny’s store with a friend. My friend has cows and I bought beef from her at $4.00 a pound. Our freezer is now full. I found 4 pairs of leather name brand shoes in like new condition in my size for $2.00 a pair at St. Vinny’s. I was thrilled! We went to Wendy’s for lunch where I got a small chili and a senior coffee, which is free. While grocery shopping I look at every item and determine if we really need it. I realized the frozen chicken thighs are less than the fresh. The price of eggs has gone up so I am limiting those. I noticed the frozen pizza that was twice the ounces as the cheapest one was on 30 cents more. So I got the larger one. I restrained myself from buying the cute Easter candy for my grandkids. That can really add up and they don’t need more sugar. Garden season hasn’t started yet in Pennsylvania but I am looking forward to fresh vegetables soon.
    Enjoy reading your posts as usual!

  29. Your pictures are always gorgeous!

    This week a local church hosted an “Easter Extravaganza” at a local park within walking distance of our house. Everything was free. They had bounce houses, games, egg hunts, and offered free hot dogs, lemonade, and cotton candy for the entire community.

    A friend also heard it was my son’s birthday. She dropped off fifteen (!) coupons for free ice cream cones at Sonic, the fast food restaurant, with no other purchase required. We were able to stop there last night and get free ice cream cones for the kids.

    We have gotten in the habit of eating out far too often as a way to support small local businesses, but this week I am committed to eating every meal at home. I have a loaf of bread baking and plan on making corn and potato chowder for dinner tonight.

  30. Happy Monday everyone!
    Lots of frugal happenings in our kitchen this week. I purchased tomatoes for $0.87/lb, pork sirloin roast for $1.99/lb, and apples for $0.97/lb. Seeing the rising prices of food has really encouraged me to stock up when I see sale prices and we are able to do so. All meals were cooked at home this week. I roasted a pork sirloin roast and used a jar of homemade cranberry mostarda to top it while it roasted in the oven. I purchased 15 lbs of potatoes and was again disappointed to see all of the potatoes had eyes on them only 2 days after purchase. This has been happening for months now 🙁 So roasted garlic mashed potatoes were served. I cooked the last of the green beans that we grew in our garden last summer and stretched them by adding a pound of dried field peas. This was a delicious combination. I bought a fresh pineapple on sale last week for just over a dollar and used it along with some cucumber, mint, cilantro, bell pepper, red onion, and a lime honey vinaigrette to make a lovely salad. My little boy loves cinnamon raisin bread – loaves in the grocery store were $4.99/each – no way. I came home and made homemade cinnamon raisin bread using ingredients I already had in my pantry and it was fantastic! I think it might have cost about $1/loaf given the cost of all the ingredients…maybe less since all ingredients were bought on sale.
    I also experimented with a new bread recipe and have dough to bake fresh bread from in my fridge for the whole week. I baked two loaves last night and they were fantastic. The recipe was super easy and only used AP Flour, water, yeast, and salt. I have been searching for bread recipes that are simple and don’t involve the bread machine. I like my bread machine but find that recipes are more finicky and tend to call for more ingredients that I don’t use often. This new recipe is more basic, doesn’t require kneading and the bonus of being able to make it once and then have fresh dough for several days is a win for me.
    I reorganized two pantries as my husband installed deeper shelves for me in both the pantry and one smaller closet. He also installed shelving in the laundry room. This gives me a lot of space to tuck away dried beans, rice and flours as well as store kitchen appliances that I use regularly. This is also helpful in being able to more readily access what I have on hand to use things and rotate supplies before they expire.
    We have some drainage woes in our new backyard and I had a landscaper that a friend recommended come out to give us an estimate to repair and sod some areas that are bare. His estimate was $10-$12K…no thank you. I have since been researching sod that we can purchase and install ourselves as well as watching you tube videos for how we can redirect the water in our backyard. I called the local supply store that I usually purchase mulch and soil for our garden from and found that I can purchase the truckloads of dirt we will need for a fraction of the cost of what was quoted. I am still compiling all the numbers but so far I think we can do all that is needed for about $3k if we do all of the work ourselves and watch our budget. This is something that is quite important to us as we need this to be completed in order for the garden to be planted.
    I filled up my tank at Costco this week for $3.64/gallon and my husband used fuel points at Kroger to fill his tank and save $0.49/gallon. We are combining all trips and our cars are set on Econ mode to save as much fuel as we can. I have kept the HVAC turned off for the majority of our week and even though the outside temps have been wonderful, the pollen is so thick in our area that we cannot open our windows unless we want the inside of our home covered in yellow dust.
    I paid off one credit card balance in full to avoid interest charges and made a large payment on the second. Both payments were made early to avoid late fees and I expect to have the second paid off in the next week. We rearranged furniture in our son’s room as well as the living room, keeping room, and my Aunt’s bedroom to better accommodate the pieces that we have and allow us to use the space more efficiently. We will be needing a cabinet as well as a dining room table – I am looking for options at garage sales and Facebook Marketplace for the cabinet and my husband will build the table himself.
    We needed a security system in our home and the company that we had been using wanted to charge us $1K to install a new system as they were unable to reprogram the system that the home came with. We politely declined and shopped our options. After research we had another company install a better security system for free and the monitoring costs were the same as what we paid for the old system.
    I hope that everyone enjoys a productive week ahead!!

    1. Hi Angie! The bread sounds delicious! Would you share the recipe? Thanks! Love your DIY motivation!

      1. I used Zoe Francois’ 5
        Minute artisan bread. You can find it on google and she has a book if you are interested.
        It was super delicious and easy enough for a
        Working mom to put fresh bread on her family’s dinner table. Enjoy!

        1. “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois has been in constant use here for years. All of the recipes are so good. Fun story – when the book was released in 2007, I was very tempted to buy it but held off due to the $25 or so price. Within a few weeks, a like-new copy appeared at our church’s thrift shop (where I was chair at the time.) Our hardcover books were $1. One of my best scores ever! I have used it regularly ever since. I think there may be an updated version now but the original has served me well. Cinnamon raisin bread is a big favorite here, too, and fun to make. 🙂

          1. Don’t forget cookbooks can be had at the library. For some reason I’d forgotten that and now it’s my go to resource.

    2. Angie, where did you find the bread recipe? If online, could you share the link? And did you just add cinnamon, sugar, and raisins to this same bread recipe for the Cinnamon Raisin Bread? (Thanks in advance!)

    3. Angie, we had a slight slope behind our house when we moved in. The builder came in and did a horseshoe shape ditch around the house to divert water around and out to the street. It’s not a ditch ditch, but more like a shallow gully. Visually, now that the grass is established, you can’t even tell it’s there unless it’s raining hard. Then a shallow stream appears and diverts the water.
      That was 19 yrs. ago. I expect we’ll need to have it dug again. It was done by one of those mini tractors with a scoop. I was told for about $250. You may want to inquire if that would work in your yard.

  31. Thanks for sharing your photos, Brandy.

    —I’m now seeing weekly increases on items I buy at the store. I read that Aldi in Germany is increasing their prices 30-50% beginning today. I’m thinking that will happen with Aldi here in the U.S. too, since many of their products are imported.

    —As someone else mentioned, I use a solar charger also. I charge our phones and tablets mostly. It features a radio, string bulb lights, and a flashlight. Ours isn’t strong enough to charge heavy duty appliances or anything.

    —Most of my money saving efforts are related to gardening, and trying to maximize our harvests. I read a book called “Grow More Food,” by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm. It featured several helpful charts, such as vegetables and herbs that need supplemental fertilizers verses those that don’t, and a chart on common plant problems, their signs, and solutions. I photocopied them, added some extra notes, and taped them up in a cabinet where I store a lot of my garden materials. I also re-watched several YouTube gardening videos, including Gary Pilarchik’s video on aspirin spray for tomato disease prevention, and one on growing sugar baby watermelons in containers, something I’m trying for the first time this year.

    —I clipped Star Magnolia, Forsythia, and pink Magnolia branches to arrange inside.

    Have a great week!

  32. We are fortunate that we have a winter home to stay in for several months to avoid the cold and snow/ice. However, since we couldn’t cross the border for almost two years we couldn’t keep up with some maintenance issue in that home. To that end, it’s been a bit expensive the past couple of months with AC repair, pool heater repair etc. And we’ve just had an updated wind mitigation report done and we are investigating a new hurricane code garage door. On the assumption that the big box stores would have the best installed price, DH went off to check. And we called a couple of private companies as well. Turns out the big box store is twice the price of the private company for the same product. It always pays to do a few price checks.
    While we are here I’ve cut back my avocado tree and I’m pleased that it is setting fruit for the upcoming season. I hope to be back before all the fruit gets picked by neighbours and lawn personnel etc. The grafted lemon dwarf trees are also setting fruit and the pomegranate seems to be thriving.
    We heat the pool and although the price drives up the electric bill, we don’t go out to eat in restaurants or waste money in other ways. And we use it a lot. Does that sound like justification? It is…but…..
    I bought a couple of Good season salad dressing bottles online so I can make my own salad dressings again rather than just use an empty jar like I have been doing. And, I have finally bought a pressure canner to take home. I really want to put more food by over the season as we seem to be eating less meat and far more beans, pulses etc. It’s just to make cooking even faster for me and I bet my older closer kids will be interested as well.
    I thought I might need to buy some new summer shorts but then decided that some of my capri pants that were left here could be shortened instead. But I do need to get some new t-shirts as the ones I’m currently using are more than 3-4 years old and are looking worn.
    I’m going to check the price of large bags of dried beans here and a few other things to take home with me that I can’t get North of the border very easily. And I’m really looking forward to start planting the garden again. Brandy, what type of Swiss Chard is it you grow? It looks huge and I wouldn’t mind trying to find some seed like it. It’s one of our favourite greens.
    You mentioned eating more bean meals. Do you still follow the menu plans you have posted on your website or have you updated them? I’m always looking for ideas and suggestions to make life easier. I guess I’m getting really lazy in my old age, huh?
    I’ve been drying my towels and sheets outdoors here draped on patio chairs. They dry very quickly and I’m still of the school of thought that sunlight helps kill germs. Plus they smell nice. I noticed that one of my neighbours has been doing the same thing when he noticed me doing it too.
    The weather here is getting far too hot and humid for me so we are trying to pick a date to start the drive home again. But at home it’s still only in the high 50’s at a time. I must admit I miss seeing my family and, I think, they miss having us around as well.
    Other than doing a few pool exercises in the community pool with neighbours I haven’t joined in any other activities this winter. I just stayed home and read. Have you read “The Thursday Murder Club” by richard Osman? It’s a fun, quick read. I’m about to start the second in the series. I also recommend “The Last Mona Lisa”. Can’t remember the author. It’s about the theory that the Mona in the Louvre is really a fake since the original painting was stolen many years ago.
    Time for me to look through the fridge and pantry and figure out menus for the next week or so to use up food and then offer the rest to a neighbour to use.
    When I read everyones comments about how much they get accomplished over the week, and your comments as well, I feel quite lazy and slack. But I’m happy and that’s what truly counts.

    1. The books sound interesting but I haven’t heard of them.

      The Swiss chard is Fordhook Giant. You can buy it from several places, including Territorial Seed Company and Burpee. If you have a local retailer who sells Burpee seeds, they might have it there too. I like how big it gets.

    2. I love the Thursday Murder Club Mysteries – lots of fun! Must look for that one on the Mona Lisa!

  33. Oh, my goodness, Brandy! What gorgeous work you’ve done with your yard! Wow!
    My neighbor stopped by and gave me two containers of crushed raspberries she got from Feeding America. I made raspberry syrup and gifted her a jar. Someone else gave us a large bag of cooked chicken breasts (I think), also from Feeding America. My husband has been enjoying those.
    I had a glut of extra eggs so i froze several small containers. I also froze three small tomatoes that my husband didn’t like. I have a few onions to freeze, as well. I dehydrated celery that needed using.
    I batch cooked a few things in the oven which never happens!
    I made up a batch of dry pancake mix for the freezer.
    I ran across a deal on vegetarian ground meat for 1.62 per package. I bought six and left some for others. My meat eating husband will eat this, as well.
    I finally mended my bathrobe!
    I placed an order from Target and Walmart which saves time and money. I went to Tractor Supply to look at seeds and starter trays. The seeds were 20% off so i bought several different packages, including broccoli, zucchini, nettle, parsley, bok choy, chard and kale. I also got seed tapes of lettuce, beets and spinach. I’ve not used tape before so this is a new thing for me. I picked up seed potatoes and onion sets as well as seed starter trays and starter soil. I couldn’t resist two clematis and three packages of Lily of the Valley. And, garlic. Big eyes, i have!! There’s still two feet of snow on our yards but i have faith! The broccoli and bok choy seeds are just starting to emerge so i’m excited! I’m not a great gardener but i have to do something! I’ve heard that German stores (Aldi) will be raising their prices 20-50% starting today. If that happens, we can expect others to follow, i’m sure.
    I decanted my homemade vinegar into another jar. This was made from leftover peach juice (organic) in the can. It even grew a mother which is a first for me! It smells divine!
    I cut open my sunscreen container to get several more days of use. I wear sunscreen all year long even in blizzards.
    That’s about it but for the usual; saving water, using cold to wash clothes. (I can’t wait until my clothesline is ready to be used!) Keeping the heat low.
    Stay well!

  34. Spring keeps us waiting – more snow and very cold temps last week. I’m determined to keep my cool and use these weeks of waiting preparing for actual spring by reading everything I can find online about the issues that are bothering me. I feel like a total beginner even though I have had garden before. I feel I need to be well prepared. I recently found Charles Downing and his no dig gardening. Can’t wait! I am dreaming about an apple tree for my birthday. They cost about 35-40 euros. I’ve been reading our water meter diligently daily and I have learned our washing machine uses 60 l/15.85 gallons water for a normal load (sheets, towels, t-shirts etc)

    1. Is it a front-loading washer or a top loafing washer? I chose my front-loader based on several things, and one of them was water usage. Top
      loaders use much more water. I don’t know what you have there. I remember having a front-loader in my European apartments.

      1. It is a front-loader that came with this house we bought last year. Before that (since 2018 when we came back to Finland from Estonia) we used residential laundry facilities; I realized with apartment with high rent the laundy room was free of charge, and with very low rent they charged 7 euros per load! We do have top-loaders here as well, but they are usually very narrow and designed for tight spaces and smaller loads.

        1. Seven euros a load is outrageous! Glad you have a washer in your current apartment.

  35. Hello!
    Your yard looks beautiful, productive and tidy! We had some rain last week (hooray!) and now the weeds are emerging (boo!). We’ve got yard clean up on the to-do list again.

    My husband has been experimenting with gas mileage on his Prius Prime. He has started using cruise control on the freeway and has been able to get over 100 miles per gallon. It’s helping keep our gas usage down.

    I’ve been working on a UFO quilt. I seam ripped some strips of fabric that were never cut into squares. I sewed the ends together and made binding for the quilt without buying more fabric. This week I will do free motion quilting and attach the binding. I patched my daughter’s jeans and ironed hubby’s work shirts.

    I received my new oven and have happily resumed baking breads, buns, muffins, and cookies. I was able to roast a whole chicken and vegetables. We’ve eaten leftovers and saved the bones and vegetable scraps for soup and broth.

    I’m hardening off some veggie starts so that I can plant them at the end of the week. Once that’s done I will start another batch. One of my goals this year is succession planting so that we consistently have garden fresh veggies.

    Another goal is to compost. I bought some at Home Depot for this spring. It’s half the price of the compost sold at the nursery. However, composting is basically free and this would better utilize our resources.

    We avoided eating out twice this week. Once we ate before meeting up with friends. The other time we got home late and whipped up tacos with ingredients on hand. The last time we ate out there was a new restaurant surcharge. 👎🏼While it’s enjoyable we always feel it’s overpriced.

    Have a blessed and beautiful week everyone! 🌻

  36. The garden is really lovely. I know you will enjoy that for a long, long time.

    I don’t have a lot of frugal things this time, but of course there are some I do all the time, such as pack lunches, hang up laundry to dry and cook from scratch.

    I earned a $25 gift card to Lowe’s and was using it when I realized I still had an older gift card to Lowe’s with some cash left on it. So I used both cards to buy gardening supplies with no out of pocket and have over $8 left on one card. I’m glad I looked more closely in my wallet.

    I need to repaint some trim work in my house, and after digging around in my paint stash, found nearly a full quart of satin acrylic enamel in white that will do perfectly.

    I trimmed and dried some stevia from my plant.

    I used my toaster oven to cook a small pan of pork, since I had nothing else that needed to be cooked in the oven.

    A gate at our back yard had lost its metal post caps. I bought two inexpensive PVC pipe caps and painted them with paint I own.

    I am taking care to mark down everything I put in or take out of my big freezer. It makes shopping and meal planning so much easier to just glance at the chalk board hanging near the freezer. I hate buying something just to find I already have it, or thinking I have something that I don’t, and having to dash to the store to get it, probably at full price.

    I used some of our worms’ castings in my bigger raised bed.

    I’m trying to keep lights off and the A/C or heat off as much as I can.

    Happy April, everyone!

  37. Brandy, your home and garden are wonderful. Beauty and function combined in a desert location is extraordinary. A true oasis. I’m loving those greens as I see two feet of snow remaining on my garden! Things will green up quickly here once the snow goes. We are always happy to have the first asparagus and green onions.

  38. I missed posting last week, it was a busy week I was gone 5 days at a scrapbooking retreat. So much fun, 70 pages done, and food brought from home and cooked, so no out of pocket except for the retreat fee and fun was had with friends.

    -I am trying to use every scrap of food. I had a container of beef chunks and gravy in the freezer from a leftover roast. I added a pint of home canned diced potatoes and a 1/2 pkg frozen mixed veggies. Made a whole wheat honey crust ( I have whole wheat flour to use up, I bought it by mistake instead of my white so I use some whole wheat in recipes when I am able). I made 2 small pot pies ( I have 2 smaller ceramic pie plates- perfect for hubby and I for a meal and one serving leftover for the next day for me.) We ate one and I froze one.

    -I also made Reuben soup using a clearanced ($3.00) piece of corned beef. I used home canned sauerkraut, frozen clearanced half and half, and cheese from a cheese tray. So the cheese tray was bought at Costco for a gathering. This is what I was asked to bring. The already made cheese tray ($12.00) was cheaper than buying 4 different bricks of cheese and slicing them myself. I used the Gouda, Harvarti, and Swiss in the soup by slicing it thinly and throwing it in. The cheddar we will eat with summer sausage and crackers for lunch. The soup was eaten and I froze 2 meals for later.

    -I thawed a pheasant from the freezer. For one meal I pounded the breast flat and rolled Canadian bacon and Boursin cheese in the roll. Then made GF cream mushroom soup ( could also use a can of cream of mushroom thinned with 1/2 can of water). Pour over the top and bake. I then used the breast tenderloins and the leg meat diced and made stir fry and served with homemade rice-a-roni ( cheaper to make from scratch than box) and some frozen pheasant eggrolls from the freezer.

    -I freeze most of my leftovers or repurpose them into something else. My hubby does not like leftovers but it is hard to cook only 2 servings. And I am not going to waste food. That way on a busy day I can pull it out of the freezer a few weeks later and heat. Then he doesn’t see it as leftovers! Go figure! I know I have said this but I keep my frozen cooked meals on the same shelf of my upright freezer. I have a list taped to that freezer and when I add something I write it down along with the date. That way I know what I have and what needs to be used first. When I meal plan I check this list first so nothing freezer burns and goes to waste.

    -This month we used 28 jars of home canned food. Still making that a priority.

    -I did my big shop for April on the first. I went to Costco, Fresh Thyme, Aldi, and Cashwise. On the way to my shopping we drove a different way and went by the Mennonite store Cherry Grove as well. They are all within blocks of each other in the larger town 50 miles from me. I try to go there once a month and do my big stock and then use the local grocery store 15 miles away during the month for added produce, milk or anything else. I try and keep at least one container of the item ahead if possible on things we use frequently as you never know when you can get it. The best deals and I say this tongue and check because they are double of what I used to pay in some cases. Bacon $4.98/lb. I use this sparingly and for flavoring, have cut amount in recipes in half and we don’t eat it by the strip now. Butter $2.48/ limit 5. $300 spent/ half of that at Costco. I am well stocked again. No meat was bought.

    -I am so fortunate to live in the Midwest and we buy it in the fall from a farmer. I have a quarter beef at $3.15/pound plus processing and half a hog at $2.50/pound plus processing. These were ordered this spring before things started going wonky and the prices are locked in.

    Meals this week were beef pot pie, Rueben soup, fried potatoes from home canned potatoes, and eggs, pheasant cordon bleu, pork chops and stuffing, and leftovers.

    -I am trying to declutter and organize before it will be time for outside work. The snow is melting but we still have about 6 inches in most spots. But I am seeing bare areas as well. Yay!!

    Have a great week!

  39. I made a chocolate cake using speltz (how Amish spell it) flour that was given to us by Amish.

    We had 3lbs of ground beef given to us that I made cheeseburgers then meat sauce for spag and then froze the rest of meat sauce also given to us by Amish.

    Our weather is a roller coaster each day it seems. This morning I was watching snow flurries (no accumulation) and then 3 hrs. later rain was falling. Spring in Ohio.

    We combined our errands.
    Hubby wanted to have everything stocked back up by May 1st ( I usually do Aug) I priced some things we needed to stock up on for the best price and then ordered it from Amazon which had the best price, used cash back card and will get over $20 in digital credits which works for the book I am saving for. We have some filters we need that will be bought at Menards using rebates we have so very little out of pocket. I will have it stocked for a year.

    I saved over 30% on groceries and got double fuel points that we will use next time we run errands . We have been trying to limit “just go get” and making each trip count. Hubby has done some pit stops while hauling for Amish since he was right in the area.

    We are figuring out how to come up with over $8000 for propane in Aug. As the provider just let us know they think it will hit $3.259/ gal by Aug and we get a discount for paying in full for a the contract of how many gallons we order (2400 gallons, furnace, water heater (instant) and cook stove) and that is DOWN more than 600 gallons. I don’t want to pull money from IRAs and pay income tax on it also. Right now I think it’s a little over whelming. If we pay by tank… the price is what ever it is at that time.. we buy it on contract and pay up from the price never goes up BUT it can lower if the price drops. I saved 30 cents a gallon a couple years ago and was thankful we were on contract this past summer as we paid $1.799/gallon and the going rate when we got our summer fill (usually the cheapest) was over $2/gallon.

    I will be planting every seed I get my hands on.
    Prayers for peace, Blessed be

    1. yikes……thats costly. Will that last the whole year? Can you figure out a way to use less propane? ….and I thought $2500 to fill the oil tank was bad! I do feel for you!

      1. Depending on the weather 2400 gallons of propane should last a year. We already lowered the amount by 700 gallons from the first year we moved here so we are at least glad we did that work.

    2. Juls, have you considered getting a new propane tank? When we moved to our current home we switched from propane to a coal furnace. We kept the propane because our stove uses it, and it was nice to think we had a backup system. But we were going through 200-300 gallons year, just for cooking! We asked for a new tank and now we are using something around 20-25 gallons per year.

  40. I bought two double-width recipe boxes as a young woman. When I moved back home to keep mom company, I stored her recipe cards in one of my boxes. I’ve stored the boxes on the edge of a bookcase at the top of the basement stairs and bumped the same box off more than once and have had to reglue it. I did it again but after having a problem removing old glue, I took a good look at the box and decided it was too banged up to repair. So my mini organizing job yesterday was merging the cards and clippings from the two boxes into one. It was a trip through time, reading a recipe in a letter from an aunt written two days before my sister was born that also asked if there was any news about the baby, ones that baby recorded as a newlywed wanting two of mom’s best recipes, a recipe from a long-deceased family friend, one from a great aunt, and one sent to my grandma upon her request. I also came across an article from January 1999 detailing how a woman fed her family of seven for less than $50 a week including the shopping list. I decided to do a pretend shop at Aldi, with a few missing items from Meijer, to see how much it would cost today. About $110. But I couldn’t find alfalfa sprouts at either store. Maybe there is too much liability for growers. Maybe people don’t eat them, even lightly steamed, anymore. Produce, in particular, has had eye-popping price increases in the last twenty years. So I have added incentive to plant more vegetable seeds this spring.

    1. Holly, you can buy alfalfa seeds and sprout your own! It’s incredibly easy and you can grow just enough for a meal without any waste.

      1. I wanted the current alfalfa sprouts price for the comparison shop, not for real life right now. I’ve done quite a bit of sprouting in the past. It is easy. And, given the prices of fresh vegetables now, I’ll be growing sprouts again.

  41. This time of year, it seems I don’t do much that is frugal. Mainly because I am working so much. But, we do make all meals at home, I bring breakfast and lunch to work, except Saturday when my office provides lunch for all who are working. We are not giving in to take-out or eating out, so that is a positive. I received a free 1/2 gallon of orange juice from Safeway and a free dozen eggs from Fred Meyer. those were both in my digital coupons from the stores.
    I made a big batch of chicken noodle soup yesterday for our lunches this week. Used broth I had in the freezer, plus some additional water and Knorr chicken broth, onions and corn from our garden and on hand carrots and celery. My DH wanted larger noodles, rather than the tiny ones I normally use, so I broke up fettucine pasta into smaller pieces and used that. I always cook and store the noodles separately from the soup, so the noodles don’t get soggy. we put some noodles in the bottom of our bowl then the soup on top.
    My DH did a BBQ yesterday of hamburgers and ribs. I used the rest of the package of hamburger to make taco meat. Meals are pretty set for the week now. Also made Brandy’s rosemary roasted potatoes with potatoes from last year’s garden and the last of the rosemary that barely wintered over. I picked all the green sprigs I could find.
    Your yard is beautiful and impressive. I imagine the work to keep it that way is immense.

  42. It’s been a great, frugal week in Houston, TX!
    With our new baby, many friends from church and our neighborhood have signed up to bring us meals. I haven’t really been able to volunteer much, but meals for families with a new baby have been one way that I’ve been able to easily help the last few years. So far, we’ve received baked spaghetti, chicken spaghetti, and chicken tetrazzini. We have been eating on two pans, and I froze one for a later date. The pasta is yummy, and the tater tot casserole we’re scheduled to receive tonight will be a crowd pleaser, I’m sure. I know that people are sometime reluctant to sign up to bring food to big families, so I really appreciate the generosity.
    The grocery spending has been a little lighter with the meals provided. At Joe V’s, I bought 30 count boxes of short-dated HEB brand single-serving chip assortment, $5/each. Some are for us and some are for when I need to bring snacks to the kids’ sports games. Each parent takes a turn signing up. I normally don’t buy the individual servings, but this was a reasonable price. I also bought marked down diapers, $3/pack, which is my “buy” price. Generic diapers are just fine for us.
    I moved some hand-me-down clothes in and out of dressers, but still have more to do. It will be 90 tomorrow, so summer is almost here.
    We added more coolant to the old van; hopefully this will help the AC work better.
    I was able to give away some postpartum supplies that I didn’t need, but got from the hospital.
    I made homemade breakfast cookies with some brown bananas. The kids prefer these to muffins: oats, peanut butter, mashed bananas, and chocolate chips.
    I made a double batch of pigs in a blanket, using some marked down little smokies, and then packed some to eat between games on Saturday, when we had baseball games and one volleyball game back-to-back.
    I found a photographer offering cheap bluebonnet photos ($25 for a 10 minute mini-session, with 5 edited images), and took the kids to take those. The bluebonnets are really brilliant this year, and without scheduling that appointment, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the photos. I took a few additional photos on my phone while waiting for our time slot.
    I’ve been buying gas when needed at Sam’s, which is usually cheaper.
    I got a new garage fridge. I’d intended to get a new house fridge and move the old one to the garage, but I misread the serial number and thought I was buying a 36′” fridge. I’d been looking for a while, and missed out on several deals, but found a subzero fridge for $100 that was still running and plugged in (I wanted to verify it worked) and only a few miles from me. It was in a very nice neighborhood and the people were moving that day, thus the price. There are so many scams out there, but I felt like this would be a good option. I offered to venmo the seller right away, and made arrangements to get it picked up. Unfortunately, this fridge turned out to be a 48″ subzero fridge, and will not fit where my current fridge is. So, now I have a really, really nice garage fridge. Oh well. At least it was a good price, as these are usually thousands of dollars. I gave the mover extra, as the $85 he quoted me to move it didn’t seem like enough, given all the effort it took. Those things are heavy!
    I made a couple of loaves of bread into pb&j sandwiches to make packing lunches easier for the kids, and cut up a lot of fruit and veggies to make it easier for them. We love mangos (currently on sale 4/$1), but I prefer to cut them myself, as I can get more fruit off of them than the kids can. Bananas at Joe V’s are always .33/#, so these are another good lunchbox fruit option.
    My daughter made chocolate eclair dessert, substituting Nilla wafers when we ran out of graham crackers. It was delicious.
    I sold a couple of things on facebook marketplace when I felt up to it.
    I’m using early 1990s Christmas stamps that I bought at a discount to mail thank you notes.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

    1. Congratulations on the new baby! You sound like a very busy mom so glad to hear that the meal deliveries are helping with some of burden. Hope you get some rest! 🙂

      1. Thank you, Margie! I tell people that all my helpers cut my time in double. 😉 Regardless, the kids love their new baby brother.

  43. I keep the previous How I Saved Money post up on my computer and read a few comments at a time all week long. Lots of good ideas.
    I had bought marked-down ground beef for DH to grill. I had pulled down some marked-down lamb chops (from the freezer) for him to grill as well…. And then Sam’s Club, had chicken thighs for $1/lb.

    So, this weekend, DH fired up the grill and made chicken, burgers, and lamb chops all in one long session. So now, I’ve got almost a dozen pounds of grilled meats to use up.

    Here’s my plan:
    Sunday meals were burgers (him) and lamb chops (me).
    8 burgers and 9 chicken thighs are left.

    I’ve got the chicken warming in the slow cooker. In a few hours, I’ll debone the chicken and put the bones back in the crockpot for broth.

    Deboned chicken: chicken and stuffing casserole, chicken tikka masala, chicken fried rice.
    Burgers: crumble for enchiladas, spaghetti sauce, and stuffed poblano peppers.
    I have been thinking about savory meals that use a lot of meat and those that do not.
    Quesadillas, fried rice, and spaghetti sauce are fairly thrifty in their use of meat.
    However, there are some recipes where the meat is the main focus. For example, DH likes to take shredded, BBQ chicken in his lunch. He’s certainly worth it, but a 1-cup container packed with shredded chicken uses up 2 or even 3 deboned thighs.

    DH requested chicken tikka masala this week. That one uses a lot of meat per serving. So my 9 thighs would work out something like this:

    3 servings chicken tikka — 4 thighs
    3 servings fried rice — 2 thighs.
    3 servings chicken casserole — 3 thighs.
    Since I’d be a little short if I want to put BBQ chicken in his lunch, (1 serving BBQ chick = 2 thighs.) I think I’ll take down a package of deboned chicken from the freezer to add to the chicken tikka. The grilled flavor isn’t so important with all the other seasonings.
    It is sometimes challenging to come up with the proteins for his lunch. We saw a dietician a few years ago, and we came up with a plan for his work meals. Every day he takes:
    1 cup fruit;
    1 cup veg;
    3 servings protein (1 cup each).
    He avoids carbs at work.
    So, one protein is eggs; one is often cottage cheese; and one is a hearty meat.
    The meals have to be fork-friendly; he eats at his desk; so chicken pieces are out. Also, he eats his lunch cold. If any of you chime in with lunchbox ideas, I’ll take them seriously.

    Things he has found satisfying for his lunch proteins:
    sliced burger with BBQ sauce
    shredded BBQ chicken
    tuna salad, chicken salad, ham salad,
    meatloaf w/ BBQ sauce.
    He works awfully hard for our family; I’d like to give him lunchbox meals that satisfy him.

    1. How about a chickpea mock chicken salad, or even a chicken salad with lots of apples and grapes? You can use Greek yogurt instead of mayo and it will add more protein.

      I made a salad last week with chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh parsley, lemon juice (fresh), onions (I used green ones from my garden but any would work), a tiny bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper.

    2. My husband likes to have a lot of protein at all meals. We often make a chef-salad style lunch with lunchmeat chopped on top. I like mine topped with boiled egg slices. You could also do lunchmeat rollups, if he would eat a low-carb tortilla.

    3. lettuce wrapped ham or turkey roll up. I like to add cheese, sliced peppers, tomato

      lettuce wrapped grilled chicken roll up. You can do a ranch, cheese, lettuce, tomato; or soy lemon flavored chicken with broccoli, carrot; or Mexican flavored chicken with corn. beans. tomato, peppers.

    4. Hi EB! I love the flavor of meat on the grill, so at the end of last summer I tried something new. I made up a batch of hamburgers and a batch of grilled chicken (half with BBQ sauce and half with Italian dressing). The seasoned hamburgers I cooked all the way and the chicken I seasoned and cooked until almost done. I then froze them in portions. Reheated in the oven. They turned out fabulous, and a taste of summer throughout the winter! Next time, I will cook the hamburgers less and let the reheat time finish them up, like the chicken. I will also do pork chops on the grill, then freeze. Love that grilled flavor!

  44. Spring Break was last week so I was off from work all week.

    Stayed home and worked on the laundry room renovation most of the week. Lumber is expensive! Had to call a plumber over a gas line we found in a wall, but he was a prior student and gave me a discount and fixed a toilet while he was there. Hung my laundry as the laundry room is ripped up. Purchased a large bag of books at the secondhand bookstore. When finished, I sell them back for a credit. Ate simple meals from the pantry and freezer. Skipped the grocery store last week and again this week. Lentil curry, black beans, coconut rice and plantains, potatoes with broccoli, bacon bits and cheese will grace the table this week.

    One day, I treated myself to a facial and a massage at the massage school rather than an expensive spa day. Saved over $300 that way. Attended a wine tasting, cost was less than a decent glass at a restaurant, and the company was excellent. Joined friends for dinner and was sent home with leftovers.

    With ridiculous quotes for 3 laundry room cabinets, I scoured the architectural salvage store warehouse in JAX and found 2 cabinets the exact size and color I desired and the face of a built-in (that I can paint and frame in) that are perfect for $83. Also found old fashioned bed rails I needed, the hardware for the pocket door (in its original 1940’s packaging), 2 closet doors (solid wood not hollow core), and 6 boxes of fancy glass mosaic tile (just what I was looking for!). Grand total $375 – a savings of more than $6,000 over new!

    The salvage shop didn’t have enough flooring for my project, so I went to Lumber Liquidators and found some on clearance that I liked. It was half-price, I got an additional discount for taking all of it, and an additional military discount! Managed to get enough flooring for the current project and the loft and I was still below the cost of the “cheap floor”.

    Now I have to go get a new exterior door as a mouse ran in the gap in the old one last night. The cat is FIRED!

    1. We have 4 cats and still had the spark plug wires to our vehicle chewed up by mice last month. They also chewed up the air filter in our mower. I see the cats catch rodents regularly but they need to be assigned specific area to patrol. 🙂

    2. I love the cat being fired. Our chubby tom would never consent to doing anything to earn his keep. Well, I guess he does allow us to love on him constantly, which lowers our blood pressure and makes us happy. But you only have to glance around our house and see the number of beds we have provided for him to realize exactly who is running the show around here.

    3. LOL about the cat being fired!!! I was watching TV one night and something ran by the TV cabinet. When it reached the hearth it u-turned and I saw it was a little black mouse. It ran smack next to our sleeping dog and down the basement stairs. I woke the dog up hollering to hubs that we had a mouse. Doggy looks up, then goes back to sleep. I asked him why he wasn’t protecting us and he didn’t budge!! We put the humane trap in the basement with some peanut butter and “Mickey” was caught overnight. He went free in the field across the street, in case anyone was wondering. Our doggy is still a young un so it’s not like he’s retired or anything. Sheesh, doesn’t he feel obligated to earn his kibbles?!

  45. I filled food buckets with flour, sugar, and rice.
    * I grew and baked my first sourdough bread. I am going to try again today and add yeast to this one to test another recipe.
    * I harvested the leaves from turnip greens and collards before a big storm came. I blanched them. Tomorrow I am canning Zuppa Toscana and I will use them instead of kale. I also harvested chives and carrots.
    * I canned 10 pints of hamburger vegetable soup. There was enough soup left over for supper for my husband and me, lunch for us, and a third lunch for me, so 5 more servings. I switched some vegetables and added purple hull peas and butterbeans. I was really good. Next time I will can some quarts. but it is nice to have a pint for times when one is eating. I also canned 3 pints of black beans, 3 red beans, and 3 white beans.
    * I cut husband’s hair
    *I cut open a tube to get everything out.
    * I fertilized all my fruit trees, berry bushes, roses, and hydrangeas with fish emulsion fertilizer. I sprinkled coffee grounds round they hydrangeas and roses, and crushed eggshells around them. too.
    *We bought a puppy and it was 5.5 hours away. My husband used a free room certificate at Marriott and we drive 3.5 hours and had dinner on the rooftop restaurant. We also got free breakfast, which was $16 each. We went another 1.5 hours after picking up the puppy to go to my daughter’s to see her and my grandson. We took snacks and drinks in a cooler. Gas in Birmingham, Mobile. and Pensacola FL was $3.89-$4.09. In Meridian, MS, where we got a hotel, it was $3.61 at Sams. We filled up.
    *photo of our ne puppy
    * I had cooked venison roast in the Instant Pot and husband ate it but isn’t cray about it. I don’t like it. So I’ve been feeding it to the dog. I think I may can all the stew and roast cuts for dogwood. We like the backstrap steak and sausage, but not the ground, or roasts.
    * My yard is alive. We have one more storm and freeze then it should be it.

    1. Venison may taste different depending on how the person handled it. But usually people don’t care for it because it is so lean which comes out as *dry*. You could google venison recipes to overcome that dryness, but my mom would always do her roasts with some bacon draped over. And used regular ground beef mixed 1:1 with ground venison. I realize you may not want to bother, but I hope this is helpful for anyone who is struggling with using gifted venison.

      1. Elle’s comment about venison reminds me about deer salami. I do not like venison, but it makes the best salami I’ve ever eaten. If anyone has venison they aren’t going to eat, I recommend contacting a meat processor to find out if frozen venison can be used in salami. (I’m guessing that it can). You can also mix ground venison with pork sausage. My husband’s uncle used to make jerky, but that’s another one I don’t eat, LOL.

  46. I finished another afghan for a Christmas gift last week. I’ve been picking yarn up for this when its on sale and I have a coupon. Glad to have two of four done already. Still plugging away on some other knitting and crocheting with yarn in my stash. I think it might actually be starting to go down!

    My husband had a short weekend get away this last weekend. We rented an Airbnb about an hour from home. We brought groceries with us for all but one meal out on Saturday night. It was a simple, much-needed, peaceful get away.

    I have had good success with meal planning, grocery pick up, cooking at home and saving leftovers. Still reading library books and watching shows. Very much enjoying Call the Midwife and Sanditon on the free PBS channel and app.

    I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. Always praying for those suffering in the world. Thanks again, Brandy for this hope-filled place you provide us.

    1. Becky you might enjoy watching When Calls The Heart,Murdoch Mysteries & Heartland.They are all made in Canada.We also enjoy watching Call The Midwife,Sanditon & Doc Martin.

  47. Brandy, your garden and yard are lovely. Looking toward your house in that first picture, it looks like a resort photo! So beautiful and you feed your family well from it to boot. Kudos! And thanks for the inspiration too!

    My husband and son had a scuba training scheduled this weekend – we already paid for the classes, so the only thing left was the entry to the lake and their hotel room. The hotel had a military rate, and their dinners were paid with a Visa gift card my dad sent us for Christmas, so less out of pocket there. (They both passed with flying colors and added two more certifications, which can be handy on their resumes as well, especially as my son hopes to go to vo tech for a welding AAS program when he turns 16. Then he can look at underwater welding training.) The weekend prior they went to one of the Smithsonian museums, entry was free so only paid for parking.

    Husband changed colleges recently and his advisor nominated him for a new student scholarship/rebate program, where they would refund one class-worth of tuition. We were notified he received it, and the check came – right into savings that has gone. Woohoo! An unexpected windfall and we are grateful to her for putting him in for it.

    I recently learned about a program where military and spouses in a transition period (moving or retiring) can have a free Premium membership on LinkedIn for a year – among other things, a paid membership includes their LinkedIn Learning classes (most of which must be paid for). I went through the training to receive the membership, applied it, and have begun taking short courses related to my small business efforts. It’s at least $30 a month depending which level a professional chooses, so I’ll call that $360 saved for the year and I’m already learning some handy things.

    Attended a free Small Business Administration webinar hosted by a chapter in the state we are moving to, which gave me some great insights on setting up there. They are in a different county than where I’ll be, so the host kindly put me in touch with the SBA person in our future county so I can get in and start off running as soon as we are settled. Their services are funded by grants, so there won’t be an OOP investment on my part for the things they offer.

    Appeared on a two friends’ podcast – it won’t be out for a few weeks but they really talked me up LOL and will be sharing links and such when it airs, which I’m grateful for; plus it was conversational vs scripted, so loads of fun to chat with them.

    Wishing everyone a safe, lovely week!

    1. Melonie, I can’t believe how forward thinking you are with everything. I would never have thought about doing that with the SBA, even if I had a business! All your posts indicate how organized you are! If it’s not too personal, what type of business are you looking to start (or maybe you already have one?)? I love reading your posts.

      1. Hi Laura S,

        Thank you for the kind words – you made my day as I am reading through everyone’s comments here. Thank you, thank you. <3

        Technically I suppose I should say businesses, as they will fall under one (when I can get my LLC – I have to be in the state for that first): the main business is focused on emergency preparedness for families and small businesses (preparedness plans, home/business security assessments, self defense/emergency response classes [I'm a certified firearms and first aid instructor]); the division thereof is a wellness business offering yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness classes (I'm also certified to teach those things 🙂 ).

        Full confession – I kind of stumbled across the SBA and SBDC (Small Business Development Center – helped by SBA but through each state's college and extension agencies). All thanks to LinkedIn, things that came up because I started puttering around on my state's website and rooting around for SBA things. If anyone else is interested, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a learning website, including a section for women business owners. (And for those in other countries, check with your local and federal government sites – they may have something similar and it's very useful!) is the link for the USA one. I hope it helps somehow.

        Thank you again for the kind comment, Laura S! (hugs)

  48. Going to the grocery store this week was a bit scary. As others have mentioned, there really aren’t very many markdowns. We primarily consume meat purchased on markdown, so we’ll be making adjustments to the way we cook. We were given 229 lbs of long term food storage that a gentleman in our community was replacing. It was purchased 9 years ago, but it is all still sealed. We will use it up since we don’t store food specifically for long-term, but instead use a rotating system. The 229 lbs was made up of dry milk, powdered eggs, rice, quick oats, black beans, 16 bean soup, and dried potato slices. My aunt’s mother in law passed along food she received from the food bank that she wouldn’t use. Included was pasta, rice, oats, lentils, hot chocolate, applesauce, peanut butter, and several other items. We have made so many repairs to our home in the last month. Just when we thought things were easing up and we could catch our breath, we noticed a problem in our septic system. I think we have enough in savings to cover it, but then we will probably be without any savings for a while. And even worse is that my garden area has to be completely dug up to make the repairs. I’m hoping we can get everything fixed soon so that my garden can still be planted in time. My husband’s layoff should be over soon, though, and we’re looking forward to having a real paycheck again!

  49. Grocery shopping has been going well, with another sale on pork loin, and 2-lb bags of pasta at $2.50 each. Last year they would have been $2.00, but still good value. I got a 15 lb bag of red potatoes for $9.99, compared to $5.99 for a 5 lb bag. I’ve been replacing baking supplies used this winter, including sugar, baking powder, oats and yeast, along with plastic wrap and parchment paper. Sugar prices seemed okay to me, and much more choice of package size than in the fall. Yeast was half price. Baking powder at the store was what I paid for it last year, though wanted three times the price, all brands. I got free chicken thighs at the waste reduction program and two lb of ground beef gifted by a local farmer.

    I waited until the first Monday of the month to go to the very small department store in my very small town for seniors’ day to buy a supply of underwear and socks at 10% off. I got oats here too, which was less than at the grocery store. I have a list of clothing and household items I need, and these were highest priority! I found out seniors’ day at that store is now every Monday, not just the beginning of the month, so that will make planning easier.

    I submitted my tax return online a month before it is due in Canada, and got an instant notice of assessment agreeing with what I filed. The return needs to be done to qualify for income supplements and quarterly tax credits, though there is no refund for me now.

    I oiled the hinges on several squeaky doors, which are now silent and feather light to open and close. It took a few seconds to oil each door.

  50. Brandy, your garden is just sooooooooo beautiful!

    Does your family eat cooked greens? If so, I’d cut every bit of that Swiss chard before it bolts and blanch and freeze it. Love it with lemon juice or vinegar.

    This was my week–
    I started petunia seeds on the windowsill. The packet was $1.99 and I only sowed about half of the seeds. If they all come up, I’ll be planting lotsa petoonies. If they don’t…not so many, LOL.

    Not frugal for me, but for a friend who just moved into a brand-new house–I planted cuttings of lilacs, forsythias and snowballs for her. They are in pots on my patio.

    I used a merchandise credit of $23.72 at Costco. I found a $50 Red Lobster GC in my husband’s wallet that has been there at least 2-1/2 years. (We went out to dinner Sunday night!).

    Gas is $4.04 and up per gallon in northern Idaho. I filled my tank for $3.19 gallon with fuel points worth .90 gallon, saving about $15.

    Hilogene’s comment about 15% of poultry weight in chickens has me thinking. I hope she will keep us posted.

    Now I have a question: Our gas range and microwave went out about 10 days ago. We tested what we could and concluded it was likely the circuit. A friend came by, thought it was a loose wire, and got them working again…which they did for about a week. The second time, we called an electrician because my husband is currently physically unable to do anything. The electrician also thought something was loose and went ahead and replaced the circuit. No change. However, he discovered that if he unplugged the microwave, the range would work. (Wish I’d known that before!). He’d had some questions about the microwave at the outset, and now he believes it is the source of the problem. So, here is my question: my husband doesn’t have the skillset to repair a microwave (does anyone even do this?) and not the physical ability at present to install a new one. We can get a new over-the-range micro (what we have now) for about $350. I’m assuming we’d have to pay someone to install it. What do you think we should do? (Besides what we are doing now, which is not using the microwave at all).

    PS I discovered a rice cooker is just the ticket for heating soup, boiling eggs, etc. It comes to a gentle boil.

    1. If you have the counter space, a countertop microwave is a fraction of the cost, and there is no installation cost. It is safer than reaching up to take hot food out as well.

      1. No counter space (small kitchen). Also, if we remove the microwave, we would have to buy and install a range hood.

        1. Not that this helps, but I was reminded of the family I babysat for who stored their vitamins, check blanks, and mail in the microwave they didn’t use for microwaving. So maybe you could make it a cupboard and get some stuff off the counter?

          1. I live in a small old house, where some creative use of space is needed, so this made me chuckle. I would understand if Maxine is looking for less whimsy in her lovely new home.

          2. The bigger issue is that I have NO counter space for a microwave. None!

            Update: This has been one disaster after another and it just keeps getting worse. We had a repair guy out yesterday. The microwave will cost $250 to repair. I asked him what he would do if he were in our shoes: “Replace it.” We have so far paid an electrician and a repair guy and have nothing to show for it. We are going microwave shopping this afternoon. A part of me wants to just skip it, but our daughter (who is developmentally disabled) uses the microwave all the time. She avoids using the stove at all costs.

            PS One of the things I like about an OTR microwave (there are a number of things I don’t like) is that you can’t pile stuff on top of it.

            1. I think you’re making progress, though, since you know the cause of the problem. In the circumstances, I think it makes sense to replace it, even though it hurts. Not having an extra surface to pile things is not a small thing in my book. I know I saved a noticeable amount on electricity when used it to heat things up. Hope you find exactly what you are looking for.

    2. Maxine, my husband says it is not hard to install the over-the-range microwave, especially if you already have one there. Maybe you could have your friend put it in for you?

    3. My friend had an over the stove microwave go out, and couldn’t afford the high price of replacing it. So instead, her husband fashioned a shelf there instead, in the same location, and they simply purchased a regular counter top microwave and placed it on the shelf. It is now taking up the same space in the kitchen, but for much much less expensive. And if it goes out, it is simple to exchange it with another counter top microwave. I know your husband may not be able to make a shelf, but perhaps you might consider hiring a shelf to be made.

  51. Brandy, what beautiful pictures. Your garden is out of this world. we have been going thru my brother’s things, I brought home some laundry detergent, and dryer sheets along with some family pictures. We went to the library and swapped books, grilled some chicken that was on sale.

  52. Your yard looks so gorgeous. I imagine it is so satisfying to you to see how your hard work is paying off.
    We enjoyed our first salad from the greenhouse yesterday and it was so delicious.
    This week I received 10 pounds of potatoes free from Safeway.
    I sewed three pair of underwear and a top from scrap fabric. I purchased the elastic for the underwear in bulk on Amazon last month, so that was the only additional expense.
    Our vacuum had stopped cleaning well and my husband was able to diagnose the problem and repair it at no additional cost.
    We are redoing all the irrigation lines in our garden this year. My husband has started work on this and has completed the greenhouse so far. The carrots I planted in the greenhouse are coming up and the rest of the plants are doing well.

  53. Your garden looks so lovely! I love seeing it from different angles. Really enjoyed the video about burying kitchen scraps. He is one of my favorite Youtubers to watch. The idea of using borage as fertilizer was new to me. I have borage seeds from last summer, so will definitely get those started soon.
    I sold a couple of decluttered things online. When the FB Marketplace items did not sell a couple of weeks ago, I decided to offer shipping — and then made 2 sales right away. Lost a few dollars on shipping costs that I underestimated, so I used some of the earnings to purchase a digital scale. It arrived in one day! The scale will help me avoid losses in the future, plus I can avoid trips to the post office by printing postage at home. Love it when a money-saver also saves time. I have been reusing mailers and boxes to ship items.
    We ran several errands this weekend, so I made a list of estate and yard sales to stop at along the way. I purchased books for $2.50, sold them for $39. We also found a few other good items (Wilton 9×13 heavy duty pan $3, brush pen set $2.50, several Pampered Chef orange peelers $1 for all, 2 bottles of Wen mousse $3). I also got a metal frame from an old planter for $2. I plan to fashion it into a lettuce table, maybe with strawberries on the sides.
    Kroger had some good prices this week on items we use. Giant boxes of cereal for $2.47 (my son goes through Cinnamon Toast Crunch like water), Ragu spaghetti sauce $1.47 per jar, Doritos $1.99, makeup remover wipes $1.47. I got an email that my husband’s favorite steaks were on sale at The Fresh Market on Saturday morning, so we stopped there while in that town anyway, but they did not get any on their truck this week. Several shoppers, including us, were disappointed. I was frustrated that it was advertised in the email they sent me that morning, yet did not have the product in stock. In the future, we’ll call ahead to verify before heading there. My husband bought a hot side dish at the deli counter that was going to be $9.75. I pointed out the deal on a roast chicken meal — you get the chicken, 2 sides and a pack of cornbread muffins for $16. So we asked if we could do the meal instead, and ended up with the other items including the roast chicken for only $6 more. My husband is super easy going and just doesn’t pay attention to things like prices or specials. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but he balances out my overzealous attention to those things.
    The radishes I planted on Feb. 12 are finally almost ready to pick. They were supposed to be ready in 24 days but the inconsistent weather slowed them down, I guess. I sampled a couple of small ones today and they were very mild and tender. I don’t love radishes, but I’m trying to get better acquainted with them so that I enjoy them more. I did that with peppers (just kept eating little bits over time) and now I like them. We finally got the soil amendments needed to get our clay soil ready for asparagus crowns, and will be planting those as soon as we can have the bed ready. I have always wanted an asparagus patch! Thank goodness for Youtube, I have learned so much about planting from gardeners willing to share knowledge.
    I bought a small aloe plant at Lowe’s, and noticed that there were several broken leaves lying around on the bottom of the store shelf. I stuck them in my plant’s pot. Unfortunately when I got home and did some research, it looks like you cannot propagate aloe from a leaf cutting. Interesting lesson learned! So I guess I will just use those broken leaves as a hand gel.

    1. I like radishes in a mixture of white vinegar and water put into the fridge for a few days.

      1. We do this too. My grandchildren love them as they are more mellow and not so peppery. Half cheap vinegar and half water.

  54. Your garden and yard are looking lovelier with each set of photos. It is truly a little slice of paradise for sure! I can just imagine how beautiful the pergola will be with grapes and blackberries all filled in!
    We had a quote to have the remaining trees in our backyard taken down we need to give our garden space full sun and they came back with a quote of $4,000 if they cut and cleaned up everything! Sadly, our backyard is not accessible by any of their trucks so they have to climb the trees and 4 are extremely tall. After much debate we decided we could cut down the lone cedar tree that needed removing, one we would call the power company to take care of as it is very tangled in the power lines and one other didn’t obstruct the garden and we would leave instead. That left the 3 largest trees. They said if they cut down and we did the cleanup it would only be $850. It is still a large amount of money but less than we budgeted and much easier to swallow than $4,000. We cut down the cedar tree today and I now have some beautiful work pieces I can use in my garden for trellising.
    I planted out some pink and white celery I grew from seed from Baker Creek. I had 100% germination with all 36 I started from seed. The first 12 went into the garden along with more Tatsoi, onions, carrots and broccoli I had all started from seed. Later this week after we have what will hopefully be our last frost of the year, I will plant more. I just do not have enough wire hoops to cover another bed yet.
    I have a tooth that has been bothering me for about a week. It is a back molar and one of the two I have a filling in. Yesterday I realized part of the filling has fallen out. It feels like it might be abscessed now. After a call to the dentist, they suggested I come in for an office visit and start an antibiotic because the dentist wouldn’t do the work on it until I had taken one for 7 days. They however couldn’t fit me in until next week. After discussing my options with them, they suggested I ask my primary doctor for a prescription for the antibiotic, start taking it and then come in for one visit where everything could be taken care of at that time. A quick call to my primary care Dr. saved me an office visit to the dentist for the prescription. I have been doing saltwater rinses but my gum next to the tooth is very inflamed sadly and is quite painful.
    I had several items in my cart on Amazon I planned to purchase at the start of the week and just in the few days of adding them to my cart, until I went to purchase they jumped so drastically! One was Coconut Oil I usually purchase for $10.96 went up to $17.22! Honestly each time I go to make a purchase I am shocked a little more. Although I always cook at home, just the thought of cooking is overwhelming at the moment. To combat this, I decided this month am going back to meal planning for the month. It really helps me plan and in the morning I can pick a meal and do what I need to prepare for the meal. One thing I hope to do is rotate some of the older meat out of my freezer to make room and use up what I have. I enjoy going back and looking at some of your meal plans for inspiration.
    I usually make a trip to Aldi once every 3 months or so and stock up on the items I purchase there. I am planning to make one this week and wonder what the prices will look like. Like others I have read that the prices in their stores in Germany will raise up to 50%. I am sure it will follow suit here as well since many items are imported.
    I always collect our leftover drinking water to water my seedlings, but I have started placing large 5-gallon buckets outside in strategic places to collect rainwater to use to water my indoor seedlings as well. They are much happier with the rainwater than tap water, even after it has sat for 24+ hours.

  55. Brandy you garden is so beautiful and you and your husband should be congratulated for a work of art 🙂 . Glad you have been able to harvest a lot from your gardens and buy beans and popcorn to top up your supplies. We trench compost all our fruit and veg scraps into our gardens and the amount of earth worms that work their way through the soil is amazing and it makes the soil far more friable too.

    We have had so much rain here that it was impossible to get out into the gardens at all so we turned our attention to deep cleaning inside the home 🙂 . The Australian government is also taking off half the fuel excise of 22.1c per litre in the budget so we will look into upping our fuel supplies more once that filters through to the fuel bowsers to save more money.

    Deep cleaning –
    – We cleaned all the outside of all the fridges, freezers, kitchen cupboards, cleaned the glass in our kitchen cabinets and I wiped over all the walls in there. Whilst we had everything off the top of the pantry cupboards we also wiped down all the air tight containers to get them clean before putting them back up and cleaned all the venetian blinds. This took quite a few days to do on and off and while I was at it I refilled all the empty containers with staples.

    In the kitchen –
    – We baked 4 loaves of wholemeal white bread in the bread making machine saving $ 13.96 over buying them locally.
    – We cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Grocery purchases ( when we finally got out and the floodwaters receded and the roads were open) – I bought 8 tins of long life meat and veg harvest for $3 each from IGA on a 32% off sale saving $11.20 on usual prices.
    – We bought 3 more fuel jerry cans from Bunnings and filled them up with 95 fuel coupling our 3% off RACQ Wish e-gift card and using our 4c per litre off Rewards to save $6.40 on usual prices.
    – On specials at Woolworths we purchased 2 x large Steggles family roast chickens reduced from $6kg to $4 kg and one boneless pork leg roast reduced from $11kg to $9 kg and coupled our 4% off discount with our WW e-gift card with $10 off rewards dollars to save 46.68% or $27.04 on usual prices.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead 🙂 .

  56. That is an impressive Swiss chard plant! The chard seeds I planted didn’t come up, but other things did, so I’ll be happy with what I got. I planted a few more seeds and 12 tiny little broccoli plants from our greenhouse. Then, the wind really blew last night and almost an inch of rain fell in the last 24 hours and they look a little worse for wear. I’m hoping they stand back up with the better weather that’s coming along. They are well watered in, at least:). I weeded in my flowerbeds for a short time several evenings after work and mowed the lawn. I will have to wait a few days for things to dry out, but then I’ll get back out there and keep chipping away at all those weeds.

    I got to do some fun things this week. My husband drove my aunt and I around all day Friday for a quilt shop hop. I finished the shops on Saturday, as we ran out of time. At each shop, we received a free kit to sew into a 12-1/2 inch block. They encourage people to sew their squares into a quilt and enter your finished quilt in a contest in September. Unless it’s in 2032, I have no hope of finishing in time, so I’m just going to enjoy my squares when I do finish them. I enjoyed the drive, the picnic we had, and just getting to look around at all that gorgeous fabric and the quilts on all the walls of the shops.

    I finished the toddler quilt I have been working on and turned it into my local quilt shop to be machine quilted. This used fabric purchased long ago, except the back, and many scraps from previous sewing projects. I continue my big plan of sorting, decluttering, finishing up projects, both in my sewing/quilting and in other areas of my house.

    I was able to visit a friend I haven’t seen for a long, long time. Her son and his wife just had a baby girl and they can use the portable bassinet we used for Zai until he could pull up and it was no longer safe for him to be in. We had purchased it used on Facebook marketplace for a few dollars and were happy to pass it on now that we are finished. I was so happy that she was home and that the son was willing for us to drop it at her house as his wife was still in the hospital so I could visit.

    Our neighbor is cleaning and gave us a mini toy car for the boys. It’s battery operated and they can drive it around when they are a little older. I expect my nephew will try it out in the meantime, if he can cram himself into it!

    My husband and I try to walk almost every day. We went to a park to walk today and enjoyed hundreds of blooming tulips surrounding a historic house/museum in one section and large areas of wildflowers in another area. Pictures of the house and flowers are on my blog:

    I cooked several pork-based meals, as I found a couple of pieces of pork buried in the chest freezer that needed to be used. I did pork roast, sweet and sour pork, salads with pork on them, and pork sandwiches. I cooked a large quantity of brown rice in my Instant Pot and froze it for future quick meals. I made chicken-rice soup and biscuits and stir fry, as well.

    1. Becky I love the idea of a quilt shop round trip with picnic too. My idea of a great day out! We don’t have enough fabric/ quilting shops near us to make it viable but I can dream about yours! I guess the closest I could get would be a charity shop round trip to look at fabric.

  57. This week we tried some newer things to save money. I’m determined to put back the money I spent out of my savings account. I notified the lawn man I would no longer need service. That $60.00 a month adds up over the summer . My old lady bones will miss this most. My lawnmower needs repaired. I’m going to negotiate with an old man for the repair. Meanwhile I’m puppy sitting , I’m going to use the neighbors mower tomorrow. I made some new things this week with the items we recovered at our local grocery. Organic whole milk made Greek yogurt. I cooked 20 lbs of chicken. Fed my cats all week. 2 are old and appreciated the soft meat. The bones and an assortment of vegetables made bone broth. I’m hoping to use this instead of buying suggested probiotics. This weeks dinner were lovely :
    Lasagna ,salad and garlic bread
    Ahi tuna made into fish cakes
    Pork chops and sides
    Chicken pot pie
    I took a case of pork rinds and made bread crumbs with them.
    I cashed in swag bucks for an Amazon card. I needed ointment for my dry eyes. The pollen is horrible. Any allergy medication just makes the dry eyes worse. I bought a different brand ,getting three tubes instead of two. I bought a two pack of blackberry bushes for $4.00 . I’m hoping my first attempt at gardening will go well. A pack of 40 perennial bulbs was $2.00 . I need to do some reading up on these hobbies. I brought home a lovely planter found at my daughters apartment complex. I’ve cleaned it and will paint it soon. $2.00 can of spray paint. My daughter just shakes her head at me. I hope one day to have a pretty yard like Brandy. I have many years of yard work ahead of me.

  58. Your yard/garden is a work of art! Thrifty actions this week included making a decision NOT to buy a new dress for Easter,( even the thrift shops have raised prices) and found an inexpensive short scarf in spring colors, to create a new look to the dress I’ve worn for over a decade. Using a lot of arugula to make salads from the garden this week…used a copy cate warm grain bowl with arugula, black beans, quinoa, tomatoes that was pretty good.

  59. Our power bill was $100 less last month! So excited! Made a concerted effort to lower furnace settings, open widows when possible and run full loads in the washer and dishwasher. Hope to keep this up!

    Have begun faithfully scanning grocery adds for loss leaders and making everything from scratch that I can. Say a prayer for my family especially concerning their biscuit and bread offerings!

    Rabbits ate all my lettuce and spinach. Squirrels ate all my seeds that I had planted! My 98 year old great aunt has a BB gun and a place in her yard called the “Squirrel Cemetery”. I think I may follow her lead!

    Seeds and plants are still difficult to come by here in East Tennessee. I pray we all can find ways to feed our families stay afloat!

    Thank you, Brandy, for the loveliness you offer each week and the opportunity to share knowledge and camaraderie with so many like-minded people!

    Stay frosty out there! Onward, by all means(Ryan)!

    1. I too love your aunt!!! My husband hates bunnies so much (because they nibble on his garden) that we call him Mr. McGregor!

      1. We have finally surrounded our garden with bunny fencing. It works great! Not sure if your garden is too large for that idea, but I get a huge grin when I spy the bunnies standing up and gazing through our bunny fence into the garden! They have plenty of luscious grass and clover to eat, so I don’t feel sorry for them!

  60. I baked a loaf of challah bread and 2 loaves of Italian bread this week.
    Hubby and I went on a lunch date. It is cheaper than dinner. We used a gift card we had received as a present. It cost 46¢ and tip. We brought our leftovers home and enjoyed them the next day for lunch.
    Walmart had 2 pound boxes of spaghetti for $1.12. I bought 5 more. I was picking up an order for the mom of the little boy I watch so I popped in to see what they had. That was all I bought. The change machine had 83¢ and a Chuckie cheese token too. The mom is still cleaning out cabinets. She gave me a brownie pan, red gift bags, Chinese food boxes with hearts, and a clock radio. She fed me the 3 days I watched him.
    A friend and I met up at Panera for breakfast. I used a gift card that I earned from Verizon. I drank water too. She is an accountant and got several fruit baskets from clients. She gave me a pineapple since they won’t eat it.
    My friend’s dad passed away. I made a chick pea salad, pasta salad, muffins and cookies. I grabbed them some grapes and strawberries that were on sale too and dropped it off with a card I already had. There were so many flowers at the funeral. My friend’s sister said to me how nice it was that I dropped off food so that they didn’t have to cook. I hate spending so much on flowers when they are dead in a few days. We ate lunch at my friend’s house after the funeral. She sent us home with a bag of biscotti cookies.
    My son and husband picked up another crate to make into a garden bed and several more pallets. Hubby made me a small hoop house to extend the growing season. My daughter and I worked several hours outside in the garden. She weeded the strawberry patch. I cut back raspberry vines and cleaned out part of an herb garden.
    The lady I help gave me a bag of clementine. Her daughter bought them for her but she didn’t want them.
    Stop n Shop this week had chicken thighs marked down to 89¢a pound. I bought 2 large packs. I got a case (5packs) of Matzo free, a dairy free yogurt free, 5 organic soups on clearance for 99¢, BBQ sauce on clearance for 62¢ so I got 6. Asparagus was on sale for $1.47 so I got the 5 pounds I was allowed. Bacon was B1G1free so $3.50 a pound. I got $8.50 back from Ibotta and did Fetch with all of my receipts.
    Gas was $3.99 a gallon cash.
    My oldest daughter who got married 7/20 is finally on her honeymoon. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend went down to her house for the weekend to pick up her 2 dogs. They visited with friend’s that live near my oldest. Perishables were sent home with my youngest so we got some lettuce, bananas, eggs and milk. Hubby and I are bringing the puppies’ home Easter weekend. My daughter looked to board the 2 dogs and it would be $100 a day. It isn’t saving us anything but it is sure saving her a lot. She gave my daughter’s boyfriend money for gas too.

    1. Marybeth from NY, I am curious about how you earned a gift card through Verizon. We have a family plan through Verizon and I have not heard of earning gift cards through them.

      1. The program is actually changing next month. I have the app on my phone and it is under Verizon UP. It is for their cell phone service. They have had it for several years. Every month I get a $3 GC for paying my bill on time. Once a year I get a $5 GC for my anniversary. You can also enter contests or get free magazines.

        1. Thank you, Marybeth. We have had Verizon for many years and always pay on time. Wish I had known about this all along, but will get signed up now. So glad you mentioned it.

  61. Brandy, your garden is beautiful! You are very talented in design and have quite an eye for creating botanical beauty using vegetables and fruit as well. My garden tends to be very utilitarian and looks like it. I am trying to learn a better way to use the space instead of rows. We are traveling to see five of our kids and related family in the southeast. Other than two nights using hotel points, we have been able to stay with the kids (even on an air mattress is good for us). Gas is cheaper here than in Illinois, and my car gets good gas mileage for size and age. Food is always the biggest expense for us. We brought food, snacks and drinks, and pick up water cases as we go. The biggest issue is that the car is packed to the brim when we leave with items that belong to the kids that we are bringing to them, thus, we don’t have room for a large cooler (we have one that plugs in to the car charger and keeps cool). We brought the small cooler and that was a tight squeeze. We just used a Red Lobster gift card I was given for my birthday last year to take our son out last night (his wife was at a class). We also have California Pizza Kitchen gift cards we bought discounted and then on sale, which we will use tomorrow to take another son out. Going to Costco today to buy a chicken for dinner, I think. The rest of the trip will involve eating at the kids’ houses. The first part of the trip was a work conference and we ate dinner out (indulging in what the famous local fare is) using the daily allowance given. We don’t eat out a lot at home, so it does bother me when we find ourselves in a situation where we have to. Did get some just laid eggs from my DIL’s sister in Tennessee and brought them to Florida with us, without having to refrigerate because they still had the bloom on them. Had some for breakfast and they were delicious! Thank you for your time and effort in keeping this blog going; it’s my favorite place to be on the internet.☺️

  62. Brandy,
    Your garden is beyond lovely. I’m looking forward to seeing what grows upon those beautiful trellises you made.

    For my part, I don’t have much to write. I bought 8 packages of seeds from two different stores. One of them is called “Parsley Peas”. It makes an edible lacey parsley-like foliage followed by edible pea pods. I ordered the dwarf sunflower seeds so I can use the seed heads for the birds. I got some mimula seeds as they grow well in the shade.

    Superstore still has its Saputo Mozzarellissima (500 gr) cheese selling for $6.99, Instead of buying a lot of other groceries I bought 4 packages of it for my freezer. Its sister store is selling the same cheese for $9.99 per package. Both stores are charging
    $18.99 for 1 kg blocks. So two packages of 500 grams to make up 1 kg will equal $14 instead of $18.19. Shredded is $19.39 so I will shred my own. I will not buy it at $18.99 — I will use my new shredding attachment (bought on sale with a further discount and free shipping) to shred the cheese before I freeze it. So I will save about $5 per package. I treated myself to chocolate easter bunnies for $1 each at Superstore but $1.49 at No Frills. It is only 1 of 2 times that there is egg-free, peanut-free chocolate available during the year. Good for weight control and it becomes a rare treat. It is a good idea to check the prices of both stores and ask the stores to match their prices.

    The book …drags on.

  63. Kraft Mayo, 30 oz jar, cost was almost $7.00 today at our local Piggly Wiggly! This is our family favorite mayo, but I would not pay that price. Is the cost this much across the country? I was flabbergasted!

    1. Woah! That’s insane! A few months back I bought some for $1.98 with a dollar off coupon! I bought several but wish I had bought more.

    2. That’s crazy expensive. Mayo is easy to make with items you likely already have in your pantry. I don’t use Mayo often, so like this small batch recipe. It keeps for about 10 days in the refrigerator.


      This recipe is perfect for a small batch of mayonnaise and does not require a food processor. Whisk slowly as you drip the oil into the egg yolk, lemon juice and Dijon mustard mixture. Once it starts to emulsify, you can start adding the oil a bit faster. In all, it’ll be a few minutes of whisking for a beautiful light-yellow mayo that’s worth every moment.
      Servings: makes 1 cup
      1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
      2 teaspoons lemon juice
      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
      ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
      1 teaspoon cold water
      ¾ cup neutral oil such as safflower or canola
      In a medium bowl, whisk* together the egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, salt and 1 teaspoon cold water until frothy. Whisking constantly, slowly dribble in the oil until mayonnaise is thick and oil is incorporated. When the mayonnaise emulsifies and starts to thicken, you can add the oil in a thin stream, instead of drop by drop.
      * I used an immersion blender; needs a narrow container.
      Blend in olive oil (with an electric hand blender) until you reach the consistency you want.
      However, many Americans may find olive oil has too much flavor, so they may want to try other oils.
      “Real” mayonesa is, however, always made with olive oil and is, of course, Spanish, not French. Mayonnaise refers to the Spanish city of Mahón on the island of Menorca.

  64. Brandy, I loved seeing your beautiful oasis of a backyard!

    I haven’t posted for a few weeks, but here’s what I remember:
    I sold a round table and four chairs for $75.
    I borrowed “My Pantry” by Alice Waters from the library. She has some good recipes and ideas for her pantry, including making your own apple cider vinegar.
    I realized that I can go two weeks without grocery shopping. It saves gas, a little money, and uses up more of what we have on hand.
    I am teaching a class twice a week this month. It will be a nice boost in income.
    I am concerned about finding canning lids. While at Ace Hardware, they had wide mouth lids for $5.29. A ridiculous price, but I bought three just in cast I can’t find them later….
    Tomorrow I am planning a walk through the cherry blossoms around our state capitol and just a few blocks from my home.
    I continue to knit, walk, read books from the library, drive less, shut off lights, try to use up leftovers, help my neighbors. Sometimes I feel a little panicked but I will carefully add to my pantry and have faith.

    1. Kandace, I love the idea of walking to see the cherry blossoms!
      I’m starting a mental list of flower festivals I need to visit. Cherry blossoms, bluebonnets, lilacs so far.

  65. The picture of the garden and the back of your house are simply stunning! My property is very woody and rustic basically the opposite of yours.

    Last week I went to the grocery store armed with lots of coupons to pair with sales. I only spent $176 and had saved over $75 with coupons and sales. I was very pleased with my overflowing cart of needed items.

    I have been searching for a used food dehydrator with a budget of $20. Every one I found was either over that budget or gone in a flash. I found a new one on Amazon for $47 and ended up using an Amazon coupon for $6, cashed in $21 of Ibotta for an Amazon, and some credit card points to get it for $17! I am very excited to dry herbs and veggies from my garden this summer.

    I planted potatoes and my husband planted the apple trees I ordered. I am redoing much of my garden so I will plant my spring veggies in a place that usually has flowers so we don’t miss out on lettuce, radishes, and peas.

    Thank you to D who mentioned Aldi may raise their prices. I will move up my planned stock up trip there and hopefully avoid the higher prices.

  66. I just wanted to mention that for Canadian readers I often notice that Safeway often does not have very good bargauins or prices on “sale” items but one of their specials worth investigating is their frequent buy one get one free special on meat.
    I just bought 2 whole fresh chickens for $14.00, on average $2.25 per pound. This is the third time I’ve bought meat on thir bogo specials.

  67. I saw this recipe and thought of you, Brandy — it sounds a great deal like ‘lemon curd,’ which is expensive as all getout and so British-y. This recipe’s from an Aussie…figures, I guess.

    I will be planting a mixture of chard, kale and turnip greens — thanks to you! I hope they’ll hang in there all summer and into the fall. Bought a five-pound pkg because it was so much cheaper than per ounce, and will be giving our daughters, cousins and friends some, too.

    We have been in Michigan since mid-October to help take care of my mom. She died Jan. 22, and I picked up Covid from someone who came to either the visitation or the funeral. (Husband got it from me a few days later.) We spent the next few months recovering from that (coffee STILL can taste funny) and dealing with Mom’s estate.
    After a very long trip to get back to Colorado, pulling the fifth-wheel, and spending a ton of money on diesel, we are grateful to be home. Unfortunately, the truck is back in the shop. Fortunately, I have been able to again start using up the canned goods and freezer items (including elk from last fall). That helps with our bills — but still.

  68. Brandy, Wow! Just WOW! Your backyard is awesome! You have created a masterpiece! I was blown away by your pictures. As always, I am inspired by your posts to get up and do something better.

  69. Missed the last several weeks due to surgery and the need to be hospitalized as I was dehydrated. At the end of March I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of squamous cell carcinoma and surgery was… extensive. I’m so grateful that God has given me this gift. God does not give us bad things, so I am choosing to see that there is a huge blessing in this for me. I may not understand, and it may not even have anything to do with me, but I have no doubt it is a blessing.

    That being said, the last several weeks have not been without a lot of pain – of all sorts. I would love prayers that I can keep the attitude of it being a blessing and that God will use me as He chooses.

    Your garden is beautiful! If we lived in town, I’d love something like that, but a little more redneck chic than classical like yours! Attempts at saving money have been… minimal this month so far, but it will improve.

    1. I’m sorry you have had such bad news! I hope all goes well with your healing.

  70. I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard that would all be but I appreciate your good attitude. I will add you to my prayers. God bless and keep you.

  71. Wow, the backyard is beyond spectacular!!! I just love your design and style. My front and back yards are L shape and completely stumps me on layout given my favorite look is symmetrical like yours. Given our water restrictions I can get rebates on removing the lawn, but need a plan to submit to the city first.

    I also bury my scrapes for cold composting. I buzz up what I can in the blender first so it takes no time at all to break down in the garden.

    I’ve been trying to use some Hypermiling techniques when driving to save on gas as it’s still six dollars a gallon here. I haven’t been charting it, but I can definitely see that I’m saving on gas. I don’t do it when it’s too crowded because going slow and adjusting to try to make every light can irritate people behind you.

    I’ve been combining errands, which has led me to not make a full grocery shop in quite a while because my many doctors appointments drive me right past the grocery outlet. I can’t get everything there, but I can get by, so have. Mostly I stay home as that saves the most.

    With one days notice I heard we are all wearing something plum to my mil’s memorial service. I thought if I don’t find something the first place I go, that’s it, but I did! A beautiful wool knit tank top for $3.99 at good will. For some reason I could not find the pants to my black suit, so pulled out a black knit cardigan and matching pants (same weight and weave as new to me top). A friend gave them to me some time ago. They had some moth holes, which I’ve never been good at repairing, but after a quick YouTube tutorial I was able to sew them up with out anything showing. On top of that my neighbor came over and said I bought some shoes from local Facebook marketplace and the Lady gave me this second pair, do you want them? A brand new pair of black dansko shoes taller than I normally wear, but perfect with the knit pants that were too long on me. A pair of insoles I had made for a perfect fit and soft on my bad feet. So I ended up with a whole new outfit for $3.99 that was nice enough for church.

    1. Maria, what you can do (and I did this too) is break the garden down into rooms. Then each room can have symmetry. I have 7 rooms in my garden in the backyard.

      I suggest starting with a Pinterest board to figure out what you like. Check out my edible landscaping and patio boards on Pinterest for lots of ideas that incorporate food and water-friendly landscaping in small spaces. You’ll see lots of walkways without grass and you can water your beds on drip irrigation.

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