We worked on our garden project this week in beautiful, much warmer than usual weather. I’m grateful for this while working in the garden, but I’m also very aware that this is usually the month when we receive most of our annual rainfall, and it does not look like we will receive any. Last year we only received 2.31 inches (5.86 cm) of rain for the entire year, which is just over half our normal rainfall.

There were many reasons for us to do this garden project now, and the drought is one of them. We will significantly reduce our water usage by reducing our grass by 75%, while also increasing our growing space by converting grass areas to garden beds that will be watered on drip irrigation (which uses 50% less water than sprinklers) as well as concrete paths, which of course won’t use any water. This will reduce our water bill and provide more food and flowers for our family, plus provide us with some more usuable spaces in our garden as we convert two shady garden beds (where not much grew) to seating areas. (These areas have become shady over the years from our neighbors’ palm trees and our fig tree).

My husband rented an excavator to do some more of the hard digging in the garden, saving us hiring someone to do it for us (which we did the first time we landscaped our garden 15 years ago, with my husband doing additional digging.)

These lime rocks and clay are our native garden “soil”

We took seven trips to the dump, removing approximately 9 tons of rocks and dirt from the garden. I’m so glad we could dump it for free. There was a sign at the dump stating that prices to dump went up 5% at the beginning of the year. Residents who pay a quarterly garbage bill can dump for free with an id that matches the name and address on their bill. It would have been $480 to dump if I had to pay. Before this week, my husband drove the trailer to the dump. This time, to save us time and money (since rented the excavator by the day), I drove to the dump while we had the excavator so that some of the rocks and dirt could go straight out, rather than us having to shovel it and load it again later. This was my first week backing up the dump trailer, and while I still have a long ways to go to be able to do it properly, I was able to do so with the help of the very patient and kind employees at the dump guiding me in which way to turn the wheel.

My husband needed some pieces of corner electrical piping. He had decided to buy eight for now, not knowing how many he would need, and knowing that we will probably need more later. I was with him and noticed that in small print it said the price went down by $0.12 each if one bought ten or more, so we bought ten.

We returned the pallet to Home Depot that our concrete was on, receiving our $15 back that we had to pay for the pallet.

I was surprised when the grocery ad at Smith’s advertised the case-lot sale starting so soon after Christmas. I decided to spend part of my $100 grocery and toiletry budget for the month at the case-lot sale. I bought a case of tomato soup, two cases of mandarin oranges, a case of peanut butter, and 9 pounds of fresh clementines on sale. The tomato soup will go nicely with the grilled cheese sandwiches that the school lunches (which are available free to all children ages 2-18 here right now due to a federal grant) give often. (To avoid too many people at the store, I went at 6 a.m.)

We picked up the free school breakfasts and lunches. The distribution school is only 5 minutes away, and they put the lunches in your car for you to help with social distancing. This also is keeping several people employed; in the fall, the district asked for more people to come pick up the meals so that these employees would not need to be let go. Currently, my city (Las Vegas) has an unemployment rate of 11.5%. I’m glad to keep some people employed in our city, and it helps with our budget.

We had a family picnic at the park by the library. The library had just reopened, so we went inside afterward and borrowed some books.

What did you do to save money this week?

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  1. I remember, from our Tucson years, the caliche!! What Herculean effort you and your family are expending!! I’m cheering you on and pray that your gardens will be ever productive !!

    This was the week we did it! We went into the bank on Tuesday and paid off our mortgage! What a thrill that was! The rest of the week, we would walk around the house, look at each other, grin and mouth the words “it’s paid off!!”
    Hubs checked around and found he could change insurance companies and he got a $25/ month lower premium for car insurance. The insurance company we went with told us that if we waited until July to change our homeowner’s policy that the claim we made (first claim ever!) for when the tree fell down and hit our roof would be 5 years previous and so it would drop off our report. Our insurance premium would be substantially lower then. If we changed it now, we would be locked into the higher rate until a year after we transferred. We appreciated the honesty of the company and have a reminder to call them in July and transfer that policy too!
    By using our bank credit card for everyday purchases as well as larger purchases (car repairs, etc) but pay off the statement balance each month so we don’t accrue interest, we have been able to bank $20 in rewards cash into our savings account. Seeing that, without those rewards, that account gives us 12 cents/month in interest makes using the cc carefully and getting rewards each month deposited into our savings worth keeping it.
    We had a car repair needed that was around $300 . We used cc above to pay for it so we earned rewards money and will pay it off the end of this month when statement is due.

    I quilted #108 for a client this week https://pin.it/3FsFe3u. Now I have started a quilt for my grandson stationed in Korea in the Army. I hope to have it done by Monday.
    I rearranged and rotated foods in my basement pantry and am pleased that although we are eating from our pantry daily, that we are also restocking it by buying on sale or “converting” pantry/freezer items I already have and combining some of them together to can new “convenience” foods- chili, Rotel, dry beans into canned ready to use, etc.
    I cleared out the fridge and “repurposed” some of the things into new meals. I made beef pot pie that was well received.
    We continue to declutter. Hubs found several workshop lights with fluorescent bulbs and put them on FB Marketplace and someone was pleased to get them for $10. It helped clear out basement and workshop a bit too!
    Chickens are still producing well.
    The winter has been moderate so we are content. We are healthy, are blessed with faith and family- really couldn’t ask for more! I guess that’s been a positive result of Covid- we got to recognize what the most important things are in our lives and how wonderful that is!

    Hope everyone else has a grand week!!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Adrienne- Go to our website- HandmadeinOldeTowne.com and that will give you basics as well as show quilting designs we have available. Then just message us and we’ll get back to you. Thanks for asking!

    1. Congratulations! You have worked so hard and with a great attitude to obtain your goal! I know you are an adult, but can I just say I am proud of you!? 🙂 Great Job!!!

    2. Congratulations Gardenpat! You will be even more thrilled when the letter from your bank with the note stamped “Paid in Full” arrives and then your deed. I can still feel the excitement of those days. I microfilmed deeds that were recorded in our City Clerks Office in high school. I had no idea the impact it had on someone receiving it until we received ours. I am sure you know to contact your insurance company to remove your loan from their records after it has a chance to show up on your credit report.

      I also wanted to thank you for the tips on avoiding tax on retirement account distributions. I have a file where I am keeping notes on that, social security, and Medicare for when it is needed.

    3. So happy for you! Are you painting your front door red? In some countries that mean your home is paid for. We are working hard on ours double and triple payments. Congratulations to you.

  2. Your beautiful photographs are so refreshing and enjoyable to see! Thank you for your efforts in sharing them with us. This week I saved $50 off my usual weekly food budget by spending a little more time making menus and considering what we have in the freezers and pantry. I’m becoming much better at using up leftover food in creative ways. I may be overdoing it a bit. It has become a dinnertime joke as to what will appear for lunch or dinner the next day. Well, a sense of humor is a great asset anytime.

  3. Hi Brandy and everyone
    You made some great savings this week. When I see the photos of your “soil” I am almost overwhelmed at the thought of turning it into a garden. It reminds me to be grateful for what we have. We are all willing you on!
    I have been searching for ages for a front fastening bra that was suitable and the right price. This week I found one in a catalogue which had 50% off your first order.
    I bought an advance birthday present for a daughter in an online sale, the item was reduced by 60%.
    We picked parsnips and kale from the garden and I cut winter flowering honeysuckle to bring in the house. I realised that I didn’t buy any cut flowers the whole of last year but had flowers/ foliage from the garden every week. We did receive a couple of bouquets as gifts.
    I made mulligatawny soup using a small amount of leftover beef mince.
    I sold an item on eBay.
    I cut up Christmas cards and made gift tags and postcards/ scrap for shopping lists etc.
    I used flannel from my stash to sew more reuseable, washable face pads for cleansing/ removing make up.
    My husband was asked by an elderly client if he would make her a potting bench and she would pay for the wood. He did an amazing job, including some helpful little extras and she was so pleased she insisted on giving him some extra money over the cost of wood. If she had bought something similar from a commercial company it would have been many hundreds of pounds. We are grateful for her gratitude!
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. I really want to have enough flowers to be able to cut them every week. The challenge is what to cut during the 5 months of summer that we have here 🙂 I hope to get my zinnias planted early.

        1. They do grow here, though they are frost sensitive, and we do get frost. Plumeria (what you call frangipani) is more difficult to grow here and rarer to find. I have two small hibiscus plants and I am probably going to add some bougainvillea in my new design.

            1. We talked about it, and I even ordered a catalog of greenhouses, but our winters are very mild, and greenhouses have to be cooled here in summer with a swamp cooler or air conditioning and shade cloth inside. In the end, we just couldn’t figure out a good spot for one, unless we were to build it on the patio connected to the house.

              1. Could you just do a cold frame that you would only put out in the winter? (Store in the garage maybe?) That way you wouldn’t lose the tender perennials over the winter, but could set the pots out in the summer? Just a thought. It’s the way we use them around here in early spring when frost is a concern.

              2. I have considered cold frames. I don’t have any, but I do cover a few frost-tender herbs with glass jars in the winter.

                Storage is an issue. We have no basement nor an attic, and the garage is quite full already.

                Most things overwinter here just fine. This year it has been so warm that one of my basil plants is still alive!

  4. Imagine my surprise when I opened your blog and saw that you had posted this on Sunday. It was like a special treat. I am imagining you backing up that dump truck. I wish someone had taken a picture. Great job learning another new skill. Like so many other followers this has been a hard year for us. My husband’s back surgery(his 3rd) was postponed when he tested positive for Covid before his surgery. He had no symptoms and developed no symptoms durning his quarantine. Surgery was rescheduled but then he developed blood clots in one leg (because of inactivity) so now it is postponed until that issue is resolved. He is in constant pain with his back. Your blog has given me respite and joy as I read what you and fellow followers post. I gain insight and new information on being prudent and frugal. I learn about gardening, new recipes, new books, new you tube videos, streaming shows and so much more. Now I constantly think about how I can repurpose something. I have brought many annuals inside and have plants all over my house bringing me great joy when I look at them. This week I added some items to start building up my food storage again. Cooked all meals except one from home. Turned a $1 cake mix into a carrot cake using everything I had at home. I baked it in a 13×9 pan and halved a pineapple icing recipe for the frosting. A big pot of soup lasted for 3 meals by adding bean burritos when the soup serving was small. When my husband suggested getting carry out several time I reassured him I could make something even more delicious and I did! We continue to go through our closets discovering things we had forgotten we had, sharing clothes that are the wrong size with siblings, or donating. I am wearing clothes that I normally would reserve for church because we do church online and why shouldn’t I dress up more and look cute for my husband Monday-Saturday. Lots of exercise by walking. We were able to take homemade soup and a bag of groceries to someone who lives alone and had developed covid thanks to a well stocked pantry. I look forward to all the comments this week. Thanks Brandy for all you do.

    1. How wonderful that you manage to try to cheer up your household by dressing up, despite your hubs suffering from pain!

  5. 1. My daughter got 50% off of her dual enrollment classes thanks to a deal that our local community college is offering right now. We saved $400.
    2. My pansies that I bought for $3 back in November are still blooming thru two hard freezes.
    3. I tried out a new brand of Indian food-inspired sauces (Good & Gather) at Target this week that were only $3. We like it them a lot, so that will help us to liven up our meals this winter and avoid takeout temptations.
    4. We rented textbooks off of Amazon for my daughter and saved between 50-75% off the cost of buying one.
    5. My church gave me a substantial Amazon gift card for running our ESL classes last year. I was not expecting that, but it was so nice to be appreciated. I have been trying to find useful things to buy with it, but have splurged and bought bullet journaling supplies too. There is a balance to everything….


    1. My pansies survive (not in bloom) after -30º weather. I have started planting more sas perennials.
      Quite inexpensive.

  6. Oh, I’ve been dreading replacing the soil near our front foundation in the spring, but it will be a breeze compared to what you are doing! You never fail to inspire, Brandy! So glad our library has curbside pickup, but it will be nice when we can go in for browsing again! (My husband and I have had Covid so, while we still wear masks and distance, we are happy to have some immunity now.) Take extra good care!

  7. I’ve been doing a weekly grocery shop, buying what I can carry home. I’m good now till the end of the month. The very mild winter weather we’ve been having is now supposed to end in another 10 or so days, so I think I will continue the weekly shopping and get some food in for February as well. It is certainly possible to dress warmly and head out during much colder weather, but it is much more pleasant to walk over to the store when it is milder weather. Co-vid cases have gone up locally, probably from Christmas visiting, though we are not allowed to have social gatherings with anyone outside our household. My approach to shopping is to go during senior hours (8 am to 9 am), when no customers have been in the store for 12 hours and I am usually the only customer in the store, and there is only a small number of staff working. I have a very targeted list each week so that my visit is short.

    I’ve taken advantage of some really good sale prices (though prices are generally very high), especially on chicken drumsticks, taco shells, bread, diced tomatoes and mixed beans. Coffee, which is rarely on sale for 50 cents or $1 off a packet, was off $3 a packet. I just bought two packets, because my use of coffee has gone down as I take care to gently re-heat the second half of each pot I make. Here on the 10th of January, I am just finishing up my December packet. Supplies at my store have been very good, so there are no worries there.

    I made a batch of chile using a combination of ingredients in the house, and new cans of diced tomatoes and mixed beans. I was very happy with how it turned out. I had one meal of it and the rest has gone into the freezer. I love beans, but they are tough on my digestive system, so I find if I space the dishes out every few days, I can enjoy them without any trouble. I also used mixed beans this time, which include chick peas, which are not a problem for me, so that takes some of the stress out of it. Chick peas aren’t my favorite thing, but these were very small, which I preferred, and the chile seasonings and tomato flavors drowned out anything I dislike about chick peas.

    One of my goals for this co-vid season is to do some clearing out in the house. I don’t have a lot of clutter since I had to be selective when I moved into this small house 10 years ago, but my life has changed a lot in that time. I would like to get rid of things I no longer use, and reorganize in a way that works better for me now. I’ve been developing a plan of attack. I’ll see what I can get done before I can get out in the yard again. Then I can focus on the garage and the yard.

    All of my walking this winter is paying off. I had been climbing the steps in my house, which are quite steep, doing one step at a time, using the same foot each time to step up to the next step. This is partly because I am usually carrying heavy bags of one sort or another. I noticed yesterday that I was alternating feet without any problem. My legs are definitely getting stronger.

    I’ve been watching shows on YouTube and Acorn, which has been entertaining, and also the news, which has had a lot of very sad content. I had tried to not watch news this month, but it has always interested me, and I would like to know what is going on in the world. I’m just trying to limit how much I watch so that it doesn’t bring me down. I hope everyone here is doing well. A Happy New Year to all.

  8. That is so wonderful that you can take advantage of food from the schools – a win for everyone.
    Here in western Colorado we are in drought, also. Though we have had some good snows, it has been dry since Christmas and the outlook for more moisture isn’t looking well. We are praying for more wet.
    I did some mending this week, and made some quilted placemats and matching napkins to replace a set that had become worn and stained.
    I unsubscribed from a bunch of emails I had been getting from places where I previously made online purchases. I’m trying to remove temptation!
    We received our stimulus checks, and a rebate on our solar installation and I immediately put the money toward the RV loan we are trying to pay off.
    I cleaned and organized my mud room/laundry/pantry area.
    We went skiing one day, using our discount passes purchased pre-season. We parked in the free garage and packed a lunch. As we ate sitting outside on a picnic table, we noted that the cheapest item on the snack bar menu was $9 for a chili dog, or for a cup of soup. The most expensive item was $29 for a lobster roll. Our tuna sandwiches on homemade bread were not exactly lobster roll, but they were delicious, and we had chips, fruit, and cookies to go with them.
    I made whole wheat sandwich bread and French bread, using the leftover whey from making ricotta.

  9. You are really working hard in your garden, Brandy. I cannot wait to see the final results of all your effort. Winter has definitely set in here in Southern Ontario but it has been fairly open so we have been able to walk, which is so important when there is little other exercise to be had. We started back to our homeschooling this week and it felt really good to be back into the routine. We are having a minimal spend month and since we have so much of everything, it is not difficult. I continue to be blessed with the amount of practical items and groceries I get off of our local buy nothing group. It certainly helps our budget when I can add to our pantry, toiletries cupboard and linen cupboard for free. We have also received clothing, games, puzzles and books which give us new things to play and do. All in all, a real blessing. We continue to collect the Canadian Recovery Caregiving Benefit. We will have access to this until the end of March, when it is scheduled to finish. If it is not renewed, we will be without income until September when, hopefully, it is safe for my husband to go back to work at the university. Our cases of Covid are rising rapidly at the moment and we are in lockdown, with more stringent measures, like curfew, likely soon. The future is definitely uncertain and I am saving every cent I can right now so we will be prepared for the future, whatever comes.

  10. Brandy your garden work is incredible!! I have lived in Georgia all my life and though our red clay was the worst…I was wrong! Saying lots of prayers for you and can’t wait to see the progress! I am with you in looking forward to Zinnias….my yard is going to be full of them this year and I can hardly wait!
    I cooked up a batch of great northern beans this week and used them in a large pot of Zuppa Toscana. We enjoyed this for several meals and lunches.
    Ground beef was priced at $2.99/lb at Sam’s and we purchased a package. Half went into homemade hamburgers and the second half to a meat loaf. Thankfully we have lots of leftovers today so Mom gets a day off from cooking dinner.
    I made batch of your walnut muffins substituting pecans since I had those on hand…they were delicious!
    Temperatures are supposed to drop tonight so I will be making another pot of soup for us for tomorrow. I have a turkey carcass in the fridge and will use that to make stock as well as any remaining veggies to supplement.
    I have some apples that need to be used and will be using them to make an apple crisp. I saw a lovely recipe for enchiladas on the Pioneer Woman site and am planning to make some to use up some ground turkey from the freezer as well as peppers from the garden, frozen tortillas and tomatoes we put away last summer.
    I have begun planning the Spring garden and am considering purchasing a tiller. The model we are looking at went down in price $30 since we originally looked at it and with the savings of $125 for renting one twice it would pay for itself quickly. I think it would also be a great help for the beds around our home where we have been struggling with weeds and borders. I have two long beds on each side of our front yard. One side has a row of Rose of Sharon bushes that have succumbed to disease. I’d like to rip them out and build up the bed to plant flowers. The tiller would be a huge help in this.
    I found the Scott’s weed & feed that I want to put on our lawn discounted $4/bag on Amazon so I will likely order that this week. I will use some gift cards from Christmas to purchase a few hand garden tools that we need like a new rake and some high quality gardening gloves. I will look for sales so that I can purchase high quality items that will last for years.
    My husband found powdered sugar for $0.49/pound and picked up 5 bags. He also found King Arthur flour for $0.99/5 lbs and we purchased 30 lbs. this will fill in the pantry after the holidays.
    I have a broccoli casserole and a pan of dressing in the freezer. I will bake these this week and take dinner to a family we know to give a tired mama a well deserved break. I’ll bake up some bread this week too to use up some homemade jam and the yeast we have on hand.
    I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Stay safe and be blessed!!

  11. You were a brave soul to drive that trailer to the dump! I’ve only backed a trailer ONCE…and that was enough, LOL.

    I’ve had a pretty good frugal week–
    * I bought 80% ground beef for $1.99 lb.
    * DD and I have both lost about 20 lbs. I have 4 pairs of new jeans and she has two pairs of jeans in our smaller sizes. The new jeans are longer. (?) I have very short legs (stubs, actually) and I always have to hem mine, but now I have to shorten hers, too. I did all 6 pairs this past week. I use the method that preserves the original hem–so much faster, so much easier, and looks soooooooooo much better!
    *I received a Nielsen shopping survey with a $1 bill inside. I usually don’t participate in the TV ratings surveys (too much trouble), but I decided what the heck on this one. I think they usually send $10 when it is returned…but we shall see!
    * My daughter got an Izod top on clearance for $2.97 at Costco. I signed up for automatic renewal of my Costco membership to receive a free $20 shop card.
    * We received $1,800 in economic stimulus for 3 people. It will go a long way toward paying for our next vacation, which I view as stimulus for the transportation and hospitality industries…and they need all of the help we can give them.
    * I wanted to send a package the cheapest way (of course). I put it in a box, measured and weighed it, and calculated the cost via USPS, Fedex and UPS. USPS parcel post was the cheapest at $23.19. With a medium flat rate Priority Mail box, it was $15.05. It was a push to squeeze everything into the box! This little exercise saved over $8 and took only a couple of minutes…well worth my time!
    * I repotted a house plant and I’m trying to root cuttings, using pots and supplies I already had.
    * I paid my bills online with my credit union’s bill paying program, which is normal for me. It is a huge timesaver that saves $ too.

    1. When we moved here I drove my husband’s pickup with our flatbed trailer piled high with gardening items, while my husband drove the moving van. My one stipulation was that I could not back the trailer. So my husband made sure when we stopped for gas that I could pull through the sites, and at the hotel on the way down I parked where I knew I’d be able to circle around to leave. Backing a trailer is definitely a skill!

  12. My daughter gifted us a dozen fresh eggs. I didn’t exactly need eggs, but then again, free eggs! She also passed along a lovely winter coat that no longer fit her shoulders. Well it fits me just perfectly and I was so happy to wear it to church this morning when it was 25F outdoors…Might not sound cold to some of you but in middle Georgia, that’s COLD. We turned on the pump house light last night to keep the water tank on our well above freezing. I’m over wintering Kolanchoe, Bougainvillea and Mandevilla. I have put them in a large clear plastic bin. When it’s in the 40′ s I put the lid on at night and take it off during the day. When its in the 30’s it comes indoors and goes out as the day warms. I made bread, rolls and hoagie type rolls this week and today I made a huge pot of chili and a pan of cornbread. We always eat chili over rice, a habit formed in the days when we had five kids at home (3 teens) and a bevy of dinner guests as well. It’s a nice way to stretch chili and it tones down the seasoning if the chili powder is a bit too spicy.
    I went into the grocery last weekend to buy tuna 4-packs at 62c a can and then mid-week when sales changed it was for boneless skinless breasts at a decent price. We can usually half a single breast half and get more than enough for the two of us.

  13. I deleted some of my Amazon subscribe and save items since I am pretty well stocked up. I saved $8 on my dog’s food for this month using an Amazon coupon and Subscribe and save. I canceled one of my grocery delivery subscriptions before it renewed. I had 2 rotisserie chickens that I turned into chicken ala king, and chicken pot pie filling. I think it made 6-8 meals for the freezer plus what I ate already. Those chickens made an awesome, flavorful broth that I used for the recipes (froze the extra). I replaced my pet stained, living room rug with a larger one from Overstock at 60% off. I set some 2021 financial goals and wrote out a new budget.

  14. Nine tons of rocks and dirt taken to the dump! That is mind boggling to me. And the fact that you have nasturtiums in January (love the photos) is pretty surprising as well. They are definitely a summer flower in the Pacific NW. That’s great your dump is free as part of your utility bill. Ours is not.

    AAA saved me money this week. I went to get my hair cut. The salon is about a 45 minute drive because the main bridge to get to this part of Seattle is closed due to structural damage. About a mile from my destination, my car lost power. I managed to coast downhill a little further, then parked in a safe area. I called my mechanic and he said it was probably the alternator (my Honda is 16 years old but still has under 100K miles – I hope to keep it for a long time). He said to have it towed to his shop. So I walked to the salon and got my haircut, and then headed back to my car to contact AAA for a tow. AAA prefers you arrange your own ride home because of COVID risk. However, I did not have a way home, as my husband was working and I really didn’t want to call a cab. The tow truck driver said he would be willing to have me ride along (both of us wearing masks of course). I was very thankful for that. Anyway, he towed me to the shop, and I walked home from there. The tow itself would have likely cost more than the annual AAA fee. We have money set aside for car repairs and maintenance, so that paid for my new alternator.

    Took a drive with my mom on a day when it wasn’t raining. We packed a lunch and ate it in the car when we stopped. It was fun to do something different, even just taking a drive.

    Took advantage of another dry day, and arranged a walking date with a friend. I drove to her house and we walked in a nearby park, then we sat on her patio and talked for 20 minutes until we got too cold to sit outside. It was nice to see her.

    Otherwise, cooked at home, using many pantry and freezer ingredients. My mom gave me 2 dozen eggs she received for free. Compared prices for an item I needed – the best price was at Costco so I bought it there. Watched watercolor tutorials on Youtube and tried them out with supplies I already have. Bought some leggings on sale. Read books I already had, read blogs and watched streaming video. Worked out at home. Walked at nearby parks.

    Have a good week, everyone.

    1. When summer comes, they die out! These were the first two blooms that I saw, but my son picked two more this morning.

  15. To Susan from Cincinnati
    I’m sorry your husband is suffering. In spite of what you describe as a hard year, you are reviewing your blessings and helping others. I think that is wonderful. I agree that this year has probably been hard for everyone. Our local fire department has a lighted word type of sign where they post sayings that they change pretty much every week. They post sentiments like, “Drive carefully, or we will see you naked.” Or–“Be safe! We have enough business.” The first week in January their sign read, “Good Riddance, 2020.” Perhaps we all are ready for a change in the status quo here. Anyway, I hope things change for the better for you and your husband soon.

  16. As many have said, wow, what a huge project you have taken on…and that includes backing up a trailer ;). I finished our 2021 budget so that is a good accomplishment. This month we are mostly eating from the pantry to start the year off with good behavior!

    In Arizona, our virus cases are huge, and my husband is a bundle of health issues, so we don’t go out much…we have recently found a way to see our friends…we meet at a local park, take out lawn chairs and lunches, and dogs, and spend the lunch time six feet apart outdoors, and are able to chat with friends again! An idea for those of your readers in temperate climates.

    1. I think that is wonderful that you get together in the park! This shut down is so hard on the lonely and elderly. We have been having friends and family over despite lockdown. We sit on our patio and visit, have food I prepare and drinks. When it starts to cool off we have a fireplace outside we light. I have some lap blankets that I bought off Walmart on clearance so if anyone gets chilly they can cover up. Our family has not got Covid although we have had friends and family that has. I use paper plates and plastic cutlery, it is so nice to have a semi normal evening and have fellowship.

  17. Wow! Your garden “soil” is amazing. I can imagine how glad you will be to get rid of it. Congratulations on the trailer backup. You are courageous to take on that by yourself. I am looking forward to seeing your garden finished. Our Christmas frugality worked out. The inexpensive gifts were appreciated. Since Christmas frugality has meant cooking at home, using what we have, and trying to reduce the amount of processed foods we buy. I made bean soup once and tomato soup from a can of diced tomatoes whizzed up only until they were broken up with a light sprinkle of brown G. Washington broth powder to season it. We got a good buy on avocadoes, so we made some nice spread out of them with tomato chunks to keep it from turning brown. We have eaten by candlelight a number of evenings. I found a new in the box Lenox candle lamp at Goodwill for a much lower price than the Lenox store I used to work at would charge. I was pretty happy about finding that. I cut my husband’s hair. We have just been staying home a lot. We found out a car we haven’t been driving leaked and mold started growing inside before we noticed it. What a mess. I looked online and read that Servicemasters recommends vinegar to kill most kinds of mold, so my husband and son took the seats out of the car and cleaned everything with vinegar with a carpet/upholstery cleaning machine. The gaskets in the tail lights were shot and causing the leaks. After experimenting with making some and finding they leaked, they ordered new gaskets. Those have arrived so replacing everything is their next project. I found some jeans half price and three heavyweight shirts on clearance for our super tall son who has a hard time finding clothes that are reasonably priced. He doesn’t like to shop, recently finished his degree, can’t find a job, and he was down to having hardly anything to wear. The one shirt had an original price of $80, but I got it for $25. I was so pleased to find nice durable things for him. He sent a text today saying he has been wearing those warm shirts everyday. My husband was pleased to be able to pass on a not quite but almost in new condition coat he used at work before his job was eliminated and he retired that is waterproof and has reflective strips to our son-in-law who was wearing a windbreaker with two sweatshirts to work outdoors. Since we recovered from COVID some time ago, the kids come over in turns now, and I shop carefully for things they all need when I can, so that is nice–even if I did lose half my hair because of COVID. My husband repaired the vacuum cleaner. The week after Christmas when our daughter and her family came, the granddaughters made themselves a card game. They had played a game about flowers before, and wanted to play it again, so they made their own. I gave them some 3×5 cards which they cut in half to make them go farther. Then they looked up flower names, common and botanical and wrote them on the cards. On Friday night we sang songs; our granddaughter read a story, and we played a board game called “The Life of Christ.” I had bought the game several years ago and had forgotten about it. It was nice to find something new.

        1. I think your hair will grow back even better! You might try taking folate and also biotin supplements
          as recommended to help it along. Both of these vitamin B supplements help hair growth.

    1. When I was very ill for a few years, completely bedridden, the loss of my hair was particularly horrifying, so I feel your pain. Mine did grow back, so your hair may well come back soon, too.

    2. Elizabeth, I lost a lot of my hair a couple of years ago because of illness, and it’s all grown back. Yesterday the haircut cut off all the frizzy ends from the regrow they so it’s all back! Thankfully you recovered from Covid so your hair is hopefully on the way! Hugs and warm thoughts for you!

  18. I made a black eyed pea dip with black eyed peas I had frozen from New Years. I made a cream cheese and mustard greens dish with ingredients I had on hand. I made meatloaf with on sale ground beef I got just before Christmas (1.99 lb.) and used leftover loaf bread, ketchup, leftover sour cream combined with a couple of eggs. I made another bacon, onion, and lettuce sandwiches for breakfast. I am taking summer sausage to work for lunch this week, as well as ham and cheese sandwiches later in the week. I am trying so hard not to go back into grocery store this month. We did court over Zoom so that reduced the potential for Covid contact. I consider staying healthy frugal. Used frozen broccoli (1.00) and Brussels sprouts that I had in my small fridg topped freezer from Walmart during my before Christmas grocery run. I have just gone to work, gas station, and home this week.

  19. Backing up with a trailer is definitely a learned skill, and one I don’t have. I’ve done it on a rare occasion, but leave it to my husband if at all possible, as he’s fantastic at it. I applaud your courage! That’s amazing savings at the dump. I do hope you’ll get some rain. Last week, some compost activator was made with a bit of stale beer, ammonia, soda (bought a long time ago at the discount store… so old!) and water. Two books were picked up from the library and two more were downloaded to Kindle for free. A number of homegrown vegetables were used… fresh, frozen and canned. I did some shopping at a thrift and consignment store, and found lots of treasures, including linens, a laundry bin I love, some plant pots, and a canister I’ll turn into a compost crock. My husband ordered sweet potato sets and onion plants, so we’ll be sure to have them. We’re replacing our a/c unit. My husband saved us $1000 by signing up for a business account there. Our stimulus checks will go towards it. I mixed up some essential oil blends for bunions I read about. Oh, the joys of growing older! http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/01/january-goodness-frugal-accomplishments.html

  20. This week has been fairly quiet on around here, Melbourne, Australia. Whilst we are allowed to go out to eat, drink and be merry Christmas and New Years have all passed by. Most folks are back at work and settled in for the year ahead. I and everyone I know are all working from home, that includes office workers, courts, and the public service. The only folk out are those that have to work either in places like meat works, or tradies that work all over the place. There are also a lot of folk working on the infrastructure projects (roads, train stations, etc) that the state and federal governments have initiated to keep people in work. Additionally there are government bonuses if someone builds a new house, or spends money on tourism within our state. (receipts have to be provided.) Everything to keep the economy ticking over until all Australians are vaccinated.
    Frugal wins for me are:- planted out zucchini seeds and I’m about to plant out carrot seeds that I have on hand. These will be planted inside, until the little seedlings grow.
    Made a plan to contribute more to my superannuation. (retirement fund) This is just a plan at the moment, because things are a little uncertain with Covid19. I’d like to see Covid19 finished in Australia before I enact my plan.
    Enjoyed free exercise with my church family by walking in a local state park.
    Read lots of blogs to get ideas on living more frugally and to confirm that there is nothing I’m missing.
    Frugal fails:- Ate out way more, bought too many coffees, purchased more books than I should whilst on holidays. It was a mix of Christmas, New years, celebrating finishing lock down because we have very little covid19 in Australia. I really need to climb back on the frugal wagon and focus on making good choices.

  21. I’ve been reading some library books on investing. I have enjoyed learning and feel better prepared to make some decisions.
    We’ve had regular enough rain that I haven’t had to water the garden, which is a great savings in time and money. I harvested kale, collards and broccoli. We made homemade pizza tonight, my daughter made thinner crusts and made 3 pizzas with the same amount of dough that usually makes 2. Yay for extra leftovers!
    My laundry basket broke (I carry all laundry outside to the clothesline, not owning a dryer). I have never found one that lasts longer than a year, and I treat them very gently. I have decided to try and crochet a large basket with strips from a shower curtain. I figure the plastic material will not stay wet and grow mold, it may actually hold up longer, and it will be very cheap. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
    I sold a bookcase through facebook marketplace. It gives us a bit more room in the garage where it was being stored. I also sold an item on Ebay.
    I made some fabric twine bowls which satisfy my frugal heart, being made from 100% ‘waste’ fabric. And they are super cute
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/814096070137925429/ I found wool roving on a great sale, and will make a felted wool heart garland.
    I’m trying to let my hair go an extra day between washings while it’s cool.

    1. Your laundry basket story is interesting. It is hard to find something that will stand up to the weight of wet clothes for a long time. I try to buy Rubbermaid brand because they last a little better. But once upon a time I had a lovely wicker laundry basket that looked so nice on top of my dryer. I had spread two smaller floral towels I bought at a discount store that coordinated with the wall paint and curtains over the tops of the washer and the dryer. They were a new matched set I didn’t want to get scratched:) The laundry soaps, etc. were tucked away in a utility cupboard. The wicker basket was a nice touch, just the right color to sit on top. Even my father-in-law commented to my husband about how nice the laundry area looked. Then after actually using the basket a short time, the handles broke off:) I hope you have better luck. My mother used the same “baskets” for years. They were round, wooden bushel baskets that used to be commonly used for fruit. My mother made cloth liners for them, so occasionally she sewed new ones using the old one for a pattern. I remember once she made one of oilcloth. Those baskets were constructed to tolerate 50 pounds of fruit, which is what a bushel actually was. The cardboard boxes of fruit we have now hold only 40 pounds. Anyway, I don’t know what she ever did with those, but they withstood heavy loads of wet clothes without any noticeable changes in them for years.

  22. You guys are amazing! That garden project is overwhelming, but you are making great progress.

    Our week was very quiet. We clipped branches in the yard and my husband tackled a very weak part of our fig tree. It filled the yard debris bin, and we have more clippings to fill it again after they empty it Tuesday morning. We love filling it as much as we can, as it costs us no extra to have them take it all away for us. We took several walks, and spent time with our grandson.

    We spent about $30 for groceries this week, and focused on the great bargains at a couple of places. We didn’t need much, as we’d already done our main shopping for the month last week. I detailed it on my blog: http://beckyathome.com
    One thing that helped me come it for such a low price was that I noticed I had 8 reward points expiring on my Safeway card. I knew I hadn’t bought that many groceries to earn so many, and then found out that a couple of the girls used my phone number when they shopped there, so their groceries got rewards for me. I’m great with that, if they don’t want a card of their own. I guess neither of them shop there very often. So, we got free ice cream, apple juice and some money off our purchase.

    Rob and I got our first Covid shots. We are home health care workers, so were offered them, and accepted. We were a little scared of the shots, as they are so new, but chose to get them to protect those we love. If everyone waits to see how everyone does with the shots….well…I guess everyone can see how we do:). So far, so good. The person I want to get her shot is my mother. I wish I could have given her mine, but I’m sure her turn is coming soon. I want her protected. Oregon has been so closed down–even our library is not open one bit. Not even curbside pickup. Schools are all remote in our area. Restaurants are take-out and outdoor dining only. Gyms and pools are closed. Our church went back to on-line only, although they had been doing limited-access services and classes. (We had chosen to watch on-line anyway, as Covid numbers are rising rapidly here, still.) I am so excited to think that in a few weeks, after shot #2, I will be so much more free to go about without worrying about carrying this yucky virus to my fragile loved ones.

    I spent some of my spare time on my blog–I did an extra post on my gardening plans this year, tested and posted a recipe, and did some housekeeping. It’s amazing how long it takes me, but I enjoy it. If I haven’t done something for a while, it’s like I have to learn it all over again! It keeps my mind active. I also read quite a bit with the kindle unlimited subscription my sister gave me and worked on a hard puzzle a couple of times. We’ve got a puzzle set up out in the garage, and both Patsy and I enjoy working on it now and then.

  23. Backing up a trailer: WOW! I have a hard time backing up my car! 😀
    Much Grace to each of you in the coming year.

      1. I backed into a post one time in my company truck. The worker who didn’t guide me was let go. I am now terrified and inch in one inch at a time. My monthly budget started off well but quickly failed while out on a shopping trip with my mom. I added mom to our Sams club account and am hoping that will stop my extra purchases. Mom is terminal but is still able to go out. She enjoys it ,but seems to take advantage of me. Not all relationships are easy . This is the hardest season of my life. Gasoline continues to rise. I’m deliberately going to the cheapest place in our area. That saves me about 15 cents a gallon. I picked up 10 large bottles of Palmolive dish soap for a $1.00. I will pass them on to church. The cat is being spayed today and that had been budgeted for. I picked up a gift for $1.00. Its a nice Carter’s winter one piece outfit. We still haven’t turned the heat on. I’ve told sugar cookie to let me or her brother know if she gets cold. Until then , I hope to get my bill down for a couple more months. I hope everyone is safe and warm.

        1. I am not sure this will help, Lillianna, but here goes. I was considered terminal at one point, and was enrolling in hospice services. An experimental surgery saved my life but leading up to that I was preparing myself and my husband by clearing out my photo albums, getting rid of years of diaries and so on. One of the things that happened, though, was that I became pretty selfish, which sounds like what you meant when you said your mom is taking advantage of you. It is humiliating to admit that I did not become saintly the closer I got to meeting God; instead in some respects I became my worst self. I was angry and terrified and resentful of a world and friends who were going to go on without me. I didn’t care much about how much I imposed on people—after all, I was the one who was going to be dead soon and they would have plenty of time to themselves then. I knew I was doing this and, despite promises to myself that I would be nicer, I was not. Not to strangers, in fact the nurses told me I was one of their kindest and more thoughtful patients. It was family whom I directed my demands to…luckily my husband’s first career was as a therapist/minister in a hospital, so he did not take it personally. All of which is to say, maybe your mom is going through some of the same feelings and her only way of coping is to try to control everyone and everything. When everything else in your life, when your very body, is out of control, the instinct for some of us is to become more controlling about the things in our lives we still have some authority or control over. When you think you are terminal, there are very few minutes when you are not aware of not being around soon, of the river of life going on without you. I hope you have someone in your life that you can vent to when your mom dumps on you. In a weird way, it means she trusts you enough to do that to you. I hope I have not insulted you or hurt your feelings by posting this.

          1. Thank you Mable, that was very insightful and helped me understand my Dad a little bit more when he was diagnosed and passed many years ago.

        2. Lillianna, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time with your mom. I have lost both my parents and no one talks about complicated relationships and emotions. I hope you find peaceful days soon

  24. You backed a trailer up at the dump-so impressive! I avoid backing my car out of parking spaces if I can!
    Not much saving this week but not much spending either. We received our stimulus checks and moved them to savings for a future home project. Groceries were minimal, just fresh fruit and vegetables and a few other items so we were under budget there. I am moving some decorative items around the house to make things look “new”. I needed a pair of sweatpants to wear at night after work since what I had are now too big. I found a pair at the thrift store and they were the half price color so only $2.00. It would have been good if I stopped there but I walked through the store and ended up purchasing some things that I didn’t need but happened to catch my eye. Because it is 2nd hand I always justify it to myself at how much I “saved” but if I really don’t need it did I save anything?? So, going back to sticking to my list.
    I received the 1st dose of the covid vaccine from my employer, I experienced arm pain for 2 days as the only side effect.
    Wishing everyone a healthy & frugal week!

    1. Really, I couldn’t have done it without direction. I can’t do it on my own at all. It was definitely something new and scary to try!

      1. I haven’t been thrifty lately although caring for mom at home instead of putting her in a skilled nursing facility does save thousands each month. So if I do things like use Door Dash a bit too often to try to keep me from burning out and to try to get mom to eat something (anything), those things aren’t as spendthrifty as they might seem at first look.

        Mom pleasantly surprised the Occupational Therapist and me on the OT’s weekly session Thursday when, given the choice to transfer to her wheelchair or walking after standing up beside her bed, mom chose to to try walking and walk she did–from her bedside to the kitchen door, resting a bit, and from there to the front door. She hadn’t walked since the morning of November 12, the day before she was hospitalised with sepsis.

        After a couple of weeks of trying and failing to get mom to stand for more than a millisecond with the physical therapist, I had asked him to skip a couple of weeks to give mom time to gain strength and conquer her fears before being evaluated (and probably getting kicked out of Medicare-covered physical therapy because of lack of progress). Now I am feeling good about what he’ll see next week.

        Mom eats most sweets, cheese, and popcorn(!) well. But she picks the lumpy things out of soup and eats only a bite or two of things like grilled sandwiches and pizza. She doesn’t like Ensure (vanilla or chocolate) very much at all. Her opinion of strawberry Ensure, Boost, and Carnation instant breakfast varies by the day but rarely does she actually like them. Real milk shakes and ice cream she does like. She drank only half of one toddler fruit and vegie smoothie my great-great niece likes. I waste so much food trying to keep her fed. When she was her skinniest and she had a sore over her tailbone because there wasn’t enough padding between the bone and her skin in early July, the emergency room doctor described her as well nourished, something I was very surprised to read as I was preparing the appeal of Medicare’s refusal to pay for her July 4 ambulance ride to the hospital. I’d hate to know what a poorly nourished 97-year-old looks like.

        She gets Meals on Wheels but won’t eat the main entrées and the vegies way too often. She rarely had to eat school cafeteria food when she was a kid and she has always been a somewhat fussy eater. The Meals on Wheels servings usually aren’t wasted because I eat her rejects unless I’ve left them in front of her for more than two hours (reheated at least once) hoping she’d get hungry.

        Any suggestions on how to get more protein and more vegetables into a little old lady would be appreciated.

        1. Would she like something like pumpkin bread? You could add in chocolate chips and replace 1/4 cup of flour with protein powder. Banana bread could be a good choice as well. Use whole wheat flour as well to add protein.

        2. If she will drink real milkshakes try adding in peanut butter or protein powder to beef up the nutrients. Vanilla ice cream, banana, a scoop of peanut butter and milk makes a a tasty shake. You can purchase PB2 which is peanut butter powder that gives all the flavor and nutrients but won’t add texture if you think that might be an issue. Also there is a liquid protein drink called Syntrax Nectar, look it up on Google and order through Amazon – they have juice flavors of whey protein and you can add it to water or milk without causing the liquid to thicken after you have stirred. They also are sweet but have very little net carbs or sugar so if you can get her to drink it, it may be helpful. Prayers for you Holly!

        3. Maybe homemade milkshakes made with high protein ice cream (i think Halo is high protein) plus ensure/boost plus nesquik powder for flavour? I think Halo ice cream is high protein but low calorie, so a complementary flavour of boost would up the calories and nutrients and the nesquik powder should cover the flavour of the boost. Best of luck!

        4. When my Mum was recovering from a broken hip she had very little appetite. I gave her Greek yogurt and avocado-both went down easily and are higher calorie. I also made her salmon cakes and meat pies.

          1. Brandy, the work you do to provide more for the long haul is such a great example of working and planning hard. It makes me willing to work hard for the long haul.
            The last week have been aimed towards stocking up on canned items, in the face of rising prices and political instability. I shopped on the senior day to add a little savings. We have been having soup and beans more than usual. I have found apples, orange, bananas and avocados marked down.
            I have been hauling manure from our neighbors to add to my beds, and mulch to my garden paths.
            My crockpot died and I found a very nice one at GW.
            My work has been very affected by COVID, two of my families that I work for have had COVID recently and so I have had greatly reduced hours over the last six weeks. Hopefully things will pick back up soon.
            Thankful for each of you ladies and Brandy for your work and heart you pour into this site.

        5. Could you blend the berry Ensure with frozen berries? Also, how about adding protein powder to ice cream milkshakes with enough of another flavor to mask the protein taste? I have no experience in any of this, but they are two things that jumped out at me when I was reading your post.

        6. Good luck, Holly! We had this same problem with an elderly relative of mine. Just didn’t have the taste for much food anymore, although ice cream was still usually welcomed.

          Another protein supplement you can blend into smoothies/milkshakes is hemp hearts. Costco sells a large bag of them for maybe $13 or $14 by me. Small bags can be quite pricey. The hearts add minimal flavor, but if you get hemp powder (Bob’s Red Mill sells this), it looks and tastes a bit like grass, so I’d avoid that. The hearts can also add a little texture, but if you also add in chocolate chips or sprinkles, the texture of the hearts shouldn’t be noticed.

          You could also try a smoothie with frozen banana, peanut butter, milk and the chocolate carnation instant breakfast powder.

        7. I like Brandy’s idea of pumpkin or banana bread and what about baked oatmeal? It tastes like coffeecake or muffins but has a little more protein. I’ve even made black bean brownies for more protein. Also, maybe egg custard pie or homemade pudding made with eggs? Quiche? Also, could she help stir or select muffin papers and place in the tins so she feels she is helping? Sometimes feeling needed and useful makes eating more fun. Best wishes…Picky eaters are tough even under the best days, no matter what age.

        8. Holly, I went through this too and I don’t have any advice that hasn’t already been given, except to say at this stage of life any calorie is a good calorie. My mum enjoyed her generous glass of Port wine every night 🙂

        9. With my FIL, he was the same way. Lots of sweets and very thin. Cream cheese on a “sweet” quick bread or soups that could be pureed (cheese and broccoli, loaded potato, veggie soup blended with a dollop of cream cheese) helped. He has gotten better – but it still is a struggle. Glad you were able to celebrate a win!

        10. Will she eat homemade fruit smoothies that are like ice cream. Wheat germ and ground flax seed and spinach leaves can be hidden in those without much change in flavor. I have a cookbook where a woman wrote about hiding pureed vegetables in practically everything–like pancakes, breads, meatloaf, cookies, etc. A mix like Bisquick can tolerate powdered milk, wheat germ, oatmeal, chopped nuts, blueberries added and still raise for muffins or pancakes, if she would eat those. Cream cheese smoothed on top would add some calories. Peanut butter and applesauce might be tolerated on pancakes or on toast. If she would eat salad, nuts can be added to that. I break up pecans, put them on a cookie sheet and toast them lightly in the oven to put on salad. Ground walnuts, flaxseed, and brown sugar make a pretty good toast topping. I grind flaxseed with a small coffee grinder that was fairly cheap at Fred Meyer. I have heard that the taste of sweetness is the last taste people have as they lose the ability to taste things. I don’t know if that is true. I will say that when I was sick with COVID. Yes, I still can’t stop talking about it. But when I had it I lost some tasting ability. For example, the tastes of an apple are partly sweet and partly tart, but when I tasted it, I couldn’t taste the tart taste–it just tasted bitter, so I didn’t want to eat the apple at all. Pineapple tasted okay to me. I don’t know what older people are actually tasting, but I wonder if the good tastes are being replaced by bitter or something bad, and it’s not their fault they’re picky eaters.

        11. Husband just went through stem cell transplant. When going through chemo, hematologists recommended keeping boiled eggs for protein and spaghetti tossed in butter to keep his energy up.

        12. My mother could only eat pureed food at a certain point. I would whip cream cheese with cooked beets — until everything was smooth. She was quite shocked by the fluorescent pink colour. If your mother could get past the colour… Now you can buy whipped cream cheese. I’d be tempted to bake potatoes, scoop them out and put them in a blender with some whipped cream cheese (not a lot bt it’s to make it a smooth consistency). I’m a firm believer in any food is good food but she needs to get her 5 fruits and or veggies in. I’d get really smooth applesauce but sweeten it. I’d puree peas with just a bit of cream cheese. I’d make a creamed spinach (use frozen spinach) and then puree it in a blender. I’m amazed that she’ll eat popcorn since she doesn’t like lumps; otherwise, I would suspect she doesn’t like lumps because of swallowing difficulties or fears. Baked butternut or delicata squash would be good — puree it in the blender after roasting and put in some maple syrup. If she could eat some applesauce, a banana, a green veggie (even pureed), (avocadoes are great), etc etc that would be great. I think pudding is great — chocolate especially. I’m not sure a toddler puree smoothie is a good idea — I’ve tasted some of them and ugh! As for protein, you could also put a can of tuna in with cream cheese and blend it; same with salmon, even a small can of ham. Remember that older people don’t eat as much as younger ones but balancing the diet is important. More than 50% of seniors are deficient in folate and the sympt0m of a folate deficiency can be mistaken for dementia. So green veggies are important. And it’s important to get enough B12. Maybe sit down with her and ask her what veggies she likes, what meat. What I am suggesting sounds like a lot of work but it doesn’t need to be. You could puree a banana into cream cheese or yogourt (a high fat yogourt). I also think that Meals on Wheels might be high in sodium (unless you’ve ordered low sodium meals) and I think they may not taste great to someone who is not used to cafeteria style food. There are some kinds of milk that are higher protein than others — ultra high filtered milk keeps quite a while unopened. It could be used to add protein to soups, puddings etc. but even easier would be to add skim milk powder to her milkshakes made from ice cream and milk. And as others have suggested, Greek yogurt. So, I would put in several potatoes to bake in the oven at the same time as sweet potatoes and roast some peeled carrots too (they can be mashed). . Then just heat the flesh up in a pot the next day. remember you don’t have to use fresh veggies — frozen veggies have just as many nutrients. So you could have several packages of veggies in your freezer and blend some with the cream cheese. If she will eat eggs that would be great. A devilled egg? Good luck — don’t feel overwhelmed! I think Bird’s custard would be good — I wouldn’t add protein but would make a smooth pudding/custard that has a lot of vitamins and minerals in it. If it takes milk, boost the milk with the skim milk powder. At her age, I wouldn’t worry too much as long as she eats heartily and multivitamins would be a good idea. Nothing wrong at her age to have milkshakes!

        13. I would try serving smaller portions. Cut up sandwiches and grilled cheese into bite size pieces. Make sure all food served is bite sized and don’t put too much out. When you don’t have much of an appetite or the food doesn’t seem appealing looking at a whole sandwich or whole plate of food is overwhelming.

        14. Holly.

          I know that for the past 17 months of treatment I’ve only been able to eat certain foods and than I’ll eat them daily until they are no longer appetizing. Right now it’s Swiss cheese, cottage cheese and peaches, and an almond/rsidin/milk chocolate chip mix. I’ve never been a picky eater, but am now.

          I’ve not been able up get processed foods down mostly because of the smell. I think the smell of foods can be off-putting. Also, I LOVE icecream, but cannot even stand the thought of it right now. Ensure is vile to me right now. Often what I could eat for a couple weeks is unpalatable suddenly. And, New flavors are appetizing. I’ve never liked chocolate much, but now am eating it.

          All this to say, if you find something your mother will eat, let her have it more often if that works. And try low smelling foods such as cheeses and nuts. I wish you the best at this.


  25. My hold at the library for the state parks pass came through, so we will be visiting a state park some time in the next week or so, and the pass will cover our entrance fee. I’m looking forward to spending time on some hiking trails in the mountains! We also borrowed books and used language learning resources from the library. Two family members got home haircuts, and I made some birthday cards from supplies on hand. I’m actually mailing those to my mom so she can use them, since she cannot get into the stores very much due to Covid. I’ve been using free Youtube tutorials to learn some Chinese brush painting techinques. I want to do a watercolor painting of bamboo. I’ve recently re-started my blog, too…visitors welcome!

  26. There is a lot of assumption that getting the Covid-19 vaccines will keep us from passing on the virus to others. It’s not clear that is the case. There is some question as to whether the vaccine completely protects the receiver from the virus or just the symptoms. That could allow them to still pass on the virus. There are many unknowns at this time. At this time I don’t think we should assume that getting the vaccines will protect us from passing it on. We all need to keep abreast of the research in order to protect ourselves and others we come in contact with.

    1. Patricia I believe your comments are correct. COVID is like a moving target. Information is always evolving and changing. The vaccine at this time has many unknowns but its job is – should you get COVID your symptoms should not become serious. Therefore it will save lives. Once vaccinated you should still wear a mask and follow all the current protocols. Not everyone can be vaccinated. At this time those who are under the age of 16 or immuno suppressed they recommend not be vaccinated as they did not include either group in the clinical trials. They currently are studying both groups. I fall in the latter group and eagerly await news to be vaccinated.
      Best wishes and stay safe everyone!

  27. I’ve backed a trailer a few times, but I hate doing it. It seems to me the main thing to remember is to turn the steering wheel the way it feels wrong to turn. 🙂

    Your garden work is amazing, Brandy. Our yard is very sandy, so it’s quite poor, and sandy soil is surprisingly hard to dig in, but at least we don’t have basically rock, such as you have.

    My usually good dog was bad and dug a small hole into the root ball of our new Satsuma we just planted, so I filled that back in and put a wire cage around it and the new persimmon tree. I also partially filled the cages with some raked up leaves and pine straw, as the 20’s was predicted at night over the weekend.

    We had gray, damp weather all weekend, so half of my laundry was hung inside on a drying rack and shower rods, and I used the dryer on the other half.

    I had errands to run after church on Sunday plus an hour’s drive to get back home, and I was very, very tempted to grab a bite to eat while I was out, but I knew I had tuna salad made at home, so I didn’t buy anything. I had a late lunch, and it didn’t kill me.

    I am researching water heaters rather seriously, these days. There are new options out there besides the standard tank and the tankless kinds. Our current water heater is starting its 22nd year. We have some money I’ve set aside for it, so I’d like to replace it before the old one goes.

    I found a 20% off sale on vitamins just as we ran out of vitamin D3. Both my husband and I are prescribed extra D3, which is funny, considering we live in mostly sunny Florida. I bought two large bottles, which we’ll use before the expiration date.

    We asked the VA when my husband can get his vaccine. They are awaiting their first doses. Our local health department has some, but it would require me to miss half a day of work as I don’t work where I live, plus the vaccines they have were very quickly spoken for. They are waiting on a new shipment. I’m still looking around for options. I fall into a vulnerable category, but my husband is in the really vulnerable category, so we assume – hope! – he will be a priority after health workers and those in congregate living situations. Rural communities have fewer locations for getting the vaccine, it seems.

    I’ve been avoiding buying anything but groceries, gas, and repair and maintenance items. Since Christmas, two birthdays, home insurance annual premium, vehicle insurance six month premium and quarterly property taxes all came in December, I’d like a low spend month in January.

    1. Oddly enough, the “good soil” that I buy is half sand, half humus. The humus part is mostly wood chips. I find that adding manure in helps tremendously. The sand is important to hold moisture around seeds/plants, so I would think you could amend your sand with manure, peat moss, wood chips, kelp, etc. Perhaps you would need to soak it first as we need to in order to be able to dig it with some equipment.

  28. WOW! All the work in the garden AND backing up that trailer is seriously impressive! And this week’s beautiful photos! I love those intense colours!

    It has been a rather busy week all around. I took down the Christmas decorations, did some tidying up and got three large loads of laundry done. I had not intended to do any grocery shopping this past week but Covid infections are rising a lot and even though this province is already in our highest tier for lockdown we are expecting even more restrictions to be announced tomorrow. I spent the rest of the grocery budget on dairy, fruit & veg yesterday (went as soon as they opened so it was very quiet) and then this morning I headed out first thing to drop off and pick up some library books (at the moment it’s curbside pick up only but they could be closed again) – then hit the drugstore for a few extras (used Loyalty points) and then hit the little store next door for more eggs (they sell lovely organic ones at a reasonable price). I had taken my buggy so then walked home for my exercise – it was around freezing mark but no wind and very sunny so it was a pleasant 20 minute walk. My grocery budget for the month has been used up (I had given myself half the usual amount this month) but I still have my “allowance” which I’ll use if something is REALLY needed. It will be interesting to see how long I can go without going back to a shop.

    I’ve been cycling through the freezer and pantry – using up leftovers and making lots of soups. I had made a sausage and onion casserole and there was a lot of gravy & onions leftover so I thinned it out with some broth, added more onions, some carrots & barley and turned it into soup. I’m back on Intermittant Fasting and low carb so generally just eat 2 meals a day or 1 meal and a generous snack, depending upon how hungry I feel. I’m also checking out cookbooks to find some new recipes to try.

    I’m very lucky in being able to work from home – and since I only work 25 hours per week I can mostly make my own schedule. I did a lot of website work last week and did a lot of updates for the ministers so it’s been nice to have the time to do all this sort of work – we are usually so busy that it’s hard to find the time to work on any major projects.

    Entertainment was mostly walking with my friend. We tend to head out early to avoid crowds and my friend now wears her mask even outdoors – I’ve always done this. On a walk along the lakeshore I spotted a large red-tail hawk seated on a lamp post and a beautiful, bright red cardinal chirping away very loudly. We’ve also enjoyed watching the bufflehead ducks at play. They dive quite deep and stay under for quite some time – and the water is so clear at the moment that we can watch them underwater. We’d never noticed this type of duck before but they are quite fascinating to watch. This pandemic has turned all us city folk into bird watchers! We’re already planning on where to walk come Spring for the best viewings! We managed another long walk along the river one day and another through the local cemetery. I actually overdid it one day – did over 10,000 steps – which was about 1,000 too far and my back has been acting up a bit since so I’m trying to pace myself this week. We have been incredibly lucky with the weather – especially for the middle of January! Daytime temps have been around freezing – which is quite mild for us – and the couple of snowfalls we’ve had have melted within a couple of days. This means that I can use my walking shoes rather than my boots which is a lot easier on my feet and knees (RA) so I am very grateful and will continue to get out as much as possible while it lasts!

    Stay safe and well everyone.

    1. Oh, I’m horrible at backing up the trailer, though at least I am now confident about driving it. The first time I drove that trailer last week I found myself very nervous. I hope I can become better at driving the dump trailer and backing it up.

    2. Hi Margie,

      I’ve been thinking a lot about you and the TO/Ont lockdown. I enjoyed hearing how you are all becoming birdwatchers.
      We’ve had wonderful weather here so I’m about to play hookey and go outside to watch the birds. Relief from the book.
      It’s going back up to plus 6ºC here for several days — I love it! Prayers for you.
      The UK variant is a lot more transmissible but they haven’t said in what way? I think it’s good to wear masks outside…

      1. Hi Ann – got another 5,000 steps in this morning as it went up to 6C today! While I didn’t see any out of the ordinary birds my brother sent me some photos of a giant owl that landed right in front of him. It posed for a few photos and then flew off! He lives in Kingston so also walks along the lakeshore or goes over to Wolfe Island to walk there.
        The latest lockdown hasn’t really changed much for me aside from only going into the office maybe once every few weeks other than a couple of times a week. We really thought that they would crack down a lot more. I work from home, go to the stores maybe once every 10 days and walk – that’s about it.
        Stay safe.

        1. Hi Margie — congrats on the 5,000 steps. Maybe your brother saw a Great Grey Owl or Great-horned Owl. I went to school in Kingston a long time ago — since then there’s been a lot of urban renewal and it is much nicer and not as rough. Since I am a prairie, foothills. mountain person and love modern buildings , I didn’t appreciate the hillsides, or the stone buildings as much as I should have which is ironic since our book deals with sandstone buildings a lot! I do miss walks along the lake!

  29. Very cool learning how to back up the dump truck. I am glad you had patient support while you learn. That is very helpful and calming (I’m speaking from fumbling my way through using a pallet jack).
    This past week was a series of unfortunate events but I survived albeit with a broken front tooth, and a car that needs to visit the mechanic – but the week ended with me smiling (mouth closed) and my favorite sports team finally wining a playoff. But I digress..
    While the week crumbled, I used 2 free calendars to try out as my new planner. One is for meals, the other for tasks. I get joy writing these things down and I keep the both stacked together at a spot that is my first pitstop in the house after I wake up.
    I took more time to count blessing and really focus on gratitude.
    I added some gifts to my gift tote and cut out some mug rugs to be sewn for later gifts. This year for birthdays – a preferred sweet/tea and a mug rug.
    Saved some 2020 calendar photos to use to make cards. Right now fun mail seems to be very wanted.
    Hope everyone has a peaceful week.

    1. They were patient. My fourth time doing it (third time that day with the same guy helping me) the man said, “Okay, do you think you can do it by yourself now?” to which I honestly replied, “No.” He had me try anyway, and within 15 seconds he had jumped over to help me again. I’m not the only one they help, so I don’t feel real bad about it.

  30. Living frugally from Portland:
    You won’t miss the grass, Brandy! We have a grassless yard and I love it! In the back we have a large deck and our raised garden beds, and a cement slab in the corner with a fire pit. Everywhere else is filled with wood chips. The front is landscaped. We have drip irrigation throughout. Our water bills are notoriously high here, so it’s been great.

    Frugal wins this week:
    *We used a gift card to get a mid-week treat at Jamba Juice for our family. Trying to keep everyone’s spirits high through our wet and dark winter at home.
    *Bought a bunch of cookie mixes marked down to 50cents each. My kids can make them easily for treats and they don’t tempt me.
    *We also attended a free winter lights show put on by a suburban community this weekend.
    *I got rid of our Netflix subscription as the price increased and we don’t use it much. We are down to one paid subscription (Disneyplus, which I’ll keep through the winter and then cancel once the weather turns).
    *I made a NY resolution to do more local errands by bike. I used to be much better about this before the pandemic. With school not in session, I have less time to get things done as I need to be home for my child with special needs. I did my grocery shopping by bike this week and also picked up something from a Buy Nothing neighbor. I just have to get up earlier to make the time.
    *I helped my newly turned 16 yo apply for his first real jobs. For now, he is only applying for jobs that he can walk or bike to.
    *Thanks for the tip about the free school lunches. I checked and ours are available for all families as well. We only go about once a week, but the milk and produce is helpful.

  31. Hello Everyone!
    We’re just plugging along working toward our goals and will begin Dave Ramsey Baby Step 6 this month. So, GardenPat’s accomplishment is inspiring because this takes years of patience and diligence! 😍

    Money savers this week entailed a lot of cooking and baking. All meals home cooked from scratch including burger buns, artisan loaves, sandwich bread, sprouts, soups, and hen fresh omelettes. I love my little girls! 🐔

    We picked cabbage, lettuce, arugula and cherry tomatoes from the garden. My husband pruned our fruit trees, which is a huge task! My garden seeds arrived from Territorial as well as green mulch. I plan to try it this year to see if it increases plant production. We have a nearly year round growing climate, but it never gets really warm enough for melons, cucumbers, etc.

    We also saved by canceling our Amazon Prime account. I hemmed a house dress for my MIL and Zoomed a friend in France. It was so great to catch up! Finally, I sold another outgrown bike.

    Way to go Brandy!!! Your hard work will pay off. Have a beautiful and blessed week everyone!

  32. This is a like a month update…

    Christmas was quiet. Spent time with friends. Everyone made cookies, so I’m still eating Christmas cookies!

    I am still eating WAY too much take out. Dinner with the ladies from work and pizza with another friend this week. My necessary weekend trip to Key Largo put me in close proximity to good fish and Cuban food, so I picked some up to eat off of all week. I will add salads and vegetables to each meal to fluff them out. While I’m still in budget and it’s not outrageous – especially when I get several meals from each item/order – it is still more than making everything from scratch.

    Cancelled Disney + until my husband comes back from deployment. We enjoy watching the shows together. I need to wait until June to drop some of the cable channels and get Discover + as the cost now would be higher due to a package rate. Paid bills online. Arguing with Amazon over a $113 charge we don’t recognize.

    Cat litter was on sale, so I stocked up. Housekeeper had to skip us last week due to a water outage in the neighborhood. I will be checking my water bill carefully this month as the break was on their side, but that doesn’t always matter to them unless you yell.

  33. Hello Everyone! We had a quiet week here. We have been holding off getting the school lunches for my son. There are items he likes more than others and we seemed to have an over abundance of the ones he doesn’t like. We don’t want to waste anything, but we really are just using the milk, fresh fruit and vegetables that come with the lunch. We are thinking of maybe checking with another family to see if they would like some of the frozen items. My son and I spent the weekend at home while my husband was at work. As the shelter in place restrictions in our area are vast, we decided to watch a few movies that we had. Not the ideal way to spend the weekend, but it worked for us. I heard in my son’s school that several kids went to parties over the weekend and some went and had sleepovers with various family members. I get it, but still frustrating. It seems like it is never ending. Made all meals at home using items we had on hand. I am trying to use all items in our freezer to clear it out. So some of the meals have been a little funky, but we are using everything and not letting anything go to waste. Since we are basically not going anywhere, I only need to gas my car once per month. I have enjoyed several walks around my neighborhood, by myself during the day when I am home and after dinner with my husband. I went through all the Christmas cards we received this year and cut them up to make gift tags for the coming year. We picked up a bag of supplies from my son’s teacher (she made a package for each student), that included water color paint, paint brush and water color paper. Also included was a book the class is going to read. She had given up the option to buy our own copy, but we asked to borrow one instead. Not only did it save us money, but it also will save space. My goal of putting away the Christmas decorations got put off to this week. I am hoping to get it done by Friday. Two different neighbors were giving away vegetables that they received in bulk from the food pantry/food bank and offered the excess to neighbors. We received several pounds of clementines, apples, pears, yellow squash, onions, broccoli, swiss chard, green onions, beets, cilantro and dried red kidney beans. It’s too much of us to eat fresh before it goes bad, so I spend most of yesterday cooking and freezing the items. I know have several small bags of cooked beans for quick meals, so much cheaper than buying canned. I also accepted a gift of several dozen Joy Mangano hangers from a neighbor. This was quite the blessing as we need to switch the hangers in my son’s closet. We will donate the smaller ones. My husband and I talked about our goals for the year. We decided this week to write them out. We are also researching refinancing our home to a more user friendly mortgage company. My husband and I both tried calling our mortgage company on different days and time to no avail. This was really frustrating. Blessed week to all!!!

    1. Be aware almost all mortgages are sold to another company so the one you go with most likely will not be the one you end up with.

  34. Brandy, I thought your yard makeover was impressive, but backing in a trailer is truly amazing! My husband can do it, but he’s honed his skills over many years.
    I bought fewer groceries last week and this week because we still have a lot of Christmas treats and I have a decent supply of cooking basics. I’ve just been buying fresh fruit and veggies and replacement items
    We got a Visa rebate for the last quarter of over $90! We’ve been buying appliances and things for our new home and we pay our bill off in full each month.
    I went to the cardiologist this week, after a recommendation from the GP. Turns out the different chambers of my heart beat at different intervals (I notice some flutterings in my heart from time to time), but the cardiologist doesn’t think it is anything to be concerned about, so no heart monitor or medication. Hooray!
    Out state had it anniversary on Monday night. We were able to just cross the street from when we are staying and had a beautiful firework show.
    I used the library, decluttered books and crafting supplies. I also organized the papers that I keep in one basket of current and ongoing projects. Items in the same category are now clipped together. I also repaired my sunglasses by putting in a new screw into the hinge
    I bought a leather belt for 50%. Last year I wore out one and had the buckle break on another. I still need to look for a replacement buckle because it is a beautiful belt.
    While at a thrift store, I found a Reader’s Digest Christmas music book. We had that series growing up and loved them. I have that book but bought it for my sister..
    May you all have a peaceful week!

    1. I’m not good at it at all. I can only do it when the person directing me tells me which way to turn the wheel. In our van, I cannot see the trailer but out the side windows, because the van is so long, and once it reaches a certain point, I can’t see the trailer at all. That seems to be the point at which I need to turn the opposite direction. I never can remember which way to turn. I’m so thankful for help!

  35. I love your nasturtiums. So colorful.
    I am back to work 4 days a week. Soon it will be 5, as I am a CPA and tax season is coming. Bringing breakfast, lunch and drinks to work.
    We took down our tree, and put aside elder my son’s ornaments. He is getting married in April, so wanted them.
    On January 1, I menu planned for the next 10 days. I also started a batch of focaccia bread, which turned into 2 pizzas the next day.
    I made turkey enchiladas with leftover Christmas turkey. Made Spanish rice to go with it.
    Gave DH a haircut.
    Dropped off empty egg cartons and hand-delivered a wedding invitation to former neighbors, who moved in 2019. They only moved a few miles away, so this was on my way to the store. She treated me to two dozen eggs from her chickens. That was a lovely surprise.
    Savings on shopping – boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.28 a pound. got 3 packages – around 10 pounds. Kiwi fruit were 28¢ each. Got 8 and will combine with mandarin oranges and pineapple for a delicious fruit salad. Before the neighbor gave me the eggs, I purchase 1 dozen eggs (limit) for 48¢. Two stores had butter on sale. One for $1.69 a pound and 1 for $1.77 a pound. Got a total of 6. Peppers were 50¢ each at Fred Meyer. they were huge – got 4.
    Went through all my seeds. Have everything I need for this spring/summer except butternut squash.
    Made posole, focaccia bread and a big salad. This will be for lunches this week.
    That’s about it. I am starting the year slowly, but still starting. 🙂

  36. Can anyone give me hints or ideas regarding how to donate a very nice, rather expensive car seat? It was purchased when my granddaughter was born so they wouldn’t have to mess with bringing their own, or renting one, when they visited from out of state. It was used maybe 5 times and has now been outgrown. It is still in very good shape and the expiration date is still valid as well. I hate that it’s sitting in the garage unused, but donating car seats is tricky because of liability (and rightly so). Many charities will not take them. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    We had rain and turned off the automatic sprinklers for several days. When the sun came through the clouds, I went out and took some wonderful photos of roses, oranges, lemons, and limes, all sparkling with raindrops. Refreshment for the spirit!

    Unfortunately, the rain also revealed a leak in the roof.

    I picked Valencia and Navel oranges and sweet limes. I shared w/ family members at Christmas. I zested oranges before juicing/enjoying them. I blanched and froze vegetables from the CSA box. When I do this, I don’t use salt in the boiling water so when it cools, it can be used to nourish potted plants. I kept vegetable parings, etc., for the composter.

    The yard maintenance crew cut some evergreen branches that needed to come down. I used some of the foliage for decorations and pictures. We stacked the small logs by the house to cure, for future use in the fireplace.

    I’ve continued using my major appliances after peak hours. We received a little note of congratulations from the power company saying our efforts were noticed and appreciated. A discount or something would not have been amiss…but hey, I’ll take a nice note.

    I decorated for Christmas using only what I already had, including the tree. Since we’re in a new, smaller house, it was a little like having everything new. My late mother-in-law had a yearly tradition of giving each grandchild a Christmas ornament with their name and the year. Sometimes they were from craft fairs, sometimes from her and Dad’s travels. This year, a selection of ornaments from their grandmother was part of our boys’ stockings, so they can enjoy them on their own trees. I talked to my sister-in-law and discovered she did the exact same thing w/ the ornaments Mom gave her kids. Such a nice legacy and a lovely way for them all to remember their “Nonnie”. (Such a lovely opportunity for us to downsize and declutter! But of course the real reason was so they could enjoy their ornaments. Honest.)

    We had a quiet, stay-at-home New Year’s Eve, then spent New Year’s Day, and the next day, working in the garage to downsize/declutter/donate. We achieved our goal of creating enough room that two vehicles can now be parked inside. We felt victorious!

    1. I have seen people give them away on local Facebook groups.

      You can also put them out at the curb with a sign that says, “Free: Not expired! Like new” so that someone in need can come get it.

    1. I live in one of the driest deserts in the world. When it does rain, it usually dries right after it hits the ground. The children run outside and play in it, and not just my children–all children. I have seen groups of teenagers at church in the halls get excited when it is raining and run outside to be in it for the few seconds 9around 20 seconds on average) that it lasts. Adults call each other in different parts of the city to see if it is raining in their part of town (not usually). I live in one of the driest parts in the entire valley, so it usually doesn’t fall here when it falls in other places in the city.

      1. Funny fact here you might enjoy- I’m in the Pacific NW, a native Oregonian (and maybe others will attest to this) it’s very rainy here, and not everyone owns/uses umbrellas! I didn’t for years, I do have one that I use for church (if I don’t want my hair to be soaking) but most of us dart about through the downpour and are used to getting quite wet. And it rains 233 days out of the year (average) and we get about 7 feet per year.

        My most frugal thing this week that I’m excited about was selling my handmade notecards through a local farm market. They bought 24 cards as a trial, at my wholesale price. I’m hoping they all sell quickly and the market buys more!

        1. I don’t think I would like getting wet very much! I know some places here have misters for outdoor seating at restaurants in summer. Because I wear glasses, it makes it so I can’t see.

          What we have as rain here you wouldn’t even say it’s raining, I’ll bet!

          1. Yes, that little amount of rain (mist?) you described made me re-read your post again, trying to imagine kids running outdoors for it! So amazing how different areas are SO opposite. Right now it’s completely grey outside and raining buckets- my windows have sheets of rain flowing down them. Literally!

            1. They ask for umbrellas to play in the rain and I tell them there isn’t time. Usually rain lasts 20 seconds, so they have to head right out!

        2. Dawnelle, my husband and I were raised in arid Southern California. We lived in the Portland area for five years and watched the natives cavort in the rain. We are now back in So Cal and are constantly telling people how Oregonians golf, jog, build houses and many other things while it’s raining. We were always stunned and amused. I think the other Californians don’t believe us.

        3. Dawnelle, I grew up in SE Portland, graduated Marshall High School, went to University of Oregon. My husband is from Burns and we met in Eugene. Lived in Hillsboro for 16 years, until 1989.

          Now, for the rest of you–Portland is a city of neighborhoods, and the first thing you ask a Portlander is, “what part of town?” or “where did you go to school?” Doesn’t matter how long they’ve been gone, or you’ve been gone…Portlanders want to know. (I started at Marshall the day it opened in 1960). Chances are good Dawnelle and I know some of the same people!

          1. I’m a Portlander too, it’s true, we don’t own umbrellas, we don’t even think about the fact we are wet all the time outdoors, we walk in the rain daily and dry our shoes on the heat vents every night. The bad part is the endless mold, it grows inside window sills and covers concrete and decks. Every spring, we have to pressure wash the moss and mold off everything outside from patio furniture and gutters to all sidewalks etc..

          2. Maxine, one of my sons is at U of O this year- go Ducks! And I’m in Tualatin, but like to head over to the Hillsboro/Scholls areas for farms/produce in the summer!

        4. Dawnelle, I’m also a native of the Pacific NW. While I do own an umbrella, I never use it. Instead, I wear a good quality hooded raincoat that goes down to my knees, along with boots, which keeps me mostly dry. I actually have rain pants as well, but they make me too hot so I rarely wear them. I like to walk outside, so I am used to getting wet. I don’t particularly enjoy getting drenched, but I am used to it!

          1. Yes! I wear a good raincoat too (Columbia!) and have a few pairs of tennis shoes that I can rotate if one is too soaking! It’s fun to know there are some Oregonians that are damp right alongside me! Haha

            1. At the University of Oregon in the 1960s, girls wore Keds to class, came back to the dorm and dried them out before going to class again. Nobody had boots, but we did have raincoats and umbies. My BFF lives in Tualatin and I try to get down there 2X year. PS I actually graduated from the University of Idaho when I was 44.

  37. Meals this week-rock fish with Parmesan corn cream sauce, roasted potatoes and squash; grilled hamburgers and tator tots; fish sandwich using the last of the rockfish (2 meals for us in one Pkg), tator tots, and green beans; sloppy Joe’s and corn; quail stir fry with fried ricearoni; leftover stir fry and ricearoni; and
    Money saved or earned this week:
    -cleaned and organized my pantry, it looks so nice now. Inventoried my canning.
    -took 3 gallon sized bags of tomatoes out of the freezer (from last summer), thawed them out, poured off the clear juice. Slipped the skins off and puréed. Canned 10 pints gluten free tomato soup. I used permaflo to thicken it. Also used dried basil from my garden. 2 of the jars didn’t seal, one jar used in the sloppy Joe’s and the other for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches.
    -Did a batch of pinto beans in the instant pot. Then a batch of kidney beans. Froze 4 containers of each kind. Ready to use when I need them.
    -Stopped into JoAnn Fabrics and I bought Star Wars Mandolorian fabric at 25% off. Plus I got another 40% off. I will be making summer PJ’s for 2 of the grandkids. So for $20 I will have 2 pair of PJ’s. Birthdays are in May, so I have some time.
    -Had cooked white rice given to me from a friend. They had Chinese takeout. They get fried rice and the white rice comes in small containers with the main dish. They don’t eat rice and she knows we do. I made rice pudding using almond milk and honey. It was wonderful! We ate it for breakfast several mornings.
    -Christmas decorations taken down and packed away for another year.
    -Did some bartering with my daughter. Her husband is making us a carbles board (marbles/card game). He sells them for $40. I will use this for a birthday present for a dear friend. In exchange I will give her canned goods. No money out of pocket.
    -Sent 3 boxes of rubber stamps/ craft supplies to my daughter’s. This is extra from me and 2 boxes of my mom’s stuff that we found when going through the house after her passing. My daughter sells on her Facebook marketplace and we split the profit. Win, win for me. She lives in a more metro area and can sell things easily. I am pretty remote and things don’t sell well. She makes some money and so do I.
    -Have a great week.

    1. Julie-I would love to know how you make your rice pudding. Sounds yummy and I forget about rice pudding! Thanks for this reminder. When folks on here reuse leftovers or cook from their pantries, I love to know what they actually make so I can get new inspiration!

      1. I was looking for my recipe for rice pudding and I cannot find it! I will have to ask the person who originally gave it to me about 25 years ago if I can get it again. I believe it is one cup cooked rice to a gallon of milk (preferably whole, or it doesn’t thicken well) with 6 eggs, a cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. You cook the rice with the milk on low for hours and stir it to keep it from burning (I recommend a nonstick pot). Once it’s almost thickened, you add the eggs, sugar, ad vanilla, and cook for a few more minutes. I like to top it with cinnamon sugar and raisins.

      2. Gina, my recipe is an old family recipe and it is baked.

        2 c cooked rice (great way to use left over rice)
        2 c milk or non dairy substitute (I have made with almond milk and coconut milk)
        3 beaten eggs
        3/4 c sugar
        1 t vanilla
        Raisins if desired (3/4 c)
        Combine together all ingredients, pour into a greased casserole. Sprinkle cinnamon on top, bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Done when knife inserted in center comes out clean.

  38. Brandy,
    Wow on the dump fees you have saved! Your garden is going to be beautiful and worth all the effort.
    The grocery store shelves here are empty again. Not sure why but frustrating.
    We are going to have almost 8 inches of rain this week alone-if the predictions are correct. I would love to be able to share some of it with you Brandy.
    I don’t normally buy houseplants as I am not very good at tending to them but prior to the holidays the local nursery had African violets for $2.50 for a good sized plant. I am enjoying it.
    I was given a very generous restaurant gift card for Christmas so I am looking forward to sharing it with my family. It should be enough to feed my husband and I and our 3 adult children and one grandchild. We are not allowed dine-in in our state so we will pick it up curb side and eat at home. We are all looking forward to this treat.
    Thank you to Brandy for this most awesome blog community and thank you to all who comment. This is a very up-lifting part of my week.

  39. My proudest accomplishment for the week– my youngest needed a lightweight jacket so I sewed a zip-up hoodie and he just loves it. It only cost me the price of the zipper, as I used fabric that was given to me by a friend years ago.

  40. I just read that Masterpiece Theater has done a remake of James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small”. I still have my “All Creatures” book series that I read countless times when I was growing up and the original tv series was wonderful. This one has apparently been a huge hit in Britain and been renewed for a second season. It began on Sunday evening (the 10th) but I found it is running throughout the week if you missed it.

    1. I really enjoyed it but admit to having a wee bit of hesitation about the new Siegfried – although I’m sure he’ll grow on me. I loved the original so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out.
      I also loved the tribute to the 50 years of Masterpiece Theatre and the special on Alistair Cooke – a great evening on PBS.

      1. That’s so funny—it was Tristan that I disliked in the new one. The old Tristan was more charming, this on just seems snarky. Maybe he will grow on me, too. It must be hard to fill in for a beloved character the second time around. I read that the filming was done at the house Herriot and his wife owned. The museum in the town dedicated to him has a feature where you can put your arm in like they did with delivering cows, so that you can feel the pressure they endured. The guys who played Tristan and James have a series where they, now in their 70s, travel some old roads in Britain. It is a very soothing program.

        1. I haven’t seen the old version, so I have nothing with which to compare it. Which house is the one where Herriot lived? I would love to know.

          The new Tristan likes dogs so much that he requested that any scene where he is alone, that if possible, can also include the dog!

          1. I grew up in Yorkshire, so this program truly does ‘take me back’. My sister said she cried as she watched it. My grandfather went to visit the real James Herriot (actually James Wight) at his practice, many years ago. He was a huge fan.

        2. I loved the old Tristan! His name is Peter Davison and he went on to have a great career, including a long stint as Dr. Who. I watched all of the episodes of The Last Detective on Acorn. I understand he had a role in the 2020 Christmas special of Call the Midwife, too.

  41. I am so impressed with the scope of your garden changes! And such hard work dealing with that ‘soil’!
    My frugal week:
    – I’ve been eating a lot of smoothies (http://approachingfood.com/raspberry-dreams-smoothie/) using whatever fruit, veggies, and bananas I have in the freezer, plus some homemade yoghurt. Easy nutrition and inexpensive as I stock up on fruit/veggies/bananas when they’re on sale.
    – I made a low-sugar healthy berry crumble (http://approachingfood.com/low-sugar-healthy-berry-crumble/) using some berries that my sister didn’t want.
    – I cut my mom’s hair as well as my dad’s. At this point, I have saved many hundreds of dollars for my family and extended family, and can cut hair using just scissors or with a handheld hair razor. I think I’ll continue even after the pandemic!
    – I redeemed SB for $10 to my paypal account.
    – I ordered matching ‘big sister’ and ‘little sister’ shirt and onesie from wish.com. I redeemed some points for 15% off, and used the $10 from my paypal account (from my SB) to reduce the price to just over $8 for both of them, including taxes and shipping. Shipping takes a while, so I ordered them several months in advance of when I would use them.
    – I made a eggplant curry (http://approachingfood.com/shortcut-eggplant-bharta/)and it made lots of leftovers, which is handy. I don’t care if I have to reheat rice, if it saves me time the next day!
    – I cancelled a free trial to a new blogging course, so that I wouldn’t be charged at the end of my trial period.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. Congratulations Margaret on your coming daughter! Just a hint you may know…whenever I reheat anything using a microwave (assuming this is how you are reheating), I dampen a paper towel (1/2 usually) and lay it over the food. It will keep the food moist and you don’t have to add water then. Then I use the papertowel as my napkin for the meal. 🙂

  42. I am crocheting again on a regular basis. I have lots of yarn left over from other projects as well as lots of yarn purchased on clearance. I am finally at a point in organizing my house/garage that I can find my yarn to use in my projects! I am pretty excited about that. It blesses no one if it’s sitting in a tote in my garage, so I am making blankets for now. I will also do infant bereavement items as time allows.
    My son and I continue to purge rooms and put stuff out on our “blessing table”. The neighbors have figured out that what we put out varies from time to time so they frequently stop by to see what’s there. I advertise it on our neighborhood facebook page also and try to list what I have available. I’m very grateful that I have the time and energy to do this right now as it is my major goal right now.
    My son was able to do all needed repairs on my 2006 car and get it back on the road. I figure parts are less expensive than a car payment and I am grateful he has the skills to do the work.
    I had a good laugh over the trailer backing; my son is the official trailer backer upper at our house. I cannot do it solo. My son drives truck as a part of his job so he has to be able to back up anything and everything; that was a skill my husband taught him when our son was first learning to drive about 15 years ago. Grateful for my husband’s patience with him. Unfortunately, the lessons weren’t offered to me and I stink at attempting to back!
    My chickens are still quite productive, must be happy with their living situation and the food they get. I shared eggs last week and have enough to share this week. I don’t know that it’s cost effective to share so many eggs, but the chickens provide lots of free entertainment. Who knew chickens would have personalities and quirks and preferences that would make me laugh?
    Brandy, thank you for sharing your photography and thoughts each week. Thanks to those who contribute their ideas also.

  43. I am trying hard to stay under $100/wk for my grocery order. It’s at Walmart, so it’s for food and household things. After my meal planning, stocking up, etc., I was at $120 so I went back and tried again, removed some things and changes some other things and came in at $98. That felt good. Last week was in the $80s so I’m ahead of the game. I’m keeping track of what’s left so I can use that amount for any extra good deals we find later.
    Other than that, same ol’ same ol. Wearing slippers and sweatshirts instead of turning up heat, cooking at home, using up what we have, playing games, watching tv, not driving very much to save on gas. Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Becky—
      I do the very same thing with my grocery money! I use cash, so then tuck anything not spent that week into an “extra grocery” envelope. Then, whenever I see a special buy on something that I want to stock up on, I usually have something in that envelope to purchase extra quantities with. Same with buying bushels of apples when they are in season so I can do applesauce to can. I love having a little grocery money tucked away for those times!

  44. Hello Everyone,
    I am back on the frugal bandwagon. 2020 has been difficult but I want to get back on track. We have not went crazy or anything. But I have a large purchase I am trying to save for! Here are some of my frugal accomplishments;
    – I have been getting free lunches for my two kiddos from the school. They have a pick up time and you get 2 days worth of breakfast and lunch for each child.
    – I use the items that they don’t want in things like soup or bread. For example, I am cooking a soup right now that has the bagged carrots in the soup. They really don’t like to eat the carrots.
    – I tried something called Misfit Markets. This has non perfect organic produce in it. My first box was great and I shared a code with my friend so we both can get 25 percent of the next box.
    – I just downloaded a coupon for a free Brownie from Chic Fil A. This is a national give away, I believe.
    – I filled out my paperwork to get my Spring classes reimbursed by the VA.
    – My daughter went to the free staff daycare at my husband’s job today so we both could work and she could study.
    – I updated my blog to have some free items for people to see! You can find this at: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/
    – I worked as much as I could the last few days.
    That is about all I can think of!
    Happy January!

  45. Brandy, the progress on your garden project is impressive. I love reading the updates and seeing pictures of the changes!
    Here are a few highlights from my week:
    • Cashed in 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon GC
    • Sold several items earning $60
    • Continued to clean out the house, taking a load to Goodwill and putting some items on the curb with a free sign (they were picked up quickly). Lots more cleaning and organizing to do, but a little progress is better than none.
    • Tried to join a local Buy Nothing Group, but was told that city I live in is split and there are actually two groups. The one for my area is in the process of restarting, so I’ll check back later.
    • We were gifted a dozen eggs from a family friend who has chickens.
    • Enjoying peaches, strawberries and blueberries that I froze last summer with yogurt. Yummy tasting fruit in the middle of winter is wonderful!
    • DH & I started a DIY project to do touch-up painting of our white kitchen cabinets. It’s been five years since they were last painted and some wear was showing. We started with the two cabinet doors below the kitchen sink – what a difference! We hope to do a little bit each weekend.
    • Mended a cardigan and a sweater. I’m not much of a sewer, but these repairs were basic and turned out fine so I’ll be able to wear them again this winter.
    • Did a little bit of research on available genealogy sites for a family tree project. Has anyone used Ancestry.com? I’d be interested in any feedback. I’m checking with some family members to see if they want to join me in the project and help share the costs.
    Hope everyone has a great week!

  46. My mom sent over a box of snack cakes, a container of mustard, marshmallows, and a pack of cookies

    I made bread crumbs with bread ends I had in the freezer.

    We used stimulus $ towards bills(real exciting, lol), but I don’t have to worry about our vehicle insurance until it renews in April, and the Care Credit card is paid.

    Stayed home when I didn’t have to work or pick up or drop off a child. Managed to get 3 books read(lots of free time without sports going on, lol) Returned library books as soon I was finished to avoid late fees

    Ate up leftovers, and after we had our fill, froze what I could.

    Used reward points to buy myself lunch from Mcalister’s deli

    Continuing to declutter the house. Not having much luck on the items I have for sale though.

  47. This past week I gave up Facebook. I am finding myself feeling the absence, however more focused on what’s in front of me. I believe this will be a huge burden released which will give me more time. Today I went directly to your website as well as a few others I follow. I guess I’m saving some time and sanity this week. Enjoying instagram still, following your garden progress. Looks great!

    1. Ashley: I gave up Facebook last year, and while there are things that I miss ( like keeping up with relatives and friends), it has been wonderful for my spirit.
      Wishing you well.

  48. This week I used a 10 lb of chicken that we got for $5.80. I boiled part of it and made a Thai Chicken coconut soup. I barbecued some of the chicken. I cooked chicken another way. It lasted us most of the week. We also ate lots of eggs from our chickens. Not really frugal because it is expensive to feed the chickens. But my husband did finish the fence and chicken coop so we will let them free range during the day. That should save on feed. We still bought straw for their coop. They are entertaining. Turned off lights. Washed full loads of laundry. I need to plan our garden for Spring. I plan on using seeds we already have and seeds we harvested from last year. So glad that my husband has a job for now. We hope it lasts. I’ve been trying to be frugal just in case his job doesn’t last.

  49. Our new heat pump was installed last week. It is so quiet and runs less. The new, heavier roof helped. We are able to set the temperature lower and I cannot wait to see the difference in the electric bill. Out gutters should be installed this week. When the owner arrived last week she found that the drip edge was installed backwards and the gutter guards were the wrong type which caused a lot of the leaking. She said it was a bigger job than she expected. They wanted to take the gutters off but we were supposed to get a lot of rain from the snow/rain storm and another storm Monday so we preferred that they wait. Our gutters and downspouts are larger so we bought the attachment to the pipe that runs underground and it will be replaced closer to Spring.

    I am continuing to declutter old papers and paperwork from the items that were replaced this year to recycle or shred. I even encouraged my husband to write some things down from a calendar book from his mother’s home that he would need later so he could discard the book for a couple sheets of paper. I washed all potholders and oven mitts with bleach to determine which needed to be discarded or replaced. I got rid of excess, stained pot holders and plan to make the mitts. I like mine thicker so they last longer and its getting hard to find them. I cleared old messages, phone numbers, and deleted histories from some apps and google so the phone would charge faster. I try to do this every few months. I found a few winter tops that I can wear more comfortably and a pair of house and tennis shoes that fit again. I am showing less weight loss so I think I am gaining muscle mass from doing more.

    We had the prettiest snow Friday for a while. There were snow flakes were the size of quarters and half dollars mixed with tiny ones that came down heavy and light at times. I have never seen such detail on snow flake edges before and it was exciting. My mother in law got her covid vaccine Sunday at the nursing home. My uncle and aunt in Tennessee had to wait 6 1/2 hours in the car to get their 75 and up one. There has got to be a better way. Have a nice week everyone!

  50. I’m very impressed by your backing up that trailer. I am a city girl who gets nervous parallel parking a regular car!

    Spent a lovely weekend at home taking down the Christmas decorations, which is usually bittersweet for me, so I baked a cinnamon roll recipe I’ve been wanting to try so the house would smell good and we would have a treat. They turned out delicious and just the right amount for my family. The yeast was slightly expired but foamed up nicely in warm sugar water and worked fine in the recipe.

    Hubby encouraged the kids to tackle a pile of old schoolwork and artwork that’s been taking up space. They did a great job and now that space is much cleaner. Inspired by their success, I continued a campaign of going through the apartment and getting rid of clutter. I reorganized all the kitchen drawers and my shelf full of cookbooks, which will save time during the week while preparing food and make that task more pleasant.

    We are supposed to hear tomorrow from a high school we applied to for our sons for next year. Trying to stay calm and pray for the best outcome.

    Have a wonderful week, everyone!

  51. December is such a busy time for me. Within that month I have 4 childrens’ birthdays plus Christmas and New Years. I stuck to my spending budgets and that felt good. I went to Costco with my mother in law and found fleece lined flannel shirts with snaps for an incredible price of 12.99. My dad has dementia and struggles with buttons. I was able to gift him 3 shirts. I typically gift him homemade items for Christmas but he thinks I’m being too cheap and tells me so. 😉 It was fun to see him so pleased with his gifts. We celebrated Christmas at 4am as my husband had to work that day. I can’t say that I loved that, but we just didn’t want him to miss out on family time! On New Year’s we did fireworks at my parents. It was fun for the kids. I was able to restock the gaps in my pantry due to extra holiday pay. What a comfort that was. I had a coupon for $5.00 off my next shopping trip to our local Meijer store. They had strawberries 4/5.00. I did not buy anything else, so got them for free and saved 20.00 over regular prices!! My frugal fail for this week was that my husband and I didn’t fill his truck or my van on the weekend. We discovered a .32 per gallon price hike yesterday. With frugality there is always room for improvement! My word for this year is “finish”. We have so many nearly finished projects that I want us to finish. Personally I am working to finish completely one task each day. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment. We started face to face school yesterday and my children were so happy. Several struggle with online learning formats and they were glad to have some sense of normal. Of course we had freezing rain last night so they have a rare day off. My middle school students are having a catch up day, but my elementary aged son is just so happy to play. I am grateful for continued health and employment. Thanks to all for your posts. I am always amazed at what you all get done! I so appreciate associating with a like minded group of people. I have been blessed to be home with my children and have had to build a frugal mindset and to prepare for future needs in order to do this.

    1. I couldn’t decide on a word for this year, but I was thinking the other day that “finish” would be a perfect one!

  52. Husband and I got a new credit card that offered $150 in gift cards after a minimum spend. We jumped through all the hoops and will choose gift cards to Lowe’s as that will soak up a good bit of our spring garden expenses.

    I complained about an unethical accounting practice perpetrated by our local newspaper. The customer service rep “made it right” and offered an additional $10 gift card to soothe feelings. I’m pretty sure they get this complaint on a constant basis.

    I had a few “points” left on an old hotel credit card I had been ignoring for some time. I finally looked up their cash in program to see if I could do anything with them. I turned the points into a $10 gift card for Panera.

    We are the local crazy cat couple and feed a number of strays. We have carefully compared food prices between Amazon and Chewy. Dried food is cheaper at Amazon and canned food at Chewy. We order accordingly.

    We got a letter from an old credit union we used to belong to saying that they had $5.08 of our money and they were going to turn it over to the state. WHAT? This is the first we had heard of it. I promptly replied that I wanted a check for that amount sent to me.

    Not frugal for us, but an important part of life. We are planning on donating some of our stimulus checks and discussed where it would go. Also, our social security went up by about $25 a month, so we will be making donations in that amount to the animal shelter. In our retirement we have everything we need, and a goodly portion of what we want. It is amazing how much more money that you have when you are all through raising children. 😀

  53. I continue to do the usual frugal things like keeping the thermostat at 68, using leftovers and eating out of the pantry/freezer. I did check into the larger bags of sugar at nearby stores. Turns out they were actually MORE expensive (.56)per pound than the 10# bags (.32). The 4# bags still have not gone on the .99$/bag sale yet. They went on sale for $1.99/4# bag so it was still more economical to buy the Walmart 10#. We do not use much sugar anyway but now we will use even less. I do need it to make my sourdough bread and one or two main dish recipes we like. I am sure we will be better off for the reduction. It was definitely worth the few minutes of time to compare the different sizes.
    I was able to cash in 2200 points for $25 Walmart gift card.
    We are 2 months away from paying off our mortgage. In an effort to be sure we have the funds necessary to achieve this goal I am planning our trip to my Dad’s very carefully. This is not a pleasure trip. My 91 yo father fell just before the holidays and ended up with surgery and is now in rehab. My siblings and I are trying to plan for his future care which may mean he will move in with us. He lives across the state 5.5 hours away. We are going there to go through all his papers he has laying around his house. It’s a mess. On the up side, it has been an eye-opening lesson for us as to how little help there is financially for the elderly. My husband and I are reviewing our long term care plans and making sure our children will not have to go through this on our behalf. I will not be able to see my dad due to COVID restrictions. In order to make this trip as frugal and safe as possible I am bringing all our own food and bedding. Our car gets great mileage so we will only need to refill the tank on the way home. We will bring disposable gloves and masks. My siblings will come by to help but we have all agreed to work in different rooms for most of the day and wear masks, etc.
    My husband got his first COVID vaccine. His booster is in 2 weeks. I look forward to getting mine whenever it becomes available.
    Like others have mentioned I watched the first episode of All Creatures Great and Small this past week. I have all Herriot’s books and have watched the originals many times. I enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to the next one. I depend on PBS a lot for entertainment as we do not have satellite or cable tv.
    I read library books online.

  54. Another inspiring post and beautiful pictures! Thank you Brandy.

    *I don’t have much to report on savings – it was a quiet week of being mostly at home.

    *I did get 4 bottles of shampoo and conditioner for free through sales, coupons and Ibotta. The cashier forgot to add in my other coupons and gave me the cash back. I put it with my grocery money to use for next week. It was $16 and definitely worth my time to get the money from them.

    *We celebrated our oldest daughters birthday on Sunday. Her birthday dinner was made from our pantry and freezer. Her birthday treats were frosted sugar cookies. We gave her a small amount of money and a few gifts from my stash. It was a really nice evening and everyone enjoyed themselves.

    *I have another daughter’s birthday at the end of this month. I shopped around and was able to spend much less on her desired gifts. I was very happy that I easily stayed in my budget for her birthday. I’ve told the kids we are only doing homemade birthday treats. We used to do doughnut cakes, cheesecake or store-bought. I know how to bake and this is an easy way to save on budget. Birthday dinners are from things we have in our home. Thank heavens for a well-stocked freezer/pantry. We have 3 birthdays this month. One down and two to go.

    *We did one date night this week and used gift cards. The restaurant we go to also gives you points each time you eat there and you can get a free meal after 10 visits. It takes us a long time to get there, but it helps to use discounted gift cards and the points program.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  55. I have never pulled or backed up a trailer of any kind. I’ve always wanted to, but the idea makes me nervous!
    How we saved this week:
    -We are buying just a few things at the grocery store and are eating from the freezer and pantry. This is helping use up some of the things we have on hand, as well as freeing up some money to put toward the home improvement projects we are working to finish.
    -My chickens are beginning to lay a few eggs and earn their keep!
    -Last week was very busy with appointments which took me away from the house. I made sure to bring a drink and a snack from home to avoid purchasing something while in town.
    Details of our week are on my blog at http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-28/

  56. I sold a couple of things on the yaedsale site, but spent money 5o have them to sale. We have a bedroom upstairs and I was planning on exercising up there, but when company is here I can’t. We brought home a large smart TV when my husband’s uncle passed away. In our bedroom we had a long blank wall and needed a chunky piece of furniture to visually take up the space. We bought a really large console table. It has cabinets underneath, is extra long and tall. So I put the TV on top and can exercise in our room. I sold a rack I had to hold dumbbells for $30. 2nd item was an Anthropologie cutting board I got with Fiesta dishes I bought off the yardsake site. I paid $50 for 8 place settings and she gave me the cutting board. I sold it for $15, so I got the 8 place settings for $35, which is really good for Fiesta.

    * I am adopted. In 1999 I went through the adoption home and found birth mother, who has since passed. I did Ancestry DNA about 4 years ago. I had a 1st cousin match and was able to put together her dad and my mom were siblings. All my other top matches didn’t match her so were dad’s side. I had not tried to do anything and last week decided to join a Facebook buy/sell group for the town my birth mother was from and post an “I was adopted looking for birth father” ad. A woman messaged me she was a retired teacher and she helped trace my matches on Ancestry. In 24 hour we had eliminated people and traced it to my birth father. We then started double backing to see if we missed anything. I then contacted my birth dad’s brother and daughter and gave them the DNA tree and they have both been very receptive. My birth father is living with my half sister and at first said he didn’t remember my birth mother. So I just wrote a nice message I wasn’t expecting anything and at that time sent the DNA and photo that show a great resemblance. My half sister said she definitely believes it to be true and is going to sit down and show it all to him. I told her not to rush him, to let him digest it slowly and I wasn’t wanting to push him. My uncle is asking for a time he wants to call me. He was impressed with my genealogy of2 his family so wants to talk about what all I found. Anyway, it cost no money, and God just orchestrated everything.

    * Good friends in another state had bladder cancer surgery Tuesday. I joined Door Dash and got a code plus free delivery for a month. I paid $11 for a meal to have delivered. They were beyond grateful.

      1. I’m so happy for you, Holly! Both of my children were adopted in Colombia. My daughter has a first or second cousin, who was also adopted, in the US. My son has a bunch of relatives in Colombia and the US, but none of them close. He is not at all interested in finding any members of his birth family. We went through Ancestry to determine our children’s ethnicity, since people always say, “What’s Colombian?” (Like the US, it can be anything, but predominately Iberian peninsula and South American Indian. My daughter, in fact, is about 50-50. My son is all over the map…literally! Including 17% Scandinavian!).

  57. I’m fussing with the City again about my water bill. It is $20.00 more again this month. I just want to scream. Come on people just change out this old, worn out water meter.
    My daughter’s dog has chewed up 2 pair of her oldest child’s glasses this week. She paid over $300.00 for them each if I understood her correctly. I almost had a stroke. *laughing* I am ordering Salem’s new glasses from Zenni. I learned about them here. We are just waiting on the prescription to get here. This will save no end of money.
    All bills have been paid on time…save those late charges.
    We have not been as prudent as we should have with food this week. We will do better next week.
    We have had a doctor bill this morning. Co-pay of $30.00. Salem has pink eye. Thank goodness for insurance.
    We had to get Covid tests last week. The tests were free from a travelling van that comes once a week to the hospital. The clinic at the hospital wouldn’t test us because we had no symptoms. How many people are non-symptomatic?
    I’ve listened to books, read free books and re-read old books this week.
    My youngest grandson set up my Firestick TV. Very nice.
    There isn’t much else going on here.
    Be safe…stay well.

  58. It’s been a busy work week. We cooked and ate all meals at home even though some days I didn’t finish preparing what I had cooked and just put it in the refrigerator to complete the next day (crockpot beef and baked boneless chicken thighs).
    I was able to make an appointment for a Covid vaccine for my MIL for next week. It will be good to get that done.
    *Free admission to US national parks on Monday for Martin Luther King day. Unfortunately we won’t be able to enjoy this year but I hope some readers can!

  59. I just had an experience I wanted to speak about. We had someone bring by a King Cake. My mother in law sliced a piece and sat at my kitchen table. After she got up I noticed the table runner folded over so she could eat on the table, because to her you don’t mess up the table runner. Her whole life when we would eat she removed the flower arrangement, and lace cloth, then after eating put them back on to decorate the table. She never made a table setting and enjoyed the flowers or anything to make the meal special. She had candles you don’t burn. When you wash your hands you aren’t supposed to use the towels she has hanging, that are decoration. I’d wipe my hands on my jeans. No cloth napkins. When I was first married I got out the china on Sunday, just as my mama did and my husband told me we couldn’t eat off the china. I was confused, but he actually thought it was decoration for a china cabinet and not safe to eat off of. I say this to encourage you all to use and enjoy the things you have. Brandy always makes gorgeous flower arrangements and fruit and vegetable photos where she uses vintage pieces. Don’t save things for a time where you will never use them, make every day a little more special by cutting flowers and putting them in an old vase or soup tureen. In honesty, not being able to use the things made me feel so unwelcome. We as family were not good enough to eat on the table cloth or light a candle for, or enjoy the arrangement. To me, using things says I am so happy to have you here and want to make it special or pretty. I in no way want to bash my wonderful mother in law, I was just so moved I wanted to encourage you all.

    1. Loretta LaRoche (writer – stress expert) had a special on PBS years ago that speaks to this. She talked about how we only bring out the “good stuff” for visitors – but this stuff isn’t good enough for those we are supposed to love the most. She is hilariously funny but gets her point across.

      She has a number of talks on YouTube that people might enjoy. I now use dishes that I love and the real crystal!

    2. You are so right, Holly. After my mother died, we found many nice things still in their original wrapping in her closet. She always said she was saving that picture or dish or item of clothing for a special occasion. She never enjoyed them herself.

    3. Well said, Bama Holly. I was one of four children, and was lucky enough to grow up in a home with some lovely things. As children, we used many of these things every day and were taught to be careful with them, and learned how to take care of them. A few things were kept for special occasions like Christmas and Easter, but they were an active part of those festive times. I continued to use the items I inherited, and though some have not lasted, they have given much joy as they fulfilled their purpose. Other things have been repurposed in my tiny house. A serving table makes a perfectly functional and great looking stand for electronics. A dining room table is my project table in a spare bedroom. Other family members packed their treasures in boxes for some future time that never came, and these were lost the way things unfolded.

      Elizabeth M.

  60. That is awesome, Susan! Once a month or so I take the ones I’ve accumulated and put them in an envelope in the house also. I remember watching the news after Hurricane Katrina and people paying $20 for milk and bread because the stores couldn’t make change and they didn’t have any smaller bills. So I always have some ones stashed just in case. Of course, I live in Minnesota, so won’t get a hurricane, but it feels good to be prepared. 🙂

  61. As I sit here and survey my fruit bowl I can’t help but notice the bananas are from Guatemala, the oranges from the US, the grapes from South Africa and the blueberries from Uruguay. All purchased on sale and I am thinking how lucky we are to have all this variety-especially during a global pandemic. If I lived in the pioneer days I would be collecting or growing and preserving fruits and veggies. What a difference time makes through the generations.

    BTW for those who asked the little bulb pots are on sale again for $2.88 at Save on Foods. My hyacinth is still blooming and this time I bought mini daffodils-I know spring is a long way off but…hope springs eternal!

    1. Hi, I.
      thanks for info on Save on Foods bulb pots. That’s a great price! Ironically, I was just looking at a banana, an orange and an apple and was thinking the same thing — so thankful for the variety of fruits and vegetables we can get here in the winter.

  62. Husband just went through stem cell transplant. When going through chemo, hematologists recommended keeping boiled eggs for protein and spaghetti tossed in butter to keep his energy up.

  63. Thanks, Holly! I do make an effort to use my good stuff, although probably not as much as I should. When my MIL died, I inherited a lot of stuff she never used and “saved for good.” That kind of good never happened in her lifetime! However, I’m using it now. I gave her good china to someone who lost hers in a fire. I kept her silverplate, but I gave my set to the same friend. Another thing, for all of those people who are saving their stuff…for what? Not for your kids, because they don’t want it. Trust me on this…THEY DON’T. Use it and enjoy it! And if you have Christmas dishes, use them next year from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s (which I always said I would do, but this year, I actually did…and we enjoyed it a lot).

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