My husband made three more sections for the backside of the pergola from steel.

I sowed seeds for lettuce, Bells of Ireland, larkspur, and poppies in the garden.

I ran outside with buckets of cold water to pour over everything frozen that was frost-sensitive before the sunrise two days in a row after we had a hard frost (26F/-3.3C). I saved flowers and most of the vegetables (the uncovered lettuce was somewhat damaged). We usually just get a few light frosts here; a hard frost (below 28 degrees F/-2.2C ) is rare. The fate of the citrus trees is yet to be seen; the real fallout seems to be in March when healthy-looking trees suddenly lose their leaves and branches and die after a few too-cold nights in winter. Right now several small trees are struggling–while the large trees are just fine.

I harvested Swiss chard, Meyer lemons (yes, they are really that yellow-orange!), garlic chives, and lettuce from the garden.

I baked biscuits, French bread, and a sheet-pan pancake. My daughter made cupcakes using my eggless, milk-free recipe.

I made two frittatas, soup, tacos, spaghetti, lemon chicken and rice with Swiss chard from the garden, chicken with funeral potatoes (I grated and parboiled my own potatoes, as I refuse to buy over-priced hash browns) and green beans, pasta salad, chicken paninis, and chicken with polenta.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a Lowe’s gift card. I have more paint to buy for the benches in the garden and will use it towards that.

I listened to comedians on Dry Bar Comedy while cleaning.

My husband and I watched a performance of a quartet that does comedy along with their musical performances on YouTube. The group is called MozART. They’re been around for a while but were new to us. While sitting in front of a screen watching a performance isn’t the same as going to see one in person, I found that I still enjoyed it immensely, and I am wondering what other performances we can watch together as an at-home date. We rarely get a chance to sit down and watch something together, so it was a nice treat (though I did have to get up several times to check on dinner!)

The children played croquet in the garden, played on the merry-go-round, jumped on the trampoline, and swung on the swings, and I didn’t have to drive to the park. Plus, I was able to make bread and do other jobs at home that I couldn’t have done at the park while the other children finished their schoolwork.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. This week I dug into one of my goals and finished 2 baby quilts that were UFOs (unfinished objects) . The first was one. That I constructed and then quilted on a smaller quilting machine that I bought new from a local quilt shop. I got the whole thing quilted and off the frame only to discover that the quilting on the back looked like a rat’s nest of bobbin thread loops. I remembered why I pint it away for 10 years. The backing was also smaller than I like and the batting was paper thin! I spent one whole evening binge-watching Escape to the Country on Britbox while seam ripping every stipple out! Afterwards I ironed the quilt top to conceal the former stitching pattern! I pieced together batting scraps, found trimming from a previous quilt backing and pieced that together too. Used two 2-1/2” strips I had in my shoebox and voila! A baby quilt ready for giving! https://pin.it/4aFjotp and https://pin.it/71fH337 (Notice the seam line on green polka dot where I joined the pieces!)
    I wasn’t as big a fan of the second one. I made it and backing and batting were ready to go, but the fabrics are too bright and busy for my taste so it was put away for 8 years! 😱 But, I got it on Lenni and used my Petite Double Bubble pantograph and it was quilted in an hour. The binding were more 2-1/2” scrap strips from my shoebox! https://pin.it/6Cd4i0J. But it went into the gift cupboard and will be given somewhere!
    A new queen size quilt was dropped off by a client to be quilted so that will be done in the next couple days and I saw a scrap quilt photo that I liked and “decoded” it to use up lots of my 2-1/2” strips and squares of fabric!! Besides finishing up UFOs I already have, I want to see how many quilts I can make only using my current fabric stash! This will be the 3rd one for 2022!!

    It’s been over a week with no grocery trips or takeaway for meals! We’ve had a nice variety! I made Beef, bean and cheese burrito mix using precooked ground beef I had in the freezer and dehydrated refried beans. I used up some takeaway taco sauce packets and also homemade taco seasoning. We had lots of clearanced tortillas at home and one batch of the burrito mix made enough for 10 burritos which equals 5 dinners for Hubs and me! I also made Instant Pot Crack Chicken Pasta which used a box of penne pasta, some homemade dry Ranch seasoning mix, chicken, cream cheese and bacon bits! It also made 8 servings so we will have 4 meals for the 2 of us! I found that it’s easy to package up a couple servings and surprise a single friend or couple that may be feeling overwhelmed or just un-noticed. Simple thing to do, but it warms our hearts and it always seems to be well received!

    The $67.60 ibotta rebate came in this week as well as $20 more in CC rewards to our savings account (I used card to pay for oral surgery and annual car insurance premium). We are careful to always pay off credit card statement balance by the due date so we never accrue interest.

    Our property tax statement came and we have no monthly amount due for January!! In February, it should be about $38/month less than last year!
    Our gas bill (we do a monthly level pay) is still running a credit even though our use was up from last month because of the cold snap!
    Our electric bill was only about $1 more than last month as well and still about &153, which is well under my budgeted line item of $200. So heating the house, laundry, cooking and baking and everything else we do in this big old house, gas and electric are still about $250 for the month and this is a high use time of the year with winter here in full force! So we feel all right about that expense especially as the actual utility charges continue to rise and ours stays lower than last year!
    Well, it’s time for me to start parboiling the potatoes I’ve cubed for beef pot pies in the Instant Pot. You cover the cubes with water and set pressure time to zero minutes and start it. Quick release after it reaches pressure and they are perfect for the pot pies- not hard but not mushy either when the pies come out of the oven!! I love eating our food storage! 😉🥰🥰

    Hope everyone is staying healthy and that your days are frugal and provident!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. UFOs – I love that! I always have a selection of unfinished objects about, too. Having something new to call them makes me feel less guilty. Thanks!

    2. Pat, I notice that you always mention when you put big expenses on your CC as a way to collect rewards. I’m sure I am not the only one here who uses their CC for EVERYTHING and pay it in full when I get the bill. You may be concerned that you would spend more if you charged everything, and this would be valid for people who spend a lot of money and love to shop. It’s no problem for me! I know in my gut if I am overspending…so I don’t. Anyway, just a thought.

      Brandy, great picture of Steve the Welder! Can’t wait to see the finished pergola.

      I changed Medicare Advantage plans in 2022 and discovered I now have dental and vision benefits. They’re limited, but not bad…and I’m not paying extra for them.

      Also found my OTC drug benefit is $175 per quarter (previous policy gave me $30) and it is a debit card I can use at Walgreens and other stores. For convenience, we’ve always pooled our OTC benefits. I used the card this week to buy my husband a Hurrycane. (He has vertigo and a wound on his amputee stump that is not healing well, so he is unsteady on his feet). I bought several other OTC items and the total was $78, at no cost to me.

      Every January, Super1 has a 12 Hour Produce Sale and oranges are the cheapest they will be all year. This year they were .59 lb. and I bought a 40 lb. box. Last week I bought a head of lettuce for .99. This week, it was $1.99. I washed the whole head, used the salad spinner and crisped it in the fridge = lots of salads.

      I “dealt with” the remains of the New Year’s ham. After two meals, I froze 2 packages of sliced ham, one package of cubes, the ham bone and 4 “TV dinners.” I also gave two big slices of ham to a friend who lives alone.

      I used $21.23 in Rewards at Office Max (earned on battery deals and recycling ink cartridges) for file folders and a new pencil sharpener. The Duracell deals for 100% back in Rewards seem to be ongoing.

      My dog chewed off the leather shoelace on a moccasin. The slippers are quite old (although in good shape) and I considered throwing them away. Instead, I replaced them with a pair of used cotton shoelaces. I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago! The leather laces annoyed me because they constantly came untied, and the cotton laces stay tied.

      FREE ENTERTAINMENT–I am playing a lot of Words with Friends, a free online version of Scrabble, to help me stay sharp. (I picked up several opponents from this blog and they are all better than I am!). Unfortunately, this is quite addictive! My husband and I also are binging on series 2 of “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS Plus.

      DECLUTTERED–5 plastic containers and 25 (!) lids!

      Also, when we put away the Christmas stuff this week, we tested all of the light strings and threw away several that didn’t work. Mostly, part of the string worked, and part didn’t. My friend Heather fixed the lights on our pre-lit tree by reversing some plugs. I donated a bag of ornaments, a tree skirt and some other Christmas stuff. Everything else is in labeled bins on shelves in the garage.

      A frugal forum that I visit is having a decluttering challenge with a one-off every week. This week, it’s PAPER. I am buried in paper! Definitely not a one-off, but I dug in. I started with my desk (which was unusable because of the paper debris) and got rid of it all–recycled about 90% and filed the rest. There are paper piles all over the house, but this was by far the worst. It also inspired me to clean up the whole room.

      1. Maxine- Actually, we do use that credit card to pay for any incidentals that come up during the month- gas for the cars, groceries, etc. as well as big ticket items- car repairs or dental bills. We pay the balance off each month. The big ticket items I mentioned just gave us more money in rewards this week!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      2. Maxine,
        I turn 65 this month and just got my OTC card with 25.00 each quarter. Do you get so much because there are two of you? I’m older than my husband so he has awhile before he turns 65. I also have dental, eyes and hearing but it’s not so great, either. I feel overwhelmed with the whole thing. When they send several BOOKS of information to look through my eyes glaze over.
        As an aside, we charge as much as possible on our CC to get points, too. I tend to buy gift cards for Christmas gifts. It really helps!

        1. Momsav, I strongly urge you to get in touch with am insurance agent who can walk you through the different supplement options available. Since you turned 65 this month, you are still in the special enrollment period (SEP) for turning 65 and I THINK you have 3 more months in which you can change plans even though you already signed up for one. The agent can confirm this for you.

          Different plans have different premiums and provide different benefits. I chose to not get a plan with an OTC benefit because I saw what they listed as the cost of the items and knew I bought them for a lot less so the additional premium wasn’t worth it.

          Again, talk to a licensed insurance agent who can explain this. If you already talked to one and you are still confused, talk to a different one. Good luck.

        2. Momsav, I took Gardenpat’s advice and contacted an insurance broker. (I’d been doing this myself online for about 10 years and I was always confused). The first thing he did was enter all of the Rx drugs I take. There was a horizontal display of all of the companies licensed to do business where I lived. For all of the companies, it showed the cost of the drugs that I take–side by side. (You may recall I commented about this a few weeks ago). I take Forteo, an injectable for osteoporosis, that is taken for two years to actually build bone. This display showed that only one insurance company (United Healthcare) covers the drug this year, which will cost about $7,000. (I need to take it for only one more year, not indefinitely). Because NO ONE ELSE is covering Forteo this year, it would cost nearly $37,000. Most people aren’t going to realize a $30,000 saving, but I did!

          My next concern was chiropractic, which I was starting for arthritis. After learning about Forteo coverage, nothing else was really important, but as it turns out, United Healthcare gives me unlimited visits and pays 70% to my out-of-network chiro. (Many other companies limit the number of adjustments). The OTC benefit was standard for this policy, so the actual price of each item was unimportant since it is all gravy. At $175 per quarter, I’ll never use all of the benefit. But, for the record, buying at the drugstore is cheaper than using mailorder, the selection is larger and I don’t have to wait for delivery.

          I highly recommend United Healthcare, but it all depends on which companies are licensed in your area and what they cover that you need. Take a list of the Rx drugs you take and write down any other considerations (in my case, chiropractic). I was paying $29 month for Humana–United Healthcare is $36.50. You do not need to be an AARP member (which I refuse to join on principle). An insurance broker (search online for your area) can tell you in 20-30 minutes which company will serve you best and there is no charge to you.

          I believe you can change your choice until the end of the enrollment period. (I did this once). A broker can tell you. If you can’t, remember you will be able to change from October to December this year.

        3. Momsav- Maxine and Mari in SC both illustrate how different and specific our health needs are! For Hubs and I, we were guided by an independent insurance agent to what worked best for our situation. Each year, he then reassesses any changes in our health and also in insurance coverages and premiums! We are now going into our 3rd year since retirement and Medicare and supplements and couldn’t be more pleased. This year, because Hubs no longer takes a higher priced Rx, our agent moved him to a different company that cut that premium down dramatically! And the time and assistance the independent agent gives you is FREE!! What a great service to take advantage of!

          Gardenpat in Ohio
          HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      3. Our weather here , has finally shifted, and we have had a few cold nights. Its about 27 degrees and we still haven’t turned on the heat. Everyone has put on a sweatshirt, but we are comfortable. If sugar cookie complains ,I will turn the heat on immediately. I find that we always turned the heat on automatically in the winter whether we needed it or not. I have continued to not shop any clearance sales online for the holiday markdowns. I decided to drive and pick sugar cookie up from her winter holiday with her extended family. Flying wasn’t in her best interest. I packed snacks and water to save on snack stops. I also took a nap while waiting to meet up with her. That saved on a hotel bill. I drove for a total of 14 hours. Our holidays were filled with illness and a death. We plan on having a combination birthday- holiday party to make it up to my daughter. Her Christmas was very solemn. My purchases were limited this month. I bought some dish soap and a few assorted sponges. The puppy will probably go blind in her other eye. That may also entail removal at some point. I will continue to mind my budget carefully in anticipation of her vet bill. This week we enjoined 6 pounds of lamb. That was something new to us and not anything I would have ever purchased. At $18.00 a pound it was delicious. Baby Henry has covid as well as his new baby sister. I dropped off a box of snacks and fruits for him at his front gate. I rescued 6 lbs ground turkey, 5 lbs organic chicken breast , bacon and a ridiculous amount of fruits and veggies. I never even knew how much I loved brussel sprouts. I have several birthdays coming up. I have pulled birthday ,sympathy and Valentine’s cards for sugar cookie to send out. It seems we have every thing we need and more. I am always in amazement at what we pull from the dumpster. A bottle of Downy, tide pods, huge bag of dogfood and cases of hostess snack cakes. I have definitely evolved from what I once was. I’m a blooming flower in my old age.

        1. Hi Lillianna, Can I ask where you are located that you dumpster dive? I recently did drive around of my local Target and found that they have their dumpsters/compactors enclosed with fencing. Similar with Costco. I dont know that this would be something I would do. But when watching news and documentaries about dumpster diving for food it seems stores immediately throw up a locked fence once they realize anyone is going in there.

  2. Allô Brandi,
    votre mari semble si dévoué. C’est inspirant de le regarder et d’en entendre parler.
    Merci,
    Sophie

      1. Hi Brandy and everyone
        Your husband’s skill with metalwork must have saved you so much money and enhanced your beautiful garden. What a blessing.
        This week I mended a jumper using wool a friend gave me which was a good match.
        Our son in law did some electrical work for us saving a lot of money in labour costs. He is a blessing to us!
        I spent a pleasant evening stripping the flowers off lavender stalks I had dried. Years ago I bought a bag of linens and scraps in France which included some unfinished lavender bags. I filled them with lavender and stitched them closed.
        I moved my paperwhite narcissi into a position where we can see and smell them.
        I received a bar of homemade soap from a friend.
        We picked kale, leeks and parsnip from the garden.
        Ruby grapefruit was reduced in Lidl from 47 pence to 29 pence so I filled the salad drawer of my fridge.
        We’ve hardly been out this week so saved money on car fuel. We’ve been reading books given to us for Christmas.
        I cleaned the candle stub from the bottom of a glass Yankee Candle container ( a gift) and the glass will make a nice small vase.
        Stay safe everyone.

  3. Brandy, if you enjoy opera, you may still be able to find some free performances online. Earlier in the pandemic, my husband and I were watching free Metropolitan Opera performances. I’m sure it’s great to go to the opera in person, but the production quality was great, and it was like having front row seats. You can check their website.

    Here’s are some of my frugal actions for the week:

    *Received a $150 Visa gift card and a $20 check from our health insurance’s rewards program. My husband opted to get the gift card because he didn’t realize that if you don’t cash out your points, then the following year they send you checks anytime you have OOP health expenses like prescriptions, copays, or anything paid to a hospital. They let you do it for a total of $480, which is a way better deal than just getting a $150 gift card if you have as many OOP health expenses as we do. We have 2 prescriptions/month filled, plus 4 of us see a cardiologist regularly, and my oldest has epilepsy, so it won’t take us long to get the $480.

    *We’re not doing a strict pantry challenge, but still trying to buy as little as possible this month. Meatwise I should just be buying a few pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. I made a month long menu plan again (this has been working well lately), so I did a big shop last week and will aim to only pick up perishables as needed the rest of the month. The only think complicating this plan is that there are so many empty shelves everywhere right now. Last week’s meals were red beans and rice, chicken enchiladas, salmon/sweet potatoes/peas, chickpea stew, meatloaf/mashed potatoes/salad, homemade black bean burgers, creamy artichoke pasta, and borscht.

    *For frugal AND environmental reasons, oldest daughter wanted a reusable container to occasionally bring small amounts of cold, non-water drinks (chocolate milk or juice) with her to school, sports, etc. Anything suitable (and not made of plastic) at the store was $9 and up, and even if I was willing to pay that, we still couldn’t find anything that we liked enough to buy. Then I remembered how one time when I was in college, I bought a Starbucks frappuccino drink at the store…it came in a small, 9 ounce glass “milk bottle” with a secure metal lid… and I thought the bottle was so cute that when I finished the drink, I removed the plastic label stickers and used it as a vase in my apartment. That was 20 years ago, and not sure where that bottle is now. So we bought a 4-pack of frappuccinos (the single bottles are a larger size, so we had to buy a pack to get the smaller size), which my husband gladly consumed, and now we have 4 cold beverage containers that check all the boxes: small enough to fit in lunch box or backpack, dishwasher-safe, doesn’t leak, no plastic, and if it breaks or gets lost, it’s not the end of the world. Frankly, I’m surprised they still make them this way (plastic would be so much cheaper, I’m sure), but I and the earth thank you, Starbucks!

    *It’s a gloomy, drizzly winter here in Atlanta, but my last peek at my garden was promising. The kale continues to grow (1 plant, but I’ll take it!), and there are a couple of garlic tops poking out. This is my first time growing garlic, and I didn’t realize it would start growing already. I literally just bought a head of organic (so it wouldn’t have any anti sprouting stuff on it) garlic at the grocery store, separated the cloves, and stuck them in the ground back in November. Hopefully I’ll have some garlic to show for it in the spring!

    *Husband sold 2 academic books to a friend who is starting the same graduate program he just finished. He wasn’t advertising them for sale, but the friend asked if he had them, and he offered to just give them to her. She insisted on paying something, so he charged her $35 total, which was less than half the cost she would’ve been able to purchase them used elsewhere. Needless to say, everyone was happy.

    *The foam ends on my eyeshadow applicators keep falling off, so I had been looking to buy replacement applicators. There aren’t any available locally, and this seemed like a silly thing to pay for anyway, so I tried gluing them back on instead. And now they stay on again! A small savings, but it all adds up.

    Eager to hear about what everyone else has been doing!

  4. This week has been a bit crazy with illnesses and my 22 year old son totaling his car (he’s ok and hit a pole so no one else involved as well thankfully). He’s able to use my car for now as I’m not working for the time being. I’m glad he can take his time shopping for a good used car. This has also prevented me from running frivolous errands and I’ve obviously saved gas money as well. As for the illnesses we were well prepared with medication, vitamins, and plenty of tissue boxes (plus I personally love to use my reusable softies I bought a few years ago from Gardenpat ☺️)

    I picked up a few books and craft kits from the library. This week a few classes are being held in the library but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable for that yet. I s0 appreciate all the ways the library has worked so hard to still provide entertainment and resources during the past few years especially!

    We were able to rent a few more textbooks for my daughter’s college classes (Amazon). The savings are significant!

    Another amazing week with items gifted from BN Group including: 2 bags of pecans (!), 3 candles, fabric, a bedsheet, polo shirts for my husband, and new Christmas tins.

    Hope you all are staying happy and healthy!

    1. Marissa- So glad you still like those flannel softies! Here in Ohio, our weather has become so cold that we have drippy noses a lot! The flannel is SO much softer on our sore noses than the Kleenex which can end up feeling like sandpaper!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      1. They’re high quality and pretty too! Yes, definitely the time of year in Missouri when constantly need a tissue on hand! Thanks again ☺️

  5. I hope your citrus trees will fare well after the hard frost. We saw we were getting down into the teens one night, so my husband and I harvested the last of the lettuce, chard, cabbages and all the broccoli side shoots. I was so thankful I’d recently made and froze some batches of soup to have on hand for sickness, as it came in handy last week. I checked the books on my amazon wish list, and found three had been added to the library since they’ve been on my list. I’ve been enjoying reading Carnegie’s Maid, gotten for free on Kindle. For two batches of soap, the oils were melted on the woodstove. Our solar project is coming along, with the inverter and charge controller in place in the battery room. Sections of the array supports are going up. It’s pretty exciting to see. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2022/01/soup-to-rescue.html

  6. I haven’t commented in a few weeks, as our computer bit the dust. It was perfect timing, though, as I had just submitted my fall grades. I ended up buying a new one this weekend from Sam’s, using my friend’s membership, and the AT&T guy should be by to set up the internet this afternoon. Currently writing from the public library; very thankful for these resources!
    I have pinto beans in the crockpot ($.48/#, dried), which are the cheapest variety I find around here. I’ll make some rice or cornbread to go with them tonight, as we reinstitute “Meatless Mondays.”
    I made it past Christmas and 2 kids’ birthdays (hooray) with garage sale/thrift gifts and homemade goodies. Most of us got colds (maybe Covid?) the week of Christmas, so we stayed home for a few days, and things were low-key.
    Our moderate Houston weather has meant no heater or AC for about 2 weeks, when I was finally able to turn the AC off.
    Other frugal activities were: playing at new-to-us park playgrounds, swimming at the indoor county pool, batting cages using our GetOutPass, breakfast picnic, free kids fishing tournament (free snacks and one daughter won a prize, though our rainbow trout were too small to keep), library books and movies, and lots of time with Legos, as I let the kids keep them out for several days, spread all over the living room floor.
    I did well at the consignment stores, turning $135 in clothing from two trips to Goodwill Outlet into $253 from the adult and kids consignment stores (next door to each other), plus $85 worth sold in a week on Facebook Marketplace. I find things for my own family there (not included in these totals), so although digging through the bins is somewhat unpleasant, it still pays off. Plus, no childcare needed. I am so fortunate to only have to work part-time, and for the flexibility my job provides.
    $5 or less meals in the last week included: turkey and dumplings, bean burritos, hot dogs, homemade pizza, sloppy joes, and turkey fried rice. Once our leftovers are gone, this turkey is finally gone (thankfully!). I will wait a few months before cooking another, as the kids and I all have turkey fatigue.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

    1. Love that your gifts were garage sale/thrift gifts and homemade goodies.

      This year I will be giving more homemade goodies 😊.

    2. Great job on your clothing sales! I also flip clothing, mostly kids stuff as that is where my comfort level lies. I shop for my kids mostly from resale or thrift so it serves a dual purpose. A lot of the time, my profits pay for any items that my kiddos may need.

    3. Leigh Ann, do you rewash the items you buy at Goodwill before taking them to consignment? I am thinking about buying clothes to flip while at yard sales this summer. I always find great deals on clothes in the wrong sizes for my family.

  7. I ate all meals at home or packed them for work, I did not spend any money eating out. This is a first for me and one I am most proud! It’s a very hard cycle to break but it is one of my main goals this year – to eat out less.
    I picked up multiple items from Buy Nothing – a 5 lb Hershey’s bar I will gift to my boss this month, a new 1000 piece puzzle, a new friendship bracelet set I will gift to my oldest for her birthday next month, a garden kit, Nature’s Bakery bars, a new full sheet set to use for camping, new bubbles and a new kite to put in Easter baskets. so much good stuff!
    I sold a lot on FB Marketplace – $155 which will goes toward debt.
    My freebies from couponing include nail polish, lip gloss, microwave rice, sparkling water and Kotex liners.
    A client took me to lunch as a thank you.
    I completed a Field Agent survey for Little Caesars that paid for a pizza to be delivered plus $5.
    I hung one load of laundry instead of using the dryer.
    I found two JoJo electronic toothbrush sets that came with toothpaste and a bow for .98 each! Putting them up as Easter basket surprises.
    I am continuing to go room by room and pulling items we have not used in the last few years or no longer need to sell or donate.
    I left the pool timer at one hour per day as it is running more because of the much cooler temps. All my small changes are adding up. While one less person no longer lives here I am still counting the following a victory! My electricity bill and usage is less than half of what it was last year. We are on a co-op and the fees have only risen a tiny amount. This is true of my water bill as well. Gas is a different story as the temperatures have been warmer year over year so far.
    I planned and booked our vacation with my parents to camping at a State Park in Texas. They have a RV but we will stay in a cabin. We are going for four nights and the cost is almost half of one of the smallest private cabins nearby. We will have a full kitchen and plan on bringing food to make all of our meals. The goal is to plan early so there is vacancy! These cabins book up quickly.

    1. Good for you on not eating out. We found that after a while we didn’t miss it much. Eating at home is such a good way to save money, and home made food is generally healthier.

    2. I not only have never seen a 5 lb. Hershey’s bar, I have never even heard of one. Feel free to send a picture. 😀

      1. They had them at the grocery stores here for Christmas!–quite a good buy per pound, actually.

      2. Anne, check out the pictures near the bottom of this link to see peolle holding their 5 pounds bars. https://www.chocolateworld.com/en_us/shop/shop-at-chocolate-world.html

        Chocolate World is just outside the gates of Hersheypark and steps away from Hersheypark Arena and Hersheypark Stadium in – you guessed it- Hershey, PA. Chocolate World is waaaaayyyyyy overpriced but when you are on vacation and the kids and some adults are clamoring for candy…

    3. Hi Emily, I decided to turn my hangers around this year in my closet. As I wear clothes and return them to the closet I turn the hanger back to normal. This has helped me really notice what I have and haven’t been wearing. The idea is that by the end of the year any hangers that are still backward are clothes you haven’t worn, which may lead you to consider parting ways with them. I have pushed myself to wear clothes that I dont often wear in the last two weeks, and it’s been surprising and refreshing to wear some of my clothes that had been ignored for a while.

  8. Brandy, he has to be a superhero, not just look like one, given how many children you two have been rearing as a team. One giant long-term project.

    I have not been thrifty the past week. However, with 20/20 hindsight I know now that I decided correctly when I was waffling between a call to the doctor to ask permission to start an antibiotic already in the house or to call for an ambulance ride to a swamped ER for my mom very early January 1. She had been uncooperative with a brief change one time, had been too weak to transfer herself from wheelchair to bed one time, her vitals were slightly raised despite medicines to lower them, and her verbal skills had rapidly plummeted to the point I feared a TIA except for the first three issues. A doctor associated with my mom’s doctor’s practice was available by phone at 4:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day! I told my tale of woe to one of at least two Medical Assistants wide awake and working and he got the ok from the doctor. Not long after antibiotic pill #2, mom’s vitals went back to normal and she was obviously on the mend. Her verbal skills are nearly all back too after a week. It is so strange how an infection, likely a UTI, can affect the oldest old. So my energy went into keeping mom at home during a Covid-19 surge, not into saving money.

    Now for this week….. How did mom get six unmatched anti-slip hospital socks in her drawer? I do need to catch up on ALL the laundry because she is down to one set of two.

    1. Those socks…..Around here, it’s baby socks from the grandsons. Almost every day, I find a sock in the couch, behind a pillow, under a piece of furniture or on top of the piano (?). Those boys don’t like to keep their socks on:). They aren’t even here every day.

      I’ve noticed a trend more and more with the kids where they wear 2 mis-matched socks. That’s for the young adults, teens, and on down. So, maybe your Mom should join the young people:)

      I’m glad she is doing better and you were able to get so much medical advice at such an inconvenient hour. What a blessing!

      1. Mismatched socks have been a thing since my daughter has been in elementary school. She is now 22 and still wears her mismatched socks a couple times a week with her brightly colored crocs.

    2. One of the reasons I’ve been slow to sign up mom for hospice is that her doctor who makes house calls is part of a large practice that offers 24/7/365 access to a doctor or nurse practitioner by phone. One hospice I interviewed was touting 24/7/365 access to a nurse, not a doctor nor an advanced practice nurse, as a main benefit. I also want to keep the possibility of IV antibiotics being available to mom if she ever gets another antibiotic resistant infection. Her overall health is such that it would not be kind to do any procedures that require general anesthesia or admission to an ICU. Thankfully, so far, pain is not an issue. She feels pretty good (except for 12/31-1/1) for somebody within a few months of age 99. I just wish “unlimited” physical therapy sessions was available through Medicare to help very frail people be as strong and mobile as possible. Mom knows I am a weakling and doesn’t trust me to keep her from falling when she walks as much as she does the PT. So she only does very short walks with me.

      Regarding the socks: You should have seen her face when I showed her her mismatched sock collection today. She has never been one to follow fads so I’d better find the missing mates.

    3. Holly,
      UTIs are really dangerous in the elderly. I know from experience with my mother.
      Their sudden loss of memory, confusion can be readily mistaken for dementia. It happened to my mother.

    4. Hi Holly, Glad your mom is on the mend! Regarding mismatched socks, I have a basket on top of my dryer where I keep single socks. When I’m doing my laundry I compare and contrast single socks and match them up 😉

  9. The steel work is looking amazing! What a talent your husband has! That’s to add to the kudos for your garden designs, Brandy.

    My Meyer lemons are just reaching that orange-y yellow color just now. I love fresh lemons in recipes and fresh lemonade made from them.

    I have a saved stick deodorant case that has a solid platform on which the deodorant stick sits and is twisted up and down. Most of the newer stick deodorants have perforated platforms these days, probably to save cost on plastic. I clean and save that old one, and when I have used all I can of new sticks of deodorant, I set them aside until I have four or five, then I push the platforms out, scrape off the remaining deodorant, melt the ends together and pour the liquid into the clean old case that I’ve kept. The remains of five sticks will just about fill the old case like a new one. I first read about this in the Tightwad Gazette, I believe. Some people may find it to be a little icky, but it doesn’t bother me at all. I buy the pricier natural deodorants, so I hate to throw out those unused ends, and I’m the only one who uses these particular deodorants anyway.

    I waited until a chilly day to turn off my downstairs heat and use the self-clean cycle on my oven. I chose the shortest cycle, which was enough to clean it.

    Before starting the cycle, I scrubbed those cooked on spots off of the window inside the oven door using baking soda, dishwashing liquid, hydrogen peroxide and a scrubbing pad. The most stubborn spots came up with a hard resin scraper that I have.

    When I cook with cast iron on my electric stove, I turn off the heat before the dish is quite done and let the residual heat finish cooking it as well.

    I managed to hang dry all my laundry this weekend.

    I sprayed my container garden with liquid organic fertilizer well before the rain started Sunday night, so that the application wouldn’t be wasted.

    I went into only two stores this weekend, and bought only what I needed – two items in each store, and the stores were on my way.

    Have a good week everyone!

    1. This is a GREAT idea for the deodorants! Thank you for sharing it. I also use a more costly natural product due to chemical sensitivities – this will be life (budget?) saving. 😀

    2. Hi Jo. Very interesting on the deodorant. I switched a couple of years ago to a natural deodorant, except mine comes in a flat tin (like mints come in). Each tin is supposed to last three months, but I usually get at least four months out of it. I end up paying about $3.25 a month for this and it is so much healthier than the chemical deodorants. It did take some getting used to because you take a little bit on a tiny spoon-stick and have to spread it with your fingers. I am able to get every little bit out and I save the containers (I should ask the woman who owns the company if she can just refill mine for a slightly lower price…hmmm). I also save my soap slivers and, after two years, have a spaghetti sauce jar full that I will melt down and make into new bars. I got the idea for that on this site.

  10. Those meyers are beautiful! I am look forward to seeing your husband’s latest creation. Great hobby!

    This week I saved by coloring my own hair and I gave my son a haircut before returning to school. Everyone is healthy after two came down with Covid. We used telephone doctor appointments to save gas and a drive to the office.

    I’ll be taking a trip in a few weeks. I checked prices on the hotel and car rental. Many times prices drop closer to the travel date. I was able to rebook both the hotel and car rental and saved $110. Not bad for a few minutes of computer investigation! I’ll check again later this week to ensure I get the best prices possible.

    I have been searching for my favorite pair of knee high winter boots for 2 winters. I have scoured all the closets and looked under everything possible multiple times. I was about to give in and buy a new pair of boots (1/2 off of course) when I decided to check once more. This time I looked up high where I store seasonal and special occasion shoes not often worn. I found them in a wrong boot box up there!!! I was thrilled to find them finally and saved myself $100 by emptying my shopping cart of the new pair no longer needed. Phew! 🤪

    Now that everyone is back to work and school I am able to finish putting away Christmas decorations and focus on cleaning. I’ve started a post-holiday and post-Covid deep clean. No housekeeper here!

    We’ve been eating from home and making sure to use all leftovers. Our garden provided lettuce, tomatoes, kale, lemons, oranges, bell peppers and mustard greens. I have some broccoli ready to pick at the moment, too. The cold weather has wilted the bell peppers and some of the tomatoes. I need to tear those out and prepare space for spring veggies.

    I’ve cut the pieces for a valance for the half bath using material I already have. I ordered trim on eBay saving about $10/yd.

    Last week I went to the library and picked up two books. I enjoy reading so much and want to make more time for it this year. I’ll pick up another book on hold today.

    Have a blessed, healthy and beautiful week everyone! 😊

  11. Sorry about your overnight freeze. We haven’t had one yet but I think it’s coming this week.

    I used money from my IRA to pay an additional $14,000 on my mortgage principal and made an extra monthly payment to keep at least one month ahead “just in case”. My goal is to pay it off in January, 2024, by making additional lump sum principal payments in 2023 and 2024. I made these payments as well as those for car and flood insurance online since there is no extra fee to do so and it saves me the cost of stamps and envelopes and worry over mail delivery.

    I bought eggs and some pork items from a local pig farmer at the winter farmers market. The items are more expensive but I find the quality to be better, the animals treated better and I really want to support the local farmers. He had all of his various cuts in stock and said it was because he took 8 pigs to the processor since they finally had enough help to get them all done. Like other businesses, they’ve been affected by Covid infections and quarantines among their staff. I also stocked up on some basic items, such as oil applesauce, at Aldi to use in creating meals. I think I have a good 4 month supply of all foods and now and 6 or more months of the food I eat the most and other items, such as toiletries and cat food. I have tried to warn others that things are going to change, such as more shipping issues due to the mandate that all truckers crossing the Canadian-USA border must show proof of vaccine starting on 1/22 and that somewhere between 22,000 and 31,000 truckers will not be vaccinated and thus not allowed to cross, resulting in more delays and issues with transportation. These people have joked about it or think it’s nothing. I hope the latter are correct but I’m not counting on it and have continued to prepare. Honestly, it is those who comment here and on a couple other websites that help me know that I’m not alone on this.

    I needed 3 dozen dessert servings to donate to a dinner and had Granny Smith apples so I made Jewish Apple Cake cupcakes, cutting 40 minutes off the baking time. The recipe calls for 1 cup oil and for the second batch, I used 1/3 cup oil and substituted 2/3 cup applesauce for the remainder. There was a very slight difference in texture of the top, which is a little crustier when using all oil, but they tasted the same. I think I’ll keep using the applesauce and oil combination but add a coffee cake type topping using sugar, floor, butter and cinnamon the next time I make them.

    I picked almost 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, about 8 sugar snap peas, one San Marzano tomato and one full size tomato. My romaine lettuce is almost done but one plant is sending off shoots of small romaine plants so I’ll see how that goes. Our beautiful weather is turning decidedly cooler starting today, Monday, so I brought all the plants in and have them set up in the dining room to get the afternoon sun. With even daytime highs only in the 50ies and low 60ies F and overnight lows in the 30ies or even a couple in the 20ies, they will stay there until the weekend at least. I have about 18 plants total and it’s not worth lugging them in and out every day for little gain as far as sun and temperature go.

    I did most cooking at home but also spent way too much money on eating lunch out 3 days. One day was a celebration lunch for my son-in-law getting promoted at work and I chose to treat him and my daughter at a very nice,elegant restaurant where they comped us champagne and his dessert. I don’t drink but they enjoyed it and the champagne flutes are nice to twirl a bit, lol. I ALMOST bought a beautiful couch someone is selling for $600. That was affordable but then I would have had to replace 3 chairs and an ottoman in the room or at least bought slip covers for them. I decided there are other things I want much more than the new couch and chairs.

  12. Gas is $2.84 a gallon, this morning, in college town and $3.14 a gallon in the town where I work. I made spaghetti, chicken, onions, and rice, another batch of swamp soup using mustard greens instead of collard greens, or turnip greens, and brought a sandwich to work for lunch. I used a $5 off $25 coupon at Dollar General to purchase food. I walked for exercise. I barely got home from my walk before the sky opened up and it poured down rain.

    1. You’d better fill the tank and just drive around all day for that price:) Just kidding! Gas is almost $4 a gallon around here–not every place, but creeping upward at most places and my hubby saw it for over $4 at one place.

      1. Hi Becky, on November 15, we bought some less expensive gas in WA on our way to an appointment. We crossed into WA on the I-5 bridge and took the first exit, Exit 1, toward Camas; we went down to I-205 and got onto I-205; we went to I think Exit 6A; then we turned right; Freddie’s down there had gas for $3.17 compared to $3.79 where we live. You can go to WalMart if you turn left instead of right. Just a thought. You probably use GasBuddy. But we were rather amazed at the difference in cost.

        1. You caught it at just the right time. It’s 3.49 at Costco in Camas now, and near or at $4.00 a gal at other places around town.

      2. Lol Becky! I drive at least two hours a day for work, on the days that I work. I would absolutely die if gas was $4 a gallon here. Wow!

        1. Cindy, every time you post gas prices, they look low to me too! It was $4 a gallon here last year; I don’t know what it is now (my husband fills up) but I doubt it has dropped much.

  13. Oh Brandy – those Meyer Lemons look so lovely! They are very expensive here but now and again I treat myself to a few. I hope your trees survive!

    I only went to the stores once, this past weekend – and again I wouldn’t have bothered but I was out with my friend and she needed some fresh veg. I took the opportunity to buy another dozen eggs as I really like the ones from this store even if they are very expensive by your standards – $4.69 for a dozen extra large free range eggs. That’s not a bad deal here. When I got home I hard boiled the 4 remaining from last month and will use them up this week.

    I again have concentrated on using up all the bits and pieces in the fridge and freezer. I made a large pot of soup with the last couple of sad looking carrots, a cup of pumpkin puree I found in the freezer and about half a bag of frozen butternut squash that I’d forgotten about and a cup of red lentils. I use smoky spices like cumin, coriander and smoky paprika so it is lovely and warming during the cold weather. Yesterday I took out a pkg. of meat & cheese that I froze last month and used it to stuff 4 peppers. I had two for supper, kept one for tomorrow’s lunch and will give one to a friend. I don’t use the caps of the peppers so chopped them up with half an onion , cooked them up with some balsamic vinegar and popped them into the freezer. I’ll use them on the weekend when I plan to use up some liver from the freezer. I also ate 2 pieces of HM quiche and 1 piece of leftover tortiere as meals last week along with lots of seasonal veg. For Wednesday’s main meal I will take out the last bit of tortellini from the freezer along with a small pkg. of Italian sausage, onions & peppers and the last cup of some tomato sauce that was leftover and will combine everything for a tasty supper that will take about 5 minutes to warm up. I still have cake, shortbread and chocolate from Christmas so no need to bake this week although I think I will try those eggless/milkless cupcakes next week Brandy! I normally buy whole milk but had to settle for 2% on my last trip. But – I have a couple of litres of half & half that need using up so when I get down to about a third left of the 2% milk I add about another third of half & half. I also have about 1/4C of whipping cream left so I think I will treat myself to a cafe au lait tonight made with cream and half & half! That can be dessert!

    Toronto Hydro has announced that we will get a 3 week reprieve from premium useage fees on our hydro bills from January 18th – due to Covid shutdowns again – so that should help a bit on the next couple of bills. Haven’t been on transit in about 10 days and don’t expect to until this Friday when I go for my booster so that is also a savings – I’ll probably only add about $40 at the end of the month instead of the usual $80 or so that I have been using. Every little bit helps. Staying out of the laundry room for now so continue to do a bit of hand laundry as needed. I won’t go back to the laundry room until my booster kicks in – one advantage in having lots of sheets, towels & kitchen linens!

    44 libraries in Toronto have had to close due to Covid staffing shortages but I’m lucky that mine is staying open. I’ll pop in there on Friday on my way home and pick up some new holds that have arrived. Continue to listen to the Great Courses lectures as I do housework or cook and loved Season 2 of the new version of “All Creatures Great & Small” that began on PBS last night. Other than that it’s walks along the lake – managed that three times last week and while it was lovely and sunny it was bitterly cold! My KN95 mask came in handy to keep me warm! 🙂

    Stay warm and well everyone.

    1. Thank you for the soup idea..I cleaned my own using two carrots two celery tsp sun dry tomatoes one slightly wizened apple and one yam..all boiled first and blended then added one cup lentils. It’s in the crockpot for tonites dinner! With your spices! (I noticed stew meat for $8 + at Walmart ,,,on special!, it’s getting pretty serious. ). Ann on Vancouver island

      1. $8 dollars is a good price – it’s around $12 here for 1# of stewing beef. It’s sometimes better to buy a round steak when it’s on at a god deal! Your soup sounds delicious – a friend of mine often adds an apple to her red pepper and sweet potato soup so I think I’m going to try that next time.

  14. Glad you were able to save your plants despite the freezing cold, and still harvest plenty! Those lemons look amazing!

    My frugal week:
    – made my super simple Vitamin C salad (https://approachingfood.com/salads-i-have-known-loved-vitamin-c-salad/) to try to keep my family’s immune system strong. Plus, it’s an easy finger food for my baby and tasty for my toddler.
    – made hot chocolate (https://approachingfood.com/easy-peppermint-hot-chocolate-mix/) using up leftover candy canes, and also made turmeric lattes (so good!)
    – gave a package of hot chocolate mix to friend, that was gifted to us, as I prefer homemade. The friend was happy to have some high quality hot chocolate!
    – went sledding several times — so much fun for littles, and free!
    – made our weekly pizza. Way cheaper than takeout and so easy. I just make up the dough when I have a chance (https://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/) and let it sit in the fridge until I want it later in the week; but it can also be used right away.
    – inexpensive meals made included: scrambled eggs and toast for lunch, egg salad sandwiches, homemade hummus (I didn’t make my own pita this week, as a bag of pita was on sale for 99 cents and I was a bit pressed for time due to an ill child), chickpea salad wraps (I had planned on tuna salad, but apparently ran out, so chickpea salad it was!), and homemade hamburger helper, which was a big hit with my family and definitely something I will repeat.
    – I also made smoothies to use up bits of leftover frozen fruits and yoghurt. I tossed in some leftover cranberry sauce to sweeten it — it tasted really good!
    – I sliced up some cucumber and put it in pickle brine leftover from store-bought pickles
    – I made healthy energy balls using pb and oats as the base, and adding in puffed quinoa, ground flax, and chopped dates, all thing my parents had in their kitchen.
    – I baked my weekly chocolate snack cake for desserts. It lasts all week in the fridge!
    – I cut my husband’s hair and my father’s hair
    – I talked to my mom about how to access coupons via apps
    – borrowed hardcover library books as well as talking e-books for my daughter, and ebooks for myself.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  15. My husband is a welder, too, and my kids call him the Mandalorian when he wears his. 🙂
    We had two snowfalls this past week, the first of the season which is unusually late for us. While the mild introduction to winter was frugal in that we have used less wood to heat than we would have had by now, we are glad to have the cold and snow to play in. Snowmen making, snowball fights, sledding, hiking in the snow, playing with the animals, snow angels – all of those things are such fun and cost nothing. My boys are in a snowboard club at a local ski resort. Snowboarding is not necessarily a frugal sport but we save for it and do it as frugally as we can by buying used equipment, suggesting monetary contributions to this passion when asked for gift ideas by family, buying season passes which gives us free parking and much reduced rates versus pay-as-you-go and always bringing our own food and drinks. I thought I was doing well until I saw one mother pull out not one but two crock pots and proceed to serve her large family soup and baked potatoes right there on the lodge deck. I told her she had my homemade sub sandwiches beat by a long shot. 🙂
    I continue to come across things I do not need and sell them to off-set the cost of my youngest son’s martial arts class. It is very reasonably priced to begin with but cutting it down even a little helps. It is made even easier as I pay for the class with autopay through PayPal giving me a $20 per month discount. All of the money I make selling things online is in that account so when it drafts, it’s pays the martial arts school and I don’t even have to do anything else.
    I learned a new skill which might be considered frugal. I finally tried depositing a check to my bank using my phone. I knew the capability existed but, if you have read any of my previous comments, you will know I definitely have Luddite leanings but am trying to judiciously use technology when and if it enhances my life and not when it distracts or detracts from it. I live 35-40 minutes from the nearest branch of our bank and, while I have never made a special trip just to go to the bank and very seldom have physical checks to deposit anymore, I thought it would be useful to learn this skill so I can deposit them immediately. I have to say it works really well and is sort of amazing, when you think about it. So, learning skills are always useful and can make your life easier which, in some way, contributes to an overall frugal life, I think.
    We are eating from the pantry as much as possible this month and are very grateful for the grocery store gift cards we received as Christmas gifts which helped us stock up.
    I am trying to remember to do little things that I usually do but sometimes get lazy about to avoid waste, especially given the shortages of certain items. One of those is putting a little dish soap in a small bowl with water and dipping my dish brush into that when washing dishes rather than squirting it in the sink. Seems like a little thing but it does make the dish soap last longer. I have very sensitive skin and have to use unscented dish soap (yes, even when I use gloves) and I have found those varieties lacking in stores at times in the last year or so.
    On the reading front, I currently have Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson checked out from the library. I thought I had read it but, once I started, I realized I had not. It is wonderful! I have read quite a bit about Franklin and every book tends to emphasize one aspect of his life or personality more than another but this book is very well-balanced from what I can tell. Very fascinating!
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  16. It has been a bit of a low week for me. I’ve not been feeling well, a daughter (living on her own) has been sick and was not able to go to the first week of a brand new job.
    Among it all, we ate simply, I did some mending of clothes and darning of socks. I used up some fabric that had been sitting far too long to make a baby blanket to donate. I ordered GF flours from Vitacost, going through Swagbucks. Home Depot was out of 1/4 round trim, but I found 2 scraps of it in their trash pile (FREE!) and it was just enough to finish the project we needed it for. I switched some potted plants around, adding some new potting soil to the top of some, and repotting some in different pots. It gave a bit of a new look for no cost, which always gives me a boost. I also washed the glass globes on the dining room light fixture and they make me smile every time I look at them. My husband finished pruning and spraying the fruit trees. I’m keeping my eye out for another pomegranate tree. We’ve had some hard freezes as well.

  17. I hope your trees survived the frost! We’re getting more back into our normal winter routine this week. I strained my apple scrap vinegar. It will be ready to use in about 3 weeks. Someone asked for directions for this and I’m not sure if my reply ever posted, so here is a link to the directions I use: https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/02/how-to-make-apple-cider-vinegar.html
    We went skiing one day and parked at the free lot and packed our own lunch – one way to make an expensive hobby a little less expensive. Another day we visited the local hot springs as guests of our friend who works there. We had talked about renting a cabin at a state park for a mid-winter getaway next month but after reviewing our budget and the cost of the few days away decided to stay home and keep that money in our bank account. I’m still cooking from my pantry and freezer and trying to use up every bit of food. I made soup with a bunch of leftovers and some noodles for lunch one day, and I made quiche one night to use up more leftovers.

    1. Cindi, I am one who asked about the vinegar recipe. Thank you for thinking of that again and for including the link in this week’s post. I really appreciate it.
      Elizabeth H.

  18. Grocery shopping this week was for bread, milk, avocados and bananas only as we try to use up what we have.

    Meals included oats with apples or bananas, hot dogs, apples, mandarins, boiled eggs, pumpkin muffins, lentil and vegetable soup, quiche, grilled fish with egg, mashed pumpkin and potato and avocado, wraps with tomatoes, basil (from the garden), ham and cheese, taco bowls and taco wraps.

    I took an inventory of the fridge and freezer to make meals to use up what we have. I made a shopping list for next week and meal planned.

    I line dried all washing, buried fruit and vegetable scraps and kept electricity and gas use to a minimum.

    I decided to wait until next week to go to the local library, saving on fuel/petrol/gas.

    My children enjoyed a one hour puppet show which was a free event put on by our local council/county.

    I purchased some upcoming gift items on clearance at Target using a $25 gift card I received from Secret Santa at work. Total OOP was $2.25. I got five items, with one item originally priced at $25!

    Working from home all week was extended until the end of this month (I normally do a mix of in office and work from home each week).

    We went for bike rides around the neighbourhood, not stopping to play at the park playgrounds due to omicron.

    I filled in my diary for 2022 to get across the year ahead.

    The new school year is due to start in a few weeks, however, has now been delayed due to peak omicron calculations. This was announced yesterday so I’m working out what to do with my children.

    I got extended a further five months in my secondment, which gives me 17.5% more pay than my substantive permanent position. When my relieving ends I go back to my substantive position. I need to prioritise applying for permanent positions at my relieving level.

    My children were invited to an ice skating party which they loved, saving me $46 admission and skate hire ($23 per person) as they have wanted to go for some time. They loved it! Actually the savings would be $46 minus the cost of the
    $16.50 present. I don’t normally spend such a high amount on a present but I did as they paid for admission. The present was a Baby Alive doll ($39.99 reduced to $11.50) and a 6 pack of Disney Princess books in a carry case ($10 reduced to $5). My children also received food at the party.

    I was grateful for our blessings, went in the backyard often, had dinner on the back veranda multiple times and kept on top of housework to avoid it piling up.

  19. Those lemons are beautiful. Can hardly imagine them.
    It was cold here this week. We still keep our heat low at night, but am grateful for flannel sheets and fleece pajamas.
    I worked 4 days this week, and took breakfast and lunch all four days. I took Thursday off, as we had snow most of Wednesday night, and most of the day on Thursday. I can drive through snow, have most of my life, but if I don’t have to then……
    I was able to get green beans at Winco for 48¢ a pound. By the time I was there, they only had about 1 1/2 pounds left, but I got them. Made garlic green beans using garlic from our garden last year.
    On Thursday, my day off, I made Italian sausage, spinach and gnocchi soup, using items from the pantry. It was so good on a cold day.
    I poured boiling water down the sink drains.
    Our dishwasher no longer works. We have decided to just wash dishes by hand until the weather is nicer, and it won’t be so difficult to get a new dishwasher to the house.
    My son and his wife came to our place on Saturday, for a late Christmas celebration. I made a ham in the crockpot. I put some brown sugar in the bottom, and then opened one of my jars of home canned pineapple (Thanks Gardenpat) and poured the juice over the ham, and we had the pineapple as a side dish. My DH is Italian, so when he was growing up, they would have ham and ravioli for New Year’s day dinner. So I also made sauce, using another crockpot (actually started it the night before). I used meatballs from the freezer and onions from the garden. Had part of a pepper that I put in the sauce too. Used one of those big cans of tomato sauce and home grown and dried basil, oregano, parsley and thyme. it was delicious.
    I made a gingerbread with a homemade snack cake mix, as that is what we always have for breakfast on Christmas.
    We ate homemade frozen mixed veggies, with corn, carrots, broccoli and green beans from our garden. I blanch each one separately, then mix them together in a huge bowl. I put them in quart size bags (4 cups each) and then freeze. I use these in casseroles, pot pies, or just for a side dish of veggies.
    The only after Christmas items I purchased were two gorgeous fleece throws that are nice and thick and warm. I will use them as part of my DIL’s Christmas present next year. I bought two of them because my other son got engaged over Christmas, and one will be for his fiancee.
    Hope everyone has a healthy, happy and frugal week.

    1. Nancy, appliances are months out for most. You may need to order it two months ahead of when you want to have it.

      1. Thanks for the info. However, since there are just two of us home now, a dishwasher is not as high of a priority as it would be for someone with a large family. We can live without it.

    2. Nancy in Eastern Washington- it made me so happy to hear that you have discovered the wonderful treat that home canned pin apple is!! It’s been over 5 years since I first tried canning it and I don’t think we’ll ever go back to buying it (canned/tinned pineapple) in the stores!
      Glad you like it,

      Gardenpat in Ohio

    3. It is around zero outside and with the forecast well below zero windchills tomorrow morning, school might be cancelled. But I have a Meyer lemon tree with about 10 lemons on it hanging out near a north-facing doorwall. It reminds me of San Diego.

    4. Nancy I love the idea of blanching several veggies and making up your own packs of mixed veg. Don’t know why I’ve never thought of this but I’m definitely going to do it now. Thank you!

  20. I was in the process of putting together a toolbox car kit when everyone was stranded on the interstate in VA. I got 1st aid kit, mittens and knit hat, a long sleeve tee, stockings, socks, headlamp and flashlight, Swiss knife, work gloves, whistle/compass, lighter, candle, puzzle book, notebook and pen, quarters, ones and fives, blankets, ponchos, and a list of contact numbers written down so if my phone is disable I have numbers. I need kitty litter and a few other items.

    ***We had 4″ of snow. I rolled towels and put at the doors to keep the cold air out. My electric bill was $115, water was 52, gas was $21. It has been running non stop so I think next month will be a lot more. We changed the filters today.

    As I put away Christmas I cleaned baseboards, window sills, and dusted. I cleaned out cabinets in the kitchen and found 4 items I listed to sell. I sold one for $2, but when I went to get money from under the mat found $15 that has been there over a month. I consolidated a lot of items and Made a home for things like picture hngers that were in 3
    different locations.

    ***I watched 1883, This is Us, and we started the new season of Cobra Cai. I have All Creatures in queue to watch also.

    ***We bought a Panara $50 card and you got a $10 card. It is close and an occasional date night treat.

    ***Cut husband hair. Cut Golden Doodles head and snout.

    ***We went to husband’s coworker home in country. I made potato salad and a vegetable tray from what I had in pantry.

    ***A friend is teaching me to crochet. She gave me a crochet hook and a skein of yarn. I stink.

    ***I cut hearts from fabric stash to make a quilt. I am tying to go as long as I can not buying fabric or joining quiltalongs, or starting new projects I don’t have on my list. I joined a UFO group and wrote own what I plan to do each month from my unfinished projects. It is so hard not to see the shiny new things I can make and get sidetracked.

    ****We got our venison meat my husband shot back and have a freezer full of sausage and roast, and cube steak. And he is hunting every weekend so will probably get more.

    ***Husband used his new welder to weld his trailer where it had come apart.

    ***I picked up 4 boxes of regular mouth and 4 boxes of wide mouth canning lids last week. We wanted wings for the Alabama game and you cannot find wings anywhere. I wanted to get another turkey and ham and can’t find them. Going down the aisle there are whole sections of nothing. No pancake syrup, Italian sausage, and many other items. I have a turkey from my freezer in the roaster today and went to get carrots, onion, and celery so I can can some chicken soup recipes using turkey, then make bone broth to can. I took out my 2nd turkey and it is thawing and I will do more chicken recipes to can in a few days with it. I was going to pick up more pint jars and lids and they were gone today. I may have to do quarts, which I have more of instead.

    1. Bama Holly – for your car kit, I suggest you keep some type of food item in there. Granola bars or something high calorie and non perishable. We use lifeboat ration bars (you can find them on Amazon) because they have a 5-year shelf life and will hold up being stored in extreme temperatures (i.e. inside a vehicle during our extreme summer Texas heat). And, they will keep you alive in an emergency. We both keep emergency bags/go bags in our cars in case of being stranded or a situation where you may have to walk home.

    2. A man in line at Food Lion told the rest of us that the chicken processors can’t get workers to remove the chicken wings from the bird. He said he used to inspect the processing plants and they have machines that remove the legs, thighs and breasts but the wings have to be manually removed. I have no idea if this is true or not but it sounds plausible. I know some people in the restaurant industry who said the cost of wings has skyrocketed and I’ve seen 2 menus online that now list them as “market price”.

      1. I read an article where they interviewed a processor and he said he normally hires seasonal workers at around 200 employees and can’t find people. He was working with 20 something. This was about 3 months ago I read it, so I don’t know if it is still the case. I am at the place of buying at higher prices when I see things we do use.

    3. Bama Holly, I bought a pack of the heat thermal blankets and put some in the car (we live in the north), along with regular blankets. Also the hand and foot warmers. As for pancake syrup, we make our own: 1 1/2 cup water, 2 cups sugar, a bit of vanilla extract and a bit of maple extract to taste. Dissolve sugar in boiling water and add extracts. Simple. Not thick, but delicious and cheap.

  21. We had a very quiet week as the covid saga continues. Glad to see my son is now negative and has finished his quarantine and got to go to his first day of classes today at the community college. Whew! My husband works from home, but is still exhausted, so he is trying to rest between calls. He should be in the clear by the end of the week. I, thankfully, never got sick. So grateful that they were so careful and that we have room in this old house to each have our own areas. We were blessed by a few things dropped off. We were gifted brownies and cookies and my daughter who lives far away ordered pizza for us to to be delivered one night, which I thought was very kind. Otherwise, we’ve just been home. We have certainly saved money on gas! *My online college classes started last week and one of my classes is Money Management. I’m hoping to learn a lot and fine tune my frugal skills. *My son put some button down shirts with an old job’s logo on them in the donate bag. I pulled them out and started deconstructing them to eventually cut into quilt squares. I also rescues all the buttons. * I was really craving beef stew and thinking it would be a good nourishing meal for my sick boys. When I put in my grocery order for pick up I looked at stew meat and saw that a chuck roast was much cheaper per pound, so I ordered one. The one I got was fairly big so I started by cutting it in half and freezing one. The rest I cut up for stew. I rescued some very squishy potatoes and some leftover carrots and celery. It turned out well. After we all ate our fill I froze the leftovers for a quick meal another time. * I got my first book delivered to me from the Library At Home Service!! It came with instructions on how to send it back for free also. I’m very pleased and impressed and grateful. * Hope everyone here stays healthy and safe. Have a good week, Everyone!

    1. BeckyH- I suspect that you could be teaching the Money Management class rather than attending it as a student! 😉 But, hopefully, there will be something new you can glean from it!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Ha! Thanks for saying that, Gardenpat. I could definitely teach the frugality part, but I am learning about investing and scary things like that. Our record keeping hasn’t been the best so I’m using this as an opportunity to get all that in order (even though I don’t need it for a good grade). I watched a video about a zero based budget and was so excited because I learned that from you!

  22. Brandy: As a friend used to say, “I am in a blue funk!” Our power bill was $502 this month! $502! Yes, we have a large home, but only use 2/3 of it. Yes, it is old with uninsulated walls(which cannot be insulated). And yes, we keep our heat on 66/67 during the day and 58 at night while we sleep(we also purchased high efficiency units for both levels last year). It’s outrageous! Our gas and electric rates jumped 24% this month. We live in Tennessee with TVA which has the lowest rates in the country, I believe. We use blankets and heated throws to keep warm while reading or watching TV. I have become the light and water Nazi! We are charged about 2 1/2 times our water usage for waste water.

    So after reading this prolonged whine, does anyone have any suggestions? No matter what your financial status is in life, this is unacceptable!

      1. The house is built so that there is no space in the walls to blow in insulation. We replaced the downstairs windows a few years ago with high-rated insulated ones. The upstairs does not affect the downstairs although they were due to be replaced, but COVID changed that! Thanks for the suggestions! Sorry for whining. Just think I’m in shock!

    1. CherylB- We live in a 130 year old brick house that has single pane drafty windows, lath and plaster walls and no insulation . What we found out from our veterinarian who also lives in the same neighborhood is that there is a super insulation that is only about 5/8” think that you can retrofit to your old lath and plaster walls by nailing 1 x 3s to the existing wall (we needed to use a special bit that would go through the brick) and then you roll this insulation out and staple it to the 1x3s. It looks like an aluminum space blanket on both sides. There is a special tape to use on seam lines between insulation pieces. Then we just nailed up sheet rock on top of it for our new inside wall. It has an R-17 value and has made a major difference in the rooms we have used it in so far! Still many more rooms to go in our 21 room house but it’s made a big impact and was something we could DIY.
      I can get you more info if you’d like.

      Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Thank you, Gardenpat! I will definitely investigate this! We have spoken of this before, but are always being sidetracked by yet another “structural, electrical, plumbing” emergency! I am sure you know the drill! Thanks again!

    2. *I am making panel curtin for all the windows downstairs. I use decorator fabric so it I thicker and I line them. I will be able to close over windows to keep the cold out.
      *I also ordered 26 outlet insulators off Amazon for $11. I put in all the outside wall outlets.

    3. Wow–that is a high utility bill! And I bet you get one every month! I can’t think of a thing you probably aren’t already doing. One suggestion is not to use the oven unless you are baking two or more things. This isn’t going to do much for your bill, but as Brandy says, every little bit helps. Also, what can you do about insulation? (blown-in, batts in attic, etc.) I realize this is not easy to do when you are paying $500+ month for utilities.

      By comparison, I live in northern Idaho, which is a lot colder in winter than anyplace served by TVA. We also have comparatively cheap utility rates. I live in a new house with 1,900+ sf and good windows and insulation. My combined gas and electric bill was $178. Our January bill will be higher because of some super cold weather, but I honestly don’t feel that’s too bad for electricity and natural gas (used for heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying). We are seniors and keep our home warmer than most of you.

    4. I’m so sorry to hear about that outrageous bill! Can you possibly insulate the space between your ceiling and roof? Is that just for one month? In my previous home, the power company would estimate one month and read the meter the second month, rebalancing the amount. Good luck!

    5. My sister and her husband built a house with large windows on the north side of the house and without natural gas being available. They moved to Arizona which is a drastic but effective way of eliminating high heating bills.
      Our utility bill was $300 this month which was a bit of a shock and I was bemoaning the fact that I recently learned mom’s house has its original 1967 insulation. I have to keep the temperature at a minimum of 74/71 for mom.

    6. Is there any possibility that you could gradually switch to solar? I have heard that it is expensive, but with what you are paying . . . Could your meter be faulty? Could you fur out a wall so you have space for insulation? We attached styrofoam insulation (about an inch thick, I thinnk) to our exterior sheeting on the outside of the house, and nailed siding on top of it, so our exterior walls have R-19 between 2×6 studs, then the plywood sheeting, then styrofoam, and then cedar siding on top of that. We ended up taking the styrofoam off one exterior wall when we redid the end of the house where all the storms hit. We ended up stripping off everything, replacing rotten members and sheeting, and installing cedar shakes on that wall, shakes for sidewall application almost like it is a roof, so we didn’t put the styrofoam back on that end. But the styrofoam has worked very well for the rest of the house; we have not had any rot there. Could there be space in an attic or under the floor where you could add insulation? If your windows are old, you could have storm windows made. I read an article that said storm windows worked as well as having double pane windows; you would need egress for bedroom windows in case of fire, but I don’t know how accurate that idea is. We have double-paned vinyl windows we installed when we built the house thirty years ago, and they are evidently worn out. We can hardly open and close the windows now, and we will have to replace them soon. Some of them I am not strong enough to lift, and I am barely strong enough to crank out another one. Maybe if we had gone with Anderson windows instead of the cheaper ones, similar to MilGard. . . I don’t know. Just some brainstorming . . . I think you have a serious problem. Maybe you need an energy audit. It sounds like your furnaces are new, but maybe a service person might be needed. I feel for you. I think in our area, utility companies must get rate increases approved by a state energy commission. Also, you local state legislative representative might be able to help.

    7. There are sometime options for walls that seem not to be insulatable-https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/solid-wall-insulation/
      We had external wall insulation (basically sheets of insulation fixed to the outside of the house covered with a special render) put on our 1930’s solid wall home, it is expensive and can change the appearance of the house but it has made a massive difference. Another option is internal wall insulation which is insulation lining the inside walls and covered with drywall- we didn’t go with this as it would have reduced the internal space of our already small house. Would either of those options be possible for you?

    8. Check the element in your water heater. When the element starts to go bad it will raise the electric astronomically.

    9. CherylB, I live in northeast TN and we also have TVA power. Our electric bill was $346 this month, the highest we’ve had. Ouch! We only have electricity, no gas. Most days were in the 50s and 60s, although it was in the teens and 20s many evenings. Our rates must really be going up. We have a 2 level ranch with the downstairs mostly unused, so we don’t heat it. We use the entire upstairs, with 2 different heat zones. We have been extra careful about turning off lights, keeping heat lower and using blankets, etc. so it would be even higher if we didn’t do those things.

      1. Dianna: It’s awful, isn’t it? Think we were spoiled all those years by low TVA rates! Now that they have become more like DUKE POWER, I think there’s no going back! The head of TVA is paid millions! Just another corporation! Anyway, good luck! Let me know how things develop up there. My son lives in Church Hill and was complaining also!

    10. The indoor clear plastic over the windows really does make a difference, using the kits you buy to cover them and hair-dryer to shrink it. I didn’t always hair-dryer it, and it still worked, and I also left them up all year in some places where I didn’t open the windows.
      As a small note, aluminum foil on the wall behind big old radiators can reflect heat out. Or even make a little folding screen to set a foot or so in back of a portable heater, cardboard covered with foil, being careful that it not tip over or interfere with the heater. People in The Olden Days used screens to good effect to direct heat where it was most needed or keep drafts out.

    11. CherylB- I remember awhile back we had an exorbitant electric bill during the winter that I about flipped my wig over because it was double our normal amount. Everything was as it always was so we couldn’t figure out what was going on UNTIL…….I just happened to look under 1 of my pull down blinds in our bedroom and apparently one of our kiddos had opened the window just a “crack” and all the cold air had been coming in. We never noticed because away from everything and hidden. Needless to say after shutting window our electric bill was “normal” the following month . You might have a “hidden” leak somewhere too 😁😁😁

    12. We also had an uninsulated, century-old house. One extreme idea: if you only use 2/3 of the house, depending on what is in the other 1/3, you can seal off with super thick plastic just for the winter — tape to a doorway or such. Shut off the heating vents or close the radiators in those rooms (unless they are bathrooms! Frozen pipes aren’t cheap). In one house, we sealed off with plastic. In another, we just kept the heating vents closed in unused rooms and the doors to those rooms closed at all times.

      Uninsulated walls can be thought of like windows. We purchased good quality thermal drapes (pretty much floor to ceiling) and hung along both exterior walls in one especially cold room and the temp in that room increased. These are not cheap, but paid for themselves in our heating bill. If you have windows on these walls, you can open the drapes when in that room — or if it’s a really sunny day to get the sun — and otherwise keep closed.

      Looking to pictures of homes such in medieval times helped for ideas — the more tapestries (or rugs) you can hang on the walls, the better. There is also a decorating style of adhering fabric to walls, usually with a staple gun, with the staples hidden by the fabric. While this is done for aesthetics, a thermal layer could be attached first.

      Do you have a basement or crawl space? You can insulate from underneath, as well, and in a basement it can be less expensive than adding to the exterior of your home, as looks don’t matter so much (or maybe at all, if an unfinished basement/crawl space). Same for an attic. Attic insulation usually settles/compacts with time, so you may be below industry-standard without knowing it. You also may want to add additional inches beyond industry-standard due to losing so much heat through the walls.

    13. Cheryl- That bill is awful and so stressful when you already feel probably feel cold. Wanted to add a few ideas. You may already be doing them or someone may have listed already but wanted to mention.

      – We live ins tiny house with new windows but I still roll towels and lay along the window sills where the windows would open. It helps a ton!

      – check your furnace filter in case it needs replaced or cleaned.

      -Check to make sure a breaker hasn’t flipped in the breaker box causing the furnace to run only on heat strips. (My mother in law recently had this happen.)

      -Plastic sheeting kits are great for inside the windows but under blinds or curtains. (The kind that uses a blow dryer.). My mom swears by that stuff. Check baseboards, door trim for areas that need caulked, and also get foam insulators that go inside outlets. My mom crawls all around feeling for drafts with her hands and finds a way to seal them! She even warms a bowl of water in the micro for washing her dishes rather than wasting all the water it takes for it to heat up. She is a money saving guru!

      If doors are drafty, hang Blankets or quilts over the door and frame during the coldest nights. Flannel sheets keep beds much warmer if you can get some.

      When times were super tough, I once strung up clotheslines in the basement and hung all the laundry. I hung small things together on hangers and then hangers on the line. It took all night to dry but was free!

      Best of luck. Sounds like more bad weather headed across again this weekend so stay warm!

  23. Thrifty actions this week included using leftovers for soups. I enjoyed watching Season 2 of the PBS All Creatures Great and Small. Currently reading “Once Upon A Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan; planning to teach granddaughters how to cross stitch, when they visit this weekend. Also working on taxes, before submitting to accountant.

  24. This past week was very quiet. We also had some hard freezes, but mostly we had rain, rain, rain! It was hard to get in any walks outside, but we did manage a few times.

    Along with everyone else, January seems to me to be the perfect time to use up all the odds and ends of food that have been frozen, or pushed back in the fridge. I used so many jars of home-canned items that I had to empty the basket where I put the empties twice, instead of the usual once last week. I made soup with home-canned veggies and broth and my husband threw in the last of a jar of pesto we were given. It had really good flavor. I had seasoned with Italian seasoning and garlic. We ate many jars of fruit in bowls to round out meals, and had green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower from our freezers and cupboards. I used frozen stuffing from Thanksgiving to make a casserole with some Costco chicken.

    Lots of family members have decided that we are the perfect people to return their cans and bottles. They don’t like to. We are thrilled to do it, and keep the money, of course. He hadn’t returned any for a couple of months. This week, after collecting ours, theirs and some from the side of the road when we go walking, my husband took back bottles and cans over a 2-day period and put $70 into Bottle Drop. That will help me stay within budget this month and/or next, especially when stretched with the +20% option at Safeway or Fred Meyers.

    I’ve started organizing myself for next Christmas already. We’ve come up with a plan for some easy items we can make for some of those relatives we give a small gift to. My husband has an idea of something he can make. We hope to get started and just put them aside when finished to make that season easier.

    I read several library on-line books.
    We had fun with our grandsons a few times. This saves their mama a lot of money in babysitting fees as she’s started working more often. We can’t carry that whole load, but we help when we can, which is usually a couple times a week.

    I did post a few pictures on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    1. Hi Becky, What is the +20% option at Safeway and Fred Meyer? I admire your Christmas beginnings. Handcrafted gifts are so much nicer, too.
      Elizabeth H.

      1. When you go up to the kiosk to redeem your Bottle Drop money, you push the option “+20%” and then put in the amount you want to use that day from your account. You get a receipt that you can use as cash at the check-out and it’s 20% extra added on to your amount. So, if you redeem $10 of your money on account, you get to spend $12. This is only available at certain stores and you have to push that button. It’s not automatic. Of course, you had to take the bottles and cans back to the redemption center and turn them in first and have them add it to your account. It’s a bit of a process, but with $70 of bottles returned, I will get to spent $84 using this option.

  25. Your lemons are beautiful, Brandy. My Meyer Lemon tree is just now blooming. Many mango trees are full of blossoms, but I think it’s too soon and they’ll drop.

    I read an interesting book: The Aisles Have Eyes, about privacy-invasion while shopping. I recommend it!
    I’m reading The Real Anthony Fauci and it’s absolutely a must- people should know this information. So, just reading and making all meals, including today a lasagna with thinly-sliced sweet potatoes as noodles, with spinach,mushrooms and onions I had frozen, and a creamy sauce with nutritional yeast on top. It isn’t the same as a traditional lasagna, but it’s really good! Interestingly starches, including sweet potato, Irish potato, and rice, convert to resistant starches (which feed beneficial gut bacteria) when you refrigerate them overnight!

    We had rain and collected water for doing our laundry and watering plants.
    Enjoy the week!

  26. -I am in full swing with my $50 dollars and 50 jars challenge for January. I want to spend $50 only on groceries and use at least 50 jars of home canned goods.

    -Our free entertainment is watching the birds at the feeders! And it is really free, we got a #40 bag of black sunflower seeds for Christmas. As well as a large suet bell. We have had 4 types of woodpeckers in on the suet bell-piliated, downy, hairy, and red belly. Plus we have a pair of cardinals that are coming in as well. I sit at the table with my coffee in the morning and just watch them.

    -Only money spent on groceries this week was a gallon of milk, pint of half and half, 4 bananas, and 6 oranges for $13.72.

    -I used another 8 jars of home canned food as well. I opened green beans, sweet pickles, pickled asparagus, cranberry apple juice, corn, pear jelly, and beef broth x 2. Which brings me to 13 jars.

    -I used half a container of French onion dip from NYE in place of the sour cream and made Swedish meatballs in the crockpot. I also used home canned beef both. We ate 2 meals with mashed potatoes and I froze 2 more meals of the meatballs.

    -I used the leftover cup of mashed potatoes and made 6 pieces of lefse. Such a treat!

    -I am slowly taking down decorations from Christmas. Work on some each day and pack away.

    -I mended several pieces of clothing. I hate mending but keeping clothes in tip top shape increases the time they can be worn. I also took a pair of boots into the shoe repair shop to be sewn where they had come apart. $5 for the repair vs $50 for a new pair! Great savings in my book.

    -Like everyone else I am dreaming and planning my garden even though it is -15 F here and we got 4 more inches of snow. On the bright side when it is that cold the skies are bright blue! Just have to stay inside to enjoy them.

    Have a great week!

    1. My kind of a challenge! Although, I doubt I’d be able to get through a whole month for only $50 no matter how many jars I opened because so many people come over that only eat certain things. I’m impressed! Good luck doing this challenge.

  27. Received a free apple with grocery pick up

    My mom sent over fries, oranges, Epsom salts, and tea bags

    Hubby cleaned out his truck and brought in nearly a case of water bottles.

    The youngest turned 15 and we took her and 2 friends out for dinner. While it wasn’t cheap, we had plenty of leftovers for the next day and she got a free dessert to take home. I purchased a bottle of perfume for her present, and she just wanted brownies instead of a cake.

    Our stove decided to go out(on the 15yos birthday 🤦‍♀️). I called around and looked online for 2 days for a place that had one in stock that didnt cost a small fortune. Menards was the winner. They had a basic Amana electric stove for $512 and I used $80 in rebates I had in my wallet towards it.

    I sold item and made $15

    My son brought home a box(6) cinnamon rolls from his work(expired for them, but still good).

    Ate lunch at work. Well, the two days there was work. We were off Monday as part of Christmas break, worked Tuesday, Wednesday, then school was canceled Thursday and Friday because of weather.

    I had some rice krispies left from Christmas so I picked up another container of marshmallow cream and made another batch of Rice Krispy treats before the cereal went bad.

    Contacted someone I knew that picked up scrap metal to come get the old stove, saving us time. My neighbor wanted the cardboard to use under her mulch.

    Used 2 empty dog food bags and a department store sack for trash to help stretch our trash bags

  28. We have been using up what we have this past week since there seems to be an excess at our house since the holidays. We have eaten well and had lots of treats without heading out to a store. We will be heading out to run errands tomorrow and will pop into a grocery store that is on our route that has some sale prices that we only see about once a year now. We will also be picking up books and DVDs that we have on order at the library. It is such a wonderful way to get entertainment and also gain knowledge on so many topics.

    We continued to be blessed by our local buy nothing group. We have received salad dressing, four chocolate bars, a case of cranberry gingerale, a carton of flavoured coffee cream, three t-shirts for my husband, a pair of flannel sleep pants for myself, a t- shirt for my son, dishwasher tabs, a book to read to our son and two CDs for my husband. I also cleared out my closet and moved things along in the group.

    I hope everyone has a productive week!

      1. My son-in-law was drinking cranberry sprite in bottles from a local gas station (7-11 type place). We couldn’t find them in the store so I gave him a bottle of cranberry fruit juice and a 6 pack of sprite and told him to try mixing them. He and my daughter agreed that it was surprisingly good.

      2. It is! Sprite makes a seasonal mix too. But, you can’t wait. When you see them, you have to act because they go so fast. I was lucky and got 3 of the 2 liter bottles this year. I have one left. I usually find them around Thanksgiving or the first couple days of December.

  29. I attended training for poll workers this evening – even if I don’t get called to work the polls, I will receive $50 for the training. If I get called, I will receive a total of $200 for the training and the day of working the polls – we have a special levy election this weekend. My husband brought home leftovers from a BSA camping trip this weekend, including a huge bag of salad, which was the basis of our supper tonight. One of my intentions this year was to mail more “happy” mail, so I mailed out three cards this week and have two vintage postcards to mail out tomorrow. I used some cheese that I had frozen and some that was leftover from our NYE game night when making cheeseburger soup. I have been doing a decluttering challenge with a friend – I haven’t sold anything, but I have gotten rid of a bunch of things, which makes me happy.

  30. That’s really cool pouring cold water on frosted plants would do them good. I didn’t know that. Hoping March shows you happy trees.

    I upcycled a zipper from a purse to use in making a small zippered pouch.

    Colored my hair.

    For wet Wednesdays soup it was a slow cooker black bean. Our guest was a little unsure when they saw it but ate a huge second bowl 🙂

    I was gifted packages of cookies from work, along with some other non food items.

    I hope everyone has a calm week!

  31. We have been cooking for almost every meal this week. I bought chicken for 38 cents a lb for leg quarters last week. With it we made white bean chicken chili with dried beans. Chicken curry twice; once to have as sandwiches, once to use up our lettuce that I bought for 88 cents. Baked Italian chicken and potatoes with some pickled cucumber salad. We ate this twice. Tarragon chicken salad. My husband took chicken sandwiches to work for lunch. My husband made homemade yogurt. We bought some mushrooms for 78 cents a container and will be eating those very soon. We bought broccoli salad mix for 78 cents as well. And, 3 containers of fresh salsa for 78 cents each that we used to make chicken quesadillas and chicken enchiladas this week. I have some cilantro that we will put over the chili tomorrow to finish it. I made hard boiled eggs for snacks and had apples and peanut butter for snacks. I bought the apples 3 lbs for 88 cents. We also had German pork burgers on New Years with some Polish Kraut, Yum! I ate oatmeal, Maltomeal, and bean soup for breakfast this week. Fruit and homemade pudding for snacks and dessert. I was careful to turn off lights. Oh yeah, we also had black eyed peas with andouille sausage, canned corn and tomatoes with peppers a couple days. I’ve been reading a library book little bits at a time. I read half of it one day and am not reading it as fast now. I love cooking a pot of beans with spices and other good stuff on the stove. It smells so good and makes the kitchen feels cozy. Soup is definitely my favorite food. All sorts of soup! I’m cooking soup right now and just enjoying the evening. I like a good steak too. But soup is wonderful and so much more frugal.

  32. I can’t think of specific savings this week, other than getting cash deposited into my savings account for three months of credit card spending rebate. Like many of you, I use my credit card for just about everything to get those extra dollars.
    We mostly cooked at home and ate more of our leftovers.
    I read books from the library and also watched “All Creatures Great and Small” and the second episode of “Around the World in 80 Days.”
    I’ve nearly finished knitted a sweater–the yarn and pattern were given to me.
    I decluttered a few drawers in my craft area. I will be giving some yarn to a friend and donating several more small skeins that neither of us will use.
    I had a few no drive days.
    I’m working on a couple of art projects using materials I already have on hand.
    I’m grateful to have remained healthy. We’ve had a few friends get Covid recently. So far we have been healthy through this last surge.
    I’ve set aside time to mediate every day this week as a New Year challenge.

  33. I have been watching Season 1 online of All Creatures Great and Small. I’m enjoying it.
    I bought family sized boxes of Post Original shreddies (the Canadian kind) on sale for $3.99 reduced from $5.48. Superstore. I also got some mushrooms, a cabbage, for my soup efforts beginning in about two days. I will be initiating my Instant Pot Nova blender/cooker…

    I missed being able to accept I’s kind offer of her going to the discount produce store. My driveway had become terribly snowy and didn’t know if my snow shovelling fellow could get it done in time. I didn’t want her having to lug things up through the snow drifts. Well, hopefully there will be another time. My snow shoveller gave me a free shovelling today as a Christmas gift. I had sent him a “tip”. He does many diverse things for me.

    I am trying to reduce food waste.

    I am not sure why one pours water over things that are going to freeze?

    Brandy, I’ve been enjoying your flower photos!

    1. You pour on the water after it freezes before the sun touches it. In Farmer Boy they save part of a corn crop like this. Once the sun came up, they quit.

      The coldest part of the day is right before dawn.

        1. I’m not sure either, but I definitely saw a difference on the lettuce and pansies! In some places where I only got water on part of the plant, the other parts withered away.

          1. Brandy- My Florida family told me they sometimes sprinkle citrus trees on nights that a rare frost is expected because the thin layer of ice insulates the trees. Something about them staying at 32 degrees inside the ice (and not dropping lower than 32 if the outside air temp is lower than 32). That they can take a light freeze but not much less than 32.

            1. It depends on the type of citrus and the size of the tree. Limes and grapefruits can’t really handle below 32 for much time at all. Meyer lemons can do a few hours at 28, which is a hard frost.Normally 28 or 29 for a couple of hours is the lowest we get.

              The problem is we had three days in a row at 26. I probably lost at least 2 new trees. They are looking very bad right now. It might be 3 trees.

          2. Hi Brandy and Ellie – You will have to think back to a chemistry class and the latent heat associated phase changes to understand why the water saves your plants. The water that you poured over your plants releases its latent heat as it begins to freeze. That extra heat keeps the plants from freezing. Citrus growers use the same technique to protect their crops when they are expecting an overnight freeze.
            Pam in Maine

        2. It’s a physics/chemistry thing! Melting/freezing water requires a surprisingly large amount of energy – melting ice releases this energy as heat. Enough to raise the temperature of the object it’s touching by about 5C. So, it won’t work if it’s super cold but bringing it back up just above freezing can save the crop.

          Science professor lesson for the day😊
          Lea

            1. No worries Pam! I love hearing how other profs word things – I always get ideas or learn a better way to phrase something.

              Lea

  34. I LOVE MozART! How To Impress A Woman is my favorite 😀
    You may want to check out Victor Borge and Rainer Hersch on Youtube as well if you don’t know them already.

    1. Victor Borge looks somewhat familiar; I think I have seen him once or twice. I looked them both up and will check them out!

  35. Our weather here , has finally shifted, and we have had a few cold nights. Its about 27 degrees and we still haven’t turned on the heat. Everyone has put on a sweatshirt, but we are comfortable. If sugar cookie complains ,I will turn the heat on immediately. I find that we always turned the heat on automatically in the winter whether we needed it or not. I have continued to not shop any clearance sales online for the holiday markdowns. I decided to drive and pick sugar cookie up from her winter holiday with her extended family. Flying wasn’t in her best interest. I packed snacks and water to save on snack stops. I also took a nap while waiting to meet up with her. That saved on a hotel bill. I drove for a total of 14 hours. Our holidays were filled with illness and a death. We plan on having a combination birthday- holiday party to make it up to my daughter. Her Christmas was very solemn. My purchases were limited this month. I bought some dish soap and a few assorted sponges. The puppy will probably go blind in her other eye. That may also entail removal at some point. I will continue to mind my budget carefully in anticipation of her vet bill. This week we enjoined 6 pounds of lamb. That was something new to us and not anything I would have ever purchased. At $18.00 a pound it was delicious. Baby Henry has covid as well as his new baby sister. I dropped off a box of snacks and fruits for him at his front gate. I rescued 6 lbs ground turkey, 5 lbs organic chicken breast , bacon and a ridiculous amount of fruits and veggies. I never even knew how much I loved brussel sprouts. I have several birthdays coming up. I have pulled birthday ,sympathy and Valentine’s cards for sugar cookie to send out. It seems we have every thing we need and more. I am always in amazement at what we pull from the dumpster. A bottle of Downy, tide pods, huge bag of dogfood and cases of hostess snack cakes. I have definitely evolved from what I once was. I’m a blooming flower in my old age.

    1. how do you know where to dumpster dive and where it is legal. I have heard of this but never knew where to try this at

      1. I drive down the back alley behind the stores on occasion. Some dumpsters are locked or have a fence around them w/ a lock. Drug stores usually have a sign that says Private Property or something to that effect on their trash containers. It is hit or miss here in Texas. I have never climbered into the trash container as I think that is dangerous. Often times there are things on the top that can easily be retrieved. I also drive by the apartments where I used to live. People who are moving out often leave nice things near the dumpster. I was in need of some new pots & pans. I found a nice set of Rachel Ray nonstick cookware outside said dumpster. I also found an Ethan Allen coffee table which I gave to my sister. It had some scratches but I think they can be covered. Ethan Allen makes wood furniture not faux wood. Of course all were cleaned & sanitized. I suppose it is a hobby of mine called “urban foraging”. If I don’t see a sign then I figure the items are available for the talking.

        1. Brown marker works on wood scratches sometimes. I learned that from a mover when I was a child and they asked me if I had a brown marker they could use. They then covered the scratch by coloring it in!

    2. I remember about 2 years ago I walked into Walmart to find no vegetable seeds just before the end of spring. There had been bunches the day before so I asked a worker where they went and I was told they were thrown away in the dumpster., I was in utter shock/disbelief to think they were just dumped. In my way of thinking they should have been donated or deep discounted or even given away free. so many could have benefited.

  36. Your lemons are so beautiful; it is hard to believe someone somewhere is actually picking those off trees while we are in the throes of storms:) The metal work is amazing, too. What makes the second color of steel your husband is using? We could not use steel here at all, but I am just curious.

    Money-saving things this week were small things, my usual things. When we went on a trip for a doctor’s appointment, we brought some of our own prayed-for water from home. i neglected to plan ahead enough to have a lunch prepared, so we fasted that day–not very beautiful. We charged the phone in the car using the electricity that the car produces that would go to waste anyway. We combined the trip with an outdoor visit in the rain with a relative and talked to another 90ish relative from outside through an open door–not lovely but better than nothing, and we delivered some raw cashews we had picked up for her on another trip. We used the opportunity to stock up on groceries a little from WinCo and bought liquid hand soap at BiMart for $3.77 for a refill size bottle. We bought the rest of our groceries and sale items we wanted, that were Kroger brand, from Fred Meyer, aka Kroger, on their first Tuesday of the month senior discount on Kroger brand items day. We didn’t plan to go back to the store except for produce the rest of the month, if we can help it. We filled the car with gas at the cheaper location while we had the chance and had two new tires installed at WalMart because the wires were sticking out of the two back tires, oops. Tomorrow, we have to go to another place to get the front end aligned. Fortunately, we could do that because we have been saving a little every month for car repairs and maintenance, among other things. While at WalMart I bought a ball of cotton yarn and a crochet hook for a granddaughter who wants to learn to crochet. I sat in the waiting area and started a dishcloth because I thought maybe it would be easier for her to learn in the middle of the work than to start a foundation row. I don’t really crochet, but since the granddaughters wanted to learn, I looked it up and taught them what I found out. They had been watching YouTube videos, but I think it was easier sitting on my lap with my hands demonstrating it right in front of her and then her trying it. One girl caught on very quickly some time ago; now the other one wants to try it. They want to crochet lace doilies, so I guess I do, too. At Goodwill I was able to buy a nice, fairly warm winter jacket for a granddaughter for $8, four really nice damask vintage cloth napkins, and a perfect crystal salad bowl for $10 that I will give as a gift this summer. The next day I baked four loaves of whole wheat bread made from freshly ground Prairie Gold. When the bread was done, two pie pans of cinnamon rolls made by rolling out bread dough, spreading margarine on the dough, sprinkling on cinnamon, smearing “no sugar added” cherry pie filling out of a can, bought at BiMart once upon a time, sprinkling on slivered almonds, and then rolling up and cutting for cinnamon rolls went into the oven. When the cinnamon rolls were done, I turned off the oven and slipped in a cookie sheet of granola I made with Brandy’s recipe. The granola turned out great. I took Brandy’s advice about letting the granola cool before stirring, so it would stay kind of chunky. The granola was a big hit with my family here. I had thought about putting the granola in the food dehydrator and wondered if it would cost less than the oven before I decided to try to use the residual heat from the oven. I found a website to calculate cost at joteo.net/electricity-usage-calculator/electricity-usage-of-a-food-dehydrator. I am happy with the wind-up, non-electric clock I was given for Christmas. I would like to get less and less dependent on electricity because of cost, and the memory of some dayslong power outages when I didn’t even know what time it was because I was dependent on the oven and microwave clocks is still with me. I studied sewing and soapmaking (the granddaughters want to make pretty soaps–they will have to stick to melt and pour soap until they are older) on Craftsy and YouTube this week, but I did not do so well with my goal of no food waste. I will just have to keep trying with that. We watched part of a program from libertyandhealth.org, and we read a book called Song of Courage by Ernie Holyer aloud for entertainment.

    1. I had to look at the photo to see what you meant by two colors. I think you mean the stripe on the cured pieces? That is just where there was pressure put on it as it went through the bending process. It all gets cleaned after that and then painted, so it will just be one color.

      I wear a watch every day. I know some people like to use their phone to check the time but I don’t have my phone on me all the time. I love having a watch, especially in the garden or when I’m out running errands.

    2. I taught a granddaughter to crochet. She will be 12 on her birthday this month. She is great at crocheting and makes up her own designs to crochet. She makes a lot of gifts. She crocheted me a beautiful purse for Christmas.

  37. 1. Found two succulents on sale at Kroger for $2. They came in a pretty planter too!
    2. Made a diy plant hanger so my new plants can get maximum sun without cats knocking them over.
    3. Made it through Covid pretty cheaply: free drive thru test and at home OTC meds, no doctor bills thankfully.
    4. I gave my mom a Publix gift card we received as a holiday gift from my husband’s company to pick up groceries for us during our quarantine time.
    5. Fix a sagging door with new screws and a well placed shim.
    6. Canceled our reservations for a cabin before we had to pay a penalty. Since we had Covid, the manager was pretty flexible.
    https://thethriftyeducator.com/2022/01/11/frugal-things-35/

  38. Thank all of you who responded with suggestions about our outrageous utility bill. It helps tremendously and, hopefully, we can implement some of them. I just love this group! How lucky we all are to have each other and Brandy!

  39. We had snow and ice two days last week, so I was home. I did some cooking, laundry and decorated for valentine’s day. I discovered last year that decorating my mantel and tv table brings me joy, so I do it for me. Read some library books and when I go this week I am going to check on the new languages software the library has. I want to learn something new. We have started a new bible study at church on Sunday afternoons, we are studying about the Sabbath. My niece is expecting in May, so I am looking at baby things – who knew they are so expensive. I have some friends and co-workers with Covid, trying to be more diligent in taking precautions. Gas here in West Tennessee is $2.99 a gallon. Thank you to all that comment and Brandy for hosting this site.

  40. We ate the majority of our meals at home, although we did pick up takeout a couple of times. Meals at home included Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and green beans one night and egg noodles the next, quesadillas, chicken and steak soft tacos with rice and beans, homemade burgers, and lots of combos with leftover Christmas ham! Each year I buy a spiral cut ham – this year I had found one at Aldi on markdown after Easter and froze it – and use Brandy’s honey baked ham recipe from this site. It always comes out so delicious. We had ham sandwiches and made a ham and cheese quiche for a weekend breakfast with some of the leftover meat, and froze the rest. We used the ham bone for a pot of pinto beans (an annual tradition). From that we had beans and cornbread one night for dinner, then leftover pinto beans added into chili (Texas sacrilege!), and froze the rest for refried beans at a later date.

    We have discovered a new show (new to us) called “Escape to the Chateau” on our local PBS channel. It is a British-made TV show about a family who purchased a crumbling French chateau and are restoring it themselves. Very fascinating and the scenery of course is lovely. Almost makes me jealous, although the level of work seems incredibly daunting. I hope our station continues to show the entire series, as I understand it is several seasons along now.

    We continue to take our lunches and snacks to work. Most days I go home at lunch (I work less than a mile from home) to eat lunch at home. I also typically use that time to stay caught up on household chores, such as putting laundry in the dryer or emptying the dishwasher. I did my own manicure at home. One of our neighbors moved out and we received some useful storage bins they did not want to take with them. I used them to better organize our laundry room and some items in our guest room closet.

    Our weather has been cooler lately (lows around freezing, highs in the 50s) so we have been able to keep the air conditioner off for a while. We almost never have to turn the heat on, even when it is in the 20s outside, so that is nice and should reflect a good savings on the electric bill this month. We are supposed to warm back up later this week, but should still be able to keep the air off and use windows as needed.

    I hope everyone here has a wonderful week!

  41. We started the New Year with sickness in three households. It’s been pretty rough around here but slowly coming out the other side. As well, my daughter’s car needed new coil packs after a second one went out. It was a hefty, very hefty repair bill. I have been trying to guide her in finances and she’d just put aside her first deposit to her new emergency fund. Needless to say the repair bill fell on us, but we will be paid back for it when her taxes are in. It certainly reinforced the idea that she needed an emergency repair fund! The night her car broke down we discovered that the roadside assistance program we’d been paying for thru our insurance was useless. I cancelled it and we are looking for a new program.

    While picking up her car, I ran into the grocery to pick up some fresh produce, milk, eggs. I wore a mask and avoided getting near anyone.

    Mostly the past week has been sitting about wishing I felt like doing anything, lol.

    The flowers I purchased on NYE are still going strong. I stripped dried leaves off stems and then trimmed up again and put them in fresh water. I expect these will last a few days, possibly a week or so more, as the house is fairly cool and that’s always conducive to the flowers keeping well.

    I had several ready made entree meals in the freezer and used those to help me out while not feeling well.

    With the illness, aside from emergency rescue and having to attend to picking up car we’ve just been at home and gone nowhere at all. Typical of us anyway, to be honest but it does save a good bit of gas and pocket change.

    1. Terri,
      We’ve had good luck with AAA. We haven’t ever had to have our car towed, but several times our daughter has needed it. I’ve driven up to where she was and called for the tow from her vehicle. AAA roadside insurance is not on the vehicle but on the person with the policy. I have the card in my name. When we go to our son’s house we go through hundreds of miles of “the middle of nowhere.” To be towed out there would be a fortune so that’s why I got it. Just getting our daughter towed several times has really been the cost of the insurance. (She saved money because we used it though obviously we didn’t since we paid for the insurance.)

  42. Làst week we got the virus as well as several of our kids and grandkids, all from different exposures. So no shopping or gas used. It pays to have stocked pantries and freezers, people asked if we needed things but we were fine. We rested and read books. Neither of us had any appetite and I had made three soups right before we got sick, so we just ate those for all our meals. After two days I was ready to get off the couch and started cleaning out two closets and my pantry. I hauled things off the shelves, cleaned them and repainted. It feels wonderful, as with family here for so long we didn’t do our annual New Year’s organization projects. I did turn the thermostat up to 60 and we wore several layers and used our portable heaters; it wasn’t too bad. The gas bill came for December and even though rates are higher, with the lower furnace temperatures our bill was still lower!
    Brandy, the photo of your husband and his work is wonderful, it is just lovely!

  43. So many sick people! It enforces my decision to watch church on a Livestream at home. My husband goes, but he’s in a corner alone interpreting.

    I always enjoy the serenity that January is. I’m not even Christmas person but you can’t avoid the hype. Everything is crowded, people are stressed, traffic is up and patience is sorely lacking. We even got screamed and honked at for not running a stone cold red light!! Apparently the crazy guy behind us thought the light had been red long enough. Since nobody was coming on either side, he wanted us to just drive thru it! When we didn’t, he pulled around next to us and started hollering and waving indecent gestures to us while he ran the red light. Jiminy crickets!! Where’s a hard nosed state trooper with an inflamed hemorrhoid when you need one?! I know, I know. That isn’t very nice. But sheesh!

    We did a lot of freezer raiding last week. We scrounged soups, quiche, ham, and a Taco rice creation I invented to use up leftovers back in November. On one particularly cold night, I made a pot of chicken noodle soup. It was sooo good!! I wish I could make matzo balls like my friend’s mom. Got some great deals at the market. 16 lbs. of oranges for just under $10. Half gallons of milk for 87¢, and Crest toothpaste for 77¢. We didn’t buy anything else.

    Our gas bill has been low so far. We’re having a crazy warm winter. It gets below freezing at night, but is sunny and in the 40s and 50s during the day. The heater never really goes on between about 10-5 during the day. But we desperately need rain or snow!! Dry and very windy. We’re shriveling up out here on the prairie. Our heated bird bath has a steady stream of wildlife.

    I’ve started brainstorming ideas for next fall and Christmas. I’ve already started birthday cards for future months. And I will join the other women in their quest to banish UFOs from the craft room! I am guilty! On the bright side, I’m not as bad oneof my friends who sees an idea on Pinterest, runs out and immediately buys what she needs to make it……only to find the bag buried under something 6 mos. later……and has no idea what it was she wanted to make! She makes me laugh, but I cringe at the money spent even when I’m the lucky recipient of some of those goodies. I can thank her for my extensive felt, bead, and wood doo-dad collections.

    Thanks for everyone sharing. I hope you sick ones are feeling better!

  44. A very frugal way to make a malt-0 meal or Cream of wheat type hot cereal is to grind wheat berries/wheat seed not as fine as flour (more course like salt or sand) and then cook in the same way as those cereals (I use milk). You can then add what ever flavorings you like. Of course it will not have the added in iron but it costs only pennies this way.

  45. Andrea Q- I went 7 years without a working oven. There is 6 of us- my husband and myself and 4 kids at that time were under 9.

    *We purchased a counter top convection oven that has 2 racks fits a store bought take home and bake pizza. We used it for pizza, green bean cassrrole, egg cups, chicken nugget and French fries, bake potato.
    *In general, I do not bake. Since we don’t eat a lot of dairy I also rarely make casseroles.
    *We ate a lot of stove top meals. (Before insant pot was around.) Stir fried rice/hamburger helper type meals and pasta. Soups and lots of salad and raw veggies. Also the crock pot. My go to crock pot recipes are tater tots casserole and chili.
    I hope this helps!

  46. *Based on what readers said here, my husband purchased me a warm set of sheets. I am loving it! I am using my exercising subscription. I made my own eye glass cleaner.
    *Food front we ate our left overs including taco lentils for dinner and oranges the kids did not want to eat I dehydrated them. That makes a lovely sweet snack!!
    *My husband had a job where my family lives. Usually he needs his work truck that is a 2 seater. This time he did not so we took the family vehicle. The kids and I enjoyed being able to go see my Mom and Aunt. We packed both our breakfast and lunch and got Little Caesar’s Pizza for dinner once we got home.
    *We rarely get snow. We got over 7 inches the end of last week! When the kids went outside to play I covered their two layers of socks with a shopping bag and put a rubber band around it to help keep their feet warm in their regular play shoes.

  47. I didn’t know that it can get that cold in the desert! It is impressive how you knew what to do under the circumstance!
    This week we received our electricity bill for December and it turned out to be FIVE TIMES our normal for December. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but my heart just broke a little over this! We did everything we could to keep this bill low. Besides all the regular stuff(led lamps, tightened windows etc.) we also changed our Christmas Menu to reduce the cooking time, I only baked one kind of cookies (vs the traditional 7 kinds), we only used one star in one window as a decoration and let it double as a light for that room, the one lit room upstairs. We had some coasy candle light evenings by the fireplace in our otherwise dark and cold house. I guess I hoped that it would get us off the hook during the national energy crisis. But the sum just came to be so large! I am also very grateful that we did what we did, I don’t want to imagine what would it be if we just carried on as usual. On a more positive note: my kids just loved the advent and Christmas this year. My 9yo gave me some glimpses into his perspective and he said that our house is much like the Hogwarts and other such lovely things. He didn’t seem to notice that it was colder in his room, but he noticed how nice it was that I put hot bottle in his bed in the evening. My 2,5 yo never knew about all the cookies we didn’t bake, but he couldn’t stop talking about the ones we did bake! He was inspecting the gingerbread house daily and was so happy to crash it with a hammer and eat it on the New Year’s Day! Amazing how their thankful attitude made this such a special time.
    This week I resolve to find 3 new ways to save on electricity. I hope that my good spirits will be restored and that I can face the increasing challenges with grace.

    1. You are so very right–imagine what it would be if you hadn’t made those changes! I am sure that most people did not and have received a much larger bill than you did.

      Sadly, this issue is happening all over the world.

      Only a little over 100 years ago, basic necessities of life cost a greater percentage of one’s income than they have for the last three generations. I think the world is about to see that change. The price of used items (cars, clothing, electronics, and furniture) is going up quite a bit and the luxuries that have become daily norms for the last three generations may be about to end as food, housing, fuel, and utilities go up dramatically. Hopefully, we will all find new ways to be better stewards of what we have and find ways to make things stretch more. The World Bank is predicting a “grim outlook” on the economy–it’s definitely a worldwide issue.

    2. Kinga, you may want to have your furnace checked. That happened to us one year, and the furnace needed to be repaired. Or make sure it is not running on emergency heat (if you have that type of furnace)

    3. I loved reading about your children’s reaction to your efforts to make Christmas special and them comfortable. Years later, I can remember my mother putting a hot water bottle in my bed when it was very, very cold, and how well taken care of I felt when she did that. Well done. Please don’t be discouraged. Warmer weather and longer days will come.

      1. Thank you for your kind words, Elisabeth! It is encouraging to be in such a sweet company when sometimes days seem so long and lonely in this season of life.
        Sandy, thanks for the tip. I checked our boiler just to be sure but it was fine. We are experiencing the biggest energy crisis in southern Norway in history of this country. It is rather silly actually, because we produce our own green energy here, but being connected to the European grid means that we have to adjust prices to the marked. Problem is that here we don’t use any other fuel. Everything is run by that green electricity: cars, heating, cooking and so on. We don’t have fittings for gas for example. Now that the bills came in we already see how it affects our daily life, for example our skating ring by the local school is only lit until 6 p.m. The skiing path across the forest is no longer lit by any lamps. For us this matters a lot because those are the things we get to do in my village during this endless months of mostly night. Not to mention how it will affect prices on all the goods which we drive around in our electric cars! The government pays part of the bill for everybody, which was super costly, and now they are trying to do something about the rules of export but it will take months with high bills for all of us here.

        1. Kinga, as the state of California is leaning towards doing the same thing (they banned gas stoves in new buildings, making restaurant owners furious, and banned gasoline mowers, as well as trying to go all electric with cars0 this is a very interesting perspective.

          I was living in France and then Switzerland as the E.U. came into existence. I remember seeing the ads for groceries in France the year before showing prices from francs to euros so people would get used to it. I worried about how it would affect economies.

          And now you have just shown us how very interesting it is when it comes to the market price of electricity.

          I have been thinking about your dilemma all week and wondering what ways you will find to save more electricity. I have been thinking about more ways myself to see if there is something else to suggest for you.

    4. So nice to see a Norwegian commenting here! My grandmother came to the US from Norway in the early 1950s but I still have several great aunts and cousins there with whom I keep in regular contact. Two of my great-aunts moved in together last year as a way to look after one another and to save money. They meet all challenges with creativity and humor as you seem to do, as well. In fact, everyone in this group does that so you are in good company. Will look forward to reading your comments in the future. 🙂

  48. We have used AAA in the past and used it for several tows. We paid for both of our daughters too, as they were traveling to and from college in other cities. They also have excellent maps for free (there is a limit) and I picked up many of them at their office over the years when planning trips. We also used AAA discounts for hotels, etc.

    With the discussion of dumpster diving, some of your readers may be interested in the WaterBear website. I watched a documentary about food waste and it was eye opening. It was about a couple who decided to live on food that was thrown out from grocery stores, etc. because it was past the expiration date, fruit/veggies that looked funny, etc.

    1. Dawn in the Deep South – THANK YOU for the tip about the Waterbear site and the documentary! I went and looked it up and we watched “Just Eat It” tonight. The whole family found it really interesting, though sad and shocking as well hearing the numbers and seeing those dumpsters full of food. It was really fun hearing how the children responded to those chocolate bars at Halloween though! I found a series I want to watch on there too.

      My guys got a real kick out of me sharing how I found out about this through Brandy’s site, and telling them at length how I enjoy reading the list of items saved by Lilliana and Sugar Cookie in their dumpster diving adventures. They were so impressed! So thanks all for this awesome community. <3

  49. I believe the book The Heirloom Garden was recommended on this blog or by a reader in the comments some months ago. My library did not have it but I requested it and it just became available. It is such a touching and meaningful book. We share so many interests and hobbies amongst this group that I have found many books to my my liking but have not shown my appreciation. I read the comments and come back several times per week to keep up with your lives. I do so appreciate Brandy for sharing her life and hobbies with us and all the frugal tips everyone shares.

  50. Listening to the broken oven stories gave me flashbacks to when we were remodeling our first starter home. We gutted the kitchen and it took months to finish. I set up a single electric burner and an electric skillet in a spare room and did all of my cooking on those two appliances. It was challenging at times, but it’s amazing what you can get by with when necessary.

    Window plastic and thermal curtains really do work. We also took off screens and replaced them with glass storm windows every winter to add an extra cushion of air on the outside of our old single pane windows. My back door is a little bit warped from some water damage, so I hang a large thrift store quilt in front of it. In the bedroom that sits above the garage, we use a small electric space heater.

    Lands End had a sale of up to 70% off, so I bought my daughter a down winter coat for her upcoming birthday. I also found a down vest that was deeply discounted. I like to layer this under my coats when it gets really cold out.

    We are grieving after losing my husbands youngest brother over the holidays. It’s been a sad and strange month.

    1. Many condolences to your family, Stacey – so sorry for your loss.

      I took advantage of a recent Land’s End sale as well, stocked up my son on t-shirts, got myself some much needed pajama pants, and two more throw blankets to keep the chills off us. Glad you found some useful goods there as well!

    2. I’m so sorry to hear of your brother in law’s passing. I have lost loved ones over a holiday and it certainly makes the celebration of that holiday bittersweet. I sent up a prayer for your families healing and peace in this new year, Stacey.

  51. Hello friends, long time no comment! I read every post, in fact I read the archives and comments daily to keep myself motivated and inspired, but I have neglected to comment.

    Some frugal things of late:
    *I decided to participate in the Three Rivers Challenge. It is a pantry clean out challenge and can be modified to each family/home depending on their individual goals. I love the idea of using up what I have stored in my freezer/pantry and things I have canned in order to save money. Also, why preserve all those things if not to use them?! So far it’s going great. My exception is that I am allowed to buy fresh dairy or produce as needed. I don’t expect I will need much. That being said, cottage cheese is high on my list. I am going through a nasty flare up of my Crohn’s Disease and eating is a struggle. Nothing sounds good, nothing feels good to eat, most things upset my insides. I discovered however that cottage cheese is easy on the tummy and doesn’t make me nauseated! Plus it has lots of protein so I have been feeling a little more awake since I started eating it. For this reason I will allow myself to buy cottage cheese as needed.
    *My dad smoked a chicken for me. I bought 5 chickens a couple of months ago from a local family farm. It was definitely not cheap, but I consider it an investment in my health as well as in my community. I put them in the freezer and have plans to make one every few weeks. I don’t eat red meat or pork, but eat poultry sparingly and fish if my dad has caught it. My dad was so pleased with himself using his new smoker to prepare the chicken for me. I was grateful to have a delicious new take on it! I took all the meat off the bones today and put the bones in the freezer to make stock when I have enough veggie scraps again.
    *I made chicken stock last weekend with a chicken carcass that my mom saved for me, and all the veggie scraps I had on hand. I haven’t bought stock in probably a decade as homemade is just so much tastier in my opinion! And so very easy to make. Plus it makes the house smell cozy, if that makes sense hehe.
    *Reading library books and watching Netflix or DVDs for entertainment.
    *I had an MRI last week and I spoke with the billing office at the hospital prior to the appointment. They give a 10% discount if you pay for it before the appointment itself, so I used my HSA card to do just that. Saving me $150, yikes!
    *A dear friend of mine is pregnant and feeling very ill on a daily basis. She commented how her daughter was not loving the picky bits meals they have been having because cooking smells are difficult for her at the moment. I happily offered to make a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs for her daughter (her very favorite meal) as I had all the ingredients on hand. Pasta bought in bulk at Winco, frozen sauce that I made last summer with my own tomatoes, and meatballs made with Impossible Meat that I had stocked up on a buy one get one sale at Kroger last summer. Because I haven’t been feeling well myself I have not been able to be as helpful or involved with my friend during her pregnancy as I would like. But cooking I can do! And her daughter’s school is just down the road so it’s easy for her to pick up a meal on their way home. It made my heart so happy to be able to do that for her and I hope to do it again as needed.
    *Made treats at home. Finding creative ways to use up random ingredients I have on hand. Tomorrow for example I’ll make coffee cake with leftover sour cream that was used for baked potatoes. I’m not mad about a reason to make cake!

    As always, thank you Brandy for hosting such a kind, supportive environment for us all. I am so grateful to all of your for the inspiration I get from you daily. It’s nice to know there are like minded individuals all over the world who are rooting us on. Take care friends, be safe.

    1. Morgan, I enjoyed your post very much. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t have smoked chicken in a while, it sound delicious!!! I just discovered the Three Rivers Homestead on YouTube yesterday!!! I like it a lot. Made me consider getting that freeze dryer 😊

  52. Thank you everyone and Brandy for such inspirational and informative posts, I enjoy reading and utilizing the ones I can. I typically comment infrequently, but am needing some accountability for achievements, I think sometimes having actions in writing make them worth more and intend to post them.

    *like many of you, I live in an old home (though it is not too large at 1100 sq. feet, bungalow) that really needs new insulation or insulation in general. Along with insulated curtains on many of the windows, we also used old rolled towels in our more drafty windows. In addition, our closet in our bedroom is very cold and the gap under the door lets in a steady stream of cold air. I have a rolled bath rug in front of it. It has helped immensely. I need a draft dodger for our front door and the closet next to it, while I would like to make some, my sewing machine really needs a tune up and I am unable to use it without snapping needles :(. I continue to hunt at our thrift store for some, until then I continue to use old rolled towels and hang coats on the knob on the front door.

    *our natural gas company offered a discount and gift card by participating in a program that adjusts our thermostat during “peak” hours. I received a $80 Visa card and used that for Christmas gifts. We heat with gas, our hot water tank is gas, and my stove/oven is also. I am already on the budget plan so that my payments are consistent monthly. I never used to do that but with my husband and my income are variable, I really wanted/needed to have an idea of what the cost would be consistently. I set my electric up the same way. The averages are updated every six months.

    *my husband works from home, bonus of Covid. He has been home since March of 2020. The last six months he has needed to go into the office one day per week, we are very fortunate. Only 3 people out of the entire company were given permission. This has saved immensely on gas money for his vehicle. He has taken his lunch for years so no cost savings there. We do go through a bit more coffee though, lol.

    *I work from home part time evaluating individuals on their English comprehension for enrollment in graduate programs in the United States. I have an electric fireplace in our office that I used quite frequently last year just to stay a bit warmer as I am in the coldest room of the house aside from our basement. I decided this year, I would try to use it a bit more sparingly and just pile on a blanket on my lap and an extra pair of socks. On all but the windiest days this has worked so far.

    *I was given the opportunity to do additional paid training (8 Hours) to continue with another type of evaluating I do for the California school district.

    *My other job is delivering groceries for Shipt. I’m always on the look out for markdowns while I am shopping and have scored some great deals that I might have otherwise missed.

    *Groceries, I’ve been taking advantage of Meijer pickup as there are additional money off coupons available for that versus me just picking up the items and using the limited coupons. I just place the pickup time for when I am doing my last shop and it gets popped in my back seat to keep the “orders” separate. Shipt prices are more than I am willing to pay, in addition there is no tipping for Meijer pickup, for the Shipt orders I would be tipping appropriately.

    *meals: getting better at meal planning, I used to be awesome when my kids were younger and very involved in sports. Then I slacked and continued to slack for years. We rarely eat out but the stress of coming up with an idea/s last minute was getting to me.

    *my in ‘laws gave our puppy a gift card for Christmas, “we” purchased him a new leash and collar with it :).

    *my 19 year son is moving out, for Christmas most of his gifts were geared towards living on his own and we have shopped our basement and my in’ laws to fill in some items. He just bought a new to him car, I found an old auto zone gift card in my desk and gave that to him. I’m sure he will need it. The car needs some love. The engine light came on while he was driving it home from the people he bought it from, instead of panicking he took it to auto zone and used the free service that checks to see what the code means. He contacted Our friend that works on cars let him know, that friend said that the fix can wait a bit. He is out of town right now but will help him when he gets home along with helping him change the oil (his garage is set up for working on cars).

    *date night with my husband, we used a movie gift card and spent $2.50 on the service fee and then picked up dinner on the way home at Outback, we had gift cards there and it was enough for dinner, cocktails and the tip. So dinner and a movie for $2.50 (we’ve had these gift cards for 3-4 years).

    Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

    Mara

    1. Mara, I would love to know more about your job evaluating graduate students. I have been considering applying for an online job evaluating teacher portfolios. I’m a National Board Certified teacher, so I have a bit of experience with portfolios.

      Brandy, would you ever consider doing a post about side hustles? I’m wanting to find something I can do for a bit of extra money, preferably from home. Would like to hear from others what they’re doing in that regard.

      1. Hello Dianna,

        When I originally started with the company I work for, I “graded” the essays for the SAT. They are uploaded and sent out to individuals to rate. Eventually my company lost the contract to another company (lower bid) and I transitioned to rating individuals who take the TOEFL exam. Essentially I am determining how well the student understands English and how well they are able to covey the information they are being questioned on. The company only requires that the rater have a bachelors degree, preferably in the humanities. I listen anywhere from 8-32 hours a week, it just depends on how many responses there are. I actually found the job online searching for at home jobs back in 2016, between applying, paperwork and training it took about a month to start. The company pays every two weeks via direct deposit, takes out taxes, and I do have sick pay (I don’t know how to use it, lol…I’ve got almost 40 hours and need to figure it out). If my shift is cut with less than 24 hours notice, I still get paid for at least 1/2 of the shift. If I am working a shift and responses run out, I will get paid for the remainder of time. I know, kinda crazy isn’t it? I do have to give my availability almost a month in advance, but if something comes up I can remove myself from the schedule with no issues. I live in Michigan and my coworkers for the day can be from anywhere across the US. I make $15/hour.

        While you did not ask, the rating I do for the California School district is the for the ELPAC test that is administered to grades K-12, I only do that a couple times a year and the process is slightly different since it is for children and the test is evaluating something slightly different and for different reasons. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

    2. If you are still cold in your office, trying sitting with an electric heating pad behind your back. It can be a big help keeping you warn without spending much.

      1. Funny you should suggest that, I tweaked my back a bit and have been using a heating pad. Sometimes I remember to bring it with me from the living room, other times not so much.

  53. I love coming here each week, even if just to see your beautiful photos! I cannot imagine picking lemons like that right off my own tree. They are gorgeous!

    Last week we had something going on pretty much every night, so it was super busy! We ate out a couple of times, made sure to use coupons each time. I’ve been saving milk jugs and the styrofoam cups from to-go drinks to use for seedlings. I used Kohl’s Cash to get my husband a new pair of pajama pants, about $4 OOP. It snowed that day, and he put on those cozy pants as soon as he got home from work. That made me very happy The next day we had a snow day out of school, so I made muffins and banana bread using up pantry items. The baked goods lasted less than 2 hours. Wow, the appetite of a 12 year old boy is something to behold.

    I used Target driveup to pick up a few things we needed, instead of going in store. All frugality seems to go out the window when I go inside Target.

    While we sat at a wrestling tournament, I leafed through a seed catalog and circled some new varieties I wanted to try. I asked my husband if he worried about the cost each time I circled something. He said no because he knows that money will be back in his pocket when he doesn’t have to buy the food at the store. That man knows my love language. 🙂 He mentioned that he is thinking of clearing some of the yard to make in-ground raised rows for the garden. Right now we have 4 raised beds; we them put in last year and they’re already falling apart.

    We went to an estate sale and got 4 dozen jelly jars for $6. My husband loves to give away strawberry jam after we can it each summer, and I’m always too stingy about the jars. At that price, I don’t mind sharing. Now I just need to make sure I order some lids.

  54. Living frugally in Portland, OR:
    – I really want to read Ann Patchett’s new book of essays (These Precious Days) but I have a stack of books from the library and from Christmas, so I put a library hold on it instead of purchasing. By the time I work through the stack, it will probably be my turn for a library copy.
    -A friend told me about a new app called Too Good to Go. You can buy “leftovers” from local restaurants at huge discounts usually as they are closing. We live close to lots of great eateries and I’ve been able to get lots of great stuff. I received $5 of Mexican food that fed us for two nights, two dozen bakery fresh bagels for $5 (I froze most of them), pastries, etc. It takes some time and logistics to get the food and the best deals aren’t available every day. I won’t go unless I have the time to pick it up by bike.
    -I was going to stop by Trader Joes this evening after work to pick up food for the weekend, but decided to save that run for another time. (I also wasn’t looking forward to battling crowds). I have a full pantry and time to cook and bake from scratch this weekend.
    -I purchased treasure i bonds with some saved cash. Current interest rate is just over 7%. The cash savings in my bank account is earning less than nothing if you factor in inflation.
    -A neighbor gifted us a pass to the Columbia Employee store (a hot commodity in Portland). I purchased new rain gear for the whole family deeply discounted. I haven’t felt so good about a purchase in a long time. The gear is top quality and looks great to wear. I know we will wear it for many many years.
    -My car needed a good inside cleaning. I looked up prices to have it detailed (one of my kids might have thrown up in it a few months back and sometimes I still think I can smell vomit) and decided to do the job myself. Not a professional job, but my car isn’t fancy. It does feel much cleaner though.
    -I saved much of my Christmas candy, and I’ve been enjoying a chocolate or two every day without buying any additional treats.
    -Discovered the wonders of Trader Joe’s Allepo sauce. My most frugal use for it is adding it to a pot full of homemade black beans to serve over rice for an uberfrugal meal. (Trying to keep our meat consumption down with such high meat prices!)
    -My mom gifted us a leftover case of LeCrois carbonated water. Definitely something fun to have in the house but not something I like to purchase.
    -I read A Girl From Yamhill last week. It is Beverly Cleary’s first memoir. I was very interested in it because she grew up in the Portland neighborhood where I now live. Most of her childhood spanned the Great Depression. It was interesting to see the things they did to save money (lots of homemade toys and games, homesewn clothing) but even moreso, it was interesting to see how neighbors helped each other out. Those who kept a positive outlook, were helpful to their neighbors, and tried to foster community definitely fared better than those who tried to “maintain appearances” or pretend they weren’t broke.

  55. I so enjoy reading all of the comments on this blog. Every reader here has something wonderful to contribute. Presently, I’m down with covid. Children tolerated it quite well, as well as my husband. I always seem to struggle getting better quickly, though, even of it’s just a minor cold.overall it’s been less severe than the last time I contracted it (my job is on a high risk setting, so getting it is to be expected, I’ve accepted that). Fortunately we had a number of easy to prepare items in the kitchen. We’ve eaten bean and cheese burritos, I’ve roasted a whole chicken and have made numerous additional meals off of that as well. One thing covid has brought us this month is a lower grocery and gas bill because I’m not out driving around spending money! 😂 I’ll take that win where I can get it. A good source of free entertainment are the seed catalogs that are slowly arriving in my mailbox. I love this time of year, being cozy in the house in a big sweater and blanket and dreaming of the garden to come. I DO choose to ignore the weeds when I think about that lovely garden, just like I do in the real life one, hehe!

  56. Sat down today; perused my seed catalogs; made my list and got online to order. Hello reality!! The dearth of seeds was astounding! Very akin to going to the grocery store! They were not lying when they said you should order early. And prices are considerably higher. So, good luck out there!

    1. I went to the nursery yesterday. Prices were considerably higher. My favorite employee told me she was just asked to change prices on everything. The hanging baskets that were $12.88 went up to $16.88. She thinks everything will go up another time before the big sales in a month from now.

      1. I have family in the nursery business. Everything has gone up for them as well. And many things they just can’t get.

        1. Yes, I’m sure it has. Last year there were things they couldn’t get, such as lilacs. I talked to the person who does all their ordering and she said they never could get any.

  57. I just thought of two things we do that are frugal. I’m afraid I will forget if I don’t write it now. My husband caulked around the floor of our tiny house. Eventually we will put a border around the floor. But for now, It helped keep the cold air from pouring in. The second thing I thought of is we save chicken feed bags and put them under the gravel for our walkway. It keeps the grass from growing through! We are saving the other chicken feed bags for our driveway. Then maybe it will save us from having to buy more gravel for a long time.

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