I purchased some pansies on clearance for $0.25 each and planted them in pots I already have, spending a total of $4.75. I skipped my usual fall planting of annuals this year due to the cost, so it was nice to get a few flowers for 80% off.

I replaced a leaking valve in my irrigation system myself. My husband showed me what to do and had me do it so that I could learn how to repair it.

I transplanted lettuce seedlings that had self-seeded in the garden to another spot in the garden where they have room to grow.

I said yes to some hand-me-down hoodies and jackets for the children from a family member.

I collected shower warm-up water in a bucket each day and used it water potted plants in the garden.

I accepted a few doilies and a small amount of fabric from someone who was getting rid of them. I don’t have a place to put more fabric right now, so I only took what I thought I could truly use at this time.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. I’ve been wrestling with a budget for this year. I think I’m arriving at something workable. The new spreadsheet took some time to learn, and going over spending so thoroughly is always eye-opening.

    We’re in California and there has been a lot of rainy days. I’ve taken advantage of two single days that have been dry to get my laundry done and hung outside. We always have racks of clothes drying inside.

    I sold a lamp, gave away several things, and have a couple more listed. Our daughter moved into her own apartment and the space in the house feels glorious! I’ve sewn several small and satisfying things and added legs to a short bookcase.

    Slow and steady.

  2. I have popped in to say yes I am still alive and I have been reading. The most frugal thing I have done is being unwell, in fact I have not been in any shop since Christmas. I am very glad I had a good stock of food in the house and plenty of precooked food in the freezer.

    About 40 years ago we looked at private health insurance, costed it out and decided to open a savings account and use this for private health when we needed it. The NHS is wonderful but can be very slow , 3 years in some cases and doesn’t offer all treatments. We always start with the NHS but when needed we can go private . In 40 years we are well in and there is still money in the savings. Private is not always possible for all operations. This week I looked at the monthly premium for a 70 year old, £162 ..The trouble is the NHS is on its knees at the moment so more people are going private, so the wait is longer, but hopefully I shall soon find out what I am ailing from and see an end to doctors waiting rooms.

    Look after yourselves

    1. So sorry you have been ill Chris – we have a similar system to the NHS in Canada and it too is struggling. I pay for private insurance to give myself more options and to cover things not on our Govt. plans – like dental care but it is getting to be more expensive as I get older and something that I need to look more closely at. Hope you get some answers soon and start to feel better.

      1. I too am sorry you’ve been ill Chris. When I retired, I could convert a private company plan into my own individual plan which like Margie from Toronto I pay for. Sometime I think it is foolish o have private health insurance when our provincial Blue Cross plan pays for all drugs for those over 65 but dental care plus a portion of eyeglasses are paid for. Since one never knows really what will happen to government health care, and since in the future, I’d be ineligible to qualify at an older stage and age for private insurance, I did acquire private insurance.
        If the federal government initiates a dental health plan, I may reconsider the private plan.

    2. Chris, so sorry to hear you have been unwell. Praying they find a permanent solution and you are soon back on your feet.

  3. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your photo is beautiful, there’s nothing nicer than white table linen. Good that you received some useful fabric and hand-me-downs, they were so useful to us when the children were growing.
    Inexpensive meals this week were homemade minestrone soup, slow cooker ox cheek casserole and pork knuckle slow cooked. I cooked once, we ate twice for all these meals.
    We picked carrots, parsnip, cabbage and lettuce from the garden.
    My husband put up another shelf in the potting shed with materials on hand and made two large pots for the garden by cutting off the bottoms of two plastic barrels. He planted them up with carnation plants grown from seed.
    Having reviewed Christmas spending I have increased savings for next Christmas by £10 a month. There isn’t any extra money so this will have to be shaved off the budget elsewhere.
    I tried on all my dresses and was happy that two now fitted better so they’re back in circulation. A couple of times I have sponged a small stain off clothing this week. I mended a hole in a woollen jumper by needle felting the hole closed.
    A daughter cleared her belongings and took what she still wanted. She left a couple of big bags and said I could take whatever I wanted. There were a couple of unused gifts which I might sell, the rest will be donated.
    We had a collection of thermal mugs and I knew some of them didn’t keep liquids hot enough but I couldn’t remember which ones. I did a test, leaving hot liquid in them for several hours and disposed of the failures. Space cleared in the cupboard too.
    I cut the front off Christmas cards for scrap notes.
    Stay safe everyone.

  4. I have been a long time reader and am challenging myself to contribute to the comments this year. Thank you, Brandy, for creating this beautiful blog which gives us a place to learn and share. Here goes!

    Used an assortment of random Christmas cards from previous years as thank you notes and hand delivered the cards when possible.

    Bought clearance Christmas cards to use next year, selected boxes of 24 cards which were the same price as the boxes of 16.

    Purchased clearance toys to use as Easter gifts for nieces and nephews.

    Purchased a clearance multipack of cute socks to divide up and use next year in our refillable Advent calendars for my college-aged daughters.

    Friends and I choose to get together to watch a movie and have home-baked pizza at my friend’s home rather than going out for dinner and a movie. We had a great time and all agreed we need to do this more often during our long Minnesota winter!

    Defrosted my deep freeze on a day when the outdoor temperature was in the single digits and took inventory of the contents. I used up several items to make energy bites and muffins for on the go breakfasts or snacks. I also used up frozen chicken carcasses and vegetable scraps to make soup. I am planning to do a pantry challenge of sorts when our daughters return to college at the end of January (until then I want to treat them to family favorites.) I am reviewing the freezer inventory (why do we have so many green peppers?!) and planning a list of meals that can be made using these items. Having a husband who will eat anything without complaint is super frugal!

    We used our remaining Covid test kits between Christmas and New Year’s so I ordered more free kits through the government.

    My husband and youngest daughter went on a ski trip this week and though not inexpensive costs were kept in check by selecting travel dates based on lowest airline ticket options, mending a zipper and pocket of ski pants rather than replacing, staying with family/friends rather than at a hotel, switching rental car reservation from 7 passenger to 5 passenger when notified family would be driving separately, packing some snacks from home, and hauling used ski equipment from home rather than renting.

    While the sewing machine was out to mend the ski pants, I also mended a pair of jeans and pajamas.

    Reused large and medium sized Amazon shipping bags as trash liners.

    Brought my lunch to work multiple times-big win! Eating out for lunch is my biggest frugal challenge.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Welcome Julianne. You did a lot of great frugal activities. And I agree that having a husband who will eat anything is a frugal blessing!

  5. I hosted a swap last weekend. I was able to declutter some unwanted things. I picked up a London Fog coat for myself. A pair of LL Bean boots and shoes for my son. He also chose a stress ball. A friend is moving and she gave me a Costco bag full of work attire. What I cannot use will be passed on. She also gave me several dresses that either had tags or were barely worn. I took my son to the dentist today and with his fabulous insurance I didn’t pay any out of pocket costs. I’m trying to decide how to use my airline mileage. There are many choices but I will lose the miles if I don’t use them soon. 🙁

  6. We went fishing locally, catching fish and crabs which we cooked and ate over two days.

    We harvested an abundance of produce from our garden, eating what we could, freezing some that are suitable to freeze and giving some away.

    I delegated a few very outstanding household chores.

    I cleaned up a problem space in our house, decluttering along the way.

    We received a lot of rain, negating the need to water the garden.

    We skipped grocery shopping.

    We read library books.

    We went for bike rides to the pump track, two parks and just around the neighbourhood. I caught up with a friend at one of the parks.

    My children played with neighbourhood children multiple times whilst the adults socialised.

    My family gratefully recieved dinner and we got to keep all the leftovers, which provided my lunch for two days and an abudance of meat for one family dinner.

    I booked a camping trip, whilst a 24 hour sale was on. The camp ground is about 45 minutes from our house. I will begin meal planning for it as it gets closer.

  7. Brandy, I also have a lot of fabric. I have plans for some sewing projects for gifts this year. I have a list.

    -I’ve used 18 jars of food this week. I also used from the freezer-3 hamburger buns languishing there, the last 2 cinnamon raisin bagels, 2 blueberry muffins, some sweet potato fries, and a package of cooked wild rice.
    -Christmas gifts were put away, thank you cards written and sent.
    -Only money spent at the grocery store was for whole chicken. They were 4/$20. I bought 4. A chicken will easily make 4-6 meals for us plus broth. That does cut it into my $50 budget for the month but that is a great price for many meals.
    -I started doing some embroidery on towels. They are chickens on some plaid windowpane towels, one red and white and one blue and white. I will use these for a gift sometime this year, probably for my friend that I buy my eggs from on her birthday. I have several car trips coming up so I will get time to work on them.
    -I was able to pick up 2 heads of cauliflower last week for $1.99/each instead of $6-$8/each normal price. I made and canned my mixed pickles. I got 6 pints. They have cauliflower (1 head), carrots, celery, onions (mine from the garden), and red peppers (mine from the freezer). Now they need to sit for a month or so before we eat them. I roasted the other one and froze 4 servings.
    -I canned the rest of the fresh cranberries in the refrigerator into juice. 1 cup cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar. Fill with boiling water and waterbath can. I got 3 quarts.
    -I pulled 3 gallon bags of tomatoes from the freezer. I made a batch of tomato basil soup and canned 11 pints plus had enough for supper on Sunday.
    -I ironed a grocery bag of tissue paper from Christmas gifts. Now that I use fabric bags for “wrapping”, I need tissue paper to protect some items. I have a shoebox full for next year so I am good and it was free!
    -Most of my Christmas gifts were either food gifts(love!) or useful items. I got a set of 6 gallon silicone ziplock bags. Love these! I also got new cutting boards, a small transistor radio, smart wool socks, an electric teapot, and a sewing machine cover. Small useful items. At my time in life I DO NOT need more things taking up space! Finally got these from under the tree and put away.
    -Creative uses for L/O- I had a 1/2 can of evaporated milk and about a cup of cranberry sauce in the refrigerator. I opened a can of pumpkin. With a 1/2 can of pumpkin I made what is equivalent to a 1/2 pie of custard. I baked it in a small casserole for dessert. The other half can of pumpkin along with the cranberry sauce made 8 jumbo muffins. 6 were put in the freezer in reused sandwich bags for grab and go breakfasts. We had a potluck on Friday night. I had 4 half pints of sweet and sour red cabbage. I made a small batch in 2021 and it was not our favorite. Instead of throwing it away, I used it in place of sauerkraut in a hamburger sauerkraut noodle hot dish. It turned out good, I came home with an empty casserole dish. They also ate my whole quart of pickled asparagus.

    Have a great week!

      1. Karen Mary, I like to keep several large receiving blankets and soft books in my stash for instant baby and/or shower gifts. I have nothing right now so would like to get a boy and a girl set done. I also know I will be doing some bowl coozies, some bags, perhaps a couple of purses. And I’m sure more things as I go thru my fabric stash. I will try to remember to add these accomplishments to my posts

      2. I sewed bow ties for my menfolk this Christmas and they were a big hit! I also want to sew some new festive cloth napkins, I’d love a gift like that, or table runners or placemats.

      3. I’m not Julie, but these are some of the simple things I have made for gifts–
        * Gardenpat posted this link for a rice bag a few years ago. https://sewcanshe.com/2014-12-16-diy-heating-pad-for-shoulders-and-neck/?format=amp My daughter-in-law absolutely loves hers. I slightly altered the size of the pieces in order to use 7 instead of 8. I have made several types of rice bags but this is my favorite.
        * I’ve made several sets of pillowcases using the pattern associated with the red and green print shown here. https://www.allpeoplequilt.com/magazines-more/million-pillowcase-challenge/our-top-20-pillowcase-patterns
        * Potholders and aprons. I’ve made several aprons with denim from an old pair of jeans. There are tons of free patterns on the internet for different styles. This is a great gift for guys who barbecue and cook.
        * Pajama pants paired with a $2/$2.50 T-shirt (on sale) from JoAnn’s. You can probably use a pair of bottoms as a pattern. Don’t forget to add hems and seam allowances when you cut.
        * Cloth napkins. I like to cut 18 inch squares and hem them 1/2 inch all around with a 1/2 inch turn under. I have also made a table runner.
        * I have made lots of scrunchies from Martha Stewart’s pattern (find online). Great stocking stuffers.
        * I have made several hand towels that hang on the oven door. It takes 1/2 kitchen hand towel and a scrap of cotton for the hanger. Lots of patterns on the internet.

      1. 2 medium onions
        3/4 c arrowroot powder
        1 6 oz can tomato paste
        1/2 c dried basil
        7 c chicken broth
        14 c tomato juice
        4 t salt
        4 T honey

        1-Put onions in the blender and process until they are liquid. Add to a stockpot with the arrowroot powder, tomato paste, basil, broth, and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
        2-Add salt and honey. Ladle onto jars. Wipe rims, apply flats and screw bands. Pressure can (whatever is recommended for your area-mine is 11#) for 20 minutes.

        This to me tastes so very close to Campbell’s. We can’t tell the difference and it is gluten free.

    1. Thank you for the idea of using cranberry sauce in muffins. Each year a friend gifts us homemade cranberry sauce, and I’m so happy to find a good use for the leftovers!

      We eat a lot of muffins at our house, and one thing that makes it quick and easy is to put the dry ingredients in a canning jar, with the list of wet ingredients and instructions taped to the outside.
      One night we had a family assembly party, and we put together several jars of blueberry muffin mix, chocolate pumpkin mix, and oatmeal cookie mix. We used Brandy’s blueberry muffin recipe, using powdered egg and powdered milk, adjusting the instructions to account for the extra water that needs to be added. It’s a great way for us to use some of the pantry supplies we have and to save time.
      We grow a lot of blueberries and freeze them for the winter so we have those on hand. Maybe I will add the cranberry sauce muffins into the rotation!

  8. Pansies are what my daughters call “happy flowers”. I’ve grown some from old seeds and I’m keeping them in a unheated greenhouse in the hope to make spring baskets as gifts. We where careful not to waste a scrap of food this past week. Any leftover vegetables where made into soup. When I used the oven to cook meat, I cooked the vegetables in Pyrex dishes in the oven so as not to waste gas by heating them on the stove.
    I repaired 2 pairs of trousers, a pillow case and dog toys. Most of my laundry was line dried but it was a nuisance as we have had a lot of showers this week. I did buy 2 warm tops and some thermal leggings on 50% reduction, they should last me years so a good investment. Also did multiple errands while going to hospital appointments to save on petrol, which does appear to be a little cheaper this week. Hope you have a good week.

  9. I figured out my liquid soap from a bar of soap problem! The secret seems to be to beat the living daylights out of it in a mixer. Once it has set up, I put it in the kitchen aid for 15 minutes, and whipped it until it was beautifully creamy soap!

    I packed food for our vacation. When we had to eat in airports I found the least expensive but filling option. (Austin was RIDICULOUS, but I found a $6 kids’ meal that satisfied).

    I made sub rolls instead of buying.

    And if anybody has an answer for how to delintify new towels without a dryer I’m all ears. I bought new towels but now the lint is everywhere!

  10. Pansies are one of my favorites! I’m happy you found such a great deal 💐
    *I had been sick, thought I was better but am sick again. Using otc medications and free entertainment: tv, library books, coloring books, and playing games.
    *more clearance: gift sets (example: reindeer book and stuffed animal- plan to give to my sister’s and brother’s families) for next Christmas, cheese and sausage box, and candy (saving for Valentine’s and beyond)
    *picked up a free painting kit for a virtual library class
    *my mom gifted me a new tote purse, dress, and some gnome decorations she was ready to pass along
    *paid an extra $250 toward mortgage principal
    *ate leftovers for days
    *ordered as many used rentals for my girls’ college textbooks as possible
    📍Grocery Store: just some Christmas clearance candy
    📍Buy Nothing Group: ace bandages, hand sanitizer, pill pouches, dentemp (was a grouped medical give); 2 Halloween baking kits (good through 2024); 3 bags of mini marshmallows, 3 bags of cotton balls

    Have a great week ❤️

  11. What a deal on the pansies! Nice to find something that brings joy for so little money.
    *I taught a class on basic human anatomy to the younger group (ages 6-7) at our homeschool co-op last week. My husband liberated a large roll of heavy paper from his previous employer about 10 years ago and we have used it ever since for various things. The children laid down on their piece of the paper and had a partner draw an outline of their body. On that, they glued paper copies of a few major organs and drew portions of their musculoskeletal system. I took some deer bones and a skull I have (no human bones lying around 🙂 ) and a small plastic skeleton intended for Halloween decoration my youngest son owns (pointing out it was not completely accurate but it worked as a visual aid.) I had them up and moving around a lot as we talked about the way muscle make bones move, etc. They were so enthusiastic, asked great questions and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. So, for no money and using materials I already had (plus drawing tools available at the church) we had a great time and the children learned something useful.
    *Our dryer has been limping along for quite a while now producing very little heat. It hasn’t been a problem as I hang dry most everything but we decided to open it up and do some poking around to see what might be wrong. My husband tested all the heating elements and the thermal fuse and they supposedly are fine. The only thing left to check is the dial which could be off. We will do that today. Coincidentally, the washer has stopped being able to go into the spin cycle. So, we have been doing some diagnostics on that thanks to YouTube. This washer has never really worked as well as I had hoped and we have been contemplating replacing it with a Speed Queen TC5 (their classic line – old school, no bells and whistles.) But, we haven’t done it because it is hard to replace something that “works” even if not well. This may push us toward making that investment. We have some money set aside for this very thing as we were anticipating it was coming at some point. I am doing my research and calling around to find the best deal, the closest service providers (they come with a 5 year parts/labor warranty) and, hopefully, free freight. Like most things these days, freight charges are high and one place quoted us as much as $350 just to deliver the unit to the dealer (we would then go pick it up and install them.) Just another example that it pays to do ample research. Meanwhile, I do have access to my parents’ washer and dryer just 6 miles away. I am grateful for that as it gives us more time to make a wise decision.
    *We finished installing the trim in the stairwell to the boys’ rooms and I have spackled, sanded and caulked everywhere as well as painted about 1/3 of the walls. All done with materials we bought a while ago (thank goodness!) so no recent output of money. I will finish the painting this week and then we can move on to other things. We always have several projects in the works. And this is also why some of my Christmas decorations have yet to be packed up and stored away! 🙂
    *We mostly ate from the pantry and freezer with things bought on sale last month and food we have put away from the garden but I did do one shopping trip for milk, cat food, a little cheese, and a few other basics. I have never thought grocery shopping was fun but it is certainly less so anymore. It is stretching my creativity to find new ways to use staples and that is a good thing.
    *With the increasing daylight on a daily basis, our chickens continue to lay a bit more each week. We have often heard how lucky we are to have “free” eggs which makes me laugh. They are certainly not free but we are always grateful for the ready access to food we know is healthy and safe not to mention the joy we get from our feathered friends. We enjoy sharing them with family and close friends in the spring and summer and selling some to off-set the cost of their grain. Looking forward, however, I think we are going to keep more and water glass them as another method of preserving them other than freezing (which I do.) In all our years of keeping chickens, this is something we have yet to try and it seems that this would be a useful skill to add to our repertoire.
    *We processed a bit more wood for the wood stove. We have about 3 years worth of wood processed but we like to top it off every now and then to ensure we will always have some and to keep the job from seeming too large at any one time. We do it together as a family and enjoy it though we know not everyone feels that way. 🙂
    *I gratefully accepted some curtain panels from my mom that she is no longer using. Since I am particular about what I want to put up but also particular about not spending a lot of money, it is taking some time. But, I have gathered several sets of panels and have some fabric to sew up to add to others I made years ago so, in the next few months, I hope to have them all up. I plan to use some money I received as a Christmas gift to purchase the rest of the rods I will need. Again, always some project going on around here!
    *Finished Rhys Bowen’s Where the Sky Begins as really enjoyed it. I think some of you have read Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. A friend recommended the series based on her books now on Amazon Prime Video called “Three Pines.” I am really enjoying the plot twists and turns. Just the thing to watch warming my feet by the fire at the end of the day.
    *Wishing all of you a lovely week, as always. Thank you for your contributions which help me think of new ways to be creative. It is wonderful to see so many new contributors, too!

    1. to Mountain Mama Dawn – I have that very same Speed Queen washer. Old fashioned agitator and I get to set the water level, not the washer. I had several pairs of ‘smart’ washers that failed within 3 years of purchase and finally found the Speed Queen. I have been over the moon happy with the washer.I also have the Speed Queen electric dryer which is just as basic and is a real work horse.

      1. Who did you purchase it through? Our washer is 20 yrs. Old and I refuse to buy a new fangled one. I like the old kind! Thanks!

        1. I have over thirty year old Sears Kenmores and will be very very sorry when they finally are done for. (Tip on repairs: an electric dryer has two connections on a circuit breaker, one for tumbling and one for heat, and both need to be “on”).
          Prior to that when I was having adventures at the local laundromat, I talked a woman who said she would give up her refrigerator for her own washer and dryer. Not sure I agree, but certainly understood her sentiment.

        2. Debby – We ordered a washer from AJ Madison after discovering they offer free nationwide delivery. Our local authorized SQ dealer was going to have to charge us freight. The ordering process went very smoothly and they have contacted me daily about the progress, estimated delivery date, the name and contact info of the delivery company, etc. so, so far, so good. https://www.ajmadison.com/

        3. I bought my Speed Queen washer and dryer at a local, independently owned appliance store. I did pay for delivery but I think it was only $50 or so.

        4. We bought our Speed Queen at Metro Appliance on North Hillside in Wichita. I have not been to Lyttons on South Hillside, but I have heard good things about them. Both are independently owned.


      2. So glad to hear your positive review on the Speed Queen. My mother has one and loves it and we decided, when ours died, we would upgrade. We went cheap with this last one and got several years use out of it so I don’t feel like it was a loss. We were able to set aside some funds for the SQ and I am looking forward to receiving it in about 2 weeks. Now, we will put some aside for the dryer when ours goes though I wouldn’t mind if that isn’t any time soon. 🙂

    2. I love my Speed Queen washer. I struggled with 2 different front loaders – both needed expensive repairs and the last one could not get my husband’s workout clothes clean – I had to soak them in a bucket before washing them. I have had the Speed Queen for 7 years with no problems at all and the clothes are clean without need to presoak them in a bucket.

      1. Jennifer H – Yes, we had a front loader at one time and had to replace the struts on it twice within a few years -a good skill for us to learn but you’d rather not have to do it that often. I am looking forward to a heavy-duty, old school, washer that just does its job with no bells and whistles. We get VERY dirty so having to wash clothes before I put them in the washer was getting a bit old.

    3. I, too, laugh heartily when someone says I am lucky to get cheap eggs from my hens! I love them, but their eggs can be more expensive than store bought and with store bought eggs I don’t have to check feed and water every day or shovel up poop.

      1. Mable – I track all the data related to our hens and find that, in the warm months of the year, a dozen eggs costs me roughly $1 – $1.50 – pretty cheap on all counts (especially since they are such high quality) but they can cost up to $5-6 a dozen in the winter. This varies a bit year to year given how many chickens we have at the time and other factors. I have adjusted to higher feed costs by recommitting to regularly soaking their grain and letting them free-range as much as possible. Like you say, we love them and can’t imagine not having them. I love hanging out with them and they make me smile – cheap therapy! 🙂

      1. Jennifer – Glad to hear your positive review. I am so looking forward to the Queen’s arrival. 🙂

  12. I always love it when you can find flowers at a great price!

    The biggest frugal win for me this week was finding spiral cut hams marked down to 99 cents a pound. I was feeling pretty discouraged as I went through the grocery store and saw the continually rising prices, but on the last few aisles I glanced over to the hams and saw that they had been reduced. I bought three. Our kids love ham but we haven’t been purchasing it because of the unusually high prices.

    I baked two loaves of bread yesterday for dinner to go with the pot of white navy bean soup that I had made with the ham bone. I have a bread machine but for some reason the baking portion does not work – it is still great for dough though so I let it knead and rise it and then popped the loaves into the oven. There is nothing like the smell of warm baking bread and a simmering soup on a January day!

    I am starting to collect milk jugs to do winter sowing. Our local Menards has a 15% off anything you can fit in a brown grocery sack sale going on this week, and their seeds are already marked down to 40% off (that’s their regular price). The 15% off applies to reduced priced items as well. I normally have seeds that I’ve used from previous years to sort through but last year one of my kids took my whole container of seeds and left it out in the open rain overnight. It’s probably good to start over anyway as some of the seeds were getting older. We have a sunny southern facing front porch that is much warmer than the surrounding area both because of the sun and the wind shelter. It’s a perfect place for setting out my wintersown jugs.

    1. Thanks for the heads up about the Menards sale! I like to get some of our household items there, and will look at their seeds.

    2. Hi Jenni
      I always use just the Dough function on my bread machines. My husband never liked that “hole” where the paddle sits, and I found the finish on the bread crust too finicky. I take the Dough out, knead it very quickly, and cut it into bread buns. Nine fit into my pan, which has a baking sheet on it. I let rise again about 20 minutes, and bake at 350 for 17 minutes. With buns, I have less wasted bread from bad slices, less oven time, and they are sturdier for packing into the lunchbox. Also, it is not usually the Dough function that breaks first on a bread machine, so I am okay with finding a replacement machine in a thrift store instead of buying new.

    3. Just a head-up, and this may only apply to me. All the seeds i bought from menard’s were complete duds or didn’t grow higher than an inch or two. The soil was new, from menards, i added compost, worms, watered down kelp fertilizer, all the stuff and got virtually nothing. I threw out all the seeds i bought from them and bought from etsy for this year. I can’t remember the name but menards sells a big name that should have been a whole lot better. I read on line that many, many people were having issues with their seeds. Just an FYI. Maybe others can chime in with their stories.

  13. Smiled when I saw your post this morning – I look forward to it, the beautiful pictures and all the comments!
    Yesterday my husband came home from shopping, he was shocked at the prices. He’s been doing the shopping for some time, so I haven’t seen the prices for a while, even though we talk about them often. Eight rolls of the cheapest toilet paper at the discount store has risen from 9.75 kr. (1.41 USD) to 24 kr. (3.46 USD) in 10 months!!! Olive oil from 35 kr. (5 USD) to 45 kr. (6.49 USD), also at the discount store. Not all items are affected to the same degree, though. Meat is also much more expensive, but we don’t feel it, as we eat little meat, and we bought beef in bulk a while back, which will last us for long.
    I find it very interesting to read how things are in US. I have followed your blog quite a while, and I can see, that the inflation you experience, happens in Denmark a while later – maybe six moths or so. So for me it is like a kind of crystal ball to predict how things are going to be here in the near future. Not entirely of course, but the general picture.
    We have noticed that some high-end stores haven’t increased their prices to the same degree as the discount stores, so their prices have become more competitive. We like their milk better for instance, and this is now the same price as the discount store, even though the difference on this particular item was never big. This week we had a 20% discount voucher for one of our favorite high-end store, and we bought a lot more than usual. Many prices used to be more than 50% higher, but this has changed. We have always bought some selected items there, like rice, as it has always been cheaper per kg than in the discount store – I think because the bags are bigger. We keep looking out for good bargains, as the special offers are still about the same as they used to be.
    I cut my own hair (bangs/fringe).
    I biked to all my appointments, which were quite a few this week, and got some good exercise.
    Went to the library with my son and husband – my son got a lot of fantasy books that he liked, and we looked at some cooking books and decided to take a few home and look at recipes together.
    Rendered some excess fat from the beef roast we had on New Years Eve. I have also saved the bones in the freezer to make bone broth later.
    Today I’m going to plan my garden for the coming season. Later I’m going to order seeds, but hopefully not much. I know I have a lot of seeds that I saved from summer/autumn – chili, beans, peas, tomatoes, bell pepper, lettuce, chicory lettuce, arugula and calendula, and probably more. Next week I’m going to a seed swap with a garden group I’m in, and usually I get a lot of new and interesting seeds this way – and it’s very enjoyable too!
    Have a nice week everyone!

  14. I was given yet another tote full of fabric from my husband’s grandmother this week. I’m out of space as well. I am trying to use it up, making gifts and things, but I don’t have enough time in my days to sew as much as I would like. I may have to pass some of it along to others.

    Hubby is laid off so a low-spend week. I did pick up a 40 lb box of boneless skinless chicken breasts for $48. That was a large portion of our grocery budget this week, but a wise purchase. I put in an instantcart order for today. I had to order a few things that my son requested for his birthday on Saturday. I also needed a little bit or salt, sugar, brown sugar, pepperoni and a gallon of milk. Instantcart had sent me a promotional email for $10 off my next 2 orders of $35 or more. I divided my order in half so that I could use both promotional credits while I am out. This allowed me to spend just over $50 and get $20 worth of free items. I added paper plates for the birthday, 2 packages of batteries, 2 small bags of cat food, and a small package of toilet paper to my order and all of that was essentially free after promotion.

    There was a food drop in a town about 30 miles away. I couldn’t justify driving that far even for free food, but a friend went and picked up lots of produce and some milk for my family and brought it to our homeschool co-op meeting. I was very thankful!

    I gave my first jam-and-bread birthday gift and it was well-received. I’m currently working on a tiny rag doll for a friend’s daughter’s birthday. For my son’s birthday I used an Amazon credit I’d forgotten about to purchase half of his gift. I love to give gifts and doing it frugally can be a challenge!

  15. I spent 7 weeks in hospital and was discharged last Tuesday( luckily no OOP expenses). Feeling much better now and I guess the silver lining is they fed me for 7 weeks and I lost even more weight(total of 50 lbs in the last year so now at the top of the normal BMI!)I was pleased to go from obese to overweight and now into the normal category. I was able to get a pass for a few days over Christmas and a friend kindly invited the 2 of us to her family dinner. Our contribution was 2 apple pies my husband baked.

    My husband being over 65 will be able to apply for the new provincial bonus of $600. I turn 65 in a couple of months so hopefully I will get a partial bonus. I also expect to be doing some casual childcare over the next few months -the $ will go into the vacation fund. My husband was lucky enough to receive $75 in gift cards from appreciative parents at the school where he works.

    We recently had our free annual inspection of our gas furnace, fireplace and water heater. The gas company checks for CO2 leaks etc. We spent $20 in loyalty points at the grocery store. WIshing every one a frugal week.

    1. I am glad you are out of the hospital, and the weight loss is definitely a silver lining.

      I wish you all the best as you continue to heal.

    2. Hi I,
      That is great news (silver lining) about your weight! Thanks for the info you sent me about the $600 government grant.
      I’m interested in the free annual inspection of your furnace and water heater. Who does it? Atco?

    3. I, good to hear that you are feeling better and out of the hospital. That was a long time! Congratulations on your weight loss and moving into the normal weight range. I need to work on this as well. Noting that you are near my age, that is a huge accomplishment as getting the weight off once you are older, I have found is quite difficult!

    4. I, thankful you are out of hospital and on your way to better health! May this new year be a blessed and healthy one for you and your family!

  16. Twenty-five cent pansies is a deal! I’m always so impressed by the sales and discounts you find!

    My frugal week:
    – I made hummus (http://approachingfood.com/ultra-creamy-hummus/), homemade pita, and also made lentil falafel. Cheaper than take out!
    – I also made another chickpea recipe, because chickpeas are a pretty inexpensive protein! (http://approachingfood.com/californian-chickpea-salad-wraps/)I always buy tortillas on sale and freeze them to have on hand.
    – I had some chicken broth in the freezer, rich in meat that had fallen off the bones when I made the broth. When my husband had a wisdom tooth out, I strained the broth and he was able to enjoy the very rich broth. I kept the strained chicken, added cheese, and made chicken and cheese burritos a couple of days later. No waste!
    – hosted a playdate and sent the child home with homemade mini chocolate chip cookies made from dough from the freezer, in wrapping I traded for years ago. The kids played with sensory rice I made years ago.
    – hosted another playdate and made homemade playdough.
    – took my daughters to EarlyON open programming, essentially a free drop in with toys, crafts, circle time, and snacks. A great way to break up the winter break!
    – borrowed lots of books from the public library, both paper and e-books.
    – reorganized part of the kids room using items I already had. I did buy 3M removable hooks from the dollar store, then hung cloth bags I already had on them, to create more storage. The room has to grow with my kids, so I didn’t want to put actual hooks into the wall, when the room layout will have to change in a year or two.
    – I saved hundreds of dollars avoiding a locksmith call when a lock stopped working. I tried powdered graphite (works on sticky or squeaky locks) but it turned out something was stuck inside. Tweezers were too big, so I looked in my toolbox for a mini tool, put a dab of hot glue on the end, stuck it in the lock and let it set for a moment, then pulled it out. It worked perfectly to pull out the foreign item and now my lock works again!
    – I made a couple of batches of toaster pancakes (https://approachingfood.com/sour-milk-toaster-pancakes/) to put in the freezer for quick weekday breakfasts.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

  17. Hi Brandy,
    Love to hear you are doing well. I would really love to see photos of Holidays and the kids birthdays. You always make me feel better knowing I can make life beautiful for pennies.

    1. I am grateful today that I listened to God who told me to freeze all my extra eggs over the Summer and into the Fall. Very blessed to have so many eat and not have to buy any until my girls start laying again.
    2. Repainted a room using old paint I had on hand. Added molding to the ceiling as well with extras we had in the basement.
    3. Didn’t go grocery shopping last week. Using up all leftovers.
    4. Made sure to unplug: Computers, coffee makers, microwaves, clocks etc that takes electricity. My electric bill came in at $36 less this last month.
    5. Keeping the heat in the house at 58*. Putting on layers to help.

    Hope everybody has a great day!

  18. Hello! Gosh, you can’t beat a winter pick me up for a quarter! And it’s much less fattening than the Lindt Santa that I got for $1.30!

    Not my most productive week, for sure! Husband went back to work on the 3rd and I was slow to get back into the groove!
    * I made 4 containers of a cabbage and diced tomato soup base for the freezer. I already made one delicious soup crock from it.
    * January’s budget is still not entirely worked out. I’m flying by the seat of my pants to try and work it through. At the same time, I’m trying to replenish our emergency savings after it took 2 significant hits last year. I’m happy to have a good pantry that can be stocked on sale items… should I ever find more than one at a time!!
    * Aldi had oatmeal at $1.20 off per canister so hubs picked up 5 on his way home from work.
    * I found a Manager’s special on whole wheat tortillas in packs of 20 for 89¢. I got 5 and froze them.
    * Used a coupon for a free pack of sliced cheese – sharp cheddar YUM!@
    * Still doing the regular stuff and keeping the thermostat low.

    I have wondered how the bakeries are making any money these days. Between the price of eggs and fuel costs, a simple wedding cake probably costs more than the honeymoon!! I’ve noticed that the baked goods at our market are really high. My eyes have actually widened at seeing the prices! I don’t buy any, but I see them on the clearance shelf. A tiny little cake for 2 was over $10 and that was half the regular price.

    Reading this week:
    * On my nightstand – The Promise by Robert Crais. (Cole & Pike).
    * In my craft room CD player – Black Echo by David Baldacci.
    * With my Bible study – Finishing up an Advent book.
    * By my reading chair – Crooked Heart by Cristina Sumners.
    Finished season 1 of Annika on DVD from the library.
    Miss Scarlet and the Duke just resumed on PBS Sunday nights.

    Gas $2.89, milk was 2 gals for $6 at the dairy, and eggs are anywhere between $2.79-$6 per dozen. My friend in Los Angeles just paid $7.99 per dozen!! Yikes!!

    Blessings to you all!

  19. I saved money by not going to the grocery store this week and stretching out what we had. I made bread, split pea soup using what was on hand. I am going today to get some produce. My local egg seller hasn’t had eggs in stock for two weeks–the colder weather has the chickens on strike–so I am not using any eggs right now.

    As I was putting Christmas items away, I purged through items we no longer use and yesterday donated three boxes of things including clothing and some yarn I don’t care for.

    I tidied my yarn stash–most of it was given to me about 18 months ago from friends who had a surplus. I have enough yarn to knit with for the rest of the year without really needing to buy any! I have just about finished a shawl using seven different colors of the same type of yarn and it is turning out really nicely.

    I read books from the library, attended a book group, a potluck dinner, water aerobics class, and substitute taught yoga twice.

    I met with a local arts council near me and will be teaching a four week collage class in March–they will pay me $60 an hour, which is a nice bonus for doing something that I enjoy.

    We were delighted to receive a check for $207 for overpayment of dental work last year. We have more dental expenses coming this year but it was a happy surprise to get the refund.

    I am grateful to have a warm home, food in the pantry, books to read, yarn to knit, friends and family, and good health.

  20. We are participating in no spend/low spend January. The first week was only groceries, gas, and bills that were due. We went to lunch with our son for his birthday Sunday, but that was an already planned expense. Over the winter break from work, I cooked a Turkey we had bought for .49 a pound and three hams that were gifted to us during the holiday. My husband sliced and packaged it into portions for the two of us and we now have enough meat to have turkey or ham once a week. We have spent no other money this week. I cut out my twice a week coffee shop stop and my husband has agreed to not rent any movies, only watching free movies from our Prime account, Tubi, or the Roku channel for the month of January. We had a date night at home on Sunday night, cooking steaks we had bought on sale and frozen rather than going out to dinner.

  21. The last few weeks have been very difficult. My mother had to have emergency surgery, which we were surprised she even made it through that, but after one good day, she deteriorated and passed on December 26. I spent a lot of time at the hospital in the week after her surgery, spending time with her and my family. It was a blessing to know that she is no longer in pain, but oh, how I am grieving for my loss. She was an amazing woman whom I will miss every day.
    Thankfully, my employer has a bereavement leave with pay, and I was able to take my vacation the following week, so I have had some time to grieve without having to be back at work. However, that has left me dreadfully behind so I will probably work at least 15 hours overtime this week in an attempt to catch up.
    Being frugal wasn’t that difficult as I had no urge to do anything or go anywhere. We had just gone through our freezers to inventory what we had in there, so with being home, we are trying to use up small bits and any meat that is in danger of getting freezer burned. We are trying to avoid the grocery store for the month of January, and I only spent $20 the first week. My husband was out of town this past weekend, and I made my favorite (chicken alfredo) that he doesn’t particularly care for, and I ate it for every meal. I won’t want it for awhile! For my birthday (50th on December 30), my daughter had already planned a sweet surprise by asking on Facebook for people to send me bookmarks. She and her husband took us out to eat on my birthday, and I got to enjoy looking at all my new bookmarks and thinking about all the people who sent them. I sent thank you cards that I already had for both my birthday and for the kindness shown after my mom’s passing.

    1. Alice- So sorry to hear about your Mom! I’m glad you had some time off to grieve but you’ll probably find that at unexpected times in the future, something will trigger a memory and you’ll miss her some more. Those memories will be bittersweet as they come, you may shed more tears but also smile as you remember some good times that you shared!! Sending you big virtual hugs!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

    2. So sorry for your loss Alice. My best friend’s mom passed on Dec. 19th and everything just seems so much more overwhelming at this time of year. Glad to read that people have been so kind – take care of yourself.

    3. Alice, I am so sorry about your mother. Her “amazingness” legacy lives on in you and your children. May you find peace and comfort in the days ahead. The bookmark gift was a lovely idea!

    4. Alice my sympathies on your loss of your Mother
      Mine has been gone 10 years and it is very difficult
      Best wishes

    5. Alice I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I hope that good memories will sustain you through these difficult times, she will always be with you.

    6. Alice,
      Condolences on your loss. Losing a mother is in a different category of grief, at least it was for me.

  22. I’m looking forward to pruning trees, mending clothing and recovering two seat cushions this Saturday. I’ll feel very satisfied with the work.
    I’m a decent cook but often don’t make the same thing twice because I’m a “throw in a bit of this and that” type of person. This is a useful skill because I can make something out of nothing. My family generally asks me if I’ve written “this one” down. 😉 It was a good week of tossing meals together!
    Grateful to have chickens and compost for the forgotten bits. I reduced our flock recently to offset the cost of feed. This was wise for us. And we’re still getting what we need to justify this budget item. Last year we moved our coop closer to the house. I had some sort of mental fatigue walking 50 feet to them. I recognized this and resolved to solve it. Now I walk 20 and it’s not a problem anymore.
    Laughed each day.
    Played card games and took walks and listened to my body when it asked for food, rest, movement, interaction, isolation, fresh air, etc.
    Made a visit to a loved one who is in a bad way in their health. I’m so glad I followed up on “a feeling” to see them, as it was a critical moment in their mental health. I’ll be spending more of my time with this person. What a blessing and an honor to lift another.
    I do have several family members with physical and mental health concerns right now. I just roll with whatever comes.
    Made some donations to a local thrift shop and a friend who was able to use them. I also needed a coat and found a heavy wool option that was priced well.
    I am the family barber/stylist. I make 1-5 cuts each week. Lots of hair in this family, so we’ve saved an infinite amount of money over the years.
    Caught the extra water leaking in my ceiling and used it on plants. Hahahaha! 😛
    Re-prioritized my time and helped some children do the same which has been a benefit all-around.
    Paid down debt.
    Intentionally reached out to family and friends to make connections and just chat. Building relationships has been the greatest pleasure and the most work of my life. Hugely rewarding!
    Had to be away from home several days this week, outside of the normal routine. Lots of coming and going. I don’t function to my best abilities when this happens so I made a concerted effort to breathe and stretch, helping me to keep going. I was an older woman when I realized I didn’t breathe very well. I had been holding my breath and tensing up most of my life. Very uptight person. Such a weird thing but the breathing really helps me be a nicer, gentler person!!
    Grateful for the rain. Looking forward to clear skies.
    I watch the weekly YouTube of Positano Diaries. Chuckled through the mud and water scenes this episode.
    Felt very good about not getting everything done. I’ve learned to live with the satisfaction of trying my best and letting the rest go. I have a wonderful mentor in this. And now I’m modeling it for another person, as they brought this point up with me. Very tender realization.
    Had a few pieces of Christmas dark chocolate. With my husband. Watching a show. Relaxing after a long day.
    Lots of challenges in the mix too but they’re just opportunities to be flexible.
    A great week, all around!
    Now…off to face the day ahead.

    1. Connie, thank you for all the gentle and kind positives you listed. I have to remind myself that these are accomplishments in life when my life is filled with being the uplift in so many others’ lives. Listening to my body is new to me, but it really does “talk” to one! Have a beautiful week!

    2. Connie L, I just wanted to thank you for your post. So much of what you said really spoke to me, particularly the breathing thing. I, too, tense up and hold my breath, and I never realized that this is “uncommon” or “wrong,” until I just read your post!
      It actually made me cry.
      So, going forward, I am going to work on being mindful of my breathing, my tension, my clenching jaw. Thank you, so very much.

  23. * I cut my husband’s hair
    * I joined our local quilt guild. They have a quilt class that is two Saturdays this month and I wanted to sign up. It is $30. When I went to pay she got excited and said I was the winner. Someone had paid and couldn’t go so gifted it to the next to sign up. I went to Joanne Fabric to get the background and backing fabric and was able to use a $15/$75 coupon. I bought extra of the 108″ wide fabric while it was on sale for $8.99 to get to the $75 and use the coupon.
    * I’m eating from the freezer and pantry as much as I can. I had frozen individual servings of breakfast casserole, breakfast burritos, smoked turkey, pork loin, goulash, spaghetti, chicken spaghetti casserole.

  24. Thrifty actions this past week: Cut husband’s hair, while making Christmas rolled sugar cookies with grandchildren early Dec., froze cut out stars for Epiphany party this past weekend, and hearts for Valentines Day. Also paper crafted (thrifty activity) with grandkids and made Froebel Stars. Currently reading Reclaiming Conversation, Power of Talk in a Digital World by Sherry Turkle from the library. Belong to a book club and always find the book at the library to read…many buy the book so saved 47.00 recently by using library book versus buying the book.

  25. Self seeded vegetables are always a treat to find! I’m so glad The Rose Code was shared here. I finished reading it, and enjoyed it so much. Last week, I was able to use a 10% coupon code for a business purchase. There were some leftover crumbled black bean burgers (Brandy’s recipe) I needed to use up. I decided to make a lentil sloppy joe recipe, and also added some mushrooms that needed using. It was excellent, and no food waste.. Then later in the week, the last of the sloppy joe was added to vegetable soup, along with leftover beans and rice, and a small amount of lambs quarter and spaghetti squash. I want to be sure to use it all up, especially these days. My husband & I gathered all the metal scrap we’d been collecting, and took it to the salvage yard, which brought us $47 and change. There was a canning fail of apple pie filling, possibly something to do with using Ultragel. Just three quarts, and a pie was made with 1/2 of it so far. But then there was canning success with vegetable broth. My husband took down a tree that was blocking a portion of the solar panels, and let me know there were branches with usnea. I was able to forage a nice basketful, and began a jar of glycerite with it. Usnea has a number of health benefits, including immune and respiratory support. My husband fabricated a new spout handle, to replace the broken one on our tea kettle. I went ahead and ordered mache seeds for 10% off, along with three others, and look forward to trying it. After a dinner out for our granddaughter’s birthday, we stopped at Harris Teeter, and looked through their marked down Christmas. My husband got candy canes (75% off) and a pack of chapsticks (“holiday flavors”) at 50% off. We also got some more cherries for $3.99/#. A coupon code was used for supplements, saving 24%. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2023/01/canning-success-and-failure.html

  26. The pansies are so pretty! This week I made two loaves of sandwich bread. A work trip took me to the other side of the mountains so I made a quarterly stock-up trip to Costco. Things like my husband’s hearing aid batteries and dog food are such a savings purchasing them here rather than locally or even through Amazon, so when I am in the neighborhood (about four times a year) I try to stock up. While out of town, I took food from home to eat. Milk was 99 cents a half gallon at our Kroger affiliate, so my husband stopped in while I was out of town and purchased the limit of 5 half-gallons and put them in the freezer. While in town he also purchased oil and filter to change the oil in my car, and used two coupons with this purchase. A friend who works at a hotel, where people leave so many things behind and unclaimed, gifted us with a large insulated steel bottle, and a brand-new sweatshirt in my size. I gifted her with a jar of my homemade salsa. Another friend gifted me with two boxes of a cookie I really like.

  27. Nothing too exciting to report. I still have family in town for 1 more day, but then after that I hope to start on post-holiday cleaning and organizing.

    * Saved a few plain paper shopping bags that contained projects from the library to add to my gift bag stash. I always have plenty of holiday themed bags, so it’s nice to have the plain ones for birthdays, etc.

    * I came under budget on a few expenses this month (kids’ shoes and my daughter’s ACT test), so that was helpful.

    * My Dad was in town and I went with him to Sam’s Club (where I don’t have a membership) and found several meat mark downs… beef roasts for $2.50lb! I was able to get 3.

    Looking forward to reading everyone’s frugal adventures!

  28. I mended a pair of pants

    My son split cost of his sister’s birthday dinner. He was going to pay the entire bill, but my husband insisted on splitting it. (Daughter wanted a Japanese steakhouse, so it was $$$ with us 4 and 2 of her friends. Teen girls can eat)

    I used birthday decorations already had. I usually get the kids a helium birthday balloon bouquet, but skipped it because of the rising prices (youngest turned 16, so she kind of rolls her eyes at those things anyway, lol)

    I had already purchased the teens birthday presents with the Christmas ones, so no extra $ out.

    She’s a simple girl, she just wanted Sam’s club brownies and Cappucino Chunky Chocolate frozen yogurt from Braums.

    I ate breakfast and lunches at work since we went back on the fourth.

    Used $5.49 sams cash on a small order

    Redeemed a free bakery item at Starbucks I earned on their holiday game.

    Deep cleaning the house, I found a bunch of elastic hair ties behind furniture. I washed all the hair ties in a lingerie bag, so that’ll keep me from buying more for awhile longer.

  29. I used a gift card from loyalty points on my phone and internet bill to order a few things online — three cans of salmon, dried shitake mushrooms and lentil chips. I can’t get any fresh mushrooms other than button mushrooms locally. I’ll use these in soup, stir-fries and on pizza, reconstituted where necessary. The lentil chips are also not available locally.

    My grocery budget is doing well. I have one more shop before the next pension payment cycle starts. That will cost $50. I am currently $80 under budget, plus I have enough loyalty points for $20 in gift cards. I’ve focused mainly on getting meat and a few staples, like cat food. I got a large pack (2.5 lb) of lean ground beef at $4.00 a lb, and an extra pack of coffee at $1.50 off. There isn’t much left on my grocery list, so I’ll continue to stock up on meat. This week, the flyer has a ground beef/pork mix on sale at $4.00 a lb, so that will be on my list.

    I’m eating a lot of meals from my pantry. I find oatmeal sort of ho-hum, but there are plenty of blueberries in the freezer that I froze last summer, and maple syrup to sweeten it, from a large jug I ordered from an Ontario sugar shack last year. Oatmeal is a lot less ho-hum with these treats added. I also started to make a thickened tomato sauce from a recipe in the Joy of Cooking, that makes a great pasta sauce and pizza sauce, with a little Italian seasoning added. I use diced tomatoes I bought in a case lot sale in the spring. It is about half the cost of pasta sauce on sale. I have a good supply of pasta, too, that I bought just before summer started. I don’t use pasta in the summer, but bought what I thought I would use this winter. I’ve been making blueberry muffins regularly. I’ve used the same blueberry muffin recipe for years. It is also from the Joy of Cooking. I find I can substitute oil for the butter, and it works just as well with one egg as two. The last time I made it I added a tsp of pumpkin spice, which really bumped it up a notch. The blueberries already do it for me, so this was a pleasant surprise. Also, when I froze eggs last May, I froze them in ice cube trays that fit 3/4 of an egg in each. They work well in baking and as scrambled eggs. Being able to use 3/4 of an egg or 1 1/2 eggs can save on the cost of eggs. I haven’t got any recipes that are so sensitive that they can’t deal with a little less egg.

    We have had relatively mild weather since Christmas Eve, and it is forecast to continue at least another two weeks, with not much snow and very little ice. It is below freezing, but not so far that it is uncomfortable for those of us in our warm winter clothes. This makes doing all my errands on foot much more pleasant. It is a good thing, because there is no sign of the taxi driver yet. I am busy filling any holes in my supplies this month, in case the weather turns in February. It gives a break on the cost of heating during one of our coldest months of the year, and makes winter a lot less difficult overall.

    I still have $40 cash from my transportation budget, which I use for taxis, buses, and grocery delivery tips. This is actually left from my December transportation budget.

    All in all, some encouraging successes in a month where some of the bills are much higher than they have ever been. I hope all of you are finding your way through the season’s challenges. I’m thinking of you, especially those of you who have had very difficult losses.

    1. Very soon we’ll be able to apply for the provincial grant of $100 per month for 6 months.
      That will help, too.


      1. Yes, that will be good! I get a small monthly benefit under the Alberta Seniors Benefit program, which is one of the programs where people will start getting the affordability grant on January 31, without applying. I’m happy to be able to skip the application.

        Elizabeth M.

  30. Hello, frugal friends from beautiful southwest Virginia! It has been a fun week; lots of sunshine, cold but not bitter temps and a day of rain. Lots of walks, thank goodness! Last week we had our granddaughter during the day since school had not resumed. We spent a lot of time crafting and playing. School has resumed this week so I find I have a lot more time to concentrate on household things. First, I have realized I am not good at the no/low spend month thing. I ordered seeds from Baker Creek. I got 2 free packs with my order, but they are something I cannot eat so I shared them with my daughter in law. As we put away our Christmas decorations we realized we are in need of quite a few replacement items. This involved going to Michaels for their sale. I spent $16 on treat bags, floral holiday picks, and craft kits for next year. Everything was 70% off plus I used my 15% military discount. I also bought a few Christmas items for next year at Big Lots. They had holiday decorated bobby pins for .23 for a 3 pack. I bought 4 of those and will include them in stockings for the girls in my family. I also bought a cute magnetic Advent calendar for my daughter and her boys. All total I spent $3 at Big Lots. I was able to use my military discount at Big Lots as well. I have only spent $40 for groceries so far this month which included the clearance deals I have shared last week. This week we only need bananas and half a gallon of milk. Mr. Fix It carved up the second ham I had bought last month. We froze 12 bags of meal sized portions. I boiled the ham bone, picked off the meat bits which I added to the lentil soup I made with the broth. It was very yummy and we were able to freeze 5 pints of the soup for future use. I sent off for a free bottle to use with my Neil Med nasal rinse using the offer I found inside the refill box I opened. I checked my local libraries for 2 books recommended. Neither library had either of them. My county library charges $7 for an interlibrary loan which as a retired teacher/librarian gets my goat. I didn’t mind when they started charging $1-2 per request but at $7 I say no. The neighboring library charges $5. So instead I requested they purchase the books to add to their collections. They contacted me to say they were on order. Yay! One of the books is called What Money Can’t Buy by Emily Steiner. It was recommended by Patsi at A Working Pantry blog. This book is about a family surviving the Great Depression and sounded very interesting. Patsi is actually rereading it to glean some ideas to make her budget stretch. I figure if she has read it more than once it would be worth my time to read it. The other book is the Scrappy Cooking book recommended here. I am using my fabric scraps to make some Christmas table runners for next year. I have also started making the many doll clothes I have set out to do for next year’s Christmas donations. I have decided to do one garment type each month and assembly line sewing to get 11 of the same outfits done in a month. I will also buy 1 doll a month for the next 11 months to go with the clothes. The only out of pocket purchase I need to make is elastic and velcro. I have plenty of fabrics for the rest I think. In my efforts to reduce our next power bill I am hanging more laundry and if the weather is not conducive I hang things on my wooden rack and on the shower curtain rod. We are turning down the heat at night to 67. If Mr. Fix It does not say anything we leave it there during the day. He is on some blood thinners so sometimes he gets really cold so we up the temp during the day to 68. I am always cold during the winter so I just add socks (sometimes 2 pair!) plus slippers and layer with sweaters, etc. I also realized that my electric can opener saves us money as it is a rechargeable one by Hamilton Beach. I bought it a couple of years ago when our old one died after 20 years. I charge it once a year and now that we have the Bluetti solar chargers (who we refer to as “Big Blue” and “Little Blue'”) I no longer need to use electricity to recharge. I know it isn’t a lot of power used but every little bit helps, right? All meals have been made from the pantry/freezers and we use leftovers for lunch or another dinner. When it is just 2 of us I do not have to cook often or as much. I do cook enough for 2, 3, sometimes more meals though. Brandy, you got quite the deal on the pansies. I love pansies. Their little “faces” remind me of my precious little kindergarten students. Looking forward to reading everyone’s ideas and successes.

    1. Marley I too requested my library purchase Scrappy Cooking. I was just notified it was here. Can’t wait to read it.

  31. What a deal on pansies! I am determined to spend less money on groceries and takeout in 2023 so I wrote a meal plan for January and I’m incorporating food we already own (from the freezer and pantry) in my meal planning. I do need to get much better about food waste as well- we waste a ridiculous amount of food. I want to eliminate credit card debit this year and other then our mortgage, money spent on groceries is our biggest expense.
    I have renewed my interest in embroidery and am determined to make several things this year- it’s a fun craft to work on while we watch television in the evenings. I also set my reading goals on my Good Reads app for this year (36 books) but plan to request most books from the public library after I read the books I already own. I can also use my Amazon gift cards that I earn from Swagbucks but would rather get most books through the library. I checked this week and I got $125 in Amazon gift cards in the last month through Swagbucks.
    I had a landscaping company do a large cleanup in my backyard last fall and need to start planning what will go in place of what was removed so I think I will use my “plasma money” for that this year. I tend to fritter away my plasma money $40 or $50 at a time so this will be a better use for that income.
    I hope everyone has a healthy happy week!

  32. Thankyou Brandy for your kind wishes. Happy to be feeling well again. I forgot to mention a couple of things in my post. Not necessarily frugal but I had airline pts so sent my best friend since grade 5 a ticket to fly out and visit in August as she has been fighting breast cancer for the past year+. I am optimistic she will be able to come.
    My husband mentioned that a 50 year old mother of 3 children at his school mysteriously developed encephalitis in mid Dec and is now unable to talk and has been moved to palliative care. Very sobering to think of the husband having to work and continue to raise his 3 children in Grade 5,9 and 11-all the while his wife is slipping away. I will sign up to deliver a meal or two for this family. Even though I had 8 general anesthetics as part of my treatment I feel very grateful to be home and well and my husband is greatly relieved.
    I have been kind to myself this first week home and ordered 4×2 Hello Fresh meals delivered on a free offer. One day for fun we “borrowed” our friends 3 year old triplet boys and 5 year old big brother. The kids enjoyed flying paper planes, playing lego, going to the park etc. I am sure the parents appreciated the gift of several hrs to catch up on other home projects. They all wanted to sleep over so we said we would plan that for another day and one of the 3 year old’s said he wanted to stay for a week-priceless. He probably doesn’t even know how long a week is.

  33. Hi Everyone,
    I got a free $5 off coupon for a local store. I used it for two bars of handmade soap as part of a birthday package for my daughter. I have another $5 off anything coupon for Michael’s and am planning to get something from their bead section.
    We went to Grocery Outlet and were able to purchase some Muir Organic tomatoes at .57 per can. I only got 5 as my pantry space is limited.
    My sister gave me some pretty material for Christmas so I have a shirt cut out and ready to sew.
    I have been watching Heartland on my free Netflix account. I am reading one of the Outlander books, downloaded from the library, on my Kindle.
    We are going for walks and eating all food at home primarily (unless we are gone all day and need to get lunch).
    I made a big batch of pumpkin muffins from leftover holiday pumpkin. I found some good sounding holiday tea (contains roibos, cranberry among other healthy ingredients) for half price after Christmas. Once again at Grocery Outlet I found a 2 lb bag of organic dried Turkish apricots for $7.99 which is a good price – I use them chopped up in granola.
    Guess that is all for now.

  34. I started this then accidentally lost it so will try again. I spent quite a bit of money in trying to restock my pantry.
    Last week, I spent $34 but saved $23.00. I find Safeway’s prices are high but what is a good deal sometimes is its buy one get one deal on meat. You have to watch because sometimes it seems as if other BOGO deals on other items are based on twice the normal price for one so the total for two items ends up being about the normal price elsewhere but the meat BOGO deals are usually a true bargain.

    Then this week, I stocked up on Tim Horton’s lentil soup on sale for $2.88 reduced by $1 per can and Classico pasta sauce ($3 per jar from $4) (No Frills) Thanks to Margie from Toronto for mentioning the pasta sauce. Although neither the soup nor the pasta sauce are the lowest prices I’ve seen, it was still a decent sale. Also, I bought two lasagnas (PC frozen) on sale from No Frills ( $5.88 reduced from $9.88)
    and three blocks of cheese $6.88 reduced from $9.88). This week, I spent $70 and saved $50. At the end of the month, I will stock up on pasta and more pasta sauce before the price freeze by No Frills, Superstore and Loblaws comes off on January 31 when I suspect prices will go up yet again. I hope to have a year’s worth of pasta, etc. in storage. Don’t know if I’ll make it for that much but I’ll try. The soup is for emergencies. I will be making homemade soup for daily use.

    The best time of the year to buy soup, toilet paper, and even pasta sauce is in the summer.

    I also bought some unflavoured skyr (it’s like Greek yogourt but higher in protein). I saved a tablespoon and put it on my face. I leave it on for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed into the skin. My face feels so soft afterwards. Don’t try this until you’ve
    tried a patch on your arm to see if your skin is sensitive to it.

    There are many chores around the house that were totally neglected during the book days. The book is almost sold out. I will be spending the next couple of months doing household chores and also finally finishing the long-delayed photo albums. I am rewarding myself by spending an hour or so outside everyday before the next sub zero temperatures hit). There I watch and photograph birds.

    I an writing poetry and my goal is to write one poem per day for a year. This is no doubt overly ambitious but at least I’ll do it until spring when gardening will take over. I read with interest your comments Brandy about tomato wilt. I suspect all of the tomato plants that I bought (and my neighbour down the street bought) died of tomato wilt. Negligence and lack of light might have contributed to my tomato plants dying before they even were transplanted outside but my neighbour was diligent and had more light and all of hers died. I will certainly be planting them in different soil this year. I may not even try to grow tomatoes because even with my plants have thrived they don’t bear enough tomatoes to make it worthwhile. The best year I had was to get enough tomatoes that the average cost per tomato was $1 each. I could start them from seed in the basement under the grow light system but I gave my grow light system to my friend who is a professional landscaper and gardener.

    1. Ellie’s friend, Congratulations on the popularity and success of your book! That was certainly a long-time labor of love from you. Others must be enjoying the fruits of all your labors 🙂

    2. Ellie’s friend,
      I’m glad you are able to go outside and photograph the birds! You could send in your poetry to a publisher as well! Congratulations on the sell out of your Book!

  35. I worked three days and took breakfast and lunch for two days. Used a gift card for lunch one day.
    Made applesauce from the last of the apples purchased last fall. Made two loaves of herb bread.
    A neighbor brought over a dozen eggs from his chickens.
    I broke a small corning ware dish, and the next day found the exact same one ap a thrift store. It was the proper color tag for the 1/2 off that day, so only paid $1.25.
    Made a batch of Italian sausage and gnocchi soup, using sausage and chard from the freezer, onions from our garden, and the rest of the ingredients from the pantry. It was yum.
    Had a $4.00 off produce coupon and wanted some fresh green beans. Measured just enough so I paid 10¢ for my bag of green beans. I was pretty pleased.
    Purchased a bag of lemons and a bag of limes from Fred Meyer for $1.99 each. They each had 10 fruits in them.
    Had a coupon for $3.00 off three Kraft brand items. Got three boxes of mac and cheese for 25¢ each after the coupon. Will use as a side when I make something else.
    Used one of the hams that I purchased a couple of weeks ago from Winco for 99¢ a pound. Had ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and garlic green beans for dinner on Sunday. Also opened one of my jars of home-canned pineapple.
    Had popcorn and applesauce for dinner one night.
    For part of my Christmas gift this year, my son and his wife gave me a set of four bottles of flavored olive oil. One was flavored with chili peppers. Used that one when cooking the garlic green beans.
    We took down our Christmas tree. This is the first year we have used an artificial tree. This one was my mother’s tree, and I claimed it when we cleaned out the house. It is now stored in our basement, along with all of our other Christmas decorations.
    Hope everyone has a fruitful and productive week.

  36. Yay for your your pansies! That is a great deal. I love hearing about your garden. We got 14″ of snow last week, which I love, but it’s nice to think of spring. * I made half a batch of egg roll in a bowl with some leftover breakfast sausage. Since I only used half of the slaw mix, I froze the other half to use in soup later. * We have been using rice bags warmed in the microwave in bed each night since it has been so cold and snowy here. * Also due to the storm, we have been staying home most days, which saves money. Thankfully my husband works from home and I do online college classes. * My husband has been working on a puzzle he was gifted for Christmas. It helps him relax. * We used a gift card to bring home a take out meal, which was fun. * I need to start working through my long-term food storage, so I opened a #10 can of black beans. I cooked half of the can in the crockpot. Used a couple cups for a yummy dinner of black beans and rice, then froze six two-cup portions for future meals. *I’m making a real effort to maintain the house that we cleaned well for Christmas. I can manage a bit a day, and I try to make each room better while I’m in it. So far, so good. * I have a tiered tray that I like decorating for each holiday. For January, I chose winter/snowmen. I try not to spend extra money on it. I found some things in my Christmas decor which worked plus used a little white cream and sugar set from my mom on it. Then, unexpectedly, a good friend of mine gifted me a few snow and winter themed things for my tray! She is always trying to clean out so she looked around the house for me. I thought that was very sweet. It’s so nice to be seen, isn’t it? I felt seen. * Finally, same old with reading library books, knitting and crocheting for fun. I finished two more hat and scarf sets with donated yarn for the homeless shelter. * I wish everyone a happy and frugal week!

  37. Hello Everyone!

    December was busy and so I haven’t posted in awhile. It sounds like there were several readers who’ve had significant losses and health issues. I’m so sorry to hear that and will keep you all in my prayers. 2022 was a toughie!

    Eggs have skyrocketed. They’re currently $8.68/18 count at Walmart! Finding them at Costco is hit or miss, but they are $6.49/24 count which is much less expensive. Before Christmas I did a big shop at Safeway and managed to save 59%. I shopped the ads and bought the maximum allowed. The manager had to approve my purchase because my savings were more than typical. The gentleman behind me jokingly asked for my number so that I could help him shop in the future. LOL! It’s definitely harder to save on groceries now. The max quantities are 2-6 items. Double coupons are long gone, as are receiving manufacturer coupons in the mail each week. I just do the best I can to stock up when prices are the lowest.

    I’ve been harvesting what’s available from my winter garden: kale, chard, mustard greens, lettuce, radishes, oranges, and lemons. I went through my seeds and discarded varieties that haven’t worked and old seeds that aren’t germinating. I bought what I could from Home Depot as it’s 1/2 price over seed catalogs. The rest I ordered from Territorial last week. I was able to find a 10% off coupon that worked and then combined it with a 7% credit card rebate. I had to order through my credit card portal’s shopping link and I should receive the rebate within 3 billing cycles. I was planning to order some from Park Seed, but chose not to. I found a 20% off coupon, but during check out they wanted $9.99 S&H plus at $1 fuel surcharge. It wasn’t worth ordering since I didn’t have a big enough order to qualify for free shipping. I was able to save acorn and Hubbard squash seeds from last summer’s garden and will not re-order. I’m getting ready to start my spring seeds indoors, probably next week. The coastal storms have made life a little difficult the past week!

    I made a beautiful skirt from a Vogue pattern for Christmas and the winter season. I plan to sew more because I liked the fit so much and it was 1/4 price to make it than to buy a similar item. I sewed a house dress for an elderly relative. I used material and leftover trims on-hand and only purchased some buttons from Walmart for the project. I’m currently working on a set of curtains for my daughter’s room. I bought the material on clearance a couple months ago.

    We’re catching up on some large bills right now. I had an expensive car repair done and some necessary dental work with large co-pays. We’re saving where we can! Have a blessed week everyone!!

  38. Love the photos of your flowers. And what a great price on the pansies. Well done.

    The local grocery store runs ‘special sales’ over the weekend starting on Fridays. This week they had chicken legs with backs attached for $0.49/# and sold in 10# bags. I was at the store 5 minutes after they opened and was able to get two bags. There were only three bags total in the cooler so I’m glad I made the effort to be at the store early in the day. I came home and immediately baked them all in the oven. I also tossed in a butternut squash to bake. Once cooled, I froze the meat and saved the bones to make broth.

    The other sale was Progresso soup 10cans/$10 with a 10 can limit. I bought my limit two days in a row. Fortuntately the store is close by.

  39. I love pansies so much, they’re just so sweet and cheerful!
    I’ve been very frugal over the past couple of days:

    – I had tea with a neighbor, which we began doing at home instead of a coffeeshop during the pandemic. So much cozier definitely less expensive.
    – My bathroom sink wasn’t draining, so I cut a drain snake from a plastic milk jug by cutting a long strip and then snipping barbs into the sides. Worked great and I didn’t have to spend a penny.
    – I made a pot of your Rosemary white bean soup for last night’s dinner, (a family favorite!) and even added cut up bacon that was leftover in the fridge. I’ve started storing crumbly bits from the bottom of the tortilla chip bags in jar, which I then use to sprinkle on top of soups.
    – My friend and I doubled up our grocery shopping chore, which gave us time to chat and saved gas.

    Plus I blogged about my frugal accomplishments here as well:

  40. We are doing a low-spend month and it’s already helped – the bulk of my husband’s first pay of the month went into savings, outside of two utility bills, gassing up the cars, and a bit of groceries (eggs, bananas, dog food). We had planned financially for a luncheon with friends that got bumped from December due to the illness of one; however, the host snagged the bill before the rest of us could ask for a split. So we’ve “demanded” (with a friendly shake of the finger, it’s a friendly competition in the group LOL) that next time it’s on us, but the amount I budgeted stays aside until our next get-together. We had also planned for one dinner out – which was paid with two free meal coupons and the third out of cash “allowance” for the pay period.

    Seed starting begins soon, so I’ve gone through my seeds and it turns out I have at least one pack of everything we needed AND what I wanted. The downside is they are from 2020 and 2021 pack dates, so we’ll see how viable they are. But if even half are, it’s a win and the difference will go toward a few perennials as I try to get the garden created at our new place. If not, it was worth a shot and I had already planned to purchase in February.

    During the planning, I learned that Old Farmers Almanac has a free planting calendar based on USA folks’ USDA growing zone – it uses your ZIP code to create a chart of seed starting/transplant/direct sow dates for you. Quite handy and now I don’t have to do all the math myself, just for a few items that are less common and not on their chart. https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar is the page for it; they also have a pop-up that offers a free garden guide that could be of use in the Northern Hemisphere, even if you’re not in the United States zones to use the other chart.

    Returned library books and picked up more holds placed online; consolidated that with a trip to a quiet parking lot near the library where my teen could get some more driving practice in. He has been added to our insurance as a learner, which they discount since he’s not driving alone, and it only added $20 for the year. (The agent also mentioned that when he gets his license this summer, they offer a “good student” discount for B average, to help offset that price change for him being licensed and driving more without us.)

    The aforementioned library books are all gardening and “green” living related, to help refresh my memory and buoy up the efforts around the house. Weather has cleared enough that I’ve been able to use the clothesline, or for smaller things just a drying rack inside.

    While looking at our natural gas bill, I learned the efficiency rebates the company was offering have been extended from the 1/1/2023 deadline to 1/1/2024. They offer $50 rebate on HE washing machines, and as my washer and dryer are over a decade old (and making rather odd noises these days) there was a great deal of temptation to replace them. If I can resist until February, all the better, and it’s easier now that I don’t have that feeling that I “missed” a $50 rebate. The washer I’ve been eyeballing went on clearance at one store, apparently the new models are coming in? So here’s hoping it drops a smidge further to boot! I know it has to be done sooner or later BUT…. 🙂 I floated the idea of not having a dryer at all, but that didn’t go over with Hubby. LOL

    My folks continue to unpack their last POD shipment and found *another* 3-pack of furnace filters the movers packed, so I gratefully accepted them and we had a chuckle over what “do not pack” signs mean. Ah well, now we’re over a year supply at our house so I’m thrilled!

    Wishing everyone a lovely week!

  41. Hi Brandy, It is great to read your blog. You have gotten some great clearance deals. It must be nice to have a family member at a grocery store to know about the great discounts. I read The Non Consumer Advocates blog and her daughter works at a local grocery store too and often brings home good clearance finds.

    On our home front we started the year by rescuing an outdoor cat in very bad shape, getting it vet care, and finding a center that would take it despite it’s feline aids test results being positive. If any Florida or other readers are looking Tom an orange and white tomcat at the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers, FL is in need of a good home and should be up for adoption soon (pending a 10 day intake period).

    On the saving money front…I dont know if I’m saving money anywhere considering the price of items going up so high. I however try and do things like buy gas at Costco where it is .10¢ cheaper than other stores. I also have been trying very hard to eat all our left overs and not waste food. I have been cooking less and to avoid left over build up that we just cant get through. Packing lunches. Also starting to watch Youtube channels on coupon match ups and deals at grocery stores to try and get the best prices on some items each week as sales happen. I’m hoping that slow and steady wins the race.

    1. Ashley Bananas – Bless you for caring for Tom! We foster kittens and have been actively involved in taking adult cats from our area in to the Humane Society for their Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program. A wonderful if bittersweet experience. We fall in love with all of them but are glad to see that they all get adopted very quickly. And it makes us love our 3 cats (all rescued) all the more. I love to hear of others helping animals in need. 🙂

  42. Oh to only take the fabric you knew you could use. I admire your willpower 🙂
    I did my usual weekly “frugal fantastic-ness”.
    I caught a head cold and treated it with OTCs bought with coupons and Elderberry tea I had also purchased at a discount.
    I live in a generous farm belt/snack food area, so inflated food prices have been pretty calm. At the start of the new year, though – I am seeing $7.89 for a dozen eggs and other higher prices. It is surreal to go grocery shopping for the basics at the moment.
    Spent time on me working on a free cross-stitch pattern from DMC.com. I didn’t have the specific threads they called for, I like what I chose to make it.
    Took time to declutter and list on the local Buy Nothing Group (facebook). I was able to rehome enough not to need to drive to the donation drop-off. I also was able to get a wheel chair for my aging parent from this group.
    My friend group is considering doing a video chat for a “ladies’ night in”.
    Hope everyone has a calm & productive week!

  43. I love pansies! They are so pretty and have adorable little “faces.”

    I’ve been eating mostly out of the freezer and pantry since Christmas, which is good for the grocery budget.

    We are back in a cool spell (upper 30’s at night, lower thirties at night later this week) so I made my bed with flannel sheets and two quilts, so I can keep the heat low. I also have sleep socks, which were gifts to me. Since my husband is in a nursing facility, I sleep alone and it can get chilly. One of the quilts I bought at a yard sale for $10 and the other I bought on sale at a store for about $20.00. I have handmade quilts from my husband’s grandmother, but they are old and fragile (she was born in the 1880’s plus all of her quilts were made of scrap, not new fabrics), so I don’t use them.

    With the new year and a raise (thanks, bosses!) I changed my deductions to send the raise amount to my savings.

    I found an inexpensive old wooden chair that is surprisingly comfortable and only 15″ wide. This is great, because my vintage sewing table has an 18″ opening for my legs and the chair’s seat. Now I don’t have to sit on the edge of a chair to sew.

    I mended a wash cloth.

    I picked up and then put back some things I would like to have for the house but don’t need.

    I am reading another library book. I’ve also been enjoying “The Chosen” on Angel Studios through Roku.

    Here’s to the new year!

  44. Got the dreaded utility bill. It was $150.00 more than last months!!!

    Purchased several cans of Progresso soup for .98 a can which is an excellent price here. Had my car serviced which was not an excellent price. My car is 16 years old, so I take good care of her! Not at all interested in buying a new/used one!

    Redid a bathroom linen closet and put away all the worn cloths and towels to be used as rags in the future. Cooked all our meals for the week. Made a peach cobbler using peaches that I had frozen in the summer.

    Have been watching lots of WWI/WWII-themed movies. I am not so sure the outcome would be as positive for us now. 😔

    My grandson is getting married in March and it is a Black Tie affair. Sigh. So, anyone with any suggestions concerning formal gowns that are reasonably priced would be appreciated. Lightly worn is not a problem! Same for a Tux! My husband and I agreed that these will probably be our burial outfits!

    Hope everyone is hanging in there! Stay frosty! Onward, ya’ll, by all means!

    1. ThredUp! They have a ton of used formal gowns, and right now they are marking them even lower!

      1. I second Brandy’s suggestion. They have nice formal wear, since so many people only wear formal wear once or twice.

    2. Macy’s has a wonderful sales! My daughter got her spring formal on clearance last spring for $20 and I just purchased one for three upcoming formal events for $48. Haven’t had a formal event in years and now three in a row!

      For a tux, you might want to talk to a musical instrument store – they usually know where to source tuxes inexpensively (professional musicians often need them). Or ask about a discount from the rental agency if the wedding party is renting.

      Good luck!

    3. Check Dillard’s online. I know two people recently who got great mother of bride-groom dresses there. They were absolutely gorgeous and both said price was terrific.

    4. You may want to check out Lulus. They have beautiful gowns in the $100 range, but often go on clearance for around $30. They run 50% off clearance sales around major holidays (I would check this upcoming Monday), and I believe free shipping is offered if you order in the app. Further, sign up for their email to get a 20% off coupon if you can’t wait for the clearance coupon.

      Brandy probably has a Thredup new customer $10 referral coupon to share with you. Sayhi currently gives you 45% off and free shipping at Thredup.

    5. Some more things to consider for formal gowns. Some companies sell prom or homecoming dresses that, when styled correctly, work well in a formal environment. A simple black jumpsuit can be elevated with some inexpensive sparkly rhinestone accessories. I purchased a jumpsuit from Charlotte Russe a few years ago for $10 that looked fabulous at an elegant evening event I attended. Some stores that may be overlooked, but carry prom dresses include Rue 21, Forever 21, Ross, and Francesca’s. Again, Lulus has a great selection of elegant formal gowns.

    6. Several years ago, I saw an online store for clearance show choir dresses. Those are often plain and could be dressed up easily.
      Check with musicians you know or even a school music department (or community theatre?) and see if they have tuxes you could borrow/rent.

    7. in 2020 I was mother if the groom. I told a dress at Dillard’s and then sold it after washing on delicate in my washer. I almost made back what I paid for it.

    8. It may not be less than buying, but companies such as Rent the Runway allow people to rent attire for special events. People can wear something nicer than they might be able to afford to buy and a really good idea for those who won’t use the garment more than once. Good luck with your hunt for the wedding!

    9. I always start at goodwill and thrift shops for formal wear. It’s rarely been worn more than once, so you can get great deals. After finding nothing, for the first time ever, this last November on a whim decided to try some charity stores in a wealthy area. First one I got a great dress and a formal wrap! I paid $19.99 for the dress, which was steep for me when thrifting, but it was a designer dress and in a very affluent town. Good luck!

    10. Cherly,
      My husband is renting his tux for my son’s wedding. Much cheaper. I couldn’t find a cheap dress in my size. I actually ordered a beautiful dress from Azazie. We really paid too much. But it was cheaper than other sites. I will save it for other occasions. Not sure what, But I will definitely save it for something!

    11. I’m a little late to comment, so I don’t know if you’ll see this. I had great success at Ross Dress For Less when searching for a dress for a wedding. I think I got my whole outfit – dress, bolero/sweater, and strappy sandals – for less than $25.

  45. Happy New Year everyone! I am extremely low on meat, so I planned a January menu that was heavy in meatless meals and beans. We are continuing to watch our food waste and be creative. Thankfully our grocery store’s eggs come from our local Hutterite colonies, so we have not experienced any change in egg prices as most in the country have. This week’s sale ad for our small local store was the first truly good sale in quite some time. It was the equivalent of a case lot sale with several good deals in canned goods and pantry staples. I have been able to spend about 150.00 of cash budget to replenish several things we had been eating down in our large pantry. I also found chicken deals for the first time in awhile including whole chickens for around 4.00, drumsticks for 1.09 a pound and chicken breasts for 1.29 per pound. This will be a big blessing to stretching our meat supply until it is tax return time. I have been cooking some up in the instant pot and shredding and packaging it for the freezer for easy use. I was able to get to our nearest Walmart (about 60 miles away) for the first time in a couple months and bought a handful of staples that are much cheaper there. I also checked out the Christmas clearance. I found a good selection of wrapping supplies at 75 percent off, toddler pajamas for 2.50 and Christmas themed sprinkles for 75 cents. They had a rather surprisingly large amount of merchandise left which was unusual compared to the last few years. I was ecstatic to find a couple 24 oz bags of semisweet chocolate chips in the clearance section of the grocery side for 1.00 each! I purchased about 15 packages of hamburger while in town at our favorite butcher shop for 3.99 a pound (local cattle as we are a heavy farming/ranching area) as well as a couple soup bones and a small shaved roast for under 80.00 total. This and the chicken will be plenty of meat for the next several weeks. I stopped by the dollar store and picked up a few cards and treats for Valentine’s Day. It was a fun and productive day out! We went to a nearby thrift store over the weekend that is only open 2 days a month. It supports a closed down school (many of the schools in the area have closed and consolidated as we are so rural) that houses a gym and pool for the community. We found several clothing items for a free will donation and a handful of other fun finds and spent 10.00. As we were leaving a woman we know asked if we would like some free books for our Homeschooling that the school she works at was throwing away. I expected some old curriculum of some sort, but they turned out to be an entire set of brand new readers with several copies each that we will share with some other area homeschoolers. Our teens love the comedy show Studio C after first seeing it on Up Faith and Family. They had been watching clips on YouTube and while researching where they could watch more episodes, I found that BYU tv has a free app on the Roku with all the seasons and several other family friendly shows. We have greatly enjoyed watching commercial free appropriate shows for no cost! Our teens had a free meal at Youth Group and several leftover pizzas from our Christmas Stroll were baked up and served after church on Sunday. I got a refund on Grammarly that I forgot was set to auto renew. My husband is now in his Master’s program and gets it free through his college. I requested a yearly printout from our dentist and I’m going through each charge discovered a couple charges that didn’t bill through insurance as they were supposed to. I called and they gladly re-submitted. I am grateful I didn’t just blindly pay as it added up to a few hundred dollars worth! I feel so blessed when I really put down the week’s savings in these posts and see God’s provision for us. Thanks everyone for sharing!

  46. Pretty pansies! I hope your lettuce seedlings grow well.
    I haven’t grocery shopped since before Christmas so I don’t have bargains to report. I roasted a turkey today—a smaller one. We had it with roasted potatoes and peas for dinner. There are slices left for meals and for sandwiches, gravy with cut-up pieces to eat on mashed potatoes and I made turkey broth with the carcass. We are leaving on vacation in 10 days so I am focusing on using food we have in.
    I received gift cards for Kohl’s, DSW and Starbucks. I found great sales at Kohl’s, buying 7 clothing items for $50 and earning $10 Kohl’s cash. I had seen cute Skechers boots for $39.99 at DSW, but once I had the gift card, they went back up to $69.99 so I am holding off and wearing boots I already own. I will use the Starbucks gift card on vacation.
    I am trying to stay on track with money habits and I am so grateful for this blog!

  47. The sprig of purple flowers on the silver tray along w/ the lace backdrop was very pleasing to the eye. Brandy has a way of arranging items that photograph nicely. The arrangement was simple but elegant.

    1. My friend gave me a box of discards. I found a clipboard in the box which I needed. The rest of the items will go to the Habitat store here.
    2. I can now fit into 3 pairs of new shorts. I bought them 2.5 yr ago but gained weight. I found them in the closet w/ tags still attached. They fit nicely now.
    3. I got a free muffin from McDonalds for my birthday. I cut it into 3 pieces. I’ll space out the servings as it has a lot of calories.
    4. I used some Walgreen’s reward cash to buy toilet paper & paper towels to donate to a church that hosts 12 Step Meetings for those in recovery.
    5. I made some stroganoff made w/ pork that I don’t care for. It is going to be transformed into a soup using taco seasoning, spicy lentils, chx broth & a few other ingredients that I had on hand. I’m not sure how it will turn out but it will likely be better than the ill fated stroganoff. I can’t remember why I did not put noodles in it but I’m glad for just the stroganoff meat that I froze. I don’t need the extra carbs on my diet plan. I’m also working on lowering my blood sugar as this has gone up recently.
    I hope everyone is off to a healthy & joyful start to 2023.

    1. The silver tray was $1 at a garage sale: a Christmas gift from my mother. The doily was one of the free ones I got this past week,and the tablecloth below was a gift from a reader.

  48. Well, so far I’m doing well and keeping within my $100 for the month general grocery amount. A bit of dairy, some fruit & veg will get me through to the end of the month. But – I am already finding that the $50 allotted for long-term pantry items isn’t enough – too many good sales out there. My friend who lives downstairs has found a Loblaw store not far from our neighbourhood that has marked down meat and baked goods on a daily basis – all at least 50% off. She took me along on her last trip and I bought a pack of the large English Bangers (sausages), a pack of Italian sausage, a 4 pack of BLSL chicken breasts, a small ham and a tin of fancy chocolate Christmas cookies, all for 50% off – I could have bought a lot more if I had more freezer space – as it is I had to take out some servings of soup to use this week, cook up some frozen veg and take out a pound of butter just to make enough room to squeeze in these latest buys – just couldn’t pass them up.

    I’ve used GC for coffee, taken lunch or snacks to the office and even saved money from my social outings allowance – neither social engagement with friends cost as much as anticipated so this money will roll over to next month as a couple of lunches are now on the horizon. Everyone seems quite intent on socializing as frugally as possible so lunches have turned into just coffee & dessert, no alcohol is purchased and meals at someone’s home is becoming more common now that people are more comfortable visiting.

    I spent some time in my pantry cupboard this past weekend moving some items into the kitchen to be used up sooner rather than later, and making note of any gaps. I made egg cups, another pot of soup – added stuffed peppers to the freezer and this weekend I plan on cooking up a couple of different kinds of grains and doing a bit of baking.

    I am doing as much walking as possible – but this dull, damp, grey weather is really getting me down. I know that I should be grateful that it’s not been snowing but I think that I’d trade a bit of snow for some sunshine!!!! I have now caught up to the last published book in the Ruth Galloway mystery series – which I really enjoyed! I’m planning on reading the next in the Isabel Dalhousie series this week and then heading back to the library. I have watched the “Three Pines” TV adaptation and while I like the actors – I’m a wee bit disappointed in the rather gloomy way that Three Pines is portrayed – in the books it’s much more of a place of refuge – a sanctuary. Season 2 of Madame Blanc is back on Acorn – as is Whitstable Pearl – both series that I recommend.

    Your pansies are lovely Brandy – and what a great price! How wonderful to receive the hoodies and jackets – plus the fabric!

    I hope that everyone has some good luck at the grocery stores this week.

    1. How nice that people are okay with frugal socializing! I wish I would have better luck with that here.

      Perhaps, when the weather is warmer, I will try inviting people over again and we can sit outside. I could just make a dessert instead of a meal and maybe it will suffice.

      I have had very little luck with this; almost all of the women I know locally want to go out to eat to socialize. Perhaps, as you mention, people are ready to socialize again. I haven’t tried since long before Covid and going out for meals just isn’t in the budget, nor is hosting a family for a meal, so I will try this.

      1. I too stopped going out for meals except once a week for breakfast with a friend found a diner $4.50 for eggs/toast and potato
        But I have been also just meeting for coffee
        I don’t need the calories and I choose places that allow free refills

      2. We’ve done a book-magazine swap where everyone brings appetizer or dessert. Hostess provides site and dishes/silverware/ice. Someone signs up for drinks. Everyone seemed to enjoy and it’s wasn’t financially prohibitive to anyone and people took home new-to-them reading material. And leftovers.

      3. I have always loved eating out – but find it harder and harder to justify the cost now. I am lucky in that most of my friends are in the same boat financially so that does help.
        I think dessert in your lovely garden would be a lovely way to get together!

      4. I understand this sentiment. If I lived closer to you, Brandy, I would love to just have a spot of herbal tea and enjoy the company. 🌟 I think our culture could benefit so much from this.

        1. Amen, Connie! I totally agree. I would love to have a friend or two come by for tea and a chat. We used to do dessert with friends in Guam. That was fun. It was usually just us wives as the husbands were always deployed. We will often sit out on our front porch in the nice weather and see who walks by and chat for a few minutes. That is always nice. With your beautiful garden I would think you could have many a nice, simple “do” with your friends at some point.

      5. As some friends have different levels of comfort, I have done some hosting on our deck.
        I have had a chips and salsa evening with homemade limeade.
        It surprised me to have requests for future gatherings as well as others ask to be invited.
        I think that women do need one another. What’s on the table is not as important as who is around it.

        Though your homemaking skills will make any offering very special.

      6. I host Bible Study every Friday and it went from people bringing brunch food to us going somewhere after study. Then I am in a lunch group that formed before covid with a group of about 12 ladies that were all ne to the town. So we meet monthly. I have another two long time friends I meet for lunch inelce a month. I have started ordering Ala carte and cheap lunch me u items and drink water, but it is still almost $10 each time.

      7. I know it is chilly now. But why O why would the local ladies not want to sit & visit in your lovely garden during nice weather? Sitting in a vinyl booth in a restaurant could not compare in my humble opinion.

        1. Because they all just seem to want to go out to eat. I have tried for years. But, perhaps I have made a new friend just recently, so I have hopes for that possibility. I suggested that she come over when the weather is nice and we could visit outside.

      8. Brandy,
        I remember my mom inviting friends over for a cup of tea or coffee and then just talk. I think inviting someone over to do something artsy or musical would be fun too! My mom even had a friend that would come over and they would work in the garden together. She was really neat! We had really neat neighbors when I was a kid. One neighbor invited us, as children to come over and have strawberry shortcake outside. She also let us pick cherries from her tree and raspberries from her garden. She had a big slide and gave us wax paper to go down it fast! She gave my sister and I Gingerbread cookies at Christmas. And her husband had lots of National Geographics and told us about traveling. I loved them. Another neighbor let us use their pool. Another one brought us lollipops and our babysitter’s dad fixed our bikes. I could go on. I loved that neighborhood! My sister and I felt like we had lots of grandparents in the neighborhood!

        1. That’s so nice!

          My dearest friends live far away (most in other countries). I think it would be so nice to do a video call and enjoy a meal together at the same time, even if it is breakfast for one and dinner for the other. I’ve never done that but I think it would be lovely.

          1. I Zoomed with friends a few times during lockdown – once we even did “tea time” – each in our own home. Another time it was wine & cheese – it was fun and worked out well.

      9. I’ve enjoyed having friends over for tea. I serve a light dessert to go with. I’m sure it depends on your friends, but somehow I think the tea makes it feel a bit fancy.

      10. Brandy – I understand this completely! When people my age started graduating, the way people socialized changed to something much more expensive. I have some very old friends, with whom I just go for a walk in the local park, meet at home or for a coffee, but other than that, it has taken me years to find people who appreciate frugal activities.
        I’ve had good luck with the local garden group I’m in. Everybody loves their own and other peoples gardens, so it’s very easy to meet up in our gardens. The host usually just provides some tea and coffee, and sometimes biscuits, and then we walk around talking about the garden. We often swap plants or seeds, another frugal activity, or people give a small introduction to a subject they care about like seed saving or perennial vegetables. We’ve been grafting trees together (one member knew how to do it and taught the rest of us), fermented vegetables (one member knew someone who would teach us for free) and gone to see some nice gardens together – this is also a good thing, as we can get lifts from each other and save on gas. For me it has been a good and frugal way to meet new people with the same interests. I don’t know if this is something for you, but with your lovely garden, I’m sure people with a garden interest would feel priviliged to come and see it!

        1. I am in a few local FB gardening groups, and I started to make a couple of friends, but then they both moved far away last year! So now I am starting again.

          There are some people who have hosted larger get togethers for more people in the group. I have considered that myself, but it lacks the intimacy of just a friend or two at a time.

          Definitely something to ponder.

    2. Visiting neighbors and friends at home for just a cup of tea or dessert is pretty much the norm here – potlucks at the most and, of course, the socializing that happens at church meals (which would count as potlucks, most of the time.) Perhaps there is a difference between rural and more urban socializing? The distance we have to drive to a restaurant makes visiting in each other’s homes and gardens so much more sensible. I think I have better conversations in those settings than in public places, too. Perhaps it is one of those things where, if one person starts the trend, it will become more normal within a social group. Brandy and all the readers here seem so gracious and creative, I think an invitation to their homes would be very appreciated, indeed.

      1. Starting the trend–that’s an interesting idea. Perhaps I should just keep trying. I certainly made changes to the garden to make it easier to sit in some shade when it’s warmer. I don’t know if I can manage to start a trend, but that would be a nice trend to start. I just can’t afford the restaurant socializing, nor do I need the calories. I will have to try again. I’ll just have to suggest it first; it seems like whenever the women at church talk about getting together, the second sentence after “Let’s do something” is always “let’s go out to eat.”

        1. Brandy – Look at the community you’ve built here! You certainly have the skill-set to motivate and encourage others to live a beautiful and frugal life. You’ve shown so many that those two things are not mutually exclusive. I am certain you can do it. Sometimes, it just takes someone with the idea and the example and others catch the enthusiasm. Let us know how it goes! 🙂

        2. Brandy,
          I’ve gone with a friend to a couple free concerts. Sometimes local colleges have free concerts. Libraries have free activities as well. My husband and I just made fused glass at the library together. Friends could do the same thing. Just an idea. I don’t need calories or to spend extra money either.

        3. I wonder if you suggested something like a craft get-together if that would make it more logical to others to just get togethers at someone’s house? While I’ve never joined here where I live, I’ve heard of a group of crafters that get together on a somewhat regular basis and everyone works on their various crafts and visits. Of course, the host would need to have room for whatever the size of the group is.

  49. Frugal Bits:

    I have the money for 2023 HSA deductible including catch up clause for over 55. Since there is still money in the HSA bank account from last year, I put this years chunk into a 4.25% CD for six months because my HSA bank doesn’t pay anything close to that. I can still deduct the sum as long as it is in before 2024.

    I returned very expensive shoes because I honestly wanted them for fashion. I will pay what I need to for supportive shoes because I have plantar fasciitis. There is no price on feet that hurt while I teach. However, I found just as serviceable pair for on third the cost so returned the others.

    Frugal fail. I signed up for a Delta miles card. It is American Express. I always immediately set up automatic payments for the amount – except i gues for this. It cost me 70 in miss payment fee and interest. ridiculous. I will cancel the card as soon as I use the miles. It is outrageous.

    1. Mary Ann, I have on occasion missed a payment and called and explained the reason. The credit card company involved has always waived the late payment fee graciously. Maybe yours would?

  50. Hi All, I love this blog and get so many ideas from you all! I’m a long-time reader but seldom post so here goes. We kicked off the new year trying to reduce our utility bills which are much higher than we’re used to since moving to Northern Nevada this year.
    Gas: We started trying to reduce the gas bill which was $185 last month. We turned down the temperature of our gas water heater to 130F (was 160F). We strung an indoor clothesline and started using it instead of the gas dryer. We still need one more line hung for drying sheets. We lowered our thermostat during the day to 65F (was 67-68F) and nights to 62F (was 65F) to reduce our heating. We plan to gradually reduce even more. We looked for obvious drafts and currently have a rolled towel up against the kitchen door leading to the garage. Will try to improve on this with weather-stripping, etc. We hung a comforter in the hall entrance leading to the bedrooms today. The thermostat is in the hall. We plan to turn off the vents to the living areas in the evening and open them back up in the morning for less area to be heated at night.
    Electric: Our electric bill last month was $56. The NV Energy website tells me $25 of that was related to heating so our heating reduction efforts should impact both gas and electric. I’ve also been turning off power strips and the laptop at night and trying to minimize lights on especially during the daytime.
    Water: Although I can help reduce the $96 water bill a little bit $83 of that is constant base charges so this will not be my focus at this time.
    Besides more clotheslines and weather-stripping we’re looking at insulating curtains and a draft blocker for the fireplace which is not in use. Hopefully more ideas will come to us. I’ll keep you posted on our results.

  51. I love pansies! When I was a teen I grew them (and lilies of the valley) to press in large books. I’d find small frames at garage sales and use them to frame the arrangements I made with the flowers. They made pretty gifts!
    *A boring week! To keep from any spending, I stayed at home and out of the stores. I didn’t want to be tempted by any good sales at all! I was determined to get through my mending and ironing piles— strange how every excuse in the book presents itself to stop that, even housecleaning! But while the house is indeed cleaner than usual, I am happy to report that the mending and ironing piles are now done with.
    * I read a library book called Picnic in Provence which is part memoir and part cookbook. I really enjoyed the recipe portions. It is French Provençal rural cooking which is tasty and inexpensive, uses basic often homegrown ingredients, but still tastes different than my usual.

  52. We have been cooking at home. It saves us a lot of money. I bought two eggplant for 99 cents in the bargain bin of a grocery store. With one, I made an eggplant lentil curry. With another, my husband and I made Baba ganoush. Both were delightful. I used them right away because they would be past their prime very quickly. I found yarn at a thrift store for 50 cents. I was delighted! I also found three beautiful scarfs for 50 cents each. It has been warm so my husband has got hours. We are very happy about it. We use cloth napkins and hankies. We returned books to the library and movies this week. For entertainment we have simply enjoyed time together and with family. I’ve been encouraging my son to do more poetry. So, I have enjoyed listening to his poetry. I want to type it for him and send it off somewhere. As soon as tax information comes I will do taxes. Propane still has not arrived. We are ok so far though. I think they are understaffed and very busy. After 3 years of growing my hair out, I finally got my hair done. It was expensive, but I am so happy! Now my hair is the same color that it was when we got married. I will cook at home and it will save us money. I will turn off lights, use less water and entertain myself and family for free. I really am glad that I got my hair done and luckily my husband is too. I went through seeds and will be using what we saved and what we have on hand. I think eating at home has made me feel better. Also being a bit more active and getting a little bit of sunshine and fresh air on the warmer days has helped. I’m still working on crocheting a scarf. I just do a bit here and there when I have a bit of time. I also have been playing the piano a bit besides the usual cooking and cleaning ect. My husband helps with the cooking and cleaning when he is home. I feel blessed.

  53. Finances always amuse me. I made a budget, but have found several things are increasing. So looks like my internet went up to $80.00 from $30.00. I will be disconnecting and getting a new plan tomorrow. Yikes ,my car insurance increased. I forgot to add my father into my yearly budget and after buying a $75.00 book for pops ,I’ve realized I need to just add a new category. He is so old ,I’m just happy he still has his mind. I you -tubed the repair for replacing my brake lighbulbs. It took all of 4 minutes. $7.00 for the bulbs. I need to make a trip to the car junkyard to locate a new window switch for my car. I have a button loose like a wiggly tooth. I packed up stuff for my mom and took it to her. I picked up Huggies wipes for 1 dollar a pack at a local salvage store for my dad. I bought 4 tubes of my much needed deodorant at eBay versus Target for $18.00 . Saved $10.00. I filled my car up last night before the stations add back 30 cents in taxes that had been waived. I’m seeing they increased in 30 cents already and likely will increase the Tax amount on Thursday. Seems like there’s always a con. I picked up an assortment of items at my favorite food dumpster. We haven’t cooked too much with sugar cookie still away. My son and I have been making one meal and just eating off if it for a few days. My favorite items have been a ton of sopping wet pajama sets from Aldis. I washed them and passed them on. I rarely go in stores anymore. We are smothered in blessings.

  54. Hello! I borrowed Cooking Scrappy on my library app on a recommendation from a comment here, some interesting ideas-but, I do not think I will ever eat fish bones! I froze heavy cream in ice cube trays for future use as it was nearing the expiration date. Did a large grocery stock up, spent $105 between 2 stores, this will keep us for awhile I only anticipate buying produce and cheese in the next few weeks. Our bank app has a feature where you can see your spending in a pie chart. This is a good visual for me as I don’t do as well with numbers as I do words (if that makes any sense! ) I will be using this to track our spending. I sold another item on Mercari and listed 3 more. I am staying out of thrift stores as I realized that unless I need something there is no reason for me to browse because I usually find something to buy! As I am diligently going through all of our “stuff” and cleaning out I do not need to bring more in.
    Wishing everyone a healthy & frugal week!

  55. Hi. Yesterday I’ve bought enough food for some days. Fruit and vegetables from a farmer: they’re fresh, good and definitely not expensive. Now I’m working at some homemade with all the fabrics I already have at home. Hope that they will be appreciate and can sell them.
    I confess, one more time, that your blog is so inspiring!

  56. Tammy, I hope your propane arrives soon. It would be interesting if you could convert your house to solar or wind powered electricity so you could use electricity for heating. It might cost too much to do this. It has been in the news that during the past two years there’s been a great strain on propane supply chain. I don’t know if that’s still the case this year. Your bargains sound great. I just found yarn with matching material in the basement. I want to lose a bit more weight and then see about getting some help to make a new wardrobe for me out of the fabrics I have stashed. I’d like to find someone who likes knitting too. Because of my damaged tendon, I don’t think I can knit anymore.

    1. Ann,
      Thank-you. I hope our propane comes too. We see the propane truck going by even on Saturdays and Sundays. I guess they are busy. I would love to do solar. Right now, the cost is prohibitive. I need to lose weight as well. I am very, very slowly losing weight. I guess that is the healthy way of doing it. I’d like to lose weight faster. Just glad it is coming off, even a little bit. Mostly, I need to watch my sugar and carb intake, just to feel good.

  57. Brandy, I seem to remember you saying you liked to friends in Europe with no charge. Could you tell me what service that is? My girls are going to London and Paris this summer and want to keep n touch with home. Thank you for any help you can give

    1. I have talked with friends all over the world using Facebook Messenger for video calls as well as messages. However, not everyone outside the U.S. uses FB; I have switched to using WhatsApp with some people because they can access that more easily (for instance, my one friend has to use a VPN in order to get on Facebook in his country, so it’s not the best option).

      Those who have traveled more can talk to you about getting a local SIM card so that your girls don’t have remaining charges if they are going to be gone for quite some time. I haven’t traveled outside the country for 2 decades but many of my readers have and they can let you know what should be cheaper, data wise.

    2. Our daughter who travels in Africa and Europe uses WhatsApp to talk (either audio call or video call depending on how good the wifi is where she is) to us. This is dependent on wifi, or uses data on your phones. Also can message (text) on whatsapp. We have consumer cellular for our cell phone carrier and they provide an international sim card for free. The calls are not free, but we only use it if we have an emergency and are not at a place where there’s wifi. If your kids want to do a lot of texting or calling to other local users while they are abroad, I’d recommend getting a local sim card and prepaid phone.

    3. Hi Jane. I live in Europe (Denmark), and I sometimes speak to my friend in Spain. We use Zoom via computer for videocalls. Teams is another option with essentially the same features. Both have free versions. Personally I’m not on Facebook, but many people are, and my computer is too old for WhatsApp. Zoom and Teams are widely used where I live also for videocalls with people living close by. Hope this helps!

      1. I use WhatsApp on my phone.

        I have used Skype in the past as well, but using my phone with earbuds is rather nice, I’ve found. The computer does have a larger screen, though.

    4. Jane,
      My daughter was in Europe for several months last year. She bought a SIM card in her main city with phone calling and some data. For the most part though, she didn’t use the data because she made an effort to log in and use the wifi at wherever she was staying. She used WhatsApp to stay in touch with us using texts and video calls, which she did at the same time daily (she notified us in advance if she had other plans, like being at the theatre, and couldn’t ).

  58. I do love pansies! Great find!
    I wanted a live Christmas tree this year, have the stand already, but did not put the energy or cost into getting one. Instead, as a rare treat, I got live flowers from the grocery store. I picked out the healthiest looking bouquet and most durable flowers, (carnations, mums, daisies), and have kept downsizing the bouquet as they died off. After more than three weeks, I still have a tiny bunch left.
    We fortunately have not recently needed to use our home government provided COVID tests and I will wait a few weeks before ordering more in case they are good for longer. I re-checked the expiration dates on the ones we have at covid tests. gov. One box’s previously extended date has been re-extended for a few months.
    Being careful to avoid food waste and preserve energy. Much as I like the warmth, I’m hoping the average temperatures go down about five degrees to keep my outdoor plants from thinking it is spring and starting to sprout three months early!
    I saw a news article about Massachusetts banning disposal of cloth, unless wet or buggy, and mattresses. Although I can imagine lots of logistical issues, I hope this leads to more methods of cloth recycling and more markets nation-wide, an area MA seems ahead on. I have never found a way to recycle such things where I live, and one only needs so many cleaning rags.

  59. No idea what happened to my comment in the very early morning hours (EST)Tuesday. But here it is again! Love your pansies!.
    Time to keep your eyes peeled for after holiday food clearances!!

    Holiday clearance has come and I was able to take advantage of some wonderful clearance prices on mostly baking ingredients that I use regularly! This is when I usually buy enough to last the year, if possible. 
This week I was able to buy:
Nestles chocolate chips (regular, milk choc, mini) for 50 cents (regular $3.49 each)
Pecans- chopped and halves- $3/ 10 ounce (regular $12.49/bag)!
Marshmallows – 50 cents (regular $1.69)
AP flour- 50 cents/5 pounds- (regular $2.49)
Brown sugar- 50 cents/2 pounds – (regular $1.99)
Snickerdoodle flavored whole almonds- 43 cents/6 Oz- (regular price $4.49)
Candy canes- 25 cents/box- (regular $3.99)

I spent about $60 and came home with 150 pounds of flour, 40 pounds of brown sugar, 30 cans of flavored almonds, 12 bags (7.5 pounds) of pecans, 20 bags of chocolate chips, 20 bags of mini-marshmallows and 12 boxes of candy canes (that I crushed and vacuum sealed into half gallon mason jar! Oh! I’ve been buying the half gallon Ball mason jars (6 in a case) for $13 from WM when they have them in stock (which is usually 2 cases In the store). This way I have them available for the pecans, marshmallows, peppermint, etc! 

My receipt from Krogers said that in the first 4 days of January, I have saved over $400!!

    The Blue Diamond almonds (6 Oz) Christmas flavor- Snickerdoodle were 90% off – 43 cents instead of $4.39!!! They have a holiday gift tag on the lid and their Best Buy date is July 6, 2025!! I bought all 30 to use in gift baskets next Christmas (and perhaps Christmas 2024 too!!) That was a savings of over $118!!❤️❤️ And my gift cupboard starts to fill!!

    I normally make my own brown sugar using white sugar I bought for 99cents/4 pound bag (25 cents a pound). Since the price point is the same I bought the brown sugar.
    Guess it was worth 15 minute trip out before sunrise! 😉
    Btw- Best used by date for flour is April 2024.

    On Saturday, my youngest son texted and asked if I might have time to talk to him about grocery shopping and cooking his own meals!! (Cue the angels singing!!! Lol!!) Would I ever!! Since he moved to a basement apartment at his sister’s 2 years ago, he eats out most lunches/dinners. I have taught him how to make beef/bean burritos and he has happily made them along side of me using ingredients he bought . But with his Asperger’s I can’t “push” him into an idea. It has to be his own. So I was thrilled!! He bought a cookbook at Target but when he showed it to me, I noticed each recipe had a dozen or so ingredients, with many of them more expensive. I had watched a YouTube video on saving money on the food budget and she announced that on her store(shop.LivingOnADime.com), she was giving the promo code for her digital ebook Dining on A Dime Cookbook to get it free: DINING1. The book has over 500 pages with over 1200 recipes that are simple but tasty as well as shopping tips, menu planning, etc. This is a way it can be available even if you live outside U.S. And it’s FREE!!! The code is still working if anyone wants to use it! Just click on to buy the ebook Volume 1 and when it gets to payment info, there is a box to enter a promo code. You don’t need to enter any financial info because at that point, it lets you know that there is no cost!
    While son was over, I asked if he would like to download it to his tablet. He did and we went over several pages culminating in making one of the recipes and having it as dinner. 5 ingredients and all of them basic! He loved it and went home with the 9” square baking dish to keep and the leftovers! Win!!!
    Today we are picking up a new, but out of box, apartment size refrigerator to replace his dorm size one. This way he will actually have more fridge and freezer space and it will be exclusively his. He already talked to his sister/landlord to get permission and decide if he needs to add a bit more to his rent for the extra electricity use. This is a major step for him in his gaining more independence skills but it had to come in his time, not mine! There’s a lesson there about thing we want and pray for and the timing and way those prayers are answered.

    We have been working on eating down our pantry and freezer and have made some delicious recipes! Carnitas burritos, Ham & Noodle casserole and Blueberry pancakes, to name a few. Apple snickerdoodle cookies just came out of the oven and they smell SO good. Used up 2 wrinkly apples from fridge and some butter that was left over on butter dishes at Church dinner. It was going to be thrown out! They were sticks with only a tablespoon or two that had been sliced off to butter a roll! I already had my jar of DIY cinnamon sugar. I came home with about a pound of butter! So into these cookies it went! Here’s my recipe: https://pipandebby.com/pip-ebby/appledoodles-snickerdoodle-cookies. The apple peels and cores went into a quart jar to start some more apple cider vinegar! Here are the directions I use: https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/02/how-to-make-apple-cider-vinegar.html. After I strain the vinegar after 2 weeks, my chickens will be given the peels and core as a treat! This is a real no-waste process!

    I quilted up a Nativity Quilt an 80 year old new client of mine made. It is the first quilt that she was keeping for herself rather than gifting it to family. https://pin.it/329jorR. I have another client quilt to get down this week, so it’s a nice way to ease myself back into work!

    We have now set up 3 of our 4 new heavy duty shelving units in our basement and taken out the old particle board bookcases that we had been using for 25+ years! They look so good and have so much more storage space !! Things are more visible and accessible on these new shelves so we can rotate them better!

    Just picked up book Cooking Scrappy that someone mentioned last week from our public library and look forward to learning some new recipes!!

    Life is getting back to our more normal routines here and I love the quiet, more reflective time of the winter. A time to reflect on the losses we’ve had and look forward to a Spring of promise.

    I wish you, Brandy, and all of your readers/commenters a prosperous New Year!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I always love hearing about your youngest son’s endeavors. He has seen the need for home cooking and is drawing on a full range of resources to learn how to do that.

    2. This is a bit late, but thank you for the tip on the e-cookbook “free” code (I’m familiar with her website and YouTube channel)! I’ve now got my own free copy downloaded. 🙂 I also have a son with Aspergers (recently turned 20) and understand the “can’t push” idea. I share your joy in his newfound interest in cooking for himself. Bravo!!!

  60. We got our December gas and electric bills. Our electric usage matched last December but the bill was $7 higher. We continue to set the heat at 61, and I wear hoodies or sweaters to keep warm. Our gas bill went from 25 therms last December to 55. The furnace upstairs is our only gas appliance. Ugh, even setting the thermostat so low didn’t help with the much colder month we had.
    I finally looked into a new senior center/ recreation center nearby. I am so excited about it! They have some free exercise classes in the mornings. They also have some health classes and services. I went for a health assessment today that was free. I got my weight , height, bmi, glucose, Ac1, respiratory function and BP checked. Reality hit home as I have officially gained 6 pounds since Covid hit. Our scale had broken and my clothes were tighter, but when I saw the number and my glucose higher than is good, I knew it is time to get really serious. I need to cut out snacking, my downfall, and I am already cutting out sugar for a few months, to cut the cycle of struggling with portions. But, the good news is I loved the two new classes I tried, a stretching class and a high intensity interval training( my speed). I continue to walk daily, but with all the rain lately I haven’t gotten in what I wanted. Our son repaired our exercise bike so I can us that on rainy days!
    I found some tangerines marked down, which we eat for dessert. I got some free gf crackers, bananas, gf pasta, specialty vinegars, spagetti sauce and diapers. I will use the diapers for a shower gift for a new baby at church. I was thankful for the free food and especially gf items!
    Brandy, the photos are beautiful as always! I could very excited about 25 cent pansies!

  61. We bought several extra-large rolls of Christmas wrapping paper several years ago. When they are used up, I plan to make some simple cloth bags with Christmas designs and draw string tops. I still have one roll to go. I have never liked the bows on packages since they are hard to stack without smashing them. I had a huge roll of white ribbon leftover from our daughter’s wedding which I used to tie around the packages, then I used old Christmas cards in place of the bows. I cut and used the front part only of the cards. Some of them had writing on the back which didn’t show and was fun to read when taken off by the recipient. I always loved Christmas cards, and this was a good way to use them.

    1. Wow, great idea. I never know what to do with the cards and they will store more easily than bows, and I don’t like the bows either! Thank you!

  62. I love the pansies! They are my husband’s favorite flower and he just ordered some more pansy seeds to start. I love them, too. We finished ordering seeds and my husband even found seeds at the Dollar Tree. (Last year they really didn’t seem to have many at any time). I am very particular about varieties on some things I grow and not on others. I use certain things from the dollar store for those, and they still only charged him 25c/packet, even though it is now the $1.25 store. We placed an order for the remainder of my Territorial seeds needed and used a 10% coupon they sent us with the first partial order we did before Christmas. My husband got a 15% off coupon from Pinetree by signing up for text reminders or something and we got the things we needed from there. We received generous gift cards for Christmas that covered the Territorial order with some left over for next time. Most have arrived already and the Pinetree order has shipped. My husband needs to get started pretty soon to get some plants ready by spring–onions, some flowers, peppers… I did not order marigolds as he saved tons of seeds, which he will start. He also saved a few other seeds, but some things needed a re-start as they weren’t quite right….hmmm. We are new to seed saving, but have had a lot of good success with most things we save. We don’t save hybrids, but it’s possible an unintentional cross happened. Who knows? It doesn’t matter. We get so much good food from our garden every year and we will still keep trying to save open-pollinated seeds. We love a good experiment!

    I spent time reading some blogs I haven’t had time for lately. It seems egg prices here in our part of Oregon are higher than they were, but nothing like other parts of the country. My husband did run out and get 5 dozen from Walmart after my reading, though, for less than $2/dozen. I also did the deal at Natural Grocers/Ibotta for buy a dozen for $1.99, get a dollar Ibotta rebate. I got the 2 dozen the store allowed. The very next week, they had risen to $2.99/dozen, still $1 off. I got those 2 as well. Eggs keep a long time, and I don’t feel the price will drop here for a while. Spring is coming, though and chickens love to lay eggs in the spring, so let’s hope they all stay healthy and get busy!

    I used oil in a cake mix that called for butter. They gave a dairy-free option, and I took it even though I can have dairy.

    I sewed an outfit for my grandson using some gifted fabric and some I had bought years ago on an after-Thanksgiving sale. The gifted fabric was so old, some was not usable, but there was enough that was good for my project. So, all of you getting gifts of fabric–look it over better than I did before you cut! Some parts were faded beyond use. I had to re-cut a piece, but I had enough. Barely. But I did:) Pictures on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    I cooked several bean-based meals this week. I’m targeting some smaller red beans that have been around for ages and froze cooked beans, made refried beans and chili. I froze some and we ate some. Split pea soup was on the menu. Turkey-rice soup was eaten up as well. We worked diligently on leftovers and on odds and ends that have been stuffed in corners of the freezer. I have tried to use items on my pantry shelves that we don’t normally use. One thing I did was mix some buckwheat hot cereal with some oatmeal, raisins and frozen peach chunks. My grandson loves oatmeal and he didn’t even notice the buckwheat. It was a gift a while back and I like it, but I can’t eat too many carbs. This way I can eat a small portion and he will eat the rest until the bag is gone. I have been cooking up a large bowl of oatmeal/hot cereal and refrigerating the leftovers and then I just pop some into the microwave for quick meals–he will eat it for lunch or dinner if I let him:). Which I do sometimes.

    We were gifted some money for Christmas. I made an Azure Standard order with some of it. We will get it Friday. I keep a huge pantry. I like to rotate it and use it often, but fill it whenever the opportunity arises.

    I purchased groceries for the first time in quite a while and used coupons, looked for bargains, etc. I also got my flu shot and received 10% off the things I got at Safeway. I got a lot of carrots. They are very reasonable here right now and we like them. Dish soap was a little over 1/2 price, so I got 4. There was a coupon for bagged salad I used. I got lettuce salad, which we used first, spinach, which we have been using to mix in (it keeps longer than lettuce), and coleslaw, which will last the longest so hasn’t been opened yet. The spinach was $1.50 for 8 or 10 ounces, on coupons. 5 ounces was between $2 and $3. It pays to check the weight. Natural Grocers had some excellent produce prices and I grabbed those items when I went in for the eggs and some gluten-free items. My husband and I decided I would go ahead and just get what we needed/were out of, but not soda, chips, junk food of any kind, etc., no matter what the bargain (and there were some, which I passed up!) It still cost more than usual, but we are stocked up on produce and will be good for a while. I’m hoping to lengthen the time between grocery shopping trips to stay within my budget this month, as I used 1/3 of it up by the 8th.

  63. Great deal on pansies! Most of my frugal in the past week was to stay home. I’m thick in the middle of the California flood, wind, rain, trees down, landslide areas and we were advised not to go out unless absolutely necessary. I stocked up on simple meals I could cook with mom’s old cast iron in the fireplace if needed. (An adventure!) Got books from the library. Have kept devices plugged in at all times. I found good deals at harbor freight on some clearance lanterns and batteries (don’t want to fall asleep w candles and not bright enough to read) and decent price to restock several days of firewood at grocery outlet. (Wood is hard to find as it’s frowned on in our state.) I can use my fireplace w gas, but wood is cheaper and heats the house better. Found the old gas logs in case I needed them. So far, knock on wood, I’ve not lost power while neighborhoods around me are out for days. Also, very sad many local landmarks since I was a baby have been destroyed. I’m lucky I’ve only lost part of a fence, and that 45 foot color tv antenna dad put up in 1965. How I slept through that coming down on the roof I don’t know. I created a makeshift dryer area in the garage by looping some heavy twine over rafters ends and running a pvc pipe we had between. Easy to put up/take down. Now I finally have an indoor area wide enough for sheets. When I went out to check roof, I pulled some weeds. Normally, I’d never try this in our sticky clay soil without several days to dry out, but it was so easy I was amazed. Easier than picking flowers, so planning to try to get the entire backyard weeded in tomorrow’s supposed one day rain break. Found those rain boots I haven’t used since the 1980s! I haven’t got any seeds planted because it’s far too wet, but I want to. It’s rained so hard I’ve lost soil from my pots overflowing. Both my laptop and printer died recently and I had to respond to a letter in writing, so was trying to come up with a frugal solution when it suddenly dawned on me, I could write a letter using a pen a paper! Goodness, I felt foolish not to have realized that from the start. It felt so old school, but I got a chance to practice my penmanship, which needs brushing up on! Frugal fail: I’m thinking reupping my Costco card was a bad idea. Most items I can get cheaper with local sales, and it’s out of my way to go there. I couldn’t believe the price of butter and probably sent 6 people to Trader Joe’s for that instead. Stay safe everyone!

  64. Last week was frugal in saying no to things that I had on my list grocery shopping and keeping it to a bare minimum. I’ve been trying much harder to buy what we need and what will be good to stock in my pantry. There was an amazing price for blackberries at the store but nobody likes to eat them at my house. They ones at the store tend to be sour. I didn’t buy them. We have enough freezer jam.

    I’ve also been more diligent about eating leftovers or freezing a single serving size for future use. I froze pizza and soups. Any leftover fruit is frozen for smoothies. Veggies are chopped and frozen to use in soups or other dishes. I freeze them in portions.

    Exercising at home and reading library books.

    Have a great week.

  65. I stayed out of stores last week, borrowed books from the library, tried to drive less.
    I was considering buying an extra tool for a project I am working on – but decided a large screw driver I already own will do the trick.

  66. I’d like to talk New Year’s resolutions…or goals, if that’s what you call them, or even “dreams,” LOL.

    To back up, last year my goals were to declutter my home, use up partial containers of shampoo, etc., and play Words with Friends every day to keep my mind sharp. I successfully decluttered in January (although it’s never done) and did quite a bit of housecleaning at the same time. I used the last bit of shampoo in December. I’m sorry to report that Words with Friends has become somewhat of an addiction, LOL. (But my vocabulary is great and I’m much better at unscrambling the letters and a little better at strategy).

    This year my resolution is to actually clean my home and declutter along the way (the reverse of last year). This is a work in progress! So is my second resolution–to cook real meals and eliminate food waste. This, too, is a work in progress, but I feel that I’m doing pretty well. Yesterday I used up the whipping cream left from Christmas.

    This wasn’t a resolution, but back in December I decided to “try” to make a pot of homemade soup every week. This helps use up leftovers and we eat most of it for lunches. Lunches have been a real bugaboo for me since my husband retired. So far I have made tomato, ham and potato and vegetable beef soups. The next pot will likely be clam chowder.

    Brandy, I can’t imagine anyone turning you down for dessert in your garden! Someone else commented about all of the charm of plastic restaurant booths, and I so agree! In the late 1960s and early ’70s, when we were newly married and no one had any money, we used to invite people dinner regularly. And vice-versa. This was our entertainment and social life. When my husband was in grad school, we had a standing Friday night date with another couple. We alternated hosting. They had a baby, so this was big for them. We generally had a big spaghetti dinner with salad and bread provided by the host. The guest brought a 6 pack of beer or bottle of cheap red wine. We visited and occasionally watched TV. More than 50 years later, I still remember those evenings spent together. I can’t remember anything about the last time we went out to dinner with anyone, although I know it has been within the last year.

  67. We receive some extra federal benefits in January so I am trying to read the ads carefully and stock up on anything that we might use. I am planning on shopping just basics using points and gift cards acquired from points to shop the next three months or more after January.

    I have received quite a few free samples that I have sent for recently. They are beauty, cleaning and food samples and I plan to put them to good use soon. I have also acquired $89 in Amazon codes from completing surveys. I will put in a large food order soon using these to get some staples in.

    We continue to be blessed by our local buy nothing group. We have received a box of cream of wheat, an unopened bag of Shreddies, an unopened bag of frozen raspberries, a like new toaster oven to replace our old, grungy one, a Taste of Hone cookbook and a huge lot of DVDs including a player. There are a lot of full series in this lot of DVDs so there will be lots to watch at no cost to us.

    I gave my son a haircut. All of our reading has come from the library. All our meals have been eaten at home and I am trying to use up everything we have. It does make for some interesting lunches when there is just a bit of a bunch of different things to use up!

    Hope everyone is having a productive week!

  68. I, too, am trying to be more accountable and to post often, as I have enjoyed reading Brandy’s blog and reader comments this past year. My husband and I have been sick with a virus so there was not as much opportunity to make big changes. I will say that on New Year’s Day, we went out boating and I dropped my phone in the water. We tried to recover it, but it was long gone. I always get the cheapest cell I can and do a pre-paid plan, so it wasn’t a huge loss. On the other hand, I had just replaced it as my old phone had a cracked screen. My daughter suggested I just go back to using my old phone–so I did! Cracked screen and all. What a way to start a low-spend, no-spend year, LOL!

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